Monday, May 27, 2013

Character redesign

Last year, I finished sketching up all the characters and special attacks for the dream build play competition but due to time restrictions I really didn't have the time to think in deep about each of the characters, now that I had more time and the animation framework working I decided that is time to redesign the rest of the characters, as of today there are 4 characters in good shape, and today I will show up the 5th one and the evolution from concept to somehow a finished version.

The first image on the left side is just the very first quick draft of this character, the next one is the clean up version of the line art and that was used for the DBP2012, not quite exciting but didn't have much to draw, animate and program everything given the time I had. This weekend made a new character to replace the old one, I had an idea to use sheeps as part of the special attack, as seen in the middle as a hat, but made me feel sleepy, so changed the hood drawing to a fish type, a little bit more agressive.

The color placeholder can be seen above on the left, and I just designed a few color palettes in the animation editor as seen on the right side, I like the second one a lot. So after finishing coloring this version, all the animations will be drafted by hand and hopefully I will have this character running in game by end of this week. So 3 more characters to go until all the main characters are ready for the final game, plus some more monsters.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Time flies, past, present and future...looking back what I've done...

It is almost 2 years and 7 months since I started playing with XNA framework, and even if it is no longer supported by Microsoft I am still using it since I can easily migrate it to MonoXNA or do something else with it. The first year I wrote my first game, which is still unfinished but I was able to submit a demo of it to the DBP2011 with little less than a year and a half of experience, and proud of finishing a demo I came to know some of my limitations. So I decided to move ahead and keep the old game for a future release and move forward, so I started a more compact game and this will be released for sure. Today, I wanted to see how it all evolved during the year and a half since I started this new game, I spent most of the last 11 months making an animation framework that could do the things I wanted to do, so far it is working well, and just for fun tonight I will post some metrics.

Animation framework : 5483 lines of code
Elem3ntz game :  19853 lines of code
Shaders : 741 lines of code
Total lines for game + animation framework : 26077

Quite a lot, I didn't expect to have this much, but there is more...

Animation tool  : 29188 lines of code, used to do the nice animations previously shown in other posts.

Wow!, I wrote a total of 55265 lines of code for this game + animation tool, but 35412 lines were written only in the last 11 months!, so most of the work was made in the last year. I didn't expect it to be this big and still there is a lot to write, but I believe now that 90% of the code is already there, that makes me feel happy and I just started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

All of this doesn't take into account all the art I've made and the new characters, long ago I posted a few pictures of the characters in-game but I really didn't like the art so much, but that was the only thing I could do given the limited time I had, now that I made a new framework things speed up a lot, and I made new art+animations, it really moved faster and faster, I still want to make some drawing tools to increase the speed of sketching but I don't have enough time to do that at this moment. I want to release my game in the next few months.

And one last metric for fun, I have +1700 png image files in this game, and counting, I will add a few hundreds more by the time I finish.

I haven't heard of this kind of metrics in any other game, but I would like to know how big some indie games can be.

In my next post I will show up some of the last changes in the framework, one of the things that I didn't like is to manage the audio manually in game for some animations, trying to sync up frame animations with audio was a little bit time consuming, so finally this weekend wrote an audio module that is linked to the animation framework so I can animate and add sound effects at the same time, this is really a time saver! The interesting thing is that I can use it also to make music, though the intention is not to make music with it!, but I noticed it can be used as a tracker, which is a plus. I may expand those capabilities in the next version after I finish the game, since I don't see a need to write music attached to animations at this stage.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bug of the week , funny moments...

I haven't seen any indie blog nor any other kind of blog that publish some of the most interesting bugs while developing , probably is it not so nice to show the mistakes but sometimes I think showing some of them bring some joy and fun while developing.

This time I just want to show some of those funny moments from last night, also as a plus the first bug gave me some new ideas, learning from previous mistakes one can make do better everyday. Like the following image, the garbage on the right is a wrong texture applied to another character, and when I saw that thing moving gave me an idea of a new character , I will keep it as a secret until the final draw is ready but was fun to see.

After replacing and fixing the correct texture I got this...
Well, now it looks better, a group of trolls coming, but hmm... colors and patterns are not good, I was so sleepy that it took me over half an hour to fix the issue, it was only a DXT compression setting and a key color that shouldn't be using, I usually do not compress textures since my animation framework can replace colors and it needs to have precise numbers to change them to do a palette replacement, well spent too much last night fixing trivial bugs, but finally today I got this image.
Finally! it is working as expected! and I got crushed over and over tonight while trying to win the level , those trolls are overpowered now, I am trying to balance the gameplay and have fun mixing the building blocks of the game and it takes time to balance it well, but I am pretty happy to lose over and over now, it is fun! better than the previous puzzle mode.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Puzzle mode from scratch!

It has been almost a month since my last update, but I've been quite busy thinking and reworking this game. One of the features that I wanted to implement was the puzzle mode, in which the player will have to solve different kind of puzzles using the game tools available, at first I found very interesting idea and quickly implemented about 7 levels of it and that was part of the DBP2012 entry about 6 months ago. Then I tried to implement more levels but I did a trial test again of the old levels to see how much fun I could find on them, and I didn't find it very rewarding at all, after so many months of denial, I finally decided that this can't go live the way it is since there is no fun playing it. It is very hard to implement a challenging mode that is rewarding and fun at the same time, so I decided to redo it again and from scratch.

Now that I had more time to think about it, one thing that is rewarding is to learn how to use the tools, take advantage of those tools, and eventually the player will build more confidence and feel more and more powerful and solving a different kind of puzzles seems to be a better idea. The old system was a quick use of what you have on screen and I felt over powered all the time, I had to try to save/cover/extinguish or any othe action into the opposite board, that was a great idea until I tried it more and more, and I found it very difficult to offer a challenging puzzle since most of the tools I provided were more like "make the other player take damage and cover myself", so basically, not a good way to match and mix game components into one framework, and I found myself not looking at the opposite board at all, so I had hard time trying to play it. So having this framework in my mind, the logical solution is something similar to a tower defence game, in which you are the only barrier to defend all the innocent people behind you, and that way of thinking just made me redo all the puzzle mode. This mode is working a lot better than the previous one, so I can introduce different enemies and abilities that can challenge the player even more than the previous one, is more dynamic and entertaining, and also allows me to introduce boss levels after small quick and run small levels to unlock even more powers! , so giving all the powers at the start was not a good idea, but that allowed me to test all the functionality, and that was also a problem with the last build. I will post a video of the alpha version of the puzzle/challenge mode once I finish a couple of monsters and some other effects, but so far I just made a big leap forward this month.