perjantai 1. elokuuta 2014

Moving to Tumblr

I've felt for a long time the blog here is... quite a mess to say at least. It has served well but I just can't make it actually look pleasant. Nor does Blogspot really give you the abilities to do so easily.

Recently I've played around with Tumblr theme customization and I've been pretty happy with it. Hence I decided to move the blog there.

However, I can't move all the posts from here to Tumblr, so all the old posts are still available here.

tiistai 20. toukokuuta 2014

Chapter 11 ready!

This took me quite a while. Six months apparently. It wasn't even that big of a chapter, actually. Even the place where the chapter happened was very simple. Although I did have lots of technical difficulties before and I didn't really feel like continuing the story with all those difficulties. Anyway, it's done!

This means I've worked on the project for 5 years, completing 11 chapters out of 17. The estimate for 2017 release isn't too far off.

So what now? For a couple of weeks I'm going to travel a little so it's not possible to do anything for the project, except for some thinking which is required for the script. After that I actually have a lot of time to work on the project. I'm not exactly liking the fact that I have to go back to my original hometown without my girlfriend to work for 6 weeks, but hey, it gives money and time to work on this. So it sucks but it's not a complete loss. But that's actually in July. I'm able to be the whole June with my girlfriend, although she has to go to work and I have to stay home. So it sucks that I have no job or school but I will use that time to work on this project.

What I will do is just go to the next chapter and if possible, move on with the script. It's been stuck in chapter 13 for a while.

I'd be glad to announce chapter 12 ready by the end of summer but I can't promise anything. I do have a lot of time but on the other hand there's a lot of work as well.

edit. Actually, that's only 1.5 months I did this chapter. I finished chapter 10 in November and after that I was pretty much checking the game and fighting with technical difficulties. At the beginning of April I finished the first section of chapter 11. So it's not as bad as I portrayed it at the start of this post. Technical difficulties could've used less time though...

sunnuntai 18. toukokuuta 2014

Speed boost

Another problem I've had with the game is not really in the design but engine. And not really that too, just the difficulty of doing it. There are many things like that in the project and most of them can't be made automatic. For example the special attacks in battle system are impossible to do automatically or then all of them would look the same. Story and side events are also something like this since each of them have a really similar structure, but there are always those little "exceptions" that make it impossible to make it any more automatic.

However, I've succeeded in making one part of the development process much faster. This is dialogs.

When I create dialog, I first have a plan for what I will write. This is basically a summary of events, though usually they go to more detail than necessary, which is useful though. Based on that, I'll write the official script, which is very simple and easy to read. Each line tells the line and which character says it.

This is really simple to make automatic. I created a little program that goes through each line and then turns it into a dialog-element of the code. I can basically copy and paste it to the code and it will work.

However, during making the script I've also taken lots of freedom when writing. For example, not every line tells which character says the line, only when the sayer is not the same as in previous line. This though, I've managed to fix and the program recognizes who said what last time and if it's the same person now.

Then I happen to do lines in script where I define the sayer very vaguely, like "everyone", "???", "everyone else" or specific people. This I can't make automatic and I have to fix it manually.

There's also different dialog types, but I think it's actually very possible to recognize them and it's something I'll try to do. What could be also done but I haven't even done to the script, is the emotion of the line. Each dialog-element hold and emoticon which is shown next to the dialog, but I haven't marked these in any way to the script, so they can't be read from the script until I write them to the script.

And the final thing that could be made automatic but is not yet possible: recognizing the ID of the sayer. IDs are used to recognize people in the game and the dialog-system uses these to position the dialogs in right place. This has two problems: they're not marked in the script. There is also the option for "IDless" dialog, which means the dialog will be shown in the defined position and it doesn't link to any character in the game. So basically I could do a little library of names and corresponding IDs, so the ID is created according to the name.

So there are still a little things I could do, not to mention, even with the changes, there are still a lot of things I'd have to do manually. But all in all, just the fact the dialog-element structures can be made this quickly saves me a lot of them. Especially with long parts of the scripts, like the one I'm working on currently.

tiistai 13. toukokuuta 2014

Special system changes

For a long time I've had a big problem with the special system. This is the "super attack", or "Limit Break" if you will, of the game, which can be executed in certain conditions during battle. The problem I've had with this, is that it requires little to no interaction from the player.

As of now the story unlocks new specials for the player and player has to only choose which to use, which is usually the strongest one and then execute it during the battle.

In my new plan specials are just like ordinary attacks: they are purchased and they can be upgraded. None of them are unlocked in the story and I think I'll do some side missions to unlock upgrades etc for specials as well.

Only one thing remains: player will still choose just the strongest special. This is something very hard to solve, because the only reason player would have to switch between different specials instead of choosing the one with highest power, is that certain specials work differently on different enemies. This would be, for example, giving element attributes to each special. The problem however is that then I would have to do a hundread more special attacks and those are very slow to make. So because of that, I'm against giving the specials any other attributes than power.

I could of course make the amplifier system work on specials too, but that would create some "no sense" moments. The specials are already namewise attached to a certain element so giving the option to change that would just look silly.

Then there is, of course, the option to just giving that certain element to a special and just not allow changing it. Then the player would have to decide what players exactly to use since choosing the special matters a little as well. Granted, this is a good idea, but it becomes a problem in battles where you can't choose who you'll play as and there are many of those. Then there's also the fact that two character specials involve usually two elements so choosing a single dominant element would be tough. This could be easily solved though.

However, even with that change the original problem would remain: player would choose just the strongest attack. So as a compromise, I'll try to make this at least somehow automatic.

And even with this new change, I'd have to go and make changes in shops. So it's not such a simple improvement anyway.

torstai 17. huhtikuuta 2014

Chapter 11 city structure ready!

Title pretty much tells everything. I've been working on the chapter's city structure for quite a while and the reason it's taken so long is definitely not designing or size issues, it's simply the busy life and not being able to do this all the time. However now the structure is ready.

Next I'll have to design the city's dialogs, which is now easy because the city won't contain any people, so basically I have to just do plans for items and even most of these are basically recycled from before (because why should I do a toilet in million ways instead of one?) and quite little of the city is actually accessible.

So when that's done, it's time for me to continue with the story and next time I'm going to report anything, it should be saying that the chapter's complete!

torstai 27. maaliskuuta 2014

Room editor 2.0

So from this...

To this...


The biggest improvement here is that I don't have to visit the notepad file (where all the objects are saved) to make more detailed modifications to positions, id's, types etc. I also added grid option, which size can be controlled from the keyboard, so aligning the objects is very easy. Then there's detailed editing, which means I can modify the details of specific object from here. Also when moving objects it shows the coordinates at the same time, along with the depth of that object is at. This depth can also be changed from keyboard.

Then another nice thing is that I can hide all items of specific type if I want to and then later bring them back. So if I have a ceiling done, it will obviously come in my way when adding walls. Those ceilings are first in the stack of objects, so when I click it will grab them first. The depth feature does give me a way around this but hiding the objects is handy too.

One thing I could've done but I felt like it wasn't that necessary, was some sort of history or favorites menu where my favorite objects or recently used objects are listed. The thing is though, I already have a copy option and that's basically the same thing.

I also couldn't do any easy way to insert new objects as well. SDL doesn't support any graphical file open functions so to have the usual way of "opening a file" (for example... in any software there is), I'd have to do something like that myself or I'd have to switch to some other environment.

I'm happy with this editor though. The actual speed advantage is fairly small but I'm liking how everything's more clear and easier to use. Especially the detailed modifying is nice.

I think anyone could now potentially create rooms for this game, provided I give some guidance and obviously the graphics. That wouldn't save me any time though (unless the person was working during night when I sleep) and I'm not interested in hiring anyone (seeing as I'm poor) so maybe not.

tiistai 25. maaliskuuta 2014

New room editor

There was a time when I created rooms in this project completely by hand and guessing which are the best coordinates for each object. Then a fellow student told me I should create an editor, seeing as my way was more difficult than necessary.

So I created a very simple editor, which made creating the rooms a lot faster. I could add items by inputting the filepath for the image and then drag, copy and delete the items in that room. However, it was very simple and I've always though how it could be better. Even so, I never thought about making it better, since I managed with the current version.

Umm... yeah...
Now, years after the first version, I was told how poor it is by a fellow student that watched me working, which again, gave me the idea to ease my work.
So now I'm working on new roomeditor for this game, and hopefully this will make creating the rooms even faster.

Previous interface had no buttons, all commands are done from the keyboard and each object is added to the room by giving a filepath to the image or by copying the object. More detailed editting of the objects has to be done from the notepad file it aaves the objects in.

My goal is to easen all of these things, not needing to open notepad file for modifications, adding graphical options for commands and making it overall just comfortable to use.