Hey. So this week was the monthly IGDA (International Game Developers Association) meet up and I went to that to do a playtest of Kana Quest.

So my play test process has been polish to a stable state, give to players, see what breaks and what players don’t like. The main points of feedback from this playtest were quite different from the last one I did. The main point of feedback from the first playtest was that my tutorial was awful and levels got too hard too fast. Now in this playtest as the tutorial is less awful (still not perfect) and I’ve smoothed the difficulty curve, players gave different feedback because there weren’t these big glaring issues.

So the list of feedback I got was as follows.

  • Click and drag action for moving tiles needs more visual feedback
  • The move limit is frustrating
  • The next level sign and the tile matcher effect clashes with the rest of the art
  • levels should immediately proceed to the next level
  • I should have an option at the end of a level to show all the English at once
  • The new kana effect does not read well.

There were other comments and suggestions but these were the most consistent across players.

So this week I have been trying to implement changes based on these problems. But sadly I only really got to two things on this list.

The first thing I addressed was the visual feedback for moving tiles. And this took way longer than it should have. Still has some bugs but it doesn’t break all the time any more (only 5% of the time which is still not good but its better than 50%). So now if you click and drag a Kana it will move with your mouse, and the tile that is being swapped with the current tile will move too. NewSlide

So the bugs that remain are as follows. Sometimes if the player drags really far sometimes the two tiles will end on top of each other. Then the other problem is that if the player drags in one direction and then changes the direction you get this nasty looking pop that you can see when the blank tile is being moved above. And lastly you can get the tile dragging while it is showing you the English side, which just looks kinda clunky.

Secondly I have started working in a “three star system” like in a lot of mobile games. It allows me to have a variable difficulty that the player chooses and lowers the barrier to entry a little bit more. Except I will do it with medals, gold, silver and bronze. You can see the silver medal above in the gif.

The last thing I did this week was not done in the game but was still important. I made my business card.

I’ve been putting this thing off for so long. And now it is done. Yay me.

That’s all from me this week.  Next week I will finish the “three start system”, I will try squashing the last of the movement bugs and I’ll get to the rest of the problems on the list.

So this week Kana Quest has progressed slowly. Not gonna lie. But sometimes you need to take a step back from making a thing so you can continue pressing on in a healthy direction. But still I’ll show you all what I’ve made, why I’ve made it and all that.
HavaVer2So this is a character that I have made for the tutorial sections of the first world. I have a plan of how each world is going to look like and what theme each one will have. The first world is all about Sakura flowers. This is because spring signifies new beginnings in most cultures and the symbol for spring in Japan is Sakura. Another cute thing to note is the academic school year begins during Sakura season. So it makes sense to start a new journey about learning new things. Anyway this character is called Hanna because the word for flower in Japanese is Hana (I’m a sucker for multilingual puns).
So one major problem I’ve encountered this week was one coming from my own art.  So the plan for Hanna is that she will be speaking to the player via text box. And this will be overlay on-top of the background (See Below). The problem is the background commands a lot of attention and I can’t just put Hanna on-top of it. If I do it will look awful. And to be honest this has been just further frustrating me about the background art. I really want to re-do it to make it more usable but I’m afraid I will be falling into the trap of never finishing anything. So for now I am going to leave it. I will make note of future backgrounds to avoid the traps that I have put myself into from that first background.TutorialScriptSkipButton

The things I will do for future backgrounds are as follows.

  • Use less colors and stay strictly within color pallet
  • Don’t make the image a fixed size. It limits my ability to add new levels should I need to.
  • Make sure you set up the backgrounds to parallax this way worlds can be as large or small as I like.
  • Make the visual level counters an even distance apart.

 

SlimeTilesThe last thing I want to show this week is the Slime Tiles. This is the finished art of a mechanic that has been finished for a while. Basically all the Hiragana that don’t have a consonant (a,i,u,e,o) when used with another Hiragana will change the other Hiragana. For example using o (far right in above gif) with a Ka (far left in tutorial demo gif) will change the Ka to a Ko. Once used with another tile the changed tile will have that same transparent slimy color over it so the player can track the change. I really like this mechanic because it solves a couple of problems. First it makes a,i,u,e,o function differently from other kana that have both a vowel and a consonant. The reason this is important is that if they didn’t behave differently they would just restrict level design space for no real reason as they can only be matched with similar vowels as they have no consonant. Secondly they get the player to focus on the sounds of the tiles in interesting ways. This way the game isn’t just a puzzle of “how to I move the tiles around in the most efficient way”?

So that’s my progress for the week. If anyone has any questions about Kana Quest or design choices please feel free to ask!

Till next time.

 

So been a while since I was on here.  So what have I been doing?

Basically since I last posted I have decided to dedicate all my time to making my game Kana Quest. I’ve just been forgetting to upload updates to this blog cos I’m good at the social of the medias. Speaking of the social media, I’ve been trying real hard to get twitter working for me. So if you want more immediate updates on Kana Quest follow me @notdeaddesigner .

So Anyway. Have some images and gifs of Kana Quest’s progress.

Kq4

This one is showing off the new background for Kana Quest. The final game with have a background with the same level of polish for each world.

CuteKanaAllWell for some reason it lets me have this gif. Whatever. This shows of me redesign of the Kana tiles to give them all a bit of personality, as well as a backdrop for the puzzles so its easy to see the puzzles with the new background.

NewLevelLayoutIn this one I have added a new UI above the puzzle to improve visibility, changed the formerly red tiles (non moving tiles) to be stone tiles, and I’ve changed the beat level anim to be more instantaneous.

NewRestartButtonGif

In this one I’ve changed to UI ontop of the puzzle as playtesters wanted a restart button and an undo button.

NewEnglishBacks

In this one I updated the backs of the Kana tiles to match the front. As you can see though the back of the stone tiles still don’t match up. Another big change in this one that might not be immediately noticeable is that I no longer have my pixels bunching and stretching so in other words from here on in we are pixel perfect 😀 😀

TutorialScriptTransitions

This one is showing off my new tutorial system. Some one who goes back to last year might remember that I spent a large amount of time making a tutorial script. I was basically forced to retire that script because it was hella inefficient. This one is way more efficient and elegant. Anyway I’ll have a lot more control over this script that the old one had.

And that’s about it. I will probably do updates once a week on Saturdays from now on and will go a lot more in depth of what I’ve been doing. What I want to do the coming week, problems I’ve been having and how I solved old problems.

Anyway take care all.

 

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Finished Bogan Bots Page 9. I changed how I was doing the text as a few people have said that it’s really hard to read. Hopefully this will help.

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Bogan Bots page 8 is done. Wanted to put in a joke about BB8 from Star Wars but i just ran out of time to put it in.

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I finished playing Pokemon Sun and Moon a while ago. And I enjoyed the game, the new Pokemon are awesome, and Alola is stunning. But I was bugged by a lot of things in the game and I want to write about them. See, Sun and Moon made some horrendous errors in its design. Chief of which is how it handles story. The story is handled so badly I had the following thought: Pokemon should just stay far away from ever trying to do story.

Sun and Moon is the second time Pokemon has had a greater narrative thrust. And just like the last time narrative was a focus (Black and White) the game suffers for it. The moment you add narrative to a game you have a whole new set of things to worry about. What the plot is, how the plot interacts with the game-play, how you will deliver the story, and what message you are telling through your story are a couple of vital things to consider. It is excruciatingly clear that none of these things were considered during the development of Sun and Moon. The plot is the same plot that the series has had since third gen. Which would be fine if the story was handled like in X/Y in that it takes the backseat. But the story actively intrudes on the player’s ability to play the game resulting in an opening that takes forty minutes before the player gets their first Pokemon. The story is delivered via cut scenes that involves the player either reading boring dialogue or watching awkward animations. As for the message the game creates, I hope the message made was by pure incompetence than active choice. If it was active choice, then as a lifelong fan of the Pokemon I might stop playing Pokemon due to how awful that political stance is.

So what is the message that the story conveys? People who are animal rights activists are evil bastards who will take over the world and enslave the very animals they say they will protect. The villains of Sun/Moon are the Aether Foundation which is a group dedicated to the research and preservation of Pokemon. In other words Sun/Moon is mentioning the elephant in the room when it comes to Pokemon. That being that Pokemon are essentially slaves, people catching Pokemon are not that much different from poachers and the entire Pokemon world economy runs off cockfights between Pokemon. We all know these things, I remember noticing this as a kid. But we ignored it because the game said it was all good and didn’t draw attention to it and so we suspended our disbelief. If Gamefreak (Pokemon’s developer) legitimately wanted to tackle these issues they could add mechanics which showed that the player is being an ethical trainer. For example rather than storing Pokemon in the PC they are sent to a sanctuary where they are free to do what they like (Which does actually exist in Sun/Moon as the Poke Pelago). Or if a Pokemon dislikes a player enough then it can run away. And before you say that would suck if a Pokemon you had ran away, just remember as it is, you have to actually try HARD to get a Pokemon to hate you. They could have lots of side missions where the player shuts down Pokemon poaching operations, or liberates them from abusive trainers. You could have endangered Pokemon that you aren’t allowed to catch like regular pokemon, that you can only obtain by doing a small quest to win the trust of these endangered Pokemon or increase the population to a healthy level. What Gamefreak should NOT do is create straw-men of animal rights groups and plonk a big fat evil sticker on their heads like in Black/White and Sun/Moon. Because by doing this Gamefreak is saying that animal rights are not legitimate and that animal conservation is evil. And frankly that’s just straight fucked up, especially when we are experiencing a mass extinction event (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction).

I will also briefly mention that one particular reading of these games are that they are an attack on PETA. For those who don’t know PETA is a real world “animal rights movement”. Which like Team Plasma or the Aether Foundation is evil, but they are evil for different reasons. They basically kill all animals that come into their “care” (over 90%) and even steal people’s pets and then kill said pets. Needless to say PETA is fucked up. But I doubt Sun/Moon is having  a go at PETA. It’s an American charity that does not even operate in Japan. And even if they are, that message will be lost on the primary audience: Japanese kids.

 
So that’s my rant about Pokemon Sun and Moon. There was some really cool stuff in these games but the story was so bad I really wish they hadn’t bothered. It ruins the pacing of the game, it sends an awful message and it actually makes the game worse as a whole. And I really hope Gamefreak just doesn’t bother with the story for future games.

Bogan Bots Page 7 is finally done. A long delay between this page and the last due to holidays turning out to be a difficult time to do work. Who’d have thunk? Hope you enjoy updates will be on Fridays from here on in.boganbots7

Page 6 of Bogan Bots is done. I decided that I wasn’t executing on the color well enough so for now Bogan Bots will be drawn in black and white. But now this gives me more time to polish my line work a bunch more.

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So this piece needs a little bit of explanation. My girlfriend wanted to get my dad a uniqlo tshirt for Christmas which is of Mike and Sully made of ivy. My dad’s favorite movie of all time is Monsters Inc and he loves gardening. One problem that shirt is only available for women. So we decided to do a joint present where I would draw a similar piece except with native Australian plants and my girlfriend would pay to get it printed on a shirt. The trees in the piece are a Jacaranda, Morton Bay Fig and a miniature Ghost Gum.

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