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So this week has been a rough week for Kana Quest. This has mainly been because my grandfather’s health has deteriorated quite significantly so my mind has been elsewhere. But hey somethings did get done so without further ado here’s what I got done.

First thing I got done was I have fully implemented a medal system into Kana Quest. This allows the player to choose their own difficulty. A gold medal will be earned by completing a level in the minimum number of moves. A silver medal will be earned by completing the level within two or three moves beyond the minimum. And bronze medals are earned for completing the level in any amount of moves.

KanaQuestMedalMedu

Seen below is a demonstration of the player losing the medal they earn based on how many moves they use.

MedalDemo

finishedlevelThis is a wip of the gui that will appear once the level is complete. I like the cool rainbow next level button but I’ve gotten a bunch of feedback that it doesn’t fit with the art style. A variant of this gui will appear depending on the medal the player earns.

 

 

 

The last thing that I achieved was debugging the new movement script from last week. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of the main bugs that were plaguing that script but now things are much more stable. There is still some bugs in there but I have had a much harder time replicating those bugs so they remain in until I can consistently trigger those bugs to get rid of them.

Anyway hope you all have a good weekend. I’ll see you next week.

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.

 

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.

So yes. It has been a LONG time since I’ve posted anything. But I do have a good reason. Mainly is that I went away to Sydney for a while and then I started a new game project that took longer than was intended.

But said game project is now done. So I am very happy to present to everyone my game “The Elephant”.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6PHPlztnNd8TkZ2UVhmMzV6Y00

(PC and Mac Versions are within the folder)

So what is this game? Well the inspiration of this game was comedy sketches. I wanted to see if I could make a short comedy game of about 1-5 minute length in a week. Now obviously it took me about 3 weeks to complete. But the challenge was a simple comedy game made in a week. I might do something like this again in the future so hopefully when I do so I will be able to get much closer to the one week goal.

 

Second thing that I’ve done recently is a poster for RMIT Music and their next concert. I didn’t post it when I finished it as I was waiting for them to post it onto their official page first.

RMITMusicPosterPrint.jpg

 

Third is another commission I did recently for a friends pathfinder character. I am pretty happy how this drawing came out. I am happiest with the lighting with all the stars flying of his magic. In terms of things I think I could have done better I feel as though it probably doesn’t have as much contrast from the inky black areas to where the stars a illuminating things.GeordieCharfinal.jpg

Today was mostly a day focusing on Kana Quest.  But the first thing I did was make a few more changes to the  drawing from yesterday.SUStudyYellowDiamondFightfinal

There is a lot more I could do with this piece, and to be honest I’m not actually happy with how it came out but I need to finish it and move onto something new. The main changes for today was increasing the boldness of the lines in the gems, and changing some of the colors in the background. The things I don’t like about this piece is it just feels kinda flat and lifeless to me. I know I’m working in a cartoon style but this drawing feels so much less dynamic than what I was going for. I think my lack of skill in shading and color theory really hurt this piece. But alas. It’s time to move on from the art of Rebecca Sugar onto a new artist. I think I might focus on landscapes and buildings after this so I look forward to having my buildings looking like boxes and getting annoyed at them.

Next up is I finally finished implementing a mechanic for kana quest from a while back.

It works like this, you have a “paint” tile that when you use it changes the vowel of any kana you use it with. So above an “a” paint tile used with an “nn” tile changes the sound to a “Na”. Most of the mechanic was already done for me today but the thing I did do was create that splotchy overlay to show that the sound has been altered. The hardest part was actually getting that overlay to go back in the correct place when the undo button was used. But I got it working despite the many bugs.

Finally today I started work on a level select scene in the game. Thus allowing players to pick and choose any level they have beaten.  This is good as it allows folk to replay levels if they have forgotten how to play. You can see the begging of the sprites I will use below.KanaQuestGUIPreview.png

So the numbered tiles will be used for the levels. I will use green borders for levels that the player can access and red ones for levels that they can’t.

And that’s everything I did today.

Today's ScreenShot.png

Today I was mostly building tutorials for a new playtest of Kana Quest. I fixed (slowly) a bunch of really boring mundane stuff in Kana Quest like creating an actual recolored sprite for non moving tiles rather than just relying on Unity’s in build color changer (Which only looks good if you have black and white textures). These things sound really small but when you code your game with trans-dimensional spaghetti code everything simple takes longer.

So as a result I’m just giving you all a screenshot of the game with the new non-moving tile sprites implemented.

See you tomorrow.

So I have been in Japan for the last year teaching English to Japanese kids. Now that I am back in Australia I am going to be focusing on making a bunch of work for my portfolio that I can use to get a job.

So for the last two days I have been working on making a tutorial script that I can use for any of the games that I make in the future (as well as games that I’m currently making). What the script will do is the designer will tell it how many events there are to be in the tutorial. Then select what type of events they will be. And then use the controls on the script to adjust the events for final use. You can see the user interface for the script below.

TutorialScriptScreenShot

The reason I am working on this script is that I have been working on a game that teaches the player to read Hiragana (the first of the three lettering systems in Japanese). And the rules are a little confusing at first. This means I need a good tutorial. And the only way to get a good tutorial is to iterate on it a lot. But previously I have been making the tutorial with scripts that only fitted that tutorial. Thus I would have to re-code the tutorial every time I wanted to change something.

This script will allow me to change my old tutorials quickly as well as make new tutorials.

Also, a quick afterword. I will make regular updates to this blog to document my progress. As a result there will be more work in progress type posts rather than finished product type posts in the future.

Theo

So, I had a job interview recently and I decided to make a game about job interviews.

Fortunately mine went much better than in the game but still, I saw an opportunity to be silly and I took it.

So without any further ado, I give you Job Interviews Suck.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/67682888/TwineGames/Job%20Interviews%20Suck.html