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So, PAX is getting awfully close now isn’t it.

I’m kinda going batty just trying to get everything together for the game. But the most infuriating part is that everything I’m doing looks like I’m doing very little from the outside.

When all you are doing is fixing small little bugs you don’t have anything interesting to show. I wish I could show you a bunch of exciting new features but I can’t. The closest thing I have to anything new is a loading screen hint section. HintDemo

Anyway. Apart from this the main thing I’ve been working on is contacting press people who are coming to PAX who I think would be interested in Kana Quest. I’ve had a little bit of a response so far so that’s better than nothing. Found one person who was perfect for Kana Quest. They were interested in educational games and taught Japanese themselves. So was able to contact them and get a positive response there.

I also got to contact Meghan O’Neil at PCPowerPlay. That one is big for me as I used to read her opinion pieces in PCPP a lot back in the day. And was the first proper critical thought about games I was exposed to. So without her work I probably wouldn’t have wanted to make games. I don’t think Kana Quest will be her jam, but I do get to say thanks so that’s exciting.

In other news it looks like Kana Quest merch will be available at PAX so if you are interested in a Kana Quest T-shirt, Kana Soft Toy, or Socks, PAX Aus is your chance!

Anyway. Hope y’all have a good day and I’ll see you around. I won’t do a blog post next week, but you will get a MASSIVE one after PAX!

Till then.

Bai

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Sorry for the late blog post. I promise I have good excuse!

Here is my excuse –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wjyHFURurU

I made a trailer for Kana Quest in the lead up to PAX! Speaking of PAX what do I still have to do? Well a lot. We are less than a month out and hooo boy am I scared as all hell! Here is my list of things I still need to get organized.

  • Tablet Hire
  • Order more business cards
  • Pay the official PAX for any of the additional furniture I need.
  • Rigorously play-test the new tutorial.
  • Find and Squash as many bugs as possible.
  • Make a convention mode.
  • Try to get into contact with as many media people as possible.
  • Organize a convention survival kit.
    • Lots of water
    • Butter Menthols
    • Gaffer tape
    • Scisors
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Wet Wipes
  • Organize shifts for everyone helping me exhibit.
  • Set up my Steam Storefront
    • This one is going to be a blog post all to its self so I’m not gonna get into it all now.
  • Set up a video loop of some stock game-play footage for the booth so people can always see the game being played.

The thing that is really getting to me is I don’t know what I don’t know. There are so many things that need to be doing, and I feel as though I’m probably making a bunch of mistakes with all of them. But I don’t know what they are. This is also a large part of my own personal insecurities coming out here: I fundamentally don’t trust myself not to make an ass of myself.

Anyway I’m getting sidetracked. Let’s talk about how I made my trailer. Well for a start I used After Effects to make it. It’s the only video editing software I’ve used before so it was a natural choice. I really didn’t want to spend time learning a new tool. I only bought it for one month of use though. I don’t see the need for buying for a year when I’m probably only going to use it for two months in a year at max.

That said, After Effects is awful and I hate using it. I think I just hate video editing in general (guess that I’m not gonna be the next big youtube sensation). And I got to experience some fun little bugs from After Effects.

  • Upon installation, After Effects decided that I didn’t need my windows settings. So it just discarded all the stuff I’ve added to windows 8 to make it run like windows 7. Also this just in windows 8 base interface is still awful.
  • The phantom youtube music. While I was importing assets and setting up my composition I was listening to youtube music. I hit the preview button and somehow my youtube music got encoded onto my preview. Every time I played my preview the same bit of youtube music would play. I ended up having to re-import some assets to get rid of it.
  • Not a bug per say but AE particles suck. Guess I’ve been spoiled by Unity’s particle systems but the restrictions are stupid. For example you cannot lock your particles Z axis, which sucks if you have a 2D game. You also can’t have your particles animate off a sprite sheet. So I couldn’t use any of the particle assets I already had made in the game. Oh, I just remembered another thing AE particles can’t do. You can’t have sub emitters.

That said AE has added a few things that do make life a hell of a lot easier. Namely the graph editor is way easier to use than it was the last time I used AE. Oh and the inclusion of the “shy” layers made keeping my timeline a bit more organized way easier.

Anyway, that’s me for the week.

See you next week.

Hey welcome to this week’s Kana Quest Dev Blog. Where I get to talk all about what I’ve been doing for the last week. What I achieved, what problems I had and how I solved those problems for my game Kana Quest (A Puzzle game that’s a cross between dominoes and a match three game that teaches the Japanese phonetic Alphabet).

So PAX Aus is now less than a month away. This means most of my energy is being spent preparing for that. As a result very little new content for is going to be made for the game. I’m patching bugs certainly, but making new content will have to wait for now.

KanaQuestPAXBanner180dpi.jpgKanaQuestPAXBanner280dpi.jpgSo what sort of things are taking up so much time? Well mainly getting my booth ready. I learned from AVCon earlier this year, that your presentation matters. It matters a lot. Thankfully PAX provides printing of artwork included in the booking of the booth which will improve my baseline presentation a bunch. But I do need to make the artwork for those posters. As of this week I can officially say that I have been given grant money by Creative Victoria to attend PAX Aus which is amazing and I of coarse can’t thank them enough. And that bright pink banner topper is part of the conditions of the grant. I have to display the Melbourne International Games Week branding on my booth. Which I am more than happy to do. I also made an English version of the Kana Quest Logo as at AVCon I realized that most people had to ASK what the name of the game is. I want my players to know the name of the game without asking so it was a natural addition.

One big achievement this week was this little beauty (please imaging me saying beauty in a really strong Aussie accent).

TaxAccept.pngTurns out getting my tax information verified by Valve turned out to be a bit of a headache. I’ve been trying to get it done for last three weeks and its been very frustrating to do. I do need to give massive shout out to Carmine Fantarella at Games of Edan (Link: gamesofedan.com/icebox-speedgunner#_=_ ) . He provided a bunch of help in this department. So I do want to give thanks where thanks is due. If you like fast paced action games go check out his game ICEBOX: Speed Gunner, its really sweet and just plays amazingly.

So now that Kana Quest is on Steam what’s the next step? Well the next step is setting up my Steam Storefront. This means I need to make a trailer, prepare some HD screenshots and once again make sure my presentation is top notch. Once I’ve done that I’ll submit the game to Valve, they will review it and it will go onto the Coming Soon section.

 

Finally for this week we have the tutorial. For as long as this game has existed teaching players how to PLAY the game. Which is saying something as the first people to ever play the game were two native speakers of Japanese. This week I finally got sick of my tutorials not working so I sat down and made a list of skills the player needs to have to play the game.

  • Know how to flip the Kana to see the English
  • Know how to move the Kana.
  • Know how Kana match with each other.
  • Understand the win state of each level.
  • Know what the undo and restart buttons are.
  • Understand that Stone Kana can’t be moved.

So I went off and made the following tutorial level.NewTutorial5.gif

So this tutorial level does a few things differently to all previous versions. Firstly this tutorial takes place entirely on only once scene. This means I can add new concepts one at a time and those additions will be the focus of attention. It also is much harder to sequence break than previous version. Actually I specifically made it impossible to do so. I can’t afford players who just skip the tutorial as they will be lost. Anyway I need to now playtest this new tutorial to ensure that it’s up to the task of teaching everyone at PAX Aus.

And with that, another Dev Blog comes to an end for another week. If you are interested in Kana Quest please follow me on twitter @notdeaddesigner or follow my blog here on WordPress. I hope you all have a great weekend, till next time.

 

Hey. Welcome to this week’s Kana Quest DevBlog.

So what have I been doing this past week? I’ve been trying to implement some the changes to the tutorial that I talked about last week. NewTutorial.gif

So above is a new tutorial level that I made this week. There are a few new things here. First is the friendship gauge has been changed to show the size of the largest friendship group. This way it conveys information a bit better. Second I’ve changed the click image to a hand. In play tests with tablets and phones people have been confused by the old mouse. Thirdly is the English text bubbles above the Kana.  I’m doing this so that the player can see the connection between the Kana. Hopefully it will convey the idea that they game is about matching sounds.

21930808_10155250650068541_2091640450_o

The most exciting addition to Kana Quest this week is that of SOUND!!! I recorded my voice actress Aki Nemoto to perform all the Kana tiles this week.  Here is a photo of my dad (a sound engineer) setting up the microphone with Aki. She did a great job, I got the exact quality to the voice that I wanted. Of coarse I do want to say a big thank you to Dad here for helping me record!

Once the recording was done, I downloaded all the files and implemented them into the game. As of the most recent build, if you double click a Kana it will say its name.

 

KanaQuestMusicManagerBut that’s not all the sound work that got done this week! I also commissioned Nicole Marie T to compose some music for Kana Quest. So far she has finished work on the Kana Quest Theme Song and has done a great job! She is now currently working on the background theme for world one and world two. But in preparation for those assets I have made a music manager. This script will fade the music in and out when changing between worlds and the title screen.

That’s about all I can show you for this week. I’m hoping to get some more play tests done on the new tutorial asap so I can further refine it. Anyway, hope you have a good week and I’ll see you next week.

Hi Welcome to the Dev Blog for Kana Quest. If you’re new here and have never seen or heard of Kana Quest, read this blog post for the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Kana Quest. –> https://kipentheodor.wordpress.com/2017/09/09/kana-quest-primer/

Otherwise read on to hear about what’s been done over the last week!

So I have one and a half months till PAX Aus hits. And I am officially freaking out. There is so much to do and so little time for me to do it. I still have to get Kana Quest onto Steam so I can take preorders at PAX. I still have to implement some sound into the game. I still have to organize my booth’s set up. There are still some bugs that need to be ironed out. I need to make an awesome trailer to show off my game. And finally the one thing that has me worried most of all, my tutorial is still awful.

The tutorial has always Kana Quest’s biggest weakness. I tried to sit down this week and think about all the common misconceptions people have when they sit down and play.

  • They think they are writing words.
  • They think Hiragana is Kanji and start freaking out they don’t know the meaning of each letter.
  • They don’t understand they are trying to match sounds.
  • They don’t understand the win state.

So how am I going to prevent the player from thinking these things?

I

Don’t

Know

That’s it. The reality is I’m just not sure. But I cannot afford to give up. So here are some ideas I have that hopefully will help fix the problem.

Idea 1. Completion Gauge: So most people when playing are not sure what their goal is. If I give a visual representation of how close the level is to being completed it will better communicate the goal. I think it will help players know how close they are to completing a level, but not necessarily understand why they are completing the level.  CompletionGauge2.gif

As you can see I have already started work on this idea, mainly because I think this is my best one. To get this working though I have had to change how I handle checking whether or not the level is complete. Now the game will find the largest group of Kana in the level. Before the game would only actually check the group size starting from one location. I had to change this as if that starting location was the last to be connected it would be very easy to have a situation where the gauge goes from zero to full which would only confuse player further.

Idea 2. Show the Player the Hiragana Table: So the idea here is to show the player the whole Hiragana table after they learn their first three Kana. Hopefully this will demonstrate to the player that Kana are phonetic letters and not Kanji (which are pictorial). The other great advantage of doing this is I prepare the player for all the characters that they will learn. That way they don’t freak out that they are going to have HUNDREDS of Kana to memorize. HiraganaTableGif.gif

Idea 3. Show the English Sounds Matching in Tutorial Levels: The idea behind this one is that the player doesn’t get to see where things are matching. While this is a core part of the gameplay later on, for the tutorial the most important thing is that the player understands the core mechanic. If showing the English for a little bit will achieve this I’ll try it!

Idea 4. Change the Structure of Tutorial Levels: So the idea here is that I increase the size of the early levels but not increase the difficulty. What I’m thinking is a really long level with the same Kana repeating but with stone Kana to limit movement. Coupled with the completion gauge hopefully this will communicate the idea that creating matches is the goal.

So those are my ideas on how to improve the tutorial. They aren’t perfect so if you have any ideas, PLEASE TELL MEEEE! I’ll see you all in a week’s time where hopefully I haven’t turned into a stressed out wreck.

Hey, so you’ve stumbled onto my blog somehow. And probably you landed on a page about my game project Kana Quest. This is because for as long as I’m making Kana Quest I will be uploading a devblog of my process. However most of the devblogs are not great for anyone who doesn’t know what Kana Quest is…. which is you know…. most people.

SO! This is a quick primer on what Kana Quest is, and how it works.

KanaQuestTitleScreen.gif

So what is Kana Quest? Kana Quest is a puzzle game that’s a cross between dominoes and a match-3 game that teaches the Japanese Alphabet (Both Hiragana and Katakana). It will be released on Mac, PC, Linux, Android and iOS.

It is an educational game, but it is being designed to be a fun puzzle game first. This way, people who already know Japanese can still play and enjoy the game. Another key feature of Kana Quest is that there are no pop quizzes. A lot of educational games lean heavily on game-ified versions of school tests in the hopes that no one will notice.
KatakanaDemoThe main gameplay of Kana Quest revolves around Kana. The word Kana comes from the names of the two Japanese Alphabet; Hiragana and Katakana and basically means letter. In Kana Quest, the Kana have been brought to life and want to make friends. Its the player’s job to help them find their friends. Two kana that are next to each other will be friends if their names/pronunciation share a sound. So for example か (Ka) and な (Na) will be friends because they both have an “a” sound. The same is true for か (Ka) and く(Ku) because of the “k” sound. Once you know which Kana can be friends, you need to make a friendship group that includes all Kana in the level.
LevelDemo2For example. This level starts off with every Kana having at least one friend. But because these friendships don’t connect all the Kana into one group the level is not complete.

This gif also shows a couple of other important details. The flashing lines between Kana show that they are friends, and a sound matches between them.

 

Finally a quick description of the different mechanics currently in the game.

Blank Tiles: These can be seen in the above gif. These cannot match, but can be moved freely.

Stone Kana: Stone kana will match with other kana and must be included in the final friendship group but can not be moved. They have been turned to stone, you see.

MysteryTileDemo2Mystery Kana: These enigmatic Kana are hiding their true face. But their true identity is given away by who they become friends with. Unfortunately Kana who are hiding their true identity are not truly happy and must be unmasked before the level can be complete.

Slime Kana: Slime Kana do not have any consonants in their names. Slime tiles cannot move.But they can merge with other Kana. When they merge they change the vowel of any Kana they merge with. Slime Kana cannot match, but they are happy to help other Kana find their friends.SlimeTiles

And that about covers it. This primer will likely but updated over time as new content is added. If you have any questions please feel free to comment, and I’ll get back to you asap!

 

This week was a big week for Kana Quest because as of writing, all the levels in the second world are complete. So for this week’s devblog we are going to look at how I go about making levels.

Before getting into it I just want to include a quick intro to some of the terms that I will use in this devblog.

Kana: The individual game pieces in Kana Quest. They are also letters of the Japanese alphabets (Hiragana and Katakana).

Match: When two adjacent Kana share a matching sound. Eg. KA N–> Matching “A”. Matches are important as they are how you complete levels in Kana Quest. When every Kana is connected by one chain of matches the level is complete.

Mystery Kana: The main mechanic of the second world in Kana Quest. They are represented with question marks both in game and in hand drawn notes. The player must pay attention to what the Mystery Kana matches with to find out the sound of that Kana.

Ok that’s that. Onward!

 

So what is step one? The first thing I will do before I make a level is to make a mental note of a couple of things. For example: What kana has the player seen before? What kana have been introduced very recently? How many moves did the last level need to complete? How many different possible configurations did the last level have?

That last one is really important. As it is the biggest determining factor of a level’s difficulty. For example look at the following mock levels.20170902_161642.jpg

Both levels have the exact same Kana, and require the same amount of moves to complete but A is significantly easier to complete than B. And it comes down entirely to the amount of possible configurations of the Kana. One of the first levels I ever made for Kana Quest was a 3×3 level with a Kana in every spot. It only took 2 moves to complete but no one could ever complete it.
20170902_163949.jpg

So once I’ve made a note of how difficult I want the level to be, using a pen and paper I start drawing down the idea of what the level should be like.

You can see this happening here. I start out with an idea for a level where you get two normal Kana to try and figure out lots of different Mystery Kana in the level. (Top part)

Once I realize the limitations of the level concept I rearrange things to ensure the level plays well (Middle part).

Finally I write down the solution to the level and the number of moves needed to get there. (Bottom part).

Once I’m happy with my first draft of a level its time to get it into the game!

To do this I have to give unity (the game engine I’m using) the following things. 1. The dimensions of the level (In this case 3×6). 2. Make a numerical list representing each of the Kana starting from the bottom left of the level.  (In this case the list is 12,47,20,47,47,310,47,307,47,322,47,105,-1,106,-1,108,323). 3. Tell unity how many Kana there are in the level. This allows unity to know when the level is actually complete. Once you do all of this you get…LevelDemo

One level, ready for play-testing! I will usually play the level once or twice to make sure that it is possible and I know the minimum number of moves needed to complete. Then I will give it to play-testers who let me know if the level is too hard or too easy. Then I will adjust accordingly.

If you have any questions about the level making process feel free to ask any questions in the comment section.

That’s me for this week. Have a great weekend all.

 

Hey, Welcome to this week’s Kana Quest Devblog where I talk about all the work I’ve done during the week.

So this week has been mostly about getting elements of the second world working ASAP. With PAX Aus fast approaching there are three major things I need to get done before then. First is World 2, second is getting it working on IOS and android and third is putting in some sound.

So most of implementing World 2 is done, the only tasks left on the plate is a tutorial for how to move to World 2, a tutorial for the mystery tile mechanic and finally all the levels. I’m trying to finish working on World 2 by the end of August so I have plenty of time to get the other things on my list done.

So I have two GIFs to show off this week. The first is a lock out screen if the player tries to move to World 2 without meeting the requirements.

World2LockedScreen

The other GIF for this week is a quick demo of how Mystery Kana work. So mystery tiles, cannot be moved and you cannot see the actual Kana. But they will match like normal Kana do. Using that information the player has to figure out what Kana is hiding behind that disguise. In this gif you can see the mystery matches with Ki and Na but not Ko.  This means that the Mystery tile must have the vowel “i” because if it was matching with the consonant Ko would match.  Then since we know that the vowel is “i” when we see Na match we know that the consonant is “n”. Add those sounds together and you get Ni. MysteryTileDemo2.gif

So there are a few things to keep in mind about Mystery Kana. Even if all the Kana match up if there are any Mystery Kana the level will not be complete. Secondly once you figure out the sound of a mystery tile, it will become a normal tile that you can move freely. This is great because it allows more interesting levels. For example you can make levels that are impossible to complete without unmasking all the mystery tiles.  This definitely increases the design space of Mystery Kana a lot.

Anyway that’s the devblog for this week. Hope you have a good weekend, and I’ll see you next week.

Before we get into the meat of this week’s update I just have some big news about Kana Quest. Officially Kana Quest is going to be heading to PAX Aus this year! If you are planning on coming come say hi and give the game a go! I would love to hear your feedback! And if you have any friends going tell them to check Kana Quest out! Anyway with that done, onto the week’s work!

So this week I’ve been working on implementing the second world into Kana Quest. I’ve known for a while that I want to transition between worlds by clicking and dragging the screen. And for the background art to join up seamlessly. So what’s the process of doing this involved?

world2MoreCurrent Step one was making the background art for world two. This was the easy part. All I really needed to watch out for here was to make sure that all the layers are repeatable so I can make the world as long or short as needed.

 

The next step was ensuring that the two worlds can transition into each other. This step will be easier in the future thanks to more planning in the world two art but no such planning was done for the first world’s art. As such the seam is a little abrupt. But its not an immediate shift so its better than nothing.

World1to2

MovingToWorld2

Part three was bringing the assets into unity and getting the camera to move when the player clicked and dragged. One small bug occurred with this though. I made my camera a physics object. Turns out any child object of a physics object loses its ability to know if the player is clicking on it. This caused some of my menus to stop working.

 

World2WithParallax.gif

Once we had the camera moving we had to get the background parallaxing with the camera. This means that the foreground art will move more than the background art to create the illusion of depth. This turned out to be troublesome as I kept being able to make my world two art not line up with the first world art. Thus forcing me to find a way to ensure that the art would always come back to the right position. This took half a day. It was not fun.

So here we have the last part of getting this whole thing working. The transition. This gave me the most trouble out of everything and is what I spent most of this week working on. The reason is for the first world I had used a static overlay that would fade in OVER everything in the scene. This overlay would work fine as long as the overlay was the exact same as the background. But once you add a variable camera position you no longer can guarantee this. So things had to change. So now, what is happening is I have a script that finds all the visible parts of the background, and prevents them from being destroyed when a new scene is loaded, then it moves those objects into the same relative position as they were in the previous scene. This is important as the camera’s position changes scene to scene so if this didn’t happen the art would be misaligned, or not in shot at all. Then would take all other objects in the scene and fade them out. Once the new scene is loaded it would get all the new non-background objects in the scene set the transparency to full and fade the new objects in. The result is what you can see below.

FirstWolrd2Level

 

And that was the process involved in adding the second world to the game. All subsequent worlds will be easier as I won’t have to worry about making the last three steps all over again. It will be set up for me already! Anyway I hope you all enjoyed learning about my process.

Till next week.

Another week another Devblog.

This was an ok week for productivity. Some stuff got done but not as much as I know I can get done (I spent most of Wednesday practically falling asleep). But three big things were done this week!

The first thing is that I have officially started working on Kana Quest’s audio. Well more like the background music for the game. Now when I knew I was going to have pixel art for the visuals of Kana Quest I knew that chip tunes were going to be used for the music. So this week I did my research of what were the best programs for making chip tunes and landed on FamiTracker (the visual fustercluck you see below). Then I spent a little bit figuring out how to use the thing. Thankfully there were some really well made tutorials on youtube that sped up the process. Now that I’m used to the software its not so bad to work with. Although if you look below you can see that I kinda ended up with a piece of music which has 5 frames to a crotchet for some reason. This is great if I want to you know have quavers (sarcasm). Regardless, progress on the theme song for Kana Quest is progressing nicely.FamitrackerScreenshot.png

The second major achievement for this week was the implementation of an options screen. Last week I talked about how the player can now switch between Hiragana and Katakana. The options screen is how the player is going to do that, so it is pretty important that I get the options screen working. I haven’t got all the controls on it working yet but we will get there soon enough. At the very least its really nice not to have one grayed out button on my main menu screen.Options Screen Demo

Finally, saving the best till last, we finally have world 2 implemented into the game! So the way you get to the world 2 is by click and drag the screen to move over. I’ve put a ridgidbody2D onto the camera so that when the player lets go of the camera will continue moving for a moment. It just feels a nicer to do doing it this way. Another thing to notice is that the menu button changes color when we move to world 2. One of the things that is a big part of making the art for a new world is making sure the colors of the UI matches the new setting. So, although you can’t see the extent of this in the gif below, a large part of putting this into the game was recoloring all the UI. One last small detail in this gif is the title screen. I’ve changed the image used for the stars in the background. I’m much happier with where they are now and the new stars look great!MovingToWorld2.gif

Anyway. That’s all the major and interesting stuff I got done this week. I’ll see you next week where hopefully we will be able to show off some levels for the second world! Until then, take care.