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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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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.

 

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!

 

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.

So the countdown to Kana Quest’s first public showing is in 7 days! So I’m desperately trying to squash bugs and get a few more things working before I show it in Adelaide in a week.

The first visible change this week is the inclusion of a Hiragana Table. I wanted to include this for Adelaide as its just a small feature that adds a lot of help for the player.

HiraganaTableGif

 

So that was the only major visible change. But loads of bugs got squashed this week. Here is a full list.

  • Fixed a bug where the player could still interact with the Kana Tiles after the level was complete. Thus causing layering problems with the end level screen.
  • Fixed a bug where the number of moves would not be displayed properly at the end of the level.
  • Fixed an animation in the tutorial that had a small faint line appearing during one frame that just looked ugly.
  • Fixed a bug where if you completed a level with a worse medal that you already had received it would over write the better medal.
  • Fixed a bug that caused certain parts of the UI to go away.
  • Fixed a bug that was messing with my title sequence preventing the logo from moving properly.

 

There are several bugs and quality of life fixes I need to get fixed before Adelaide however. They are:

  • Making tiles be counted as “seen” if the player doesn’t look at the tile but still completes the level.
  • Fix a bug which incorrectly displays the amount of Silver and Bronze medals in the level select area.
  • Create level requirements based on how many gold medals the player has received.
  • Create a “help” screen that explains mechanics in case the player forgets important concepts.
  • Fix the tutorial’s “next button” script so that the next button will complete the current piece of text.

That about does it for me this week. I will post a blog next week but it will be on Friday as I will be showing people Kana Quest on the Saturday and Sunday!

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.