Captain’s Log 0210416.105: It Could Be a Bit More Awesome

Thanks to a retreat last weekend with my best friend, I realized that I’ve been focusing heavily on what is pragmatic in my constant quest for a golden workflow road.

No project is worth doing unless it’s full of awesome. Now, all of my projects have that potential, but I have not been specifically seeking that potential out. I’ve been looking for a way to do cheap and easy, instead of investing time.

I’m not sure how this revelation (which I need to rediscover from time to time) is going to shape projects in the immediate future. Awesome Moments itself may resume being my focus on the other side of the Weekend. However, we shall see.

In the mean time, here’s a workflow for making HD animations using Spriter & Krita:

Step 1: create prototype graphics at half size. Be careful about form and posture, and sloppy about everything else. The initial version of a character, especially if I intend to use character maps, should have out-jutty things designed to ensure each part takes up as much space as it ever likely will.

Here’s the Solar Guard, created for that exact purpose:

Step 2: Export at 4X size (that is, 2x the intended size; 4x the ‘sketch’ size) and animate in Spriter. Here, I am intending to shrink the graphic in Unity. By going to 4X size, I can allow for an amount of zooming without losing detail.

Step 3: Open the generated graphics in Krita and save them as *.kra files. Double the size once more, draw final quality art on new layers, then export it to a new skin folder at half size as png.

Apply skin in Spriter and see how it looks.

I may abandon shading on characters, in line with old cartoons where the backdrops were carefully painted and shaded, but the characters had flat coloring except in extreme situations. But I am content with this workflow and this art style.

I think after I’m done with Awesome Moments and in between books, I’m going to work on making a hand drawn game with Piqha. Maybe it’ll be an RPG. Maybe a platformer. Maybe I’ll work on both and see what happens. Maybe I’ll backburner Awesome Moments until my heart is in it again.

We’ll see what happens. But I need to feed my kid and the farm aminals.

Concept singularity

26 projects currently listed in Yet Another List of Projects.

John Michael Jones is on the verge of being added to the Alpha Test/Demake not as a skit playing out within the demake…

Which has been under consideration

..but as a focal point of the conceit.

So, we are taking Alpha Test, and merging it with AV@TAR, Crossover Arcade, Jump the Shark, Piqha, Stardogs, Star Knights, AND Theria… and we’re almost at a functioning gestalt.

I just need to cook this stone soup a few minutes longer.

Captain’s Log 0210326.071

Proof is in.

Blanket Octopus : pics

Oops. That’s not my proof. That’s a blanket octopus. The females fly through the sea with superhero capes. The males went undiscovered until very recently because they max out at an inch long.

Ahem.

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Work on getting my paperwork squared away for the Kickstarter proceeds slowly. My first read through of the book as already identified multiple grievous errors.

And I feel this close to figuring out my ‘golden path’.

wait, what?

Captain’s log: 0210320.054

The PDF of the Awesome Moments draft is done and can be downloaded here. Right now, I’ve just posted it to my subscribestar on a public post (so you don’t have to offer me money to get it).

Awesome Moments 1, maybe all of Awesome Moments, was always meant to be freely available to anyone. I want money, yeah, but I want people to have easy access to my religion even more. I think ultimately, the PDF of the finished book is going to be available on gumroad or something.

Yesterday I slept through my alarm and, being between tasks on the Awesome Moments project, made some half-hearted stabs at setting up the Kickstarter. There’s going to be a hiccup in the process of getting that going: despite it being several months since moving states, I still don’t have a lot of paperwork sorted out. So I guess getting my paperwork sorted is now officially working on my book!

Proofs are in the mail.

I included 4 ‘blank’ pages at the end of the proof, in case I decide I need to insert more pages to make the book work. Any more than 4, and I have to remove pages to get pages. Ideally, they remain blank, and I can use them in future prints to advertise the later books in the series.

But my brother suggested that any blank pages at the back of the book be turned into coloring pages. “Kids are going to color in books either way. Might as well have an officially sanctioned place for ’em to do it,” he reasons.

Well, it’s not a terrible. idea. In fact, I would like to make coloring books. I have avoided doing so thus far simply because I’ve yet to dig out a POD service like unto KDP in ease of use, and because everything I’ve made doesn’t naturally fit that format without extra work.

I broached the idea of making storybooks and just not coloring them on twitter and someone suggested the obvious thing I was missing:

Duh.

I’m not sure if I’m going to take that tack with Awesome Moments 1, or wait until my next book. It’s a tiny bit of bonus work, but it may be worthwhile just so I can sell a version of the book for $4 instead of $12.

I always get hung up on the price of my products. I should charge top dollar and make it worth my while, but I’m podunk, born and bred, and I want my people to be able to buy my stuff.

Continue reading “Captain’s log: 0210320.054”

Last Legend Devlog: The unbearable weight of choice

Let’s go!

First thing I need to be able to do is chain actions together. Which means I need a way to know when they are completed. So here’s the plan: I’ll run a co-routine that passes the time, and activates the next action in a chain when it’s done.

We’ll test it by having two dialogues in a row with different ‘speakers’.

Sweet. Only had to squash two major bugs to pull this off in a psuedo-hacky way. That’s not gonna come back to bite me at all!

Now that we can put dialogue before choices, we need a choice menu. Ugh. I feel my motivation drying up.

Tomorrow I rest, and the next day, I begin work on a new project. Nothing to do but charge forward! WAKANDA FOREVER!

So, tinkering around with this, I’ve got a menu made up, and I’m starting to rig code to it…

I think I want to make an action queue. Like, in general. Every time an action is taken, it gets added to the queue rather than executed. Then, each action is run until it is completed or aborted, and the next action comes off the queue. This is fundamentally different to what I’m doing now… I’m just running every action right away, and when I want to string together a list — and only then –, I do this hacky thing where I go over the list in a coroutine, moving to the next a quarter of a second after I determine that one is done.

I don’t like it. It feels messy. It feels like strings of actions, each waiting for the previous one to complete, are going to be a frequent situation in an RPG.

I’m not sure. This seems like a drastic retooling. A “starting over” kind of situation. I want to build the best foundation I can, though, as I intend to run several games on this framework.

It’s worth additional thought. But my work time today is complete, and the day after tomorrow I will be working on a different project. So I’ll have some additional thought.

Time to leave myself extensive notes. Update the repo. And then draw caricatures of the King of Kings. Because I like to live dangerously.

Last Legend Devlog

We last left our embryonic RPG with a campfire scene that had a bunch of blocks with faces, and the understanding that we’d bring this into Unity and talking to those blocks would allow us to alter the screen, the volume, perhaps the controls.

I took a brief break to figure out what those blocks are, since smiley face blocks are a constant in a video game world. I decided they were a coral-like therian that leave their cubic shells scattered about the landscape. Then, I drew up an illustration for my bestiary, and realized that to introduce my bestiary within the comic, I needed a sprite for Dr. Eli Stump, which means I needed a design for Dr. Eli Stump.

So, today, my primary task for the next couple of hours is to bring my scene into Unity and get music, sounds, and option menus working. And then, after hours, my task if I find time is to make a Dr. Stump sprite, and a comic/bestiary entry for the capdjak.

Let’sa go!

Step 1: separate out all the mockup elements. Import them into Unity. Make a capdjak interaction sprite.

Okay, we’ve got a start. Irritatingly, I find the fact that I’ve created a small world that lives and breaths, even if it’s a two-frame fire look, intrinsically entertaining. Ye gads.

Well, I’ve got 20 minutes left, and the big thing to do is create a choice dialogue that allows two or three or even more options.

Yeah, I’m not gonna get that done today. But if I pull it off tomorrow, even though I haven’t set up the sound system, I’m still in a good place pick up where I left off in a couple of months.

Captain’s Log, 0210225.54: Of Battle Systems, Music, and Cartoon Kings

Normally, I would put off the Captain’s Log post for Friday, but I’ve only got three workdays left in this month, and that means I have to make a decision as to what I’m doing next month. And I’m almost 100% sure I’m going to Kickstart Awesome Moments starting halfway through the month. Which means I need to swiftly decide whether I’m retooling the art style, and I need to produce some good art for the Kickstarter itself, including the first draft of the PDF, and a couple of pages of finished illustrations.

The Last Legend engine has basic movement, dialogue, and context-sensitive radial menus:

There are two or three possible next steps:

Continue reading “Captain’s Log, 0210225.54: Of Battle Systems, Music, and Cartoon Kings”

Last Legend Devlog

Yesterday, I learned how to use LeanTween’s spline-following functions, and attempted to create an interface using Unity’s UI. It went horribly wrong and mucked up my input, so I’ve ditched it for… rolling my own buttons.

Today, work has begun anew on the radial menu. And I have the radial menu spawning on command at the location of my choosing, with as many buttons as I like, and gracefully disappearing on command as well.

Cool beans. Now I need to tie it to actions and teach it to accept input.

I have to say I love the sheer amount of math involved that A) I don’t have to do, and B) I don’t even have to understand. How do you move an object along a spline? Hell if I know; Lean Tween will handle it for me. How do you rotate a spline around an arbitrary axis point so that multiple icons will follow the same path, except rotated? Hell if I know; Unity will handle it for me.

Input’s going to be a tad bit tricky. Mouse and touch will be easy, but the point of a radial menu is that you press a direction with the stick or D-Pad and get the button in that direction. I’m going to have to figure out a general solution that works on every number of buttons. But first, I guess I better do some plumbing.

Update

Continue reading “Last Legend Devlog”

Captain’s Log, 0210222.062

We are going to tinker for the remainder of February. At this point, I am 90% sure I want to launch a Kickstarter for Awesome Moments on March 15th, and spend March 1st throught he 15th building up to that.

In the mean time, today’s task is to implement radial menus in my RPG/Adventure game unity framework.

I spent yesterday relaxing, trying to avoid working on the game, even in my head, but I could not avoid the conclusion that I still hate adventure games, and unless I am suddenly struck by lightning and come up with a new way of approaching them, I’m just going to go ahead and start implementing battles as soon as my radial menu is up and running.

Let me try and give you a quick idea of my damage.

Suppose in your game, you have a puzzle. Collect the 7 shards of the Pearl of McGuffin. One of the shards is in a vending machine. It costs 25 cents.

You can see a quarter in a drain. So you stick a piece of chewing gum on a stick, and use it to fish the quarter out.

The glory and the failing of adventure games is this: That is a cool, clever way to solve the problem. But it is also highly specific. Most games won’t allow you to do that, because it cannot be generalized to the game’s built in mechanics. But adventure games have the opposite problem: they will allow you to do that, and nothing else.

My favorite thing about videogames is player expression. Adventure games have, by nature, zero player expression. Every puzzle solution is not the player applying his creativity and skill to the problem before him, but rather, the player thinking the game designer’s thoughts after him. I would rather there be a set of consistent mechanics, from which the player can derive the intended solution, but also create his own solutions.

One of the reasons I seldom discuss Candy Raid, a game I worked on as the artist, is it is a puzzle game. There is one and only one intended solution to each problem. I hate that in games. I hate games that do that. They are a legitimate genre, and some people love them, but not me.

My favorite game these days is Breath of the Wild, and the reason is simply this: The game has puzzles. The puzzles have intended solutions. But the game not only doesn’t prevent you from thinking outside the box and applying your own solutions, the designers kind of wink and nod and hint that they approve of you breaking out of their boxes.

The point and click adventure genre is a celebration of the box. Therefore, I cannot in good conscious make one unless I figure out a way to change that. Therefore, even though I could stop building my RPG framework a third of way in, and produce an adventure game with that third, and even though I should, simply because doing so will force me to find the fun in the non-battle parts of the engine and because it will mean I have more games to my name, at this present moment the plan is to not do that very thing.

I do not serve my customers well by trying to produce a game I will hate. Although…

Here’s a notion. I’m not committing to it. But let’s throw it out there and let if vibrate in the aether. If I make a stealth game with an RPG/adventure game interface, then I will go into my RPG with sneaking baked in.

Hm.

Anyway, radial menus.