Gestures Galore

Still at it.  Wow, it’s amazing how much of a difference repeated practice makes.  Just in the pure eye to hand motion of being able to capture things in the right size / position.

Additionally I’m making excellent progress on the thirtydays.club website.  The whole thing is coming together and I hope to have it ready for a late October launch.

On the downside.. the 3TB drive went belly up and a bunch of not essential but useful stuff went byebye..  All the really important things were of course backed up.. but there were a couple huge folders of painting videos that I’m going to miss having around. (the backup stopped working in June when I had to re-install the OS)..

Continue reading Gestures Galore

What’s Next- 30 days of drawing

So I discovered that the focus of having a real imaginary (??!) deadline helped keep me focused even when the epic skies image was wearing me down.  So I made a list of all the things that I know I really need to work on and came up with a list.  Then I organized that list based on  a. how fundamental it is, and b. how much improvement I think i can get froma month’s worth of focused study.

And so it came to be that the next 30 days will be spend doing 1,2 and 5 minute life drawing gestures (using a wonderful Youtube channel called the Croquis Cafe)

Continue reading What’s Next- 30 days of drawing

Perspective forever

 

 

Took another pass at this, and made a binch of thums and eventually came up with perspective I liked.

Then I tossed into the perspective view maker http://drakkheim.com/perspective/grid.php?image=2a811acb319a27b462e6185e36aa491d.png&save=2 and saved out some guides.

download

 

Then a little bit of time blocking out some of the shapes and it’s something I’m beginning to think works.

 

perspective-3But now it’s time for some holiday cheer so perhaps things will be a bit slow for a while.

 

BSDDoD! Reborn in 2014

BSDD0D 2014

The time to do this game has come.  So it’s gonna be done right.  No more Torque2D, Slick, or other homegrown from the ground, unproven frameworks.  Time to do it in something that’s got support, community, a track record and a workflow.  Aka Unity.  And while we’re at it, let’s make it 3D, physics enabled and extensible by the user to add new rooms to the pool of maze chambers.

And let’s do it as part of this year’s OneGameAMonth Challenge to keep focused.

BSDDoD-SS-dec-7-2013Oh and a list… let’s do a milestone list:

  • Milestone 1 – Single Room – boxes
    • Generate Room From Map File
    • Player Spawns
    • Move Player
    • Player Shoots
    • Monsters spawn in increasing waves
    • Monsters Move toward player
    • Monsters Kill player
    • Shots Kill Monsters
    • Monsters Drop Items (coins for now)
  • Milestone 2 – Maze Generation, Enemy Waves, alt fire
    • Basic level editor
    • Single path maze generated
    • Rooms have a level and determine waves spawned.
  • Milestone 3 – Powerups and Loot
    • Player attributes, health (shields?), Speed, Damage, Rate of Fire, second power manna
  • Milestone 4 – A wizard
  • Milestone 5 – Creatures – ? Alpha ?
  • Milestone 6 – Menu and Starting area
  • Milestone 7 – Decor and Juicify
  • Milestone 8 – More Monsters
  • Milestone 9 – Music and Sound
  • Milestone 10 – Weapons and Karma unlockables framework
  • Milestone 11 – Title Screen, High Score – Names of the dead?
  • Milestone 12 – Beautification of textures and new textures/models for deeper levels?

Flap mr dragon FLAP!

Ok kinda scatterbrained right now so, let’s just get back into the blogging spirit with a short list of accomplishments:

Had to rethink some mechanics.. but the controls feel SO much better now.

The actual performance of the dive and flap buttons are undergoing constant tweaking, but the sense of control is coming along superbly.

Screen scaling is working.. but the size isn’t right on smaller screens.  I need to re-write the system to always maintain a specific horizontal distance and let it just create blue sky on top of the world for the extra space.   BUT IT WORKS..

The game is working on Android 2.3 (HTC MyTouch)  all the way to the Nexus7 and Asus 10″, smooth as butter. 🙂

I’ve been using Symphonical as my SCRUM list and I’m in love!  It’s just super easy to use.

Collisions are in (if a little buggy) ,  Basic Box for the dragon and per terrain tile polygons.

The dragon is now a fully animated Spine character  (16 different parts all animated) and is just a wonderful workflow.. Export from photoshop and it’s instantly in Spine, then a quick export directly into the JSON objects with an atlas and then a refresh. and the changes are live in-game..

Dragoncrash-8-17

 

Next up:

A little more work on the dragon animation

Then time to start adding in some terrain destructables (also Spine actors)

Then some UI work.

 

Happy Easter – Week end update

Busy busy week.. all freelance debugging and we development..

So not much progress on the game.

  • Money rounding..  yeah.. lots of refactoring code.
  • Moving some more UI elements into groups so they render in the proper order and can be switched on and off.

Anyway here’s another beta.. # 7 now.

http://drakkheim.com/temp/BarnyardBonanza007beta.apk

Download Barnyard Bonanza beta #7

Stalls, Inertia and Progress

I’ve followed a ridiculous amount of indie and small developer projects over the last couple years and watched them just peter out and vanish into the ether.  Hell, I’ve started quite a few that have gone the same way.. unfinished paintings, games, websites, etc.  So why does this keep happening?  What can we do about it?

Well.. It seems to be all about preventing Stalls and building Inertia to make manageable Progress.

Stalls

By ‘Stalls’ I mean it literally like a plane..  Sometimes projects get caught up on a glitch, bug or feature that is unexpectedly problematic or simply a massive chore to complete.  Then the motivation to work on it stops being fun and an awful lot like work.  That’s not a problem if it’s your day job, you can button down and just work through it, but for the indie developer who is doing this in their spare time, once development stalls everything else starts looking more and more interesting and exciting. The longer the project remains stalled the stronger the chance is that the project is going to crash and burn.

So here’s a couple thoughts on recovering from when your project seems to be stalling and the enthusiasm is waning that seem to be working for me.

  • in my task list, I keep several parallel development tracks.  So if UI development gets bogged down, I can simply just get it to a basically compiling state and hop over and work on something else in the project, like art assets , AI or path-finding.
  • but sometimes you just get sick of the whole project.   If you’re like me, you keep running across things/tech you want to try and work with, so keep a folder/binder/google doc around where you can jot down ideas for short exploratory exercises however it’s essential that they pertain to some shared functionality with your ongoing project.  So give yourself a day or two to work on it (like making a demo with a new api or skinning a UI library or something) Then force yourself the next day to IMPLEMENT it in your current project.
  • but some times you simply have to force yourself to sit down and bite the bullet.  Schedule some time, get away from distractions and simply sit down then work through it… yeah sounds stupid, but the ‘Schedule some time’ part is what makes this the hardest approach.  Which brings me to the next problem

Inertia

The fact that this isn’t a dayjob for many indies it means that life can sometimes turn the smallest molehil into a mountain, because Everything is a competition for your time, and the rolling rock of your project can’t go uphill very far on its own.  So we need to build up momentum in our project, make it feel like it has got a life of its own or decrease the amount of work it takes to get it rolling again once it comes to a complete stop.  Because, your time is precious and limited (even more so when you start having to work around a family life and maintaining a home) I tend to lean heavily toward the second approach, decrease the amount of effort needed for the next milestone.  I can imagine that the first approach would work well if you have a small team where everyone is all rushing forward together, so when one person stumbles the ball keeps rolling along and lets them catch up after their personal disaster has passed.  However I’m just me by myself so my tips lean toward:

  • Get your project compiling as early as possible.
  • Add basic core gameplay as soon as possible.
  • Build you milestones on that and make them each a standalone ‘functional’ improvement.

Because, sooner or later, something is going to come up and you’ll have to step away from your daily progress for a week or two, like children, broken computers, holidays, family vacations, household chores etc etc.  And when you come back to having time to work on your project you gotta hop back on the ball and be able to easily see where and what to do so you can get to that next ‘hey I’ve made something cool!’ moment and prevent yourself from stalling out.

Progress

Progress is king.  Progress also doesn’t like being kept in the corner. Getting your project to a point where you can shout out about your progress, via tweets to #screenshotsaturday, self serving blog posts like this, friends and family on Facebook, myspace, g+ or whatever is essential. Take pride in your progress. Get used to practicing saying in public that you’re working on something, have made progress and show it off.  Make it real to you and it will be that much harder to drop when the new toy sheen tarnishes and you have to spend a week debugging the text editor.  It seems almost impossible at times and the odds of actually finishing something really are stacked against you but it can be done.  And with great success.  MinMax did it over a period of two years,  CokeAndCode is doing it, RampantCoyote has done it,  all of them with keeping a dayjob, family and real-life’s responsibilities.

I hope to do it too.

[deleted a bunch of excuses for my lack of progress.. lets just chalk it down to life’s little mountains]

 

The Fall Season!

Whoa.. after what feels like an absolutely morale crushing infernal heat wave that has more or less sapped all willpower for the last several months… it’s time to get the show back on the road.

Here’s a peak at what’s been worked on.  More details as soon as I get more gameplay things put in.  And after a break to Javaland  it’s back to good ol TGB.  The upside is that things make so much more sense now.   Many more thoughts on the matter later on.

Setting sail against the winds of whim and staying the course

Wooosh… that’s the sound of another gale force great idea blowing around.
Yup, they’re pretty much everywhere at this time of year. Annoying, persistent, unformed, and generally really exciting!

The thing is, they’re always much more exciting and enticing than what you’re doing ‘now’. Especially if what you’re doing now is rewriting something you’ve done before, in a new engine. In the last 3 weeks I must have changed my mental description of what I’m working on half a dozen times. Each new project, idea, or whim is a terrible distraction that’s so much fun to just dive into.

Because for me the best part is the initial rush of putting ideas and framework into place and start various parts gestating. So when I haev nothing but a couple months of grunt work (asset managers, re-inputing pathfinding algorithems, importing graphics, dealing with text input etc) it is so easy to want to start over and tackle an enticing problem and find out how various systems would interact.

Hell, at this point I’ve practically convinced myself to ditch BSDDoD! and hop into making ‘Irismel’ – the fantasy village simulator instead.  I’ve even started making some basic tiles and mock screenshots.

That’s gotta stop.

It’s time to get excited about BSDDoD! again.  So I’m laying off the big coding for a bit and painting some assets, concept art and visually interesting things.

The upside is that I’ll have things to show before too long and I can get the show back on track.

I am, however, thinking of changing the title from Blood Soaked Deadly Dungeons of Doom! to something more palatable and url worthy.

 

Three Days

Three days.  That’s not a whole lot of time left.

The list of cut features is growing on a daily basis, and new incidental bonus things are beginning to crop up.

New Stuff:

  • Music!  makes a world of difference
  • New website area and working Facebook integration
  • 4 final levels (6 more in development)
  • new backend tools for tweaking text wrapping issues
  • new bolt particles and images and tweaked effects
  • improved dialog for failure 🙁
The Must Get Done List:
  • more levels
  • three tutorial dialogs (timing, prisms, advanced prisms)
  • signed jar
  • button noise issue
  • success dialog and information dialog images
The Would be Really Nice To Have List:
  • the final enchant tick fix
  • collision enchantment graphics
  • better /more sounds
  • Mac applet support (pc only for now )
  • emitter hover path highlighting and count to impact for making adjusting timing much much easier.
The Not Gonna Happen List:
  • Loading Objective images from site instead of in jar
  • Standalone App
  • Further FB sharing & Integration for wall posts.
  • Many more levels
  • More placeable types (triggers etc)
  • better level editor that lets me edit saved levels.

Elements

Whoo.. what a week.. not very much dev time, unfortunately.

I’m beat so I’m going to keep it to a short what got done list.. followed by a screenshot..

  • Bolt splitters are in and work.. (except for the rotation is a bit wonky)
  • the Level editor and Level group editors are almost done
  • The core applet is almost ready to parse all data from external sources.
  • Tweaks to some particles.
  • all the  Elemental nodes now are renderable in-game and have their proper graphics.

Here’s a screenshot of where things are.

And here’s the list of priorites for the week:

  • All the ajaxy and facebook <–> applet communications need to get wrapped up asap.
  • Player object for storing scores
  • back to level select button
  • more particle effects
  • SOUND!
  • LEVELS !!!!
  • and so much more!!! Yikes!

At this point I’m getting pretty nervous weather or not I’ll even make it to complete by the contest end.  Its looking like Some things are going to have to wait to be finished afterward..  Yeesh.. well.  hopefully the baby will cooperate and I’ll be able to get stuff done in the evenings this next week or two.. cross yer fingers.

 

EnchantingUpdate

Not as much progress as I’d like, or on the bits that I’d like.. but that’s kinda how it works 🙂

Here’s the Screenshot and some more sordid details below.

Highlights of the week are:

  • Applet integration started.. The basic functionality now works in a web page
  • Mirrors  (and indeed all placeables) now ask and respond properly to queries about their facing
  • Lots of new particle effects on Magical bolts (trust me they look way better in action)
  • This lead to some serious stuttering issues when creating all the bolts.  This has been fixed by creating all the bolt objects at level init and just flagging them as no update / no render.

The big issues to tackle:

  • Java to Javascript to Java communication.  Because I really want to be able to send data from the database / facebook requests directly into the game.
  • An update glitch that causes bolts to not register hits with mirrors.  The solution to this is to just skip the ‘per pixel’ detection stuff and have the bolts just run a check against the game Board’s entity mapping table and see if the bolt is going to hit something and then find out if it needs to change it’s offset and direction or magic power type.     This is a bit of work, but the initial stuff is really just taking too many calls and calcultaions to be done if I want it to start checking for positions in between update calls.

Screenshot Saturday

Managed to get the web editor exporting tileframe data nicely, and with a few modifications was able to get TGB to import the new map data and render the maps in the existing tilemaps.  🙂 yaay.

New tilemaps in Game Engine.

Now if I can only find out what makes it crash when you touch the mouse……

*scratch head*.. well at least it’s progress..

Oh and we have new and very awesome epic in-game music now from www.indiegraphics.net

So it’s  been a good week overall.

[Edit::]  Found the Crash.  it was to do with the checks for various player positions on the tilemap for shooting.  Which is totally obsolete, due to the new tilemap, so it was crashing.

Milestones

Pardon me while I ramble..   if you get bored you can pop over to the map editor and play around and let me know how it performs for you (IE users, don’t bother), and saving is disabled.   This is essentially me trying to externalize the process of development that seems to work for me.

It’s easy to get lost, sidetracked, disillusioned, or just plain worn out when embarking on a massive self guided project.

Even when you feel like you can just keep working on a project forever because you have so many ideas you risk it all if you don’t know what the final product is going to be.  For example, the megahit Minecraft was in development for over a year and sold close to a million copies before the guys at Mojang finally sat down and decided what they were actually making.   I’d wager if it hadn’t been for it going viral, it would have wound up just another of the tons of  half finished abandoned indie projects that litter the web because they didn’t know what they were making.

On the other extreme, there are just as many abandoned overdesigned, super perfectly detailed design documents for games that will never be created, scattered all over the internet as well.  Potential games that were literally designed to death, go dig around on sourceforge and you’ll find hundreds of em in ‘planning’.

So what’s an indie developer to do?

Frankly, I’m not sure.  I know what seems to work for me  (so far), and that’s self imposed milestones.

Now let me clarify a bit.  I’m not talking about your usual development project, spec sheet loaded, time and budget allocated, cut your funding if  you don’t make it milestone.  That’s for a different type of development, not a creative endeavor.  It has it’s place, but not here.

What kind of milestones?

I’m talking more of a softer, moldable, flexible type of milestone.  You take one, you work on it, do whatever you want withing the parameters specified, and when you’re done you have real tangible progress.  Then you pick another one that mirrors what you’re in the mood for.    That’s key for me.   When I get to the point in a project where I don’t have a choice in what I need to do next and don’t want to do it , I get distracted. (see the Mutant Sheep Eat the Earth!, game… it’s pretty much stalled because I’ve worked myself into a corner where there’s nothing exiting left and I’ve gotten totally de-motivated  (psst it’s not dead.. just hibernating in my subconscious.. I have plans percolating.))

For example, by the time you’re reading this, I’ll have wrapped up my latest milestone for BSDDoD! which was ‘Build a web based editor to let me edit game elements and export them into a flatfile for use in the game in 20 days.’

Flexible task definition

That’s it for the definition of it.  I didn’t have any other notes or plans other than I knew the map size has to be 20×20 due to memory constraints of the final 10×10 grid of 20×20 maps that the game will happen in.  I could go as feature rich and as crazy as I wanted to, but I always kept a mental track of trying to hit the date or at least get as close as I possibly can.   I didn’t even know what I was going to write it in (jquery, cakephp and custom javascript if you’re interested, it almost wound up a desktop based Python application or java applet)  I didn’t pre-plan features other than the map size.  This let me actually create and explore while working on it.

I really try no to make too many choices that will force me to wind up in a position of having to determine things for future milestones.  Now of course it’s inevitable that there will be some overlap, but striving to make each milestone into it’s own creative endeavor keeps me interested in the long run.

Know how long you can stay focuse… ooh look shiny!

I know how long my attention span is, and how long I can proceed with certain types of tasks before getting bored and I make the milestones accordingly, and I try to have a couple of milestone choices available to choose from, so if I’m in the mood for more coding I can do that, or if I need a break and switch to art asset creation, planning, music etc those options are available for me.

So my next choices for BSDDoD! milestones are:

  • Coding, Import map data and generate levels in the Torque Game Builder engine that alpha 4 was working in, 7 days
  • Art, Create Door, wizard (basic wand and arm) and basic creeper art assets, 14 days.
  • Design, come up with different enemies and concept art and various powerups available in the witch’s shop, 14 days.

Time is relative

Now you’ll notice that my ‘days’ have very very very little relevance to normal time, this comes with having a 1 year old, and a fulltime job, an art site and business to help launch  and some awesome swiftthought.com development work that all take priority.

That’s ok.  I’m fully aware that this 6 month project is already in it’s second year and I’m ok with that.

I can see progress being made.

I can see what  I need to do, to get there.

I still have to make up how to do it.

I can see the milestones all the way to the end.

I have no idea of  what all the things I will have created by the time I get there will look like.

That’s damn exciting.

Reboot

My how time flies when you’re busy!

In fact it’s so easy to forget to keep updating the blog when you’ve got real projects that need to get done. Luckily I’ve got a good pace of things going and seem to have settled into a nice routine which keeps GFW from going insane and keeps the freelance work getting done in a timely fashion.  However it hasn’t exactly left a lot of time to spare for pet projects.

I need to get back to doing what I need to do.  I need to make stuff.  It has been too long since I’ve made something. (and I’ve got to finish those dang oil paintings!)

What Have I Been Doing?

So for posterity’s sake let’s do a quick re-cap shall we?

  • Consulting work = good.  Got a nice workload of it that’s just about ready to wrap up.
  • Swiftthought Games is now a real entity (ooohh!)
  • Banking stuff is set up.
  • Mutant Sheep Eat the Earth! is down to 40 illustrations to go. Then a get a new proof set to do a couple rounds of playtesting.
  • Baby is cute and a handful.
  • I wish I had time to paint!
  • Wenderflonia’s store is almost ready to go.

Time to get rolling!  First priority, finish the MSETE! website and illustrations.

I’ve got an Idea percolating for a smaller board game that I need to make a quick playtest mock of.

Oh and if you’re interested in game design in general you need to see this http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1012259/Train) (you might have to register but it’s free)

What I’ve been Playing

  • Starcraft II – so apparently has everyone else on earth.  It’s very good if a bit old school.
  • Elemental – been playing the betas, it’s come a long way in a very short time and the release version promises a nice Master of Magic type fix.
  • Minecraft – highly addictive and still early in development.  Mining and building and monsters. There’s a couple free old versions available to play, but the latest alpha builds are only available if you buy it (around $13 but going up soon)
  • Bejeweled Blitz – 60 seconds of crack in a pretty match 3 shell.

But first

Quakecon! this coming weekend.  Me and Parker are heading downtown for 2 days of massive lan party goodness and whatever else there is to see.