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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsMonarch Black - Flying Butterfly Roguelikelikelike
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Author Topic: Monarch Black - Flying Butterfly Roguelikelikelike  (Read 18231 times)
runninouttaluck
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« Reply #80 on: August 07, 2016, 09:58:43 PM »

Hello, first of all I love the way the game looks. I think the lighting is gorgeous and the way the all those geometric primitives combine together is awe inspiring. I really like the particle effects too.

I watched the last video you posted and one thing stood out to me. The butterflies don't move like butterflies because they don't flutter around in that haphazard but directed way butterflies do. They just go very straight, and their boost animation also makes them seem more like a fighter jet. It might be cool if instead of zipping like they do when they boost, it looked more like they were getting hit by a gust of wind that blows them in the direction you want to boost.


Sorry if any of this has already been brought up before, as I didn't read the thread in its entirety.

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mirrorfish
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« Reply #81 on: March 12, 2017, 05:53:03 PM »

Sorry for the late reply on your last post runninoutaluck, somehow I missed it. I hear you with regard to the movement, the trouble with the kind of 'really' erratic butterfly flight that real butterflies do is that I think it might be really difficult to mesh with gameplay. I have however tried to incorporate an interpretation of butterfly flight in the players movement with the dashing and recently added the ability to do immelman turns (I think that's the right word) where you turn on a dime and head in the opposite direction. Thanks for taking a look!
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mirrorfish
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« Reply #82 on: March 12, 2017, 06:18:15 PM »

I'm still alive! I can't believe it's been nearly a year since my last update. Yikes. Production on the game had to go into hibernation over the winter due to a combination of personal life factors, I just had zero time to work on it and so decided to take a break. Now that those factors have shifted a bit I'm back to work and taking a few months off has given me some fresh perspective and willingness to wade back in, rip out some old stuff that was sitting around that I wasn't happy with and spruce things up a bit.



One small, but satisfying tweak I've made which you can see in this GIF is the additions of lines which visualize items begin effected by the players gravity field. Previously collectibles items would magnetize towards the player when within a certain range, but there was no real visual feedback that that was happening. Now a line is drawn to each item so that you can see that you've grabbed them. I also added a game design tweak which is that shooting deactivates the gravity field, so that if you grab a bunch of things and are waiting for them to magnetize to you it can create some interesting tense moments where you have to hold off firing at enemies. It also opens the door on some interesting physics gameplay where objects grabbed and then released by your gravity field can be sent flying in new directions. I've got a few ideas for ways to explore that further.



I've re-done the AI system, now on it's third iteration. The previous configuration exhibited the enemy behavior I wanted but was getting crusted with random code and edge cases to achieve all the behavior across the different unit types. In the course of my day job at Unity I came up with a pluggable AI system based on ScriptableObjects, inspired by Richard Fine's excellent Unite talk about them, and over this past weekend I pulled out the old C# interface based system and replaced it with this. The new system already reproduces all of the behavior of the old system and is much cleaner and much less tightly coupled in bad places. The hope, and my belief is that I will now be able to add more enemy types with different behavior and that the authoring process for them will be less painful, thereby helping my motivation to do it. When the code is stretched and creaking the thought of authoring new AI types inside it is kind of daunting and I felt it leading to me not doing it, so we'll see how this new system works.



I've also hired an artist to work with me on the project. I was getting good feedback on the overall visual aesthetic and general art direction, which I am continuing with, but the lack of artistically coherent visual assets, particularly for enemies was really getting me down. I became aware of Ethan Redd's work through Twitter, learned that he was also in New York and decided to reach out about getting him involved. He and I have started getting the ball rolling on some new enemy types, some of which you can see in the GIFs here. It's great to have someone to collaborate with and I love Ethan's personal aesthetic so I'm looking forward to working further together.


I'm in a weird place right now where I can see the finish line or A finish line in sight and now I feel challenged to make a lot of decisions and really question some of the things which I previously thought were 'good enough'. Also now that it's literally been years I've been working on this thing I feel more pressure to polish off any rough spots and really try to make it as good as I can. That feeling is a little scary because it feels like it could lead to the ship date getting pushed further and further into the future so at this stage I'm trying really hard to narrow in on doing things I really need to finish. I do feel that it's getting there, and that the game is in better shape than it ever has been in many ways that really count. But what a long strange process it's been.



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« Reply #83 on: March 12, 2017, 11:40:47 PM »

It's good to see that you're back to this project Matt! I'm sure that Ethan's work will give you a push to finishing the game and polishing all the rough spots. Keep up with the great work!
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mirrorfish
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« Reply #84 on: March 13, 2017, 12:19:55 PM »

Thanks Tanis! That was definitely part of the idea of getting someone to help with the project. Working solo long term can be difficult and having another person to bounce ideas with has been great.
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« Reply #85 on: June 03, 2017, 05:23:32 AM »

ART UPDATE ALERT

I'm happy to finally be able to share a big new addition to the world of Monarch Black. Real enemy designs!



Up until now the enemies in the game have been represented by models from the Unity Asset Store. I cobbled some stuff together using various insect models and repainted the textures myself in Photoshop to get them looking a bit more stylized but fundamentally there was a mismatched between the abstract, angular world and the more realistic insect assets.



I've been working on the game solo for several years now and I knew at some point that I would want to replace them but finding the right artist to do the work was tricky. Twitter came to the rescue! I have to say that the indie dev community on Twitter has been really terrific as both a source of inspiration, moral support and a way to just feel less alone in doing something as crazy as making a game solo for multiple years. It also lead to me discovering the work of Ethan Redd aka Kid Raddical. I immediately admired his bold, colorful low-poly art style and saw in it a potential match for the world of Monarch Black. I had some money saved up from a tax refund sitting in my savings account and saw that Ethan was taking contract work. I decided to hit him up. It felt like a fairly significant plunge because up until now I've done literally everything on the game myself and really have not invested any significant funds into production. Now, as I reach the later stages of production and am getting happier with the state of the game I felt like it was time to spend some money and try to bring the quality level of the enemies up to that of the rest of the game.



Ethan being located in NY state was also a factor since I prefer to at least meet up once or twice in person with folks I'm collaborating with. I feel like building a personal rapport and some degree of trust goes a long way when working together. We planned out the job over email and Slack and I wrote a 25 page google doc which laid out my thinking about the design. Basically it was 'abstract origami robot bugs with some japanese mecha influence'.  We started homing in on some designs and figuring out the style based on this document as a starting point. Over the course of the process a more explicitly robotic style emerged and we both agreed it looked really cool and fit the game nicely.





We met twice in NYC when he was in town for a pair of rapid, hands on brainstorming / working sessions and I felt those were really valuable. I find it's much easier to quickly narrow in ideas in person and recommend this if possible. Remote collaboration works really well when the ideas are clear and locked in, folks can go off and work, but when figuring things out being in the same room really helps.

In the end, Ethan has delivered a set of designs and models that I'm really happy with. For me personally having worked alone for so long there was definitely some major anxiety about bringing someone into my creative universe.  Collaborating is scary, even when you're in the directors chair. What if we couldn't come up with something I liked? What if we couldn't find artistic common ground? Putting money on the line is also anxiety producing. It definitely made me feel less and less able to turn back, and more committed to finishing the game (which is of course a good thing). In the end, I feel that Ethan has massively raised the visual bar of the game and the mix of his artistic sense and my own has brought us to a much stronger visual place than I would have arrived at alone.



One key reason I think our collaboration was successful was that in choosing Ethan I had found someone who's existing style I already liked. I hired him to do both enemy design and 3D art creation because I felt his existing visual style was close already to what I wanted for Monarch Black. This seems key to me, instead of choosing a random 3D artist and trying to get them to fit my style or a style I would impose on them, finding someone who's style I already liked and could fit into the game without them reinventing themselves felt very successful.

Getting this art made was one of the key milestones for getting to the finish line so I feel like I'm finally entering the final phases of the game. I went through a major phase of scope expansion a few months ago which while admittedly reckless felt good and necessary. I'm now much much happier with where the game is in terms of design, mechanics and performance as a result. Getting this art done was a major missing piece. My new task lists are getting ruthlessly pared down to only include things needed for a 1.0 release of the game. I've got a huge list of stuff that would be nice to have and maybe add post-release and I like the idea of continuing to push tweaks and updates after the first version is done. We'll see how that goes. At the moment I'm feeling quite energized to push to the first major release. Thanks for reading!

I'm happy to finally be able to share a big new addition to the world of Monarch Black. Real enemy designs!



Up until now the enemies in the game have been represented by models from the Unity Asset Store. I cobbled some stuff together using various insect models and repainted the textures myself in Photoshop to get them looking a bit more stylized but fundamentally there was a mismatched between the abstract, angular world and the more realistic insect assets.



I've been working on the game solo for several years now and I knew at some point that I would want to replace them but finding the right artist to do the work was tricky. Twitter came to the rescue! I have to say that the indie dev community on Twitter has been really terrific as both a source of inspiration, moral support and a way to just feel less alone in doing something as crazy as making a game solo for multiple years. It also lead to me discovering the work of Ethan Redd aka Kid Raddical. I immediately admired his bold, colorful low-poly art style and saw in it a potential match for the world of Monarch Black. I had some money saved up from a tax refund sitting in my savings account and saw that Ethan was taking contract work. I decided to hit him up. It felt like a fairly significant plunge because up until now I've done literally everything on the game myself and really have not invested any significant funds into production. Now, as I reach the later stages of production and am getting happier with the state of the game I felt like it was time to spend some money and try to bring the quality level of the enemies up to that of the rest of the game.



Ethan being located in NY state was also a factor since I prefer to at least meet up once or twice in person with folks I'm collaborating with. I feel like building a personal rapport and some degree of trust goes a long way when working together. We planned out the job over email and Slack and I wrote a 25 page google doc which laid out my thinking about the design. Basically it was 'abstract origami robot bugs with some japanese mecha influence'.  We started homing in on some designs and figuring out the style based on this document as a starting point. Over the course of the process a more explicitly robotic style emerged and we both agreed it looked really cool and fit the game nicely.





We met twice in NYC when he was in town for a pair of rapid, hands on brainstorming / working sessions and I felt those were really valuable. I find it's much easier to quickly narrow in ideas in person and recommend this if possible. Remote collaboration works really well when the ideas are clear and locked in, folks can go off and work, but when figuring things out being in the same room really helps.

In the end, Ethan has delivered a set of designs and models that I'm really happy with. For me personally having worked alone for so long there was definitely some major anxiety about bringing someone into my creative universe.  Collaborating is scary, even when you're in the directors chair. What if we couldn't come up with something I liked? What if we couldn't find artistic common ground? Putting money on the line is also anxiety producing. It definitely made me feel less and less able to turn back, and more committed to finishing the game (which is of course a good thing). In the end, I feel that Ethan has massively raised the visual bar of the game and the mix of his artistic sense and my own has brought us to a much stronger visual place than I would have arrived at alone.

One key reason I think our collaboration was successful was that in choosing Ethan I had found someone who's existing style I already liked. I hired him to do both enemy design and 3D art creation because I felt his existing visual style was close already to what I wanted for Monarch Black. This seems key to me, instead of choosing a random 3D artist and trying to get them to fit my style or a style I would impose on them, finding someone who's style I already liked and could fit into the game without them reinventing themselves felt very successful.

Getting this art made was one of the key milestones for getting to the finish line so I feel like I'm finally entering the final phases of the game. I went through a major phase of scope expansion a few months ago which while admittedly reckless felt good and necessary. I'm now much much happier with where the game is in terms of design, mechanics and performance as a result. Getting this art done was a major missing piece. My new task lists are getting ruthlessly pared down to only include things needed for a 1.0 release of the game. I've got a huge list of stuff that would be nice to have and maybe add post-release and I like the idea of continuing to push tweaks and updates after the first version is done. We'll see how that goes. At the moment I'm feeling quite energized to push to the first major release. Thanks for reading!





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acatalept
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« Reply #86 on: June 03, 2017, 08:54:23 AM »

Outstanding!  Love the look of these, kudos to your artist, looking forward to seeing more...
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mirrorfish
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« Reply #87 on: June 03, 2017, 10:56:13 AM »

Thanks dude! Ethan is great, been really cool working with him. Hope your projects are going well too!
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io3 creations
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« Reply #88 on: June 03, 2017, 11:15:03 AM »

Congrats to both of you!  As a low poy / neon / Janapese mecha / (and a few other "unique category" related labels)  fan, I love the character designs! Smiley

In many ways, the game reminds of (the now very likely abandoned) Source  http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=252468293  Have you seen that game?
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DireLogomachist
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« Reply #89 on: June 03, 2017, 11:16:01 AM »

Very cool looking! Subscribed!
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« Reply #90 on: June 03, 2017, 11:44:37 AM »

Thanks DireLogoMachist.

@io3 creations it's funny you mention Source, they started somewhere around the same time I did and were clearly way more skilled developers than I was at the time (probably still true lol). You can actually see me getting upset about it earlier in this thread and asking folks what they thought. Partly due to the response in this thread I decided to not be put-off by it and keep going, though I seriously thought 'jeez another butterfly game, forget it!' Happily for me, maybe less so for them, they seem to have moved on to other projects. I think they have a space survival game out that actually took off and was doing well phoenix / pharaoh something? Anyway I wish them the best but am also happy that I didn't give up on my idea since it would have been upsetting if I had dropped it because of them and then they gave up! Glad you like the character designs! Ethan, the designer, is a monster.
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io3 creations
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« Reply #91 on: June 03, 2017, 01:49:46 PM »

Their other game "Osiris: New Dawn" seems to be doing well (i.e. have a lot of reviews on Steam), but lots of complaints as well - especially about issues that have been there for a while still not being fixed and regarding what exactly are the devs focusing on.  So, "skilled" may relative and it looks like they'll be busy with that game and you can release yours first. Grin

When two games are similar, the "rip off" label can be thrown around easily and may effect the latecomer.  I have a few "GREAT" ideas that I haven't seen done  yet and whenever I see something that might be what I have in mind, I get a little "OH NO!".  Shocked
On the other hand, over time I've seen that if certain mechanics differentiate the two or overall the latecomer gives a better experience, then similar-ish release dates may not be an issue.  But there's a lot of uncertainty and unknown that may come down to luck. Wink
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mirrorfish
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« Reply #92 on: June 03, 2017, 05:13:04 PM »

Yeah I hear you. Fundamentally for me at this stage it's a "Focus on the parts I can control and keep my head down" approach. I'm not going to rush out my release on the off-chance that they may drop soon (which I see no signs of). If they eventually release their game and it's very similar, that will be pretty weird, but I doubt it's ever going to be that close to what I'm doing. I've been fairly open with my devlogs and stuff so if anyone who wants to call me a ripoff scratches the surface they'll see me plugging away over the years.  Noir
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