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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsMASOCHISIA | The Long-Tail (Fall, Christmas & Lunar Sale Stats)
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oldblood
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« Reply #40 on: February 05, 2015, 06:07:12 AM »

DEVLOG 12.

I've begun drinking again. Not as bad as last year and not necessarily because I need to, but simply because I've found with the medication it helps in the creative process. Particularly with character creation.

I don't have a lot to showcase today. Currently, I'm working on a lot of the characters from the game. I have roughs of most of them, but I likely wont share them until they're in a place where I'm more comfortable to show them. Perhaps I can begin to start sharing them later this weekend or early next week.

I've always found it disconcerting in terms of how challenging it is to get the ideas out of my head and onto the screen. I find that usually when I do get them out of my head, they're simply not what I had envisioned in my head. This can create for a tedious process of creating and re-creating art work and only VERY rarely, being satisfied with it. I think most people assume that the artwork I share is the artwork I'm pleased with, however-- I'd say maybe 10% of what I share I actually like. I've just come to the conclusion that I will rarely be satisfied with the visuals I can muster. It's so much more beautiful in my head than in real life.

***

I started dabbling with logo design last night although it was not on my schedule of items (more on this below). Historically, I'm terrible at logo design but I had an idea in my head that and I wanted to give it a whirl. So, with this grain of salt in hand- here is a first pass/rough draft:


Think you can do better? You probably can. If you're into graphic design and want to take a spin at the logo, give me a shout. I'm sure we can do business.

***

Speaking of schedules, I spent yesterday giving my project management system a much needed cleaning and reorganizing. I thought I'd share a high-level overview of my system and how I work on the game.

I use Redmine to give myself both a wiki for design documentation and as a calendar/roadmap. Before I even begin work, I give myself a general schedule (in this case, running from January - June, 2015. I break this down into Sprints or Phases. These sprints could range from Concept Stage, Pre-Production, Prototype, Alpha, Alpha II, Beta, Gold etc. Within each of these sprints, I highlight as many projects as I can think of that will be needed within that stage. I usually also create a "Key Milestones" sprint to track the overall progress of the game via key deliverables.

Here is a quick look at how these roadmaps are laid out (small size to fit more):


These lists will generally grow fairly dramatically once I'm working within each sprint as I've usually forgotten many of the items (or have other features, bugs, refactors etc) that I had not thought of when I setup the sprint. But generally, I try to work by just focusing on my tasks within each sprint.

This allows me to stay fairly focused and even though I rarely meet my deadlines (let's see if I hit the June deadline here), it at least gives me targets to work towards.

I realize this is all quite boring, but I don't see a lot of discussion on devlogs regarding how developers stay focused or manage their work, so I thought I'd provide a small glimpse into my process. Hopefully my next devlog will be interesting...
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« Reply #41 on: February 05, 2015, 11:52:55 PM »

Project management - whether a team or alone, it's one of the most important parts of the process.
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Prinsessa
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« Reply #42 on: February 06, 2015, 03:40:08 AM »

Heeeeey, don't go down that road. Sad

Good on the organisation, tho. Do you have a neat design doc as well?
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« Reply #43 on: February 06, 2015, 06:27:30 AM »

Just wanted to say I've enjoyed following this project and look forward to seeing where you take it!
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oldblood
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« Reply #44 on: February 06, 2015, 09:06:17 AM »

@saluk: Agreed 100%. It's a lesson learned the hard way. Attempting to "wing" the project is how you can put your game into limbo for a very long time.

@Prinsessa: I wouldn't call it a "neat design" document but I do use the Wiki as a sort of design document. It's very unorthodox compared to a traditional design document and it's a bit messy.

During my "Phase 1" stage, what I call "Concept" I usually build out a lot of the wiki. Below is what my current wiki for this project looks like, each of these categories has subcategories below it:


The issue is I dont really stay on top of the wiki the way that I should so as you can see, some of the sections I never even got around to filling out and others slowly grow out of date as the project evolves (especially since I'm bad at updating the pages as information changes). Luckily, I dont have to worry about other people reading it all since it's just me so that minimizes some of the negativity of not keeping it updated. Overall, it serves as a reference point for me and just getting a lot of ideas out of my head and into documentation is just what I need to find holes or issues in the design.

@Clockwise: Thanks for reading and following. I'm genuinely surprised anyone is following this project as it's not a very traditional game.
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Prinsessa
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« Reply #45 on: February 06, 2015, 01:32:48 PM »

Wonder if I might need some sort of Wiki structure too eventually. I've got my stuff in a 45 or so pages long text document so far (with formatting and titles and pictures and all, tho – not just a text file). I need to structure the (three-dimensional) spatial relations within my game world eventually as well. I wonder what I'll do there.

Impressed by all the categories you've thought of adding, anyhow. I'll try to bear those in mind!

Quite curious about the contents of that big mechanics section.
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oldblood
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« Reply #46 on: February 07, 2015, 08:47:46 AM »

Wonder if I might need some sort of Wiki structure too eventually. I've got my stuff in a 45 or so pages long text document so far (with formatting and titles and pictures and all, tho – not just a text file). I need to structure the (three-dimensional) spatial relations within my game world eventually as well. I wonder what I'll do there.

Similarly, I used to create massive documents that I'd load with pictures and miles of text. What forced me to stop is that the files became so large that they became unwieldy and in some cases seemed to become too large to work properly in Word.

I would highly recommend you convert to a wiki system for the documentation. Once you start it, you will find it so much easier to use. And because its online, you can access it from wherever you work. There are some free wiki tools out there Im sure.

I use www.redmine.org as it provides me with the Wiki, Roadmap tools, calendars, hour tracking, forums (which I dont use but a team could), issue tracking, I can even connect the repository to my games SVN where I can easily see every commit I've ever made to the game. Even better, I can create as many projects as I want so I have separate areas for every game I've worked on and swapping between them is just a button click away. You can even customize the look and feel of it with logos, colors etc to suit your personal or company preferences and you can pick and choose which tools you want or dont want to utilize.

Here is what tools Im currently using in my system:


There are even graphs you can utilize to see how you're doing on your tasks:


I believe its around $100/year for Redmine but its one of the best investments Ive made and it has dramatically increased my ability to stay on track and organized with my projects.
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« Reply #47 on: February 07, 2015, 10:21:28 AM »


Home Sweet Home
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oldblood
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« Reply #48 on: February 09, 2015, 06:42:27 AM »

DEVLOG (UNLUCKY) 13.

My 13th devlog. 40 days into development. Many people consider "13" to be a special number but in fact-- "40" is perhaps a number with more historical significance. While 13 is generally attributed to luck (either good or bad), 40 is the number of trials. A representation of a period of testing. Ironically, that's about all I've been doing these last 40 days...

***


"The Guardian". This particular character is a hallucination that can appear whether or not you've actually gone insane. Unlike say-- the Boogeyman. The Guardian is not (overtly) aggressive towards you. He exists as sort of a "collector" of sorts. When you've been given a task, The Guardian may require things of you before he will allow you to proceed. Tokens of your sincerity to complete the work that has been given you. The Guardian is a living gate. One that you can only proceed past on his terms...

Visually: I was looking for something very traditional in appearance. Yet, intimidating. I had elected on an animal, one that we both respect and fear. But what? At the same time, I needed an element of surrealism to help signify that the creature standing was perhaps not what it seemed.

Then he came to me in a dream. I awoke last week, and there he was. Standing at the foot of my bed. He said nothing to me, he didn't have to. I knew who he was and I knew he was not here to hurt me... I simply needed to draw him:

CASE .01

CASE .02

HEAD DETAIL
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« Reply #49 on: February 09, 2015, 10:18:43 AM »

YEEEESSSSSSS!!! (is there really anything else to say?)
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oldblood
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« Reply #50 on: February 11, 2015, 07:48:11 AM »

DEVLOG 14.

My mind has been an absolute cluster-fuck the last few days. I think it to be a fairly common trait among indie developers to be laced with self-doubt about our projects. Is it a good idea? Can I properly execute it? Is this a viable product? Why do I want to make this game? Is this game good? Doubting ourselves is common. But I’ve never doubted myself more than I have with THIS game.

This game is a vanity-project to the Nth degree.

No one is asking for this game but me. I think the topics in this “game” will bring out some negative reactions from people and perhaps this devlog may actually bring out some negative reactions before it’s all said-and-done. I could very easily be wasting (what will be) months of my life and thousands of dollars developing out a game that no one will "play" but me.

I am physically incapable of quitting a task once I’ve begun it. This sounds like some admirable trait but in some cases, this is an incredibly negative characteristic. I’m incapable of jumping out of a sinking ship and am surprised when I find myself at the bottom of the Sea. If I was a smart man, I would quit this project and count my losses of a month off my calendar and a few thousand dollars in expenses. But I can’t. So here I am… Let’s talk about the “game”, shall we?

***

I am not a programmer. I can do many things in life, but I’m not "very good" at any of them. You could debate I’m not even “good” at any of them. But one tool that I have found that makes my life a bit easier is FSM’s. Or “finite-state machines”.

For those unfamiliar-- at the most basic level, a FSM allows a non-programmer like me to be able to create fairly complex systems without having to physically code it. At a more technical level, a FSM is a computational model that uses sequential logic circuits that are built using one of a finite number of states. It fires off one state at a time, traditionally initiated by a trigger of some sort. Basically, think of it as a circuit board of triggers.

An important part of what I need in Masochisia, is some sort of system to track progression of the player. This system would need to update as various events occurred throughout the game. This progress could not only save a players progress but could also allow for new areas to be explored, new dialogue options to be available, new items to become available etc if “X” has occurred. So this system is really multifaceted in it’s requirements.

Below is the first pass at this “Progression System” using a finite-state machine:

I’ve included some notes on each of the steps in the tool, but you can see how each circuit is connected so that once the tool begins and initializes, updates its value and then moves into a “waiting state” in the Event Dispatch. This circuit is waiting for corresponding events to fire (e.g. Event 1000, 1001, 1002 etc.) which will in turn Update the Progress, Update the Value and then drop back into the Dispatch to await the next state.

The largest downside to setting up the system like this is that it will require me to setup events and states in both the Event Dispatch as well as a corresponding state for every event in the game and then link each one together. Of course, that will not take very long BUT, there are two placeholder progress states in there currently, but eventually there could be a hundred or more progress states in the event dispatch. So eventually-- this will become a huge state machine and that may get a bit cumbersome. So, as long as things are named and placed properly, it should at least be a very clean and organized pile of states…

I will also create some dev_console links which will allow me to open the console in unity and “set” the progress for say “1059”.  This will allow me to be able to test the game (with just a quick input into the console) at any point of progress in the game and be able to instantaneously “jump” to a specific progression state.

Do you have feedback on this FSM? Are there ways for me to improve me? I’m all ears.
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« Reply #51 on: February 11, 2015, 08:43:35 AM »

Didn't know Unity had state machine stuff like that, tho I should've probably expected so. Is it native or an add-on?

Not sure what to say about the machine you've set up here – I'll be honest and say I'm not sure I understand exactly what you're describing or trying to set up at all. But as long as it works and doesn't get too confusing.

I'd say a solution both to doubting while being unable to jump ship, and fear of the state machine(s) getting too complex and cumbersome, might be to make this game reasonably short. That way your experiment will get finished within a reasonable timeframe and the game will be small enough that messy code (or a visual state machine) won't matter too much, because you won't be working on it for so long that you'll start to forget what everything it supposed to be doing.

You don't have to compromise your vision, but perhaps you can fit your vision to a smaller project/experiment. Remove anything unnecessary.

Good-looking new graphics and ideas above, by the way.
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oldblood
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« Reply #52 on: February 11, 2015, 09:14:21 AM »

It's not native to unity, its a plug-in called PlayMaker. Would highly recommend to users who're looking to quickly prototype or simply aren't the best programmers. It's incredibly powerful visual scripting. "Simple to pickup, difficult to master" etc etc.

And I'm not surprised my description was confusing. I tend to ramble...

He really does.

Basically, the game is going to be a pretty linear experience for the player. You will be able to respond how you want, go where you want etc. (and this may impact your experience) but you wont be able to proceed without following the linear path laid out for you. This path will remain the same till basically the end of the game where it branches. Because the game is linear, it needs to know that if you've spoken to this NPC about X, or picked up item X etc that you may not also have Y conversation or find Y item.

Example: I want some narration to occur after you've had a specific conversation with NPC X. Once you've you completed that conversation, I want the narrator to make a comment that suggests you now speak to NPC Y and also updates NPC Y based on the conversation you've had with X. NOW-- with this state machine I can have a state for the event when you talk to NPC X, once completed- it moves to the state for the Narration prompts and updates NPC Y as each event state is triggering the next event to occur AND its moving the player's progress state from Event 10, to 11, to 12 etc. The "Event Dispatch" is just sitting there waiting for these events to occur so it can fire off the next one and update your progress.

That probably didn't make much sense either...

I'd say a solution both to doubting while being unable to jump ship, and fear of the state machine(s) getting too complex and cumbersome, might be to make this game reasonably short. That way your experiment will get finished within a reasonable timeframe and the game will be small enough that messy code (or a visual state machine) won't matter too much, because you won't be working on it for so long that you'll start to forget what everything it supposed to be doing. You don't have to compromise your vision, but perhaps you can fit your vision to a smaller project/experiment. Remove anything unnecessary.

This is excellent feedback and sort of the direction I'm attempting to go. As mentioned, the game will be linear. No side quests, branching stories etc. It will be a 1-2 hour experience. I'm also pushing myself hard that the game development needs to end in June. So I have a 6-month window for the dev-cycle that I must stick to. I dont want to spend 2 years wallowing in an experimental side project...
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« Reply #53 on: February 11, 2015, 09:32:41 AM »

That probably didn't make much sense either...
It did make sense! Sounds good for a project like this. Kind of reminds me of the layout of some brainy games I've been playing recently, like The Room and other escape games.

This is excellent feedback and sort of the direction I'm attempting to go. As mentioned, the game will be linear. No side quests, branching stories etc. It will be a 1-2 hour experience. I'm also pushing myself hard that the game development needs to end in June. So I have a 6-month window for the dev-cycle that I must stick to. I dont want to spend 2 years wallowing in an experimental side project...
That sounds very reasonable to me.
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« Reply #54 on: February 13, 2015, 02:50:12 PM »


DEVLOG 15.

If you knew that you would grow up to be a killer, what would you do?

Victims. I’ve said it from the very beginning. You can’t have a game about growing up to become a killer without having victims. So why do you seem surprised? We kill people all the time in video games. But we don’t really think of them as “victims” do we?

***

Victims are an unpleasant part of this life and one that I will NOT dwell on as I find it to be an uncomfortable topic that negatively impacts my psyche. However, some things MUST be said about victims…

You do not necessarily want them to die.

Sometimes we do.

But most of the time, we don’t. We do, however, need them to be there for us at all times. You need them to be able to endure what you’re giving them. Really-- in a perfect world, they’d never die! They would exist simply to take what we give. Death is an unfortunate side effect of what we do. One of that grieves us, not because we miss them-- but because we have no one else when they’re gone. This is how the cycle begins, when one is gone-- we must find another to fill the void.

This is William. But he likes to be called “Billy”:

He trusted you. But I don’t know why…
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« Reply #55 on: February 13, 2015, 04:20:31 PM »

Your talking is so beautiful, i cant wait to play your game. :D
I already love it!
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« Reply #56 on: February 16, 2015, 02:32:39 AM »

Just read through the whole devlog and I'm intrigued.

The writing makes me want to see more of the game and how it will end up playing. Are you planning on having much text in the actual game? because this devlog is really setting the reader into this world.
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« Reply #57 on: February 16, 2015, 09:44:48 AM »

@lapinozz: Thank you for the very enthusiastic compliments. I'm surprised you find it "beautiful" as that's not really my intent. I'm just writing how I feel in that moment, but none the less- I really appreciate the warm reception to it.

@Franklins Ghost: Thanks for the compliments. I do have some plans for showing more of the gameplay in the near future. I'm currently working through about 4 different key gameplay mechanics, which is sort of bogging down my ability to showcase that more. The game didn't initially begin as a "text heavy" game- but I've been scrapping things like Narration and slowly moving more and more towards a lot of text in the game. Not only will this keep my scope and budget in check, people seem to be responding to my text so I should probably try to embrace that in the game itself.

***

DEVLOG 16.

This has been, an unfortuante week. There was a death in my family yesterday. A grand-parent. I don't want to leverage their death into "entertainment", so I will avoid talking in detail of the many things I've felt this week. I will say this though, watching last breaths escape is something unforgettable. Our bodies, they are-- so fragile. There was so much emotion in the room, I was hugged many times but I didnt know what to do or say to anyone. So much emotion. How do you respond to so much emotion?

So many eyes looked to me... to see how I would respond.

"What will the machine do? Will he cry this time?"

I just sat in the corner and avoided physical contact with those in the room. I simply didn't know what else to do? I'm not programmed for this.

I've never felt less human than I did yesterday. I don't want to talk about this anymore.

***

I will however speak to plans for a demo. I have plans to do a public Alpha-Demo here on the TIGSource forums in the coming weeks. Initially, the plan was to have this alpha demo available by the end of February. I do not see that occurring.

While I would absolutely love for that to be the case-- there is simply too much art I still need to get the game to a state where you could really move around and talk to NPC's. There are a lot more rooms needed to give the player room to traverse-- I also have a lot of characters to churn out, dialogue to be written etc. There's a lot to pile into 2 weeks, so I have this sinking feeling it will fall back into mid-March. I really hope it doesn't extend past that.

I will keep the demo open to anyone who wants to play it as I'd like to get feedback on the general mood and mechanics of the game even if it's at a very early stage. So stay posted, I hope to generate a lot of feedback from you all in the coming weeks.

***

I'm currently working on the next batch of rooms and characters and I'm hoping to have a lot more visuals to show over the course of this week as the assets are finalized (or at least, presentable).

I did spend some time late last night animating "Billy". As mentioned previously, I'm NOT an animator. There will be very limited animations for the characters throughout the game and generally the characters will not have a lot of dynamic features to them. Primarily, this is to help keep the game scope in check and also because I personally find the sort of "animated doll" look to sort of create its own sort of creepyness? I hope others agree with me...

I'm not overtly happy with this animation cycle, I was trying to capture that sort of awkward/nervous apprehension Billy felt when he was speaking with you, but I don't know if that comes through? What do you think?

I'm using a new way to keep GIF file sizes down so hopefully the quality loss isn't too bad...
Note: There is also a small stutter as its not a perfect GIF loop.
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« Reply #58 on: February 16, 2015, 01:42:25 PM »

Maybe beautiful wasn't the word, or maybe is because i don't have the same definition thaSn other?
For the animation, i feel like his face is a little bit too static
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« Reply #59 on: February 17, 2015, 12:44:30 PM »

Maybe beautiful wasn't the word, or maybe is because i don't have the same definition thaSn other?
For the animation, i feel like his face is a little bit too static

Yes, this is a valid point. I've been attempting to keep them all deliberately simple as an aesthetic choice (and to keep things simple) but it wouldn't add much time to go in and add some additional life to the face. Some blinking eyes, subtle mouth movement etc.

May leave them "as is" at the moment for the alpha as I have a pretty decent chunk of features I'm trying to crank out at the moment, but I will plan on revisiting these soon. Thanks for the feedback lapinozz.
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