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Ishi
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« Reply #720 on: December 18, 2017, 12:48:18 PM »

Devlog

A quick proper devlog update since I didn't post one at the weekend.

I've completed the level with the sinking platforms. By completed, I mean that it's playable from start to finish - but will surely need improvements, removals and additions! I'm always happy to get a full level blocked out in a basic form though, I find it much easier to analyse and tweak a level that already exists (whether it's based on playtesting, or just reviewing the level myself after taking a break from it) than it is to create the level in the first place. Those blank canvases are really tough to fill.

I've begun work on another level, the second one for December. I'm hoping to fit a third level in after this too.

Here's a screenshot, which doesn't give much away about the new level.



Apologies if you're bored of seeing the same old beach + ocean backdrop, most levels won't be using it in the final game, I just haven't got around to making more backdrops yet. Staring at placeholder stuff is a big part of game dev Grin
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« Reply #721 on: December 21, 2017, 06:50:04 AM »

Ugh! Blank canvas, riiight!? The worse!!
Next game, I am definitely spending more time on tools for building/prototyping levels more quickly.
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Ishi
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« Reply #722 on: January 01, 2018, 09:51:11 AM »

Happy New Year!

I wasn't able to work while with my family for Christmas, so I had a little bit of a break from work recently. But have been making the most of my free time this weekend.

I finished off the level I showed a sneak peek of in my previous post. As I mentioned before, it's not 100% final, but is playable and complete! I didn't get around to making a third level for December as I hoped - but have done other stuff.

Recordings

Firstly all that talk about recording gameplay really got into my head, so I've now implemented it! It took a bit of work to make my existing recording system more flexible and robust - but now the game automatically spits out log files which contain the player's recorded inputs. I can drag+drop these files into the game to immediately load the appropriate level and begin playing back the recordings.

I've done a few bug fixes and it now seems to play back the gameplay flawlessly, regardless of the framerate, which I didn't expect to achieve! The log file includes the player's position every 100 frames, which I use to verify that the recording is staying properly in-sync - if it goes wrong then I display a warning on the screen so at least I know the playback has broken.

I'll be using this feature to gather info from playtesters. For example in the future, when I want to polish a level, I can sit and watch all the recordings of people playing that level and get a feel for which areas of the level might need improving.

It turns out input playback is also super handy for debugging! It can be really hard to debug games because they usually rely so heavily on player input. I can't hit a breakpoint and step through code whilst also giving sensible input on the controller. But now if I can reproduce the bug in a recording, then I can take my time to debug it however I like, and reproduce it as many times as needed! This has already come in useful so I expect I'll be very glad to have this feature.

Music Progress

I have also spent some time listening to and providing feedback on new music for the game from Woofle, as well as implementing some of it into the game. It's going really well. We are making really good use of some multi-layered music now which I think will really enhance the parts of the game where it's used.
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« Reply #723 on: January 02, 2018, 05:57:54 AM »

Very cool that the recording part turned out more generally useful Smiley
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« Reply #724 on: January 02, 2018, 01:39:13 PM »

I was going to suggest to also keep track of character position but you have that covered. Smiley  On a similar note, don't see it mentioned, but do you keep track of other moving objects (NPCs, platforms, projectiles, etc).  I'm guessing you restart the playback from the very beginning each time.  Otherwise, using checkpoints or even a few seconds skip back option would require more steps.
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« Reply #725 on: January 02, 2018, 06:36:02 PM »

The theater mode in Halo 3 (and up) actually started it's life as an internal debugging tool! Sounds super useful!! I'm so psyched for ass the mileage you'll surely get out of it.
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Ishi
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« Reply #726 on: January 03, 2018, 01:16:59 PM »

I'm guessing you restart the playback from the very beginning each time.  Otherwise, using checkpoints or even a few seconds skip back option would require more steps.

Yep, although I do save which checkpoint the player is starting from; each recording runs until a death or end of level, so it can start from mid way through the level.

Storing any kind of enemy positions / state would be way more complex than I'm willing to go. However I did implement a quick + dirty "rewind" feature:
  • Press the rewind key at 20 seconds into the playback
  • Reload the entire level
  • Simulate the next 15 seconds of gameplay in a single frame
  • Continue playback
It's actually fairly quick, and really useful for me to have an easy way to skip backwards a little bit!
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« Reply #727 on: January 04, 2018, 04:58:57 AM »

I assume "death" means "until the level is unloaded"? You might miss some bugs if you don't record all the way until the end; I don't recall seeing a death screen in any of your gifs, but I guess the in-game animations and enemy behaviours continue until you fall off the screen.

Speaking of "unexpected behaviours because the in-game engine keeps running", this indirectly reminds me of last minute of this recording of a Kaizo Mario Lets Play:



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« Reply #728 on: January 05, 2018, 09:38:12 AM »

I keep coming back to see pictures and videos of your game. Fun-looking gameplay aside, there is something about the visuals that draw me in. Such a simple visual style, and it looks so good. It seems like a 8-bit game (mostly very simple sprites) but without the NES (or Master System, but the game is clearly inspired by Nintendo platformers, as you said yourself) color restrictions. Is that right?

As someone who has been brainstorming a good visual style for her game, I hope I can achieve a look that fits my game as well. Gomez
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Ishi
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« Reply #729 on: January 07, 2018, 01:40:39 PM »

I assume "death" means "until the level is unloaded"? You might miss some bugs if you don't record all the way until the end; I don't recall seeing a death screen in any of your gifs, but I guess the in-game animations and enemy behaviours continue until you fall off the screen.

Speaking of "unexpected behaviours because the in-game engine keeps running", this indirectly reminds me of last minute of this recording of a Kaizo Mario Lets Play:





That's a pretty harsh ending to a level, suitable for a Kaizo game though of course!

I think my recordings currently stop the moment the player dies - it might be worth extending it just in case something weird happens after death, yeah.

I keep coming back to see pictures and videos of your game. Fun-looking gameplay aside, there is something about the visuals that draw me in. Such a simple visual style, and it looks so good. It seems like a 8-bit game (mostly very simple sprites) but without the NES (or Master System, but the game is clearly inspired by Nintendo platformers, as you said yourself) color restrictions. Is that right?

Yeah it's something like that. I don't have any colour restrictions, but in terms of detail of sprites etc I've been aiming somewhere in between NES and SNES. The most important thing I try to do is make everything easy to read (so the player can tell what's happening on screen), making everything consistent so it all looks like it belongs together, and importantly finding an art style that is quick for me to produce :D
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« Reply #730 on: January 07, 2018, 01:49:26 PM »

World Map Month

It's January, and I'm once again focusing on the World Map this month!

My general aim is to block out the entire world map for the game. I'm hoping this will really help to define just how big the game is going to be, and will direct my future level creation efforts because I can aim to fill specific gaps in level difficulty/theme/etc. So far I've done a really rough initial island layout, and then revised it quite heavily, and will be delving into it in further detail.

I'm not going to show the whole island in the devlog, so here's a small mockup of what an underground cave area may look like.



Fan art

I'd like to also give a shoutout to @Level2Select on twitter who has recently made a couple of amazing Leilani pics that I love.



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« Reply #731 on: January 07, 2018, 02:02:39 PM »

Lovely fanarts, Ishi.

Yeah it's something like that. I don't have any colour restrictions, but in terms of detail of sprites etc I've been aiming somewhere in between NES and SNES. The most important thing I try to do is make everything easy to read (so the player can tell what's happening on screen), making everything consistent so it all looks like it belongs together, and importantly finding an art style that is quick for me to produce :D
The bold part is something that took me a while to realize. There is a lot of cool art styles, pixel styles one could go for, but it is important to consider how long it takes to actually produce the art, too. Wish someone had told me that several months ago, hehe!
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« Reply #732 on: January 08, 2018, 10:22:53 AM »

For the people who read this a few years in the future and don't want to scroll all the way back, these are the art pieces in question (I think)

https://twitter.com/Level2Select/status/939986632618504192

https://twitter.com/Level2Select/status/949623477924978689
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« Reply #733 on: January 08, 2018, 12:28:32 PM »

Wow this games friggin smooth! That's what years of attention to detail looks like I suppose!

The top down level select map is always a great way to show the size of the world you're creating. With this sea of Metroidvanias out there (They're mostly all great games! There's just a lot of them) it's a great change of pace!

Can't wait to see the whole island!

Also...Damn, now people will think I'm copying your roll attack....I assure you I had no idea of this game's existence til now lol
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Ishi
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« Reply #734 on: January 09, 2018, 12:41:20 PM »

Wow this games friggin smooth! That's what years of attention to detail looks like I suppose!

The top down level select map is always a great way to show the size of the world you're creating. With this sea of Metroidvanias out there (They're mostly all great games! There's just a lot of them) it's a great change of pace!

Can't wait to see the whole island!

Also...Damn, now people will think I'm copying your roll attack....I assure you I had no idea of this game's existence til now lol

Thanks Smiley I think a lot of people are nostalgic for a good old Mario-World style map, but it's not something I seem to see very often. So putting a lot of effort into this aspect of the game!

As for rolling attacks, the more the merrier. One of gaming's finest unrealistic moves.
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Ishi
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« Reply #735 on: January 13, 2018, 02:56:50 PM »

Aloha!

Canyon area

I've been continuing world map work. Here's a sneak peek of the cliffs/canyon area.



I'm really having a lot of fun designing the world map! I wasn't planning on having these kind of environmental disasters on the world map, but had the idea of the polluted river today while putting the map together. Investigating the cause of it will be Leilani's driving force to get through this area.

The map isn't final - especially as it's missing foliage - but I think it's coming together nicely.

Layered Music - Part 1

This week I've also been occupied with more music implementation/feedback which is coming to a close now as Woofle has finished working on the current batch of music. I previously mentioned that I'd implemented the ability to layer multiple music mixes together and crossfade between them. Well I can finally show this off, so I thought I'd go into some technical details of how it was achieved.

The Goal

The aim is to create music that can dynamically change with the gameplay. The music can either be authored in separate layers that can be faded in/out, or alternatively the music can be created with multiple entirely different versions of the same track, and I crossfade between the different versions.

It's important that all the different layers are perfectly in time with each other, and exactly the same length, so that fading between them is as seamless as possible.

Here's the final result. The world map music crossfading between four different versions - Beach, Jungle, Underground and Plains. (This is using the Sound Test mode I put into the game to make it easier to test these things. It's also displaying some debug info, which I'll discuss the meaning of in a future post).





The method

The method I use for this is:

1. Combine all layers of the music into one multi-channel music file. The main advantage of this is that in the game I'm just playing a single music track, so all the layers within the music are guaranteed to stay perfectly in sync with each other.

2. When the music is playing back, adjust the volume of the various channels in the file so that we only hear the ones we want to hear.

That's basically it.

Combining into one multi-channel file

The format I use is a multi-channel ogg file. (I'm not sure which other music formats support multiple channels)

This can be created quite easily using Audacity.

1. Start off with each music layer in a separate file. In my case each layer is in stereo (it has two channels, left and right).

2. Drag each file into Audacity. At this point you can hit the Play button and it'll play all of the layers at once. By muting individual layers you can get a sense for how it'll sound when you fade each layer in and out later.



3. Go to Edit > Preferences > Import/Export and make sure that Use Custom Mix is selected. This allows multi-channel oggs to be saved out.



4. Go to File > Export Audio. Choose ogg format and enter your filename. Click OK.

5. It'll then display this dialogue. Here you can select how many channels the file will have, and which of the input channels (Left and Right channel for each layer) goes to each of the file's channels.



Click OK and you have a multi-channel ogg file.

To be continued

This is quite a long post, so... to be continued next time!

In the meantime if you'd like to hear each version of the world map music in its entirety, check out Woofle's SoundCloud page! Jungle is probably my favourite.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 03:02:00 PM by Ishi » Logged

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« Reply #736 on: January 13, 2018, 06:58:55 PM »

Love the addition of dynamic music, reminds me of the yoshi's island menu music that adds layers when you unlock new worlds.
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« Reply #737 on: January 13, 2018, 07:17:39 PM »

I love the cave overworld music, it reminds me of Pikmin.
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« Reply #738 on: January 14, 2018, 04:29:15 AM »

^

I absolutely love the music! Is it all done by you as well?
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Ishi
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« Reply #739 on: January 14, 2018, 09:48:34 AM »

Thanks all Smiley

I absolutely love the music! Is it all done by you as well?

All the music is by Woofle who worked on the excellent Freedom Planet soundtrack amongst other things.
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