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June 05, 2020, 05:58:36 PM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsMORSE - Change the world in the push of a button.
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Author Topic: MORSE - Change the world in the push of a button.  (Read 7723 times)
AlexVsCoding
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« Reply #60 on: May 19, 2020, 03:37:06 AM »

Hey Folks!

Turns out it was a misfire on the announcement (can't reveal the news yet!), so I instead revealed that my app, Corporate Salmon recently passed a million downloads on iOS! Will hopefully be announced by the end of the month! Stay tuned for updates!

This is an experience to watch. Really well done.
That means a lot. You lose the sense of wonder over projects when you've been working on them for prolonged periods of time!  

That looks cool. I'm on Android though :/
Thanks! The current build (For testing purposes) is iOS, but I absolutely have plans to bring this to Android down the line! (As a matter of fact, for the arcade cabinet the game will be running on an Android tablet)

I like your concept, I love unique designs
Also, the black & white version seems more appropiate
Cheers, I appreciate the feedback. Originally I did have just black and white (when designing the current iteration of morse, I was designing it to work with the playdate palette (2 colours, see the mockup I did below), but it was much harder to read without that third colour (differentiating between enemies and player units, highlighting important information). I will down the line be experimenting with palettes, as part of which I might include a greyscale/black and white one. We'll see!

« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 01:42:20 AM by AlexVsCoding » Logged

AlexVsCoding
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« Reply #61 on: May 20, 2020, 02:47:45 AM »

Hey folks!

So today is the day! Drumroll...

MORSE has recieved support from the UK Games Fund! Basically, I have a grant to hire staff and fund development for a couple of months, creating a vertical slice of the game in Unity. Despite life being wrecked by COVID (have been self isolating since mid-March), being able to provide income for talented folks and give this game the polish it deserves is something that I'm incredibly grateful for. I've assembled a team of freelancers that I'll be working with (So no spamming the project please with requests) and I'll be effectively working on this project full time, so expect more frequent updates on here from myself and possibly them as well!

For now, here's the annoucement trailer:




Content on here will be a mix of blog posts and updates on the various iterations of the game. The upcoming blog posts will discuss the plans for the project, meeting the team members and why I've made the switch from Stencyl to Unity.

Stay tuned for those real soon and thanks again for your interest in the game!
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 01:42:46 AM by AlexVsCoding » Logged

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« Reply #62 on: May 20, 2020, 03:51:14 AM »

Yay! UK Games Fund be like "Here's some tea and money for a rainy day" Coffee Hand Money Right
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AlexVsCoding
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« Reply #63 on: May 20, 2020, 10:37:36 PM »

Yay! UK Games Fund be like "Here's some tea and money for a rainy day" Coffee Hand Money Right

Their budget is staple rations of tea, spam and crackers for a 6 month period, plus a corgi and a Big Ben snowglobe Gentleman

If you want to check out the other projects featured, have a look here! (Notable is Jon Dadley's "Transmission", who has previously posted on TIG!)
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 01:43:02 AM by AlexVsCoding » Logged

AlexVsCoding
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« Reply #64 on: May 22, 2020, 04:50:55 PM »


Hey Folks! Did a bunch of work on narrative stuff for MORSE with the project narrative designer, Danni! Here's what we changed up:
+ The original script for the demo was very generic and informative, but lacking any personality. These sections will be relatively linear, but we still revised script to give the mission briefing text more personality and made it a back and forth conversation (instead of a monologue).
+ Ability to control pace of text scroll in a standard RPG fashion (click once to advance to next text, click again to speed up text printing)
+ Indicators/Labels for who is talking: This was a basic one that Danni spotted was unresolved (Since until now it was just you being talked at). Added a subtle scale effect to the character talking and a text label above the writing.
+ Visual effect for when Ida is talking to herself: Throughout the game, Ida will have periods of introspection, for which we want her to briefly zone out to reflect on current events. The accompanying characters now fade out and the background will darken (and dutch angle). I'll also be adding italics, though I might just wait to add that in Unity.
+ Implemented variables to control character/scene combinations, so if I want to put Officer Sturch in the library, I'd choose character 2 and background 4. Nice and straightforward and means when I make the overworld, I just need to feed those variables based on which area is selected (and which character is within!)

That's all for now, stay tuned for more content soon!

P.s. When I upgraded my Mac to the latest OS, it broke all my GIF making tools Sad

If anyone has any good suggestions for replacements, I'd appreciate it (Only one I was able to find was GIPHY capture which is pretty average!)
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 01:43:22 AM by AlexVsCoding » Logged

AlexVsCoding
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« Reply #65 on: May 23, 2020, 11:34:56 PM »



Hey Folks!

Good news that I've hit 7,000 views on the Morse blog which is pretty cool. To celebrate, here's a look at some of the various characters you'll come across whilst exploring Morse! These are all currently first pass assets but it's really exciting to put a face to the names we've been writing about!

I did a burst of testing last night and came to the conclusion that there needs to be a more thorough testing (Several players hitting a wall immediately)

Here's what I'm going to be working on today to remedy this in the short term:
- Have a dedicated help button in the top corner. Pause on one side, help on the other.
- Brings down a full window panel explaining how the controls work
- OR have the game pause when help mode is activated, a panel appears in the middle and whatever component you click on, it explains what it does.
- Have in game dialogue "There'll be time later for full training, but for now, we need you in the chair. Here's the basics:"
- Make a 5th character (Mary) that helps can explain what the player needs to do.
- Look at doing what halo does: "we need to make sure the targeting system is working, do me a favour and target this coordinate" except with the player inputting coordinates
- Long term solution is a more staggered tutorial, introducing the various components over time rather than just dumping it all on the player at once
- Have the letters for the tutorial be TUTORIAL (Target T, I, O). Good in theory but requires fixing the duplicate issue which is a huge issue to overcome, maybe choose HELP, LEARN or SETUP instead?
- Layer elements in, piece by piece. Start with the grid, then the helpsheet, then the morse button, then the UI to see tell if it's a dot or dash, then the code output, then the launch button and the ammo types.
- Break the 4th wall and for the purposes of this tutorial, just explain to the player how this works (risky as it throws all the immersion down the toilet).
Have the objective written along the top of the screen permanently?
- Text feedback once you've destroyed the units on the first level
- Now that I have faces for the characters, replace the notifications bar with a comms bar (With portraits of who is on the line)

Hoping to get at least some of these solutions implemented today, we'll see how things go!

Stay tuned for more updates!
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 01:43:37 AM by AlexVsCoding » Logged

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« Reply #66 on: May 25, 2020, 03:35:04 PM »

Quote
That means a lot. You lose the sense of wonder over projects when you've been working on them for prolonged periods of time!

Awe man  Hand Thumbs Up Left Lips Sealed Hand Thumbs Up Right
There's wonder, it's very realistic. Also your trailer music Hand Thumbs Up Right
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AlexVsCoding
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« Reply #67 on: May 27, 2020, 01:41:19 AM »



Hey Folks! Here's an update on Morse!

As discussed in the last post, I took the weekend to turn the wall people kept hitting into a flight of stairs. See the gif above for what was achieved! Here's a summary of what I implemented:

+ Added a mission at the start which allows the player to perform basic targeting in a low pressure environment; targeting the different letters of the word LEARN. One thing that's really nice about the word learn is that each of the letters in it are all parts of the morse for L.
Here's what I mean by that:
L = .-..
E = .
A = .-
R = .-.
N = -.
This means that folks can repeat the various patterns (rather than learning new sequences for each). This wasn't planned but was a nice realisation!
+ Help sheet/tooltips; Players at any time can now click the question mark in the top right hand corner and review the various elements of the UI in a paused state. Each has a specific description highlighting the functionality.
+ Have a more explicit mission statement; Previously, the game had just the dialogue between characters to define the mission, but in a return to what the original game had, you receive a printout at the start of each mission which tells you what objective you have. A permanent fixture to this is also the advice to check the help sheet at any time. Reinforcing this means folks always have the knowledge they can have access to help if the game becomes a little too "overwhelming" (The most cited piece of feedback).
+ Added an additional scenario to the demo to accommodate the mission, after we realised we could cleanly integrate the tutorial as a "Military drill".
+ As part of the first mission, you have no numerical grid positions, second mission you have numbers but don't have to use them if you want and the third and fourth missions require vertical movement. This eases the player in a bit more to vertical movement.
+ Added the spacebar as an alternative control for the Morse button, feels very cathartic.

Feedback since updating it seems to be very positive! With folks before who completely blanked on the first mission, they are able to get to grips with the UI. I still don't think it's finished, for the final game we'd likely be able to more naturally introduce these components. For now though, this seems to have worked. I'm quite happy with where things are at at this point, the plan from here is to keep testing the build and experimenting with the Unity version.

Here's other pieces of feedback/improvements that I'll be looking into from now:
- The barbed wire on the first level takes 3-4 hits to destroy, whilst the target marking it disappears on the first hit (Which gives the illusion that the objective is complete and the game is broken). Need to either make the target marker remain persistent OR make the barbed wire break in one hit.
- Provide the ability to reject shells: In the current game state, you can be in a predicament where you can't fire one of the larger artillery strikes without killing your own units, which feels very frustrating. What I'm considering adding is the ability to reject/remove the current shell loaded into the chamber. This would give players the option to reject if they wish, but not without the cost of having to wait for more shells to spawn. A simple click/tap to remove it should do the job.
- Finish integrating the narrative: The last part of the script to be integrated is the most production heavy; At the start of the game, there is a short graphical introduction of 4 slides (See the trailer for these). We'll be looking at adding at least 2 more slides to it to orient that introduction to Ida and provide more context.
- See if we can get some more sound effects for the project: In particular, the intro/dialogue sections feel quite empty at the moment. Even just some atmospheric sound in the background of those scenes would be sufficient.
- The game at the moment has no resolution settings (And has limited options in Stencyl), so the help sheet that is fine on mobile is comically oversized on desktop (taking up a huge component of the screen). Trying to find a way to make this UI component less obtrusive is something I'm going to explore in coming days.
- Make the objective marker less obscure: At the moment, you can only review the objective market when you close the help sheet, something that is crucial for the majority of gameplay. I need to try find somewhere else to put it on screen that doesn't obscure other elements of the UI and is still readable.

That's all for now, stay tuned for more soon!
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AlexVsCoding
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« Reply #68 on: May 31, 2020, 12:23:13 AM »

Telegram 1: Plans for the project

There are 3 versions of Morse:
- The original Stencyl game built in 2015 for Flash, now archived
- The remastering/upgrading of the Stencyl game in late 2019 for mobile and desktop which was used as a major component of the pitch to the UKGF
- The Unity project started in the last month or so

The Stencyl version is a playable demo with 4 missions to play, a polished in game interface, basic narrative framework and as mentioned above, optimised and portable to mobile and desktop.

The first major milestone from here is to use the Stencyl demo as a design blueprint to rebuild it in Unity (I will go into why I've decided to do this in a later blog), with a target of September for a vertical slice of equivalent polish.

The second major task is using a major portion of the funding to expand the narrative component of the game, what is currently it's weakest element by far. MORSE will feature a variety of characters and similar to The Banner Saga, will have narrative sections of the game spent worldbuilding and exploring the relations between the various cast.

Whilst the war itself will obviously feature in the game, I find what was happening back home equally if not more fascinating in terms of narrative content; The fight for suffrage, the changing dynamics of gender roles in the workplace, an unstoppable global pandemic, government censorship (of soldier's letters home) and in particular the prominent role that women had in technical fields - Computing for a large portion of history was considered a feminine role (in contrast to manual labour) and women made up the majority of the workforce. These topics can also be used to compliment and contrast with contemporary subjects such as drone warfare, tech monopolies and European tensions.

To facilitate this, the protagonist, Ida in between her shifts will have the opportunity to wander the grounds of the manor house, a fictional equivalent of the various manors used for secret military operations during the World Wars. Rather than having a sprawling world in which you meet a vast quantity of characters, there will be a quality selection of characters on the base who you will bond with over the course of the game.

The third major component planned is the MORSE cabinet. As covered in previous posts, me and Katy were in the process of producing an arcade cabinet (in the style of a 1900's campaign chest) to bring to expos. One thing that makes the shift to Unity particularly exciting is the ability to do more experimentaion with physical inputs, such as incorporating motors, dials and even dynamic lights. For reasons that are obvious, this is something we still want to acheive but will have to wait till things with COVID return to some semblance of normal. The majority of games conferences have been cancelled and the hackspace we were using to build it has been repurposed to make protective equipment for health workers.

Right, that's enough for now. As mentioned above, more updates coming soon!
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« Reply #69 on: June 01, 2020, 01:04:21 PM »

Just saw the trailer, got a nice "papers please" vibe to it + a nice nostalgic feel.
And yes I understand what you mean by 2 color limitations.
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« Reply #70 on: June 02, 2020, 11:41:32 AM »

Great to see this going so strong Alex, good work! Coffee
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AlexVsCoding
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« Reply #71 on: June 03, 2020, 03:28:57 AM »

Hey folks!

Check out this 10 minute playthrough of the current vertical slice (And a preview of the custom controller!):





Here's a summary update on what I've been up to over the last month:

+ Vertical slice complete: I've got a stable vertical slice functional on multiple platforms (HTML5, Mobile and Desktop) which encapsulates 3 missions and a further staggered tutorial. I'm currently doing playtesting sessions (Though not releasing a public build) so please get in touch if you're able to give written feedback on the game! Prepping the game in this way has meant that I've been able to get meetings with publishers a lot earlier than I would have if I'd just jumped into Unity. I've also submitted the game to Indiecade, so hopefully something good comes from that!

+ Further Tutorialisation: Added additional narrative to contextualise the tutorial, added a popup before each mission starts that explains explicitly what the mission is, added a tooltip popup to explain the elements of the UI, added an extra mission with no stakes and 5 targets to destroy with no other distractions on screen.

+ Narrative remastered: The previous narrative content I had was very dry and to the point, not much there in terms of richness for characters (Ida didn't say a word previously in the discussions)! I worked with the project narrative designer Danni to breathe life into the scenes. These have been implemented into the game and help provide a more natural flow between the gameplay sequences, in particular the tutorialised sections. Ahead of the transition over to Unity, Danni has been learning INK, the tool built by Inkle which helps format narrative sequences and cleanly integrates into Unity. In time, I'm going to be learning how to use their tagging system so I can trigger in game events based on what Danni writes (A simple example is having the camera move to focus on which character is talking).

+ Visual updates to dialogue sequences: Narrative sequences had some extra layers of polish applied, such as having an indicator of who is talking through a name caption and a subtle scale effect based on who is speaking. On top of this, I updated the backgrounds to the narrative sections, overhauled the character designs, added a visual effect when Ida is speaking internally to herself and most recently added a bit of atmospheric sound to make the narrative scenes feel less jarring!

+ Started the transition into Unity: I've imported all the assets from the current project into Unity, established a useful folder structure, created mockups of the key scenes within the game, integrated INK with narrative from Danni, started experimentation with camera dynamics and transition effects between scenes.

If you want to find out more about these developments, you can have a nosey through the earlier updates in the month which go through them in some depth. As part of my development with the UKGF, I need to produce an update video on the project, something I'll be posting here (And attempting to reinforce as a monthly routine). This brings us to the question; what is the plan for the next month? June is going to be a bit of a turbulent month for me personally, I've got marking to finish up, a game launching on the 12th and all of the contractors starting work on the game! What I plan to do is the following:

- Managing Contractors: To make sure that they're fully supported and have all the resources they need to do their work effectively. Luke is going to be focusing on updating the project audio (A lot of it is legacy from the previous version) and finding the new mood for the game soundtrack, Danni is going to be focusing on producing the first voluntary narrative sequences (Conversations with folks as you wander the house) and Katy is going to be finding the visual style for the characters and giving Ida (and several other characters) faces! I'll be posting a more in depth blog on them soon!

- Using the remaining time of the free Unity tutorial content , which expires in mid June.

- Building company infrastructure: One thing that the process of going through UKGF has identified is the inefficiencies in my own workflow (E.g. If I work alone, there's less scrutiny on my work), so over the next month I'll be learning how to do proper source control, file management, sorting out my finances, properly formatting my code, further exploring time/team management tools and in general getting ALJO games in a state so when July hits, we can enter full development without getting bogged down in inefficiencies.

- Refine the vertical slice: This will make up a smaller component of the work, but naturally as the contractors produce elements for the game, a prime outlet for testing them is going to be through the existing build. Integrating new art, sound and narrative will improve prospects with folks we pitch the game to and most importantly, serve as a more cohesive blueprint to build the Unity game from.

That's all for now, thanks for checking the project out and stay tuned for more soon!
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AlexVsCoding
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« Reply #72 on: June 04, 2020, 01:07:08 AM »

Just saw the trailer, got a nice "papers please" vibe to it + a nice nostalgic feel.
And yes I understand what you mean by 2 color limitations.
Haha, I seem to be hearing a lot of people citing Papers Please when getting excited about Morse... Does that make my game a Please-Like or Paper-Like? Big Laff

Great to see this going so strong Alex, good work! Coffee
Thanks! That means a lot given the persistence of your own blog posts, Poison Pipes looks absolutely wonderful!

Quote
That means a lot. You lose the sense of wonder over projects when you've been working on them for prolonged periods of time!

Awe man  Hand Thumbs Up Left Lips Sealed Hand Thumbs Up Right
There's wonder, it's very realistic. Also your trailer music Hand Thumbs Up Right
The music has served really well for the trailer, but I'm actually going to be moving away from it relatively soon. It was a track by a friend of mine who I worked on the project with back in 2015, but he was far too busy to work on the project and is waaaay out of the budget I have available with UKGF! Plan for the new soundtrack is a mix of classical strings and synth, those synths growing more intense the closer you are to the giant machine you do your job at. 
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