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Matt Carr
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« on: September 11, 2015, 10:33:50 pm »

I thought I'd start posting smaller incremental dev updates on Paint the Town Red here since at the moment the dev blogs I'm posting on my site have been larger and serve to retroactively get things up to date with the current state of development.

You can read about the genesis and development of the game up to this point in my first Dev Log here, and I've recently posted the second blog which goes into some more detail on the voxel based characters.

The short version is that we (South East Games = 2 man team) made Probably Archery for the 7DFPS game jam in 2013, it was fairly popular so we got a full version greenlit and made that. We didn't really want to make a full game from that idea, but we suffered through it and got something decent out the door. We then decided we'd try doing the same thing again for the 2014 7DFPS game jam but this time with an idea we'd actually enjoy making a full version of if people wanted it. We made Paint the Town Red and it was greenlit and now we're close to releasing it in Early Access (October 13).

Early Access Teaser Trailer




We set the release date based on an estimate of the remaining work, but we've been getting through it quickly so I'm really happy with the time we have left. Since it's early access there is also the benefit of everything not having to be perfect, but we're trying to make what we have polished anyway. The goal is basically to have a vertical slice of the game, 2 levels 90%+ complete and we'll add a new level hopefully every month until it's finished. There so much absolute garbage being released on Early Access at the moment that from what I've seen (based on Steam Spy) isn't selling, but I'm hoping that only holds true for low quality releases. I'm pretty happy and confident in what we'll be releasing for the first version.

Freshly printed and spilled upon release countdown calendar
Look at all those days Smiley. We're close enough to finished for this release and could put it out next week, but the plan is after lots of testing, tweaking and polishing to get the release version locked down a week early and get it out to Youtube channels and game sites a 2-3 days early so that there might be some attention at launch. We might try and set an embargo for the day of release just so if there are any popular videos the viewers can actually get the game before they forget about it.

The game jam version received a lot of attention on Youtube (Pewdiepie, etc) so hopefully the same is true for the full version. I've also been surprised to find that it regularly sits in the top 5 most popular games on itch.io even almost a year after it was released. No idea how that will translate to sales for the full game though. Some stats on the game jam version we've got from some rushed Google Analytics integration are that it has been started ~500,000 times and people have died ~800,000 times.

Dev Log 1 - Intro and Brief History
Dev Log 2 - Fun with Voxels and Dismemberment

--- Dev log time:

So yesterday was a pretty big day, we got a lot of the art and animation for special characters done and I got all new stuff the block system working. Different weapons block different amounts and can be damage when blocking attacks and possibly break. That was the last major combat mechanic that needed to get done before we could start tweaking the various enemy and weapon values to get the difficulty right.

Today I'm thinking I'll spend some time doing something a little different and look at if I can make a fast system for capturing small screenshots frequently in a circular buffer to allow for an in-game animated gif replay maker thing. This is definitely a game that lends itself to gifs because of the variability in the way enemies can take damage and be killed with the voxel system. A built-in easy to use gif system could be a good way to help word of mouth.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2015, 08:11:31 am by Matt Carr » Logged
Matt Carr
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2015, 02:21:28 pm »

Pretty happy with how the Animated Gif tool is going. 20 minutes after I posted that first post I had the recording of frames at the desired framerate and length working well, it took another 2-3 hours to find a decent simple Gif library (NGif) and improve it and get it working in Unity. Another couple of hours to get all the UI and bugs sorted and this is where it's at:




(I'm not missing a Youtube embed ability am I?)

Here's the Gif it output. I had the number of colours set pretty low for that test so the quality isn't great and that mainly manifests in flickering from frame to frame. I'll find a good balance between result file size and quality for the final version. I might also need to change the library more and normalize colour tables between frames more.


My method so that performance wouldn't be affected in any noticeable way was to create an image effect that would downscale the image at the end of rendering to the desired size and to an array of render textures. I only convert the render textures to normal textures at gif creation time so otherwise everything is super fast, just some memory implications but not enough to worry about. I use the render texture array as a circular buffer and made some handy functions to tell me what the oldest frame is and the newest (handling the cases of before and after the buffer has started repeating).

When I get a chance later today I'll test out adding buttons to upload to Imgur and Gfycat assuming their APIs are simple enough.
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Matt Carr
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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2015, 05:35:44 am »

Took a little while to look into Imgur and Gfycat's APIs and set things up. Imgur has a more complex API requiring application registration and authentication which was a turn off. I looked at their terms of service and it seemed like commercial apps that used the API would need to pay so that was the end of Imgur.

Gfycat on the other hand has a very simple API by comparison, although their API info page is pretty bad with plenty of typos and even errors in some of their URLs. On the plus side once I figured out the correct steps it worked and now after creating a gif the GUI shows an "Upload GIF to GfyCat" button which does just that. Unity's WWW.uploadProgress allows me to provide an accurate upload completion % and you can resume playing the game while it uploads. When it finishes I provide a button that opens the browser (Steam overlay browser if running Steam version) to the Gfycat URL. Here's one of the small ones I made while testing: http://gfycat.com/UnluckySelfreliantGrayling.

I wanted to add a button to copy the link to the clipboard but that doesn't appear to be possible at runtime in Unity/mono? Maybe I would get it working with a third party library and/or maybe only on Windows, but it isn't really worth it. People will want to view it in the browser before linking people to it anyway.

So it's basically complete now. There's a few little error handling things to do and I still need to support other aspect ratios, but there's probably only another hour left in cleaning it up. What's nice is that it's self contained and would basically work in any Unity application as-is straight away so I might put in on the Asset Store or release the code later once its been more thoroughly tested.

Pretty good result for a weekend where I had a lot of other obligations and not much time too work. Come tomorrow it'll be back to working on combat, namely getting who enemies target at what times working how I want for the best mix of difficulty and interesting background combat. This time next weekend I expect both the Biker Bar and Disco will be feature complete and the main and in-game menus will be done. Then there's 3 weeks of testing, fixing and some sad attempts at marketing before Early Access Version 1 is out.
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Matt Carr
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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2015, 11:29:21 pm »

Just got the last of the special characters for the 2 first levels in, the chefs. They'll have more appropriate weapons and possibly some chef-like animations before release.



So happy with the animated gif system. Expect a lot of Gifs in these posts because it's so easy for me to do now.
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Christian
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« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2015, 07:08:24 am »

Great to see a devlog for this. The voxel based damage looks really cool. As does the RE/Cube-style laser grid
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Matt Carr
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« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2015, 06:23:21 am »

Great to see a devlog for this. The voxel based damage looks really cool. As does the RE/Cube-style laser grid

Thanks. There's a number of things like the voxel characters that I think are pretty unique in this game and there's lots of fun things we can do with them.

I haven't done anything too visually interesting to show over the past few days since my last post, but have made a lot of progress.

Now that Shane has finished almost all the art and animation for the first release he's now switched over to making sound effects. To simply the workflow I made a SoundLibrary in Unity that stores all the audio clips for the game so there's only one place to add and modify them. Sounds in the game get given the appropriate clips from the library at runtime.

I implemented a number of different sound effects like "woosh" sounds for weapons while they swing before hitting and I thought it'd be funny to use one of the songs for the game for all the woosh sounds until Shane replaced them with real sounds. When I played and tested the sound, I found this actually ended up allowing me to find some bugs in the enemy attacks that I might've missed otherwise. What should have happened, and for the most part did happen, was that the first second or so of the song should've been all that played while weapons were swinging about. After playing for a bit though, I started hearing more of the song which meant the attack hadn't been stopped properly for some reason. Good thing I decided to do something dumb.
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Matt Carr
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« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2015, 06:38:49 am »

The gameplay and performance is now at a point where I felt like playing through the biker bar level from start to finish while taking notes on everything that still needs doing, what needs improvement and any bugs. Have a full large page of notes from 1 playthrough that I'll work through now, but there wasn't anything unexpected or difficult.

Even with a lot of things still incomplete (and having played the iterative versions of this many times a day for many months), it was still fun to play properly through the almost complete level where it was actually somewhat challenging. The best part was though that when everyone was dead, the level looked exactly as I hoped it would and I captured some screenshots. This is the reason I want to have the player walk to the exit of place they're in for each level to finish it, so they get a chance to look over the aftermath:

Click for full size versions








« Last Edit: September 19, 2015, 06:44:45 am by Matt Carr » Logged
Christian
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« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2015, 08:05:57 am »

Game looks a tad bloody. Only a tad
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« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2015, 09:01:42 am »

Jesus  Shocked
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Matt Carr
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« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2015, 01:40:34 pm »

Has been almost 2 weeks since my last post. A lot has been done but it's been a bit of a blur so I can't conjure up anything in particular to talk about before the the last handful of days.

I suppose I posted this gif to Twitter during this period so I guess I did this stuff:


I started on this explodey voxel stuff pretty late one night and at first I wasn't really sure what I was writing, I was just going to loop through all the voxels and randomly pick some around them that hadn't already been assigned a chunk and add them to a chunk. It sounds simple enough, but I had a certain look to the chunks in my head and I realised I could probably use a random 3D Voronoi cells algorithm to achieve the look I wanted. I'd used C# LibNoise before so I had the code I could pull from another project and it basically worked and looked exactly how I wanted first go. It is pretty slow though so I'll need to write my own Voronoi implementation or find other ways to significantly optimise it so there isn't a couple of frames dropped when doing this.

It's getting close to release now so when I was testing my resolution dropdown and fullscreen toggle menu options on the weekend and found that Unity 5.2's SetResolution function is completely broken on Windows, I kinda lost it. If the build is DX9 then all Unity UI elements would disappear with no simple workaround to get them back (have to destroy all canvas objects and their dependents and recreate them after changing resolution). If the build is DX11 then changing to a fullscreen resolution that is anything but the native screen resolution renders completely wrong, scaling the frame incorrectly so you only see the upper left corner.

From what I could tell, this had been around since Unity 5.2 and I was now on 5.2.1 and these problems still existed. It blew me away that such fundamental functionality could be so broken for so long. I couldn't find good workarounds either so I was now having to consider delaying the release of the game for an indefinite amount of time. Not to sound however this might sound, but I've probably spent somewhere in the order of $5000 in Unity licences for myself over the past 6+ years of using it and through my work as lead programmer on some large simulation projects for different companies and advocating for Unity usage, I've been directly responsible for well over $100,000 in licence sales for Unity. But 2 weeks out from release of what is my most significant personal project release yet, I can't even change the resolution of the damn game window without there being multiple showstopping, 100% reproducible bugs for 100% of Windows users. Suuuuucks.

I lost 2-3 days submitting bugs and finding and creating workable workarounds for DX9 and DX11. Luckily I knew who to turn to at Unity to get some immediate action on these bugs and he's already fixed them and hopefully they'll be in 5.2.1p3 which will be out some time next week probably 2-3 days before our release.

I'm mostly recovered from the stress of that situation now and we're 1-2 days from being feature complete which will give us 8 days or so to do more testing, polishing, fixing, optimising and some form of marketing before release. It may just be the first Early Access release and not the final release, but from what I've seen recently, this is probably as or more important than any subsequent release so it has to be good and work well enough or everything was for naught.
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« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2015, 05:27:11 pm »

Holy moly! This game is absolutely vicious!

I LOVE IT  Evil
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« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2015, 01:23:01 am »

it's just little blood, I'm sure this will not upset anyone! you might get lucky and this gets covered by the media for making children into monsters.
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« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2015, 02:09:02 am »

Holy moly! This game is absolutely vicious!

I LOVE IT  Evil

it's just little blood, I'm sure this will not upset anyone! you might get lucky and this gets covered by the media for making children into monsters.

When we were first coming up with ideas for the full version I wrestled with the idea of the voxel damage for a bit cause I thought maybe it would be a bit much. I got over that notion pretty quickly though and I think it's so worth it just for how technically cool it is.

Maybe it's because I'm so used to it, but I don't even think of most of this stuff as gore-y anymore. The only time I was like "oh no, what have I done" was early on when I'd just gotten the initial voxel stuff working with ragdolled enemies and I started poking a body repeatedly with a pool cue and severed the arms, lower legs and head and it lost the weight from those parts and started getting much more... I dunno... floppy as I poked it. I was like a fish flopping about out of water. That was pretty messed up. Still though, when I see some Mortal Kombat fatalities or even some stuff in Until Dawn (which for whatever reason is one of the only games I've made time to play in the past 6 months) I think they're much more gratuitous than this is with their camera angles and lack of control.

I think the nature of the gore will help get it seen (hopefully not by kids though Shocked) if anything will, but more because it's unique than ultra-violent. I'm pretty proud of the tech, but I think beyond that the gameplay is pretty unique and fun so hopefully by the time we're done it's a pretty great game to play through. I honestly can't come up with another game that plays like this does and I don't think it's because it's a bad idea so that makes me happy.

Anyway, today I've been working through stuff in the disco level and I got some of the effects for the guys that are off in an area smoking done and man, the head look unintentionally made them a bunch of jerks that you want to hit:
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« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2015, 02:22:05 am »

Oh, man, those fists sure can make some damage! Cheesy

Love the game's looks, kind of remember me of Thirty Flights of Love, and that voxel blood is awesome. Congrats!
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« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2015, 04:30:11 am »

Goodness, that head-exploding gif.

It's been a few years since voxel-based games have got popular, and there's so much more that can be done, and hasn't. I think this is taking voxels and making use of them in a way that makes the game feel and look so different to polygonal engines.

Also, sorry to hear about your Unity troubles! I've logged a two bugs with the Unity folks regarding Networking in the last few days, it's been a bit shocking just how poor some of that works.

Have you been tempted just to launch normally, rather than go for Early Access? Early Access seems so chock-full of rubbish that it almost seems like this game doesn't belong!
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Matt Carr
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« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2015, 04:50:53 am »

Have you been tempted just to launch normally, rather than go for Early Access? Early Access seems so chock-full of rubbish that it almost seems like this game doesn't belong!

I'd definitely prefer to release the full game completed rather than going with Early Access, but the problem is that we don't really know how well the game will do and I don't want to shortchange what it could be for what we can afford to make now. Ideally while in Early Access it will be popular enough to warrant us making the amount of levels and modes we want to as well as get it polished to a high standard. Alternatively if it does poorly then we probably will "finish" it with fewer levels and modes.

It's kind of shit, but it's a financial reality. Sales in the indie game market are kind of scary right now and there's really no way of knowing how well the game will sell. We could probably survive long enough without Early Access to finish the game to a high standard and with a large amount of content, but should it fail that'd be that for us being able to focus the majority of our time on our games going forward. I'm willing to risk everything, but not for this game. We love it, but ultimately it was a game jam game that turned out good/popular and we're turning it into something real. Our hope is that it's the start of something, not the end Smiley.

That said, all the other positive reasons of Early Access are in play here. This isn't a story based game and there's no real linear progression to the levels so the game is a great candidate for Early Access. There's also so many possibilities for settings for new levels that the community can help us choose from and I think we'll end up with a much better product by seeing the community play it.

Hopefully the absolute crap that is popping up on Early Access doesn't dissuade people from checking this out. We're working crazy hard to try and get this as close to a vertical slice as possible.
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« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2015, 09:54:32 am »

but it's a financial reality.

Yes, there's certainly an aspect of Early Access that lets you scale the scope of the project just right. At the same time, there's no telling what sort of expectation someone who buys an Early Access game has when they buy, and what sort of association with other Early Access nonsense the people who don't buy it will make. It's very tricky. I understand your working though.
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Matt Carr
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« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2015, 08:11:17 am »

Well I struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel there for a while, but today we got through almost all the remaining things of significance and added the sound and effects for the powers you can earn in the game and holy crap they're awesome. I'm about 4 hours into switching gears from adding features to polishing stuff and already so many little things are feeling and working better.

Plenty of time over the next 6-7 days to test and fix any problems. The main worries now are performance and marketing so that's where I'll be focusing most of my effort. Of course I have very little idea how I can effectively get the word out about the game's release, but I'll do what I can.

Yes, there's certainly an aspect of Early Access that lets you scale the scope of the project just right. At the same time, there's no telling what sort of expectation someone who buys an Early Access game has when they buy, and what sort of association with other Early Access nonsense the people who don't buy it will make. It's very tricky. I understand your working though.

Yeah, absolutely. Don't get me wrong, we'd never abandon the game and not finish it to a satisfactory level even if only 1 person bought it, but we wouldn't consider adding additional/supplemental content like multiplayer if it was clear there wasn't going to be enough people to make it playable for example. We're being honest about the definite feature set and what is still up-in-the-air with the Steam community so I think everyone should understand that success will mean more rather than failure meaning less.
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« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2015, 02:52:39 am »

I really like the asthetics of this game. Never seen something like that before.

Besides, the principle of the game is also original and quite a bloody mess! This might work in your advantage I would think.

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Matt Carr
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« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2015, 08:56:55 pm »

Currently working my way through properly navigating, highlighting, using, etc all the GUI elements in the game with mouse, keyboard and gamepad. Another hour of this and I'll be ready to give up all my secrets and tell you anything you want to know... just please make it stop! Screamy
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