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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsThe Eldritch Zookeeper - Ticket Booths! Benches! Litter Bins!
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Author Topic: The Eldritch Zookeeper - Ticket Booths! Benches! Litter Bins!  (Read 33900 times)
Cranktrain
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« Reply #220 on: August 15, 2016, 02:16:29 PM »

Made another devlog:

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Eluardian
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« Reply #221 on: August 16, 2016, 05:05:42 AM »

Been following this for a long time now and thought it's probably better if I actually drop a comment to say how much I'm enjoying the updates and how everything's shaping up, rather than remaining silent and scrolling through pages to find the thread again to check for new posts incognito like a creep.

So yeah really great idea, love it!
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Cranktrain
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« Reply #222 on: August 17, 2016, 08:19:28 AM »

Thanks Eluardian! Appreciate you following along.

---

A little bug I've fixed was this one.

Another small thing that's been bothering me for a while was the various colours that I'm constructing the visitors out of. I essentially picked a bunch at random, without distributing them along the same lightness curve, or distributing them evenly around the colour wheel. As a result there are some colours like darker browns and greys that just look muddy:



So I decided to come up with a newer list of visitor colours to fix this:



Perhaps subtle difference, but whereas in the first image I can pick out quite a few visitors that look like they've not got much fashion sense, whereas I think the levels are more balanced across all the visitors here.
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Cranktrain
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« Reply #223 on: August 20, 2016, 01:20:24 PM »

More emotion-related work today. One thing I like is that when the meat-eating creatures don't have food they'll move close to the fences and stare back at the humans, dreaming of meat.



The Grondomut now displays its loneliness in an emotion bubble:



When a monster's emotional state is truly fracturing, an inch away from raging (or indeed whilst furiously destroying the zoo) the emotion bubble will display with a red outline and shake about a bit:



Not sure about that yet, might leave it displaying a black outline. I will see how I feel when I return to it on Monday!
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Cranktrain
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« Reply #224 on: August 22, 2016, 08:05:12 AM »

Some monsters don't like to be so closely packed with other monsters. Here's what happens when you ignore this:

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nathy after dark
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« Reply #225 on: August 22, 2016, 09:47:05 AM »

I don't think I'm a fan of the red-outline thought bubbles to convey urgency. In general I'm not sure how I feel about using icons to convey the thoughts of eldritch beasts--doesn't it contradict the whole idea that they are bizarre and unknowable?

I think instead of using readable icons, I would recommend taking inspiration from how roguelikes make the player learn the meaning of scrolls and potions with randomly generated names. (Also: is Eldritch Zookeeper a roguelike? Because I think it should totally have permadeath and total loss of the player's creation if the zoo gets completely destroyed.)

In classic roguelikes, scroll abilities are randomly assigned nonsense text, and the player has to take a risk by reading the scroll to figure out what the random text means. Once they know, they can identify that scroll again in the future. This is cool because each time the player starts over, they feel the same sense of confusion and trial and error that they did the first time they played. Since, in a Lovecraftian game like this, the player should always be feeling confused and overwhelmed, why not come up with a system that randomly generates words from a made-up character alphabet, and forces the player to learn what monsters are saying through guesswork and finding a pattern? Just my opinion.
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« Reply #226 on: August 24, 2016, 07:10:32 AM »

Personally I like the idea that it's clear from the beginning what the animals wants. I think I would find it a bit frustrating even having to do a lot of trial and error, especially in the beginning of the game when I am trying to learn how to play.

I think it could be a cool feature for some animals that you acquire later on in the game though. Like introducing a more advanced/mysterious species.

And for the animals that you can understand I would actually suggest even have pulsating red tinting on the entire thought bubble. Or just swap the white background with red entirely. I think that would grab the player's attention!
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Cranktrain
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« Reply #227 on: August 29, 2016, 07:51:15 AM »

As always, thanks for your thoughts Natman, always carefully thought-through thoughts. The game that you describe, wherein there is no player feedback of what the monsters are thinking/feeling is actually the game I've been playing for the last year! And because the game is essentially all about keeping good care of the monsters, knowing what they want or what they are complaining about is crucial to actually being able to accomplish that. Having added those emotion bubbles, the game is suddenly muuuch less frustrating to play, even for me, and I know how each monster function. You're right that for the Lovecraftian unfathomableness of the monsters, it does spoil it a bit, but for the sake of fun, or at least, minimising frustration, it's needed for the game to stand up under scrutiny.

And chrilley, thanks for your thoughts too, looks like we'd agree, 'trial and error' really doesn't work so well in this game.

---

I haven't been testing the game with the Gastroquin monster for a couple of months, so in testing out the emotion bubble for this creature I found a good excuse to fiddle with some of the driving values and polish the explosion effect:



Booom. The Gastroquin is currently my favourite monster in the game.

There's still more polish to do, especially on those flame particles, but I do like the smoke and the way the fences are broken up.

And here's just another shot of the zoo:



Zoos (assuming they are well designed and the monsters are placed sensibly and fed) are now much more predictable and stable.
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nathy after dark
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« Reply #228 on: August 29, 2016, 10:36:08 AM »

It's true, you have to balance out the frustrating mechanics so they don't totally alienate new players. Smiley Still, letting the player literally read the monsters' thoughts seems a bit cheapening. Shouldn't the player be alienated at least a little?  Well, hello there!

What if the monsters speak in bizarre hieroglyphs like I said, but the player is given a mysterious/evil-looking guidebook (letting you slip in a Necronomicon reference) by the Boss and can consult the guidebook to learn the meaning of all the basic monster expressions. So in the beginning, the player is confused and checking the book until they learn to recognize the symbols. It's less trial and error, but it's still challenging and represents the monsters as significantly alien. And, when the player starts putting really high-level monsters in the zoo, those might speak in hieroglyphs that the book doesn't mention (or combine existing hieroglyphs into more complex expressions that the player must puzzle through), forcing high-level players to deal with that tricky experimentation after they've already been hooked on the game enough to deal with a steeper difficulty curve.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2016, 10:46:15 AM by Natman » Logged

Cranktrain
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« Reply #229 on: September 27, 2016, 07:03:18 AM »

It's been a whole month since I last posted here, but I've been working really steadily and implemented lots of exciting things... that still aren't quite ready to be shown off.

Instead, just a quicker experiment to post, I've been fiddling with the shader for the horizon, fading it with the skybox. Here's the before picture:



So, black line of trees baked into the skybox itself, and then the trees fade to black with distance. The issue (other than, as seen above, the trees are too high for the real tree line) is that the camera in the game is actually pointing downwards, so in the middle of the day none of the blue sky is seen, and it's just black, which doesn't quite make sense.

Instead, and I think this works better in practise, just taking out the hard-black silhouette and fading to the skybox pixel with distance like so:



It just looks better when the camera is pointed downwards, because there's a bit of blue-sky that can be spotted, rather than just a black murky gradient along the top of the screen.
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Cranktrain
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« Reply #230 on: October 01, 2016, 02:13:35 PM »


A new video devlog! Added a working sort-of prototype of the in-game shop. Pretty happy with most of the design, but it's not fully realised yet.

Way too pleased with myself for 'NecronomiCart', and the slogan.
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« Reply #231 on: October 02, 2016, 03:43:53 AM »

Nice, I like the portal only opening every so many hours, adds a nice gameplay dynamic.
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nathy after dark
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« Reply #232 on: October 02, 2016, 08:23:47 AM »

Quote from: Cranktrain
Way too pleased with myself for 'NecronomiCart', and the slogan.

They are indeed wonderful.  Smiley
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Cranktrain
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« Reply #233 on: October 05, 2016, 02:42:20 PM »

Thanks deab and Natman/Nathy!

I've been working on some more ragdoll work. If you've been following this project from the beginning you'll know that ragdolls have been my nemesis on this project. Few aspects have given me as much grief as ragdolling.

Here's the latest problems, see if you can spot the errors -



Correct answers:

1. The eyes ragdoll along with the rest of the bones.
2. When facing left and restoring to a stood-up position, the rotations of each of the bones (most importantly the root) take the long way round.
3. It all being generally a bit awful.

My first attempts to fix it have shoved it a bit towards a Sonic the Hedgehog sort of direction:



But I've fixed these issues now. Hoping I'll have some almost-finished ragdolling work, in gif form, to show tomorrow!

One thing that I've had to implement is what happens when lots of characters ragdoll at once. Turning a bone-based character into a ragdoll, with rigidbodies and fixed pivots with all sorts of parameters all happens in the moment at runtime, and doing that with 30/40 characters does slow that particular frame down. It's not too noticable, but if it's sort of visible on my rig, it'll be a problem on the lower CPU powered machines that I do want to support. As a result I had to code a bit of boilerplate around the ragdolling, in order to split the ragdolling trigger across multiple frames. No noticable slowdown, and spreading 50 ragdoll generations over five-or-so frames at 60fps is also not noticable. Hooray for worthwhile optimisation!
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Cranktrain
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« Reply #234 on: October 06, 2016, 04:58:52 AM »

Am... Am I making progress with my ragdolls?



I think I might be!
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« Reply #235 on: October 14, 2016, 10:59:34 AM »

Hi Matt.
I know absolutely nothing about creating computer games, so am just in awe of the creative process so far described!
However from my brilliant position of knowing sod all, I had two thoughts: (1) Monster poo - where is it? What could it do? Would it require special equipment to collect it?, and (b) when the monster containers are opened, maybe the creatures could start a smaller, even 'baby' versions?
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Cranktrain
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« Reply #236 on: October 18, 2016, 04:20:53 PM »

I know absolutely nothing about creating computer games, so am just in awe of the creative process so far described!
However from my brilliant position of knowing sod all, I had two thoughts: (1) Monster poo - where is it? What could it do? Would it require special equipment to collect it?, and (b) when the monster containers are opened, maybe the creatures could start a smaller, even 'baby' versions?

Thanks for following along! I think I'm going to skip any simulation of monstrous fecal matter, I can thankfully just explain this away with 'they're monsters', and that should be enough. As for baby-monsters, it's something I've considered, but ultimately decided against. To create infant versions of each monster would double the amount of creatures/animations that I would have to produce, and I would be unable to just use a version of the same monster but just scaled down because the line-widths would not match up with all the other in-game illustrations. That would be a bit like (though not as bad as) mixing two bits of pixel art with different sized pixels! I'm picky about these things. I do agree though, baby versions that are less dangerous would help introduce a difficulty-curve, but I'm not sure I can fit it in at this stage, I think spending my limited project time on more diverse monsters is going to pay off more.

---

Been working on all sorts of fun bits, but I'll just post this. You might remember this gif from ages back, showing some support for controllers in the 'contextual keys' part of the user interface:



I've also added some support for the inventory with trigger bumper graphics:



The visuals of the user interface are still going to change wildly, once a prototype version of all the assets are in. It's a case of, at that point, sitting down and designing something that fits all the elements and all the edge-cases, which can't be known until a working (ugly) system is in-game and functional.
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Cranktrain
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« Reply #237 on: October 19, 2016, 07:44:02 AM »

More controller support - many controllers have a second analog stick, so I thought I'd hook this up and give some camera controls to the player so they can look around and see what's happening off screen. I think the zooming in and out is going to be the most helpful to gain a greater perspective about what's going on the zoo.



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Cranktrain
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« Reply #238 on: November 02, 2016, 06:14:20 AM »

Another video devlog!


Lots of visitors running around scared out of their minds, as they should be.

I think what's exciting about this update to me is that a lot of this work has been present in the game, in the engine, for a while, and yet their being plugged into other systems in a new way. If you go back to the very first video you can see the fence breaking mechanics, and the explosions have been present for some months, but the last month has been where these elements have really properly tied in to the rest of the game. When things spin out of control, and visitors react properly and panic, it's just a fun experience (even as your zoo disintegrates). There's still no way to regain control of the zoo, even when a monster calms down you can't very easily put it back in an enclosure, but that's the next step. The zoo simulation-proper is rounding out nicely, I think.
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nathy after dark
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« Reply #239 on: November 03, 2016, 05:00:56 PM »

That's a particularly entertaining video update there. I approve of the branding shift to "Lovecraftian Jurassic Park," that's just a lovely elevator pitch in my opinion.
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