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« Reply #580 on: November 01, 2017, 11:10:12 AM »

hey! this project is really dope and heartwarming!

the physics and genetics and all the progress here really is impressive. 
through all your experimentation you seem to have an effective knack for clean, fluid functionality. the decisions to simplify certain things in order to maintain this functionality, makes for some really cool stylistic decisions (ie the rad food faucet thing, or the growth pods). i like that the interaction is turning out to be a bit funky, trippy, abstract. (love your obsession w the centipede legs too, lol)

at first in my mind i was imagining the game as some breeding or farming-focused simulator style ordeal, but especially since that epic 'failed prototypes' post, you've been showcasing some really fresh ideas. i guess with all the possibilities its hard to narrow down to what the game will essentially be, but keeping it open ended is certainly entertaining for the sake of the devlog!

keep it up!

ps please may i have loaf, please?   Beg  Kiss
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« Reply #581 on: November 03, 2017, 12:01:13 PM »

Ghost Dog you say?








Lol! I (vaguely) remember watching that movie! Grin
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« Reply #582 on: November 08, 2017, 02:23:31 AM »

tom, have you considered making a patreon? a lot of people would be willing to throw money at you, and me too but i don't have any
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« Reply #583 on: November 10, 2017, 04:46:16 PM »

hey! this project is really dope and heartwarming!

the physics and genetics and all the progress here really is impressive. 
through all your experimentation you seem to have an effective knack for clean, fluid functionality. the decisions to simplify certain things in order to maintain this functionality, makes for some really cool stylistic decisions (ie the rad food faucet thing, or the growth pods). i like that the interaction is turning out to be a bit funky, trippy, abstract. (love your obsession w the centipede legs too, lol)

at first in my mind i was imagining the game as some breeding or farming-focused simulator style ordeal, but especially since that epic 'failed prototypes' post, you've been showcasing some really fresh ideas. i guess with all the possibilities its hard to narrow down to what the game will essentially be, but keeping it open ended is certainly entertaining for the sake of the devlog!

keep it up!

ps please may i have loaf, please?   Beg  Kiss

Hey thanks so much! I'm trying hard blend traditional dog/pet expectations with some much weirder stuff so I'm glad that's coming through so far. Hope to take things much further once I've laid the gameplay foundation!

tom, have you considered making a patreon? a lot of people would be willing to throw money at you, and me too but i don't have any

I've thought about it before but what always holds me back is that I don't feel there are a lot of rewards I could offer people (especially in comparison to artists who give away drawings, pins, stickers, etc). I also don't love the idea of holding back info and making it patron-exclusive since I've been so open with development up until now, but I might have a few small ideas so we'll see what happens. Specifically because I feel I'm getting close to a point where I'd like to work with an artist or two to overhaul a few things and pump out some content, extra funds would be nice and I'm giving the whole idea some more serious thought now.

To everyone else, Ghost Dog is a great movie.

--

I've been working on the last big thing I wanted to do to solidify the pen flow. Directed genetics. Essentially, how do you control, or attempt to control, a specific dog's genetic drift?

I'm still figuring things out but the direction I'm exploring right now is a sort of pill synthesis machine.



Score one for system-reuse. Was able to repurpose the Dog Builder demo for this which is awesome. Essentially you can hook between 0 and 2 dogs up to this machine, muck with the genetics, and then spit out a pill that transforms whoever eats it.

I like the idea of giving direct genetic control to people, but it's not quite that simple because this is a game not a sandbox. I can't just give you total genetic access like this, there's gotta be something more. This is the part I'm still figuring out but my idea right now is that there's some sort of research mechanism at play here. Basically, genetic properties and sliders will all start off locked away and you'll gain access to them as you go through the game itself. If a dog mutates and gains a new property, like a new type of tail for example, then you'll have that unlocked for permanent use here. Otherwise, I'm currently trying to figure out a good system for researched unlocks. Playing around with the idea that you'll use dog eggs as essentially scientific gachapon tokens to gain access to new sliders and properties. Maybe some sort of internal rarity system with a mechanic where you can gamble more eggs for a better chance at rarer unlocks.

In any case, while working on this pill synthesis machine I ran into the same issue I had with auto-feeders which is that that I needed to add a new construction feature in order to place them down and save/load. For auto-feeders I added wall placement. For this machine I added floor placement.



After getting this basically working I decided to try and add a test cube object to let me build internal pen walls. There was a problem though... the spacing is all very dynamic based on the size of the pen and placed object which meant that I wasn't guaranteed to be able to place objects directly next to each other. So I overhauled the node placement code a bit, fixed some floating point math issues, and got the spacing set up such that object bounding boxes will essentially tile.



Of course, now there are other issues. For example, this system doesn't guarantee being able to place an object directly lining up with a wall, and the nodes are very visually crowded in some cases. I have ideas for how to fix these problems but things are fine for the time being.

So yeah, next week is probably going to mostly be me trying to design and implement this research/unlock feature. Once that's in, however, I might actually have a little gameplay cycle going??? Hard to believe...

Signing off with some assorted dog moments I've recently enjoyed.






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« Reply #584 on: November 10, 2017, 07:07:24 PM »

Regarding Patreon, here's an idea.  Alan Zucconi does tutorials and offers "Early Access" to $5 patrons and a few months(?) later he releases those tutorials for everyone. For example: https://www.alanzucconi.com/2017/10/27/carpaint-shader-thin-film-interference/
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« Reply #585 on: November 12, 2017, 05:59:17 AM »

is it possible to create transparent dogs?
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« Reply #586 on: November 17, 2017, 08:12:07 PM »

Regarding Patreon, here's an idea.  Alan Zucconi does tutorials and offers "Early Access" to $5 patrons and a few months(?) later he releases those tutorials for everyone. For example: https://www.alanzucconi.com/2017/10/27/carpaint-shader-thin-film-interference/

Yeah something like that isn't a bad idea, though I'd still feel a bit weird waiting months to show most things off. I've been getting a lot of feedback though and I've got some ideas for rewards I think. If I launch one it probably won't be until next year but I'm still thinking pretty seriously about it.

is it possible to create transparent dogs?

Not right now. I could definitely do it but transparency would cause some weird graphical issues with the way the dogs are set up so I'm not sure if I wanna go that route or not!

---

I'm still working on the pill synthesis and genetic unlock stuff. It's kinda slow going because there's a lot to puzzle out design-wise but I'll get there.

I also spent time fixing some pathing and behavior bugs (it'll never end). A few long standing issues (dogs freezing up if placed on top of an object that wasn't the stage itself, dogs trying to walk the wrong way through pipes), and a few old ones that drifted back a bit (dogs walking into walls).

Nothing too exciting, but now dogs can stand on things without getting stuck there forever and they're pathing much more nicely too.





Additionally, I played around with graphics today; experimenting with textures and normal maps. Probably not hard to guess that I've been playing the new Mario.



(Detail Crop)



I'm liking where things are going though there a few technical hurdles I need to get past to really do what I'd like. Namely I'd like to modify the existing shaders I'm using (which I didn't write) to be able to use world-space normal maps and textures (the walls and floors are made up of multiple objects). Seems doable but we'll see.

Aaaand, misc gifs.






« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 12:42:15 PM by ActualDog » Logged

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« Reply #587 on: November 22, 2017, 07:00:15 PM »

Got a bit sidetracked since last time with bug fixing so I haven't really touched the pill synthesis stuff much. I hadn't really taken the time to specifically fix bugs for a few months and stuff had really started to degrade. Still lots of issues I know of but after a few days of bug focus things are feeling a ton better. Nice to see my systems actually like, doing what I intended. To be honest it's been really motivating.

Most of the bugs I fixed were to do with dog behavior targeting; dogs were sometimes failing to acquire targets correctly and walking straight at point (0, 0, 0) or chain failing behaviors. I'd also screwed up some raycasting layermask code so they'd sometimes try to walk through walls or would march backwards through pipes, etc.

One pretty good bug I fixed involved dogs sleeping forever.



I also super quick added a new feature. Impact reactions.



Essentially, dogs now actually react when things whack into them. It makes them wince and has a slight negative effect on their fear/anger. This is a system ripe for consideration once I get back into dog personality implementations, but for now just this general case adds some nice life to things.

I was busy with Thanksgiving prep today and I'll probably take the rest of the week off. Hoping to resume work on the pill synthesis and genetic unlock stuff next week!

I'll leave you with this good Randy gif.


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« Reply #588 on: December 01, 2017, 04:51:47 PM »

So I still haven't made it back to pill synthesis BUT it's been a really good diversion. I've been squashing bugs, making UI/usability improvements, and biggest of all I've got a new camera system set up.

I'd been hearing good things about the Cinemachine camera asset so I downloaded it to try out and was pretty much instantly converted. I'm very excited to never have to code a from-scratch camera movement system ever again. It's beautiful. That said, getting it fully integrated has been a decent amount of work because even though the base camera movement/collision logic was done for me there were still some lower level things I had to implement on my own (panning control, orbital sphere scaling, smoothly switching between targets, etc) plus I still had to actually, like, design the camera system and interface. Also, having a more polished camera had the side effect of highlighting lots of other bugs and weirdness so I used it as an excuse to tackle a bunch of that stuff as well. I can talk more about all this if anyone's interested but it was mostly just a bunch of tiny decisions along the lines of "what happens if a dog you're focusing on goes into a cocoon", "how does the user exit the follow cam", "how do I stop the dog name indicators from looking bad when you rotate the camera vertically", etc.

Anyways, since things are feeling so much better at the moment I recorded some footage of everything. Still some bugs visible in the vid and lots to do but I'm very happy with how it's all coming together.





I also went in and changed it so that when you pick up a dog with your mouse they no longer cancel their current behavior and turn off their AI routine. I'm really happy with this change so far because it means you can help them along to their goal without interrupting them completely. Plus they'll sometimes grab hold of things as you're dragging them around, which is pretty cute. Gives them a little more life. This wasn't really possible to do before all my bug fixes because there'd be too many situations where this sort of thing could result in them screwing up their targeting and walking infinitely into a wall.

Phew. So yeah I think I'm actually finally ready to get back to pill synthesis stuff for real now. That said I'm glad I held off on this because my designs for all that stuff have been marinating in the back of my head and I think I want to alter my approach. My previous idea was to slowly unlock genetic controls for you as the game progresses and you discover more mutations, but I don't think this is right. I think that if I give people direct part/slider control that people will very quickly stop caring about any of that. They'll try out the extremes and the new parts and then be bored. There's nothing interesting about trying to build a specific dog if you can just fine-tune it directly. There needs to be scarcity. The system needs to be finicky and make it tough to get things perfect. You need to have to compromise and deal with bad genes on your quest for good ones.

A big catalyst for re-evaluating this stuff was a competitive chicken breeding documentary I watched (Chicken People - 2016). You've got people dedicating their lives to raising chickens and breeding the Perfect Bird but that's only interesting because it's hard, if not impossible, to do. If perfection is available to you at the click of a few buttons, who cares? I think Petz and Creatures got this stuff right as well.

SO, all this said, what's my plan? I think that I'll no longer be giving people genetic unlocks. I think instead what I'd like to do is give people access to a device that lets them swap parts between two dogs, but on a high level. So you might be able to swap legs between dogs but you can't swap just the leg color, or just the length, or just the thickness. You get everything. I like the idea of people Frankensteining dogs together and I think it'd give a really nice balance between control and randomness without having to deal with the population and time problems that a traditional breeding system entails. You'll be raising dogs for specific properties despite other obvious deficiencies. A tail from one dog, legs from another, a pattern from a third, but oh no somehow in all the commotion your amalgamated pup's inherited an awful personality and isn't all that bright. Do you let a dog with a near-perfect pattern continue to mutate or is it too risky? Good scenarios, I think!

Still got some details to work out but I'm already way more excited about it than I was the previous design and the system is easier for me to picture in its entirety, so we'll see!
« Last Edit: December 02, 2017, 12:05:57 AM by ActualDog » Logged

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« Reply #589 on: December 08, 2017, 07:09:04 PM »

After a bit of fiddling and the usual issues, the base implementation of the Dog Swapper is in.





Obviously not the final UI but it does everything I need for now. Since getting this in I've been spending some time just playing around with the game and seeing how everything feels. Aside from design evaluation, this has led to some more bug fixing, which is nice. As far as the actual design goes, it's feeling like the right track but still isn't quite there. I like that the swapper encourages you to breed dogs for specific traits even if they have other less-desirable ones, and I like that it's imprecise and results in dogs that sort of end up as genetic dumping grounds. What I don't like is that there's nothing random about it. You know exactly what's getting passed over so there's nothing exciting about the swap itself. I think the solution might be to introduce some sort of controlled genetic drift. It has to be deterministic because I don't want the "optimal" solution to be just reloading until you get the dog you want, or something along those lines, but I think swaps need to have some sort of additional mutation associated with them. I'm not sure exactly how this needs to work but I think I could potentially give every dog some sort of genetic seed that could be used to mutate the swapped genes.

Another problem is that dogs mutate fairly slow. This works great when you're mutating a whole bunch at once, like when I was originally testing the breeding system, but it's not the best when dogs are mutating naturally through cocoons at a controlled rate. It's a tough problem because while I want pronounced changes, I also don't want dogs to change too dramatically with each cycle. If you leave things running for a bit and come back, the dogs will have started to really morph and I love the idea behind that slow burn of mutations, but I'm worried that it won't be exciting to open a cocoon if the changes aren't super evident. One idea I've been thinking about is to send the player an email "changelist" every time a dog hatches that shows before and after images and directly lists what mutations occurred. I'm not sure if that would solve things but I think it might be a nice start so I'll maybe try that out next week some time.

Anyways, that's the biggest stuff. I also spent a little time putting in a basic "attract mode" so I can leave the game running for a bit without intervention. The camera will randomly switch targets and zoom levels and do a bit of auto-rotation sometimes and cocoons will auto-hatch. There's some more I'd have to do if I was, say, gonna leave it up at a convention, but it's a nice start. I might try streaming it for a bit at some point in case anyone wants to leave some passive dog mutation up on a second monitor.
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« Reply #590 on: December 11, 2017, 07:26:10 PM »

Hey, sorry I haven't replied in awhile -- love the progress you've made in fleshing out the core loop! I'm impressed by your discipline in constantly refactoring and keeping everything clean and functional.

For the breeding problem, I wonder if you could re-contextualize the dog swapper into some kind of contraption (similar to your old two-armed cupid love smasher -- although probably not that extreme )  that you could use to explain why the dog-swapping isn't 100% effective and might introduce side-effects. Then maybe you could have a system of trade-offs where if the player chooses a higher % chance of a specific bodypart mutation/swap at the cost of an increased chance of an unrelated mutation. But if the player is more willing to leave it up to fate, the bodypart being swapped becomes more random but the side-effects are less severe .... or something where the player needs to make a choice in priority.  As far as making it deterministic, yeah I think a seed per dog plus a hash-table lookup should do the trick.

The speed of mutation is a tough one. Too fast and you lose continuity and normalize it so it's less of a big deal, but too slow and you risk players not even noticing it or it being so subtle as to not serve much of a purpose. I'd bet this will be something you end up continually tuning throughout the whole development, since there isn't a simple answer. My first thought is to have a timeline for each dog where you can scrub along the timeline and see their development over the course of their lives from puppy to old age -- maybe with a collection of photos (similar to polaroids or a family photo album kind of vibe?) However, this would probably be a separate UI screen/panel which would pull you away from the main sim, which probably isn't ideal. Basically some kind of recap system, or "last time, on ___".

So far when you've been observing the simulation over time, do you notice dog cliques forming, or particular pair dynamics between specific dogs? It might be cool to see some lite pack dynamics or long term relationships emerge. For example, 2 dogs that always love to run around and play with each other over-enthusiastically, disturbing other dogs in the pen who prefer to sleep. Inter-dog dynamics and individual dog personality (doggonality?) are fun to observe in the real world, anyway, although I could see it being difficult to engineer...

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« Reply #591 on: December 18, 2017, 08:08:13 PM »

Hey, sorry I haven't replied in awhile -- love the progress you've made in fleshing out the core loop! I'm impressed by your discipline in constantly refactoring and keeping everything clean and functional.

For the breeding problem, I wonder if you could re-contextualize the dog swapper into some kind of contraption (similar to your old two-armed cupid love smasher -- although probably not that extreme )  that you could use to explain why the dog-swapping isn't 100% effective and might introduce side-effects. Then maybe you could have a system of trade-offs where if the player chooses a higher % chance of a specific bodypart mutation/swap at the cost of an increased chance of an unrelated mutation. But if the player is more willing to leave it up to fate, the bodypart being swapped becomes more random but the side-effects are less severe .... or something where the player needs to make a choice in priority.  As far as making it deterministic, yeah I think a seed per dog plus a hash-table lookup should do the trick.

The speed of mutation is a tough one. Too fast and you lose continuity and normalize it so it's less of a big deal, but too slow and you risk players not even noticing it or it being so subtle as to not serve much of a purpose. I'd bet this will be something you end up continually tuning throughout the whole development, since there isn't a simple answer. My first thought is to have a timeline for each dog where you can scrub along the timeline and see their development over the course of their lives from puppy to old age -- maybe with a collection of photos (similar to polaroids or a family photo album kind of vibe?) However, this would probably be a separate UI screen/panel which would pull you away from the main sim, which probably isn't ideal. Basically some kind of recap system, or "last time, on ___".

So far when you've been observing the simulation over time, do you notice dog cliques forming, or particular pair dynamics between specific dogs? It might be cool to see some lite pack dynamics or long term relationships emerge. For example, 2 dogs that always love to run around and play with each other over-enthusiastically, disturbing other dogs in the pen who prefer to sleep. Inter-dog dynamics and individual dog personality (doggonality?) are fun to observe in the real world, anyway, although I could see it being difficult to engineer...

Thanks! Unfortunately there'll definitely be more rebuilding and refactoring in my future (particularly for some of my AI systems), but it does at least feel like a lot of the game is starting to solidify and feel reasonable. Maintenance isn't the most fun thing in the world but it's way better than just watching my systems slowly degrade.

I've actually been working on a solution to the Dog Swapper issue and I think I've come up with something I like. I'll talk more about it below.

Absolutely agree that mutation speed is something I'll be tweaking for a while. It's gonna be tricky to get that right but it'll be crucial. I really love the idea of a scrubber for each dog you own. It'd unfortunately need to have a bit of a loading time (especially for dogs that'd undergone a huge amount of mutations) to be seamless, but I bet it'd be really fun to be able to look back on all that. I'd also have to play with compression a bit so my save files aren't out of control, haha.

As far as long term dog dynamics go, I need to do some work in that department. None of my AI systems were built when I was really able to do serious long term testing and things don't scale as interestingly as I'd hoped. There's an overhaul in my future there for sure and I'll probably try to tackle dog personality in the same swoop.

---

I did a lot of playing around with the game and thinking about the way the Dog Swapper needs to work and I think I've come up with a good solution. As I said last time, the issue with the system is that there was zero element of surprise. You got whatever you expected every time. What I've done to counter that is once again remove some element of control. Instead of being able to directly select gene categories to swap, you now have to use a relevant crystal.

Crystals are single-use objects that will act as both currency and modifiers for the Dog Swapper. Standard crystals will swap genes directly, just like the original buttons did, but there will also be crystals that modify the genes they swap and result in dogs with modified traits.

Temporary UI here, but hopefully this illustrates what I mean.

A standard body crystal will just let you swap bodies directly, but something like a "Tiny" body crystal will swap the bodies PLUS shrink the associated genes a bit.




The genetic shrinkage is new but still not necessarily surprising. It's more just another aspect of control and manipulation. That said, I also want to have crystals that are more "random". None of the crystals will be truly random, of course, but by having slightly unpredictable crystals, something pretty cool happens.



It essentially turns your dogs into ingredients as well. The results will always be deterministic and follow patterns, but you have to mix and match to know which direction things will go and it's kinda fun to play around with. I've got some ideas for more types of crystals but I can sort of do whatever I want with them so I'm not too worried about making them interesting. The bigger concern will be pacing out their delivery.

I also spent a little bit of time concepting out what the machine might ultimately look like (going for a sort of novelty bendy-straw thing with the connecting pipe) and I put in a very rough blocked out model just so I have a unique visual for it in the game.





So yeah. I'm happy with this system for now. It does everything I wanted it to do and it's functional enough that I can move on. Getting super close to the point where I can throw together a little bit of introductory pacing to test things out.

I made some updates to the cocoon flow this morning as well. It was always a bit irritating that dogs would automatically jump into their cocoons whenever the timer was up. They'd often be in the middle of something you were trying to watch, you'd often miss it, and it was super disruptive in general. To fix this I just made it so rather than automatically enter a cocoon state, dogs that are ready to mutate get a little UI pop-up you can click whenever you so desire. This also means that I was able to remove the "cancel" button from the cocoon UI, since you would've had to manually initiate it anyways. It's just generally a lot cleaner. I also re-did the hatch button so it's more clear. Still temporary I think, but it's nicer than before and should be self-explanatory now. Lastly, I added a cocoon portrait image that'll show up in place of the dog's normal portrait in the UI. Makes it much easier to tell at a glance what's going on.



That's about it for now. My departing gif this time is one of my favorite recorded moments in a while; preserved with the help of the auto-gif capture system I set up a while back.


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« Reply #592 on: December 28, 2017, 06:30:46 PM »

Not a whole ton since last update, I took a bit of time off for the holidays, but I wanted to talk a bit about some of the physics stuff I'd done recently.

I made a few big changes to dog physics. First up was that I went back and removed most of the limb bounciness that was there before. That bounciness was left over from when dogs were worse at balancing than they are now, it helped them move a bit better, but after making some balance changes a while back that bounciness was no longer as necessary so I took it out. I like the dogs better when they feel weightier.

Removing that bounciness had the side effect of making something else a bit more obvious too, however. Dogs weren't gripping the floor very well and it caused them to look a bit too floaty and light.



After thinking a bit, I figured out that I could counteract this somewhat by adding a downward force to a dog's leg whenever it was grounded. I've already been artificially boosting gravity on physics objects in this game (I've talked about this before a ways back), so I had an easy section of code to hook into. So now, for any rigidbody associated with a dog's leg I just check to see if that leg is grounded, something I already do most frames anyways, and if it is then I double the downward force being applied.



The result is way better! It's still not perfect of course, but I'm operating firmly within the realm of "good enough" at this point so I'm happy with it. It's nice that the dogs are feeling a bit closer to their weightier roots now, albeit with better tumbling physics and much less fake-looking rotational correction (fixing those things was the reason I had to abandon some of the initial weightiness).

In more minor news, I also added depth of field for when the Dog Focus camera is active. It looks nice IMO, helps you tell which dog you're locked onto, and focuses the eye.



Last bit of non-bug fixing work I did was to make a few mutation balances. Multiple leg mutations are no longer as common as they used to be, dogs don't get long as easily as before (they can still get just as long it's just more rare), and I increased the body length shrinkage caps so you can get wonderful mutations like this:



That's about it for now. Next up I'd like start putting together a little temporary tutorial flow and from there I think I wanna start working on the dog commercial feature in earnest. Getting some stuff in for that should help me feel out pacing a bit more and help me figure out a real content plan.
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« Reply #593 on: December 29, 2017, 05:58:28 AM »

The best part about these updates are the dog names.
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« Reply #594 on: December 30, 2017, 07:41:07 AM »

I respectfully disagree, for me it's seeing them wobbling incompetently in new ways.

But I admit it's a tough choice.
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« Reply #595 on: December 30, 2017, 09:18:20 AM »

Been awhile since I've tossed some encouragement and applause your way so I'll let you in in a lil' secret...this is my kid's favorite devlog and she's really looking forward to playing around with some wobbly-dogs.  Every time she catches me perusing tigs we gotta come over this way and laugh at the gifs. 

Stay the course, keep at it and as always awesome work!  Gentleman
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« Reply #596 on: January 01, 2018, 04:36:07 AM »

Nice!  Grin
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« Reply #597 on: January 02, 2018, 07:56:57 AM »

all this recent update stuff is nice, but what interests me the most are the crystals. what do they mean for the lore of this world? does dog magic exist? would it be possible to modify a dog with crystals to give it powers? i know the lore is what matters the least right now, but you're still making me curious
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« Reply #598 on: January 02, 2018, 08:10:06 AM »

The best part about these updates are the dog names.

I have to agree!
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« Reply #599 on: January 08, 2018, 11:46:30 AM »

Thanks everyone! Glad people like the dog names. I actually just added in a few new ones.



Turns out the secret to good dog naming is just to list different types of food.

Been awhile since I've tossed some encouragement and applause your way so I'll let you in in a lil' secret...this is my kid's favorite devlog and she's really looking forward to playing around with some wobbly-dogs.  Every time she catches me perusing tigs we gotta come over this way and laugh at the gifs. 

Stay the course, keep at it and as always awesome work!  Gentleman

Aw, I really love this!

all this recent update stuff is nice, but what interests me the most are the crystals. what do they mean for the lore of this world? does dog magic exist? would it be possible to modify a dog with crystals to give it powers? i know the lore is what matters the least right now, but you're still making me curious

You'll just have to wait and seeeee!

--

Some updates! First of all, I finally went back and squashed the last of my major issues with dog physics meshes flashing across the screen when separated under extreme circumstances.



I've talked about the idea here before. Basically I store joint offsets on load, check against them regularly, and snap joints back to their default positions if things get past a certain tolerance. I'd done work to fix this in the past but had missed the physics joint between the main visual dog mesh and the actual colliding dog mesh. Pretty solid now, though!

After this I spent a few days upgrading unity to the latest version along with every 3rd party asset I had integrated. This took a bit longer than I'd have liked but I'm happy to report that it's now all smoothly up to date. I hadn't done many asset upgrades for a long time so this was needed.

The biggest change here was that I upgraded the unity post processing stack from V1 to V2. They changed some pretty major aspects of this so it wasn't super straightforward. Certain things, like color grading, I had to completely re-do as the fields weren't 1:1 between versions.

The larger issue with this post processing update, however, was a little more insidious. There's some aspect of the new stack that causes swimming pixels, even if every single effect is off. This is only possible to get rid of (as far as I can tell) if you completely disable the component. Again, this happens even if the component shouldn't be doing anything so I don't think there's much I can do without diving into their code itself. The pixel movement isn't detectable to the bare eye but it IS detectable for my main gif recorder, gifcam.





With this new stack it can't correctly greenscreen out parts of the screen that should be stationary. In this case the entire frame is motionless but still produces a 3.37MB 57 frame gif with shimmering pixels. This is without any effects or post work. With some other effects enabled the result becomes even worse.

I haven't found a solution for this, there might not really be an easy one, but fortunately for me, other gif recorders seem to handle this a bit better. For now, I've found that LICEcap still produces reasonably sized gifs without horrible shimmering. I don't like LICEcap's workflow as much but I think it'll be my go-to for the time being.

In any case, I'm otherwise extremely happy with how everything's looking with the new stack implemented.





And then my last bit of big news is that I just launched a patreon for the game!

https://www.patreon.com/thomasAstle

Unsure of how well this will end up doing but it's still exciting. Feels kinda legitimizing somehow. I'll be able to finish the game regardless of how this campaign shakes out but anything I get will be really helpful for the art/sfx/music contracting that I'd like to do later on down the line, as well as for convention/festival travel and display expenses.

Here's to another year of progress!
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