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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsThe Woodsman - Narrative Point and Click
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Nugget Team
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« Reply #80 on: December 05, 2016, 08:50:19 AM »

The concepts and final art are simply awesome. We think that create characters without eyes and mouth is a good way to make them special. Nice work!
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« Reply #81 on: December 05, 2016, 11:26:00 AM »

Your game looks splendid!
I love the dark surreal atmosphere.
Can't wait to explore this mysterious forest!
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« Reply #82 on: December 07, 2016, 06:32:28 AM »

The concepts and final art are simply awesome. We think that create characters without eyes and mouth is a good way to make them special. Nice work!

Ahah thanks! Mostly the eyes seemed like a detail that would get lost at the distance these characters would typically be rendered at. I opted instead to focus on readable silhouettes.

Your game looks splendid!
I love the dark surreal atmosphere.
Can't wait to explore this mysterious forest!

Aww thank you so much! That means a lot--I love the visuals of your game so far. I'm looking forward to seeing more of it.

--

Eyeball progress

So I've been working on improving the shaders for the eyes, namely eliminating the glancing-edge flickering and introducing some pupil movement.


Success! Artifacting (mostly!) destroyed!

I ended up using a hack-ish work-around of subtracting a little bit of value on the edges of the mesh with a fresnel. This was able to reduce the edge values enough that they got rounded down with the floor that creates the aliased look. It's not perfect but it's definitely a result I'm satisfied with.


Pupil movement

In addition, I added a little bit of movement to the pupils. I actually pulled from the hand pointing class for the random movement range + timing which is then passed to the mesh's shader.

--

Dialogue

I haven't shown too much of this because it gets re-written quite a bit as I start to feel out the tone I want to get across in the game. I think I'm starting to find that, though, so here's a little preview.







--

In the next few days I want to build a quick demo of the game with at least one line of dialogue per level. I'd also like to push some of the scenes I currently have: in scale, amount of objects on the screen, and camera moves.
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« Reply #83 on: December 13, 2016, 06:40:35 AM »

"Starting contest" with a bunch of floating eyeballs lol. They look great Smiley
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« Reply #84 on: January 24, 2017, 12:30:38 PM »

"Starting contest" with a bunch of floating eyeballs lol. They look great Smiley

Haha thank you!

--

I'm back from winter break!! And I have access to lab computers again finally.

I've been reading some of the nice game art tutorials posted by minionsart on twitter! They're pretty cool and kind of similar to how I like to work--I  haven't used color atlases for textures in a while but I think they'd be really fitting for the look of this game.


A well asset using a color atlas

I have a pretty decent backlog of assets that need to be done, so I'm going to continue focusing on models for the next week or so, and I hope to have more to show soon. Thanks for looking!
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« Reply #85 on: January 24, 2017, 04:25:58 PM »

Well... I've been looking the progress of this game, and I have to say I love what I see! tho I wouldn't like to be that character... like to be in the middle of this mysterious forest with those trees with creepy hands and eyes staring at you, seems really scary for me Epileptic and I love that, that eyes part is coming along pretty well!
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« Reply #86 on: January 24, 2017, 09:22:15 PM »

Great, dark atmosphere. Definitely keeps you on your toes Hand Thumbs Up Right
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« Reply #87 on: January 25, 2017, 05:23:21 PM »

Well... I've been looking the progress of this game, and I have to say I love what I see! tho I wouldn't like to be that character... like to be in the middle of this mysterious forest with those trees with creepy hands and eyes staring at you, seems really scary for me Epileptic and I love that, that eyes part is coming along pretty well!

Thanks so much!

Great, dark atmosphere. Definitely keeps you on your toes Hand Thumbs Up Right

Thank you!

--

I've been messing with some of the level design in the well/eyeball level.


More well sketches

I kind of like the idea of having the roots crashing through the well and you start walking on the roots immediately rather than walking on some flat ground and then having a root to walk on Suddenly.


Roots going through the well shaft

I feel like there's more narrative hook with introducing the huge roots immediately and a stronger continuity in the environment... but right now they feel pretty crowded + somewhat hard to read and I sort of liked introducing the roots + the large space gently?
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« Reply #88 on: February 04, 2017, 01:47:01 PM »

Filling out the levels

I've been taking the time to place the new assets in the levels. The leaves + branches introduce a finer level of scale that I'm really happy with.


Finer details

I also revised the well so that the roots are protruding through parts of it. In addition, Red now traverses the level by walking on a root. It feels more dynamic + consistent with the rest of the level so I'm excited about it.


Roots puncture the well


Red walks on the root through the rest of the level


Blink

River level progress

In addition, I added some light rays to the river level. I'm also starting to work on a "dappled light" shader for deep in the background to add some depth. I don't know how good it'll look but it'll be a fun experiment. I'm starting with the water shader as a base--you can see in the first gif in the top left corner I copied it.


Top left: starting a dappled-light shader




Light rays

I actually set aside the last week to update my website! (With a shiny new resume!) Let me know what you think!
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« Reply #89 on: February 05, 2017, 07:17:57 AM »

New assets are definitely a visual boost! And I like what you did with the well level, walking along a root.  Blink

Also - your website looks great, very clean design! And you've got some great stuff on your resume for "Experience", especially for still being a student. The "My First Game Jam" thing really jumps out at me - shows a lot of initiative and an interest in the greater dev community.  Beer!
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« Reply #90 on: February 12, 2017, 10:54:43 PM »

New assets are definitely a visual boost! And I like what you did with the well level, walking along a root.  Blink

Also - your website looks great, very clean design! And you've got some great stuff on your resume for "Experience", especially for still being a student. The "My First Game Jam" thing really jumps out at me - shows a lot of initiative and an interest in the greater dev community.  Beer!

Thanks! Also I appreciate it--running the jam has been one of the most fulfilling dev things I've ever been involved with.

--

Dialogue excerpts

This week I spent a surprising amount of time on... dialogue!? Both tuning up the current system by throwing in some more duct tape and also actually writing it. There's nothing super flashy or gif-able about writing but hey here's some excerpts if you're curious? Also, I'm going to talk a little more about the Queer Identity stuff that this game addresses because I think I've only really shallowly touched on it in this thread so far.


Red "I Have Trans Friends" Riding Hood

I've probably spent more time on these three lines than literally any other dialogue in the game. I've had a lot of trouble with "respectfully outing" my characters in a way that feels natural. (How does your trans character let the player know they're trans if it's not something they would ever talk about?) I still don't know if this is the best solution, but I think it makes sense for these characters and their interactions. I like the idea of Red understanding Woodsman's identity by comparing it to other ""queer ppl"" she's met... in this case... Trans Witches.


The trees... are trans

This one I'm not 100% happy with because the Gender analogy starts to break down in some of the Technical Details of the world... But I think describing this entirely fictional experience loosely paralleling genderweird feels kind of provides a platform for the Woodsman's character to relate to. I kind of like the freedom of fantasy worlds + creatures in the way that you can parallel a very personal experience in a sort of exaggerated way...? Like here's something you could never actually be, but I think it'd be cool if this tree spirit could be more relatable than some of the other humans in the world.


Aw... sounds rough, buddy


WOW. COOL.

I guess these lines aren't Explicitly About Gender Stuff but I always kind of drop them in anyway in the hope that someone reading it who has experienced these kinds of interactions can sort of pick up what's going on. I want these conversations to still make sense in the world without this context in mind, but I think understanding it adds another layer to the characters inhabiting the story.

Also cool fun fact: People don't like reading? Literally every other playthru crit I've gotten is "less text yo" or "tell it in the environment" but I still manage to have like 24 pages of dialogue that some really bored kid is gonna click through. Sorry, kids. I don't think my Thesis On Gender can be spelled in some tree branches.
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« Reply #91 on: February 15, 2017, 03:49:34 PM »

Also cool fun fact: People don't like reading? Literally every other playthru crit I've gotten is "less text yo" or "tell it in the environment" but I still manage to have like 24 pages of dialogue that some really bored kid is gonna click through. Sorry, kids. I don't think my Thesis On Gender can be spelled in some tree branches.

Sometimes when people say 'less text' what they really are trying to articulate is that they want to be able to parse that text more carefully. Sometimes. Sometimes they're just not into reading, and therefore they won't ever be into your game (unless, goddess-forbid, it magically becomes GTA V halfway through).

And that's fine - there are some of us that LOVE the inspiration you're tapping into, KRZ is my all-time favorite game.

One thing KRZ is the absolute master of is really really REALLY precise editing. You can almost see where they've sheared away at the pages and pages of text that they must have been working with.

If you haven't played it, Carboard Computer (guys behind KRZ) made a short game called 'Ruins'. You can really see how far they've come, but the bones of KRZ are there - weird and impromptu lines that sneak up on you, circular writing that demands you pay attention, a beautiful lyricism in the language.

I think your dialogue so far is really special, sure one can always hew closer to the center, but you CAN'T do that if there's nothing at the center, to begin with. That's my biggest issue with many text-based games I play, that they're built on rocky shore. Yours isn't. It definitely, definitely isn't.

There's a Caribbean writer, Jean Rhys who used to say that she was ONLY interested in 'getting it right, getting it as it really was.' I think that's what KRZ is obsessed with, and if I might hazard a guess (please correct me if I'm wrong), I think you are too.

To accomplish that Jean Rhys followed her editors advice - when in doubt, cut. Cut the things you love. Cut the things you hate. Cut a line if you're unsure about it. Cut a line if other people are unsure about. Be ruthless. That's the only way to go about REALLY caring about the thing you're writing.

But, and here's the bit that everyone seems to miss, stand firm if you know in your spirit that this is thing has to be said in this way at this time in this voice.

Writing is a strange and weird dichotomy.

I look forward to more updates.  Coffee




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« Reply #92 on: February 20, 2017, 02:21:30 PM »

There's a Caribbean writer, Jean Rhys who used to say that she was ONLY interested in 'getting it right, getting it as it really was.' I think that's what KRZ is obsessed with, and if I might hazard a guess (please correct me if I'm wrong), I think you are too.

To accomplish that Jean Rhys followed her editors advice - when in doubt, cut. Cut the things you love. Cut the things you hate. Cut a line if you're unsure about it. Cut a line if other people are unsure about. Be ruthless. That's the only way to go about REALLY caring about the thing you're writing.

But, and here's the bit that everyone seems to miss, stand firm if you know in your spirit that this is thing has to be said in this way at this time in this voice.

Writing is a strange and weird dichotomy.

I look forward to more updates.  Coffee

Aaaaaa thank you so much! This is really encouraging to hear, and I appreciate your advice on cutting and close attention to KRZ's style that really inspires me. After I read this I actually went back and played the game and took some notes on what I really liked about it, and jeez I'm blown away by how subtle its foreshadowing and self-references are. It's kind of disappointing opening my own writing docs up again haha, but I want to take my time with it and be more critical and get even closer to what I want to say. Thanks again!

--

Narrowing scope

This past week I've given up on a completing a functional level for GDC and settled with a demo with several pretty visually complete + navigable levels. It's definitely eased some of my stress, and I'm focusing my time on creating a small portfolio of in-game shots that showcase my technical + visual experience. If you're headed to GDC next week: See you there!

Squashing movement bugs

I actually wasn't planning to touch any of the game code for this semester, but somehow I had an idea for creating a smoother blend from the character's walk to idle animations. The animation blendspace has always existed actually--but there was no speed decrement that allowed it to be used. I kicked together some math that slows the character's speed + gently slides their rotation to 45 degrees as they approach a target and passes this as an alpha value to the animation blueprint.


Old movement: Harsh snap from walk to idle


New movement: Smooth blend from walk to idle

It's probably pretty subtle, but it's bothered me for MONTHS jeez. I also managed to fix the follower character's movement--not seen in any of these previous posts (because I carefully edited it out haha), but Red had a weird movement glitch because of an improper break in a coroutine (Unreal's timelines--which can be used like coroutines!). It's kind of weird and interesting returning to old code and realizing you made a pretty simple mistake. I don't even think I knew what a coroutine was a year ago.

Grabby hands

I've been putting this off for literal months!! The river spirit's hands have been rigged and (very sadly) animated!


New grasping animation on some of the tree hands

I actually kind of want to keep some of the not-animated hands because I think the flat hand with arm movement is kind of uncanny... it does look a little funky though so maybe I'll animated some flat hands with a little bit of finger movement someday? I don't know. I have a lot to learn with animation.


Rigged + animated in Maya

I've been taking a rigging class this semester so it's actually a lot less intimidating making rigs! If I get the chance I think I'd like to rig some branches to have some simple waving movement?


Simple tree rig

I'm not sure I'll get the chance to sit down and update this devlog before GDC, but if you're interested in saying hi you can follow me on twitter!
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« Reply #93 on: February 21, 2017, 12:40:27 PM »

Awesome update!

I also managed to fix the follower character's movement--not seen in any of these previous posts (because I carefully edited it out haha), but Red had a weird movement glitch because of an improper break in a coroutine (Unreal's timelines--which can be used like coroutines!). It's kind of weird and interesting returning to old code and realizing you made a pretty simple mistake. I don't even think I knew what a coroutine was a year ago.

I love how you say  "I don't even think I knew what a coroutine was a year ago." I feel the same way about a lot of what I've learned of sound design over the past year. Going back to old work (old tracks, in my case) with new knowledge can be painful and funny, but you can often see instant solutions to problems you simply didn't have the expertise to fix before, or maybe didn't even notice.

Enjoy GDC! And what you've decided to focus on for it sounds like the right approach at this point. I think you'll still get some great feedback about it, either way.
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« Reply #94 on: April 26, 2017, 01:10:52 PM »

Awesome update!

I also managed to fix the follower character's movement--not seen in any of these previous posts (because I carefully edited it out haha), but Red had a weird movement glitch because of an improper break in a coroutine (Unreal's timelines--which can be used like coroutines!). It's kind of weird and interesting returning to old code and realizing you made a pretty simple mistake. I don't even think I knew what a coroutine was a year ago.

I love how you say  "I don't even think I knew what a coroutine was a year ago." I feel the same way about a lot of what I've learned of sound design over the past year. Going back to old work (old tracks, in my case) with new knowledge can be painful and funny, but you can often see instant solutions to problems you simply didn't have the expertise to fix before, or maybe didn't even notice.

Enjoy GDC! And what you've decided to focus on for it sounds like the right approach at this point. I think you'll still get some great feedback about it, either way.

WOW geez I can't believe I haven't updated this since GDC (that was like!? 2 months ago). Thank you so much! It was a good time, I got the chance to meet even more cool people this year, and I got some pretty solid feedback on the game's direction and market.

--

Business... plan?

I've actually spent a lot of the last month and a half prepping for a local game dev competition. This meant putting together a pitch, building a demo, and coming up with a business plan. And I've concluded: yikes. Either way, it was cool looking at comparable game's $trategies and numbers. It's kind of funny because if you had asked me how many copies of my favorite game had been sold I couldn't even ballpark a guess. But now I guess I have a better idea.

Above all, I'm excited to have learned a lot on this project, and working toward telling a personal story. Numbers can't always add up to the friends you've made along the way.

Smarter, faster, better spreadsheets

The amount of time I spend copying text into spreadsheets and re-copying text into spreadsheets because I fucked up the first time is pretty ridiculous. So I decided to make formulas to do most of the work for me.


Dropdowns

Most of the non-text columns now feature dropdowns!


All this code for an index number!?

The index numbers autofill. This sounds kind of excessive until you're copy pasting like 500 lines of dialogue across like 20 spreadsheets, and then it's Kind Of Nice.


Spirit text detection!

All of the spirits' dialogue text actually has a subtle scrolling texture to give their dialogue a gentle ethereal look. Instead of having spend time checking which lines are spirit dialogue, spreadsheets now detect when a spirit is talking and generates booleans automatically!

Everything in action


Okay there's a lot going on here...

  • Index numbers will fill automatically when any dialogue is in a row
  • The choice boolean detects when dialogue is filled into the choice columns
  • Cells turn yellow for required variables (in case you're forgetful like me...)
  • The spreadsheet detects a spirit talking and sets the boolean to true (which assigns a special texture to dialogue)

I spent a little bit of time figuring out spreadsheet formulas, but they'll be a lot more accurate AND save me the headaches I had filling out all these boolean arrays by hand. Updating one or two lines sometimes turned into a time sink.

Pretty cool



To be quite honest I put down the project for a little while because class, thesis defense, game dev competition materials, AND some... exciting... job stuff!? I've got some cool news to share in the next week, but you'll probably see it hit my twitter first.
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« Reply #95 on: May 03, 2017, 01:31:22 PM »

Consolidating interactive classes

A very Not Visible update but I've been consolidating all the interactive/click-able objects under a parent class because they have pretty much the same functionality but different specifics as far as using a static mesh, skeletal mesh, or multiple meshes. It's REALLY NICE being able to change a function in the parent class having updates for all of the children classes. Should've definitely been doing this from the start!

Some eye contact would be nice


Characters look in the direction of the objects or characters they're interacting with

It's still a little snappy but I've finally set characters to rotate toward the things they're interacting with! I would love for it to be smoother but rotations are set by whether the character is moving or not so changing that might require digging up some code for a distance based conditional or something...! At this moment I'm not really finding it worth the time to figure out.

If there's anything I've learned from this project: custom movement is Very Hell. But you can get some pretty cool functionality if you have 80 spare hours.

I'll stand over here, thanks


Characters can walk to certain points before initiating dialogue

Kind of a funky detail but-- certain scenes just look a lot better when a character stands like 10 feet from the thing they're interacting with! Since the blueprint only really checks if the character is within that 10 feet (or however many you input), it doesn't always mean you get the nicest framing for dialogue. I've now scripted an option for characters to walk to a target before dialogue starts.


The target is a trigger box

And now I have a lot more control over how dialogue scenes look!

--

Quick update about the game: I submitted it to the NYS game dev competition and was really excited that The Woodsman was nominated as a finalist in the student category! However, I will soon be moving out of New York to pursue another opportunity and had to decline. Instead, I'm really excited to say that I have accepted a job contract with Insomniac Games to work on Spiderman PS4 as an Associate Shader Artist after I graduate!
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« Reply #96 on: May 04, 2017, 03:15:27 PM »


Quick update about the game: I submitted it to the NYS game dev competition and was really excited that The Woodsman was nominated as a finalist in the student category! However, I will soon be moving out of New York to pursue another opportunity and had to decline. Instead, I'm really excited to say that I have accepted a job contract with Insomniac Games to work on Spiderman PS4 as an Associate Shader Artist after I graduate!

Congrats!!! It's such a relief to already know what you're going to do post-graduation  Tears of Joy Tears of Joy Beer! Beer!
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« Reply #97 on: May 05, 2017, 01:34:57 AM »

Love the artstyle! Any playable demos planned for the near future? Will you continue working on it after starting the job contract?

Nice job on the spreadsheets by the way! Spreadsheets can be ridiculously helpful with this type of game.
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« Reply #98 on: June 25, 2017, 04:55:29 PM »

Congrats!!! It's such a relief to already know what you're going to do post-graduation  Tears of Joy Tears of Joy Beer! Beer!

Totally! It's been a lot, but it's been a relief and also really awesome so far!

Love the artstyle! Any playable demos planned for the near future? Will you continue working on it after starting the job contract?

Nice job on the spreadsheets by the way! Spreadsheets can be ridiculously helpful with this type of game.

Thanks! Playable alpha is still a ways off, but honestly not having a dedicated machine is barring production more than anything right now.

Game trailer

I mocked up a small trailer for the game's progress so far!

In the future I'd like to work with a composer so the trailer uses music actually in the game/in line with the game's theme.
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« Reply #99 on: January 24, 2018, 10:04:52 PM »

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Ahhhh please don't remind me TIGSource x___x !!

What's happening

Anyway, what's this?? I may have built a computer? And it runs my own game? Also I'm (hopefully) making videogames in my free time again! 2018 is wild.

Where the project is at right now

I played my game for the first time in half a year and it's. Not great haha. I'm glad I was forced to have some space from it because it was hard to really see it for what it was a year ago. Overall: I want to focus more on show over tell.

Concepts: Trees and levels

I'm revising some levels! And considering, possibly: blood trees?


Blood trees, possibly


A better intro to this cabin


I might experiment with some VFX?

Movement is now frame independent!

A little embarrassing how long it took me to figure that one out. I learned my way around the UE4 GPU profiler. If you're interested, this is a really great playlist!




Pre-bugfix: Confirming that this game was pixel-bound

A single shader

Here's some shader experimentation that I did as soon as I got the project set up again.


Not too sure what's happening. I think using translucent materials in front of other translucent materials occludes them?

Anyway I'm really excited to pick this project up again! (And maybe turn it into my shader experiment funhouse again which was my intent all along...)
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