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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsA Case of Distrust
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TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #40 on: August 05, 2016, 02:02:10 AM »

Thanks for the support all! Really, it means a lot  Beer!

I was going to wait a bit to post this, but figured I'd show it off early since you made me feel good:



It's a screenshot of the first character you meet in the game. As you can see, I've moved him above the horizontal black bars. I'm still not sure if I like this -- and it actually breaks my camera movement on my map right now -- but it's an idea I've been toying with, so I thought I'd share.

I'll write a post soon about how I decide the colours for each character and scene -- what they mean and how they fit with the story arc.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2016, 02:07:55 AM by TheWanderingBen » Logged

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« Reply #41 on: August 05, 2016, 06:13:38 AM »

I actually really like the character on top of the letterbox! Very striking. I think it will work especially well if you keep rolling with the two-tone color scheme and keep his features (outlines, eyebrows) the same color as the letterbox. He does seem to take up a lot of the frame though - have you considered trying full-body character silhouettes rather than just character busts? I feel like doing that would give you a ton of extra visual opportunities for characterization
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nathy after dark
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« Reply #42 on: August 05, 2016, 02:44:20 PM »

I think it would actually look worse if you put the portrait inside of the letterbox. This way is good. And I agree it would be cool to have full-body silhouettes, although in this case the text "the regrettably familiar face" does, along with the portrait, cleverly characterize the player's fixation with his face and its annoyingness. If later characters are shown in full-body mode, it would be an interesting contrast.

EDIT: Just read the rest of the log, and I found all of it quite interesting. I think it would be cool if you wrote about how you do scheduling, especially because you're also traveling during development.

And, I've never read any Raymond Chandler but he partly inspired one of my favorite books. It's a religion-inspired sci-fi noir mystery called Something More than Night. If you haven't read it, I think it'd make great inspiration for this. Smiley
« Last Edit: August 05, 2016, 03:37:13 PM by Natman » Logged

TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #43 on: August 06, 2016, 12:19:35 AM »

Thanks for the feedback guys! Interesting that both of you favor full-body shots in these conversations. I've been using full body silhouettes inside the room screen, but close-ups when talking -- similar to how you would set up a newscaster interview. He does take up a lot of the frame, though, you're both very right. Maybe that's an argument for scaling him back down between the letterbox, like it was in the demo. I'll give it some thought. Thanks gents!
« Last Edit: August 06, 2016, 01:02:00 AM by TheWanderingBen » Logged

nathy after dark
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« Reply #44 on: August 06, 2016, 08:38:50 AM »

I was actually saying I like it just the way it is, particularly because of how the dialogue mentions his face so centrally. I think, for this character and that dialogue, it's a better characterization than a full body would be. But for other characters, full-body might be the way to go. But if they already have a full-body portrait elsewhere like the Butler's in the demo, than a large face here really seems fine, and I like the visual immediacy of having that face extend past the letter box. Hope that makes sense.
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TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #45 on: August 06, 2016, 08:34:52 PM »

Hope that makes sense.

Ah, yep, totally makes sense now. Thanks for the feedback man!
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« Reply #46 on: August 07, 2016, 05:58:02 PM »

I really like this game so far.  Just finished the demo.  My only criticism is that I was able to pretty mindlessly click my way to the solution - although that might not be the case in the finished product.

The art style is amazing and the overall concept is fresh and fun.  I'll definitely be following.  Beer!
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BeautifulGlitch
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« Reply #47 on: August 07, 2016, 06:48:06 PM »

Wow, this looks really interesting! The aesthetics are powerfull as hell!
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« Reply #48 on: August 08, 2016, 02:56:35 AM »

Commenting to follow, looks interesting and I look forward to seeing more developments and some wonderfully branching dialogue trees :D
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nathy after dark
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« Reply #49 on: August 08, 2016, 07:24:08 AM »

TheWanderingBen, have you seen this thread? I think it's very relevant given your game's focus on UI, and I realized the video in the first post also uses Saul Bass as an example.
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TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #50 on: August 08, 2016, 04:59:09 PM »

Thanks again for the support guys! More posts incoming. I've been debating new topics, but if there's something you'd want to read about, let me know!

My only criticism is that I was able to pretty mindlessly click my way to the solution - although that might not be the case in the finished product.

I'm sure every adventure game developer ever has said this, but that's a big thing I want to avoid. I'm thinking about mechanics to get around it, but that's a stage-2 problem. Let's see if just having enough clues discourages that by itself in the final game Smiley

TheWanderingBen, have you seen this thread? I think it's very relevant given your game's focus on UI, and I realized the video in the first post also uses Saul Bass as an example.

That's a fantastic thread! There's some gold to be mined from there (lessons that maybe I won't have to learn the hard way Wink ). Thanks for sharing!
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« Reply #51 on: August 09, 2016, 02:06:30 AM »

Great concept and graphics so far! I'm curious for further updates and information. Smiley

Unfortunetly, I am not able to play the Mac demo. I run the game with admin permissions, it starts and its icon is shown in the dock, but the game itself doesn't show up. Only thing I can do is is close it from its icon in the dock.

Anyways, keep up the great work and I will try to test on PC next time Wink

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TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #52 on: August 09, 2016, 04:32:38 AM »

Great concept and graphics so far! I'm curious for further updates and information. Smiley

Unfortunetly, I am not able to play the Mac demo. I run the game with admin permissions, it starts and its icon is shown in the dock, but the game itself doesn't show up. Only thing I can do is is close it from its icon in the dock.

Anyways, keep up the great work and I will try to test on PC next time Wink

Oh no bueno! That's the first I've heard about something like that. I just tried the download myself and it still works on my Macbook. I'll ask some friends with Macs to see if they can reproduce it (haven't gotten to proper unit-testing just yet). Did it open in a separate full-screen window maybe? If you Ctrl+RightArrow you still don't see it?

Thanks for the love on the graphics -- I hope you can get the demo working soon!
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TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #53 on: August 20, 2016, 01:46:25 AM »

PLAYING WITH TIME

I'm a management nerd. I love posts of organization strategies - maybe I can learn something new! At least one other person who replied to this devlog feels the same way (Smiley) so let's quickly run through it:

WHAT PLANNING TOOL AND WHY?

Google Calendar is great for task planning! I've explored other options, both paid and free, but I come back to Google Calendar for a few reasons:
  • Google Calendar is free! Maybe this is an obvious point, but paid software has to offer a lot of incentives to compete. So far, nothing's seemed worth it
  • Calendar is simple. I can create events, set timelines, drag and drop - all with an easy user interface
  • I use Calendar for my non-work events, which makes it easy to plan things around my life
  • Related to the last point, Calendar automagically pulls events from my email onto my calendar (especially useful for flights if you wander as much as I do, but also works well for things like conventions -- Steam Dev Days is added as soon as I book the ticket)
  • Calendars are easy to share. Do I want my audio designer to see my writing schedule? Or maybe my girlfriend wants to know my convention schedule? Easy peasy!
  • The month view clearly displays what I'm working on that month, so it's easy to spot if I'm not working on a particular part of the game for a stretch of time, and then decide if I'm okay with that. This coloured display is usually the missing element of other free planning software

HOW DO I USE IT?
Google Calendar lets you to make separate calendars with different colours. I create a new calendar for each "department" of my game. On top of my personal calendar, I have: Audio, Marketing, Programming, Visual Art, and Writing for the game. Here was my plan for July (you can see this screenshot was taken on the 1st of July):


The colour legend is on the side, so even if I forget the colours (which I do Smiley) I can see them easily. All-day events create those colour blocks -- I use them to show what department I'm currently working in, and broadly what it is I'm doing. Check out the 8th to the 12th, and you'll see I'm spending those five days Writing -- more specifically Defining Main Characters.

Do I need even more detail? Then I create an event on the day itself that only lasts an hour. Calendar displays these events in small text on the specific day. From the 8th to the 12th, I'm using each day to define a new character (cleverly named Character 1, 2, 3, and 4).

Recurring tasks? Calendar does that too -- check out the Travel Blog Post that I write every Wednesday (from now until eternity, apparently) or my weekend meetings with Marowi.

PITFALLS OF THIS SYSTEM?
I'm mostly a solo developer, so Calendar is very easy. I can imagine Calendar working well for small teams too. But for large projects, Calendar probably gets messy. And the biggest complaint for a manager might be lack of reporting -- how did each team member do relative to their targets, are we still on track for hitting Alpha/Beta/Gold, what is each task's priority, what is each task's difficulty, what would be good to cut, etc. Most of that information isn't required for a solo project (I don't need to make reports to myself to understand what parts of the project are useful -- I know that already! Smiley). But there is one important element that's missing even for me: estimate accuracy.

How can I know if my estimates are good? This is extremely important to understand when my game will release, and what it will look like when it does. I don't have a fantastic solution for this problem, but I do have one that's good enough for my situation:

I take a screenshot at the start of the month with my plan, then update my calendar with how long the tasks are actually taking. At the end of the month, I compare the the original screenshot with the actual numbers. Here's the end of July, as an example:


Some of the tasks change because of updated plans (I'd originally planned to launch Steam Greenlight at the end of July, but for a variety of reasons -- none related to my estimates -- I've pushed that back until (probably) November). But the Map took much longer to implement than I had previously thought (see the last devlog to understand why Wink). And, more importantly for future planning, I needed to take the 8th to context-switch from art and programming back to writing, which I hadn't done in a month -- I had bad writer's block that day. I sprinkled my remaining writing throughout the month to make sure I didn't run into that again -- which seemed to work!

WHAT ABOUT YOU?
I'm certain this isn't the best system. I can always grab pointers to improve my planning - and I love talking shop to other managers (even though I only manage myself, I still consider myself a manager Smiley).

Care to share your own strategies? I would love to read about them!

EDIT: Even though this post is a bit long, I ran through this system pretty quickly. If you want any clarifications, please feel free to ask!
« Last Edit: August 20, 2016, 01:51:56 AM by TheWanderingBen » Logged

TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #54 on: September 02, 2016, 07:34:33 PM »

Playing through what I have now, I realize that the travel mechanic isn't as engaging as it should be. That whole Map Screen? Not working just yet. I had another idea for travel that I sketched out in a few minutes. Thought I'd share the raw details -- this is how every screen starts:


If I go further down this road, I'll explain the why behind it. Might make an interesting addition to the Map Screen series (titled "Killing Your Babies"). For now, back to work! Smiley
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nathy after dark
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« Reply #55 on: September 02, 2016, 08:56:48 PM »

I thought I made this post before when I first read your time management write-up, but I found it really interesting and the kind of thing I try to put in my own log, and it's cool to hear other people's techniques.
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TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #56 on: September 03, 2016, 06:42:21 AM »

I thought I made this post before when I first read your time management write-up, but I found it really interesting and the kind of thing I try to put in my own log, and it's cool to hear other people's techniques.

Thanks man, I'd love to hear it. Your devlog's formatting actually inspired a lot of the posts on here Smiley

You're still in school right? Balancing that with gamedev must be challenging -- and your solutions are probably helpful to others in the same boat (or for me, who might want to start freelancing at some point!). You're also working with an artist and a translator? How do you set their tasks -- is it rigid, or more whenever they can get whatever done?
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TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #57 on: September 03, 2016, 07:03:21 PM »

WHAT THE HELL'S HAPPENING NOW?!

No proper update in a while! Been head-down on creating the first half of my first mystery (for those who know Three Act Story Structure, you'll understand that the halfway point is a good place to stop for a demo).

With that section almost done, I spent the last couple of days playing through it and absolutely picking it apart. Several pages of notes. I then lumped those notes into broad categories for what I thought was wrong with the game in its current state, and came up with actionable tasks that fix my complaints. I even generally rated the costs and impact of each task:


Electronic tasks are easier to organize. And I divided each task into specific hours required from each discipline:


I have two milestones I'd like to hit. The first ("Playtest") is what I'd like to have done by the time I leave Bali on 22 September; a demo that I can show to friends and fellow devs. The second ("SXSW") is the deadline for submitting to the SXSW Gaming Awards and the associate festival. It's not critical, but it's a good show to attend for my game -- which can be targeted to both gamers and non-gamers. The demo for them, however, needs to be basically shippable -- which is why it'll take much longer.

But there's a problem with those self-imposed deadlines:


I've honed my estimates over years of pro work. Though individually they could be off, on aggregate they're pretty accurate. I don't want to touch those numbers. But, I can prioritize and de-prioritize certain elements.

Everyone hates scoping. But after a morning of squinting, I came up with a good plan that seems doable -- including a couple days buffer time, where I might get to some Nice-To-Haves:


And finally, adding these lovelies to my trusty Calendar:


Now you're fully up to date! As always, any questions, feedback, or general love is welcome and encouraged Smiley

Thanks for following -- be back soon with more!
« Last Edit: September 03, 2016, 07:13:26 PM by TheWanderingBen » Logged

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« Reply #58 on: September 04, 2016, 02:49:02 AM »

It's great to see you still working hard on this! No problem with a delay in an update.

I agree in that electronic tasks are much easier to document/make note of. Keep it up! Playtesting is so important Smiley
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« Reply #59 on: September 04, 2016, 05:03:27 AM »

I spotted this game for the first time today.

Must say that I really like the visual style! The art direction seem to be both good and very consistent. In addition the time period and setting are of course about as cool as you can find. I have not tried the demo yet, but after seeing all the nice screenshots here I think I will have to!  Smiley
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