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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsA Door to the Mists--[DEMO updated!]--traversal, exploration, puzzles and combat
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RealScaniX
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« Reply #560 on: February 08, 2021, 06:17:00 AM »

That's quite a bunch of things, good work! Smiley
Interesting to hear about the demo build process. I think it's a bit easier in Unity. I just set a compiler flag, so it can behave differently in the demo and remove some scenes from the build to do a demo build.
 
And good thing you were able to find that memory leak.
 
Your levels look nice as always. I like those debris.
 
I also admire your drawing skills. That lady definitely didn't skip leg day. Wink
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« Reply #561 on: February 08, 2021, 07:57:04 AM »

That's quite a bunch of things, good work! Smiley

Thank you very much! ^_^

Interesting to hear about the demo build process. I think it's a bit easier in Unity. I just set a compiler flag, so it can behave differently in the demo and remove some scenes from the build to do a demo build.

Honestly, there might be an easier way to do it.

That said, note that my original "end of demo" screen was implemented as a "level", specifically as "level six". In the main project directory, that's now been replaced by the actual level six. Similarly, the main project directory holds the new work-in-progress intro cutscene, replacing the old one that's still used in the demo.

Conversely, Panda3D is a bit of a programmer-centric engine, full of code and command-line tools.

And good thing you were able to find that memory leak.

Indeed! I'm rather glad that I did get that fixed! o_o;

Your levels look nice as always. I like those debris.

Thank you very much! ^_^
 
I also admire your drawing skills.

Thank you indeed! I'm really happy to read that! :D

That lady definitely didn't skip leg day. Wink

Hey, if your lifestyle involved a lot of running and jumping around, you'd have strong legs, too. Tongue
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« Reply #562 on: February 08, 2021, 11:19:09 AM »

Honestly, there might be an easier way to do it.

That said, note that my original "end of demo" screen was implemented as a "level", specifically as "level six". In the main project directory, that's now been replaced by the actual level six. Similarly, the main project directory holds the new work-in-progress intro cutscene, replacing the old one that's still used in the demo.

Conversely, Panda3D is a bit of a programmer-centric engine, full of code and command-line tools.


Yes, that's what I'm using the compiler flags for. The main game loads the prologue scene while the demo loads the "thanks for playing" scene. Smiley
Using the compiler directives you can easily have different behaviours all over the place.
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« Reply #563 on: February 08, 2021, 12:00:54 PM »

Yes, that's what I'm using the compiler flags for. The main game loads the prologue scene while the demo loads the "thanks for playing" scene. Smiley
Using the compiler directives you can easily have different behaviours all over the place.

That makes sense.

And indeed, I likely could do something like that with Panda. (Well, not as a compiler directive, as Python is interpreted, but still.)

However, I haven't really set up my project with that in mind, and the matter of changing which files are to be included in a build might be awkward--it would mean some coding in the script-file that controls the build.

Plus, I like keeping the demo separate--it means that I can be relatively confident of not changing things there that I don't mean to change, and can clean up the directory more than I'd be comfortable doing with the main project directory. It also means that I can manually exclude files with less worry of breaking things!

But ultimately, I think that it's just the way that I'm comfortable with. ^^;
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« Reply #564 on: February 15, 2021, 02:12:39 AM »

Blog post (15th of February, 2021)
A Leap and a Hop


Summary: In which a new traversal section is made; the new demo-build is worked towards; some re-budgeting is done; a mist-effect is once again worked on--including its use in-game; and the intro advances a bit.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot once again shows some progress on the new intro: (And yes, her head is cut off in the actual cutscene; I haven't yet decided on whether that's a problem.)



The week just past was a somewhat productive one, I feel, with work done on a variety of matters:

In last week's blog post I mentioned, I believe, that there was one more change that I was considering making to level two, in response to the recent change in the player's jump-height.

This concerned a route that had opened up in the level, made more feasible by said change in jump-height.

Now, I do like having multiple routes be available in the game, and was somewhat inclined to just leave it. However, this particular route circumvented an intended traversal section, and didn't replace it with anything terribly interesting, I fear.

After some consideration, in the week just past I decided on what to do: I would build a new (and small) traversal challenge within the route.

It's short, and simple, but at the least it breaks up what was a fairly straightforward path, and provides something to do when taking this alternate route, I feel.

I'll include screenshots of it throughout the rest of this post, starting here:



I've said, I believe, that I've been working on building a new version of the demo. I returned to this ine the week just past, and for the most part it went well, I think.

However, a few issues--most resolved now, if I'm not much mistaken--resulted in that new build not being quite ready yet.



You may recall that I've been working towards once again pitching to publishers. This has been somewhat held back for a bit, waiting in part for the new demo-build to be ready.

That holding-back may be a good thing, however, as I discovered that I may have initially under-budgeted.

I did some new maths, and came up with some new numbers. But I was unsettled by an anxiety: being a fairly new indie dev, with A Door to the Mists as my first solo commercial project, I feared that setting too high a budget might lead to my pitches being dismissed out of hand.

So, I asked: I went over to GameDev.net--a site whose forum I gather includes members with significant industry experience--and posted my question there.

And thankfully, the answers were reassuring: my new budget seems to fall below the lower threshold of the budgetary range that I was given there!



Returning to work on the game itself, in the week just past I once again picked up the mist-effect shown in previous weeks.

For one thing, I polished the effect a little, partially in response to functionality-related changes having left it a little rough.

But perhaps more saliently, I worked on the in-level purpose for which I made it.

This has been a little daunting, I'll confess--I wasn't sure of quite how I was going to implement some elements of it. But inspirations came to me in the week just past, and--some bugs and rough edges aside--I believe that I have it working!

And I find it pretty cool, too! And I'm quite excited to have made progress on it! ^_^

That said, it is a little spoilery, so I'm hesitant to show it. But conversely, I do think that it's cool, and want to share it.

So what I may do, once some of those bugs and rough edges have been dealt with, is to create a video showing the level-feature in question, a video that's both unlisted and labelled with a spoiler-warning. This I might then post on Twitter and in my subsequent blog-post.



On the art-side, and as shown in the main screenshot above, I finished off the character-pose that I believe that I last week mentioned as being part-finished. Furthermore, I started in on the next pose--which should, I think, be the last of this sequence.

And finally, I implemented a few changes and fixes that don't seem worth detailing here!

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #565 on: February 15, 2021, 04:06:51 AM »

Great update. I like the new screenshots of the level. The new traversal looks nice. Finding a way through by walking, jumping or climbing seems a nice change to adventure and puzzle gameplay.
 
I totally feel your anxiety. The only thing that I've ever thought about was doing a kickstartet to gather the money for the soundtrack, voice acting and artwork... Xd
I wish you the best for this step.
 
Ah, and about that decapitation of the character in the cutscene (probably cutting more than it should here): How about changing her pose a bit to bend forward. She's probably exhausted after that jump anymway. Smiley
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« Reply #566 on: February 15, 2021, 07:22:54 AM »

Great update. I like the new screenshots of the level. The new traversal looks nice. Finding a way through by walking, jumping or climbing seems a nice change to adventure and puzzle gameplay.
 
I totally feel your anxiety. The only thing that I've ever thought about was doing a kickstartet to gather the money for the soundtrack, voice acting and artwork... Xd
I wish you the best for this step.

Thank you, on all counts! ^_^

I considered crowdfunding at one point, but found that it looked more complicated when done from this country than I was comfortable with, alas. :/

Ah, and about that decapitation of the character in the cutscene (probably cutting more than it should here): How about changing her pose a bit to bend forward. She's probably exhausted after that jump anymway. Smiley

On the contrary, she lives a pretty active lifestyle: such a leap is not an exhausting thing for her, I feel!

In addition, this section is intended to reflect the mechanics of the game somewhat--to be a teaser of what the player gets to do, in a sense. And in the game a leap-and-climb of this sort doesn't incur much of a pause after gaining the destination surface.

If I'm going to bring the character's head into view, I'm inclined to instead do so by moving the terrain--and with it the character--downwards, I think.

However, this isn't a pose that's held long: it's a stage between the catch-and-climb and running onwards. And further, it occurs to me that having that run show little more than legs might nicely echo the boot-only run-cycle from earlier in the cutscene.

So... I'm undecided right now...
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« Reply #567 on: February 15, 2021, 07:40:48 AM »

aw man, just read the first page of this devlog. seems like a really cool project! gonna have to check out the demo.
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« Reply #568 on: February 15, 2021, 10:14:21 AM »

Thank you very much! :D

Funnily enough, I just uploaded a new version of the demo.

If you downloaded it before that the new version was posted (and thus have version 0.9.2), then I recommend going back for the new version, version 0.9.5. For one thing, it makes a salient change to the height of the player's jump!

Either way, I hope that you enjoy the demo! ^_^
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« Reply #569 on: February 22, 2021, 01:53:30 AM »

Blog post (22nd of February, 2021)
Clearly Seeing


Summary: In which two new demo-versions are released; various minor changes and fixes are implemented; the player-light aesthetics see an update; a particular set of objects are made more-easily seen; the "stun" effect is removed from one attack; a new cursor-mode is added; screenshots and gifs are replaced with updated versions; publisher-pitching is worked towards; a new gameplay video is begun; and the new intro sees further work.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows some changes in the game's aesthetics:



The week just past was a bit of a busy one, I feel! Not only were various changes made, but two new versions of the demo were released!

As per usual, at time of writing you can get the updated version of the demo--version 0.9.7--from either itch.io or IndieDB:
Itch.io Page
IndieDB Page

I mentioned last week, I believe, that I was working on a new build of the demo. In the week just past, then, I tested that build, and, finding it working, uploaded it.

And I'm glad and grateful to say that I was given some quite detailed feedback on said build!

Thus began what was perhaps the main thrust of the week's work: implementing various tweaks, polishes, and fixes based on the feedback that I was given, with the goal of producing another updated version of the demo!

Some of the changes were minor: fixing a bit of geometry that the player wasn't intended to get into, but could; improving the behaviour of mouse-look by replacing the pointer-position method in use; dealing with a bug in the restoration of an object in level one; and a few more besides.

(And I also fixed a minor bug in my level-editor along the way.)

A few things might be worth mentioning in detail, however:

First, I made some changes to the aesthetics of the game. The overall approach remains intact, but the highlighting of objects under the player-light has been reworked. This allows dark objects to nevertheless produce strong highlights, where before they generally didn't!

(And I removed some over-brightening, too, I believe.)



On a related note, it was pointed out to me that the objects on the bottom shelf within the first tomb in the lower part of level one were very hard to see at close range.

Attempting to fix this was one of the reasons that I embarked upon the above-mentioned aesthetic changes, as I recall; those changes didn't help with this issue, but I think were nevertheless an improvement in and of themselves.

I also attempted to fix this via changes to the manner in which the player-light is vertically positioned, but alas to no avail: changes that made the objects more visible incurred problems of their own, I found.

In the end, I just moved them up one shelf, and placed a light cloth beneath them. That, at least, makes them more visible!



On the combat side, I removed the "stun" effect from the second mummy's "flurry" attack: it seemed that said stun was too brief, and perhaps too early in the game, to be easily spotted. This meant that at least one player didn't know why they couldn't block after being so stuck, which I imagine was frustrating.

That said, the mummy still has their "shove" attack, which has a more considerable, and thus presumably more clearly-visible, "stun" effect.

On the UI side, I had a report of a player being uncertain of whether objects without names could be interacted with.

In an attempt to rectify this lack of clarity, I've introduced a new cursor mode. Now, when the player is looking at an interactive/examinable object, the cursor changes visibly (and becomes a little bit more colourful). This, I hope, might more-clearly separate those objects that the player can do something with from those that they cannot.



The following gif--intended to show some of the game's mechanics--also shows the new cursor in action (albeit scaled-down):



With all that done, I built another new version of the demo, and uploaded it!

And with the aesthetics of the game so changed, I also took some new screenshots and recreated various gifs (such as the one above). With these I then replaced the old versions in various places--forum threads, my website, the game's itch page, etc.

Moving away from the demo, I've mentioned in the past that I've been working up to a new round of publisher-pitching, I believe. To that end, in the week just past I did a bit more work towards that, in particular updating my pitch-document and pitch-email. I think that I may be just about ready to send those emails out!

There is one more thing that I have in mind first, however: A new "core gameplay" video. The old one is still broadly accurate, but it shows aesthetics that are rather out of date, and lacks the new cursor UI.

While it's not yet done, I've made a good start on this new video, I think!

And finally, in the week just past I did a little more work on the new intro cutscene. I believe that I have the previously-shown "leap" scene done, and have moved on to a start on the next scene. (Which borrows considerably from the original cutscene.)

(And said "leap" scene does now pan up to allow a fuller view of the protagonist after climbing the higher ledge.)

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #570 on: February 22, 2021, 04:43:21 AM »

I think you did a great job with the overhaul concerning the strong lights and contrast. In my eyes, especially in scenes with a reduced color palette, it looks amazing. For example, to me this screenshot is just sooooo good:


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« Reply #571 on: February 22, 2021, 04:52:24 AM »

I think you did a great job with the overhaul concerning the strong lights and contrast. In my eyes, especially in scenes with a reduced color palette, it looks amazing. For example, to me this screenshot is just sooooo good:

Thank you very much indeed! That's very encouraging to read! :D
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« Reply #572 on: February 22, 2021, 10:23:26 AM »

With the fabric on the shelf the paper with the drawing isn't that visible anymore.
Just kidding =P
 
That's a nice update. It's crazy how many changes come from feedback. I noticed that with my game, too. It's the things you (as the dev) are blind for or would never have guessed anyone to have a problem with.
 
I will use my savegames to rush through the game and check out the changes when I find time. And then I will need to find a new cozy place where I can hide behind invalid geometry. Wink
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« Reply #573 on: February 22, 2021, 11:24:48 AM »

With the fabric on the shelf the paper with the drawing isn't that visible anymore.
Just kidding =P

Bah! Tongue
 
That's a nice update. It's crazy how many changes come from feedback. I noticed that with my game, too. It's the things you (as the dev) are blind for or would never have guessed anyone to have a problem with.

Thank you! ^_^

And indeed, feedback is invaluable, I do feel!

For that matter, even outside of the things that call for fixing, I think that it's generally part of how we grow as artists.
 
I will use my savegames to rush through the game and check out the changes when I find time. And then I will need to find a new cozy place where I can hide behind invalid geometry. Wink

Ooh, fair warning: the game, due to the nature of my save-files and the project being in-development, automatically deletes files (save-games and config-files) from old versions. You'll see a warning that it's going to happen, at least.

Let me DM you a link to the save-game pack that I plan in linking in my publisher-pitches. Just drop those into the save-game folder and they should work!
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« Reply #574 on: February 22, 2021, 03:35:17 PM »

Oh, ok. Thanks for the warning! Smiley
BTW: I thought it might be a good idea to offer entries into all the chapters that the player has already reached. There does not seem to be anything carried from one chapter to the next, so it would be possible, I think. The collectibles could probably be stored globally, too. Just an idea. Smiley
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« Reply #575 on: February 23, 2021, 12:47:08 AM »

BTW: I thought it might be a good idea to offer entries into all the chapters that the player has already reached. There does not seem to be anything carried from one chapter to the next, so it would be possible, I think. The collectibles could probably be stored globally, too. Just an idea. Smiley

That's not a bad idea!

That said, there are a few items that are carried over between certain levels (you get one at the end of the demo, in fact). It might be possible to just provide them on entering the relevant levels--but I don't yet know whether there will be optional items of this sort.

However, the game does also auto-save at the end of a level, and I have had the thought to separate those end-of-level saves from standard autosaves. That would provide at least some means of achieving what you're asking.

That said, the feature in question is currently on my "nice to have" list--there's quite a bit that I'm likely to attend to before it, I'm afraid! ^^;
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« Reply #576 on: March 01, 2021, 01:53:20 AM »

Blog post (1st of March, 2021)
Showing the Game


Summary: In which a gameplay video is completed; publisher-pitches are sent; the new intro is completed; the cutscene -system and -editor sees a little work; and an element of level six is progressed.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows another still from the new intro cutscene:



The week just past was perhaps a bit of a slow one, but I do feel that it was nevertheless somewhat productive. In particular, three salient tasks were completed!

I believe that I mentioned in last week's blog-post that I was working on a new gameplay video. This video was intended to replace its predecessor, not only in its depiction of the game's mechanics and UI, but also in its depiction of the game's aesthetics.

Well, in the week just past I completed it, I believe! You should see the new video embedded below:





With that done, I moved, at last, on to a task that I had been nervous about: sending out pitches to publishers.

Much of the preparation for this had been done already, and with the last element intended to represent the game--the above-mentioned video--in place, I was, more or less, ready.

In the end I sent out nearly thirty pitches, I believe; some by email, others via on-site forms.

At time of writing I've had six replies, six rejection emails, if I'm not much mistaken. As for the rest, I continue to wait...

Moving back to the game itself, in the week just past I continued work on the intro cutscene. Continued it, and indeed completed it! (Or at least a draft of it.)

Once the initial few scenes were complete, the remainder went relatively swiftly, as I recall: they re-used more, and thus made for lighter work.

Music, however, proved difficult. I didn't want to re-use the main-menu music in a cutscene that's shown immediately after the main menu. But conversely, I didn't seem to have anything better to hand, and I wasn't finding anything that seemed fitting in my searches of royalty-free sites.

In the end, I settled for that main-menu music; it may not be a perfect solution, but it works, I feel.

Still, overall I think that I'm happy with this new cutscene. ^_^

You should see a recording of it embedded here:





And along the way I enacted a variety of changes and fixes in the cutscene system and its editor.

Perhaps most saliently, the editor and cutscene system now allow freer addition of music-entries, where before they only allowed addition to the end of a set of entries. The new approach is rather more convenient! (The implementation is a little hacky, but it seems to be stable.)

And finally, work continued on level six. Specifically, I believe that I've completed, in rough, the previously-mentioned mist-related feature. That said, it is still rough: there are yet issues that I mean to attend to in it, and elements of polish that I intend to enact.

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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