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TIGSource ForumsFeedbackDevLogsSlashcards: Learn Japanese!: 一緒に勉強しよう![co-op/vs. learn 'em up] [playable demo!]
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Author Topic: Slashcards: Learn Japanese!: 一緒に勉強しよう![co-op/vs. learn 'em up] [playable demo!]  (Read 381 times)
blueboo
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« on: June 02, 2017, 06:20:54 am »

-- Playable preview linked below --

Hello all.  I've been working on this project for a while now -- something I've attempted a few times over the years, but now it looks like I've got something worth sharing.  But I'm going to need help testing and iterating towards what works and what's most fun for everyone.  Without further ado, introducing...


learning your first kana

Slashcards: Learn Japanese!: 一緒に勉強しよう! is an action-RPG where your mastery of reading (and writing!) Japanese is your character's power.  You've been summoned to go on an epic journey that will have you battling monsters, mastering the power of the Slashcards, and rescuing the denizens of a land accursed.


The focus of this project is to make the otherwise tedious task of rote learning (memorization) a seamless and central part of an action game.  

Even if you plow through the dialog and introductions, and go in blind, the game will still give you hints, let you review in-game, and you can finish a level having really learned something.

Enemies have characters or kana right on their bodies.  If you scope out enemies you "know" well, you can prioritize your attack -- or step back to find some safety so you can review in-game.  


(in-game review - you're seeing 上手 being written mid-stroke animation)

Or just barrel in and give it a shot -- a miss will give you a hint to the right answer, if you survive being stunned (and you probably will.)

Attack an enemy and the faster and more accurately you respond, the more damage you'll do, the more experience you'll earn, and the better you'll be able to evade the monsters that are still chasing you!  And by "responding", I mean choosing from multiple choices, typing in English or Japanese, or even drawing a character stroke-by-stroke.  


I'm a learner myself.  So I've gotten help putting together the lessons, the level order, and I've even male + female voice recordings for the words and letters in the game.  They're not all in there yet, but most of them are.

On top of that, Slashcards has been built for multiplayer co-op and competitive modes from the very beginning.  So you can adventure across the land with your friends...


some co-op gameplay

...or try one of the hectic versus modes (with CPU opponents, if you want!)


Bingo Battle!

There's tons more for me to talk about (and to work on), but I'm hoping I'll be able to update this regularly.  

I'm anxious to get this rolling on Greenlight, but first I'd like to get a working demo going.  Do me a favor give the preview a try and let me know what you think!


You can play the first couple levels and try one of the versus modes, Bingo Battle.  You'll be treated to three original music tracks and one recycled one from an old game of mine.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2017, 07:30:09 am by blueboo » Logged
blueboo
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2017, 09:52:37 am »

First update: 0.90

A few quick fixes to make players' lives better --

  • Advanced language prompts now show key hints for keyboard players.  One tester reported trying every key on the keyboard to find the IJKL cross for the Kana Keyboard!
  • Improved word spacing in text display sothingsdon'talllooklikethis.
  • Changed some wording for clarity in the UI.
  • Fixed a crash bug on player death.
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Razzek
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2017, 12:12:01 pm »

I like your art but are you planning on going past the kana?
There's already a mind boggling about of apps and methods to learn them,  and really an average student should be able to learn them within an afternoon.

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Draoga
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2017, 12:52:08 pm »

Hey,

Came across this randomly on itch.io yesterday, never tried to learn Japanese but so far the game seems pretty straightforward. I have the basic Hiragana vowels complete. I know them well now even without the game or the flashcards I made so that is good. The writing is a little clunky with a keyboard/mouse, so I'll stick to paper worksheets for that. Writing in general is difficult to emulate on a computer but perhaps an option to freedraw using the mouse?

I don't know the difficulty of learning Japanese but the pacing seems fine for me. I've never taken a class in Japanese and most of my time goes towards art classes. This is a good use of time to memorize so far. Not sure if I could memorize all the kana in an afternoon, at least not by heart.

No bugs yet Smiley

Thanks for the app, I'll be looking forward to future updates and I'd spend money for this.
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blueboo
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2017, 07:28:47 am »

I like your art but are you planning on going past the kana?
There's already a mind boggling about of apps and methods to learn them,  and really an average student should be able to learn them within an afternoon.



You bet -- what excites me about this project is the possibility of getting in deep on kanji.

Here's a screenshot from one such level's intro:



And like the kana, you'll have attacks where you draw the kanji in response, or type in the kana readings.

I'll add in one of the kanji levels in the coming days -- I've also got levels that use pictures instead of English.  Works great for food, particularly.

Let me know if there's a particular kanji list you're interested in, if it's JLPT, or the Basic Kanji Book, or something else.
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Razzek
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« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2017, 06:49:52 pm »

I like your art but are you planning on going past the kana?
There's already a mind boggling about of apps and methods to learn them,  and really an average student should be able to learn them within an afternoon.



You bet -- what excites me about this project is the possibility of getting in deep on kanji.

Here's a screenshot from one such level's intro:



And like the kana, you'll have attacks where you draw the kanji in response, or type in the kana readings.

I'll add in one of the kanji levels in the coming days -- I've also got levels that use pictures instead of English.  Works great for food, particularly.

Let me know if there's a particular kanji list you're interested in, if it's JLPT, or the Basic Kanji Book, or something else.

If I were you I would try to find a way to support all of the 常用漢字 along with all the words up to JLPT1. You can find lists easily on the internet and It would be something to make your game marketable to people who are past JLPT4. All games and study systems seem to abruptly stop at around JLPT4, besides wanikani which probably rakes in a ridiculous amount of money a month.

Also if  you do that make it so you can choose what level to start yourself off at.

Good luck ^^
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blueboo
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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2017, 07:26:55 am »

Tech Log 1: Fast Faces

One thing I wanted to achieve in Slashcards was characters that had some character.  I wanted them to feel alive.  One game that does that superbly well is The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.  Because of the specific artistic choices in that game, the characters faces were basically drawn on as if cartoons.  That permitted a ton of expression with a bit less work than, say, modeling a humanoid face, rigging it, and using motion capture or hand-crafted animation for each little expression.

To make expressive faces, you first and foremost need eyes and eyebrows.  Eye shape and eyebrow position tell you just about everything you need to know about someone's emotional state.  I wanted to be able to control the eye pupil position by script, so rather than have canned images fr looking left, looking right, etc., I chose to have the pupil be a separate image from the white of the eye.  And that meant masking the eye, which means shaders, which means more draw calls...

Two eye brows, two eyes with two pupils, and we're already up to six draw calls per character, and we haven't even gotten to the mouth, yet.  The trick to keeping this cheap is (in Unity) using MaterialPropertyBlocks.

The drawback of MPBs is that you have to set them in code.  And if you want to see the results in the editor, you'll need to have a script that sets their values in OnValidate.

So the recipe is: use the same texture, use the same shader, and to vary parameters across different facial elements, use MateriapPropertyBlocks.  Next up, I'll get into how they're animated.


looks painful...
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jctwood
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2017, 07:37:43 am »

This is such a neat concept!
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blueboo
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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2017, 08:57:45 am »

This is a continuation of Quick Tip 1, which discusses the coding approach to the faces in Slashcards: Learn Japanese.



So: our character has a face: eyes, and a mouth.Plop her in your fantasy world and what would she be doing? She'd be looking around, thinking and reacting to what she saw. That means she's blinking. She's raising her eyebrows or furrowing them as she thinks about this or that. She's pursing her lips and relaxing them. And none of this is happening in a rigid, repeating pattern. It's all semi-random. Sometimes she blinks three times in three seconds. Sometimes once in ten seconds. Something will worry her for just the briefest moment...etc.

For my character, I've broken facial activity into four processes:
  • Blinking
  • Looking-at
  • Eyebrow movement/shape
  • Eye shape
Moreover, the character has a Mood and a PointOfInterest

Blinking is a coroutine that blinks every so often (from .5 to 5 seconds). It'll blink more often if the mood is Afraid or Sad.

LookingAt is a coroutine that aims the pupils at the PointOfInterest if there is one. Otherwise it just picks a different thing/point in space to gaze at every several seconds.

Eyebrow movement/shape shifts the eyebrows up and down at random intervals. The eyebrows' shapes are determined by the mood.And eye shape -- angry, relaxed, afraid, and so on...


Eye shapes by deviantartist sharkie19.  You can imagine how you might break out eyebrow, pupil, and eye shape.

...are controlled by a coroutine that varies them according to the mood. Certain moods use different sets of eyeshapes. For example, in Mood.Relaxed, the character might momentarily be pensive/worried -- an eyeshape also used in Mood.Afraid -- but it won't use that expression as often.


Crucially, this approach shows the player that the character has an inner life. Keeping the control in code makes it easier to vary. And the varied behavior means the designer/animator doesn't have to handcraft every little reaction.
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