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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsThe Epocha Tower [Action-adventure RPG] [GM1.4]
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Author Topic: The Epocha Tower [Action-adventure RPG] [GM1.4]  (Read 9457 times)
M0ti
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« Reply #100 on: September 11, 2018, 12:36:03 AM »

Today I finally sat down with a pen and paper and tried to map all areas and directions that I can focus on. There is the the exploration prototype, on which I worked this whole time. Then there is the vertical slice and IndieGoGo campaign.

DUNGEON EXPLORATION PROTOTYPE
The thing that I was working on the whole time. It can be labeled as a success. Whoever tried it at the Game Access 2018, had a great time with it and was interested to try even more.
The Goal is: get it to a state, when I can release it on itch.io

What needs to be done:
  • Fixing bugs
  • Insane polish so that it’s playable even without my assistance: add tutorial, keyboard controls (right now it works only with controller), tweaking the difficulty
  • Major changes: probably rewriting the whole gui, because now it works only on my monitor
  • Finish it: there is still no intro or end game conditions
  • Promo materials: nice cover art, new gifs, texts, trailer
Estimated time:
   At least a whole month


VERTICAL SLICE
The main goal of this will be to create at least some representations of all 4 major parts of the game (tower: exploration, combat; city: resource management, town life) and then make to work together.

What needs to be done:
   Everything. New sprites, new code, need to learn a ton of the new stuff

What should be my first step:
   Now I have the basic understanding of the exploration, thanks to the exploration prototype. So the next think should be combat which will include: searching for the new color palette, drawing enemy animations, environment, playrs animation + coding.
   Or I can start with the city, which will includes learning how to use Ink for the Inkle Studio and how to import it to the game maker.

External Funds will probably be needed in some point, because the vertical slice should be a representative piece of software.

Estimated time:
   Who knows, at least a year?

INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN
Main Goal is: Learn and experience how to make the crowdfunding campaign, get at least some funds for the vertical slice.

What needs to be done:
  • The Exploration Dungeon prototype
  • Rewards for the backers
  • Learn law and accountant requisites related to crowdfunding
  • Promo materials, updates
  • Making list of the gaming sites and email addresses to their redactors
  • Useful twitter, youtube, twitch accounts …

Estimated time:
   3 - 5 ; not counting the 1 month for the dungeon prototype :D
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Alce
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« Reply #101 on: September 14, 2018, 04:47:00 AM »

So if I understood correctly, your plan is Dungeon Prototype -> Indiegogo campaign -> vertical slice?
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M0ti
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« Reply #102 on: September 14, 2018, 01:33:26 PM »

So if I understood correctly, your plan is Dungeon Prototype -> Indiegogo campaign -> vertical slice?
Yeah, at least that was the initial plan.
Firstly, create something playable, that will show at least the idea and the approach of the game. This is also important to demonstrate that I’m not just full of ideas but have what it needs to make them real.
Secondly, the IndieGoGo campaign, for small amount of money. Because in that moment I can point to what I’ve done and kind of illustrate in which direction I would love the project to move.
Thirdly, the Vertical slice. Representing all parts of the concept and most importantly how they work together.
And fourthly, big kickstarter / searching for investors, to fund the project.

I would like to stick with this plan, at least on the outside with releases and updates, but it’s not going to be that easy. Each of these steps needs a lot of work, and different amount of time. There are things that I can do on the vertical slice right now, even though it will be the main priority after the indiegogo campaign.
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M0ti
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« Reply #103 on: September 16, 2018, 01:07:06 AM »

Last two weeks were amazing. I quit the job and from there I was just enjoying myself. I worked on my project because I wanted to. I played games, watched movies, went for walks. It was amazing, but I was not as productive, as I would like the next few months to go. So I thought that for the third week I will try to mix the formula a little bit.
Based on the previous post I will pick one area and in it I will try to make as much progress, as possible. So from the 17. - 23.9 I will try to get as close to finishing the Dungeon Exploration Prototype.
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« Reply #104 on: September 18, 2018, 10:54:09 PM »

MONDAY
The week does not start the way I would expected. Had to visit some authorities and without money for the bus I spend three hours just walking into the city and back home.
What I still managed was to play the prototype for about an hour and then creating Trello board with everything I would like to do on it.
To normal categories like Debug/System changes, graphics and content I also added two Lists: DONE TODAY and PLAN FOR TODAY so that I don’t distract myself by going over the whole board too often.

TUESDAY
It seems that even though I have a whole day free I will not be able to work the whole day. The house, my stomach, wife … there are a lot of things that needs my daily attention. So what I could get out of tuesday were six hours.
The most important and also the most time consuming are the items from the debug/system changes. So I decided to tackle at least one of these per day. Today it was implementing a keyboard control scheme.
To confess, this would be much smaller issue, if I weren’t such an amateur. I was checking the input whenever I just needed it and so even just searching for all the places in the code that I need to change was a pain.
Thinking about at least functional layout and adjusting the games functionality for it was the second hassle.

For example, on the controller, the character speed is variable based on how much you tilt the analog stick between -1 to 1 on each axis. If you try to go diagonally it will produce something like 0.68 - 0.8 on each. But on the keyboard, moving diagonally would still produce 1 and 1 outcome, which will made him unnaturally fast. I had to reduce it in these cases internally, so that whenever two arrow keys are pressed, the input has to change from 1 to 0.8.
 
Lastly I’ve realized that I also need to be able to switch the prompts in the game itself according to the selected variant, which hadn't occurred to me before. And that was also all over the place and each time written differently. :D
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M0ti
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« Reply #105 on: September 28, 2018, 02:36:14 AM »

WEDNESDAY - FRIDAY
The rest of the week was really hard to grasp even while I was in it. My main focus was to make the game finally playable from the start to the finish. I knew before the Gameaccess, where I showcased it, that there will be no one willing to spent enough time to get there, so the last challenges were not done or properly tested. And so, the rest of the week turned into a confusing and uncomfortable mess, from which I remember only these:

Bugs
Not just ordinary bugs. Bugs in places with which I was done a long time ago. And because of it it was really hard to just identify, what was going on.

Level Design
I like level design, because it’s a part of the production, when you are really making the game. Game design on its own are just abstract ideas and rules. Only when you put them in use in the level design it became something, the player can experience. But until now I had almost no experience with it and it shows a lot. Especially because I don’t have any routine or process, which will help me to do it effectively. I spend a lot of time doing nothing, staring into space, moving things back and forth.
I would really love to improve in it, because the main game will be heavily about the level design so I have only two choices. Become better or finding someone else to do it. (In the best case scenario both, obviously :D)

Psychological slump
I’m glad that I have a lot of knowledge in this field, so I could recognize it quickly, but it’s still a theme that is not covered enough.
One of the things that I experienced could be called a social deprivation. My wife ware gone and I was most of the week at home, alone in absolute silence. One day, I think it was the Thursday evening, I experienced unreasonable and pure sadness. What helped me to found out what was going one, was the urge to go to the disco or the bar.
Even now, when I know what could happen, I cannot say that I’ve won and everything will be fine from now on.
It seems that being full-time solo indie developer will to the usual troubles with the progress another battlefront, where you have take care of your physical and psychological well being.
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Alce
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« Reply #106 on: September 28, 2018, 01:56:48 PM »

Sad to hear this last week wasn't too great Sad RE: the last point, have you considered working somewhere outside your house? A place like a cafe, library, etc. You might not socialize with anyone, but you won't be as alone as you are in your house.
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« Reply #107 on: September 29, 2018, 02:25:12 AM »

Sad to hear this last week wasn't too great Sad RE: the last point, have you considered working somewhere outside your house? A place like a cafe, library, etc. You might not socialize with anyone, but you won't be as alone as you are in your house.
Well, I’m glad about how things turned out. If there are bugs, they should be fixed sooner or later. It’s not a visible progress, but it’s a thing that had to be done. Level design … just needs experience, that’s all. And the social deprivation, I was thinking about it and I implemented few things:
I’m trying to get more in the contact with friends and family.
When I’m meeting them they have 100% of my attention so that I can enjoy their company as much as possible.
Visiting teahouse or cafe is possible, but I don’t have money for it right now. I used library before (which is free), but all these places are in the center of the city. To save as much as possible I'm walking everywhere by foot, which means spending 1 - 1.5 hours walking there. These 3 hours are not much of time, considering I have the whole day for myself, but it also cost me energy and will, which I can’t use productively afterwards.
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« Reply #108 on: October 01, 2018, 12:59:42 PM »

Thoughts about making a tutorial sequence.


The starting area of the dungeon looked the same most of the time. At least until the Game Access, when for the first time the game was played by the wider audience. After which I had to reconsider it. :D
You see, the idea was to let the player start the journey in any direction he desires.
Most directions contain only small areas, to make it easier for the player to find the right path leading him further into the dungeon.
And it worked, most of the players chosen the “main and most desirable“ path, but options were given and people used them.
The problem started appearing in around ⅔ of the game, where some players needed additional help from me. Without it they will ended up with a conclusion that they need to search for another path, even though they were on the right one, or even worse that the game was broken.
What was different? They missed one puzzle, the one highlighted by a blue color.


The scenario was simple. Player will saw a treasure chest. Knowing nothing he will triggered the floor tile button (1.). After which the treasure will hide, doors will shut and he will end up in a really small room with only interactive object, the lever on the wall (2.). The wall will let him to explore a bit larger, space, with multiple interactive objects.

The idea there was:
Ok, now he knows that there could be a lever on the wall. Obviously he will go straight up, because there is something on the wall, and if that was not enough, there is the skeleton next to it. With this logic I intentionally put the floor button (3.) close to the right wall, to minimize the odds of stepping on it unintentionally.

I couldn't be more wrong.
First of all, now it’s clear why people who didn’t get through this particular challenge got stuck. Without the knowledge of the existence of the interactive objects on the walls and the floor buttons, you can get quite far but not the whole way through.

But even when they got into the puzzle, nothing went as I planned.
Without exception everyone fell into the trap. That’s the only thing that worked.
But then no one saw the anomaly in the form of the lever on the wall. People just started systematically trying every wall, until something happened.
Yes, they went straight up to the skeleton, but after that, with their previous knowledge, they just tried to interact with every wall until it clicked again.
No one thought that the next wall opened because they stepped on the floor button. They thought that they just found another secret button on the wall!
So even though they got through this “supposedly” tutorial-like sequence, they didn’t know about the floor buttons. On the other hand they even acquired a wrong assumption that the wall lever is invisible and that they will have to try every wall in every room.

With the limited time and even space (the level was mostly done) I had to use more explicit approach. So when you got trapped, the game will show you what’s interactive. After that, the main character will explicitly say to himself, that there are stuff hiden on the walls and buttons on the floor and that it would be a good idea to be more aware of them.

It was supposed to be a Indiana Jones like moment. Trapped in a room, withou an exit. Where you had to find a way out on your own. I would still like moments like this in the main game, but it’s clear to me now, that there has to be some things done beforehand.

Bonus trivia: in the process of making the space more readable I also implemented a floor tiles that reflect light from time to time, to hint the player about their existence. Not all of them do this. Only in the more crucial moments and after awhile, so that the player has a chance to figure things out on it’s own.
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« Reply #109 on: October 06, 2018, 08:42:44 AM »

This blog post turned out very differently, than what I’ve planned. :D

The main idea which I originally wanted to convey was very simple. I’m starting to feel confident in my programming skills. That's it. I’m working with Game Maker Studio for almost two years now. I know what the engine can and cannot do and even though I know that it’s not fitting all my needs for 100% I feel that if I work hard, I could make the whole Epocha Tower in it.

What that means is, that the money I previously intended to spend on programmer, could be spend differently and the absolutely minimal budget I calculated for 2,5 years of development will now be enough for 3,5 years. I felt really good about it.

Last week (when this blogpost was almost done) I was thinking, researching and planning a lot. Not just how to proceed from now on, but also looking into new GMS2 features, plugins and other tools that could help me.
When I was in it, I’ve found one youtube video from Heartbeast (probably the most famous creator of the tutorials and learning courses for the Game Maker out there). The video was not a standard one. It was not a tutorial or useful suggestion. It was a confession. Confession that even though he works with the Game Maker for many years, the engine which occupies his hart the most right now is something called Godot.

I wanted to look into it and almost immediately felt in love. Everything I feared in the GMS, everything that I knew will be quite pain in the ass in it, was solved here. And now I don’t know what will be the right course of actions anymore.
There is this engine I don’t know, engine that frankly almost no one knows. But it feels like absolutely amazing, professional tool that is ready to help me make my game reality. :D
So I spend the rest of the week in tutorials. And I’m planning to continue with it for at least few more. I hope that it will help me to see more clearly which way to go.

What do you think? Does anyone hear has an experience with the Godot engine? Or were you in similar situation with different tools?
« Last Edit: October 11, 2018, 12:52:03 PM by M0ti » Logged


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« Reply #110 on: October 11, 2018, 01:09:50 PM »

My first week of learning the Godot Engine

Last week I started learning the Godot engine. It was a lot of fun and I want to continue for a little bit more. But before I get to it I would like to share the process and informations I’ve accumulated on the way.

VideoTutorials - When I was learning GameMaker I’ve become a big fan of the video tutorials. You don’t have to figure out where the buttons are in the editor or if you are writing the code to the right place.
   There are only 3 really useful youtube channels so far: HeartBeast, GDquest and Gamefromscratch. There are bits of content here and there, some of it useful, but a lot of it is redundant or too amateurish to my taste.

Tips:
  • By previews it seems that on the Udemy there is no course better than what you can find free on the youtube.
  • Godot 2.0 was different. The editor looked differently, workflow was a bit different and even the GDScript has evolved and some functions have different names now. They are still usable, but you have to understand the 3.0 version first.

Official Documentation - After I consumed the three main channels I had to hive up on video tutorials, If I wanted to remain the quality of the materials.
Godot has a bunch of nicely written tutorials on their website. There I read everything in the GETTING STARTED section. Some videos also pointed me to this documentation before it, so I also read about the vectors in the math section or some 2D materials.

Tips:
To this point I consumed the content almost without filtering. I know, that I will never need 3D or network funcions tutorials, so I didn’t bothered with them. I also know that some topics will not be relevant in the first few months, like for example saving files, background loading or steam workshop implementation.
But except for these obvious fields I was learning indiscriminately. Everything 2D I watched, or at least started watching. Because what I've learned in life is, that you never know in advance, what information will turn out useful in the end. Even though you will forget them in a week, you still at least know that there was a function or a solution like that :D

Write your own notes - that's always helpful. You repeat the information you just learned, which helps it to stick in the head. Also when you try to formulate them using your own words, you can test how much you really understand it.
After few months you will probably never open the notes again, but now they can be really useful.
I neglected it this time and I regret it already. I'm trying to code on my own now and I sometimes feel like I've saw how to solve my problem, but I don't know where. Yes, the information is still somewhere out there, but now I have to re-watch a lot of materials, just because I though taking my own notes is pointless.

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« Reply #111 on: October 11, 2018, 11:39:42 PM »

like an improved version of tower of druaga. do you know it?
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« Reply #112 on: October 14, 2018, 08:20:02 AM »

like an improved version of tower of druaga. do you know it?
Yes I do! :D I even mention it in the first post as a one of the main inspirations for the project. Both the game and the anime based on it. Never played it for a long, though. That game is hard to today's standards. :D
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