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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsThe Resurrection - A game about (re)building the past
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amasinton
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« Reply #200 on: January 29, 2021, 01:45:02 PM »

Thanks for the update! The scope could be scary indeed, but I am sure you can boil it down. Once you have tried enough things out and identified the most fun parts, I am sure you will build something great. I have no clue what it is like to find or work with a publisher, but I wish you all the best and hope you find one that suits you and your vision of your game.

Thank you, as always!

I don't know anything about publishers either (except some guides for how to make a pitch to one) - but a publisher seems like a good idea, if one will agree to it.  Of course, the game itself has to warrant their time and resources and, so far, there isn't much "game" to evaluate.

You're so right that I'm still trying out a lot of different approaches in this game and that, eventually, I'll narrow the scope down to what works best.  I'm looking forward to getting that far!
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amasinton
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« Reply #201 on: January 29, 2021, 01:53:30 PM »

Hooray!

Great update as always. I wish you the best of luck with completing the demo and finding that publisher!

Thank you.  And yes, the publisher thing is a long-shot.  I'll be happy without one, too.  It just seems like a publisher would really "make something" out of it, and that would be nice.  Also, I'd like some first-hand experience of how that side of things works - with an eye to a career change someday maybe...

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Getting curious about the initial demolition as well!

If it makes the final cut into the demo, it will be very brief.  It's important to the narrative, though.

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I think those simple UI elements can work fine without being intrusive. The EQ might be if it's constantly animating, but if it's occasional and mostly in response to new things the player does I think it'll be fine. Will it be synchronised to the metronome? Tongue

I should totally sync it to the metronome! Then they could both go into show-stopping infinite loops together!  Grin
I want those UI elements to only appear when they're useful.  So, hopefully they will never be distractions, in a bad way.  I'm experimenting with that right now, in fact, because I've finally gotten the save/load system to play nicely.  I suspect this is one visual element that will go through many iterations.

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Probably definitely scope creep with the last thing you mentioned, but a nice stretch goal for later maybe? It would absolutely add to the atmosphere I think.

Words of wisdom.  (I just like watching the day/night cycle in the game, and thought maybe others might, too.  In that way, it already feels a tiny bit like an idle game.  Or a screen-saver.)

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(and as always appreciate the real-world archaeology tidbits Kiss)

Cheers!
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amasinton
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« Reply #202 on: January 29, 2021, 02:00:46 PM »

1) I mean honestly, this always had a bit of a 5D time-traveling walking simulator feel to it, and walking simulators are all about meta-narratives so why not embrace it?

Yes, exactly.  It's a narrative reverse-city-builder walking simulator with 5d Zelda time travel dungeon mechanics and metroidvania influences.  Simple.  The only things missing are "rogue like" and "Dark Souls".   Wink

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2) I can totally see the Jeremy Bearimy issues for this game and am so looking forward to having my brain fried trying to make sense of it in-game, hahaha

It's already frying my brain - which is painfully obvious when I'm streaming and I'm like, "Wait, why is this thing over here broken, I just fixed that? Oh, right, because I forgot how time travel worked.  Again."  (Time travel is the Dark Souls of logic.  There, "Dark Souls" is off my checklist now, too.)

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amasinton
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« Reply #203 on: January 29, 2021, 02:15:56 PM »

Your excitement in that clip where you solve the bug is great and very relatable. Cheesy Glad you got the debugging tools working. They can be so very very helpful!

I'm still sailing on the boost of energy I got from figuring out that bug!

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That zoom out with YBP counter looks like just the type of thing I'd hope for as a little "nice job, look at this cool thing you did" reward. Smiley

Yes, that was exactly my intention!  Every time you finish a little section of something, you get a little zoom out, or zoom in, or some bit of UI just to tell you "Good job, you did a thing!" and it's weirdly always motivating.  I've been playing Night in the Woods recently (I know, I'm late to the party on that one).  You don't actually do much in the game, but they sure keep you clicking/pushing buttons and that constant drip of response/reward gets kind of compelling.

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I agree with Ava that the EQ element may be too intrusive if it's always active. It also seems too abstract and one-dimensional to effectively communicate 3 potential states: "nothing to do", "more to do", "important to-do". Though, honestly, I'm not sure what makes something an "important to-do". I think a binary representation might be better: smooth sine = "stuff to do", flat bars (or very subtle bouncing [or hidden]) = "nothing to do".

You and me both.  I'm building that out now and, if it really doesn't add anything to the experience, I'll tear it down again.  You're thoughts mirror my own on that, though.  No bars, or flat bars = "nothing to do"; random bars = "there's something here"; and synchronized bars = "There is definitely something big to do now".  Like a door unlocking in a Zelda dungeon.  Speaking of that, this whole thing could be handled - probably better - with audio cues.  I bet you've already thought of that!

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... Like, if I'm exploring a time period, see some sites I want to come back to later, start rebuilding some other site, then finish that site... do I get zoomed back/forward to when that site was originally completed?

Yes.  (Read on)

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... How do I get back to the previous time period to work on rebuilding the other sites I put on the backburner?

They're at the other end of the wormhole, so, you open the portal and jump back through.  Your other sites in that time period will be waiting for you.  The part I'm working on right now teaches the player how to do that - and the EQ/UI thing is part of that.  (Read on)

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... Can I rebuild them even in this new time period I find myself in?

Maybe.  That depends on the site.  But you'll know if you can rebuild a ruin in your current time period when you mouse-over it.  If it highlights/glows, your'e good to go.  If not, it means you'll need to jump around in time a bit to find the time when you can rebuild it.  And that might mean that you hunt for some more artifacts, so that might mean you have to explore a bit more.  That's a big part of the loop - at least, that's the intention.  Hopefully, you'll begin to understand the "design language" of the ruins and you'll be able to make an educated guess as to which time they're from and which time you should try to get to to start rebuilding them.  (That part needs a bit more work from me, though.)

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Regardless, I always love reading your updates and I cannot wait for us all to have a demo in our digital hands. It's also great hearing you've had some renewed ambition and motivation. I wish you the best of luck on the publisher front!

Thank you - as ever!
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amasinton
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« Reply #204 on: March 31, 2021, 01:45:55 PM »

The March (& February!) Update

Bug Hunting in the Trough of Disillusionment

The other day I saw the Gartner Hype Cycle applied to game development and I totally identified with it.


Gartner Hype Cycle (Source)
(Of course, this is silly.)

The February Update disappeared into the Trough of Disillusionment.  Maybe we’re on the climb up the Slope of Enlightenment?

I’ve been struggling to write an update because I don’t feel like there’s much to report.  It has been a long slog through a lot of bugs.  This is a natural and necessary part of development, I know, but you don’t have much to show for it while you’re going through it.  Still, there has been progress…

Boss Key Artifacts
There is a set of five really important artifacts the player finds all together right at the end of the demo/tutorial.  If this game is like a Zelda dungeon but where the rooms are temporal rather than spatial, artifacts are the keys to unlocking them.  And, like Zelda, there are small keys and Boss Keys.  (More on keys and time travel in the next section.)  I finally modeled the Boss Keys.


Boss Key Artifacts: (left to right) the Star Carr Pendant (11,500 years old); a Roman lamp; a medieval posy ring; an Aachen Pilgrimage badge; memory storage

All but one of these artifacts is based very directly on objects that exist IRL.  I’ve written about the Star Carr Pendant before, and maybe also the Aachen Pilgrimage badge, which as has a personal connection (read about the 1937 “Silent Protest” against the Nazis in Aachen here).  For several years I wanted to put these objects in the game and it feels good to have them ready for the player to collect.

Structuring Time Travel Opportunities
Up to now the game has been a collection of separate systems all jumbled together.  The past two months have been absorbed by connecting them together to get them working as organs in one body.  It has not gone smoothly (no surprise).  

One sticky system continues to be time travel (another not surprise).  But, this has given me an opportunity to work with the rules of time travel in much more detail – and to see the gameplay possibilities they suggest.  If players can visit any part of the island at any time using any artifact, I have to be sure that every part of the island is modeled for the full 11,000+ year span of the game’s timeline.  That’s a lot of work.  So, I’ve introduced a limiting mechanic for most artifacts.  They are “unstable”, or location bound, or both.  In the meta-narrative unstable artifacts have a weak temporal signal and so only allow the player to spend a few seconds at the point in time they unlock.  Players could use these artifacts to “peek” at places at different times, but not really go exploring.  So, if they’re in an area where nothing is modeled for that time, they will simply see basic landscape and move on.  Location bound artifacts only allow the player to time travel at specific places.  If the player moves outside those spatial boundaries, the wormhole collapses and the player returns to the last stable time they have visited.  

Artifact lifespans
The bit of time travel design I’m wrestling with right now is defining artifact lifespans.  If a player is at a date within an artifact’s lifespan, they won’t be able to use that artifact to time travel.  I’ve spoken about this before as a kind of “conservation of matter” feature and, I am hoping, provides an interesting mechanic for the game.  But it doesn’t make much sense for a player to collect an artifact but then not be able to use it because they’re at a date within the artifact’s lifespan.  So, should the date the player collected the artifact mark the end of the artifact’s lifespan?  That’s fine, except that players can also find the same artifacts in multiple time periods, which essentially shortens their lifespans, which has the effect of super-powering the artifacts as a time travel key because you could get into a situation where the artifact is picked up on the same date as its start of lifespan, meaning all times are outside its lifespan, meaning you could use it for time travel regardless of your current date.  It would form a kind of “permanent bookmark” in the timeline.  Although… maybe that’s okay?  (It also makes a nonsense out of the meta-narrative because, if a player picks up an artifact early in its lifespan, the artifact itself would logically cease to exist at later dates, meaning you shouldn’t be able to find it later.)  Maybe I’ll just ignore all of this and focus on the gameplay implications of altering artifact lifespans…




How old is this thing, really?

Day and Night Cycle
I made the day and night cycle “more realistic” in that the sun now rises in the east and sets in the west.  Before, it was going south to north.  I’ve also limited the height of the sun in the sky, so that there is always raking light across the landscape – which emphasizes details and depth of features, rather than washing everything out throughout the middle of the day.  So, now it’s golden hour all day long.  I’ve also made the cycle easier to control, so I can alter the day length and the height of the sun arbitrarily.  This leaves open the possibility of seasons.





Also, I can do time machine day/night effects – run them forward or backward – like they did in the 1960 version of The Time Machine.

Adding Texture to the Flat World
I LOVE flat shading.  Love it.  It’s beautiful. Did I tell you that I love it?  AND it doesn’t require textures, and therefore UVs.  Bliss!

Also, it looks kind of samey-samey everywhere.

Subtle textures might work.  Just a little something to catch the play of light across the surface.  Not everywhere, just here and there.  But what to do about UVs?

I’m experimenting with a shader that uses a triplanar technique.  This approach is commonly used on terrains but it can be expensive.  Mine uses one texture for normal and one for variation in the surface color a la Olly Skillman-Wilson’s technique on projects like The Signal from Tölva and Maquette.  I’m hoping that the kind of triplanar mapping this shader is using is not doing three texture samples per pixel per channel (normal and color).  But I have no idea, really, because the triplanar node in Amplify Shader Editor is a black box to me.

https://youtu.be/wgCfqVYRUR8

It looks pretty.  And provides a nice cue for the player that a building portion is complete.

”Professional Development”
Copyediting
Isometric games always catch my eye.  Tobias Schnackenberg is developing an isometric Wild West-themed game called Lonesome.  Go support him over on Kickstarter here!  He frequently posts in-development screenshots and it has been fun following this project.  I noticed a slightly odd usage in a placename in one of his posts and – like the weirdo that I am – PMed him to offer to copyedit the text in the game.  He graciously replied and sent me all of his game’s text.  I polished that up and sent it back and we hit it off very well.  I think I might be copyediting further text from the game as it becomes available.  Honestly, this was a lot of fun and I would like to do copyediting/general script/text editing on other games more often.  I have a degree in English and it’s nice to get to put it to work every now and then.

CiGDA Meetup
One upside to the pandemic Zoom culture is that many formerly in-person events can now be attended by anyone, regardless of their location (as long as they have sufficient internet access, which is … a whole thing … in many parts of the world including my own).  Colorado is a bit of a wasteland when it comes to game development.  Nevertheless, there are a handful of people working on games in the state.  The overwhelming majority of them live in the Denver Metropolitan area.  I live 180 miles from Denver – so have never been able to meet up with any of them in-person.  But then last week I joined in a casual virtual meetup with folks in CiGDA (the Colorado Independent Game Developers Association).  Not having done this before, I was rather nervous about just showing up, but they were all very welcoming and supportive.  I enjoyed it tremendously. They even let me show them the game, and offered excellent feedback and encouragement.

Destruction
Finally, I spent the past week smashing the model of the Anglo-Saxon church.  I haven’t done the mesh destruction thing in quite a while, so I had to remind myself of just how I did it.  It was a nice break from bug hunting and caught the interest of folks on social media.  The ruined building is now in the game itself and can be rebuilt by the player if they manage to find the right key to get them back to when it was destroyed.


How it started vs how it’s going – The ruins of the Anglo-Saxon church ready to import into Unity

https://youtu.be/C1jhQGIvVwc

After writing all of that, it looks like I made quite a lot of progress after all.  That’s encouraging.  Hopefully next month will continue the productive trend – but with less bug hunting and more pretty things to share.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2021, 02:03:13 PM by amasinton » Logged
logophil
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« Reply #205 on: March 31, 2021, 03:31:24 PM »

First time I'm reading about this game, it's a really interesting concept, and I look forward to following its progress! (Also loved the Gartner Hype Cycle reference, I'm going to remember that! Not entirely silly I guess.)
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #206 on: April 01, 2021, 01:53:04 AM »

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Bug Hunting in the Trough of Disillusionment
Also known as an average day at work if you're a programmer Tongue (with a little bit of  Cry)

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I’ve been struggling to write an update because I don’t feel like there’s much to report.  It has been a long slog through a lot of bugs.
Ok, first of all: everything else you wrote in this post shows that you had a ton of cool stuff to report.

Second of all, you're on a board for game developers, not the general public. If there's any place where you can share the "low" months and get a bit of feedback it's here.

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(It also makes a nonsense out of the meta-narrative because, if a player picks up an artifact early in its lifespan, the artifact itself would logically cease to exist at later dates, meaning you shouldn’t be able to find it later.)
Something that I'm wondering: is the player supposed to manipulate the timelines by removing or changing things in the times they visit? If not, then maybe just say that you make a "copy" and leave the original. If we can time-travel in this game, then making perfect copies doesn't sound too crazy either in terms of suspense of disbelief. If you wish to embrace Star Trek technobabble, make it a "Banach-Tarski duplicate" that shares its life-span with the original due to "temporal quantum entanglement":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banach%E2%80%93Tarski_paradox

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement
« Last Edit: April 01, 2021, 02:01:40 AM by JobLeonard » Logged
Alain
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« Reply #207 on: April 01, 2021, 02:26:07 AM »

Adding Texture to the Flat World
I LOVE flat shading.  Love it.  It’s beautiful. Did I tell you that I love it?  AND it doesn’t require textures, and therefore UVs.  Bliss!

Also, it looks kind of samey-samey everywhere.

I also love flat shading and struggle with it at the same time. After experimenting a lot, in the end I decided that for me there is no way around classic unwrapping. And actually, I have never regretted it. Your experiment looks pretty and I am sure you will figure out a great look!
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Prinsessa
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« Reply #208 on: April 01, 2021, 08:50:53 AM »

Yay for updates! Fun to read about the "boss keys" and regular ones. Think the lamp might be my fav. Pretty colours in the day/night cycle, love that red! Seems generally you're just getting stuff in there and making good progress at the moment, hope it keeps going well forward from here. Smiley
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amasinton
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« Reply #209 on: April 06, 2021, 07:31:41 AM »

First time I'm reading about this game, it's a really interesting concept, and I look forward to following its progress! (Also loved the Gartner Hype Cycle reference, I'm going to remember that! Not entirely silly I guess.)

Thank you, that means a lot! I'm doing my best to make it a really interesting experience as well (that's a whole different order of challenge, of course).
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amasinton
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« Reply #210 on: April 06, 2021, 07:43:03 AM »

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Bug Hunting in the Trough of Disillusionment
Also known as an average day at work if you're a programmer Tongue (with a little bit of  Cry)

Glad to know that this is what absorbs a good chunk of time for the pros, too!

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Something that I'm wondering: is the player supposed to manipulate the timelines by removing or changing things in the times they visit? If not, then maybe just say that you make a "copy" and leave the original. If we can time-travel in this game, then making perfect copies doesn't sound too crazy either in terms of suspense of disbelief. If you wish to embrace Star Trek technobabble, make it a "Banach-Tarski duplicate" that shares its life-span with the original due to "temporal quantum entanglement"

I like this technobabble excuse!  It may be the thing I need, personally, to just get over this and get on with things.  I get so hung-up on my own head-meta-narrative sometimes and forget the I can fill in the logical gaps in that at my leisure once I've got the gameplay stable.

The answer to your questions is: it depends (of course!).  Players CAN manipulate timelines based on the choices they make when rebuilding buildings.  But, they CAN'T manipulate timelines by removing artifacts at different dates.  It just seems like one layer of complexity too much for me.  I've figured out the buildings thing but the artifacts just ... Bang! ... knocks down my mental house-of-cards.

Thank you, as ever, for the support, encouragement, and suggestions!  Hand Thumbs Up Left
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amasinton
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« Reply #211 on: April 06, 2021, 07:46:52 AM »

I also love flat shading and struggle with it at the same time. After experimenting a lot, in the end I decided that for me there is no way around classic unwrapping. And actually, I have never regretted it. Your experiment looks pretty and I am sure you will figure out a great look!

Just wait until my next update - and we'll go into a little more detail about my recent work with flat shading which largely undoes the experiment I just described, but comes with a big performance boost.  So, now I'm balancing visual style against performance - which is, of course, one of the perpetual Sisyphean struggles in game development.

Flat shading looks so simple but turns out to be rather complicated!

(I love the look of your game, by the way.  I am continually astonished at the amount of energy and talent you have shown there!)
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amasinton
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« Reply #212 on: April 06, 2021, 07:54:19 AM »

Yay for updates! Fun to read about the "boss keys" and regular ones. Think the lamp might be my fav. Pretty colours in the day/night cycle, love that red! Seems generally you're just getting stuff in there and making good progress at the moment, hope it keeps going well forward from here. Smiley

Thanks for the encouragement!

I like that Roman lamp, too - although my favorite artifact so far is the medieval posy ring because it's kind of like a game in its own right (it has a "secret" message coded into it).  It tempts me to branch out into artifact-specific mini-games, which would ensure that this project is never finished.  Wink

I really do feel like I'm getting to the point where all of the important systems are working with each other and I can start to sculpt the flow of gameplay and narrative now.  Which is really exciting!
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Prinsessa
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« Reply #213 on: April 07, 2021, 03:35:02 AM »

Happy to hear it! Grin
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Alain
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« Reply #214 on: April 07, 2021, 11:34:52 PM »

(I love the look of your game, by the way.  I am continually astonished at the amount of energy and talent you have shown there!)

Thank you, that's very kind of you!


Just wait until my next update - and we'll go into a little more detail about my recent work with flat shading which largely undoes the experiment I just described, but comes with a big performance boost.  So, now I'm balancing visual style against performance - which is, of course, one of the perpetual Sisyphean struggles in game development.

Cool, I'm looking forward to the next update and what you came up with concerning the visuals!
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« Reply #215 on: April 09, 2021, 09:02:19 AM »

Great update!

I like the boss key/dungeon room analogy. It definitely helps clarify the concepts.

The unstable and location-bound artifact types sound like good ideas, especially for making your job as developer easier. I like JobLeonard's suggestion about making copies of artifacts. It gives a less-destructive tone to the whole concept of collecting artifacts.

Super glad to hear about everything in the "Professional Development" section! I've always had pretty lackluster/poor experiences with my IGDA's (especially Los Angeles, strangely enough), but it's great to hear your CO one went well! Smiley
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