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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsMoons In Crystal [Metroidvania; Top-Down; Fantasy-"Space"]
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« Reply #180 on: October 09, 2023, 12:40:03 AM »

Blog post (9th of October, 2023)
Deadly Tendrils


Summary: In which I fall sick; a work-in-progress foe is completed in prototype; two new enemies are prototyped; and enemy-prototyping may be near-done!

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows another new enemy prototype:



The week just past was a bit of a short one for me, I fear, as I was hit by two separate ailments (if, I think, both minor), and some concomittant loss of sleep.

As a result, work was a bit slow near the middle of the week, I feel, and I took Thursday and Friday as sick days.

(Thankfully, I do think that I'm slowly recovering!)

Still, somewhat did get done:

I mentioned in last week's blog post, I believe, an enemy that was part-done: a plant that grows explosive bulbs at random points across its area. In the week just past, then, I completed the prototype of that foe!

Next, then, was a foe rooted to the walls--but not as limited by them as one might think.

This is a carnivorous plant that bites at passing prey with a single snapping tendril. The tendril is usually kept close to the plant's base, where it may be less conspicuous--but it can stretch out to some length in the attack!

(It is this plant that is shown in the main screenshot above.)

And last of the enemies prototyped in the week just past is another plant with tendrils.

This one, however, suspends them in a grasping curtain, thus to catch and strangle prey that strays amongst them--a little like a (non-venomous) sea anemone.

(In addition, while its tendrils can be destroyed, the plant itself is invulnerable, and further will regrow destroyed tendrils.)



This plant, I will confess, proved tricky to implement in some elements! I remember, for one, struggling a bit with the procedural "strangling" animation for the tendrils. This as a result, in part, of my misremembering how I'd implemented their motion in the first place!

On the conceptual side, I also gave some thought to potential enemies for the Plant Moon, as well as potential things to do in regions of the moon with few opponents.

On another note, with these enemies done I'm actually, I think, fairly close to completing the process of prototyping the game's currently-intended enemies! (Of course, it's possible that more will be added at a later stage, but that's--naturally--unknown for now.)

That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #181 on: October 16, 2023, 01:35:16 AM »

Blog post (16th of October, 2023)
Varied Curses


Summary: In which more enemies are prototyped; enemy prototyping may be done (for now); an extant foe is made more flexible; "wildlife" is reworked; the final boss sees development; the design-doc is updated; a bug is fixed; and maps become more consistent.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows another new enemy, once again with prototype art:



The week just past was a fairly busy one, I feel!

As with the week before, the week just past was largely dominated by the prototyping of enemies.

And indeed, I believe that I implemented five different enemies in that time! (Of varying degrees of complexity.) The majority of these were made for the Seasonal Moons--including the centipede shown in the main screenshot above.

The one enemy not made for the Seasonal Moons was instead made for the final boss sequence...

And with that... I think that I have the game's enemies all prototyped! 0_0

(At least those that I currently have a firm intention of including: there are a few that I might include, and there is of course the possibility that more will be added at a later point.)

Furthermore, in the week just past I made some changes to an extant enemy: the "Cursed Skeleton".

You see, I've been thinking of making a recurring miniboss of these foes. Now, as they were, they wouldn't have been all that interesting in that role: they had a limited set of abilities, the repetition of which wouldn't be terribly engaging, I fear.

So what I've done is to rework them, making their abilities more modular and flexible. This allows me--I hope!--to have each be a somewhat-unique miniboss encounter.

I've thus far put together three variations, plus one more that's a work-in-progress; here below then you should see two of those variations:




Remaining with creatures, I also reworked my handling of "wildlife": those harmless creatures that might be found about the moons.

In short, I've made these a single base-class, with functionality for a given moon (or other such location) to construct and customise them, within limits.

This should simplify their inclusion, and obviate making a bunch of little, similar classes for the various wildlife creatures of the moons.

I mentioned in a paragraph above the final boss sequence, and indeed, more work was done on that part of the game--including on the final boss itself! Both in concept--the figuring out of (some of) what I want for the fight--and in work towards implementing it.

(But again, I intend to remain coy about the specifics. Wink )

And finally, I made a few minor changes during the week just past: updates to the design-doc; the fixing (I hope!) of a bug related to the "death menu"; and a tweak to the presentation of the map--it now has a backdrop-circle of constant size, regardless of the size of the location.



That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #182 on: October 23, 2023, 12:20:58 AM »

Blog post (23rd of October, 2023)
Showing Progress


Summary: In which the final boss may be fully prototyped; a new demo is begun; some enemies gain tweaks and fixes; and a performance issue is addressed.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows a new location! Albeit one not intended for the final game...



The week just past was one of both creative and technical work:

I mentioned in last week's post, I believe, that I had worked on the final boss. That work continued in the week just past--and indeed, I think that I may have the prototype of the boss completed!

It now awaits the opportunity for testing by and feedback from someone other than myself, to determine whether it's ready as-is or whether more development is called for...

Staying with creative work, in the week just past I made a start towards a new demo... o_o

In short, it's designed primarily to show to potential publishers some of the content that has been created since the first demo--in particular a selection of enemies and bosses. Secondarily, it's designed to tease some of the locations intended for the final game.

Plus, it should have the advantage of letting them play with a version of the game that includes recent changes, such as the revision of the use of mana and the rebalancing of weapons.

And furthermore--if all works as intended!--it should provide a demonstration of the game supporting DLC!

That said, this demo is currently not intended to have "proper" assets: I feel that it's not wise to spend too much time and energy on those when they won't represent the actual intended art or art-style of the game.

Instead, I mean to have simple stand-in assets, and to be explicit that they are so.

And it is this new demo that is shown in the first screenshot above; specifically, the nascent level that is visible there is an entryway to the two main parts of said demo.

Here below, then, let me show part of another (very work-in-progress) level, as seen within Blender:



In certain cases, the process of adding the new enemies to the demo--of bringing them into actual production--uncovered issues of one sort or another. Thus a bit of time was spent on tweaks and fixes by which to deal with those issues.

In technical matters, in the week just past I addressed a performance hitch in the Crystal Moon.

In short, the initiation of the combat encounter in that moon has reliably caused a brief-but-noticeable pause in the game. Nothing catastrophic, but not something nice, either.

So I investigated, and the problem seems to have arisen from a confluence of multiple issues. Offhand I recall: A font at overly-high resolution; the sound-system taking up too much time; and the reading of an overly-large texture.

The first and last of those I think that I've noticeably improved; the second I might have an idea for...

And lastly, there were a few things done in the week just past 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 #183 on: October 30, 2023, 01:39:27 AM »

Blog post (30th of October, 2023)
Polygonal Creatures


Summary: In which a demo's layout is worked on; portals are made; creatures are integrated into a demo; tweaks and bug-fixes are implemented; uncertainties are aired; prototype-art is made; and a small update is applied to the design-doc.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows some creatures previously-made, but now with prototype-art:



The week just past was primarily one of working towards that potential new demo that I have in mind...

As mentioned above, work continued on the new demo that I mentioned in last week's blog-post, I believe.

For one thing, I continued to design its layout. And indeed, changed that layout. And what's more, changed even the intended means by which the player traverses said layout!

Specifically, clusters of rooms are now connected by portals--a limited version of a feature that I intend for the full game.



Furthermore, I continued to work on the inclusion of various enemies into the demo.

And once again, in doing so I uncovered various bugs and things that called for tweaking--and so addressed those matters.

(Not to mention two bugs outside of the creatures--one in my lighting tool, and one in the "World" class--which I likewise discovered and (I hope!) fixed.)

But I will confess that I had--and indeed have--uncertainties in mind regarding this demo.

Is it wise at all? If so, how far should it go, both in the set of enemies covered and in quality of presentation?

During the week I requested a consultation with an expert, in which to ask these questions--but there were complications, and I have not yet heard back.

With these uncertainties in effect, and with some extraneous matters leaving me low on energy, in the last few days of the week just past I settled on having some fun by the making of "prototype art" for the creatures of the demo. Specifically, this variously took the form of either low-poly models or simple grey-scale textures.

And it some of this "prototype art" that you should see in the first screenshot above! Here below then, let me post a collage of further such art:



And along the way I also made a small update to the design-doc.

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #184 on: November 13, 2023, 03:02:22 AM »

Blog post (13th of November, 2023)
Discrete Damage


Summary: In which an apology is given; explanation is made for a missed blog-post; enemies continue to be prepared for the demo; a foe becomes visible in the aethereal; and a matter of damage sees change.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows some further prototype-art:



Phew! My apologies for having not posted an entry last week! To explain:

On the Sunday before last--that is, not the day prior to my writing this, but one week before that; the day prior to when I would usually have posted--I fell horribly sick. What's more, the week that followed proved to be a stressful one for me.

As a result, I fear that I wasn't in much of a position to write on Monday of last week. :/

Indeed, given the way that things were going, I elected to just take last week off of work, as sick leave.

In any case, I'm feeling largely better now I believe, and can report on the week before last, at least! And it was a week in which some things got done, I daresay:

As before, progress continued in the matter of creating prototype depictions of enemies, and of incorporating them into my new demo-level. And, of course, in implementing tweaks and fixes as I did so!

And indeed, I attended to a fair few enemies during that week, I believe!

I don't think that I'm quite done, but I do think that I'm close! ^_^

(Of course, a selection of bosses awaits to be dealt with...)

Here then is another collage showing a few of the prototype representations made during the week:


I also went back to one particular enemy--the ghostly Shroud--and implemented an intended feature:

You see, this foe has a tendency to fade in and out of visibility--it is a ghost, after all.

But conversely, the player has access to an ability that allows them to see into the ghostly aethereal--and which should thus allow them to see an otherwise-invisible Shroud.

So I implemented this! It called for some changes to the code of the enemy, and for some reworking in my "Aethereal Object" classes, but I believe that it is now done!

But not all work of that week was applied to enemies: I also attended to a matter of gameplay, of implementing a change that I've had in mind for a while.

Specifically, I removed "continuous" damage from the game.

You see, as I had it, certain attacks were dealt over time: the longer the target was affected, the more damage was dealt.

And this is fairly natural!

But is also has some drawbacks: For one, it calls for additional complexity in both handling the damage and producing a visual response to it, and for another, it means that such attacks may become negligible if passed through very quickly.

So, I have now replaced such damage with "pulsed" damage--damage that is dealt much as normal damage, but with rapid repetition.

The effect is very similar--but done thusly it works with the base damage-mechanics and effects--and furthermore at least deals a reliable minimum of damage.

That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #185 on: November 20, 2023, 12:31:06 AM »

Blog post (20th of November, 2023)
A Challenging Myriapod


Summary: In which prototype attacks gain prototype effects; likewise-prototype effects are added for enemy -death and -damage; and the prototype representations of (non-boss) enemies are, I think, completed.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows some new prototype elements added to an enemy's attack:



The week just past was perhaps largely an effects-based week, but with some technical matters besides:

With the enemy prototype-representations more or less done--more on that later--I moved on to adding some prototype-effects to various enemy attacks.

In short: Hit-flashes and particle effects and splash effects and all of that cool stuff!

And indeed, I believe that I have pretty much all of these effects done!

One of which--for the mummy-sorcerer's AOE attack--you should see in the main screenshot above. Note also the "connector" that now indicates where the attack comes from, which was also added in the week just past.

With that done, I moved on to death- and damage- effects; this, however, is still a work-in-progress.

Aaand... I will confess that for certain enemies--such as the human bandits--this became a little gory: Without death animations, I was relying on particles and suchlike to convey an enemy's demise. And for humans and the like that largely means blood. Meaning in turn that for now they vanish in a spray of red... ^^;

I reported last week, I believe, that I thought myself near to finishing the prototype representations of my various new (non-boss) enemies. And indeed, in the week just past I believe that I finished them!

This was not without some challenge:

There was, I think, just one left incomplete, a centipede. And it was presenting some technical trouble: the engine-provided system that I was using to depict its long, sinuous body was producing some unexpected results in both vertex-placement and UV-mapping.

For a time I attempted a different approach, building a simple 3D model controlled by a skeletal armature, and then procedurally arranging the bones of that armature.

This... more or less worked, but was alas somewhat jittery.

So I returned to my original approach, and applied myself to investigating and responding to the aforementioned system's unexpected behaviour.

It was tricky, but in the end, I believe that I solved it!



(Note that the texture is intentionally not animated, this being a prototype representation; hence also the greyscale colouring.)

And along the way I made various changes that don't seem worth detailing here: new particle-images, little technical additions and changes, at least one bug-fix, and so on!

That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #186 on: November 27, 2023, 12:24:46 AM »

Blog post (27th of November, 2023)
Deadly Plants


Summary: In which death- and damage- effects continue to be added; two more enemy-attacks gain effects; explosive seeds may be shot; bosses gain prototype art; and bosses also gain effects for attacks, damage-taking, and death.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows one of the prototype bosses, now with prototype art!



The week just past was perhaps to a large degree another effects-week--but with other things done besides:

To start with, work continued on the addition of death- and damage- effects to various standard enemies.

And indeed, I think that I now have this task pretty much done! (Barring at least one minor revision that I have in mind.)

Here below, for example, you should see a centipede taking damage and then dying:



Furthermore, I added effects to some enemy-attacks that had been overlooked--those coming from two plant-enemies, one that produces exploding pods, and one that produces exploding "helicopter seeds". (The latter, to clarify, being those one-winged seeds, produced by certain plants, that spiral slowly to the ground.)

And if I recall correctly, it was in doing the above that the idea came to me to make those "helicopter seeds" shootable.

This allows the player to potentially clear their path through the hazard. But conversely, the seeds explode immediately on being shot, meaning that some care might be called for in which seeds to destroy...

(And concomitantly, I increased the rate at which those seeds are released.)

But it was not only the standard enemies that saw work in the week just past--indeed, I moved on to work on the bosses that I intend for the demo!

Specifically, I've begun adding prototype art for them, as well as effects for their attacks, their taking damage, and their deaths.

Thus far two have seen work: One is the dragon shown in the first screenshot above. (Although it should be noted that much of the work on its model had been done previously.) The other, then, is a thorny guardian that should be shown below:



And finally, there were a few things done that don't seem worth detailing here: tweaks to prototype art and to shaders, and a little bit of work on the level in which the new demo carries its standard enemies (including some partial and tentative lighting).

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #187 on: December 04, 2023, 12:41:44 AM »

Blog post (4th of December, 2023)
A Roster of Bosses


Summary: In which a dragon gains an arena; a thorny boss sees a fair bit of work; a crystal shader is pressed into other service; a third boss is added to the new demo; the list of bosses for that demo is considered; "continuous" particle effects gain an upgrade; "cone" attacks make better use of "continuous" effects; "cone" attacks gain better auto-generated geometry; and a holiday is decided upon.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot is a gif, showing one of the prototype bosses intended for the new demo!



And indeed, it was pretty much a week of bosses:

To start with, the Dragon boss now has a better arena, complete with walls.

But the Thorn Guardian boss saw rather more work: it gained prototype art, effects, bounding walls, a floor, and even a tweak to the fight itself!

Of perhaps particular note is that it now makes a fair bit of use of the shader otherwise intended for "growing crystals" (now with some minor upgrades): while not perfect for this particular boss, that shader does at least work for demo purposes, allowing me to have plant-like growth and withering.

Further, and as shown in the gif above, work was done on integrating another boss into the demo: the Shattered Knight.

The boss itself was added, prototype art was made for it, effects applied, an arena set in place, and animated pillars made for it to strike!

Indeed, I think that just a few touches remain to be added there! ^_^

Beyond the bosses themselves, I've slightly reworked the start of the boss side of the demo: instead of being a linear boss-rush, it now presents the player with the option to visit each boss in any order from a central "hub room".

But perhaps more fundamentally, in the week just past I gave some thought to, and settled on, a list of just which bosses I intend to include.

Although there has already been one revision to that list! As I recall, I ended up concluding that one intended boss--the "Winged Serpent"--called for more work than seemed wise for this demo, and furthermore was perhaps a little too brutal for demo purposes.

Now, I had already done some work towards the Winged Serpent, and part of that involved some tweaks related to my handling of "continuous" effects, and especially of continuous particle effects.

In short, continuous particle effects should, I think, now work a little better in and of themselves, and be better used by "cone" attacks!

Furthermore, and for similar reason, I believe that I've improved somewhat the geometry that "cone" attacks may auto-generate to represent themselves.

And finally, I've made a decision as to the dates for my annual holiday of this time of year: I intend for my holiday this time to run from the 18th of December to the 7th of January!

That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #188 on: December 11, 2023, 02:36:38 AM »

Blog post (11th of December, 2023)
A Literal Glow-Up


Summary: In which some shaders glow; two bosses are added to the new demo; some previously-added bosses gain tweaks and additions; a few bug-fixes are made; and the design-doc is updated.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows a meteor--its fire now a-glow! (Seen here against a dark backdrop to better emphasise that glow.)



The week just past was again primarily one of bosses, I feel--but also, as shown above, one in which some other changes were made:

Indeed, as that first screenshot shows, fire effects now have a glow to them!

I had for a while now desired such a glow, and had been thinking of implementing it via a separable-blur post-process.

But in the week just past, I was inspired by two things (if I recall correctly): Seeing in testing just how much space my fire-shader can leave in its geometry, and remembering an old shader that incorporated both fire and glow.

So I set about implementing my glow directly into the fire-shader! And indeed, with some work and the addition of one new shader-input, I believe that I have an effect that I'm happy with!



Further, I similarly updated the "lightning ball", "fire-burst", and "hit-flash" effects to have their own glows.

Turning back to bosses, then, two more were added to the demo in the week just past, I believe: The Ancient Kings, and the Shattered Noble.

The former is a sequential boss, being five undead kings encountered deep within the Tomb Moon. Each has their own style of attacking, and they face the player one at a time (save for two, who attack together).

The latter replaces the previously-mentioned Winged Serpent boss in the demo, being, I think, perhaps a little easier to depict.

Not that it was without its challenges! Indeed, there were a few tricky elements to its depiction, in particular in handling the ways in which it, well, shatters.



(You should also be able to somewhat see the glow that was added to the "hit-flash" effect in the above gif.)

Furthermore, I updated the bosses that were previously added: I reworked the branches of the Thorn Guardian to use the same shader that provides a "growth" effect to other elements of the boss; did some work on the effects for the Dragon; and added a "hitting the player" effect to the Shattered Knight.

And last, there were a few miscellaneous changes: bug-fixes for the Salamander enemy and the Thorn Guardian boss, and the cleanup of some now-outdated notes in the design-doc.

That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #189 on: December 18, 2023, 02:01:53 AM »

Blog post (18th of December, 2023)
What Bosses Drop


Summary: In which a holiday is declared; a seasonal wish is given; bosses drop artefacts; a boss sees much work; another boss gains a custom shader; a third boss sees revision to an attack; boss-arenas are updated; spells gain icons and artefacts gain images; two spells gain appearances and effects; and one spell sees revisions to its logic.

Greetings and salutations!

Before we begin, let me announce that today begins my annual end-of-year holiday!

Specifically, it is intended to run from today, the 18th of December 2023, through to Sunday the 7th of January, 2024.

As a result, there will naturally be no blog-posts for a while, with the next being intended to come on the 15th of January. (i.e. One week after I return to work.)

Also, should you observe or celebrate anything at this time of year (or should you have just done so), then I hope that it is (or was) happy, and that you have a good new year ahead! ^_^

All that said, this week's screenshot shows the "mine" spell, now with new art, as well as some revisions to its logic:



The week just past was a fairly busy one, I feel! Once again, much of the work done therein went, I daresay, into bosses--but as shown above, other things were done also:

One salient change to the bosses of the demo is that they now have their intended drops!

Specifically, three of the bosses drop artefacts on death: The Dragon drops the Dragon's Heart; the Shattered Noble drops a painting, its glass cracked; and the Ancient Kings (or rather, the last of them) drops an ancient brass axe.

Each of which gives, of course, a combat spell: the Dragon's Heart provides an outburst of fiery energy (as included in the original demo), the painting provides the "mine" spell, and the axe provides a "dash/charge" spell.

But more on those last two later!

Staying for now with bosses, work continued on the bosses themselves in the week just past.

Of those, the "Ancient Kings" boss saw perhaps the most work. Indeed, a fair few things were touched upon! Animations were made or adjusted; boss-logic saw work; effects were added; the order in which the kings attack was altered; one of the kings gained a new attack; and more besides!

Turning to the "Thorn Guardian" boss, there I replaced the crystal shader that was applied to it. It now employs a prototype shader based on that older shader, but adjusted to better fit this boss.

And, concomitantly, I partially reworked the relevant geometry to serve that shader.



And last, in the "Dragon" boss I reworked one of its attacks to better fit its arena.

You see, the original draft of that attack simply placed its projectiles according to a rectangular grid--which was perfectly fine in the rectangular testing-area.

But its current arena is not rectangular, and indeed is somewhat irregular. As a result, projectiles were being placed outside of the arena, which wasn't very helpful.

So I reworked the attack's functioning to draw from explicitly-placed spawn-points within the arena--something that seems to work much better, I feel!

And last of the matters specific to bosses, in the week just past I put in some work on the appearance (and in one case, size) of certain of their arenas.

See thus below the revised (if still work-in-progress) arenas for the Shattered Noble and the Ancient Kings!




But as shown in the first screenshot above, not all work of the week just past was done on bosses. Specifically, some work was also done on three combat spells that are intended for the demo!

First and simplest is that the Meteor spell has been given a revised spell-icon (reflecting that it now only fires a single meteor), and its extant artefact-image has been brought into the demo.

The second spell is shown in the first screenshot above: the "mine" spell. This is gained from a painting, its glass cracked, which is dropped by the Shattered Noble.

In the week just past, then, the projectiles produced by this spell gained a prototypical appearance, as well as an "explosion"-image, and some glass-shard particles that are produced when those projectiles disappear without detonation. Further, the artefact itself gained a depiction and a spell-icon.

What's more, I made some adjustments to the logic of the spell: it now fires more quickly, and with a greater spread. (Indeed, with this it now has a theoretical potential-DPS equalling that of the Meteor spell. Although it's unlikely to bring all of that to bear.)

And third and final of the spells is a "dash/charge" spell. This essentially pushes the player forward at very high speed for a brief span, damaging any foe that might be impacted along the way--and the player too, should they crash into anything that's fixed in place (like a wall).

In the week just past, then, this gained a spell-icon and an artefact-depiction, as well as an effect to go with its use and one to convey it dealing damage.



And finally, there were a number of things done in the week just past that don't seem worth detailing here: primarily a number of bug-fixes, but also a minor adjustment to trails and a small addition to level-loading.

That then is all for this week--and indeed, for this year! Stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #190 on: January 15, 2024, 02:04:41 AM »

Blog post (15th of January, 2024)
Polished Crystals


Summary: In which work resumes in the new year; fluids and crystals gain highlights; line-of-sight is implemented; some bosses are tweaked ahead of the demo; expected boss-difficulty is indicated in the demo; a combat-spell gains a bounce; some bugs and issues are addressed; and a drop in frame-rate is investigated and, I think, ameliorated.

Greetings and salutations!

And indeed, a happy new year! ^_^

This week's screenshot shows some upgrades to my crystal-shader, now including some basic lighting!



The week just past saw my return to work!

I'll confess that it took a few days for me to get back into the swing of things, I daresay--but I used that time to implement a few smaller changes that I had in mind.

Still, the week overall was a varied one, with things being done in visual, gameplay, and technical matters all:

On the visual side, in the week just past I upgraded two of my extant shaders to incorporate some basic lighting.

The first of these was the shader that I use for "wibbly fluids". (Which is, indeed, the actual internal name for the shader. It has a shader-input called "wibbliness".)

Specifically, such fluids now incorporate a highlight at their tops, and an internal highlight at their bottoms--the latter of which fades and broadens as the opacity of a given fluid is increased.

The second of these is shown in the main screenshot above: the crystal shader has likewise acquired such highlights. (Albeit that doing so proved trickier than with the fluid shader, as I recall!)

Of course, this second upgrade doesn't affect only the Crystal Creatures; here below you should see it in the mana crystals produced by one of the player's "metroidvania upgrades":



(And concomitantly I made some minor changes to the "crystal explosion" shader, to match the increased brightness-contrast of the crystals.)

Perhaps the biggest change made in the week just past arguably straddles both the visual and gameplay sides:

I have implemented a simple line-of-sight mechanic for Moons in Crystal!

This is something that I'd given thought to on previous occasions, as I recall, but never been quite sure of.

On the one hand, it would be nice to replace the extant "room cover" system, which I have long felt to be a little janky, and a little awkward to work with.

But on the other hand, I worried about whether it would suit this game, and whether it would be effective for my purposes.

And more to the point, I didn't at the time see how to go about implementing it.

But during my holiday I played a game--Caves of Lore, which I rather enjoyed--that incorporated line-of-sight. And their handling of it provided the inspiration towards how I might implement such a thing.

So with that I gave the matter further thought, and in the end decided that it might well work--and so went ahead with it!

And indeed, having done so, I do believe that I'm happy with the results. ^_^

(I would love to have soft edges to the shadows, but don't yet see how to do so...)

Here then you can see a quick demonstration of the system in action:



Turning fully to gameplay, then, in the week just past I did more work towards the new demo.

Most of this is not worth detailing here, I feel: tweaks and cleanup in the Shattered Noble boss; effects for the Thorn Guardian boss; the entrances to the individual boss-fights now have flames indicating the expected difficulty of their bosses; and bouncing the player when they use the "dash" combat-spell and hit something immovable.

I also reworked the manner in which the individual Ancient Kings enter the fray in their boss-fight:

You see, the player isn't allowed to attack them before they enter, while they sit beside the arena. As an excuse for this, I have that sitting-area slightly raised, and weapons-shots impacting the "step" thus formed.

Previously, then, I simply had the kings walk into the arena, perform an animation, produce a ring of dust, and then become open to taking damage.

This was, I fear, janky and counter-intuitive: there was a distinct period in which they were within the arena, but invulnerable--and then suddenly became vulnerable. Not to mention that their walking animation did not account for the presence of the step.

So I reworked their entrance: they now stop before the step, perform their animation, and jump down into the arena, producing a ring of dust on landing. And on landing they immediately become vulnerable.

It's not perfect, but I do think that it feels much better!



On the technical side, in the week just past I attended to a a few bugs and minor issues that I encountered.

I also investigated a frustrating drop in frame-rate. In the end, I found that the use of "textureLod" in my standard "backdrop" shader--in order to keep backdrop textures sharp--seemed to be an issue. Replacing this with the normal "texture" method, but including a LOD offset into that, seemed to help.

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #191 on: January 22, 2024, 04:16:24 AM »

Blog post (22nd of January, 2024)
To Health Bar or Not To Health Bar--That is the Question!


Summary: In which the Ancient Kings gain various tweaks and changes; a miscellany of work is done on the bosses and boss-level of the demo; that boss-level is, I think, now complete; work returns to the standard-enemy-level; various standard enemies are tweaked, fixed, or updated; an enemy being (intentionally) able to walk through walls is addressed; centipedes and mushrooms gain new effects; a potential-but-debated feature is tried; and some tweaks and bug-fixes are enacted.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows the entrance-hall of the boss-level in the new demo. Each portal leads to a boss, and is marked by a flame indicating the expected difficulty of that boss...



I'm curious: Which boss do you think goes with which flame...?

As a reminder, the bosses are:
  • The Ancient Kings
  • The Dragon
  • The Shattered Noble
  • The Shattered Knight
  • The Thorn Guardian

In any case, the week just past was perhaps primarily a week of tweaking and polishing, although other things were done, too:

As shown above, work continued in the week just past on the boss-level of the demo.

Perhaps most saliently, I made a number of changes to the Ancient Kings:

For the last of the kings, one attack is now telegraphed a bit more, and another has a more reliable projectile. (The latter being a matter of adjusting a collision-shape: it was previously too wide, and thus would hit walls when thrown "along" them.)

For the third of the kings, the manner of one attack has been tweaked, making them a bit more dangerous. Furthermore, a minor bug-fix was implemented.

But the biggest change was in the fourth of the kings.

You see, this king telekinetically controls a pair of axes, flying them about the boss-arena. They can be quite deadly as one manoeuvres about!

But I found to my frustration that one didn't actually have to manoeuvre: one could just park in a corner and shoot at the boss as they passed. The axes avoided the corners. :/

So, I made some changes to the behaviour of those axes--and suffice it to say that corners are no longer safe! Evil

Other changes to the bosses and their level were fairly minor: the flames shown in the first screenshot above (now of a single colour, varying only in size and intensity, as I recall); some health-gems being spawned after each fight; a change to the turn-rate used by the Ancient Kings upon entering; seats for the Ancient Kings; a cave at the back of the Dragon's lair; and updated geometry for the Dragon's "fire-arcs".



(Those "fire-arcs", in the end, proved both simpler and trickier to make than I'd expected.)

What's more, I think that I now have the boss-level complete for the demo!

And with that, I have turned my attention back to the level that shows standard enemies.

In the level itself, I worked on the sequence of encounters, the placement and numbers of enemies, and the shapes of the rooms themselves.

I also made a variety of changes to individual enemies:

Many of these were fairly minor changes: an adjustment to the timing of the Cave Worms; tweaks and fixes to the Avatars of Incipience (including some new--simple--animations); a change to the activation of Spore Mushrooms; and a new effect for Cave Worm venom.



More noteworthy, perhaps, is that I addressed an issue with the ghostly Shrouds: the fact that they could (being ghosts) pass through walls. This could potentially land them in another room, which might then result in their being deactivated (if the room was inactive), or have implications for any code examining the number of enemies in their room.

In the end, I did two things: I prevented them from having their "current room" changed, even when they do actually move out of it, and I had them move back towards the centre of their room when the player leaves it.

It's not a perfect solution, but it seems to work!

And last of such enemy-changes, Centipedes now apply a damage-over-time "venom" effect, while Spore Mushrooms apply a "slow" effect. These intended to reflect one of the themes of their home moon...



Turning to game-features, as I recall I have at times considered and internally debated the question of adding health-bars to standard enemies.

On the one hand, health-bars would allow players to see how tough a given enemy might be, and how much damage their various combat-spells inflict. (This might be especially helpful for tougher enemies, allowing the player to see progress in the fight.)

It would also make the health-drain effect of a certain enemy more apparent to the player, I daresay.

On the other hand... I fear that it may decrease immersion by making the experience feel more artificial, and I'm not sure that it matches the feel of this game.

Nevertheless, in the week just past I tried it.

I'm... still not convinced, and have for now disabled it... but it remains under consideration.

And finally, in the week just past I enacted various minor fixes and tweaks, which are perhaps not worth detailing here.

Although I remain amused by the (now-fixed) bug in which the player could use the "grab" "metroidvania-upgrade" to catch and drag around the underlying (invisible, non-interactive) "Boss"-object of the Ancient Kings and Shattered Knight--thus moving all of their elements at an offset!

That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #192 on: January 29, 2024, 04:56:48 AM »

Blog post (29th of January, 2024)
Lightening Up


Summary: In which a level is worked on; an enemy's projectiles are given a new appearance; a tool's UI is updated; some enemy AIs are given logic for handling walls; projectiles also deal better with walls; lighting is altered; and a miscellany of minor changes is made.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows an update in the shots fired by Kobold enemies:



The week just past was an interesting one, I feel, centred around level-building and radiating out from it:

At the start of the week, as I recall, I had in mind the goal of working on the demo-level that shows standard enemies, and of completing it.

And indeed, I did start on this! I added wall-colliders--in some places using the old "wall-lines" system; I set up some line-of-sight geometry; and I set in place a draft of the level's lighting.

But I will confess that I was distracted from that work!

First--and as shown above--I reworked the appearance of the bolts that are fired by Kobolds.

Where previously these were shown as simple flying circles, now they use dedicated models that describe in full their sinusoidal paths. To these models is applied a texture, which is then moved along the geometry to thus give the impression of the bolt flying down the path.

And I'm fairly happy with the result thus achieved!

I mentioned above that I set in place a draft the level's lighting. Well, in doing so, I once more encountered a minor nuisance: that my lighting editor had various unlabelled controls, the purposes of which I didn't always remember.

So, finally getting sick of this, I set about labelling those controls, and furthermore tweaked their layout.



I also mentioned above that I added wall-colliders to the enemy-level. This, naturally, constrained the enemies placed within. And in doing so it revealed some issues with their AIs.

Specifically, three enemies--the Centipedes, the Bandits, and the Avatars of Vitality--had issues when encountering walls during their various movements. And so, for each, I implemented some simple logic by which to respond to such events.

Furthermore, I found that the Helicopter Seed Plants--which are found along walls--had their seed-projectiles immediately "impact" the walls at their backs, preventing those seeds from flying free.

Now, this touched on an issue that I'd previously encountered with the player's projectiles, as I recall: that certain attacks could potentially "hit" a wall immediately on spawning, even if they were directed away from the wall. It was something that I had in mind to look at in the future, I think.

But with the issue breaking an enemy, I decided to look at it sooner.

What I did was fairly simple: in essence, when a projectile collides with a wall, the game now compares the projectile's movement-direction to the wall's normal-vector, thus determining whether the projectile is moving "towards" the wall. The game then only registers a collision against the projectile if said projectile is indeed found to be moving "towards" the wall.

And thankfully this seems to work well!

On the visual side, in the week just past I conducted further experimentation with lighting.

But this time, I think that I have something that is indeed an improvement!

You see, in working on a cave within the enemy-level, I once again found myself dissatisfied with the way that the lighting system handled wall-sides: they were darkened in a fixed manner, and didn't much respond to lights, even the light of the player moving up against them.

So I reworked things to produce a more-dynamic form of lighting. Finding that I liked the results, I furthermore ported the new lighting into the other shaders that are commonly used for environments!




And lastly, in the week just past I made a few minor changes that don't seem worth detailing here: an increase to the damage dealt--and thus healing taken--by basic Mummies; a bug-fix to the Echoes of Necrourgy; and a bit more flexibility added to the appearance of the line-of-sight system.

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #193 on: February 05, 2024, 12:55:51 AM »

Blog post (5th of February, 2024)
Running Kobolds


Summary: In which a level is further worked upon; lighting sees changes and experimentation; and enemies gain tweaks and updates to their logic.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows a work-in-progress space in the new demo:



The week just past was a somewhat varied one, I feel, with work in particular being done on level-building, enemy logic, and lighting:

As shown above, work continued in the week just past on the construction of the new demo's enemy-level.

Here I adjusted the layout a little, reworked parts of the the "cave" section, built wall geometry, and added line-of-sight geometry.

It's still pretty nascent, but it's a start, at the least!



As with prior weeks, the week just past saw changes and experimentation in lighting.

Perhaps most saliently, I introduced an element of side-lighting--of brightening regions that point towards the left or right. This, I feel, helps to give a bit of extra "form" to structures that show such surfaces.



Furthermore, I made additional changes to the shader used for caves, including a reworking of the way in which I depict the roughness of cave-walls.



On the experimental side, I tried making the lighting less effective on darker parts of textures--as though they were shadowed.

But while the effect looked cool, I feared that it could also result in some areas becoming too visually busy. (The case of the Ossuary Moon, with its walls composed of myriad bones, is a particular concern for this.)

And lastly, I tweaked the lighting system's response to height, and removed vertex-colours from the walls of the demo's boss-level.

Moving to enemies, a number of such saw tweaks to their logic in the week just past.

For the minor changes in brief: the Strangling Vines now react to the player teleporting out of (or otherwise escaping) their grasp; the attack used by the Shattered in Life is now spreadfire; Salamanders now only target the player and "neutral" creatures (i.e. not enemies); and Cave Worms are no longer visible in their default pose before entering their cave.

But perhaps more interestingly, Kobolds are now a bit more mobile than previously they were: instead of standing and shooting, they now attempt to move around the player, stopping at intervals to shoot.



And finally, a number of changes were made that don't seem worth detailing here: bug-fixes, code-tweaks, and so on!

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #194 on: February 12, 2024, 01:05:47 AM »

Blog post (12th of February, 2024)
Water-Ways


Summary: In which a level continues to be built; doors and breakable walls take on line-of-sight; and water is depicted.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows once again a space from within the new demo:



The week just past was one perhaps given primarily to visual matters:

First of all, and as shown above, work continued on building the enemy-level in the new demo. Geometry was constructed, new textures were made, and a few rooms were altered.





Now, you may notice in one screenshot above some cracked walls. As you might guess, these walls are breakable.

Naturally, it's intended that the player be unable to see past these walls while they stand, but able to see clearly once they're gone. Furthermore, similar might be expected of doors.

That is, doors and breakable walls should interact with the line-of-sight system.

So, in the week just past I set about implementing that. In short, they can now load, manage, and remove their own line-of-sight geometry!

One point in which this was a little tricky was that such objects tend to be thinner than walls, leaving less space for the edging that surrounds line-of-sight geometry.

In the case of breakable walls, I don't want that edging to be visibly different to what's found on normal walls, as breakable walls aren't intended to be that obvious. Thus, for such walls, I'm keeping the edging as-is. This does mean that there's no real space for edging on the far side of the wall, but there I'm relying on players being in general only able to approach such walls from one side.

In the case of doors, I don't mind at all that they stand out a bit--doors can be obvious. Thus I'm there allowing the edging to be thinner.



And last of the salient changes of the week just past, I put together a new shader intended to depict water.

Right now, in the confines of the demo, it's used to depict fluid within the section that represents the Serpent Moon--but I have thoughts towards its use in a variety of other moons within the full game!



And beyond the above, there were a number of changes and fixes enacted in the week just past 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 #195 on: February 19, 2024, 01:22:52 AM »

Blog post (19th of February, 2024)
Centipede Surprise


Summary: In which a level is further built; a new spawner is made; and lighting is experimented with.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows a more-colourful space from within the new demo:



The week just past was, I fear, a bit slow: a family emergency partway through resulted in Wednesday being a write-off, Thursday being very slow, and Friday being a little slow due to tiredness.

Nevertheless, some things did get done:

As you may gather from the screenshot above, work continued still on the building of the enemy-level in the new demo.

Here I finished off the location from the Serpent Moon, set in place a glade from the Summer Moon (shown above), made a space from the Spring Moon--and changed some of my ideas related to that moon--and painted a backdrop texture for the region from the Autumn Moon.



Speaking of the Autumn Moon, in the week just past I made an addition to the challenges found there.

You see, one of the major enemies encountered here is a giant centipede, one that inflicts venom with its bite.

However, I was, I think, dissatisfied with having this enemy be merely free-roaming.

So, in the week just past, I started work on a spawner for them: piles of fallen leaves scattered around the moon from which centipedes might emerge when the player is near.

Now, these are just piles of leaves: they're quite easy to destroy.

But conversely, doing so releases more centipedes! :D

There's thus--I hope!--a bit of a risk-reward decision in these leaves: to destroy them, producing a known number of centipedes, or to pass them by, not knowing when or how many centipedes will spawn from them.



And as part of this, I created a simple variant of my "basic game-object" vertex-shader, one that uses vertex-positions for texture-coordinates. This follows the behaviour of the standard backdrop shader, thus making it easier to keep the two lined up.

These spawners are, however, yet a work-in-progress. For one thing, right now they only spawn centipedes when damaged. And for another, I still intend to work on their presentation: I fear that they're a little too easy to miss against the backdrop.

And lastly, I experimented further with lighting--but didn't keep any changes.

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #196 on: February 26, 2024, 02:13:38 AM »

Blog post (26th of February, 2024)
Autumnal Sights


Summary: In which the Autumn Moon section of the demo begins to see "walls"; particle systems can have independent emission sources; a trail is added to the Autumn Moon section of the demo; leaf-pile spawners are, I think, complete; Centipedes become smaller and faster; spore-clouds slow the player more; and Spitting Snakes gain a status effect.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows a start to some "walls" for the Autumn Moon:



The week just past was perhaps largely a visual one, but with some gameplay stuff done too:

As shown above, work continued in the week just past on the Autumn Moon.

In that screenshot you can see a few bare trees, and it's of such as these that I intend to build the "walls" of the Autumn Moon--or at least within the section that's represented in the new demo.

That said, this is still a work-in-progress--hence there being only a few, and only in a single rank.

Remaining with the appearance of this region, in the week just past I set in place a player-trail for the area.

Now, amongst the drifts of fallen leaves it doesn't make much sense to me to have a trail of dust or other such particulate. Instead, it makes sense to me to have a trail of leaves, kicked up by the player's passage. And the obvious way to do this (to my mind) is via a particle system.

... Except that my particle class didn't support particle systems that "left particles behind" as they moved.

In short, it emitted particles relative to its parent-node, and updated them relative to the same node. Thus offsetting the parent-node would offset all particles with it.

So, in the week just past I set about implementing a way of "leaving particles behind"!

Specifically, the particle class can now take an optional node that, if given, is used as the emission source for the system--while particle updating remains relative to the parent-node. Thus the parent-node can remain stationary while the emission-node is moved--thus resulting in particles that emit from a moving point, but that aren't offset with it!

And indeed, with that I now have a simple "trail of leaves" effect for the Autumn Moon!



And shading now from visual to gameplay changes, in the week just past I finished off (I believe) the leaf-pile spawners that I recall that I mentioned last week.

Some of this addressed their appearance: they're now a little brighter, and skewed to suggest three-dimensionality, and furthermore load their models from the level-file.

And some of this addressed their gameplay mechanics: they now have time-based spawning, and apply a limit to that spawning based on the number of centipedes present.



Speaking of gameplay, I made a few changes to the creatures of the Autumn Moon in the week just past: the Centipedes are now smaller and faster, while the spore-clouds applied by the Spore Mushrooms slow the player a bit more.

On a similar note, but moving away from the Autumn Moon, the Spitting Snakes of the Serpent Moon now apply a "blinding" effect to the player when their venom strikes, and have had a small update to their aiming (a simplification of it, in fact).



And finally, there were a few changes made in the week just past that don't seem worth detailing here: line of sight for the Autumn Moon section of the demo; some updates to room-trails; and some experimentation--not kept in the end--with normal-mapping in the "basic game-object" shader.

That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #197 on: March 04, 2024, 03:46:07 AM »

Blog post (4th of March, 2024)
Shattered Rooms


Summary: In which an announcement is made regarding blog-posts; the new demo's Autumn Moon section gains bordering trees; the demo's Shattered Moon section sees a number of changes; various foes from the Shattered Moon are updated; some lighting is changed; and room-trails are set in place.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows an update to that barrier of autumnal trees that I showed last week, I believe:



The week just past was a fairly busy one, I feel!

But before I begin, an announcement:

I've been finding, I fear, that these blog-posts seem to meet with little response. As a result, I'm thinking that I might switch to video-devlogs--and that less frequently.

I'm still considering how best to handle such things--I want to be careful of spoiling too much--but I'm thinking that I might start with a short introductory video, posted sometime soon.

Now, while this does mean that these text-devlogs will be ceasing, I intend to post the video-devlogs in the same places, and likely with a very brief point-form summary of the matters covered in the videos.

So, don't go away, but rather stay to see how my adventure in video-devlogging goes, and to get news on the project that way!

And let me say: If you have commented on any of my text-devlogs in the past, then thank you for that! Know that it is truly appreciated! ^_^

Now, on to the usual devlog...

To start with, work continued in the week just past on the enemy-level for the new demo.

I showed last week, I believe, a bare start to the trees that line the Autumn Moon section of the new demo. Well, in the week just past I continued my work there, and--with some experimentation--came up with a result (shown above) that I'm at least fairly happy with!

With that done, I've moved on to the region of the demo that shows the Shattered Moon.

Here there were more changes!

For one, it's now, well, shattered: its rooms no longer directly connected, but rather accessed via doors that "teleport" the player from one room to another.

And its shattered nature is visually represented, too: the rooms have been altered to now appear like broken chunks from what was once a greater whole.

What's more, some work has been done on the decoration of the place, adding magical lights on the walls and carpets on certain floors.




And the denizens of the Shattered Moon have seen some changes, too.

These are several, and individually fairly small, so let me list them in brief:

The AI for the Shattered in Body has been given a bit more complexity; effects have been added for the disappearance and reappearance of the Shattered in Time; new death-effects have been added for the Shattered in Life; the projectiles of the Shattered in Time now skip back and forth more greatly; and the "prototype" shader has been applied to the projectiles of all of the Shattered in order to make them more visible.

And on a more general note, the lighting for the demo has been updated.

Remaining with the demo overall, in the week just past I finished off--for now, at least--the trail-data for the various rooms of the demo. Not only in applying new data to rooms that lacked it, but also in adjusting what was already in place!



And finally, a number of changes were made in the week just past that don't seem worth mentioning here!

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