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May 21, 2022, 11:47:59 AM

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« Reply #40 on: November 22, 2021, 01:43:02 AM »

Blog post (22nd of November, 2021)
BADA BOOM!


Summary: In which a fox-shadow gains an empowered version; a new spell summons bone-walls; another new spell summons METEORS; certain spell-damages are tweaked; a new spreadsheet aids in spell-balancing; artefacts and spell-icons gain art; more highlights are included into the game's art-style; a cursor is tweaked; and a bare beginning has been made towards the "codex" feature.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows the effect of a new defensive spell:



The week just past was a decent one, I think!

With a few exceptions, it had two main thrusts: "attacking"-spells, and art:

In last week's blog-post, I believe, I reported on a new spell that summons a fox-shadow to defend the player. In the week just past, then, I implemented its "empowered" version--the version that the player gains temporary access to via the use of a "Rune of Power" item.

In this incarnation, the spell again summons a fox-shadow--but here it rapidly orbits around the player-character. In doing so it wards off incoming projectiles, rendering the player pretty much invulnerable to such attacks.

However, this effect is very brief: in just seconds its mana is used up, and the shadow vanishes until the player regains enough mana to re-summon it.

With that in place, I moved on to two new spells.

The first of these is another defensive spell, this time drawn from a liche's heart.

In its base form, it conjures temporary walls of bone by which the player may defend themselves or hinder others:



And in its empowered form, its effect is as shown in the first screenshot above: it summons ring-walls of brittle bone around all nearby foes, blocking them and their attacks for a short while.

The second new spell is perhaps one of my favourites: the spell of the meteor!

In effect, this is the "rocket launcher" of the game: it calls up meteoroids and fires them forth, to explode on impact or on reaching their maximum range--either way damaging things caught within their blast-radius. (The player potentially included.)

In its base form, the spell produces up to three small meteoroids at a time. In its empowered form, it conjures a single, larger meteoroid--which, instead of exploding itself, shatters into five smaller ones that then explode!



And along the way I ended up making some tweaks to various weapon damage-values.

Indeed, I further decided to put in place a spreadsheet detailing various weapon-values (including damage-per-specond), and which has already proven useful in allowing me to compare my various combat-spells.

Moving over to the art-side, in the week just past I went through and painted item-images and spell-icons for the various artefacts and combat-spells that are currently implemented.

I'm hesitant to post all of these (especially my favourite, the fox-charm), but here below are two new ones, and one updated one:



Furthermore, I made a decision (although admittedly a tentative one) for the game's art-style to include more highlights for particularly shiny objects--metals and crystal, primarily.

To that end, I went back and added such highlights to a few objects that previously didn't have them. You can see this in the orange crystal above, and here below it should be visible in two of the health-related items:



(And while I was at it, I added outlines to the health-crystals, which had previously lacked them.)

And last of these art-style changes, I reworked the in-menu cursor a little, adding highlights and changing some of the internal lighting.

In other matters, in the week just past I made a bare start at implementing the game's "codex", including the addition of a page for it in the "Status Screen".

And finally, as before, there were various tweaks, fixes, and changes 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 #41 on: November 29, 2021, 02:19:17 AM »

Blog post (29th of November, 2021)
On the Handling of Content


Summary: In which the codex opens; options are begun; the handling of content is reworked, and DLC hopefully supported; a proof-of-concept "DLC" set is made; the player-character becomes shinier still; and a moon is removed.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows an entry in the codex:



The week just past had just a few major changes--but some of those were perhaps particularly significant:

As shown above, the codex has made progress, I do think!

Specifically: Objects can now "register" a codex-entry at the start of the game, which then appears as a blank frame in the codex-listing. When the relevant code indicates that a given entry should be revealed, its icon becomes visible, its frame lights up, and a "new entry" marker appears over it. And when a revealed entry is clicked on, it then shows the panel in the screenshot above, containing its title and text.

Thus the player can see from the start how many entries there are, and perhaps infer whether they've missed any--but can't see what the entries are until discovery.



Sticking with menus, in the week just past I put in place the basics of an options menu. Right now it contains little--just the key-mapping GUI, a blank "gameplay" tab, and some audio options. (And those last being not all that effective as I have yet to add sound or music...) But it is a start, I do believe!



But perhaps the biggest change of the week just past was that I reworked my handling of the game's content. This, I hope, provides better support for the potential of DLC, and perhaps better obscures the game assets from a casual glance.

In short, each set of content--such as the base game, or a DLC solar system--is now contained within its own parent folder (and all under an overarching "Content" folder). This includes moons, enemies, items, etc.; associated text-strings; potentially any non-default shaders; and so on.

On startup, then, the game scans the parent-folder that holds such "content-sets", registering any content-folders that it finds.

What's more, this system can read much of the content from a single file, drawing on Panda3D's virtual-file system to present the the entries within the file as though they were standard directories and files. This should, I think, help to sequester the main of the game's content from at least casual browsing.

Now, this new arrangement presented an issue for the localisation system: that system was built under the assumption that it need look at only one place to find its text--but each "content set" might well come with its own text, thus potentially scattering text across multiple locations. Thus the localisation system has been extended to take an additional (optional) parameter that specifies from which "content set" it should draw.

Here below ,then, you can see a screenshot that shows a proof-of-concept "DLC solar system". Specifically, it shows a simple "DLC" moon, complete with a custom (garish Tongue) shader, and a simple "DLC" enemy. And if I recall correctly, all, save for text, loaded from a single file!



Furthermore, as part of this I set in place a new means of initially setting up the game, one that I think should work fairly well.

Moving to the art-side, I made one minor change: I've further increased the shininess of the player-character, including the addition of a highlight to the central crystal. I do worry a bit that doing so might render the player-character overly distracting, but for now I'm giving it time to see how I feel about it. (Or what feedback I get.)



On the game-design side, I've taken the decision to remove the "Treasure Hoard" moon from the game. While I think that it made good sense in earlier iterations of the game's design, I found that it wasn't fitting as easily into the game as I envisage it now.

And of course, there were changes, fixes, and tweaks 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 #42 on: December 06, 2021, 01:41:14 AM »

Blog post (6th of December, 2021)
Planetary Presentation


Summary: In which planets are begun in earnest; planets gain a map-representation; the handling of doors and breakable walls is reworked; and breakable walls have map-representations, and other objects might gain them.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows not a moon, but a planet!

(Well, okay, with a moon peeking in at one corner.)



The week just past was perhaps a little slow--but a few perhaps-notable things did get done:

Perhaps most salient of all, and as shown above, in the week just past I made a start on planets!

As I think that I've previously mentioned, the cosmology of Moons in Crystal is a little unusual, and a part of this is that each solar system has a single planet, located at its centre.

Now, these planets aren't the focus of the game--that, as the name implies, is the moons. But the planets are nevertheless present and an intended part of the experience.

But I had been unsatisfied with what I had in mind for them, I think. There were badly mismatched scales, and uninteresting encounters, and so on.

In the week just past, then, inspiration came to me towards a different approach: planets would be presented as from a distance, showing continents and terrain and biomes, and with the player visible only as a bright spark against their surface.

This, I hope, might convey a sense of planetary scale and surface-variety. Further, I hope that it conveys the planets as relatively "mundane" (if still fantastical) beside the moons--not the somewhat-elemental places that the moons are, each with their theme or focus.



And as you can see, this is what I implemented!

Furthermore, I implemented the start of a simple map-representation for planets, using the same base data as is used in rendering the planets themselves:



Now, the terrain that you see there isn't intended to be final--those mountains in particular don't look good, I fear. And indeed, figuring out how to produce terrain-maps that look decent has proven to be quite a challenge!

And further, there are some elements that I'm uncertain of--how to convey the planets as living places; what the player might do there; and so on.

Still, I think that I do like this approach thus far!



In other matters, in the week just past I made some changes to the handling of doors and breakable walls.

In short, these previously were held by the "room"-objects of the game, as with most objects. But this caused problems when they could potentially be viewed from multiple rooms: If the room that held a given door was not yet revealed, then the door would likewise be unrevealed--even if viewed from an adjoining room from which said door should be visible!

So, now doors and breakable walls are instead handled by the "level"-objects, with additional code to handle their interactions with rooms--things like only revealing them when one of their connected rooms is revealed, and so on.

What's more, breakable walls now also have representations in the game's maps--no more should maps give away the presence of secret passages by a gap where the breakable section stands!

(And indeed, the feature that allows such map-representations is not restricted to breakable walls--I believe that there's the potential now for showing other objects on the map, should I decide to do so.)

And as per usual, there were tweaks, fixes, and changes that don't seem worth detailing here--design-doc work; a change to room-fading; the ability to access doors and breakable walls by name; and so on!

That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #43 on: December 07, 2021, 12:14:04 PM »

Dang, I love how this project is looking, great work! Love the robed skelly
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« Reply #44 on: December 08, 2021, 07:08:25 AM »

Aah, thank you very much! I really appreciate that! ^_^

And indeed, the robed skeleton is one that I'm particularly fond of myself. ^_^
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« Reply #45 on: December 08, 2021, 07:14:02 AM »

Love the transition you have in place for exploring the planet. Works really well.
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« Reply #46 on: December 08, 2021, 07:48:57 AM »

Thank you very much! That is heartening to read! ^_^
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« Reply #47 on: December 13, 2021, 01:08:24 AM »

Blog post (13th of December, 2021)
Making Mountains


Summary: In which techniques for terrain are developed; a new tool helps with mountains; and the question of what the player does on planets is approached.

Greetings and salutations!

For this week's screenshot, a new planetary surface, showing in particular some progress, I hope, on the depiction of mountains:



And indeed, it was the generation of such planetary surfaces, and especially of mountains, that primarily took up the work of the week just past:

I mentioned last week, I believe, that I was finding it quite a challenge to produce the terrain maps that underlie the depiction of planets in Moons in Crystal. And indeed, that challenge continued in the week just past!

At the broad scale, the problem, in short, was that neither hand-painted approaches nor pseudo-random approaches quite worked: the former lacked the intricate detail that such terrains seemed to call for, while the latter were detailed, but lacked a means for me to control what appeared where.

Thankfully, I found a solution in combining the two: I found that I could hand-paint a base structure (with some blurring and tweaking), and then use a pseudo-random "cloud" texture to add detail to it.

But mountains remained a problem.

To that end, I built a tool intended to allow me to design mountain ranges, and to render their heightmaps (more or less) as I desired.



(I did try including the design of other parts of the terrain into the tool, but ended up abandoning that.)

And I do think that it helped! It was slow going--the rendering took quite a bit of time, meaning that iteration took quite a bit of time--but I think that it largely worked in the end.

(Albeit that some tweaking may still be called for.)



During this process, I gave further thought to the question of what the player might do on these planets--and I think that I may have at least the start to an answer:

Now, the player's goal on a given planet is to consult with a powerful spirit on the central danger that prompts the events of the game.

My thinking, then, is that the player won't start off knowing where these spirits are located. Instead, they will find clues scattered across a given planet's solar system, which then lead to the discovery of the relevant location on said planet.

This, I hope, both provides something to do on the planet, and an additional reason for the exploration of the moons.

However, there are still questions--in particular, that of quite how this plays out:

A simple approach might be that of a "chain of clues": the player finds one clue, which points to another, which in turn points to yet another, and so on.

But this, I fear, can be somewhat frustrating: no clue but the last provides much reward, and progress is not all that apparent.

A more-interesting approach might be to have the player gather clues, and then use all of them to identify the relevant location.

And this I do like--but I'm not yet sure of how it might be approached in this specific game; of how it make it fit with the rest of the gameplay.

More thinking is called for, I daresay!

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #48 on: December 20, 2021, 02:04:15 AM »

Blog post (20th of December, 2021)
UI Polish and Shininess


Summary: In which music is added and implemented; a bare start to a main-menu is made; interactive UI elements become shiny; UI elements gain art; some new bits of functionality are added to various UIs; controller-support is attended to; two new gameplay-related options are added; and a holiday well-wish is given.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows updates to the game's UI, in this case via the "map" page of the status-screen:



Before I begin, a quick announcement:

Christmas falls in this week, and as such I'm taking the week off as my usual Christmas holiday!

Naturally, that means that no work will be done on the project during this week (or so I intend), and thus there will be no progress to report next week. Therefore, I intend that there will be no blog-post next Monday (i.e. on the 27th of December, 2021). Instead, the next blog-post is intended to come on the following Monday (i.e. the 3rd of January, 2022).

That said, the week just past was a fairly busy one! There was UI-work, and options-work, and even a bit of audio-work, and more besides!

Let me begin, then, with audio-work: at last, I have begun adding music to the game!

In the week just past I trawled through various royalty-free music-sources (and there is some wonderful stuff out there), and picked out a number of tracks for use in the game as it stands. Planetary-exploration, space, the extant moons (and at least one that is not yet extant), and boss-fights too all have at least some music assigned to them now!

Now, the game didn't support this as of the start of the week just past, so that support was added. I began with code written for A Door to the Mists, and expanded upon it: in addition to selecting from a set of music-pieces, the system now supports multiple music-sets, and the fading out of one track when switching to another.

Further, boss-fights can now introduce their own music when activated, and restore the previous music-list when done.

I've even selected some music for the title-screen/main-menu--and indeed, made a bare start to such a screen, too!

Moving on to the user interface of the game, I spent some time polishing that in the week just past.

Perhaps the most salient part of this was a change to the look of interactive elements (buttons and suchlike).

You see, I concluded in the week just past that I had an affordance problem in my UI: interactive elements were insufficiently distinct from non-interactive elements.

So, with "shininess" recently introduced into the art-style, I decided after some thought to take that up as the distinguishing factor: interactive elements are now, well, shiny, somewhat three-dimensional, while non-interactive elements remain "flat".



And work was done on other matters of UI, too.

For one, art was added to elements that previously lacked it: For one, the codex now has frames around the icons that are shown for codex-entries. Similarly, the "ship-skin" screen now has revised art for the baseline "skin", as well as its own icon-frames. And perhaps most notably, the various pages of the status- and options- screens now have custom tabs.

Furthermore, a few pieces of new functionality were added: both the options menu and the status-screen now have "close" buttons; the map-screen now has a button that resets the map-view to the player's current region; and various elements have popup-tags to clarify what they do.



Moving to matters of gameplay, work was done in the week just past towards controller support for the game.

Now, there was already a beginning to this in place: my key-binding system already supports controllers, and so some elements functioned with a controller as they were.

However, there was more to be done--perhaps most notably, there was no good support for aiming, which is by default driven by the mouse.

Thankfully, this overall didn't prove too difficult to deal with, as I recall, and I believe that I have even aiming working with a controller now!

(There is one possible issue--but after investigation, it seems that it's likely an issue stemming from other my (very cheap) controller, or from my operating system's support for the controller, rather than within the game or engine.)

And with these changes, I added a few new options to the "gameplay" section of the options menu: there are now sliders to adjust the controller dead-zone implemented within the game, and to adjust the speed at which the game plays.

(And what's more, option-menu sliders now come with "reset" buttons by which to restore their default values.)



And as per usual, a variety of changes, tweaks, and fixes were enacted that don't seem worth detailing here!

And finally, let me say: If you observe or celebrate anything at about this time of year, I hope that it is (or was, if it's passed already) a very happy one for you. And if you neither celebrate nor observe anything at this time, then I hope that the period is nevertheless a good one for you! ^_^

That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #49 on: December 20, 2021, 02:36:27 AM »

PS: I've updated some of the screenshots (and one gif) in the first post, too! ^_^
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« Reply #50 on: January 03, 2022, 12:55:28 AM »

Blog post (3rd of January, 2022)
Iconic Maps


Summary: In which a happy new year is wished; a bit more holiday is taken; new map-icons are added; an old map-icon is reworked; the addition of objects to the world sees internal changes; tab-buttons are polished; and the player-character can now die.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows some new map-icons, as well as a bit of additional polish to the related menu-tabs:



First of all, happy new year! ^_^

As you may recall, I took the week before last as my Christmas holiday. Well, that proved unexpectedly hectic and tired, so I decided to take the first two days of last week off, too. As a result, it was a little short as work-weeks go!

Still, a few things did get done:

To start with, and as shown above, the game's maps now include some additional icons.

Specifically: There are now icons for artefacts, health-crystals, "runes of power", and quest-items. (The first three of which are shown in the aforementioned screenshot.) Further, bosses may now have individual icons, and I have one such for the previously-shown boss-encounter. And finally, I've reworked the icon that indicates an exit.

(I haven't yet decided on whether I want to include a map-icon for ship-skins.)

This did incur some changes to the way that I handle the addition of characters and items to the world--but the new approach is, I think, an improvement.

Remaining with visual elements, in the week just past I added a little further polish to the tab-buttons used in the game's status-screen and options-menu--specifically, the current tab is now indicated by virtue of being highlighted.



But perhaps most dramatically, the player-character can now die.

You see, previously, the player-character could take damage, and indicate a low-health state, and even run out of health.

It's just that nothing actually happened when they so ran out of health.

So, in the week just past, I rectified that. Evil

*ahem*

Now, when the player-character runs out of health, the player loses control (and indeed the targetting cursor, too), and a short series of "death effects" takes place. Finally, a "death menu" is shown, offering the ability to reload a save, return to the main menu, or quit the game. (Although the "load" option currently just goes to the main menu, as saving and loading have yet to be implemented.)



(And for testing purposes, I also implemented a simple debugging-key that re-instates the prior invincibility, and one that deals damage. The latter is being used in the gif shown above.)

And finally, there were various tweaks, fixes, and changes made that don't seem worth detailing: a little bit of writing, some cleanup-on-destruction code, some design-doc work, and so on.

That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #51 on: January 04, 2022, 05:21:06 PM »

The UI looks beautifully crisp and clean! I look forward to updates about this project
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« Reply #52 on: January 05, 2022, 01:02:05 PM »

Ah, thank you very much! That's gladdening and heartening to read! ^_^

I hope that you enjoy subsequent updates, then! ^_^
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« Reply #53 on: January 10, 2022, 05:12:01 AM »

Blog post (10th of January, 2022)
Metallic Bindings


Summary: In which a second holiday makes for a short week; the key-binding UI sees work in various of its elements; the main menu gains buttons and a backdrop to them; a draft of a logo is made; a shader is touched-up; and the handling of localisation is further tweaked.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows some very-work-in-progress updates to the key-binding UI:



At about this time of year, I usually take two holidays: the first over Christmas (as previously mentioned), and the second just after the start of January. This year, that second holiday fell in the week just past, resulting in a half-week for me.

Nevertheless, some things did get done:

Perhaps most saliently, and as partially shown above, I worked on polishing various elements of the game's menus.

Shown in that screenshot above is the key-binding UI, with the binding pop-up visible over the main interface.

In addition to that binding pop-up, I also themed the error and profile-addition dialogues.



But I made a bit of a departure in the UI employed for the loading of profiles. Where the default UI for the key-mapping system (and indeed, that of A Door to the Mists) uses a drop-down menu, Moons in Crystal now has a simple button that summons a dialogue. This, I think, works rather better.



That said, you may note that none of the buttons shown above look very good, including those in the main binding-list--that's because I simply have yet to theme them.

Perhaps more exciting than the key-binding UI, I also worked on the theming of the main menu in the week just past.

For one, said menu now has themed buttons, and a backdrop to them.



And for another, I have a draft--not yet final, I think--of a logo for the game! ^_^

(I'm a little hesitant to show the logo just yet: as noted, it's not quite done, I think--and honestly, I'm feeling a little anxious about the possibility of art-theft. That latter, however, is perhaps an ill-founded anxiety, and I'll likely show the logo once I feel that it's more-complete.)

As is somewhat visible in the screenshots above, I also implemented some changes to the shader that's applied to most non-interactive UI elements. In particular, there are now faint "reflected horizons" present, which I hope produce an effect that's a little more metallic, while nevertheless remaining fairly unobtrusive.

Moving away from UI matters, I previously described, I believe, some changes that I had made to the localisation system. In the week just past, then, I addressed some oversights in those changes. Specifically, there is now a "common" text-set, separate from that of any given group of "content".

And finally, there were various changes, tweaks, and fixes made during 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 #54 on: January 17, 2022, 01:41:52 AM »

Blog post (17th of January, 2021)
A Realm of Heat and Light


Summary: In which the implementation of saving-and-loading is begun; an enemy gains more shots; weapons see some polish; the "Bright Realm" is updated; a message-box is added; the key-binding UI is (hopefully) completed; and an in-game menu is implemented.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows some changes to the "Bright Realm":



The week just past was a somewhat varied one! There was work on technical matters, on polish, on UI elements, and more besides:

To start with, the technical: I have begun work on saving and loading!

It's still very much a work-in-progress, but I can now at least save and restore a number of elements, such as enemies and the player's state, with the latter including the various "inventories".

Thus far the process has proven somewhat tricky, I'll confess, and indeed, has involved a variety of (fairly minor) internal changes.

Conversely, my "GameSaver" module--initially written ages ago, albeit with many changes over time--has continued to prove invaluable, I daresay. I do think that it makes these matters rather easier than I fear that they might otherwise be!

Moving on to matters of gameplay, in the week just past I applied some "upgrades" to the previously-shown "skeletal spike-shooter" enemy: it now produces more spikes when shooting, and even more on death! Evil



On the polish side, in the week just past I implemented some simple changes to some of the "weapons" in the game.

For one, I updated the effects used by the "lightning flail" spell, specifically those that occur when it impacts something.

More broadly than that, I implemented "firing effects" for weapons. For now I've added them only to certain of the player-spells (as far as I recall), although I may well add further to various enemy attacks, too.

Here, for one, is the effect applied to the player's baseline "spreadfire" spell:


Another element that saw changes in the week just past was the "Bright Realm". This is, essentially, the game's equivalent of "hyperspace": it's the plane of heat and light onto which suns open in the game's setting--and it thus allows one to skip from one solar-system to another via their suns.

Previously, this was depicted as being bounded by darkness, and the player on approaching the edge of the play-area was wrapped around to the opposite side, with a white-out effect.

However, this didn't fit well with my intentions for the place: it's not a little pocket-dimension, but a vast universe.

So, in the week just past I changed its depiction: now, as shown in the first screenshot above, it renders as white from edge to edge.

However, as it's still useful for the player to know where the boundary of exploration lies, there's now a dashed line indicating that limit.

Further, on approaching the boundary, the player is now met with a short message indicating a reason for their character to not go flying beyond it.

And that border-message is displayed via a new bit of UI: a simple popup that is now used to display such messages.



Remaining with UI elements, in the week just past I implemented a simple in-game menu:



And furthermore, I finished (I think) the key-binding UI: there are now proper buttons for all elements, I believe!



And there were a variety of things done in the week just past that don't seem worth detailing here: the ability to fade to a colour in the post-process shader; design-doc work; even a list of sound effects that I intend be added; and more besides!

That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #55 on: January 24, 2022, 01:26:20 AM »

Blog post (24th of January, 2022)
Pops and Glows


Summary: In which a UI is reworked--and now has more art; crystal enemies have firing effects; further, crystal enemies glow; the "Rune of Power" item gains a visual effect; some title-displays are tweaked; bosses gain titles; audio-implementation is begun; some first sound effects are added; and the question of sound-making is considered.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows another revision to the "encounter" UI:



The week just past was perhaps divided, more or less, between visual matters and auditory ones:

As shown above, I've once again reworked the UI in which "encounters" are presented.

Perhaps the main driving force behind this was a desire for more art--a desire to be able to show more for each encounter than a little square icon.

And this new layout provides that, I do think! Each encounter now has a long strip of artwork to the left of the response-box.

Furthermore, I feel that the proportions of this new layout are more pleasing than those of the previous.

I mentioned last week, I believe, that I had implemented some "firing effects" for the "weapons" in the game. In the week just past, then, I added such to the enemies found in the Crystal Moon.

But in this case the effect goes further than most: I modified the "crystal" shader to allow for an adjustable glow within the crystals of the enemies themselves!



On a similar note, in the week just past I added a visual effect to accompany the use of the "Rune of Power" item:



And last of the visual changes to be reported in this post, I tweaked the titles that are displayed on entering a world or level, and added a title to be displayed at the start of a boss-fight:




But, as mentioned at the start of this blog-post, not all work of the week just past was visual in nature--some of it was auditory.

Specifically, in the week just past I began in earnest on the addition of sound effects to the game!

Part of this work was technical in nature: setting up 3D sound, implementing a system for the internal handling of sounds, and so on.

But I did also add some actual sound effects. I have only a few thus far, and some of what I do have is yet work-in-progress. However, one set, at least, is done:

(Noting quickly that the 3D falloff of sound has been tweaked since this video was recorded.)




Indeed, I will confess that the making of sounds has proven difficult this far. I fear that audio-creation is not my strong suit!

Some elements I'm fairly confident of being able to make--I think that I can likely put together some skeletal sounds, for example.

However, many elements I'm rather less confident of.

I've tried hunting through royalty-free sources, but thus far have had little success. Still, I may do so further.

So, given the above, I've also been looking into the possibility of hiring an audio engineer.

But there's a problem: I have quite a few sounds on my list--perhaps near 200 all told, and the list is likely to grow--which means that even at a relatively low cost per sound, the total may be quite high. I'm really not sure that I should be expending that much money as things currently are for me...

That said, I am still researching the matter.

And as is often the case, there were tweaks, 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 #56 on: January 31, 2022, 01:48:48 AM »

Blog post (31st of January, 2022)
Moving About the Menus


Summary: In which audio investigation continues; some sound-effects are made; a crystal pulses with light; "crystal enemies" are no longer randomised; the appearance of upgrades to the health-bar is changed; and non-mouse menu-navigation is worked on.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows the enemies encountered within the Crystal Moon:



The week just past was once again perhaps primarily split between two matters: audio work and UI-navigation work. However, this time other matters had a salient part, too:

In terms of audio, in the week just past I continued my efforts towards adding sound to the game.

For one, further investigation was done towards hiring someone to this end.

And for another, I added a few sounds of my own. Some of these I'm not yet happy with--but at least one, the sounds of a skeleton walking, I'm actually fairly content with.

Moving on to the visual side of things, you may recall that I mentioned in last week's blog-post that I had made the "crystal enemies" glow. Well, in the week just past I then took that glow-effect and applied it further to the crystals that are generated by the player's "mana crystal" metroidvania-ability.

These crystals now pulse with light--a pulsing that then becomes more rapid as they near their natural disintegration.


As to the "crystal enemies" themselves, their appearances were previously generated pseudo-randomly on each run. In the week just past, then, I decided to change that.

My primary reason, as I recall, was the hope that it might reduce a hitch noted at the start of the encounter with these enemies. (It... may have, but only a little.)

However, it also has the salutatory effect, I feel, of allowing me to choose forms that I like for them, and to avoid generated forms that I like less.

The new, static forms for these enemies--at least at time of writing--should then be visible in the main screenshot above!

And last of the visual changes of the week just past, I altered the "notches" that appear on the player's health bar as the player's maximum health is upgraded. Where before there was one "notch" per upgrade, there is now only one, that one separating the player's starting health from their upgraded health. Further, I edited the appearance of this "notch".


Now, I mentioned above that there were two matters between which the week was primarily split. One of these, already discussed, was audio-work. The other, then, was UI-navigation work. Specifically, it was the matter of navigating the UI by means other than a mouse. (e.g. When using a game-controller.)

For the most part, this was more tedious than difficult: From my work on A Door to the Mists I already had a system for handling this. A fair bit of the work here, then, was simply in applying that system to the menus of Moons in Crystal--making "navigation nodes", connecting them, putting them into "navigation maps", etc.

However, a few elements proved trickier. The "status screen", in particular, contains a number of sections, and those sections may change--and thus the navigation of those sections may change. Further, the map-view section contains map hot-spots that I wanted the player to be able to navigate--but which are laid out somewhat arbitrarily. And what's more still, the fact that the player can switch between maps means that this layout of hotspots may change.

Thankfully, I believe that I have most of this working now! There is at least one dialogue-box yet to be made navigable, and at least one bug to fix, but I think that I'm pretty close to completing this feature. ^_^


And finally, there were various fixes, tweaks, and changes 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 #57 on: February 07, 2022, 04:48:02 AM »

Blog post (22nd of January, 2022)
Spellery


Summary: In which a player combat-spell gains a new "empowered" form; notes may be given; another menu gains non-mouse navigation; a handful of effects-related changes are made, including objects flashing on taking damage; spell-weaving gains an effect; sounds are made; and more thought is given to what to do toward adding sounds to the game.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows a new effect, as displayed in my shader-viewer, and which is intended to convey spell-weaving! (Albeit that it's shown here at a rather larger scale than it's intended to be seen in-game.)



The week just past included somewhat of a miscellany of changes, including sound, special effects, and more besides!

Firstly, on the gameplay side, I've reworked the "empowered" form of the "Lightning Flail" spell.

This spell, in its base form, fires out a great ball of vibrant electricity, which then bounces around the environment and enemies as it tries to return to the player.

And previously, its empowered form was... more or less just the above, except that there were two balls of electricity, and they were bigger. I was not content with this.

Now... well, it's similar, but I hope at least a little more interesting: instead of two large balls of lightning, it fires several smaller ones all around the player. These may not last as long as the standard lightning-balls, but they may, I suspect, make for good room-clearers.

Remaining somewhat with gameplay, in the week just past I finally implemented a simple "note" system! In short, this allows for simple reminders to be given of things that the player has learned or been tasked with.


(Sorry, no, there is no "Kitten Moon". The entries shown in the screenshot just above are almost all stand-ins. Tongue)

And continuing with matters of menus, I discovered that I had omitted to implement non-mouse navigation for the options menu. In the week just past, then, I rectified this oversight.

Turning then to effects, there have been a few changes in such matters. Some of these are fairly straightforward: effects can now incorporate an initial delay; a "firing" effect has been added to the Deceived Acolyte's "skull" attack; and objects now flash when hit.

But perhaps more interesting is that, as shown in the first screenshot above, a new effect has been implemented--one that is intended to convey spell-weaving!

In short, this portrays threads being fashioned to make a spell-form--then vanishing in a flare of light as the completed spell is cast.

The exact design of the weave is not set in stone--indeed, I intend for it to vary from spell to spell.

Currently only one spell has been implemented: that used by the Deceived Acolytes to call up skeletons from the bones of the Ossuary Moon.



Moving to matters of audio, once again work was done in the week just past towards adding sound effects to the game.

This proceeds somewhat slowly, I will confess--audio-work is, I fear, not my strong suit. Still, I have implemented a few sounds.

Further, I've made some changes and (I feel) improvements to the code that handles sound.

As to what to do beyond those sounds that I manage to create myself, my thoughts have moved in a few directions on this matter.

For one, I want to get at least some done myself, and to then attempt to put together further sounds using royalty-free audio. If I do end up hiring someone, this may at least allow me to reduce the cost of doing so.

And for another, my current major milestone is to produce a "vertical slice" that I might put in front of publishers. I wonder, then, whether it's important for such a build to have polish in all fields--especially in fields for which I intend that my proposed budget include an amount for the hiring of a professional.

I don't know: On the one hand, I don't want to undermine the game's probability of finding publisher support. On the other, I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by straining to polish something that needn't be polished...

We'll see! :/

And finally, there were various tweaks, fixes, and changes 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 #58 on: February 14, 2022, 01:59:18 AM »

Blog post (14th of February, 2022)
Sound Thinking?


Summary: In which more audio-work is done; some discussion is had regarding my approach to audio; "sliding block" traps and crystal-making require line-of-sight; the "Crystal Moon" encounter gains some changes; and objects may now drop items.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows items being dropped by a character at their defeat:


(Albeit that this is a somewhat-artificial case: most will likely not drop so much, I expect!)

The week just past was primarily a sound-related week, I feel--but some other things did get done nevertheless!

As just mentioned, perhaps the main thrust of the week just past went towards audio-work: I made various sound effects (although not many that I'll likely keep, I now think), and implemented their use within the game. Further, I enacted more changes still to the underlying sound-handling code.

And besides that, on a game-dev forum I engaged in a conversation about my approach to the inclusion of sound in my "vertical slice". In short, the advice given there was to either aim for good sound, or no sound--poor sound might be a detriment.

As a result, I have some more thinking to do on just how to proceed in the matter...

Moving over to matters of gameplay, two elements of the game were given line-of-sight restrictions in the week just past:

First, where before the player could use the "crystal generation" ability to plop down a mana-crystal anywhere on the screen, they now require a clear line from their ship, and open space for the resultant gem.

And second, the "sliding block" traps now need line-of-sight to the player in order to activate--and thus no longer react to the player from the other side of a wall.

In the Crystal Moon, an encounter is in place that has been--more or less--unchanged since the early days of this dev-log, I believe. Oh, some details have changed: in particular, there have been changes both to the nature of the waves of enemies and to the randomness of said enemies (or lack thereof). But, fundamentally, the pattern has been the same: enter; take a health-gem; get locked in; fight all; and in defeating all, open the door to leave.

In the week just past, however, I made two changes to this sequence: First, the item taken at the start is now a quest-item. And second, at the completion of the encounter a health-gem is now spawned (along with a flare of light).

Speaking of item-spawnings, and as shown in the screenshot above, objects may now drop items on defeat!

This should then allow for things like bosses dropping artefacts, breakables producing powerups, creatures giving health, and so on!


And finally, there were a number of changes, fixes, and tweaks made that don't seem worth detailing here! (Perhaps most saliently, some fairly significant bug-fixes, I do think!)

That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #59 on: February 17, 2022, 01:11:13 PM »



Yay loot!
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