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Aquua
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« on: November 27, 2022, 06:12:36 PM »

Introduction

Hi! Hello! "Untitled Creature Training Game" is game I've been occasionally working on since mid-2020 (with the version I'm working on now being the 7th 8th, and hopefully definitely final attempt at creating it)

The goal of the project was to create a creature training game like Coromon or Temtem that's inspired by things like the Pokemon Anime, rather than leaning so heavily on traditional RPG elements. To be more specific the goal is to avoid the cynical, objectifying, stat-orientated approach that these games often encourage (despite narratively being about friendship and stuff)

You can read the specifics on my mentality towards trying to achieve this vibe in the next post (some of it is outdated but it's close enough).


I try to keep the posts in this thread a mix between documenting my design ideas and approach towards making the game, and just funny lil' gifs and pictures of work, but you can always just skip around to see the funny pictures if you want.

It feels a little silly to advertise my twitter here, but I do post more frequent little snippets on twitter https://twitter.com/TimBeauDavid when I don't have enough to say about my work to warrant a post here (they also take quite a bit to write, since I like to type a lot of stuff here).

If you have any questions about the project I'd love to answer them! So feel free to reply to this thread or DM me with anything you want!!

Uhh, I said I was going to flesh this out but I'm lazy, I'll do more one day, probably...

(Project on temporary hiatus)
(PROJECT HAS RISEN ONCE MORE LIKE A PHEONIX... OR LIKE MOLD!!)

(on hiatus untill unity fixes their TOS, or I get fed up and remake it in Godot)
(Hesitantly off hiatus while Unity's TOS is... vaguely passable)
(At this point I have no idea, my life is slowly falling apart rn)
(Cautiously optimistic and in active development, I think everything is ok again)
« Last Edit: June 04, 2024, 10:44:47 AM by Aquua » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2022, 08:51:47 PM »

Ok so some quick background on the project!

I've been "working" on this project for over 2 years now but have scarcely little to show for it, but since the most recent of the 7 attempts I've made at this idea has been going well so far, I wanted to try and start documenting everything in a devlog, since I have a habit of forgetting where I've come from to get where I am.

Fun little timeline of when I created each of the projects.

So as a fun little dive through history, I'll show off the most important versions of the game I've made (one of which you can play right now!).

GOAL

Ok actually wait, first I want to mention the goals for this game's combat system, since I wasn't just prototyping ideas to find what felt fun, I had a very specific goal to achieve.

1. The game had to be entirely turn-based
  • This is both because turn-based games like Pokemon are some of the few games I can play against my friends who don't live in Australia with me without the connection being terrible, because in a turn-based game, time doesn't really matter in the same way it does in a real-time game

2. The game couldn't be entirely deterministic based on party-comp, ever.
  • What I mean by this is that there should never be a particular creature in this game that can't beat another creature in this game, to use a Pokemon analogy, a Metapod, playing correctly should always have a chance against a Charizard.

    This is so that you encouraged as a player to maintain a sense of hope in battles, you are never going to inherently lose because your creatures aren't strong enough, there should always be some responsibility on the player.

2.5. The game's non-deterministic-ness can't be based on randomness
  • Random chance isn't a very fun way to make the player who should have won, lost, instead there needs to be some skill-based way to allow players with weaker stats to realistically win.

3. The game needs to be accessible to a similar level of games-literacy as other competing games (Pokemon, Temtem, Digimon, etc)
  • I'm not interested in making a hyper-complex competitive experience, I want this to be accessible enough that with some effort, my parents could beat the game

VERSION 1

(Version 1 isn't actually completely turn-based because I'm stupid, but it's close enough lol)

Version 1 was unsurprisingly, my first attempt at the game, my goal was to make a fight between two creatures who only had one attack, still fun.

I can't remember what actually made me decide to drop this version and start a new one (that's why I want to start documenting stuff here as I go) but playing it now, the game is a glorified rock-paper-scissors (which was something I was intentionally designing towards, because in my goal to simplify fighting games to a turn-based system I oversimplified and lost waaaaay to much nuance, I'll go into detail later).

VERSION 2

(It's version 1 with extra steps, but I thought I was onto something)

I spent a lot more time on version 2 than version 1, it's a lot clearer and more visually readable (but still not great) and still has that RPS design thing.

So, for this project (specifically around this point in time) I was doing research on fighting games, and competitive games in general, and the conclusions I came up with were more or less:

  • For a game to always be winnable no matter the opponent, the game needs to be unmasterable, or impossible to perfect (which is what we want with this game)
  • For a game to be unmasterable it needs to have either a physical or mental barrier behind some actions, and since we can't do physical at all, we need to do mental.
  • For there to be an unmasterable mental barrier, the information needed to play perfectly needs to be either obscured or incalculable
    As an example, Chess is incalculable (at least by humans), RPS is obscured (knowledge of your opponent's intent is required to play the correct option)
  • Because RPS is an unmasterable game, we should base the whole game around it!


It was going so well...

There was also the addition that predicting your opponent works a lot better when they actually have incentives to play specific moves, so I also added in a mechanic where different RPS options did more or less damage

After some playtesting, I discovered that RPS, isn't actually very fun! (who would have thought?)

This was my initial stopping point on the project, I was a bit disheartened and my uni break was coming to an end so I called it and "abandoned" the project which was clearly a permanent decision I never changed my mind on

VERSION 3


(This is the one you can play! https://tim-david.itch.io/old-fighting-game-rpg-prototype The browser version sometimes bugs out so I'd recommend downloading if you want to play)

As funny as it would be to say "2 days later, I tried again!", I actually did take a break from the idea and worked on a side project that was tangentially related to the idea.

I meant for this game to be a completely standalone project, an RPG where the enemies were powerful but predictable, emoting whenever they change their strategy.


"ROAR!!!"

While not directly related to this project, it's the first example of both the timeline and preview ghosts, two things which were critical for the game in it's current state.

Regardless, I think the game is a lot of fun! I tried making it so the game is a textless tutorial, which was a bit hit-or-miss on playtesters, so I added a few guides which should hopefully get the job done.

VERSION 4


(I didn't implement either of the two things I just said were really important)

Version 4 was my return to the project later in 2020 when I finished uni for the semester (actually it's about the same time I started the most recent version, just 2 years earlier) and I took what I learnt from version 3, and DIDN'T IMPLEMENT IT!! Grin

What I did do that wasn't silly however was ditch the whole linear RPS system and let it come about a bit more naturally, give the player a lot more options to choose from and taking the game out of it's whole automated creature actions system.

Instead I began work on the idea of making the hidden information based on time.

In realtime games, we have obscured information in the form of our reaction time, the things that have happened that our brain hasn't seen yet (or things we've seen, but haven't inputted a response to), I wanted to take this and put it in the game, pausing it right before the end of your last action and letting you choose what to do right when it ends (but forcing you to input something, even if it's just waiting).

This system was incredibly cumbersome and buggy, but it's the right general idea I'm still working with, the idea that the obscured information is in the actions you can't see but have been inputted, rather than what your opponent is inputting right now (well it can also be that as well, but y'know).

This was another "I got disheartened and dropped it" when it wasn't working as I wanted

Oh yeah, that's Starsans btw!



It was a test model I made of a creature design for the game which was based on a joke which was based on an MS Paint sketch I did while explaining the game concept to someone.


Quite the history there lil' guy

I think I drew a star with a face and my friend said something along the lines of "give it a big tooth", so I did, then they said something like "give it the sans flame but red", so I did, and here we are.

I've actually been drawing most of my recent designs in MS Paint because it helps me keep them simple and readable, plus it's quicker than opening up CSP to draw, and I can do it with a mouse without it being too obvious.


Rondal

While not the point of this post, that's the general artstyle I'm going for, low-poly with pixel art textures, ANYWAY

VERSION 6


(version 5 didn't reach a playable state iirc)

This time I actually did the things I should have done earlier!!

While I never got around to fully implementing ghosts in the way they were in version 3, there is a singular dot that was a placeholder for the ghosts (they were the next goal, but the project got dropped before then)

This is the closest version to the one I'm doing now, funnily enough this project was called "ok for real this time" because I had another called "final". It was not in fact, for real this time.

I did my best to cut around any major glitches when I played through it for recording these gifs, but there were quite a number of really janky things plaguing this game, while the idea was in the right direction I wanted, it's a bit too fucky-wucky for it to be viable, thus I started again with a new project file dropped the project and swore that I wouldn't pick it up again for all the time that it's wasted and because I have a bigger, more important project I wanted to work on.

VERSION 7


(So anyway I started a new project)

Here we are! The current version of the game!

So far, it's much cleaner that all of the other versions, and while there is still a lot left to do (In particular there is no timeline, well, there is a timeline technically it's just not displayed on screen yet), a lot of the hard work has been done, enough that I'm comfortable posting a devlog.

I wanted to show how this calculates turns compared to version 6 and 4, but honestly, those two are such a mess I think it's easier to just say they sucked and start from scratch.


Basically, players can input any number of actions at once, they will all just enter a queue until they are ready to be used, BUT they are required to input an action when their total action time remaining is less than X (Red), and their new actions must be greater than Y (Yellow). If one player's actions reach X, then BOTH players have to act enough to reach Y.


This system is to make sure that players don't spam wait for 0.01 seconds just to do their turn and stall a game forever, but allows players to input a wait for 0.01 seconds if they need to wait just a tiny amount before they attack or something, it just means you can't ONLY input 0.01 seconds (The both players acting is to encourage both players to input at once where possible and limit time spent where you don't need to input but your opponent does, though I might change this).

Ok it sounds really complicated but in practice it's quite simple, and you don't even need to understand it to use it, if you just input when it tells you to, you will be fine, but I need to find a good way of teaching it to the player, or at least simplifying the presentation in a way that's more readable. (You can kinda see it in action in version 6, but it's a bit messy since I cut the video a bit)

Anyway that's the general history of the project, at least development wise, there is a lot of design work I've done that non-critical to the game, but hopefully this was interesting.

Future posts probably won't be as long and messy as this (and will hopefully actually stay on topic lmao), but anyway, have a nice day!
« Last Edit: August 17, 2023, 10:16:15 PM by BeauBo » Logged
Aquua
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2022, 06:46:33 AM »

Hello hello!

It feels too soon to be posting another devlog, but I mean I'm kinda trying to catch up on all the stuff I've done in the past so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Today was supposed to be my "break" day, since I've been doing scarcely little else recently but work on this for the past few days, but I ended up using my break to writing up/cleaning up documentation.

Starting with that, I wanted to showcase a bit of my "documentation" that I use for this project
(it's really just a self-indulgent way to fantasize about the game being at a point where this stuff might actually be important, but shhh, I didn't tell you that)

First, here is my excel stuff!!

I'm using it as a rough draft of creature statistics (which are absolutely not final for the record), but it also lets me make sure the stats are balanced enough, at least at first glance.

I wanted to build the stats around the idea that 100 is the average (thus the numbers up the top, the goal is to get them over the course of the design process to around 100), but some creatures will average higher or lower than that.

I don't plan on displaying every creature I design here since I want discovery to be a decent part of the experience of this game, but here are my temporary names for some of the creatures I've designed so far, along with some temporary stats.

I also have a funny little PowerPoint file that has them kinda displayed like cute little wiki entries, total waste of time by most objective metrics, but I had fun making it


Ok that's been fun, now onto the actual game.


(Funny capsules hehe)

While not much has changed visually, underneath all of those beautiful graphics is the Query system! Which is the backbone behind the AI right now.

Basically it allows the AI to recognize possibilities by simulating it's own little game world in it's head, allowing it to check if things will hit even without knowing the specific moves it has, or being pre-taught how to use them.


(It has never been taught how to punish my attack or even use their attack)

It's quite easy to create new attacks as well, which is a nice plus since I'm probably going to have to make a lot of them.


(Oops it shows my funny outdated variable naming convention here)

The goal is that any creature can technically use any attack (I mean, in engine, not literally in the game), so everything visual needs to be flexible and not dependent on anything a creature might not have.

Because the AI is simulating the whole game and doing several seconds worth of gameplay in a very small amount of time, performance is a concern, but I'm doing my best to optimize everything that I can to make sure the game doesn't hang.

Anyway this also means the AI "knows" how to combo attacks, it doesn't see it as any different as seeing an opportunity to hit someone normally


(I haven't balanced these attacks)

This is a big step for me since working out the AI for this is a very big, scary problem, since it needs to be both readable (so players can predict it and do funny hehes), and while it has it's quirks and moments where it misbehaves, I'm comfortable with this as a first step forward!

Thats all for today, I'm getting pretty close to having an actually playable prototype that I want to do a closed playtest with with some friends, since as much as my brain rot has consumed me on this, I'm not actually sure if I want to (or more if it's feasible to pursue this idea)

Have a great rest of your day!
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« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2022, 11:26:42 PM »

Howdy hey!

It's been a bit since I posted anything but I've still been working on the game, just a lot of stuff that's difficult to showcase for the time being. To be a bit more specific I've been working on a lot of AI and UI stuff along with a fair bit of bug fixing and optimising.

Today's post is going to be a bit shorter than my prior posts and I'll probably do something a little more formally in the near future but I'm currently out of the house with my phone so I thought no better time to try and write out some of my thoughts than now!

AI is a pain in the ass

So, similar to the combat system as a whole, the AI for the game had (has) a few key requirements that it needs to meet for the game's ideal experience to be met.

Actually, first let's go over that core experience

The goal for the game's combat system, and by extension the game's combat AI is to create a system where combat can theoretically, but not practically be played perfectly, requiring players to "read" their opponent, AI or otherwise to play the correct move given any situation, despite having some of the information required obscured.

For this...

1. The AI needs to be predictable: this is so that the player can actually make educated decisions. Without the means to make decisions, the inputs, or the whole "player" part of combat become meaningless.

1.5. For the AI to be predictable, it must be, to some extent, pattern-based: as in the AI has to have reason behind it's decisions. Not that randomness isn't ever allowed mind you, just it needs to be heavily controlled.

2. The AI needs to be responsive: A big part of competition against human opponents in not just games but things like sport as well is the response part, you do one thing, they do another to counter it, without response, it becomes a game of memorization and pattern recognition, rather than something with the ability to plan and condition, along with resembling a puzzle game more than a fighting game (which it still to some extent does).

3. This all needs to be clear and accessible to all players: THIS is the part that's messed with me for so long, and the part I'll be focusing on today.

Accessible Fighting Game AIs

So at its core, this game is a 3D turn-based fighting game, this isn't a new idea (see Toribash, Yomi Hustle/Your Only Move Is HUSTLE and Yomi (by David Sirlin), but it is a relatively niche idea.

(Yomi Hustle/Your Only Move Is HUSTLE was actually what inspired me to pick up this project again after having abandoned it, that and watching some Pokemon scarlet and violet gameplay)

What I haven't really seen is a singleplayer turn-based fighting game system, so a lot of my decisions here are uneducated and unproven guesses (well, the goal for this game is to also have multiplayer, but that's not my concern right now)

Going into this problem, the main possible solutions I had in mind were:

Basic adaptive pattern AI:, or an AI that follows a fixed, repeatable, unchanging pattern (or pattern that directly and predictably responds to player actions)

Neural network AI: An AI that replicates a neural network, starting with random inputs and using backpropagation to try and optimise it's play over time, using self and opponent location, state and history as inputs.

Random, but clearly presented AI: as in, an AI that randomly chooses an option, but clearly states or otherwise demonstrates said pattern through dialogue, facial expression or other means

To be perfectly blunt, I don't like any of them.

Pattern-based is completely unresponsive and non-modular, random requires dialogue interpretation rather than intuitive and problem solving, neural network based is complex and difficult to read.

They all fail one or more of the requirements I set out before, which was something that stumped me over the years when trying to figure out how to handle the AI decision making part.

The Solution?

Well, my solution is a bit inelegant and might be worse than all of the above, but it's uh, all of the above.

As in, combining the above techniques to try and create an AI that works on multiple levels, and at multiple levels of accessibility (along with multiple difficult options corresponding to them)

Each battler's AI is made up of AI modules, each of the modules do a different thing that influence their decision making, the modules are different depending on the difficulty mode, with ones like neural networks being limited to higher difficulties, and explicit dialogue showing their next action limited to lower difficulties.

On a "normal" difficulty, some actions are clearly presented (usually when the AI is startled or cocky, to act as a reward for constant pressure or balancer if the AI is doing too well), aside from that they will act with modules that "trend" towards specific actions, such as getting close if the user has more melee moves. In addition, AI might also have more specific pattern-based AI such as being defensive until you commit to an option, then doing an option that counters that next time until it gets punished, then revert back to observing.

On top of this, important or repeating fighters will use neural network AI modules that are shared between fights, to make patterns to learn/condition in earlier fights carry across between fights.

Will this idea work?

I have no idea! But it is my working idea, my goal is to playtest this stuff soon to get a better idea of what works and what doesn't, but I've still gotta get it all implemented to even do a meaningful playtest, so I'll have more insightful and educational stuff to say after that.

I wish I could show footage but alas I'm on a train currently, so I hope you can wait for the next devlog update to see it (plus it's a bit messy rn).

Anyway, sorry for the kinda boring and dry text-based post today, I promise next time I'll have lots of funny lil' gifs for your viewing pleasure!!

Anyway, have a great day!! Take care!
« Last Edit: December 19, 2022, 07:01:29 AM by BeauBo » Logged
Aquua
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« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2023, 03:18:54 AM »

Greetings everyone!

It's been a long time since I've actually posted anything here so I wanted to try and update this thread in-case anyone was curious about the state of the project, along with just for record-keeping. To do this, I'm going to go over everything that happened in chronological order up until today, since a lot has happened, but tl;dr, I stopped with this project for a bit, and I really shouldn't be coming back to it again, but alas, here I am.

(Hey, future me here, I started writing this post back in May, and am picking it back up again in August, so tense may be a little silly here and there)

December 2022

With the holiday season approaching, my work ethic on the game was starting to waver as I was kinda easing into a break, the last post I made was while I was nearing the end of my productive period for the year (I actually made the whole post on my phone, which was an experience lmao).

Unfortunately I was also starting to have doubts with the project, yet again. The AI wasn't coming together in an intuitive and comfortable way and the obtuseness of the UI was starting to get to me, even as the developer which is never a good sign.

I stopped for the holidays and unfortunately didn't end up picking the project back up in the new year, instead focusing my attention towards some other game projects I had been wanting to fiddle around with, which I did for a few months, until I started development on...

Adventurer's Guild (Name Pending)

You can see more here https://twitter.com/TimBeauDavid

After a while I started working on my new game, it's a stripped down version of a really grand game idea I've had for a while, and I think it's was actually going relatively well! I'm happy with where it's at and most of the hardest stuff has been done, I've posted a fair bit about it on my twitter if you are interested.

This was going well, but on occasion I'd have thoughts back to this old creature game, and ideas on how I might be able to make it, but I always managed to push them away and focus on my current game, even if I was a bit distracted, that was until...

I got a nasty cold.

Yep! I got a cold, and during the worst of it (which was like a day or two ago lmao), I had basically no ability to form complex thoughts, which lead to a weird kind of clarity the moment this brain fog faded, and I was able to think again.

All of a sudden I had no existing thoughts clouding my mind, since I could barely think at all and I could thinking without any existing ideas floating in my mind for a few moments.

Alongside a few other realizations, one I had was about the creature game, more specifically the fact that I really want to try again.

"Ok, but that's a terrible idea!"

Well yes!

...

But maybe, just mayyyyybeee, it's actually not.

Actually no it probably is a bad idea.

I think I'm actually still kinda delusional from the cold.


Lucky attempt number #8!

So let's go over what went wrong the last seven my god... attempts.

1. It's still too complex, in my head I kept thinking that if I just added more and more things the player could do, eventually it would add the depth I was looking for, which was a cute idea, and maybe the case in a PvP game, it's not so in a PvE game (or a PvE focused game).

Still in comparison to a fighting game, the inspiration it was very simple, it's still a lot of things to keep track of for an RPG.

2. This turn-based simulation of a realtime environment makes it much harder to design a satisfying AI opponent. There are too many things to factor in when you have an AI in a 3D environment with pretty small hitboxes that has to make it's move effectively half a second in advance in a way that's predictable for a player, just... Way too much for my lil' baby brain.

3. This turn-based simulation of a realtime environment makes it much harder to create cinematic cameras and such, because of how many more variables there were to positioning and all that, and while not impossible, just an unnecessary barrier for me, that doesn't provide much.

So, what's next?

Remember how back in the first post, I criticized past me for the conclusion that "Because RPS is an unmasterable game, we should base the whole game around it!", turns out I should have let myself cook, because I was kind of right.

Let past me cook, slightly less past me.

I mean, yeah RPS isn't particularly fun, but unbalanced RPS is, kinda, it's complicated? This is gonna be a lot.

Unbalanced RPS!

So, I didn't show it in the original post about my past versions, but there was an extension I made to version 2 where different options did different amounts of damage.

Yikes! That's wordy.

For example:
  • Regular attacking just dealt normal, x1 damage
  • Dodging and hitting someone only did x0.5 damage when you hit someone
  • Waiting before attacking did 2x damage

The idea is that when you imbalance RPS, there becomes good and bad options, and when there are good and bad options, you have a basis for predicting things.

For example, against someone playing randomly, in traditional RPS you are basically on average going to break even with them, but in this version, all you have to do is always play the option with the lowest risk/highest return (in this case, waiting or attacking, since it's a 2:1 either way) and you will win in the long term.

This means that by default, people are going to attack or wait, and if people are either attacking or waiting, then if you always attack, you are at worst in a tie, and at best winning.

BUT if your opponent always attacks, and you KNOW they are going to attack, you can dodge.

This makes the RPS-like system more grounded, and while against players it's gets a little odd, against AI however, even quite simple AIs, this makes it far more interesting.

Handling Ties

The idea behind this system is to give every creature a chance, not to make every battle a coin flip, so the more opportunities we can introduce where one creature has a massive advantage, the better.

The way I've handled this is through the way clashes now work, and the way speed now works.

First, in the event of both creatures attacking, the normal, expected thing for people to do, especially at the start (since, worst case you tie and lose, or get hit by 0.5x damage from a risky, unlikely dodge), the creature with the stronger attack wins (this is determined by stats and move AND type, if a water and fire attack clash, the water move will likely win unless the fire attacker is MUCH stronger or the move is MUCH stronger)

Second is speed, speed effects both movement distance (I'll get to that) and order of events.

While for two attacks, the order doesn't matter since they clash and the strongest wins, but for movement or status moves, order does matter, since if you move before your opponent, you can either interrupt their status move/movement (since they count as waiting) or do your status move/movement before getting hit, reducing the loss coming from losing the RPS.

This is all kind of messy to talk about written down, which is common when I write stuff about this game, so I'm going to shut up and show off the last piece of this game that I think will help me not hate it in a week or two.

Presentation!!


You know what's not satisfying? Selecting you attack, moving slightly, aiming it, waiting for it to hit, having to wait for THEM to input something even though it won't hit, FINALLY getting to hit your attack but from a boring top down view, it SUCKED!!

I wanted to keep everything short, snappy and with as few inputs as possible.

Behold the grey checkerboard room!

No more ugly timelines to worry about, no more 7-step programs to use tackle, it's MUCH easier to use now.

The UI is still very rough visually but it's the general vibe I'm going for, I'd rather be too extra than too conservative, even if it ends up a little unpolished and messy.

An Attack VS Attack of equal strength and an Attack VS Dodge

I still wanted to make sure that zoners could exist in this game, so I kept distance as a concept, but just reduced it to a floating point position rather than a vector2/vector3, this makes it visualizable by a nice little bar up the top (also just in the world too, but up the top has specific numbers)

This also let me justify having a difference between ranged and melee attacks, along with a stat split for each of them (Attack/Defence VS Magic/Resistance), meaning some creatures struggle at range, some struggle in melee, others can do both, and because movement speed is tied to your speed stat, it can be quite rough being a slow melee creature in this game, more so than a slow ranged creature.

Because ranged attacks can attack from anywhere and melee can't, melee attacks are in general significantly stronger than ranged ones.

In addition, melee attack knockback is determined by the creatures POWER stat, alongside their opponent's power stat, multiplied by the knockback of the move itself, where ranged attacks have fixed, usually quite low knockback.

Knocking someone out of the arena is an alternative to dropping their HP to zero, by the way, just another path to victory to consider.

Using an approach to get in close AND punish someone attempting to dodge a projectile

And one final quick thing, moves can also have status changing effects.

Status moves, or moves that have no attacking components count as waiting, which means you can counter someone's dodge by raising your own attack before dealing a devastating blow! (It's further incentive to not dodge really)

This one comes from landing one of my test moves

I've done my best to make animations work as seamlessly as possible, it's a complicated mess under the hood, but IN THEORY, every creature can use every move while having it play an animation that is at least vaguely acceptable against a creature of any height (but each creature's animations will be built around their moveset so they should look fine under all normal game conditions).

Conclusion

I didn't post much during the period of setting this up because I didn't know if it was going to work, and I didn't feel like posting another failed version, but I'm feeling much better about this one than I have in the past, it's like, actually a game that- OH I FORGOT TO MENTION

I FIGURED OUT THE AI PROBLEM!!

THAT WAS WHY I STARTED WORK ON THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE, I figured out the AI while I was in my post-cold brain mode, and wanted to try it, alongside ideas for the presentation of combat.

It's... Complicated, and too long to tack on here since I've got status conditions to implement tonight, but basically, similar programming approach to before, a bunch of modules that combine to make a battler's AI, a primary module that encourages them to do the option that beats what you have done over the past X turns, weight by how recent it was.

From my personal playtesting, it feels great, it feels intuitive and responsive, and even in the worst case scenario where you have no idea what you have done, you can re-align yourself quickly.

In theory, at the ABSOLUTE worst, the game becomes a risk management strategy game where you are dealing with percentages, at it's best it's replicating the feeling of predicting and punishing a human, a pretty predictable one, but a human none the less.

In saying that, even when focusing I'm never 100% sure what they are going to do, if I'm not careful with how I condition them or what they have done, or even sometimes when I am sometimes I have to take a risk which feels like a good balance, hopefully this feeling translates to other playtesters when I get around to that, but I'm feeling better about this than I ever have in the past

Conclusion, but for real this time

Game is back in development, It's going well, on track for a closed playtest in a week or two... Yep. Bye!!!
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2023, 10:06:19 PM »

Hello, hello! Here with a pretty short update today since I'm in the midst of finishing up the closed playtesting build and I wanted a bit of a break.

Today I'm gonna talk about a few small things, specifically my playtesting preparations, some theories I want to test during playtesting, and a brief note about motivation, which I'll start with.

Motivation!

This is the part where you run away decide it's actually a really good idea to start a NEW project

Look, I felt the urge to throw my hands up and just do literally anything else several times, and I did even go a do that at one point (with making a YouTube video, not a new game fortunately), but setting myself an ultimatum on when I needed to start this playtest definitely helped me feel that subtle constant pressure that always gets me my best work (or at least my fastest work)

Not my best track record

I haven't had this kinda, subtle feeling of impending doom for a while now (ever since my last uni assignment, which I always left until the day it was due), and it's nice, I feel at home like this, and I can focus way better than without it I say, as I stop working to write a post that nobody is going to read (ok but for real, I've been working since I woke up, I can afford a quick break to help recenter myself)

Anyway, for archival sake, combat is (basically) done! At least to a proof of concept level, just gotta set up everything for the playtest and make a few new creatures for the game, because it's a bit boring to only have 2 (plus it lets me test how quickly I can make them, based on the last two, I think I can do one every 6 hours including animations, hopefully).

Playtesting Notes!

So, there are a few main things I want answers to from this playtest.

  • 1. Is this idea even vaguely going in a successful direction? This is basically my "do I drop the project?" question.
  • 2. Is the game accessible enough for people to understand during a pretty small playtesting session?
  • 3. Is the AI satisfying to play against? Just like the general concept I have going with it.
  • 4. Is the presentation of combat working? Like is it worth the headache it's caused lmao

Now obviously I'm not just literally asking these questions, I have a pretty lengthy google form for feedback that aims to get me these answers with a little more nuance, plus I'm planning on being there with each playtester as they play so, ideally I should know half of this without having to ask a single question.

My biggest concern is the RPS mechanics just won't click with players, I did a playtest on version 2 AGES ago, with only 2 people mind you and it went pretty poorly, which was why I wrote off the whole RPS system in general, but I think the presentation here helps convey this idea a bit better.

My second biggest concern is that the combat looks shitty. I designed the combat visually to appeal specifically to what I desired from a turn-based battle system and what I thought was lacking, but I can very easily see how it could fall into just looking like visual noise, and even I'm not convinced on it at times.

I've been staring at it way too closely for too long now (not just the visual presentation but the idea as a whole) my sense of judgement is completely ruined, which is terrifying because this could all be one big lead up to the realization that yeah, the idea sucks, the game sucks, and after putting so much of myself into this stupid idea, I suck.

BUT that's just a theory, a game theory, it could all just turn out like a completely normal playtest, where some things work, some don't, I learn from it and the game ends up better as a result, but I still have that feeling gnawing away at me.

Anyway, that's enough rambling for today, I should get back to work and stop humoring my paranoia so much, sorry for the pretty boring post, hope you have a good day!!
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« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2023, 09:12:28 AM »

Hi! Hello, hello! Welcome to 2AM devlog posting!

I have a lot I want to say, and I also want to say it in a very short amount of time because I'm lazy and want to get a lil' snack before I sleep so "production value" (if you can call it that) is going to be a bit lower this time around.

Part 1: The Playtest
So, fun update, uhhh, I haven't abandoned the game yet!!

Look it's a big deal for me.


That's right, the playtest went so not horribly I'm still here! As for how not horribly? It went pretty alright.

I mean, I had two playtesters play the game (which, yeah that's a tiny sample size, but I want to save first impressions for a bit later so shhhhh), and like, myself too, I hadn't actually like, played my game properly yet but I don't count.

I didn't actually have instructions for the game and I was remaining quiet throughout the playtest besides any social small talk and answering any questions directed at me, so I was pleased to find out people were able to pick stuff pretty quickly, at least with the game's core mechanics and interactions between options.

In complete contrast, the AI was pretty misunderstood, besides the first few battles which were really, really simple AIs designed to teach you how the options work by just doing one single option forever, one player barely tried to predict and understand the later AIs at all, the other player analyzed the AIs (at least the few before the final battle) way too heavily to the point of basically going even with the AI despite doing a lot of logical leg work.

Behold, the final battle of the playtest!


While I'm a little bummed, I'm not overly surprised, and it's not an unfixable issue.

Let's go over the problems that lead us here, and then go over my ideas for solutions

PROBLEMS
  • First, the AI stepped up in difficulty pretty heavily, it went from "doing literally nothing but 1 option" to "An AI that would probably beat an average player on autopilot in a fighting game" was WAY too big.
    To be specific, the AI would basically have default option or options they choose from (let's say waiting and attacking), then it would switch off that if those options are beaten, to the option that counters what you did, this preference decays over time back to their original given a bunch of ties.
  • There was not enough incentive to try to figure it out, since you could, with some decent risk management play without really thinking too hard, this was intentional as the battles were supposed to be somewhat easy (they were easier in the second playtest, as the first playtester had some pretty big issues with 1 fight in particular), and with some lucky type match-ups, it was a easy sweep even if you lose some RPS battles
  • The idea of "playing perfectly" isn't really encouraged? From the feedback form, players didn't seem to feel that the AI was predictable at all, which it totally is predictable for the record, I ran a playtest on my own beforehand, and knowing the AI's patterns let me beat all 7 battles taking only a single hit, but I know that as the developer, everything is going to feel easier to me anyway

SOLUTIONS
  • Uh, ramp up the AI slower next time, obviously.
    To elaborate a little more, I'll probably run AIs that just choose one option, then after losing a few times, say a line in battle showing their frustration before switching to another pattern, then kinda slowly lerp towards what we have now (and beyond, this was just my debug battle AI I just modified for all the battlers past the 3rd)
  • The occasional harder battles should do this, but I think this one will come naturally in a setting that's more... Game-like, rather than "Hey fight these 7 battles and you win"
    For example, if you want to level a weak creature against a strong opponent, you need to not get hit to win and get that EXP easier.
  • I think this somewhat gets fixed by showing more instances of doing it on easier opponents, but I also have a mechanic I wanted to introduce that basically gives you a free "opponent predictor" option that charges up with time (based on stuff specific to your creature, it serves a double purpose but I'll get to that another day).

It's all a bit more complex than I'm portraying it here because, y'know I'm lazy and trying to rush this (it's almost 3 already yikes!), and there is a lot of other playtesting stuff to note (but it's all simpler fixes than this, and again, lazy) but tl;dr - I can fix this

(One quick thing it doesn't fit anywhere nicely that I can be bothered to find, but the game kinda worked even if you didn't predict the AI as a risk management game, which is good, that was what I was hoping for)

Part 2: What's Next?
Combat is good enough, now I want to work on the other stuff that's like, actually important to the vision?


I'm working on overworld stuff now, the part of the game I'm expecting the player to spend 80% of the time in, stuff like the player controller, wild creatures, NPCs, creature moods and personalities, the photography mechanic that I decided was "vital" to the game a few months ago and my brain latched onto the idea like a leech, all that stuff!

Lot's of stuff here that requires video to do justice... And also probably a character model that's not a grey capsule (sorry buddy), so here are some funny lil' pictures I took in-game with the in-game camera on Florette, one of the playtest creatures who was just having a lil' walk around the grey void!

What a lil' creature

Florette was actually (very predictably) the least favourite of the three creatures in the game currently, everyone (two people) all loved Aggy (blue critter) the most, and Florette (green bingus) the least, which I wasn't expecting, I thought Capypyra (red bungus) would win to be honest.

Capypyra, Aggy and Florette!


Florette was the test creature I did, and still am testing all of the game's content creation pipeline stuff on, I made it to be simple and easy to model and animate, so it makes sense it isn't winning any design contests.

Aggy was designed by me when I was 7 or something, then redesigned a year or so back into something passable, which makes me glad that it's the favourite, lil' me would be so happy.

And Capypyra was just... Designed... That's it lmao.


Aggy before and after, I did one attempt at a redesign and went "good enough" lmao


ANYWAY, that's all, it's been my designated hour of writing this, hope y'all have a good day, take care!!
« Last Edit: September 11, 2023, 09:18:46 AM by BeauBo » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2023, 09:33:36 AM »

The menu animations and camera work look amazing!
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« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2023, 03:31:41 PM »

The menu animations and camera work look amazing!

Thank you so much!! I was actually quite worried going into this project that I was going a bit overboard on these things, in particular the camera animations since I know it worried it would get disorientating (though none of my playtesters had an issue so I'm tentatively comfortable with it for now).

The UI animations were originally going to be a lot more rigid, just as a byproduct of their earlier designs, but as I kept sketching more and more ideas out, they always kinda slipped into more and more organic shapes that leant themselves well to being animated, which is something I was willing to try out!

Some of my silly lil' sketches I made a while back

And as for the camera, from the very beginning I spent a lot of time researching the camera in the Pokémon anime, in particular the diamond and pearl series, since it often used some dramatic camera angles and cuts to make up for what are mostly a lot of still frames, and that was perfect for my limited animation budget! (though I've ended up going a little beyond this) https://youtu.be/ELFyiS8lgIw?si=ke9mDAEbFhSS8EzH&t=89

An animation I made before even starting this version of the game to help me block out how battles would flow and the camera would work.

I still have a lot of work to do polishing the camera and UI animations up and making sure they extend out into the rest of the game, but I'm very glad that you like them!!
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« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2023, 09:07:43 PM »

One of the best things I've seen on this site :D wish nothing but luck and success for this project
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« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2023, 11:06:56 PM »

One of the best things I've seen on this site :D wish nothing but luck and success for this project

Thank you so much!!! That means a lot to hear!

It's a project I've been working with on and off for so long now, and I'm really glad that you like it! It's always been difficult to try and express the idea without bits of the game to show people like I finally have now, so I'm glad that the wild idea I had almost 5 years ago (I had the idea a fair while before I actually started development) was not just another silly idea to throw in my "bad ideas that can't feasibly exist" pile!

If I remember correctly, my original idea was just that I wanted a creature training game that was structured in a less cynical way and was based on things like the Pokémon animated series, and how things felt to me as a child, back before these types of games felt like a math problem to solve rather than a whimsical adventure, but I didn't start working on it at the time because I had a billion other projects I had in mind to work on, and back then I thought making a game like that would be way beyond my scope (I was probably right, but my sense of judgment as deteriorated dramatically, and that's a bug in my brain I'm willing to exploit). Also I have just gotten a lot faster at making games compared to back then.

I actually had the original idea for Adventurer's Guild (Name Pending), the other game I was working on before coming back to this game for the 8th time, around the same time if I recall correctly, but that's besides the point!

I only really started development when I was kicking the idea around in my head and the version 1 of the combat system kinda came to mind, and I was in-between projects to abandon at the time so I waited for my uni semester to finish up and then started!

ANYWAY! That's my little ramble finished! Hope you have a great day!
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« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2023, 10:29:43 AM »

Greetings my good friends! And welcome to another funny lil' devlog!!

I've been pretty quiet for a bit and things have been absolutely all over the place progress wise, and I was planning on making a post almost a month ago now, it's about time I actually write this already. (also because I made the mistake of playing league of legends again, and that's kinda all I've done for 2 weeks, so I need to be a functional human being and get back to work again)


My Big Bunkus Goal!!
That I'm fucking up pretty bad because I'm a lazy sack of shit

So in late October, I set myself some pretty overdue goals for things I really needed to get around to doing, because as much as I'd love to pick away at random tasks, I need this game to actually get done (my motivation is already having another dip rn as well, I'll get back to that later), and for this game to get done, it needs to actually resemble a game rather than a messy prototype.

These goals are set to be done by the end of the year, which, being Australian means I should be able to have a devlog post about them roughly around the rest of the worlds new year, since I imagine I'll be scrambling this in at the last minute, because that's my go-to game plan in life Wink

Without spitting out my whole document, the vague idea is as follows:
  • Everything to do with the combat system, so every bonus mechanic, every generic animation, all of it. I don't imagine this will be the final iteration of the combat system, but I want to pretend it's going to be, so any feedback can judge the system in it's entirety.
  • Every generic overworld mechanic, including the creature catching/taming system, the petting/training system, and all NPC bits. I keep thinking there isn't much here, but it's actually a pretty substantial part of the game, and as I'm writing this, wow I have a lot to get done before the end of the year, and I REALLY SHOULDN'T HAVE WASTED 2 WEEKS PLAYING LEAGUE GDI.
  • A barebones version of the main UI. Something that's vaguely in the direction of what I'm aiming for with the final product, but functionality over style here.
  • The player model. It is it's own beast that I have tried and failed to get done in the past.
  • Playtest number 2 content! This is a few new creatures, a town, and an overworld area, along with a functional tutorial and like, some stuff to actually do.

This, is a heck of a lot, and I'm realizing I may have drastically over-scoped, but I work best when my back is against the wall, so I think it might be possible, hopefully...

I'm using this post here to try and hold myself accountable, so if I don't manage to have all of this done by the new year, you can all go and call be a big poopy head or something for as long as I live. That and if I don't get this done I'll give up on trying to make this full-time and get a real job, because I'm being way too lazy rn to justify this as a "job", which is a lot scarier than the poopy head thing.

Anyway! Let's move onto things I've actually gotten done recently!


Visual Upgrades!!
R.I.P Grey Checkbox Room...

(gifs are terribly inefficient, so if you want to see it in higher quality you can do so here!

)
(on another note, if you know how to embed youtube videos in tigsource, please let me know lmaoo)


So there have been some fun visual improvements!

As a quick rundown:
  • Better camera animation on clashes (and more variety too!)
  • Better impact VFX
  • Some UI improvements (not happy with the clashing style, but it will do)
  • The game is "cleaner", like there are no ugly 1 frame cuts to the wrong camera or animation or weird UI animation behavior
  • Better VFX sequences for individual attacks (stuff like an impact frame + VFX + creature shake + small slowdown on the tackle animation to turn a really boring animation into something with a bit more kick (and this is used when ANY creature uses this attack)

There are also some cool visual stuff I've done with mechanics that I'm undecided if I want to make public yet.

In-case anyone is reading this in the future when/if the game is out or if I end up revealing this mechanics early, these are the mechanics I wanted to include in the game from the very beginning, like, before version 1 of this project, and the things that I think will tie the experience together as a whole, but they are situational and have some of their impact based on surprise.

Anyway, feeling happy with how it's looking for the first time in a long while, still a lot that could be improved, but it's finally reached the "passable" stage, and that's good enough for me, because I have way too much to do.


Petting!!
Wow this gif is tiny

(Video preview on my twitter https://twitter.com/TimBeauDavid/status/1709193168527470870?s=20)
(I also post more frequently there with lil' bits if you are interested in following me kjwaeghkas)
(I also just realized I posted it on youtube too, whoops

)


I finished this AGES ago, but never got around to actually posting something on here about it.

The petting mechanic is more than just a fun lil' thing to play with your creatures, as it's actively involved in the acquisition of said creatures!

While you will have the means to capture creatures using things like nets or by weakening them in battle, you also have the ability to tame them instead by earning their trust! Different creatures will have different personalities, and different likes and dislikes when it comes to how you can earn their trust, some personalities will come up to you and say hello, where as other may run away or even chase you down and attack you!!

There are advantages as disadvantages to taming verses catching (along with a few other ways of getting creatures that are a bit more situational), but that's something I think I'll let everyone discover in the game for themselves.


Cosmetics!!
Don't they look so fancy?

I mean it's in the picture bc it's just a screenshot of a discord conversation I was having with a friend, but yeah there is also a battle damage shader in the game! They get a little scuffed when they take damage, the preview here shows them at 0% health, so this is the most extreme it gets (their idle animation also slows down when they take damage too).

RIGHT THE POINT OF THIS SECTION, COSMETICS!!

Balls

There are a bunch of different types of cosmetics you can have on you creature (another thing I wanted to have back in way earlier versions), and while you can only see 8 types of cosmetics, there is actually 6 planned for the final game! (not 6 more, 6 total, I cut earrings and rings, they were too small and awkward, I just wanted to sound funny lmao)

They look like a lil' hipster, I love it.

I then position all of these cosmetics on the model, and then use the transforms to replace with the actual cosmetics that are supposed to be on them, thus the earlier image!

They don't look perfect in motion, especially the "wrap" category because they are only parented to a bone in the rig, not with their own weight painting for each creature (because I'd rather die), but it's not major enough for me to mind, my priority for this project has always been personality and expression over professionalism, I can't compete with a big company on looking professional and clean, but I can just let the player do as many fun and exciting things as possible in return! That's kinda the trade off when you play an indie title over a larger budget game.


Environments!!
It's another screenshot of my twitter, I'm lazy today sorry

(you know the drill, more here if you want https://twitter.com/TimBeauDavid/status/1717887309767733624)

Environment design is something I really struggle with, and it's on hold while I wrap up some changes to the combat system, but overall it could have been a lot worse!

I'm struggling to get the floor to look nice in larger areas, since plastering a repeating texture all over the floor looks really bad, at least my repeating textures, so I need something a little more deliberate, but I'm also stupid so I have no idea what I'm doing.

It took me a few shots at this to even get it to this really half-baked stage, and while I started working on a full environment, I'm scrapping it since my method was to just create one big mesh of the terrain in blender and then flesh it out in Unity, but texturing it was a nightmare, because I don't feel like UV unwrapping that, and my attempts at a triplaner mapping shader that looks ok with pixel art textures came up a little short.

Yeah, gross.

I wish I had more to say, but I'm still figuring it out, I just felt like I had to talk about this in some form since I've got a variant of this environment in the background of the battle scene, and it would be a little weird to just... Not talk about it lmao.


Conclusion!!
Wow we are almost done!

I mentioned it briefly earlier by motivation has been at an all-time low recently, it's a combination of "I don't want to work" and "I don't want to work on THIS project" that's been leading me to dark places (league of legends).

I think I'm on the tail-end of that slump, since I actually got around to writing this post, which is more progress than I can say I've made recently, but the desire to start working on something else instead of this is always going to be a battle I'm gonna have to win somehow, but the deadline does helps keep me a bit more focused at least.

There are a few others things I haven't shown here, like the creature's reaction to you in the overworld, uh, actually literally anything in the overworld (there is a whole character controller and everything), my failed player model attempts, a few new status conditions and of course, the secret mechanics I can't show off just yet, but the majority of what I've done has been shown, and while it's a lot of fun stuff, I've really gotta pick up the pace if I want my deadline met.

The most valuable skill I learnt at school was how to last minute assignments

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading another one of my silly lil devlogs, I'm gonna go and update the first post of the thread now because it desperately needs some work (I've got some fun gifs to show off now)

for prosperity

Anyway! I hope you all have a wonderful day, I'm probably going to sleep soon (after I update the main post lol) since it's very late, but I'm feeling good about moving forward now, I think after writing this, I've actually got some of my motivation back, even if it's a bit more driven by fear over passion than I'd like it to be.

Farewell!!
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« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2023, 05:15:45 AM »

Hi, I really like your game, I'm a music composer and sound designer, I'd like to work for your game, if you need audio let me know.
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« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2024, 05:16:00 PM »

Awesome start, glad to know even TIGSource knows I'm a failure lmao

Hey, hi! How is everyone doin~?

I am, as it turns out, not doing well! At all!

So that's what today is about, it's about me, because I'm self-obsessed, and also I left things without closure before, so I wanted to actually kinda explain what's going on in-case anyone actually follows this silly lil' devlog

Oh sweetie... Oh honey no, not at all~


Conclusion to last post
Starting with a conclusion feels weird

Actually, no before that, I'm going to be really indulgent today and talk more about myself, because it's relevant to what's going on here.


Precursor to the conclusion
That's better

So, for as long as I can remember, I've been lazy.

That's not exactly the right word, but it's the one I've always used. Every assignment in school I'd do hours before it was due, every homework task I'd do in the morning before school started, my lunch break before class, or the class directly before it. I technically got the work done on time, but absolutely not the way I should have, I procrastinated, bad. I could try to work before the last minute, but I'd just sit there figuratively, or sometimes literally kicking and screaming, doing ANYTHING else but what I should in the moment.

I know last-minuting assignments isn't uncommon, but I've never met anyone as down bad as me, and the worst part is, I was always kind of proud of this. Going into university, I was kinda proud this skill, I'd become an expert at doing my work quickly and efficiently while still keeping my my relatively good grades that I was too afraid to let slip.

Every god damn time...

The point is, I was motivated by fear.

Now, the problem is, I've graduated university, I have no more deadlines, but I still have work to do, work I care very deeply about, work that's far more important to me than any silly assignment or useless university grade, but I just... can't.

I mean, I can sometimes, you've seen the devlog, I've done stuff, but my god is it not consistent.


Conclusion to last post, but for real this time
this post looks so ugly and boring, even the pictures are text

So, as per usual, I set myself a deadline to try and get stuff done, and like usual, it failed. To be fair, it was a little different this time, I really, genuinely meant what I said before, I needed to get this done to prove to myself that I could do it, problem is my god did I overscope.

Actually, no, it wasn't that bad until I left ALL OF THE THINGS I SAID I'D DO, UNTIL F**KING DECEMBER!!

I had 24 days to get everything done, because I had plans on and after Christmas, that's insane, even for me and my usual flirting with insanity. Why can't I just be normal?? Why can't I just sit down, and work on something I care about?


Why.
Turns out, I'm probably not normal!

There's a few things that are at play here, the first of those is I'm scared. I'm terrified, I'm way in over my head and nothing seems to be working, every game I make doesn't feel right, every decision seems to backfire and my own mind refuses to cooperate with itself.

Every day I get a little more panicky, I get more desperate, I get more and more susceptible to the thoughts of "Hey, this wild, out of the blue idea I just came up with is a way better idea to that stupid, annoying long-term project!"

Everything I seem to do is wrong, or doesn't work, or whatever, so my brain keeps thinking there's a better option, a nice, clean, correct answer I'm missing. Because I've always been so lazy, my brain likes to latch onto easy solutions, to efficient ways to fix everything, the adult equivalent of when my teacher was coming around to check our homework, so I scribbled out the name of an older chapter's name and writing the new chapter there instead, and having it look good enough to get away with a cursory glance (bonus of being a "good student" is you can get away with being a bad one).

Yes the questions don't match, it never mattered, I still got away with it every time

The other thing, is that I also probably have something wrong with me, like in my brain.

I've had people tell me "oh that sounds like ADHD" or "it sounds like you might have depression" for a while now, and I kinda just ignored it because:

   A.  I don't really think that's the case, it's probably just a coincidence.
   2.  Even if it is, acknowledging that won't fix the issue.
   III.  Even if I were to acknowledge it, I don't want to rely on medication to fix it, and I don't really want to talk to a psychologist.

But something snapped in me recently, and my reasoning looks more like this:

   A.  I'm desperately hoping that is IS the case, because if not, then I'm the problem, I'm just lazy.
   2.  Looking back at my life after acknowledging this explains so much.
   III.  I want to be medicated for it, maybe not permanently, and I do think how scatterbrained I am can help with idea generation, but I really want a diagnosis right now.

Maybe healthier, maybe not, I don't really care, I just want to get this game done, or just, a game done, instead of the slew of prototypes half-baked ideas that clog my hard drive. Because like, yeah to be honest, I haven't touched the game since December, I gave up on the self-imposed deadline half way through when I realized it was impossible (that's what you do with self-imposed deadlines after all), I started a new project, figured it would be quick, easy and the solution to all my problems, got really into it for 5 days, then hated it for the next month I worked on it. Then I went back to my old "Adventurer's Guild" game I posted a gif of earlier, and did the exact same thing, and then again with another game for a few days...

I'm quite literally doing the exact same thing by coming back to this idea, but I already feel the fixation on the project wavering after, what's been about 24 hours (which is still above my average for fixations).

That, was a lot of really boring sad talk, and this is a devlog post update, so I'll share something besides a overly long "making games is really hard guys" word vomit that I can't imagine anyone reading (I certainly don't read, I just look at the pretty pictures, but making random words bold to emphasize them helps me at least latch onto the important parts when I re-read lmao), so let's go over something fun!


Creature Design!
That's better

So, here is my general process for character design.

1. I always do my designs in MS Paint, ever since like, 2023, this is for two main reasons:
  • First, MS Paint opens faster the CSP and Aseprite, CSP takes like, 20 seconds, and Aseprite is about 5, but it requires me to have steam open, which I often don't when I'm not actively working or playing games.

    This is important since I'll often have an idea for a creature very suddenly, and the idea, and/or motivation to sketch that idea can often dissipate in an instant, sometimes I'll start drawing mid-way through a voice call with someone, or while playing a game, or in the case above, listening to "Armor-clad Faith".

    The faster it opens, the quicker I can capitalize on the inspiration.

    As a result of this the designs are often, rushed, half-baked and underdeveloped, but in a way better state than if I sat there thinking "Come on brain, come up with something cool!", because those designs are always bad...
  • The second reason is it forces me to keep things simple.

    The idea is that every design could in theory, be recognizable when drawn in MS Paint, in about 10-20 seconds, without colour, drawing them in MS Paint from the start helps with that, and also makes it quick to iterate and get my ideas out quickly, just because of how simple the program is (and how comfortable I am with it)

2. I always draw with a mouse
  • See I have a drawing tablet, I used it for the first few designs I made for the game back in 2020 when it was an unrecognizable idea compared to what it is now, but I also did those in CSP, and my GOD was it slow...



    Besides the point, drawing with a mouse is so much faster, simply because I don't have to stand up, pick up my drawing tablet (it sits above my desk) and plug it in (sometimes it doesn't work and I need to restart my PC), THEN I can start drawing. My mouse is just... Here.

    Also, I've gotten pretty ok at using a mouse, for stuff with no pen pressure required, I don't think I'm actually any worse at drawing with it anymore.

3. I don't actually do too much "design" stuff.
  • I know how you are supposed to design stuff, with iteration, experimentation, feedback and all that, but with this game, I just need creatures, not a very specific list of creatures for specific areas, given enough creature designs, I'll probably have enough for each area.

  • If a design sucks on my first attempt at making it, I usually just abandon it. I've tried following up and making it better over time, and it worked with the bird I showed earlier (that one took several weeks, and I was stubborn, and it was precious to me bc it was my first design for the game)

    Rare instance of following a design actually kinda working (still unfinished but close enough)


    Common instance of pursing a design failing (no real design came from this idea, wanted like a "ninja, boxing kangaroo" thing lmao)


Conclusion
Hey, didn't we do this already?

Anyway, that's my general process, it's not like, "good" but I do think it's good for me and my stinky attention span.

Here is a fun collection of all of the creatures I've designed that have a coloured, MS Paint artwork, that I could be bothered to find.
The designs here are not final, and many I might not even use, and there are a lot more without colour or still in CSP, but yeah!
(Also a few I intentionally omitted)
(Also not to scale for canon sizes)

I hope that the pretty design pictures makes up for the big, boring, ugly chunks of text earlier. Anyway, thanks for reading, I'm wrapping this up quickly bc I feel really sick and faint for some reason, so uh, no spell-check, I hope you all have a wonderful day!!
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« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2024, 10:01:31 AM »

Greetings my friends!

Before I begin, some quick house-keeping!

  • My keyboard is on the verge of death right now, so there may be missing/doubled/delayed keys throughout this post, I'll do my best to clean it up, but I'm bound to miss something.
  • Was feeling a wee bit terrible last time I was here, sorry for the bummer of a post, this one will be slightly more upbeat.

Without further ado, let's begin!!


Introduction
Because that wasn't an introduction, see that was a... Pre-Introduction!!

Look I'm gonna be honest I'm mostly writing this to clear my head, I wanted to take stock of where we are, where we have come from, and where we are headed.

I've recently reworked the combat system a bit, and it's all very... fluid. As in I've made changes to the code to support new systems, but a lot of the numbers are still up in the air, and I don't quite know how I want them to sit just yet, so instead of the usual posts showing off what I've done, I'm going to here, live (not live), try and figure out what I'm going to do next!

For the sake of documentation, I've also reworked the creature stat screen, party screen, did a bunch of environment design and environment design workflow setup, modelled, but not implemented a new creature, created NPCs, overhauled the wild creature behavior, polished the taming system, fixed a bunch of bugs in the combat system and of course, made some big changes to it. I'm not showing any of that here today, but I will soon!! Give me about a month, and I'll have a nice, finished preview to share of stuff that will resemble the finished product!

ANYWAY, the problem right now is I'm not sure how strong dodging should be. That's it, kind of.

Basically, as I've mentioned earlier, the game runs in a kind of RPS system, attacking beats waiting, waiting beats dodging and dodging beats attacking. This is fine and all, but again, as I've mentioned earlier, it needs to be unbalanced.

I've always planned on making dodging the weakest stat-wise, thus making waiting less encouraged, and making attacking the default option, which, counter-intuitively orders their usefulness as attacking, then dodging, then waiting.

Basically, despite waiting being a fine option stat-wise, there's no reason to use it, bc it only counters the weakest thing, and loses to the most common option, where as dodging, despite sucking, counters the most common thing, thus is an option to consider, despite being weak number-wise.

Originally, I handled this by making dodging decrease the damage dealt, (I also made waiting stronger originally, but have since gone back on that). The new system instead making dodging just as powerful, but not always successful.


The Dodge Rework!!
Featuring zero pictures, because I suck today

Dodging, instead of just being another RPS system, is now a passive part of the whole game!

Creatures have a chance to dodge any attack, and this chance is increased by their speed stat (making it far more useful). Specifically, it's 1d12 + Speed that has to beat the attacker's Speed + 10 + HM (each skill has a HM, it's usually 0), natural 12's will always succeed, 1's will always fail.

The dodge option instead forgoes a regular action to double your result, if you dodge something, you can counter attack, if you don't, they get to attack for free. This allows dodging to be more common (since it's cool) while still being the weakest option in the RPS.

Another big change is that since everything is a bit more chance-based now, I want to be up-front about values, such as dodge chance and hit chance to make this less draconic for the player, along with how damage and stuff is calculated.

Fine, one image.

Anyway, back to my original point, I don't know how strong the dodging option should be.

When compared to a normal RPG battle system, where people take turns whacking each other until one falls over, the key things we lose when going to this system are simplicity and reliability.

To compare to Pokémon for a moment because it's a very easy comparison, if press "Flamethrower", no matter what happens, baring a few exceptions (protect, getting outsped and one-shot, etc.), you will deal damage to your opponent, you will make progress towards your goal.

In this game, unless you have been paying attention to your opponent's habits, your attack has about a 50:50 shot of landing.

There's no "turn off brain" button, every battle is challenging and requires engagement, and I'm gonna be honest I don't think that's a good thing. I think it approaches tedium sometimes, at least for me (which is a sample size of one, very unreliable person who's been staring at the game for like 4 (-ish) years)

I think about this line a lot.

There are advantages to this system of course, like yeah it can be a lot, but that's kind of the point? I wanted battles to be difficult and demanding, I wanted it to never feel like a sure thing, both for or against you, I want to create powerful moments of triumph, and stories that players will carry with them.

And maybe it's a good thing that battles are uncomfortable, I'm not trying to make the next Pokémon/Temtem/Coromon or other game in that formula, the idea is that battles in this game are relatively rare, I've put so much other stuff into the world to fill your time like photography, camping, petting and heck, even training your creatures is separated from battles, like yeah you do get stronger by battling, but it's not the only way.

It's difficult to nail down how I want combat to feel, because like, I can pretty easily and linearly transition the game towards a more traditional RPG experience, just by how we treat the dodge mechanic, if you remove dodging, you effectively remove waiting as well, and at that point it's basically a normal turn-based RPG.

Basically, how far do we go?

Because the first playtest we were too far in one direction, and I was worried about overcorrecting. I think in typing this out I did get what I was hoping for from this, a bit of confidence in the decisions I've made throughout this project, I think this new dodge system is healthy, but I've gotta be careful to not let it derail the original intent behind the RPS system.

Unrelated, but man I need to nerf the speed stat as a whole though lmao, it affects turn order, travel distance, accuracy AND dodge chance, but that's a different problem entirely.

Anyway, that's more or less my TIGSource equivalent of a series of live-tweets, I'm more settled now, anyway, thanks for reading!

Unless something else comes up, next post will be actually interesting, I've got a lot of work stockpiled up that I want to present all at once!

Have a great day! Goodbye!
« Last Edit: May 23, 2024, 10:07:12 AM by BeauBo » Logged
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