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First day of Greenlight

So, finally, Posable Heroes got into greenlight on monday morning. Preparation: I prepared my 512x512 logo, which has to be less that 1mb so some optimization had to be done. I decided on an animated logo for extra attention. But the animated portion was small (like 30%) so the weight would not be as high.
Tip: This website was very helpful to reduce the last 100kb. I prepared my trailer: The artist had a personal problem the last couple of weeks. I could not wait any longer for the extra levels we wanted to include, so I made them myself with parts I could pickup from other levels, and from free textures found online. I got the soundtrack from audiojungle for 15 dollars.
I prepared the description: Trying to use a short description at the beginning, and a main body to describe gameplay and show how the game works. I can translate to spanish myself, and a kind person translated to russian for me. So 3 languages were supported. Added google analytics. Added links to twitter, youtube and facebook. And then I pressed PUBLISH. Inmediately after submitting, (like 30 minutes after), Posable Heroes was already 6th on the recent releases list. Damn! Want an advice? Don't publish on monday mornings. Compared to it, tuesday morning has been much slower as far as new submissions goes. I had manually tracked some values on thursday and friday, and everything pointed to 1.5 new games per hour. So this was a big bump I didn't expect. But then again, I have no idea how Grenlight's algorithm works to show the game on people's queues. Is there a fixed number of impressions? Does yes/no ratio make you game more visible? Does falling to second page matters? I don't know. 26 hours later, I'm still on first page though, on slot 29th. By the time I finish writing this entry I probably have fallen into greenlight oblivion of the second page. Traffic has already slowed down and new votes (either 'yes' or 'no') have already stopped coming in. And I'm getting around 1 vote every 30 minutes... yikes. How is it going so far? I had a good run on monday afternoon, reaching around 55% yes votes. But today I woke up to a very low 40% approval.
This was not unexpected, as the game is not really mainstream (nor a "gamer's game"). But I guess I did have a little bit of hope of getting a better approval ratio. Don't we all? But I'm not down about the ratio, I am worried about how few votes (overall) I'm getting. So I need to find a way to pump those numbers up. How do games in the top 100 do it? They have like 6,000 votes! Is that organic? I have been offered some promotion by shady marketing groups/companies. I don't want to go that route. One curious thing: In the first 20hrs+ I had zero "Ask me later". Then, all of a sudden, 9 votes appear there in like 15 minutes. What was that about? Anyway, on the good side, I had a good laugh with this comment:
It made me chuckle. I'm thinking what other things I could do to get attention. I saw some groups on facebook but it just seems developers voting each others project, no matter the quality of the submissions. I'm not fond of that. Is that the game we are supposed to play?. Right now I'm preparing something and see if any website wants to say a few words about the game, although everyone says that getting greenlight coverage is very hard. Feel free to leave me suggestion in the comments! And if you like the game, here the greenlight link.

desdemian

desdemian

 

GUI/Tools programming vs Game programming

Dear diary...

I've been doing a lot of GUI/tool programming for the last two months (mainly building a level/character/campaing editor).
And I have noticed a huge difference in my mental state while programming GUI/tools sutff.

As in, when I'm programming games, I'm constantly on my toes: "Is this efficient? Am I making a copy of this? What O(n) is this? How can I avoid this loop?" etc etc... basically I didn't realize until now that every time I'm game programming I'm like this:


Pictured: 10.000 actions in 16 ms.


Now, don't think I'm a optimization maniac. In fact, after seeing this talk on gpp2015... apparently I'm not even doing enough.
I try to live by the rule number 1 of optimization: "Don't do it"; but I do tend to have a sense of awareness that if I can effortlesly redesign my algorithm to make it faster, I do, as long as it doesn't take me 2x+ the time to code it.


But... my eyes openend when I programmed my tools and my GUI. It felt like this:


Pictured: 1 action in 100 ms.

My mind was like: "Iterate through all 20 items? Lol, sure... Open 15 files to build this menu? Be my guest!"

Like, the reaction time was huge (user dependant), the number of items being handling was ridiculous low, 20... 30 options. It felt like a vacation.

So, my question to you... Is this a normal feeling?

If it's not: am I doing something wrong? Game programming should not be more stressful than "regular" programming. Any advice?

If it IS: If this is a common feeling, I am seriusly considering not coming back to the game industry once the indie-dream is over. I mean, if I can feel this relaxed on my work environment (and the higher salary is nice too), then maybe my doubts about what industry should I go back to is easier to answer.

Any thoughts?

desdemian

desdemian

 

One year report (trailer inside).

Alright, my friends.
It's been 12 month since I started this project.

Here are a few stats of this whole journey:

Number of months without a home: 12.5
Countries visited: 7
Cities visited: 43
Money spent:
- On me (food, bed, transport, tourism& stuff): 8000 **
** 3000 in Korea alone. It was crazy, i was blinded by SC2 and kpop stars. I regret nothing.
- On the game (domains, hosting, music): 76
Fake iphone cables destroyed: 3
Number of pants/shirts lost along the way: 6
Times I got sick: 2
Times I got attacked by an alpha male spider monkey: 1
Number of classes in my code: 101
Lines of code: 22500+
Games finished: 0
Levels finished: 6.5
Trailers produced: 1.

Here is that trailer... the only tangible good coming out of this whole mess.
Enjoy.





If you like what you see:
Comenting/Following/Liking/Sharing/RTs on any of these will make my heart warm.

Web: www.stochasticlints.com
Twit: @StochasticLints
FB: Stochastic Lints
Gmail: stochasticlints@gmail.com

desdemian

desdemian

 

Rethinking my hud

So... about my hud. This is my current hud design (graphics not final).



I made it based on YouTube's control bar...



mixed with Adobe Flash's time line...




Although functional, as i said before, a lot of people are having trouble grasping it. Programmers and animators have very little issues, but "common" people do not understand it easily, making the game pretty much impossible for them.

These are the main problems with the hud that I have seen when playtesting with strangers:

1. The concept of timeline is not intuitive:
1.1 People have problems going backwards and forwards in the animation
1.2 They can't realize that more space = more time.
1.3 They make their changes in a wrong place, when they try to add new keyframes.

2. The concept of interpolating between keyframes is definetely not understood.
2.1 People want their pose at this moment, and don't change the past!
2.2 Adding a frame to preserve the past is not understood.


So this is the idea i'm playing with right now:



The idea:
- I think users will be more familiar with a "film" concept, than a timeline.
- When you press play, the film slowly rolls to the left as the movie progresses.
- Every pose (frame) is held for X miliseconds and changes (almost) inmediately to the next.
- So no interpolation concept.
- The film starts very small (one or two poses) and the user can add poses as he needs them, so he knows how big it is.
- The frames are added only to the back, inmediately next to the last frame.
- They incrementally create the film form start to finish.
- No mistakes on where to add a frame. You are always working on the final part of the movie...

It becomes closer to a "list of instructions" that the character will try to imitate.

In theory:

Pros:
Easier to visualize.
Easier to teach.
Harder to make mistakes.
No interpolation required.

Cons:
Loses control and granularity. Since now each frame is bigger, you will not have as much control as you would with individual frames on a timeline.
More rigid, less liberties.


I realize that this approach take away A LOT of liberties from the player. I am not convinced if it's worth it. I have to implement it, and see if it works as i hope it will. I have to think if i like to play it this way.

I'll report again when i have results.

desdemian

desdemian

 

Brutal Soul-Crashing Dream-Destroyer Feedback required.

Ok,
I finally managed to put together a 6 level early build of The Most Poser Heroes.





Please, I need brutally honest feedback. Yeah, the one that destroys your soul and dreams.

Here is an old trailer, and here are gifs and screenshots.
Dowload (windows only): www.stochasticlints.com/builds/TMPH_0_5.zip

Things I'm interested in listening:

1] Tutorials: Did you understand how to play? Are they enough?
2] Difficulty: Is this a game you would clasify as hard?
3] Controls: Did they get in your way? Is something missing to let you achieve your goal?
4] Gameplay: Did you have fun? Do you see yourself playing further? What level did you reached before giving up? If the game was not fun, why do you think that is?

Any other suggestion is welcome.
Please ignore: Artwork and sound.
No music, so use your favorite playlist.

You can post your feedback here on the comments, or, if you want to curse and get personal, email: stochasticlints@gmail.com

Thanks.

desdemian

desdemian

 

The IGF reviews are here.

The IGF reviews are here. The good news is that they all concur to the same point. The bad news is the point they all concur to.

Consensus: Good idea. Boring implementation.

===

I really like the idea behind the game however in it's current state it is no fun to play at all because the process of animating the character feels to tedious and slow.
Maybe an idea to facilitate and speed up that process would be to preanimate some poses and then reuse them with some kind of drag and drop mechanic. I can see this being fun but it would need some damatic changes in its interaction principles.

----

This is a really interesting idea, but the inherent tedium of animating is not mitigated enough at this point. This may be one of those ideas that looks good on paper but doesn't work out when you actually prototype it, or there may be ways to improve the pacing, such as the ability to save poses to swap in more quickly or having characters with fewer joints at the beginning.

----

REALLY love the idea, but the implementation is just not there. It's not fun to play. It sounds amazing in my head--and I was blown away as soon as I was reading what it was asking me to do--but I didn't enjoy the doing.

===

This implies much bigger changes than the HUD things I was talking about. The suggestions they give I had already considered, but i rejected them because of their implications on gameplay.

I think these are the first objective, over the internet, opinions I've gotten, and for that I give them more weight than the ones I've gotten so far face to face (a lot of people won't say to your face that your game is boring).


Now i need to decide if I keep my original direction, thus aiming super-niche, and sink with the ship.
Or... make a drastic change, trying to appeal to a (slightly) broader audience. I really wish I could do this without compromising the original ideas of the game, but right now that doesn't seem possible.


Decisions, decisions, ahead of me... and of course lots of prototyping.


"Art is not a democracy." - GRR Martin.
[size=2]But I'm not an artist, Martin, I'm an artisan.

desdemian

desdemian

 

My sketchbook...

As i was reading Asteroid Base's post about sketchbooks: http://www.asteroidbase.com/devlog/8-ugly-sketchbooks/#more-496, it was a nice surprise to see three different people and the way they treat/use their sketchbooks. Even though i consider myself 100% a programmer, my sketchbook looks more like Jamie's: drawings mixed with math (more like geometry in my case), although not as tidy.

I was actually surprised how clean and white were the programer's pages.


My sketchbook's pages usually start with useful data: todo lists, algorithms or ideas. I'm not very tidy, but it makes sense to me...




As time goes by, and those pages spend more and more time next to me, doodles start invading them. Sometimes they actually mean something (level design, geometry collision, direction vectors, etc)... and sometimes they are just things my hand does while my brain is thinking...




In the end... if possible, i even start using darker pens to write over other things... there's a whole mess with barely any white on them... time to move to the next page...



I've found that having as sketchbook to doodle makes programming so much easier. To put something on a page (even though it's just a square representing a class or an object) organizes the code in my head.



The curious thing is that when i get into "artist mode" (character design, mainly), i am the opposite. I am very tidy and i don't like doodling on these pages. This is the same sketchbook, except showing the art pages.











In fact i think i'm TOO tidy. Too rigid. I've seen actual artists' sketchbook, their lines are all over the place, the re-do the same line several times, maybe trying to find something new that works better. Their shapes are not defined until later, they are actually sketches. And have like one hundred drawings of the same character with slight variations...

But i cannot do it, if i don't like a line I erase it... if i like a character, i'm afraid to draw it again because i don't know if i will manage to draw it the same. I have to pratice to loosen up... a lot.



What does your sketchbook look like?
As a programmer do yo have a sketchbook at all?

desdemian

desdemian

 

After 3 years, an artist has joined me.

After 3 years of working alone, I have hired an artist to work with me on the game. The pros:
- I was able to work the game at my own pace (i. e. very slow) and just focus on programming, without being distracted/worried about leading an entire team.
- I could change, scratch and toss away work. Redo entire levels without worrying of wasting someone else's time and my money. The first level's background actually changed 4 times.
- After 3 years of working on it, I have all the levels and assets (programmer art) ready to be transformed and replaced on the game.
- The artist can see if the project is worth it, as it is "almost finished" (tm). Also they can see that your are for real, and can actually finish a game.
- They can estimate much better the ammount of work and budget required to make it work. The cons:
- The loneliness. Sucks to work all by myself. Even having someone on the side, working on their own things is a morale booster. If I eve do it again I would like to have partners from the beginning, or at least go to one of these open offices where other people work on their own stuff. Motivation is also very hard to keep is you don't have a strong will to just "sit and work".
- The tunnel view. You are working alone and its hard to challenge yourself to view things different, your vision will be blurred ond so focus. You don't have brain storming sessions with different brains chipping in a coming up with good ideas.
- The project as it is engraves on your brain, and changing it after so much time requires that you break your conception of it, and accept that a new person has joined and you have to compromise. ("But that was red...", "Yeah, but this color works much better don't you think...", "but... that's always been red").
We started just doing some proof of concept to find the art style for the game.
I provided references of work I liked. The artist presented me with their point of view and we worked from there, iterating a few times, finally we arrived to something we were both happy with: Then some doodles and sketches came trying to find what clothes, color and hair I wanted for the main character: Number 11 was chosen as a starting point. And then several iterations came (left to right, top to bottom). We took a worng turn at some point (blue glasses). There were too many details on the face and when shrinked to gameplay size they would clutter and make a mess. I was worried that we may never find it, but we decided to simplify and were soon on track. I was really happy with the final product.

desdemian

desdemian

 

Inverse Kinematics to the rescue.

I'm currently trying things to make the game easier on the new player, without sacrificing the original vision.
Besides modifying the first levels, I have added a few control related improvements.

Inverse kinematics:


I slowed it down on purpose to give the user more control.

This is something that several people asked me to add. So now you can control the whole arm through IK, or control each individual part as before if you want more control.

IK is usually not an easy subject, but for my case I was able to approach it in the simplest way, using Cyclic Coordinate Descent. Using this awesome article by Ryan Juckett (includes explanation, drawing, math and code!) it took me very few adjustments to make it work.

The only thing I had to add was restrictions to the joints, since the wrist of my character is not supposed to do a 360 rotation.

To make it work, I modified Juckets' Bone_2D_CCD struct to:struct Bone_2D_CCD{ double x; double y; double angle; bool hasLimits; // new double minAngle; // new double maxAngle; // new};
And fed this new information to the algorithm.


Inside the IK function, after these rotAng variable is computed (these lines)...double rotAng = acos( max(-1.0, min(1.0,cosRotAng) ) );if( sinRotAng
...I added code to truncate the rotAng variable:if (bones[boneIdx].hasLimits){ bool limitExceeded = false; if (rotAng > 0 && bones[boneIdx].angle + rotAng > bones[boneIdx].maxAngle) // truncate to maxAngle { rotAng = bones[boneIdx].maxAngle - bones[boneIdx].angle; limitExceeded = true; } else if (rotAng
And although I'm not super proud to bring trigonometric functions to an "all linear algebra" solution, I don't know enough math to do it properly, and this was a case of not needing to optimize things that do not slow down your game (this code follows the action of the much-slower user).



[size=2]More info about the game: themostposerheroes.com

desdemian

desdemian

 

My character is growing...

I said i was gonna post more often. I haven't. Sorry.
I'm working 24/7.


To make up for the lack of updates, I want to show you the evolution of my character in the last year.
I talked before about finding the right proportions.

This is how the character visually evolved all along this year. From prototype to current version.



I'm trying to set up a website but it's pretty much empty right now: http://www.stochasticlints.com
Should have something on it in the following weeks.

Cheers.

desdemian

desdemian

 

With... or without borders

Since the beginning I wanted to add clear borders to all my characters and levels. This was mainly due to this being a physics game, and I wanted no doubt about which object can collided with which object. Since the characters takes a lot of effort to move, then the player should find no surprises about what is a floor/wall, and what is just decoration. Unfortunately, today, assembling some new art, I realized that the white borders were just too much noise. So I made a fast mockup to test how it would look without the borders...
What do you think? Should I keep the paper white borders... or should I delete them?

desdemian

desdemian

 

Level Editor done.

The level editor is done.

It took me a lot longer that I estimated, but I have everything in place now so hopefully I can start focusing on level design.

It is divided in several "screens". The Image Editor lets you load files, set their UV coords, set origin, and if they are animated sprites you can attach them animations.




After an image is prepared, you can load them on the back/fore ground, or use them in the Part Editor to create a box2d part:



The Part Editor asigns physical parts to an image. Basically 1 image = 1 object. You can also add shapes by using circles, rectangles and polygons; each with their own physical properties.

Then come the Object Editor which puts together the parts to create links/trees of physical parts joined by revolute/prismatic joints.



And there's also de physics editor which, after loading a background image, let's you draw the global static physics of the level for the character to collide with:




Extra screens:

Character positioner (lets you decide where is there character going to start and in the initial position).
Sensor Editor (lets you put sensor all around the level that trigger events)
Victory editor (lets you choose the victory conditions for the level)


I'm planning to include this editor with the game, but probably I need to make it easier to use and hide a lot of details from the user. But that's for another time...

I need a character editor now...

desdemian

desdemian

 

I made an ollie!

One of the levels I've been working on requires you to use a skateboard. Allthough in the level you just have to ride the skate through ramps and jumps (hard enough), for this screenshot saturday I decided to invest a little bit of time trying to see if I could make the character perform an ollie on the flat ground. It took quite some time (30 minutes?), its not the most technical ollie you will see... but hey, the wheels are on the air and the character lands it. I'm happy =).
http://bit.ly/2fMFjaP
Edit: does somebody know why is my .gif not showing in this post? It shows correctly and animated in the editor, but not when I click "Publish Now".
More info about the game: themostposerheroes.com

desdemian

desdemian

 

Replicating a simulation with Box2d, part 2.

So, in the previous post I said the main problem about duplicating a box2d world. The worlds differ. Why would you want to duplicate a box2d world? There are several reasons: To replay a cool sequence. To predict the future. To go back in time. To save the current game. To send the current world to another player. How do you solve this? There is a very simple way of going around the box2d issue. Instead of trying to make a copy of the original world, and hope for the best, you make two copies, and then destroy the original. So instead of running the original world and save the copy...
You make two copies, run one and save the second one. That way, the second copy will be identical to the first one.
So the solution is: everytime you want to save the current world, you are actually destroying it and making two copies. The players will continue to play on copy number #1 (they will not realise the change) and you store copy number 2, in case you ever need to get back to that instant.

This is a very simple solution that can be applied to almost every case. My game turned out to be one of those special cases that required dipping into the source code. I'll talk about it in the next post.

If you want to know more about my game and why I had to dance around box2d cloning issues: Posable Heroes now has a steam store page.

desdemian

desdemian

 

Programer art vs Artist art

The last month I've been putting the new artwork into the game. Still lots of work, but it's nice to see it come together.
Last entry I was wondering about two diferent artwork style and trying to decide which one to keep. I decided to go with the cleaner looking one. The paper borders were just too much and made a mess. Although I did like the unique style it created, I decided to simplify. They say that perfection is reached when there's nothing else to take away... and those borders were something that the game could do without.
This is the progress on some of the level I've been sharing: Level 2, before and after:
Level 12, before and after:
Level 13, before and after:
Level 3, before and after:
I'm also preparing for greenlight! Very exciting times.

desdemian

desdemian

 

Adding a companion.

There are three heroes in my game. They all move the same. Move the limbs -> thus the torso moves. Enter the robotic companion. The Robot idea came from the observation that sometimes you need a little push to make your character go through some obstacle or reach a destination. I consider the idea of having an almighty hand available for "cheating", ala deus ex machina, that you could summon arbitrarily and it would come and push your little paper doll. But having a robot companion not only was better suited, it could also add an extra dimension for the game. So here is the little robot: As you can see, the robot floats around. Thus it's much easier to control, just drag it wherever you want it to go. This little robot can be used for several purposes: Pushing your heroes around is one of the best uses for the robot. When you are stucked, or can't reach something, or you start falling to the wrong side and are afraid to move. The robot is not so strong though, so don't expect it to be able to lift you off very high and just fly you through the level. It can help, but don't push it. The robot is not only useful, but needed in some puzzles. Its small size, flying abilities and full control are perfect in some scenarios.
More info on the game and a small alpha demo: www.themostposerheroes.com

desdemian

desdemian

 

Bugs Funny.

Bugs are usually source of headaches...

99% of the time you encounter a bug in your game you will be flooded with confusion, anger and the need to lift your fist and curse the gods. Because that's what programming is basically about... cursing the gods for your unfair destiny (why didn't you make me normal?!).

But sometimes... just sometimes... bugs are funny. And they show you unexpected things that you, as the developer, will hardly experience with your own game. Surprise and chuckles.

Yesterday, i was programming very late at night, barely finishing a new feature, when i made my character jump, head first, into this bouncing awning (?). He was supposed to bounce back up... but his high velocity made his head go through the box2d joints of the bouncer (composed, like a bridge or rope, of several bodies tied together)...

The result was my character got stucked on the awning, softly bouncing up and down... while i stared in silent for a few seconds trying to understand what just happened...



Then i laughed. I laughed out loud so hard at the silly result. It was late, i was tired and i could not work anymore...
I turned off the computer still laughing... brushed my teeth laughing... got into bed and chuckled one more time.

Then I rolled to my side... and cried myself to sleep.

desdemian

desdemian

 

A new hud

Lately I've been working on updating the hud. The game is quite colorful (once you press play) so I thought adding a cardboard only hud to make the distinction. Use to look like this: Now it looks like this: Top left is supposed to be the briefing about the current level. Working on localizing those texts.   More about posable heroes: Steam Store Page

desdemian

desdemian

 

New everything.

My father gave me his old laptop.
Since his "old" laptop was still 4 years younger than my current laptop, I took it. I needed it to record better videos since fraps+my game was too much for my current machine. Nothing else. I was probably going to keep using my machine for development.

I don't like configuring, installing, updating software. I hate it. But since this is a new environment, let's get new stuff.

First impression is I am exposed to a lot of things that have changed...

Is this Windows 7? Woah, this is the future... wait, was I using a 15 year old operating system. Yes.
I still got rid of everything on 7, setting it to "improve speed" option... ahh, lovely '98 gray task bar never leave me.
Installed the latest version of Code::Blocks. wow, nice, lots of new things, better useful autocomplete (in a computer that doesn't stutter). I'm pleased.
New MinGW... c++11 stuff on it? Nice!
New SDL. Apparently 1.2 is old school now. Ok, I have to update to 2.
What do you mean there's OpenGL 4.0?

And... after cursing a little bit with box2d (as usual)... I'm ready to go.

If you had asked me one week ago if my development computer was fine I would have said it was perfect!

Sure, some buttons on my keyboard didn't work and others had to be pressed hard.
Sure it would blue-screen or just freeze ocassionally, no big deal.
Sure it was slightly slow if i tried to do anything else parallel to programming.
But I was happy, really, honestly, I totally got by with a smile (this is not sarcasm).

Now... now that Ive seen what it is to work in a fully functioning computing... I cannot even think of going back to that piece of junk.

And that is the moral of the story kids. Do not try better things. Do not go to fancier restaurants. Keep using the bus. Do not try actual good quality brand shoes. Do not upgrade your electronics. Just don't. You don't need that, as long as you don't try it.

Repeat after me: quality, not even once.



ps: I don't have too much to show because of theses changes, so here is a little gif:




Oh, an alpha DEMO is coming soon! (mid july probably)

Follow me on twitter: @stochasticlints
More info about my game: themostposerheroes.com

desdemian

desdemian

 

Smoothing out level 2 and 3.

Today there was some level design progress! [color=#000000][font=Verdana] Based on some feedback, I've been working on the levels to solve details that players are striggling with. [/font][/color]

[color=#000000][font=Verdana]The second level had a few problems: [/font][/color] [color=#000000][font=Verdana] * The wording of the mission briefing made people believe that they had to get out of the pod. This was fixed not only by rewriting it but by attaching the character with a seat bealt to the pod. [/font][/color]

[color=#000000][font=Verdana]* The pod was simplified by removing the controls from the outside of the pod, into a separate deattached panel. Since the original configuration seemed like the pod was actually closing rather than opening. [/font][/color] [color=#000000][font=Verdana] * Some coloring relations were set up to let the player know what controls work together. [/font][/color] [color=#000000][font=Verdana] * The pedal use to be too close to the hand, and somewhat pushable by it. Now was moved to the bottom of the pod, the hand can no longer reached it (by a significant distant) and the fact that you have to use your foot should be pretty obvious now. [/font][/color]



The third level required some changes too: [color=rgb(0,0,0)][font=Verdana] [background=rgb(252,252,252)]The new additions:[/background] [/font][/color] [color=rgb(0,0,0)][font=Verdana] [background=rgb(252,252,252)]* A red cable links the button to the marker.[/background] [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(0,0,0)][font=Verdana][background=rgb(252,252,252)]* The marker is now bigger and clearer to point out the current color.[/background] [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(0,0,0)][font=Verdana][background=rgb(252,252,252)]* The arrows were made bigger to tell the player what each pedal does.[/background] [/font][/color]

Remember, you can download a demo from here (windows v0.6.1).
I could really use some feedback =), specially in level design.

desdemian

desdemian

 

Even more changes to first 6 levels.

I made several small changes to all levels, trying to smooth any rough edges the testers find. One problem with this approach: The games are going to be painted (as in, no tiles or reusable pieces). That means everytime I change a level, a (theoretical) artist should change their drawings and reexport them, which is not good. Not only that, since the game is so sensible to sizes and positions, the artist is not going to have as much freedom as I would like to give them, since they have to respect proportions and positions of several objects in the levels. The changes: Level 1: use to have a button, now has a lever. Several people struggle with the fact that buttons need to be push from the top. In fact every button now can be pushed from any direction. Instead of having a square shape, now they are round shape. Level 2:
Not changed. Level 3:
Now the arrow lighten up to clearly show how they change directions.
Level 4:
Replaced a hallway with a vacuum tunel, to make it easier for the player to move around. Made the pro token easier to grab. Level 5:
50% remade. Replace a bunch of repetitive easy-to-guess task with only one hard task that should take a few tries to get right. Level 6:
not changed.
Demo 0.6.4 is available for you to try. Feedback welcomed!

desdemian

desdemian

 

Replicating a simulation with Box2d, part 3.

In the last post, I explained how to solve the box2d issue about cloning a world. It's pretty simple, fairly fast and reliable in its results. I didn't use it. Why? Because there are some cases (like my game) that it doesn't work. And those cases happen when the game has two+ characters and one can go back to change their behaviour but the other one does exactly the same. Let me put it in pictures. If you have one character going back in time: The mechanic is straight forward. If the character goes back in time and does the same movements, the result will be exactly the same, because the copied world will be the same as before. If the character goes back in time and does something different, well, the result will be different, but that makes total sense, if you change the past you cannot expect the future to be exactly the same.
But, if you have 2 characters, let's see what happens: Let's say character pink stays still while character blue jumps around. A possible future is generated and the pink character observes it. This is the critical part, somebody that is not causing the events but is able to see the possible future. Now, when everything is rewound, and the pink character decides to move around, the copies will not be the same as before. Thus, the future of the blue player (that was originally observed) might change, even if the pink player never touches the blue player or its surroundings. This makes no sense in the eyes of the second player. This is a huge issue! Imagine in Posable Heroes doing some tasks with the blue character, and then coming back to work with the pink character only to realise your blue characters timeline is altered. Since the game requires precision, this is unacceptable. On the 4th and final post, I'll explain what I did to finally solve this issue (spoiler alert: thank you open source).   If you are interested in Posable Heroes, you can wishlist it on steam.

desdemian

desdemian

 

Finding proportions for my main character

I've always been a fan of short legs, short arms, big headed characters. I don't now why. Maybe too much Dragon Ball when i was younger.

But for my current project a character like that would not work. I needed a character kinda "athletic", that could make different poses (action movie type poses) and you could recognize this poses from the distance. A character that can actually strech his arm and go above his head.

I was out of my confort zone drawing these guys (my drawing skills are very limited), so I tried to find inspiration somewhere else.

I remembered of having played with these 80's GI Joe toys that I think were the most articulated toys I ever had:



Even though that worked, like I said I'm not fond of very human like characters.

Later I found this star wars toy I though looked VERY cool:



It worked very well and I liked it. I implemented him into the game and I was almost certain that they were the final proportions.

Until I saw the new ninja turtles tv show from nickelodeon:



They had similar proportions as my current character, although longer limbs and wider body.

I'm liking this last version a lot. Now, if i stop watching kid's show/toys (not likely), this might be the final proportions i'm going with.

desdemian

desdemian

 

The new tutorial

Refining the tutorial was probably one of the hardest part of the "later development". Everything was in place, but how to teach the player how to play the game was still a struggle. The first time somebody tried my game, he was 15 minutes on level 1 and he couldnt even solved it. So this was a major issue. The game evolved from a "this is a full level, here are the controls, good luck", to "this is a much limited level, lets try the first feature first and will see how we go". The things that helped me: 1. Limiting number of limbs. On the original first level, you controlled all 4 limbs + head of the character. That was brutal for a first timer. Understanding how physic works on the character is not easy. So I changed that to only 1 limb, and the character starts tied up to a chair. You have to limit the degrees of freedom that you offer the players.     2. Explaining the movie, the poses, and how do they work. Although the concept of a timeline is easy to understand now that everybody browses youtube, keyframes and poses needed to be explained. I tried explaining the bare minimum because I don't want to overwhelm the player on the first level.   Explaining that a pose is what make the difference in the movie.     3. Slowing down the player Although it may seem weird, sometimes you have to slow down the player so they dont hurt themselves. At first, just standing on some point in the timeline and moving the character would create a pose. Very fast, very simple. Except that it lead to players creating poses everywhere, anywhere. Not realising where they are standing, and not giving importance to the appropiate time. I had to slow them down, asking them to create the pose manually. This simple creation with a button made the player pay attention where the pose was, and at what time was the movement happening.   4. Teaching by doing, not just showing. This is quite straight forward, but players learn a lot more by doing the actions than just reading about them. In this case I showed an animated example of what the player was suppose to do, and waited for the player to do it themselves.   5. Gameplay before story. I'm pretty sure some writers may hate me, but I was willing to destroy the story if that meant a smooth gameplay/learning curve. One of my biggest fights with players was gravity. It was not easy to teach someone to move and jump, beacause... well... most people don't realise "how" they walk, they just walk. And when they have to pass that expertise to a dummy character, they struggle becuase in their mind is just automatic. It's like tryin to teach a kid to tie their shoes. You just do it, and you would have to analise step by step just to make it work. Original first level. Gravity can be a bitch. In my case, the fact that gravity was such a hussle to overcome, I couldn't add it in the first levels where players were just getting the grip of the game. So I moved my story to space, and then to the moon, were gravity is lower. After several level then the player lands on earth and the gravity challenge appears. Does it make 100% sense as a story now? No. I tried to fit the changes in to the story, but the realism of the story is a little stretched out now. I'm not gonna win any writing prize for it. But I haven't received any of the complaints and struggles I use to see from new players.    After refining the tutorial several times, I haven't received a single complain about no understanding the game. Some people still don't like it, that acceptable, but at least now everyone gets to evaluate the game other than "too confusing".   I hope my mistakes help you out a bit in your tutorial. Cheers. If you want to know more about the game: Posable Heroes on Steam

desdemian

desdemian

 

Building a level editor.

I've been delaying the Level Editor for too long. Always with the excuse that I had better things to do, or that I only needed one or two ore levels for the demo, so it was a waste to make a full editor right now, and I could survive with manually modifying txt file for now.

Well, excuses are over and now a full editor is needed to start the development of the entire game.

The early build is out! www.themostposerheroes.com

And if you could provide me some feedback would be awesome.


So now full production on the level editor. I'm gonna include it on the final game so people can create their own levels, so I can not just have a barely working version, it needs to be slightly polished and feature complete.

Here are some gimp drafts I made to try to see the scope of the project. So far it's seems like it's gonna be a decent amount of work.




desdemian

desdemian

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