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      Download the Game Design and Indie Game Marketing Freebook   07/19/17

      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.
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Entries in this blog

Lactose
Just a brief update regarding the on-going radio silence.

Amongst other things, I'm currently in the middle of moving. Once that's done (early this week), I'm a bit unsure about the internet status in the immediate future.

Hopefully project work and updates will return to a normal(ish) schedule soon! :)
Lactose
Another YouTube update, showing off some of the new animations and movement improvements we've done.


As you might notice compared to the previous video, we're now using a higher framerate for the animations, giving it a much more fluid look. This is also more representative for how the finished game will end up being, when we transition to using proper 3D models and animation data directly, instead of pre-rendered to 2D sprites.

There's a whole bunch of animations in the video, and I've annotated them to show what they are meant, in case it isn't obvious.

Some keen observers might, well, observe some graphical glitches on a few of the animations (mainly that some of them start a bit abruptly). This is due to me recording with a laptop which wasn't connected to a power source -- power saving + recording = what you see.

Updates have been a bit scarce lately, as I'm currently looking for a new place to live, which takes up a lot of time.

In the next update, I'll shine a light on what we think of the current status of the game, and what we plan to do moving forward.

As always, comments, questions and any other feedback is appreciated!

smile.png
Lactose
So, what's happened since the last journal entry?
With a rough and basic framework in place for drawing and moving some characters around, we continued adding and testing new animations, combat mechanics, etc. Even with time being limited due to our normal work, we (the artist and myself) still made some progress.

After trying out, discarding and keeping various ideas, we decided to try make something playable for a game dev convention that was not too far off in the future.
However, the night before the convention, we ran into an issue we thought we could ignore until later:
OUT OF MEMORY (crash).

While probably obvious if we had tried working out the memory requirements (which we didn't), the amount of animations we had blew through any available memory. We had 12 animations, rendered at 30 frames per second, in 16 directions. The largest sprite (containing 1 full animation, in all directions) had the massive size of 12800 * 4096 pixels. Yikes!

After some slight and minor panic, we decided to scale all the textures down, and hope for the best. Luckily, scaling down by 50%, and then drawing everything at double scale worked fine. It wasn't as crisp as we'd have wanted it, but "slightly blurry" beats "does not start", so it was an easy decision to make.
After some further work into the night (and during breaks between talks), we get the final things up and running.
---
At this point, what we have is a really basic 2 player competitive isometric fighter/brawler game. The goal in is to defeat the other guy, after which you can restart and try again. Pure and simple.

We latched onto some people and got them to try our game. They played it. They kept playing it. They reset and tried again, after victory and after defeat. Most of them played for far longer than just courtesy would dictate. Awesome.
As they played it, others walking past stopped to watch, comment and try it as well, swapping with the other players, or just discussing it between themselves.

In total, I'd estimate about roughly 20 - 25% of the convention participants either tried or observed the game (roughly 100 people were signed up for the event). We also got some positive feedback related to us being as open as we were, especially this early in the project.

Now, obviously, the game is still ways off from being totally super amazing. We repeatedly got comments about "seeing the potential". We're far from where we need to be, even for a prototype.
We know that a lot of the issues that were flagged need to be dealt with. While we think we would have noticed most of these issues ourselves easily enough, it was still very cool seeing how other people approached and played the game.

Looking ahead, that's the next thing to do. We're going to be going through all the feedback we collected, and decide which things to fix, which to ignore, and in what direction we'll be heading next.

As a personal look back on the event, my main disappointment is that we didn't manage to do some recording of the people playing. I just didn't have enough time to set up and test a system, which is something I'll definitely want to have sorted before we bring/show the game anywhere else.
It would also have been very beneficial if there had been enough time to test and tweak the game more before it was shown to other people, but I think it went well with the time available.
Other than that, I feel the criticism and comments helped enforce my belief in the game; what they were seeing was the same game we're discussing and making. There doesn't seem to be any dissonance going on. It doesn't seem like we're heading down a totally silly route. Phew.
---
And that concludes the journal update, I hope you found it interesting. Comments and feedback welcome! smile.png
Lactose
After some weekends and afternoons busy with other things (i.e. friends and Dark Souls 2), there has been some progress on the project.



While some of the initial gameplay mechanic concepts seem to have been shelved for now, we're seeing quite a lot of interesting paths this could take. We might also revisit them again once we've played around with some new ideas. I guess that's what prototyping is for, eh?
[size=2]That, and for making horrible horrible code that can barely support itself, and is itching to get made somewhat more proper once we know which mechanics we want to support, etc.

For now, what we have is fairly rudimentary and rough, but that's par for the course.

  • Background image, larger than a screen.
  • Camera, can scroll around to extent of background image.
  • Camera can track entities (centering on average position), or just look at a specific point.
  • Some sprites with parenting and basic sprite sorting.
  • Some character system, supporting multiple animations and multiple directions.
  • Gamepad support.
  • Local multiplayer using 2x gamepads.
  • Various animations -- idle, walk, run, attack (x2).
  • Super basic hit detection.
  • Probably other stuff I can't remember.

    The character is modeled in 3D and animated. The animation is then rendered out to however many directions we decide we want to have, and loaded into the game. Each animation is its own spritesheet image, with frames in the x-axis and directions in the y-axis.

    The current focus is trying out various combat mechanics. This will involve quite a lot of brain storming and mocking up some quick & dirty animations, test and iterate.
    The plan is trying to get something which is fun when we control both characters, and then try to use that knowledge when creating some sort of AI.

    As always, I hope you've enjoyed this status update!
Lactose

Test level image

Right, let's try a slightly more interesting journal entry than the last one, shall we?
One with something more than just boring text?

xy4B9RI.jpg

This piece of level test art is mainly for my own use as a testbed for implementing my various mechanics and effects. Obviously, a final product will look way better than this (as this is just a rough sketch), but it might be interesting to look at regardless.

As some sort of status update, I'm currently working towards a somewhat decent (hopefully!) prototype of my game's main game mechanics and effects. .Details coming in future journal entries.

Enjoy!