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Exploring of a world of code, coding a world of exploration...

(coded from scratch using C++ and SFML)

Well, this was an exhausting end-march to the finish line. Celesol and I have completed the game though, and apart from some visual improvements here or there, there's nothing else we want to do on it. I mean, sure, we cut a few planned features, but I feel that overall the game doesn't suffer from their absence.

I was honestly worried that I wouldn't have been able to script all the dialog and events in time, but they all made it in. This is in contrast to my previous two times competing in this competition. Two years ago, for example (WoA 2014), my entire plan fell apart because I couldn't learn pathfinding in time (and wasted 2+ days trying), and I had to entirely change the direction of the game in the last 24 hours or so, barely slapping together something playable.

And the year before that (WoA 2013), Cele and I had a plan from the get-go for an interesting story-based visual novel, but due to scheduling conflicts beyond our control, pretty much only had three days to work on it. At the end of that contest, literally less than six hours from the deadline, I discovered I had introduced a bug into the core mechanic of the game (the dialog system) that I couldn't solve ('Source control', what's that? :wink:), nor could I fully implement all of my artist's art in time.

I've greatly enjoyed the contests in prior years, but have always been disappointed in my own mistakes in programming and planning, and failure to adapt to changing circumstances. This year it just barely worked out, like jumping a gap in a moving train with a car, but regardless of how close I came to getting my entry entirely smashed by the train, it came out fully intact on the other side - unlike the graveyard of my train-jump attempts from years past. :lol:

Well, I've been running on fumes now for multiple days, and I've only gotten 4 hours sleep in the last three days from trying to cram dev hours during the night due to my days being booked by unrelated events. I'm going to crash soon, but here's a picture of how I feel right about now:

[indent=2]

Thank you all for the enjoyable competition; it's an honor to be reviewed by and compete against you all. It was a tiring contest for me, but in a semi-masochistic way, it made it more enjoyable.

WoA 2016 - End Of Day 6

I wasn't able to do any work on my entry until about 9pm last night, so I went straight through the night.

Combat is now almost entirely implemented. \o/
The quality of my code is also shot to pieces. \o/
I can only barely think or program straight. \o/

I'm on the final death march now, time is incredibly tight, but I'm over the hump, so things are looking good.

About fifteen hours remain, and I've still got some hefty tasks ahead, but at least the game looks deliverable at this point.

WoA 2016 - End Of Day 5

Time is getting very tight. Combat still isn't implemented. Very little progress made. Must type in short sentences to conserve remaining time.

I've visually beautified the world significantly, so that's good. I'm satisfied with it entirely as-is, but the artist said she'll take a look at it after she's done with all her tasks, and may add some final polish.

I've gotten some of the combat UI in, and am working on some of the character moves. The basic combat framework has been in place since the middle of day 2, but I'm just now building on it to implement the actual logic, so hopefully things start to move along at a healthy trot, if not an outright gallop. The past two days have basically felt like I've done nothing but graze in the grass, and why in the world am I sitting here making some weird horse analogy instead of actually coding?

The artist is just about finished with all the enemies now, and is putting the final touches on the dialog (which I'll need to script into the game sunday. Grrr!!).

Tomorrow is going to be terrible time-wise as well (

unavoidable non-gamedev time-consuming activities until late in the evening

), so I'll have to pull an all-nighter on Saturday night if I hope to even be able to submit anything playable. I definitely have respect for anyone who has to work a 40/50 hour work week while competing - by comparison, I have it easy, figuratively rolling in [s]hay[/s] free time.

Well, I better get back to work and/or sleep. I hope your projects are going well!

WoA 2016 - End Of Day 3

Well. I've made alot of progress, but the combat still isn't implemented.

I've done a little UI work, but ran into a minor problem that I'm too sleepy to resolve, so I'll deal with it tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, I'm going to be busy (including six-ish hour trip), so I don't know how much time I can spend on my entry.
Basically, I have to get combat implemented by the end of Friday, or my entry will be in serious trouble! But I think it's still manageable.

Basically, I'm feeling incredibly good at the amount of progress made, but also incredibly nervous that I've pushed off the main gameplay mechanic for so long.

Here's my intro screen:

I decided yesterday to name the game 'Sepulchre', and since the artist hasn't yet vetoed it, that's probably what it'll remain.

The artist has been working on the soldiers. Right now we have three of them - the pitchfork guy in the splash screen above, and these two:

...and I'm super sleepy, so I'll see you all [s]tomorrow[/s] the day after tomorrow.

Woa 2016 - End Of Day 2

Well, this wraps up the end of day 2 for me (more like the beginning of Day 3, since it's 5AM. :wink:)

I felt like I've made some very significant progress, though I'm still nervous because I have alot of known-in-advance time-consuming distractions later in the week that'll heavily eat into programming time.

I've implemented collision, events, dialogue (but it's not written yet), and starting to work on the combat. I think the combat is going to fall into place fairly quickly, but well, famous last words! :D

Here's a fun look at me hackishly hard-coding scripted events into the game:

Thankfully, I scrapped that and quickly slapped together a very basic DSL instead:MovePlayerTo "(475,2200)"ShowText (400,2100) 2.5 "Test text"AddEnemy 1ShowText (400,2200) 3.0 "This is another test"
The game takes place in a broken down manor-house, which I spent some time on today doing art for.

It's not finished yet, but here's what I got done this morning:

I got a bit more done than that, but it's not visible in this screenshot.

[rollup=Oh, by the way, the artist left these behind...]

[color=#008000][size=8]ZOMBIE ANIMALS!!![/color]
[/rollup]

Woa 2016 - End Of Day 1

Hi guys. I'm off to a slow start, but here's my first daily wrap-up post.
(

Warning: the 'Daily' wrap up post may not actually occur every day. Take only as prescribed by your doctor

)

Team: Grey Army
Members: Me (programmer) and my friend Celesol (artist).

Tech:
- C++, using SFML and Boost, as well as my own utility library. While it's not technically an "engine" (but it is written from scratch), I'm happy to give it that label if it eventually puts me in the running for a free copy of Dark Souls 3. :P
- MSPaint, Paint Shop Pro X7, and whatever the artist is using.

Alrighty, so we came up with an excellent game idea pretty quickly, but I - out of general exhaustion/laziness/squirrels - only put in about five hours of work. I got a decent code foundation laid, and got the world layout blocked in, but at this point I'm too close for comfort to the "behind schedule" line.

I feel like I should pull an all-nighter just to catch up to the rest of the pack, but am too exhausted from unrelated events. Instead, I'll get some sleep and try for an early start tomorrow.

I don't have anything interesting to show yet, but the artist did finish this lovely gal: (our protagonist)

See you all further on up the road.

If an RPG falls in a forest, but the trees suck, does anyone care?

My game, Of Stranger Flames, takes place in a fictional French colony settled in a heavily-wooden bit of terrain.

Forested areas appeal to me greatly, so it makes sense to set my game in a forest.

There's just one problem...

...

...

[size=2]I can't draw trees

That is to say, I couldn't previously draw trees. But I've gotten better over time. I've made some new tree art yesterday! It makes my old art look like trash.

For comparison, here's my previous trees:
[spoiler][/spoiler]

And *bum bum bum baaaaa!* here's my new trees:
[spoiler][/spoiler]

Still not amazingly fantastic, but still alot better than previously. Hurray for relativistic comparisons.

So yeah, it makes my old trees look like trash. An artist friend assures me that this is the way it's supposed to be, saying, "Every five minutes I think 'man, my work from 10 minutes ago is junk'". I'm having exactly that same feeling! Except, it takes me over a year to improve instead of five minutes.

The trees have also apparently quadrupled in size.
This should hopefully make the world feel more raw nature with a few towns nestled inbetween, rather than some cultivated garden. I'll need alot more "forest debris" as well. I have some shrubs and such, but I'll need fallen logs and other things, dirt forest floor, and etc... We'll see if I can eventually pull it off.

Week of Awesome III - Servant's reviews of all games

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Congratulations on reaching the end of the Week of Awesome!
My feedback is in the form of critical reviews of your games, so don't be discouraged if it feels like I'm highlighting the negatives!

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[Death is Useful by Orymus3]

Gameplay: 12/25

This game was a fun diversion, reminding me a little of the hectic multiplayer arena combat of Chameleon Twist.

Many times I'd get flung high in the air, and I had virtually no chance to land back on the platform, since my shadow wasn't visible from that height. I had nothing with which to visually gauge whether or not I was over the platform.

It was hard to predict the behavior of the avatar and the enemies in response to the actions I took - they'd often fly off at unpredictable angles, or at unpredictable distances - sometimes I'd dash them and they'd only move a foot, and then I'd dash them with a little more force, and they'd fly ten feet. I do realize different boxes had different "weights" to them.

My top score was 214. [linky]

Key to victory here seems to be killing the first few boxes as soon as possible, so they don't shrink the platform at the front end of the battle.

Graphics: 7/20
The enemies were just basic textures cubes, and the textures weren't all that fantastic. The texture on the platform you're standing on was particularily garish.

There wasn't any background (except solid black); even a simple gradient would've been an improvement (though you could've gone well beyond a gradient).

Theme: 3/20
"Killing" boxes helped expand the platform, and when you die it helps reveal a message.
The actual message itself is either an intentional joke, or else not worth revealing.

By killing boxes to expand the platform - that's okay-ish as a mechanic, but not particularily innovative or really exploring the idea of using death to your advantage.

Audio: 4/10
The sound effects were synced decently to the interactions in-game, but often
There was no music.

First time user experience: 6/10

The game doesn't have a main menu, but it does have a decent README.
Short of losing window focus, there's no way to pause.

At several points, I got flung high in the air, and fell of the edge, and got stuck without dying, and the score continued counting up until I restarted the application. This happened more than once. Each time this happened, the only way forward was to restart the application, which also reset the message being revealed. When this occurs, the background changes color from black to a different fillcolor.

In the bottom-right corner of the screen is a button that says, "I give up". It doesn't work.

You also have the arrow-keys implemented... but up and down is inverted. =P

Judge's Discretion: 1/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)
Congratulations on completing a playable game in less than a week! That's an impressive accomplishment.
Understandably, because of the short-timeframe, there's not much here in the game. I'm having a hard time of seeing where it could be taken or expanded upon if you were to try and release it eventually as a paid app or somesuch. It'd definitely need to be visually improved, and the controls tightened up, with the physics reactions more predictable.

The game was fun, for a moment, but there's not much oppurtunity for real-world skill progression - dropped in the game, you quickly learn the controls, and spent some effort improving your survival times, and incredibly rapidly hit a practically exponential curve of diminishing returns on your invested effort. There's no place you can really go from there, except investing another hour or two to merely add a few more seconds to your average surival length. There's nowhere to go, skill-wise, except up a near vertically wall of increasing difficulty, and nothing else to do apart from that. Not every game needs to be an AAA console game - there is definitely room for finely-crafted casual games - but as a casual game, this game doesn't yet offer much to do, and that could be improved on.

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[Powerthief]

Gameplay: 17/25
Powerthief had a great atmosphere, and had solid gameplay, but is in need of tweaking and refining to make things more enjoyable, IMO. Specifically, I found it really hard to avoid enemy fire; and after playing for over an hour, I couldn't progress beyond the first four rooms. This game was difficult! =)

It was especially hard to dodge the firebird skill when the enemy was using my weapon of choice against me.
I also found it hard to switch skills in the heat of battle.

It was nice to be able to roughly gauge an enemy's remaining health, by how red he turned. That was useful.
Many times the abilities that'd be offered to you were ones you already had. Sometimes the same ability would appear twice in your choice of three abilities.

On one of my attempts, in the third randomly generated room, there was two enemies in it, and I killed them both, but the door didn't open, making it impossible to progress or do anything. I noticed sometimes the jumping creatures jump out of the room, and visually can't be seen. Perhaps one of them did that and refused to jump back?

It would've been great to be able to bind a permanent ability to right-click, but still use the scroll wheel for the left-click skill.

Graphics: 14/20

The menu buttons were nice, though the menu had no background and the title-text wasn't dressed up visually.
In-game, the spell effects looked really good, but the walls around the edges of the room noticably tile badly when going vertically.

The enemies also look nice, but the main character is too dark, like he's constantly in shadows.

In the very first room, I didn't realize that those two objects were skills you could pick up. I thought they were lamps on the floor for decor. Making them more animated and sparkly would help indicate that they are pickups.

At one point, a firebird effect (I think it was one of the enemy's shots) got visually stuck in the room, and just stopped there without disapearing. It continued to persist there, even after transitioning rooms several times.

Theme: 8/20
Each time you die, your skills get more likely to be added to the list of skills that the enemies use. This, in theory, makes death "useful" to the enemies. In practice, it just meant enemies constantly use Firebird on me, which made the game harder. So instead of "death is useful" this game became "restarting the executable is useful".

I think it was a good idea to explore how death might be useful to your enemies but, at least in the several rooms I got to, didn't really change the way the game was played. Had the enemies been given randomly chosen magic, I feel like it'd've played out the exact same way. It felt inconsequential to the game.

Audio: 7/10
The menu buttons didn't have any sounds.
Once you start the game, there is a loud 'ding'. I'm not sure what it means, but it's a much louder volume than the rest of the game.

The sound when an enemy dies, though subtle, was very important gameplay-wise. That helped me a great deal.
The sounds for the different magic skills were decent, and thankfully most of them were subdued.

I enjoyed the background music, because it helped set the mood, but also was a tad... underwhelming.

First time user experience: 8/10

The instructions on the floor of the first room were clear and easy to understand.
For the lines of flame, at first I didn't realize that the farther away you click (up to a certain limit), the longer the line of flame was.

Hitting "Esc" puts you into the main menu, which is expected, and hitting it a second time returns to the game - but that's not clear. The main menu doesn't look like you can 'return' to anything. This would have been clearer if the main menu was transparent, letting you see the paused game underneath it or adding having a 'resume' menu button.

Judge's Discretion: 4/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)
I really enjoyed the ambience. I feel like this game would've benefited from free-roaming exploration within the manor, some kind of player progression, and leveling up your skills by choosing the same skill more than once. I'd've loved for getting the same ability twice to have "upgraded it" in some manner, even if it was just reduced reload time.
There's definately room to expand and improve the game content-wise and mechanic-wise. The game, while being incomplete, felt "complete" because it seemed so natural to assume there was more to be had just a little further in. Maybe I just didn't get far enough to find it.

I'd really like to see this game expanded - but the best thing that could happen is it first getting balanced.

======================================================================================

[Orc party]

Gameplay: 13/25
Chests don't disapear after they are gathered, and the camera not following you is rather annoying.

The game was enjoyable; but at the same time, I had to play it mostly by trial-and-error rather than puzzle-solving, because of some of the non-intuitive ideas like. It wasn't very clear that trapdoors can be walked over safely, after they've been triggered once.

It was rather short, though fun. I would've liked to see more levels, but making use of clever level design now that the player already knows about the different game objects, so he can be challenged to solve the puzzles of the level, rather than discover (through experimentation) the hazards.

I liked that you had two different types of units to send out - that was a good idea.

Graphics: 8/20
The graphics were nice, though they could've been greatly improved on. Sometimes it was a little hard for me to discern what was what. The doors for example, were hard to tell when they were open or closed. It was also hard to discern between trapdoors and switches, and between yourself, orcs, and rogues.

Theme: 12/20
The theme 'Death is useful' was present by using your minions to gather chests for you, and sacraficing them to navigate the dungeons. Because the game was so short, and the mechanics of the map so few, there wasn't much room for you as a developer to figure out all the different ways death could've be useful while exploring a dungeon. I think if you had more time, there'd be alot more mechanics related to this that in the current state of your game is left untouched.

I liked that you are rewarded by having fewer of your minions make it out alive (and with a very reasonable in-game story explanation for it).

Audio: 0/10
There wasn't any music or sound.

First time user experience: 7/10
Using "New game" instead some kind of 'restart level' key is not very intuitive.

The game also crashed while I was playing it, on the third level, when running into the south-most fireball while an orc was racing me towards it.

Judge's Discretion: 2/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)

I think the game is enjoyable, and should be expanded upon. With some better art, more map hazards and interactivity, and perhaps 3 different unit types instead of 2 (you don't want too many, but 3 is a good number), this would make a fun diversion to enjoy. Contrary to the usual nature of this genre, where there's only "one true solution", I'd focus on choice and consequences by providing the player with tools (perhaps carried over every set of ten levels, so he has to conserve them or use them within those ten), and letting the player choose how to overcome the challenges presented by the levels. Things like bombs that blow up any interior wall, or generic keys that can be used for any locked door, a weight that weighs down switches, an extra orc or rogue, etc...
Perhaps at the beginning of each set of 10 levels, you spend the money you've previously looted at a store to equip yourself before entering the next 10-floor 'dungeon'. Just thinking aloud.

Other notes:
I laughed at the victory dialogue, about achieving what the humans failed to do.
Nice use of Excel for level design. =)

The README was in .txt, .pdf, and .docx - lol, covered your bases, did ya?
I have to deduct points though, because you didn't render it to a .png, print it out, and mail physical copies to the judges using carrier pidgeons or Saint Benards.

======================================================================================

[Vault Stone]

Gameplay: 12/25

Because there was no sound effect on "sword impacting with enemy", and no enemy reaction (by flashing, knockback, or 'damaged' animation), it made it hard to tell whether I was even hurting them. Likewise, when they attacked me, I couldn't visually see anything, and the only notification was my character's grunting.

Sometimes I'd recover some health, though I'm not sure why. At first I thought I was regenerating overtime, but that wasn't the case. I guess I get some health back each time I kill an enemy?

I wasn't sure what my goals were or what to do - I just killed alot of humans and walked around. Eventually I found a stairway that led up to a large door. I tried to open the door, but didn't collide with it and just walked right through, where I proceeded to fall infinitely.
Since I didn't die, I had no way of returing to the main menu, so I had to manually close the executable and restart it.

I never figured out what to do, or how to get the second spell. I eventually accumulated 460 souls, mass-spammed a bunch of skeletons (when casting, if you click the key rapidly, you can summon more skeletons (still costing souls) without having to wait for the casting animation to finish) which faded away fairly quickly.

I did manage to advance high enough in the forbidden arts to get my pet pig to levitate over my left shoulder, so that's a plus.

Graphics: 16/20
The mainmenu's visuals looked nice, but ingame there were graphical errors that flickered over specific areas. [screenshot]

The blood had a contrasting style relative to the rest of the game's graphics, seeming out of place.

I liked the art style, and also the grass and that the grass moved, though the grass all moved in unison with each other, giving it an artificial look. In real life, at least in my own experience, different blades of grass simultaneously move in the wind's direction and against the wind.

The [Escape] help-menu GUI visuals also looked nice.

Once I ran out of health while moving and attacking (probably in the middle of a sword swing animation?), and my character didn't fall over in the death animation - he just froze there in place and nothing seemed to occur... until the game restarted.

Many of the trees were pitch-black, as if they were visually unlit. [screenshot]

Even despite the lighting issue, this game looked pleasing.

Theme: 4/20
When death is technically useful, because killing enemies gives you 'souls' for casting, and (possibly) heals some health, this is nothing that most other games in general already do. Killing enemies in games typically give you experience, mana, health, gold. There wasn't any real innovation here, experimenting beyond what is typical in games.

Audio: 6/10
The background music is peaceful and nice, and the soundeffects integrated decently into the game, when present. Some soundeffects were missing (such as "sword impacting with enemy").

The voice acting was decent, for things like the out-of-mana voiceover.

First time user experience: 7/10
The default resolution in Windowed mode clipped the official splashscreen. [screenshot]
Hitting "Play" took a long time before it actually began. ~15-20 seconds, during which the window went briefly into "Not responding".

I couldn't figure out how to use my spells, at first. I was trying to click on the HUD. There was no in-game text or README, until I found out by accident (when trying to pause) that ESC brings up the help. (ESC didn't actually pause the game, btw).

When casting the first spell, there was briefly some text that appeared on screen - it disapeared too fast for me to read it.

Judge's Discretion: 3/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)
I like what's here, *visually*, but gameplay-wise, it leaves alot to be desired. Visuals is obviously a strength here, so I'd recommend figuring out the gameplay, and giving it that perfect "Nintendo-quality" polish, focusing on smooth controls, great mechanics that gave the player choices in combat and in interacting with the world, and in the game flow of the combat interactions between the player and the enemies. Another thing that would be key if translating this to a full game, would be adding a feeling of livelyhood and lore to the world - that is, make the world lived-in presently, and indications of it having been lived-in in the past. That, coupled with heavy creativity in creating in-game areas (whether dungeons or terrain or towns), and I'd be all over it as a (very finicky) consumer.

======================================================================================

[Death Jam]

Gameplay: 2/25
For some reason, I keep on falling upside down and still move around walking on my head.
On the third level, I got the swords stuck against one of the steps, with no way for me to get behind it to push it out.
The game doesn't really have any challenge - there's barely any gameplay here yet.

Graphics: 2/20
The main menu isn't particularily appealing. It's just a solid color, with no title, and a few buttons.
The in-game graphics are equally bland. Graphics can always wait until the core gameplay is implemented though.

Theme: 0/20
I'm not seeing the theme here at all. There's skulls, but those are only symbolic of death; and dying, either as a plot or gameplay element, isn't present.

Audio: 3/10
There isn't any sound effects, and the music starts of rather annoying. It gets more interesting later.

First time user experience: 3/10
On encountering the main menu, the first thing I encounter is:
"Desc: push/combine things together into the green area"
What's 'desc'? And I don't see any green area at all! Only once I get into the game do these instructions make any sense.

Other than that, there were no real problems. But that's mainly because there wasn't much content to introduce, or mechanics to teach.

Judge's Discretion: 0/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)
There's nothing yet in the game, so I can't really hypothesis about the future potential of this game.
I can look at a blank sheet of paper, but I can't imagine the art on the blank sheet of paper being "better" if there isn't yet any art on it.

Other notes:
I think the most appealing thing about this game was when on the third level, I went up to the platform above, and some crazy large thing appeared and moved offscreen rapidly, and then the music happenstancely got more dramatic. For half a second, my interest was piqued. But nothing came of that.

Game development is hard; I appreciate that. And making a playable and enjoyable game in under a week is even harder. While this game isn't yet "playable" or "enjoyable", it's good to keep on stretching yourself by attempting contests like these in addition to larger (month or year-long) non-contest projects, to grow the skills necessary to eventually make great games.

======================================================================================

[Bunny hop]

Gameplay: 20/25
The controls were smooth, but it was difficult to jump onto visually 2D objects (your own corpses, or even the 3D moving platforms) from that camera angle.
The camera angle was visually great, but was a hinderence to the gameplay (rather, the pairing of the camera angle *paired with* 2D billboards you are jumping onto, was a gameplay hinderence. Either on its own would've been fine).

Using your own corpses to get across spike pits was a great idea.

When I saw the large pit that you first need to use the fire to get across, the solution instantly came to mind, but I was very pleased with that mechanic - when I first encountered fire in the level before (and didn't realize I could've probably used it to jump the spikes), I thought it was enjoyable, but not of real gameplay note. I actually thought to myself that it was a wasted mechanic that'd be hard for the level designers of the game to leverage into actual purpose, but I'm delighted to say you instantly and thoroughly proved me wrong.

The level design as a whole was great - you introduced mechanics rapidly, but in controlled environments for them to be easily introduced and played with, before making use of them in real puzzles.

The moving platforms got old pretty quickly, which you seemed to recognize by naming one of the levels, "Last time, promise!". If you recognized they were getting old, why not just cut a level?

The move to indoor environments was satisfactory.

The amount of lives I'd have on levels sometimes felt arbitray. On one level, I only had 5 (which seemed the default), when 7-10 would've been more suitable, and on another I had 15(!) when I don't think there was even anything that could kill you on that level.

The part with the arrow where you had to get shot by the arrow and fly in the opposite direction the arrow was flying at, turning into a round bouncing ball, and land on a switch... made zero intuitive sense at all. I had to guess the developer's intention, rather than solve a puzzle.

Overall the game was enjoyable, particularily because of the excellent level design.

Graphics: 8/20
There was occasional flickering seams between the ground tiles.
The rabbit looked great, though more than two frames of movement animation would've been very welcome.

Alot of the art lacked quality and detail. The moving platforms were basically untextured, the grass was bland, the spikes were okay but could've used alot more work. Your sprites were nice, the rabbit was nice, most of the 2D art was nice, but the 3D textured objects barely were "textured" at all. The brickwork was a step in the right direction, by comparison, but also could've used alot more work.

Some of the sprites had ugly black outlines. The fire, especially, was visually marred by the black outlines.
I understand this was used to help create contrast with the ground (especially with the flowers), but other methods could've been used that would have resulted in a more pleasing appearance. The rabbit, looked just fine without the black outlines, and the fire would've also. The flowers could've just used darker/lighter shade of green than the ground.

The perspective scaling of the sprites was nice, though!

Theme: 12/20
The theme was definitely present in leveraging your death as an advantage in navigating the terrain. Sometimes multiple levels would go by before it was used, however, making it feel like you forgot that mechanic existed. It didn't feel 'central' to the game. Also, your only use of it was as a platform to stand on, and as a weight to weigh down switches. Oh, as burning to speed you up to get across gaps - but that didn't really feel like death.
I feel like the mechanic of using your deaths as an advantage, wasn't really explored more than ankle deep.

Audio: 4/10
The music was decent, but the mainmenu sound-effect was annoying. Some of the other sound-effects were acceptable, but not a perfect fit for the game. They felt out-of-place and not a natural extension of the world.
The music also, just repeating for level after level after level, quickly got old. It's one of those things that, while at first seems fine, probably is used by the CIA in their blacksites to "interrogate" prisoners by slowing driving them mad. Some variation would've been... sanity-preserving. =)

First time user experience: 9/10
The in-game ability to set your own controls and even adjust the volume of the music and sounds is a pleasant surprise.

Everything was clearly explained in-game, and easy to figure out. Having a persistent location on the HUD to give instructions isn't the best way to explain things, as it's easy to miss - a center-screen message does a better job of capturing the user's attention. Statusbars in desktop applications, for example, aren't all that useful at communicating important information to users, unless the user already knows to look there.

Judge's Discretion: 2/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)
There is a great lack of 3D platformers in the world and, if greatly refined, this one would be a great addition to the genre. You already have the basic ideas in place, and now what's needed is a dozen iterations of playing with mechanics, polishing the controls to perfection, coming up with a good story (and better art), and then using that as a sandbox to let your level designs really shine.

Other notes:
The gore was amusing, and the fire was enjoyable. Burning rabbits = for the win. The poor rabbit only has one ear!

======================================================================================

[Death and Flowers]

Gameplay: 15/25
I enjoyed the core gameplay mechanic alot, despite it not being the first time I've seen it (some flash games have done the same thing).

Introducing the scythe-wielding is nice, but didn't actually changing the gameplay - you're still moving from point A to point B. It would be better, gameplay-wise, if you had to get the scythe within each level, before using it to break vines that blocked your path.

Worse, the scythe stopped you from moving when you swung it, making it break up the flow as I moved around.

There wasn't any challenge, and there wasn't much to do. The game needs alot more puzzles, alot more levels. I was looking forward to seeing 2x3 and 3x3 grids of maps (and larger), but the game stuck with 2x2.

It was nice in the third/final level where you had two swapping easels set up, but it didn't really change how easy it was to beat.

Graphics: 20/20
Very nice graphics. Beautiful, really.
And you even changed the graphics for each level. If this was even made into a full game, you should stick with the same graphics for each "set" of levels (probably 10 levels to a set), because they are pleasant and I actually didn't have enough time to enjoy them fully before beating a level.

Theme: 3/20
Okay, I get you are playing as Death... but other than that, this game doesn't really incorporate the theme.
Not mechanic-wise, and scarcely plot-wise. You could've been playing as Barney, and it wouldn't have affected the gameplay or anything else.

Audio: 8/10
You had very pleasant music that fit oddly well with the game.
The jumping sound-effect can get annoying, as could the watering sound-effect.

First time user experience: 7/10
It was very easy to figure out what to do and how to do it. Everything worked as expected, and was intuitive and natural.
Partly, it's because there wasn't much mechanics to introduce, so nothing had to be taught.

Judge's Discretion: 4/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)
Alot more mechanics would be needed if it was to be made into a full game. This is the kind of game were you'd have to put alot of developer thought in how to design cleverness into your levels to entertain and amuse your players in addition to challenging them.
This would work well on a smartphone, and I'd pay a few bucks for it to enjoy for a few hours on the Nintendo 3DS.
The relaxing atmosphere is key here - the music working with the art in a lighthearted (but not neccesarily humorous) mood.

======================================================================================

[Lazer of Death]

Congratulations at completing a game, when you only had seven days to work.

Gameplay: 12/25
The game was enjoyable; and it was satisfying to destroy enemies and have them burst into coins.

I liked how you bounce off the edges of the map - that was very pleasing to do and well-implemented. It felt smooth and seamless.
I get that it's arcade-like, but there's still not much to do. There's no powerups or other changes that break up the gameplay and add more variation.

You did have multiple different enemy types, which is good, but the game overall felt lacking when it comes to what I, as a player, could choose to do. There also wasn't much in the way of goals or objectives.

Graphics: 9/20
It was nice how the contest splashscreen slides apart to view the main menu, and how the main menu had objects moving around in the background and doing things.

The graphics within the game were okay, but not amazing.
The asteroids didn't fit in with the rest of the art style. Neither did the coins, for that matter.

Theme: 8/20
I'm not really buying the 'death is useful' theme here. Yea, when you get hit, you switch to a bonus area where you can grab bonus coins with the countdown paused, but you also get penalized at the same time.
And even without being penalized, it still feels tacked on and unrelated to the rest of the game's mechanics.

Audio: 7/10
The game had decent sounds and music. Some of the sounds were slightly annoying.

First time user experience: 7/10
The screen says "Press Space to Play", but space wasn't working. The correct key is 'Enter'.
It was nice that you had the controls on the HUD, so it was easy to get into.

Occasionally, two icons would appear at the top of the screen. I've no idea what that meant.

Judge's Discretion: 2/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)
As a whole, the game felt like it was a solid base that could be expanded upon to develop a full game, but it'd need alot of thought to differentiate it from other arcade shooters.

======================================================================================

[Death is Awesome]

Gameplay: 17/25
Fun, though a tad repetitive. On the second level, three attempts in a row it said "the rats ate too much", but it was only ~30 seconds into the match. In Level 3, London, this even happened when the screen was pretty much a full field of wheat.
The numbers in the interface aren't all that clear to me, of what means what. It was difficult to tell how much I had left to collect, how much was eaten by the rats, and when I could (or couldn't) cast fire.

Also, frequently the fireball would fly in the wrong direction. I guess it flies in the direction Death is facing, rather than what direction you right-clicked in?

Graphics: 14/20
While unpolished, the graphics mostly fit well together.
You had nice intro/exit animations for splashscreens, and the skeleton portraits worked well-ish.
The HUD could've been improved visually, and the level-selection screen was rather bland, but the in-game art worked well.

Theme: 12/20
The narrative helped a great deal, and I like the reversal of Death trying to save humans because *too much* death is bad, long-term, for their continued reaping of souls because of the lower population and birthrate.
Mechanic-wise, death isn't much present - you kill the rats, and sometimes the humans, and they give you a bit of
experience, but killing enemies and getting experience is pretty commonplace in games.

Audio: 9/10
The music is nice, and the sound effects work well together.

First time user experience: 7/10
Java is not installed on my computer (Win8.1), so I had to go install that.
I also had to run it in fullscreen; I would've preferred windowed mode as an option.
The narrative explained what to do, and the README explained the controls. Would've been extra nice to have the controls-ingame, but they were intuitive enough that it was easy to guess what did what.
As mentioned under 'gameplay', the numbers in the HUD were confusing.

It took me awhile to realize I was leveling up, and that my level and experience carries over from map to map. I saw the "Level 7", "Level 8", and etc... messages, but I thought they were tied to the maps as, for example, waves of enemies.
It confused me when I went to Level 2, and then it told me "Level 7", and then I realized I was gaining experience. Whether the leveling up actually improved my power in any way, I still don't actually know.

Judge's Discretion: 3/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)
I can see this being a fun casual game for smartphones and tablets, but it'd need some visual polish and more mechanics or entities gradually introduced to break up the monotony.

======================================================================================

[Try.Die.Repeat]

The intro animation was nice, even though the plot was simple. The victory screen was nice too.

The "please don't go in there, that's the wrong way" seemed weird, considering it was the *only* way.
I didn't realize the potions were suicide potions at first, but it became clear quickly enough.

I like the conflict between the cube and triangle people, and overall the game had the feel of some kind of VVVVVV / Fez crossover.

Gameplay: 18/25
Enjoyable mechanic, but needs more mechanics to make a full game. Introducing the VVVVVV-style reverse gravity mechanic was a very good idea.

I enjoyed the part with the steam obscuring the hazards, and so having to sacrafice people to discover where the hazards were and to be able to get across.

Overall the game was too short (obviously! ), but has real potential for a full game.

There also wasn't much challenge. Since there was no loss condition, you just keep on going respawning just a few feet back; this provides an oppurtunity to increase the challenge (see VVVVVV).

Graphics: 12/20
Nice art style. Not much to say here; simplistic is a nice style, though more detail (even while keeping things simplistic) would be desirable. A simple art style doesn't neccesarily demand a simple world.
The parallax was nice, though I'm not sure why a city was visible if you were inside a sidescraper.

Theme: 16/20
Being able to use the corpses of the other test subjects is a very great use of the theme.

Audio: 8/10
Voice overs were great, plus the audio in general was good.

First time user experience: 7/10
Having an option of windowed mode or fullscreen is a nice option.
Being able to pause (a very important feature) was present.

Judge's Discretion: 4/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)
Seems like a great game; I can see it getting made into a full commercial release, if it was greatly expanded.
More mechanics (gradually introduced) that play well with the corpse-using and sacrificing of your dudes, a better story (probably dropping the portal references), and some great level design, and I'd buy it for the Nintendo 3DS or PC (it'd probably work well on smartphones too). I'd suggest even going into a Metroid-vania-esqe openworld/branching-path exploration route, with collectibles and obtainable power-ups.

======================================================================================

[Post of Death]

I dug a hole and slept in it, and appeared in the 'death world'. I wasn't sure what to do, so I looked around while waiting for the timer to tick down so I could wake up - apparently if the timer runs out, it's automatic game over.

Sometimes when moving, you can find spots where it acts like a grave has already been dug. I was able to go to sleep in a grave where there was no actual grave, and enter into the death world.

Sometimes while standing still, the background sound gets all dramatic, and then something hurt me, but when I look around I can't see anything. I'm not sure if it was the game being buggy or if it was intentional. Once it even happened while paused.

Gameplay: 5/25
The camera clips through the walls, allowing you to see through them, and it was very hard to get through some of the doorways (very much in need of "door funnelling"). For example, I couldn't even get into the house next to the weeping willow with the red carpet.

I tried to sleep in the bed through the wall of the house (rather than try to get through the door), and it said, "You can't sleep from this position". Very well. The problem is that that text didn't disapear until the next time I died.
Or apparently you can't ever sleep in that bed? No matter what angle I try to sleep in, it says, "Can't sleep in this position".

Also, when you move around and then stop, you'd slide forward some. This is fine when moving forward, but when side-stepping/straffing, it felt like I was moving on ice.

The mouse cursor wouldn't disapear and stay centered, making it hard to do things like turn around.
I also couldn't pause in the death world.

Overall I couldn't figure out where to go or what to do, and there didn't seem to be much gameplay yet implemented.

Graphics: 17/20
Main menu looks nice - both the background and the UI. In some places, the main menu UI was lacking - the 'New game' and 'Load game' buttons didn't change appearance when hovered, for example, making it inconsistent with the rest of the menu.

In-game, the graphics look very nice, though there are some flaws. The bed in the tent was sunk into the ground, and there was very noticable LoD popping from some objects (primarily the trees). There were also some missing terrain detail textures, which showed an artificial pattern on the grass (at first I thought it was intentional, like some runic stone was half-buried or something). Here's a screenshot.

Even despite that, the graphics looked great.
The grass motion was nice too! Though the motion was too uniform, too unnatural. In real life, when the wind is blowing, some grass is arching in one direction (the direction of the wind) while the rest of the grass is already moving back in the opposite direction.

Theme: 10/20
The idea of sleeping in graves to enter into the death plane is a nice use of 'death is useful'; though death as a mechanic or a story theme could've been explored more.

Audio: 7/10
The menu has some sounds (onclick), but others are missing (onhover), making it feel half-implemented.
And with no music during startup or on the main menu, it felt empty.

Very nice ambient sounds - the birds and the tense atmosphere; I was having flashbacks to 'Tresspasser' and was half-expecting a raptor attack.

First time user experience: 5/10
The startup text describing your missing wife was hard to read (it was too blurry) and disapeared too fast.

It was nice to have a choice between windowed/fullscreen option; except the game doesn't play well in windowed mode, because the mouse leaves the window when you try to look around in-game.

I didn't have any directions or instructions (not even a README), so I had no idea what to do. I explored, and found the house by the weeping willow and the little graveyard with the crypt, but couldn't do anything with either of those locations.

Judge's Discretion: 3/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)
The mechanic here of switching dimensions by laying in a grave is a nice idea. I think it would be effective in a game where there is a "A Link to the Past"-style 'shadow realm' that you switch between. Atmosphere and exploration with puzzle mechanics and refined platforming would make a great game paired with this mechanic.

======================================================================================

[Snake snack]

Gameplay: 9/25

Often times I'd seem to pick up a piece of food without actually colliding with it. There seems to be a bug with the collision code, and occasionally a segment of my snake-body would glow bright green - I'm not sure what that meant.

If you're going in one direction (for example, East), and turn around 180 (West), you instantly lose.
When you swap two tiles that makes two seperate match-three's at the same time, only one of them will produce fruit.

I like the idea of mixing both a swap-three and znake together in one game. That's clever - they fit well together.
My score never seemed to increase, and since there was no noticable end-goal, I just stopped after I had a decent-sized snake.

Graphics: 6/20

The graphics are a good start, but need alot of improvement. The snake itself seems to be a different style than the rest of the art - it looks almost claymation.
The tiles of food and the actual food objects floating had a different visual style also.

Theme: 0/20
Unless you're making a super-meta statement about animal death being useful for mankind through experimentation, I didn't notice any presence of the theme 'death is useful' in this game.

Audio: 3/10
The background music was 'ok', and the sound effects were pretty annoying.

First time user experience: 6/10
I had to install the Unity Web Player workaround for Google Chrome - Chrome says it will no longer support an important feature the Unity Web Player relies on in some upcoming version of Chrome. I'm not sure when Unity is updating their web player to support the new features Chrome has in its place.

The in-game instructions were helpful, but I didn't entirely understand them.
There didn't seem to be any goal to work towards, so I wasn't actually sure what, overall, I was supposed to be doing.

Judge's Discretion: 1/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)

Congratulations on finishing a game within just one week!
Because of the short time-frame, the game still needs alot of improvements. Many of things seem to be unfinished, and overall the whole game seems incomplete. I liked that you mixed znake and mouse-interactions together, and it felt like it was working well. It'd be great to see it fully finished.

======================================================================================

[To die is to gain]

After the death screen, I reappeared already laying-down (so I assumed the enemy couldn't hurt me), but the enemy ran over me again. This happened repeatedly. After the death screen, you can't get back up, so you automaticly die (perhaps to teach you the mechanic?).

Many times with the first enemy, I'd start off locked in place waiting for the enemy to die, but he'd jump over me twice and I'd have to wait for him to walk back.

When you get two hearts, you lose the ability to move. This isn't communicated to the player, so it seems like a bug until you reach the first heart pickup on the first level.

It took me forever to reach the monk at the end of the level. I only got past the hill (in one try) by luck, because the enemies are falling (jumping) from offscreen and I couldn't see them coming, since I was traveling uphill and the camera was pointed to low (centered vertically on me). When I reached the second level, I groaned in despair that there was more. Sorry.

Apparently, with 1 heart in the second level, I now have the ability to jump, but jumping is rather buggy. Often when landing, my character doesn't change appearance, and looks like he continues to fall, without actually falling.

When I got to the bonus heart in the second level, it took away my jump but there was a ledge right in front of me, so I couldn't progress. Also, I slid forward against the ledge, and kept getting the heart. First two hearts (unable to move), then three, and then 'Game over'.

So next time, I jumped over the heart. Then I reached the third bonus heart, and the same thing happened - I lost my ability to move, so I was stuck over the heart, and got three hearts, then death. That's where I stopped playing.

Congratulations on finishing your entry on time! That itself is a note-worthy accomplishment!

Gameplay: 10/25
I didn't really enjoy it. The concept of the mechanics I liked, but overall the gameplay was an aggravating experience. It amounted to me over and over again just waiting for enemies to jump, making a mistake, dying, doing it all over, trying to time their jumps, dying, with nothing else to really do.

Gameplay consists of trying to run under jumping enemies. I would've liked more interactivity than that - mostly it comes down to remembering the timing between each enemy jump (first enemy: ~4 secs, second enemy ~6 secs, etc...)

Graphics: 11/20
The intros were nice, and I liked the character model, but the enemies looked untextured or unlit, and the terrain seemed bland.
The blades of grass in foreground obscuring player and other entities is nice.

The foreground and background were hard to differentiate. Sometimes you can see through the foreground and it makes it look like the path is suspended in air.
Resizing the window left white borders.

Theme: 15/20
I enjoyed the idea that the closer to death you are, the more abilities you have, but it wasn't fully implemented and became a nuisance. Given enough time, I think it could really work well. It didn't help that you start off with one heart, so instead of getting closer to death, you gain power, it felt more like getting farther from death, you lost power.

Audio: 6/10
The music was fine, there wasn't much sound, enemies made no sound, and the one sound there was (the player dying) was almost annoying. Not actually annoying, but borderline.

First time user experience: 4/10

I died instantly. Respawned, used spacebar to try to jump over returning enemy - spacebar didn't work, despite the readme saying I can jump.
Executable ran fine, and I read the README, but the README told me things that weren't actually usable until later, so it seemed for the first 20 minutes of gameplay that the README was just wrong.

The readme also says 'R' restarts the level, but that wasn't working either.
There wasn't any pausing (tried 'p' and 'esc'), and the window losing focus didn't pause either.

Judge's Discretion: 2/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)
The game has potential, but the actual gameplay would need to go through multiple rounds of refining and polish to bring out the enjoyability. I'd play it, if it was executed well.

======================================================================================

]

Gameplay: 21/25
Very enjoyable. I loved the MegaMan-esqe feel to the game, and it was somewhat challenging without being aggravating. The jumping felt a little off, so I impaled myself multiple times on the spikes.

It took me awhile to realize I could re-break the (now-empty) icecube and choose a different chest. It would've been clearer if the chests just stayed visible and the icecube was gone.

The most difficult thing is the one-hit KO pitchfork archers, especially when you have that moving wall guy behind me (which I loved). I found that if I held near enough to the moving wall guy, and use the Bronze chest, I can usually mow down the archers before they are in firing range of me, only having to jump one or two shots.

Somehow I got twice stuck in infinite death loops (with +1000 score for each death! - eh, no that was my death counter =P); it was near the icecube after choosing the goldchest, and if I get hurt by the icecube (?!). I had to close program and try again.

Sometimes the archers would be shooting at me from almost offscreen, if I was too close to that side of the screen.

The end-battle was fun.

Graphics: 17/20
The artwork is nice, and I liked the snowflakes falling, and everything looked visually appealing. Death as a character didn't stylistically fit in with everything else, but your character sprite is great.

The graphics felt ambient-ish. The snowflakes especially helped the ambience.

What's with the pony ending? lol.

Theme: 5/20
The chests are nice, but they don't really involve death (other than having to die once to activate them - which feels unneccesary). In a more abstract sense, Death himself is useful, since he gives you the chests. But that's about it.
It feels like dying or Death as an entity isn't actualy relevant to the game.

Audio: 8/10
The sound and music was good, and didn't stand out in any negative sense (which is great!), but also didn't stand out in a positive sense either. After finished playing, I had to stop and think, "Was there even sound in the game?" it made so little impression on me. Which is much better than making a negative impression! But still indicates room for improvement.

First time user experience: 8/10
There was a nice launcher.
Mostly everything went smoothly. Some better explanations of the chest would be nice. I didn't understand why the countdown was going on (silver chest), and when I kept dying, I assumed it was always present. Which means I also didn't understand what the chests did at all, until I tried the other ones. Dialog text with a description of the chest, when standing next to the chest, would've helped a great deal.

I wasn't sure at first what the bar in the upper-right corner means.
I eventually was guessing that red is my death count, and blue is my score, but the numbers just merge together in a big jumble.

Judge's Discretion: 4/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)
If you had time to expand the game, and tighten up the movement, it'd be a game I'd enjoy relaxing on a couch and playing on a handheld console like the 3DS for several hours a night.
More enemies, witty dialogue with Death, better movement w/ actual health, and cleverer levels, would make this be a great game.

======================================================================================

[Soulwielder]

Congratulations on submitting an entry within such difficult time constraints! These kinds of contests really put the pressure on developers.

Gameplay: 12/25
The controls are a bit weird, making it difficult to jump-dash at the same time. Reversing the dash and jump buttons would've been more intuitive - at least for me.
It took me forever to get up that high cliff in the second level. And once up that cliff, I fell into that large pit with all the monsters and couldn't get out. I guess you're supposed to do last?

The gameplay basically consists of me falling in pits with enemies, and repeatedly jump-dashing to the other side of the mob, getting off three or four shots, then jump-dashing to the otherside, and repeating thirty or forty times until that mob is dead. There's not yet much here - it's rather tiring, and the challenge comes just from the size of the mob, without much room for player decisions and choices.

The platforming adds some variation, but when you make a mistake (on level 2), you have to repeat the level. I had to repeat the level upwards of 15 times before I made it perfectly.

One trick to dealing with the demons, is killing the demons as fast as possible before they convert the humans. Then you can murder the harmless humans without taking any damage.

Graphics: 10/20
Nice retro art style, but the blank areas could use more detail (for example, below the ground or the sky). Leaving it an solid color just feels bland.
Demons and humans look alot alike, at first glance, making them hard to discern between them.

The final level had some nice level design. I really liked the creativity in that one.

Theme: 4/20
While having an undead/demon theme, there's virtually nothing else that implies "Death is Useful" either mechanic-wise or storywise.

Audio: 0/10
There wasn't any sound or music, as far as I could tell (I checked my volume and etc...).

First time user experience: 7/10
I also didn't realize that 'aiming' affected the dashing, so the first place where jump-dashing was introduced, it took me a minute or so to get up the cliff.

After killing all the demons (and humans), to the far right of the map, nothing happened, so I wasn't sure what to do.
Turns out that the first demon (which I had jumped over), needed to be killed also.

Everything pretty much worked as expected, but that's mostly because there wasn't much there.

Judge's Discretion: 1/5
(I'm treating this as "Future potential" - what the game would be, if you weren't constrained to only a week's time)
With some player progression, a focus on exploration and platforming, and a decent story, I think this would be a pretty fun game. At present, it's rather too limited to see its full potential.

======================================================================================

Playing around with environment lighting mockups

[color=#282828][font=helvetica]I've been playing around in Paint Shop Pro to mockup different environment lightings. These are conceptual (they aren't in-game):[/font][/color]

This is stylistic practice for a certain scene I have in-mind that'll occur about a third of the way into the game.

The tree shadows are facing the wrong direction in this one.

I'm also considering applying normal-mapping to my 2D sprites:

(Blown up 4x the regular size)

Workin' on the editor

Progress is picking up again on my 2D RPG game. I never stopped working on the game's engine/editor, but progress was mostly non-visual and slow-moving progress.

The engine uses 'layers' (and 'floors'), and there are different types of layers. The biggest one ofcourse being the Tile layers (temporarily disabled due to a pending refactoring), and I've implemented Backdrop Layers and Decal Layers. There's several other important types of layers I need to implement, but most of them are simple enough I don't expect much complexity. Theres one or two layer types that'll require a decent amount of work, though.

Anyway, I got 'backdrops' implemented properly now, and there's alot of cool features in it.

• First, and most obviously, they can be used as backgrounds. And, since each Backdrop is a separate layer, you can layer multiple backgrounds together if desired - for example, if the upper layer was partially transparent.
• Second, they're optionally parallaxed, so you can move the Backdrops at different speeds when the player is walking around. This allows for potentially some interesting effects I intend to use to make the game more visually pleasing (light rays when outdoors is one I have in mind).
• Third, they optionally scroll (and at different speeds), so I can use Backdrops for slow-moving mist or clouds. And if I have different layers of mist moving at slightly different speeds, I think the effect would look rather nice. For the clouds, I was thinking subtle cloud shadows moving over the ground, but they'd need to be really subtle or it'd just be ugly.
• Fourth, they're animated - again beneficial for mist, but perhaps also for oceans or swamps.

You can also see a Decal Layer present here, which can contain various textures (with masks) that are freely rotated, scaled, or stretched out of shape. Similar to Decals are the Object Layers which, while not yet integrated into the editor interface, almost entirely share the same code as Decals, except they don't allow rotation, and they are sorted with the player by Y-position.

([size=2]Pardon the big blue arrows - that's the texture I was using for testing, and not part of the editor interface)

You can also see the minimap working (top-right corner), and alot of other niceties are functioning like zooming in and out, and adding, deleting, and reordering layers. There's also alot of not-implemented functionality.

One big important roadblock that I recently overcame (hopefully for the last time ) was getting my textures and animations w/ metadata retrieved in a stable way. I don't have them all imported yet, and there'll be some manual labor organizing them, but the major roadblock was architectural design problems I was having. Over-engineering or over-simplifying, I was banging my head back and forth between those extremes.

I still have some work left to do when it comes to textures (packing them in archives), but that can wait until way later - even after map editing begins, since it doesn't affect the file formats in any way. If real-world performance is fine, it might not even need to be tackled at all until porting to tablets (post-release of PC/Mac/Linux).

It'll still be a ways off before I begin to actually use the editor to create the world, unfortunately. I make very little progress every day - a serious lack of butt-in-chair-productivity. But things are progressing!

Artwork, I guess. =)

I haven't posted in awhile (as usual), most of my updates just occur on twitter, where I usually post an average of 6 or so tweets a week (usually two or three tweets on a single day, then silence for a few days, and repeat), so here's a re-posting from twitter of things I've been doing recently.

First, on the coding side, I've implemented a UI for scaling and manipulating decals - which I'll use to add dirt and cracks to walls, tables, and floors, as well as put detail items (tools, paintings, papers, rugs, whatever) on surfaces.

I'm working on that in a small subproject which I'll merge back into

Anyway, on to cool stuff:

Cliffs (click for full size)

The most significant thing (which you can see if you zoom in), is that I finally figured out how to make grass look better.
By simply having grassy stuff where the grass meets walls (and cliffs and tree trunks), it makes it seem alot more grassy.

For scale, the player is only about a quarter the size of one of those trees. These aren't no wussy backyard shrubs!

Couches

Because I'm still working on the editor, none of the art is in-game, so these couches might be too big relative to the player.

Wussy backyard shrubs

I made these today/yesterday. These stiff brambly plants are wild plants that'd grow naturally around various areas ingame.
The editor can let map makers tweak their stem colors (for example: red-ish, brown, white, grey, green), and they come optionally with berries, flowers, or that drapery flowery thing you currently see on them (wisteria-inspired, I guess!).

Hopefully I'll have enough plant variation that my nature areas will look interesting, and not just an eclectic mix of crazy plants. I need cohesion working with diversity, I guess.

Planterboxes

These are combinable - I made each planterbox so their sides can be built up higher or lower (three sizes for the stones: one layer of brick high, two layers, and three layers. For the wood, it's one or two planks high), and so they can have different plants planted in them, with optional bars over them for plants to grow on. They can also be laid out horizontally or vertically.

Wooden cattle fence

I've already made a few stone fences in the past, and iron bar fences and wood picket fences, so I figure a more rustic wooden fence for cattle would add a more warm and "lived in" feeling to the world.

Footlockers / furniture chests

Crates / boxes:

Boxes likely in a port area or fishing village. The one on the far right says "Parii", since the game takes place in a fictional former French colony.

End of day seven - TWoA

Alrighty, here's my entry:

Man, this was really tiring. I had to vastly shift the gameplay mechanics earlier today, to actually get something completed and shipped. Now it's scarcely even the same genre.

Well, I need some sleep. I hope everyone gets some good rest after all this frantic scurrying to meet deadlines. It seems like I wasn't the only one who worked through the night last night.

End of day 6 - TWoA

Well, we're coming down to it. Not sure I'll be able to make it (though I'll submit whatever I do have by the deadline). I'mma gonna havta pull an all-nighter to make sure I actually submit something playable... or my artist might end up strangling me.

I got the mice and soldier to actually fight each other, but wasted hours trying to figure out why half my sound-effects weren't playing, and why all the animation frames kept on flickering. Anyway, `tis resolved now. Gameplay is progressing.

Speaking of ze artist, she finished these soldiers:

I recolored the sniper mouse to make this rifleman-mouse. There will be different "classes" of soldiers (Shotgunner, Rifleman, Semi-auto, Machinegun) and different "classes" of mice (Shotgunner, Sniper, Rifleman, Pistol).

The soldiers are intentionally not animated. They move forward like plastic. This was a design decision I made at the beginning, way back on Day 1, but boy am I glad about that!

End of day 4 - TWoA

Well, things are progressing slowly; this could get ugly as I come down to the deadline.
I still have almost all the gameplay needing to be implemented.

Well, at least the artist is keeping up her end of the deal.

Army soldiers:

Mousy soldier:

I also pilfered one of my previous games for music and sound-effects. The previous game was a sci-fi, so the music doesn't fit perfectly, but it'll have to do. Hopefully nobody notices.

End of day 3 - TWoA

I ran into some coding complications, so I didn't get too much done feature-wise, but the artist completed coloring one of the mice, so the sniper will look like this:

I was wanting to go M1 Garands and Springfield sniper rifles, but I forgot to mention that to the artist, so she game the mice a bit more modern weaponry.
Extra amusing though, because that sniper rifle is longer than the mouse's body.

I visually mocked-up the main menu, but that's not yet in game either:

3 days down, 4 days left to go. Oh oh.

Best of luck to all ye other contestants!

End of day 1 - TWoA

I didn't get too much done, but I did get scrolling, zooming, and picking of isometric tiles.
Also display the controls and gameplay tips.

I made the background image just to have a placeholder until the artist draws something, but I'm actually liking it, so I may end up keeping it. I'll need to adjust the contrast and brightness so it doesn't compete visually with the enemy and ally units, but I can't do that until we get the art in-game.

Also, the artist informs me that she's drawing rats, not mice. I think I'm just going to keep calling them 'mice' though. The sketches she showed me looked adorable. Nothing says 'cute' like a mouse with a M1 Garand - I'll have to upload some concept sketches as soon as she's ready with them.

Apparently murdering babies is off the table - WoA2 contest

So the week of awesome contest has just began, with the theme being "The toys are alive!".

My artist friend and myself came up with an idea last night, so I'm about ready to get started coding it. We're making a small tactical game where you play a group of mice defending their wooden-block fortress against the toy army soldiers marching forward to drive them off the land.

Here's the my concept sketch from last night:

I was originally suggesting we have mother mice laying on a nest with her kits/cubs/whatever, that the toy soldiers murder if you let them reach that point. The artist didn't go for it.

So we're going in a more gameplay-first direction, instead of a political-commentary-on-the-bloody-cost-of-toy-wars direction.

Shadowing and lighting my RPG's walls

I was trying to figure out some some shadowing stuff, and so put this image together for my own benefit, and then figured I'd post it here and share it with anyone interested.

Here's how I'm shading and lighting the walls for my game.

I was considering using Screen or Additive blending for the light, and Multiply or Subtractive for the purple shadowing, but since I have the overlays so low in transparency, it seemed regular alpha blending had the light and shadow coloring showing up better better.

While it technically doesn't make sense for there to be arbitrary lighting on one end of the wall and arbitrary shading on the end, it adds more "life" to the wall, I feel, making it look less flat. And, as an artist friend was saying to me, 'The artistic rules with lighting is basically that you get to make it up, because what with light scattering and light rays bouncing around everywhere, you can pretty much just do whatever looks good and get away with it.' (paraphrased)

With lighting, you can just cheat as long as it doesn't stand out so badly that it draws people's eyes to it. With this wall being in the midst of a scene with many things to look at, the subtle lighting at the ends won't be too noticeable, but will still add to the overall visual aesthetics.

Probably, maybe, hopefully?

I've been really busy with household projects + guests staying over, so I haven't made much progress on Of Stranger Flames.

Yesterday and today, I managed to sneak a little time in and made these:

Water cistern / well:

A closed version, and an open version.

Stone blocks:

(With optional horse ring tie-out).

Stone posts:

Small posts, outdoors, for whatever purpose.
These aren't support posts, they are roughly 5" x 5" and maybe 4 or 5 feet tall.

Horse watering troughs:

An empty version and a filled version.

I'm hoping to get more work done on my editor soon - I still can't view any of this art in-game, which makes it hard to get the scale correct. I have fixed measurements (1 pixel = 1 inch, so a 48x48 tile is four feet by four feet), but I know I'll have to adjust alot of my art once I see it all in the game world - I'll probably need to adjust scale as well as relative brightness.

Hope all y'all projects are going well!

Screenshots of my WIP editor

Haven't posted anything for quite awhile, so here's two screenshots of the current state of my editor. Some of the tabs and buttons don't actually work, but a surprising amount does work.

A few art pieces over the past few days

I'm working on a small tool to help me package my games' art assets together in a more manageable way, so here's a screenshot of that:

(Most of these buttons aren't working yet)

But, as usual when I can't get into a coding groove (or when waiting for long compiles), I've worked on some tileart for Of Stranger Flames.

Marble fireplace

This is a marble fireplace, with gold trim. It's sunk into the wall, which is why the mantlepiece looks cut-off at the top.

I'm pleased with it, aside from it probably being slightly too small.

Firewood:

Stack of firewood to go with it. They seem a bit out of proportion compared to the fireplace, but don't let that fool you! In reality, they actually are out of proportion with the fireplace because I wasn't paying attention to my in-game size measurements again!

The fireplace seems a bit small, but the logs are definitely over-sized.

"Once I get the actual editor working" (yep, still on that repeating record track), then these kinds of things will be alot easier to notice and correct.

Not fully happy with the logs, even apart from the size. Too uniform for real firewood.

King's throne

The tiny colony/nation that Of Stranger Flames takes place in has a young king ruling it. Only the second king in its short history.
And hey, a king needs more than just a figurative throne - he needs a smashingly nice and literal throne.
French-inspired, ofcourse, since the colony was colonized by the french.

Large (really large) tent

When I was making this tent, I designed it kind-of with military use in-mind, thinking it may have a place in the first semi-town the player encounters, which is a military outpost.

Leave it to my character-artist to point out that this tent would collapse after the first rainfall, when the rain would pool up on the roof.

I think the tent needs some more work with creases and such. I'm liking the texturing (it's supposed to be made out of "canvas" which is made from cotton, wool, or hemp (from which ropes are made). I also liked out the rugs in the doorway came out, but I think the roof needs more character.

Double archway

Very large stone double-archway, probably for the fortified fortress the player passes through a few hours into the game.

Roofing shingles

I made this one a week or two ago. Since it's composed of tiles, when I actually make use of it, I'll be sure the forward-facing portion of the roof is slightly longer than the backward-facing side (because of the camera angle of the game).

Built-in bookcase

A bookcase built-into / sunk-into the wall. Way too oversized. (And yet, I have a measurement system... apparently I neglected it the past few weeks).

I'm a sucker for built-in furniture (like that marble fireplace), having helped my dad construct a few around the house when younger. Never this fancy though, and certainly not in a stone wall!

Anyway, I hope all y'all projects are going well. The programming side of mine keeps starting and stalling, progress-wise, but hopefully it'll kick into drive soon.

Inwhich I post some artwork to gaze upon...

Inwhich I post some artwork to gaze upon...
...wistfully longing for them to actually be within the game world itself.

Been sick/busy/occupied for awhile with non-programming things, but I've still gotten some art done here and there over the past few weeks.

Got a NAS with x2 1TB Western Digital Red drives stuck in it (as a single RAID1 drive) for backup purposes. I like Western Digital; they give good prices, high quality (in my inexperienced opinion) harddrives, backed by good no-hassle warranties.
(

For you non-english speakers, my internet is a bit rusty but I think the correct translation is: "Western Digital is a pretty cool guy. tEhy gives goud deal and and doesnt afraid of anything."

)

Anyway, artwork, yes.

Cliff walls:

Planter boxes:
(and several more plant variations)

Roofing shingles:

Paving stones:

Brick wall:

Minor spattering of info

Not much to say, and not much to show, but I haven't posted in several weeks so I figure I need to post something.

I've been running some tests using SFML and OpenGL, to see what kind of framerates I could get when drawing my 2D tiles (the results of the performance results are still inexplicably low), and in doing so, I confusedly ended up with some weird OpenGL mistakes from mixing up by the order that the vertices were supposed to go in:

Being new to GLSL (and OpenGL in general), I was playing around with getting my existing color blending algorithms working with OpenGL shaders:

Anyway, eventually (after heatedly interrogating other GDNet members in the chat room) I realized (okay, fine, "admitted I was wrong and acknowledged" ) that I didn't actually need to use GLSL shaders to achieve the results I wanted:

But, I do need to use GLSL shaders to use one texture as the alpha mask for another texture.
I thought there would be built in OpenGL functions for that, for sure.

It took me several days to trick SFML into letting me do that, by intermingling OpenGL function calls and GLSL shaders and depending on SFML implementation details:

That's a rotated texture that has been flipped horizontally, with a independently rotated and/or flipped texture applied as the alpha channel.

If you came here expecting artwork... I haven't really worked on much recently.
Today I did make some pottery and jewelry boxes, but that's about it for the past several weeks!

Oh, as mentioned in my previous dozen or so journal entries, you now have the great privilege of following me on twitter! *waits expectantly for the world to burst into rejoicing*

[size=2]*still waiting expectantly*

Update on 'Of Stranger Flames'

Haven't posted in awhile. I've been busy doing some minor VBA scripts as well as necessary housework projects, so I haven't been able to make much project on my game.

Anyway, I'm back knee-deep in Of Stranger Flames again. It's so refreshing to be able to speak my native C++ language again!

Editor work:

I just finished getting tag-filtering re-implemented into the editor:

I'm trying to get the editor done as fast as possible, but we'll see how it all works out. 3 1/2 years working on the editor?! I really need to get it done.

Ofcourse, those 3 years have also been spent on artwork, the game concept, and other things, but still... without getting the editor finished, I can't move forward.

Artwork:

Speaking of art (look, a diversion!), here's some I made recently:
([color=#ff0000][size=2]These works are all copyrighted, except where noted below, and I reserve the rights to them[/color] )

Some plants for forested areas:

Some stone water holding thing:

Paintings and other wall-hangers:

The paintings within the frame are old public domain artwork from the 1700s, from Wikicommons.

Here, I was trying to make some kind of wall-mounted wood-carved wall-hung something or other.
Is it clear enough that you can tell what it's showing?

Baseboard and fancy crown moulding:

Carved baseboard (basically just re-using the art from the wood-carved object above).

This is weird. It's supposed to be a type of really fancy crown-moulding (decorative trimwork that goes at the top of walls where the wall meets the ceiling), but this crown-moulding has painting inside it. I never knew such a thing existed until I saw a photograph of something similar from some fancy building in Europe or Russia.

Can you tell what the picture is supposed to be?

Incase you didn't know, I tweet now. That is to say, I have a twitter account that could ostensibly be used for tweeting, if I'd remember to do it more often.

I tend to not want to tweet unless I actually have something to say or am replying to, or retweeting, what someone else said, so I only average about 1.5 tweets a day. I currently have 75 non-spambot followers, which is pretty good, all things considered. I figure, despite not really being all that sociable, that I need to build a 'social media' 'presence'. That's a thing now, you know. Or, at least it was three years ago - I might've been left behind again.