Friday, October 7, 2016

Challenges Ahead for Demo 6

     Sorry I haven't been posting on Fridays for so long. Some of you may remember me saying I'd lay of these weekend posts when there's nothing to talk about, but the rest of you probably feel left in the dark. Thing is, BGP is currently at that boring stage of development where most of the weekly accomplishments are getting basic features to work, fixing bugs, improving organization, rewriting ideas, and trying to figure out how to toss numbers around to program new features at all.

     I thought I'd take a minute this week to talk about some of the upcoming obstacles I need to navigate in order to get BGP V6.0  out in time for Halloween weekend.

NPC Wandering & Pathfinding

     I'm wrapping up some bug fixes on the Customization menu, but once that's done it's time to tackle this challenge again. Last time I had NPCs walking through walls, go out of their boundaries, and standing inside each other. I plan to start from scratch with a system that constantly checks the surrounding tiles to see which ones an NPC is allowed to stand on.

     Coming up with an AI system that allows an NPC to find it's way to any tile I tell it to go to will be a challenge too. At the very least I want them to go in a straight path to their destination. I can figure out how to navigate around obstacles later. Cheating with a series of waypoints will get me to the Greenlight demo for now.

Cutscene Pipeline

     I've been wanting to figure this out forever. And it may turn out to be simpler than I thought. Hide the HUD, disable input beyond the dialogue button, and animate the sprites onscreen in conjunction with the pathfinding system. I got the emote bubbles working already too, so they can be used for making expressions.

Travel Moves

     People want to surf. They want to explore the southern third of Pinto island. Who am I to deny them? While I'm at it, I'll figure out how to animate things like riding and flying. Only expect surfing to be the working feature though. And maybe Sweet-Bot will be able to teleport you to the Town Hall or something. I just know that swimming with Orscina needs to be a thing and I need to show how this game does HMs differently.

Pony Gem Capturing

     After drafting a bunch of ideas on how to make a minigame out of it, I may just end up going with the Pokeball's catchrate system. It'd be the easiest to implement and I'm getting really tight on the time schedule. I'm also torn between a few ideas I have for animating this in a way to get the player excited and build suspense.

     I'll keep thinking up new ideas as I approach this task, but the capture system may just end up being an animation and number generator equivalent to the 3 shakes and click. Maybe with a bit of Pokemon GO inspired timing and flourishing to boost your EXP or increase the catch rate slightly.

Ultra Form Mechanic

     One major battle element still isn't working. The epic Ultra versions of all the ponies! In place of Pokemon's evolution or Digimon's digivolving, you can transform your pony into what's basically a Super Saiyan version of itself. New abilities, a stat boost, and sometimes new classes that change up what your moveset can do and how your opponent will retaliate. 

     In this demo that requires making a flashy button for it, having the item required for this in your inventory, playing the fancy animations, making particle explosions, and coding the rules. Things like no swapping once your ultra is out, only using it once per battle, making sure it takes the highest turn priority all need to be working.

     At the very least I want Vinerva to be able to do it. Her ultra form is already animated since I'm using her original design (although I have altered the sprites a bit since then). Even with just one pony able to go ultra in build 6, the groundwork will be laid out for the rest of them.


     In addition to everything above, I also need to fully animate 3 new ponies and 16 new moves! Scripting for the different moves is going to be required too, but luckily the current set of implemented moves work as a template for most attack animations and all I'll need to do is swap out the sprites. If I can somehow get everything done before Halloween I'll try adding more ultra ponies to the build. Probably for fan favorites Orscina and Sweet-Bot.


     Once all these major tasks are done (with some other minor improvements to the game in-between) the next BGP build will be ready! Then I can get started on 7.0, the final Pinto Island demo before I get started on making the actual final game's world.

     The big idea here is to get all the complex systems working before the Steam Greenlight demo so that I can prove (mostly to myself) that I can finish this project. Once the foundation is in place I can demonstrate rapid improvement with tangible additions to the game I can show off here. New levels, new moves, new ponies, new scenarios, and all that stuff will be so easy to do after I make their templates work perfectly.

     I want to spend January through April just adding to the game like that. New animations (I have hundreds left to do), sprites, and explorable chunks of the game. 3 of which I want to be available on the Greenlight page for the press to have access to.

     It really feels like I'm climbing a mountain here and the stress is starting to get to me... But I know that I'll be sliding down the other side towards the finish line, and the satisfaction of actually finishing this overambitious project will be so, so very sweet.

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