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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Battle Gem Ponies DevLog #158 (Major Restructuring)

New Texture Packer tool is making my sprite file sizes 75% smaller!
     Time to clean things up. Look, I made a big mess of files and code while figuring out how to put this game together. But now with years of experience and new tools at my disposal, I know I can do better. So I'm basically recreating Battle Gem Ponies using everything I have, but this time it'll be much more organized, run smoother on all devices, and have some neat features I couldn't pull off before.

     This change up won't affect the release date that much since I planned to do all this for the alpha build anyway (but to a lesser extent before Patreon boosted the budget). So basically, just expect a prettier Battle Gem Ponies to come out this Summer.

Get an idea of what I mean in the devblog below!

Look at that! all nice & neat. Two promotional frames, the spritesheet project file, and each frame of animation stored away.
60 ponies may not sound like much, but when you have to sort, rename, and export 30 frames for each one...
Well, you're gonna learn firsthand what "carpal tunnel" means.

   Completed:
  • Wrote Special Events and Dialogue for the Demo Version
  • Wrote More Battle Flavor Text
  • Researched More Story Writing and Game Marketing Tips
  • Changed Idea for Lore, Now Some Wild Ponies can be Ultra or Chroma Variants
  • Binge Watched a TON of Tutorials & Unity Tip Videos (mostly Brackeys)
  • Brainstormed and Planned Out More Efficient Ways to Do Everything
  • Restructured Entire Work Pipeline to Incorporate New Tools
  • Decided to Remake BGP's Unity Project from Scratch...
Spent lots of time messing around with plugins and getting a feel for them.
Then I watched a ton of tutorials over and over and played with them some more.
     Lessons Learned:
  • The free version of BGP is going to be the most popular one no matter what I do, so I should make it as enjoyable as possible and leave a lasting impression. I should also make it replayable enough to keep people from deleting the app until they buy the full version.
  • Breaking the 4th wall seems to be an effective way to make the player laugh and reflect on how much fun they're having playing the game while I'm also trying to sell them on the full version. Hopefully it leads to a lot more sales and wishlisting.
  • Unity changed a lot over the last 5 years. I've been living in the past, hardcoding sloppy answers to problems that have elegant solutions now.
  • Somebody a lot smarter than me ran into the same problems, and likely fixed it by now. Always keep an eye out for helpful software/plugins/workarounds.
  • The new Unity tools work so great together, I don't think I need 2D Toolkit anymore... And that's been my crutch since the beginning.       


     Also came across some new helpful plugins to add to my wishlist. Things like Screen Transitions, Pathfinding Algorithms, and (most notably) some slick Screen Orientation Controllers that could combine with Unity's dynamic GUI tools and make switching between portrait & landscape mode interfaces super easy. I may be able to salvage the long scrapped Portrait Mode after all... 


What if I could bring this idea back, now that I know an easier way to do it?
     I'm also looking forward to using the I2 Localization Plugin this month. With it, I'll be able to release BGP builds with multiple language options! This could even be super helpful at launch since Apple & Google tend to favor apps with worldwide appeal in their promotions. If I'm lucky, and pitch the game to them well, I might just see BGP on the front page of the app stores sometime this year! (Can't help but drool over the possibility. 😅)
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   Patreon:

     Big thanks to you Patrons! This month $150 came in from January's campaign and I was able to buy these Unity plugins to make the game look so much better. 

     It's thanks to you guys that I got to use PowerAnimator, 2DxFX, Grid Framework, and Playmaker this week. It's really leading up to a much nicer looking game that also runs more smoothly on more platforms. I can't wait to get the next demo out and show everyone the huge improvement!

   Downloads:



     It's kindof weird seeing how little traffic Unicorn Training gets compared to previous years. An entire month goes by and it's been purchased about 12 times in total. But I guess that still adds up to almost a dollar every 3 days or so. And each of those dollars can go towards a shiny new plugin to make my next project do better. 

     I'd really love to see a strong tail of sales for BGP. People constantly discovering it for the first time and being compelled to share it with a friend cuz it's just that awesome... The goal here is to live off of it. Move into a decent place, setup a little home office, and get cracking on BGP2 for a late 2020 release. That's the fantasy in my head and I really, truly want it to come true...

    Featured:

Unicorn Training review on Teacher by Day - Gamer by Night

     A close friend of mine (and loyal Patreon Producer/Seducer tier KING) just put up a Unicorn Training review on his gaming blog. I think this has to be the first real full-fledged article/review on Unicorn Training written by an actual human being and not a bot copy/pasting the app description. Go take a look at that if you're curious about the game but never got around to it yourself. 

    The main takeaway from this particular review: The game starts too hard but gets easier as you become more and more OP. The difficulty curve probably scared a bunch of folks off.
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     So work will continue onward. It's been a real grind getting all the sprites in order, but I'm almost done with 'em. Then it's just a matter of aligning all the placeholders and finally building the game world. I can't wait to step foot onto Honeydew Springs for the first time...

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