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Friday, October 31, 2014

Musical Transitions In Unicorn Training

     Another small touch was added to the game that makes a huge difference. I smoothed out music transitions from scene to scene and replaced all the placeholder music with the final soundtrack, courtesy of OpenGameArt.Org. It took a while, but I finally found a soundtrack that fits decently. The selection of free stuff is alright, but it's impossible to find stuff that fits perfectly this way. I'm really excited to have custom made songs for my games in the future.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Balancing Unicorn Training

     Until now all enemies had the default amount of experience point value and magic cost / power was pretty unfair. Now those values have been tweaked to a point that feels more natural. Enemy HP was altered too. The game feels legitimate and easier to play this way. Aside from the basic balancing I also have been hunting for more game crashing bugs (I found so many!) and should have everything clear to go so I can finish this once and for all over the weekend.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Unicorn Training: Intro & Ending Text Scenes

     One of the last additions to the game are these black screens with white text that appear only once per save file after first starting and when all dungeons are beaten. The intro ones are about Clover longing to explore and the ending is the message above foreshadowing the Unicorn Quest game to come. As I said when this whole redesign got started, the game mirrors my desire to get started on something grand and fantastic but is held back because there's still some training to do before handling an adventure across Equica.

    There's not much else to post about because a lot of my time this week has been eaten by exams, homework, and fixing game breaking bugs. If I keep it up I know I can power through and get this game out soon. For now, it's back to grinding away.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Unicorn Training: Last Week of Development! (Birthday Goal)

     The Unicorn Training project is coming to an end and I'm predicting this to be the last week I spend adding things to the game. Next week will be all testing and I can have this thing out weeks before going home for Thanksgiving break. It's been a wild ride and really helpful for me to realize the importance of thinking design decisions through instead of having them just to have them.

I turned 21 today and I absolutely feel like a much smarter person than I was a year ago. 

     As for what's on the horizon, I'm waiting for my Gaming & Simulation instructor to return fro a trip to ask if I'm allowed to combine my Mobile Gaming class project with my senior Capstone class one in order to have an extra semester's worth of concentration. If all goes well the stars will have aligned to allow me to make the best game I'm capable of producing.

     This upcoming RPG means the world to me and its success will determine if independent game development is a career path I'm capable of following. I'll be giving it every bit of energy I can to ensure it does more than well.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Unicorn Training: The Music Hunt

     The game is just about done now and needs some tunes! A visit to my go-to public domain song sites filled that spot up quickly. My game's audio component is finally complete! I wanted the game done in time for my birthday, and development-wise I pretty much did it, but there's final testing to do before putting it on the app store. Now that the placeholder tracks are swapped out, my game has all its elements together.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Spring 2014: Extra Time To Focus

     With this project wrapping up and the spring semester approaching I find myself daydreaming about dedicating a year to my mobile project. My schedule was thrown out of whack but I can make the most of it. I was planning on having a really easy semester as my last at school but thanks to my rewrite I'll be doing most of that this spring instead. I was planning on dedicating lots of time to a certain couple classes I'm dreading but I can use the free time to get my next game out faster instead.

    I have a feeling that once I start my turn-based RPG I'll rocket through development on passion fuel. I've been itching to do it for a year now, even years if you count my first attempt at making a game (a dead project called Pokemon Adventure written in C++). If I'm as productive as I'm predicting I can have it out late November of next year at the earliest.

     As you can see above I've kept all the leftovers from my first Pokemon project and saved anything inspiring me for the new one. That includes a few mock ups I put together when I couldn't contain myself. I'm really eager to put everything I have into it as soon as Unicorn Training is done for good.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Status Report #61 (Unicorn Training Crunch)

     Unicorn Training is wrapping up and I'm ready to push it out into the world and see what happens. It's not my masterpiece, but it is my first baby. Having made this I truly feel like a game developer. I now understand just how hard it is to make all those dreams come to life. I know I say it every day now, but I really can't wait to get started on something new so I can put my new knowledge to the test. Hopefully I can start fresh mid-November.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Unicorn Training: Open House Crunch Time!

     Open House is coming up this Sunday and I want Unicorn Training's beta to be playable! It's super crunch time as I try to get as much done as I can so I can upload the beta to Google play and have it on my tablet for Penn College guests to play. I'm especially excited to see more kids play the game now that all the flashy stuff has been added to it. I'll finally get to see just how pick-up-and-playable my first adventure really is.

     There's tons of bugs to fix and loose ends i=to tie so I'm just going to get to it now. Expect details on how it went next week!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Class Schedule (Project Schedule Change)

     I did my class scheduling on Thursday and the fact that I forgot about semester exclusivity existing threw my entire school plan into chaos. I was counting on all my senior year classes being the easy stuff but now a lot of ones I was planning to get over sooner rather than later are scattered over the next 3 semesters.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unicorn Training: MORE Save Bugs & Features

     I'm really treading on eggshells here with these saves because I found even more variables I missed, a bunch of mismatched file types, and even file some naming convention mistakes. While I was at it I changed up a few other features involving save data.

     Now whenever you die there is a penalty of losing 20% of your current experience points (up to zero) and pressing the quit button exits to the game's menu while save will allow you to quit and come back to the room you last entered. I even put an erase button on the main menu so players can erase old saves because I noticed that once all files were full there was no way to start a new game.

    This stuff allows players to use the pause menu's Go Home feature, escape from battle if they retry, or leave a boss room and come back with items. With these features out of the way I can do the final additions (music, then scripted intro and ending) and finally be done with this thing so I can watch other people play with it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Unicorn Training: Cleaning Up The Save System

     Things are as busy as ever. School is back full force and I spent most of the day either in class or in a textbook. I used my few hours of gamedev time sprucing up the save script and rechecking it for important data values I overlooked (there were a few). As of tonight the save system works great and is easy to edit. It' important to get this down now because my mobile project is going to have a ton of variables to keep track of.

Hopefully more gets done tomorrow!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bug Hunt, Scripting Saves, & New Video Editor

     Yesterday was all about fixing bugs and testing the data save features. I made another disembodied script called Saves to go along with Globals that handles all the save info in a central place. With this I can focus on saving the game at certain points rather than on the fly like I did with DragCore which caused some minor performance issues. I was surprised that there really wasn't much data to keep track of for this game. I hope my future games have data this easy to manage.

     I also got to try out Lightworks which I will now be using instead of Windows Movie Maker. Unfortunately I'm not able to transfer the edited file project to it and remaking the whole thing is more trouble than it's worth. I'll just take it as another lesson learned and make future videos with this free professional tool. For now, I just recorded some gameplay (using my phone as a controller instead of a trackpad) and played around with some ideas for the official trailer.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Unicorn Training Development Video #18 (Alpha 2.0)

     I could spend a couple paragraphs explaining all the details and things I added to the game overnight, but I think a gameplay video will work better.

     This video is actually a recording of an edited project in Windows Live Movie Maker so there are a lot of skips, blurry visuals, and some lag throughout. If I can get the file to compile into an uploadable form without Movie Maker crashing I'll reupload a higher quality version. Until then...

(Click YouTube Link!)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Status Report #60 (Dungeon Select, Brainstorming, & File System)

I'm accomplishing a crazy amount of stuff this weekend!
     My development checklist is getting shorter! This coming week might just be the last for development! Once I'm in final testing I can rest easy and prepare for launch! Since I don't even have to wait for Apple this time I can do it whenever I'm ready. Amazon and Samsung might take a week but there's really not much to stop me from releasing in early November. I can finally get feedback from people I don't see in person and see what the world thinks of my first game.

    Look at all my business stats after the page break!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Unicorn Training: (Load & Save) File Select Menu

     A file select screen exists! Players can have their save data occupy one or all of the available slots. Player will select a file then push the forward arrow to act or push the back button to return to the previous screen. In the end, it's a lot more elegant than what I had in mind a few weeks ago. I scrapped the idea of custom file names to save time on a virtual keyboard even though my school maze project had me make a keypad with similar behaviors.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ideas For Building Characters (Mobile RPG)

     I spent a lot of time looking at a bunch of Pokemon theories (non-creepypasta ones) that explained a lot of logic games in the game's world. things like how the world came into existence, how one monster can become another through generations of breeding/mutation, and why there is a limit to how many moves can be used. It's a way to get me thinking about how to make my own world full of characters that don't feel like generic stand-ins.

    You can see a few standout videos I saw on Gnoggin's YouTube channel and catch what I took away from the experience as a gamedev below the break.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Unicorn Training Dungeon Selector

     I finished up another pretty big piece of the game, the way players choose which dungeon to play through. Now the global variables that control that stuff are accessible in game. I added the ability to quit and be taken back to home from the pause menu or death menu.

     When players approach the crystal ball the action icon changes and pressing it brings up the choices of Dungeons, Bosses, and Random. Dungeons brings up all the dungeons you can play in any order, bosses brings up the boss fights you can do again, and Random makes it so that each dungeon room you enter is randomized based on ones you've beaten before.

     The diamonds are colored in for the dungeons you already beat while the others are grey. Pushing the page buttons shifts between the 9 dungeons so players can choose to play any level they want from the start.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Improving Coding Skills

     One big thing that keeps popping up as I work is how much more organized I'll have to be for the next project. After every project I learn to prepare the next to take some concept into consideration when making connected scripts and folder hierarchies. Every code library is neater than the last and now that I've had practice with an RPG scale game's code, I can make a much more organized workspace.

     This is a big deal because Unicorn Training is currently a mess behind the scenes. Debugging is tedious because I have to alter every instance of copy/pasted code when I should have central scripts multiple objects can point to. I should have been more careful about the variable names and comments because now when I go to fix a script from 6 months ago I can't tell what all the pieces do.

     I had to Frankenstein a bunch of code together and patch on tons of fixes I never thought of. I will have a better start next time if I keep all these things in mind. In some ways my code is better than ever, but in others it's atrocious and needs to be improved. It's that constant drive to always do better.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bug Hunt: Unicorn Training Treasure & Electric Gates

     Most of yesterday consisted of debugging as I tried to fix things that seemed to be working fine. The electric gate switching was failing to get rid of invisible walls because of how I haphazardly grouped the objects in the scene's hierarchy and some were even mislabeled as the opposite color. I had to go through each scene with electric gates and correct them.

    Once those were settled I tried to move to new things on the task list but ran into another bug that ate a few hours of the day. I wanted excess items to do nothing when picked out of chests. I wanted them to be placed back in chests originally, but with the mess I coded it'd create less bugs if I had it just say you have no room.

    For some reason it broke my TextMaster script after working on the previous 3 tests. All thanks to the way I use " @" as the line skipper. It was as if using two line skips was against the rules despite it not breaking anything moments ago. The problem was sloppily fixed by adding a random bunch of spaces and having the script cut them off for me when pushing the next word to the following page.

    I can breathe easy now that this nonsense is behind me. It's Columbus Day so my early class is cancelled for the day which will give me an extra hour of gamedev before going back to the grind. I want the dungeon selector done before Friday.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Unicorn Training: Enemy Behavior & Electric Gates

     Saturdays are my day off so I didn't get much done lately. What I was able to do after class on Friday was code how enemies behave in the overworld (basically don't shoot and only move horizontally instead of roam) and make certain electric gates alternate between yellow and blue automatically. It's Sunday now which is a day completely dedicated to gamedev so lot's of progress is sure to be made by bedtime. I want to be as close to the finish line as possible by the end of the upcoming 3-day weekend.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Status Report #59 (Prefabs Placed & Live Spriting Session)

     This week's distractions include Smash Bros, a school mini-carnival (free for students), and tons of incredibly frustrating homework. Despite it all I made tons of progress with Unicorn Training and have a world full of enemies and items! Next week is a 3-day weekend too, so I'll have tons of dev time then. I might even get everything but music done!

Look at this week in review below!

Friday, October 10, 2014

PCT GameDevs: Sprite Making Tutorial & Custom Text Boxes

I explained the difference between pixel art styles and different approaches to making your own.
     Every week something is presented at the PCT GameDevs meetings and this week I showed everyone the basics of sprite making and how I made the text boxes work in Unicorn Training. It's nothing I haven't show on this blog before but it was my first time explaining these things to a live audience. It was actually pretty fun to put together and I got some extra practice with my new draw on paper then scan in Paint technique by tracing over an astroknight doodle.

     The meetings still have awkward points as attendance goes down and I occasionally stumble over words when trying to explain my thought process. Although the club is meant for students to teach each other, I'm not much of a teacher myself but more of an example. I've been working on stuff alone since high school so I'm used to the speed of thought and my complex web of information when doing anything. Putting it all into English on a moment's notice can be hard.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Unicorn Training: Populated Game World

     That's it. The final room now has living things in it. The game world is finally alive! I feel like Farore finishing off a world's creation and leaving a triforce behind (I apologize to any readers who find that really nerdy). Every room is filled with the right enemies, treasure chests have items in them, gems are in cave walls, boulders block certain paths, and I even tweaked teleporting a bit to fix some glitches I noticed.

     These next few weeks are going to feel like a roller coaster ride as I rush to finish this game once and for all! It's crunch time baby!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Unicorn Training: Prefabs Being Placed!

     With my homework done for the day I had tons of free time last night to work on Unicorn Training. I finished up the final game object, a breakable boulder, and placed enemy, object, and boss prefabs in the game's overworld so the player can encounter them. Everything for the forest and 1st dungeon is done and I should be able to knock out the other 8 dungeons during the school week. I also coded all the stat boosting items so buffs work in battle now too.

     This has brought my game to a new level of feeling real and all that's left is the small stuff and a bunch of balancing. Expect a tour video later this week if I get time to record one. The hardest coding stuff is done and the end is in sight. It took about 5 years but I'm finally going to finish an RPG!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

No Unicorn Training Progress (Distractions Galore)

     Work didn't get done yesterday as I discovered from a classmate there there were two different maze algorithms to code for programming class. Conveniently enough the one I didn't know about happens to be even more complex than the one I spent all Thursday doing. So while I try to figure out queues and stacks, Unicorn Training will have to wait at the sidelines.

    It seems like a bad week to expect much of anything with all the distractions popping up. I've got programming assignments, my usual amount of homework, PCT GameDevs meetings to plan, a pitch to the Gaming & Simulation professors to sweat over, I haven't been to the gym in a week so I need to get back in shape, and on top of it all I just got Smash Bros and desperately want to play more.

     We'll see how much I can push off early in the week so I can at least have the later half dedicated to wrapping up my first big game. School is a pain, but that's the price for job security these days right?

Charizard has become my new main. He's so perfect for my playstyle.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Unicorn Training Bosses: Pyre, Splash, Surge, Decoy, & Hex

     I finished up the last few bosses yesterday and now everything in my game has a functioning brain! This is really exciting since it means the game's release date is in sight! I can't wait to get to beta and just playtest this thing. this is the longest I've ever spent on a single project and I want to see it become something. The boss fights are the most interesting battles in the whole game so I'm glad to finally get those playable. Get some descriptions below!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Unity Maze Generator (For Programming Class)

      My programming 3 class was tasked with making a random maze generator over the weekend for our first exam grade. Needless to say it ate a lot of my free time. When people talk about programming 3 they always mention the dreaded maze assignment so it's my class' turn to suffer. Next semester we take on the assembly classes seniors are complaining about.

     The teacher wants to be able to pick the width, height, and frequency of wall blocks. He even says it doesn't have to be solvable. It definitely doesn't search for the fastest path either. Just a start, end, border, walls, and a final path. As to not let my hours of headache go to waste I figured I could share a bit of how I did it below the break.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Status Report #58 (Comic-Con, Bosses, Classwork Pitch)

     I can kiss a nice chunk of gamedev goodbye for a few weeks because smash bros hit yesterday and this series defines every console it's on for me. I still promise to hold true to my ideal (Sunday is 100% gamedev time) but as for weekdays & Saturday, I'll be super smashing until Pokemon comes out. That's when I'll be switching between the two and really getting nothing done.

    Sure hope I finish these last few things with Unicorn Training before then! Check out what I did during my last week of productivity below.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Change Current Classwork, Not the Whole Major

     At the PCT GameDevs meeting yesterday we went over Unity's free 2D features (instead of the $75 2D Toolkit plugin I use) then discussed changing the major to suit our needs. The day before this I briefly spoke with a classmate in the gym and he suggested not pitching a whole degree, but just sticking to fixing the current one. That got me thinking hard (mostly because I don't want to go to political war with the school) and I decided it would be best to just change what we do in our 4 given game design classes.

     This would be a much easier task to pull off than pitching a new major to the school and researching all the courses and financials. It will also put less workload on the two professors running the game courses. Two members and I plan to meet with both gaming instructors sometime in the coming week to discuss changes to classwork in game development courses.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Unicorn Training Bosses: Cut & Frost

     I got a bunch of boss development time yesterday and went to town! I finished 2 more bosses and have the rest setup so I can easily finish them before the weekend even starts! That's the current plan at least. We'll see if school has something else in mind. Check out the boss descriptions below!