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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Battle Gem Ponies DevLog #162 (Getting It Together)

     Finally coming to grips with the new tools and having something to show for it! There's been a real headache and a half over this, but hopefully it pays off with a bunch of dropped jaws and people saying "Oh, that's cool." when they first open the game..

     I need to settle into a groove! Time to crank out some content!

Look! A Portrait mode!
The buttons align based on the screen size and everything!
The almighty To-Do list.
I read this every day to get myself pumped up.
And here's what I want the game to look like by the end of each week.
Seeing it listed this way makes it feel more real to me.

  • PORTRAIT MODE (I'm super stoked about this)
  • Joined MLP Forums
  • Expanded YouTuber List
  • Written Random Ideas for Games to Make After BGP (not pony related at ALL)
  • Came Up with Folk Names for Everypony (Simber: "Flaming Mane Pony", etc.)
  • New Partner Idle Dialogue (unique one for each pony)
  • Learned How to Use New uGUI Tools Properly
  • Learned More about Controlling Super Text Mesh
  • Researched Video Game Localization Services (I'm probably going with LevelUp)
  • Researched Localization Best Practices
  • Made a More Organized Wednesday Milestones List
  • Rearranged Unity Editor Layout for Better Flow
  • Made 9-Slice Versions of GUI Sprites (nicer look when stretched out or shrunk)
  • Fancy New Animations for Menus & Transitions
  • New Dynamic Screen Resolution 
  • Dealt with Frequent Unity Crashes
Spent a lot of time looking at this here. Trying to get a new layout setup, but every few seconds
the whole program crashed or froze up and I had to start over with a blank slate. Really annoying stuff.

     Lessons Learned:
  • Can't believe I never bothered googling to see if there was a general MLP forum besides the Equestria Daily one. 
  • Turns out there's a super active one with a mini gamedev community that updates way more frequently than the old  MyLittleGameDev forum I got started on. Like, there's some legit impressive pet projects in there I want to keep an eye on. Might find some future work partners in there.
  • I can save myself a little time animating by not bothering to convert the little decorative sprites made with 2D Toolkit. They're compatible with Unity's new UI and everything, so there's no point in reinventing the wheel.
  • I should only remake the assets I know will be altered/enhanced with fancy shader effects and tools.
  • If I get to the end of the project and need more space efficiency, I'll go back and convert them. Worry about the small stuff later, just get a game working for now.
     Aside from some weird pixels, those strange white boxes flashing before sparkle effects play, and messing around with the element symbol particle effects, I think the title screen looks just how I want it to. 

     Unity was giving me headaches this week with constant crashes and compiler errors. After 2 wasted days of frustration, I ended up removing a bunch of plugin folders that were giving me trouble (hope they weren't too important), commenting out lines of code that caused build errors, and updating Unity to the 2017.3.1 version. But it still crashes randomly and often, deleting anything I don't save every few minutes... 

     Ironically, even the bug reporter freezes, so I felt super stuck in the mud with this. For now, the problem seems mostly alleviated, by I play things careful by saving after every minor change and not touching anything when the Mac "waiting" mouse cursor turns on. (The slowdowns keep coming back to haunt me, and it's super annoying.)

This frozen nightmare is eating days of work.
     Another bug I'm seeing is the entire HUD Canvas glitching out for split seconds. Makes me think this new DoozyUI system isn't as stable as it seems. I'll keep an eye out for glitchy looking things like that when I build to an actual device. Might just be my super slow editor.

     If everything falls apart, plan B is to fall back on the old BGP project file I have saved and go on with my old pipeline. But after spending so much time and money on this new path, I'd really rather not. I just want BGP to look as good as possible.


Still finding at least 20 customers a month. They're out there. People want pony RPGs but can't find mine. Yet...
I often hear that people's kids love Unicorn Training, and that feels pretty special to me.
Maybe there's 50,000 kids out there who are going to recognize Clover in my next game and instantly love her.
I'm still getting flooded with requests to translate my games to Russian. I have to make that my #1 priority for BGP.

     Google Play continues to be the place where I make the most growth. The number of downloads has slowed significantly since the 2015-2016 era, but I still make about $20 a month from Unicorn Training. It really makes me think that collecting BGP royalties is something I could live off of if I can allow it to become popular enough.

     Thousands of downloads a month there for the free version, double digits for the paid (a steady 5% conversion rate for 3 years now). Then I get single digit increases on the paid version on other app stores. I should keep that 5% in mind. I see it working for similar RPGs on the app store too, so maybe 5% is the universal average for these things. RPG players are more hardcore like that and are willing to pay for a good experience.

     If I could muster up a miracle and get 5 million people to try the BGP demo (I see numbers like that for a bunch of free Pokemon clones on Google Play alone) and if I can also maintain this 5% conversion, that'd be 250,000 players... (A Yotes can dream.)


     Made an MLP Forums account because there's 4,000 to 30,000 new people to reach there, so it's worth adding to my list of places to check out weekly. Kinda like how the site colors match BGP's aesthetic too. Closer to launch I outta go forum hunting and sign up for every single one that might even be remotely interested in BGP. Every download, share, and curious viewer counts!

     So if you frequent the forums, you're bound to see my stuff eventually. I'm making it super colorful and I'm engaging with a lot of different boards to make myself known here. 

     On a side note, my wiki account was blocked/banned for just sitting there with my logos all over it. Turns out, if you're not directly contributing to any wiki pages, you're being spammy. Your account profile picture and background just sits on the community homepage not leading to anything, so you seem like a spam bot. The website being glitchy and not allowing me to post status updates doesn't help either. 

     I'll just have to make a new account and try again when I'm actually ready to write the wiki. Or I could use a different site altogether.

More menus under construction.
     Wow. One week into the schedule and I'm already a week behind. Good thing I accounted for that though! Drawing the tilemaps shouldn't actually take a whole week since it's really just a matter of tracing because all the maps are planned in detail already. Then the two weeks after that are dedicated to revamping and filling out the battle system. Between now and then I'm sure I can catch up.

     Coming to grips with this new setup was the hard part, now I'm on a roll and can crank out these things much faster. I'll worry about the pretty little details later, it's all about functionality and converting the old stuff to new stuff right now.

     Battle Gem Ponies will be back on track in no time!

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