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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Battle Gem Ponies DevLog #172 (Map Mastery)

Turning every single one of those blocks into it's own button somehow took up a whole day.
     The Map System I've been subconsciously dreading has finally been implemented and the rest of the menus are coming together bit-by-bit as I program all the pieces separately and connect them together (instead of cramming everything I could into one giant, unreadable script like before). The results?

     Still not done, and being behind schedule is really bugging me. The game should really have been in alpha by now and I gotta admit that's depressing me. But every night I go to bed knowing my game has 24 more hours worth of love pumped into it, you know? It's coming along, but too slowly.

Looks kinda wacky squishing all the map icons into a little texture pack.
Minimalist Map. I'll make a Pixel Art Terrain one later.
  • New Reddit Profile
  • Figured Out How UI Layouts Work (slick, scrolling menus)
  • Finished Remaking More Scripts
  • Studied Polish, Presentation & Good Presskit Design
  • Adjusted Final Game Map
  • Made a Couple Iterations of the Map Screen System
  • Wrote Some Lore About How the Region Works
  • Renamed Some Locations (new spots to chop the ocean up into digestible pieces)
  • New Variables for Tracking Places Visited
  • New Text Mesh Colors & Gradients (light tints & elemental class graidents)
  • Split More Redundant Code Into Own Simplified Scripts (objects used in multiple scenes & menus)
  • Simplified Some Functions (mostly global ones, they used to take 4+ lines each, now they only need 1)
  • Tried and Failed to Implement Cool Scrolling Effect (I'll figure it out later in the polish stage)
  • Added Health Bars and Malady Orbs to Pony Gem Preview Boxes
  • Got Active on PokeCommunity Forums
Getting more comfortable and confident behind the scenes as the code behind all these menus comes together.
Things are working smoother than they ever have before, but I gravely overestimated how long it takes to rewrite all this.

     Lessons Learned:
  • Making the map system was like building 5 different Lego statues. I was dealing with a ton of tiny pieces that I had to fit together perfectly, and missing even one would cause a problem.
  • I'm glad it's finally done, but that ate up an entire day of work. So note to self, if a section involves making a ton of little pieces that need to be named individually... Extend the calendar.
  • Looking back on games/movies/comics I loved growing up, and listening to friends explain the stories and series they got into that I didn't led me to realizing a lot of stories aren't THAT good or much sense at all. But we love them as though they're masterpieces anyway.
  • I'm being too hard on myself thinking BGP needs to be the next Avatar or Harry Potter in terms of planning and quality. 
  • Stories don't have to be perfect to be good. Just gotta make the players feel something and allow their imagination to conjure up their own fun.
I also added some little touches to the Party screen like condition indicators
and null sprites for when a section is empty or locked,
       I went back and fourth a lot with the map implementation because I wanted all the pieces to fit together nicely and be easy/quick to update. I decided to go with 3x3 pixel blocks aligned on a 138x100px grid, all separated with the entire map's worth of negative space, divided into files that could cram up to 14 of them in the maxed out 2048px texture sheets. Organized by Area, Town, Route, Special Building, and Gate. 

I can select any little colorful map piece I want...

... separate it, and tweak it however I want.
Then when it's imported to Unity, it'll already be perfectly aligned.
     The end result had no weird misalignment artifacts, it was easy to match the graph paper map drawings' basic silhouettes, and the minimalist format will be easy for me to decorate however I want later on. Just gotta open up Gimp, edit the sprite, and save.

Here's me adding them in one-by-one.
Copy/Paste object, change sprite, and it's already layered on top. 

     Looks like I'm officially 3 weeks behind. Terrible. I can't believe coding is going so slow, but what else is there to do but keep grinding. At least I'm making tangible progress every day. Gotta pick up the pace if I at least want the free version of the game out by BronyCon. I'm supposed to be map building and launching the alpha by now, but delays, delays, delays...

     I've reached the home stretch of menu scripting and outta be done with it all before the weekend. Looking forward to crafting the foundation of the battle system and overworld to get a basic game loop going again. Then it's a matter of implementing every little feature and making sure it all works.

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