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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Battle Gem Ponies DevLog (February: Charted Out)

     Off to a slow start but settled into a decent development routine at last. Plus, I've got heckling coworkers now to poke & prod me on a daily basis about getting this game done. Also, a new Pokemon game was announced, and it looks like its following the same formula I'm getting tired of, leading me to feel more fired up than ever to deliver my take on the elemental turn-based RPG system.

     If you want to know exactly what's on my dev plate going forward, then you'll like the production document cut & paste in this February blog.

See what's been up this past month below the break!

State of the Game

   In short, it's in the final planning stages. I still know exactly what the game is and considered every tiny detail in a series of 300+ page design documents. But given the current situation, I have to get my development tools and Unity Engine setup in order.


   I'm basically a month behind. Cleaning up the multi-hundred page design docs for BGP is taking way longer than I thought, so to celebrate fresh beginnings in March, I'll be switching over to framework development and save polishing out the details for when they become relevant. 

     So for right now, what I need to have on paper is the final list of mechanics, what assets I still need to make the vision happen, and what interface changes have to be implemented. And here's a good example of what I mean.

Since I have to start over anyway, I wanted to take the change to improve the game's UI.
One thing bugging me was the Action Select screen not following the Gem motif too well.
So I mocked up this quick doodle to test out.

I shared the idea with @SkylineH470 (who gave me the idea for the pause menu blades)
and he went ahead and mocked this up for fun.
It gets the basic idea across, but I wanna make this a lot prettier.

Prototype Checklist

     I'm willing to show off this section here of my big To Do list. These are all the things I need to meet the first milestone, get this YouTube thing started, and show everyone that Battle Gem Ponies is a feasible game that will reach completion by 2020.

(Because I'm more sick of delays than anybody.)

Please excuse the wonky formatting.


  1. Finish Design Document
    1. Transfer all remaining unsorted notes.
    2. Plan out final development tools & features.
    3. Task lists for making each feature.
    4. Test/Debug Mode Planning
    5. Flesh out all characters with quirks, arcs, and moments.
    6. Think through story until it’s satisfying.
    7. Think through all overworld scenarios (and what it’ll take to make them).
  2. Reorganized Tile Sheets
    1. Add any additional placeholders.
    2. Better fit for Super Tilemap’s auto-brush.
    3. Animations stored at the bottom under magenta row. (In order of appearance.)
    4. Blank slots are fine. (Fill with related props as needed later)
  3. Project Setup (Folders, Assets, & Animations)
    1. Organize Unity Folders
    2. Placeholder graphics. (mini pony, human, square, empty, battle pony)
    3. Import existing graphics.
    4. Test PowerSprite Animation System
    5. Test Special Visual Effects & Shaders
    6. Test Pixel Particle Effect Tool
    7. Experiment with & Learn Purchased Unity Tools (like Odin, I2, CSV, Doozy UI)
    8. Prefabs for Attack Animation Customization
  4. Project Setup (Major Code)
    1. Globals, Calculator, Saving/Loading, Data Management
    2. CSV Reader (or alternative)
    3. Playmaker FSMs for Battle Flow, Battle Calculation, Battle AI, & Grid Navigation  
    4. Overworld Movement & Interaction (with placeholder UI)
    5. Pseudo-code Scripts (for everything)
    6. Press Escape to Close App
    7. Playtime & Date Tracker
  5. Map Setup
    1. Tilemap Layering Pipeline
    2. Map-Changing Event Triggers
    3. New Demo Island to Test Everything On
  6. YouTube Videos (1st Wave)
    1. Make 1st Video using gathered audio.
    2. Script Ideas for 10 videos
      1. What is BGP?
      2. Magfest Trip & Future Plans
      3. Speedpaint Tile Map
      4. Current State & Planning BGP
      5. Speedpaint Animating Joyance
      6. Diffusing C&D
    3. Make this first set of ‘Making of’ & ‘Feature’ videos in advance.
    4. Release weekly.
  7. Main Menu
    1. Odin Serialized Scripts
    2. Opening Scene Placeholder Animation
    3. Sprites & Layout
    4. Particle Effects Pattern
    5. File Select
    6. Credits
    7. How to Play
    8. Day/Night/Twi Graphics based on clock.
    9. Portrait & Landscape
  8. Overworld
    1. Odin Serialized Scripts
      1. NPC AI
      2. Dialogue Choices
      3. Debug View
    2. Interface & Sprites
    3. Ride, Surf, Teleport, Cut, Push, Smash, Current, Trigger Switch, Step Effects
    4. Animated Effects, Tiles, Etc.
    5. Portrait & Landscape
  9. Pause Menus
    1. Odin Serialized Scripts
    2. Debug Menu
    3. Pause Blades
    4. Party, Stats, Move Details
    5. Inventory, Map
    6. ID, Options,  Ponatina Change
    7. Ponipedia
    8. Storage, BVs, Move Learn
    9. Portrait & Landscape
  10. Battle Scene
    1. Odin Serialized Scripts
    2. Functional Combat Mechanics
    3. Debug Mode for Battle Testing
    4. Maladies, Statuses, Buffs, & Move Effects
    5. Victory Fanfare
    6. Capture
    7. Ponipedia Addition
    8. Pony & Move Animations
    9. Portrait & Landscape
  11. Polish
    1. Actual Sprites, Effects, Particles, and Sound
    2. Performance Testing & Optimization
  12. Create Honeydew, Lab, Jade Pass, & Umber Town Tilemaps
  13. YouTube Videos (2nd Wave)
    1. Script Ideas Here:
      1. ???
    2. Make second set of ‘Making of’ & ‘Feature’ videos in advance.

     I spent half the month dealing with setbacks & distractions, but finally settled into a grove where I can get about 4 hours of game work done in a day by waking up early to squeeze in 1 hour, then forcing another 3 immediately after dinner instead of my usual M.O. of streaming videos or playing Zelda until the day's physical & mental stresses go away. 

Hint: it never goes away. Adult life is neverending burnout and the only way out is to change the situation. And finishing BGP can change mine.

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