Click to Play!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Battle Gem Ponies (February DevLog): Fully Functional Battles!

... Aaaand one month full of crunch later, we've got battles! Actual working in-game battles! You can swap forms, use moves, alter stats, drain meters, and everything! Some visual effects are still a bit rough but all that's coming in the polish stage. The most important bit right now is getting the logic behind everything working as intended.

Now, some of the special side-effect calculations have yet to be implemented, but we've thought through all the dirty details and are confident about knocking them out over the next month. That way we'll be stepping into April with everything the demo will need plus an extra week of polish to spare!

Come see where all the love and long post-workday hours are going to. This past month was a straight up plentiful one in terms of results!

    Getting turn flow to work at all was a milestone in itself. Getting animations to work on top of that was a series of late night bug fixes to get the timing and visuals right.

     We figured out a bunch of neat ricks along the way too. Everything's coming together and these new development tools and good ol' organization skills are making things more flexible and adaptive than ever before. It just feels so right. 

     Yotes on documents and spreadsheets describing mechanics and sequences in vivid detail and supplying the layouts, sprite sheet, animation, and audio files that need to be put together.

     Royal programming scripts to make the individual pieces work as intended, fixing the bugs as they come, coming to grasp with the intentions behind each design decision as they come (and oh, how they never stop coming), and improving every process and logic tree through extensive questioning and brainstorming.

     A couple coworkers come over on jam days to thoroughly playtest and bounce ideas off of Royal from time to time, like having a fresh pair of eyes to look at a problem differently.

    Then there's now a couple new exciting (and kinda returning) additions to our daily flow. We've been silent with the BGP Musicians for a long while now as the game was catching up to its former playable state after The Great Calamity reset progress back to zero sometime around September 2017. Now that the game is more up to snuff and there's ongoing stable and tangible progress again, we all got together on a Discord server to remotely work on this game together!

    Bluco and Euleom are BACK baby!! And pumping out new tracks for the game already. Euloeom's been busy with other side-projects like composing for PonyAge: Chronicles, and Bluco's been busy releasing his first album Fantasia.  

    Altogether this motley crew is making something special. And in a couple months the team is going to get even bigger as we find some pixel artists to join the madness.

     Teamwork is just making this flow like a nimble, living machine and development has never been more quick and exciting! 

State of the Game 

    In terms of gameplay we've got fully functional turn-based combat. The math behind it all, the interface to make choices and display information, and the animations to go with it. Just need to animate all 168 moves in the demo and add in a couple extra touches and we'll be set! 

   Major updates to the menus are coming, and along with that comes a few new ones conjured up for the VS Match mode. The gears are also turning for how to get local multiplayer working, though that might come later as free post-launch DLC.

There's a screen for picking the party you take into official matches.

And you can also set aside a list of preset teams you'd wanna use later.

     And we're setting aside some tools for configuring custom battle rules once we've got all that figured out too. And these will be the same rulesets used in the final game's challenge Stadium, which outta increase replay value and post-game fun by a lot.

     Also came up with some cool merch designs to bring to Babscon. We'll have buttons, lanyards, and T-Shirts at the con (although the shirt's still a work in progress).

     One for each pony class, but a couple extras to make an even 20. It certainly was a whole process gettin' these made, but you can find out more about that in the Patreon post about it. 

For now, look at these cool things!

Who wouldn't wanna rock one of these?
      Had some friends and coworkers (including many who know nothing about MLP or Pokemon, and yeah I'm shocked they exist too) pick out favorites from the lineup. And it seems like there's a pony for everybody within this batch.

     Hoping all 1000 of these go flying off the shelves, so to speak. And then there's lanyards too so there's something to pin them on. But you might even wanna just rock the lanyard itself with the colorful design going on.

Really dig how this one turned out.
Definitely keeping one for myself to wear around and show off my beloved pony babies.
    Real leaps are coming from the music department already. Drafts for the Rival Battle and Paragon Leader battles are already in from Bluco and Euleom just wrapped up work on PonyAge today so its all hands on deck! 

     We touched up the musical to-do list and are ready to tackle the remaining songs. 

Gettin' em done! A decreased game file size means more room for tunes!

Love this. Aseprite lets you automatically draw outlines any way you want.
      More and more programs and tools are coming to make things easier to run with and it's making the game look straight up snazzy.

     And animated moves were this past week's breakthrough. Turns out theres about 4 categories of animation types used across everything, so if we make flexible templates for each, animating all 360 moves will be a snap. 

    To help keep track of all the stuff left to do we're utilizing a spreadsheet of what's done and what's not. When everything's in green, we'll be ready for April's demo. (And we got a loooong way to go, so its hustle time)

    And speaking of documentation, its become more important than ever to keep a careful record of how things work. The game is like a delicate ecosystem now, so its important to know the ramifications of each newly introduced idea by referencing the exact way things are currently. The game design doc also helps everybody see the same bigger picture. 

   Again, its like a well-oiled machine. All coming together bit-by-bit. 


Doodles of how the VS Match menu will work.
If you're curious, these fell out of my pocket into a puddle
on my way to work because I was just having a bad day.
     Work, exhaustion, disease, and nature can try, but nothing short of instant death can stop this game from happening now!

    Numerous unexpected bugs slowed things down on a regular basis, but Royal powers through and crushes them within a single day every time. I've never seen anything like it. But still, 5 hours of effort creates a single type of move animation that can be duplicated and turned into an entirely new attack within 5 minutes. 

     That's the entire development process condensed right there. Lots of upfront setup so we can generate the thousands of little things quickly later. Development is gonna go off the charts once we cross these prototype hurdles and have a foundation for the rest of the game.

Now, in terms of marketing however...

     So looks like TrotCon ain't gonna happen. On to Plan BLook for another popular brony convention happening this summer. After a look at this nifty chart of MLP Conventions, eyes settled upon SeaquestriaFest. An all new convention close in location to the previous giant BronyCon. A first year con might be a risky move in terms of stability (just a couple weeks ago there was a major data breach they're still recovering from), but if they get some expert help, learn from mistakes fast, and manage to turn out around 1000 visitors it'll be a worthwhile marketing expense to spend $3K and get Battle Gem Ponies over there.

Next Steps 

Lots of polishing up a few things just to boost morale a bit and get closer to the final vision so we can all see what I'm seeing in my head. But beyond that, like stated earlier, there's some bits of functionality and polish coming next month to get this game up to playable standards. 

Then we've gotta tackle overworld events, mechanics, and potentially cutscenes (which may be cut from the demo for time, but will serve to make the next demo more interesting). We'll just have to see how things play out by March 15th.

Came across this little nostalgia trip when searching for BGP on google images.
The battle scene over the ages. 2020, 2017, and 2015 all in a row.
It's certainly been a wild bundle of weeks. Feels like this post can hardly even do all the days of progress justice, but that'd be a whole novel's worth of yammering. Just know that the game is really coming along now so look forward to playing it yourself in April.

And if you want a more detailed look behind the scenes as they come...

So to all you well-read gamers out there, thank you, for following the development of Battle Gem Ponies.

Hope you look forward to the surprises withheld for the next update...


No comments:

Post a Comment