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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Battle Gem Ponies (December DevLog): Sayonara, 2020!

This year sure has been one big heck... But looking back, I'm proud of what we've managed to build since January. This game is miles further along than I ever could've reached on my own trying to solo dev. 

It's exciting to think about how much can be accomplished in the next 365 days with the full power of a development team and, if we succeed in May, thousands of dollars in crowdfunding support to hire a ton more helping hands and guarantee we finish the rest of development by year's end.

Here at Yotes Games, spirits are high as we march right into 2021 like we own the place. (And with your continued support, we actually might!)

Get some of the last gamedev you'll ever see in 2020 below.
Pretty cool. Pick your 3. (Just like in Pokémon Stadium!)
Always wanted to implement something like this...

State of the Game 

We've got our post about the BGP Christmas Demo up over here (Patrons Only, til February). And we're hard at work on the next set of bugs that need fixin'. Pressure's on to get something rock solid out by February 3rd, but confidence is rising now that we're at the part where daily changes are more noticeable in the project.

Bunch of tiny improvements included:
  • Floating ponies actually float in mid-air now
  • The VS Match Team Select works properly
  • You can select items & gear to bring into battle
  • A hundreds of moves have their unique placeholder animations in
  • The Legendary Alicorns have finalized designs now
  • A few ponies got a minor makeover
  • There's a Pre-Battle Party Select menu now
  • Combat Logic has been sorted into various phases will all variables being printed in usable debug logs for us developers to dissect
  • We have a decent collection of sound effects
  • We have a majority of the combat mechanics in place (still implementing the tricky ones)
  • And we've got a batch of 74 arenas to choose from


Look at this mess. The text is out of sync with what's going on!

Bugs. Glitches. Balance issues. Broken features. All kinds of little things that pop up as you're testing a prototype. We're making steady progress and cleaning things up as we go. Heck, we got that page long list of issues from April resolved in a single dev session. We're working at a more powerful pace than ever!

Thing is, this project just keeps revealing how challenging it truly is. Nearly every overworld feature was completed within a month, but soon as we get to battle, we find out the day-long task we expected "Implement Weather Mechanics" to be is actually a 4 week monster of an interconnected challenge that will push our team of professional programmers to the absolute limit of sanity!

We've been having to rethink the structure of the Battle Gem Ponies combat system over and over again to have it all make sense with the gameplay we want to implement. We've even compared our infrastructure to that of Pokémon Showdown or Pokémon Emerald to get an idea of how someone else would do it. But it's like we're coming at it from completely different sides of the world. Our needs and custom systems are just too different for a 1-to-1.

It really is just that tricky making an RPG with this many moving parts. But it's all worth it for that strategic depth that will make this game stand alongside the greats in the Monster Taming genre.

It'll be a headache and a half getting there, but it'll get done. And once it is, we'll take extra care to make sure we get the most out of this battle system from a game design perspective too.

Next Steps 

In terms of resolutions, I'm sure it's obvious our whole team's goal is to finally finish this game. But along the way there's bits of improvement we each plan to take to make our lives just a bit better. 

Mine is to regulate my sleep schedule, get my healthy habits from 2016 back, and avoid the burnout streaks that've given me quite a few white hairs lately. 

In this new year I'm striving to regulate my life schedule to that of my Yotes Games Company 4 day workweek pipedream. 
  • Mon Tue Thu Fri = work myself to the bone
  • Wed = lite easy management/organization/planning/business stuff for just the afternoon
  • Sat Sun = relax & recharge
All the while, actually being up at a decent hour so normal people (the dev team) can talk to me during EST waking hours. I wanna be up, worked out, well fed, and at my desk by 11am, breaking for dinner at 6pm, back to work for a few more hours, and going to bed by 11pm.

Seems more sustainable than my 7 days a week of work every possible waking hour I can and only go to bed when the sun is rising and I'm about to collapse.

We've got this. The plan is laid out, we have a detailed schedule of work to do all through the year separated into 2 week chunks with some extra weeks to spare thrown in for wiggle room. The hardest parts are behind us, and basically after March the programming load lightens by a lot, and by May the pressure of making a good first impression vertical slice is off.

Got our eyes on an October release, but don't hold a gun to us on that. Don't want a Cyberpunk situation on our hands. The game is done when it's done.


Just look how much we've grown! Even after basically years of silence, thousands of people are keeping an eye on BGP. That means a lot to the team.

Looking around at all the terrible things happening, not just around the world in general, but in our own special little corner of the universe... In the world of gaming. Things have just gone so very bad. Always leading to the same source. Some group of people at the top of any given hierarchy exploiting others for money.

Personally, I never thought I'd live to see so much unanimous animosity towards Nintendo, my biggest inspiration. My heroes. My childhood...

We want to do better. And we're promising to not make the mistake made by too many others in entertainment. If we want to keep games fun, truly fun, we need to prioritize the art over the profit. Which means never taking on shareholders with those motives. Never taking on investors at all. The only people collecting profit and setting deadlines should be the literal core team of developers actively working on the game.

Tons of thought and care has been put into planning the future of Yotes Games which now exists in our team's hearts as a clear vision of the kind of company the gaming industry needs more of, now more than ever.

We can't wait to finally get this game out into the world and start growing such a company and leading by example in the public eye.

- Tony Yotes, on behalf of the Yotes Games Team


You can see the mid-month Patreon Exclusive progress posts here!

Thank you, for following the development of Battle Gem Ponies.

Happy New Year, folks... Seriously. I really hope this next years a much happier one.

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