Sunday, March 22, 2015

3d stuff



Here's a head I did, testing out some stuff.


If I was spending more time on texturing, I'd make sure to UV map each side of the face separately, where as here it's symmetrical, as you can see by the eyes. Unlike the last one, the mouth here is just a texture.



I also wanted to see how I would go about doing 3d tiles, so I tried doing a tile inspired by Wind Waker's textures, which seemed to have chamfered edges in the model that correspond to the top of the texture.

The bottom edges of the "island" surface are un-chamfered, to show the difference. (It just looks more square)








Looking at the chamfered edges, I'd probably need to have to try something different, since it warps the texture a bit. However I could probably fix that by having more edges per tile.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Stores and currency in games. Gating, content-Timers.



Seems like whenever I'm making a game where items can be acquired, the same dilemma always comes up. "Should there be a shop in this game?".

One of the reasons for this is that it's almost always beneficial to give the player something to find. Major powerups and weapons are great, but in many cases there aren't enough for them to be an "active" element, from moment to moment. Instead, they act more as goals, and the result of overcoming a challenge. On the other hand, with currency you can..

-Put small amounts of money in common containers.
-Put large amounts in chests,
-Have enemies drop it, making it worthwhile to kill enemies in a game where there is no experience-based system.

What's more, if you place coins around the world the way you would in a Mario game, you can use it to direct the player's attention and further fill space. (Though, this would look cheesy in some games)

Overall, it seems like including a currency is a good thing. But then, what do you include in shops, and what purpose does the currency actually serve long term?

Gate

One use of currency is the act of gating content.

 For example, if the player can't buy consumables, and there's a finite amount of currency in the world (chests, rewards for quests), then the player needs to accomplish a certain number of tasks before they could buy an item or skill that allows them to get to the next area of the game, or use the currency itself to do so. (such as stars in Mario 64)

By doing this, you can make sure that the player has enough gameplay experience before moving on to the next part of the game, or you could make sure that they've learned certain skills in a safe environment, before moving on to something harder, Personally, I'm not a fan of this kind of thing.

Timer

Another use of currency is what is essentially a timer that counts down to acquiring non-essential content. That is, if you ensure that the player will always acquire currency through basic actions , such as defeating enemies, or destroying containers, then it's basically a timer, and once it runs out then the player can buy something new.

That way even if the player can't figure out where to go, or can't beat a certain section, eventually, the timer will allow the player to buy an item that could help them out. Or, if the player hasn't made progress towards getting a new weapon or item that's supposed to spice up the gameplay, then the item from the "timer" might be enough to change how the game plays a bit until they do. Essentially,  it keeps the progression moving, and prevents less-skilled players from reaching a stalemate.

World appropriate behavior

Aside from meta-game stuff, currency in games can also be symbolic. The inclusion of currency can help shape a game's theme if it has both gameplay and in-universe implications. For example, consider the following scenario. You encounter two NPCs, and both of them offer you a reward to kill the other.

One offers you 1000 G
The other offers you 10 G

One is clearly the better option, but why is one guy offering so much more gold than the other? I'm sure you can take a guess at why, and how the fact that it's "gold" makes the situation more likely at a glance. If the rewards were 1000 "Light" points and 10 "Pervert" points, then obviously the implications would be different.

That said, the currency should fit the game's theme, and sometimes it's beneficial to have more than one type. You might use "reputation" for one thing, and "energy" for another. For example, "XP" and "gold" are both essentially currencies, but are used to buy different things, and are acquired differently. (Unless you're Dark Souls)

Establishing a currency as that world's "money", specifically, will generally make players perceive it differently. We don't learn how to shoot fireballs or double-jump in real life, but we all understand the concept of "money". It feels natural to try and acquire money in a game, whereas herbs, ore, or other singular resources used for things like crafting might be initially ignored by some players.

What's my point here? Being a thief and stealing "gold", or slaying a dragon and obtaining "renown" are both acquisition of currency, but because both currencies are relevant to the in-game world in different ways, it changes how the player perceives their actions, or character, even though at the end of the day the currency is nothing more than a variable equal to a number.

Or something. If all else fails, use Zenny.

What to buy...

Now, the question is, what should you actually be able to buy with currency?

At least for me, there's a big difference between traversing a difficult area and getting a cool set of armor at the end, as opposed to walking into a store and seeing a list of stuff that you can buy "at some point". Some might say that seeing it in a store makes you look forward to it, and work towards it, but for me, I much prefer the mystery and satisfaction of finding stuff through gameplay and exploration. (Though I will say, there is a certain satisfaction to returning to a store, and finding new stuff they didn't have before)

But again, what to buy? When it comes to consumables or resources (lamp oil, arrows, bullets, one-time use spells), I'm not a fan. However, I'm the type of player who prefers to use attacks that are either free to use, or if they require energy, are easily refilled from moment to moment through combat. Even then, in games like megaman, I'm the type of player that rarely uses the guns you acquire from bosses during normal gameplay. Consumables may work for things like say, Harvest Moon, where it's completely in line with the theme, but for action games, I personally don't like it.

For me, since I prefer the idea of the "timer" method I mentioned earlier, I think the easiest solution is to make shops sell very few "new" things, such as weapons or skills with new animations, but rather things that effect what you already have passively, in a way that can be "felt" or "seen" during gameplay. For example, if you can punch, then there could be an item that makes you punch slower, but harder. Or, an item that makes you gain 3x health when you defeat enemies, but take 2x damage. These items can help to change the way the game is played from moment to moment without adding too much dev time doing new animations or graphics.

Also, while putting items in shops takes them out of the world, no longer able to be found through exploration or overcoming challenges, it does ensure that any player will get those items regardless of skill level. Especially in a game like Noaika, where you retain items when you are defeated,

Of course there are item drops from enemies to consider too, and in general I think that when it comes to item acquisition, correct answer is a combination of every method, with the right balance. It's just that fulfilling each of those roles requires designing a game that can accommodate many different kinds of items, to be acquired through many different means.







Monday, March 16, 2015

Health, Stress, and overworking yet lacking in dilligence.

Just so this isn't just a big, blank wall of text, here's the sprite I worked on during the recent stream,


This is going to be one of the mini-bosses that you can encounter in Noaika. He appears in dark rooms, and hangs from the ceiling, waiting for unsuspecting victims to pass under him. In some of the areas where bosses appear, there is no music, and some of the bosses must be found (or avoided) based on audio cues. This guy won't be making much sound, though, but I'm sure you can guess how you might see him. (It's not the tentacles -__-)


That out of the way, I thought I'd talk about some stuff, for a bit. Ready for some self loathing? No? Because I'm all about the self loathing.

Anyhow...

For nearly the past two years, I've worked on quite a few projects, most of which were abandoned entirely, and one of which has merely been shelved until a later date. Regardless, I haven't finished anything for quite a while, despite overall basically making enough content for 2 Eroico sized games, (not including Noaika).

Sometimes, I'd overwork myself to the point of getting artistically burnt out, while at other times, I'd struggle to get back on track and work consistently. Instead of taking a break, and seeking inspiration, I kept pushing hobbies to the side, trying to force myself through it, and felt like I was being lazy whenever I wasn't working. Even when dealing with certain health issues, there's still that part of me that stresses over the time I'm losing.

Perhaps it was the build up of stress that I was ignoring for the past two years, or maybe it was any of the hundreds of comments of people telling me to stfu and take a damn break, but a few months ago I finally just sort of realized that I need to stop worrying about everything. Thinking about a situation that only has long terms solutions, and stressing over it now doesn't accomplish anything, and only serves to slow me down in the long run. And even if it does lead to the game being finished faster, I want to look back on these games, and say that I enjoyed making them.

So, stop worrying.
Stop feeling bad about my situation.
Do things I want to do, and try to enjoy work.

The first thing I did was stop working on weekends, and instead started spending that time catching up on shows, games, and other media that I had been brushing aside. Side projects, drawing random stuff, playing old PS1 RPGs, just whatever I feel like doing. That includes some of the 3d I've been doing recently, which I enjoy way too much, for some reason.

To put it simply, I've been taking it slow. I'm adding stuff I want to add, because I have the time (Pre-orders and christmas sales of Eroico and Kurovadis), and I'm trying to approach developing Noaika in a way that will make me enjoy it more. I know a lot of people joke about how the game will never be done, and it is still going to take a while. The CGs, animation, and music alone is going to take a long time. But first and foremost, I need to start caring more about my mental health, and try to enjoy my work more, so that my career lasts a lifetime as opposed to a few years of stress.


That said, things will be a lot easier once Noaika is done, either way. Assuming it makes a decent amount of money, I'll be able to approach the next game with a fresh mind-set, knowing from the beginning how much time I have, and what development mistakes not to repeat. In all likely-hood I'll be modifying Noaika's engine so that I don't have to worry as much about programming, and I'll work on a game that focuses on better pixel art, and interesting content. After that, I may pick up one of the games I shelved, and program a new engine from scratch, but use the graphics I had finished.

Anyhow, post over. You may now resume talking about how the game will never be finished, and call me a butt whenever I post stuff that isn't related to Noaika. And for those of you who have been patient as hell for some reason, you know you can complaint a little if you want to. Call me some names or something, get it off your chest.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Currently doing a livestream

The stream is over, for now. Thanks to everyone who showed up ^_^