Sorry I've been a little lacking in content and productivity, lately. I have this odd quirk where my creativity and workflow start to tank when I hit a certain level of discomfort, and I've got a few things coming up, this month, that I need to do and it's been messing with my levels of comfort.
First off, I hate schedules. I don't keep em. As soon as I got out of high school, schedules went out the window. Did absolute wonders for my stress levels and restfulness, and my ability to work and be creative. It wasn't until after a year or so living a low-stress, low discomfort, high creativity and output life style that I started to realize how much things have an effect on me.
I know, I know... everyone has discomforts they have to put up with, and it's fine, I'll live, but I'll be damned if it's not inconvenient for doing things. Allow me to give you an idea of just how picky my creative flow is. If I'm feeling even a little anxiety, it becomes much harder to be creative. If I'm wearing a shirt I find uncomfortable or bothersome and it really starts to nag at me how uncomfortable the shirt is, my creativity just evaporates. This is why I usually work topless and in sweatpants or other comfort-wear.
Currently, I have an appointment coming up, and having appointments I'm responsible for keeping gives me anxiety. Yeah, I know it's stupid... I don't understand it myself. I just get panicky and anxious when I know I've got something I have to do on a specific day at a specific time. I prefer spontaneity. "Man I'm tired. Is there anything else I can do before going to bed?" "I'm getting kind of hungry now. Am I hungry enough to justify eating right now, or should I put it off until I'm more hungry? Is there anything in the fridge I'm eager to eat?" "What time is it? 8AM? I'm still tired. Maybe another half hour will do."
I'm going to be in discomfort all month long... My appointment isn't for another 7 days (the anxiety has been tormenting me for weeks already), then my family wants me to visit for Christmas, even though they're the assholes who decided to uproot everyone (except me, I didn't want to pack my bags on a whim) and move two hours to a separate county. It's because mom's mom is getting old, and her dad's health isn't so great. Just 10 years ago, he was kind of a fat guy, now he's the skinniest I've ever seen him in my entire life.
I think she feels bad about running off to get married after she was old enough to move out. She moved miles away from her home town before deciding to have kids, and we've rarely seen them as a result. But how can anyone blame her? Her home town is the suicide capital of the entire state!
Well, anyway, now they want me to visit for the 3 days leading up to Christmas day, and the 3 days following, so I'll be unable to access my computer, I'll likely be sleeping on the floor in the tiny living room with everyone else she decided to cram in there with her. Don't get me wrong, it will probably be fun for the first day or two, but then the novelty will wear off, but I'll still be stuck there for another 5 days. I'll be sleeping terrible, I'll likely be bored most of the time, there's also the 2 and a half hour ride there, and the same two and a half hour ride back. And I hate car trips, especially considering car-sickness runs in the family. It'll probably take ages to get back into my groove when I get home... Not to mention the week of work I'll be missing.
December is going to suck...
This event rekindled my belief in the paranormal. This is going to be long, so unless you're a believer/skeptic with an interest in the paranormal, you may want to just skim it, or pass it up.
I wear a lot of sweatpants. If you’ve ever warn them, (and aren’t 300+ lbs) you know you have to tie the draw string to keep them from falling off. Since I’m 130lbs, I struggle a little. Not only do I have to pull the string tight, I have to hold it tight while knotting it. If it’s not tight enough, my pants will fall off. (I like to wear clothes that are too big for me. I don't know why.) And as I’m sure some of you know, the knot can get pretty damn snug. And since these aren’t the twin-string variety, I can’t bow-knot it, either. One day I was struggling to untie the knot so I could pee, all the while desperately trying to avoid pissing myself. The knot had gotten really tight, and I was struggling with it while doing the potty-dance. After that near embarrassing scrape, I decided to design and 3D print a plastic clip that would do away with having to fiddle with a constricted knot.
Well, one night, I was undoing this clip on my way to the toilet. It’s pretty routine by this time, so I didn’t really pay much attention to the clip while I was doing my #2. After I was done, no more clip. Gone. I checked at my feet in front of the toilet, sometimes I leave it dangling on the string and it slides off and onto the floor. Nope, not there. Sometimes I take it off and set it on the edge of the sink. Nope, not this time. It wasn’t there. Sometimes I put it in my pocket. Both were empty. I even went to the kitchen to check the counters, because that’s where I started out when I was untying it on my way to the bathroom. Nadda.
Now, the skeptics would logically take a few educated stabs at what happened, and I don’t blame them, because I did too.
1. "Maybe it fell into the toilet and got flushed." That’s what I thought, but I wasn’t standing over the toilet. It was a #2, which means I was facing away from the toilet when the clip would have had the freedom to fall. If it fell, it would have been on the floor. And in the event that it did make it into the toilet by some improbable chance, I would have heard it. It wasn’t exactly soft or small. Try taking a large, plastic bead and dropping it into the toilet from about the height for your pelvis, at roughly in front of it. The toilet bowl isn’t deep. It would have hit the ceramic under the water, or even if it somehow scored a direct bullseye, it would have plunked at least a little. There’s just no way to silently fumble something hard, dense, and plastic into the toilet.
2. "Maybe you did set it on the edge of the sink and it fell in and went down the drain." Nope. I have one of those annoying drain plug things where you push and pull the plunger and it plugs the drain. The clip is far too large to fit with that drain setup. It would have stopped at the opening and just been sitting there.
3. "Maybe it fell off on the way to the bathroom." Possible, but not probable. I don’t have carpeting between the kitchen and the bathroom, and this clip is big, fairly solid, and plastic. Try dropping a nickle or plastic bottle cap on the linoleum in your house, from hip-height, and tell me if you could miss that.
4. "Maybe it fell off and broke, and you can’t find it because it’s in pieces." Not possible. Not from a fall from pelvic-height. My 3D printer prints things really strong. A botched print of the same clip showed me just how strong it is. It was a weaker print than the final, and it took two pliers and a lot of physical strength just to snap it in half. I could have dropped this clip from 4 times my height and it wouldn’t even be scratched.
5. "Maybe it fell off before you decided to untie it and it fell on the carpet." Also not possible. This thing was designed to be impossible for it to just fall off unless I was taking it off. And there’s no way it could have wound up on the carpet. I’ve been using it for almost a year, now. There’s no way for it to just fall off. And removing it requires me to hold it with one hand to work the string back out of it.
6. "Maybe you accidentally kicked it into a corner of the bathroom." I thought of that, too, and looked. I looked all over the floor from start point to bathroom. It was nowhere to be found.
7. "Maybe it slid under something." I also thought of that. But there’s nothing near enough for it to be knocked under the entire route to the bathroom.
8. "Maybe it slipped down your pant leg and got caught." This one I also thought of. Sweatpants are elastic at the bottoms of each leg, and maybe it got caught. Nope. Pant legs both checked out. I shook them both out and felt for anything rigid.
9. "Maybe it slid down a pant leg and into your sock." Hardly. My socks aren’t loose enough for that. And even if that were the case, I think I would have noticed a piece of plastic 1/8th an inch thick , 2 inches long, and 1 inch wide jammed in my sock.
10. "Maybe it came apart." It doesn’t come apart. It’s designed to be one, rigid part.
11. "Maybe you simply misplaced it." I thought of that, too. I looked high and low the entire route I took. I retraced my steps 5 times that night, and twice the next morning. It’s a fairly large, silver-grey piece of plastic with a distinct shape. There’s no way I’d simply over look it.
12. "Maybe it slid down your pants and to the floor and one of the cats got it." My cats aren’t subtle when they’re playing with something. Only one of the two would have started playing with it, the other being too mild most of the time, and the one who would have started playing with it would have been smacking it skittering across the floor only to inevitably end up sliding it under the bathroom door and straight to me.
13. "Maybe the spare is the original, and you just didn’t realize it." Also not the case. The spare is a prototype made of modeling plastic molded into shape with my own hands, not a machine of precision. It’s ugly, large, and above all, white. The final design was printed in shiny grey by a machine. The spare is lumpy and white, the finished clip was professional and roughly the color of a dime. Impossible to mix up, even with my eyes closed.
It would seem this plastic clip of mine just fell out of existence entirely. Or was swiped from this realm by someone or something curious...
14. "Maybe you just dreamed that you made it." This one’s a stretch even without the facts. I’ve been using the clip for nearly a year, I still have the busted halves of the failed print, and still have the prototype. It’s not something I could just imagine having.
15. "If it’s able to come loose, maybe it came loose and-" Nope. Used it for over a year, and even slept using it for my pajamas. It could come a little loose, but not enough to fall off. And it definitely didn’t make it to bed last night. It was gone before I left the bathroom. The clip worked by being quite constricted by the string. Friction and constriction held the clip in place, which helped keep my pants tight. It would have to be unlooped, which was impossible to happen by accident, by design, and even when some of the string slipped off, it never once fell of its own accord. My design, though inefficient and time consuming, was genius.
I know, I know…. That doesn't mean it's paranormal, but nothing interests a scientist (of sorts) more than something he can’t explain. And no matter how hard I try, I can’t explain what happened to my clip that night. I would have written it off as just an unexplained occurrence: Maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention... But the way it made its way back to me is even more bizarre.
Only a day or two after it turned up missing, I woke up around 6AM-ish. One of my cats noticed I was awake, and hurried into the bathroom to beg for a drink. She likes to drink from the bathroom sink, so I thought nothing of it, and I ignored her because it was cold, my blankets were warm, and I was too tired to get up. I then hear her start acting strange. She started pawing at the mirror over the sink in the bathroom, something she never does. She was pawing at it the same way she does to the back window when there's a bug on the other side of it. Even stranger still, she was meowing in the process. Something she doesn't really do unless she's trying to get outside. But she was in the bathroom, and there are no windows in the bathroom. I continued to ignore her, but I kept listening. After a minute of this weird behavior, she accidentally knocks my hairbrush into the sink with her frantic pawing at the mirror (I know, I know... "You're making that up, how could you know it was the hairbrush if you were still in bed?" because when I got up in the morning, my brush was in the sink.)
The loud noise of the brush clattering in the sink startled her and she fled the bathroom. Only seconds later, I hear scratching on my bedroom carpet. I sit up in the faint morning light, and I see my cat, the one who was in the bathroom only seconds before, laying in the middle of the floor, lazily playing with none other than my plastic clip. I have no idea how it got on the floor in the middle of my room, especially since I would have seen it all three times I went to bed after losing it.
"Maybe you just put it next to your brush and couldn't see it, but she could when she knocked the brush into the sink. And she picked it up and brought it into your room." Unlikely. My brush is always at the back of the sink counter, and I always leave my clip on the front edge of the sink counter. And if she had found it, she wouldn't have picked it up and brought it into my room and started to play with it. She would have just started playing with it where it was. Only my other cat picks things up in her mouth and wanders off to play with them.
"Then maybe it was the other cat who got it and brought it in." Also not possible. The entire time the cat was in the bathroom freaking out at the mirror, other cat was on the far side of my bedroom trying to sleep. I could see her from where I was laying, and she didn't seem to have any interest in playing, investigating the racket in the bathroom, or even investigating what the first cat was playing with.
No, this doesn't mean I'm now going to start believing in paranormal Youtube video crap, the ouija board hoax crap, or waste my time and money seeking out proof the paranormal exists. I can believe in the paranormal and still be skeptical of the stories, 'caught on tape' videos, and other easily faked junk I come across. Though I still am fascinated by paranormal stuff, especially the ones which can't be explained so easily, I still play my part as a good skeptic by pointing out when it's obvious and easy to see how it's faked. My love for the paranormal means I'm more than willing to debunk the garbage so that we can get to the real mysteries.
Who knows, maybe this will inspire me to start a segment on here where I debunk popular paranormal videos... And I'm not talking about ultra grainy, 0.1 megapixel bigfoot encounters... those are too obvious. "Look! This photo I took using Gameboy Camera is totally not a guy in a bigfoot costume! Honest!"
Zero real progress all week. Wow that went horribly wrong...
Alright, I was planning on forgoing this post entirely, at least until I could get anything approaching real progress this week, but I think this provides great insight as to why games take so long to finish, so I'm going to go ahead and tell you exactly what went so wrong.
First of all, turns out the code I was using to do normal map handling isn't exactly very versatile. I tried for hours out of every day to think of a way to apply it to the background without making the game's file size somewhere around 3-5GBs or severely harming the game's performance.
If it's not already obvious to you, performance is a really big deal to a video game. It doesn't matter how good your game is, if it's running at under 35-36 frames per second, players aren't going to be having much fun. A game can get down to 35 frames a second as long as ultra precision isn't a requirement, but any lower and it starts to become unplayable. Players will still complain if it drops below 40-ish, but the game won't suffer too badly just as long as the frame rate drops don't hurt players' ability to play.
File size isn't a super big deal, but I don't want a game that's going to be several gigabytes without several gigabytes worth of content.
So I went to the Yoyo Games forums to ask for help. There, they pointed me to a superior set of shaders that will be able to do what I'm looking to do without effecting the file size any, and hopefully without sacrificing a lot of performance. The only downside is, it's not for free. The shaders are super powerful and apparently very fast, which I'll need. But the guy who made them naturally wants his months of man-hours compensated. But I can't afford it right now. Well, I suppose I could, but that would be cutting it really close.
Alright, so I can't do shaders for a while. No big deal, I'll just work on enemy pathfinding. Enemies behaved bizarrely while trying to chase the player, due to their "attack range". They wouldn't stop walking or update direction until the player was outside their attack radius. This would make them follow in awkward, seemingly mindless ways. They could also plow straight through walls and obstacles to reach them, or return to their original position. I didn't want them to just run into walls and get caught if there was no straight path for them. I wanted them to actually be able to plot a path back. Should be easy, right?
Nope. Turns out A* algorithms aren't as simple as they sound. A* (pronounced A-Star) are a complex set of algorithms that calculate shortest possible path to a designated point while avoiding specific, designated objects. Unfortunately, it does this via grid. And that's the problem. Think of it like chess. It would move like the Queen piece. It can move in any direction, straight and diagonal, but it can't move like a Knight (the horse). If you put a Queen and a Knight on the same space and moved the Knight, the Queen would have to zigzag her way back to the Knight. She can't just move like the Knight does, or cut across spaces to reach him. And using A*, that's exactly what enemies would do. Zigzag after me if I were, say, a Knight's move away or more, on the grid. This is very noticeable.
Now, of course I could just shrink the grid down to 1x1px but the smaller the grid spaces, the more time the computer would need to calculate the route. And without being able to calculate diagonal movement, it would take even longer. (Contrary to popular misconception, there is no such thing as half-pixels, and you can't really cut diagonally across pixels, either.)
Funfact: It is quite possible to move things a fraction of a pixel in a video game, but it will squeeze and stretch parts of the sprite as it goes, because a sprite itself can't move less than 1 pixel, even though the object drawing it can... technically... sort of. It can be best explained by having a single blue pixel. If you try to move that pixel half a pixel to the left, it will most likely be stretched to fill both pixels, because technically it exists in both pixel spaces, but since half a pixel can't be rendered, it has to compensate by elongating the single pixel into two pixels. To represent being in both spaces at once.
I didn't get absolutely nothing done, though. I did take the time to set up player-wall collisions. (I've been developing for months without the engine paying much heed to walls aside from the fact that if the player went behind one, the enemy couldn't see him any more.) Now that a friend of mine has the day off, I can work with him to find a solution to the A* algorithm. (He's a programmer)
Unfortunately, this means I don't have screenshots to show, this time. But in order to keep this roadblock from killing off this project completely, I've been working to improve my techniques in 2D art. It's going quite well!
I may kill off a lot of projects when they start to bore me, but each and every time I do, the experience I gain from them transfers over into the next one, so you can rest assured that when I eventually do manage to finish a game (I'm hoping this one will be it) you can rest assured it won't be anything amateur.
1. Listen To SJWs
No game developer who has ever taken SJW advice has ever come out unscathed.
2. Tell Your Players/Fans They Don't Deserve Your Games
From hit game developer with a decently-selling, popular game, to obscure DJ Nobody. Phil Fish rode his massive ego straight off a cliff. No game developer is "too good for his audience". Even if angry players/fans are pissing you off and criticizing you, make sure you watch out for those sharp corners. You fly off the rails on an ego trip and I can guarantee, 9 times out of 10 you are never living that down. You'll be lucky to be gaining even half the sales you were, from game to game, if you start trying to tell your gamers you're too good for them.
3. Blame Your Player Base For The Poor Sales Of A Game
This is never an ok thing to do, and it's never a smart move. "Was my game not good enough for you? You're just ungrateful!" Another sign of an over-inflated ego. Scott Cawthon is guilty of this. Admittedly, he's good at making it funny, and he self-deprecates here and there, so he's not the worst example. This is the video game industry. Good games tragically don't always sell amazingly well, but you can guarantee a crap game is going to flop. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is one of the roughest industries out there.
Movies, for example, are able to be "go bad it's good". Video games, not nearly as much. The voice acting can be 'so bad it's good', but as Superman 64 and E.T. for the Atari 2600 have shown us, if the game is a certain level of bad, it just remains bad. And if your game is objectively terrible, blaming your fans for your own failure is the best way to become like EA. (Voted Worst Company In The Entire World two years in a row.)
4. Attack Your Fans For Demanding More
In this scenario, you're actually the one being ungrateful. Your fans love your game(s) so much that they want to GIVE YOU MORE MONEY in order to experience more, and you're upset by that? To quote Rebecca Watson: "Guys, don't do that."
Scott Cawthon and Masahiro Sakurai are good examples of this, especially Scott. He's upset people want more Five Nights At Freddy's, when it's his own fault people keep demanding more in the first place! He made FNAF with an apparent and compelling mystery. The internet exploded trying to solve that mystery. Scott announces a second game, people expect the mystery to be solved, FNAF2 only ends up expanding and deepening the mystery. People become even more invested in solving this puzzle. Scott announces a third game, people expect the mystery to be solved, FNAF3 only adds more layers to the mystery, further compelling people to want to solve it. Scott announces a fourth game, you get the idea. People wanted the clues to solve the mystery, FNAF4 only added more to the mystery.
He then announces FNAF world and not only does he not add more clues, he teases even more to his mystery in one ending. Now he's got an entirely new game series, FNAF Sister Location, and an entirely new set of mysteries. And he's blaming us for it? It's starting to feel like Munchausen Syndrome at this point. Scott, you've had 5 games, 0r is Sister Location 2 out already? Well, you've had 6 games and a book to give players enough to solve the entire mystery and leave FNAF behind. You have no one to blame but yourself.
I get it. He wants to move on. I know what it's like feeling trapped by other projects, but Scott, buddy... you're the one imprisoning yourself. The more hype you generate, the more people are interested in your stuff, the more people are going to want. Not only is it a bad idea to attack your fans for wanting more, it's also kind of abusive. It's like tossing meat to a dog and then swatting it when it asks for more. Don't play hype-building games if you can't commit to paying off the hype, and don't blame your players if you overshot your hype goals and can't keep up anymore.
5. Pretend Like You Know Better Than Your Players
Mmm, more delicious ego. "You don't want that. You think you do, but you don't." Anyone familiar with that little, yet extremely infamous quote? For those of you who don't remember it, and for those of you who are unaware, that was said by someone on the Blizzard team in regard to the question "Have you thought about making servers that represent old expansions the way they used to be?" for World of Warcraft. A fact people were even willing to pay specifically for.
Meanwhile in reality, whole thousands of people gathered onto the World of Warcraft Nostalrius server, which was one of the largest vanilla servers, run by fans, and they gathered there specifically to say goodbye to the server when Blizzard decided to shut it down.
Google "Goodbye Nostalrius" if you want to know more or just don't believe me.
6. Sue/DMCA Your Players And Fans For Negative Reviews
No... there is nothing smart about this. Do not ever do this, it will only bring you ruin. You'd be better off closing down your own company and quitting the industry over the negative reviews than doing this even one time. You're infinitely better off letting people speak their minds than attempting to control the image of your game through force. Digital Homicide learned this the hard way.
7. Rage At Your Players And Expect Them To Keep Playing
I honestly forget who it was, but there was a rash of developers, about a year ago who were saying things along the lines of "I don't want <X> group of people playing my games." The result was that a lot of people of the targeted groups stopped supporting them.
Actually, Phil Fish is a good example of this, too. Any time someone criticized him or his game, he insulted them, indulged in delusions of grandeur, and carried on as if people were going to buy Fez 2 and thank him for it.
As gamers and developers, we aren't just individuals. We are a living, breathing mega-community. Think of gaming as a pond. If you throw a pebble expecting to hit just a single drop, what's going to happen? The drops next to it are effected, and the drops next to those are effected, and the drops next to those are effected, and so on. When you disrupt the water, the effects are felt all the way to the far ends, and to the deepest depth. If you attempt to single out, bully, or insult just one person unfairly, whispers are going to spread all over the community.
(Note: there are exceptions to this. If the person's being an ass, and being an ass back is justified, go for it. People are still going to be upset by it, but as a net whole, it will be a positive reaction. Example:
Complaint: "Ugh, the main character of your game has big breasts! Why couldn't she have been fat, frumpy, and unlikable? Why did you have to go with the sexist, misogynist, trope of the big breasts, hot chick?"
Response: "Because fuck you, that's why."
There is a difference between being an asshole and being a badass.)
8. Lie Pretentiously
"My game was flawless! Ahead of its time, in fact! It only did so poorly because it's so ahead of its time, people just don't get why it's so excellent." Oh of course it is! There's no way it could possibly be that the game just wasn't very fun, or had some other problem with it!
"If you didn't like my game, that's because it wasn't meant for you, it was meant for <X> group of people who would get it better."
"What do you mean my game 'lacked game play'? It wasn't meant to be fun, it was meant to be a breakdown of the condition of humans reflected by the mirror of whatever mcguffin I decide to pull out of my ass to hand-wave and responsibility for the game coming out as a flop."
Nobody buys these lies, nobody has ever bought these lies, and nobody ever will buy these lies.
Why? Because there is no excuse for artistic, smart, clever, 'commentary on <X>', or subtly genius games to be unfun. We've had games that are absolutely brilliant, far ahead of their time, and had hidden meaning that were absolute charms to play.
Doom used pseudo 3D to make a fully roaming FPS, something that was far ahead of its time, virtually killing off the on-rails shooter.
007 The Golden Eye re-revolutionized the FPS genre by adding on the split-screen multiplayer functionality as an afterthought, and breaking free of Doom and Quake's control setup, killing off the "Doom clone" as an FPS genre almost in its entirety.
The Deus Ex series has always been chock-full of intelligent commentary.
Final Fantasy 7's story is brilliant in so many subtle and direct ways.
All of the games I listed were of the artistic, revolutionary, or intelligent variety, and they were all fun to play, and massive hits. I repeat myself: there's no excuse. It's just a lie, players will see through it like a freshly Windex'd window, and it's going to hurt you in the end.
9. Take The Money And Run
You never, ever... EVER do this. Hey, look, another stupid thing Phil Fish did...
-Accepting money, cancelling a project, and not refunding donors.
-Accepting money, using it on a different project without the OK from your donors.
-Accepting money and quitting your profession without refunding donors.
-Or getting overconfident, spending money that isn't yours on unimportant or unrelated things, and running out of money as a result...
This will always backfire on you. Once you start accepting money, you have a duty to the people to finish the project, and if you can't finish, you have to get the OK before changing projects. And once you start spending other people's money, you have to commit to the promise you made them in exchange for their money. Once you accept and spend other people's money, you have to make good on that exchange.
"But Bastendorf, aren't you guilty of exactly that?"
Yes. I won't lie, deny, or sugarcoat it.
Ashamedly, I am guilty of doing essentially that. I started a project, I started a Patreon to help fund it, I realized I couldn't pull it off and I was in way over my head, and I decided to drop it, and no one has been refunded.
But! I have more principle than that! You see, I haven't cancelled the project completely. It's on hold and I will be picking it up again after this project is complete, because I've improved greatly since then. (It's amazing to look back and see how rapidly things fell apart for that project, and how far I've come since then, all in just one year.)
Secondly, I haven't laid a finger on any of the money that was given to me to work on that project. All $70 are still sitting there, right on my Patreon, awaiting the revival of the project.
I'm not touching a dime out of it until I can commit to the project.
And thirdly, I did talk to my patrons and got their permission. They permitted me to put it off under two conditions: 1. I wouldn't spend the money on anything but that project. 2. I have to eventually return to the project and work even harder to make up for the wait. They didn't remove their support out of outrage, they removed their support for financial reasons. I'm sure it will resume once the project resumes.
And it will be awesome! (Only trouble is that it will also receive an AO rating, so not everyone will be able to play it...)
So, I didn't really take the money and run. I took the money and said "I can't pull this off, but if you trust me to hang on to it, I will return to."
10. Attack Players For Doing Something You Didn't Intend For Them To Be Able To Do While Playing Your Game
Man, I forget who it was who was doing this, but this is something some devs have done in the past. I think, if I remember correctly, the story goes that gamers had found a trick in a game that made for a pretty fun challenge. It didn't really break the game, or exploit it, but it added this edge to it, and players had popularized it and were having a good time with it. However, the developer found out, threw a tantrum over it because players weren't having fun with the game in the approved way, and patched the game so players couldn't do it any more. Hopefully that's actually a thing that happened and I'm not pulling that story out of my ass.
Well, regardless, it still serves as a cautionary tale anyway. This is one of the stupidest things I could think of that a developer could do. First of all, its your responsibility as a developer to make sure gamers can't do the things they're not meant to do. So don't get on their case for it. And second, there is no such thing as "the right way to play". If you're a beginner, or aspiring developer, you need to understand that no game is perfect. You could spend 6 months developing a game and 4 years trying to make sure nothing that you didn't intend is possible, but still someone somewhere will find something that doesn't work right, or something that's broken, or whatever. Just look at Super Mario 64. More than a decade later and people are still finding new oversights and finding new and inventive ways to break the game.
And when it comes down to it, why change it? If it's something super specific like MissingNo or Hat In Hand, and the average player isn't going to encounter it unless they seek it out, why would you patch it out? Why would you prescribe a set of guidelines to tell players how they're allowed to have fun with the game?
It's like Anita Sarkeesian's "You shouldn't be able to kill female NPCs!" or Season 3, Episode 51 of Spongebob: Party Pooper Pants. If you want to see it for yourself, go look it up.
I've seen devs go apeshit over mods and modding. Sad, really. Fortunately, developers getting a totalitarian idea of what fun players are allowed to have with their game is a rarity.
Fact of Life: You're not going to be able to stop people from looking for challenges that you didn't intend for, or speed runners from finding the best ways to complete your game in the shortest time possible, or game breakers from trying to find any and all ways to break and wreck your game, nor should you try. You should make sure there are no game-breaking bugs that can be encountered through normal game play, but you shouldn't try to stop challenge seekers, speed runners, or glitch hunters.
Why? Because if people love your game so much that they're willing to spend hours, days, months, and even years finding new and inventive ways to keep playing your game, yelling at them for or blocking them from doing so would be stupid and uncaring. In fact, developers who are truly great embrace these types of people and reward their efforts. Well, ok, maybe not game breakers. But speed runners and challenge seekers for sure. But you shouldn't attack game breakers or modders, either. Good games with mod support usually sell extremely well. And trying to block modders only make gamers angry. And when it comes to game breakers, they can be helpful. When beta testing your game, you want the craftiest game breakers you can find so you can weed out bugs.
And that's my top 10 list of things you should never do as an indie dev.
When I develop games, I use GameMaker.
Alright, for all of you who think this fact is worth mocking, get your chuckles out now and hit the road.
GameMaker gets a lot of hate, but in truth, it's an incredibly powerful tool. In the event that I have any naysayers reading, I ask you, are you even aware of what games were made on GameMaker? I bet you've played a few without even knowing.
Want to know what games were made on GameMaker?
-Gods Will Be Watching
-Risk Of Rain
-Please Don't Touch Anything
-Super Crate Box
And what was that other one? The ridiculously popular one? It's on the tip of my tongue... Oh yeah...
That's the one.
Yeah, I bet not a lot of you knew that the GameMaker game development tool is responsible for some of the single most popular indie games to ever exist. I'll be honest, I was surprised when I learned about Gunpoint, Hotline Miami, Fran Bow, and Undertale. I didn't know it was that powerful, myself, and I've been using GameMaker since 2003.
It's extremely versatile, too. Just look at that list of games! No two are exactly alike. I think the only thing it doesn't do so well is fully 3D environments, but if you want to develop in 3D, there are other engines for that out there. Unity, Unreal, possibly Lumberyard. (Which I haven't gotten around to trying so I can review it. Sorry, I just don't have a 3D game on hand to develop.)
GameMaker is a little hard to master, but it's fantastic for any experience level, beginner to expert. It has it's limitations, so top notch experts may not want to use it, but it's great for the lowest level beginners. Trust me, I hadn't a clue what I was doing when I first opened GameMaker 6.1, and with the help of a few included tutorials and example games, I was well on my way to making terrible crap, because I had no access to the internet for help, no talent, only MS Paint, no idea what I was doing, and the help manual wasn't that helpful back then. But that didn't stop me.
To this day, I'm still using GameMaker. I have GMStudio Pro, now, and that's what everything you've seen me working on has been on, including my current project. You can get GameMaker Studio or Studio 2 at Yoyogames.com.
I'm not sponsored, endorsed, or even paid by Yoyo Games or any of its staff. They don't even know I exist. I gain nothing by promoting GameMaker.
(If there's any game development software out there worth mocking, it's Klick And Play...)
Never in my life had I ever been anywhere near as hyper aware of the number of males to females in my games as I am now. The constant bickering about identity has done severe damage to the way I develop games due to feminists and SJWs putting this crap under the magnifying glass all the time for the last two years. The effect it's had, though, is the complete opposite of what they wanted.
I used to have no trouble at all putting females in my games. Females were my favorite to create. I always looked forward to it. But now, after two years of dealing with this war on games by the left wing, it's not as easy and it's not as fun.
Not because I try to do what they want. No, I'd never pander to them. Instead, it's stopped being fun because I'm always second guessing everything I do, now.
"Is this choice going to seem like I'm pandering?"
"No, I can't add a female there, it might look like I'm trying to shoehorn in more women."
"Nope, I have to make this a male otherwise it will seem like I'm trying to be feminist."
"Crap, that's now 3 female characters with an important role to every male with an important role. I'm going to look like I'm listening to Anita if I don't start finding more roles for men to play!"
And don't get be started on humans and races. It's probably going to be a long time before I make a game with humans, and even longer before the humans in my games are anything but white characters. Thanks to Veerender Jubbal and his Insane Cuck Posse browbeating me, trying to pressure me into forcing different races to my game where none would fit, I've decided to do away with needing race all together by sticking to just making games with anthropomorphic animals, from now on.
I was working on an RPG at the time, there was one human, who was white, an elf, who was white, a dragon, who was green, a cat, who was pink, and a wolf who was grey, and they wanted one black, male human, one brown, male human, one black, female human, and one Asian human in there. And they demanded that I made sure they weren't tokens, or the only ones of their race in the game. On top of that, they wanted me to make sure each of the races "could not be just as easily swapped out for any other race." And if I failed to meet their demands, they threatened to get not only that game pulled down from anywhere I put it up, but they also threatened to pull down all my games that didn't meet their demands. And that browbeating went on for HOURS. No matter how hard I tried to explain that increasing the characters in the game beyond what I already had would make their roles redundant and their characters sloppy, no matter how hard I tried to explain that no race is irreplaceable in a fantasy setting, and no character of a race is irreplaceable with a different character of another race in a new fiction, they continued to harass me. And it wasn't just one or two, or five, or twenty people. It had to have been fifty to a hundred people. So many that I'd respond to one and have twelve to twenty more notifications come in in the time it took me to reply, then all the people I responded to would reply, usually with more than one tweet, and other people who were watching the thread would respond to my tweets, often with more than one tweet... Imagine standing in an auditorium full of people shouting at you, and every time you say something, two or more people begin trying to respond to it. That's exactly what it was like, and it wasn't until I started pretending to capitulate that they finally started to fizzle off and leave. And it was, like, 8 whole hours before I finally stopped getting mentions.
No, I didn't stop working on the RPG because of them. The RPG won't have any humans of any variety that aren't white in it, because of them, just to spite them, but they didn't make me cancel the project. I got sick of it because I didn't want to spend months to a year working on a remake of a game I'd made over a decade earlier. Especially since I had better ideas. (All of which I also ended up postponing...)
Once this identity bullshit blows over, I'll probably gradually start using humans again, but they're going to be white until I can finally go back to working on characters without having to think of identity and worrying how a character of a non-white race will be received by the public, and caring whether it seems like I've added a token or not.
Crazy people have taken the fun out of character creation, for me. If I do one thing, I'll look, to idiots and morons, like I'm being racist. If I do another thing, I'll look like I'm kowtowing to idiots and morons. And I'm far more concerned with looking like I'm pandering than I am concerned with appearing to be sexist, and racist, and homophobic, and transphobic, and islamophobic, biphobic, and culturally insensitive, and Donner, and Blitzen.
Anthropomorphic animals, or furries, are a nice reprieve from race, and all the tripe that comes along with it now-a-days, since race doesn't exist in animals, just species. But it's still not an escape from gender. Hell, I can't even do a race of genderless aliens without looking like I'm trying to virtue signal to the regressives in charge of the lynch mobs.
"Male character, male character, male character, male character... that's 4 males. I should balance it out with a female. No I shouldn't, I'll look like I'm being feminist, and idiots on their side will take it as a victory."
This is what it's like for me, now. Though, sometimes I get lucky and can fit in a character who would be female, but fail every one of Anita Sarkeesian's impossible demands, and that acts to kill any possible illusion that I'm an ally to feminists and SJWs, but not always. Sometimes I want a character who is more modest and tough.
No, no... not a woman in a hijab, I mean traditionally modest... ugh! You see? You see what this has become for me? And I know I'm not alone. I know there are other devs and creators out there who have suffered from identity constantly being bandied about, and the constant browbeating. I can't even imagine how much more damage would have been done if I had allowed social justice to influence what I do in my games. I have to wonder if I would even still have the will to be a game dev if I had been spineless like so many other unfortunate devs out there. Trying to keep up with their unreasonable and contradictory demands... it sounds like hell. No, hell is what I'm going through, constantly battling with doing things the way I want to do them, and trying not to seem to the ideologues like I'm on their side. Actually trying to make the perfect game in the eyes of SJWs must be some 9th circle shit.
No, I bet there needs to be a new, deeper circle of hell just to aptly describe it. It's the 10th circle of hell.
Anyway, sorry about the rant. I just really needed something to get the weight off. I know I don't usually do politics, here, but I feel a damn sight better now that I've said all that, and kind of got my frustrations out of my brain. And at least it was partly related to game development.
The sooner socjus becomes unpopular and goes away, the sooner things can start getting back to normal. And the sooner I can go back to enjoying character design.
Anita Sarkeesian's Guide To Creating The Perfect Female Character is garbage, and kind of boils my blood, so I'm going to go over it one by one and give my response to each point.
I hadn't seen it before now, but I'm well aware of what she believes. (Warning, may be somewhat NSFW, knowing Anita and her main gripes.)
1. Female characters should not perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes. Avoid gender signifiers such as; excessive makeup, pink clothing, bows, prominent jewelry, etc.
You mean just like you do, Ms. Hula Hoops? How I dress my character is up to me and is going to be heavily influenced by that character's personality and taste in wardrobe. If it calls for makeup, bows, and lots of pink, she'll have makeup, bows, and lots of pink.
2. Female characters should not be based off resources used to create male characters, as this is a "Ms. Male" or "Male by Default" trope and perpetuates the old fashioned, sexist belief that women are inferior to men.
First off, no it doesn't. Where the hell did you get 'women are inferior to men' from 'the models use the same base resources'? Second, a lot of the time it's either easier, or you're playing a character who has an alternate universe self that's the opposite gender. If you knew a single thing about game design, you'd know your statement is purely dumb.
3. Female protagonists should not embody predominantly masculine attributes, as this reinforces the myth that femininity is incompatible with strength and heroism, and that masculinity is inherently more valuable in physically demanding situations.
Unfortunately, Anita, this is just how biology works. Women who are strong and heroic usually display more masculine attributes, like Calamity Jane. She wore men's clothes and was good with a gun, but she was also gentle, caring and feminine. Exceptionally feminine characters who are heroic do exist, like Bayonetta, one of the characters you hate the most, but if you think being aggressive or violent is a masculine attribute, then there's no winning this. Gamers don't want to play a game where they play a brave, strong, heroic female character who sits down and finds a diplomatic solution to the problems in the game. Gamers, both men and women, want to play female characters who go around kicking ass. My sister is the perfect example of this. She played Fable.
4. Female characters in combat roles or sports games should not make stereotypical feminine grunting sounds which can be interpreted as erotic, as this reduces them to sexual objects and contributes to the demeaning "Fighting Fuck Toy" trope.
Anita, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: we're just developers. We don't typically do our own voice-acting, especially when the character is the opposite gender. Barring the few special cases, who do you think it is who voices the gendered characters of video games? The way you framed this point, it sounds to me like you think men voice all the women. Wrong. And what do you expect us to do, anyway? "Hey, good first take, but could you grunt less like a woman?" It's just how women sound.
5. Violence against women is completely unacceptable, and so avoid relegating women to the status of environmental texture to brutalize and do not give player the choice to attack, kill, beat, or mutilate these non-playable female characters.
Excuse me? Did you just tell me to give female characters special treatment? I don't think so. The point in a video game is to give players more choice, not less. Women in my games will be treated like men in my games. No one gets special treatment based on their genitals. And in video games, violence against women is perfectly acceptable. No one likes the protected class. If you want people to like female characters, they have to be humanized like everyone else.
6. In a game in which there are male combatants, there should be equal representation of women too, as the exclusion implies that women are incapable of standing up for themselves, and by extension, their omission implies unworthiness.
This is Grade-A retarded. "Standing up for themselves"? You're taking every video game as if its goal is always centered around saving women. You had Mario and Zelda in mind when you wrote this, didn't you? Tell me, how do women 'stand up for themselves' in a tournament fighter? The men aren't trying to rescue the women, they're trying to beat the crap out of each other to with the prize. And 99 times out of 100, tournament fighter games aren't to rescue women, they're to gain money, fame, a wish, keep the world from being taken over by gods, kill a criminal/dark ruler, or defeat a team of bad guys. And what about Perfect Dark? There are more males in that game than females, yet the main protagonist and side protagonist are BOTH female. No, I'm not going to shoe-horn in more females just so there are a perfectly even number of female characters as there are male characters. If my game has more males, it will have more males. If it has more females, it will have more females. If it has more whites, it will have more whites, and if it has more blacks, it will have more blacks.
7. Women should not be put in unpleasant predicaments in which they need to be saved by a male character. This is the 'Damsel in Distress' trope and it conjures up sexist ideas of women as a weaker gender that need to rely on men.
There are only two genders to choose from. There can be a male being saved by a female, a male being saved by another male, a female being saved by a male, or a female being saved by another female. Sometimes people need help, this is what makes them more relatable. It's not sexist for a female to need to be saved, and for her savior to be a male.
8. In video game stories in which female characters lose control of themselves or turn into monsters, players should not be encouraged to kill those characters, nor should the characters be put out of their misery. This is the "Euthanized Damsel" trope which makes domestic violence perpetrated by men against women appear justified.
Bullshit, does it. First of all, I'll do whatever the story calls for. Second, the forced killing of one's own loved one is a powerful, emotional story element. Your sexism is showing, again, Anita. One rule for men, another for women. This is called the "Double Standard", and it reinforces how little variety you're willing to allow women to have.
9. Female characters in active or professional roles should be dressed appropriately, which means revealing or hyper-sexualized and high heels are off the table as they're unrealistic and impractical.
This is just a rehash of point 1. And since you're so lazy you'll recycle points, I'll just recycle answers. How I dress my character is up to me and is going to be heavily influenced by that character's personality and taste in wardrobe. If it calls for them dressing inappropriately for their field of work, they're going to dress inappropriately for their field of work. I've created female characters who run the full spectrum, ranging from fully armored to scantily clad. It depends on the character's personality, and how secure they are in their sexuality. Characters who take their job more seriously, like my female warrior, Zero, dress in full armor. Characters who are serious about their job but like to live a little on the naughty side, like my female ninja, Kat, dress more scantily. How my characters dress is not up to you, and never will be.
10. Prostitutes, pole dancers, and sex workers in general, have become almost obligatory environmental texture that litter most modern, open world games. However, their presence contributes to deeply misogynistic and problematic concepts such as violability and disposability, which are best avoided.
Bullshit from capital letter to final period, Anita. First of all, art imitates life. Prostitutes, pole dancers, and sex workers exist in real life, and have always existed in some fashion or another. Games that imitate the real world sometimes have those kinds of people in them, especially big city areas and games about drugs and crime. Second, stop saying "environmental texture". It makes you sound stupid. Well, more stupid, anyway. It's called "environmental backdrop" or "atmospheric backdrop" not "texture". Get it right. Number three... how do prostitutes, pole dancers, and sex workers contribute to violability and disposability? First, anything and anyone is violable. There is no immunity to it. No one is incapable of being violated. Second, most people are disposable. Prostitutes can only work for as long as they hold out. If they get into hard drugs and alcohol and wreck their appearance, they become disposable to clients. Pole dancers are disposable for younger pole dancers, or more fit, more healthy pole dancers. An overweight dancer, or anemic pole dancer isn't going to be able to perform competitively with women looking to take their jobs. And sex workers, well, like I said, if they let themselves go, or get injured and lose that beauty and appeal, they're disposable. And finally, disposability, especially with NPCs, cannot ever be avoided. Some players will find a character irreplaceable. Like a shop keeper. Other players will have no use for that exact same character, and indeed find it more worth their while to kill that person. What is disposable to one gamer may be indispensable to another. There is no way to even approach avoiding it.
(This one is larger with multiple points. So I'll break it into parts.)
11a. The attire, movement, and otherwise behavior of a character can all culminate in ways that presents them as sexual objects to be enjoyed by a straight male player.
I'm bisexual, and I still enjoy the sexual appeal of women. What now?
11b. Therefore, female characters should not be wearing erotic clothes that draw attention, or provide emphasis to their breasts, crotch, or butt.
"Should not"? No. These are my games, and you have exactly zero say in them. I don't care what you think should and shouldn't be. I don't care how insecure you are, Anita.
11c. They should not have their navel exposed.
I love midriff-revealing clothes on women, so you can go straight to hell on this one.
11d. Nor should they move with a sexualized hip-sway.
Women have wider, flatter pelvises. This is just how they walk.
11e. Or talk seductively in mundane dialogue.
If the character is naturally flirtatious or dulcet, she'll probably talk this way. I'm not breaking a character's character for you.
11f. There should not be a heavy emphasis to their breasts, crotch, or butt. as this further reduces them to the status of sexual objects lacking boundary integrity.
"Should not" again, huh? I happen to really like breasts. I'll emphasize whatever I want, when it comes to my games and my characters, and you can live with it, how about that?
*Spits coffee* "Reduces them to the status of sexual objects, lacking boundary integrity"!? No, I don't think so, Anita. You do not get to tell me what kind of person my character is, based on how they dress. Like I said before, I don't care how insecure you are, you're not dictating my design choices to me.
11g. Also, don't let them cut off people's heads or shoot people. That's gross.
Badasses cut off people's heads, and badasses can be male or female. Fuck you and your prudish, pearl-clutching, hectoring attitude. I'd compare you to a mom, but my mom was cool and not only was she fine with me playing violent video games, she also loved to play video games, too. Do you know what one she, dad, my bother, and I would play together? GoldenEye 007. A first person shooter! And she was damn good at it, too! After I moved out, she bought a Wii and fucking Call of Duty: Black Ops, and would play online! My mom's almost 50 by the way. Comparing you to moms would be an insult to the cool moms. I can't even call you a grandma! I know of an 85 year-old woman who loves to play GTA of all games! I'm not making that up! Click Here To Watch The Video! Comparing you to grandmas would be an insult to cool grandmas, too. So again, fuck you!
11h. Actually, you know what? Let me write and design the character for you, because I'm never going to be happy. Also pay me more.
YOU couldn't pay ME enough money to take a character design off you, Anita. A character designed by you would have all the character depth of a sheet of tracing-paper. Word of advice to all developers reading this: never listen to a feminist on video games. They don't know what they're talking about, and every single company that attempts to make the perfect feminist game ends up closing down after they release the game.
I was initially going to wait a few more days to let a little more work build up for this update, but I doubt two or three more days will make it any less underwhelming, so I'll just get it out of the way and make up for it by fluffing it a bit with things that probably should have been included last time, anyway.
-I spent most of the last 5 days making a tileset. Unfortunately, work on such a thing is doubled by the simple fact that every single tile needs a normal map.
What's a tileset? Well, it's a grid of graphical tiles that make up the background. It's common in RPGs, isometric games, and other top-down, 2D games like Legend of Zelda.
This is what the typical tileset looks like. Well, actually, this is a fairly atypical tileset. Don't worry, I didn't make this. I downloaded it back in 2003 when I was a beginner and couldn't make my own graphics. (It's a good thing I never got around to using this tileset, it's god-awful.)
Contrary to popular belief, these things aren't quick and easy to make. They have to line up perfectly, which can mean you'll spend most of the day working and make only around 10 tiles or so. One small miscalculation or mistake can throw off numerous following tiles. And since I'm making normal maps, I had to do every single tile twice. Imagine how easy it is to mess up on a tile, well it's greatly more easy to mess up on a normal map. Even one pixel done wrong can ruin the entire tile. How does one pixel wreck an entire tile? Well, if it's not the right color, the light will shine on it in weird ways. It can range from negligible, to severe, to "the entire tile is bathed in shadow except the one single incorrect pixel which is lit up like a Christmas tree light in a cellar".
Here's kind of an idea of how much work goes into one single tile.
Step 1: Draw up the rough draft using pixels of a color that won't be used in the final.
Step 2: Color in the tile with base colors.
Step 3: Add extra details (cracks in stone, moss on brick, etc)
Step 4: Add texture where texture is needed.
Step 5: Is the tile part of a subset? (A building, the road, grass, etc) If so, check how it looks beside all other tiles in that subset to make sure geometry that needs to line up lines up without any awkwardness, and also that it's seamless with every single other texture that could possibly end up adjacent to it.
Step 6: Begin creating the normal map. (Each tile requires me to make 5 tiles. What it looks like with the light due north, what it looks like with the light due east, south, west, and directly in front of it.)
Step 7: Load the tile and all elements of that tile into shader software and check to see if the normal map looks fine no matter what angle the light is positioned at. (It rarely looks fine on the first try.)
Step 8: Go back to fix the inevitable mistakes.
Step 9: Repeat steps 7 and 8 until it looks good.
Step 10: Position the normal tile relative to where the defuse tile is on the diffuse set and save both documents.
Step 11: Move to the next empty tile space and start all over from step 1.
And before I move on, don't worry. I'm no beginner. I know that tilesets tend to not look so good. The tileset is just a base. I'm not going to be adhering to it too heavily, nor will I be using a single grid size for positioning.
-Finally managed to ditch the reliance on placeholder graphics, including the test enemy.
This dude's too cute to be a thug... but he'll be one of the lowest ranking baddies, so it's fine I guess. This is what will be displayed during dialogue screens if they aren't too hostile to speak to.
I managed to get a good portion of his game-world sprites done, too.
Much like the player character and holding guns, no matter what way he's facing, the white patch on his left arm will always be on his left arm, same with the stripes on his pants, and everything else on his design, right down to the red and brown undershirts.
-I made changes the the main character's closeup image.
-I fixed his down-facing, standing still, unarmed normal map. You guys don't really need to see the same orbiting light gif from before, but upgraded. Little has changed.
-I added in more walking animations for the main character. This includes walking backwards and walking sideways.
That's all for now. I don't want to reveal the scenery until it's ready for the lighting engine. But I'm hoping that, by next update, the lighting engine will be ready enough to post a screenshot or two of the game actually running, instead of inventory screens, and captures of the player character against a dark blue void.
It all depends on how smoothly it goes, and how few do-overs and debugs I have to do. Fingers crossed.
Comedic games are rising in popularity, lately. What with the Stanley Parable, Manuel Samuel, and that Job Simulator set. Unfortunately, the comedy genre just isn't one I'm going to try.
It's not because I have a grudge, or consider myself too good for it, it's that my sense of humor is far too immature. Think Castle Crashers, but even weirder. When I'm at my funniest, I'm at my most random. My form of humor would be in line with the ASDFMovie or Action Bunnies, or Deadpool levels of random, which only appeals to people with an equally immature sense of humor.
I don't mean 'immature' as in Sanjay and Creg, with butt jokes, fart jokes, and gross out gags, or Fanboy and Chumchum where there doesn't seem to be a second worth of focus or continuity. I'm too highbrow to stoop to the bottom of the barrel, but I don't think many people would enjoy my brand of comedy.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like I'm safer assuming the worst and not doing it, rather than assuming the best and just annoying people. That's not to say I won't try to be humorous in a mature way in my non-comedy games, I can still do that, but I don't think I'm going to be making comedy games.
"But what if it could be a huge hit?"
If you don't like Bobobo-Bo-Bo-Bobo, you won't like my humor. (Yes, that's the actual name of the show) I found the show hilarious. Other people hate it and don't think it's funny. Bobobo-Bo-Bo-Bobo Opening
If you're not sure what my humor would be like, watch TomSka's ASDFMovies, Action Bunnies, and the Laser Collection, and then watch an episode of Bobobo. That will give you a complete rundown of the brunt of my comedy. I just don't think enough people would like it.
Work has been slow this last week. Oh, and by the way, just for reference, I say "week" even when its the middle of the week, or beginning of a week because I work weekends as well as weekdays. So when I say "week" when talking about progress, I mean a space equivalent of 5-7 days.
Plenty of people make it their policy to never work weekends, but not me. I don't usually pull all-nighters, but I often work with no days off, unless I'm really in the mood to play a game or something. Sometimes I don't even take breaks. There are days where, aside from getting up to make myself something to eat or use the bathroom, from the moment I wake up til the moment I'm too tired to continue, I'm rooted to this chair, working. If you want to be the best at what you do, you've gotta mean it. Fortunately for me, I love what I do, and if you love your job, you'll never work a day in your life.
(Ironic that I love being a game dev, despite the torment I go through to make games. Office workers would think I'm insane.)
On to the update!
-Feedback response added: Enemies now flash when shot.
Though this should have been simple, I had to mess around with shaders in order to get it to work without numerous more spites and a mess more if-statements. And for those of you who have any experience working with shaders, you know all to well they can be temperamental bastards. Especially because they have their own specific language, no matter what medium you're programming with, because they communicate directly with the graphics processor of your computer.
For the laymen out there, imagine your job could be done just fine in English, but every so often, you had to switch and do something in Greek, or some language you don't know. Or if you're in school still, imagine your assignment was in English, but every 3rd problem on the assignment had to be written in Greek, or some language you don't know, and doing just one thing wrong meant you got a complete 0 on the test. That's kind of what shaders are like.
-Feedback response added: Enemies now bleed when shot.
It doesn't look as nice as I would have liked, because it's done in a particle system, and for those of you who don't know, there's only so much particles can do. But it definitely adds that nice level of feedback that was missing. Perhaps I'll do a tip post for beginner game devs on the absolute cruciality of feedback.
-Test environment is taking shape.
I've been focusing on things like getting the player character to behave properly when moving around the screen, and on creating sprites for the actual in-game world.
I hate to burst the bubble of those hoping for a lively test environment, but it's going to be relatively bland. Hell, if I hadn't had any plans to make a playable tech demo, I wouldn't have bothered with a world environment at this stage. The demo area will be lacking, but serve the purpose of showcasing the lighting engine and the game's controls. Yeah, the thing about the lighting engine is that it doesn't work if there are no sprites, and since the player and test enemy are the only sprites on screen at the moment, there wouldn't be much to see.
But having that in there will allow me to take screenshots that are much more worth looking at than the inventory screen, so there is a benefit to all the work.
-Work has begun getting the lighting engine running.
Why do these two last steps take so long? Well, the lighting engine requires me to make every sprite twice. First the diffuse map, which looks like this:
Standard sprite. And second is the normal map, which looks like this:
Horrifying, rainbow mess.
How does one explain something as complex as a normal map to someone who may not have any idea of what one is? Hmm. Well, in as little jargon as possible: Each pixel of the ugly rainbow monstrosity translates into x,y, and z coordinates. Depending on the color of the pixel, the shader will assign the matching pixel on the diffuse map a depth in pseudo 3D space, so depending on the angle, distance, and intensity of the light, some areas of the sprite will be darker, and other areas will be brighter. This is the result:
The normal map on the player character needs to be redone, as I did a terrible job making it, but as you can see, as the light orbits the sprite, he reacts as if he's 3D even though he's very clearly just 2D.
Unfortunately, in 2D games, normal maps need to be present for every sprite and every frame. I can't just make one and expect it to work while he's walking, for example. If there are 50 frames to him total, there needs to be 50 normal maps as well.
I'm getting kind of bored of the project. It's not as exciting a concept as the new one I came up with. Now, being bored of it doesn't mean being disinterested in it. I can keep working, but it's kind of becoming a drag. Progress is slowing way down due to tackling bigger and harder things, and it feels like the project is at a standstill. I've been working on the same group of things for a while now, and feel like I'm not getting anywhere, even though I clearly am.
I'll admit, making parts of the background has been fun, but the fun quickly evaporated when I moved to normal map making. It's pretty monotonous. I'm afraid I'll have to switch back to doing more code-related things, which means screenshots will be delayed.
One thing I've been contemplating doing is making it so enemies are able to run out of ammo. I've noticed that in every game than involves guns, enemies never run out of ammo, excluding Bethesda games, anyway.
-Enemies can waste up precious bullets so that when the player finally kills them, there will be less ammo to take from them, increasing the challenge level.
-Enemies with powerful guns can run out of bullets, evening the playing field for players.
-The player character will be equipped with a gun. If an enemy runs out of ammunition for all of their guns, what hope remains? What kind of idiot would transition from using a gun in a gun fight, to running up to their potentially armed opponent, with a melee weapon?
-Things like boss fights might be made a little too easy, simply by allowing the enemy to run out of ammo.
-More coding to get the enemy AI to change weapon, or change from aggressive to fleeing.
Unfortunately, it's looking like the cons outweigh the pros.
When you're developing a game with a main character and a plot, one of the worst things you can do is just do whatever you want. This tip is more for greenhorns, because novices and above should already know this.
Years ago, probably in 2008 or 2009, I played this terrible RPG. It was awful for many reasons, but one of the worst offenses was the main character. I think the game was called Dark Orb or something ultra generic like that. It was an indie RPG made on RPG Maker 2003.
The part that made it really hard to get into was the way the developer decided to write his character, or rather, the way in which he didn't write his character. The very first set of dialogue we get are between him and a generic villain race.... called the Velun. Yeah, I think that about sets the tone for what to expect from this game. He has a brief talk with this woman, and it goes spectacularly wrong. Not plot-wise, but design-wise.
I don't remember the dialogue verbatim, but the very first thing he says to this character is to sling hostility. Keep in mind that at this point, we don't have anything to go on that this character he's yelling at is bad, outside him acting like she's bad. But that's not the big problem. The big one is that the character doesn't really have a personality. He's strikes me as an amateur script read aloud. RPG Maker, like most 2D RPGs uses text dialogue, so in order for it to feel like a script, it would have to be as bland as possible.
Then we come to the most painful mistake in this RPG. The main character is talking to this enemy character, and she tries to play off that she's done anything wrong. I'm inclined to believe her. I haven't seen anything that warrants my villain scorn. But the character I'm playing as has a different approach. He says something to the effect of "No, you are a Velun, I will kill you, bitch!" So now I'm confused as to this my character's motivations, and also confused as to why she deserves to die. If memory serves, they banter back and forth in horrendously broken English, and then battle. The part that makes it painful is the unfortunate fact that the characters level insults and heavy language at each other like a preteen playing Call of Duty in some misguided attempt at making the game sound mature and the character sound tough. "Fuck you, Velun bitch!" Which only ends up having the complete opposite effect. It sounds highly immature and the character sounds like he's got some self-esteem issues.
But though those are big mistakes, they don't do nearly as much damage as later on. In the same mansion I think it is, you come across another female being terrorized by another Velun. You embarrassingly banter with, fight, and kill the Velun, and free the girl, and this is where things really took a turn for the worse. Keep in mind the way the character behaved before. He walked up to someone we'd never met before, treated her with hostility out of the blue, and vowed to kill her, spouting immature insults all the while. Got that in mind? Good, because the character pulls a complete 180 and throws his entire established character out the window the instant he frees this girl. Suddenly he's talking nice to her. Verbatim one of the lines: "What wanted this Velun bitch from you?" Yeah, the word 'bitch' ends up getting fairly heavily abused in the smallest amount of time possible. And I did warn you that the English was broken.
Suddenly he's compassionate, trying to care for this kidnapped woman after proving, in the very first scene, that he's arrogant, dumb, jumps to conclusion, and is needlessly hostile. He also invites her onto his team to help her get out of there.
So why is this bad? Well, the character doesn't have a character. He just plays whatever role is convenient to the plot. He maintains his tough-guy act, but completely drops his unwarranted aggression as soon as the plot demands it. I mean, just because this girl was captured by the Velun doesn't mean she can be trusted. So he goes from aggressive, bloodlust to undeserved kindness and trust for little to no reason. Needless to say I couldn't get much further than that. It was too hard to suffer through it. Not just because of the awful character, but more an amalgamation of all the awfulness.
This brings me to my lesson. When you're creating a character, they HAVE to be who they are. If their reaction is to treat the first person they see with distrust, hostility, and unprovoked attack, he should do the same thing with the second person he sees. I understand that this character was probably meant to be tough, but also sympathetic, but there was no build up to either of those things.
Let's take a look at Devil Hunter: Seeker of Power. (Technically, it's Devil Hunter 2: Seeker of Power, but since the developer never bothered to publish the first one, the "2" is kind of redundant.)
The game opens with a demon slayer named Solian. Right away we're shown that he has inner turmoil, and he's not a very nice character. After a while of walking through the woods, he finds a woman. He maintains his character, acting grumpy towards her and remaining fairly unapproachable. She asks him to join up with her, but he refuses. it isn't until they have to battle a demon that pops up. They make it pretty clear Solian knows this demon, has dealt with him before, and that he is indeed as bad as Solian makes him out to be. Only after this demon drags both Solian and the woman, Raven, into a fight does Solian decide to join forces with her. Why? Because she's a mercenary leader and she can carry him across the boarder.
None of the encounter is forced, neither character breaks character, and hard language is reserved.
Treat your characters as characters, and never break character lightly. Always be asking yourself "what's my character's motivation?" and "Is this how this character would handle this situation?". The more you break their character and the more you play "fast and loose" with their personality, the less real and less like a person they will seem. If your character's an asshole who cares about no one but themselves, they aren't going to go out of their way to save someone else unless the asshole character has a change of heart. And a change of heart can't be slapped in there whenever you like. It has to be earned, and only after players get to know this character, and not a moment sooner. If the very first scene has the character showing he's an asshole, then immediately having a change of heart in the same scene, it will be meaningless, as we haven't gotten a chance to get to know their full character, yet.
You have to roll with your character choice, even if it clashes with the plot, because a character's personality integrity is more important than the plot. The story is meaningless if players don't get invested in your character, and players won't get invested in your character if they change on a dime to suit your whim.
Maybe in my next post I'll reveal my character building system to show how I build my characters.
I hate animating. It's just not fun for me. If you take the traditional route, and not the cheap, lazy 'layered character with engine-handled, rotating body elements' route, you're in for a lot of work on the same image. I hate the layered character with the rotating parts animation style. As I said, it's lazy, and it's excruciatingly limiting. There's less you can do with that method than you can do with flip-book style, frame-by-frame animation. But a lot of people use it because it's quick, easy, and looks... passably acceptable. Flip-book style takes a longer amount of time, and a lot more care, but allows an infinite number of things you can do with it. For example, with the lazy method, it's quite a bit harder to do an isometric game. Games done this way are usually extremely limited, and have one or two angles you can see the player and enemies from.
I hate to pick on him, but Shaun Spalding's A Gun That Shoots Bees is a perfect example. The main character is a static image with rotating hands, feet, and a gun layered over it. The bears themselves only have 3 directions they can come from, because they can't face away from the camera. So they can't come from the bottom of the screen and move up, because they'd either be walking backwards, or be required to face away. This is because, with the rotation animation method, it's difficult to swap out parts to change their shape or design, mid-animation. Exchanging a section is do-able, but changing the entire layout is harder to do, which is why they tend to simply exist in a 2D space, and flip on their axis instead of actually having an animated turn-around, or even show their bodies from a different angle than the one you see.
But with flip-book animation, though it takes more time, I have no such limit. With flip-book style animation, since you go frame-by-frame, you can actually have the character face in any direction, and move in any way. At the same time, though, in flip-book style, characters aren't just cardboard-cutout pieces that slide around on the screen, so it's harder to get away with cheating or half-assing it. Walking, for example. Walking is a fairly complex set of motions, if you break it down. You can't just move the legs so that they swing.
Left: I whipped up an animation of a character of mine where his arms and legs just rotate on their attachment points. It looks passable, but stiff, robotic, and lifeless. It's usable, but it's not good. I have no control over the shading on his body, and I have no control over his orientation. I could rotate him on his z-axis, but I can't rotate him on his x or y-axis.
Right: The actual animation that the character has while walking. As you can see, it's quite a bit more involved. He bounces up and down, his hair flops, his shoulders move in time with the swing of his arms, every joint in his legs move, and even his elbows bend.
When I look at the one on the left, I can't help but imagine the theme from the Mario Zone overworld from Super Mario Land 2. Listen Here. Those who are familiar with the game will get it. It's a giant, clock-work Mario that stiffly swings its arms while that robotic theme plays.
It's actually kind of disturbing...
Anyway... Using the rotation method, things like this are difficult:
His body rotates on the y-axis, points at the screen, then turns to the side as he's swinging his sword, and finishes with his body pointed away from us. In hind sight, another frame of his body pointed part of the way away from us would have helped make it look a little smoother, but that's something for me to worry about some other day. Back on topic:
A character walking is fairly involved, and requires a lot of frames. Contact, passing, recoil, high-point, contact, passing, recoil, high-point, contact, passing, recoil, high-point, contact. This is what walking looks like. You can't just shuffle the legs along.
These are the essential frames for a walking animation. So long as these are present, your character will appear to walk. But it's more involved than that. You have to make sure, when drawing each frame, that the legs don't linger in one position too long, and you have to make sure they remain the same length, and move at a reasonable pace in all angles (when doing an 8-directional, anyway...). And everything that's done with one leg has to be done with the other. On top of all that, body can't move out of place in any of the frames, so they have to all line up perfectly with each other, or else the character will wobble awkwardly, and the whole thing has to loop seamlessly. It can get pretty boring, pretty quick.
And since I never take the quick, easy, or lazy way out of animating, every game requires a walking animation that I have to work on, one frame at a time. Let's just say that, considering all the failed projects I've worked on, I've probably had to do well over a hundred walking animations. It gets tiresome.
And that's why I hate walking animations.
I usually have dreams where I'm playing a game that's never existed before. Sometimes they're from another franchise, like Sonic The Hedgehog, other times they're original content. One in particular, however, has been a recurring dream.
For years now, I've been intermittently dreaming about roughly the same game, and each time I dream about it, the more I'm able to remember about it after I wake up, and the more and more complete an idea it is.
The first time I dreamt about it, I couldn't remember it after I woke up. Then the second time, after I woke up, I was like "Haven't I dreamt of that place before?". Early on, there were no real goals. The second time I had the dream, there were goals and a little more life to the game, but I wasn't really sure what I was doing. I was simply exploring the gorgeous game world.
Last time, there were collectables, and this time the collectables became the 7up spot. But also in this dream, there was plot, side characters, and even a boss battle, and an apparent choice system. Essentially, for years this game has been building itself. I still have to do the technical parts, of course, but the design aspect has been a WIP for a long while, now. Unfortunately, getting the game developed isn't something I can tackle right now.
First of all, it's in 3D. Second, its environment would take a lot of time and care, in order to capture the beauty of it. Third, I only have bits and pieces, still, as I can't control the dream and get a good look around, nor can I remember every detail on waking up. I'm determined, now more than ever, to see it completed, but it may still be a long while. It wouldn't be a cheap, easy project, like 2D games are.
As per usual, I can't talk about it because I don't want it stolen. So you'll just have to imagine what it would be like. Mmm, dat environment. So atmospheric.... Dose characters, so characteristic! Actually, I don't remember much about the characters, I just remember these two really cute women, and those two are the driving force behind my determination to see this game happen.
I've been active a lot, lately. Things have been springing to mind that I feel like sharing, especially when it comes to pulling the curtain back in the industry, a little, and letting greenhorns, novices, and civilians see what things are like for us. (I may not have any games out and nothing worth putting on Steam, but I've been a dev for 13 years. I have experience.)
I was going to hold off on this update, due to frequency of posts, as of late, and for fear of getting a little annoying to my regulars, but then I remembered I made a promise a few posts ago to make up for separating out a two-part post by posting more graphics, so I decided I'd post now.
-Enemy AI is coming along very well, so far. Enemies can now see me if I'm within their field of view, and they'll come after me if they've spotted me. They can't harm me, yet, because the test enemy is unarmed, but they attempt to navigate to me, and get close to me so they can attack me.
-I debated even mentioning this, because I still want to keep some things under wraps, for now, but I'll reveal this for the skeptics out there: Enemy AI can now be escaped. The enemy will track you, and if you move behind a wall or other obstruction, they will be unable to see you. They will still attempt to catch you, though, by moving to the last point they could see you at, and then searching for you there and around the area. In fact, there's no limit to the area they're able to search. They can search virtually anywhere. Unlike Deus Ex: Human Revolution enemies can leave their designated rooms in order to find you, and can chase you clear across the map, and if you're out of sight, they can search anywhere on the map in order to locate you.
So whether they stick close to where they last saw you, or look all over the area for you, is entirely up to them. They'll hunt for you for a range of time, and if they can't find you, they'll return to where they were standing before they became aggressive. If they can find you, however, they return to attacking you.
-And finally, I've completed all of the walking animations for the player character. This took up a majority of my work time over the last week because I had 8 angles to do, 10 frames each, times the number of segments his sprite is made up of (two, his upper body and lower body.) That's a lot of work, especially since I had to take multiple repetition-breaks to avoid resenting this project.
Here's some more art from the game, as I promised.
They're both identical, just that one is on a lighter background for those with color blindness trouble, or a bad monitor. Shading these is not going to be fun...
Here's him holding a gun. 3rd frame shows discarded casings after having been ejected from the gun after firing. Check it out, he remains right-handed no matter what way he's facing. His sprites aren't just mirrored, even though it would have been much easier on me, and taken only half the time to just do one half of the sprites and flip them to face the other way. I'm planning on having him use both hands to hold pistols while he's walking, for a little more stability. It would just be an esthetic addition, but at least it will seem a little more real.
-Finishing the AI.
-Creating the first real enemy sprites and ditching placeholders completely.
-Early alpha tech demo?
I'm definitely allowing super early access to a demo, just as a kick to the balls of those who doubt I'm really working on a game, and as a double kick to the balls of anyone who doubts I'm a real dev. But also as a treat for those who have been patient and continue to come back to my blog to check up on my progress.
Don't get me wrong, I do think skepticism is important in our industry, but when you're acting like a smug asshole, thinking you're calling out a phony, I'm going to revel in your salt and shame when I prove you wrong. I won't name any names, but if you're reading this, you know who you are. Investigate a little more next time you call out a dev, because the more smug you are while throwing around call-outs and insults, the more of a tool you're going to look like, in the end.
I don't know how long it's going to take to get to the demo, but I'm working towards it. And I'm running out of essentials that need to be present before I can show it. So that's a good sign.
I've wasted enough time on this post. Back to the grind. (Took me almost an hour and 40 minutes to compile that animation because I had to combine the upper body and lower body of the animation, and I kept on screwing it up somehow.)
No, not with money. Although that would help, money seems kind of a cheap way of making people feel like they're participating. I see donating money as aid in its completion, not participation in the actual brick and mortar that goes into a game.
I was thinking "How would some of these shallow, personality-less characters respond to the player?" Well, with insults if they lowlives. But then I started trying to come up with a list of good insults, and realized that it might be too limiting if I did it, so what if I asked others for help? And what if I asked not just for your best insults, but rather, really good insults from your country?
I haven't a clue what my metrics are. I don't feel I'm worth a narcissistic look at the analytics of my blog with only an average of 36 unique visitors a week. So just guessing, I'm bound to have people from the UK, Australia, and Americans with backgrounds from other countries.
I'm not expecting a whole lot, because I'm hardly worth paying attention to, at the moment, but I'm opening the floor to this "contest" anyway. What will happen, if anyone ends up being interested, is I'll compile the responses and use them in the game, and add the names of any participants to the credits.
Yeah, I know, terrible prize: A credit in a game by a game dev nobody. But I don't plan on being a nobody for long. I hope to become, at the very least, sort of above a nobody. (Let's face it, I'll never be Scott Cawthon, Toby Fox, or Markus Persson.)
Anyway, as with all contest type things (especially ones on the internet, à la Boaty McBoatface) there are guidelines that must be followed.
1. This is a fairly gritty game, and as a result, most of the people in this game are going to be criminals, cut-throat thugs, lowlife types, mercenaries, etc, so the insults have to be above recess/playground level insults. "You're a doodoo head." Isn't going to work out of the mouth of a member of the Crips, for example.
2. Keep it classy. The insults need to have more finesse than the average 10-12 year old COD player. "I fucked your mom in the ass because you're a kike, and she liked it, you faggot! 1v1 me!!" No one with a fully developed frontal lobe is going to talk like this. The insults don't have to be more high-brow than "What are you looking at, asshole?" but if you take part, at least imagine that your insult is coming from someone with more dignity than the average prepubescent FPS player.
3. No Niggers, Niggas, Honkies, or Crackers. First of all, those words are a little too easy, because they're automatically offensive. Normally, I wouldn't care, but since everyone in this game universe is an anthropomorphic animal, I don't think it makes much sense. Even if it's a mammal or reptile with black hair, white hair or scales, or whatever they have, it wouldn't make much sense. Actually, I think it would be pretty damn funny if a ghetto, grey fox called a calico cat "my nigga" but I'm focusing on insults for now. Skin color isn't going to matter to anything but hairless cats and naked mole rats, so avoid anything to do with skin color. The main character is a doberman. Get creative. The obvious one would be to call him a bitch...
4. English must be used as a base. This is going to be taking place in America, so everyone would at least know how to speak English. If you're representing your country, give me something most English speakers will be able to read, but spice it up with your country's own garnish. IE: "Go back the way you came, cholo." Or "Piss off, ya plonker."
5. Please make sure that the insult you provide can be written out in English alphabetical characters. I don't have the time or patience to make a font that matches the game's current font and uses Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, etc characters. And even if I could, players who don't know that language would be completely unaware that they were even being insulted. Accented letters are fine, though, as I can still use those.
6. Each insult that's not baldly universal needs to come with a brief description of what it means so I know how to use it properly. What I mean by that is "Fuck off, asshole!" is pretty straight forward. For people who know how to speak English, that's a fairly universal insult. But "Leave off, ya bloody pillock!" is.... actually a really bad example because I absorb a lot of British Youtube. But you get what I mean. If it's not universal, please include a break down of the insult for me, so I'm not misusing it. IE: Gringo. This is a disparaging, Latino/Hispanic term for foreigners, usually for an American or Western European. It wouldn't be appropriate for one Latino/Hispanic person to call another Latino/Hispanic person a gringo.
7. No limit to submissions per person. If you'd like to see a range of colorful insults from your country or family's background, submit as many as you like.
8. Each submission must contain at least one name to credit for the entry. Pseudonyms are fine, but please refrain from anything like "HillaryTrump2016", "Dickbutt", or "RarePepe420".
9. Be warned that absolutely everyone will be able to be killed in this game. If you submit something that makes the NPC seem like an insufferable, arrogant prick, the player may very well choose to kill that NPC, hostile or not. So if you're thinking about making a total ass of a character, hoping there will be no repercussions for the NPC's attitude and they can just annoy the player the entire game, you're going to be disappointed.
And there you have it. Other than those things, anything goes. This was supposed to be a "the best ones of out the submissions get in" contest, but I think I'll end up getting so few, if any at all, that I'll be able to use them all anyway. So instead, as long as they're not complete garbage I'll use them, and the entries with the most creative insults will have their names appear at the top of the list.
If you'd like to participate, you can use my email, which is in the side bar, using "Thug Life" in the subject bar, or my blog's contact form, or the comment section to this post, which I believe allows for visitors to post comments without needing an account. I could be wrong, though. Or alternatively, you can send me a message on Gab, if you can fit your submission into the character limit.
I'm @BastendorfGames on Gab and on Twitter.