DragonHorsie :)

I took some days off, from the actual development of the dragon shooter. I think I needed that break, my head got already dizzy from trying to learn so much about coding and talking every day about my game ideas with my husband.
I still felt like doing some drawing today though, for the main Dragonlands game, was kinda hit by some kind of Inspiration I think XD


I also revisited my game document about dragonlands and noticed that it’s cluttered and full with ideas that I would like to sort into categories, like what is important, what I NEED to have ingame, what is just gimmicks and which things I would like to have, but are not necessary. Interestingly, while trying to clean up, I always get new ideas.
One feature I would like to have is a Tutorial system, that let’s you play the game with restrictions, kinda holding you by your hand, while you are getting to know the controls etc. And I thought it would be cool, if every player who is going through the tutorial, would be displayed as a child at first, until they either decide that they have learned enough and quit the tutorial, finish the tutorial or they have reached the skill “tutorial-cap” and in order to progress with skills one would need to “grow up”. This would not only make clear which players are newbies, but also make the game world more interesting in my opinion.
Also I was thinking again about it, how to make developing the game/content easier for me and I seem to always come back to it, that I need some form of Player contribution and NPC automations. So that they create quests based on what they need, as example create new swords. That players aswell as NPCs can use Billboards to spread the word about needing something. That can be forming a party, invite to a cities army or simply resource gathering for fueling the forge.
The possibilities could be endless, I just wonder how difficult it actually is to program that….

Dragonlands GUI, where are my thoughts?

Most time of the day I’m just rolling ideas through my head. It’s a bad habit of mine. Unbelievable fruitful when it comes to creativity, but very hindering when it comes to the actual doing part.

So here one result of today’s mind storming. A very rough concept of a graphical Interface for Dragonlands.


and some other idea 🙂
the sleeping giant_s

Overcoming Anxiety and how I want to do things different

Hah! There it is again, for hours I’m thinking that I should just pick up the pencil and draw something. Whatever exactly it is, just something, to have something done, to feel like I have accomplished something, to feel better about myself, but then I get to the part of picking up the pen and my sketchbook, opening my reference folders and then…heavy anxiety strikes me. I don’t even know exactly what I’m so afraid of, that it’s paralyzing me in my steps. Maybe I’m setting my expectations too high, maybe I’m afraid that yesterday i did a good sketch and today I can’t continue that…or maybe I’m afraid I’m ruining the sketch from yesterday, because honestly, thats what I would like to do. I would like to just start sketching over ideas on that sketch, draw in scales, thinks about how the anatomy would need to be changed to turn it into a dragon, draw in horns, draw different head shapes, to get an idea of what I actually want as a dragon. Make some sketches with colors, see how far or close I actually want to stay to that “typical western fire breathing red dragon” or if I want something new. And then on top of all of that I feel like I should make sure that the dragon looks good from it’s back, because that will be main thing the player is seeing in that dragon shooting game. Theoretically I wouldn’t even need to build a whole dragon, just part of the wings, head and neck. As far as I have planned the game to be.
But I don’t like the idea of just building half a dragon.

So…when the anxiety stroke me, I suddenly started sorting my reference folders, because so far I just had a “dragonlands” folder, where everything went in, from game graphics, pictures of real rats, dinosaurs, anatomical examples of anthros, dragons and androgyn humans. Example of spells, clothes and architecture. Just about everything I think is somehow related to how I want dragonlands to be. So I cleaned it up…and then I started feeling bad that i did that even though I wanted to draw.

Screw you, brain!

I really don’t know how to deal with those things. I’m trying to get better at everything, but sometimes it just feels like too much. Heck, even thinking about it, that I don’t know when I will have accumulated enough experience to start an RTS/RPG/MMO. Who is making that treshold? How to know?
I hope to find answers to those questions on my journey. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to “just” start a blog, to “just” start making games, but I chose this path, because it’s my dream, because I want to do it and because I think it’s fullfilling me. I think, I still have a long way ahead of me.

I hope it’s not too confusing for anyone who is reading my blogs. Sometimes I’m writing blog entries while I’m working, so that I don’t have a huge bunch of stuff I have to write down in the evening, when I most likely would also forget some things that I wanted to talk about.
As example now, I actually managed to take that pencil into my hand again, turned on some music, pulled out my references and started sketching some dragon and dinosaur heads. I bluntly just copied them, trying to see patterns in how they are build, from headshape to scales, over different kinds of eyes, where are the eyes set in their heads?, where are horns attached, what purpose have some features? Like shells and spikes for defense or are some meant for offense etc. I’m having alot of thoughts going through my head while drawing, which then accumulates and creates a picture in my head of things I like.
And since I kept in the background of my head, that I want the dragon to look good from it’s backside, I tried to find some elements I can include that somehow make sense and are easy recognizable from a back view.
Then I’m also thinking, how friendly or evil do I want the dragon to look like? I think in this context it would actually make sense to NOT make the dragon evil, but instead go for a more humerous variant, so I can keep the model simple and make it easier for the player to relate to it. Since it’s NOT the enemy this time, the player should not hate the dragon in the best case XD
Maybe I could go for a dragon that has features of a bird like creature, to get a bit away from the normal western dragon and it also makes it easier to relate why it is hoarding gold underneath (like a crow). I could lean the whole concept into that, but then again, I wanted to have the game play in a cave with lot’s of entrances, I would need to find a good reason for that and why a bird like dragon would live in a cave.

So many questions 🙂 And yeah I like to just roll those thoughts through my head, because I’m interested in making my ideas in a way that they make sense. I don’t want to just go and say “here! That weird crazy thing there does not make sense? Oh well….because of MAGICX!” thats sometimes the feeling I get from alot of games to be honest. So I definitely don’t want to do that.

*note: those are mainly sketches from references I have collected, I do not own the original pictures


Research, Dinosaurs and Time management!

I seriously don’t know what exactly I have to talk about. Today was quite “spread” again in terms of “all-over-the-place” with my projects. At least I can say I noticed in order to get some actual progress and not always get distracted with all kinds of “neat” things I would like to know, I need to start focus on one project. And my decision fell on a small dragon shooter. Last post I was already mentioning it plus the Billboard concept I did.

Yesterday I created a prototype inside unity that allows to shoot fireballs per left mouse click in the direction of the camera inclusive particles that leave a streak of fire particles depending on the direction the ball was shot.
I tried to find out how to move the camera per mouse movement, but I don’t yet understand how to use the standard asset packages from unity. Yeah I feel a bit stupid about that, since it “seems” to be just about unpacking some package folders. What can be so difficult about that?

So after trying around for some hours I took my sketchbook and google and started looking for references to create concepts for my dragon model.
I picked up exotic animals, dinosaurs and dragons from other artists and I’m still in the process of not only collecting those resources, but also drawing them. So far I only got one dinosaur on paper and I was already surprised that I could actually draw it. Honestly, I don’t think I have ever tried to draw a dinosaur, except maybe deep down in my childhood XD

raptor_sI hope I can draw some proper concepts of my dragon instead tomorrow. It’s really bugging me, that I get so rarely time nowadays to work in big blocks. Finding the time to not only get into subjects and learning and progressing in making an actual game while taking care of a baby that seems to have a grumpy streak since a few days :/ feels hardcore.
I wonder how other people are handling these kind of situations. But then I also hear rarely of indie developers that are having children. Most Indies I have heard of seem to not have much time even without children. So maybe I’m just crazy that I think after all those years, when I got a child that NOW I could start developing for sure 😛

Unity dabbling and some more concepts

For some reason I felt like obsessing with terrains today 🙂 I talked with a friend a bit about how I imagine Dragonlands world to function, map and area wise. So I came to the conclusion that I want to look up how easy or difficult it is to create terrain in unity and if I either want to go procedural or handmade or even both. I think a combination of both ways is probably the one which would create best outcome. Not sure if I’m even using the right terms here…
One thing I’m also very interested in is how do other games make terrains that seemlessly go into each other without loading the whole map when the player is only seeing a certain distance anyway. So I stumbled upon arrays and how to use them to stitch together terrains in unity 🙂
I would really like to have a big map in my game with different climate zones and a way to make smaller areas that could be defined later for city placement etc. Aswell as defining those smaller regions for game purpose to define which areas are considered “lush” which ones are “barren lands” or “mountainous”, areas where dragons can settle and so on. There are alot of things that need to be planned in how the game should handle it and how the player can interact with it. And since I want to create a world thats playable as RPG and as RTS it would be nice if I could re-use as much as possible to decrease the amount of work I need to do, to realize this concept.

I wonder how hard it would be to create maps with just heightmaps created in photoshop. Definitely something I want to look in also.
Hehe, it’s for the UDK, but I’m pretty sure I can use it for unity also.

I think I need to increase my daily water and sugar input, Since I started working every day on learning new things I got regularly headaches. And I don’t even know what exactly to write down here either at the moment since most of what I do is just working through tutorials, while I try to grasp what is being told. Yeah it’s alot of work to do that, but it doesn’t feel like somethnig I should write down here in details. I already feel a bit bad about posting so many youtube videos. Even though it can probably help others also to learn a bit about game development, programming, design etc.

Oh well, here is another video 😀

And this guys videos are very informative for bloody beginners in unity and c# programming. I wished I would have had him as a teacher, back when I was still studying. I’m happy he uploaded those tutorials though 🙂 Yay for Internet 😀

And because of his video about shooting projectiles I got reminded of that mini game I wanted to create as a starting project before Dragonlands. It is some kind of dragon shooter, where the player sits on a hoard of treasure and has to protect it from incoming thiefs and knights that either try to steal the hoard or try to kill the dragon or both. I thought it would be a fun little game to play and probably very easy to prototype also, since it just needs a small amount of programming. I think the most difficult programming aspect could be, how the dragon head is supposed to turn directed towards the mouse.

Time for a very very crappy concept art :


Starflower…or however I’m gonna call this idea.

Last night I got an idea of what kind of game I could make out of the unity platformer tutorial, that I’m working on. The idea is very simple. You play a seed, that needs to get to a place to grow into a plant/flower, it is moving very slow on it’s own, but with the help of wind and water it can progress forward, towards it’s goal and overcome obstacles. These same elements will also be dangerous, when the weather is stormy or rainy. Your lifespan or the amount of time you can travel is dependent on how many of those little fluffy balls you have left on your seed (those balls are making it possible for the seed to move)

when hit by big raindrops you can loose some balls, when hit against a wall by too strong wind, you also loose a ball. I’m not sure yet if there should be any way of regaining those balls, on the other hand, it’s quite many lifes and it probably depends alot on the balance of the game how it feels, when playing :). But I already like the idea of using same game mechanics that make you progress faster in the game, equally dangerous and that the graphics could be very stylistic and beautiful. I probably should do some proper concepts for that, to capture the images in my head 🙂
Also it would be cool, if the game could work without any User Interface at all. It’s probably a challenge to do, programming wise, but aesthetically it would add so much immersion! Like everything friendly could be roundish and soft, while everything dangerous is hard and has sharp edges.

Damn. I have so many ideas in my head, how should I ever realize all of them?XD

However, I managed to draw a concept of this game idea and I think I like it 🙂 Would be probably also a good playground to try out special effects for games, since so far I haven’t done anything like that. And to try out how I can work with colors, since I usually work relatively dark, but with this game concept it would make sense to try bright and friendly colors 😀


mindrumbling and learning basics of making games

So I had quite some busy time, full with a newborn crying through the whole night, which really drove me nuts XD And on the other hand I had to follow an urge to do one of the unity tutorials on youtube and try to actually understand how C# works and a bit on how to use the interface of unity in a practical example.
Here the link to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbWK8bCAU2w
I just got to the second tutorial and I’m really mindblown, by how many things we see as “given” and are expecting every game to just have, how much one needs to do to even achieve a collision detection(I admit using raytracing is probably not the simplest method). My tiny cube is now just capable of falling and colliding on horizontal and vertical axis and I can use A and D to move it left and right. Thats it…and it felt like huge amount of code for just this simple functionality. And I probably understood only 50% of why things are working like they do. Or thats atleast what I hope how much I understood ;D

It’s a start and I want to say, that even though I’m afraid of taking on the challenge of learning programming, it is alot of fun! I can actually get lost (in a good sense) in writing code down. It’s just copying and trying to understand it, but I’m sure I will eventually write my own lines and are capable of pushing my ideas into reality soon.
I have no idea how much harder it will be to do it for 3D enviroment yet, but until then, maybe I will bring some 2D games to live 🙂 My head is full of ideas and maybe it’s a good approach, when I go and do some really small, easy to overview games on my own. I had done some games within my studies already, but I was always only doing a part of the game, doing alot of different roles for different semesters, but making my own game fully alone is probably a completely different experience. And who knows what exactly I will find out about myself when doing this 🙂

Ups and Downs

There are days, when I feel, like the whole world is open for me. Days where I’m not doubting myself or my skills. Days, when I feel confident about my dreams, my future and being myself, but then there are other days, like today, when I feel like I just want to crawl into a corner, hiding from imagined expectations, hiding from the world, hiding whatever I do, because I’m afraid that I am not good enough.

This usually happens, when I go deeper into subjects and I notice how much specialized knowledge I’m missing. It feels a bit like a curse. On one side I really enjoy that I have very broad interests and talents, but at the same time I just do not know which ones I should approach to get better at.

Which is probably also one of the reasons why I’m getting sidetracked so often.

I don’t want to hide anymore or succumb to my fears. I don’t want to hold back whatever I want to achieve, because I can not know if someone out there is maybe loving exactly that! Maybe was waiting for something like that to be published for a long time and I should not deny them to get that experience, just because I have sometimes bad days.

This is my attempt to jump over my shadow and expose how I feel, as someone who made the decision to press forward no matter what comes or hard it will be.

Today I was mainly watching tutorials about unity and c# programming, nothing much to say about that 🙂

Tomorrow is a different day, so let’s see what it will bring…

Sidetracked…again :) And tiny bits of dragonlands!

Since I had seen quite many videos from one artist who was making low-poly models and only colored the models by applying different materials instead of using textures, I got curious if it’s maybe possible to somehow render those colors into a UV texture. Which would make texturing in photoshop alot easier and blocking out colors really fast. I could’nt quite find exactly that, but I could find a tool within blender that allows to paint on objects directly, which seems to do a similar job and can even be expanded to draw the whole texture without even touching photoshop once.

What I also like about this video is that he is not only showing the blender tool, but he is explaining a little bit of color theory and explains why he chooses to paint the way he does. It may be “obvious” for some people, but I always struggled to know how to use analogous colors efficiently. I just didn’t know where to use them.

I don’t know why I’m always sidetracking so much, but I also wondered about how to make tileable textures more efficiently, because last time i tried myself on creating textured House models, I noticed, that I would have liked to draw the textures per hand, but the offset functions of photoshop where just screwing with my lineart. Due to this tutorial earlier, I stumbled upon tileable texture creation in Blender, which seems to also show how the texture behaves when tiled over a larger area (which is really important when you have to paint big unobstructed flat areas in games, since tiling or repeating patterns are becoming visible. Usually, when that happens, all the work done on painting that texture feels like wasted.

Maybe I can use this together with photoshop to create better textures 😀
(for blender)

(example how it can be used)

(how to make tileable handpainted textures in photoshop)

I tried to make some concepts for how I imagine the world of my game to be. Ended up only making some thumbnails, so here they are:


In general I imagine the world to be in a rather warm climate, consisting of large forests, wide plains and huge rough mountains. The vegetation below mountains is lush due to water coming down from alot of springs nearby mountains, but the further up one goes, the more dry they actually become. Most mountains are containing reddish stone, like sandstone. It’s good to store water, but when dry and exposed to weather it becomes very brittle, so it’s not unusual to see mountains with very sharp peaks, but also mountains that are rounded up from alot of rain. So the higher a mountain the less round it looks like. The highly water containing grounds is also making it difficult for trees to grow nearby mountains, only the trees with really deep and strong roots can sustain the constant danger of avalanches. So in this landscape, forests are unlikely to be directly at the bottom of mountains, but more likely filling the space between large open areas and mountains. Most likely they are also often found around non moving water sources, like lakes, which should be plenty. I hope my skills are becoming good enough to actually show what exactly Iam imagining. Currently it feels a bit too vague. Will have to do more research about how real life landscapes are created.

I defeated blender! and my messy working place :)

It felt, like I’m really struggling with learning Blender. A few years ago I already tried to learn it and gave up on that cryptic interface and way too many buttons and functions, that were just difficult for me to “translate” into an understandable language XD
But I really don’t like to give up and Blender has changed quite alot over the past years and looks alot more user friendly now. Also I’m not a complete newbie anymore when it comes to 3D modelling, so I know what kind of tools I want to have and which ones are replacable. Besides that I have far more interest in learning Blender now, since I can not use my 3dsmax student version for commercial purposes :/ and its so damn expensive. Not to mention that every time I stumbled upon Blender, everyone seemed convinced that it is the best developed 3d program out there. So Blender it is.

And then I went crazy hehe.
I tried to bash information into my head by watching tutorial videos. I tried to just read documentation. I tried just opening Blender and see if i can find everything I need, myself. I thought that maybe it’s not “that” different from other programs I used. Well, I was wrong. It is having the same functions, but it is in no way the same “structure” as those programs I used before.
And that little cursor thats moving around on rightclick is soooo annoying, when I just think about opening a context menu.

I thought also about just forcing my habits on blender, but I noticed very fast that alot of things are named differently or are simply tedious to use now etc.
So I started a different approach. I made a list of the tools/things I would like to have to feel comfortable for 3D modelling. I wrote them down, roughly in the order of priority, which ones I think i need to have and those which I think can get a compromise. Then I started looking up for the actual equivalents of things, how to move the view, how to use manipulators etc. And it turned out, that it made me understand how Blender works, just by seeing how things are “grouped” together, where Blender uses toggles instead of plain buttons for every little function and how blender relies more heavily on switching viewports and using shortcuts for manipulating models, instead of using manipulators.
I actually started loving it, the more I was finding out how Blender is supposed to work (for me atleast).
And it all suddenly made sense 😀

Now I’m happy to have this very practical list of shortcuts, so if you come from 3dsmax or maya and want to learn blender, take a look at these notes, maybe they can help you also.

Oh and I found a video which shows something very important in my opinion. I should always keep that in mind when I start to get impatient again when i just want to see results and try to rush my work:
Concept Art! Whatever I want to make for my game, no matter how small or how much I think that I already “know” how something looks like, it is always a good idea to double check, if I remember right, to look up references and to draw a concept of what I think that i want to have as a 3D model. Simply because modelling, UV mapping, rigging etc. Is alot of work and I really would not want to redo something, just because I slacked on the very first step. I will thank myself for doing the first step properly! Also, then I don’t need to worry about how to design something, while modelling and can concentrate on having a proper edge flow/good looking model.

And just to emphasize this, here is a video link describing the same thing and showing the whole working process from concept art to a finished asset:

To finish this post for today, here is an image of my freshly tidied up working area aka my nest 🙂