HacknPlan and some crittercalypse XD

I’m glad that finally my “forced” vacation is over, but after a week of my daughter going to daycare, we both catched a cold and I was really not happy about it, because I already struggled a lot last week with getting myself to tackle the more “scary” things that need to be done to make progress in the actual game, rather than the advertising part or other way easier things (like making a shader for fog surrounding the bottom of the islands O.o)
ok I admit, it wasn’t necessarily easier, but it allowed me to believe I would make progress while doing something that has not much importance attached to it….so in one way I would feel less like screwing up something important, but if I would screw it up, it wouldn’t really matter. But that’s also exactly the problem *sighs* Since it really doesn’t contribute to any gameplay and is more eyecandy than anything else….
And it made me anxious and doubt myself and made me feel and think that I might not be able to finish Critters afterall, if I keep doing this.
Soooo after sitting down with some friends to talk about it, I came to the conclusion that i need to do what i felt like avoiding all this time: set a date and a plan on when i want to have a playable demo done with an at least crude version of all the new mechanics that i wanted after the Ludum Dare version of the game. Something that i can compile and give to people to playtest it, something tangible, that makes me actually feel like i can do this! What I set out for.
And coincidentially and luckily I had stumbled on a game dev video (I watch a lot of those) where one dev was using HacknPlan, a service, last time I heard about, was advertises as beeing like trello for game devs, but oh boy, I don’t understand why they would be underselling their product by comparing it to trello 🙂

I used Trello for a long time now and what always bugged me, is that it seemed to lack any form of categorizing that would allow you to practically make folders and make everything look less cluttered, while there were lists and color-tags and such, I found it always ending up in a mess, organisatory and overwhelming to look at 😮
So when I heard of hacknplan to be like trello, I thought it would not be worth looking into, because I already had settled with Trello and have a lot of content in there.
Until a few days ago, I actually looked into it and found out, that it had exactly the kind of subcategories and planning tools I was so desperately missing in trello 😀
Not only that, but because it’s optimized for game devs, the lists and tasks provided are already fitting mostly to my Project(s), so I barely need to do any setup or changes to what’s there and can just start adding tasks 😀
Also another nice function is, that I can put in time estimates and later on can actually see if my estimate was correct or not and that way, if I do this for a longer time, I might actually be able to estimate things more accurately 😀
Oh also, since I figured i needed a due date for a demo etc. with that nice “Milestone” setup, I made exactly the playable demo a milestone and wrote down everything that I think is needed to understand and be able to play the game like it’s meant to, with it’s bare bones 🙂
heck it even shows if the estimates i made for each task is actually time wise fitting with my due date XD This is taking soooo much of planning off my shoulders 🙂

So after I set up everything last night for the coming 2 weeks (yeah it’s quite tight deadline I made) I actually got everything done I had planned for today 😀 despite me and my daughter being sick ^^ I’m so happy about that 😀

here some screenshots and gifs I made from it XD:

crittercalypse_quantized_short1.gif

crittercalypse_bunch.png

crittercalypse_wave.png
practically, what I implemented today is, that I can spawn in new critters on pressing L and kill them all by pressing K XD
and I found out, that apparently my game didn’t break when I spawned in more than one litter 😀 which is great ^^ it’s just getting a bit fps heavy after adding too many and when all the debug prints are taking over the console log XD

Also, those are the new models 🙂 still with missing mouths and currently they are only having random colors for all their colorable body parts 🙂 so they are kind of monochrome, but that will change ^^ As well as the randomness in general.
Ideally it’s gonna be like this:
3Critterscustomcolors.png
and more ideally their colors would be dependent on each other, to avoid unpleasant or color combinations that would make patterns invisible.

Also, I have a little sneak peek on the banner I’m working on 😀 which is close to finish 😀
critterfamily13.png
I’m actually really excited about it’s progress and the ingame eyes will be made more closely to resemble those drawn ones 🙂 I hope I can also make some shaders to get a proper cartoon like specular and iridiscent iris reflections 😀 haha
I love how their eyes look like gems XD

Multi Layered Diffuse Shader and meadows :)

I finally managed to get myself out of that “being afraid of something new” at least for a bit and managed to learn a bit about some of the assets I had bought to make my development easier/faster etc. and also some more stuff about rigging my critters.

So current status is, that I learned how to use Terrain Composer 2 well enough that implementing new trees, grass or in general landscape assets, won’t be that big of a hassle anymore. Practically now it’s just about making more assets that I can use to create the Biomes from 🙂 Which also means, that the next step for my assets will be, to figure out how much I want to be interactive like Berry Bushes and such and if I’m gonna completely discard unitys terrain trees and instead just use gameobjects all over the world with own LODs (my own trees i made, didn’t work well with unitys terrain trees option, not to mention that terrain trees don’t allow for scripts or usage of unitys LOD system, sadly)
Here some screenshot of the grasslands meadows with only 4! different grass types 🙂
flowerfields18072017.png

then another thing that bothered me greatly, was that even though I had gotten “amplify shader editor” for myself, because writing shader code seemed like too much to learn, the shader editor isn’t necessarily that much easier when having very specific needs and not understanding enough about how shaders exactly work XD
So I had attempted it a few times, but never got any results that were even remotely what I wanted…but yesterday I managed to sit down and go through one task at a time, from just making a shader with any texture, then adding transparency through alpha, then adding 2 textures and combine their colors and alphas and then add a field for changing RGB values of each texture.
It took me a while to figure out that “add” and “multiply” just won’t work at all for the effect I wanted, which is to be able to layer multiple textures on top of each other while using alpha channel to as example have a base body color, with a rough fur pattern on top, with a detailed fur pattern on top of that and a face sheet on top of everything, so I can change textures from code and don’t need to make every possible texture combination as own texture XD. Also being able to change the color dynamically is very important for that idea I have about changing colors slightly with each new litter of cubs 🙂
The raw (prototype version) of it, looks like this XD
Layershader.png

theoretically I can add as many textures as I want, so even things like eye color 🙂

Then I also continued working on the new Critters model and figured out how to do blendshapes in Blender and how to make IK rigs for easier animating. Ideally I would like to use blendshapes to change between body types, from cub to full grown, big eyes to smaller eyes, changes in body type through adaptations etc. As well as making some facial expressions, which I want to combine with some texture based expressions (I likely will keep their mouths 2D because it allows for more freedom in terms of comic like expressions 🙂 I hope it will go well with the new eyes and I will have to think of some solutions for comic like effect of eyes as well, but I just felt like having eyes with actual volume would just look a lot better.
I also would like to use root motion in unity (movement speed and direction controlled by animation movements) and IK in unity (got an asset for that) so that Critters stop feeling like balloons movement wise and actually start moving like they are interacting with the ground. Currently they are practically bouncy capsule colliders 🙂

Here some picture of the current rig, it’s still quite heavily WIP while I try to figure out how to use limits and such 😮
CritterRig.png

still lot’s to do…

I wished I could always have meaningful updates!

Like the title says….I’m struggling hard, with myself mostly. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, considering I had done something similar before, but I completely underestimated 1. how much real life can get into your way (as in, things from outside you have no control over) and 2. how freaking hard it is, to every day, sit down at home and work!
It’s almost as if I forgot all the things I had learned the past years, treating it as if this was something completely different from all these ludum dares and trying to learn as much as I could and honestly it isn’t! But I made it to seem different, I started worrying so much again…about everything…I felt like paralyzed, thinking about all those things I don’t know how to do, about all the things that could possibly go wrong…I’m pretty sure that this “relapse” into old self also happened, because…well…I’m not really trained in using my relatively new skills and because I had to reflect a lot in the past months, also partly due to making the Business Plan, on what my skills and prospects are etc.
And I really really struggle to think good of myself.
All this relapsing, is also the reason why I didn’t really update my blog for a (in my opinion too long) while. I was just so frustrated and embarrassed, that I didn’t get where I wanted to be with the time I was supposed to have to work fulltime on my game, that I really felt uncomfortable even thinking about writing a blogpost….I know it’s silly, because in the first place, this blog is for me, to show myself how much and what I have done, the place where I can post anything and it has proven again and again that I’m not failing, but that my perspective is scewed.
I managed to get a bit of a foothold again, from all this tumbling around in my anxieties, so that’s why there IS a blogpost now….because this is what it’s for, to help me through good and bad times (hah! that sounds as if I’m married with my blog harhar).
We have a complicated relationship ;D

Oh well…so let’s get to the stuff I did get done, despite seemingly wasting a lot of time worrying the shit out of myself…>.<

Since my last blogpost I tested out various things, from grass placement on unity terrain (with own texture) to trying to figure out how to make everything move in wind, but I sadly need to put that on backlog for now, because there were problems with the shaders and my custom tree models :/
I also tried to figure out how to make clouds fitting to the style of my game (stylized and simple) I’m thinking I want to make a shader for that too and probably stick to 3D clouds, which I can then rearrange, resize and recolor for weather effects 🙂 luckily I only mostly see them from the bottom, but the 3D has the advantage of throwing shadows on the ground and they are easy to make in Blender.
(the fern is not from me, was just a sample from AFS asset)
firstgrassandAFSfern.png

I also tried myself on a desert texture, which works surprisingly well in closeup 🙂
sandtexturetest.png

from the top it looks like smoothed diamond shapes XD

then I was also working on updating the Critter models and experimented with making the eye shape in 3D, while it would mean less cartoony expressions, I do think it will add a lot in terms of “lifelyness” and well…plasticity. I always felt like their faces were a bit too flat ^^ and wasn’t really liking the face plane I had 😮
Also I needed to rig them for animation purposes and prepare them to have switchable body parts (don’t have screen for all of them yet, will post some later when I got more body parts and textures ready)
newCritterMama3_facebase.png

Also, I wanted to try out the 3D eyes, because I liked the very much 3D eyes look I went for on my business cards 🙂 it made them look a lot more alien though 😮
And has a little bit of a fiendish look to it I think, especially with that red eyeframe XD
newCritterMama3_somerig.png(ignore the hair floating XD)
I for some reason also got an urge to fix the berry bush spawn, so I can test the critters wherever without them starving and gameover 😀
(although I solved that later on by programming my very first cheating tools XD)
newtreestest31052017.png

and another thing I was working on, is the promo art, which I will likely use on all my main social media sites, until I have something better. And just today I noticed that all this time I have drawn my own critters wrong lol

Critterfamilypromo_comparison.png
Good thing that comes out of it though is, I will definitely add the “mistake” as an option, to get as a mutation (the left picture) And it made me more aware of it, that when I implement the pattern system for Critters that I need to pay attention to how many layers I will need and in which order, since with the original pattern I didn’t just go darker with each iterations of detail on them, which seemed to be the intuitive thing when I was drawing them (how did I even come up with that pattern at the ludum dare?XD)
oh and…I decided “ears” will be a thing 😀
While I was researching a bit more about cat like animals for the proportions of critters, I actually found the “natural” form of critters in our world, they are called “marbled cat” and they have their ears pretty low on their heads, which *coughs* I can use as an excuse why I forgot them in the first place XD But now, the starting Critters version will have no ears, but they can mutate some 🙂 and it’s not just cat ears. In general, when I thought of critters, I actually always had the idea in my mind that they are a very adaptive species, that they can have scales, long fur, short fur, all the colors of the rainbow and body parts from all kinds of animals, but that their main body shape pretty much stays the same 🙂 and cats are just the “closest” appearance wise. Not to mention, that they eat fruits, nuts and mushrooms XD
They are like cat-squirrel-bears or something.

Well enough for now 🙂 I shall update again ^^ (hopefully not so long from now)

A bit green and a bit tree

Was spending most of my day yesterday on finishing up the 3D model of my landscape as far as possible in Blender and made a new “grassy” texture for my terrain (yes it looks very bright right now, but that’s gonna be fixed when it’s not just one plain texture and having more vegetation and grass etc.) on that note, today, I spend most of my time on trying to figure out how I can and want to make trees for Critters.
I wanted them to look sort of like from animes/animation background like from ghibli studios, fluffy and volumenous aswell as really showing that it’s handdrawn 🙂 but also, it needed to be simple to make, practically I used a tutorial I found for “airborne” trees :
click here
I created a basic shape from pushing around an ico sphere in blender, then I created crossed planes with a transparent leaf texture on it and distributed them along the ico sphere, by adding a particle system and use those planes as basis. (this way I can also change amount of vertices for LODs easily by simply removing particles from a mesh I store on a different layer) and I don’t need to put them in place by hand.
So I simply convert them to meshes, “join” them and then use Blend4web to transfer the normals from the icosphere on the planes, to have a smooth shading all over.
I also got a tileable leaf texture on the icosphere 🙂

landscapeinunity.png

 

lindentree.png

I’m quite happy with the result and it works with unitys windzones 😀

very tired but got some terraining done :)

I’m glad I chose to switch to Blender to work on my terrain, there are more sculpting tools and no brush size restriction unlike in unity and it’s more direct than l3dt could ever be (honestly, the sculpting tool in l3dt is quite horrible, it’s too slow on larger terrains, so that any change I did was taking forever to show up and was freezing the program at times, not to mention quite clumsy interface to handle brushsizes and such)

I hope I can convert most of it into a heightmap after I’m done, some of it, I probably have to resculpt as meshes (overhangs and such) but I’m trying my best to not create any overhangs if possible.
I like how it’s turning out so far…the jungle area (where the steps are) feels a bit small atm and in general the scale is currently a bit missleading, those terrain features are actually quite big, but I might add more details in unity, since for that unity seems great 🙂 and then I can test those terrain features with my critters aswell for making areas passable and such 🙂

well, here is a screenshot of current progress:

terrain_blenderpass1.png

A little bit insight

I know I haven’t written much recently. I’m kind of exhausted….my toddler went into the “terrible 3 phase” or “toddler puberty”, at the same time we had to clear up a missunderstanding with daycare, but now she is finally for her first day at the daycare (which I’m glad about), but we had some rough weeks….also because my husband and daughter had catched some sort of flu/cold….not sure what exactly…and while I thought I had dodged it, I got it last weekend…-.- although much less harsh, which again…I’m glad about, but I still feel extremely shitty and sort of upset, that it happened now when I finally should have the time to work…..and I am working despite feeling shitty…and having to deal with dreadful paperwork 😮 things I had pushed too far, because I simply was afraid of dealing with them….I’m really really having a bad time with calling institutions and people…I much prefer e-mail contact etc.
It might have to do with some facts that I’m having little bit of a spoken language hearing problem. Sometimes it’s like my brain just doesn’t know how to interpret words…and it doesn’t matter if it’s my mothertongue or not and it get’s worse if the environment is noisy…it’s like, language is being turned into noise…..*sighs
Well…..and most of the german bureaucracy is happening over phone or in person….go figure…. ;_; or at least the stuff I have to deal with has no e-mail contacts….

And then, since a few days, whenever I manage to find some time to do something for my game Critters, it’s mostly trying to figure out on how to sculpt the landscape and how big to make it. It’s a little more difficult than I thought, while I got the critters sizes to be about right (35cm high and about 50cm in length with tail) I wanted originally the terrain to be fairly small so i wouldn’t have to work so much for it to make every place interesting….but I slowly realized that the image I have in my head on how the terrain is supposed to look and feel like and the meant size is not matching up…I actually liked the terrain to be 4096×4096 in size, it looks pleasing with the far away mountain range, very close to how I imagined it to be, even though it’s really rough right now:

firstlandscapetests_19052017_s.png

I think the translation into km would be around 4x4km?
which considering real world scale, that is actually quite large, especially when on foot or tiny paws in this case 🙂 and without roads or anything.
Also, I want to make it compressed, as I showed on that recent map concept I will have around 6 biomes, with some transition zones (tundra and steppe), so I hope despite the relatively small map, that it will feel big and interesting. And yes, that texture up there is definitely a placeholder 🙂 as is the whole landscape actually XD
….
I sometimes wished “doubt” wouldn’t creep up on me at random times and bash everything >.< “6 biomes! this is wayyyy too large scale” “how do you think you wanna do this in 3 months silly?” “the game is probably too boring to be interesting for anyone! I mean come on, it’s just travelling a lot, making your cubs survive and then start all over again haha!” “changing colors and genetic mutations and such? sounds nice in theory, but will it really be enough to keep players interested long enough to try out everything?”
hnnggg…I’m…just gonna go and continue working with that monster on my shoulder…..

finished my business card and temp website :D

Yay! I got some things done 😀 So I just ordered my stack of business cards and made a temporary landing page for my website 🙂

and then clicky clicky: EmberSparkz own website!

Although, sad news, in a way, is that my daughter won’t be in daycare until 22nd of may :/ which means, I won’t get any more time until then to do anything….at least no quiet and focused time …
I really didn’t expect that to be a problem, but it happened….and at least I know now when it will be and that it will likely not be full time at first, so I have to somehow manage my time around it until she gets used to the daycare.
*sighs*