A weeks busy business :D

Monday: got my ID, drove bus first time in 3 years in new country, got bus card, felt good

Tuesday: worked on camera controls and character movement, made new game icon, replaced splashscreen with unfinished promo picture, added logo as splashscreen

Wednesday: bank account made,ย register officially as creator on steam

Thursday: separated movement controls from camera controls

Friday: steamworks application went through and I was an emotional wreck for some time due to overwhelming feelings of “OMG I’m officially registered with my company on steam now! OMG ahhhhhhhh!”

Hah okay, so actually that list above was just meant as a reminder for myself what I would write about at the end of the week, but tbh I found it so entertaining to read it summarized like that, that I decided to just keep it ๐Ÿ™‚ Also to give an idea how I’m wanting/had planned to write blog posts, to be able to know what to write about, since I might sometimes forget what exactly happened and this is a good way of reminding myself ๐Ÿ˜€
As you can see, it was a quite eventful week for me and a lot of things, that are not directly “game development”, but had to be done as a business and to be able to release games on steam O.o *tries not to hyperventilate*.
Also for anyone interested: I will try to aim for releasing an Early Access version of my game around mid October, but I don’t have an exact date yet, since there is so much to do and I’m already feeling slightly overwhelmed (and now that I have seen what Steam needs from me for the store page and other “little” things that I took for granted on steam games (lol) I was made aware that I might have to work a lot…. ;_;

It’s okay….I can do it….I want to do that, it was my wish to get where I am now and I will accept that I have to do those things, if I want to see this company and my dreams going anywhere XD just breathe…..slowly and steadily and make it work! ๐Ÿ˜€

Sorry for not really having any visuals this time ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope I have something for next week. I will concentrate more on finishing my games banner and wrapping up the controls for now and likely will work on animations and such, probably should also add at least some sort of sounds. Anything graphical would be great to add atm I think, to be able to create some footage/screenshots for the steam storepage. Which also means I want to work on some feedback systems aswell since they are inevitably connected to some visual elements. As example I already have particle effects for overheating and poisoned, but I never implemented the mechanics for it, which shouldn’t be that hard, since it’s practically just a variation to the hunger and temperature system ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh right I forgot, there is this ๐Ÿ˜€

Demo update and recap of last week

I had set up a deadline for myself to release the demo, no matter what, to gain some experience in how I handle my own deadlines and also how it would feel to know that there might be issues with it. To be able to go through the whole process to “release” the game. Especially one that I have had spend more time on than a weekend (ludum dare games).
And as expected, it was feeling a bit different. On one side it was more relaxed, because I knew that I am the one in control of when it would be published on itch.io unlike the ludum dare events, where it was always very anxious process in the last hour for submitting and because there was no way to push the deadline even if I had good reasons (like rl interfering or not feeling well etc.)
On the other hand, it was feeling weird to release a game I had spend more time on, but it actually was more buggy/laggy etc. than the ludum dare version, which makes sense, because it has more content, but it DOES make me think, that keeping a game from having any game breaking bugs is maybe more work than I would have thought.
Even now that I have updated last version (btw. with patch notes and announcement to get a feeling for that as well) to fix some major bugs and issues, it introduced new bugs due to changes I did that were not bug related XD
A bit frustrating, but also a bit amusing I admit.
Practically in the newest version, cubs don’t seem to die from starvation for some reason or at least not past first generation. Also the tornado is not pulling anything up….might have changed it’s pulling power or messed up a statement …whatever it was, it’s annoying when such things happen XD and I only noticed it when I presented my demo at a local IGDA event XD best timing for something to not work hehe.

Oh well, but the good thing is, that I’m getting more experience with things now ๐Ÿ™‚ also interacting with players in regards to feedback on how they like it (or don’t like it) and to get bug reports and dealing with those bug reports. While I got a glimpse into that from my ludum dare participations, it was far less extensive and to be fair, it also mattered less, since ludum dare games are not made for others necessarily ๐Ÿ™‚ it’s more like a place I can go, test my skills, improve my skills, test out ideas and have fun ๐Ÿ˜€ and make something small and without any commitment into having a fully polished and finished product.
It’s different with Critters now though, this is a longer term project and I have the goal to finish it up for release on steam towards end of the year or beginning of next year, ideally I would like to try early access before that, but I know of the possible risks for that, especially depending on how far my game is at the point of EA.
Currently I don’t think my game should be put up on steam for it’s current state, but I’m hoping that end of next month, I might have a version that is more suitable for it ๐Ÿ™‚
But that’s honestly, very optimistic thinking, because there is really a lot to do.

btw. here is the link to newest version of my demo ๐Ÿ˜‰

my plan is to use itch.io, maybe also gamejolt, to get some first feedback for it and then, when I feel it’s ready I go to steam. When everything goes well and I can say that the game has a sort of “finished” state I’m going to include GOG and other portals as well.
Honestly I’m a bit afraid of publishing on steam, depending on how much traction I would get, I’m afraid of negative and especially unfair critique, but I hope I can handle it. So far negative criticism, was at least not making me want to stop game development. It just made me wonder, what it is they see and if there is any way for me to help them see my game in the right light, but that I might not be able to change everyone’s perspective on it and just have to move on.

btw. those were some very efficient and productive 2 weeks ๐Ÿ˜€ I actually overworked myself somewhat to get the demo out, but I’m happy with it *pushes doubts and self critique in a bottle to be opened later*

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
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 ๐Ÿ˜€
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 ๐Ÿ˜€
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 ๐Ÿ˜€
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 ๐Ÿ™‚
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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜€ despite me and my daughter being sick ^^ I’m so happy about that ๐Ÿ˜€

here some screenshots and gifs I made from it XD:



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 ๐Ÿ˜€ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ still with missing mouths and currently they are only having random colors for all their colorable body parts ๐Ÿ™‚ so they are kind of monochrome, but that will change ^^ As well as the randomness in general.
Ideally it’s gonna be like this:
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 ๐Ÿ˜€ which is close to finish ๐Ÿ˜€
I’m actually really excited about it’s progress and the ingame eyes will be made more closely to resemble those drawn ones ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope I can also make some shaders to get a proper cartoon like specular and iridiscent iris reflections ๐Ÿ˜€ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚
The raw (prototype version) of it, looks like this XD

theoretically I can add as many textures as I want, so even things like eye color ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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)

I also tried myself on a desert texture, which works surprisingly well in closeup ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
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)

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ it made them look a lot more alien though ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
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 ๐Ÿ˜€
(although I solved that later on by programming my very first cheating tools XD)

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

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 ๐Ÿ˜€
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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ I shall update again ^^ (hopefully not so long from now)

some eventful days

For about 2 weeks now, I was more or less just getting restless, because everything seemed to have stalled for a bit…I was waiting for feedback on my business plan and if I could continue to the next step (applying for a grant with it). I was not really knowing what to do and just spent alot of time trying to either forget about waiting by playing games or trying to make plans, marketing stuff, trying to figure out where I want to do marketing, what I would need for it, what my logo could be etc. Also thinking alot about what features I could add to critters, how to implement them, how fitting they are, how difficult etc. and what’s within my scope or outside of the scope of doing it in 3-4 months….last part is not really done yet…
because I noticed my trello board is currently a mess XD since I just tried writing down everything that came to mind, but not really organizing it well…sooo I started reorganizing it, throwing out the ludum dare stuff from it and making some new Lists to keep track of what is only a conceptual idea and what is already set in stone of what I need to do.
it’s still somewhat messy, but I managed to work through a bulk of it….and last night I even fixed the game functionality to close the game without pressing Alt+F4 XD (apparently what had happened was, that the condition for starting the game with any key press was interfering with pausing the game to end it lol)

Also I was on another igda meeting yesterday…and it baffled and confused me and…made me just again realize how much problems I have with starting conversations with people I don’t know, even if I know that theoretically I should have topics to talk about that are likely shared by everyone there (meeting for game developers, likely can talk about games XD)
But then again…I’m feeling like having a clump in my throat, even thinking about wanting to say something and always feel like I will probably say something incredible stupid or non engaging or anything like that >.< It doesn’t help either, that I barely understand a word in finnish and if others decide to have conversations in finnish I can’t go and look for any topic I might be able to jump into….
On the other hand, when I’m getting engaged in a conversation, I usually have no problems talking ๐Ÿ˜ฎ and the nervousness is also going away very fast then….then I might just sometimes think I’m getting too loud and excited when talking about my own projects…sometimes even when talking about myself…or too focused on myself…probably because it’s a topic I know most how to talk about? I guess….
Next thing that happened which left me confused and trying to process it the rest of the evening was feedback I got….I showed my “critters” game to others and they seemed to genuinely enjoy it….and my impression got also confirmed quite directly….and additionally I was told it would be a honor to have me give a talk there about my background/story……
I’m not at all having the tools to know how to deal with that XD so all I did was reacting, embarrassed/shyly ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
And after ruminating about it for the last night…it seems I really have trouble to let go of my own self hatred….it was so common for me to have things to bash myself for….to think I have no competence etc. that it is just weird if even my own mind is incapable of finding huge flaws and actually confirms the positive that’s being said to me or that I perceive….If people like my game(s)….and I see them enjoy them…and people might like me or are interested in me…I hope I can accept it one day, but I definitely feel like things are changing already for a while now…

I really want to make this work….

“Make games to publish, not to finish”

Couldn’t agree more and I think especially for people with perfectionistic tendencies (like me *coughs*) this is something very important to understand.
Creative projects, that we want to release to the world as something, are a conscious decision to allow oneself to let something be.
To have a not perfect game…perfect drawing…perfect 3D Model etc.
And doing so, will teach about how few it matters, if something is perfect or not, because what really matters is, that someone get’s to see and enjoy it and I can promise, someone! someone will, atleast one person, which is you.
When releasing a game or declaring it as being done as in “I declare this state as being final, even though I don’t think it’s done”
It is relieving, freeing almost, when there is no need anymore to finish it, but it still allows you to continue working on it if you WANT.
Not anymore out of stress to have to complete it.
And additionally, years later, but maybe also months or just weeks, you can look back at it and be proud of it. No matter how many flaws it had.
That’s how it was for me, when I made my very first ludum dare game. I declared it as done and now I can enjoy it as that.
People tend to say “something is so ugly only a mother could love it” it’s not much different with games, aslong as you go through the birthing process, as a creator of a game, I’m sure you will be able to love the final product, with all it’s flaws, because besides it’s “unfinished” state, it is also a sort of acknowledgement, of your own skills, acceptance of what you are, instead of trying to hunt down an elusive goal of perfection.
This crude little game that you made? it’s YOUR baby, you made it, with who you are, no lies, no deception.