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 🙂

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

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 😮

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)

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

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)

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)

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 😀
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)

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 😮 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 😮
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.

Scary and Excitement

Hah, sometimes I’m really not sure if it’s possible to be confident and anxious at the same time. I gave this blog link to a few people I barely know personally, because of the whole “getting into contact with people around the game industry and entrepreneurship” and since then I felt a bit uncomfortable when thinking about writing here, but I knew this would be simply something I would need to overcome, latest when the urge to continue just gets too strong again 😛
Besides that, I had to make a rather forced break from everything, cause I got a really bad case of flu for over a week, including my daughter 😮 it’s weird how since I became mom, it seems any sicknesses are actually hitting me harder, but I seem to have gotten rid mostly of the “feeling sick for weeks or months, but never really fully being sick to cure it out”….so that’s actually relieving…
On another note, I just got myself today to write an e-mail to an accountant, hopefully that will work out 🙂 And tomorrow I’m gonna jump into numbers of my business plan….which I’m not soooooo excited about, considering that giving an estimate on how much my games would make in my first 3 years is hard to do 😮 Especially when I want to decide for new game concepts on the fly and based on feedback from players, so all I can do is trying to figure out which games are on the market that come closest to my games “expected” playtime, gameplay, graphics quality etc. and then also figure out how much I would like to sell my games for. Currently my idea is pretty much around 6 euros per game for my first project, because it’s 3D and I want to add alot of replay value to it 🙂
So hopefully that’s justified as an indie game price. Besides, I won’t make any mobile games any time soon I think. Mostly because of lack of a said device, but also because I would like to be known for games that are somewhat in between RPG games and casual games, timewise and gameplay wise.
Oh and I also worked a bit on my companies logo and registered a webspace 🙂 feels good when things are starting to get real 😀

more business plan stuff!

Just wrote the last few lines that I could and I honestly have to say it’s weird how working on it was first a lot of struggle and then it just felt like work, but no struggle anymore….don’t know if at some point my anxiety to deal with it just got overwhelmed by feelings of progress and accomplishment 😛

However….there was a lot of stuff to think about and there are still some smaller things missing, but in overall I’m glad I got as far as I did and although it feels like I was repeating myself a few times (cause personal skills and business strengths are more or less the same, if company consists of only one person, as an example)
I’m still quite happy with the results 🙂
Now I just need to get some feedback from the person helping me and talk to someone from the local game developer community this week, to hopefully figure out some more things for what I need, how to continue and maybe even get some new contacts from local game dev community 😀

damn, dealing with stress XD

Sometimes I could just hate myself for feeling certain ways >.< I feel stressed, because I more or less promised that I would be able to finish my business plan until next weeks wednesday, but now I’m not sure anymore if I can manage to finish it the way I wanted to >.< which is probably most about my own expectations of what I think what finished means. So I’m distressed about it that i don’t think I can finish it the way I wanted to…anxious that i could get judged for it…kind of like in my childhood, when wherever I did something that was considered “not ideal” I was scolded for doing it wrong, without even being told what I should have done exactly beforehand (it’s actually interesting how much I got scolded for things I simply didn’t know how to do them and wasn’t aware of doing them “wrong” or that there was any kind of expectation….)
So…I’m struggling with it :/ Although I know from past years experience that doing something is more important than HOW I do it. And that most people are not even caring about the “how” anymore, because it often doesn’t even matter.
Then I’m also struggling a bit with changing from one business plan form to another, cause I could see and was told that it would be an easier to fill out plan, more suited for non industrial business aswell and in general less complicated questions etc.
Was even told I could probably just go and copy paste most of what I had done already, but turns out the questions are different…different focus. Sure there are similarities, but although I went through the form with my advisor, after opening it at home it felt like I suddenly had some sort of blockage in my head and the questions made much less sense :/
another stressor….and I’m not sure if it has again to do with some sort of expectations of myself of it “should be easy” or if I simply lack sleep.
Cause that’s the other thing…my daughter hasn’t been sleeping well for the past week, struggling alot with waking up in the middle of the night, too early in the morning (and then taking about a hour or 2 to get her back to bed, so SHE can get enough sleep…and then a few nights when she didn’t go to sleep before 2 am or midnight 😦
which also resulted in me having much less time and patience and motivation and energy to actually work on the business plan…-.-
I know there is a way through this and ultimately it will probably turn out well….My advisor is there to help me with it and I’m also gonna meet someone else next week who probably can help me to get in contact with other game developers in my area…my business plan, although I feel like starting over now, I DID spend alot of time thinking about my business already, so theoretically I am able to solve it, it will take time, it will take effort, I will get help with it and there is no real deadline for it. Not to mention I only need to do this once and after that I can change and adapt it, if needed.
Also, when I’m through all of this, I know more than I did before, might know better where to go for help and a little bit more confident by gathering experiences of how well it goes.
It’s not gonna be an endless hopeless suffering, it’s the means to start something new from the ground up and it’s probably gonna change my life, similarly to how it changed my life when I decided to move to finland.
And I want this!

Did the first step :D

to become an entrepreneur 🙂
It felt like a quite courageous jump and I have no idea what to expect exactly…only a rough idea of what I need and where to go and a good idea what my goal is, but I finally did my first baby steps on becoming an entrepreneur and I’m happy I did so.

It might not seem much to some, but writing mails to people whom can help me become an entrepreneur, doing these first contacts, they are difficult for me, with all the imagined expectations and worries that I have in my head.
I hope it’s gonna turn out well, but I know also, even if it wouldn’t I would stand up and try again. So no matter the outcome, I will continue my path. It’s just so freaking scary!…and exciting….but scary >.>……….emotions are going a little rollercoaster here XD

Wish me luck 🙂

it’s so difficult to get this right >.<

It seems like no matter how hard I try the feet always look extremly weird….although it IS understandable, because there are no digitgrade rats in real life 😛
But then again, those are not “rats” in traditional form anyway >.<

*sighs* I have to get this right, it’s the only race I want to give players besides *cough* dragon magical transform*cough*, but because I want to base several body shapes on this and make it coherent with my world it is really difficult, because there can’t be an explanation of “oh they just mixed with humans hurdurr”.
They are small and petite, child like in body stature, they are agile and can walk quite well.
Now to what is probably problematic: they can’t jump that well, climbing is okay, they can’t use toes to grasp (similar to humans) or just barely, they rely alot on tamed animals and their magic.
I just decided recently that most likely all the structural building will be magic based, which means, they compensate for their weaknesses by using the one thing theya re really good at “physical based” magic.
I’m gonna explain that at another point I think….
Point is, there is no requirement for this species to be especially strong, agile , fast or good at climbing, they just need to be generally quite adaptable, similar to humans.
They also need to be well adapted to very harsh environments, since their main living spaces are rainforests, jungles and desert. Which is why their fur is short and coarse, tinted from tan to almost black brown hues. Their eyes are large for better nightvision, their ears are large aswell to hear environment changes and dangerous predators and they tend to build preferably in a hidden or “less straight obvious that something lives here” way.
I mostly decided for digitgrades because I think it’s how they evolved from their ancestors, that they were used to being prey they were faster at getting away from possible danger with this leg and feet configuration. Now it helps to have a good sight over the area, since they are so small. And yes, they also keep a long tail, which helps them balancing with those kind of legs.

I really hope I get this figured out soon, so I can start the 3D model 😮 that I wanted to do for weeks already…..but I don’t even want to start the model before I have it nailed down to it’s very basic shapes…>.>

edit: I fixed a bug in the LD game 😀 now the win condition works correctly (but haven’t uploaded this version yet).