I don’t like stress

Yeah I really don’t. It makes me grumpy and adding to that “too few sleep” I’m having struggles to keep myself motivated to work on stuff and if I’m choosing the wrong tasks to work on, I might end up even more frustrated, because it’s not working the way I want right away…..not to mention slightly feeling judged for not always working on the core of the game ;_;
The last week was very mixed. Monday and Tuesday I spent time on working through bills (meh) and getting a table at “Vaasa Game Days” :O  (I’m at spot I6 btw. 🙂 )
which is 22nd – 23rd November this year and I think it’s likely a good deadline for getting an almost finished game to show ….but….I actually wanted to release an EA version end of september/beginning of october and now I’m not so certain anymore that it will work out, because I still need to get my new ID to be able to make a bank account for my company to then be able to register my game on steam….since one needs to wait 30 days after registration before I can upload a game *sighs* I didn’t think it would be a problem, because I had ordered the new ID end of june/beginning july I think, but I did not get the message that i could go and get it….so months passed and at some point I find out they didn’t send me a message….not sure if i get my number wrong afterall but MEH….so now it’s stressful to think about going there, because it already took so long and I don’t like such things happening…>.<
Tiiiiimeeeee give me more time dang it!
I released an updated version of my demo yesterday, but i didn’t really want to, considering I had just implemented some new camera controls and they were not in a satisfactory state :/ but what’s done is done…I had to do changes afteral, cause the camera controls were interfering with character physics, making it slide weirdly and jitter when not pressing any keys :/
I will figure it out eventually but it’s quite frustrating that sometimes progress can be so slow -.-

Also I noticed that with tall grass and animals, there is a problem….visibility…so now I’m trying to figure out a few things on how to solve that problem, cause I really don’t want to give up beautiful high grass, because I think it’s so so important for a natural landscape that was never touched by humans and I’m thinking about a mixture of using shaders to show cubs as “shadows” in the grass, while grass is wiggling a little bit and later on grass piece particles flying up when cubs are running through it 🙂
Additionally, making sure that grass has lots of spots with shorter height, where cubs are visible and spots for large rocks and tree stumps, to be able to get a vantage point, like cats do in real life 🙂

Also I played around with post processing effects and changed the game to linear space, because I think in longterm it might be wise to use that, graphically. But I have to say that some exposure in the snow as example is too extreme atm.

https://farelle.itch.io/critters-cute-cubs-in-a-cruel-world

v1_2b.png

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If you ever want to be a game dev with a company…

…be prepared that you won’t be able to work on your game all the time.
There are days when you have to nurture and take care of your companies needs, those are things like sending receipts to your accountant, talk and socialize with people to make new contacts and to become more visible, to support those that follow you, to get new followers (I try to tell one person a day about my game and even if it doesn’t always happen, I keep it always in the back of my mind, that one person a day is managable for me and that it doesn’t matter if I gain a fan or follower through it, all that matters is, that I talk about it, because you never know whom you might tell about it who then starts spreading it like wildfire or at the very least you can work your way through “becoming known” by plain persistence, it matters a lot).
Then there are things like marketing, paying bills, making content that you can post on social media, learning and organizing your workflow, making plans for events, maybe even buying a new tool. There are lots of things that will come up when having a company, things that are important for the company to exist and sustain and when working alone, it’s you who has to wear all those shoes.
I do and sometimes it’s frustrating to me, because I want to work on my game, but there are situations when it’s not reasonable to work on it.
I know this blog entry is probably not the most interesting, but I think it has to be said, since we usually only get that image from everywhere, that game devs, especially indie’s are those people who work from a basement, shut off from light and life and all they do is coding and deving away at their game.
While there are probably cases where that’s somewhat true, we all need to eat and sleep, drink and *coughs* shit XD and occasionally leave our house to get groceries or fulfill any other kind of duties that are part of our lifes.

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 🙂 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 🙂 it’s more like a place I can go, test my skills, improve my skills, test out ideas and have fun 😀 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 🙂
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 😉
https://farelle.itch.io/critters-cute-cubs-in-a-cruel-world

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 😀 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*

Time for some Demo update :)

It seems I’m on schedule to release a demo of the current game state this week (likely on sunday), while it’s not really pretty, it got some of the functionalities I wanted in it 🙂 from biome adaption, to mutations, to spinning tornados of death, that will throw your cute innocent cubs into the air and kill them ^_^
But since I’m so so close to it all the time, I will really need some feedback on how the game feels right now.
There are some elements, that I know need work (like cubs still not able to climb over tiny mounds XD) and the controls feel more like floating, rather than walking right now :D, but I figured it would be better to test some of the things now, when it’s still early and changes are easier (because of less code wobblyness) .
Also I’m gonna try and introduce an update schedule now, cause I think I might be able to handle it from now on. I hope XD
So every friday now, starting now 😀 (15 minutes before midnight to saturday XD)

tornado.png

Demo_nice.png

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…