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Thread: 📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #42

  1. #1
    Matt's Avatar
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    June 24th, 2016

    📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #42


    ISSUE #42                         THE VALE, QUILL                         21 FEBRUARY 2019                         ONE BRASS

    Nose to the Grindstone

    Hello there! It seems a new issue of The PixelCount Post is finally here to once again grace your virtual doorstep. Admittedly, your poor doorstep has been made to suffer a longer wait than is usual for us, but it shan't have to wait any longer. Today we bring some news on all manner of things, including: progress on the next update, details on what it'll include, some work-in-progress images, and even tales of our programmer's recent adventures.

    Tʜᴇ Pʀᴏᴅɪɢᴀʟ Pʀᴏɢʀᴀᴍᴍᴇʀ

    If you've occasionally popped in to our Discord server or forums, you've probably seen us frequently mentioning that Neal, our trusty programmer, has been away for a few weeks. For those of you just getting to know our team, Neal is the madman who has been singlehandedly programming the entire game - engine and all. Right after Lionhead closed (RIP), Neal got straight to work coding what would eventually become the Kynseed prototype. That was in 2016. He's been diligently coding Kynseed every single week since - commonly putting in 6 day work weeks, the nutter.

    Altogether, Neal's been working nonstop for about 32 months straight! Thankfully the plan was that once we got The First Steps Update out, he'd finally take a few well deserved weeks off to recoup and give his noggin' a break from the 60,000+ lines of code he's written so far.

    One of the challenges of being a small team with a single programmer is that without said programmer there's not much code progress to be made. The only thing Charlie and myself are qualified to program is a microwave.

    Though as of last week, Neal is now back amongst our ranks once again, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Neal chats a bit about his time off further down in this issue, but first: progress reports on development!

    Fᴏʀɢɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ Nᴇxᴛ Uᴘᴅᴀᴛᴇ

    Our last major update was all about getting a few basic game systems in place to help pave the way for more complex systems to come. This included such things as a first pass for player hair customisation, the start of the NPC chat system, a goods store selling table, Fae wanderers, multiple saves, and a decent handful of other things.

    With that inaugural update now under our belts, it's time we begin adding in one of the gameplay systems we've been particularly looking forward to: owning and running the blacksmith shop!

    Running your own business is one of the major activities that players will be able to undertake in Kynseed. Long-term, the types of businesses that you can own will range from the blacksmith to the apothecary to others. Each business will be unique and unlike the others. If running the blacksmith, you'll keep busy by using your forge and other tools to fulfill customer's orders. If running the apothecary, you'll concoct elaborate potions using ingredients you grew yourself.

    Because of how uniquely different each business is to run, we have to begin by implementing each of their systems one business at a time. The blacksmith seemed to us a perfect place to start, especially seeing as the current game version has a handful of blacksmith components already in place (forging items, mining for ore, collecting moulds, and so on).

    The sign out front will let you open or close your shop. This is how customers will know that you're open for business. (The final version of the sign asset will have some light animation.)

    Wʜᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ Uᴘᴅᴀᴛᴇ Wɪʟʟ Iɴᴄʟᴜᴅᴇ

    Below is a general overview of the things that we're currently working towards including in the update. Blacksmith ownership is the highlight of course, but we'll be adding in some other bits as well. (As always, bear in mind that smaller items may change or be moved to a future update once we start seeing how all the code's puzzle pieces are fitting together.)

    Blacksmith Ownership
    • Open and close shop
    • Fulfill customer orders
    • Create, sell, and recycle blacksmith goods
    • Basic first pass of the business ledger
    • Among other things

    New Fairweather Items
    • Trough (to assist with pig-related chores)
    • Rootways (a magical way to get around)
    • Home Sweet Home (keeps your farm close)

    As well as:
    • Updated art for growables
    • NPC chat/favours improvements based on feedback
    • Snow in winter
    • New books and item collectibles
    • And probably a lot of behind the scenes optimisations

    Now that the entire team is back at full capacity and firing on all cylinders, we'll be hard at work getting this next update pushed out. Our aim is to have it ready in about three weeks. For those of you who like living on the edge, you'll be able to download early versions of the update via our Steam 'latestupdate branch'. We'll also be keeping you more regularly updated on how development is coming along in the weeks ahead and I'm sure you can expect us to share some work-in-progress screenshots around the community as well.

    Nᴇᴡ Dᴇᴠ Pᴜʙ Tʜʀᴇᴀᴅs!

    Speaking of screenshots, I've just posted a bunch of brand new Dev Pub threads! Of particular note is a thread where I've posted dozens of new character designs for the adult versions of the twins! Deciding on which of these new designs to go with is an important decision and we'd love to get you Dev Pub members to hop into that thread and tell us what you think. Hit this link to visit the ol' pub and check it all out.

    (The Dev Pub is a forum available to anyone who backed the Kickstarter at the Land Shaper tier or higher. If you backed at one of those tiers but don't yet have Dev Pub access, just head to the Backer Verification Thread and we'll get you set up.)

    However, we haven't forgotten about the rest of you lovely people. Whenever a thread has run its course in the Dev Pub, we then move it over to the public forums. So in the spirit of all this blacksmith talk, I've moved over two blacksmith related Dev Pub threads to the public forums.

    The first is the Blacksmith Art thread, which takes a detailed look at all the art that went into designing our blacksmith interior. It covers the whole process, starting with Charlie's design doc blacksmith diagram, then the concept art, and then ends with showing how the in-game art slowly came together over multiple iterations.

    The other one is the Blacksmith and Apothecary Code thread, which is written by Neal and takes a deep dive into showing some of the early code work that went into setting up the blacksmith and apothecary shops.

    Expect more of those types of threads to come in the future and if you have any special requests for a particular area of development you'd like us to highlight don't hesitate to let us know. And, of course, if you ever just wanna chat us up about game dev stuff in general you can always find us hanging out in our cozy Discord server.

    As always, thanks for being the awesome people that you are and for joining us on this adventure. See you around the community!

    The Code Less Traveled

    It's been a while, perhaps too long, since the last Post. Since then, we've gone through our first update and commenced work on our second. Although time was limited with the first one I was happy with the systems that went into it. The chat and task systems have good potential to expand on and will be slowly iterated on over time to give more guided player activities. For our second update we've started work on the blacksmith shop ownership system as well as tentative steps on NPC relationships. The hope is this will again be a good starting point to iterate on as well as a further outgrowing of Kynseed's core gameplay loop. The system is already playable internally allowing us to grow it over the coming weeks for the next update.

    There is a slight wrinkle in the timing of this next update because, at the time of writing this, I'm about to be away for several weeks. I do feel a certain anxiety/pressure in taking time away when the game is still in development, but it's something where this seemed like a good opportunity before getting back into the full flow of the next year-plus. My hope is to come back refreshed and with renewed energy which I've found myself lacking a bit lately. I'll be taking my laptop with me so it'll be interesting to see how long I last before getting back into coding. In a way it might be that being in a new location will give me itchy fingers to be getting on with the game. Either way, I'm really excited for the break and to return to work, as this year is going to be all about heading towards full release.

    *cue an elaborate time warp transition*

    Well I'm back now! The holiday was good with a lot of sun/food and change of scenery. One week I did get into some daily coding on some of the backlog of areas that felt worth exploring for a day or two outside the usual update plans. This went quite well and I think showed the power of keeping things fresh where possible. This week I've taken it easy getting back into the routine and sleep patterns while getting some business matters wrapped up. The art, design, and music that's been done while I was away leaves me eager to get back into it. As always, there's a lot of work ahead which needs to be paced out for this marathon effort.

    Fuel for the Game Engine

    Where did that time go? Our coding machine was silent for an entire month as we sent it off to sunny Thailand to have its engine restored. In that time, the rest of us took full advantage and collapsed into our beanbags for some gaming, movie watching and lots of resting. Things still ticked along here and there. New books were written, new levels blocked out, new artwork appearing, NPC's fleshed out, design docs caught up on, new music drifting over from the Dutch fields, and so on.

    Now though, the break is over. The cobwebs are being swept away and the engine has been started anew. Planning meetings, roadmaps, and game updates are all on our plates currently.

    Meanwhile, the music continues to appear and we have even seen Gnome & Fairy shop art as well as Spriggans assets made, a grotesquely intimidating Jabberwocks, and we even decided on the appearances of the adult player characters - which look absolutely fantastic it must be said.

    So, onwards and upwards as the train continues its climb up development mountain. Glad to still have you all aboard. Onboard meals will be served shortly.

    Some folks can get a bit feisty if they have to wait too long at the counter.

    Legions of Regions

    Wow, has it been that long already? Much has happened. Last I wrote anything for The PixelCount Post I was talking about one of the Fae realms. Meanwhile there has been work done on a Fae mini-game, which meant I had to write a game show tune. Never done that before. Though doing things I've never done before is kind of the new 'normal' these days. Then Christmas happened and the lovely community gifted me a new batch of guitar samples. (And goodness, it's awesome. Thank you!)

    After completing the tracks for the mini-game, I was tasked with creating music for a new region in the game that's connected to the musical culture I established in Poppyhill and the surrounding regions. In this case, I needed to lean closer to French influences. Love and romance play an important role in this area and French accordion music seemed like a natural fit for it. Though if I went full French on the track, it'd be too out of place compared to the rest of the game, so I had to combine it with the already established Kynseed sound. I hope I've succeeded!

    Every now and then we'll do a developer voice chat on our Discord server that members are welcome to eavesdrop on. In one of those recent chats, Matt Allen and I did collaborative feedback passes over many of the game's new tracks. The French influenced track mentioned above was one such track that was previewed and discussed, though by now it's more developed than what was heard in that public meeting. Initial feedback from the folks who listened in on this impromptu meeting was positive, so I hope I'm headed in the right direction with it.

    In that same meeting we made a list of things to improve about many other aspects of the game's audio, so I imagine I'll never have a moment where I don't have things to keep me busy. This year is going to be most interesting as we move closer to fully realizing our vision for this game. It's gonna be an exciting year I'll not soon forget.

    Recently, I also received a list of regions that make up a brand new haven. 6 regions in total, 1 of which I had already made a track for a while back. Just like I did with Poppyhill, I'm establishing a sound profile for this haven so that its music sounds cohesive across all its regions. Well, all its regions minus 1. That 1 region is...different. In it, there's 3 stones called 'the dancers' - an ancient structure of unknown significance. The creative direction I got for its music was to make it creepy, similar to this peculiar clip that Charlie gave me as reference.

    Tricky thing is is, the reference uses voices, and we agreed early on not to use vocals in the soundtrack. So I had to achieve a similar creepiness but with a very different sound profile. Luckily, my very first stab at it got approved right away.

    I've also recently been working on a track for a new farmland area. In fact, during a recent community voice chat, Matt and I spontaneously started discussing the new track and brainstorming over what needed changing. I love being able to give the community that kind of insight into the process. It's what I had always wanted from other game developers, but it's rare to listen to actual meetings where decisions are being made and debated on the spot. It's quite vulnerable to do it 'live' like that, but I hope some of you find it interesting to hear the kind of thinking that's behind whether or not 'a fiddle should sound more distant'.

    There's a few more tracks still left to do for this new haven. When they're all done, I'll take themes from all the tracks and incorporate them into the track I made for the haven's main town. That should give it a similar cohesion that I attempted for Poppyhill. I may switch to sound effects for a bit after this current track though, just to give my mind some variety. There's so much left to do!

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    P R I N T E DᅠA TᅠP I X E L C O U N TᅠC A S T L E,ᅠT H EᅠV A L E

    Copyright 2019 by PixelCount Studios (Limited).ᅠᅠAll rights reserved.ᅠᅠEdited and assembled by Matt Allen.


  2. #2
    BriarRose's Avatar

    Join Date
    June 28th, 2017
    Glad you guys took some time to recharge! I'm very much looking forward to being a blacksmith!
    "I have a cloooooooooooooothing stooooooooooore in my noooooooooooose."- Jurak, Dark Cloud 2

  3. #3
    Carbunkel's Avatar

    Join Date
    June 29th, 2017
    Forging the Next Update. I see what you did there. 🙂

  4. #4
    Matt's Avatar
    Join Date
    June 24th, 2016
    Quote Originally Posted by Carbunkel View Post
    Forging the Next Update. I see what you did there. 
    Haha, yup. I'm addicted to sneaking in bad puns.

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