📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #63
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    Matt's Avatar

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    📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #63

     





    ISSUE #63                              THE VALE, QUILL                              18 AUGUST, 2019                              ONE BRASS





    The Short Report
     

     
    The team's boost of energy from a week ago has certainly carried on into this last week as well with all manner of things being worked on. Charlie's begun churning through the mega-list of 500 items and redistributing them across the world. On the code side of things, Neal's been working on a new system that'll help players get pointed in the right direction towards a task or goal. Additional work has begun on a delivery box feature to help give NPC's items for when they can't be found at their home.

    Meanwhile, Matthijs has been enjoying a rather good week of working on some new sound effects as well as getting a bit of new equipment to begin playing with. Over in the land of production and community, Matt has put the final touches on the new batch of roadmap updates to go over with the team this Monday and, from there, to get posted and shared across the entire community likely by the end of that week. Additionally, he'll be sharing more information on how to access experimental update branches, which we'll be using more frequently going forward. Read on below for all that and more in today's issue of The PixelCount Post!



    Dreaming of Monsters
     



     
    Well, after last week's epic post by Neal, I felt like I should match him for effort...but thankfully that feeling was fleeting, so I will keep it brief as always.

    This week I have got back into the levels and been fixing up some Vale annoyances, plus starting to redistribute collectible items. Our Master Items list has all the 500 plus items listed with columns for if we have icons, in-game versions, stats, descriptions, and locations.

    There are some Vale changes afoot as well. Out go Poppies, Nightberries, Whistleroot, and Bowing Nancy. They will enjoy their new homes to the north. The flowers of the Vale are Bloodfew, Primrose, Grave Lilac, and Cuckoo Dew - with Basil and Thyme as the local herbs. I bet you can guess where the poppies are native to...

    Also been just carrying on with design docs and mockups in Visio. Having Trello organise us has been great and creates a much better sense of immediate professionalism. Let's see if we can keep it up! (we will)

    I have also been getting more and more obsessed with board games and card games. I need Kynseed to be a huge success so I can afford a proper Crokinole table. The steamed Beech and Cherry is just so gorgeous.

    This weekend I have a bunch of dialogue to do while dreaming of Kynseed monsters being made into hand painted miniatures. Thanks for setting me off on that dark road Gary (our monster artist)! The team really seems pumped at the moment, so let's hope this momentum carries on, as it is nice to see Neal cheery for a change! Zing!



    Rooting Out Routes Out
     



     
    This week flew by pretty quickly. After last week's talks unlocking a lot of stored up thoughts, this week has been one of action and enthusiasm. It's funny how easy it is to actually bottleneck one's actions by not giving the space to have fun. It wasn't like I specifically set out before to not have fun, but in keeping myself locked into this mindset of only doing the most important thing and being critical of everything, not allowing breaks and not really communicating except to talk progress, it really blocked up my ability to actually enjoy things.

    With the rush of communication reduced a tad from having covered most of the unspoken ground (and the lack of further water encroaching into my room), I've been getting on with various code and other tasks. Since last time that's included two new additions to make the playing experience that little bit smoother.

    The first is a way of setting one in-game task as the active one. Where a specific level is known for the task, then the world map will highlight which level to go to and in-game you can use F1 to have a pointer appear briefly on screen that leads the way to a level closer to your destination. While doing this I found out that I'd kind of missed out previously in properly setting up a route grabber between levels. So instead, if it wasn't a direct connection, then it would choose the first exit which is usually wrong!

    For this it did take a bit of time to ponder the right way (and a little procrastination) but eventually I ended up taking some code of an old unreleased game I'd been working on around ten years ago and converting that to this new setup (using Dijkstra's algorithm as the basis). We're deliberately intending for this to only direct you to the general level and not the specific location in question so there's still some challenge and exploration required, so will see how this works out...

    The second is a delivery box that means even if you can't locate an NPC out and about, you can still stick a requested item in the delivery box by their home for them to find (and each whole household has their own). The reward in friendship rating will be a bit less for doing so given the impersonal touch. It's a feature that Charlie's been pushing for a while and like the noticeboards of last week have similarly been held off a bit too long. It actually only took around a day to implement (thanks in part to recent efforts I've made in refactoring the gifting system for reuse), which seems like pretty good value! Hopefully players will like it too.

    Apart from those two new additions, we're trying out the more flexible approach to development with Wednesday being a day where we intend to not work on the essentials if possible. In my case, I managed to get a bunch of accounting done (which always rolls up quickly), started organising and reducing my to-do list of 1,500 lines (that doesn't represent all of it by any means, just it's my latest scratchpad of notes), and get back underway with the setup of development notes in-game so we can share feedback at the place it happened and bypass the need for a task system on the hundreds of polish items to be found.

    It's been a good week and hopefully just continuing to keep working on the things we're passionate about and keeping communication open will let that continue as we expand out this ambitious game of ours!



    Positively Energetic
     



     
    Things truly have been exciting around here since last week's surge of energy around the team, and I'm enjoying every minute of it! Positivity really is contagious, and I'm infected! This week has been a great one for me personally. New studio equipment trickling in, a composer I look up to complimenting a track of mine, and No Man's Sky in VR making me feel like a child again. Suffice it to say, this week has been treating me well!

    Our renewed efforts on Trello to get more organized are also paying off. It's not only much clearer to see my task list now that I've added it all to Trello, but the other team members also get a clearer picture of what I'm up to because of it. And I've been enjoying quicker communication than ever before. I can't tick anything off of my to-do list that Charlie hasn't OK'ed and before he does, assets can wait in limbo. But with the increased organization, that's all being smoothed out. The extra energy and positivity seems to have permeated into everything.

    Before our next update I still have some sound effects to finish, but for that update there is no music left to do. After I complete these sound effects I can return to the swampy music of regions yet to come in the game. I rather like how doing a sound effect is a relatively short project, and it gets very diverse. From a jingle signifying that your friendship with an NPC has improved, to the spinning of a 'wheel of fortune-esque' Wheel of Copulation (you know that ticking sound it makes as it's being spun?). It's almost like a palate cleanser, in a way. Something to put your mind on that's fresh, when you've been composing in the same style for a while.



    An Experiment in Experiments
     



     
    The team's recent energy boost has certainly spilled over into this last week and has had everyone getting a fair bit done as a result. The trick, as always, will be to keep that energy going so it can spill forward into yet another week ahead. Keep it up enough and suddenly that 'energy boost' will become an instilled habit!

    On my part, the last week has involved a variety of work on a spectrum of different things. The main thing I wanted to get done was a proposed draft of the new roadmap, which will include the next batch of updates you can expect from us as well as a few other tweaks. This 'next batch' is something we've talked about for a few weeks now and so it'll be good to finally get it properly finished and posted everywhere. I've got the final version that I'll run by the team on Monday and assuming all look's well it should probably be going up by end of the same week.

    Something else I'll be doing this upcoming week is posting around info on how to access our more experimental branches and how we're going to approach these branches in the future. We've had experimental branches available for some time now, but we've never really talked much about how to access them or exactly what they are and how they're different from the main branch. As a result, folks that might've been interested in getting access to our more frequent (but less stable) updates may've not really known anything about them this whole time. So expect some more info on all that to get posted around the community in various spots, likely in tandem for when the new roadmap updates get posted.

    In other news, and as Neal briefly mentions above, we started experimenting last week with dedicating a bit of time on Wednesday as a sort of 'flexible' time to allow us to work on things that we may otherwise not always be able to make time for. It's a tricky balance to strike, because every week we always have a list of high priority items that we all need to get done. Yet over time, it's easy for each of us to accrue a list of smaller items that would be 'nice to have' type things or even 'just for fun' type things. The challenge is finding time to do these things, because the higher priority items often take all our attention and all our time.

    However, if you never spend even a tiny bit of time doing 'nice to have' tasks or 'just for fun' tasks, then that can lead to a bit of a dry development that feels like a trudge. Perhaps on a more subliminal level, it can even lead to a game or community feeling a bit soulless. Oftentimes it's the little things that can have the biggest impact.

    One of those community 'for fun' things that I worked on this last week was setting up a small feature on our Discord where players can drop into a channel and listen to a stream of the game's soundtrack on shuffle (which is already about 2.5 hours long!). There was no real practical reason for me to add this, but I figured it'd be a fun and relaxing thing for members to join in on and listen to. The soundtrack stream isn't something I'll be leaving on 24/7 though. Rather I'll probably turn it on once every month or so (with new tracks added as we go), just as a fun thing. Though interestingly, this did spur talks on the team about how we don't have much of the soundtrack uploaded on our YouTube channel. So I spent an hour or so making some simple videos for a handful of our favourite tracks and I'll be uploading those to our channel every Monday for the next couple of months or so. In the end, we'll have a nice little YouTube playlist that folks can check out as a sort of 'soundtrack sampler' of the game.

    All in all, it's been an incredibly packed and busy week, one that struck a nice balance between making progress on big priority work as well as progress on smaller tasks that can otherwise get neglected over time. Be sure to check back next week for more info on the next batch of roadmap updates, on how to access the experimental branches, and on how progress is going with the upcoming relationship update. See you all again then!



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  2. #2
    LynnSnow's Avatar

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    I'm stupid excited for the tracks to be on YouTube. I can't wait to listen to them as I'm doing frustrating tasks at work or fun things at home!

    Charlie's mention of hand painted miniatures has my brain gears cranking
    Last edited by LynnSnow; August 18th, 2019 at 10:31am. Reason: my new fang-dangled phone emoji confused the forums. I have submitted to the forum-native emoji list.

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