📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #64
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  1. #1
    Matt's Avatar

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    📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #64

     





    ISSUE #64                              THE VALE, QUILL                              25 AUGUST, 2019                              ONE BRASS





    The Short Report
     

     
    The game's Prologue polish and onboarding improvements that we've been tackling in recent weeks has been coming along nicely and is very nearly ready to be pushed out onto our preview branch. Shortly after that we'll be taking a proper dive into the "Growing Up & Going Out" update, which focuses on relationships and becoming an adult (which will primarily just be a visual player sprite change for now).

    Also coming ahead this week are some new threads and info that'll be getting posted 'round the community. This includes the roadmap update, which previously we thought we'd get up this weekend but we decided to go back through the "Entire Journey" section of the roadmap and start categorizing the completion level of each item. So we're spending a few extra days on that, but we figure it'll be pretty helpful to have that there in the long run.

    The other threads going up this week will be all about our different update branches, what each is used for, and how to access them. Branches are something we've been using for a while, but we don't really provide much info about them in the community and so most folks probably don't know about them. So for any of you interested in dabbling in the non-main game updates (like this week's upcoming preview branch update), keep an eye out on our forums and Discord later this week.

    Of course we've been working on more than just that this week, so to hear more specific game progress from the team read on below!



    Lore to the Fore
     



     
    I thought this week I would talk about a design, rather than waffle on about what I did or didn't do, what I ate or didn't eat, the weather, or the team's toilet habits.

    I had been doing some house decorating and reorganisation this past week and found my fave reference book: Folklore Myths and Legends of Britain. It is a thick tome packed with amazing true customs and superstitions and is incredibly inspiring. One thing we haven't really got into on the game yet are those customs and superstitions.

    Gary, our character artist, will be working on some of those quirky characters soon...and some are deadly! It is the other elements of superstition we want to get across though. Most of these will be through lore and old books you can read. Some will be told by NPC's around the fire or when drunk at the tavern. The main thing though, is that all superstitions in Quill are real...

    Iron will ward off bad spirits. Throwing a certain item in a certain pond at a certain time will do a special thing. There may be a way to make a long-dead family member appear for a chat. A way to summon a Fae that can do something for you if you do something for them. We can have special locations with interesting backstories. Or weird stones that have a legend attached to them.

    Quill is a place packed with such old customs and stories. We want to start slowly bringing more of that to the fore to augment the lore we have sprinkled around already. This way we can present to you a rich and interesting world that feels lived in and that was lived in. Every corner and nook should be splashed with the stains of ancient myths and every tree should have witnessed legends wrought real. So don't forget to carry your sprig of parsley, toss a bone in the pond, and wear your red shoes and cheese hat. Am talking about in real life. We just wanted to see if you would do it.



    Features & Fixation
     



     
    This week also flew by quickly! On the game development side of things, I've been working on further improvements to the noticeboard including a third type of task (item wanted, so pretty similar to the other ones but allows an extra means of directing player gathering or emptying of their inventory!). I also worked on three new features:

    The Wottyzit, which is pretty much functional in-game as a flashy pointer to first time users of interactable objects, but needs some polish in how it leaves when the player gets close to it. Dialogue on interest points for NPC's, still very rough and not ready but I've started to put the structure in place (which relies on additional editor support for setting the many context sensitive text ideas this and other features might involve). And the pet whistle, which allows summoning pets and sending them home and telling them to stay (and also gives a better sense of where the pets should be for debugging as they do still have a tendency to wander right now!).

    Apart from the interest point dialogue which is disabled, all the above is in the experimental branch now as I continue to try and update that branch regularly with the latest developments.

    To diverge into other news, I've found a resurgence again of energy in the latter half of this week. It seemed to unleash from taking what is usually unexpected action by myself in the face of a situation (e.g., by letting go or seeking understanding). The mind likes to fixate or distract whenever a situation occurs that it has strong feelings about. When it fixates, then it loops again and again without really ever going anywhere. When it distracts, it is deliberately trying to quiet the situation so it doesn't have to deal with it.

    It's not easy to deal with it, but a lot of the time we intuitively can feel deep inside what needs to be done - or a positive step that could be taken that is often quite simple, if only we can overcome that mindset of past habit. When that step doesn't happen, then not only is the situation left in place but energy is also expended to fixate or distract it (and sometimes even more energy in recognising that is what is happening but feeling trapped in it anyway).

    In a way, talking about this is part of a step for me in the hopes it might be helpful to other folks or give me some additional ideas on how to handle it. That's probably enough introspection for two weeks though, so next one I'll try getting more into detail on the game development again!



    Let There Be Light
     



     
    Yet more sound effects were made this week. Flying helper Fae, pet whistle commands, an eerie wind, and there's always more. Sometimes I get it right the first time around, other times there's a lot of feedback to incorporate, and many versions of the same sound effect are often made. When that happens it gets easy for things to get lost in the chaos. But Matt just added a feature to our Trello that allows me to list assets that are yet awaiting approval. So rather than scroll through our team chat's Discord history to find out which file is the final version that needs ok'ing, we'll now be able to quickly see what's still waiting to get approved at a single glance.

    Of course I do have to keep the list neat and updated, but that's far less of a hassle than sifting through old messages. Not to mention that the number of audio files on our server now numbers in the hundreds! On my own disk there's over 1,000 individual audio files in my personal Kynseed project folder. This includes older versions of tracks and sound effects as well as drafts that never made it past approval. So if you don't have a good indexing system, you'll regret it!

    I recently also installed new fancy lights in my studio, and just being in this room is now a cool experience. I say 'do whatever it takes to be inspired', and for me cool lighting is part of that.



    Tied Up with Loose Ends
     



     
    This week I spent a fair bit of time tying up some remaining tasks on the production side of things. This included roadmap work, branch work, Trello organisation, and some preliminary setup/testing for streaming (which I'll be doing more of soon). It'll be good to have all those tasks completed and in a good state for when I begin on more game content related work once development on the relationships update kicks off properly very soon.

    One such area of game content that I'll be working on is adding a new cutscene or two as well as going back and polishing some existing ones (like the one that happens at the end of the Prologue). This'll all be done using our Cutscene Editor dev tool, which Neal has made. Something else I'll be doing during this process is working closely with Tice on the music and audio needs of the cutscenes.

    I've been trying to get back into the habit of helping out with audio direction as I find the time, as it's something I've generally helped with throughout the whole project but recently production stuff seems to be taking the lion's share of my focus. In fact, thinking back to the super early days of the game, I was working very closely with Tice on establishing the 'sound' of the game's soundtrack. So I'm rather looking forward to dipping a toe back in audio again for the upcoming cutscenes and, of course, I'll be sure to share how it's all going here and around the rest of the community.



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  2. #2
    LynnSnow's Avatar

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    This one's for Neal again. *she says, pushing the rest of the team out of the way with her palms on their faces*

    What you described is very much a mechanism for anxiety and it's something I have been seeking answers for basically my whole life. I'm generally a "do-er" and feel best when my anxiety has a productive direction to go in, but especially in this last year, it has gotten to the point where the only direction it was going was inward to make tighter and tighter circles in my brain, which led to worse and worse anxiety about it because I wasn't "doing". I wasn't fixing it. I wasn't gaining results.

    I tried so many things over the years. Up until recently, the only thing that gained even the tiniest traction was sheer force of will. I decided, "I'm not going to do this anymore". Of course, I still did it. And I would often find it escalating because I had told myself I wouldn't do "the thing", and here I was again, doing "the thing" and being immobilized by it.

    I also tried insisting that I be kinder to myself. Worked a bit, but in reality...well, being kind to yourself is really tough when you feel like you're failing all the time.

    I have this thing I do with trainees at work. When they hit their first roadblock, or if they get overwhelmed as they're learning, I stop everything we're doing and talk to them about what my job is. "My job is not to set you up to fail. My job is to set you up for success" is usually how those little talks go. Reassure them that I'm there, my success is dependent on the team's success, and that I'm not gonna let them drown in anything because that's unproductive.

    So what if I turned that talk around and pointed it at myself? How do I become my own trainer? I obviously need one. I'm overwhelmed and set up for failure.

    Now, this is where I'm going to admit something else: I'm having the added benefit of trying a new medication that reduces my chronic pain...that also appears to be having the side-effect of reducing the tightness of my mind-spirals. And now that I've had that little bit of pressure removed, I'm able to look at things set myself up for successes.

    I'm doing art again. I haven't drawn anything in at least a year. But it's often a struggle for me that turns into self hate and perfectionism. Solution? Never allow myself more than 15 minutes on a doodle for now. Can't get too involved, can't work it past the point of looking good. Have to do it and move on.

    I'm playing games again. Same thing applies. When I start to get worn down, I step away from it. Leave the good experiences and don't try to beat more good feeling out of them if it stops.

    I'm focusing on setting myself up for "Good Situations" and not, "Good Feelings". Chasing the feeling of being fulfilled or positive or anything else leads me to make decisions for myself that would not be safe or conducive to me mentally. Spending the time to set myself up for success, on the other hand...

    To get past that hurdle of, "ok, I know what needs to be done, now do it", I visualize where I want to be and ask myself what it takes to get there. Then I partition off bite-sized chunks of things I know how to do or feel confident I can do, and sprinkle in some of the other things that will require more mental effort. Pacing myself like this has helped. In addition, when I feel stressed or gloomy about certain tasks or progress, I do one or two things:

    1) as I'm doing things that garner good results, I snap a mental (or physical, if it's something like a display at work) picture to come back to in order to get a little burst of the feeling of satisfaction. "I can do this. I did that beautifully, so I can definitely do this."

    2) I look forward to my goal and check my progress toward it. It puts my mind back on the rails and moving with the right momentum forward.

    I'm also kinder to myself about taking breaks from even Totally Necessary Things because the reality is, even if I beat my head against the wall about those Things, I'm probably going to be more productive overall if I take a breath and step away for a minute. I look at it as a strategy for success, not a weakness or me wasting time.

    So anyway, that whole chunk up there sounds like it was totally about me, but it was intended to perhaps help with any introspection or direction of mental flow. I don't know what helps you, but if people with similar or related issues share stuff, I'm sure eventually someone will be helped!

    Charlie, I do need that excel sheet with the team's restroom habits by the end of next week, though.

    J/k please don't I'm terrified and I don't need to know any of that.

    Thanks for another week of updates, team!
    Last edited by LynnSnow; August 25th, 2019 at 09:43pm. Reason: Grammar

  3. #3
    Neal's Avatar

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    Thanks for sharing again Lynn!

    Definitely relate to what you said and gives some ideas. With the mental pictures I find it's more about me actually going back to my old stuff and look back at the things I've written or made and feel like a different person wrote as they seemed so sure or confident!

    I think for me it's part of a general sinking of my awareness where I don't notice that i'm in the patterns until i do. I think additionally I've never really properly invested myself into understanding a ruleset to follow (either completely or comprehensively) instead of just trying to make my own up and then it getting lost in a couple of weeks where it is out of my thoughts. A lot of my reading lately is touching on yoga and buddhism which I've always kept a distance from as too spiritual and restrictive but now in reading I'm finding that they are actually pretty open to interpretation and lead to deeper levels of understanding which would help me. I think the key thing to it all is trying to retain that awareness and openness to what we think of as rules in our mind about how we act and to find a time daily to assess what we tried and what we might try tomorrow that is more in line with what we feel inside in our actual core.

  4. #4
    Matt's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neal View Post
    I think for me it's part of a general sinking of my awareness where I don't notice that i'm in the patterns until i do
    To piggyback onto this thought, that's perhaps been one of the most helpful things about keeping a sort of 'dev journal' such as this. It's been rather useful in helping provide context to the journey and it's often shed light on what thought/behavior patterns we can accidentally fall into from time to time. It's a trip going back and reading some of the very early issues.
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

  5. #5
    Neal's Avatar

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    Yea I have started doing that a bit when I remember! The realisation I've been having today is about the ability to apply spaced repetition to things like this as an extra level:
    https://www.theguardian.com/educatio...re-information

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