📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #66
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    📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #66

     





    ISSUE #66                              THE VALE, QUILL                              9 SEPTEMBER, 2019                              ONE BRASS





    The Short Report
     

     
    Well hello again! Things have gone topsy turvy over in Steam land, as they've just rolled out some preliminary changes for an upcoming site and platform update. As a consequence, formatting (and even posting!) announcements is a bit wonky at the moment. So for now this issue of The Post will be going up here on our forums and then we'll get it posted over on Steam once a few of those issues get sorted out.

    Because of all that, we'll be keeping this issue short and sweet, like a newborn pug. The most significant item of note is that the latest batch of polish and fixes that we've been talking about is now up on our Preview branch! Want to take these updates for a spin but not sure how to access the Preview branch? Head to our Branch thread to read about our different branches and how to access them. Our roadmap was also recently updated and added to for anyone curious. As you'll see on it, proper work on the next relationships focused update is very nearly underway. Read on below for more detailed updates from the team and we'll see you again soon!



    In the Clouds
     



     
    Well, it is that time again. I sit at my desk looking out of my window and wistfully gaze at the clouds. That one over there looks like a hedgehog on a bicycle. Drifting past the rooftop opposite is a balloongoosespannerthing. The wistful gazing is distracting me from putting some serious thought into what to write for this week's Post.

    I could jot down a few words about design, but the energy to do so evades me. I could scribble a few funny jokes, but I can't think of any. Perhaps just keep it simple with what I did? Feels like it would be underwhelming. Who wants to hear about testing the build, giving feedback, writing new books, and editing old ones?

    Maybe I could engage the reader with some gaming reviews...I have after all played a few new games this week. Such as Gears 5 (fun but more of the same), Atomicrops (colourful but messy), Dicey Dungeons (it's not too bad), and more. I could tell the amazing tale of my first go on Fortnite since Season 3, and that I fired 1 shot, got 1 kill, and gained a Victory Royale. Nobody would believe that though (it is bizarrely true...I hid in bushes the whole game). Ah bugger it. I think I will go back to looking at the clouds. Oh! The hedgehog fell off his bike!



    Raising the Roof
     



     
    This week continued the theme of balance. In the first half of it I'd started off slowly getting a bit distracted at times with seeing what was going on in the world. Then in the second I got a fair bit more focused not on work but on doing my best at what was at hand. It's funny in that respect, that say the first few days felt frustrating in not doing what I wanted on the game but then the latter ones felt so much more alive and purposeful with much more achieved on the game. Counter-intuitively those first few days were when I really sought to control what I was doing and in doing so didn't really acknowledge the important work to be done. The latter half was much more about getting into whatever seemed important at the time and that all started with a team chat on Wednesday.

    Although we've had regular chats between myself, Charlie, and Matt, there's never been any full chats with the rest of the team. There's only been the occasional one with a couple of the others just to concentrate on one particular thing or other. So this week we just set a time, made it optional, and gave it a shot. In the end 6 of the 7 total team managed to make it! It was nice to finally have a chat and get some discussion going on what was on everyone's minds about the game and where it's going. From that meeting there were two items that came up that had been in the back of my mind but never quite urgent enough to do: 1) roofs for buildings and 2) some form of analytics. Wednesday being a 'flex day' and seeing the interest in those items, I just went straight ahead and spent a couple of hours working on each of them to see what gains could be made.

    For roofs, I found that the underlying tech was already setup with a test case but then in starting to progress them further started to discover issue after issue:

    • The roof was hiding objects underneath in the editor.
    • the objects under the roof were also hidden in editor as it draws objects different than ingame.
    • There's a separate editor for buildings that makes it all more tricky to work with as there are lots of buildings to convert.
    • The building editor isn't as developed as the main editor and doesn't share code leading to bugs and differs functionality.
    • If something for the building isn't in that building editor, then placing it becomes trickier to check it is as intended.

    All of that to show it's not something I can quickly turn around but that without checking now it could be weeks/months before these issues came to light when it would be more 'urgent'. My new plan with the buildings is to break them up into simpler components of just a single wall/floor/roof and make them editable in the main editor if possible. I think this'll solve the above issues and be more flexible for future challenges.

    For analytics, I started putting together a stats page (this is accessible in the preview branch build right now, tho not much to show in there!). The initial plan I have is to make it track where time is spent in the levels, money accumulation over time, and number of items acquired. These will be visible on the stats page which then anyone can screencap to share with us on Discord/forums as appropriate. Later on, we might look at more automated ways of getting these stats (subject to various data protection laws) but for now it's mainly about putting something in there quickly. I've always been interested in the stats side of things and feel like it should be something the player can look at themselves in more depth too, as it can be an interesting summary of what they've done or not done as the case may be!

    After the above work was done (but still with plenty to do as time permits!), I felt a resurgence of energy because of doing something new and potentially useful to someone else. So in the following days I've tried to harness that in working on suggestions from others where possible or noting it down for future reference. I think it seems to be working...though I don't pretend to have it fully cracked and have got several tasks by the side in need of attention. In some ways, perhaps the answer is that of attention; that everything needs its own time of attention and that as it is rare that anything can ever be done in one go (especially in games development) there needs to be a firmer bounds to how long each activity is given uninterrupted and a bubbling up of activities that fall into the important category.

    To abruptly conclude, as my time limit on writing this post is nearly up, the preview branch is now finally available! I've still got plenty more to do with it but it feels like a reasonably stable point has been reached. We'll see in the coming week how the balance shapes up of fixes and improvements before it can go live on the main branch.



    Cursing on the Job
     



     
    This week I had to figure out what it'd sound like if a Goddess gives you boons or curses you. There's a mechanic being made where you can assign points to a Goddess, and if you do right, you'll be rewarded with a boon or blessing. If you don't play by Her rules, she'll jinx or curse you.

    I wanted the sounds for this to have a bit of gravitas to them, especially the most powerful effects a Goddess can subject you to. These sounds comprise of quite a few different elements. Four different sounds for boons and blessings, four different sounds for jinxes and curses. I'm also contemplating the possibility to even make them all unique for each Goddess.

    There's six Goddesses in total, so that'd be quite a few different sounds. Plus, it wouldn't just be me who has to spend time on that - they'd also have to be implemented in the code, adding to Neal's workload. So that's something to consider when deciding if we're going for unique sounds per Goddess.



    Building Up Steam
     



     
    After last week's curious tangent into game development etymology and with Steam's recent platform restructuring, I'm forgoing my usual temptation to ramble and will instead keep this week's update relatively brief. As Neal mentioned above, we recently had a chance to do a coordinated team wide call with everyone which proved to be fun and helpful for us. It's not that our team doesn't already communicate or conduct calls frequently, but between time zones and individual life schedules (plus the fact that there's 7 of us to coordinate between), it's surprisingly rare to wrangle us all down to have a talk within the same window of time.

    In other news, with the new branch setup/thread out of the way, in addition to the roadmap updates being out, I'll soon be turning my attention to the relationships update - both from supporting it on the production level but also on the content creation level (such as with cutscenes). It's an update we on the team have been rather looking forward to and so it's nice to have a bunch of the Prologue polish and onboarding work out of the way first. All of which is available on the Preview branch, so for anyone giving it a try we're keen to hear what you think!



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    Last edited by Matt; September 25th, 2019 at 06:11am.

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