📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #2
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Thread: 📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #2

  1. #1
    Matt's Avatar

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    📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #2

     






    ISSUE #2                         THE VALE, QUILL                         13 OCT 2017                         ONE BRASS






    Brandy Snaps and Kynseed Maps
     



     
    (In a Mary Poppins singing voice:)

    Rocks, trees and waterfalls; Festival Greens,
    White cliffs and bushes and ponds inbetween,
    Villages, pathways, and bunting with strings,
    These are a few of my favourite things
                                            ...that I have been looking at this week.

    (Singing ends, world sighs with relief.)

    This week I have also been mostly looking at documentation for funerals, prologue dialogue, proverbs, recipes, and superstitions. Feedback and team meetings have also been ongoing, as well as eating brandy snap.



    Stitching the World Together
     



     
    Work on the editable UI has been completed for now, as well as fixing some bugs in how it looked so that it's easier to adjust the scale of the UI. Made some adjustments allowing in-region teleporting (similar to how inbetween region teleporting works but simpler as there's no new region to load!). Two of the summer events have been improved to be more understandable and playable. As the regions start to come together I've copied the jobs from the test region into the real region making it all feel more gamelike. It's still early days, but this is quite a big step as 'til now working in a test region always felt a bit awkward where as now we can see how it feels travelling around the game world and playing them in place! Various new art has also been imported into the game for use including a bridge, a limestone cliff, the blacksmith building, and some others I couldn't possibly spoil!

    Additionally, some work was done on NPC setup but there's still much left to do. I'm expecting this area will be an ongoing large chunk of work to convey the NPC's characteristics and interactions with the world so that it feels alive. One fun bit of work with the sim was to put in a debug mode that allows placing a sim (such as an NPC) anywhere on the map and poking them to travel to a destination (like a very simple RTS!). This is going to be helpful for testing and resolving navigation issues. Finally, for this week in terms of code, I've put into use some of the UI animated assets to produce the star rating for items - the system for this will be slowly expanded as required.



    8 Bars in Half the Time
     



     
    This week, we tackled a soundtrack piece concerning a character you may have seen us mention recently: Old Mother Hubbard.

    If that name sounds familiar (other than the devs mentioning it here and there), that's because you may be familiar with the classic nursery rhyme by the same name. It is this rhyme that forms the basis of the track I wrote for the area where she lives. We experimented with the concept quite a bit, looking up multiple versions of the rhyme and even playing them at double or half-speed just for experimentation's sake. This way we could get a sense of how, in broad strokes, the rhyme could be adapted to fit the Kynseed soundtrack.

    I felt that the rhyme by itself, which is just 8 bars on repeat (depending on how you score it), didn't have enough to it to keep the listener interested (especially if you include the huge amount of verses that the rhyme can have, all of which have the exact same melody repeated over and over). To prevent boring people to death, I instead incorporated the rhyme into a broader track that contains other melodic material with the rhyme only occasionally making an appearance. At the time of writing, the track still needs more work (in my honest opinion), but I also tend to feel that way about all tracks no matter how much time is sunk into them. Hopefully Mrs Hubbard will be pleased with my iteration of her rhyme. She'll have to listen to it a LOT as it keeps playing right where she lives, the poor woman...


     
    Old Mother Hubbard and her poor dog. Bone not pictured.



    Spinning Plates
     



     
    The last five days were one of those weeks where a bunch of tasks I'd been working on all entered into their finals stages at the same time. This made for a productive yet somewhat scattered week as I tended to a number of spinning plates all at once. The item of most people's interest is the Piggy Backer that I've now finished all basic core parts of - it's functional and just requires a final round of implementing specific widgets for different tiers. With the core structure done, we'll now be able to nail down a specific date for when to open it up.

    In other news, I've gotten all the new project task tracking systems put together. While this sounds like somewhat dry project management stuff, we've actually found organizing the project's tasks and deadlines to be incredibly important in keeping us focused. Not to mention, it helps us maintain some perspective for overall development trajectory.

    There's a lot of approaches and methodologies out there for how best to approach task management in game development. In danger of boring you with technicalities, one particularly common method that game/software companies tend to use is a methodology called Scrum, sometimes broadly referred to as Agile. Usually, these methods work just fine for the typical game studio. The problem, however, is that Scrum is more geared towards traditional development companies in which there's a physical office, everyone shows up for work at the same times, there's team leaders and project managers, there's regular in-person meetings, departments have multiple members, and so on.

    However, when it comes to indie game development, Scrum just seems to fall apart entirely. Take PixelCount, for example. We have team members from numerous countries, there's a difference of 8 hours between some of our time zones, the team size itself is incredibly small, pretty much all of us work out of our homes, the prospect of having in-person meetings is laughably unthinkable, and there's exactly one person per department - only one programmer, only one level designer, and so on. The fact is, there really isn't any project management methodology out there that addresses all the unique challenges that the typical indie developer faces. I think most indies are simply left to self manage their projects as best they can and to just hope they can keep their heads above water.

    As such, I've been taking it upon myself to try to create an answer to this problem. Essentially, my approach is an extremely minimalist version of Scrum with all the corporate-y fluff taken out. In theory, minimalist Scrum should even work well on a one person team, something that's getting increasingly common in indie dev. For now though, I'll spare you all the specifics, otherwise this'll turn into quite the long write-up indeed! But as boring as it might seem, this is the sort of stuff that I find oddly interesting.



    News from The Vale
     



     
    We here at The PixelCount Post would like to congratulate the Kettle family on the birth of their son, Copper.

    Also, Hazel Nutt has lost one of her cats. If you see Squiggle anywhere, please let Hazel know as her other cats (Sprinkle, Tiggles, Puspuss, Fluffpoop, Lollipop, Tiny, Mittens, Tiny Mittens, Mr Fuffle, Licky, and Banefang Dragoneye) are meowing a lot.

    Finally, Mr Baker the travelling pie maker, has some new flavours that he says go purrfectly with gravy. "Remember: Baker's Tom Pies. Oven knows how he makes them so tasty."
    Allergy Warning: May contain traces of cat.
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

  2. #2
    God's Avatar

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    Also, Hazel Nutt has lost one of her cats.
    Please let this be a side quest!

    Allergy Warning: May contain traces of cat.
    Wait.. Actually, nevermind.

    Also, I loved reading about the working, behind-the-scenes side of this project. This whole project management thing really doesn't seem like it would be too easy so I hope you guys can get that going, good luck with it!
    All in all it was just as much of an interesting read as the last one and I'll be looking forward to the next one!

  3. #3
    Forgetaboutme's Avatar

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    Ah,this is so cool. + 1rep for all of guys!, +2 for Charlie , because he stopped singing.
    JK,ofc,lol. Nah, I really like the way you present your progress. Awesome as you still find the time to post nonsense over at discord's though,heh.

    Patiently waiting for pub access

    Keep on rocking!
    Don't panic!

  4. #4
    SirJeff's Avatar

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    I just love "short game newspapers"

  5. #5
    Matt's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by God View Post
    Also, I loved reading about the working, behind-the-scenes side of this project. This whole project management thing really doesn't seem like it would be too easy so I hope you guys can get that going, good luck with it!
    Cheers. It's something I find oddly fascinating. I'm a very organized individual typically and I really enjoy tackling interesting little organization challenges like this. (As a kid I once developed my own categorization system for my large book collection and printed out little 'library' cards to put in each book...so, yeah.)

    It is very curious how, even after all these years and after the huge prevalence of indie games, there still isn't a commonly accepted way of managing and organizing those sorts of projects. I was honestly shocked to find that out once I started looking into it. There's tons of excellent advice and methodologies for proper game dev companies but smaller (typically remote) indie teams are essentially left to just figure it out as they go.



    Quote Originally Posted by Forgetaboutme View Post
    Keep on rocking!




    Quote Originally Posted by SirJeff View Post
    I just love "short game newspapers"
    Yeah, they're really fun. I've been replaying Red Dead recently and I've found myself really enjoying the somewhat ridiculous newspapers in that game.
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

  6. #6
    Matt's Avatar

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    Issue #3 is hot off the presses! Well, warm off the presses to be more accurate. Enjoy!
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

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