ISSUE #78                              THE VALE, QUILL                              8 APRIL, 2020                              ONE BRASS

The Short Report

Over the last few weeks the team has been keeping themselves burrowed indoors amidst the world's current state of things. The silver lining is that our small indie team is already quite acclimated to working from home remotely and so we've been able to carry on with development relatively unfettered. We hope you've also been keeping well and, of course, invite you to pass the time with us on our Discord and forums.

In development news, March's monthly update was successfully pushed out a couple of weeks ago and has helped pave even more stones on our path towards what has become a rather large milestone: the Relationship Update. You can read more about it by hitting the image below, but the short version is we opened up a new region called Mellowfields and also addressed a number of small fixes and general improvements. For April, we're looking to start knocking out some of the remaining relationship-related bits and bobs. Fingers crossed, we'll have some more info to share in the weeks ahead of when we can finally expect to reach that ever important milestone of the roadmap.

In the meantime, we'll keep you up to speed with our individual team member devlogs below. Stay safe out there friends and we'll see you again soon in the next issue.

A New Lease on Half-Life

This week has been a bit both disjointed and inspiring. With all that is going on it is easy to be distracted.

I have been playing the game a bit, making some notes, and catching up on design docs. There was a big spreadsheet to fill in for Smithing prices. We have 10 materials and 10 things you can make, and we need them all to be useful and have some variation. There will also be some variety added to the minigame itself...with variable speed targets and strange behaviours you would expect from crafting Fae metals!

I have also been working on NPC story stuff, monster attack thoughts, events, and adding new recipes and Fairweather items to the list. On top of that I fixed a bunch of things in Mellowfields and tweaked some bits of some of the levels there.

Thankfully the recent weeks have seen some stellar game releases to inspire the mind. Half-Life: Alyx is just phenomenal...a sense of presence and scale that is just incredible and beautifully polished. The Room VR is just beautifully made too and another in that series of tactile, wonderfully crafted, titles. There are so many games to play and draw inspiration from, even if not a similar genre. The amount of talent out there now is staggering. We just hope we can create something of value that will inspire others too.

Following up on Following Up

For the past few weeks I've been shifting between wrapping up the last update and starting on the next one. As usual there was a bit of extra time from the last update to address some fixes before work could begin in earnest, but it felt like it might have been a bit easier to wrap up this time with less knock on issues.

In terms of the next update, I've been working on a new noticeboard task for helping water other NPC's farms which is turning out quite nicely thanks to the maturing noticeboard event system in place. I've started adding more skills for the player to learn for farming and fishing (with extra requirements possible for quantity and quality of item that a master is after before they will teach a skill). Then most recently I've been setting up animal poop as fertiliser in the game. Never a dull moment working on this game!

In a slight return to talking about productivity, I've been finding a bit more focus lately between choice of music (Rez soundtrack) and keeping notes to come back to rather than let my mind wander too far while in the midst of something. I think it's helped a fair degree in being more productive and given me a better sense of areas to follow up on (of which there are a lot!). Quite often in the past I think I've usually just pushed back on these parts to follow up on, which usually has a tendency of feeling like I'm slowly grinding to a halt. Not because the followup part is that important necessarily, but it is just very tough going when all around there are these intended ideas stopping satisfaction in what is being worked on.

Fortunately with the return of the new update, I've been back to my weekly schedule which is allowing me slowly but surely to relieve these blockers and it feels very satisfying! Wishing everyone all the best!

Where There's a Will

I've finally managed to make music for Wisptrail that was approved! It took some attempts, but I got there in the end. Wisptrail is a region where will 'o' wisps reside. They lure you, who knows where...

To musically represent this, I took inspiration from the 'nyah nyah' song that children sometimes sing to taunt each other. It's also sometimes referenced in horror movies, such as The Evil Dead. The atmosphere I tried to give it was a little less of horror and a little more fairytale, albeit closer to the darker fairytales you might expect from the Brothers Grimm or Guillermo del Toro.

Originally the song started with a very low raspy bass clarinet and slowly moved towards more familiar fairytale-esque sounds with strings. But Charlie liked the ending so much more than the beginning that he wanted the beginning to be more like the end. So now, like an ouroboros, the beginning is the end is the beginning. I actually quite like the symbolism of this, as no matter how you deal with those who taunt you, you'll only ever end up back where you started...

Game Plans

I'll be keeping this week's entry of mine pretty short in order to free up some extra time for other tasks that I've been getting behind on. I tend to be the main person who writes/assembles all our communications, so between the recent monthly progress report and the rather lengthy DreamHack postmortem before that, it's felt like I've spent more time writing than even usual.

Not that I mind it really, as I do rather enjoy the writing process and, for the most part, writing to you good folks never feels like much a chore. Still, it can require a fair chunk of my time between everything (particularly if it's also image or GIF heavy, which can often require more time than the writing itself).

So to give a cursory update of things from my end, the team and I have recently concerned ourselves with putting together an overview plan (and very tentative schedule) of the remaining road of development still ahead. We've done something like this a few times already on the project but due to the evolving nature of development (and, in particular, our organic approach to things), we have to make new overview plans like these semi-regularly. The process is equal parts updating the old plans whilst also making new plans.

I find these sorts of overviews always have a bit of duality to them. On the one hand, it can often be daunting to always feel like there's still so much work left ahead. Yet on the other hand, I always feel a slight sense of relief in at least mapping it out and putting it all down in writing. Better to have a daunting plan than no plan, I say.

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