📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #8
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Thread: 📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #8

  1. #1
    Matt's Avatar

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    📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #8

     






    ISSUE #8                         THE VALE, QUILL                         24 NOV 2017                         ONE BRASS






    Art F'arts Sake
     

     

     
    A quite productive week as art poured (not literally). We had Sarah back and she created some superb Ghibli-style pieces that our very own Matthew Weekes made into pixel art magic the same day! Poor Weekes has been up to his eyes in rocks, so new stuff is a relief to him.

    The various mines and caves also suddenly took form this week leaving only a small section of the -SPOILER- left to do. Prettying has begun on North Gate and the other regions have all had a bit more work done, including the distribution of dandelions.

    Dandelions, eh? Yes, dandelions.

    Next task for me is Matt Weeke's revenge. I need to replace most of the rocks I used with new ones. Note to self: more rocky regions for Matt.



    The Flow of Sand(box)
     



     
    I almost got to the flow.

    ...almost. But more stuff arose as is its inclination. First, I got some work done on NPCs and their relationship with the player. I also made a start on NPCs saying text when you get nearby; based on friendship status (and with a delay so that they don't repeat themselves constantly). Next, I did some work on the mining/digging setup and a bit more on buildings. Then, I aimed to have a look at NPC shadows and collision as surely that should be nice and straightforward...

    It seemed to go quite well but then playing the game the rest of the team noticed NPCs walking on water and I myself found fish had returned to their 'swimming through land' techniques! Fortunately, it is all resolved now and in a cleaner way with more done through data and no special cases.

    I also did manage to fit in some more importing of new assets for characters, environment, and UI as we continue to up the new content level throughout the prologue! Apart from that, some more work was done around NPCs so that they sleep in their own beds and have different time schedules - I also started setting up their personal info. Tomorrow, it'll finally be flow day so I'm looking forward to pushing that along! The small parts that make up flow are quite self-contained so the hope is that they should be easy to setup and not have too many permutations to account for but, this being a sandbox game, anything can happen...

    Read more next week to find out how it all goes!



    Atoning for the Songs of the Past
     



     
    Back before the Kickstarter days we were putting together the prototype for the game, and fairly last-minute I added in a track now known as 'Fae at Play'. In fact, it was written under such short notice that I cut all sorts of corners to get it done in time. Not that this is clear from listening to it, but I committed all manner of bad practices which meant that if the song ever needed to be updated in the future, I'd have to untangle the giant mess I'd created. And that's exactly what happened...

    Fast forward a few months and I'd upgraded my software to include some excellent samples from the Vienna Symphonic Library and from that point forward I composed every new track with it. This meant that the older prototype tracks from before the new VSL began to sound inferior by comparison and would need to be eventually updated. And thusly, my rushed hack-job came back to haunt me.

    First, in the old version, I had only 15 tracks to work with because the old sample plug-in I used would crash if I used any more than that. To get around this 15 track limitation, I would make multiple melodies on a single track (essentially being played by the same instrument at the same time). In the VSL remake, those had to be separated into individual tracks so that I could mess with them individually. All my old mixing is also out of wack because the new VSL samples 'blend' differently. So all the phrasing, all the mixing, and all the dynamics, had to be done again entirely from scratch.

    Then there's the different 'triggers' in the new samples that tell the program which stylistic method of playing an instrument to use. So I had to remove all the old triggers and make new ones...for each instrument. On top of that, because all the instruments sound differently with new samples, combinations that used to work before had to be entirely redesigned. Then there's the increased diversity in the new samples I've acquired and it'd be a shame to not consider using superior options that had been previously unavailable to me in the older version. Right in the middle of that, I even lost a few hours of work due to an untimely Windows update triggering which even messed with my licensing USB dongle. Only now am I getting to a stage where the mess is cleaned up enough for it to start resembling a proper piece of music again. All this to say, you should keep the following in mind: 'is future you going to appreciate how current you is doing things?'



    We need YOU to help us recruit more members to the Piggy Backer Brigade. To lend a helping hand, all you have to do is go to the Twittersphere and cast a Retweet spell. To visit the tweet in question, merely direct your pointing device to the teleportation link below.


    Not a fan of the Twittersphere? Worry not, as any help spreading the word is appreciated whether it's on The Book of Faces, that Read It place, or even one of your (other) favourite forums. With your help, PixelCount Castle's backer army will grow in leaps and bounds.



    DJ Matt Dropping the (Data)bass
    No, wait. That's bad. Did we back it up?
     



     
    It's been a surprisingly busy week here at Chateau Matt (which resides next to a comically small pond with the majestic Castle PixelCount on the opposite side). I also had a grand turkey feast here at my chateau, but none from the castle were invited as apparently they don't share in my love of turkey feasts. All the better anyway; more turkey for me.

    Things have been so busy, in fact, that we decided to keep this week's Post a bit more straightforward as we've had our hands incredibly full with many other things, so alas, you'll have to get your fix of Charlie Puns™ from elsewhere in the community this week. On my end, The Piggy Backer has been my primary focus as I've been spending much of my time sorting through all the logistics that running a late backer program brings.

    For now, this mainly comprises of organizing a master list of all backers and their tiers. Beforehand, the only database of backers I had to contend with was Kickstarter's. Not to mention, the Kickstarter backer database was static. Nobody was changing tiers and no new backers were being added. So it was fairly easy to manage and the only real thing I had to contend with was verifying forum badges. However, now that the Piggy Backer is out and in the wild, I now have to contend with two databases; one for the Kickstarter (which is static) and one for the Piggy Backer (which is ever-changing). Not to mention, the Piggy Backer database can now override the Kickstarter database since backers have the option of upgrading. I also have to make sure that any upgrades we get are verified and authentic; aka, can I match the backer's upgrade with an original Kickstarter pledge, is the backer upgrading from the correct tier, did they use a different email for Kickstarter verses Piggy Backer, do I need to reverify their forum badge if they upgraded to the Land Shaper tiers or higher, and so on.

    All that to say, there's a surprising amount of work going into just managing the Piggy Backer. I've spent much of the week getting those processes in place and I've even got a system set up for sending out confirmation emails to every new pledge and every upgrade. Obviously, there's much more on my plate than just bacon backers, so some other areas that we've been focusing on this week are: sorting through tons of new pixel art and concept art, putting together marketing materials, forming ideas on capturing in-game footage for an eventual trailer, and a tiny smidge of website optimization and forum features (more on that soon).

    So although managing backer records may not sound terribly glamorous (and you wouldn't be wrong), we're thankfully entering into the stage of things when my job starts to get particularly fun. Making screenshots, editing game footage, coming up with marketing ideas, and hanging out with the community (be it here or on the Discord) - these are a few of my favourite things.

    I sometimes worry that from the outside looking in it may sometimes seem disingenuous to hear developers mention aaaall the time how excited they are to show off what they've been working on but, in my experience, they almost always mean it. Each week I find myself getting more and more excited about how this project is coming along and I genuinely think you lot are gonna really enjoy seeing it all come together during these next phases of development.

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  2. #2
    God's Avatar

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    Great issue again!
    Also, no worries, it's very comprehensible that you devs get excited about showing off new developements to us loyal soldiers of the Vale. That's why we're here!

  3. #3
    Matt's Avatar

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    Oh hey, a new PixelCount Post.
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

  4. #4
    BriarRose's Avatar

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    Ack! I missed one! Excited for Ghibli-style art. I'm such a sucker for it. (P.S. The puns and the bird are killing me. )
    "I have a cloooooooooooooothing stooooooooooore in my noooooooooooose."- Jurak, Dark Cloud 2

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