📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #9
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Thread: 📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #9

  1. #1
    Matt's Avatar

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    📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #9

     






    ISSUE #9                         THE VALE, QUILL                         1 DEC 2017                         ONE BRASS






    Routine AI Routines
     

     

     
    With no sudden features popping up and no surprise breakages, for the majority of this week I have in fact been working on flow! It's been quite fun actually. Working on these small tidbits of scripted events and figuring out how they should work is quite satisfying and them being small means they more easily fit into an hour or two of work and don't linger around as much. That said, it hasn't all been easy and there's always the danger that one of these bits will turn out into an epic adventure across all of the code to make changes that facilitate the new behaviour.

    The two parts that did come up that could end up like that were around saved data and AI routines. Setting up saved data is something that I'll be looking to put in next week as it feels about the right time to get that setup and might help out in some small way for finding bugs too! AI routines are an ongoing concern; trying to make sure they are robust but flexible to sandbox behaviour is quite tricky and it's something that'll need further attention this month. For now, it's back to more flow work for me as I try and catch the code/scripting up to the high standard of the content in the game.

    Note from the Editor: For the readers among us not familiar with the game design term 'flow', this typically refers to the literal way that the gameplay is intended to flow from one player action to another - think 'glorified flowchart'. That said, the definition of 'flow' tends to vary depending on who you ask.
    - Matt Allen



    Fiddler on the 'Oof!
     



     
    I thought the remake of Fae at Play would be the only one that'd be difficult to make. I was rather wrong! Willowdown received it's makeover this week, and much deliberation and iteration went into it before finally getting it right. The team had grown quite attached to the original, and so when the remake started taking shape, well, it wasn't the same. It was missing a certain 'je ne sais quoi'. Problem with that is I needed to know exactly what it was missing so I could bring that into the remake. We fiddled with reverb, we fiddled with equalizing, we fiddled with fiddles. We even used old samples alongside new ones. Anything to recapture whatever it was that made the original do its thing, all the while using the strengths of our newer more realistic samples to correct the old version's weaknesses. And surely it had them! The old string samples I used are especially weak. They lacked detail, character, and they just cycled their obnoxious vibrato ad nauseam.

    So what was that 'je ne sais quoi', you ask? Well, it was a collection of many things. Details like just precisely how a contrabass would sneak its way into a chord, which, if even slightly adjusted, would miss the mark. Things like a very specific reverb I had to reproduce. Or things like an exact equalization setting. None of them did the trick on their own, but when they come together exactly right, you finally get to hear those redeeming words of approval from the team.

    And then the whole ordeal starts anew with the next new sample remake. At some point the difference in sound came up between the original oboe and the new sample's oboe. The new samples give me three oboes to choose from. So we try them, only to find out it wasn't actually the oboe at all they picked up on, but rather the clarinet, which was too 'heavy' as compared to the original. Some quick manipulation of frequency ranges later and we get that fixed, but several other issues remain. And thus the painstaking process of getting something exactly right continues and repeats.

    It's a headache.
    It's a discovery.
    It's a struggle.
    It's a quest.

    And you become better at the other end of it, as if 'leveled up'. Whoever said life's not a game isn't playing it right!



    Critical Hit
     



     
    "How dare they?!" I screamed as I listened to Willowdown remastered. The rustic summery woodwinds had been replaced by screeching tinny banshees and the lovely dreamy midsection sounded like someone grating a cat. But, after some wizardry, the music was much as it was but clearer and more BAFTA-worthy. I could now get back to prettying.

    About 4 regions have now had a first pass and Willowdown Farm has had tweaks. It is a joy to just run around and see the NPC's going about their business, while the music makes you feel so chilled penguins rub up against you. The flow is starting to come through and it is exciting stuff. We can't wait until you can be accosted by penguins too.





    Willow Ups and Downs
     



     
    If this issue of The PixelCount Post is any indication, there's been a great deal of chatter about music this week! Namely, updating the prototype's music from its old instrument samples to the newer more advanced ones we've been using for all music post-prototype. As mentioned above by my trusty colleagues, the new sample remake of the prototype track known as Willowdown was our primary focus. (Many of you will remember this as the track used in the Kickstarter trailer.) Yet it soon became clear that remaking Willowdown with the newer samples was becoming quite the challenge.

    It's a tricky thing to balance, because by now I imagine that everyone on the team has heard the prototype's Willowdown over a hundred times in testing. No exaggeration. So when listening to that same version but now with completely different samples, it's very easy to see how it'd feel that something got lost in translation. Much like hearing a new studio recording of a favorite song you've heard hundreds of times; objectively the quality of the recording might be 'better', but it just doesn't have the same feeling as the original.

    However, much credit to Matthijs and everyone else for figuring out which parts of the remake needed tweaking and, in some cases, removing. The new version of Willowdown seems almost identical to the original, but for the trained ear many of its samples will be just a tiny bit better and more realistic.

    In addition to our adventures in music, I've been doing some fairly unexciting but important spring cleaning (erm...winter cleaning?) throughout last week. I usually keep our project organization levels at tip top shape but everyone's schedules and attention have been a bit manic in recent weeks due to all the high priority items going on (big playtests, Piggy Backer, and so on). So much so, that I was forgoing my usual tidiness for the sake of working faster. Eventually, though, the feeling of things being in disarray began to keep me up at night (I say this half-jokingly) and so I've been getting our project's overall file organization back up to where it should be. In some cases, this is all the more important for things like music where new versions of tracks are being made constantly and it's easy to lose track of which version is the one that's supposed to be in the latest build of the game.

    Next week I'll be posting some new items in the Dev Pub as well as moving some old items from the Dev Pub into the General Discussion forum. I figured that any Dev-Pub-goers won't terribly mind if I occasionally retire some of the month's old threads over to the public areas for all to see. So expect some new old threads to pop up soon!

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  2. #2
    God's Avatar

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    As usual another great issue of the best journal on the web.
    I like todays focus on the music and I'm already very stoked about hearing the new soundtrack(s)!

  3. #3
    BriarRose's Avatar

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    Bit guilty of always lurking here on the forums, but figured I should mention I absolutely love these posts. Something about the old-timey aesthetic speaks to me. And it's nice to see a more grounded approach to dev updates that feel more genuine and not so PR-heavy. Plus I'm lazy, so these are an easy way for me to keep updated on the game.
    "I have a cloooooooooooooothing stooooooooooore in my noooooooooooose."- Jurak, Dark Cloud 2

  4. #4
    Charlie's Avatar

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    If we ever get PR-heavy to the point of nausea, please kick us.

  5. #5
    Matt's Avatar

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    The 10th issue of The PixelCount Post is out now!
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

  6. #6


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    i love the late 1800's look of the newsletter. you guys seem to be having a blast making this game and I know I'm gonna have a blast playing it.

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