📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #10
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  1. #1
    Matt's Avatar

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    📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #10

     






    ISSUE #10                         THE VALE, QUILL                         8 DEC 2017                         ONE BRASS






    A Link to the Pasty
     

     

     
    If you live on Willowdown Farm and fancy buying a Cabbage and Carrot Pasty from Moon & Sons General Store in Candlewych, then you would have been out of luck...the level transitions were all amiss. But fear not, we can now officially announce that all the regions of The Vale are now linked up, including the mines and caves that spread beneath the bunioned feet of the simple folk above. So go get your filled pastries.

    This week has seen prettying start to move apace, and the placement of various 'gameplay-related' objects here and there. I also finalised the list of ingredients and medicinal plants native to The Vale, as well as what recipes and proverbs you can discover during the Prologue. So with those tasks done, I've just got the following to sort before Early Access: Prettying 14 levels (though 5 are near done), collision pass, dialogue, book text, layering pass, house dressing, ingredient distribution, missing item descriptions, remaining NPC data, and so on.

    And that's probably half of what Neal has to do! So yes, getting busy...



    Detours & Navigation
     

     

     
    Following on from last week, work continued on gameflow. For a few days anyway, then I had the crazy notion of uprooting all the code for that and making it into a basic visual scripting language. So, that's one of the parts I've mostly been working on since! So far, there's quite a limited set of conditions and actions to carry out so in under a couple of days I'd recreated nearly all the gameflow code into a data form, checked it worked and got it save/loadable. Side benefits to this is it's much easier to debug! I can stick up an overview that shows all sequences that can take place, are currently running and what they are waiting on.

    After that I've now setup a viewer in the editor (which I've realised could be repurposed in game as well to allow setting breakpoints and further debugging) and all that remains is editing them. However, that task is going to take a little while as it has to link to other data and ideally I'd like NPC text to be editable from it too, so for the rest of this week I'll be continuing to fill out the flow in code for now.

    In addition to that crazy detour, I did spend some time starting to look at save/load (and have started filling out some details there) along with navigation so it better accounts for game object collision. Finally, I also am doing a little experiment in an alternative way of doing day and night lighting - if it works it should produce better results making it still possible to make out details during night time. On that note, I better get back to it in preparation for the next rush of playthrough issues to work on! Have a good day/night!



    Warm & Fuzzy Security Blankets
     



     
    It's been an interesting mix of activities for me this week. To start off with, I got a fair bit of work done on the website but it was all mostly behind the scenes things to optimize it and make it more secure in general. Plus, since we have users logging in and making payments on the Piggy Backer, one can definitely never be too careful about making sure there's a nice thick blanket of security over everything.

    I've also begun making entirely new promotional assets using the latest versions of the game's art. Currently many of the platforms that we have a presence on (Twitter, itchio, GameJolt, Steam Greenlight, and so on) are still using the old character art and old sprites. Now that we're further along in development it's time I get all those updated. Dozens of images are needed ranging from screenshots to headers to little GIF's to litter around the game description and so on. Furthermore, it's not as simple as making a new image that works on all platforms, because to retain the crisp look of the pixel art each image has to be sized perfectly to match the dimensions of the platform's text width. So many times I'll have to take one image and make four or more differently sized versions of it so as to accommodate the different requirements of each platform. In some cases, I have to switch file formats as well. One platform only accepts JPG, but another accepts PNG, another will only render JPG's but if the image you upload starts as PNG it'll still technically output a better JPG than if you imported a JPG (thus avoiding double JPG compression). Though some platforms will render JPG's regardless as to whether or not you upload a PNG, in which case it's preferable to stick with the native JPG when uploading. Aaaall that to say, it's a surprisingly complicated affair sometimes!



    Drawing Up Musical Blueprints
     



     
    Now that the mixing for Willowdown has been finalized we have a blueprint for a number of settings for the soundtrack. This can be used to ensure that all of the soundtrack feels coherent. If one track is given reverb that simulates a big open sound, but another track is given reverb that puts it in a smaller more closed sound, there either has to be a good reason for it in the game-world or it'll just sound plain weird and inconsistent. And believe me, it's not just a matter of determining how much reverb you need. Reverb is more complex than that.

    Reverb is also about how far away the source of the sound is from the listener, and how long it takes an echo of that sound to reach the listener. How long should it take for the echo to subside? What type of surface does the source sound bounce against before it reaches the listener? By messing with those parameters you can create a huge array of different 'feels' for a track. The same goes for any other filters and effects you apply to the music.

    Once you have established a base-line for these effects, you can choose to deviate from it for specific reasons. Maybe you want music in caves to feel more narrow than music in a forest. Maybe you want music for magical areas to sound more distant, as if the music magically permeates from the landscape itself. But you have to establish rules before you can break them. If the listener doesn't know what a normal environment sounds like, how can they realise that something is strange about the music in an environment that messes with sound in some way? This makes it all the more fitting that a track like Willowdown sets the standard, because that track plays at the farm the player starts at. That farm would form your sense of normalcy within the game world. So if the music in a different place sounds strangely different from the music in Willowdown in some hard-to-pinpoint way, you'll know something is up...

    Now I don't know about you, but for me December is traditionally an insanely busy month. Between family-related things that come with the holiday season, and tying up the year's loose ends in general, there's no shortage of stuff that needs doing. The perpetual darkness of winter only adds to the Spartan-esque end of a year. But game development marches on regardless, and to paraphrase Undertale: 'the notion that one day this mouse will have completed his work fills me with determination!'. The final month of the year has commenced, and I mean to make it a worthy month to end an epic year. So crank up that reverb for a sense of grandeur. Once more into the fray!



    Candlewych Celebrates!
     



     
    It is the 10th Edition of The PixelCount Post, so to celebrate this momentous occasion the villagers of Candlewych are holding a bonfire. Not literally.
    A sacrifice will be offered to Druida, beloved Goddess of the Orchards, and to Solnir, God of the Sun, in order that they continue to bless The PixelCount Post with awful puns and some terribly amateurish writing for years to come.

    The sacrifice will be much more potent than last year's sacrificial hamster. Small animals are fine, but their acceptability is limited. A small child is even better, but not nearly as effective as the right kind of adult. This year, an unfortunate traveller from faraway Copperpot Village will be offered as King for a Day, and be sacrificed in the usual manner...by having his feet tickled by goose feathers and goat urine smeared on his forehead. He will then be taken to the sacred rock where sausages will be placed delicately upon his brow, and cryptic words uttered as he is slapped about the chops with lamb chops.


    Finally, he is stripped and bathed in gravy, and placed inside a large wicker cat and burnt to death. The smell of crisp flesh with a large hint of beef stock should appease the Fae Deities and also make everyone hungry. Then it is off to the Flailing Arms tavern for Cider, Beer and Pork Scratchings...it is a very violent pig. And, as the moon sits approvingly in the sky, laughter is heard and stories shared and sighs of relief fill the air. Here's to another 10 editions of The PixelCount Post. Just don't be in The Vale for number 20.

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    Last edited by Matt; December 19th, 2017 at 11:52pm.

  2. #2
    SirJeff's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt View Post
     
    and placed inside a large wicker cat and burnt to death.
     
    Inspiration from The Wicker Man?
    Knowing how to do it and not knowing how to do it is the same thing. Knowing how to do it well is the difference

  3. #3
    Charlie's Avatar

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    I sort of mixed in a few actual quotes from the movie in the Post

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    Oh, what nice traditions the inhabitants of the Vale seem to have. Nice people definitely, yes.

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    SirJeff's Avatar

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    Define "nice"
    Knowing how to do it and not knowing how to do it is the same thing. Knowing how to do it well is the difference

  6. #6
    Charlie's Avatar

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    Vale folk are a mix of grumpy and cheerful....content with their lots and respectful of their Goddess. These things are just the way life is...

  7. #7
    Matt's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by God View Post
    Oh, what nice traditions the inhabitants of the Vale seem to have. Nice people definitely, yes.
    Heh. It seems that each issue of The Post ends up being a demonstration of Charlie's unique and unusual imagination.
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

  8. #8
    Charlie's Avatar

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    Not sure if you are dissing me there, bro.

  9. #9
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    Issue #11 of The PixelCount Post is hot off the presses! This week's issue includes a special holiday feature from yours truly.
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

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