📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #11
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    Matt's Avatar

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    📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #11

     






    ISSUE #11                         THE VALE, QUILL                         15 DEC 2017                         ONE BRASS






    Playing the Symbols
     

     

     
    This week has been another busy one, with prettying ongoing in all regions. It has been a bit of a struggle week personally but some nice progress was made. I prettied the village east and the huge woodland - two of our largest levels. Some ugly or empty bits were filled with nice little features and I finally developed a village centre where there was previously a blank square with a maypole shoved in the middle.

    The woods are a challenge, but a nice use of some new assets put some cool mysteries in there to discover. Big things we need to look at with the art department are grass and water - we felt the rivers and lakes needed a visual boost. Grass is a bane so we are working on getting some variety plus ease of use.

    Finally, there was a discussion (more a rant) about world building and lore. I always felt Fable failed in this area. Nothing was consistent; the world map changed every game and things were shovelled into the lore that made it hard for even us to remember who did what and when.

    So to try make our world consistent I developed iconography for the 6 Fae deities and the 4 Fae realms. Some story and setting tweaks cut 2 of the Fae realms and merged 1 of them into another. Matt Weekes, our environment pixel artist, then put these symbols onto things like henge stones, tree carvings, and so on. This way areas can be devoted to a Goddess or marked by a race of Fae and the player will know their meaning.

    These aren't just artsy squiggles plopped down for art's sake. This helps me build the lore and world mentally and brings it to life in my head. The player should gain the benefit with a world that is consistent and that feels detailed and 'real'. As my mum always says, "A place for everything and everything in its place".

    She also tells everyone she looks 33, not 73, and that she's never wrong. So I wouldn't trust a word that she says.


     
    A photo of one such area that has been prettied by world builder Charlie. For an ensorcelled moving version of this photo just travel to the Twittersphere (and we'd kindly appreciate a retweet too). The photo is also in colour, if you can believe it!



    The Effect of Sound
     



     
    Not all sound is created equally. Which is to say: the field of music and the field of sound effects are vastly different fields of expertise. Not to mention they require different equipment. I know full well where to get the sound of a violin, but where in the world do you get the sound of someone picking a flower in a game? Or the sound of someone opening a magical book? Well, if you happen to have a recording studio, a truckload of imagination, and countless random objects that make all sorts of sound if you apply creativity to them, I reckon you might get somewhere.

    I wouldn't know though - I've never done that. There are others who've done it though. There are entire libraries of these sound effects out there. The prototype of Kynseed uses some free ones, purely placeholder of course. The quality varies quite a lot. Some are in mono, others in stereo. Some are mixed to be disproportionally loud compared to others who are disproportionally soft. And then there's sense of space to consider. If some have reverb applied to them and others don't, that'll sound 'off'. And if the reverb doesn't fit the space in the game world where the sound plays...same problem. So, however we get the sounds, they need to be consistent in their quality.

    How to tackle that problem is currently up for debate. Soon, we'll make a list of all the sounds we need and then we figure out how to get (or make) them. It's scary to go into unknown territory, but it's also a chance to expand your skillset. If time allows for you to learn on the job then it's probably worth it; but the end of the year is approaching mighty quick!



    One Day Day One Will Be Ready
     



     
    Work was slow this week. It's sometime difficult to find a focus even when there is a clear, and long, list of things to work on. Or perhaps that's why, as long lists sometimes reduce autonomy and can feel unending. Partially sleep debt is probably to blame as well though, as I managed to have 14 hours of sleep on Wednesday and still feel like more! The only thing to do is slowly try and work through it and take it step by step until momentum builds back up.

    At the end of last week, Charlie and I had a playthrough from the start of The Prologue intended for Early Access. We only got a bit into day one but already had a list of 50 items so I've been working through those. The first 25 went quite quickly within a day or two but the remaining ones are proving more resistant.

    In addition to that, I've been incrementally improving gameflow, working on the improved navigation so it is now manually editable, building on saving/loading, and taking on a few odds and ends that improve the game's presentation. All these bits do add up and it'll be exciting to take a step back in a week or two to look at how things have come along. And then inevitably make another list of things to work on...




     

     

     
    Hello again.

    As esteemed editor of The PixelCount Post, I'd like to pull rank and permit myself to indulge in a slight change from my normal sort of updates. Instead, I'd like to simply hang out with you all today and, if you'll pardon a minor fit of vanity, tell you a bit about myself and how I came to work on Kynseed. There's some hot chocolate on the table and I've even brought some corn for popping. So please, pull up a chair by the fire. But not too close, mind you, as the chairs are wooden and quite flammable.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Game community's can often be a lot like family in that you don't really get to pick your community and, if you find that you don't care for them, then that's too bad - you're stuck with 'em. Thankfully, this is a problem I've never known.

    My very first dabbling in game communities was with Lionhead Studios, though many of you may know them by their reputative title 'Chicken Chasers'. And oh how they loved to chase those chickens. Lionhead was the first game community I ever truly became a part of. I became absorbed, spending an inadvisable amount of time talking with the developers and other members. I still remember quite vividly getting into all manner of arguments with my parents due to often neglecting homework (and other sundry things) in favor of spending time on the Lionhead forums.

    Those forums are where I began, for the first time, to think about games as a career. I became good friends with many of the developers there. Among their number was Charlie, still known as Lionbum even back then, and compared to most developers he was unusually chatty in the community. As a natural consequence, he and I got on particularly well.

    Over the years, the friendships I made with all those developers and members led me to getting my foot in the door with the industry. In fact, any opportunity I've ever had in games can, without any doubt, be traced back to the moment I registered for the Lionhead community.

    Though, as is often the way with things, it was not to last forever. After over a decade of being in the community (an entire third of my life, at the time), Lionhead had its doors forcibly closed. Losing Lionhead and its community felt an awful lot like losing close friends or family. Sure, the Lionhead community was still technically around in the world. But it was different now. Like spending an entire summer with friends at summer camp only to leave and return back to reality. Maybe you'd see each other on Twitter, or maybe you're friends with some of them on Facebook, but you don't really talk that much anymore. Not like you used to.

    With the closure of Lionhead I was all but ready to accept that whatever magic that community had for me at that time of my life would be forever unattainable again. It was, to me, the result of being in the right community at the right time with the right people and the right game. Those stars were unlikely to ever align again. And I was okay with that. It was time to seek out newer pastures.

    During Lionhead's final few years I'd been picking up game jobs here and there but Lionhead's closure had hit hard and I oddly found myself beginning to fall out of love with the industry. I still loved games themselves - always would - but none of the game jobs that were on offer appealed to me and the thought of working on a game that I myself did not enjoy playing seemed ridiculous, if not dishonest. So I decided I was due for a dramatic change in my life. I began making plans to move to Los Angeles with the intent of getting work in one of its numerous media related fields.

    So I packed my bags and drove 2,300 miles across the country over the course of 3 days. On the third day I passed the Grand Canyon, pulled over to watch the sunrise, and then later that day arrived in LA on the 19th of March - the first day of Spring.

    Luckily I was in the fortunate position of being able to work remotely on all my active freelance contracts and so I was able to sustain myself for a handful of weeks in LA. However, I knew that once those contracts ran out I'd be in the position of needing to look for new freelance opportunities from there in LA. And before long, that time came...

    I woke up that morning, did my morning run, took a shower, and was firmly planted behind my computer at 10am. Thus, I began the difficult process that all freelancers are intimately familiar with: looking for contracts. I'd been at my computer for only 30 minutes or so when my phone gave off the telltale sound of a new email. So I went to Outlook on my taskbar, clicked over to my inbox, and there at the top I saw an email - from Charlie, no less. I opened it.



     
    Yes, this is a real screenshot of that email (with patented PixelCount Post theming, of course).


    Looking for any excuse to distract me from my job search, I immediately replied back. His reply was similarly immediate, which I shall quote directly for you now:

    "Getting a small team together to maybe go indie. We are researching funding avenues, businessy side, tech, and I am just typing up one of the game pitches...

    Something you might quite like..."


    The timing was uncanny. I asked him what the project was. He said, "2D Project Ego to sum it up." And over the course of a few emails, Charlie filled me in: the game was to be an RPG, pixelated, in a sandbox world, where NPC's and the player's character age, and the player plants a family tree to continue playing as their child. Neal Whitehead was working on the engine, someone I knew only by reputation from his work on numerous Lionhead projects.

    Charlie asked me if I wanted in. I said yes.

    Numerous emails and Skype conversations later, a solid plan began to form. Naturally, there was no money at this early stage of the game so for quite some time I had to juggle freelance work with working on the game in every ounce of spare time that I had. Many months later, Neal's engine was coming along nicely and it wasn't long until we began to see the vague shape of a prototype forming. It was around this time that it became clear to us that if we were ever going to make a real go of this, we'd have to do a Kickstarter.

    The curious thing with Kickstarters is that no matter how much experience you may have and no matter how well you might think you know the market, it's incredibly hard to truly predict how a community might react to a game. So we braced ourselves for all manner of reaction, riding that fine line between hoping against the worst while not being foolish enough to expect the best.

    During the month of that successful Kickstarter, and in the months that followed, we began to see a community slowly form out of the primordial soups of the internet. Many were old Lionhead members, many were Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley fans, and many were brand new faces entirely. It was fascinating to see a band of supporters and enthusiasts come together out of seemingly nowhere.

    Something that I did not expect to happen, even when entertaining notions of wild optimism, was that this community would once again bring me the magic that the Lionhead community had done for me so many years ago. I know that it may seem like we point out our connection with Lionhead incessantly, but to us it's a very real and very genuine part of where we came from.

    And this is the part of my story where I wax poetic about the Kynseed community:

    I honestly hadn't meant for this article to grow so lengthy or, if I'm being honest, to be filled with such gratuitous sentimentality. I'll bet Charlie is rolling his eyes so hard right now that he's liable to pull a muscle. That said, thank you all for choosing to be a part of this community. Your faith in this project is having a more profound effect on Kynseed than you know.

    The people that have been following this game from the very beginning as well as the people that joined this journey a month ago or an hour ago - they really do mean a lot to us. It's all kind of wild for us, if I'm being honest. Working on that initial prototype, not even that long ago, we were never sure if anyone else would find this game as intriguing as we did. So to see the community support the game and get excited about the game is a bit unreal to us. Because the thing is, we get excited about the game too. It's that excitement which we have in common with the community. That's why it's often hard for us to put a line between 'the developers' and 'the community' because, at the end of the day, we're just as much fans as you are. Perhaps that sounds a bit vain, being fans of our own project and all, and perhaps it is. But we welcome you to come be vain with us, as this is just as much your game as it is ours.

    And this is the part of my article where I wane poetic about the Kynseed community:

    They're alright, I guess.



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    Last edited by Matt; December 19th, 2017 at 11:51pm.

  2. #2
    Charlie's Avatar

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    I rolled my eyes and got double six.

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    SirJeff's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
    I rolled my eyes and got double six.
    Lucky you
    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

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    Thanks for sharing that with us, matt! i enjoyed reading it very much and hope to be a part of this awesome project and community!

  5. #5


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    Very nice story Matt! I understand why our community matters for you, you were a forum member before

    I am new in this community, but it's one the most welcoming I have never known.

    The Effect of Sound post is interesting because it's a huge challenge for you. I heard than a videogame used its own fans to make the sound effects : with their mouth!

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    Tice's Avatar

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    @Sunlag: An entire soundtrack made from mouth sounds seems like a lot of fun actually! It would give the game a very different vibe though, rather tongue-in-cheek, maybe. I'd be interested to know what game it was that did this.

  7. #7
    Matt's Avatar

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    The last issue before Christmas is out now!
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

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    Following you since kickstarter, but joined the community recently.
    Just wanted to say that i love the way you are making this game. Keep rocking hard guys, or as they say here in italy (veneto) " daghe de manego fioi"
    Have nice holidays!

  9. #9
    Charlie's Avatar

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    Happy Xmas all!

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