📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #18
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Thread: 📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #18

  1. #1
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    📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #18

     






    ISSUE #18                         THE VALE, QUILL                         2 FEB 2018                         ONE BRASS






    Event Horizons
     



     
    There has been a palpable excitement growing here at Castle PixelCount as we creep towards Early Access and the builds get better and better. Part of this has been down to getting the gameflow for The Prologue in place. The player now has daily tasks and other events to find on their calendars.

    Neal has been beavering away on a scripting system that will allow the user (me, mainly) to select who starts a task, when it starts, what the objective is, the reward, finishing text, etc. (All through simple drop down menus on a series of boxes.) While that has been going on we have admittedly also been fixated with an upcoming event of our own, news of which you will get within a week. It is highly exciting for us but it's a bit hush hush as we don't want to tempt fate (even though it IS happening).

    Such things can be a distraction (we had to drop tools and prepare in a rush for it) and it has made our minds wander. BUT, things are still going apace: levels are looking great for the most part and Matt Weekes, our environ artist, has been feeding back and I have been addressing issues he's raised.

    Finally, we have also been watching a game called My Time at Portia, released on Early Access. I say we, I mean Neal, who has been obsessing over how they are doing. It's interesting to watch how other games handle things like PR, their Steam page, demos, social media, and community. Lessons can be learned and pitfalls avoided, and we are very keen to avoid the mistakes and keep on the golden path. Though it is just a pity we keep wandering off that path with distractions!



    The Certainty of Uncertainty
     



     
    This week in code I got stuck and then managed to climb out of a bit of a slump. There's a tendency at times to get too focused looking at the future or past, and in particular looking at other games as to how things might or might not go. That line of thought tends to lead to a bunch of uncertainty that personally affected me quite a bit as I got too caught up in it and lost concentration on what exactly to work on. Luckily, I got some advice from some great people and woke up the next morning with renewed purpose! Basically, I needed to accept the uncertainty and just get on with the immediate tasks at hand.

    I also got a gadget that has been helping me out too: a kitchen timer! With this I went about work a slightly different way to usual. Instead of following a big list of tasks, I gave myself 5 minutes to figure out what I should work on and broke it up into sections of up to 20 minutes each. Even if the task was incomplete after 20 minutes, I'd move on to the next bit and build up some momentum because things were starting to move forward again. After a few days of this I find myself looking at several tasks that have made significant progress and a much clearer list of what's remaining.

    Anyway, back to the topic on hand of what's been up in code this week. Mostly, it has been a mix of 3 different tasks: sequence editing, preparation for extra layers, and gameflow improvements. Sequence editing is something that has taken a while to get to, perhaps due to the size of the task. However, thanks to splitting it up into small chunks, I've made some good progress on it. Extra layers is about the trickiness of faking the idea of 3D in a top-down view, so far objects and tiles could be in any of 5 layers. However, this is proving to not be enough in certain circumstances like fish appearing above jetties or objects appearing in front of the player when they are above the player but in a higher layer (to appear as intended above a different object!). That leaves gameflow improvements, which is sort of a catchall for feedback fixes and updates. My pick of the week for most interesting bit of code was adding an audio component for objects which allows them to have ambient sounds. This will prove handy in filling out more of the atmosphere of the game.



    Signature Sound
     



     
    This week did not go according to plan. Similar to Matt, I got sick this week. So rather than making good progress during the week, I'll have to use the weekend to play catch-up. Once I recovered, I did however manage to do something very valuable in the long run: I sampled an instrument. What this means is that I recorded someone playing each note of an instrument, and then created a sample library of that, so I can use a midi-controller to 'play' that instrument even though I don't have the instrument itself. Now there are many such libraries of every imaginable instrument, but if you have your own then it'll sound unique. Sampling your own instruments is thus a great way to create a signature sound that nobody else has and blend your own custom sample libraries with others to add your own flavour to a track.

    On a different note: with the majority of areas in the game having been given their own tracks now, it's time to think about which areas the player will spend so much time in that we run the risk of one track not being enough for that area. Sooner or later, you'll be so familiar with a track that it'll become repetitive. So areas where you'll spend a lot of time should idealy have more music to go with them.

    Doing this right is actually quite a balancing act. On the one hand, the whole point is to add diversity and longevity, but on the other hand you don't want to make the area feel very different all of the sudden. It's still the same area, after all. If you've played the prototype you've already seen an example of how I do this. The farm has 2 tracks assigned to it, each lasting over 5 minutes. They're definitely not copies of one another, but if I did my job right they should feel like two parts of the same whole, in a way. Well, the entire soundtrack should feel like it's all one coherent thing, but in a broader sense than a single area of the game would; and they don't even share melodic material. They do share instrumentation, and a signature 'swooping' string sound that you'll find all over the Kynseed soundtrack. Is that enough to make both tracks feel like they represent the same area? Well, that's up to you, really.



    It's Not a Bug, It's a Flu
     



     
    One never feels as healthy as when having just gotten rid of a flu. Such is my current state of affairs (and also explains the delay in this week's Post!).

    As our dear composer mentioned up above, it seems that the contagiousness of sickness has somehow transcended beyond the limitations of geographical distance and is now traveling the wires of our computers. Which is to say, it seems we've been getting down with the sickness on the team.

    In some ways, I half suspect that this is our bodies' way of ensuring we get one last bout of restorative rest right before this final stretch to Early Access. There's still so much to do and it's going to take a lot of energy and focus for us to pull it all off in time. So the silver lining is we got a bit of forced rest out of the whole thing, as honestly I'm rather bad at making sure I get sufficient rest when working on projects I'm passionate about. Anyone who's ever been addicted to World of Warcraft knows what I'm talking about. Except instead of being addicted to WoW, I'm addicted to working on Kynseed.

    Rarely is addiction born from a place of healthiness, but I do suppose there's worse vices to have in this lifetime. Having just recently parted ways with what I am now calling Dev Flu, work has resumed on some extremely high priority areas. It's hard not to feel a bit behind when missing a few days of work, and that feeling is made all the worse considering this is an incredibly important week for us - reasons of which will soon become clear in mere days.

    We've also been reworking some elements of the twin sprites which has caused me to redo all preexisting promotional assets I've made. I don't mind terribly much though, as each time I remake promotional assets I find ways to create them better than I had before. Beyond that, I've been working with the music department on providing some direction on supplemental region tracks. They're coming along nicely and Matthijs has been doing stellar work, as always.

    All that aside, I feel like we've been a bit more cryptic than usual in this week's Post - particularly considering we're not often known for being cryptic-sort-of-developers. Most days, we're more than happy to talk about anything. However, in this particular case, much of this is just us being superstitious I think. We don't want to inadvertently jinx ourselves by blabbing about something that technically hasn't happened yet.

    I'm not usually one to be superstitious. In fact, I'm not really stitious at all. That said, I can more than appreciate the team wanting to knock on proverbial wood, just in case. For now, I shall simply wave my hands around mysteriously and say, "All will be revealed soon."



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    Last edited by Matt; February 8th, 2018 at 09:31am.

  2. #2


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    Thanks for leaving me on the edge of my seat in anticipation! Also, you should always be superstitious when dealing with the Fae, just sayin, might save your skin.. or your shiny valuables...

  3. #3
    BriarRose's Avatar

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    Glad to hear everyone is feeling better! Has the vague thing been announced yet? (I have a suspicion...)
    "I have a cloooooooooooooothing stooooooooooore in my noooooooooooose."- Jurak, Dark Cloud 2

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    Pretty sure in this case they are referring to the double page feature they got in PC Gamer mag last Weds. Though by the time PixelCount Post issue #19 is up this will be old news

  5. #5
    Matt's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jade View Post
    Pretty sure in this case they are referring to the double page feature they got in PC Gamer mag last Weds. Though by the time PixelCount Post issue #19 is up this will be old news
    Heh heh.

    As it happens, the PC Gamer bit was but one of two sneaky things we were referring to. I just received some info I was waiting on for the second sneaky thing and I've thusly posted #19 revealing what we've been up to. Much rejoicing all around!
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