The PixelCount Post - Issue #25
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    The PixelCount Post - Issue #25

     






    ISSUE #25                         THE VALE, QUILL                         MAR 2018                         ONE BRASS





    Exposing Ourselves
     



     
    This past week poor old Neal has been hard at work on layering, which meant I was unable to touch any levels. This gave me the opportunity to look over old documents and sort them out a bit and also to dive in more depth of ideas that were undernourished or needed more info.

    Our environment artist, Mr Weekes, has had some down time and loves design so we joined forces to thrash out more depth for the Smithing job and leveling/perks system. The fruits of this alliance are bearing great fruit and going forward we will be continuing this dark and deadly pairing.

    Our main aim is also to expose the systems a bit more - so conversations, recipes, and so on have a use and bring out their loops. I played a good chunk of Ni No Kuni 2 on PS4 and they have really compulsive systems, though they are now being exposed a little and the more I play the more I notice that some things just don't need to be there or are not used enough.

    One thing I love though is their UI and the sound effects for that UI. Satisfying, neat, and good looking with not too much faff (except buying/selling is too slow for my impatient liking).

    It is always good to look at other games and never a bad thing to take some ideas or functionality to help make your own game easier to play and understand for a smoother, more pleasant, experience. If anyone copies us though we will kill 'em.



    Building Buildings in the Build
     



     
    This week layering was indeed the main focus! Having reread over the prep doc I had made, I dived in and found myself immediately fighting some additional complexity that I hadn't thought about. Previously, the levels had a single type of data representing everything, but now I was opening the door to another type with the potential of further ones later on! I set about figuring out the commonality between the two and then fixing up the 100+ compiler errors that sprang up from using the new type. After doing this and a bit of back 'n forth trying it in editor with manual data changes, I got to a sort of stable point that served as a proof of concept to show that it was all good.

    The next step would be to make it all editable in the editor, which felt like it'd probably take another day at least, so I paused on that and did a few smaller updates for the rest of the day (taking an initial look at improving the blacksmith as well as refining the gift giving setup with design rules). After that I decided to have a look at a different aspect of layering to do with buildings using tiles. The problem with using tiles for buildings is that the player can either be behind all the tiles in a layer or in front of them all which puts some restrictions on where you can go in a building and limits the faked '3D' effect. To counter that, I worked on a building gameobject that combines sprites and tiles and allows them to be drawn at the player layer (which allows them to be drawn before the player if they are below them or drawn after the player if they are above them). To ease the creation of these, I added a way to select a bunch of tiles on a layer and convert them into a building gameobject. This went relatively smoothly, though I did have to adjust some code in the process to be able to reuse it and correct some bugs found.

    Following that and handling some admin work, time ran out for the week! Next stop will be figuring out the rest of the layering work which hopefully should be a bit more straightforward as it is more or less isolated to specific commands in the editor (which don't have much in the way of dependencies). After that, I've got a backlog of new art, in particular for the UI to setup, which is looking great! Then it'll be time to head back to sim routines, save/load, and other gameplay polish. Ideally most of that'll be nearing completion this week but, as always, it's difficult to predict what might happen next...



    Face the Music
     



     
    As you likely already know from all the other times it's been mentioned, the build we're trying to get into your hands as quickly as possible covers the Prologue of the game. From a musical perspective, this means establishing the general 'feel', as well as the major melodic themes of the game. But once those are established, you still have to grow the music beyond that. You have to take it to new places just like the player character will go to new places, and you have to develop the general sound just as the player's character will develop over time.

    But in which direction do I take it? To answer such questions, I immerse myself in a wide variety of music. Not just to directly get ideas, but also as a palate cleanser. A way to get 'unstuck' in the current vibe of the soundtrack. Taking a step back to reexamine the musical soul of the game with a fresh mind.

    Once you finally get to travel beyond the Vale, hopefully the music won't be just 'more of the same' because of this approach.



    A Tale of Two Feet
     



     
    There are scenes, and things are happening behind them. This last week or so we've been working towards putting together final plans for the next big phase of PixelCount's Master Plan™.

    We've been keeping our heads down lately focusing on the work, but we're going to be coming up for air very soon to give you all some lovely updates on everything. In the meantime, we've been most busy indeed preparing for all manner of things. You'll be hearing from us in a larger more formal development update very soon I'm sure.

    In summary, interesting things are afoot. In fact, there are so many interesting things happening that they may even be afeet.



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  2. #2
    Matt's Avatar

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    It seems that the printing press has sprung to life once more and produced another latest issue of The PixelCount Post.
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

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