📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #28
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    Matt's Avatar

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    📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #28

     






    ISSUE #28                         THE VALE, QUILL                         18 MAY 2018                         ONE BRASS





    The Great Gate Wait
     



     
    The gates have opened! Well, not literally, but the planning for what lies beyond The Vale is underway. A world map exists, but now is the time for mapping out more detail of the individual regions. Beyond The Vale lies a hub, and from here are exits to the next Haven - a not so dangerous forest and the way on to other places.

    I like to use RPGMaker to map out a very basic overview of the regions, then will go into our own editor and flesh them out more. I have also been working on creating the NPC's for the next Haven: Summerdown, with the village of Poppyhill within. The people of Poppyhill are more prosperous than in The Vale, and healthy eaters (as in amount, not what they eat). Poppyhill folk are cheery and love a good party and a good pie. They worship Naida, the Goddess of Fertility. Naida is said to be a plump lady, of infectious laughter and love of fine beers. Once yearly, the people of Poppyhill look to the skies in the hope of the Ale Storm, where actual beer falls from above in sweet, delicious drops.

    Each of the 6 Havens has their own Goddess, their own customs, their own events, and their own outlooks. The most fun part is naming each family and coming up with their little quirks. These are people you will get to know and see age and die. Their lives go on while you are living your multiple lifetimes, and they will remember you as long as you are relevant.

    So, if you want to be remembered by the goodly people of PoppyHill, then maybe creating a legendary pie or beer is the way to go...



    Ebb and Flow
     



     
    For week 3 of the backer beta, we got another round of updates made based on player feedback, bugs, and a few bits that hopefully help make the build more stable and more usable. I dared to say last week about looking into systems to work smarter and investigate rare system issues...

    Because I said these, somewhat inevitably the flow of work didn't really allow anything of the sort! Or perhaps another way to look at is that I let myself be led by the flow of work rather than dictating it myself. I'm not sure if that's necessarily a bad way to work as it allows for a buildup of smaller results that help and will at some point surely allow other work to take priority! Though it does feel disappointing to be aware that issues still remain and that they need fixing. Perhaps by stating that my intention is not to work on them, fate will conspire for the opposite to happen...

    Either way, I have put them front and centre in the task list to be there as a reminder of where progress needs to be made and, at the least, I'll now look to put in a few hours into them to get further little by little.

    To continue the theme of talking about development and the way that it works for me: this week definitely saw a return to more of the traditional routine of development for myself. As the amount of people playing the game is staggered and the initial rush has quietened for now (likely awaiting larger updates), I was able to return to more of my usual routine of work through the day. This has been changed slightly because of requiring checking in on more community places to see what's new and react to, but I think it definitely feels more comfortable and natural.

    At the same time though, this brings some unease to me. Perhaps because of the intensity of the initial week, the relative quiet leaves me wondering about what'll happen next and what could be done better next time. It's hard to not get too attached to those worries and ignore the many good things going on and the wonderful community that continues to amaze in their support and help. Thankfully by talking it through with Matt and Charlie, I feel like I'm getting to a better understanding and we're trying to grow and learn as a team and appreciate that it is truly exciting times for the project and it is perhaps time to enjoy that journey and gradually prepare for the future - whatever it may be...



    Mummers Stick Together
     



     
    So last week I talked a little bit about getting new instruments that I'd need in order to make, among other things, mummer music. This week I'd like to explain a little bit about how that music is being worked into the game. Where most of the music currently in the game is region music that doesn't need to sync up with anything very precisely, the mummer music will be different. There are actual NPC's represented in the world who will perform this music - and they have animations of dancing and playing their instruments.

    To me, this means I have to try and match the music quite precisely with what you'll end up seeing on the screen. Trick is, I started writing the music way before the graphical assets were done. For the most part, I work off of whatever explanations Charlie can give me of what the music will be used for. This is much easier for regions than it is for a mummer dance. For instance, I used an Excelsior accordion as the main ingredient for the music in the drafting stage. This was in line with the research I had done into the genre of music. But when the graphical asset was done for the NPC that played the main instrument, it turned out to resemble a bandoneon (a much smaller accordion-type instrument), so I had to switch out the Excelsior.

    It also turned out I had overestimated the size of the group. In many of the video examples I found, there were multiple pairs of dancers wielding wooden sticks and they would strike these sticks together to the beat of the music. But the game's mummers only counted 3 people, only one of them carrying sticks. This meant I also needed to adjust the sounds I had made to represent these sticks, as I had made too many of them. Another addition comes from the attire one of the mummers is wearing, which is adorned with bells. To represent those bells visually, but to not have an audio equivalent for them, well...that just won't do! So I'm currently in the process of finding the right sound for them.

    Another thing I have to keep in mind is animation length, especially for the mummer with the pair of sticks. You see, I had made a percussive pattern for the sticks that isn't just a repeating 'bang' on the beat, but rather a more complex pattern. However, if Gary (our amazing animator) is to make an animation that fully matches that pattern, it'd be a rather long animation. Instead, if the sticks sound in a simple pattern that loops during the whole song then the animation to represent it can be much shorter. You could also make a separate stick beating animation and figure out how to play that in time with what I had first written, but that approach requires a bunch of code to be written for it.

    In the end, rewriting this seemingly simple percussive part to something even simpler appears to be the most feasible approach. All this has meant that in order to write this track I have to talk to both the designer, the animator, and the coder, just to get a good result. I wonder if Russell Shaw ran into similar challenges when writing the sailor song in Black & White...

    I suspect that he might've.



    The Green Bean Machine
     



     
    It's been a week of transition here among the team. In last week's issue of The PixelCount Post, we talked a great deal about the sudden increase of workload we experienced around the time of the backer build release. Yet this week, we had to remind ourselves to stop and smell the roses.

    In some ways, I hesitated last week to even talk about our workload in such detail. I think my worry was that it might possibly get interpreted as boasting or, even worse, might make people worry we'd burn out! But I didn't want to entirely gloss over it either, as it was certainly an ever-present theme of those two weeks.

    That said, I walk away from that busy period all the more encouraged by my teammates. Everyone was doing their part, staying in high spirits, and producing quality work. When chatting with the team, I often use a machine metaphor to refer to development. I'm not sure why really, but in some ways it's one of the more apt metaphors that comes to my mind. Certain things will make the machine run smoother, some things will lock the machine up, and some things will even increase the machine's output while reducing required energy input.

    Reading that back to myself it sounds a bit managerial I suppose, but worry not. I'm not the type to throw around the word 'synergy' unless I'm specifically using the word to say that I'm not the type to throw it around.

    Recently, this proverbial machine was tested and challenged; it had to run faster and longer than it ever has before. Yet everything went smoothly and nothing broke down. What's more is we've come out the other end having learned new optimizations for our work routines as well as learning how to work together even more efficiently.

    Something that people don't often talk about much in game development is the sort of relationships you build with the team of creators that you work with. I've been working with Charlie and Neal in some capacity for a fairly long while now, but for the last year especially there's barely been a day that's gone by where we three haven't talked to each other. Imagine talking to someone about a project nearly every day for over a year. It's easy to imagine the sort of comradery that comes out of that.

    Of course, our team has added new faces over the course of this journey with the addition of our composer, our artists, and so on. It's an interesting dynamic, because the lines of 'personal life' and 'work life' start to get very blurred over time as these people start becoming friends in addition to teammates. In that way, I think something we have to do is look out for each other as friends.

    Something along those lines that came up this week was that we were all still working at the same intense pace we had been working during the backer build release, despite the fact that the initial rush had died down. When working at an incredibly fast pace for a hefty period of time, it's a bit surprising how easy it is to forget to return back to a normal speed afterwards.

    So this week we had to remind ourselves that the craziness of the initial backer release had passed and that we should always be mindful to have fun with our work and to appreciate how far things have come. Indie game development takes a surprising toll on one's psychology and it can be easy to always focus on everything that still needs doing, how the journey ahead is still long, and how there will no doubt be unforeseen challenges. But it's equally important to appreciate the journey in the present and to stop and smell the roses. There's a good chance that each of us will look back on these days with a certain measure of fondness and how truly sad would it be if we didn't enjoy them while we lived them. It seems so often that people are always defining life's good times in the past tense, but by the very nature of 'past tense' it stands to reason that those good times had to first exist in the present. The only difference is that we seldom realize they're the good times until after the fact.

    But that's enough of me getting pseudo-philosophical.

    On the game front, things have been progressing very nicely. There's been 4 major build updates issued in the last 3 weeks alone. This last one is perhaps one of our larger ones in terms of fixes and polish (with a sprinkling of small new content tidbits as well). Meanwhile, our artists have been creating tons of new assets and we even began tentative work on art for completely new regions.

    I'm personally excited to see the new regions start to come together. I've spent so much time running around in The Vale over the last year and, as lovely as it is, I do find myself getting a bit of wanderlust for the rest of the game's world. The music for the new regions is going to have a slightly different feel as well, I imagine. It'll still be thematically consistent with the entire Kynseed soundtrack of course, but it'll also have a slightly new flavour to match the aesthetic and personalities of the new regions. Already Matthijs and I have been holding discussions on possible ways to take the new music pieces.

    All that is still a fair ways off though, as Neal understandably wants to get some core engine polish in before we start casting our gaze towards big chunks of new content. Which is certainly the sensible way of going about things, as we don't want to be building our castle on sand. Unless we're at the beach.

    For now though, there's still a surprising amount of The Vale that players have yet to discover. I keep watching Kynseed videos on Twitch and YouTube hoping to see someone uncover a few of its hidden secrets, but thus far most of them remain thoroughly undiscovered. I suppose I could spill the beans on where a few of the secrets are, but where's the fun in that?



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    Your little round window into the happenings in Summerdown.





    Man Spreads Butterfly on Toast
     

     
    A travelling man was seen to be eating toast on the village green last Turnsday. As he was about to bite into those crumby golden depths, a butterfly landed on it.

    He simply did not notice and took in the butterfly with his huge bite. For a moment he looked confused, then his eyes lit up and he chewed vigorously. Upon telling him what had happened, he exclaimed "I can't believe it's not butterfly!"

    That didn't quite make sense, but for the purposes of a reference, it will do.



    The Perfect Pie
     

     
    Making the most perfectious of crusted meat pots (a pie) is what drove local baker, Wendy Miller, to try using an ancient form of magic, called Mathematics, to try create the ultimate pastry.

    Apparently, there was once a man called Pie Thagrus, and his measurements are said to be the secret of baking the most mouth watering mix of meat, gravy, and shortcrust. Sadly, Wendy Miller can't count past 10, so her pie was a soggy mess.

    Her husband, Kenneth, said "I always tells her a wet pie full of meat is no bad thing. I would happily put my thumb in that!" Kenneth is known throughout the village for his bakery related innuendo, so his baking tips must be taken with a pinch of salt.



    Poppyhill Classifieds
     



    LOST CAT
    Hazel Nutt of The Vale has lost a kitten.

    If you have seen her p...OH GROW UP!

    FOR SALE
    Fertility totem: Have got enough kids now so not needed. Definitely works as we only used it once!

    Witch Ward: Slightly broken. Previous owner now a toad.



     

  2. #2
    Chisaki's Avatar

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    Don't let your worries get you down, you're progressing really fast and I'm getting more and more excited to play the game by myself as you're doing such a great work!
    When I'm good, I'm very good. When I'm bad, I'm better.

  3. #3


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    Chisaki side it right dont worry to much you guys are going at a great pace.am excited to see all the new stuff you guys add later so take your time and finish your vision for this game even if it takes forever you guys have my full support and every other backer am sure ^-^

  4. #4
    Matt's Avatar

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    Issue #29 of The PixelCount Post has been posted! In this week's issue we discuss new game mechanics for cooking, audio memory leaks getting fixed, a new region's music, and Matt being saved by Judge Dredd.
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

  5. #5
    Secretcode's Avatar

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    I'm going to say I am really excited all these simulation games are coming out this month there is so much you guys can learn/innovate on seeing these games (graveyard keeper,moonlighter) so i wonder how it'll refine things or maybe spark some ideas

    I honestly hope all three become so successful it starts a life simulation/management game sort of trend lol just like all those battle royal games, the ultimate dream one is a wrestling life simulation game..to start out as a indie wrestler trying to get hired by a big promotion and star power/ratings/matches can attract promoters to hire you

    ok ok ok done sorry reading these things just inspires me with ideas.

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