📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #35
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Thread: 📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #35

  1. #1
    Matt's Avatar

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    📰 The PixelCount Post - Issue #35

     






    ISSUE #35                         THE VALE, QUILL                         23 JULY 2018                         ONE BRASS





    Pretty Moorish
     



     
    I have a new addiction to add to my addiction to cheese, yoghurts, Rocket League, and bubble baths. We received a bunch of assets for the first hub area, Rivermoor, and the next haven of Summerdown. At first I looked at the bewildering array of tiles and multiple variants of grass and foliage, and felt lost. These sprite sheets are like jigsaw puzzles, and for a newbie to 2D art like me, they can be mind boggling. However, once I started to use the scree and pieced together a few streams and ponds, it all clicked.

    There is just something so relaxing yet energising about creating beautiful places, and you get lost in the process. Every blade of grass and sprig of heather is thought about. Every reed and lily pad is placed with all sorts of thoughts in mind. Is it easy to see? Does it make it too busy? Would this go here? Why is this here? Having an empty level is daunting but once a few things have been marked out and it starts to come together it is very enjoyable.

    This used to be the case on Fable...I just wanted to get to the prettying stage. Having detail in your levels is a way of showing the players that you really poured a lot of love into it. I am no artist, and so anything I ever made look good is a testament to the artists and tools that allow me to slap stuff down and somehow get away with it.

    I feel that is what made Fable so great and different - regions were a bit slapdash and higgeldy piggeldy. We want that same thing here. No RPGMaker tiled clones. Just organic, messy areas, full of life and nooks to explore.

    For me, the world is what makes the game as much as story and characters and mechanics. We hope that Quill gives you as much satisfaction and adventure as the cherished land of Albion.



    Moments of Momentum
     



     
    The week has gone by pretty fast, perhaps a consequence of a renewed focus with cogs turning and new exciting work under way! I think also three other things helped for me. 1) I did stop to reflect about what I was worried about at the moment and figure out what I could do to or what I should acknowledge as something out of my control (comparisons to past and an unknowable future). 2) I started streaming internally my work. 3) Putting together a task list to complete per day.

    I think between them it helped me a lot to get more into a state of flow and be more conscientious in my work, realising how I could better it. The task list also showed how splitting up the larger tasks into less intimidating steps per day, combined with smaller ones, helped avoid the fatigue of working on the same thing too long.

    It's interesting how I feel like this continues a cycle of rediscovering productive ways to work. In another few weeks/months I'll probably have forgotten these steps or find that once they became routine it no longer helps. There seems to be a constant requirement of either evolving or perhaps more importantly reminding oneself the actions that work best (as I do feel like my mind is very chaotic in flitting from one area to the next). Anyway, self-analysing aside, work has continued on the selling via 'stall feature' along with a few other improvements to the build as I go through bug reports and backlogs of work and art to import. I feel like I say it a lot, but it's still exciting to see the game shape up and slowly gain ground towards the intended vision!

    In the further week since this was written, I had a few days off as a mini-break and have since then been reassembling myself again. I realised I'd gotten a bit stale in my habits outside work and that a shakeup was needed. I can already feel the benefit of doing so with new thoughts floating around and an improved drive around what needs doing. Aside from the usual build updates, I've been putting in a little time into some editor additions/improvements for Charlie. It's been a while since I've last worked on this but it has become sorely needed as the number of levels, and pieces to assemble them, increases. Getting that workflow faster will be a great help to keep the momentum going and leave time for iteration and all the other work to up the size and quality of this game.



    20 Seconds, Moor or Less
     



     
    Very recently (last night from when I'm writing this), we got to do something I think is really cool: make a little 20 second preview of an upcoming region and then post it on Twitter. It had the region's new assets, including music being shown off for the first time.

    It was so early in development that I'm actually still working on that music now. But it also meant that I could see feedback really early on, accompanied by graphics from the location in the game it was written for. Since I am still working on the track, I can make use of that feedback immediately. It's a really cool way of engaging the community that I'd love to try more often!

    The track has a bit of history by now actually. This is the fourth attempt at this track! Luckily that doesn't always happen to me, or I'd go slightly more insane than I already am. I'd love to brag that I have a perfect hit-rate in music, buuuut I don't. The thing that finally helped me get it right was Charlie telling me what real-life moor this region in the game is based on. It meant I could look up local folk music to that area and see what instruments were used. In addition to that, a video of folk music he shared solidified my ideas of what to try next. The result is what you hear previewed in that tweet.

    Well, by now the track is at 2:20 minutes as of writing this. By the time you read this I hope to have it completed already. However, for the next couple of weeks I'm not going to be around! I'm going to Estonia to take a week long course on composing and conducting. But since I'm travelling by trailer, the journey there and back again will take a while also. It meant I had to try and anticipate on what music and sound assets would be needed in the next few weeks and deliver those as best I could before I go. Predicting things weeks in advance in games development is impossible though, so it's a guess at best. I hope that despite my absence nobody in the team will be waiting on assets from me.



    The Season of This Content
     



     
    It seems that everything comes and goes in seasons. The spring gives way to summer. A new hobby this week becomes next week's boredom. Life's happiness will be punctuated by sorrow. Today's good habits will trade places with tomorrow's old vices.

    Here on the team, it seems that creative projects are no exception to that ebb and flow. At times, this project provides an ever present reminder that game development is occasionally unexciting. Usually this is due to working on necessary but relatively mundane tasks. A spreadsheet here, a bug fix there, a team call to attend, an email to write. But then suddenly the excitement sneaks up on us again, jumps out from behind a bush, and gives us a good slap. Such is the season we find ourselves in presently, because a lot of those mundane tasks have finally begun to culminate to an integral step in the game's development. In this case, that next step is adding monsters, attack animations, enemy AI, hit boxes, and brand new regions.

    Combat is something that we've had planned since the very inception of the game's concept, long before we knew what to name the project or even ourselves. So the team has been anticipating this stage of development for quite some time. It all still has a long ways to go, but we're finally able to see visual evidence of combat manifesting itself within the game engine. It's just basic mechanics at the moment, but the combat systems will get refined and adjusted and mulled over many times. So much of a game's combat is in many ways intangible - it's more a feeling than anything. Either the combat exists in that sweet spot or it doesn't. So getting it just right will be an ongoing process, but the important thing is that this process has formally begun.

    So now that we find ourselves in a period of exciting new content being developed, I get to start doing one of my favorite things: sharing it all. You've likely read about us talking about combat in prior issues of The Post, oftentimes with a certain level of vagueness, but we are now at the stage of things where we'll be able to start showing much of this new content in the weeks (and perhaps even days) ahead. Keep an eye towards Twitter, these forums, and possibly even Discord, where we'll be gradually revealing all manner of wild beasts and overgrown wilderness.



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  2. #2
    CaptainOsyrus's Avatar

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    A lot seems to be going on right now. I've appreciated Charlie's level design for over ten years at this point. It's exciting to see his passion continue to a new project.

    Glad to hear you took a break when needed, Neal. The amount of work you've done on the engine is damn impressive and will hopefully be applauded by many fans one day.

    I hope you learn a lot during your class Aayen. Be safe in your travels and bring back something useful for Kynseed to absorb :^)

    Combat!?! Cant wait.

  3. #3
    BriarRose's Avatar

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    *eagerly awaits all the new content*

  4. #4
    Matt's Avatar

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    We've had our hands incredibly full these past few weeks, but it's finally time for another edition of The PixelCount Post! Head there now to read about upcoming combat news.
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

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