Stuff Under the Header


Feathery Air Shows

Edit: (November 2, 2012) 9/21 chapters done... That doesn't sound like much. Chapters 10 and 21 being the most intricate.

I had an interesting moment with a grackle the other day. Copy-paste time!

Male grackles are a bit heavier than I imagined. So this evening at work, I found a grackle laying down on his side next to the building. When I approached, it didn't move so that was sad. It didn't really look dead, though I glanced around to see wtf may have happened to the bird and why it would just die right there. A few small feathers were scattered about, it wasn't another animal, and grackles don't kill each other in fights usually. Besides it's not the season where the males claim territory.

Then I looked at a nearby window and realized what happened. It left a spot of feathers where it made impact. So I thought, well I can't leave the bird here, I'm sure the store doesn't want this laying about. My thought was to put in on something to bring it over to the bushes and let nature do the rest. So I kneel down and pick him up to transfer him to this thingiemabob I have. It was mid-transfer that I realized something I hadn't seen earlier. The bird's chest was moving! Okay so the bird just knocked the wind out of himself. I figured he had broken his neck. It was at this moment of realization that he suddenly lifted his head. I about flipped out. Luckily I didn't do one of those flailing freak outs as the bird was still being held. In my mind I'm thinking 'holyfuckingshitthisbirdisstillalive'! He looks into my eyes, and I'm sure he flipped out just as much when his daze wore off. He does this crazy acrobatic roll and fly combo and he's off toward the sound of the flock.

So that was fun.

That same day, here's what the sky looked like around 6:30pm-7:00pm.

She hasn't come by in awhile. She flew down on a rock close by and stopped to look at me, then hopped off.

DT3 Stuff

These Dragon Knight guys are finally almost finished. If you followed the blog waaaaaaaaaaaay back when I was still finishing Gate 2, you may remember a screenshot with them. Their AI is finally being finished now, though Chapter 9 is where they debut. They're on the same difficulty as the Tyrants and like them, have a few reactive behaviors. I personally find them easier to handle than the Tyrants, and though they're not done yet, I don't think I'll find the finished version any different. They have a few more behaviors that need to be finished and a lot of tweaking. Other than a dungeon all about puzzle solving, this guy is the only rough part of Chapter 9. The end of Chapter 8 and most of Chapter 10 are fairly intense, so I wanted a calmer moment between them.

I'd like to keep trial and error out of any puzzle solving in DT. Most of it will use observation on the player's part to figure things out. I've gotten feedback on the dungeon from 3 testers and all went well. 1 had some trouble with one room, but he had skipped a step earlier in the dungeon that displays how certain objects react, so that prompted a tweak so said part couldn't be skipped in the way he managed. Another had trouble with a room in a different way, which prompted me to add a nudge to the player about not fearing a certain mechanic. My roommate, Jerry doesn't do regular testing for DT, but he does know how to play it. There are times that I'll have him play a section after the testers run through it and I'll watch how he plays. These puzzles will definitely be one of those places.

Next time, gonna talk about games... again.



Edit: (October 26,2012) Oh hey, another not so subtle change to the blog. It seems Jeremy has been plotting to get me a new computer. I don't know when he was planning on doing this, but if it's before I planned to build one in March next year then uh... I'll have one before that? That would be pretty nice as this machine is pretty slow, AND I'd be able to record again! Maybe that flawless playthrough of 'Think & Act Fast' will come sooner. I'm dreading that, I was only able to pull that off once and that was during development on DT1 when I was much better at the game. Plus I'm pretty sure I was feeding off some unknown source of godly gaming energy. Now to voice or not to voice it?

I'm pretty sure grackles have a game revolving around finding the most expensive looking car and pooping on it. As someone who finds luxury cars to be silly, I find this game to be in good humor. There are still birds in the store and people are convinced they should catch them with nets. This has been unsuccessful 99% of the time. I've been trying to tell them to try using a trap door type of deal with a trail of bread crumbs leading in. Set it up quickly when they see the birds and wait at a good distance. Then once one is in the box, the bird can be freed outside. My advice has fallen on deaf ears it seems. Trying to catch a bird with a net is hard. A coworker told me that last year a bat got in the store. I replied with, "That's awesome!" The person gave me that look as if I'm crazy, then said something about it being a heath concern, as are the birds. I replied with, "So hundreds of people all in one store isn't a health concern?" I find that a single bat or bird every few months should be the least of our concerns as far as diseases spreading goes. "But the birds get into the food and fruits." This is a legit concern, but customers do the same... daily.

Unfortunately I was not able to get a picture when the entire flock was overhead, but I did manage to this one. Every evening around 6pm-6:40pm, they gather up everyone and roost.
I had quite the audience.
I noticed this one making noise/singing, so I waited for him to do it again as I was sure he would. I like when they puff up their feathers when they sing.
 Here's a shot of a female getting very close.
And surprise to me, so did this guy. He was walking away when I got the shot, so he was actually a bit closer than this at one point. It always surprises me when the males come close. The flash was on for this and the previous shot, so they have this weird drop shadow.

DT3 Physics and Controls
In the DT3 demo, Claire's control still uses the loose methods that DT1 and 2 use. In future versions, Claire matches Jerry's tight control. DT3 requires more precision than its predecessors and those controls don't work well for it. After playing with Jerry's new control in DT3 and swapping to Claire, she felt too loose for the game. Her crazy dash and slide momentum is still in place and is now slightly more exaggerated. Underwater controls are the same.

A few more control nuances will make its way to the dashes in DT3. Jerry's forward dash will stay the same, but Claire's forward dash will be changed so that holding forward will not cancel its momentum. Pressing forward or back during its duration will still end it though. Claire's back dash will probably stay as it is. Jerry's back dash may change quite a bit. Currently there have not been any levels based around his current back dash mechanic so only minor changes may need to be changed to existing levels if that happens.

Due to Slaix bitching at me, the character swap delay during split party sections is being reduced to 1/3 the normal time. The change for those sections feels right, so props to him.

Here's a shot of a new area where everything takes a turn for the bright and happy. Birds fly about, flowers dance and cuddle, and the music pretty upbeat.

The similarities with the game raocow is playing nearly got me to move this level to a later section or remove it completely. It stayed. The dungeon in Chapter 9 is mostly based around Jerry and Claire working together. The boss fight is also the first and one of the few bosses that use the split mechanic.
Now that I look at it, this shot is boring.

Chapter 9 is getting close to ending. It's a fairly short one that leads straight into the Black Rock of DT3 and the big turning point in the plot.

This Other Game Idea
I had a game idea last year where the basic setup is a physics based platformer, but when you die, your past body is left behind. You can then use this body for whatever you want. I had many thoughts on the applications of this, but my most fond one is throwing the body to overhead spikes, thus impaling it, and using it as a swinging rope.


Tired Changes & Interrelating Webs

Noticed a few comments in the previous post regarding another project that I briefly mentioned, including an email, so I'll address that here.

The synopsis being: A small game where the player interacts with the world and its characters through simple means; Sound and expression. Every interaction provides a strong meaningful response and alters future interactions. All of this done without dialogue and text.

I won't talk about this one too much, but I feel it's kinda cheating if that's all I say about it. So... It's a single player game where you, unsurprisingly (you'll see what I mean), play through the life of a bird, starting with the very first moments when it hatches from its egg. From there, every system and mechanic is set up for you to build relationships with other characters as the bird's life goes on in a fairly directed narrative driven world. The game world itself is kept small as well as the number of characters, but each one plays heavily into the experience of building relationships.

That's all I'd like to say about this for now, but I may talk more about it at a later date. I'm also still writing up the design doc, which for this, is a slow process. Lots of ideas getting written down, but get thrown out very fast. What is there looks really good though. Everything has to go back and draw upon the basic concept of the game.

As for how the game would be released; It'll definitely be released as a downloadable game for Windows, and probably (most likely) available for mobile. It won't be built in Game Maker because I don't trust its mobile and cross-platform tools yet. I feel that needs more work. The game will also probably be in a 3D world, and Game Maker is not the tool for that.

A Problem with the DT Story
When I say it has a problem, I don't mean I'm dropping anything, this is simply something wrong with it. I've said that in the beginning, DT's story was only there to justify going from location A to B. Back then I thought this was an okay thing to do, as DT is very gameplay driven and embraces games in their interactive and traditional roots. I used to push away story and focus only on the gameplay side of games. This last year, I've been seeing that wasn't a good idea and have been finding ways of merging gameplay and narrative seamlessly as that can lead to a far more engaging experience. When writing a story, it's important to know what you want to convey to your audience. I skipped this step completely for DT3 and didn't give it enough attention. It's there, but not fleshed out well enough. A good writer can (and should) take a complex idea and convey it in a simple way, or take a simple idea and convey it in a complex way. (I prefer the first method.) For example, DT3 touches on human rights during its second half. Lately I've been asking myself how I can go about conveying that concept properly through DT's narrative without it being preachy and overbearing. This was something that should have been done well before this point.

It's not that this is a requirement, but having all this together would have made DT much more engaging. The concept of 'fun' doesn't have to be the only thought on a designer's mind for video games.

None of this would fix my horrible skills, or lack thereof, in writing dialogue. But all of it, as a whole, could have been better because of this.

Oh right, I'm back from GDC and still somewhat tired after having only 3-4 hours of sleep a night from staying up all night at the Ginger Man with the Narrative Summit group. But it was fun and awesome. I may link to some of the pictures I took when I get them uploaded somewhere.


Even More LPs

No new bird pictures today (well there is one) despite there being lots of birds now. Sometimes I wondered if after shaving, the birds would still recognize me, but they have no problem with that. I stopped to have a conversation with a co-worker today and this bird landed on a rail behind me, then stood there for quite awhile about 1 1/2 feet from me.

I should name her, but I'm no good with names. My bird with the short tail feathers, I've usually called 'Grumpy' cause he doesn't usually like other birds around him during the day.

She waited there for about 2 minutes while I talked with the co-worker before I gave her something. These days, she's the bravest of the birds as far as approaching me goes. She won't eat out of my hand, but she has no problems coming within inches of me now.

Other LPs
The LP I mentioned last week that I didn't have the link of is actually one I had seen before but neglected to mention here. It wasn't Spanish, but Brazillian Portuguese, as I was told. You can find it here by . He's playing on Veteran.

There is one more LP though. This one is by ShadeWearingHero's friend who showed him the game. He's playing it on Distorted and has said he may not finish it. He's just seeing how far he'll go before he ragequits the game and cries... One or the other. Place your bets!! Oh yeah, it's by .

GDC Austin
I'll be at GDC this week, so responses will be delayed till Friday or Saturday.


Just A Blog Post

Haven't had too many chances to get some good pictures of the grackles, but now that fall is here, there will be a lot more of them. Although more doesn't mean better. All the new grackles coming in don't know me, so I'm hoping the ones that do know me don't move on.

The left one was waiting for me to throw out some food while the one walking away was... well walking away.
Well look who it is!

Another LP
I was shown another LP of DT1 that started a few days ago by a youtube user named . It has voice commentary by a guy who seems to know he's getting into something harsh. No issues on resolution and frame rate. His LP can be found here. It seems he was shown the game by a friend. I have a feeling said friend just wants to laugh at him.

I was told of another LP supposedly in spanish, but was not given a link.

Speaking of LPs, I laughed at raocow's despair and moment of silence at the end of Section 6.

There is a twitter dealybob that was added to the side which links to my twitter account that isn't used. I think I started the account simply to reserve the name. Lets see how long that thing stays on the side till I decide to remove it due to uselessness. Man this paragraph's sentences are kinda long.