Stuff Under the Header


Oh man, 10 Days Later

There's actually stuff to talk about, and again, I'm going to split it up between 2 posts. Oh yeah, I'm finally back into my normal routine, had a busy 2 weeks.

Of course the first thing to mention is birds. Last week was an interesting one with a particular bird. All throughout the week she approached like many have in the past, but she never shy'd away from anything I did like a lot of them do. Every day she would come just a bit closer till she was at the edge of my hand. They'll come over to my feet, but when I kneel down, they typically back off a bit. I noticed they look at faces a lot and always look directly into your eyes. So I thought, I'll try keeping the food in my hand instead of putting some on the ground in front of me. She waited maybe 3 seconds before making the choice to come over and eat it straight out of my hand. This happened on multiple occasions throughout the day. She took less time to approach and was less apprehensive on each following encounter. On another moment, she had no problems being nearly eye level with me at close proximity when she was on a tree. The next day I tried to get a picture of her in action, but one thing she shared in common with the others birds was she didn't like the camera. She'll get close, but won't eat from my hand if the camera is out. Maybe I'll find a way to keep the lense unblocked while the rest of the camera is hidden, though if it's the lense that they don't like, that won't work. I've thought about setting the camera down and backing away a bit to see if they'll inspect the camera then.

Here she is looking straight into the camera. This is about as close as she'll come to it.

You can see her poofy feathers pretty well here.

She was turning her head right as I got this picture. That string on her feet is now mostly off. She had less and less of it every day. The easy way I tell her apart from the others is that bit of fluff on her feathers. There's also a certain marking on her head. Though an even easier way to tell is that she's the one that wastes no time running/flying over to me.

Different birds here. It was interesting that the far back one laid down so close to me. No worries, she's not hurt. A bit after this pic was taken, she did the same thing and every time the wind picked up, she brought her wings up.

Slit08's DT2 LP
Slit08 has an LP of DT2 up and completed in 5 videos. First one here. He doesn't go for 100%, but the play-through is done well. I enjoyed his fight with Harpuia quite a bit and it shows he has a very good grasp on the game's dodging mechanics. He also beasts right through the final level, even with the nerf it got, that's still pretty good. The only map he has trouble with is Sector 4. That's another thing where I'd like to showcase hilariously easy ways through hard looking obstacles. You can get through that cluster of red rings unscathed in about 3 seconds.

NegativeZeroZ's DT1 S Rank LP
For anyone that doesn't know. An overall S rank is when you A rank all categories on the Distorted setting. The reward, which isn't there in any release, is it will tell you on the title screen how to unlock the debug mode for the game. (Or at least some of its functionality.) That will be patched soon. No big rush as I don't think there's a lot of demand for that. :P

Anyway, Zero has done the S rank. I don't know why anyone would ever attempt such a thing, let alone succeed at it. Hats off to you. He makes good use of every spell the game has as well as any exploits that would benefit him. As I've said in the past, if you find an exploit, use it.

A Voice Interview
Hadriex (gamerzsnark) caught me some months ago and forced me to do an audio interview with him as he's converting all his text interviews over to that. Since he forced me to, I had no choice. He had a spoon and I didn't know how to react to that other than give in to his demands. It can be found here in this sentence. So yeah, you'll hear me. Don't remember that voice or I shall have to hunt you down. We're not sure if it was on his end or mine, but my voice is choppy in places. No amount of tweaking settings seemed to fix this, but most of the time, I'm understandable. On the good side, Hadriex was awesome enough to subtitle everything. If you thought my writing was unfocused and all over the place at times, my speaking will go beyond that. I had my answers to his text interview on hand, but I kinda just tossed that to the side and went with an unscripted mess of words. Which is... more my style. We did do a second take on I think 3 questions and only a part of each of them.


Making Games is Hard, Act. 2

Edit: (November 23, 2012) A new post will come in a few days. Its been a busy week and DT3's latest changes were taking up my free time... that and Borderlands 2. There's actually plenty of stuff to mention and talk about at least. :]

Continuing on from the previous post regarding DT3's changes to later chapters. This post is also long.

I get very attached to my projects. I want DT3 to be great and my best so far. The game has had a lot of time put into it, and I'm always afraid to make major decisions for it, since I don't want to do anything that could harm it. I'm afraid to change it from my first view and design of it. I detached myself emotionally from the project and took another look at the project as a whole to see what was really best for the game. Then I needed other opinions from those with an unbiased view of the project and presented what was currently there and where it was heading. It wasn't hard to see the superfluous content in the game, especially considering I already knew what that was.

It was pretty clear what needed to be done, so I immediately began rewriting that portion of the game. Gate 7 had a somewhat solid set, but Gate 6 wasn't clicking. Even then, I was looking for a reason to keep those 2 Gates, specifically the 3rd set they would bring. I asked the available testers what they would like the Gate 6 theme to be and got some decent suggestions. Then made a decision based on that, which was shot down with a better alternative. I thought about going with that. Still, this didn't fix the real issue. The rewrite was finished and really, things were better from all sides with the change.

More specifics on the change that won't spoil anything. There are now 6 Gates with their 1 McGuffin each. That number is arbitrary anyway, the Gates mostly serve as a spring board and training ground for the ability sets. Like the first Gate, the final one utilizes both characters and does give a unique ability to both of them, but only for this Gate. It does break the sequence the game had, however it gives the benefit of not having to keep that set balanced with the other sets and works very much in favor of the narrative at that point in the game.

It does have pickups associated with it, but they won't be around except for inside that Gate, so it's identity is kept hidden unlike what happened with the previous Gate 6. Which was the idea anyway. On those 2 removed levels. The first is one that you've all figured out if you looked around much in some of the later parts of the DT3 demo. That was Ninja Gaiden with a bit of Shinobi mixed in. The final Gate for Claire is one that had a joke applied to it that anyone will get if they've played the games. Sad to see it go, but a single laugh is not worth keeping it. Its theme was Ghoul's n' Ghosts.

There was a very special event that would happen around Central City between Gates 6 and 7. It wasn't removed, in fact it stays right where it was after Gate 6. It actually works much better as a bridge to what has been called the 'End Game' chapters of the game, which are just the chapters after all the Gates are completed. While it's called 'end game', it makes up quite a large chunk of the story.

Something that seems to happen with every major project I've had is discouragement. Not from external sources like negative feedback or lack of interest, but from myself. There are times during the process that my motivation runs out and I think that the project is going nowhere or that it's terrible. That I just can't do it or I'm inept at what I'm doing. I think this is something that hits many people for anything they put a lot of time and themselves emotionally into. This seems to hit me at least once for any big project whether it sucks or is great. Feeling burned out is part of this, but discouragement can stem from anywhere.

There are many ways I've found people combat this problem. One of my methods is simply to think back to why I'm creating what I am and what my goals for it are. This has nothing to do with the game's concept or gameplay structure, it's more personal than that. It's all reasons why I'm doing what I'm doing. These are two things I write down at the beginning of a project and occasionally look back on. The act of writing these two things down is fairly recent. DT3 was the first to have this done and its been considerable help in the process. The Bird Game has also had this done for it, and oddly enough, I often think on that when thinking up how I want the Bird Game to play out. I reference it just as much as the high concept when talking about the game and discussing potential ideas.

The DT series has been one of my stress relievers. It's what I do when I want to relax. Often times, instead of playing video games, watching a movie, or any other activity used to assist in stress reduction, I'll further the DT project. Sometimes though, I'll simply spend a few minutes with it and code something small. Those are the moments when something like the birds make it in. Or in the most recent area of the game, the dancing/cuddling flowers, which goes along with the more upbeat vibe to the area. That area also produced something that filtered into the rest of the mainland areas, which are respawning birds. These birds fly in from the sides and land in a set place and are given a slight randomize color blend. Seeing the birds simply fly by periodically was the major reason behind putting them in, rather than the more practical use behind them with their dive bombing nearby bad guys. The thought that the bird lands and becomes a bigger part of the scene makes them that much better. That was a fun side tangent.

There are external things that can assist with keeping motivation of course. Feedback of any kind has always been great, it's a big indicator that there is interest. My unexpected fanbase, while small, is amazing to me. The tropes page being completely fan made is super nifty. Seeing people discuss the game and strategies that worked for them and the LPs are equally as nifty. After seeing interest in the game pick up, I figured it would get a Lets Play or two, but not 9 or 10. I didn't realize the game was that Lets Playable. (We're going to pretend that's a thing for that sentence... I am anyway.) Something else that's always been great has been when people point out something in the game that they found neat that was intentional on my part. One specific off the top of my head was when raocow noticed that the fight with the Artist felt more like a battle between Jeremy and Hexor rather than one between Jerry and the Artist.

Okay, I gotta wrap this up, this is all ready longer than the Act 1 post. So what are ways that you guys keep yourself motivated or help pick that motivation back up?


Making Games is Hard, Act 1

This is going to be quite long. It goes into some rather drastic changes for DT3's later content.

It seems a lot of you have dabbled in game design before on some level, be that through your own original works, stuff like DT, rom hacking, or tabletop games. Not even limited to games, but the creative process itself is laid with challenges and tough decisions for any media. DT3 has been coming along really nice and I'm super happy with how it's turning out. I'm most happy with how the ability sets work well together. It's seeing these abilities work so well together that I've seen many other design flaws and issues that just don't mesh well together. I've had this thought for some time that I've been uncomfortable with, yet feel is necessary to maintain a core balance with the game. These are one of those tough decisions that I really don't want to make.

If we take Claire out of the game and leave Jerry with his first 2 ability sets, Zelda and Megaman. We're left with a close range attack supplimented by a limited use arrow and quirky bomb. This set alone works well, but falls short at various times against the challenges presented in the game. The Megaman one is a set focusing on 3 different ranged attacks with somewhat limited energy bursts. Again, this set alone doesn't hold up against what DT3 wants the player to do. Putting them together though, they work together really well and compliment one another. If we take Jerry out and focus on just Claire's first 2 sets, Castlevania and Metroid. (Which you all have already seen the signs for.) It's the same as Jerry's first 2 sets. Her Castlevania set focuses on her melee attack which is supported by 2 weapons with different quirks. The Metroid sets gives her access to similar abilities Jerry has, but with a different approach. Claire's weapons (cannon and missiles) can be fired up or down, while Jerry's cannot. However, Jerry's special weapons allow for things like stun locking and can linger.

Focusing on just the 2 character's first sets, Zelda and Castlevania. Jerry's melee has shorter range and is faster, while Claire has much better reach, less arc, and a bit slower. Things that don't work with Jerry's melee, Claire at times, can handle better, and this works the other way around as well. The game doesn't forces you to play with any one set nor does it force the player to constantly switch characters, but it does point out these differences. These 4 sets between the 2 characters with their mobility differences is the core gameplay. If one set can't do something, another one will take over and help the player trump whatever obstacle is in their way. Even further into these sets, Jerry's Megaman set gives you a hookshot, which adds to Jerry's mobility options and lets him get to places that Claire can't. Claire's Metroid set gives her the morph ball, doing the same as Jerry's hookshot, but again, taking a different approach.

As you know, the game has 1 more set per character to add to this mix. Each one being fairly quirky in nature, yet trying to fall in line with how the existing abilities work. Herein lies the problems that I've been seeing as I test content working with all 6 abilites together. DT1 made the mistake of being overly complex (and wasn't clever with it) and lets be honest, had useless abilities. There were a lot of mid to late game abilities in DT1 that were entirely situational and had extremely limited practical uses. Who used Inferno or Zephyr? Wildfire had maybe 1 or 2 places where it could come in handy over something like Fireball, but any other time, it was an MP waste. The 3rd set for both characters doesn't add anything to the core gameplay that the first 2 sets do, and further, it adds an unnecessary layer of complexity. It breaks the flow of the other set's melee/range priorities. It creates the problem that DT1 had with too many button presses to get to what you want. The abilities themselves are too quirky to be useful in comparison to what's there with the first 2 sets. Making them closer to the DT3 core makes them useless. They feel tacked on as well.

So what does this mean for DT3's later chapters? Gameplay wise, it's going to be completely changed from the initial plan. Story-wise, the Gates have side stories which feed into the main story. These 2 final Gates can be condensed, as some of the story content feels like filler. (Another prompt for me to have a look at these on the gameplay side as well.) This means some content that I had planned will be cut, which I feel is very necessary to keep the game's core set going as well as keep it from going stale. I had only planned for DT3 to be about an 18-20 hour game, which is all ready pretty large for the type of game it is. At the end of my playthrough of chapters 1-9, I have 11 (almost 12) hours of gameplay time. This is gameplay time not consisting of bug finding, this is just a straight shot through the content. (100% of the items available) That's only 42% of the chapters, this is getting to be a bit much. Something needs to be condensed, and I've found useless content that doesn't mesh well or add anything to the game.

I've been keeping Gates 6 and 7 a secret and will continue to do so for now. The details on the changes will be kept the same. But of what I will say is those 2 ability sets will no longer be there as previously mentioned. Something else will be replacing them, that I feel, is better. This also means that the game will have 19 chapters as 2 of them will be condensed into another. Each chapter is always a turning point in both the story and gameplay and I'd like to keep that consistent. This doesn't change the 7 McGuffins. Nor the 8 instrument quest as that is essential to what happens later.

To the testers; As it says in the channel, I'll be away till probably the week after Thanksgiving. Got some changes and happenings going on in the real life as well. I'll be getting another build to you guys somewhere between then and now. I'll still be working on the game, but internet is going to be a thing the next 2 weeks for this computer. (I'd go wireless, but this laptop refuses wireless.) You might be able to catch me on steam when my roommate forces me to play games with him. (That's a different machine.) To everyone else; My response time will be very slow to questions/bugs till that time. I'll also be out of town for a few days.

So has anyone else ever worked on a game and had to either make the decision, or seen decisions that made major changes to the game? If so, what did it feel like to have to do/see that?


Insults Incoming

Not much bird news this time. One thing the males love to do is stand on the cameras that are on the roof. 99.9% of the time, it's not a problem, but male grackles have long tails. Sometimes their tails will drop down and cover the lense, which I always find humorous. It's even funnier if you see it from the security feed, trust me on that.

In other birds news, this one comes by to say hi from time to time.

Wreck-It Ralph
Two months ago, I didn't want to go see this when Jerry told me to watch the trailer and said nothing about it. I did my normal thing of, "That sounds stupid, cause the name is dumb. Anything with the word Ralph and Wreck in the same sentence is doomed to fail and yada yada." He stopped listening after that. Of course, me being into video games, as soon as I saw the trailer, I said; "So we're seeing this on the release date."

I'm not gonna review it, I'm a terrible reviewer, but I just gotta say that I found it fantastic. I think it would be enjoyable for those that aren't into video games. I'd definitely game hop into Sugar Rush. That candy audience... Jerry and I had this giant shit-eating grin every time those were on screen. No worries, none of this is anything you haven't seen in a trailer.

So when the movie ended, this was the first thing Jerry and I thought of. Only click if you've seen the film or don't mind something that could potentially be a spoiler. I had to do it.

DT3 Demands A Sacrifice! Well not really...
The insults that everyone loves so much. DT3 demands more of those! If you have a Game Over insult that you think would work for DT3, leave a comment here. I'll be crediting those, if you want, in the Thanks section of the credits.

There are restrictions though. Swearing needs to be kept to a minimum and restricted to those words that have appeared already. 'Ass' seems to get the running theme here as far as that goes. Nothing too vulgar and if an ennuendo is used, keep it very very subtle. You've all seen DT1's insults a thousand times, you know how they go. :P
My personal favorite for DT1 is "Quoth the player; Nevermore." which came from a friend in the Netherlands. Yes Cali, (if you still read this blog) that one totally made it in. Way way far back, she requested an option to retry bosses from the menu cause she was always going for a flawless victory on them. I should have used her advice back then. :< She did however, prompt me to make Jerry's hitbox smaller. I think this was around the time Metropolis was in development.

Other DT3 Stuff
In response to the bottom comment on the previous post.
I won't say too much yet and not going to say where it is. Intense and creepy is the intended feel I'm going for. It does have multiple boss encounters and there's a section of the level with a gimmick, so some will be happy to know that. The color wheels also make a brief return, but they're handled in a much different way this time. The spinning wheels are gone, and instead you're given a new HUD element that shows what to do. For most of its return, it's less an obstacle and more of a puzzle element as I said once in the past. A screenshot may come in a few weeks. When I have something that I think looks good, I may post something.