After trying a bunch of different task organizing techniques I've gone back to just a big text file with a list of stuff to do. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (2 days ago)
here is a checkmark character to use in your tasks.txt: ✓ (2 days ago)
2016 - 6 - 29 / 8:41 pm / general
As I gather more feedback and suggestions my task list for Sky Sisters unfortunately is exploding with tasks and bug fixes! I'm having a lot of fun working on the game but by now I'm getting itchy to finish it. Remember when like, last year, I was going to finish it and put it out there? Well, so much for that.
One of the pieces of feedback that has been lingering for awhile is addressing what happens after a boss fight. The original idea was that after a boss fight far enough into the game an exit portal would open up and you'd have the option to take it and end the game. By doing this you double your score and officially "survive" the game. If you waited long enough then the exit portal would disappear and your next chance to take one would be after the next boss fight.
The whole "waiting around until the exit portal disappears" wasn't really working out that well. It was tough for players to understand it, and a lot of times they would accidentally miss their chance to take the portal because they didn't know how to use it right away. So now I've taken out the single exit portal and I've replaced it with two portals.
The portal with the skull on it takes you further into the game and you will face tougher challenges and more bosses, and the portal with the heart is the path to salvation. I've also made some overall changes to the game's timer system that lets the players wait as long as they want to make their choice. The game now only counts "survival time" which means the game timer only ticks when you're facing a threat. Otherwise it will wait around for you to move on.
I've also made a change to the way that the sky backgrounds work. Before it would slowly fade through a number of color palettes, but now I change the palette of the sky after taking the skull portal. The sudden change in the sky color after taking a portal feels like some form of progress, I think. There is some demand for more background art, but we'll see if I can get that far.
2016 - 6 - 25 / 11:33 am / general
Part of adding more stuff to Sky Sisters was the addition of yet another difficulty level beyond "Impossible." It sounds crazy, but I do want to make sure that people that put a lot of time in the game have a lot to get out of it. This new difficulty mode doesn't have any effect on unlockables or achievements in the game, and is really there just for an insanely tough challenge.
I wanted to make this mode unique somehow so I spent some time making "elite" versions of all the enemies in the game.
These enemies have more aggressive attack patterns and will ruin your day a lot faster if they're not dealt with immediately. You can actually run into these enemies in a normal playthrough as well but not until you've made it far into the game. The game does allow you to keep going as long as you can survive, so eventually you face harder versions of the bosses, and now you can face harder versions of the regular enemies.
2016 - 6 - 21 / 10:56 am / general
Whoops I've kinda neglected posting on my blog this month but I think it's because I've been so busy working on stuff! Which is a good thing. Maybe.
This past Saturday night I was invited to demo Super Sky Sisters at a Denver Comic Con "afterparty" type thing. It was a bunch of local Colorado game developers all showing off their stuff and it was fun on a bun.
I set up Super Sky Sisters and this was the first time in awhile that I was having not game developers play it. A lot of my feedback comes from my other game developer friends playing it, and although I get good feedback from them, it's not really the same as having folks who play a lot of games give feedback.
I feel like Super Sky Sisters is actually not that well received among my peers! This usually fills me with doubt as I don't see anyone get hooked on the game when I have other game developers try it out, and I usually feel like I am very careful to notice things like someone saying the game is good and fun and not wanting to play it anymore (which happens a lot.) These doubts were pretty much erased by the demo I had on Saturday though! The second group of people to play the game tried the hardest difficulty right away, and when they got destroyed they went right back in for round 2, and even a round 3. I went up and talked to them and they were SUPER EXCITED about the game and I feel like it was the first time in awhile that this has happened with Sky Sisters.
So things went pretty well! There were a few more groups of players that played the game really well. I was actually pretty impressed with the level of skill I saw going on with the demo. A few teams even made it past the first boss which I've rarely seen in my play tests.
2016 - 6 - 14 / 5:06 pm / general
In between Super Sky Sisters tasks I'm chipping away at some basic stuff using FNA. One of the tough things to get out of the way early is drawing primitives so I've spent some time getting that up to par with how Otter does it currently.
Circles and rectangles are in and working with camera movement as well. I also went ahead and put in camera zooming and rotating as well so that it matches the functionality that Otter has currently. Primitive outlines for both rectangles and circles is working too! The tough stuff I have coming up is figuring out the best way to do Tilemaps and transformations of a bunch of sprites all at once... basically Otter allows you to do things like create massive graphics, such as Tilemaps, and then give them their own scale, rotation, origin, color, etc. This doesn't seem as straight forward in FNA as far as I can tell right now, but hopefully I'll stumble across something.
Other than that,I've started messing with some basic collision detection which I plan on reworking a little bit from Otter. I'm trying to make it a little bit more organized this time around now that I have a chance to rework things from almost scratch.
The plan going forward is to start up my next game using this framework, and keep Otter SFML online "as is" and probably clean up some stuff to mark it as version 1.0.
2016 - 6 - 5 / 11:34 pm / general
While I'm taking a sort of break from Super Sky Sisters I've been messing around with something called FNA which is a recreation of XNA but in an open source style with maximum portability in mind. It differs in Monogame in that it tries to be as close to XNA as it can possibly be and doesn't branch off into its own thing.
Why FNA? I mean, I'm totally not sure. The only thing I can concretely say is that it's been recommended to be from developers that I highly respect. People often say that XNA is dead because it is no longer supported by Microsoft, but there is still a huge community of people making games with XNA and that is driving things like Monogame and FNA to exist. I feel a lot better about using something that seems to be more in the forefront of game development back ends.
One major point of FNA that I like is that it's only a csproj or a bunch of dll files. No need to install project templates or content pipelines or any of that stuff. One of my goals with Otter is to make it as easy as possible to get something up and running without having to install anything if possible, and I believe FNA is the best bet for something like that.
I've made it mostly through the first pass of text rendering, I've managed to get some basic shader stuff working, and now I'm working on getting primitives to show up. These are the three things that I'm most scared of so if I can get them out of the way it may be smooth sailing from there.
Basically when I do start getting serious about my next game I want to be working in something that has the possibility to be ported to other platforms. SFML does have that potential but it is not used very much in the game development community, so less people are familiar with it, and that means when it comes time to port I'm kinda up the creek without a boat.
More on this as it develops! You may even catch me working on this on one of my fancy game dev streams (warning: it's all programming and not super exciting.)
2016 - 5 - 20 / 2:22 pm / general
As I'm starting to send out builds of Super Sky Sisters for people to test I'm slowly churning through bugs and crashes that I was completely unaware of until the game runs on different hardware. One of those crashes is caused by creating way too many shaders so I've been investigating on how to address that for now.
One big idea I had was to change how Otter uses shaders internally, but I think after some experiments this idea probably isn't going to work. The idea was to have Otter's Shader class keep a cache of compiled shaders instead of creating and compiling a new shader every time. Basically when making a shader it would check to see if an exact copy of that shader has already been created and compiled, and if so it would just use that one.
However that means that every sprite using the same shader would then also be sharing that shader's parameters. So if I wanted to change the color on an enemy, it would change the color on everything else as well. In order to get around that Otter's shader class would then have to manage and apply the shader's parameters before each render. So EntityA could set its parameters before rendering, and then EntityB could do the same.
I went down the rabbit hole a little bit with this technique but quickly found it performs like crap mostly. Iterating through every parameter per shader per entity per render becomes pretty chuggy pretty quickly. At first I thought this would be a pretty good idea since it would reduce hundreds of shaders to just 1, but the process of applying parameters before each render seems to be not the fastest thing in the world.
So now I'm back to the regular old way that Otter does shaders which is creates and compiles one for every shader instance. This has some downsides but I'm pretty sure it still ends up being faster than my experiment with a compiled shader cache.
I have some work ahead of me still to stop some of the crashes for Super Sky Sisters, but I'm pretty sure I know how to fix it it's just figuring out the right arrangement of code to implement the fix!
Hi! My name's Kyle, and I make video games most of the time in Denver, Colorado. Here you will find my thoughts, games, websites, doodles, and other stuff like that. I worked on Snapshot, Offspring Fling, and a whole bunch of other games. I also created and maintain Otter, a 2d game making framework. If you want to get a hold of me use the form on the bottom of the page, leave a comment, or just tweet at me. I try to post three times a week. Thanks for stoppin' by! You're the coolest.
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