5/18/2013 9:24:06 AM
The last month has been very busy with effort spread across all areas of the project (programming/art/design). The underlying engine (graphics, sound, input, etc) has been reworked and abstracted to allow for more platform freedom (more news on this later). Time was also spent making the weapons feel more unique with differing speeds, stats, and ranges. The tilesets have also received plenty of attention with the addition of several new locales and objects. Work on the real game maps will start next week as the new tileset graphics are finished up.
3/29/2013 6:24:45 PM
Today was the last day of GDC13 and it started with a session about the making of Mark of the Ninja. Nels Anderson went into great detail about how they stripped down the stealth genre to its core and then designed new mechanics to create something innovative. It was interesting to see them approach genre conventions and turn them on their head without altering the appeal of the game. The next session I attended dealt with expressing narrative through level design. Dave Feltham of Bioware talked about how they applied traditional story telling techniques to the levels of Mass Effect 3 to influence their intensity and invoke a certain emotion from players. It must have been especially difficult in some scenarios since your actions over several games can impact the story.
After lunch I attended a session about how to release a game across multiple platforms at the same time (Retro City Rampage). Brian Provinciano had several great tips on how to approach it from both the technical and business sides that are sure to come in handy in the future. The last session I attended was focused on the ten principles of good level design and how to make fun and engaging levels. There are many facets of a level, such as its pacing, difficulty, and environmental details that you aren't always cognizant of but still have an effect on the way you view the level.
And with that, another GDC has concluded. This year's conference was a great mix of insightful making-of discussions, how-to's, and philosophy. I have several takeaways from the event and the rest of the year is sure to be both exciting and challenging. Work on Gheldia will resume next week so check back regularly to see its progress.
3/28/2013 7:14:30 PM
The second day of GDC13 started with another panel revolving around Vita development, which is definitely something I'm looking into at this point. The next session I attended was about the design decisions behind Diablo III. I found Diablo III to be a well produced and fun game and it was very interesting to hear about certain aspects of the design that were a challenge to the team. For instance, Jay Wilson went into details around why they modified the skill and health systems along with the reasons for implementing an Auction House. He also talked about how games should have core pillars for design that all the sub-systems should feed into, and this has been something I've been facing with the design of Gheldia.
After a quick lunch break I decided to check out the Expo, but didn't have much time to check out any new games. I did see several motion capture companies along with a few virtual reality simulators that looked interesting. After wandering around the Expo for a few minutes I went to a discussion about porting games to Windows 8. Due to the lack of native XNA support (can still run as desktop apps) I will probably look at some of the alternatives (MonoGame is probably the most likely at this point).
The next session I attended was about designing the interactive art game Journey. Jenova Chen went into great detail about how they wanted to capture emotion through cooperation instead of promoting competition. The amount of effort they spent refining the core and removing typical "game" elements to create something new is quite inspiring. At the end of the talk it was evident that they love creating unique games that invoke emotion and the session ended with a standing ovation – a truly amazing presentation.
The last session of the day was about Neo Retro pixel art and how you can add weight to your art by leveraging animation techniques. I plan on refining some of the animations for Gheldia with some of these new tips. Unfortunately, tomorrow is the last day of GDC13, but it has been another incredible conference with several takeaways. Tomorrow's sessions include some Indie sessions, level design talks, and narrative discussion.
3/27/2013 7:54:05 PM
Today marked the first day of the main conference at GDC13 and it once again began with the Flash Forward event (45 second snippets of several presentations). I then went to the Kojima Productions session where they showcased the new Fox Engine for Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain. The team went into extreme detail on how they are using photo scanning technology to enhance the visuals and the results are incredible (the new lighting effects make a big difference). They also played a portion of the beginning of the game which has Snake crawling on the floor of a hospital that is under attack. This sequence showcased the new engine really well and included dynamic lighting and realistic physics.
The next session was a panel discussion about Playstation Mobile (Sony's new development platform) and working as an Indie developer. I'm definitely going to look into this platform as it seems to be a great fit for the style of games I'm looking to create. After that I attended a session about usability that broke down the process into separate pieces that could then be examined. It was interesting to see that certain processes we do can be analyzed and improved on with this approach.
There was some time after the usability discussion so I decided to check out the Video Game Museum exhibit that was paying tribute to SEGA games. They had several Genesis systems hooked up to monitors along with a slew of old cartridges, magazines, and posters. After taking a look at the Museum I finished the day with an engrossing lecture about game theory. The topic was extremely fascinating and delved deeper into the philosophy of games and how player choices affect each other and how a player can try to determine the best outcome.
Unfortunately, I didn't stay for the Awards ceremony this year but I'm definitely looking forward to tomorrow, which includes sessions about the PS Vita and Windows 8 along with behind-the-scenes looks at Diablo III and Journey.
3/26/2013 9:43:33 AM
It’s finally time to head to GDC13! While I am only attending the main conference this year, it’s once again jam-packed with amazing sessions (PS4, Windows 8, post mortems, design sessions, and more). I’ll be posting a daily recap for each day of the main conference along with a photo feature next week, so be sure to check back for the updates.
3/25/2013 3:30:34 PM
Last week was spent on programming activities and started with the reintroduction of the save/load system. The process has been streamlined with defined file slots and automated saving which lends a nice modern touch. You can also see more details about a file including Lor’s location, gear levels, etc before selecting it.
The flow between areas has also been redone with the introduction of region maps. Work was also done on refactoring the underlying menu systems to make it easier to create new screens without duplicating code. The new scheme has an event structure (to simplify input logic) along with the ability to define menu items (text or image) that are pre-loaded. This has streamlined the process of writing the draw calls but has also improved performance.
3/15/2013 6:26:25 PM
A great bit of retooling was done this week with the focus on the Shard System and overall inventory. The process of equipping/removing Shards was a bit cumbersome so I managed to refactor it so it’s all within the same screen. The flow of the screen is much more natural now and I even managed to add stat comparison details. Work was also done on the crafting and shop screens which have improved flow along with additional item details.
A few other cool things that were added this week include new defensive maneuvers, improved layering for multi-tiered maps, and smoother screen transitions. Time was also spent on the Equipment screen where I replaced all of the text with newly drawn icons. The plan is to finish the menu screens by the end of the month and then switch to planning out more maps.
3/8/2013 6:29:33 PM
This week was once again dedicated solely to programming and a slew of new additions were made across the board. Several new traps were added including the fire breathers seen in the Debut Game Reveal feature, timed spikes, and monster gates. Golden versions of enemies now also appear in completed areas and offer better rewards than their normal counterparts.
Several improvements were also made to the main field screen which now allows more layers for both painting and collision detection. I re-added the ability to climb ladders and took it a step further by increasing the number of planes on the map. This allows Lor to walk under and on bridges and has enabled some cool multi-tiered maps.
Improvements were also made to the Shard and Equipment systems. Shards are now properly typed which means you can only socket them in certain gear. I also re-introduced Slayer Artes and started with the Heal spell. The ability to upgrade your gear was also added along with the initial version of the fuse screen which is used to craft Shards.
3/1/2013 6:52:48 PM
This week was another productive week filled with programming tasks that touched several different areas. Major changes were made to the map system to improve screen flow and connect areas to the overall world. I also redid the way that the area map works in the pause menu and it is now possible to actually see map elements like walls, water, etc instead of just boxes.
A day was also dedicated to adding buffs and debuffs to the game which were absent in the demo. I was able to integrate these into the Shard system and certain attributes can influence their effects (increase duration, resistance, etc). These added effects have already made the combat more interesting as there are several new layers of strategy when approaching monsters.
This week also saw the re-introduction of the skeleton warrior enemy and the real addition of the Dark Wizard (now with working projectiles). Time was also spent on several menu screens that display monster information – these screens reveal more information as you defeat more monsters. The pause screen is almost finished from a functional standpoint and flows much better than the original version.
Lastly, I added the ability to configure the game’s controls for both the controller and keyboard. Analog support has been re-added to the game and has been greatly improved – no more zigzagging unnecessarily. I also managed to get the new version of the game running on the Xbox360 and it runs pretty smoothly so far. Some optimizations still need to be made but the initial run is much better than last time.
2/22/2013 6:40:44 PM
This week has been entirely dedicated to programming with the intent on getting as many of the core game objects done as possible. I’ve moved away from the overly generic event model of the demo version in favor of a more focused object model that is flexible depending on the type of object (complex events will still need an event editor). This means I can now trigger simple events for interactive objects like gate switches without wiring up a ton of event triggers. This new model has greatly simplified the floor spike traps which used to be a convoluted series of timed events for switching frames and remembering their state. With the introduction of this new scheme I was able to add both traps back in with relative ease and they can now be placed on the map like any other tile without the need to configure each one individually.
Other programming tasks this week included modifications to enemy respawning, the reintroduction of the floating crystals (restore health and set respawn point), the reintroduction of Lor’s crossbow (now with the ability to trigger switches), and proper tileset support in the Map Editor. I am also working on adding more puzzle elements and was able to give Lor the ability to push statues.
Lastly, I started working on the new menu system with the hopes of making something that is easy and efficient to use. I took several notes during the play sessions at PAX and I am implementing those changes now to streamline the process of equipping Shards and navigating the menus. I also started work on the Arcane Forger (not in the demo) which will be used to upgrade gear, fuse materials, and socket Shards.
Stay tuned next week for a special announcement!
2/15/2013 6:22:16 PM
Work resumed on Gheldia this week with a good deal of progress made across several different areas. High level world planning is finally finished with all of the areas mapped out at a basic level. The types of monsters and their individual properties have also been fleshed out including their attack types, drops, behavior, etc. The stat system and damage formulas also received some attention along with improvements to the Shard System which should allow for some cool customization.
Along with the extensive scoping work, I was able to make several improvements to the game engine. The most notable improvement is the enemy AI which has been expanded to make the monsters a bit more challenging. In the demo version, their AI was very basic and mostly random – the new version has them confront Lor and they now have the ability to use skills. With these new changes I will finally be able to implement the Dark Wizard properly which should definitely make things more interesting.
10/9/2012 9:37:49 PM
The refactoring process for Gheldia continued today with additional modifications being made to the editor. I’m spending a good deal of time refining the way that layers are constructed along with how objects interact with the environment since collision detection was the game’s biggest sticking point at PAX. I’ve redone the collision editor and replaced the simple can/cannot pass indicators with a dialog that allows me to define the actual collision rectangle per object. I’ve also expanded the map editor to have more layers so objects can now render above Lor, which will allow him to walk behind trees. The next month or so will probably be dedicated to programming as I redefine how the editor saves its files, how map information is stored (for optimization on the Xbox), and changes to the game engine to accommodate the editor tweaks.
9/8/2012 8:00:29 AM
Chris Lock of Level Save stopped by the Hunt Game Studios booth at PAX Prime 2012 and wrote up a short report about the game. You can check out the preview here - Gheldia Preview
In other news, I am almost done with the media article for PAX Prime 2012. It should be up by the end of the weekend.
9/3/2012 8:45:53 PM
Yesterday was the third and final day of PAX Prime 2012. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a bump in the road as my power went out the night before, which forced us to go to a family member’s house to get ready. We were able to pull things together and made it to the convention without issue but could have done without the power failure. Once we got to the venue we had some time to check out some other booths on the 6th floor. Before doors opened we spent a fair amount of time playing a super hero flavored card game called Sentinels of the Multiverse, which is very different from your standard card game as it focuses on players working together instead of battling each other.
Once the doors opened we were at it again for the third day in a row. The reception for the game was pretty good and the game continued to strike a chord with those who grew up playing SNES games. We also received some great feedback from younger players who seemed to enjoy just running around and slaying gels. However, I definitely need to work on Lor’s navigation as control and hit boxes have become my number one priority. There were a lot of good conversations among developers again and it’s cool to see what everyone else is working on.
Overall, PAX was an amazing (and exhausting) experience and I want to thank everyone again who stopped by and shared their feedback with us. There were a few instances where people were surprised that I was taking so many notes, but I want to ensure that I address issues with the game while playing to its strengths. I also want to sincerely thank my brother and girlfriend for helping me out in managing the booth and I couldn’t have done it without them. The next thing I need to do is aggregate the survey results and start working on making changes to the controls. I will also post a photo feature by the end of the week with photos from the event that focus on it from an exhibitor’s point of view. Make sure to check it out once it’s ready.
9/1/2012 7:31:24 PM
Today was the second day of PAX Prime 2012 and it was definitely busier than the first. We started the day by wandering around the fourth floor looking at all the exhibits before the doors opened. They definitely did a great job down there but I’m not sure if the long lines are worth the 5 minute demoes. I’ll check out those games when they’re released.
Back up on the 6th floor we received a good reception again with a lot of people commenting on the retro look and feel. There were also a few common comments about the collision detection and making things a bit more visible in terms of what you can do. Several people had some great suggestions around handheld devices and multiplayer that I’ll be looking into in the future. There were also some good discussions around the evolution of games and programming – these are always appreciated.
Tomorrow is the third and final day of the event so we look forward to another full day of game play. I want to thank everyone who stopped by and shared their thoughts with us – we are going to go over the comments and survey results sometime next week. Lastly, there will be a feature uploaded later next week with pictures from the event.
8/31/2012 8:14:11 PM
Today was the first day of PAX Prime 2012 and things got off to an "interesting" start. When we started to hook up the actual gear, one of the laptops wouldn’t boot. Fortunately it was just a dislodged battery and after reinserting it we were up and running. After finishing our preparations the doors opened at 10 o’clock and the event officially started.
We got a fair amount of people throughout the day to come by and check us out and it was a great experience. It looks like a lot of other people share our passion for old school games, those that let you play instead of watch. It was also interesting to see how different people interacted with the game depending on their gaming background. We just wish we had a better release date as it looks like things are going to slide into next year (spring/summer).
I do want to sincerely thank everyone that stopped by, played the game, and shared their feedback. I am already working on new ideas that will improve the game that I plan on implementing in the coming months. If you didn’t get a chance today, feel free to stop by tomorrow to check it out. We appreciate it – see you there!
8/30/2012 8:49:27 PM
The time has finally come for PAX Prime 2012! Today was also the second and final day of PAX Dev and while not as elaborate as GDC, it still had a wealth of great sessions. The event had a certain level of intimacy that is missing from other conferences so it was a nice change of pace. The dev landscape is continuously changing in the software industry so it’s great to see so many different perspectives. The sessions I attended were mostly focused on production and there is definitely a number of new design issues that need to be kept in mind in the current ecosystem (looking at you freemium).
Today was also Hunt Game Studtios’s move-in date for PAX Prime so we spent the morning trying to get the booth set up. There are still a few last minute items we need to address (hooking up the gear) but we should be ready for tomorrow’s 10 o’clock opening. We also had some time to check out some of the other booths and they are quite extravagant (most of the 4th floor).
We hope to meet a lot of people over the next few days and are looking for honest feedback. We have some cool ideas in the works for the core of the game and it will continue to evolve over the next few months. So with that being said – come by our booth on the 6th floor at 6413 to share your suggestions. See you there!
8/28/2012 8:39:28 PM
PAX week is finally here! Everything is kicked off with a two day conference for developers only – sorry media. Since this is strictly a developer conference we won’t be posting any pictures of the event and will probably only do a small recap at the very end. However, there are many great sessions on the schedule so there’s definitely a lot to learn. Things will really take off when Prime begins this Friday. We hope to see many people there!
8/25/2012 11:04:15 AM
I came across this really cool PAX Expo map that I thought I’d share. Check it out here - PAX Expo Map
8/23/2012 7:47:51 PM
The PAX build for Gheldia is ready to go for next week’s conference. I was able to finalize the survey along with making minor adjustments to the menus to optimize it for the event. Next week is jam packed with both PAX Dev and PAX Prime (hopefully we won’t need any last minute adjustments). Check back tomorrow for PAX show details!
8/20/2012 8:26:03 PM
Microsoft recently announced the list of Dream.Build.Play finalists and we wanted to congratulate those that made the list. Sadly, Gheldia didn’t make the cut but there’s always next year when things are further along. However, you can still help us by play testing it next week at PAX. Stay tuned for more show info!
8/12/2012 8:16:25 PM
In order to obtain feedback from the players at PAX I am implementing an in-game survey. We will use information obtained from the survey to improve the overall quality of the game along with seeing what real gamers feel are the trends in the industry. Also, we are still working on getting the booth materials together and should be announcing some more details shortly. Stay tuned.
8/7/2012 9:09:48 PM
Updates to the game have been put on hold while we finish our preparations for the PAX convention, which is now only 3 weeks away. Due to the focus being elsewhere, the demo at PAX will be close to the DBP12 version. However, this still shows off the starting areas and the basic mechanics. The hope is that development will pick up after the conference as we can focus our attention solely on the game.
7/29/2012 9:41:21 PM
The last week has been an interesting one and the work focus has been split between monster designs and refactoring. We are collaborating on some really cool monster designs (along with the Beast Lords) and should be able to get more enemies into the game soon. These new enemies require a bit of refactoring of the core game loop which is being rewritten to allow for better monster AI along with better handling of character states. The hope is to have the refactoring complete along with a new build in time for PAX, which is only one month away.
7/15/2012 5:57:46 PM
Now that work has completed on some of the PAX materials focus has shifted back to the actual game. I was able to add the preliminary versions of the Crossbow and Hammer weapons. There’s a good deal of refactoring that needs to be done in order to support these but they are now usable in game (with real time switching to boot). Also, the Equipment Screen needs some modifications in order to accommodate these weapons since there are six extra Shard slots. Lastly, I managed to add the first version of the Dark Wizard enemy that was shown in the debut Feature. His fireball attack still needs some work but it’s coming along nicely.
7/4/2012 11:08:56 AM
Check back on Friday for a special announcement from Hunt Game Studios. We’ve been working on many things over the past few weeks and something very cool is just around the corner. Don’t miss it!
6/17/2012 12:42:07 PM
The last few weeks have been extremely busy with most of the effort being put into preparing the build for the Dream.Build.Play contest. This included several tweaks to the quest system along with dialogue writing. A lot of time was also spent on fixing bugs and making tweaks to the overall engine. I also added more help text along with a controls screen which shows the button layout for the game complete with a 16-bit version of an Xbox360 controller which took a few hours to draw (definitely not 16x16!).
Work was also done on the trailer which can now be viewed on Youtube (see News item). It shows off most of the functionality of the game including exploration, shard management, battles, etc. I hope to spend more time on trailers in the future but this one should at least give you an idea of the direction.
As far as the contest goes you can check out the Dream.Build.Play entry here
. Finalists will be announced in August with winners coming in September. We wish everyone luck!
Lastly, more new screenshots will be uploaded later this week showing off a few locations that weren’t previously shown. And now that the judging is underway we are going to go back to focusing on the game. We also have more exciting news to share but need to wait a little bit longer before we can reveal it. Stay tuned!
6/3/2012 9:01:50 PM
Today was focused on composing the Dungeon and Field themes along with expanding the world’s characters. I replaced most of the placeholder text to flesh out the characters and added some backstory in the form of books you can read throughout the village. I also updated item drops so they show text when they are picked up – this is working really well for Shards and Materials. Everything is coming together now so it won’t be long before the trailer is posted.
6/2/2012 10:04:05 PM
There’s only one more week until the deadline for submitting games for Dream.Build.Play and we are almost there. The monsters now have proper death animations (unique per mob type) and a few more objects have been animated (flags, Crescent Strike when it hits an object, etc). I also decided to modify how the Will spheres work – originally it would only increase your Will allowing you to use Artes more often. However, I found myself not wanting these to drop when I wanted to focus on upgrading my Shards so now these spheres increase both Will and Essence.
I was finally able to fix the spike trap bug which would cause the player to get stuck on spikes and take damage until they died. With this bug fixed a lot of the tricky trap navigation has become more manageable. However, I had to modify some maps to ensure players couldn’t cheat their way around the spikes. I also managed to improve the load times and now the game loads in under 20 seconds on the Xbox 360. It’s still not fantastic but everything caches beyond that point so it never has to load again.
Lastly, I worked on composing some new music and actually got the basic melodies down for the Title and Town themes. I still need to add more instruments and do the Field/Cave themes but things are progressing well. Time to get back to work...
5/30/2012 8:00:33 PM
The past few days have yielded some great progress. I managed to animate the Gel monster and totally redid the skeleton guard, including his animation. I added more Shard types (Will Regen, Life Steal), item drops, and even got around to adding the Shop Screen where the player can buy Shards and sell off unwanted items. The town has also been touched up and more characters now populate it along with some new quests. I also added a loading screen and redid the Title screen. Along with that I fixed a number of annoying bugs that started to creep in (you could revive yourself by attacking after death, graphics didn’t always load correctly after saving/loading, and a few others). Lastly I started messing around with the trailer which will be posted next week.
However, not everything is going smoothly. The XML serialization on the Xbox 360 is much slower than the serialization on the PC and the game takes a little too long to go through its initial load. I would build my own serializer but a lot of the classes I would use are not available in the XML assembly used by the Xbox. I have an idea of how to get around this but I don’t know if I’ll be able to implement it in time for Dream.Build.Play. The good news is that after the first load there is no downtime so once it’s up everything is good. More to come soon so stay tuned.
5/25/2012 9:22:52 PM
A great deal of progress was made tonight with work spread across map building, graphics, and programming. A few of the remaining maps were finished and the world is definitely starting to feel fleshed out. I also got around to drawing more interior objects so I was able to complete the Inn. I also added support for longer text strings for item descriptions, regular message boxes, etc. A new screenshot feature will be uploaded in the next few days to show off some of the new locations. Stay tuned.
5/22/2012 10:02:01 PM
The focus of the night was on building maps and the town of Arbor has been expanded a few screens (one outside and a few interior ones). The highlands were also expanded with a few more maps added to give the player some more exploring and monster slaying. I plan on finishing these up tomorrow night as the highland area is mostly a rough layout at this point. After the new maps are in place I will probably draw a few more objects for the building interiors and then move onto music composition.
5/21/2012 10:07:46 PM
More programming work was done tonight with some improvements made to the screen transitions. The original screen transitions were just a series of overlays of varying transparencies that gave the illusion of a fade-in/fade-out. I removed these and replaced them with a global color value that can be changed to affect all objects which yields a much smoother fade-in/fade-out. I also added floating damage numbers so you can see how much damage you are dealing and receiving. Lastly, I updated the death animation for Lor so that it doesn’t just cut to the Game Over screen after you lose all your health.
5/20/2012 11:33:35 PM
The demo for Gheldia continues to take shape as multiple areas were focused on in the last few days. The graphics for the interiors received some attention with a few new objects (book cases, plates, wine bottles, etc). The Home Point feature now has a floating crystal to go along with it instead of reusing the Crystal switch. Some work was also done on the programming front and the scrolling bug has been fixed in the menus. Lastly, a few of the maps have been tweaked to give the game a more cohesive feel. For instance, more NPCs have been added to the town and Odo actually makes it back to the Inn after you save him. Hopefully we will be able to get some new screenshots up soon along with some footage. Only 3 more weeks to go!
5/17/2012 9:47:16 PM
Some more programming work was done over the past few days with more effort put into the Shard System. Originally you could unleash the Crescent Strike attack without having the corresponding Shard but now you must actually equip the Shard in order to use the skill. I also implemented material item drops from both destroyed items (bushes/barrels) and enemies. The loot calculations are still a little off but it’s starting to smooth out a bit. I think I’m going to stick in the programming swing for the next few days and wrap up some of the outstanding items around the menus and eventing.
5/13/2012 8:34:38 PM
Over the past few days work continued on drawing the graphics for the building interiors. The hope is to get at least a few more objects finished before the focus can shift back to other areas. There is still some programming tasks to finish up (redoing the way spikes damage the player) and of course the music. I hope to get to the music side of things soon as there is only one month left until Dream.Build.Play. New screens and game footage should also be ready by the end of the month. Don’t miss it!
5/10/2012 10:02:45 PM
The baseline for the Quest System was added today with the ability to receive and complete quests. The next item on the list is to expand the Quest Screen to give the player more details about the quest including its location, rewards, etc. A few tweaks were also made to the Event Engine to allow for graphics to reset when the Event Page is switched. Lastly, I started working on the interior of buildings to help flesh out the town.
5/9/2012 9:40:43 PM
The maps to the first village have been completed which introduce the player to the trap and enemy mechanics. The next thing that needs to be worked on is the introduction of the Shard and Quest systems. Right now the player already knows the available Slayer Artes and Skills but they should acquire these as they play. This is going to require some retooling so programming is up next.
5/4/2012 10:30:07 PM
I was able to implement a few more graphics today with most of the effort being spent on the healing animation along with building out the two maps to the Tutorial Cave. The actual animation for healing wasn’t that complicated to draw, but the actual playback isn’t quite right yet and is mainly due to a limitation in the Player class. I plan on addressing this at a later date but at least it looks much better than it did (no animation at all). The HUD was also refreshed today with a few more tweaks made to the equipped weapons/skills boxes.
5/3/2012 10:11:04 PM
Over the last few days work was spread across multiple areas including music, art, and programming. The title theme is starting to take shape although music composition is definitely the slowest part of the entire project (so many ideas but not enough cohesion yet). I was able to add the lowly Gel enemy to the mix which will be the first enemy that Lor encounters. The Shard System was also expanded with the introduction of Armor shards which can be used for defensive purposes such as increasing health, healing damage, etc. Some work was also done on the HUD to show which weapons, Slayer Artes, and skills are equipped by the player.
5/1/2012 10:37:10 PM
I’ve been into a little bit of everything over the past few days including music composition, graphics, and programming. I was able to get the general idea down for several of the themes with the most progress being made on the Game Over music. Work was also done on various animations including updates to Lor’s walking and slashing graphics. The demo is also being expanded from a content standpoint with a few maps being added to extend the overall scenario. A short tutorial cave was added today to introduce concepts to the player and act as a way to get Lor to the starting village. Only 6 more weeks until Dream.Build.Play!
4/28/2012 4:54:36 PM
Most of the interactive objects in the demo now have multiple frames of animation (breaking barrels, cutting vines, opening gates, etc). The majority of the Game Switches had to be modified in order to allow for these animations to play out but the end result is much smoother. A number of tweaks were also made to the Editor to allow for the manipulation of frames during event sequences. Lor, enemies, and NPCs still need a few more frames of animation and this will probably be the next item on the list before production on music begins.
4/25/2012 10:34:29 PM
While the original plan was to handle music composition this week, that has been pushed to next week due to time constraints. The focus for the last few days has been on drawing the icons for the game files along with animating a number of interactive game objects (gates, levers, etc). The additional frames of animation really enhance the game world and it’s amazing what a few additional frames can do to make the world feel more alive. The event engine requires some minor tweaks to display these extra frames but that should be done by the end of the week.
4/21/2012 5:22:17 PM
Work continued today on sprucing up the system graphics for the game – the mini map received some updates in its placement along with a new coat of paint. The equipment screen now displays which piece of equipment you are embedding shards into. The Save/Load screens have also been modified and now include more graphics showing the current player’s health, time, Essence Count, etc. Lastly, the Skills section was added which holds all of Lor’s currently equipped skills. This is where you will see which Slayer Artes are active along with any magic. The first spell is a self-heal that Lor can use when his Will is full to replenish his health.
A new feature article will be uploaded tomorrow outlining the recent additions and will include new screenshots showing off the new system graphics and menus. Don’t miss it!
4/19/2012 11:00:37 PM
Work continued on the menus tonight with the focus on adjusting the alignment so that nothing important is cut off on a TV screen (the safe area on a TV is a great deal smaller than a monitor’s). I also managed to spruce up the menus a bit with some new gradients and additional icon placement. The equipment screen still needs a bit of attention and then we should be ready for some new screen shots. Check back this weekend!
4/18/2012 10:29:24 PM
I took a slight break from programming tonight and redid the menu icons. I also put together some game icon thumbnails for the Xbox and PC versions. Work continues on the menus as well with effort put into ensuring that the borders aren’t cut off on different monitors. Hopefully there will be some screenshots by the weekend so check back to see how the Menus have progressed.
4/14/2012 5:21:57 PM
The major area of focus for the last few days has been getting the game running smoothly on the Xbox360. The process of deploying the game is pretty painless after I separated the Content Importers so that the two builds don’t conflict with each other (PC vs Xbox360). After deploying to the Xbox360 it was apparent that a few optimizations needed to be made so I refactored a number of inefficient loops and now things are running smoothly. I also managed to rework the save/load mechanism to support multiple save slots and to have it work on the Xbox360. More system programming will continue tomorrow followed by some new screenshots at the end of the week.
4/11/2012 9:58:58 PM
Programming continues on Gheldia with a few new features being implemented tonight, including player death. In the Alpha Demo it was impossible to die even if the player lost all their health, but now the player is given the choice to continue or load their last save. I also implemented the fast travel system that lets you set a home point and then return there for quicker adventuring. Lastly, some refactoring was done around the PlayerState object to improve the efficiency of the engine so that values are no longer copied to multiple locations. This has the added benefit of simplifying the Save/Load mechanic.
4/8/2012 3:37:23 PM
Work continued on the Shard System today with a number of improvements including the ability to actually equip Shards (Shards were automatically equipped in the last build) and monsters can now drop Shards when defeated. The underlying loot system had to be retooled a little bit but the overall outcome has yielded better item ranges. Menus are also being transformed from their current state (plain white text on a black background) into fully graphical menus. Screenshots of the new features will probably be posted in a week or two.
4/7/2012 10:01:51 PM
Today was an extremely productive day on the programming front. Work for the menu systems is in full swing with several features implemented in their initial state. I was able to implement a functional Title Screen, the Mini Map, and even began working on the Shard System. Right now, the player can pick up a Shard, level its first tier ability and actually have that ability affect gameplay. I also managed to add Save/Load capabilities although it is restricted to one slot at the moment. I hope to get more of the Shard System implemented over the next few days along with some menu graphics.
4/3/2012 9:09:50 PM
Work on the map system started today with the introduction of locations and floors. The map system in the Alpha Demo is made up of individual screens that are linked together through teleport events. Since there is no real relationship between maps it’s not possible to build a proper map layout. However, locations and floors add this relationship and give the player the ability to see how maps connect (screen exits, stairs, etc). The pause screen is being modified to show the full map of the floor for the current location. The editor still needs some more tweaks to accommodate the location/floor changes but things are moving along without too much rework. After the pause screen is finished work will begin on the Mini Map.
3/30/2012 8:40:07 PM
The Alpha Demo for Gheldia is complete! The demo strings together several maps to form a simple quest that features a small village, forest, and dungeon filled with traps and enemies. I finished touching up the maps today along with redoing portions of the HUD (still a work in progress). Also, messages are now displayed in message boxes instead of plain text on the screen. The collision detection still needs some work but has been improved since the last build (enemies no longer get stuck). A fresh batch of screenshots will be coming in the next few days showing off the demo maps and new features. It’s still a little too early for a trailer but I plan on putting something together with video in May.
3/28/2012 8:58:54 PM
The maps for the demo level are almost complete – after the last map is finished I will polish them up a bit to smooth out the flow. I was able to implement the Crescent Strike special attack seen in the reveal, which is proving to be a rather useful ability. After completing the last of the maps I will capture some screens to share. The original screenshots were conceptual and were not fully playable; however these new maps are 100% playable. While these maps may not appear in the final game they will help prove out the next series of concepts – Shard system, menus, map, inventory, etc. Check back in a few days for the screenshots.
3/26/2012 10:29:18 PM
A lot of work has been done over the last few days and things are progressing along quite nicely. I was able to implement some simple traps (ground and moving spikes) by utilizing the event engine. It’s always great when you can expand on an existing feature to utilize it for something it wasn’t intended for – the event engine is definitely going to get a workout in the near future. I also put together a basic audio engine that is now pumping out some sounds for various things (collecting items, slashing, etc). The sounds and music aren’t final but it’s nice to finally have some audio to go with the visuals.
In order to test out all of these new components, I started to build a basic demo level. The game is pretty fun so far, but the enemies are getting stuck on the environment too often. Time to take another look at that collision detection...
3/25/2012 8:07:50 AM
Steady progress is being made on the combat engine and it’s now possible to battle basic monsters. These monsters are also dropping loot, although the formula for dropping items still needs some tweaking. Further work was also done on improving the collision detection across all objects and collision types (striking, touch, interacting, etc). It is also now possible to strike an event and have it trigger e.g switch crystals actually work now. Traps will probably be next, followed by some menu screen implementation as there is only a Pause screen at the moment.
In other news, scoping has begun for the Dream.Build.Play demo – hopefully we’ll be able to announce something around that soon. Stay tuned!
3/22/2012 6:02:24 PM
The programming work for Gheldia continues this week with time spent on a number of different areas. The focus for the week was originally going to be on combat only, but it turned out that some of the engine needed to be refactored to accommodate this. Support was also added to the engine so that it actually understands different types of screens (allows for screen transitions). This will set us up for implementing the menu system (map, equipment, shards, etc). Now with some of the refactoring done, the focus will shift back to combat.
3/17/2012 9:23:20 PM
Work resumed on Gheldia today and most of the time was spent adding enhancements to the editor. Countless features were implemented, including the ability to cut/copy/paste/delete events, better tools for managing the steps of an event, shortcuts for switching layers, and much more. The collision detection of the game engine has also been cleaned up a bit, but needs more work as you can still get stuck on pieces of the environment. Lastly, the eventing that allows you to talk to NPCs has been wired up. Programming work will continue next week and will focus on the combat.
3/9/2012 6:38:15 PM
Today was the final day of GDC and it started off with a session about how games get reviewed. It turns out that the process is a bit more complicated than just playing the game and rating it. This session gave me a lot more perspective on how reviewers approach their job and useful tips on how developers can interact with the media more efficiently. After this, I spent some time wandering the Expo floor and got a chance to try out a few games including Kid Icarus:Uprising, Wipeout 2048, Tekken 3D Prime, Gravity Rush, and more. I also experimented with some cool augmented reality demos for the PS Vita that let you modify the elevation of the world by using the system’s two touch screens.
The next session I attended dealt with DLC and presented figures around the ROI on DLC in particular categories such as review scores and release dates. DLC strategies are becoming increasingly valuable these days as studios are looking to extend the life of their games. I don’t really mind DLC if it’s built a few months after the initial release and truly adds to the game, but I’m not a fan of unlocking disc content with DLC codes (here’s to hoping this trend fades away). After this session, I went to a presentation about the Indie Games Summer Uprising campaign that took place last year. Dave Voyles gave an in-depth overview of how they put the promotional campaign together and how they managed the voting, press releases, etc. I knew about the promotion last year but I didn’t realize how much work actually went into it. Hopefully there will be more campaigns like this in the future coupled with more options for indie developers to get their games noticed on the service (the new dashboard improvements are certainly a step in the right direction). The last session I attended revolved around the importance of digital distribution and how it can essentially transform anyone into a publisher. The ability to self release content is huge for independent development studios and has opened the doors to many new games by removing the blocking factor of going retail.
And with that, my first trip to GDC has come to a close. It’s been an amazing experience, with many lessons learned and a slew of takeaways. I got to meet a bunch of great people, attend many insightful lectures, and play some cool games. The next week is pretty light for game development, but I will be uploading a media feature with pictures from the event. Gheldia development will resume towards the end of the month as the scope is determined for the Dream.Build.Play build. Stay tuned!
3/8/2012 7:17:49 PM
The fourth day started with a bootstrapping discussion with Justin Beck from PerBlue, and it focused on his company’s journey from startup to what it is today. The talk included a lot of practical advice about starting a studio and where to direct your attention (it’s all about keeping that laser focus). I then attended a post mortem about the original Harvest Moon with Yasuhiro Wada. One interesting bit of info I learned from this discussion was that they wanted to convey information to the player without using conventional means like energy bars and on screen prompts (e.g. when the player goes through the different stages of stamina loss). While a lot of today’s games are eliminating HUDs, this practice was almost unheard of in the 16-bit days.
After lunch, it was time to attend the "Art of Diablo III" presentation and it was absolutely packed with attendees. Christian Lichtner walked through the core philosophy behind Blizzard’s artwork and showed off many character concepts from inception to the final version. He even broke down an entire frame and explained the different planes and how lightning was used to contrast the background and foreground elements. This style of framing is more akin to painting than typical 3-D graphics and the outcome is spectacular. The last session of the day was about the appeal of games and how certain ones sell while others don’t. Many examples were given of games that sell a large number of copies because they have elements that players can relate to or were slight variations on familiar themes. Relevance, immediacy, and coherence all play a part in determining a game’s appeal and overall success in terms of sales.
The night ended with a casual event for XNA developers at the Microsoft Lobby Bar. I met with a few fellow XNA developers and talked with the Dream.Build.Play staff about the contest. It turns out that you don’t actually need to complete your game in order to enter, so I’m actually thinking about entering a partial build of Gheldia – we shall see.
Unfortunately, tomorrow is the last day of GDC but it has been an amazing ride. I’m going to upload a bunch of media from the event in a few days, so check back soon for a photo feature.
3/7/2012 11:29:29 PM
GDC continued today with the first day of the main conference. The whole event started with the "Flash Forward" event which took the place of a traditional KeyNote speech. It was an amusing rapid fire presentation where presenters were only given 45 seconds to talk about their discussions. There were a few minutes to kill before the next lecture so I decided to wander around the Expo floor. I’ll probably return another day as I didn’t get a chance to look at every booth or to play any of the games due to the time constraint.
The first presentation I attended was about the new ways of monetizing games for Windows 8. There are definitely some really cool ways to manage your games on the new store but I’ll have to do more research here (for instance XNA games are only supported as Desktop apps). The next session was all about the new tools in Visual Studio 11 that will benefit game developers. Microsoft is adding native shader support and a really awesome feature that allows you to debug and step through the process of rendering a single frame.
After the two Microsoft talks I decided to head to Moscone North and check out a few Japanese sessions, complete with translator headsets. The first one up was a post mortem for Super Mario 3D Land with Koichi Hayashida, but it turned out to be so much more. Hayashida managed to blend humor, technical details, and a lot of heart into an inspiring presentation that goes back to the core of game development – if you enjoy the process of making a game, you will make something enjoyable. Next up was Keiji Inafune with his viewpoint on the future of the Japanese game industry and how many are resting on their laurels without having the desire to "win". This presentation also included some of Inafune’s stylized art and he even hinted at working on a PS Vita project. Another great tidbit of information was that many great franchises started at the beginning of a console’s lifecycle because people were forced to try new things with the hardware.
At the end of the day we were treated to the IGF Awards and the Game Developer Choice Awards. I’ve never been to an official awards ceremony before and this one definitely fit the bill (large room, big sound, plenty of lights, etc). It was nice to see that both indie and commercial games received the same amount of praise and respect. A lot of great games were honored tonight with Fez and Skyrim taking the top prizes. Dark Souls, my 2011 Game of the Year got a few nods as well which was nice to see. Warren Spector gave a very heartfelt speech about not losing sight of our creative goals and to focus on what makes our medium unique – its interactivity. All in all, it was a fantastic way to end the evening.
Tomorrow is day four of the event and it includes more cool sessions including a look at the art of Diablo III, indie devs sharing their success stories, and an XNA community event. See you all there!
3/6/2012 9:56:59 PM
I attended the "Level Design in a Day" tutorial for the second day of GDC and it was filled with fantastic information on level design and game theory. I’ve built a ton of maps in the past (Heroes, Warcraft, AoE, Doom, RPG Maker, etc) and have always focused on making cool looking levels without realizing how much thought and process actually goes into making great levels. I plan on sketching out some of the systems in more detail and possible player stories now that I’ve seen how valuable they can be.
The tutorial started off with a great session revolving around telling player stories by describing the three types of agency (systemic, spatial, scheduling) and how they relate and influence each other. I’m definitely going to use this information in developing Gheldia’s maps and shard system to ensure that there’s not one optimal way to proceed through the game. The session after that focused on effectively expressing narrative within the context of a level. This means that you are crafting mini experiences along the way to the current player’s goal to keep them engaged throughout.
During lunch, the panel reviewed some attendee portfolios and it was interesting to see what others are working on. They then launched into a Q&A session that touched on some fascinating questions including one that asked about the difference of making single vs multiplayer levels. Once the Q&A session was over we moved into a discussion about being an idealist as opposed to a realist with examples from the development of Skyrim. This was a great topic because the better part of last year revolved around scoping and taking all the ideas for Gheldia and filtering out ones that just aren’t realistic for a debut game.
The next session was about drawing maps and the presentation itself was unique because all of the slides were hand drawn. The discussion talked about the importance of jotting down ideas quickly and doing rough drafts before you actually start building anything. Sometimes, we get too excited and jump right in without realizing we can actually solve some problems before starting the actual production. This then transitioned into a presentation about documentation which seemed more geared towards larger teams. Lastly, the day wrapped up with a case study around the Gears of War 3 multiplayer map "Trenches". The first version of the map had several problems that were ironed out through constant iteration and beta play testing. The main focus of the session was to call out that there will be failures along the way and that you should learn from them to better your content.
Now that the Summits and Tutorials are over the main conference will begin tomorrow. The main conference includes many varied sessions across all tracks of game making (audio, programming, AI, etc) along with several booths (will try to hit them between the sessions if there’s time). Tomorrow has some seriously cool sessions including a talk about the Windows 8 app store, a post mortem for Super Mario 3D Land, new tools for Visual Studio, and a talk by Keiji Inafune, creator of Mega Man, on the future of the Japanese game industry. Looking forward to it!
3/5/2012 9:57:45 PM
The first day of GDC has concluded and we are definitely off to a great start. This is my first year and I didn’t know what to expect, but the quality has been extremely high so far. We even had two minor earthquakes to begin the day – how’s that for starting the show with a bang?
I spent the entire day attending the sessions in the Independent Games Summit and they were very insight. Many diverse subjects were covered ranging from implementing folk games with the PlayStation Move to technical post mortems. There was a session about creating exciting game trailers that pointed out that their main purpose is to get people excited about your game and not necessarily to advertise. There were quite a few recurring themes as well with many developers citing that you need to remain focused on your core mechanics and ensure that your main game rules are fun and engaging. It’s one of those things that seems simple but isn’t always realized in implementation. Another recurring theme was to ensure that your tone/vision for the product is unified and is the driving force behind everything including PR.
The focus for tomorrow will be on level design as I will be attending an all-day tutorial on best practices. This will be another great opportunity to pick up tips and tricks from the best in the business.
3/4/2012 6:13:36 PM
I hope everyone is enjoying the debut game announcement and I thank everyone for their support. We just made the announcement in time too as GDC12 starts tomorrow. The conference is finally here and I am extremely excited about attending this year. So far, the scale has been mindboggling but I’m confident I’ll walk away with some great new insight into the industry. The hardest thing right now is choosing which sessions to attend out of the 400 available...
3/3/2012 12:37:06 AM
Work continues on getting the game materials ready for the reveal with the last of the graphics wrapped up for the screens except for the HUD. Due to time constraints, I am cutting the HUD and will add it at a later date (it just didn’t work out). Everything else is coming together rather nicely and just in time too as GDC12 is a mere two days away. The reveal will be uploaded as a feature Saturday evening with a collection of screens and information. Don’t miss it!
3/2/2012 9:03:37 AM
It’s almost time to reveal HGS’s debut game. Yesterday, I redid some of the hero graphics and added a few more objects. Time was also spent on laying out some new maps (the original ones were just concepts for the art). Today, I will hopefully finalize the HUD and add any last minute objects before writing up the game information. Look for the big reveal sometime tomorrow afternoon!
3/1/2012 12:05:22 AM
Yesterday and today were mainly focused on drawing NPC and enemy sprites. I also managed to create some traps which should make for more interesting maps. While creating these objects I actually hit the original tile set object limit and had to double the size allowance of the texture. The limit was originally put in place to get something up and running quickly and wasn’t difficult to change. While in the editor I fixed a few other bugs that have been lingering for a while. Programming will be our next priority now that we have a good deal of the art wrapped up.
The next two items on the list are getting a HUD in place followed by writing up the Game page. Check back this Saturday for the full reveal. Also, GDC12 is less than half a week away – it’s going to be a busy week!
2/27/2012 10:28:06 PM
We decided to push the last environment from the reveal so we can focus our efforts on polishing and adding extra art to the two environments that are mostly complete. You never realize how many extra tiles you need until you finish a scene (specialized corner tiles are numerous). The last environment will make its way into the game and we will share some of its art when it’s complete. However, we did get a chance to start on the NPCs today and they are coming along nicely (we will add animation later). A little bit more work will be done on them before moving onto the enemies.
2/26/2012 10:51:32 PM
Our progress continues to move along at a great pace with a full day dedicated to pixel art. We were able to knock out the redrawing of two full environments today. Time was also spent experimenting with different types of transparencies in the .png files and things are looking pretty good. After the next environment is finished the focus will be to draw some of the NPCs and enemies. We should be on schedule for the reveal this weekend – we are beyond excited to finally share some of the work we’ve been doing. Stay tuned!
2/23/2012 9:15:54 PM
We are making steady progress with our environment tiles for the debut game. Yesterday we were able to whip 40 rough tiles together so we could lay out a few maps. Today, we are working on refining them to be a bit more polished. After all the environment tiles are complete we will shift our focus to NPC/Enemies and finally we will address the HUD.
2/22/2012 4:55:07 PM
Now that the Mini Reboot has wrapped up, it’s time to focus our attention back on the debut game, The next two weeks will be spent getting the screenshots and preliminary info together for the reveal. Hopefully we will have everything compiled in time for the reveal which should take place prior to GDC12. We’ll keep everyone updated.
2/17/2012 7:53:31 PM
We are finally making good progress on the GameFest 2011 feature. It’s been on hold for a long time but it’s actually being completed and should be uploaded in the next few days.
Only two more weeks until the debut game reveal!
2/10/2012 9:03:37 PM
Just thought I’d give everyone an update on our debut game as we continue finalizing the features section. The first game that Hunt Game Studios will release will be a 2-D Adventure RPG. You can learn more about it in the upcoming "Year In Review" feature that we will post soon. Also, look for the full reveal at the end of the month which will include more details and screens.
2/7/2012 10:04:38 PM
While we are a little behind on uploading updates to the site, it was still a ton of fun digging up all the old Gilgamesh Games content. Some of the unused material may make its way into a future HGS game so there’s still some hope in implementing some of those ideas.
The Features section is getting attention next and we hope to finish the articles in the next few days. This should complete the Mini Reboot effort and allow us to shift our focus back to the game. The game reveal still looks like it will happen before the end of the month - just in time for GDC.
Lastly, we have made some optimizations to the site so hopefully it’s a little bit faster for those navigating around.
2/4/2012 5:59:32 PM
We are putting the final touches on the reboot content this weekend. It was originally going to be uploaded tomorrow but it will now be delayed a few days to ensure that the entire site is working properly (we have made some optimizations). We hope to have it up by the middle of the week.
1/29/2012 3:49:21 PM
We will be refreshing the site this coming weekend with the Mini Reboot content (probably early Sunday) so be sure to stop by and check it out. There’s not going to be an immense amount of content but we have been wanting to get to these pieces for a while and are glad that it’s finally coming together.
Now that we are getting closer to February more work has also been done on the actual graphics of the game in preparation for putting some screenshots together for the reveal. We appreciate everyone’s patience!
1/16/2012 5:48:53 PM
The mini reboot is still coming and the site will be refreshed by the end of January. We will be adding the Biography, Features, and Games sections. We will also finally upload the GameFest2011 editorial along with a short year in review retrospective. The Games section will be empty for the time being (tested behind the scenes of course) but will be updated in February when we reveal the debut game.
Speaking of the debut game, we are still working on some of the base graphics and hope to have a screenshot or two ready for the debut. The game is in a working state at the moment but needs a bit more polish before showing. Recently, a lot of time has been spent on direction, content, and scoping and less on art/programming. We hope to get back to the technical side soon though.
1/6/2012 6:43:09 PM
We have been looking forward to GDC12 for a long time and getting the opportunity to actually attend is going to be an amazing experience. These firsthand events are a major eye opener into different facets of the industry that aren’t always apparent to the players. The same can also be said about their great companion magazine Game Developer
We will probably have some GDC12 coverage after the event, but it will most likely be in the form of an editorial. The GameFest 2011 article has been rewritten so many times that a lot of the material is now outdated. We will post a revised version of this article later this month and it will follow this new editorial format.
Be sure to stop by next week as we will have more exciting news!
1/5/2012 8:16:24 PM
Microsoft just announced some awesome changes to the Xbox LIVE Indie Games service. The maximum size of games has been increased from 150MB to 500MB. The price scaling has also been adjusted, so larger games can now be priced cheaper. This is great news, as it allows for more freedom both in pricing and the amount of content in the game. Hopefully the next thing on their radar is to improve the XLIG section in the dashboard by re-implementing genres and making the section more prominent.
In other news, we have a very special announcement planned for tomorrow so be sure to stop by.
1/4/2012 8:51:15 PM
Just finished work on a site uploading tool that makes the process of editing the site’s database much quicker. It’s a Windows Form application that uses XML to dynamically generate forms which are then used to modify the data. This allows us to easily create, update, and delete records without having to result to manual queries. What does this all mean? More frequent updates!
12/30/2011 9:52:00 PM
There has been a lot of activity recently that I want to share with everyone, so I am looking forward to issuing more updates via this Blog. See everyone next year - it's going to be a good one!