Friday, November 28, 2008


So, today I had a few hours. Turns out the day after Thanksgiving everybody just wants to sleep. Well, everybody else just wants to sleep. So I made some new changes to make the game better. So the new enemy attack animations are put in and work, I corrected some enemy placement issues and added the little pictures for when the characters talk. The new install file is also a lot smaller since I got rid of the extra files that I don't need.

In case you ever feel like you want to download The Thief's Tale, the link is:

YAY! Please play it and let me know what you think. Feel free to by brutal. I can take it. After testers tell you, "Um, yeah, the first levels sucks, you should re-do it" you develop a thick skin. Or you cry. I think I did both at the time.

Anyway, the site says I get 10 free downloads, so get them while there's hot and/or available.

Right, then I uploaded the newish version to the IGF FTP so that makes me feel good. I had some lingering nagging doubts about the project like :Do the enemies all line up correctly? Did I
turn off the debugging stuff? Does the install file even work? Now I don't have these. Joys!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Wow, just wow. I'm having a total rockstar moment. My game, The Thief's Tale, is listed in the official entries for the IGF competition. If you happened to get here through there, please have a look around. I've kept a log of the entire experience and hope that the lessons that I've learned and the battles that I've fought (and sometimes lost) along the way can be of a help to other people. Especially if you are thinking of doing something like this yourself.
It looks like the the competition is pretty. I'm not saying one thing or the other about the gamplay since I haven't played any of the competitors submissions. Granted, the screen shots of the other games look, well, better, I'm hoping that a tuned and polished gameplay experience will win the day. Either way, I'm happy to have an entry in the competition and I'm hoping for the best.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Idea Tsunami

I made a mistake. I thought that I could step back from the project for a bit and all would be good. I was wrong. Mere hours after I decided to take a week or so off 2 things happened. First, the Team wanted to know what we are doing next and how I want things done. Of course this requires me to think about the project some more. It's like when an Ex and you have all the same friends - she's bound to come up. That's not such a bad thing. After all, I'm not walking away, just taking a week (well, now it's 5 days - probably less since I have an entire evening tomorrow with nothing to do) off.
The Second thing is the Thought Bomb that slammed my unsuspecting brain as soon as I walked outside the fallout mind shelter that is The Thief's Tale. Ideas, good, bad, indifferent, indecent, and excellent stampeded in. I've not been so excited by the prospects since, well, I started this project. All kinds of ideas, all kinds of things that I couldn't do before, things I didn't know how to do, things that were holding me back before are now surmountable. The vistas available are awesome and frightening.
So I thought of the next project and have a design doc in my head for what it will be. It is nothing like the current project. Oddly, the thought was to make a different kind of platform puzzler, but the mechanics really, really want a faster yet more cerebral kind of gameplay focusing on multiple input controls and improvisation. Thief was built out of love, but I think the next thing, it's going to be the thing. Not just to get me the job, but maybe to get me the Company. I think it's that good.
-Still though, I want to finish what I've started and give it the attention that it deserves. The Brain Bomb didn't leave anything alone. The fallout sprinkled down like radioactive, idea fairy dust onto all the little projects gestating in my head like face hugger larvae. Thief is no different. So here's some of the ideas:
- Lots of new traps. I want to do more, a lot more with the moving rectangles and timing based puzzles.
- Animation system overhaul. The Character Artist really wants to have more frames and more stuff. After seeing the animations he gave me, I'm really inclined to agree.
-Gamepad support. The game works with a keyboard, but the neo-retro cool of the design really begs for a gamepad. I think that will change the dynamic of the gameplay for the better.
-The Skeletons are not depressed anymore. Now they eat skin. (Simpson's did it!)
- Enemy types will have different skill levels. So I'll have 2 kinds of Guard and 2 kinds of Skeleton and 2 kinds of Knight and 2 kinds of Fencers and the bosses. Instead of just one each. The next few levels will be bigger and will need more variation in enemies.
- More animations, maybe even fully rendered scenes. I mean, from a game perspective I was using individual sprites and animating stuff by hand, which sucks. I'm thinking that since the animations are already in Maya, the whole scene can be rendered using custom animations and so on. Then played back like the current animations are, but on a scene frame level. So in other words, just make a sprite 600X800 and then play them over the scripted bits. It'll be smooth and easier and look a hell of a lot better. This will also allow me to make script changes and have more awesome and action oriented scenes. Plus, this will give the Character Artist something else to do after the main animations are all done.
-More level scripting. Not specific stuff, more incidental stuff like they have in Metal Slug. It makes the world feel more alive.
Right, and a bunch of other things that are just minor. But once again, I feel that The Thief's Tale really can be great. I know what I have, and I know what I want, and now I know how to get there.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Independent Games Festival

At 5:30 AM on 11-15 I called it. The game was done. I had to cut the second level of the Demo and the Skeleton type enemy. But at the end of the day (morning) there was too much left to do with too little sleep I had to make the decision to put up the keyboard and lay down the mouse. I had done all that I could do.
At first, I thought about all the things that I didn't have that I was supposed to have. The game was supposed to have 12 chapters, then 5, then 4, but it was submitted with only 2. It was supposed have more sounds, more voices, more music, more story,
But then I took a step back for a moment and considered what I had done. What I had actually, truly, been able to accomplish. I had built a Game Engine. Most people can't even set the timer on their VCR, and I built a Game Engine with animations, and animated scenes, and gameplay that works and sound effects and a way to fight and things to find and... Well, I did a lot.
I built a game from scratch, from a blank page in my IDE to a built thing that plays. I have literally created something from nothing, and I feel for the first time that I own and deserve the title of Game Developer. Lots of people claim that it isn't hard, that it isn't work, or that they can do it if they wanted to and whine that they don't get the chance. I may have been that once, and played at being a developer. But until you're up to the wee hours in the front lines fighting a losing battle to sleep and deadlines, you don't know what being a Developer means. When what you have done is filled with equal parts obsessive love and hateful loathing then you'll understand.
At the end of the day, it wasn't as much as I wanted. But I think even the Designers for Halo 3 think to themselves, "I could've had more." To paraphrase George "Big G" Lucas, A game is never really finished, it is abandoned. Of course as far as I am concerned, I'm not there yet. I still have 10 more chapters to finish, and make available. Now I have the time to finish at my pace, with a nebulous, Blizzard-esqe deadline of "When it's finished."
Then again, maybe a deadline is a good thing. I'll look to see what other competitions I can enter and those can be my milestones. Maybe for Slamdance Guerrilla Games I can have chapters 1-6 ready to go and next year, the whole thing for IGF again. Hmm...But right now I want a break. I want to step back and come back with fresh eyes and new ideas. Maybe put something small and easy together that I can share with people that I know, or the internet. Right now, The Thief's Tale is like an ex-girlfriend who wants to get back together with you - you adore them, but you've been too close and too many hurtful things have been said to want to jump right back in that boat so quickly. So I'll install some art and get some stuff put together and keep it going. But no all nighters for a while. Okay?

-So, to sum up what I learned from this in some kind of easily digestible and impersonal list.
1) Having good people to work with makes all the difference. If the people that I worked with didn't care as much as they do, then I probably would not have been able to do it. I would have realized the deadline was impossible and I would have quit. Even better, they all seem to want to finish the game. Like the whole thing. I'm consistently impressed at every turn by the whole team.
2) A game is never like you envisioned it. I mean, it's never what you want, it's only even what you have time to finish. With enough time, yeah, I could see it being exactly like I want. But I do not believe that is the rule, but the exception (damn Valve, making us all look bad). So, games have to be, what do I want? What makes this great? What Features do I need and can't live without? Then build to that. In other words, get the part of that makes the project special (let's call them "The Requirements") first before a ton of time is spent doing other things. The rest as I say, is just glass and candy.
3)Deadlines hurt. My biggest mistake is not having a deadline sooner. 3 months or so ago, I decided to do this for IGF. Granted I had built an engine and everything, but then saying, "No problem, I can make 3 hours worth of content in 3 months that doesn't suck. No problem." Make no mistake - content is hard. Damn hard. Giving myself so little time was stupid. If I had planned at the beginning of the year for IGF, maybe I could have done something and made milestones for myself and focused the development when it needed to be (see #2). Getting it done at all was a Heroic Struggle and I'm proud beyond measure that we did it, but with better planning maybe it could have just been a regular (lowercase) struggle.

-Right then. Now the short term goals are like this:
-Update the art colors - I made a mistake with the attack colors, so they aren't correct. Of course, regular people wouldn't notice, but I do. (The low attack is supposed to be RED! Not GREEN!)
-Try to see if I can write a Post-Mortem for Gamasutra. That would be awesome.
-Get the skeletons in there. If not to play yet, at least get them in the right folsers.
-Learn to spell "Folders" correctly.
-Then after I go on vacation, I'll open up ThiefEd and get cracking. Utah is calling.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Judgement Day / Hurry Up and Wait

This is the last day. Just like the crazy guy on the corner with the cardboard sign (no, the real homeless guy, not that shill standing next to him pretending) the Last Days are here.

So here's what I have left to do - Install Animations and Backgrounds. That's it. Once I have those I can finalize stuff, like the scenes. Until then though, I can't really do anything. So I have stress. Lots of it. It's not like I can stay up super late and get this done, because last night I was actually just playing the game over and over looking for bugs, waiting for art.
The Character Artist is doing great. I get new frames every hour or so, so that leaves me with 40 minutes in between with nothing to do, yet stuff I want to fix. Like the scenes. The placement is all over the place (HA! A Pun!) but I can't fix it because I don't have final stuff with specific heights so I'd end up doing the work again anyway. That's just wasteful.

The Environmental Artist is also giving me stress. I've seen his work and it's really good and he seems to have a firm grasp of what I want. Further he tells me yesterday that he's practically finished, but I do not have anything yet. Once I do get art from him it should be as easy and saving the files in the right places, but the lack of in game assets at this point is worrisome.

Of course, this is my fault too. I didn't get the artists until super late in the process and I realize that they are doing the best they can given the circumstances. This is defiantly a "What Went Wrong" in terms of the development. Yet in spite of that I still think (that's right not "Hope" or "Feel" - which are irrational, but "Think") that we can get this done.

I hope that I'm right.

- By the way, Rockstar Energy Drink come in a giant 24 ounce crunch time size. There are the only things keeping me up right now. Oh, and they are yummy.

- I wonder if the Google Ad will pick up on that and try to sell you, good reader (I'm fooling nobody - no one reads this) energy drinks now. I wonder if you can buy those online?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Judgement Day -1

Thursday the 13th. One real day of work left.

Last night I finished the programming. The bugs that I know about are worked out and the whole thing is pretty smooth. I like it. I also installed the new animations for The Thief. Now he runs and stands there and draws his sword. He does these things in 2 directions too, since he is actually a flat render of a 3D model. So he has about 50 percent of the animations he needs and I just got a new batch for a few of the rest of them. I do have a worry though, I do not know what the status is on the rest of the animations for everything else, like, at all. *stresses*

I did have a "Dammit" moment yesterday. The first frames I got from the animator came through with transparent backgrounds that resolved themselves into the flat black that I need for masking. The new set didn't do that, and I considered calling the Character Artist to whine. Then I remembered a management thing : "Always be an asset" and "Don't make people that work with you think you are a retard a-hole that can't do anything for themselves." Then I went in and made a Script in Paint Shop Pro to take a frame, add a layer, make that layer black, put that layer in the back, flatten the image and save it. In mere minutes I had the color that I needed and got the animations started and didn't have to call somebody at 10:00 PM.

-Got a continue system going. Now if you die it puts you back at the beginning of the Chapter and gives you 3 more lives. So with persistence you can get through the whole game.

-Sent an email to the IGF Chairman about my music. Originally I was having somebody make all original music for the game, but they dropped out and I never got around to finding another. "Bad Producer! No Cookie!" So instead I trolled (like in fishing, not like in D&D) and found appropriate music for the levels from both obscure titles and less obscure (what? FF Tactics has some good music). They're just placeholders for the most part, as the final release will have all original music, but I worry that the music is A) Not owned by me and worse B) Isn't Student created. I hope it's okay as long as I use it as a Free Use thing (like 8Bit Theatre uses FF1 sprites and doesn't catch a bad case of being sued). But I do not want to get disqualified over something like that so I emailed and asked.

-Stayed up late working and waiting for more animations. Finally crashed at 2:30 AM. Animations arrived at 6:00 AM.

-Yesterday when I ran the game through, I realized that I really like the chapter titles. Just wanted to share.

-I got the installer system to work. The installer lovingly packs the giant Thief file into a single setup file that can be moved around and whatnot. Then it installs. I mean, last night through the haze and the sleeplessness I had an honest to goodness Rockstar moment when I saw a windows installer say "Star Frog Games Installation Wizard" and "We are now installing The Thief's Tale, please wait as this may take a few minutes." You know, it's like I made it. It may be stupid and it may be naive, but it means something to me to see that for something that I did. Others may say, "It's just an installer, so what?" but they are missing the point. The point is it is my installer installing my Game. Then, it appears in the Program Files menu like a real game. It's right there, next to The Spore Creature Creator and Age of Empires 3 and the joy on that is glorious. Maybe it's just the lack of sleep, but I hope not because this feels good.

-Sorry if this and/or the last few posts ramble and make no sense. Let's see how well you can keep a coherent thought with 4 hours of sleep a night for 4 days.

35 Minutes

35 Minutes! Over a half an hour! When I do it! I assume maybe 60 minutes for other, slower people. Sweet!

Up late again, waiting for the Animator, err, Character Artist to send me more frames. I got the first batch installed and they look great. So that's all cool and whatnot.

Got us officially submitted to IGF, so this is IT! The Thief's Tale is an entry! Woo Hoo! Well, on the books, still have until the 15th for the FTP upload.

Now I'm going to go pull a down-loadable from the magical aether of internet.

So, so tired.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


It's the 12th! The Bloody 12th! I still have 3 days left! Yesterday I was up late. Really late, so I'm a little loopy today. =P

Yesterday I finished the List:
Enemies now have 150% of their previous health and the Bosses have 400% and 500% respectively.

Drop Down Bug has been corrected since I removed the non-essential ability.

Scripting for the 1st and 2nd Level are finished and work.

Each Chapter has different music. So does the title screen.

Common SFX have SFX, like running, attacking and getting hit.

GUI and Chapter Titles are finalized and installed. They look really nice I think.

Team Credits are installed with the appropriate web presences given.

Still to do:

Install the Final Animations and other art and correct the placements. Right now the placeholders are all installed (with 1 exception). After I get the art I still need to install it and then go through the Scripts and make sure everything still works and do the final script animations. So that's why I can't get everything on Friday night.

Build the Final Compile and get the installer to work. (The Free one from internets).

Do the Icon.

IGF Submission and FTP Information

Maybe, just maybe give a Chapter Select on the Title Screen. I'll do that last, after everything else. Of if I find myself waiting with 30 minutes to spare.

Get a useful build to the Tester.

-Why doesn't the Tester have a new build yet? Well, there's a cute story to that. My email crashed yesterday. Let me repeat that with more incredulity. The online email that comes as part of my high speed internet that I pay through the ass for stopped working at the worst possible time in the history of anything. First it tells me, "Sorry, no email sending for you," like some kind of Seinfeldian Email Nazi and then afterwards I only get an error that says, "We're sorry, the links are broken." The Links are broken!? Are you dicking with me? Not only that, but the Animator, err, Character Artist was supposed to send me the frames through my email. Through the email. There was/is rage, but I'm too tired at this point to feel more than a mild seething. Besides, I got the email this morning.

-Speaking of which, I noticed something that made me feel good. The Character Artist sent me the first batch of animations last night and I got them this morning. I got that lonely feeling last night at around 12:30. The feeling that I was the only person doing anything. This morning I got an email, and the time on it was listed as 2:11 AM - an hour after I went to bed. So it seems that somebody else cares too. It's good to be wrong sometimes.

- The game works. It really does. Yesterday I ran the whole thing a few times to work out some bugs that were spaced pretty far apart, and you know, I can feel a little something about it. Some underlying joy from the way it works. The best part is when I don't remember something that I built and I have to solve the puzzle with fresh eyes. There's some gameplay in there.

-Oh, and the team agrees, the Cave in Sequence is a good ending for the IGF Build, and is widely considered to be "Awesome" and/or "Intense"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Captain's Log - Suplimental

This is for The Animator, err, Character Artist. This the what the current largest frame is for both the character attack animation and both kinds of enemy attacks as they are now.

Oh, and I only got 1 frame, I'm not sure if you sent them yet. But please again. The first one looks great.

Also, remember the backgrounds need to be flat black for masking.

Why be Sweet when you can be Crunchy?

Crunch time is upon us. It has reared its ugly head. I always knew that it would be tight, even with scheduling and trying to plan with some extra time. It's never just enough. Soon the days and nights blur together into animations and code, the brain never getting free of the Project. Always thinking, always wanting. The reflex is to work more so it is finished, so you can stop, so you can have control of your brain again. It becomes all consuming, it becomes precious. Then, the madness sets in.

-I thought of this earlier:
Crunch time is waking up wondering if you build will compile.
Crunch time is having your A-Hole of a Producer insist that you stay up past midnight to work in spite of your migraine.
Crunch time is trying to sneak in a few minutes before you go to work.
Crunch time is dreaming electric dreams of electric sheep and Matrix code.
Crunch time sucks.

-After reading the Blog of my Animator, it's good to know it's not just me. =D

- For that electric dreams whine, no really, last night I had a dream and in that dream I was fucking working.

- One more : Crunch time is seeing "=D" and not thinking it's a smiley, but thinking, "Equals what? That's so going to crash."

- Precious

-Anyway, the second level is done. Still no chapter titles, but those are on the way. Everything from the opening fall to the cave in (with falling ROCKS!) works. The scripting animation trick works too. It is looking really good and as polished as can be with the placeholders. So that's finished. Now I can focus on finishing up the Front End and the Credits, Bug fixes (of which there are few) and finalizing the animations and scenes. It's looking possible. I think we can do it. I think we can.

- My Precious

-On bugs, with a few exceptions there are very few. I think the reason for that is twofold. The first is that the game mechanics are pretty simple so there are few places to have bugs. The other is that I built the engine from scratch and regression tested the hell out of it. Every new piece got tested and retested. So that's not to say that there's aren't still bugs, but while I built the engine and designed the gameplay it was run so many times that it came out pretty decent. Of course, I think that the Tester's second report is coming today, so I'll get to find out how wrong I am.

- hurtses us it does...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mach 5

Yeah, I had to do it.With 5 days left, Mach 5 was just begging to be the title. That or maybe some kind of Voltron title. Anyway, I get ever closer to 11-15 and the tension is beginning to really build. One the one hand, I know what I have to do, and I am confident that I can finish all of it. What stresses me out, I mean, what stresses me the hell out, is I have no idea if any of the rest of it will be finished. I don't know if I have backgrounds, I don't know how many animations I'll have, I don't know how long any of that will take to install into the system and get working correctly. That's the stress. So I find myself staying up late working and hoping that the other parts will come together as promised. Even if I finish and the other parts aren't, then I cannot submit. So I guess the real issue is this : Once I gave responsibility, I gave up control. Now I cannot do all of it myself and must rely on my Team to come through for me.

-Anyway, yesterday I finished off the first level scripting. So that's nice. The scenes work out really well. They look just like they are supposed to. Which is to say they look like those old in game cinematics that old Super Nintendo games have. The trick I figured out works really well, so I'm confident that the 2nd level scripting (on tap for tonight) will be even faster and better. What I don't have are real animations in the scenes yet. I don't want to do the work for animations and then have to re do the work after I get different animations. So right now it's all placeholder stuff.
In the meantime I figured out how to have really nice animations. It occurred to me that I already have an animation controller built into the engine. I think that I may be able to use that. So I'll set a state, update the real position of the PC and then call the DrawZero() function (Or DrawEnemies() Function). If I do that on a loop and then change the frame like the engine does I should get the smooth animations of the Game Engine instead of the jilted animations of the Scripting Engine.

-As far as that goes, I've noticed the script isn't doing what I want. The lines were all written to be spoken, and in fact that is still the plan for the finished game. However, the timing is a little off as text, so some of the jokes fall just a little flat. Also, The Thief talks too damn much. Again, the lines are written to be read at a pretty quick cadence, but having to push the (next) key 3 times for one sentence is a little much. Thankfully, in the Demo there aren't very many of these bits of glass anyway.

-Still to do:
1) Tweak the damage system after I get combat animations. Right now Zero hits too hard, so enemies drop in only 2 or 3 hits. They should be a little more resilient. So either I can make Zero do less damage or give the Enemies more health (I think I'll do that) then balance it again after the animations are in.
2) Credits
3) Chapter Titles. I'm going to have these float by in the right screens (like in Heroes). They'll say stuff like : "Chapter 1 : The Great Escape" "Chapter 2 : Guards! Guards!" "Chapter 3 : Buried Alive" and "Chapter 4 : Crypt Raider"
4) Second Level Scripting, namely the first Skeleton encounter and the boss' two scenes.
Today I'm planning to finish the scripting and get those titles installed. The actual titles may change depending on my mood.
5) Install the new animations and background. *sigh* Hopefully tomorrow.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Long Way Gone

The title doesn't make any sense. I am fully aware of that. I need to put something up there since an empty box is an unhappy box. That's the best I got, especially considering I feel an urge to make a bad Race / Time metaphor be the title for the rest of the project and there aren't any good titles that I could think of with the the number 9 (the number of days left).
Right, so yesterday I was doing scripting and I ran into a wonderful idea. Well, not wonderful but certainly smart. The scripting is set up to deal with single screens and text bubbles. So every frame I have to tell it to draw the background, draw the characters and draw the text boxes. This isn't really hard as long as the characters don't do anything. Otherwise I have to hand animate what they are doing. Each frame I would tell the computer what character and what animation frame to use at what position. As one could see, that sucks. That sucks like a Hoover powered by a jet turbine that happens to also be the number 3 prostitute in all Khazakstan.
Yesterday I figured out a different method for doing the scripted animations. If I have a variable for the scripting that I can use as a counter and reference as one, then I can do animations by variable like the rest of the bloody game. For example, the opening scene as originally written had The Thief talking to another criminal in the Prison before escaping. After the Environmental Artist pointed out that The Thief is armed I had to rewrite that. So now a Guard enters the scene, has his sword stolen and is tossed into The Thief's cell. Issue is, that is a lot of animated bits and would take forever to script the old way. Now I can do that is far less time and make it look a hell of a lot better.
I wished that I had run across this trick a little earlier, since I could have planned more interesting scenes. But this will be used to good effect for the "action" scenes with lots of characters and what not all around. So it'll be faster and better in every way. That's a good days work.
As far as the scripting is concerned I managed to do quite a bit on the first level already. I just need to pad out the rest of the first level for pacing - namely the "search" for The Thief. The second level will have less since it isn't a Plot Centric level. I think it only has a couple of scenes in it. Unfortunately, it also has the most complex scenes in the demo. We'll see how that goes.

- For those of you at home (who am I kidding, nobody reads this) neither CID or Star Frog Games feels sorry for the hoover joke, even though it was better in theory.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

T-Minus 10...

Hmm, I wonder if I can keep up the Race and Time metaphorical titles going for the next 10 days? Had a good meeting yesterday with the Team. They all still think they can get their pieces done on time. The Environmental Artist did have this to say yesterday, "Oh, wait, we have 11 days? Oh, well that's good. If we only had 10 days left we'd be screwed."
With the new targets for what we want I think we should be okay. The Animator thinks he can finish the animations for the Thief and 2 kinds of enemies. He plans to use the rig that he's built for The Thief for the other enemies which should save him a whole lot of time. So, he seems sure that he can do it, so I'm going to believe that.
Now I'm going to go ahead an finish the story scripting as written. That and bug testing should keep me busy until 11-9 at the very least. I want to give myself a bit of leeway for tweaking art assets after I install them. This was always going to be close, but this is getting a little crazy. I wonder if other IGF Student Teams are in the same boat? Or have they been done for months? I hope not. I really hope that they're in the same position. It's good for them, it builds character.

-If The Animator is reading this, yes you, you right there, I believe you can do it.

-If the Environmental Artist is reading this, hello, and I think you can too.

-So what happens in 11 days? Afterwards? I have a fear. The fear is that the small team I've gathered will disband after basking in the glory of the finished IGF project. I hope that they don't. I really do want to finish the whole thing. To make the game complete and try to put it out digitally. Maybe on Steam or Greenhouse or through Stardock's Service (who's name escapes me at the moment) or gods help me, XBox Live Arcade. I know we can finish the demo for IGF, I hope that we can finish and publish the rest.

- "Schadenfreude" noun German Root. Def : 1) To take please in the misery or misfortune of someone else.
2) To hope that someone else is having your same problems.
3) A word that can only exist in the German language.
See also "Dick, Being a"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


11 Days. Still on track, I think. Yesterday I created and debugged the Front End Menu and it's, well, very Pro. I like it quite a bit. I need to make some minor modifications (like the Italicised font I used is a little hard to read with the background it is on) but overall it works well. I also adjusted the Pause menu so that it kicks you to the front end when you quit instead of straight out of the program, a feature that I like. Again, going for polish and making it look Pro.
Today I'm meeting with my team to get a general progress report and see where we are. Then I can make the decisions on how to continue with the scripting. I'll see how that goes.

-One issue, I totally blanked on making a new compile of the current build. So now I get to run home before class, compile the build and run off. I might, might, find a minute to disable the drop down code for climbing. However, I fear that making that change and then not testing it might make the build totally unplayable.

-Pro? What is this "Pro" I speak of? It's retard Southern Californian slang for "Professional" in that something is well put together and doesn't reek of amateurism. So in how I use it here, I mean the game has features that one would expect from a professionally produced game with much, much, much higher production values.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Forward Progress

First things first. Now when I look for Star Frog Games or The Thief's Tale I come up at the Top of the search results. About damn time considering the amount of content on this page and the fact that "Star Frog Games" was a crypto search once.
Anyway enough of that, over the weekend I started with finishing the user interface and the make the game a little more well put together. At this point the content isn't going to suddenly expand like at the Beginning of Time, so now it's all about polish and presentability. So this weekend I went ahead and installed a Pause Screen which allows the player to continue or quit and I'll reuse the code for the front end screen too. I also went in and installed the 4 collectible dolls that populate the levels that I have.
Finally, I updated the GUI with new shiny Health and Dash Bars (which are smaller now too) and made some modifications to make the whole thing take up less screen space. I also made a tweak to make the GUI not appear if the character would stand in front of it. So it gets out of the way which I find really nice. Now it's there when you want it but it's never in the way, like a good GUI.
I did run into a problem though. The 4th Doll is hidden at the upper Right of a level. So if you just walked in and didn't design the level you would have no idea that it was even up there, let alone how to get to it. So a small modification to the level and the doll placement and it's good now.

-Also ran into a first level Environmental Bug. It's the second and third screens. First, the ceiling doesn't match, which does some, interesting things. Second, one of the platforms needs to be 10 pixels taller. This wouldn't be an issue but I already told the Environment Artist that the first level was finished, so get started on art. I think I may cut a "feature" to fix the bug. Right now, when you climb it turns off the collision system (a bug I fixed last week). The unintended side effect of that is that now when climbing a short box you can press down to drop and stop climbing. Issue is that you can drop into another rectangle which, um, kills you. It kills like a 3 named presidential assassin (I'm looking at you David Hyde Pierce). So I think if I turn off the ability to drop down when climbing the problem will be fixed. Yeah, I'll do that.
-I'm noticing that as the project continues the fixing of bugs requires a little more improvisation.
- What, no scripting you ask? Well, no. The reasons are two fold. I wanted to get the smaller things out of the way quickly, so I can focus on the scripting afterwards (like today). Other than that, I do not have characters yet. I don't want to create scenes with characters that I might not have art for by the 15th. I'll have a better idea tomorrow and can get that going ASAP. Like, the second (now 3rd and 4th) levels are written in the script to have skeletons in them. I can go ahead and create the scripting for those scenes, but I don't know if the skeleton models and animations will be done in time. If it's just Guards, then I have to rewrite the script for the demo. Argh.