Thursday, 15 November 2018

Bounty Hunter II Update: The end is near

Hello there!
This is going to be the final post before release I will make of Bounty Hunter II. Developing this game was quite a journey, although the funny thing is that I don't really feel like I spent a year and a half making this game. The process felt quite fast, but that may be because time seems to speed up quicker as I get older (does anyone get that feeling?).
Let's reflect and talk!

Those finishing touches
This is something I had to do a lot in October (and this month) which was mostly fixing bugs with AI which made them do silly things like run into a wall, mix up certain attack patterns or attacks go inconsistently with their animations. It's one of those not-so-sexy aspects of game development but the results really do pay-off. Other times they were little animations like bullets getting destroyed, shooting muzzle etc, which give the game that extra juice. One thing I regret is the fact that I remember these things last minute which puts a good amount of pressure on me as I think 'Oh great, more animations...'. I'm not usually the best when it comes to remembering the little details, hopefully I'll get better at this stuff over time.

A second 'Evermoral'?
I'm not talking about creating a sequel to the book I published almost 2 years ago, I'm more of talking about the paralells of the two projects throughout their respective developments. When I was writing Evermoral, it changed a lot as I was writing it which would inevitably result in a lot of unused content that remained as just mere ideas.
Bounty Hunter II was quite similar, a good amount of the things in that December 2017 Alpha did not make it into the final thing i.e. the Kazzi character. Whilst the story did retain the same basic elements that I originally intended, the final story was simpler than what I would have liked. In the original story the main character's friend would have helped him throughout his quest and you could even play as him, the two would even meet this 'Mad Venom' character who appeared in the end of the Alpha who would help them in their adventure, however this was scrapped as it was too much work trying to justify why each character would leave and join the player. What I created seemed like a better idea for the player to be by themselves rather than have a bunch of other characters in their way (especially since Bounty Hunter II is a very linear adventure).

The ending was also changed several times although it does retain the same tone. You may have worked out that story-wise, working on Bounty Hunter II was not as engaging as Evermoral; I couldn't create as much of a world where characters could interact with each other. In the latter, I could easily convey the character's personalities by just writing stuff and re-iterate parts I didn't think was good enough. With the former however, if I wanted to create a compelling story, I would first of all need to make a bunch of tools to not make this process completely tedious (which is an absolute pain in the arse) and go through a bunch of steps to save the level it is in and test in-game to see if it works or go in the way I would like. Bounty Hunter II's story was not as deep or philosophical as Evermoral (although even then some parts of Evermoral's story was flawed), but I have realized that making a game is different from writing a book upon writing this post. You can't just go and say "I've got a game idea! Let's make it a reality!" because you need to consider things like "Okay, does this fit in a game? Does this compliment the gameplay in any way, or just filler?". This process is something that 2016 me would have not even expected.

Although I have been a bit negative, let's go to a more positive side of the coin. Despite the fact I couldn't create much of a deep story in Bounty Hunter II, I gained a very valuable insight on how to create a event system that you can easily mess with and make stories with. I liked the process of creating something that I can use to edit cut-scenes rather than hard-coding the events. The optimization part was the coolest part of it as it makes me think "Oh yeah, I could do that instead of what I had previously done!", it has also gave me valuable lessons on how to create an even better tool in the future. I suppose sacrificing the story for this experience isn't too bad, it makes my analytical and creative thinking go hand in hand.

Bounty Hunter II is by far the most ambitious game I have made, as well as the longest I have gone in terms of having a game with a story and dialogue. With that being said, I don't know how to feel about finishing it, do I feel accomplished or not?
Maybe it is one of those things that I might appreciate later on or maybe I need more of a life.
All work and no play makes jack a dull boy, no?

But I need to balance my studies at sixth form as well, and maintain decent grades. Although I honestly don't care about A-Levels (I might write a blog about education at some point), something in my mind is pushing me - as well as that I don't want to disappoint the head of sixth form or my parents.
I will be sure to keep you people updated though, in the meantime expect Bounty Hunter II to be released around 21st of November.
That's all from me!

Monday, 15 October 2018

Announcing the release of "Earl's Order" + Trailer

Earl's Order release

It's finally that time to announce the release of my latest project "Earl's order". I've been working on this game for 3 months and a bit, with the main intent of teaching myself the A* algorithm. I thought that making a game with game-play elements from Fire Emblem (whilst obviously putting my own spin to it) would be a great way to give weight to this concept.

I've also made a trailer to this game which merely demonstrates the kind of game-play this game will have.

Plus, there's also a secret I've put into the game when you beat it, play it to find out...

That's all from me!

Friday, 5 October 2018

A thief's cursed jewel

The thief and the jewel

It was a pitch dark-night, only barely illuminated by the occasional batches of vermilion lights emitting from the windows. A man was wandering around with a large navy blue cape and worn down rags, he possessed the name Zin. He was assigned a task to steal a jewel by his taskmaster, in the form of a piece of crisp brown paper which read the details. The house he was meant to steal from was large and composed of mostly cobblestone with some thick slate rooftops. He finally seemed to arrive at a house that was quite similar to the description, but was unsure about whether to go or not. Further details mention that the inhabitants are thick goblin beasts. Zin, doubting of sneaking in through the door, decided to get out his thick leather scaling gloves and hastily grab the cobblestone on the edge of the house. Grasping one cobble by the other, advancing vertically in the shortest time span to the nearest window, he managed to catch a dim yellow light which illuminated a few sleeping goblins. The window was very much a hole that directly led into the room, hence Zin climbed in without a hitch.

Loud snoring was transferred from one end of the room to the other, as if there was a network of goblins everywhere trying to convey some cryptic message. Zin swiped the candle that lit up the room and walked around everywhere to map out the place he was in. From what he could gather, he came from the side of the room which had 4 beds in each corner of the room; there were a number of shelves in opposite ends of the room filled with bottles of whiskey, muskets and swords. The walls were as cobbled as the outside was however the floor was made out of some kind of marble mixed with some other stone materials. In the opposite corner of the window lied a door, somewhat opened. It showed a corridor which was seemingly lit with more candles than the room.

Zin decided to put the candle he had back to its rightful place and continue into the corridor. He then decided to read the paper, it indicated that the jewel was in the basement. Zin proceeded into the corridor, trying his best to stay quiet. There were a row of candles, illuminating batches of wood below and cobblestone above, the one opposite of Zin showed another partially open door. Zin quietly rushed towards the door to peek through, he saw a stairs fence and to the left of it was the stairs to what seemed like a dimly lit room with wooden tables and chairs. There was nobody in sight, so Zin decided to walk into the room and find out where the basement was. However as he walked down the stairs, one goblin found him and screeched. Zin felt a sense of dread and agony hearing that blood-curdling screech. As the goblin dashed towards Zin, he quickly jumped on the goblin's head and sent it falling to the tables, diminishing them in the process. Zin heard a lot of moaning, grumbling and footsteps - he had no time to loose, and the goblin he fought got up immediately.

Upon panic Zin ran towards the nearest door to him, hoping that it was the basement.
The door lead to another more light corridor, containing a number of doors on the left and one staircase that was on the opposite end of Zin's position. One of the doors on the right side of the corridor was completely open which seemed to be the kitchen as a nice smell that tasted of salmon was coming from there. Zin felt hungry, despite the voices getting louder behind him he decided to take a quick glance at the kitchen. The room was relatively small, the edges surrounded with worktops which were full of bits of food with the centre back of the kitchen containing a kilin. A vicious dog came rushing out of there and bit Zin's paper off him. Zin violently kicked the paper off his mouth but it fell on to one of the menacing goblins' face, which were then distracted by the paper.
Zin was reluctant to have the paper stolen by the goblins as they would know about the task he was sent, however with the dog chasing him he decided to head downstairs. He came across a dusty storeroom which was actually quite large with some lit candles scattered around. A ball with leather stitched all over caught the attention of Zin's eyes and he grabbed it. He lobbed it into another room and the dog turned his head clockwise and scrambled to the other room. Zin quickly scouted the area for a jewel, and he finally found one hidden behind a cupboard. The dog was returning to Zin and the goblins were starting to make a move into the basement, fully aware of Zin's mission.

Realizing he had a smoke bomb to his disposal, Zin immediately set it off and hurled it onto the ground as soon as the masses of moody goblins started to tackle him like a load of aggressive rugby players. Zin darted past the countless goblins that were in his way, and managed to get past them. He heard barking behind him, but the sound was not getting any louder. Zin ran back to the previous room and hastily opened the door at 3 o'clock and saw the quiet town he came from. He slammed the door shut and made the run.

Meanwhile at the top of the house, one of the goblins who heard the commotion and saw Zin stealing the jewel quickly scrambled to a room where it said "Alexander Bennett" on the door. The goblin (Alexander Bennett) who was in the room reluctantly woke up from his wooden bed and slumped to the door to open it.

"Wha' you want mate? I'm tryin' to sleep here!" complained Bennett with a stern look.
"A-A thief has stolen the jewel!" yelled the goblin, "He's made the run for it! Outside! Quick!"
Bennett went to his small oak shelf next to his bed and pulled out his dusty musket, hastily grabbed one of the bullets where the musket was and immediately stuffed it into the musket's magazine. He proceeded outside, the other goblin briskly followed him.
"Now, where is he?" demanded Bennett as the other goblin was getting nervous and shaking, "C'mon you raspberry! I haven't got all night! I need some quality sleep!"
The other goblin looked down and saw a running figure which was holding some kind of dark red jewel, "H-him!"
"The one with the cloak?" asked Bennett as the goblin quickly nodded.
Bennett aimed his gun towards the figure, "Lock on.", he seemed to have his whole focus set on the one little detail which was Zin,
"And dead."

The sound of the musket fire woke up the majority of the villagers as the rushed outside to see what had happened.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Bounty Hunter II Update: Art completion and cutting out.

Bounty Hunter II Update: Art completion and cutting out.

Hello there, I've got another update for you, a lot has happened since the last time I've updated about this project.

Over July and August I have been working hard on the character designs, and I'm glad to say that for the most part they are finished. The enemies no longer have placeholders on them, they now look fully unique and more alive. However I did encounter a problem with the animation system. Unity has a built-in animation system which operates like a state-machine, which was a problem since I've had to create constant parameters every time I want to create a new animation controller (per character) and the animations didn't work the way I liked i.e. character takes 2 seconds to switch to the shooting animation.

I created my own animation system which switches to a set of animations (up, down and side) via a number. This worked out much better as the transitions were far faster.

In terms of the tiles for the levels I spent later August and this month completing them, and I have just completed them as well as replacing all the levels' placeholder tiles, I'll give you an example of what the process was like below:

Before polish
A boring-looking green area
After polish
A lush jungle
I'm not going to show all the areas because that's spoilers, but this is what I did for all the areas. On top of that, I had to not only give it crispy looking graphics, but I also had to redesign certain areas. If you see on the top image it had tons of small rooms where enemies would be fought. One tester even told me that I should make the areas that the player fights enemies bigger, the image below reflects my response to this feedback. Instead of making the player constantly enter clustered areas where they barely have space to dodge attacks, I've merged several small areas to make one large area (you can see above) to make use of the game's mechanics.
Some areas still might be needing a bit more polish, but overall they're pretty much done.

However, with that being said, I've faced a few regrets with this way of designing levels and making animations. I did all the animations and tiles in the last few months of development, last time I did mention about how I wanted to do animations after I design levels. Now I think this isn't the best idea. Ideally I should have done animations after I programmed the character's actions into the game, to save time later on. It didn't matter if they weren't polished, what matters is that they are at least something and polishing them can become less stressful as a result. Perhaps for future games I should consider doing art at an earlier point to make production as consistent as possible, but try to not have them get in the way of debugging the game.

Cutting out features:
I have done quite a bit of cutting out lately, I've cut a number of areas in the game because I didn't really like the design and it felt like pure padding to the game, trying to polish them gave me more work to do and I think that my time and elbow grease would be better spent on creating the areas with good potential. I also cut out one boss, despite almost everything being done (including the artwork). Not to sound lazy, but I decided to cut him out because I didn't want to face the extra work of balancing him and implementing animations into him. Plus one of the testers said it was quite hard. Maybe I'll look back to this and regret what I've done... but you know, that's part of any creative process - not all ideas end up in the final product.

In the last post I mentioned about an ally character, now he's removed from the game. This is because of, again extra work (animations) and developing the AI was quite a pain. Now despite what I've just said, these were not the main reasons that I removed him; it was that he didn't fit with the game and felt like an obstacle in the main character's path.

Maybe if I ever make "Bounty Hunter III", I might go a bit further and implement an ally, if they fit in with the game. That could be a possibility. I'm working on another game that may help me tackle much of the issues I've faced when implementing an AI character (more detail on that at the end of this blog).

A few Extras:
Today I've added an after-image effect when the characters dash, I added this in because the player/enemies dashing without it wouldn't be as effective. I actually found other uses for it too, for example it can indicate when an enemy is dashing towards you.
Here's the dash in action:
Looks cool doesn't it?

The other day I've also added in a fade-in effect when the player exits out of a map and goes into another. I wanted to make it so that the fade-in happens then the game loads the level and it fades out once it's loaded, but I've been having a few problems with it so I should sort that out.

The game is near completion which is both exciting and scary... scary because I feel like a simple error might completely blow the game up.  so I'll need to go into crunch mode and rid any bugs along the way (hopefully get it in beta by late October). I strive to get this game out in late November (hopefully slightly before Evermoral's 2 year anniversary).

In other news I've also got another game in the works that I'll release about a month from now which I've mentioned in my last post. That game is quite close to completion so hopefully little should come in the way of that game releasing.
Well, maybe... except school, this year's pretty crucial so I need to get my act together and update my revision summary to do all that dirty memorizing work for me! Study hacks for the win!
Hope you guys have a good morning, afternoon or night.

That's all from me!

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Blog 1 year anniversary: Update of Updates

Hello there!
Wouldn't you believe it? It's been a full year since I've started this blog (15th September 2017). I have a few updates for you to look forward to in the near future. Let's get started! 

Bounty Hunter II:
Development is still well and alive on this project, I've slaved away through the art and have polished most of the maps over the past month among a few other things. I'll post another blog later this month to do this near-release milestone justice. I will also expound regrets that have come by about this project.

I'm still learning my Japanese,  I've got a lot to tell you, but I'll save that for hopefully December of this year. I plan to update about this one every 6 months, which is good because a lot can happen in 6 months so I can always have something cool to bring to the table. I've finished going through all 3007 kanji 2 days ago (as of writing this post), and now I'm reviewing them. There are also other things I've discovered along the way (like the "mass immersion approach" or MIA) which I'll go into specifics in a dedicated blog

A Fire Emblem Clone:
Along with Bounty Hunter II, I've worked on another project since July which I'd like to release in October. I'm not going to give too much details on this game. It was a way to force me to learn the A* algorithm (used for path-finding). The game-play is similar to the 'Fire emblem' franchise, except is far more watered down and features some differences. Don't expect any character shipping (let alone any notable characters at all) or Nosferatu. Permanent death is there though.

On and off I've been working on a short piece of fiction which I worked on in August. I'm unsure about the release of this story as I'm trying to seek critique of it to fine-tune it. The story is very much done however. I do want to release it this year, I'd love to show you it ASAP.

I could have mentioned more things here (because there is more going on behind the scenes), but I don't want to promise too much only to have most of the promises be quietly shut down. With all that being said, have a good day or night!
That's all from me!

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Announcing the release of "Command Line Wars RPG"

Hello there!
Today, I've released another game of mine that has been in development since june. The special thing about this game is that I released the source code of this project before it was even released on my GitHub and it's the first game I programmed in C++.

I have been using C++ for about a year now, and whilst it is quite harder than using Unity (or C# for that matter) - I've gotten reasonably comfortable with the language. I did use C++ with SDL2 and OpenGL before, however for this project I've used no 3rd party libraries only the standard libary, hence why you don't see graphics in the game.

Despite this, I've learned quite a lot from this project and even making a custom engine (i.e. draw loops, update loops, delta time etc). This makes me eager to create another game in C++ that merely uses the command line rather than me having to spend a good amount of time getting comfortable with something like OpenGL. That way I can get good in C++ rather than having something else getting in the way, perhaps I can learn C too (C++ and C aren't the same!).

Here is the game:

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Announcing the release of "Waterstone Temple"

Hello there!

I've released another game which is a submission to the "First game" game jam (which my games "Pipe dreamer" and "Memory delivery service" were submitted on). This game is my first 2d game with a Z axis - thus operating like a 3d game, hence I've had to create my own collisions and physics. I have learnt a lot during this project, it is also the first project that I've released where I have made a level editor catered towards the needs, as you can see below:

With that being said, you'll notice that the game is still a bit rough around the edges, I'll probably fix these things. I don't know when, because when I finish a project - I usually don't touch it. I'm just glad it's out of the table.

Play it here -

At some point or another, I'll upload the source code to this project on my Github.

On a side note, I have also been working on a number of projects which won't be revealed for now, but I plan to release 3 more projects this year including Bounty Hunter II. Speaking of which I do have some news on that project which I may reveal in August, it's still pretty relevant on the development table surprisingly.

That's all from me!