4/28/12 -Saturday: "YOU SHOULD HAVE JUST MADE A MOVIE!!!"
"You should have just made a movie!"
Ah, those famous words. God forbid I put a cutscene in a game and try to take away the action from the user. There was a great video about cutscenes by Jim Sterling in one of his Jimquisitonvideos. In short, he says that the blanket statement of "taking away control from the player is a bad thing" isn't always correct. I mean, no babies will be harmed if this happens!
Ironically, even though I've heard this in comments for my first 2 games, as I'm creating this latest game, I'm sort of feeling like maybe I should have made a movie! Well, not seriously of course, but the work that is involved in just normal conversations that play out makes me feel like a wanna be movie director.
I've been working with this actress (still keep forgetting to get an answer if I can use her name) who is playing the role of a very important character in the game. One of the four conversations she is involved in is damned long, and I can only imagine how much work it took to record all of those lines. Well, I know it must be a lot of work, because I had to integrate it all, and even though I can usually knock these out pretty fast, this took me a few days.
The one apsect that took a long time, the thing that made me feel like a director was all the little things you need to do to bring a conversation to life. Not a cutscene, a simple freaking conversation involving 2 people, one of which is the PC who doesn't talk! Gestures, camera angles, facial animations... Man... This was such a monster conversation that I just did all of these things on a line by line basis as I integrated the VO, instead of coming back to it later.
Then I think about all the conversations that have VO that I didn't do this for. Ugh... As with all my games, I plan on writing a post mortem, and I already know that 95% of it will be devoted to VO :(
On a slightly more sad note, I just want to say R.I.P. to a little kitten I never got a chance to really know. My wife and I took in 2 day old kittens abandoned by their mother, and unfortunately, the runt of the litter didn't make it :( The little one was buried at my wife's parents house, where others have been buried over the years. R.I.P. little one...
4/21/12 -Saturday: 13TH ANNIVESARY SPECIAL - CRY THE BELOVED...
If I had doubts with The Coming, all of that was washed away once the game was released. I knew there were some people out there that liked what I was doing, and that was all I needed to immediately jump back into development for the next chapter in the series, Cry The Beloved. And develop, I did!
I had the sort of drive, determination, and focus that made people around me think I was going a little crazy. I pretty much shut everything out of my life, and for the next 15 months, my entire life was devoted to this game.
One of the main differences this time, however, was that I wasn't going to be going on the journey alone. Early on, Jason Melancon came on board to edit my horrific writing better (no, he does not edit this blog, sorry!). Amy Laurin, Joseph Portello, & Daniel Swingle joined up and took on a bunch of writing assignments for various NPC's in the first section of the game. Eventually, Phil Carter would come on as lead writer, and really infuse some life into Kira Allendry, Lord Montolio, and others. Oli Ferrando said she was an artist and could help me out, and wel shit, she's still around, lol. Todd/Cam Harell, Bjarne Madsen, Kelvin Lu, Alistair, Rick, Igal... I mean, the list went on and on. This allowed me to make a game far longer, far more complex, and just... better in every single way, and the same amount of time as it took me to do The Coming.
Since there were so many people on the team, I was able to really focus on what I did good, which happened to be cutscene work, custom ability design, and in general, making sure my vision was coming to life. Heh, I pretty much hacked the shit out of the Aurora Engine to get what I wanted.
All the while, however, there was this incessant ticking of a clock in my head. Neverwinter Nights 2 was going to be released in like October of 2006, and I really, really, REALLY wanted this game out before then. I assumed most would just switch games, and there would be no audience. Then the stress set in. Things weren't fun anymore. It was becoming work. I started getting edgy. I started getting panicky. I remember getting headaches as soon as I heard the little music that accompanies the splash screen for NWN when testing the game. It was all too much, I hated it, and I wanted it to end very soon.
One thing in particular that was driving me crazy was these crashes I was getting during cutscenes. I was pushing the engine to the limit during some of these scenes, and the game would just crash, and I was getting SO pissed. Then my laptop died for about a week, maybe 2. I'll never forget that. It was towards the end of development, and I was working on 6 different epilogue cutscenes. Since the laptop was dead, I was forced to work on my old ass desktop, which was slow as hell. I'm talking 5 minutes to load the game in the toolset slow. Just take a look at the first few posts of my October 2006 daily journalto understand where I'm coming from. It was during times like these, I just wanted my life back...
...And on October 12, 2006, I got just that, when Cry The Belovedwas finally released. I could breathe a sigh of relief, and relax for a little bit. I knew that thet next game, The Last Petal, was up next, but I wasn't going to make the same mistake I did between the first 2 games. I was going to get some much needed rest... Or so I thought...
Here's another great song from The Witcher. Enjoy!
4/20/12 -Friday: 13TH ANNIVESARY SPECIAL - THE COMING...
April of 2004 was a pretty interesting month for me. I had just quit my job at Marshalls, one that I had held for 2 years, so that I could work at my software engineering internship full time. I was getting like $12 an hour or so, and since everyone (even people I didn't know) assured me most internships were unpaid, I guess I considered myself lucky.
Also, it had been 5 years since the world of Rose of Eternity had been created. I was also 5 years wiser, knowing that I couldn't just create this world, hoping someone would be so nice as to allow me to create a game based off of it. I was going to have to do it myself. Finally, I had gotten my act together with college, and was about to graduate with my associates degree in computer science. In other words, I knew the basics of programming, and I was also getting commercial experience at my internship.
A few years earlier, in 2002, this game called Neverwinter Nights came out. I was a huge fan of Baldur's Gate, and for whatever reason, assumed it was just a 3d version of it. I think I got to the part where I realized I could only have one "henchman" at a time, and returned it. This was not the true successor to Baldur's Gate. Bioware wouldn't release that until 2009...
Apparantly, there was some "toolset" that shipped with it too, but I didn't even give it a 2nd glance. Fast fast forward back to 2004, and I'm at my internship looking for engines I could possibly use to create this game. Of course I come across the Aurora Toolset, and spend the rest of the afternoon reading all the details about it. I was love at first site!
The first few weeks of development were very interesting. I was really just struggling with getting the first town of Aribine created, and some Boundary Wardens to patrol. Oh, and I needed them to pull out torches at night time, then put them back away during the day.
Once I got a handle on how things worked, I was able to start creating areas, npc's, minor scripts, and conversations with ease. Still, after a few months, it still felt... generic... There was no custom music, custom abilities/systems, custom content (i.e. CEP), and no cutscenes.
Now, while all of this was going on, I was a huge lurker on all the bioware forums, as well as the NWVault. I knew all the popular mods, why people liked them, etc. I knew that what I was creating wasn't what people historically liked, but I continued to push on. I started finding my groove with custom content, and things were looking up...
...Then, I was let go from my internship, and I was forced to decide if I was going to continue going to a 4 year school to get my Bachelor's, or try my hand in the programmer's market, and look for a job in the city. I would end up getting hired in the city (with just an associates degree!), but that meant the game would have to take a backset for a while. This was in October. I wouldn't get back into it until around December, when my wife (well, girlfriend at the time) helped me navigate my 1st of many hurdles. To this day, I cannot remember why, but I wanted to quit. I had been working for months, and just didn't know if it was worth it. Work, commuting, then game development at home? It was killing me. She eventually convinced me to at least finish this first game, and see what happened.
As I continued with development, other things kept coming up. Everywhere I talked about this game, everyone kept telling me it wouldn't work. "No one wants to play with a pre-gen character". "Why don't you do something more DnD like". It was killing me. I just didn't understand why people couldn't just open their minds to something else. Plus, at the time, there were like 4000 other mods at the Vault. Surely, there was room for something *not* like DnD. I mean hell, there were mods like that out there. But all I got was negative feedback, something it would take me years to learn how to deal with. And this was before the game was even released!
Finally, on July 6th, 2005, The Comingwas released to the vault. Slowly, but surely, as more and more comments/ratings started coming in, I started realizing that I was right to go with my gut, and not listen to the apparent vocal minority on the forums (another great lesson).
I won't lie. I was super focused on ratings back then, because ratings meant exposure. Plus, who doesn't like a pat on the back :) When I did get constructive criticism, I was a little annoyed at first. I looked at it more like, "Damn, this guy just dropped my rating down .01 points". Really pathetic, actually :(
Now, when I look at those comments, I realize they were 100% correct. Hell, I still go back and look at those comments to keep myself grounded, and make sure I don't ever do those things again. Player feedback is damn near the best thing possible.
At any rate, the end result was that my 1st game ended up doing pretty well. I was happy. I was energized. I was ready to start Cry The Beloved right away. No, when I say right away, I mean on July 7th, 2005...
Today's music of the day is from The Witcher. I never played the entire game, but the music speaks for itself. Enjoy!
4/19/12 -Thursday: 13TH ANNIVESARY SPECIAL - THE BEGINNING...
Yes folks, it truly has been 13 years since the conception of Rose of Eternity, known back in 1999 as The Rose of Time. Back then, I was a 19 year old "college student". I'm using that term loosely, because even though my parents were paying for college, and I went on occasion, I just wasn't mature enough to do it. Le'ts just say other... things, if you will, were taking up my time :)
Anyway, I'll never forget the day. My best friend and I were sitting atop a local spot in Poughkeepsie called Khal Rock. We were just taking in the sites, and more importantly, looking at the Mid-Hudson bridge.
At that time, we were both huge RPG fans, but felt something was lacking. At that point, we had both just beaten Ocarina of Time, but after looking at screens of Final Fantasy 8, we were not interested at all. We wanted the Final Fantasy series as a whole to go back to its roots. Snow capped mountains, lush forest, huge castles, etc. Interestingly enough, they would in fact do that for Final Fantasy 9, but never again. 12 years after the release of that game, it's still the last Final Fantasy I beat... Sad...
Anyway, it all started with a simple question: "Wouldn't it be cool in a game if they were building a bridge at the beginning of the game, and at various points throughout the game, you'd see more and more bits of it finished?". 13 years later, I really don't know how compelling that would be, but this simple question sparked something in us, and we began to start putting together the initial concepts of a new RPG.
So what was next? Well, of course a Rose of Eternity bible! Page after page of ideas, thoughts, and in general, jibber jabber. And for the first year or so, all of it dated. Why? I know it sounds crazy, but even back then, I was thinking ahead, knowing how much fun it would be to come look at it later. And guess what?! It is! While I don't look at it as much as I used to, every once in a while, I like to take that trip down memory lane.
All of the early stuff you would eventually see in The Coming is in there. Descriptions of a hero cloaked in green (who would eventually become Aramus). I talked off a woman dressed in blue, where her face was concealed (she would become Clopon). I even had something in there for Challseus. Even the Defenders of Legacy and Ministry of Justice were in there. Even as I do today, I would come up with general ideas of how I wanted something to be, then get down to the nitty gritty later on.
Rose of Eternity was also something of a savior for me. I had my 1st panic attack a few months after the bible began to fill up with pages. I really didn't know what had happened to me, but it was a bad year for me, and the only thing that got me through it was writing in the bible. Anywhere I was, I had paper with me, so I could jot down ideas. And I was inspired from pretty much anything and everything.
I used to work at the 1 hour photo booth at CVS, and so I would get to see lots of interesting pictures. I remember the first time I saw a picture of Bannerman Castle, I was floored. And what's more interesting was that it was only like 30 minutes from me, right on the Hudson River, and I had no idea! Coincedently, I see this castle on my dreaded train ride to New York City every day... Sigh...
I mean, how could you not get ideas from looking at a picture as stunning as this?! So yeah, while it was one of the more painful points in my life, it also ended up becoming one of the more fruitful ones.
All of this initial work, entries into the Rose of Eternity bible, would last from April 19th, 1999 until around April, 2004. It was time to get serious...
Today's final music from Secret of Mana is an overclocked remix. Enjoy!
4/17/12 -Tuesday: WELL, THAT WAS EASY..
My original plan was to continue knocking out various bugs/tasks today. Little minor ones that I'll never even give the time of day on this blog. Then, for whatever reason, I got the urge to start work on the new content I had brainstormed days earlier. As I was on the train, the only thing I could have done was write some conversations, and boy, did I ever.
Usually when it comes to writing, I dance around it for days on end. I'm already a pretty big procrasinator, and it's even worse when it comes to this. However, today, I had an extremely clear idea of what I wanted, and more importantly, a laser like focus. Now, it's not like I wrote a book or anything, but it was a decent amount nonetheless.
What's great for the conversations I write is that I can involve so many different people, because I know that they'll be in the particular sequence. Look, we all know there are pros/cons to forced party members vs "companions". I know this all too well... *Has flashback to the comments section from his 1st mod* However, if you're going to force them on people, they damn well better be interesting, and more importantly, tied to the main story, just as much as the player character themselves.
Once I was done with them, I damned near sent a flurry of emails out to John so he could start recording some VO. But I had to take a step back. I mean, all I did was write the dialogue. I haven't even integrated it into the game yet. Once it's in the game, something may change, and the one thing I don't ever want to do is have actors/actresses have to re-do lines because I changed my mind about something. Once it's sent to them, in my eyes, it's final.
Speaking of John, this one will be interesting. In one conversation, 2 of the main participants just happen to be characters he is voicing. It's always great to watch those scenes play out, knowing it's one person holding together the entire scene, and I'm sure he'll enjoy the video I'll make of it. This has actually already happened once before with him, and with Edward. That just shows the skill in which they can pull off different voices, so much so that you can't tell it's the same person.
Tomorrow, I'll just continue this ride until the wheels fall off. More conversations need to be written, so might as well knock it out.
Today's piece from Secret of Mana is one hell of a dark and menacing piece. Enjoy!
4/15/12 -Sunday: CONTINUITY...
Considering how much work I did this past week, I decided to take it pretty easy today. Plus, the weather was quite good early on in the day, so I wasn't even home for a good chunk of the day.
So, I'm happy to report that the actress I reached out to yesterday responded to tell me that she would still lend her voice to this project! So the first thing I wanted to focus on was getting her the lines she needed. As I said yesterday, she already did some of the lines when she originally auditioned, so close to 25% of the work is already done (unless she sends up re-recording them). This particular character I gave her lines for is only in 3 scenes at the moment, and I only sent her 2 out of 3 of those scenes. The last scene, I want to re-write a bit, as I was never really happy with it to begin with.
After sending out that email, I decided to do some monkey work towards keeping the continuity of the game intact. What do I mean? Well, if you've ever seen the movies Schindler's List or Titantic, you'll notice there are super unimportant people that you continue to see throughout each of these 3 hour+ epics. They may not have lines, but they're sprinkled throughout the movies, telling their own little stories, so much to the point that if something does happen to them at the end, you may feel something.
Well, I'm looking to do the same thing. For instance, I have a set of soldiers in the game. At the moment, they always have their helmets on, so you can't see their faces. At some point, I thought, "Why not make them all unique, and have the player see them throughout the game at various points?" Like the aforementioned movies, they may or may not speak, but it'll be something that should add to the realism of the game.
In terms of implementing this, it's damned easy. Whether the soldier is in a cutscene, battle, etc., I just need to replace the model with a new one, and I'm good to go.
Tomorrow, I'll continue some of the work (hopefully finishing it), and then move on to... well, I'm not sure. But I'll be doing something!
I'm running out of superlatives to describe the music of Secret of Mana, so just enjoy the damn thing!
4/14/12 -Saturday: IT MUST BE THE WEATHER...
Right, so... It must be the weather. Maybe I'm a little slow, but for the 4th consectutive year in a row, all my biggest brainstorm sessions happen around the time that the weather gets better. Sure, I have brainstorm sessions year round, but when the weather is good, those are the times when I brainstorm the big picture stuff. How big...
...Well, I'll start off by telling a little interesting factoid. Even though I have clearly known how this particular game is supposed to end, I had never locked down the specifics. More specifically, I had vague ideas of the level(s), as well as possible branching situations. And of course I knew what the plot would entail. But besides that, I'm been going crazy for months trying to figure out the best way to do it. The factors I needed to think about are:
Time it takes to create exterior vs interior levels
Flow of the game from the current point to the final parts
VO, VO, and VO!
Well, I'm happy to say that an idea sort of came to me that will handle all 3 of those bullet points in a pretty elegant way (or so I think/hope!) Hopefully, you'll start to see screenshots of said ideas.
In other Rose of Eternity news, I've reached out to another actress who had did some work for the game back in October. She did some samples for 3 different cast members, and I've more or less been sitting on those samples, mostly because I've been so busy with all sorts of other things. Well, now that I have this burst of energy, I'm able to take on some more work, hence the email. Hoping for the best.
Speaking of VO... John absolutely killed it with this particular character this past week. I've worried about casting this NPC for months, and he comes in and just sends me like 50+ lines in the span of maybe 4-5 days. He's saying to me, "Wow, I can't believe you're integrating the VO so fast", and I'm saying to him, "Damn, I can't believe you're recording so fast". I mean, the NPC is now done. All VO. Feels great!
Today's music is again from a scene in the game I don't remember much... except for the music, of course. Enjoy!
4/13/12 -Friday: MOMENTUM STILL GOING...
Don't let the missed day of posting fool you. My momentum is still going strong!
I've been doing a lot of moneky work lately, taking care of a lot of small issues I noted from the last play through. Most of these included fixing up older VO recordings. When I first started doing them, I didn't know of the best way to raise the volume on certain ones. I always knew about amplifying the entire file, but then I discovered this other feature of Audacity, which included raising the "gain" value, which I guess you can say is essentially the volume? Well, the only problem with this is that some VO ended up with this slightly annoying echoing sound. It had been there for a while, but I figured I would come back to it later. And I guess "later" was the past few days :)
Now that I know how to normalize an audio track successfully, I was able to fix those files and increase the sound the right way. The work itself isn't hard (i.e. moneky work), there's just a LOT of it, and I'm still not done. Also, with new VO, I'm just doing this work as soon as I integrate it, so I don't have to come back and do it.
At any rate, while it's annoying work, the results are spectactular. For some conversations, I've had to lower the music so far, that it was almost pointless to have music playing at all. Now that the VO is louder, I can raise the volume of the music as well, allowing my original vision to stay somewhat intact.
Tomorrow, I plan on working on some things I can't do on the train, mainly, stages and cutscenes.
Ah, Secret of Mana. So many classic songs. Today's tune is from when you're flying around on the back of your dragon. Yep, no airships in this game, they took it to the next level! Enjoy!
4/11/12 -Wednesday: KEEPING THE MOMENTUM GOING...
Whenever I have a bunch of good development days in a row, I run the risk of the inevitable lull that comes afterwards. This is where I'm feeling very satisfied with my previous work, and so I think I can take it easy. To this concept I say, "Not today!" (100 points to whoever get this reference). Okay, silly dramatics aside, it still happens. And I'm trying my hardest to not let it happen, or at least not for a while.
Today, I handled an issue where custom abilities weren't being updated in the party member specific custom tactics when acquired. So for instance, let's say at level 2, said custom tactic is all set. Then once you hit level 3, you acquire your first Last Resort.That ability should end up in a custom tactic slot without the player having to do anything. Turns out, I need to reload the tactic, if you will.
There is already a function I call to associate a custom tactic to a party member, like so:
After that, you still need to set it, like so:
This last function is the one that actually loads the custom tactic slots. At any rate, all I needed to do was add that last function to my AddAbility() wrapper script, so now, whenever a new ability is earned, it's reloaded, and voila, it shows up perfectly.
The next thing I worked on was really minor. I have this custom spawning system which is used during a particular battle. It's highly customizable, and one of the parameters you can work with is a delay. This will essentially delay the actual spawning of the creature for however long you want. Without going into too much boring specifics, I had set the default value of it to be 0 seconds, instead of something higher, like 30 seconds. This was causing the player to essentially be overrun with enemies during a particular battle. Once I changed that value, things became more manageable.
Well, that's it for today. I'm not even sure what I'll work on tomorrow, but there's no shortage of candidates, so I'm good in that respect.
Today's music is the theme that would usually play after a boss fight. Like I said, I don't remember the story to this game all that well, but there would always be this weird guy that would always be around after a boss fight, to tell you what you needed to do next, and this music would be playing. Anyway, forget about the context, just enjoy the music!
4/10/12 -Tuesday: DEVELOPING LIKE IT WAS 2006!
Man, what a night of development! I felt like I was back in my prime year of 2006, when nothing distracted me from my goal of releasing Cry The Beloved the same year Neverwinter Nights 2 would be released. Of course, I paid the price of having such a rigorous schedule... But hey, no point in living in the past! Tonight, I essentially imagine I was 26 years old again, and that I could get by on 4 hours of sleep if needed.
Things started off easy enough. I had this custom creature that has the Last Resortability, Flurry Attack. For a while now, while doing my play throughs of the game, I noticed that by the time they were using the ability, they were more or less being killed in the next hit or 2. Now that is the point of a Last Resort, in theory... All the same, I still wanted them to be more of a threat. The problem was that they needed more hit points, and as any modder knows, you can't just go in and tweak that, the way you could in Neverwinter Nights. I ended up deciding to change their class rank to lieutenants, which pretty much solved the issue.
The next issue I ended up tackling was the initialization of the various caches in the game. Previously, I thought I had fixed this by adding it to my standard system initialization script. For reasons I didn't care to find out about, since this script runs during the loading of the module, the cache wouldn't be set properly. Remember, I'm using the Talmud Variable system, which uses some invisible object stored in the character select screen to hold all the cache variables. So maybe this area hasn't loaded yet?
Anyway, since that didn't work, I decided to change it so that it ran during the EVENT_TYPE_AREALOAD_SPECIAL of the custom area script I have that runs every time you enter any area. Still, nothing. Finally, after poking around through some of the core scripts, I found another "on enter" type event for areas, called EVENT_TYPE_AREALOAD_POSTLOADEXIT. That ended up working perfectly.
Next up was the biggie: setting up the various Bonds of Battletalents you earn throughout the game. Previously, I did a TON of work on setting up the custom BOB skills you can use to tailor the system to your particular needs. For those that were reading this blog back then, then main task was trying to figure out how to make custom skills show up, and even more, making them only show up on certain party member's pages. Ah, that was a hell of a few days :)
Tonight's problem was different. I needed to be able to achieve 2 things:
Make it so that the player could see the abilities on their talent sheet, but not able to unlock it when leveling up. These abilities are only unlocked once you reach a certain number of acquired BOB points.
Literally show the requirement of how many BOB points are needed for the ability.
***SPOILER ALERT*** Looking at today's screenshot, I was clearly able to handle the 2 bullet point :)
The solution was actually much easier than I anticipated. So, when setting up abilities in the ability 2DA, you can set a prerequisite ability, as well as a prerequisite property and property value. Now, for whatever reason, I always assumed there were only 6 of them (STR, DEX, CON, etc.). I didn't realize there was a whole 2DA of properties that could be used. Once I found that out, I extended it and created my own version, added a row for Bonds of Battle, and added that property ID as a pre-req for all the BOB talents in my ability 2DA. Then, for each particular one, I added the specific property value (50 BOB points needed, 100 BOB points needed, etc.). It didn't work out that smooth at first, because for whatever reason, the ID I picked for the custom property was too high, and was crashing the game when I opened up the talent sheet. However, once I dropped it down to something more suitable, it just... worked... Even better, when I tried to unlock it during the levelup process, it was blocked. Something was telling the engine that I hadn't achieved x amount of this "property" that existed in name only, so it just blocked it.
Considering the fact that I didn't even think this was going to be possible for the past year or so, to implementing it in under 2 hours, you can say that I was in one hell of a good mood, and definitely wasn't worrying about what time it was.
Things kept getting better, though. While poking through the core properties 2DA that I extended, I saw where all those heroic stats are kept. You know, the ones like "# of Darkspawn killed", "Amount of $ spent", etc. Now, I am way too busy to do anything with this, but at the very least, I may be able to get rid of Dragon Age specific ones that just don't make sense. What would be better is if I could add my own in. At this point, after 2 years of working with this engine and experiencing its flexibility first hand, I wouldn't be surprised :)
Once I was wiping my hands clean of all of the above work, an email flew in from John, which contained about 10-12 more lines of VO for a new character he's voicing. I looked at the clock, saw that it was 12:30, knew I had to be up at 5:30, and said, "Screw it, might as well do this too!". I was able to integrate all the lines, all I have to do tomorrow is actually test it, and send a video to him so he can see his performance thus far.
All in all, a great night of development. And what was the key factor in allowing me to be able to do this? No real world work getting in the way!
Today's music from Secret of Mana is the obligatory boss music found in all Squaresoft games of old. Something that I really liked about this piece is that it seemed to have like 3-4, maybe 5 different sequences to it. This was the type of music that I would pause the game and just sit and listen to, when I should have been putting the smack down on said boss! Enjoy!
4/7/12 -Saturday: INSPIRATION ALWAYS COMES AT THE WEIRDEST TIMES...
So, my wife and I went to see Titanic 3D. It's a sort of special thing for us, because when we first started dating back in August of 1998 (by the gods!), it was the first movie we ever watched together. So yeah, lots of nostalgic moments while watching it.
At any rate, I know I usually say I get inspired when listening to music, and that still holds true. I can't wait till the weather gets better, so I can go down to the river, sit in the sun, music on my iPhone playing, while I brainstorm. However, that inspiration still comes from weird places.
One minute, I'm watching the opening sequences of the movie, the next, this idea jumps into my mind, making me miss the next 10 minutes of the movie (thankfully, I've seen it multiple times!). Usually, you can break these ideas into 2 categories:
Ideas that will affect my current game
Ideas that will affect the Rose of Eternity world as a whole, but nothing that will benefit my current game
Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it), this new idea will affect this current game. Even better, it's not necessarily extra work, as it's more of a revision to an existing idea I have yet to implement.
When will I do the dev work on it? Who knows... Since the idea just came to me, I need to let it percolate a little. Maybe a discussion with Jason Melancon is needed ;)
Today's music is one of those classic Squaresoft (yes, not SquareEnix!) soft, somber, sad themes from the 90's. Enjoy!
4/6/12 -Friday: FREAKING REAL WORLD WORK...
STATE OF THE UNION
Well, what can I said? I've slipped horribly, with regards to actually updating this blog on a normal basis. No, game development hasn't stopped, I still get some done on the train. It's real work that has been pushing itself into my life lately. A lot of "right now!" deadlines, filled with external factors (i.e. other people) slowing me down, means I've been forced to work when I get home. And let's face it, with all of that going on, I'm just too damned tired to do anything else. I think things should be better this upcoming week (yes, I know I said that last time), so here's hoping!
In terms of where I'm at with Rose of Eternity, well, I still have a decent sized list of bugs to fix, some of them pretty major. Besides that, there's just the last bit of content for the game to create. But because of the aforementioned real world work, I have had zero time to do this. On the train, I can do the easy things. At home is where I can do things like stage/cutscene creation, as well as level design. And wouldn't you know it, the final parts of the game include all 3 of those things!
If all goes well, I should be able to knock out a nice chunk this weekend.
Okay, where to begin...
I received some new VO from John. He was trying out for a particular character, and had sent me some stuff earlier in the week. This character is 64 years old, and he was able to really pull off a good sounding voice. However, I did think it was a tad too old. More like maybe 80+? Anyone watch Game of Thrones? It sort of sounded how Grand Maester Pycelle might sound.
So I asked if he could try to make it sound a little younger, he went off to do his thing, sent me some new recordings, and voila, it was perfect! Really looking forward to getting this particular character fully voiced.
Interestingly enough, another actor (who I can't remember if I got permission to use his name on here or not) also did a voice for a character in the game, this one, 70 years old. His voice was perfect, but much like Grand Maester Pycelle, was talking a little bit too slow. He did have one line in there where he spoke at a faster pace that I thought sounded perfect, so I asked if he could do all the lines like that.
Overall, the VO process is going well. Slow, but steady.
On the development front, I had some pretty major bugs to work through. First up was the fact that party members weren't getting a skill point everytime they leveled up. In Origins, Warriors/Mages get a skill point every 3 levels, while Rogues get them every 2 levels. Because of my custom skill system, I needed players to get them at every level. Okay, so it wasn't really a bug, per se. I had actually never done any work to make it work the way I wanted it to ;)
After sifting through some of the core levelup code, I found the solution. There is a Class 2DA that has a row for each of the 3 main classes, along with columns like LevelsPerAbility & LevelsPerSkills. The latter one was the one I needed to modify. So, I created my own custom Class 2DA, copied those rows for each of the 3 main classes, and overrided them. Quick and easy. Gotta love 2DA's...
Next up was making sure you could only get Bonds of Battle points with main party members. The system was so general that it was awarding BOB points with other minor characters in the party. It didn't care who they were, as long as they were a party member. So, I just had to create a function that would return an array of the main party members, and then when handling BOB things, if the party member isn't in that main party member array, don't continue. Pretty straightforward.
Finally, the last thing I did was something that frustrated the shit out of me, so much so that I got to bed 2 hours later, because I would not turn off my laptop until it was fixed. Long story short, I had put in some debug to display the value of this attribute I had stored in the game's global cache. This was days ago, and frankly, I forgot it. Well, while I was testing some combat to make sure I hadn't broke the BOB system with the above change, I was notcing that little 0's were popping over the head of the player. This was because I was printing the cache value everytime the player was damaged.
However, as I said, I forgot it was there, so I pretty much spent 2 hours going through all my modified scripts to see where the issue was. It was annoying, I wanted to kill someone, but it's over, so I'm happy ;)