12/31/11 -Saturday: WOW... ALL I CAN SAY IS... WOW...
So, in my last post, I talked about chatting with Kelvin Lu about writing some dialogue for this Keeper of the Rose cutscene, and in general, the entire legend/backstory. I should have talked to him earlier, but things kept coming up, I would forget, etc. Now, I finally had time to sit down and articulate exactly what I needed.
As I started putting together my thoughts, I had to head to our development forums to refresh my memory. As I've mentioned before, Jason and I really fleshed out her story last year. Even still, there are a lot of details, so I needed to re-read through all of it again. I swear, when I have time, I'm going to go through the forums, and put everything on the WIKI. Forums are good for discussions, and that's about it. Ah, if only I didn't have a real job to go to every day :)
Once I got started, I kept it really simple. I just told him what the cutscene would entail, as well as some other major themes. Then, something happened, something that always happens. I took a break to put together a new desk I bought my wife for Christmas. First I had to break apart the old one. As I was taking the broken down parts to the dumpster, I was thinking about something Jason came up with in our discussions last year. I had literally forgotten about it until I re-read things. As I was thinking about it, something came to me, and I had an idea on how to expand it. So of course, I included that in my post to Kelvin. Even still, what I sent was pretty short.
The next morning, I had a 4 page brain dump from him. Wow... All I can say is... wow... It totally blew me away, and there were some little bits in there that I absolutely loved, and couldn't believe he came up with. I still owe him my response (I was a little busy with New Year's Eve and all), but that will be the next thing I handle.
So as you can imagine, these are the type of things that get me super excited about everything in general. I also have some other things that have me excited, but that will have to wait until tomorrow...
Today's music from Mega Man 2 is like... I can't even put into words what this song means to me. I would hum this in my mind for years to come. Enjoy!
12/28/11 -Wednesday: WRITING A LEGEND...
Everytime I start doing these intro cutscenes, I always have to take a step back and take a look at the legend as a whole. I'll be the first one to admit that while the core of the game is about the Keeper of the Rose, my last 2 games definitely spent 99% of the time dealing with other things. I'll even be the first to admit that her story is a dynamic, work in progress. In other words, I'm just making this shit up as I go, lol.
Seriously though, I've had the general idea of her story since November of 2001. I used to pussy foot around the subject, but I'll just come straight out with it (and will go into this even further in a few days): I was under the influence when I did. There, I said it. And for the love of God, this is in no way suggesting that anyone should do anything similiar. I was 21, going through bad times in life, etc. I don't do that anymore, and since I stopped, life has been on a constant upswing.
At any rate, she was conceived in the roughest form ever that night. Hell, even when I created The Coming, and did that first cutscene, everything in that scene was all I had for her. This was 2005. It wasn't until Cry The Beloved when I brought in a writer by the name of Kelvin Lu. While he was brought in as a writer, he really became our writer of prophecies and legends. He had an uncanny ability to take some chicken scratch I gave him, and make it sound epic. Through a series of conversations with him, we expanded on her lore and history, and that was the foundation for the intro cutscene in Cry The Beloved. This was in 2006.
Fast forward to the summer of 2009. I'm on a self imposed sabatical from work for the entire year, and as you can expect, having the first year off from work since I had started working at the age of 15 back in 1995, it was the perfect time for brainstorming. I had been introduced to a new artist via Pandora, fell in love with them, and in the process, began to take the Keeper of the Rose story up a few notches.
Keeping in line with how things usually work, I brought these ideas up to Jason Melancon in 2010 , and we spent a few weeks on the forums cleaning up all the details. So, in about 9 years, things went from a very simplistic concept, to what we currently have today.
Now, I plan on taking things further. I've been talking with Kelvin Lu on and off through Facebook about coming back to add some of his 'legendary' polish to the current legend/story. The ideas are already there, he'll just make it sound cooler, and more prophetic like, if that makes any sesne.
Right... So, it should be apparent to everyone that I'm just gonna record every cutscene I can. Well, at least the ones that should be recorded anyway.
Today's has to do with Clopon'sbackstory, and contains SPOILERS!!! If you didn't play the NWN games, and plan on starting with this DA one, then reading the following will be okay.
Anyway, to say Clopon was a little irritating would be an understatement. Here are some memorable lines from some NWVault reviews:
...other than Clopon is an arrogant, irritating b*t*h
With the henchies, I must say Clopon totally got on my nerves and I just wanted to smack her...
What's funny is that when I read the interview on the vault, you just mentioned Robert Jordan, not King or Goodkind. Well, yeah, Clopon is bitching all the time, just like the women in WoT. What else?
Now, this is a small sample, but you get the point. This is how most people felt after playing The Coming. All they knew about her was that her master was killed by Kain,she wore a shadowed hood to conceal her face, and she wanted toal control over everything. If you spent too much money at a store, she scolded you. She demanded first pick of special weapons when they were looted. You know, irritating things like that ;)
It wasn't until Cry The Beloved when people got to learn who the real Clopon was. It wasn't until she returned to her master's house, and started to reminisce about her experiences there...
Note: Please forgive NWN's animations. My wife made a comment about how someone looked as if they were having a seizure, when they were just laughing. Hey, these are animations from 2002!
Today's music from Mega Man 2 is from the first stage of Dr. Wily's Castle. I only remember 2 things from this stage... The music, and that big ass dragon at the end... Enjoy!
12/27/11 -Tuesday: SUCH A GREAT FEELING!
Anyone who has done any level design can attest to the fact that it's such a great feeling as you see said level come to fruition. For me, even though I have a good imagination, it's still a little annoying everytime I start out, and the level just doesn't look right. But as the pieces slowly start to come together, I start to get happy, and that's what happened today.
The structure building was a lot easier than I expected, because I forgot I had already used this set to make some structures in another level. So all I had to do was open up that level, export the set as a group, open up the new level, import that group, and I was good to go. Took like 10 minutes tops.
Next thing I worked on was the lighting. I'll readily admit I was very impressed with the lighting in Skyrim, and while I know I won't be able to achieve anything like that with this engine, it did give me some ideas on how bright I should make lights, what color they should be, and more importantly, how they should affect the player and the environment (visually, that is). This was probably the most time consuming part of the day, as I was really trying to get the lighting down. Once I had it good for one, I could just copy those settings to the other existing lights.
Tomorrow, I'll start to work on some of the cast members that will be in the cutscene. I've already created a temporary Keeper of the Rose, I've created some other important people, and all I need is about another 3 to 4.
All in all, I'm in a good place. It's weird, but I've been more focused than I have in a long time. I mean, I LOVE Skyward Sword, and I haven't touched that in 3 days or so. But, I'm not going to argue. Skyward Sword isn't going anywhere, so I'm going to ride this 'period of motivation' until the wheels fall off!
Today's music from Mega Man 2 is from one of my favorite stages, music wise, and gameplay wise: Quick Man. Enjoy!
12/26/11 -Monday: GETTING CLOSER...
So, it looks like I'm getting closer to the final design of the level that will be used in the cutscene. Even though I started the day with the intent of putting together some structures, I ended up moving away from that to do some work to determine the final dimensions of the level.
Whenever I do prototyping, I just start with the default area size (which I believe is 64x64), and every once in a while, I get lucky, and it's more or less the right sized area that I need. Yeah... Not this time. I ended up doubling everything, going to 128x128. Better to have more than less room anyway...
The reason I need more space is because I decided I needed to add water to the area. Water's always irritating, because that involves having to export your levels from the 'Single Player' module instead of your own, because of some bug with the toolset Bioware never knew about, because they never tested exporting levels from other modules, just the main campaign. Or, they never tested exporting a level with water... Who knows... *Shrug*
Now, as you can see by the picture, there is some weird color issue going on with my water. It's also happening on the tops of some buildings. It's one of those things that I'll worry about when I have to. For now, I need to continue with the level.
Another thing I tried to do was find some rose props, or failing that, some red flowers... Absolutely nothing... Ugh... It's not the end of the world, and I'm at the point in development where I'm going to search someone out to make a custom one for me, so I'll just work with what I have.
Tomorrow, I'll do what I was supposed to do today: Put together some structures.
So, I've been having some issues parachuting into areas in my NWN mods in order to record cutscenes. For some reason, the camera angles are off, cast members are missing, and other oddities. It's not enough to make me spend too much time with it, so I've just moved on to ones that do work.
For the cutscene I will show you today, it was probably one of the quickest ones I had ever created. I never even had plans to do it, then I was listening to some music, got inspiried, and well, here we are.
In short, this short little cutscene involves Castiasas he arrives at Fort Illnitisafter a pretty significant event in his life.
Today's music from Mega Man 2 is from Flash Man's stage. Enjoy!
12/25/11 -Sunday: AND SO IT BEGINS...
And so it begins...
For me, today, and the upcoming days will be some of the most important during the development of this game. These intro cutscenes are the ones that set the stage for what players will be experiencing. I take them very seriously, and I also have a lot to live up to. I admit I put the pressure on myself, but that's a good thing I think.
So as I've said in previous updates, I pretty much settled on the theme of the cutscene, have the music picked out, etc. With all of that out of the way, it was time to start the level design. Now, I knew I wanted a snowy type level, and luckily, there are 3 existing terrain meshes for snow. I messed around with all 3 of them, before settling on one. I think in the end, I could get use out of all 3 of them, but for prototyping reasons, I just decided to use one for the moment.
Next up was the actual snow. Again, there are already a few snow visual effects. Two are "light snow" effects, and one is "windy snow". It's a shame there wasn't a "heavy snow", or something like that, so I went with the latter. It looks decent enough.
Piggybacking off of a tutorial TimelordDC made a while back, I took some existing re-colored trees I created, and added them to the level. These will be the rose trees that I first introduced in the intro for Cry The Beloved. At the moment, I only have one size, so I'll have to go back and re-color some of the larger/smaller trees. The process is quite annoying actually, so I'll leave that to the end.
Lastly, I just started to add some structures here and there to get a feeling for what things could look like. It looks like I won't be able to get away with just using the available structures as is, as it looks like I'll have to get my LEGO on, and form bigger structures from the smaller ones. Also not looking forward to this ;)
Once the level was done (lights rendered, exported, etc.), I was able to add it to the level layout of the area. From there, I just had to add the custom music, some sound effects for the wind/snow, and of course, add the Keeper of the Rose, which will clearly change in the future.
From there, I just started up the game and ran around. For the first day, I was pretty happy with the results. There's clearly a lot of work that has to be done, but it was a good start.
Tomorrow, I'll see about creating some new structures... sigh...
I was able to record another cutscene from Cry The Beloved. This one was too far into the game for me to play up to it, so I had to open up the module and make sure I started in the area, and have the cutscene start up immediately. This took about an hour, mostly because I really just couldn't remember how to work with the Aurora Toolset. In the end, it did bring back good memories, and reminded me of how a toolset works when it's clearly made for end users, and not just developers. Good times...
Anyway, this was one of my favorite cutscenes I ever did. Pulling from my inspiration from The Legend of Zelda, it was just a little 'shiny' moment for Clopon, as she finally attained the rank of High Summonor.
Today's music from Mega Man 2 is from Bubble Man's stage. Enjoy!
12/22/11 -Thursday: FEELING GOOD...
So things are going pretty well, and I'm feeling good about the state of things. I added a few more videos to my new Rose of Eternity YouTube Channel, and there are more even more coming. Now, the ones I added were already either easily created, or pre-existing. For some of the others, I would have to either play through both games (not the worst thing in the world), or *gasp* open up the NWN toolset, and parachute test the game to get to the scene I need to record. But, there's an even better solution...
...A few years ago, I already did this. I played through both games, and made save points at all the important parts in the game. I even took a lot of video, and even made some special pieces I have since never uploaded. You see, if you go to the character page of say, Aramus, you'll see there is a video there, that just doesn't play. I never had the time to figure out why, and just moved on.
Anyway, all of that data is "somewhere". And that somewhere is "possibly" on my desktop that I don't use anymore, mostly because of crashes and such. Long story short, if I could get to it, it would make my life a lot easier. Just even having the save data would be good enough. So, I'll take a look at that tomorrow.
Besides that, I actually integrated some new VO for the first time in a long while. Hell, I had even forgotten how to do it! John pretty much took up where he left off, and was able to deliver high quality lines for the character he is playing. At the moment, I just sent over a bunch of one liners, just to slowly get back into things. Tomorrow, I'll spend time putting together the lines for much larger conversations. I also sent lines to Edward. He already did like 99% of the lines for one character, and he has since moved on to another one.
These characters John and Edward are doing are pretty important, so I can't wait to here the finished product in game.
Tomorrow, as I said, I'll continue putting together lines for John, and then I'll get back to level prototyping for this little Keeper of the Rose cutscene.
So when I learned that you could integrate bink movies into NWN modules, I knew I would end up creating a credits movie. It was done as cheapyly as could be, as I essentially just created "slides" in photoshop, added the appropriate text, and mixed it all together in Camtasia Studio. In fact, the hardest part was syncing everything with the music.
Anyway, here are the credits for Rose of Eternity - The Coming. People from the old NWN community may recognize some of the names... Also, the last frame was pretty much on point. The day after I finished The Coming, I was already creating basic levels for Cry The Beloved!
Today's music from Mega Man 2 is Metal Man's theme. Enjoy!
12/21/11 -Wednesday: THE FLOODGATES HAVE BEEN OPENED!
So, once I started putting up videos this past week, something in me wanted to just start putting up anything that I deemed important enough. This means some sort of pivotal scene, intro, ending, etc. It was pretty easy to think about the intro scene for the town of Aribine. This happens in my first game, The Coming, and was something I had thought about years before I had even heard of Neverwinter Nights. As soon as I started working on the game, as soon as I learned how to make cutscenes, I pretty much started working on it. Looking back on it, it wasn't that special (I can clearly do better now), but remember kiddies, this was back in 2004! Damn, I'm getting too old for this shit!
P.S. The map above was something someone started for me way back when. He had the style totally nailed, he just messed up one thing... He misspelled Aribine. Oh well...
Today's music from Mega Man 2 is from Air Man's stage. Those who played this game know how it works. You get to pick which stage you want to go to, and this was always #1 for me. Anyway, enjoy!
12/19/11 -Monday: WELL, I MIGHT AS WELL DO THE OTHER ONE AS WELL!!!
Keeping with the clear theme of the past few days, I made some headway into getting this Keeper of the Rose intro cutscene off the ground. I spent some time first making her clothing. There are some 'noble' variant pieces of clothing that looked pretty decent, so I went with one of those. Next up was the colors. Unlike in NWN, you can't just dynamically choose colors for every item. You have to create custom tints for them, do some basic 2DA work, and then apply the custom tints to the item. Luckily, I already have a pre-defined custom tint that I could re-use, so that part was easy.
Next up was creating the actual creature blueprint for her, adding the clothing, and then picking a temporary face morph. With regards to face morphs, I'm absolutely horrible at making them, so I have been sticking to using existing ones, with the hope that at some point, they'll be switched out for other ones. That said, if anyone reading this has skill in making face morphs, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow, I will begin level prototyping. This will be interesting, because I'll be working with a particular terrain texture I've never used, and that's going to have to include some new VFX's, sound effects, etc. But, I'm really excited to see what this level could look like.
So, if I was going to post the opening scene to The Coming, why stop there. Might as well post the one for Cry The Beloved!
While the first intro cutscene introduced the players to the Keeper of the Rose, this next one would give them some more history on her, and let you see how she came to inhabit the Garden of Roses.
Now this is just my personal opinion, but this cutscene was the culmination of work I did on dozens of cutscenes for both games. If I thought I had gone to extreme lengths to make the first intro scene as good as possible, I went into pure maniac mode making this one.
Just thinking about it puts even more pressure on this cutscene I will hopefully start working on soon.
For this week's music, I'm bringing you back to a time before it was acceptable to listen to video game music. I truly thought I was the only one who was looking at music like that... Obviously, I would turn out to be wrong. Even still, this week's music is what really got me into it... Mega Man 2. Enjoy!
12/18/11 -Sunday: DOING WHAT I SHOULD HAVE DONE 5 YEARS AGO...
Today, I did more brainstorming for the scene. I essentially settled on a theme, how it should look more or less (which will definitely change as I'm actually implementing it), and the music. As I said before, I've already had a bunch of scenes in my head, so it wasn't like I had to come up with that yesterday. I just had to settle on one.
The next thing I did was put on the music that plays in the scene, set it to repeat, lay back, and get piece things together, frame by frame.
I still have a lot of things to worry about, as outlined yesterday. But I think I'm on my way, and hell, with almost 2 weeks of vacation time coming up, I might be able to knock it out by the end of the year. Wouldn't that be something (ha!).
Tomorrow, I'll begin to sort through the aforemention things I have to worry about. I think I'll start with the clothing.
So I finally did something I should have done 5 years ago: I recorded the opening scene to The Coming, and threw it up on YouTube. The process didn't go as smoothly as I thought, however...
First, I had to find my disks for Neverwinter Nights, so I could actually play the damn mod! After finally finding them (I had previously looked for them earlier in the year, to no avail), I went through the normal process of installing the Original game, then the 2 expansions, Shadows of Urentide, and Hordes of the Darkness.
Next up was patching.... "Err, wait. What do you mean nwnserver.patch.com doesn't exist anymore?". Figures... I knew these patch files must have been uploaded to some other site by someone, mostly because I know people are still modding for the damn game, and I still see posts from authors such as Andarian on the BSN NWN1 forums. After some searching, I got the links, and I was in business.
But wait... I still needed my actual game files from NWVault. Why I don't already have them on my own harddrive, I'm not sure. Maybe I thought NWVault would be around forever? Anyway, once I had them, then I had to actually read my own Readme I created 5 years ago, just so I could install it, because hell if I remembered how ;) As a little pat on the back, I do have to say my first Readme was extensive as hell. I mean, I had a freaking bestiary in it!
Just when I thought I was in the clear, I forgot about my old friend, the CEP. Now, I originally developed the game using CEP 1.01, and to this day, I still get emails from people unable to play the game, because CEP 2.0+ isn't compatible with the older versions, for some reason. Frankly, I left that world behind me, but luckily, they kept DL links for all the older versions, so I was able to find it and move on.
Okay, now I was finally ready to start the game, and record the intro cutscene. Of course, I forgot to turn High Res Fonts on the first time, so I needed to do it again. But, the leadup to the scene takes a while, because I hadn't implemented skippable cutscenes in this game (that would come in my next game), and I started to feel the pain of those that complained about them way back when.
Once I finally got the video I needed, I had to edit it, and then upload it to YouTube, which is all new to me, because I've never put up my own content before. But before even uploading it, I was having issues wit Windows Live Movie Maker shrinking the movie down for whatever reason, even though it should have been given the normal hi-def resolution/dimensions. Switching over to Camtasia Studio (which I should have used in the first place), I was able to get it in the format/size I needed it in, and was finally able to upload it.
And so, here it is. Made in Decemeber, 2004 (gods I'm getting old), this was the first major cutscene I had attempted up until that point. It took me a week to do, and this was when I was super focused, not like now ;) I'm talking, no internet, no TV, just working 5 hours a day during the week, 8 hours during the weekends. The good old days, lol.
Most importantly though, this is the core of the story. Forget about Aramus, Challseus, Last Resorts, BOB Points, etc. The core of this game is about her, more specifcially, her pain.
Enjoy! (be sure to watch in full screen mode so you can see the text)
Today's final piece from Final Fantasy XII (yes, only 2 pieces, I didn't think the rest was that good) is the good old, traditional boss battle music. If not for anything else, they still know how to nail this every single time. Enjoy!
12/17/11 -Saturday: IT'S ALL ABOUT HER...
Story wise, regardless of the multiple plot lines, multiple cast members, events happening around the world... It's all about her. Her, being, The Keeper of the Rose. Yeah, you know, that little person this entire world/game/experience revolves around?
Anyone who has played the first two games knows that there is a staple of this series, something that every game has to start with: a Keeper of the Rose intro cutscene. I've had various ideas for a few years now, as well as about 4 different pieces of music picked out. There are a couple of things I need to think about:
Not overdoing it with the length
Finding the right clothes for her
Finding the right props for the scene
Getting the right narrator
For the first point, going a little bit further, I can't have a super long intro. I'll admit, I had grand plans for this 8:42 long scene, mostly dictated by the music. In the end, besides the length, I just think it's too ambitious at this point. Also, now that I've built the beginning of the game already, I would be going from one 8 min long scene, to other intro scenes, and I've been doing this long enough to know it's not what people want.
The clothes are another issue. In the Neverinwter Nights world, we had CEP, robes, cloaks, hoods... It was great. I mean, when I joined the community in 2004, it was already there. In the DA world, I'm either going to have to reach out to some people, or get creative with what we already have. I'm leaning towards the latter.
Again, in the NWN world, there were like 1000's of hak paks for various tilesets, and I found the perfect ones for each setting of each intro cutscene. Again, some of these models/props just don't exist. And again, I think I'll try to get creative.
Finally, I have to nail down the narrator. This is the person setting the stage for the game. I already have an idea in mind, so we'll see what happens.
So, for the next few days, I'm going to do a lot of brainstorming to try to come up with something. Here's hoping it all works out (which it usually does).
Today's music is from a game that started out promising, but just couldn't do it for me in the end: Final Fantasy XII. Enjoy!
12/16/11 -Friday: GETTING BACK ON TRACK...
So, today was devoted to one thing, and one thing only: Getting back into the swing of things with the various team members scattered around the world. It's one thing to get myself back on track, it's another thing to sync up with everyone.
Anyone who has read this blog knows I don't mask things, and I don't beat around the bush... I've been more or less incognito for a while. Yeah, I've been making steady progress, but I haven't given the same attention to others that I normally do. I really dropped the ball. Today was my day to make amends.
I started with sending an email to Edward Ashley, who is doing the voices for 2 cast members. The most notable thing about him is his equipment. It's like he's got the same recording gear Bioware uses! Anyway, he got back to me pretty quickly, and we have a plan for things moving forward, which works out perfectly with my current schedule.
Next up was our 2D/3D artist, Archon. Once I dug up the last email exchange we had, I realize it was worse than I initially thought! May was the last time we had talked about some new icons, and he had even sent me some preliminary work for my latest needs. I clumsily responded to the email, apologizing for my disappearence, and to my surprise, he was able to send me the finished stuff within a few hours. I was so excited, I got them in the game immediately, and they looked great. Nothing like having custom icons in the game for all the custom abilities, giving the game that feel that it's something more than Dragon Age. At this point, I think I'll only need 4 more icons, and that will be that.
A month ago, I had already contacted John, another VO artist, about hoping to get him some new lines for one of the main characters he's doing work with. Still, I just shot him another email saying things are even closer now, and also gave him some one liners to do.
Another VO artist, Andy Mack, still needs to be contacted as well. He did some really good work with some mid-range characters, especially after saying he didn't think he had the talents to do it (guess he proved himself wrong).
Next, I reached out to Jason Melancon to see if we could get over this hump with his toolset not picking up my database changes. It's really inexplicable to me that it's not working, but I guess crazier things have happened with this toolset. Here's hoping.
The last thing I did was take a look at Sunjammer's Audio Thread, which interestingly enough, was written 4 months ago, around the same time I was bitching about a lack of documentation on the subject. He even PM'd me about taking part in the thread, but alas, I did not get the time to. Reading through it last night, I see that everyone who took part in it really started to open my eyes to how audio works.
My main issue is this... Ever since I've found out that I cannot lower the volume of sound effects through scripting (if I'm wrong, someone let me know!), I've had all sorts of issues with music and VO. As I've stated before, the game automatically lowers the sound of music when a conversation starts. Among other things, this is reason enough for me to attempt to get my music in the game, via actual music objects, not sound objects.
Now, the thread itself hasn't been touched in 3 months, but better late than never, right? Right?! I just have to do a little research myself before joining, so I can sound like I know what I'm talking about.
In honor of Amstrad Hero's blog about Skyrim, I present to you, the best song in that game, the song that I would stop EVERYTHING for, just to listen whenever it came on. Jeremy Soule really outdid himself with this song. Enjoy!
12/11/11 -Sunday: MORE MONKEY WORK...
Today was really more of the same, picking up where I left off yesterday. I didn't do anything major, but as I always say, even the little things add up and matter at some point.
My arch nemesis of the day was that bug I talked about yesterday, where a particular conversation wouldn't play. First I thought it was the plot check, so I removed that, still nothing. Then I thought it was the new stage, removed that, nothing. I finally decided to create a new branch of dialogue with the same plot, and voila, it worked. At this point in development, I don't have time to figure the whys and whos and such. I quickly copied the dialogue from the branch that didn't work to the new one, and I was able to successfully put this little incident behind me.
Next up was putting the finishing touches on this little boss fight. One of the participants goes through a... transformation in the battle, so I had to put in the scripts to make that occur. The transformation needs some VFX to liven it up a little, but I'll handle that another day.
Finally, I started the process of backing up everything. Handling the art resources is easy, because I currently use Tortoise SVN to handle the revisioning. The toolset designer resources is another issue altogether. As long as I've been doing backups, I've never known of a way to simply check in all modified files. Instead, I need to literally open up every single folder in my project, highlight all files, and then check them in. It's not the end of the world, but it's a little annoying nonetheless. Compare that to Tortoise SVN, where you can just click on the root node, and it will traverse the entire tree and check in any files that are modified.
Well, I decided to post a question on the forums about it, and within a few hours, I had an answer, albeit, a slight workaround. But hey, if you're working with the DA Toolset, workarounds is the name of the game!
The final piece for Donkey Kong Country is very fitting, as it's the final boss theme. It starts out a little hokey, but it ends off great. Enjoy!
12/10/11 -Saturday: MONKEY WORK...
I did most of my work while watching things on TV, so it was a perfect time to pull out those monkey tasks. One such task was the creation of stages for conversations I wrote a while back. The stage creation itself was pretty straightforward. The application of it, however, didn't go as smooth.
I'm still hunting it down, but the damn convo won't start now, now that I've attached the stage to it. I thought maybe it had to do with the conditonal plots, but when I removed those, the convo still doesn't play. I know it's something small, and I'll have one of those Aha Moments after taking 20 minutes to figure it out. Speaking of Aha Moments...
...The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword... Now that I've finished Skyrim, I've moved on to one of my most favorite franchises of all time. You know, the game where you'll have tons of those aha moments throughout the adventure? I can't comment on things too much, as I'm only about 7 hours in, but, well... it's Zelda. If you're a fan, you'll understand what I mean. If you're not a fan, you'll know what I mean :)
Anyway, tomorrow, I'll hopefully finish up that little 10 second cutscene, and then move on to more monkey work, like adding one liners to some npc's. It's also probably a good time to do a backup, since I obviously didn't stick to the "I'm going to do a backup every week" mantra.
Today's music is crazy. Something I would expect in some super hi-tech Final Fantasy game (read: Final Fantasy XIII). Good song nonetheless. Enjoy!
12/9/11 -Friday: BACK TO IT...
Interestingly enough, I've gotten more work done on this game when I've been going to work, versus being home on vacation. Then again, Skyrim did get in the way a bit. 81 hours worth :) It was a fun way to get back into gaming, and definitely something I'll fondly remember years from now.
One of the things I spent some time over the past few days doing is enhancing a particulart custom ability for a particular party member. This ability was implemented a while back, but there were 2 things wrong with it:
The animation didn't line up with the overall effects. This is what happens when you create your own abilities re-using existing resources. In a nutshell, the animation and effect would happen immediately, but the effect really need to happen when the animation it its peak, so to speak.
Visual effects. Absolutely none. That is all..
For the visual effect, I went through the arduous task of going through as many VFX's as possible, trying to find one that matched. I really thought I wasn't going to find something I like, but on a whim, I tried one that sounded differently than it ended up looking like, and voila, I was good to go. Not bad, considering I hate trying to find existing VFX's.
Now that I had the VFX, there was still the issue where it didn't line up properly with the animation. My solution to this was pretty simple, really. Create a new generic event, called EVENT_TYPE_VISUAL_EFFECT. Why is this? Well, I need the VFX to start a few seconds after the ability is activated, and the only way to delay something from happening is the function, DelayEvent. So, I just create the event with the appropriate variables (visual effect type, target, etc.), send it to the proper object, catch it, and apply the effect. Simple. Well, not as simple as it used to be in NWN, but, gotta stop living in the past!
A nice supplement of this new event is that I have more control over how my VFX look. I can have the same effect play every .25 seconds over a 3 second span for instance, to make the effect look a little flashier, for instance. There are really so many things I can do, but that's for another day.
Tomorrow, I'll hopefully knock out some stages for some convos I wrote a while back. I think I may need a little 10 second cutscene too, but that should be easy.
Today's piece from Donkey Kong Country is another classic. I especially love the ending of it. And yes, I will say it again... How did music like this make it into a simple side scrolling platformer in 1994?!
12/6/11 -Tuesday: *TAPS MIC* IS THIS THING ON???
STATE OF THE UNION
Wow... Somehow, it's December already. Maybe times does go faster the older you get... Oh well...
So, it was an interesting month. I'm not even going to pussyfoot around it. I did not get as much done as I anticipated. Sure, I had roughly 2 weeks off from work, but most of that time was spent playing Skyrim. Look... I promised myself I would never do what I did 7 years ago, which was not play any games until I finished my own. I missed out on so much stuff, and it's hard to go back to get caught up, with so many new games coming out. So I got Skyrim the day it came out, and haven't looked back. I'll have a more detailed post about once I'm done with the game, which to be perfectly honest with you, could be either 2 days, or 2 weeks from now. I'm 80 hours in, so any sane RPG would be close to be done, but with a Bethesda game, you just never know :)
Now, even though I spent a lot of my free time playing Skyrim, I did get some key things done. First and foremost, this huge battle sequence I had been working on the past month is more or less complete. That includes the actual custom system I wrote, the implementation of it, and the surrounding plot scripting that glues everything together. Sure, there are little things here and there I need to do, but the core of it is done.
Another thing I was able to take care of was the implementation of the Bonds of Battlesystem, ported over from Cry The Beloved. As I had mentioned in another post, I had already implemented the part of the system that awards the BOB points, I just had to implement the actual BOB abilities unlocked at the various tiers. The only thing I need to do is finish integrating it into the existing GUI framework. I'll also need some icons for it as well. But the core of it is done, which I'm grateful for.
Now, as usual, even though I may not have implemented that much, I was still brainstorming a lot. In particular, I think I am close to actual coming up with the name of this particular game. Gone are the numbers that I associated with each game (i.e. Rose of Eternity - Chapter 1 - The Coming), but I still need a unique name for each game. Jason told me months ago that we didn't really have to worry about it, and it would just naturally come, and that time may have come. There are a few themes I'm trying to address in this game, and one of them is that of family. Let me explain...
I just had a death in the family recently, and so I was away from home for a few days to attend the wake/funeral. Now, I hadn't seen many of my family members in years. When I say years, it's closer to like a decade. It's something I've felt terribly guilty for, and when I wasn't able to see this particular family member before they passed, it just killed me. I totally broke down at the wake when I saw the body, mostly because I hadn't seen them in so long... But my family... my family I hadn't seen in years were still my family, and comforted me. I guess I'm just different when it comes to family, as I'm an only child, and my Mon is an only child, so I only have a lot of family on my Dad's side. I guess I've just never been a family oriented person for the past 15 years or so, and despite all of that, despite not seeing me for so long, it was as if nothing had changed. I was still loved the same as I was when I was that little 11 year old kid that used to bring his Super Nintendo with him to family events, and prop himself in front of the TV for hours on end :)
It was really awe inspiring to tell the truth, and on the road home, I had an epiphany. Family is reallly one of the most important things in the world, and that they will always be there for you (okay, not all families, but you understand what I mean). Naturally, that thought began to move into the realm of Rose of Eternity, and since family plays a pretty big theme in this game, I put the term 'family' into my iPhone's thesaurus app, and began to come up with titles for the game. Nothing is decided yet, but things are moving in the right direction.
Heh, it's funny how things change as you get older. If I look at updates from 2006, it was all business. 5 years later, and I just have other things going on that are just as important as Rose of Eternity. It's not to say that I'm going to stop development, I'm just saying I'm going to have to continue to learn how to balance things.