I've pretty much been spending my time doing trailer work. As usual, my original vision isn't totally matching up with the actual finished product (thus far!). But, this is nothing new.
The first thing I had to do was re-record a lot of the same videos I had recently done, because for certain trailers, I don't want any sound/music recorded from the game, since I'll be adding my own stuff during the editing process. So as you can imagine, this took a bit of time.
Next, I downloaded Camtasia Studio, which I've used to make every published video I've done since 2005. Maybe there is something better out there, but I feel pretty comfortable with this, and I like to stick with that I know.
Setting up the project is pretty easy, as you just add the music that will play during the trailer to the timeline, then start adding in video clips. Then, on the timeline, you can start splicing them up as needed. The difficulty that comes with this is 2 fold:
The action on the screen has to match up with the music. It's one thing when creating cutscenes where you're only relying on the one particular scene, switching the camera at the right time. This time, I'm taking existing cutscenes, and trying to mix them together to make something that looks like it belongs together.
Transitions... I'm actually really disappointed in this. So, you're given like 20 different transitions, but the way it's implemented is a little screwey. For instance, in between 2 different clips, I can put a fade to black transition. The problem is that when the screen is starting to fade in, the video is totally frozen until the transition is over, then it will start to play. I really don't remember it being like this, but it must have been. The easiest solution is to simply stop using those transitions between clips. Just go from one to the next, and make it look as good as possible.
Despite all of this, I have a pretty good foundation for the trailer. I have all the clips I want in (which can obviously change), the music is set, and I even have the script for what needs to be spoken.
The next steps are to send the script to Jason so he can destroy and rebuild, and then send it to his contact to record the lines. It's only 6 lines, so I don't expect it to be too hard.
On my end, I need to create some sort of static page or something with writing on it, which starts off the trailer. They have some stock backgrounds, and one of them could be useful, but I'm going to look around a little more to see what I can find.
At any rate, it's nice to be able to have gotten so much done in such a short time. I want to do at least one more, but possibly many more, so I'll just setup the groundwork for them, like I did with this one, and then go from there.
Today's music from Lost Odyssey is your standard, "Oh shit, the castle is crumbling, we need to get out of here!". But, it's oh so good. Enjoy!
7/26/11 -Tuesday: YES, YES I GUESS I CAN DO VO...
Yesterday, I asked, "Can you do VO?". Well, I answered that question for myself. I finally had a break in the other things I'm working on, so I devoted a bunch of time to it. To me, it ended up being time well spent.
Before I started to record, I had to figure out the actual place everything would go down. While recording the phonetic information for VO artists, I just did it in my living room. Jason made a comment after listening to them, asking if I had an aquarium or something in my house. Turns out, we have a salt water fish tank that was in front of me, a fresh water fish tank behind me, and even a little water dish for our cats that continually filters the water. So yeah, not an aquarium, but just as bad, recording wise. Oh, and I'm going on record that those fish tanks are my wife's. She's the big fish person. Me, I think it's cruel to keep them locked up in these fish tanks with no freedom. I may liberate them one day...
Anyway, I unplugged 2 of the 3 water related noises, went into the bathroom, and kept the door open. Next I opened up the conversations in the toolset, and started to say them outloud before actually recording them. Boy, did I feel extremely dumb. I've been with my wife for like 13 years (married for a year; yes, I take my time with everything!), so there's really nothing I can do in front of her that would make me feel weird, but here I was, sitting in the bathroom, scared to talk too loud, fearing she would hear what I was doing :) It must sound weird to people to see a grown man sitting in the bathroom, speaking ino a mic, saying things like "I am Challseus, great proprietor of Stramadon, founder of the Last Petal!". Oh, and my cats were really concerned for me, because all of them starting filing into the bathroom to see what was going on... Sigh...
Finally, I manned up, and just did what I had to do. Once I was done, I had a thought: What if I google to see how easy it would be to add a ghost sound to my voice? For reference, the people's lines I was reading are sort of demonic sounding, so I figured maybe I could use technology to my advantage. Within, um, I don't know, 2.3 seconds, I was watching a video on you tube showing me how to do it. Now, I didn't do it exactly the way the person did it in the video, but it gave me enough of an understanding of how to mess with how things sound.
One of the main benefits of modifying the sounds was clear from the start: It masked my potentially bad VO in a big way! But even then, you can't just listen to VO in isolation, because you don't get the full context of things. Once I integrated it into the game, and had the area's music playing, with all the area sound effects and such, it sounded much, much better. In fact, this is why I'm always quick to get someone's VO into the game, because listening to it by itself has always been different than listening to it in game, where music is such a big part of everything.
Once I did the one, the next 3 came very easy, and by the end of the night, I had gone from acting like a little girl in the bathroom, to having recorded VO (modified via Audacity) for 4 npc's, and gotten it in the game. Not bad! Next up is some more VO one liners, this time, with no ghost effects. Here's hoping...
Here's the video I watched last night that gave me a nudge in the right direction on how to alter my voice. As I said above, I didn't do everything this guy did, and I messed with some of the settings a bit, but overall, it was a good video. Also, if anyone knows of a better way, let me know. I'm open to pretty much everything.
Today's music is the world map theme of Lost Odyssey . Enjoy!
7/25/11 -Monday: CAN YOU DO VO?
As you can see by the title of this update, I want to talk shortly about if you think you can do VO or not. I've had at least one person approach me, essentially saying they didn't think they were cut out for it, but decided to give it a go. One week later, they have an entire NPC voiced and fully integrated into the game, along with videos for them to see their work. Now, I'm about to send out an email with two 1 liners for two different NPC's and then about 15 lines for an entirely new NPC. Not bad for not having much, if any VO experience.
My point is, if you're on the fence with regards to if you should reach out to me for roles, I would say, go for it. What's the worst you have to lose? Time? Doesn't seem so catastrophic to me. Plus, we still have many different roles for different experience levels. For instance, we have :
19 ambient, 1 liner roles (Minor Parts)
12 Lesser Parts
10 Major Parts
So for those without an experience, or just wanting to try it out for the hell of it, there are 19 different lines to choose from. And who knows... If that is good enough, like the other person I'm working with, you can start moving up to lesser parts, and even more.
And that's another of the Rose of Eternity - VO Is Your Frend infomercial for the day.
Today's music comes from the last JRPG I could actually finish (since Final Fantasy 9 in 2000). Interestingly enough, it was created by the Father of Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, scored my famed Final Fantasy composer, Nobuo Uematsu. Yeah, those 2 need to stick together :)
Anyway, there couldn't be a good JRPG without some good battle music.
7/24/11 -Sunday: NEED MORE HOURS IN THE DAY!
Clearly, I'm not the first person to say this, but.... We need more hours in the day! Because of other things going on in my day, I didn't get a chance to really do much today. I had wanted to at least start recording my own VO, but alas, it would not be...
...Speaking of VO, I SERIOUSLY cannot wait until I start getting some more stuff in. So far, all VO I've integrated has been one sided. More specifically, it's been one NPC talking, while the others still have the captions. Well, there are 2 NPC's in the game that have like 98% of their dialogue between each other, and one other person. Luckily, I have one of those roles filled, and someone is reading for the other part. Now, I think there is really where having videos will help. For the person who will be recording their lines last, it should help them if they see the scene with the other person in the scene speaking their own lines first.
On the lore side of things, I've created an Organization section on the WIKI, which will contain all the descriptions for the various organizations/factions in the game, like the Ministry of Justice, Boundary Wardens, Dematolians, etc. There are so many benefits of doing what I should have done 10 years ago:
As I mentioned a few days ago, simply sitting down and writing these descriptions starts to open up certain questions: What year was this group started? The founder? How many members? These are things I never had to really talk about in game, so I never really worried about it. Now, as I think about these questions, and come up with answers, I'm able to start mixing in others parts of the existing lore, just making the world more cohesive.
It helps people who join the team, who aren't familiar with the world.
It's nice for players who want to know more about the world before (or after) playing. For instance, without a doubt, knowing a lot of the lore of the world of Thedas helped me really get into Dragon Age: Origins. More so than any other game has before. Hell, I even read David Gaider's first book before playing the game, so I already came in having a good feel for things.
So, here's my next goal. I want to write at least 1 entry a day. Seems pretty reasonable, and if I have extra time, I may be able to stick another 1 per day in. We'll see.
P.S. In case folks forgot, we still need more VO actors :) Also, anyone interested in playing through ALPHA 1.2 to help iron out any and all issues in the game, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, to finish off with Final Fantasy 13 music week, I have to end with the best song in the game, and the one I heard in a trailer, that originally made me interested in the game. Not many songs can do this, but whenever I used to listen to a particular part of the song, I got chills. That's enough for me to know it's one of my top songs of all time! Enjoy!
7/22/11 -Friday: LOTS OF SMALL THINGS (ADD UP!)...
That community member that reached out to me on Monday delivered some files for me to integrate this afternoon, so I handled that on the train. I'm getting used to it at this point, so I had it in game in like 10 minutes, including the time it took to test it out once, and adding more more volume to it. I very much liked it, so I'm going to spend a bit looking for the next role(s). Also, I still need to do some myself, as well as harass my wife to do it too!
As for all the bios work I've been doing, I'm proud to say that I only have one more person to do, and I'm done with the people I care about at the moment. Considering I just started last Saturday, and my usual way of procrasinating, well, everything, I'm damn surprised, and proud, damnit! My original estimate of a few weeks included all the minor 1 liner characters, but in the end, I realized I would just do them on-demand. At least until I have more time. Either way you look at it, I'm good.
With regards to alpha 1.2, I sort of messed up with it, so I need to rebuild it. I'm not going to go into the mundane details about it, but it's not a big deal. One plus is that all the VO created thus far will be in it. Oh, and by the Rose, I will be doing builds a lot more often!
Today's music is also something I never thought I would like. I can't really put my finger on it, it just brings me back to a time when things were simpler. It sort of has that old school fantasy RPG vibe to it. Like, really high fantasy. Anyway, enjoy!
7/21/11 -Thursday: BRAINSTORMING FOR TRAILERS...
So, in between actual game development, VO integration, WIKI edits, and everything else going on in my life, I'm now beginning to give some serious thought to trailers for this game. I've had a rough idea in my head for the past few months, but now it's time to get down to specifics.
Lucky for me, I've already had the tracks picked out that need to play during these trailers. As usual, I was listening to said tracks when my brain began to form ideas, so they just stuck. I really treat it as a cutscene I create, in that all the "events" of the trailer, if you will, revolve around the dynamics of the music.
Obviously, one of the most important parts are the actual visuals themselves, which is also one of the reasons I've waited so long to create one. I'd like to show variety in all the shots, and so, the more of the game that is completed, the more choices I have. Now that I have FRAPS, and have been taking all sorts of videos, I can start to edit these into something that makes sense...
Next is the dialogue, which is really key. I can usually knock out longer/larger dialogue branches easily, but what about when I only need like 6-8 lines? I mean, these have to be killer lines, and they also have to sync up with both the visuals, and the music. I imagine I'll be sitting and listening to the music that will play in each trailer, just listening and brainstorming those 6-8 lines.
Finally, there is the VO. I mean, I can't just show text on the screen, right? I guess we're past that in the modding community *tear drop*. One plus is that the aforementioned dialogue they'll have to record will be short. *shrug*
More battle music, this time, just the stuff played for regular battles. As with the boss music, they really nailed this one. Enjoy!
7/20/11 -Wednesday: NOT THAT MUCH...
I really didn't get that much done today. I played tennis for a few hours as soon as I get off the train from work, and it drains the life out of me, where I end up only wanting to do essential things, like eating and breathing :)
I did however write up some more bios. At this point, I only have 4 more to write, for major/minor characters. Everyone else is just a minor NPC that most likely only has 1-2 ambient lines. So for the most part, I'me feeling very good with the progress I've made thus far. And, as I expected, fleshing out the stories of these characters has helped flesh out the story and world in general. For instance, when I was writing about one character, I was going in some detail about what he was doing in his early 20's. This takes place before the events of The Coming & Cry The Beloved, so it's a little thin on detail at the moment. Because of this, it gave me an opportunity to create a set of events, that naturally tie into the existing mythos I've created.
And with that, I'm looking forward to moving on to writing up details on all the important events, places, etc. in the world. Jason already laid the groundwork with our little timeline webapp, so now that I have dates to play with, it makes everything seem a little more... real, if you will.
Finally, I've figured out which role I'm going to record lines for. This ought to be interesting :)
Today's music from Final Fantasy 13 is honestly something I never thought I would like, but, here we are. Enjoy!
7/19/11 -Tuesday: WOW, THAT WASN'T ANNOYING...
As mentioned yesterday, I started and completed (luckily!) the task of removing files that were blowing up the DAZip generation process, and adding them in manually. Now, adding them manually was the easy part. Removing them was the annoying bit. Essentially, when you're creating the file, you get a windows explorer like interface, where you can check/uncheck folders, files, etc. that will be included in the package. So, I literally had to go through the entire thing, and uncheck things for like a half an hour. In retrospect, it may be easier to open the folder, filter by type, and then move the files to the tmp folder, create the package, then add them in manually.
Anyway, the files that were taking up the most space were these .rim files that were a part of all of my exterior levels. The only other things were some custom trees I created thanks to TimelordDC's tutorial (where is that guy?!), and some custom music files that I'm not even entirely sure I need. When it was all said and done, the final size of the package was 373MB. For me, that's a huge accomplishment, because I'm always conscious of keep the size down. I may even be able to get it down further, due to one of the more cool features of FMOD (tool I use to integrate my custom music). Essentially, when you build the custom music package, you can set the all sorts of attributes, and although I haven't played with it too much, I'm pretty sure I can modify the compression rate of the files. I'll need to just walk that fine line of keeping both the quality and size of the music. I did something similiar with Cry The Beloved, and I think I may have lowered the quality more than it should... Then again, no one complain about it...
So now that I have the file, I may install it on my desktop, just to make sure the important bits are there (custom models, water meshes, etc.). Then, I'll upload it to my dropbox, and send out links accordingly. Now, the first 2 ALPHA's I put out were only played by Jason and I, but I'm now looking for others to join in the fun. So, if you would like to take part in this process, send me an email at email@example.com. While I'm at it, we're still looking for VO actors, so if you're looking to be a part of something like that, feel free to get in contact with me.
Next on my plate is developing the end of the game. As always, it starts out with level design, but that is something that will be left to the weekend I believe. So, that gives me time to write up some more bios, and document as many other things as possible on the WIKI.
Today I have some classic, epic Final Fantasy boss fight music. At least that's the one thing they've kept consistent over the past 15 years. Enjoy!
7/18/11 -Monday: SEE, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS...
...when you don't make playable builds more than 2 times a year! Sigh... So, the issue I knew I was going to have popped up as expected when making the build. I kept getting the following error:
The selected set contains an invalid file name "1007_d.gpu.rim"
Luckily, after a little bit, I remembered the last time this happened, I searched the forums for the solution. Well, after a little searching, I came across this little thread.The gist of the problem is that for whatever reason, when files added to the package, it blows up when there are 2 dots (periods) in the name. So, I'll have to rename the package's extension to .zip, open it up, and throw those files in manually. Ah, the things you have to do these days...
On a more positive note, another community member has reached to me, letting me know that they could assist me in this little thing I've been working on.... VO! The funny thing was, when I saw the name, I immediately remembered it from back during my NWN days, and in particular, the ratings sections of Cry The Beloved. As I've said before, at least 2 times a year, I read every rating for both of my NWN games, just to remember what people liked, and what they did (unskippable cutscene!). Anwyay, they had one of the first reviews for Cry The Beloved, which is why they name stuck out. Interestingly enough, their last comment was asking if I needed help... Well, 5 years later... Better late than never :) One of the other benefits is that they've played the games, so I don't have explain to them who the Ministry of Justice is, or why Aramus is so important.
Also, looks like that phonetics thing Jason suggested I do is coming in handy. Another one of the actors was asking the proper way to say the term, Dematolians. I should have done it earlier, but I just sent the little .zip file that contains everything in it, so they should be good to go.
Lastly, I think when I have some time, I'm going to try to record some lines for some of the smaller roles, like extras having ambient one liners. I doubt I'm any good at VO in general, but I may be able to get away with some one liners... We'll see...
Oh, and if I haven't harped on it already: We're still looking for VO actors. Lots of parts to fill. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Ahem* Tomorrow, I'll continue making sure the build is working properly, and contains all the right files, as well as writing more bios. I've kept up with my promise so far, and have written 9 of them over the past 3 days. So far, only 4 more major character bios, and 14 more minor characters (which will be easy, because, well, they're minor).
So for this week's music, I'm going to include a game I never finished, and just... just didn't really understand: Final Fantasy 13. I still stand by my claim that the golden age of RPG's was from 1991-1995, with Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest, Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy VI, & Chrono Trigger. But, the last Final Fantasy game I've really enjoyed, and beat was Final Fantasy 9, and that was back in 2000!
Meh, what can you do? Times changes, people get older, and killer RPG studios lose their way...
On the plus side, the music is decent! Enjoy!
7/17/11 -Sunday: NOTHING TOO FANCY...
After the whirlwind Saturday I had, I can't claim to have do anything close to that. Nothing fancy about today, just a bunch of things that had to get done... I started with checking in all my art resources into my own SVN repo. I have to admit, it's gotten a little out of hand, in terms of structure, and just the amount of junk I have in there. For instance, anything that I get sent to me that is Rose of Eternity related, I just stick it in some folder, and check it in. It's totally possible there are things in there I don't need, so some day, when I'm feeling particular motivated, I'll clean that up.
After everything was checked in, I created an alpha_1.2 tag of the resources. For those not familiar with version control, a tag is just a snapshot of a revision of your repository. Let's say after this build is sent out, something catastrophic happens to my computer, or I do something stupid is simply break the game. I'll know that alpha_1.2 is the last stable build, so I'll be able to check it out, and build the game from that point. This is a simplistic example, but I'm not here to talk about the merits of SVN and such. Anyway, as soon as I created the tag, I forgot that I hadn't yet built a B2B file and checked it in yet. So, I had to go through the arduous task of checking out the damn thing (it's getting big now, another reason why I need to get rid of superfluous files) so I could either a) delete it and re-create it or b) just check in the B2B file directly into the tag. But, for whatever reason, the site I use to host the files had a ridiculous DL speed last night, so I just had to cancel the process... I'll try at work tomorrow, and hopefully have more success.
After that, staying in line with my goals of writing 2-3 bios a day, I did just that. Jason and I were already having a discussion about various characters that still needed to be cast, so I focused on the higher priority ones, and will continue to do such until I'm done (unless a particular one is needed first). Now, as I was writing these bios, I was naturally including certain Rose of Eternity places/things, like the Ministry of Justice, or the city of Stramadon. It made me begin to think...
...It's sad, really. I've had this world in my head since 1999, and the only other person who knows as much about it is Jason. Outside of that, the most people know about it is what they've played in the The Coming & Cry The Beloved. Now, I've had the time to actually write up proper descriptions of all of the places/things in this world, let's just say I'm lazy... Well, now may be as good of a time as ever. I've gotten by without doing it, because most of the people who helped me in the past had already played my games. This time around, it's been so long, I'm definitely bringing in people un-familiar with it, so I owe it to them to at least have some sort of vague descriptions. Like I said, I know I should have had this for years, but meh, what can you do, except just accept it, and move on.
Tomorrow, I'll fix the svn tag I messed up today, and hopefully, sort out any issues with putting together a builder-to-player (DAZip) file. I'm extremely anxious about the size of it, and hope it hasn't blown up to gigantic proportions!
I just wanted to share some links to some articles I've recently read, which more or less, talk about the future of video games. I won't spoil it, but they are really good reads, and funny as all hell.
Man, what a day. Besides taking care of some other things, today was essentially all about Rose of Eternity. I did so much stuff today, I'm still reeling from it. Where to begin...
As it has been all week, the first thing on my mind was VO. The one person who I had been working with this week had given me some re-do's, so I spent a little time getting that in perfectly, testing it out, and getting a video of it off to him for reference. Now, I knew this would happen, but now that I'm hearing some words spoken out loud, I'm realizing that they're not really sounding right. Clearly, what looks good on paper doesn't match what one hears... I'm still on the fence on if some of it should change, but it's in the back of my mind.
After that, I started to put together all the stuff needed for this person to create VO for another character, this time, a little more important. This "putting together" thing would be the theme of the day for me. First, it starts with the character bio. From there, I need to setup the actual scene, what's going on, etc. Then, I need to take a video of the VO-less conversation, so things can be understood, from a visual standpoint. Finally, I need to actually write out the lines needed. Now, for some of the VO that is already done, this was easy, as it was a straight path branch. This one however has all sorts of player options, so it took me a bit to figure out the best way to present it to the actor. I haven't received a response yet, but I hope I didn't complicate things even more!
Next up , I sent an email to Jason to just sync up with him, and see how all of his VO contacts were faring. He pretty much handled the entire workload up until this point, and now I am just seeing all the stuff he had to go through, and there is so much more...
...Like writing character bios... Holy shit, there are a lot to write up. So, I bit the bullet today, and started adding some to our Rose of Eternity wiki. I already have a person I am interested in playing a particular part, so I wrote up that bio first, then moved on to another 2. If I can manage to do 2-3 a day, in a few weeks, things will be looking good. One benefit of doing these bios is that I can take the time to really flesh out some of the more vague ideas I've had for characters. In my typical fashion, I come up with stories/characters/ideas, and they more or less get fleshed out on-demand. This way of doing it up front will definitely benefit this project in the long run. The hope is that I can point everyone to the WIKI when they're looking for roles to fill.
Once I was done writing up bios, and other admin related things, I got back to this damn playthrough. And yes, I totally messed up and exported something when I was testing out some new VO files. Well, being Saturday, I just sat down, and flew through the game as fast as possible, and guess what? I actually finished the damn thing! *Breathes sigh of relief* I of course found some more issues to fix, but that can wait, as they weren't game breaking or anything. Next, I checked in all designer resources in the toolset, and then did a backup up the database...
...Speaking of which, I am really, really bad when it comes to this. It's like, whenever there is a crisis with my computer, I start to flip out, and swear I'll do weekly backups. Slowly, I forget about said crisis, and get back to what I do best: forget to do weekly backups :) The last one I did was on 3/21/2011, so yeah, I think it was about time to do one.
Tomorrow, I will check in all art resources into my SVN repo, and make an alpah 1.2 tag of it. Then, I will go through the process of creating the end user DAZip file. As I mentioned in another post, I've had issues with it, and certain custom models, water planes, etc. But, as usual, I think if I just focus for 30 minutes, I can sort it out.
Once that is done, I'll send out the links to the appropriate people, and then get back to more VO stuff. I have at least one person I want to reach out to tomorrow, so that will be the first thing I'll do. Getting back to the ALPHA for a second, however, if anyone reading this wants to be a part of it, shoot me an email at email@example.com. Even though it is an ALPHA, the game is very stable, and very much complete up until a certain point. Plus, the more eyes I get on it early means the finished product will be that much better.
Oh, and as always, I'm just putting out another call for VO actors. We've got all sorts of parts for children, women, and men. Come one, come all!
So yeah, I figured out the reason why the VO wasn't working... Just had to actually put in some effort, and not get distracted :) So, for every conversation in the game, for each line of dialogue, I have the "No VO In Game" checkbox checked, so that when going through the dialogue in the game, the screen doesn't jump to the next line without the player hitting ESC (if they don't have any dialogue options, that is). Well clearly, when you generate VO for a conversation, it'll skip those lines. So, once I un-checked it, I was good to go!
Once I previewed it in game, it was looking great, but there were other things I had to think about, that I hadn't had to for the past year or so: facial animations and normal animations. For the most part, all actors in all conversations have been given standard poses. This guy always has his arms crossed, that guy always has his arms behind his back, etc. And, I haven't even messed with any facial animations. Now that there is VO, I've got to bring these little conversations to life as much as possible. Yay for easy, tedious work!
Seriously though, it really wasn't hard for me to do it for the little bit of dialogue I have VO'd. But holy hell, let's just set aside the fact of how much dialogue there is in this game, and the amount of actors I'll need... Even if I get all of that in, I'll be spending a TON of time just making sure it all looks great. I know there is a way to automate animations, gestures, and the like, but knowing me, I'll want to have more granular control over it... So yeah, add that to the bucket of things I never had to think about when making games in NWN and NWN2 :)
And even though I'm sitting here bitching about it, I cannot tell you the feeling I had inside of me when I got it all working. I mean, in my eyes, the game is truly coming alive now, and even though it will be hard, I can't wait to keep it going.
These next 3 days, I hope to end with the most epic stuff of all. Enjoy!
7/14/11 -Thursday: STUPID VO...
As you can see by today's title, the integration of the VO isn't going so well. Admittingly, I haven't spent that much time trying to figure it out, but I'm still a little annoyed... Oh well, such is game development.
Anyway, I'd really like to get at least this VO in the game before putting together the ALPHA. Speaking of which, I still need to actually finish playing through the game, because I committed the ultimate cardinal syn... Yes, I exported some files while I was still in the middle of my playthrough. I was so excited to get the VO in, I totally forgot I had a game in progress, so that was blown away... Sigh...
Another thing I need to do is finish the BETA of Proleric's Crown of Creation. I had tried it out a few weeks ago, but ran into what I thought was a game breaking bug (turns out, I was as dilligent as I should have been in finding the solution to my problem), so I need to get back to that as well. I owe it to him to finish what I started, so I will definitely finish it in the next few days.
So, I was happy/surprised to see some new VO in my inbox when I got home from work. I immediately got to work, converting it to the appropriate format, and integrating it into the game. But, for whatever reason, the damn thing wouldn't play in game. Now, I've only added VO 2 times before, and the time in between each one is pretty big, so I always forget a step or 2. I decided to not worry about it, mostly because I wanted to attempt to get more than 5 hours of sleep!
However, unlike last time, where the VO was for the narration of a cutscene, this one is actually spoken in a conversation, so now I come to the point where I need to worry about lip syncing and such. Presumably, it should be easy. I just click the "Generate FaceFX", and the magic will do it's thing. As with most things during development, I'm not too worrried about it, because enough people have done it so that I'll get it working somehow. Even still, it's exciting, even if it's only a few lines! :)
Some other good news was that the videos I took helped the actor understand the scene better than my meager explanation. I figured as much, but it's nice to have the confirmation. The next time I play through the game, I'll just take videos of all the pertinent cutscenes/dialogues, and just have them ready when needed.
Tomorrow, I'll need to finish the playthrough. I'm pretty far, but keep getting distracted with higher priority things, such as the aforementioned VO related things.
Till tomorrow (okay, I feel somewhat confident saying this, which means I'll most likely skip a day!)...
Right, so I guess when you're in the middle of testing your module, if you find a bug, don't fix it and export it. It FUBARS the game... Oops :)
Anyway, it gave me time to focus on getting some stuff together for someone wanting to participate in the VO process. Normally, I would assume that the actor would be given a short description of the person they're playing, maybe a description of the situation where the lines are spoken, and finally, the actual lines. Well, as I stated earlier, I'm taking it one extra step. I'm sending out videos of these sequences, because as I always say, I'd rather show someone something, instead of telling them.
So for this particular scene, I recorded the introduction cutscene, followed by the actual conversation. In the end, the intro scene was 13.5 MB when I finished compressing it, and the conversation was 5.68 MB. Then, I put the files into my dropbox. All I have to do is send out the links so they can download the files, and that's it. Now, maybe this is overkill? I'll collect some feedback on this, and see what people think of it, but I imagine it has to be better than a mere description... Speaking of the description, I left it for the end of the process, and it just made it so much easier to write.
With regards to the testing, I'll give it a go tomorrow, and this time, I won't make changes while playing!
And the Soul Calibur week (month, quarter?) continues. Enjoy!
7/11/11 -Monday: FINAL PLAYTHROUGHS...
So, in preparation for the next ALPHA, I have to do another set of playthroughs. This time, however, I'm not even looking for bugs. I just need to make sure it can be played from the beginning to the end. It's going to be hard, but I have to know when to say when. I can deal with more bugs later. Time to move on to some new stuff.
Assuming I can finish the playthroughs without any crazy issues, I neec to work on setting up the end user package. Last time, there were a few issues I wasn't able to work through. So, those that use this toolset know that if you want water meshes to render properly, you need to export the level under the "Single Player Module", then copy the files to your module's own directories. That works fine for development, but when I would do it, and build the package, I would get errors. if I exported it under my own module environment, things would be fine. In short, Jason has never seen the outside areas with water as they should be. This ends this time...
Next up will be some custom models used in the game. Mike, one of the developers on Baldur's Gate Redux created a water fountain as his entry in one of the community contests, and I happily snatched it up :) Well, when putting together the last package, I guess I didn't add it properly, so Jason reported some bugs where he was walking around and being blocked by invisible objects, which turned out to be the fountains. Not really sure what happened there, but I have to fix this as well.
Another minor things are default codex's popping up for custom creatures, when it shouldn't. Essentially, there are about 5-6, maybe 7 tickets in the tracker that are bugs related to how the game was packaged. They've been sitting there for months, so I can't wait to finally close them out.
On the VO side of things, a gentleman had sent me samples of his work a while back. I listened to it, and unfortunately, had to push it to the wayside for some other things. Well, since I've put out my latest call for all actors/actresses, he has kindly reminded me of his earlier email. I quickly ran through the samples to get familiar with them again, and made some mental notes on people he could play. As I go through this (hopefully one!) playthrough, I will be making more notes on potential roles, and reaching out to him. It'll be nice to get more VO in, because as I said earlier, it inspires the hell out of me, and makes this game seem so much better.
So yeah, tomorrow, it'll be all about testing, and dealing with VO related things. Also, if I finish the playthrough, I'll put some effort into building the package as well, hopefully fixing the aforementioned issues.
7/10/11 -Sunday: 3 DAYS IN A ROW?! NOW IT'S A STREAK!
Well lookie here, 3 posts in a row! Have I turned a corner? Tune in tomorrow to find out! *Cough* Right, so on with the update...
So after yesterday's coup of finally finishing this damn cutscene, I didn't want to rest of my laurels, pat myself on the back, and pack it in. There was one more bug I wanted to fix before putting together the latest ALPHA: Making sure a particular party member was awarded their Last Resortwhen they reached level 3. Now, I had already put in the dev work needed for this, by essentially listening for the event, EVENT_TYPE_PLAYER_LEVELUP, and adding the ability accordingly. This code was put in weeks, if not months ago. Well, during my last play through, when that party member hit that level, it was not awarded. Now, I know I had tested it when I initially coded it, so I was a little surprised it didn't work. Testing it again, all seemed fine. Then, I had one of those magical light bulb moments: The party member leveled up right before a cutscene ran.
So the problem is, which event is fired first? The on death one that starts the cutscene, or the on player level up one, which happens as the creature dies? I don't want to go crazy with this one, because there are definitely ways to hack it to make sure it works, so I think I will just leave it. If anyone else experiences it during testing, I'll just take that into consideration when I implement the fix. But in the end, I think the incident is isolated enough to not affect many people. Or, so I hope!
On the non-development front, I'm getting to that point that I always get to when developing games... I want to play other games! With The Coming, I started that in April of 2004, and when I released it in July of 2005, I immediately started work on Cry The Beloved, which wouldn't be finished until October 2006. In that 30 month window, I did not play any other games (that I can recall). Rose of Eternity was the most important thing, and I needed to stay focused. After finishing the last one, but before starting major work on Mysteries of Westgate, I went crazy, and started playing all sorts of games. It was great, the highlight being The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. For the next few years, all was good, and any game that I liked that came out, I happily gobbled up.
Well, I'm in that position again now. Development of this game really started hardcore in January of 2010. Since then, I haven't played many games. Now, it's better than it was before, as I would still play my beloved FPS's, like Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops, Halo 3, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Halo: Reach. But, anything that required more dedication, such as Super Mario Galaxy 2, Final Fantasy XIII, The Witcher 2, etc., just fell to the wayside. Oh, except Dragon Age 2. Sigh... Why, oh why did I break my vow of not playing any games with that one... That'll haunt me to the day I die. My last works on this earth may be, "Why, why did I spend those 2 weeks playing Dragon Age 2?! WHY!!!!!".
Now, I know I've said this before, but I am going to attempt to start balancing things out, at least trying to get in some sort of gaming outside of competetive shooters for a few hours a week at the very least. We shall see how it works out...
Till tomorrow (can I start saying this again, with confidence?)...
Here's another great piece from Soul Calibur (trust me, I have tracks for days!). Enjoy!
7/9/11 -Saturday: WAIT, WHAT?! TWO DAYS IN A ROW?!
Wow, look at that. 2 posts in 2 days. Considering how things have gone the past month or so, I would say this is a good thing :) In all seriousness, today was a pretty good day for development. After procrasinating for damn near half a year, I finished up this little 80 second cutscene. I had originally created it last last year, but shelved it due to not wanting to deal with trying to find animations and visual effects.
The plan was to start to dabble with the VFX editor, and create my own stuff. However, as development continued, it just wasn't feasible. Well, as I've been going through all the bug/issues/tasks, this one has been staring me in the face, so I just bit the bullet, and devoted a few hours to it. In the end, I wouldn't say it's 100% done, but it's damn near close. The actual camera movements and everything are good, the music is setup, and I have some "workable" animations and VFX's. I'm sure I'll come back to it and tweak the "workable" stuff, but getting the meat of the cutscene done was the important part, and that is done.
The other major thing going on is talks of getting some custom models in the game. More specifically, at the moment, Oli has been getting feedback from Jason and I on how she should draw up some concept art, which can be passed off to a 3d modeler. As always, I can't wait to see what she comes up with.
Tomorrow is my 1 year wedding anniversary, so um... We'll see, is all I can say :)
It hurts, but I don't have a ton of new, nice and shiny screenshots to show off. I've just been steadily knocking out bugs left and right. Initially, the plan was to finish the higher priority ones, but I've been getting super motivated on the train, so in between other work I do, I've been systematically closing them out. At the time of me writing this, I'm down to only 27. Considering there have been 124 issues logged into the system, that's not bad at all. 78% bug fix rate FTW!
One of the more annoying bugs was an issue with dynamic spawning. Essentially, in this one sequence, I spawn like 6 creatures at once. Normally it wouldn't be a problem (I think), but since there are other things going on in the area, the game sort of stutters for a second. Now, the obvious fix to this is to have the creatures pre-placed in the area, then just activate them when needed. The problem is, because of how the sequence plays out, I'm not sure how many of them I'll need. In the end, I decided to stagger the spawning of them, which involved creating a new custom create object event, so I could make use of the function, DelayEvent. Now, I can loop through all the creatures needing to be spawned, and just increment the delay accordingly. No more slow down!
Another thing, which is possibly the most infuriating thing while testing is the following: whenever I'm testing a sequence with a particular party member, I just drop them in the area before doing my parachute test. Problem is, the majority of the time, I forget to remove them. So, when I go to do full runs, I end up with extra party members. This has been a problem since the beginning of time, so I finally decided to put in some code that essentially identifies duplicate party members when entering an area, and destroying them. Nice to put that behind me.
Finally, more casting calls have gone out. I'd like to remind anyone reading this blog that if you would like to be a part of the cast, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to hear from folks!
What does "Back to her rightful place" mean? Well, in my living room, I took a bunch of artwork Oli Ferrando did for me, blew them up to 11x14, and had them framed. For the longest time, I only had done this with Aramusand The Keeper of the Rose. For whatever reason, it's taken me about 2 years to get it done for Clopon, as well as another picture depicting the scene in The Coming where she is given a flower by Aramus.
Besides being cool to look at on a daily basis, it's really inspiring. I think of characters I created more than 10 years ago, and see how far they've come, and it just gives me that extra boost that I need to get things done. And, it's just what I need right now, because we're at the home stretch, and yet, there are still many things that need to be done.
First and foremost on my mind is VO. For any regular readers of my blog, you'll know that I've been very wary about it as a whole. For the amount of dialogue in this game, it just overwhelms my mind thinking about it. Lucky for me, Jason has taken a proactive role in this area, to great effect. Now, maybe we're just lucky, but our very first audition for our very first character was so damn good, I had it integrated into the game by the next day. I've since sent out my own recordings of all special words/terms/places/people/etc., so other actors can know how to pronounciate things.
So at the moment, the most important role in the game has been filled. Even better, this actor says he has a friend that may be able to fill the role of the 2nd most important person in the game. I am really eager to if this works out as well as the first.
Next on the list is finally getting out this ALPHA. Well, it's been a bit of a ride this past iteration with bug fixes, but I'm happy to saya I'm down to 2 P1's, and 1 P2. The P1's definitely have to make it in, the P2 may slide, depending on how lost it takes to finish the P1's. If I'm lucky, it could all be done by the end of this long weekend.