I've already created one new enemy for this last sequence of the game, and as I was playtesting through it, I realized it might make sense for just one more. As always, I want to keep the player on the toes so they don't get too comfortable using the same tactics in every battle. I'm sure things will change as I continue to balance things in the game, but as is, this enemy is done. They may get a Last Resort, but I'm still up in the air over that.
With regards to the other enemy I created a few weeks ago, they were proving to be a little difficult, so I added a debilitating effect on them that should make them a little easier to defeat. I only tested it a few times, so as always, that may change too.
Finally, I increased the durability of a custom sustained ability. When using this ability, if you take a certain amount of damage, you can be knocked out of it. That default threshold was way too low, where I was practically being knocked out of it within seconds. Luckily, I have a single variable as a modifier that I can, well, modify :)
In other VO related news, this new actor has been working out great. Since I've given him every line for this particular character, I've been receiving new VO from him every 3-4 days or so. As this was the last major character to be cast, I cannot begin to explain the feeling of joy I have in my heart when playing through the beginning of the game. Every conversation is fully voiced, even the ones that include 3-4 people in them. It's taken a long ass time to get here, and it's almost done. Good times...
When Toshinden 2 came out, I had high hopes for it. More characters, better graphics, and above all, the same great music. I wasn't let down. Here's Eiji's theme... Enjoy!
6/19/12 -Tuesday: NEW ACTOR!
It's been no secret that I've been trying to cast this one last major role for quite some time. They are an ever present force in the first half of the game, with close to 100 lines. Well, I was complaining about it to Elise, and she's all like, "Oh, I can ask my landlord. He's an actor and improviser". Don't quote me on exactly what she said, but that was the gist.
My first reaction was just like, "Wow, what a magical place to live in!" I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised. Many of the people that have voiced characters in this game were referred by other actors/actresses. Just the same, it was great news to hear.
So, I spent a lot of my free time compiling all the lines in all the sequences the character is in, writing out little descriptions for said sequences, creating videos, etc. In between all of that, I sent out the first set of lines, along with a video, for the actual audition. I received the lines to integrate within a day or two, and I was very pleased with the results.
I immediately sent out the next 83 lines, along with some of the video I created. Tomorrow, I'll put together the rest of the videos. Then, I have to finish integrating the last lines for another character Elise is voicing.
In between all of this (remember, VO work always comes first), I'll be doing some more level design for the last areas in the game.
While the last music from Toshinden was the most memorable, this next piece was my favorite. Enjoy!
6/17/12 -Sunday: WHAT WAS I THINKING?!
"What was I thinking?!"
That's the thought I had in my head as I slaved away and away on integrating the latest VO from Elise. It's been 5 days since my latest post, and I'd like to be able to talk about 8-9 different things that I've done. But that would be lying. And lying's not good (for the most part!). No, I was busy integrating VO for perhaps the single biggest conversation in the game.
According to the resource history for the conversation in the editor, I wrote the first draft on 6/10/2010... 2 years ago... Even before I wrote it, before I even had my hands on the toolset, I always knew how I wanted this conversation to play out. I knew it had to be an in depth conversation, and I kew it had to be long. And that's how I originally wrote it. Then, at some point, Jason was editing it, and he added some much needed depth to it. That "depth" seems to have doubled the overall size of it!
Then you have to add in the fact that Elise does multiple takes for every line she does. I'm not just grabbing what she gives me, I have to listen to her interpretations to see which line is best. That in itself was very time consuming. Though I need to point out I would never have it any other way! Some of the lines I send her are sort of ambiguous in how they should be spoken, and it's hard to convey to her what I want. So she just does every combination, and at least one always works perfectly.
Oh, and I guess I forgot another thing... This is a heavily branches conversation, so testing it took forever as well, making sure I hit every branch.
And just for shits and giggles, once I checked in all the audio files into my Subversion repository, it put me over my limit, so I had to upgrade my plan. Ha, you gotta loe it!
At any rate, it's all done, and a video has been sent to her so she can see her beautiful work. And I already know the first thing I'm going to do for my next project: Hire an audio producer!
This theme from Toshinden is probably the one I rememeber the most, probably because I really liked the character it's associated with, Duke. Anyway, enjoy!
6/12/12 -Tuesday: BONDS OF BATTLE WORK, AND A VERY SPECIAL MOVIE...
So, I thought today was going to be pretty simple. Finish off some combat testing, and get back to more level design. Unfortunately, I forgot that I had to implement a new set of Bonds of Battle Skillsbetween 2 party members. Sigh, there's always something :(
Now, I had already fully implemented it between another set of party members, so I already had the template to go by. I'll go back and refactor the code at some point, but what I ended up doing was a copy/paste job, then just renaming method names, variables names, and the actual effects that occur. I know this is a hack job, one that I'll definitely go back and fix when everything is said and done.
Anyway, after I did that, I started the 2DA work. I had to add 4 rows for the 4 levels of the skill to my ability 2DA, a new row to my GUI 2DA so that the skills only show up for certain party members, and a bunch of custom strings for the actual name of the ability, descriptions, etc.
After all was said and done, it took about 3 hours to complete. And yet, there was one problem: the ability wasn't showing up on one of the two party members. Not that I had time to delve into that, because I was too busy watching...
I had been hearing about this movie for a while. I knew it was something I wanted to watch whenever I could get my hands on it, but I wasn't exactly following them close enough to know when the release date was. Luckily, while going through my daily rotation of Gamespot/IGN/Gameinformer/Gametrailers/GiantBomb/Kotaku/Destructoid/1-UP/etc., I came across an intereview with the directors/producers of it. I was just scrolling through, reading little bits of it here and there, and noticed the most amazing thing: Available 6/12/2012. The only thing I heard in my mind was "Oh shit, that's today. Time to download this son of a bitch and be amazed!".
***SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD***
This documentary spoke to me on so many different levels. I was simply enthralled the entire time I watched it. The comment I most used throughout it was, "Damn, I know exactly how you feel, man!".
The documents the trials and tribulations of independent game developers, more specifically:
Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid
Creators of Super Meat Boy
Creators of Fez
While Jonatahn Blow had some very zen like opinions on independent game development, the parts that amazed me the most where the stories of the other developers.
I had of course heard of Super Meat Boy before, since I hit up all those aforementioned gaming sites on a daily basis, but I didn't actually know much about the game, or the developers themselves. The thing that resonated with me the most was the fear of the unknown for them. Will the game succeed? Have they wasted the last 2 years of their lives? I too think of these things on a weekly basis, so I could totally empathize with them.
Then there was the entire mental drain of it all. One of the developers referred to the development as being in a concentration camp. He almost quit about 4 different times. The other developer was pretty much broke, and couldn't do anything but work on the game. It was his entire life. As he put it, there was no way he would work for Epic Games, or another big company, and put out a shitty game like Halo: Reach, or Black Ops.
Even more interesting was how I could relate to the other developer they highlighed, the one who created Fez. Again, I had heard about the game, but that was about it. What I didn't know was the entire ordeal he had to go through to actually finish his game. Original show to the public at the Independent Games Festival in 2008, it wouldn't be released for another 4 years. During that time, he had to deal with the assholes of the internet. You know, the people who don't know what it's like to develop games, the ones that just want, want, WANT, right now! People were constantly questioning if the game was still coming, what was taking so long, calling it vaporware, etc. He pretty much summed up my feelings on the subject by screaming into the camera, "FUCK YOU".
I went through the same thing with Mysteries of Westgate, a game that should have been released in the fall of 2007, but didn't see a release until 2009. Oh god, the forums turned into a rats nest of "This game is vaporware", and other similiar topics. It's like, "Yes, I know the game isn't out yet. Yes, I know delaying to add DRM, just to have it cracked an hour later doesn't make sense, but I don't make that business decision". I mean, the people won't get the game any faster, and if they actually gave a damn about us at Ossian and our sanity, you would think they would have let up a little. Damn, so many horrible memories.
But yeah, his problem (and mine back in 2006) was that he cared too much what people thought. He knew he did, and that he shouldn't, but he couldn't help it. I went through the same thing, and I'd like to think I'm better, but I guess we'll find out once I finally release this game :)
Anywho, I really don't want to spoil anything else, so I would highly encourage you to go to their site, pay the $9.99, and watch it. For gamers, I think it's important for them to know what people go through to create games. For my fellow developers out there, you will definitely see a little bit of yourself in this movie. For me, it was like looking in a mirror. Most importantly, it was super inspiring. So inspiring that I need to finish writing this, so I can get back to development, so I don't end up with a 4 year dev cycle like Fez had :(
Here's some more awesomeness from Toshinden. Enjoy!
6/11/12 -Monday: NEW CUSTOM ENEMIES...
With the new levels I've been creating, which are more combat based than anything else, I've had to create something new as well: custom enemies. As is my design style, I try to make every set of combat sequences as varied as possible, so the player is always on their toes. Between the new enemies, and the fact that the party make up is entirely new, I think I'm well on my way. But back to the enemies...
...I've always had an idea to do an enemy like this for a while, but didn't want to shoehorn them into the game. Luckily, things sort of fell into place, lore wise, and I was able to take advantage. I already had the actual enemy designed from a while back, so all I had to do was mess around with their level, abilities, and take things to my test combat arena. The preliminary tests were good, as I was soundly beaten to a pulp. No seriously, that's a good base to start from, because these fights are supposed to be hard, so I just need to scale things down just a tad. At this point in the game, the player will have amassed a lot of custom abilities, and it will be up to them to make the most out of them to get through this section of the game.
So I can keep the level building momentum going, I'm not going to spend too much time on this. All I need to do is make sure a particular Unison Ability is being used by this new enemy and an existing one, make sure it's not too cheap, then get back to level design.
Apologies for anyone trying to get to this site over the past 4-5 days. My web hosting company was acquired by another one, and when they migrated the sites from old servers to some new ones, about 10% of their existing customers got... well... fucked... I had to call them about 3-4 different times over 3-4 days, every time with a promise that the DNS change would propagate after about 3 hours, only to still see the site still down. Finally, the last person I talked to realized he needed to press another button, so to speak, and the site was back up.
In the mean time, I've kept up a decent pace with the development. I received the final VO from John for this particular scene, and I'm really happy how it came out. I'll have to add some more camera angles at some point, but I got what I was going for, when I first brainstormed the scene.
The main thing I've done over the past few days is write a lot of dialogue. I was trying to get as many lines to Alexander as possible before a certain date, and then there is this particular scene, which is essentially the last conversation for the main cast member John handles. It's a pretty important and emotional scene, which is why I've spent the better part of 3 days writing it. I pretty close to being done, so after I give it another once over, I'll send it out to him.
Tomorrow, I'll finish up these writing tasks I have, and get back to the level design I wished I had finished over the weekend :(
I'll be honest... I should have kept track of all the music I've used, because I have no idea if I have given you guys music from the Toshinden series. If I haven't, great, and if I have, well, it's good enough for an encore :) Enjoy!
6/2/12 -Saturday: A LITTLE COMBAT TESTING, A LITTLE MONKEY WORK...
In preparation for the next set of levels I have to design, I did some combat testing in my arena. This time, you'll have a party member, but again, it's a combination that the player hasn't seen in the game thus far, so strategies will have to change up a bit.
While doing this testing, it was apparent that this particular duo was a pretty strong team, so I ended up beefing up some of the standard custom enemies a bit. I also switched up some of their AI sets so that they were using different talents at particular times. Lastly, I gave a few of the "boss" characters some Last Resorts, though they may change at some point.
Another thing I worked on was a particular Unison Abilitythat the duo can use. To be honest, I this was the first one I ever implemented in the game, but later on, I didn't think I was going to use it. It wasn't until about the past few months when I started really thinking that it should be in the game. Of course, being the first one I implemented, there were some bugs/kinks to work out. Also, I need to balance it a bit. It's a little overpowering at the moment, and instead of just lowering the power of it, I decided to add a penalty to the users, so things balance out just a bit. I implemented this change, and it looks good, but alas, it's not working. Due to the fact that I really want to knock out these levels, I just decided that I would come back to it.
In between all of this level design, I do actually have some dialogue to write. Now that I think about it, I should do that first, so I can send it out to the actors. They always (rightfully so) come first... Damn responsibilities :)
<Insert comment about how great this next piece of music is>... Enjoy!
6/1/12 -Friday: SO CLOSE!!!
STATE OF THE UNION
The "State of the Union" is this... It's damned good! I'm a few sequences/levels from finally having this game content complete. I have a clear vision on how things are going to end, and I just need to execute on it.
The level's I've been working on this past week are done. Even the combat sequences in them are pretty much done. The only thing that is left is:
Getting the final VO from John
Transitioning NPC's around during certain events, and making sure they have the right ambient animations
One door transition conditional script
After that, there's like 2 more comba related levels, one final cutscene, and that's that. Now of course, in the tradition of Cry The Beloved, and RPG's of old, there will be quite the lengthy set of epilogue scenes. Still kills me that AAA RPG's don't do this anymore. But, what can you do...
Once those are done, I'll be going in a polishing phase, which consists of:
Adding/fixing stage cameras
Adding/fixing conversation gestures
Final combat balance
Adding props to various levels
Fixing a shitload of bugs
Finalizing all art assets
Get marketing campaign together
Most importantly, play testing the game like 100 times. No, seriously, it's the only way. Nothing irks me than putting out a game full of bugs. I know I'm not getting paid, but I feel like that only pushes potential players away
Then, there's post release stuff, because apparantly, my work with Rose of Eternity is forever :) Things such as:
Post game support
Continued ways to bring awareness to the game
Continue to my Rose of Eternity bible, which essentially should be a WIKI at this point
Invest in some software that allows you to create fantasy maps. This is a long way coming, but I'd really like to take the placement of all of the various countries that are in my head, and get them on paper
So yeah, not a lot of work to do at all :) Till tomorrow...