5/26/14 -Monday: NICE BRAINSTORMING SESSIONS, MORE BALANCING FIXES...
Being memorial day, we had our annual BBQ at Quiet Cove, which also happens to be my haven for brainstorming sessions since 2009. A huge majority of the minor details of this current game were created there, and a lot more stuff that you won't see any time soon. So of course, when I had my chance, I snuck away to put on some music and get it going. Within 45 minutes, I had come up with enough stuff to make me happy.
In terms of actual game development, it's been a pretty big struggle to actually find things to do (which I guess is not a bad problem to have). After sitting for a while, I remembered Jason had complained that the final fight of the game was too easy. I thought I had made it sufficiently harder, but he was claiming to have killed one of the more tougher opponents with a few swings of his weapon. All of my parachute tests showed the exact opposite, where it was at the point where I thought I may have to actually make things easier! Not really sure where he was coming from, I decided to get on my desktop and load up a save from the currently released BETA, and lo and behold, I saw exactly what he saw. Not sure how I missed it during my playthrough...
Anyway, now that I know what the problem is, and can re-create it, I just need to go ahead and fix. Why an opponent would have x HP in one situation and y HP in another situation is weird to me, but I'm sure I'll figure it out.
Today's music from my New Age (Best of best) Spotify Playlist is from Capercallie, called, I Will Set My Ship In Order. Enjoy!
5/25/14 -Sunday: SOMETIMES, YOU JUST KNOW...
In my 10 year career of making games, there's always been these nice little moments: When you're receiving content from other contributors, with regards to the quality, sometimes, you just know... Sometimes you can just tell right off the bat they they nailed it. There's none of the normal, "Oh, maybe it will take some time to grow on me", or "Eh, it's good, not great, but it'll do". None of that. You take one look at it (or in the case of VO, one listen), and you're like, "Holy shit! This is the shit! I love this shit!".
Well, that's exactly what happened tonight. I received some VO from someone I found on the Voice Acting Alliance, and god damn, was it good. Even more impressive was the fact that what I received was in both British and American accents. I mean damn, that's some good service! Sort of reminds me of the VO I used to get from Elise Harris a few years ago. For each line, she would send on average, 5 takes, consisting of different accents and more or less, different ways of saying things.
Anyway, when I listened to it, I was like, yeah, this is awesome, let's go! I got that stuff integrated into the game quick as hell, made some videos, and sent it back to the actor for review. Now that we're both on the same page, I'll just have to wait some time for them to do all the lines (they previously were just doing some sample lines before we were to commit to anything).
So on the days where I'm like, "Man, why can't I find any actors any more", all that goes away after hearing stuff like this. Good times.
Today's music from my New Age (Best of best) Spotify Playlist is from Moya Brennan, called, Where I Stand. Enjoy!
5/23/14 -Friday: VO, VO, VO... OH, AND SOME COMBAT BALANCE...
Ah, VO... The gift and the curse. I've said this time and time again, but this will probably take up 80% of my post mortem. But before I get to that, let's talk about some fun stuff... Combat balance...
During his latest playthrough of the game, Jason mentioned that one particular boss fight seemed extremely difficult. I've been sort of balancing this fight for the better part of a year, so it wasn't a surprise. This is actually why you need people to test your game (well, at least one of the reasons). I've been playing it for so long, I know exactly how to get through things, whereas others who are new to it may not.
So I set up some parachute testing of the fight, and while I was fighting, I had one of my famed light bulb moments... I knew I had the enemy marked as "Boss" in the editor, but perhaps this was changed on the placed instance in the area. Sure enough, for whatever reason, they were marked as "Elite Boss". Now, I couldn't visually tell the difference, because their name was the same color of orange (or is it red?) for both versions. Once I lowered them to "Boss" status, the battle was still difficult, but not overly so. I did have to make some changes to the custom weapons, to shift things towards the harder end of the spectrum, but again, it's still not as crazy as it was before.
I received some VO earlier in the week, and it took some days to integrate, due to the sheer quanity of it. What I came away with was that the sound quality was not as good as things I had previously received from this actor. I had to do all sorts of post processing on the files, but as the syaing goes, bad input, bad output. There really was no way to salvage things. So I sent an email to them with a laundry list of things to look at, and they immediately recognized the issue, and said they'll get new lines to me. On the plus side, everything is integrated in the game, so when I get the new lines, I just need to drop the new audio files into the right folder, generate the VO files, and I'm good to go.
I'm also still on the hunt for female actors :( At the moment, I have 2 that are auditioning, and I'm hoping like hell that things work out. However, they're only going for the one role, so I still have the other to fill. So if you know about female actors out there, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow, I'll be handling another combat sequence Jason mentioned in his feedback. Except the different is, things weren't too hard, they were too easy. Ah, combat balancing... Such fine lines...
Today's music from my New Age (Best of best) Spotify Playlist is from
The Wooing Of Etain. Enjoy!
5/19/14 -Monday: MINOR CHANGES TO BOB SYSTEM, ALSO, LOTS OF VO!!!
As I stated in my last journal entry, the game is done. At this point, it's just about small optimizations, balancing, and for the love of God, VO.
With regards to balancing, this weekend, I spent some time making some long awaited changes to the Bonds of Battle System. Essentially, I just made each tier of abilities to be a little more unique. Take Warden's Strength from Cry The Beloved, which is the BOB ability between Aramus & Raina. It basically ups the strength attribute of both of them while fighting next to each other. Each tier just ups the strength by 2 points.
For this game, I wanted t make each tiered ability a little different from the subsequent one. So you would have something like:
- Strength + 2
- Strength + 4
- Attack + 4
- Strength + 6
- Attack + 6
- Damage + 6
That's the idea in it's simplest form. But you get the point. So yeah, that's what I was doing over the weekend. Just making each BOB ability a little more unique. As I always say, this is one of the most fun parts of game design. Creating new custom systems, the advancing them over the years. For me, I feel like if I don't make changes to systems I made years ago, I'm not doing my job.
In other related news, I was got A LOT of VO from Alexander today. Years ago, I had someone doing the VO of this one cast member, but as can happen, they disappeared. So he stepped up and took on the role.
As he sometimes does, the file I received was all in one take. It's actually pretty funny. He'll be doing some lines, then mess them up, say some funny things to get back into character, and do it again. Even funnier is when he is taking my dialog, which I know is not my strong suit, and questioning it's quality. With one line, he's reading it in this one accent, then immediately switches to his normal voice, saying, "Wow, this is a terrible line"
Some people would get their feelings hurt (hell, maybe I would have 10 years ago), but I'm much more thick skinned now, and more importantly, I know what I'm good at, and what I'm not. So if he thinks a line is terrible, and makes it better, then who am I to disagree with him? Plus, to be fair, I sort of just go through the motions when giving him dialog, knowing he's going to change things anyway.
At any rate, I cut up the large file into the single files I needed for the conversation, did some post processing on the files, and got the first conversation into the game. There's still some things I need to do (adjust the background music, raise the volume on some lines, etc.), but so far, so good.
Tomorrow, I'll spend all of my development time fine tuning his VO, getting it all integrated into the game, recoding videos of it in game, and getting them sent to him for review. Will be nice to knock this cast member out.
Today's music from my New Age (Best of best) Spotify Playlist is from Moya Brennan, called, Show Me. Enjoy!
5/15/14 -Thursday: WELL, WELL, WELL, THINGS ARE LOOKING REALLY GOOD...
Halfway through the month, and I have to say, things are looking pretty good. I've officially had 2 testers finish the game, and most of the tickets that came out of were typos, balancing questions, and one major bug, which I've already fixed, as documented on Monday's post. I've been very good about taking care of said issues too. As soon as the report is made, I'm writing up a ticket, and then immediately going to fix it. So from a game stability point, I am feeling extremely confident. This is a good thing, because every day that passes has me feeling like the next BETA will be the last one. And that might only be something for me to play through, just so I can verify a bunch of things.
That said, I'm still waiting on some VO things to come through, as well as some promotional material. With regards to the VO, the big question mark is someone for 2 female cast members. I'll admit, it's been a little frustrating, as there have been many starts and stops. A few years ago, someone agreed to voice one of the characters, then stopped replying to emails. Okay, fine, it happens. Next, someone actually reached out to me, saying they wanted to lend their voice to this project. Subsequent emails were never responded to. As recently as a few weeks ago, I found someone via the Voice Acting Club, she seemed very willing, but does not respond to emails any more.
So, um... *Shrug*
I guess I'm just not used to this. Actors were found for the other 30+ roles in a rather organic, hands off approach. Okay, well I'm lying a bit... Jason Melancon did all the upfront work finding the initial set of people. The rest have come from either people reaching out to me who read this blog, or from being friends of people Jason found. I guess actors sort of roll together :) Point is, not much effort has had to be wasted trying to find people since Jason's initial search.
But here we are, on the cusp of the release of the game, and I still can't find voices for 2 more roles. So, here's my obligatory request for help in finding female actors. Skill level does not matter. I can't promise the role to anyone, but I can promise to give whatever I receive a thorough listen. So yeah, any help would be greatly appreciated :)
Okay, so now this update's content isn't matching the title. Regardless of any VO issues at the moment, things are still looking good. As I've always said, integrating VO is very low risk, so I'm not worried about having to have another round of testing for it. Hell, I could receive the VO, to a little test run myself, and put the game out that night!
Anyway, next up for me is just some more polishing on the promotional material, and readme. I also have a balancing ticket to look at, but I'm pretty sure I already know how I'm going to fix it, and it's a one liner. So nothing to worry about there. Finally, I have some custom systems descriptions to fill out a little more, so they're more clear to the player. All in all, just a bunch of monkey work. Hell, maybe I'll have somewhat of a weekend to myself for once...
Today's music from my New Age (Best of best) Spotify Playlist is from Joanie Madden, called Down By Sally Gardens. Enjoy!
5/12/14 -Monday: UP AND DOWN, UP AND DOWN...
Man, what a day of ups and downs. Things started easy enough...
I had some more typos/missing VO items from Jason to go through on the train ride into work. I like to knock these out as soon as I get them, otherwise, they start to build up, and one day, I'll be looking at 60 typos I simply don't want to fix :)
Then came the bug. I mentioned it a few updates ago, where the bug had to do with what I thought was level design. Months ago, hell, maybe years ago (will this game ever be finished!), there was a known bug where during this one particular combat sequence, some party members would be fighting near the top of some stairs, then be transitioned to another part of the level, a part that is not supposed to be seen by the player (you know, the little magic tricks us designers do by hiding things behind moutains, hills, trees, etc.).
I knew of this bug, and when the first alpha went out, as expected, some folks ran into the issue. Okay fine, so this entire time, I truly thought it was some weird glitch with the terrain collision, where the game would get confused, and just dump you somewhere else. I made a lot of changes to that little section and thought I had cleared it up. Then, Alan ran into the same thing in the latest beta.
At this point, it was the type of ticket I didn't want to touch. I tried my best to fix every ticket around it, biding my time. Eventually, I knew I had to do it, so I just hopped in. Luckily, I was able to reproduce it perfectly. That's the key, really, because I didn't want to get into this loop of making slight changes to the level, waiting 30 minutes for things to export, test, see it didn't work, rinse, repeat. Being able to reproduce it meant I had a better chance at getting the fix right the first time.
And dammit, when I fixed it, the damn thing worked! Man, I was happy as all hell! All I did was add terrain collision around the problem spots, which effectively blocked the player from entering in, what I deemed to be the step from hell. Anyway, once I did like 20 tests, I was feeling very, very good. Now, because of the terrain collision I added, some waypoints/triggers were no longer reachable, so I had to pull them out a bit. Not a big deal...
However, as soon as I ran a test (with the combat this time), the same issue started happening again. I almost tossed my laptop across the room! How in the hell was it not working? Did the level changes somehow get reverted? It was late at this point, I was fuming, so I decided to just go to bed. However, as I was getting ready, I had one of those magical light bulb moments. What if the problem were the triggers, that by definition, transition the player? I mean, that was the only change I had made between it working, then not working. So I ran a test to make sure the problem was still happening, which it was. Then I removed the triggers, tested again, and voila, no issue.
I don't know what it is about the triggers, since they're deactivated by default in the toolset. Maybe I enable them in a script somewhere by mistake when the level is loaded? Who the hell knows, all I know is that this annoying ass bug is close to being going.
So yeah, you already know what I'm doing tomorrow...
Today's music from my New Age (Best of best) Spotify Playlist is from Gandalf, and the song is Take Me Gently Across The River. Enjoy!
5/10/14 -Saturday: LOTS OF ADMIN WORK...
Most of my development time (which admittingly, wasn't much), was spent reading and composing a lot of emails. Not being an ogre, or an overbearing slave whipping asshole, I usually don't harass people about things owed to me. I still maintain I am not any of those things, but I still needed to get updates from various people, so like the ravens leaving Winterfell when Robb called in all of his bannermen, I too let the emails flow :)
Once that was done, I started work on the one bug I've been dreading to work on. This is by far the biggest bug I have at the moment, and it's one of those ones that isn't so easy to replicate. Even worse, it involves level design changes, which are a pain, because to test these, it takes like damn near 30 minutes just to make a change to the level before I can see if it's fixed or not. But, it's gotta be done at some point, so might as well be done over the weekend.
Tomorrow, I'll continue working on that bug, as well as fixing some more typos that came in via Jason Melancon.
Off my New Age (Best of best) Spotify Playlist is a song from David Arkenstone, in my opinion, one of the most varied new age musicians out there, along with Yanni. Enjoy!
5/9/14 -Friday: BUNCH OF SMALL THINGS... PART 2...
The theme of this week is definitely "bunch of small things". I know I've said this many times before, but this far into development, I'm not willing to invest that much time in making big changes. The thought process is, let me get the game out as is, see how the greater population looks at things, then make changes accordingly.
With that said, Jason has been making his way through the game, and has sent me his first report. As expetced, I went right to the smaller items to knock them out, which were mostly related to typos. Though, there was a somewhat annoying bug, where there was a line missing VO. It's more annoying because of the fact that I'm not going to be able to get the VO from the actor, so the line had to be removed. Just another one of the cons associated with working with a fully VO'd game. Man, when I do my post mortem on the game, I already know which subject is going to get the most attention from me :)
After I was done with that, I started work on another pretty important things, with regards to the release of the game: The introduction and features section. The former section just let's newcomers know about the Rose of Eternity series in general, where it's come from (i.e. NWN days), the awards it has won, etc. I guess it's a pat myself on the back section :)
The features section is pretty self explanatory. Here, I just go over all the things people can expect in this game. The key thing is to let people know this isn't some Dragon Age mod, rather, a unique game that just happens to use the dragon age engine. I accomplish this (hopefully!) by mentioning all the custom systems, the # of custom abiltiies I've created, etc. Anyway, I worked on this for a few hours, mostly working on the semantics of it all.
Tomorrow, I'll most likely be working on a bunch of small things again :)
Today's song off my New Age (Best of best) Spotify Playlist is from Kevin Kern. Enjoy!
5/7/14 -Wednesday: BUNCH OF SMALL THINGS...
Over the past few days, I've mainly been all over the place, sort of fixing thins here, tightening things up there, writing an email here... you get the point.
One thing I made sure of was the address Alan's non-minor bugs he reported on Saturday. I had previously handled the smaller ones (i.e. typos) on Sunday, but I quikcly moved to some of the bigger ones. One was some changes to an existing cutscene, where there were a couple frames where you would see some cast members walking in place. That took all of about 30 minutes to fix, test, and push out. The one thing I took my time on was another ticket he gave me, the balancing of one of the special abilities.
Once I read this report, it was clear to me there was an issue, and I couldn't just sweep it under the rug. We had a little back and forth on how to balance it, and I decided to go with the idea he came up with first. Once I knew what I had to do, it was pretty easy implementng it. From there, I took things to my sandbox combat arena to try things out. It seemed fine, but I guess the real test will be during my next playthrough.
In other news, I had received some feedback from Oli on the promotional materal I've been creating. Change this color here, use this font here, make the text smaller here, you know, little things that the lead artist would know over someone who has little to no artistic skill. Of course, many of the things she suggested, I did not know how to do in the editor I'm using, Photoshop Elements, but that's what youtube is for.
Finally, I've also been filling out the credits movie with additions, mostly people to add to the special thanks section. I also made somewhat of an error, and omitted some people from a particular category, so I'll have to get that slide in. That'll mean I'll have to resync things to make sure the music still lines up the way I want it, but it's not that big of a deal.
Here's another song from Mars Lasar, off of my New Age (Best of best) Spotify Playlist. Enjoy!
5/4/14 -Sunday: PRETTY EASY, SLOW DAY...
I've been going strong for almost a month now, so I decided a break was justly earned. Not to say I didn't do any work, but I attempted to enjoy the day a bit. Played some tennis in the morning, and the worst, windy conditions ever, I might point out, and followed that up with some recovery time on the couch. Once I felt better, I at least wanted to tackle some of the minor tickets I wrote up from Alan's feedback.
They were all typos, so it was pretty easy to go through them and fix them. There was one bug that reported an inconsistency between spoken VO and written dialog, but it didn't specify the lines(s). I was feeling sort of lazy, so I decided to leave that for tomorrow, since I'd have to load up that part of the game and play/record that section. Actually, this inconsistency does pop up from time to time, mostly because I may write something that looks good, but once the actors are actually reading it, it sounds terrible. And since I give them free reign to change any dialog (within reason, of course), they make little alterations to said dialog, and I sometimes forget to update the conversation file. In other words, this is not unexpected, but I'm glad that they're being found and cleaned up.
I also received some screenshots from Alan on that known issue I talked about yesterday. It really just confirmed what I already knew. I have a gameplan to tackle it, but since it requires level design work, stuff that drains the shit out of my laptop battery while on the train, I'll have to leave it till after work one night, or possible the evening. I'm not too worried about it, I'm sure I'll get it right eventually.
Also, very minor, but I heard back from RP Singh about getting permission from one of his friends to add her name to the credits. He was always the middle man, so I never got to talk to her directly, so I was never sure until today how she felt about it. So, I have some changes to make to her slides tomorrow.
Besides the aforementioned changes to the slides, I hope to knock out another bug I already knew about before putting out BETA 1.11. It wasn't game breaking, but it needs to be handled, nonetheless.
Here's another track from my New Age (Best of best) Spotify Playlist. Enjoy!
5/3/14 -Saturday: WELL, THAT WAS EASY...
The plan for today was pretty straightforward. Convert the credits movie to a .bik file, then integrate it into the game so it plays after the final epilogue cutscene. Now, I didn't actually know how to do this integration, but these things tend to just work, and about twenty minutes later, I was good to go.
But first, I had to do the conversion. Now, the export .mp4 I have is only about 15MB, but after doing the conversion with the default settings, it balooned to 188MB! Good lord... Anyway, once that was done, I did a preview to make sure it looked good, then googled "Dragon Age Toolset Cutscene Bink", and soon enough, I found some threads on BSN with the usual suspects, like Dahlia Lynn,
Cuvieronius, & Beerfish. No one was directly asking how to do it, but I pieced things together from reading a thread or two.
Essentially, in the cutscene editor, there is a master object that you can use to apply fade ins/outs, narrator lines, etc. Well, for .bik files, you can just create a new track associated to the master object, and select "Play Movie". From there, you just point it to the movie, make sure the cutscene is long enough for the movie to play, and that's it. Of course, there were some minor things I had to deal with.
For one, I didn't know where to put the movie. Then, I just decided to dump it in the core/override directly, and boom, it showed up. The other issue was just adding it to the existing epilogue scene. I initially added to the end, so it would be a smooth transition. The problem is, there are custom/stock sound effects that are playing during the cutscene, but those need to be silenced when the movie starts. Because of that, I had to create a new cutscene, which the previous cutscene would call, and right before it starts, I put in code to deactivate all the sounds. Then, I was good to go. So yeah, that was pretty easy.
I was feeling pretty good about myself, when an email came in from Alan Gou, the newest tester. Newest, as in, he just emailed me about being a part of the BETA on 5/1/14! Thursday... 2 days ago! The best part was the beginning line, which said something along the lines of, "Meant to send this to you on Thursay, sorry for the delay". So he asks to be a part of the BETA on Thursday, I send him the link for the download, and he already had feedback for me that same day?! Much respect in every way you can think of.
Anyway, the first thing I was happy about was that the build still worked from beginning to end. Putting together these builds is such a lengthy (and frankly, annoying) process, where one slip up could mean that I've wasted someone's time after they've spent their free time download a 1.4GB file. So yeah, very happy about that.
Other goodness from his report was, well... There was only one annoying bug reported, unfortunately, a known issue I thought I had fixed in this latest build. There were 3 typos, and one suggestion on the description of one of the custom abilities. Let's see, what else... Some dialog/VO inconsistency, missing VO (which I actually added to the game a few days after putting up the build), and some suggestions for some tweaks to a cutscene. I mean, all in all, not bad.
By far, the best feedback was suggestions on how one of the custom abilities seemed a little overpowered. I say this is the best feedback because for one, this late in the game, everything should work. It should only be about the balance of the game. The other reason is well, I LOVE talking custom ability balance with others. I can only build the thing, I need to know from people if they use it, is it overpowered, underwhelming, not worth their time, etc. I just love making tweaks to all the custom abilities, trying to balance them as much as possible. Now, I can't go into detail on his suggestions, but they're right on point, and it's something I'll be looking into later this week.
The other balancing issue he brought up was with regards to the Bonds of Battle. In Cry The Beloved, the tiers were set up like so:
- Tier 1 - 100 BOB Points
- Tier 2 - 200 BOB Points
- Tier 3 - 300 BOB Points
This time around, the way I've integrated them into the existing DAO ability trees, they're like so:
- Tier 1 - 100 BOB Points
- Tier 2 - 200 BOB Points
- Tier 3 - 400 BOB Points
- Tier 4 - 800 BOB Points
Obviously, there is a 4th tier, due to there being 4 abilities per row in the existing DAO trees, but the main thing that was brought up was actually acquiring all the tiers. He got to tier 2, and was curious if it was possible to get all 4. My last playthrough, I know I got to tier 3, and shit, I think I made tier 4. I could prolly hop over to my desktop and load up my save game, but I just got done playing tennis for 3 hours, so I sort of can't move :( Anyway...
It was an interesting thing to bring up, because I tried to design them in a way so that the player couldn't max them out easily. I guess I could add tier 5-8, now that I think about it, but his point (and a good point it is) remains. Should it have been easier for him to get to tier 4?
It's something I'll have to think about over the next few days, and I'll definitely have to ask Jason how far he got when he sends me his report.
So yeah, that's about it. Pretty good day of development, and with Alan's report, I have some tickets to work on tomorrow. I'll most likely start with the easy ones and knock those out, and save the bigger ones for later, once Jason is done.
Also, I'm still on the lookout for more testers. The hope is, the more I have, the more opinions I'll begin to get on combat/ability balance. This is really key for me, and something I'd like to get right, right out of the box. I was lucky enough to get it right with The Coming (still remember all that balancing the last 3 weeks before release), and somehow with Cry The Beloved, so hopefully, the 3rd time will be the charm (wait, does that only work if the first 2 were failures... oh well, you know what I mean)...
For the next few days/weeks/whatever, I'll just be pulling random songs from my New Age (Best of best) Spotify Playlist. Feel free to click the link and subscribe to it.
For today's song, as you would expect, it's something that I've listened to so many times, that I've been able to craft an entire sequence in the game series (not this particular game) from it. Don't expect to actually implement it in game any time soon, but there's a lot of lore behind it, and that may end up being more important than the actual scene. Enjoy!
5/2/14 -Friday: AH, MUCH BETTER!!!
Yesterday, I mentioned a lump under my tongue and in the back of my throat. I had been dealing with it since Tuesday, and as you can imagine, it's been a pain... literally... Whenever I eat, it would get inflamed, and make it uncomfortable whenever I swallowed. I had been trying to stay calm about it, getting as much development done as possible, hoping it would go away. You also have to remember, I thought it was stress related, but I just kept telling myself, "Yes, you're stressing yourself even more, but you're almost there!". So yeah, it's been rough.
Well, at the office yesterday, while eating lunch, I pretty much lost my shit. I just couldn't take it any more. Plus, I was doing the thing you're not supposed to do, which was look up my symptoms online. Of course, every poster was like, "It's mouth cancer, go get it checked out". Yeah, I'm one of those guys... Anyway, I called up my doctor to see if she could squeeze me in at the end of the day, but they couldn't. Then they referred me to some "Urgent Care" place. I left the office immediately, was lucky to catch a train 4 minutes before it left, got home, and went to the place.
Turned out, I had something called Salivary Glands Stones. I won't go into details (you can read the link), but the solution was to go on antibiotics and suck on lemon drops, which would produce enough saliva to pass the stone through the glands. 2 1/2 hours later, sure enough, I felt this little pebble in my mouth, checked underneath my tongue, and it was gone. Woo hoo! Life was infinitely better at that moment.
All the while this was going on, I was finishing up the prototype for the ending credits movie. It's always a tricky thing when trying to synchronize things to music, but after a lot of trial and error, I got every slide to work perfectly. So for now, I have a fully functionaly credits movie, from start to finish. Of course, some things will change, typos will be fixed, etc. But the main thing was to get it fully prototyped so I could send it to Oli and others for comments on it.
Also, I'll need to do something I've never done, which is have it play in game, as a .bik file. From the brief search I did on the forums, I guess you end up creating a cutscene, and then just configure it to play the movie at the start (or hell, in the middle, from what I understand, it's pretty flexible), and boom you're done. I already have my Bink converter app, so making the file will be easy. I'm not sure where the file should be placed, but I'm sure I'll find out easy enough.
And that will be the plan for tomorrow. Convert the file and integrate it into the game so it plays after the epilogue cutscene. After that, depending on my mood, I may go through all the prototyped videos, and do some cleanup on them. Or, I may deal with the 1-2 tickets I have for BETA 1.12. However, if by the time I get there, I have reports from the couple of beta testers I have, I may hold off, so I can do it all at once.
Either way, I'm in a pretty good space. Oh, and that stress I've had? Well, a lot of it is gone, most likely due to the whole salivary glands stones situation being taken care.
Sadly, this will be the final piece from Jia Peng Fang. I hope you enjoyed all of his music!
5/1/14 -Thursday: IT'S ABOUT THAT TIME...
STATE OF THE UNION
Well, folks, it's about that time... What time is that, you ask? It's that time where I'm working so hard and so long (inclduing my already tough full time job as a software engineer) that the workload is starting to get to me. For indications on how that can affect my psyche, you need to look no further than the October 2006 daily updates, 10/2/2006 in particular. Only 8 years later, and I am so very glad that throughout all the stress and pain, I was able to write my feelings down, on a daily basis at that. Long updates, too. Back then, boy, did I love to write this blog. I still do, but when I was 26, versus 33 (almost 34), I was a damn robot.
The stress is the worst type of stress, too. It just sort of crept up on me. Yes, it's only been 3 weeks of back to back days of intense development, but shit, I practically did that for 15 months straight on both The Coming & Cry The Beloved. Then again, my job wasn't as stressful, and maybe it all comes down to age? *Shrug* Anyway, the biggest sign of stress is this freaking stress lump under my tounge and in the back of my throat. It literally appeared as I was making my way to the gym during my break on Tuesday. I've felt the sensation before, and knew what was coming. The difference is, it would be gone after a few hours. It's been days now. So annoying...
And still, I continue to push on. If I decide to take a break to lower my stress levels, I'll go back into that vicious cycle of "work hard, don't work so hard for a while, rinse, repat". That's one of the reasons I'm sitting here 4 1/2 years into this project. I knew how much Cry The Beloved took out of, and I made plans to not go through that again. The downside is the game that, for all intents and purposes, should have been released last year. But, what can you do?
So right, this is a state of the union, and I suppose I should talk about where I'm at...
For all of my above bitching, things are actually in a very good spot. I'm almost done prototyping all the promotional material. Once that's done, I just need to get the latest versions of the videos, integrate them into the prototypes, and export the full HD versions, not these compressed to all shit versions I put in dropbox to show folks.
On the BETA side, Jason should be starting today, and I expect the other person to be starting soon. Still looking for some able bodies, however. The game itself is rock solid in my opinion, so things are mostly going to be about combat balance, and stuff like that. Those little tweaks can be made without compromising the build, and introducing new bugs. Or, it shouldn't. But, as I've learned over my 10 years of development, shit happens. When you least expect it. And when you lease need it.
On the VO front, I've got the lines to Alexander, and he knows what he has to do. For the one female role, I'm still waiting to hear back from ther person I found at the Voice Acting Club. Hopefully, it will be good enough to warrant giving her the last female role in the game. Then there is this one role that is sort of floating in purgatory. Someone did the first set of lines years ago, but didn't get to the others. He said he would do them, but I haven't heard back from him (story of my life). Someone else said they would do the lines (they've already done lines for this game, so I know their quality), but now, I haven't heard back from them! It's kinda hard to harass people for stuff that they're doing for you for free. It's never been my thing, really, to micromanage. I like self starters. John Erath comes to mind, where for 3 years, he's just consistently responded to emails in a timely fashion, knocked out lines, and has been a decent support system. He also likes the NY Gaints, so we have that to complain about to each other :)
But back to micro managing... I do it when I have to (i.e. haven't heard from someone for months), but I'm not going to chase down people on a day to day basis. I'd actually rather people just tell me, "Look, I don't have time to do what I said I would". We're all in this for free, so I would totally understand. Thus, when I don't hear from people, I just end up moving in another direction. On the one hand, I can't pay you, so you don't owe me anything, on the other hand, I need to finish this game. I need my soul and life back. I need this lump to get out of my mouth so I can enjoy eating again.
I'm going to continue to do my part, like a mad man, stress or no stress. If I just keep pushing, it'll all sort itself out eventually.
More Jia Peng Fang. Enjoy!