Today was definitely all about conversations, and more specifically, contextual conversations you can attempt to have with your party members at most points in the game. There will of course be sequences where it wouldn't be appropriate, but by and large, if you want to chat up your party member, you'll be able to. Now, I know many developers come at this particular feature from a bunch of different philosophies of "why" it's needed, as well as the implementation itself.
In Dragon Age Origins, unless I'm mistaken, you were only able to have these conversations at your party's camp. Well, for Rose of Eternity, this just doesn't make sense with the way the story plays out. This is one reason why I allow it to happen mostly anywhere in the game.
Other games have used these types of situations to effectively make their NPC you're talking to, a human search engine. You know how it goes. You walk up and talk to them, and you can ask them dozens of questions about the world, where to find things, etc. I've never been a fan of that, so I will definitely not be doing that.
Now, that's not to say the party members won't drop little historical facts on you. What I'm saying is, they're not there to teach you about the world as if you were in class. Hopefully, just playing the game, experiencing the world will be good enough. You know the saying, it's better to show people, than to tell them? Or something like that :)
So what will they talk about? Well, they will simply talk about what is going on right now. Things that are relevant to the present. And as such, new branches will be unlocked as the game progresses.
At the moment, I have written 2 branches for one party member, and already shipped the lines off to John. I actually wrote a 3rd, I just need to fix it up a little bit, and send it out. Then I'll start working on another party member, and hopefully get those lines to Alexander as soon as possible.
Every day that I find new artists who compose these types of songs, I'm just blown away. Like, where the hell have I been this past decade. Here's some more Kevin Kern. Enjoy!
10/30/12 -Tuesday: TOO LAZY TO COME UP WITH A TITLE TODAY...
Of course as I'm getting back into the swing of updating this blog every day, we get hit with hurricane Sandy. The damage wasn't as bad up here in Poughkeepsie, as it was in New York City (where I work). In short, the entire city is more or less shut down, my office only has so much power, and all of that's going towards powering my desktop and a few other critical ones, so we can keep our services up and running. So even though I haven't been able to go to work, I've had my fair share of work to do.
Before the hurricane hit, I was lucky enough to have done a few things here and there. The main thing, however, was the removal of upkeep/visual effects during conversations and cutscenes. I don't know... Maybe I'm getting old or something, but it didn't seem to bother me when I actually played DAO back in 2009. Now, however, it just irks the shit out of me when I'm watching a cutscene, and one of the party members is on fire. *Shrug*. Taking care of this issue involved the following steps:
Creating a function that removed all effects from all current party members
Creating a wrapper method around UT_Talk, called ROE_StartConversation, where I remove the effects before the conversation is fired
Creating a wrapper method around CS_LoadCutscene, called ROE_LoadCutscene, where I remove the effects before the cutscene is loaded
Go through all of my scripts, and replace the existing functions with my wrappers
To be fair, I only changed them in a few places, but these places where the biggest offenders. Instead of spending all of this time looking through all the scripts, I'll just change them whenever I see them around. It'll just naturally work its way out eventually.
Finally, I was very happy to get some responses to my threadabout stopping sound effects in cutscenes. I knew I was taking a risk posting it in the cutscene forum, but lo and behold, after a few days, I got some responses. Huzzah! Still have to work through their suggestions, but I'm happy nonetheless.
Tomorrow, I'll start working on the various conversations you can have with your party members when simply clicking on them. I did this in The Coming, dropped it in Cry The Beloved due to time constraints, had a bunch of complaints, so I'm bringing it back.
Today, I start with some music from someone that I never knew of, until I... yep, had him show up in my Secret Garden playlist using iHeartRadio. Kevin Kern is one hell of a musician, and you can expect at least a week of his music :) Enjoy!
10/27/12 -Saturday: WHAT A LONG AND HARD WEEK!
Well, I just have to apologize for going so silent for so long this week. Needless to say, it's been one hell of a long and hard week. Let's see, where to start...
Well for one, at work, I had literally got done having a heated discussion with my project manager and a system admin, where we were finalizing some details on the rollout plan of the latest project I had been working on the past few weeks. I'm talking like a 2 hour conversation in front of a whiteboard, drawing diagrams and shit. We finally come to an agreement on a plan, then I'm pulled into a room, where I'm told what I was working on wasn't important anymore, and that there was something else that needed to be finished by 10/31/2012. Thus began a night and day campaign to hit said ridiculous deadline. Luckily, after a few all nighters, the goal is in sight, and we're in a good place.
Then there is this other side project I'm working not called Rose of Eternity. I can't go into that much detail on it, but suffice to say, it was a pretty busy week. Busier than most.
And then there was Rose of Eternity development, the reason you're actually here at this site. Lots of little things, some big things, and many things in between :) The little things mostly consisted of VO related things, normalizing the audio, fixing audio/text discrepencies, etc. There was a pretty huge list of things to go through, but I knocked it out. It's not the most glamorous work, but I keep telling myself, "It has to get done sooner or later".
One of the biggest things I did was integrate the latest VO from Alexander for one of the epilogue scenes. There are many reasons why this scene is important, but the main one is the emotion I want the player to feel. Ever since I've been working with the Dragon Age engine, I've been dreaming of creating emotional cutscenes. Sure, I had emotional scenes in my first 2 games, but it was just text. With true VO, facial expressions, music... All of that stuff put together in the right way can really draw the player into a game.
And that's what I've been doing this past year... Attempting to make powerful scenes where they are needed. Due to the skills of all the actors and actresses I've worked with, that dream has become a reality. And this particular scene might be the most emotional of them all thus far. Alexander actually came up with the core idea, and after a bit of back and forths, the scene is done, and I feel very good about it. Hell, even the music that I picked out for the scene ends at the exact moment that the scene does. And, as usual, I picked out the music before the scene was made, so the fact that everything just worked made it even better.
So, what's next? Well, one hell of a hurricane is coming to New York tomorrow, which means I'll be working from home for the next few days, meaning I'll have more time for development. Heh, gotta find the positives in the negatives :)
The final piece from Karunesh I want to highlight is the best one of all, im my opinion. Halfway through the track, it just hits this sweet spot that... Oh my god, it's just so damn good! Enjoy!
10/22/12 -Monday: CUSTOM ICON INITIATIVE ALMOST COMPLETE...
When I set out to make this game, I knew I was going to be implementing new abilities/skills/items. This implied that I would also need custom icons for said abilities/skills. I was lucky enough to have been contacted by Archon, who just happened to have been reading this very blog (damn, I guess this thing is worth it!). 2 years later (damn, has it really been that long?!), we're close to finishing them off.
He sent me a googledoc yesterday that contained every request I've made, along with either the finished products, concept art, or at the very least, a description of what I wanted. I then systematically went down the list and made my comments where applicable, while reading his.
Much like how Alexander takes the lines I give him and makes them better, or how Oli takes vague ideas from me and turns them into multimedia monsters, Archon takes simple descriptions for how a custom icon should look, then... yeah, you know where this is going... It's been a pleasure working with him, and I'm super excited to see how all these icons ends up looking in the game. There's already a fair amount in, actually, with the majority of stuff needing to be done having to do with the custom skills I created earlier in the year.
And of course, as I'm writing this, I'm getting some ideas for some other custom icons, but I'll leave that for another discussion :)
Here's another piece from Karunesh, a piece I could fall asleep to every night. Enjoy!
10/21/12 -Sunday: BUNCH OF SMALL THINGS...
I pretty much continued to work on smaller tasks over the past few days. These ranged from performing audio normalization for older conversations, gestures/camera additions for all conversations in general, to fixing typos.
One VO related task I finally finished after sitting on it for a year was the addition of some lines to an early scene in the game. I know it doesn't sound like much, but hear me out. For normal dialogs, adding/removing lines is easy enough, and doesn't mess up the flow of the conversation as a whole. What about when it's a part of a cutscene? Yeah, then things get a little more complicated.
In this particular instance, I was quite happy with the length of the cutscene, camera angles, etc. I did not want to make changes to it at all. The problem was that the existing VO in the scene wasn't properly spaced, so there were like 5-7 seconds in between each line that was spoken, and it just didn't sound natural. Again, this was probably one of the first 3-4 scenes I added VO to, and I was consumed with many other things going on, so it just slipped under the radar. However, every time I've done a playthrough of the game, I have mentally cringed when I would watch the scene.
One other issue was that John Erath had clearly already done his part with the lines. As usual, I wasn't too keen on asking him to do much more work, since he has already done so much for me to begin with over the past 14 months. So the task for me was to somehow get 3-4 extra lines inserted into the scene, while at the same time, kept the existing VO sounding as natural as possible.
So, I brainstormed for about 20 minutes, and finally found something that worked, and sent it over to John. Of course, the next issue was the fact that since he recorded these lines early on in development, when he was using older, lower quality equipment. If he recorded those 3 new lines, they may have sounded out of place. As I said, I hate having people do extra work, so I left the decision up to him as to if he was going to re-record the previous 5 or so lines.
Ah, the complications that occur when VO is involved. Good times...
Here's yet another piece I discovered on my Secret Garden radio station on iHeartRadio. Now, this is some peaceful type of shit. I have fond memories of listening to it during downtimes when I was in Orlando last year. Enjoy!
10/17/12 -Wednesday: SAME OLD, SAME OLD...
I got a new batch of VO from Alexander today. As I mentioned before (I think I did, perhaps not), he is giving it to me one conversation at a time. It's easier for him this way, so he's not recording all night long, and as it turns out, it's easier for me, because it's much easier to integrate 10-20 lines at a time, versus close to 50.
This particular batch of VO saw him finish off all the dialogue for a character that fans of Cry The Beloved will remember. I was just remarking to Alexander in an email that this character was created on a whim back in 2006, and I sure as hell didn't expect his story to evolve as much as it has. Of all the things I enjoy when it comes to development, seeing the things I had in my head years ago evolve to where they are now... just so damn satisfying!
Besides VO integration, I also did some codex work. The improvement item I had marked down in my notebook was to add quotes to each character codex. What that means is that for every codex where a detailed explanation of a character is displayed, at the top, put one of their defining quotes in the game. Just like the character page for Kira Allendry.At the top of the page is her game defining quote (from my perspective anyway), written by lead writer of that game, Phil Carter.
While I was doing the codex work, I noticed that some of the descriptions didn't match what I had on the development WIKI. I must have written some of them before I started getting organized with the WIKI and such, and forgot to go back and sync them up. So I did just that.
The final thing I did was remove/add a talent from a party member. I had been thinking about it for a while, and when I got to that item on my list, I just knocked it out. All I needed was the ID of the ability I wanted to add, then I just needed to add it to that party member's auto-level 2DA, and voila, it was done! Good stuff.
Tomorrow, I will *gasp* continue to work through the items in my notes.
The more and more I listen to these orchestrated versions of George Winston's work, I wish they had just done this for all of his stuff. Okay, maybe not all would translate, but I would still love to hear more. Enjoy!
10/16/12 -Tuesday: SIFTING THROUGH ALL THE BUGS/TASKS...
Today, I started the arduous task of sifting through all of my notes, determining what to work on first. As expected, I started with the easy ones, and was able to knock out quite a lot. To be fair, they were really, really minor. I'm talking stuff like lowering the sound of torches, moving NPC's that were stuck in the geometry of the world after making level changes, fixing typos, etc. But hell, it's gotta get done eventually.
I wasn't able to do anything on the train ride home, because I didn't leave the city until 12:08 in the morning. All the top developers, project mangers, and product development guys had a dinner at Peter Luger's in Brooklyn. It was good fun, and a nice escape from the responsibilities of the world.
Tomorrow, I'll get back to the easy stuff. Then, I'll start working on the heavier things, like why in the hell I didn't get my Last Resort at level 3, and why I couldn't select my custom skills every level!
Here's some more orchestrated George Winston goodness. Enjoy!
10/15/12 -Monday: PLAYTHROUGH COMPLETE...
Well, I was finally able to complete my playthrough today. There was only one plot that didn't fire properly, but lucky for me, it didn't hold me back from being able to finish the game. All in all, I am very happy with the latest round of testing. As always, I have a text file full of bugs/improvemets/tasks, most of which are minor.
The only major bugs are this freaking persistent issue where upon leveling up, I can't choose my custom skills. Or should I say, I can, but it happens at the default rate of the game for humans (every 2 levels?). I really thought I had squashed this bug a few months ago... Oh well... Another one was not receiving a particular Last Resortwhen I hit level 3. Now, I thought I had fixed this issue when I fixed the issue of talents being auto-selected for the party when they leveled up. Apparently, I was wrong. I do have to say though, if these are the worst bugs in the game, things are looking good :)
One thing I was very satisfied with was the combat balance. Sure, I may have been one level higher than anticipated, missing a Last Resort, as well as not having been able to select as many custom skills as I should have, but things just seemed to click this time. It started feeling like The Coming & Cry The Beloved, in terms of being difficult fights you could overcome with strategy, but at the same time, not feeling cheap. There is a very fine line for me with combat balance, and I'm glad it's all coming together. Ideally, if I know everyone will be one level lower the next time I play through the game, I may have to lower the levels of some of the enemies as well. I'll just have to make sure that doesn't affect some of the talents/spells they received, because then that could mess up the balance.
Tomorrow, I'll begin the process of working my way through my notes. As usual, I'll try to knock out the smaller, 5-10 minute stuff first, since that's the perfect thing to do on the train. I'm not sure how much I'll get done after work, as I'll be busy with other things this week.
As long as I have loved Goerge Winston, I never thought anyone would give his music the full, orchestral treatment. I was wrong :) Enjoy!
10/14/12 -Sunday: WELL, THAT SUCKS...
Just as a little reminder, my playthrough of the game was cut short due to a ill-timed commented out transition to another level in my plot code. My solution was to see if ther was some script I could call from the console command to set the plot flag, which would kick off the transition.
After looking at the list of commands about 7-8 times, I just wasn't able to find what I needed. Then, I found a post where a Bioware dev essentially told the person they would need to make their own script that could be called from within the console. It's a good idea, and I will make one sooner or later, but it wasn't going to help me in my current predicament. So, I had to just suck it up and start my playthrough over again (after fixing the transition bug!). It wasn't that bad, as I put the game on easy and skipped all cutscenes/conversations. In short order, I was back to the spot where the game breaking bug occurred.
While I wasn't able to complete the playthrough (I had other things to work on, plus the Giants game), but a few things started to become apparent to me:
I was gaining Bonds of Battlepoints far too easily. By default, each party member receives 1 BOB point per kill. However, because of some new custom skills I put in a few months ago, this can be raised to a total of 5, should you choose to spell all of your points that way. Every time I do a playthrough, I try various character builds, to make sure the game continues to be balanced. In this one, I maxed out all the BOB related skills as far as I could (3 BOB points per kill), and well, let's just say that I quickly got up to the 4th tier BOB ability, which requires 200 BOB points.
Needless to say, there is no way the player should be able to get up that far, and that fast. I mean, not at the half way point of the game :) Right now, the tiers are 50, 100, 150, and 200. This needs to change to something like 50, 150, 300, 500, or something like that. The idea is pretty simple... You need to put in work for these higher tiered abilities.
The player gained levels far too fast for my liking. I've always been a proponent of slow leveling, so as to make each level gained worth it. Things that come to mind are Baldur's Gate, and the original Everquest. With the latter, whenever I gained a level, it was cause for celebration. All of that hard work was paying dividends, and dammit, I can't wait to see what new abilities/skills I get now. The other end of the spectrum are Final Fantasy games, where you could be damn near at level 10 after only playing for a few hours.
Anyway, I believe I know what happened. I increased the level of a particular enemy that you start to encounter later in the game. Whereas you were normally getting 20+ XP for killing them, this time around, it was 40+. My solution is simple, really... Instead of mucking around with the levels for them, which would in turn screw up the combat difficulty, I'll just modify the experience 2DA, lowering what you get for killing an enemy that level. 40+ is a little too high anyway, so I'll need to do something to get it down to at a maximum, 30.
There are other things that need to be taken care of, but these were the big things that stood out, things that you don't find out about until you actually test your game.
Tomorrow, I'll try to finish up the testing on the train.
Here's another classic from George Winston. This actually comes from a compilation album of his. I really need to go back and listen to the original album this song came from. May find some inspiration, or at the very least, some good music. Enjoy!
10/13/12 -Saturday: PLAYTHROUGH HAS COMMENCED...
I finally stopped putzing around, and decided tjust do the damn playthrough. Of course, it took me about 2 hours to actually set things up, making sure that all my test code was gone. As always, there is nothing worse than getting far into a playthrough, only to run into a game ending situation. So how did it go? Well, I ran into a game stopping bug at the tail end of the 2nd act :)
I had actually run into one earlier, and it was the same type of thing. A conversation plays, then the player is supposed to be transitioned to another area. The thing is, during testing, I sometimes comment out the transition code so I can test the conversation (adding VO, animations, gestures, etc.). Anyway, the first time it happened, I was lucky enough to be able to simply run to the area where I was supposed to be transitioned, and voila, all was well.
With this new issue, it's not possible... However, not sure why it took me close to 2 years to realize this, but there has to be some way to set a plot variable or something from within the game, through a console of some sort. NWN had this, so I wouldn't be surprised if DA had it as well.
So yeah, that's my goal for tomorrow. Figure out how to *not* have to play through the game again :)
This next piece from George Winston is from his album, Forest. And yes, when I go on hikes, I like to listen to this :) Enjoy!
10/11/12 -Thursday: SOME MORE VO LOVE...
As can be expected from time to time, I've been busy with work from my day job. Sucks when it bleeds into after hours, but such is life. And the few times it happens is far outweighed by the benefits of my job in general. It is what it is, and I just get on with it.
What I did spend a lot of time doing was the creating custom items. As usual, not just the "+1" types of items, but custom in that they do some custom effect, or at the very least, augment one of the many custom talents/skills in the game. That isn't to say that there is anything wrong with generic "+1" items. In fact, I'm sure I'll have something like that in the game. However, my focus is to try to differentiate the items in this game from other games as much as is humanly possible. The goal is to always make people believe they're just playing an RPG that happens to use the Dragon Age engine, not a Dragon Age mod. Again, nothing wrong with other types of mods, it's just not the direction I want to go in. Nothing wrong with a little variety in our life :)
Anyway, because of the fact that they're custom, it took a day just to be able to create 3 unique items. Now that's they're done, however, I have a little framework I can use for other similiar types of items, which is good.
Hopefully, I can get caught up with all of my other "work", and try to start focusing on this project again. I mean, I'm going steady, but I need to kick it up a notch!
Today's piece from George Winston is particular special to me, because it's a piece I used to play on the piano myself, albeit, the more traditional version. Enjoy!
10/8/12 -Monday: SOME MORE VO LOVE...
The VO train continues to roll on. I was pleasently surprised to receive some VO from Alexander today. As with Ollie the other day, I received it while I was on the train. This time, however, I knew all I had to do was wait until I got to a particular train stop, and I would have just enough of a optimum online wifi signal, just enough, so I could download his email and get the files.
As usual, he had 2-3 interpretations of the majority of the lines, giving me a lot of options to work with. When I write his lines, I don't even put that much into it. I just write down the gist of things, then I let him handle the finer details. And, surprise, surprise, it was good stuff.
In between VO integration, I also worked on many smaller tasks, too small to really go into detail about. Suffice to say, I think I'm ready for another playthrough. I really wanted to wait for my desktop, but I just can't hold out anymore.
There are many things to love about this George Winston piece, but one of the more memorable bits is how it switches up like half way. It's just so damn elegant how things change, and it's always the first thing I think about when listening to it. Enjoy!
10/6/12 -Saturday: WELL, THAT WAS EASY...
The other day, I talked about getting more content into the game, to add some depth, and enrich the lore. At the same time, it can't just be content added just to pad the length of the game. This is the reason why I haven't had too many opportunities to add such content. I'd rather the idea come to me in a more organic way, instead of trying to force it. Well, after having this view on things, I finally had an idea come to me that worked perfectly for the following reasons:
it wouldn't take too long to implement
it added more NPC's to an area that could use more... content, if you will
expanded on the lore
wouldn't be that much VO for an actor to do
The most important bullet point was the fact that it didn't take that long to implement. Hell, I didn't even know I was going to do it. I just sort of sat down after a long day of taking care of other things around town, thought, "Hey, maybe this would be a good time to do this". A few hours later, it was fully implemented, sans the VO.
Tomorrow will be a busy day, because of football, and some other things I'll have to do late in the afternoon. If I have the time, I'll sneak away and knock out some minor bugs/tasks.
Here's another classic off his December album. Brings me back to 8th grade. Good times... Enjoy!
10/5/12 -Friday: VO GALORE!
So I wake up, get ready for work, go to the train station, hop on the train, and after being on it for 10 seconds, I get an email from Ollie with the final lines of the character he's voicing. Doh! If I had taken another train, I would have been able to get the lines on my laptop, and integrate them. Then a light bulb went off: There's all of these optimum online hotspots scattered throughout the area, so maybe if I was lucky, I could grab a connection real quick, download the email to my laptop, and do my thing. 2 train stops later, the connection was just good enough, and I was on my way!
As usual, Ollie's VO was simply perfect. For those that don't know, he took on the last major character in the game a few months ago, and pretty much recorded every line within a few weeks, maybe just shy of a month. Then, there was nothing left for him to do, because I hadn't started the epilogues yet, and honestly wasn't sure which ones I was going to include, if any at all. Then, of course, the ideas started to flow, and I had a scene written up pretty quickly. There was no way I could have epilogues without this particular character in them. The problem with writing new lines for characters is that sometimes, the artist has moved on to other things, life happens, etc. Luckily, he was still willing to record the lines, and well, here we are.
While at work, I then received an email from John, which included all of his most recent VO. It ended up being about 3 scenes worth, maybe 30 lines or so. I was chomping at the bit to integrate them on the train ride home, and wasn't let down at all. Though to be fair, I did pass out on the train, so had to finish things up once I got home. Either way, it all got done, and that's all that matters.
Tomorrow, I hope to get some lines from Alexander. He has taken on 2 characters, and in general, just has more lines to do. So lots of work for him (I assume anyway, I've never been present at any of these recording sessions, though I'd love to see them), and for sure, lots of work for me to integrate them. However, 2 of his scenes are for 2 of the epilogues, so those will be the ones I will integrate first.
As I wait for those, I'm so tempted to do a playthrough, but I'd really like to get his VO first. I can't (or don't want to) do any level design until I get my desktop back up and running. So, I guess that leaves... well... I'll figure it out :)
Today's music is from another artist my Mom put me on to when I was.... 12? 13? I was damn young, that's all I know. I actually started playing the piano in 4th grade, so it made sense that I would end up like music like this. So from the incomparable George Winston, I give you, Thanksgiving! Enjoy!
10/4/12 -Thursday: HANDLING AFTER COMBAT CONVERSATIONS...
Amonst many other minor tasks/bugs, I dealt with a little weird issue I've seen happening for well over a year. It's so minor, that it took a year to get to, but annoying enough that I finally said to myself, "That's it! I have to fix this!".
The issue at hand is this: during a combat sequence, one NPC is in the middle of an ambient animation (and not a part of said combat), while another is fighting with you. At the end of the scene, I have them both run to a particular waypoint in the area, where you can talk to one of them. The annoying bit is that the one that was in the animation stays in the animation, while the other that was in combat still thinks he's in combat. Look, I've dealt with issues like this over the past 8 years or so that I've been making games. Usually, a call to a function like ClearAllActions() takes care of this. For whatever reason, none of the usual suspects seem to work for this situation.
This small issue brought an even bigger design decision to the forefront. Should I really move them to a place to get ready for a conversation, or should I just fire the damn conversation as soon as the battle ends? For the latter, I actually wouldn't mind that at all. But as I've been making games for people who admittingly, might not neccessarily like the same types of games as me (yes, I'm the outsider trying to find his way!), I've slowly picked up on things that piss them off, and I think this may be one of them. If I understand correctly, they don't like the action being taken out of their hands, and don't want to be bounced from sequence to sequence. Now, with all the action that takes place before all of this, the player is very much in control of what is going on, so I figured this would be acceptable, so I just implemented it that way. Now I can finally wipe my hands clean of that little animation/still in combat bug.
Tomorrow, I have high hopes. If everything works out the way it potentially could, I could be implementing VO from Alexander, John, & Ollie. Nice little trifecta!
Today's music is from an artist, like so many other artists, that I was introduced to by my Mom during my teenage years. Enjoy!
10/3/12 -Wednesday: MINOR ADJUSTMENTS TO FINAL PLAYABLE SEQUENCE...
I made some adjustments to the final playable sequence of the game, before the flurry of epilogues begin to play. Alexander and I had been going back and forth on an idea he came up with, and finally came to a consensus. I had already written some of the dialogue of the scene, and now, I was able to finish it off. For one of the characters in the scene, I think it's a great end to his chartacter arc for this particular game. You will have been with this person since the beginning, and in some ways, the end is bittersweet. At least, that's what I'm going for.
It was sort of a perfect storm of events, because around the time I finish off that work, John Erath hit me up to check in on the status of the game, asking if there was any VO I neded from him. Gotta love it! Anyway, besides the conversation I had just finished up, there was another one waiting in the wings for the past few weeks. I promptly wrote up the details, created a video, and sent it his way. I gotta say, for having by far the most lines in the game, he is also the most ready for more work.
I've also gotten word from Alexander that he'll have some lines to me soon. Because of this, I'm going to hold off on that playthrough I've been meaning to do. In the meantime, I am going to put together the line packages for all the rest of the minor roles in the game, along with videos. Then, once I decide how/where I'm going to post them, I'll be ready to go.
Today's music is from Karl Jenkins. It came up one day while listening to iHeartRadio, and I immediately fell in love with it. In fact, the first time I heard it, I began to brainstorm a scene for my next game. I know that I wouldn't be able to do exactly what I would want, but the idea is still there, nonetheless.
10/2/12 -Tuesday: ROUNDING OUT THE EDGES...
So as I've been polishing the game up, I've been realizing that I need to add some more content. No, I'm not talking about adding things to pad the hours of the game. I currently happy with the length of the game thus far. It's more about just giving the game some more depth.
As of right now, the game is very straightforward, and I make no qualms about it. This is the first game in a new series, and because of the strong narrative of this entire series as a whole, things are going to play out in a certain way. Much like the difference between The Coming & Cry The Beloved, the next game after this will open the world a little more. Or, think about it in terms of how things worked with at least the Human Noble storyline in Dragon Age Origins, up until right after the battle of Ostagar. During that sequence of the game, things were pretty linear in nature, and then, things started to open up. People knock Bioware for that (because, what else are people gonna do, except knock Bioware), but from a storytelling perspective, it makes sense.
All of that said, there are definitely areas where I can add some more meat to the game in a way that feels very natural. I shouldn't be surprised that these thoughts are going through my head now. I've always focused on the core story, because that's what drives these games. It's not really until I lock that down, where I start to add the "extras". And again, it's not adding stuff just for the sake of adding it. And it's not throw away content either. It has to make sense in the world, and in the existing story.
Anyway, I already have an idea of the main thing I want to add, and the good thing is that it shouldn't be too difficult to do. I'm going to hold off on it for the moment, but when I'm ready to implement it, I should be able to just sit down and knock it out.
Here is the final piece from Gandalf. I hope everyone has enjoyed it!
10/1/12 -Monday: DEAD WEEKEND...
STATE OF THE UNION
Overall, the past month was a pretty good one, development wise. I lost a bunch of time when I was away in Las Vegas, as well as this past weekend, due to some important work I had to do on another project. Even still, things progressed pretty well.
At the moment, as it has been for a while, the game is totally playable from beginning to end. 4 of the 5 essential epilogues have been created. I say essentially, because well, they have to be in the game. There are others I'm thinking about, but that's if I have extra time. Unfortunately, out of the 4 epilogues I've done, only John Erath has delivered VO for his 2 different characters. Actually, he has 3 characters, I just haven't sent him the lines for the other character yet, because I already feel bad enough with him having to switch up his voice so dramatically for the other 2. Better to knock out this one particular character first, before moving on to the other one.
Then, there are the level design improvements that need to be made. That got put on the back burner due to my desktop issues, which was a little annoying. In the end, however, my main focus is gameplay, as the astetics of the game can be changed up until the day I release it, without too much fear of breaking things.
Anyway, here's hoping that nothing else gets in the way of progress. Gods, would I love to be able to do this as my normal job, and not on the side :(
Today, I just handled some minor tasks, little things I noted many weeks ago, things not major enough to get me worried, but easy enough that I could just do them on the train.
The first was dealing with particular character that could fight against the PC. Since this person is technically scripted as a party member, when I was just dropping them into combat, they weren't using any of their talents. After a few minutes of thinking, I realized that I could simply add them to the party, then remove them, and their talents would be set. Now, the real way of doing this would to find the exact funtionality in my hiring scripts that initialize their talents, but dammit, I don't have time for that :)
The next thing I did was do some work to make sure my non-linked area transitions were working properly. Long story short, you can't just jump party members to a waypoint in a non-linked area. The way I handle this is by storing the destination area and waypoint, then remove the party member (sending them to that character select area), and then when I enter the destination area (there is a check every time I enter an area), move the party member from the character select area to the destination waypoint. Okay, maybe it wasn't a short story :) Anyway, I had to set this up for a party memeber. Yeah.
Finally, I set up some init variables in my systm initialization library, so that I could further control the flow of the game when parachute testing.
Tomorrow, it'll take me a little bit to get my bearings and decide what I'll work on next. The only thing I do know is that there is definitely work to be done :)