2019-08-01

Engines

Hey nobody! Sorry to let you down, but I didn't work on Alight at all for the last two months. But, I do have a post for you today. Expect these to become a monthly thing from now on... especially since I literally delayed making this post for 30 days.

So I've sort of had Alight on soft-hold for this time, because of engines. I've been researching different 3D engines quite a bit recently for another (much larger scale) project. Originally I really wanted to write a proprietary engine for that project, but I decided against doing so for similar reasons that I decided against writing a proprietary engine for Alight. I'm impatient. I just want to tell my story, finish my game, and move on. As much as I would be able to learn from the experience, my patience would strangle me before I'd be able to sit down with SDL2 & C and program an engine for my needs.
So what engine is Alight using? Well, I'm using GameMaker. Why? Well, I own a copy of it, I've used it since I was about 7, and I actually love GML. GML is like the slightly retarded son of C, but it's so much better than having to put up with another shitty variant of Python, or using Java or JavaScript.
OK, OK. Let me clarify my statement from the start of this paragraph. Why has Alight been on soft-hold? Well, a little while ago I migrated Alight's development to GameMaker:Studio 2. This turned out to be a massive mistake, though. Not because the experience was worse - it's certainly a reasonable improvement over GameMaker:Studio 1.4, and the quality of life changes are fantastic - but not long after I started using it, GameMaker:Studio 2's free trial switched from a limited feature trial (less rooms, etc.) to a limited time trial. This basically paralysed me, because I didn't want to invest time into a project that could just be bricked if I couldn't afford the staggering price of the engine at the end of the trial period. I find trials to be really stressful and annoying (and abusable), but they are a better business strategy unfortunately.
But we're back! For development to resume I just have to move all the code I wrote in GM:S2 back to GM:S1.4, which should take me a couple of days. Development will of course be slower while I have university work to complete, but the project's future is looking better than it did when I wanted to make this post last month.

THE GOOD NEWS:
1) I came up with a new draft of the story which makes a lot more sense and is far more coherent than the last draft. Having this clearer vision should greatly assist with pushing me forward to develop the game. Having this vision in my head is what keeps me going, and seeing it realised is always the sweetest reward.
2) Why did I move to GM:S2? I wanted to use its improved tile system, because all I'd ever heard about the tile system in GM:S1.4 is that it was useless. Uh no, it turns out that I can totally use the tile system in GM:S1.4 and there was no need for me to make my own proprietary tile format, nor migrate when I got sick of trying to upgrade it for my needs. Argh!

Well, that's all for now then. Maybe I'll see you in a month, maybe sooner? Who knows.
Thanks for reading,
~zxin

2019-06-02

Standstill

Hi nobody!
This is a short post because I haven't really done anything with the game for a couple of weeks. I've had a lot of university work to do, and I've been focusing the rest of my time on other games.
I would really like to get to working more on Alight. I still have plenty left to do with the game, of course. A big part of it is going to be making artwork, which is still very tiring for me. Please understand that I am very short on time, and that I will dedicate some time to realising this project as soon as I have the time to spare! <3

Thanks,
~zxin


2019-05-25

Mind 2

There's no-one left who can save me. People who I love constantly profess their hate for me.
Every day it's getting worse. All I have is my work. I cannot trust in the lies of everyone else. They're all lying to me.
I live in a prison where each day I am tortured by the ones who keep me here. There's nothing I can do, and nobody who can fix it. Whatever I say, I'm going to die.
A long time ago, I felt that being ostracised from a group was one of the greatest pains.
Not so long ago, I felt once again a similar feeling. Although this time I was less invested in some ways, and more in others.
And now I'm just trapped. Is this better? Do I want to be tortured here?
I promised I would hurt myself to get the work done. I may have delivered on that promise somewhat so far, but never to the scope of what I originally intended when I made that promise.

I'm lying too. I'm lying to everyone with this show. Why not put on a real one? Does the money ever come?

2019-05-18

2 months!?

Hey. This post is coming out a day early 'cause it's officially the end of month number 2!

So what did we get done this month?

-mostly finished the title screen
-new character sprites (maybe?)
-numerous improvements to my script system
-somewhat functional saving/loading
-fully functional inventory system
-a little bit of music

Mostly I've been working on music this month, though little of it has been for Alight. While it's true that I have already written 20 candidate pieces for the game, not all of them are guaranteed to be finished or have appropriate uses down the line.
What I'd really like to get done soon is more artwork. Lack of artwork will restrict the creation of further areas.

Thanks once again,
~zxin

2019-05-12

Artwork & Reliability

You know what sucks? Having to make artwork. Placeholders really won't do for working out a lot of the finer points in a videogame. Especially when it comes to things like frame count/speed.
I've been trying not to bug my artist friend too much, because I've already lost enough talented people by doing that. (One, by the way)
When working with someone on a casual project (casual as in nobody's getting paid, there's no publisher or corporate deadline) it's always a good idea to have a backup plan.
If you have a musician, make sure they're using a style you/someone else can replicate, or have all music remade from scratch.
If you have a programmer, make sure they're documenting their code so that you or some other programmer can pick up where they left off if necessary.
And if you have an artist, be ready to replace them/their artwork if they leave.

So of course I'd been trying to prepare in case Raymundo quit on me. (And I mean, he's fairly busy anyway regardless of him quitting or not.) I'd only planned for him to do the character artwork, because I can do environments alright. But this means he would probably be making every foe in the game, and that's a lot to ask when you can basically guarantee nothing in return.
My one or two attempts so far to try and make the game's character really scared me off trying it, but I wanted the freedom, so I tried again today. Here's what the progression of the sprite looked like:


I'm actually very happy with the end result. If I could animate this and use it as a design template for the other characters, I think I could honestly see this being the final design, instead of the current one. But it all depends on what Ray does, and how well I can make this thing move.
Interestingly it's basically a median between Jasper and Ray's artstyle. (Since I took inspiration from both)



Going back to my earlier topic...
If you're going to make enemies with the members of your own dev. team, for God's sake: Do it early on. The collateral damage is so much easier to cope with that way. You do NOT want to be %50 done before the programmer says "fuck this shit" and you're left with a bucket of spaghetti and a buggy game. Do you wanna let that happen? No way Jose! That's why I like working on my own. Group projects are fun, but they need to end really quickly. I was pretty comfortable coordinating one for two weeks, but if something goes wrong beyond that point things can start getting pretttty hairy. Problems even a month into development can completely rock the foundations of a project.

Thanks for reading once again.
Cheers,
~zxin