Tuesday, November 22, 2011

[SBX2] The rumbling of creation

Well, the team has officially begun.  The first official member has joined the ranks of Wakeskater Studio.  Waseem Faraz Butt is now the official Sound Engineer for SBX2.  He was interested and contacted me on the GMC forums, and after he tried out the project, and created a test sample for me to see his work, we both  agreed that this sounded good, and he joined as the first official member.

The sound track will be edited and lengthened, but here is the sample of what he sent me:

Waseem lives in the UK, but has a repertoire of music he has developed.  If you would like to check out his Youtube channel, you can find it here:  http://www.youtube.com/user/waseemfarazbutt

I am very enthusiastic to begin this project, and really all I need to start working a lot more is a graphic design artist.  I can code most of it myself until I get someone to help, but the programmer isn't as necessary as the artist.  I do most of my own art, however, I am so slow at pixel art, and it really does take me a while.  Plus, getting a graphic designer now will be better, so that we don't have to sync up art styles or replace everything later on.  

It is very exciting to find talented people, who like myself, love game design and want to build up a portfolio.  Being a completely volunteer project, I am trying to avoid anyone who might leave the project halfway, so it is taking a little while to get the group together.  But 1/3 spots are filled, and I originally wanted the project to begin in January, so that deadline for the official team seems very doable.

Again, thanks for reading, and check out that music, Rock-IT is catchy, and this game should have some stellar sounds and music once it's finished.


Monday, November 21, 2011

[SBX2] Inching Along

Well progress is slow on SBX2, I have a new job coming up and have been busy moving my girlfriend in to her new apartment.  There has been a lot to do the past couple weeks and I haven't gotten as much done on the game as I would have liked.  I have had a few more responses from people for the team, but haven't locked anyone in yet.  No response from any graphic designer yet, but i have had a few composers and programmers contact me.  I think I'm still going to be doing most of the programming, as it is my game and my code at the moment.

The past few days have been re working a few things about SBX2.  First of all, enemies were able to instantly face you no matter where you were, once you were in range.  I have changed up the movement scripts for enemy ships, so they mimic the players movement.  They now have to spend time turning to face you, and will not fire if you are not within their sights.  Furthermore, they will disengage after a while, if you are behind a wall, and you can get within range without aggroing them if there isn't a line of sight for them to see you.  SBX2 will also have 3 modes:  Easy, Normal, and Hard.  Easy and Normal will just have enemies with different HPs to make it harder, but hard will have advanced targeting from enemies, making them hit the player based on the velocity of the player relative to the enemy.

I also changed up a few of the platforming graphics and I think i fixed a bug where the player could get stuck too.  The jumping sprite looks slightly less retarded, but I am still probably going to go back and change it again--few pixels here, few pixels--there type of thing.

Hopefully this week will offer some  more time to develop and work on the game a bit.  I have also started meeting with a friend who is proficient in Ruby to start learning some more programming languages and he is going to teach me a bit about version control and test driven project development.  We met last week and I was able to pick up a lot of things from him.  That and we just talked for a long while about random stuff too.

This week should include some updates to the game file, and I might start work on the story line and first level or two.  It'll be quite a bit of work but I have an idea of how I want to go about it this time.  The interface will be similar, but the saving process will be done differently to avoid easy hacking of the game... SBX is easily hacked... like... so easy.

Anyway, that's all for now, stay tuned for future updates to SBX2.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

[SBX2] The beginnings of a team

I posted on the forums yesterday with a long detailed post about gathering members for a team.
That's the forum post if you are an indie developer, artist, or very familiar with GML.

As i started to plan out SBX2, and what I wanted to do, I quickly realized that I, alone, was not sufficient to make lots of progress on the game quickly.  I know how to make sprite sheets, I know how to program engines, I know how to use fruity loops to make music, but is it my specialty?  Not really, I'm probably strongest in programming, but too do all these things would take forever.  So I detailed out a very specific post requesting members for a serious team.

So far I have had two replies:  Someone who I had met on LinkedIn weeks earlier just replied to a message and was interested (not knowing about this project) in being a writer, so I figured, I could use some extra talent and ideas.  And then I got a reply for a sound artist for SBX2 as well today.

I plan on being the Creative Director for this team, and overseeing project scale and organization.  I plan to meet once a week with the team over Skype to discuss the project's status and projection over the next few weeks.  I plan to have at the end:  A Graphic Artist (specializing in pixel art), a Sound Artist, an engine programmer, and me, the director.  Also if it works out I might add a writer to the team to document things and help with the creative aspects. 

I am excited to work with other people and learn how to manage a project effectively while motivating unpaid designers and artists to be a part of a team.  Keeping it highly organized and managed well will allow people to have specific goals for each week.

Stay tuned to see the progression of the team, and future updates to SBX2.

Also I have re done some of the level sprites, and completed the running, jumping, standing sprites for the main character in the platforming sections.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

[SBX2] SpriteWork + Platforming

I have begun work on a new section of SBX2.  I will be incorporating platforming elements into my game.  Each level will have a location where you can dock your ship and enter a location to explore it.  In this way I will let you meet the character, and add a new spin on things.  I have just begun work on the character sprites.  I want the character to be someone you can meet and get to know outside the ship.  I think I will keep the platforming simple as the main game play will revolve around the ship battles in space.

But here is the first finished character sprite.  I have a PDN file (Paint.Net)  that is hosting all of the templates and sprites and I'm working on them slowly, but with detail to make them look good.

Meet Lt. Jack Hawk, Pilot of the AR33-X Falcon Class:

He will be wearing his helmet most of the game, but you'll get to see his face in story areas.  He will have a pistol which is his main weapon in the platforming areas of the game.

I have only got the forward facing sprite done, but am working on:  Left and Right facing

*edit*  Here is a picture of his gun/helmet

To be added as I make them:  Left and Right Running Animation,  Jumping animation,  Firing while jumping,  Crouching (probably)  and Landing from a jump.  I might also make a slide animation for when you stop running.  This is my first work on a platforming game, so I have decided for now to build the platform engine in a seperate GMK file, then transfer all the elements over once I am finished and happy with how it works.

Look forward to the space exploration / platformer:  SBX2!

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, November 5, 2011

[SBX] The end of a journey

We'll go right into the game topic.  This has been an exciting journey spanning several months of development.  I can finally say the game is at a place where I can call it a semblance of "complete".  The eighth level is complete and the win credits have been added.  Every item is able to be unlocked and used.  As I get feedback I'll put more things into the game and fix some under powered weapons.  But all the core elements of the game are there and I am going to begin serious work on the sequel, SBX2.  It has been a long project and I've learned many, many... MANY things.  I'll go over a few topics I'd like to reflect on and the things I've learned.

As SBX became larger, I realized that many things were extremely inefficient.  The way collisions were handled with parents wasn't as good as it could have been.  I didn't bother to change it, but in my new project, I am already planning out an extensive network of parents that will make things BUNCHES easier.   File organization as well could have been a bit better on SBX.  Things were all over the place and in folders that didn't accurately reflect what they were some times.
Also my code / drag and drop was extremely messy.  I used hashed together strings of code with drag and drop icons in weird places.  In SBX2, other than for very, very simple single tasks, I use code entirely.  If I don't know the right code that corresponds what I want to do, I am looking it up instead of using D&D.  It makes things so much easier to edit and comment.  Condensing what used to code me with 10 lines into 2-3 helps a lot too.  Which leads me to the next topic:

I didn't really iterate anything in SBX, I just made separate objects for anything I wanted.  Part of the GMC Jam helped me learn a bit more about it as well.  In ghosting laws, each level was randomly iterated by using a for loop that set each tile in the room to a 2d array, then placed those on the screen.  The result was easily creating new types of levels in minutes rather than hours placing objects in a room.  This is going to be applicable to SBX2 in that I'll store certain types of things in arrays or adjust certain values to change the image of an object based on certain conditions.  The mounted gun on the top of the Ship is like this.  In SBX I had objects for each and every weapon... now there were only 40 different items in the game... but WTF that took forever!  This time around I simply passed in a variable that determined which number of weapon the Ship was using.  Then the mounted gun simply selects the proper sprite and uses that index and the rest of the code is contained in that one object... instead of 20.  These kinds of things that I've learned will make this next project both easier, and quicker.

When SBX started I didn't intend to have a story.  I threw one in there and hashed it together when people where like, "WTF mate, whats going on?"  I love to write, but didn't want to spend the time putting a story in. Now I admit, the story is still just text, but it grew on me.  I began to form a plot in my mind.  And the story grew.  In SBX2, you will meet the pilot, Jack R. Hawk.  I plan to have a much more engaging story line, perhaps optional, but we'll see.  I have to admit, the story in SBX didn't make much sense until I went back and re-did it a bit.  I might still go back and edit things so that it engages the reader more.

In another blog post, I talked about the graphical upgrades I  made to the game at one point.  I learned a lot at one point in the development about making planets sprites easily in Photoshop  (I use Paint.NET, good enough for simple stuff).  It added new depth to the levels and I re did a lot of the asteroid sprites with the same type of shading.  I will admit I am not the best graphics artist, but I do like to develop my own sprites.  In SBX2, I am keeping the simplistic graphical theme, as I like it.  It makes it arcade style.  With the backgrounds being more detailed and interesting, the player feels separated from the background.  I plan to spend more time working and reworking the graphics as well, and keep uniformity in the objects.

In SBX I just tested as I went and it took a while to figure things out, and check if they worked, especially if I had to play through a level over and over.  I must have played each of my levels in SBX 100 times over.  In SBX2 I am trying a different approach.  I want to get a strong core to the game first before developing my first level at all.  I am trying all sorts of things to make a nice engine.  I am testing out different styles of collision between the ship and enemies, and how much actual physics I want to use.  I considered giving everything a mass and making everything use physics formulas, but I might not do that this time around.  Whether or not I do, I have a testing room that I can try out new weapons and program them all in before I actually put together the game.  I am using this tech demo to try out all sorts of new items, see their effects, their strengths, do they do what I want?  SBX never had a test room, so I had to test everything in the actual game.

Reflection and Planning:
This post is a big part of the things I have learned.  I took an online course in Unity, which I have yet to finish (It's work on your own), but they talked a lot about reflecting on your work and seeing what you could have done better.  These past weeks finishing up SBX I have seen a lot of ways I could have done something in a much more efficient way.  Iteration is a big part of this, but other things as well.  Planning out my work is also a big things I am even still learning more about.  I can't tell you how many pieces of paper I've used making SBX.  I draw out my plans, then implement them, but they could be organized better.  I've got a few notebooks set aside for SBX2 to keep my notes in one place, where I can flip through all the information.  Recording my thoughts in this blog is a part of it as well, as it gives me time to think... "What am I doing, and what do I want to do after this?".   I find that I am much more motivated after I make myself a ToDo list.  As I check off each item, I feel like I have accomplished something for the day.  Staying motivated on my projects is tough some times, but I truly love developing games, regardless of the times where no one wants to play my game and it sits for 2 weeks without a single comment on the forum.  I love what I do, and THAT is the most important thing.

In retrospect:
This has been a fun year.  I started SBX sometime in February or March, serious work at least.  It picked up as the spring went on, and I was full steam in the summer.  It is tough to put aside the time to program, and with my new job, it will prove even harder as I'll have longer hours and I'll be trying to work as much as possible to save.  Game Design is my passion and someday I will join up with a company that can pay me for my work, but until then, I will keep programming, designing and having fun.  As I move forward, I'll look back at SBX as my first serious completed project.  Since I was young I've made games on various platforms, but nothing ever to this extent.  This is my first step to my goals.  My portfolio has it's first major piece.  I doubt any of my games will ever make any money, but who knows ;D.

Well, it has been a fun journey, and to those who have played SBX and/or have read this blog:  Thank you!

To all those who tested my game, mainly:  TheUltimate, smashball, Enter_Name_Here, as well as a few others:  A BIG THANKS!

Stay posted for more news as SBX2 goes into development.

Sayounara Minnasan!