Shenland Dev Journal Part 3 - New Heads and Bodies

I was able to get some coding done last night, but I thought I'd focus a little bit on what I decided to do with the player's head-and-body customization.

What we have now is this weird mix of an egg and cone without a bottom. It actually looks a lot like Teddie from the Persona series. I liked the top-heavy look and thought it good to move away from the Little People style.

The customizable pieces will be the hair/hat, face, color (5 shades, from pale to dark) and body. So with 50 options at each level, there's a total of 125,000 combinations not counting color.

Shenland - Dev Journal Part 2

This is a screenshot of the current state of Shenland. What you see here exactly are the four main menu buttons on the bottom with a stack of dialogues on top of each other. The dialogues shown here are the All Collections dialogue, the Collection Details dialogue, and the Prize Details dialogue.

I know it's not much to look at... but it looks beautiful in my mind. Oh, it looks nice in my notebook too.

Shenland - Dev Journal Part 1

Just a couple of Shenland dev journal pages from the dev journal. This first page here has a small branching outline of what I wanted the flow for the game to be. It's changed a little since then, but this was my first attempt at organizing the flow. You'll also see a few examples of what I wanted the customizable character to look like.

I kind of wanted them to look like the old 50s Fisher Price "Little People" toys. You can see in the bottom left I attempted Ryu from Street Fighter to see how it would look in this style.

Here are some illustrations of how I wanted the UI to look like. It mimics the old Japanese visual novel / dating sims where it's mainly a large background, some buttons, and clock with location. I decided to represent the people who are at the current location as tiny profiles you can click on. This would instantiate a dialogue action.

Shenland Concept Art

So I’ve been working on my “opus” as of late, laying down the framework and making sure this thing is remotely doable. I feel like I’m actually at a place where I can do the really large project I’ve always wanted to do. What I’m working on is my Animal Crossing, Neopets, Japanese Visual Novel Game, Gashapon Shop, Retro Gamer Challenge, Shenmue game.

There’s no real endgame in Shenland. It’s just an amalgam of all the things I’ve done and enjoy in “casual-core” gaming.

Here is some concept art for what I’m hoping it will look like. I’ve got to do some more visual studies from some of the games I’ve listed and draw some inspiration. I can’t quite decide if I’m going hand drawn or pixel graphics just yet.

Also, the name “Shenland” is still temporary. Maybe.

Steel Fleet Warfare: 3D Base Mockup

Steel Fleet Warfare - 3D Base
Through some strange stroke of luck of contacting one ex-Fantasy Flight employee from some off-shoot internet list about game manufacturing parts and then pointing me to an associate of his, I was introduced to a person who is freaking amazing and the perfect fit for what this game needs in the base department!

Here is a 3D model of what the base will look like. While I still do have a batch of six prototype bases being made on Ponoko (which seems to have stalled production for some reason), this 3D model allows for much more detail. They came up with the idea of using the raised portions for the turning triangles, which I think is genius. Why engrave the turning radius AND the center strip when you can just raise the one piece (turning radius triangles) to visually AND physically separate everything into their proper components.

The answer is you don't. You do it this way.

I'm extremely fortunate to have met this person and look forward to getting these pieces made.

Kickstarter Project Link: Steel Fleet Warfare (ends May 18th, 2012)

Game Development: Robot in the City progress!

I was able to get some progress done on the Robot in the City game. More importantly, I've decided to make it in such a fashion that making sequels will be easier. I've also decided to scale forward some features and just get over my laziness. Most important being removing the one room limitation. I've added some variables to the "createActor" and "createThing" functions to call for starting positions for X, Y as well as room.

Here you can see some things already working:
  • Dialogue appears as a lightbox with profile picture on left and text on right. The same occurs for when you use an object, examine an object and so forth. Basically any interaction will use that.
  • Dialogue works in that when you say one thing, it accesses the main brain of the dialogue tree and proceeds to check if there's another node to follow. If yes, it will "showDialogue(node)" otherwise it will simply close the dialogue lightbox.
  • You can interact with objects and pick up ones that have a "_pickupable" variable equally true. The only weird finagling I had to do was assign it an inventory slot, which appears on the bottom of the screen as well. This limitation differs from the old Sierra and LucasArts games in that it's not simply pushing a new object into your inventory array and you are limited to how many items you can carry based on how many inventory slots have already been preassigned.
  • While you can examine things and have them interact with other things (things or actors, including yourself), I have yet to determine if I want the ability to have things interact with other things in your inventory. I'm sure it's a quick implementation, but I haven't really thought about it yet. I probably need to assign "inventory._type = "inventory"" and do a quick check or something.
Anyway. Looking forward to actually working on the game now. I've got an Excel workbook ready so by filling in the fields it can generate the proper "createThing" and "createActor" code for me. Otherwise it's a bit too long and slightly confusing.

Review: All The Better To See You

I've been a fan of the indie game development work of Bento Smile for quite some time. It's always nice to see an entry in a Ludum Dare competition with them in it. I'm always particularly fond of the pixely art style in their visual novel games. I decided to download one of the older titles and give it a go.

All The Better To See You is indeed a tiny visual novel game, probably taking a maximum of five minutes to get through all the different options in the game. What resonates more strongly, however, isn't the length of the game but rather the message within the choices and responses to those choices. Many of the Bento Smile visual novel games do this and they do it quite well. This is no exception to the rule.

It really made me look at the potential mundane acts we perform under constant routine. What seems like limitless potential turns into this cage of "same thing, different day". While I don't feel that way in my current life, it's definitely a theme I see crop up in more places than one in both fiction and reality. I liked the way it was presented in this game and I recommend anyone with a few minutes to experience it for themselves.

Paring it with Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf was also brilliant. Releasing this in time for Valentine's Day this year was also brilliant, in a punch-your-holiday-in-the-face kind of way.

Download: All The Better To See You (PC, Mac and Linux)