Creative work on large projects is a marathon, not a sprint. It has been about 3 years since I started on this project and I'm starting to get nervous about the length of this development timeline. The changes I'm making still feel significant enough to keep me going.
For months I pushed onwards through the unforgiving landscape known as capitalisim. My knees buckled under the overwhelming weight of my cost of living.
Working full-time is a feat and it's one that I don't have a great track record with, however this time I'd say I'm maintaining a more sustainable routine. I have had much less time to work on personal projects, but I make time here and there.
Pretty New Graphics
Bloom is a trademark in the video games industry and more often than not it is done very badly. Thanks to some fancy new shaders I found on the marketplace, I'm finally doing it right.
Motion blur is the next greatest sin in the video game industry. Guess I'm a sinner because I added it. It's optional of course.
Hitboxes (are probably important)
I decided to write a way to visualize hitboxes and it turns out that I screwed up hitboxes pretty badly.
The hitboxes are meant to be large but not below the hands.
A cursed knight by the name of Guppo awaits you at the end of the Frosted Caves. He is one of the many side bosses I intend to add to the game.
After some conversation he gets up and proceeds to get nasty with it. I don't intend to show more than this until I get around to a trailer, but I promise it's sick.
Never before have I had so much content to share in a blog post. Make some coffee and get ready for some subpar blog writing! I made sure to put nice pictures to make it up to you.
This past month may have been the most productive month of my life. A lot has happened since my last post. I live in a new place, by myself. I've taken up contract work and intend to survive on my own as most adults do. Moving and rebuilding my life has been a jarring experience but I think I'll be ok.
At last! We get a glimpse at some story for Bring Me Hope.
Sea Cave City
After getting through the opening areas you enter Sea Cave City, home to some fish people or something. There are lots of various quests to be acquired and interesting new locations to explore. Let's take a look at Blaow, the son of Boom Boom. Blaow wishes to be taken to the Frosted Caves south of the city but alas it's full of danger! Danger only you are equipped to physically beat into submission.
Here we see Clawdia and Shellsea sitting in a bedroom full of tension. It was through this scene that I learned how much I love yellow dresses and therefor, drawing them.
A Real Artist Huh?
Drawing the interiors of homes, a new cave, and lots of other tedious animations has brought me to the peak of my art to date. It was at this moment of artistic bliss that I decided it was time to revisit Alium's animations.
I set out with the goal of giving our protagonist a lot more bounce and sway. Motion should feel fluid and natural right? It has always felt satisfying to run about, but I wanted to extend the character's hair length a smidge to give more room for fluidity in its movement.
South of Sea Cave City lies the Frosted Caves... a mostly unexplored cave system that mysteriously produces cold weather and snow. The deeper you go into the caves the closer you get to revealing the source of this phenomenon.
This is the first semi-optional dungeon in the game. You'll be able to just play through the bit required for the story or go deeper and discover a hidden boss that awaits you at the end of the dungeon.
I would like to talk more about dungeons and the design of them more in depth but until I have some decently compelling content to showcase, I'll leave it at that.
COVID seeped in through the walls and attempted to banish me to the shadow realm. Thankfully Julia and I survived.
That aside I've been pretending that I'm a talented artist, slowly rebuilding and adding visual content to the game. Here are some pretty GIFs for you to examine with your eyes.
Bring Me Hope use tilesets which make up the floors and walls in each area. Now that I'm an artist it is I that must create these tilesets. Here's a look at what I have done so far.
Thoughts on the creative process
Building experiences is my favorite hobby. Music, sound, art, game feel... it all comes together to provide a unique experience. I've learned in recent years that it takes a lot of your human juice to build new things. A beautiful date night might fill you with a sense of excitement and love! The role of an artist is to turn those emotions into a picture/song/game that others can experience. Converting emotions into an experience is a skill that you have to practice regularly and it's one that I hope to get better at as time goes on.
That's all I really have to say. I just wanted to share this perspective with aspiring artists.
The life of an independent software developer could be compared to that of a rat. For months I've quietly nibbled on work getting ever closer to the goal of long-term survival. Here's the cheese I've stashed away since last time.
Bring Me Hope looks different?
The Possum Tom's advice was to shift background colors down in value (darker) and middle depth (less important stuff) objects into the middle values. This is the only scene I've completely reworked so far. Rat artists move slowly but steadily.
SpritePile 2.0 and Xor's shaders
I asked Xor to make SpritePile beautiful. I said, "I have all the 3D data ready to go, make it pretty pls". Like a rat parent I provided the hole in the wall for my rat family to flourish.
I'm not going to use my development sharing space for this topic since it's a bit personal. Although it went against my rat-like nature, I came out a few months ago, I left the comforts of my rat den, (actually about 2 weeks after my last blog post) and life has been much better since then.
I've been silent for the most part for a few months now and hopefully for the better. Here's what happened since the last blog post.
Four months later, what got done?
You can teleport between praesidios (checkpoints) now.
One of the optional bosses (Guppo) is partially finished. We have a unique set of art just for this encounter.
You can find items in chests now. We did a very "Zelda-like" animation for this because dopamine.
Combat is actually fun now (don't pay attention to the random unfinished art). I'd argue that it can feel pretty anime at times.
You like tech do ya?
Here is some home-brewed verlet physics. We use these for banners.
Here's the super fun and exciting text parser that I threw together.
What you are NOT seeing in this post
There are a number of new characters (both friendly and opposing), lots of new items, a questing system, and a lot of other new features. This is a very large game and I struggle with its scope on a near daily basis. Here's what I'm hoping to show you in the next post... but let's see it in a list format, for all you list nerds.
We're just weeks away from launching our Kickstarter and the pressure has never been so apparent. Our finances are dwindling and like a cactus in the valley we are hoping for the drought to come to an end. Here's where we are at!
Gifs and Eye Candy
What you're seeing here is ambient occlusion, kind of. We built a tileset of shadows that I dynamically create based on where walls are. We build it into a vertex buffer and then draw it. It is super performant and adds a lot of depth to the lighting within any scene.
Finally Seeing Our Game
This is one of those games that you can't really play until you've laid out a good amount of content and all the core systems are fully fleshed out. Imagine how disappointing it would be to play an MMO with no other players. Some features are vital to the experience you want to deliver.
A few weeks ago we started to see glimpses of what Bring Me Hope could be. We had finally finished the perk system, marking the last core feature to be implemented. Now we just need about 15 more minutes of story content and we'll have a very satisfying demo.
Kickstarter and What's Expected
So there I was skimming Kickstarter game projects trying to see what people expected from you when you asked for $100,000 in funding. Turns out people have pretty reasonable standards. In my search I found a Stardew Valley clone that was more or less a straight rip off but despite my apparently higher standards it had raised well over $700,000!
Maybe I'm Trying Too Hard
Alright so let's cut to the chase. I've pretty much cemented the idea that I have unrealistic standards for my own work nowadays. In the past maybe not so much but today I'm a stereotype "never happy" artist. I've spent the past few months confronting this side of myself and accepting it. I don't care if my standards aren't reasonable. I want to do my very best and I want those who are on the project with me to also give it their best efforts.
Anyways here's the results of the past two months.
What's New You Ask?
I'm on a grind to add over 100 items to the game prior to the release of the Kickstarter demo. We're at a little over 65 at the moment. Besides that I've spent a lot of time refactoring code to support multiple languages, ingame patch notes, all aspect ratios, and everything else most indie games don't bother with because it's a waste of time if your game isn't already making money.
Let's Talk Marketing
Like many aspiring creative types I've seen hundreds of hours of "How To" videos on the subject of marketing. It's all stupid bullshit without the proper context. Posting on Twitter every day doesn't mean you'll have wider reach if nobody follows you on Twitter. Maintaining a development blog doesn't mean you'll get more sales if nobody wants your game. Are you starting to catch onto the theme?
If your game is boring, uninspired, has no target audience, and/or has no marketing then it won't sell well.
Ok so you're probably thinking, "Well Seabass if you know your game has no reach right now why aren't you doing anything about it?"
The answer is that I believe in the heart of the cards. I think that this game is so god damn good that it will sell itself if only I can give it enough lime light. This means we need a well-timed and carefully executed Kickstarter. A Steam page that grabs you by the love handles and rattles you to your core. Lastly you have to love the promise and soul of a game. Julia, Topher, and I are the soul. To help reinforce our soul we've been streaming on Twitch semi-regularly.
When's The Next Blog Post?
Every two months or when I feel it scratching its way out of my little Seabass heart. I can make no exceptions.
Welcome to another exciting entry in this public diary about the making of a game that really needs a publicized title.
It has been about two months since the last blog post and in that time we have added a lot of new features and content.
Eye candy to maintain engagement
New items, lots of new items
Completely new art
Sometimes it's difficult to recognize the progress you've made. It's even more difficult when you try to visualize how much work you've done over multiple months. I find it mind boggling how much the game has changed in just a few months.
In comparison to the screenshot seen on the right you can see that the lighting is much better. There's lens flare though it is subtle. The ground and wall tiles are massively improved. Props have shadows that add a lot of depth to the scene. Grass can be seen waving and lights hanging from seaweed ropes swing with the wind.
We officially have a Discord
We wanted to wait until we were closer to a playable demo for people to start engaging with the development of the game. It feels like it's about time to start letting people at least interact with us after nine months of silence.
Click here to join our Discord!
After a year of dropped projects and abandoned teams I found myself starving for another project to pour myself into. Queue my creation latest game project, "Bring Me Hope" or my preferred project title "My Dive Into ARPGs".
It's not uncommon for me to create games inspired by genres I don't enjoy playing. Either I have a mental condition that forces me to expose myself to concepts that I don't enjoy (most likely) or perhaps I've somehow conditioned myself to seek out new experiences (very unlikely).
Roll out the gifs
Here's an inventory gif showcasing fancy text effects I've worked on.
There's also a bit of combat being implemented.
Maybe you're big on fish minion armies like me. Maybe you're not.
Will there be more content like this?
I plan to use this blog as a journal of major milestones so yes. You will absolutely see more posts like this. Maybe one day when I'm famous I can look back at my humble beginnings (only kidding, that's too arrogant for a public blog).
After a multi-year hiatus with blog sites and being nearly silent on Twitter I've finally returned. This time I have a website with my name as the URL since that's the professional thing we all do nowadays. I'll be using this blog to post about fun programming activities, free/paid assets I may share, and from time to time career related content that I feel may benefit others in the field of game development.
Most importantly there is a place to showcase all of the work I've been doing over the years. It's a miracle that I've landed any contract jobs at all given my lack of public qualifications. Until today it has been purely word of mouth thanks to wonderful people such as Juju Adams and YellowAfterLife.
Anyways best wishes and let's hope 2020 gets cut short.