shawn's blog

Cooking with gas…or dynamite….

Posted in MCE by Shawn on June 28, 2011

So let’s say there’s this wall. Or this floor. Or some pesky object that you could do without. These objects impede your progress and your hopes of reaching a goal. Like the movies! Imagine you were on your way to the movies and suddenly, there’s this wall. Just blocking your path. Stopping you from seeing the latest summer blockbuster (that movie where that wizard beats those evil robots with some sort of crazy ring….). You’ve been waiting all summer to see this movie. Too many trips to the beach, and a barrage of fireflies have stopped you for long enough. So you skip the sand, shut your eyes, and make your way to the theaters, only to be blocked by some giant wall.

It mocks you. Taunts you. Makes you feel small and void of concrete. But worst, your last chance perfecting your summer with a ring wielding wizard robot bent of destruction (or probably something else) is in jeopardy due to this mixture of concrete and immorality. So, what now? You go to your trunk, and you get:

Guess what's inside....

You have nothing to fear. But walls do. Walls have everything to fear. No longer will they stand tall, thwarting theater plans. These crates are excellent. They’ll never harm you. They’ll always explode when you want them to. They’ll destroy walls, floors…and that’s probably it, but regardless, it’s a great selection for people who want to get to the movies. Summer is saved, as well as the world, from the evil anti-wizard robot.

These crates though……

Red means dangerous!

Well….these do whatever they want….and they start right away.

So don’t get too close.

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End of Iteration 2

Posted in MCE, Music, Unity by Shawn on June 24, 2011

I feel like it’s been quite some time since my last update, albeit it has only been one week. However, let’s review this last iteration.

Two weeks ago, I decided to move from a 3 week iteration to a 2 two week one, and I think it was the right choice. The task and issues that are scheduled in Redmine a bit more organized now, and I do not have to see too far into the future, which was one of the main problems with the first iteration. When this iteration began, there were 17 task open. When this iteration ends, technically on Sunday, I will hopefully have all 24 task closed. Task are always added during an iteration, task such as bugs, random things I think of that are fairly easy to add, and other issues that are necessary to complete other task in the iteration, but I did not think of it before hand. Some of these task took longer than others, and one or two wound up not even being included in the game. For example, I wanted to write a easy hack of an animation class, which worked out well…and was hacky, I guess. However, I wound up doing a lot of character redesign (Actually, I changed the main character about 80%), which rendered that class somewhat pointless. In addition, the character redesign created more issues, such as adding a few cheesy particle effects.

The main character also had some new tools included, which will give players a bit more of an advantage for some tougher levels. Those I will hopefully blog about later on this week. General game art was slightly changed as well, as I am now going for a much simpler style than before. This should allow the player to focus on the elements that keep them alive, and allow me to focus on the elements to destroy the player, such as a new trap that I am adding. It’s fairly simple, but the way it is being implemented will cause players to work harder and faster than in previous levels.

I still have 4 task left open for this iteration; three of them are in progress. One of them is music for the eventual title screen. I have about 4-5 tracks that I am currently working on for the game. I still haven’t made one that I think will fit for the title screen. I have a potential 4th level track, a first level track, and even music that I would want to use for the game’s ‘hype trailer’. However, that main theme track still eludes me.

Other task were moved around, and bumped to either the next iteration, the cookie jar (rewards for when I do well and have extra time), or the Ongoing task list. I never finish anything in the ongoing, and the cookie jar wasn’t really touched this week. While that isn’t necessarily bad, I really would like to put my hand in the jar.

Today, I need to plan on what I want to add to iteration 3. Right now, the plan is to include a lot of level building. Unfortunately, I only managed to have one new level in the last iteration, which took me much longer than I thought it would. I added a new environmental tool, and made a much harder level (for me to design, at least) than I thought. On paper it was easy. In production, not so much. The level building will really focus on the first world, which needs to be something filled with enough variety to attract people but not show off everything so things do not get stale later on. I also need to work on the difficulty curve. Players should not become too bored within the first 5 mins, or too annoyed within even less time. It’ll be a touchy balance, but there is plenty of time.

Of course, more music will be included in the next iteration, as well as more art. Ongoing issues, such as documentation, and Wiki evolution will be addressed, hopefully some things from the cookie jar as well. By the end of this week, I want to have the beginnings of the game ready in some way.

That’s it for now. My tea is getting cold.

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Music to my ears

Posted in MCE, Music by Shawn on June 17, 2011

Through headphones mostly.

I spent about 1.65 hours on the music for world one. And I have 17 seconds to show for it.

But, this is definitely not a bad thing. These 17 seconds are, in my opinion, extremely enjoyable. Future plans do include making this track more than 17 seconds. And because I enjoy making music and more, I plan to take my time with each track. Right now, with the design of my game and potential game world, it looks like there will be at least 10 worlds(!!). This means at least 10 tracks. In addition to this, I will need something for the title screen, which I believe I have. Then there’s an overworld hub, but I’m not expecting to make that track anything too large.

This is all tentative.

Things may change, which happens quite often.

In regards to non-musical things, I have something somewhat cool that is almost finished.

But that’s it for now. I’ll talk about the ‘coolness’ in the future.

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End of TriWeek1

Posted in MCE, Music, Writings by Shawn on June 10, 2011

Well, technically, TriWeek1 ends on this coming Sunday, while the next iteration begins on Monday.

I’ve gotten things done, but I think I am going to make a few changes.

The first iteration was a combination of finishing things up to work in a more refined manner for the future, as well as adding new issues. I only had 24 task that were completed. Some were harder than others, and some were taken out and placed in future iterations after some work on them. Most of these task were taken care of within the first two weeks of the iteration. Which means that this last week really had me…well, not doing much. Which really does not make sense. I was telling myself that I should hold back and wait until the next iteration to do things that I have planned. Some down time is good, but too much can ruin work ethics.

So, in regards to that, I am going to change my iteration time to two weeks. This doesn’t mean that I will be trying to cram more into less time though. If I do not have enough time to do something, then I can move it to a future iteration. However, planning for three weeks may be too much time, at least for me in terms of my life schedule and my project.

Today, I’m spending most of my project work time on planning these next two weeks, and trying to make a list of goals that I want to accomplish. Right now, there are 17 open task (one is closed, since I completed it during this iteration after figuring something out). Bugs may pop up, as they did in the last iteration, so the finial number is most likely not be 18. I also need to start keeping more track of the levels I’m designing, which I’m also including. I do not plan for a new levels, but rather, when I have a good one, I make it into an issue then being work on it. This saves me from the false pressure of “Oh, I have to add level 40 because it says so in the task list!).

This past iteration also had me doing a lot of documentation. I documented all of the environmental tools and traps that I’ve included so far within my game’s Wiki. What’s also included within the Wiki are game story files, and soon to be included music files. I’ve also documented code that was fairly annoying to include. I’m trying to save game information in a respectable way, but this could easily get out of hand. So, in order to help slow down my decent into madness, I documented a lot of the save game code, where certain elements can be found, how they interact with other game files, as well as a ton of other variables that have been used, and will be used.

And hey, there’s music! Well, there’s music for the title screen that doesn’t exist yet. But still, it’s really nice to have more than just my own test-sample tracks playing. Oh, and did I say that there was some story? I started working on a small skeleton of a story, which quickly grew into something unexpected. I did confine myself before it got too out of hand, the establishing key features of the story helped me figure out exactly where I wanted to go with may different game elements, such as level art and how I want to design the game’s hubs.

While I only had around 24 task for this iteration, there are two other groups that had tasks competed. The documentation task were actually not included in this week, but they were included in the ‘Ongoing’ task list. These task will most likely never get completed until most of the game is done, if not all of it. Task in here include things such as documentation, and designing (things get more specific within each task). Since I can’t just ‘stop’ designing, these will be left open until closer to game end date.

There is also a task list of issues that I would like to put into the game, but haven’t included yet, mostly because they’re more along the lines of “That would pretty cool, but it isn’t necessary yet”. They’re pretty much distractions. I do not want to get too distracted, so instead of including them in my overall to-do list, I placed them in my rewards list, or my ‘CookieJar’. If I do well in an iteration, then I get to dip into my pool of rewards. Of course, it’s tempting to just go into that when I get annoyed with current task, but it’s very important to stay on course.

Looking back, I seemed to have done a fair amount of things within 2.2 weeks. I’m not counting a lot of this week, towards this iteration. Unfortunately, it became somewhat of a limbo week which really slowed down my progress. I’m hoping that this problem can be avoided by shortening this upcoming iteration to two weeks. Within these next two weeks, there are a lot of artistic/animation things that need to be included, as well as more music and game world design. I will possibly post of artwork later on next week. I also plan to finish the game saving tools. And of course, there are more levels to be created.

Oh, and I got a brand new whiteboard. Which is all thing excellent in terms of helping me get my work done. Maybe I’ll even share some screens of this as well!

But, that’s it for now.

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Posted in MCE by Shawn on June 6, 2011

Well, I started drawing up some level designs, as well as art for my main character. And, I will say that I actually enjoy what I am drawing. It’s much better than my quick scribbles, and looks a tad bit, dare I say, “cooler”.

I’m also in the last week of my first TriWeek Iteration. I have six issues left open, out of the 25 that I had for the first three weeks. A lot of this was not only a finishing of other lingering issues that I wanted to take care of, but I also wanted to set up future task. For example, I finished all the levels that were giving me trouble, and cleaned up a lot of odd details. I did create a group of task, one called The Nebula, for future things that would be nice to implement, but aren’t necessary, and Ongoing, for things that I will not stop working on until I’m done with the game.

I may post pictures of my sketches and designs later on this week. I also need to spend an entire day working on what I plan to include for the next iteration.

That’s it for now. There are still some musical details that need to be worked on.

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The Launcher

Posted in MCE, Writings by Shawn on June 2, 2011

Are you short?

Worse yet, are you very short?

Even worse yet….are you short and have no tools to assist you in reaching that jar of chocolate chip cookies at the highest most point in kitchen? Well, have no fear, the launcher is around….er….here!

That’s right, with this launcher, you can do just that. Launch!

Guess which way you're going....

One step on this wonderful device will send you skyrocketing! You’ll be able to reach for things man has only dreamed about reaching while being in their kitchen without a tool to help them reach out of reach cookies.

Just don’t forget your milk though! Because once you go up, you may not come back down.

(Disclaimer: The engineers behind the launcher are not liable for any injuries that occur not on the launcher. Side-effects of being launched include, but are not limited to: The feeling of amazement as you gaze down on your grounded peers, damaged hair appearance due to the high winds, sudden death due to maces, spiked balls, spiked beds or spiked floors, air sickness)

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