shawn's blog

A minor Tone Def Update

Posted in OriGamInc, Tone Def by Shawn on December 28, 2011
(That’s not a musical pun)

Well, Tone Def is moving along.

A few days ago, I tagged a version as v0.015. I don’t really know where that number came from, but I need to both start tagging more, and making sense of these tags. Since then, the Game Over/Level Victory screens have been added, as well as implementing a rash of Kongregate API, as I want to track and report stats. Looking at the git history, this pretty much all I worked in the past couple of days, which actually falls in line with my whiteboard. (I don’t have a picture of it right now!).

A good portion of time was spent on the API, which is actually really easy to integrate. The more time consuming issue was the naming. For Tone Def, I’m tracking a few things, such as the number of SquareBots destroyed, the number of instruments used/destroyed, notes spend, etc. I do want to have some sort of achievement system however, which is why I spent a good time creating a list of achievements unlocked after doing something ‘x’ times, such as using 10 instruments, or beating particular level.

One more small list needs to be made, in regards to the essentials. I need to make sure not to fall into some sort of feature creep trap, but unfortunately, things like that are inevitable, as ideas originally conceived need to be fleshed out a bit more.

But that’s it for now. Again, I hope to have this done by next week, which means minor updates until now. And maybe I’ll try and be cool, and post a postmortem or something, even though I’m not dropping support of the game at all. Actually, it’s probably too early for that.

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Tone Def

Posted in OriGamInc, Tone Def by Shawn on December 26, 2011

So, on and off for the past month, I’ve been working on Tone Def, which is a musical tower defense game. I say on and off, because I didn’t get a chance to work on this everyday, which of course, is slightly upsetting. But, I shouldn’t complain! It takes time away from game development. Well, so does this blog post, but  at least the blog post keeps my thinking about the game. Also, it helps me reflect. Also, people can read about what I do! Also…..something else probably.

But, back to Tone Def. This past weekend, I made some progress, despite it being a holiday weekend. What did I do?

The Musical Tower Defense Game Tone Def

Well, that’s the title screen that I worked on for Tone Def. Simple, right? Well, I like simple. Plus, I’m not sure how complex I can make it. Even the MCE title page was stripped down a bit. I do feel that the changes to both are for the better.

The goal for Tone Def, right now, is to put it online for people to play. Because of these, there are a bunch of things that I do not have to worry about, while there are many that I need to change and alter. This doesn’t mean that I can slack off. Somehow, I wound up with close to 100 drawcalls for one level, when the maximum starting amount I should have had was closer to 20. Basically, I was causing more work for Unity, the application that I am developing Tone Def in.

Now, as with most tower defense games, there needs to be an enemy. Who are the enemies for Tone def? Well, they’re called the SquareBots.

Your Standard SquareBot v1.042b

Established and reputable source Urban Dictionary defines a  Square as:

1. A four sided polygon characterized by right angles and sides of equal length.
2. A tobacco cigarette.
3. A place where everyone gathers consisting of shops and whatnot.
4. A boring person.

Now, let’s ignore the tobacco definition. Oh, and we’ll also ignore definition 3 as well. After removing the two definitions, we find what we need to define our SquareBots. Boring four-sided people….er…robots. Aren’t robots void of emotion anyway? At least, the ones what I’m accustom to. I’m not sure if Roombas care that I yell at them (I don’t have a Roomba. I go to the store and yell at them during my free time). Anyway, these bots are here to stop the music. Why? Because they’re boring. And they dislike music. And it’s up to you to stop them from….stopping music. Mainly, your music.

For this build, the goal is to have 3 worlds, 3 stages per world, and one final boss level. As of now, I’m almost done with a lot of the framework. After that, it’s just building levels and making music.

Oh, and there’s music in game (surprisingly)! How does that work? Well…..I would love to talk about it, but I feel that if I mention it now, I’ll have nothing else to talk about.

But that’s it for now. I’m thinking of adding this to the OriGamInc games page, since it’s starting to take shape into something. I would love to deploy non-web version, with more songs and such. Maybe if enough people seem to take interest in this.

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A New Deadline?

Posted in Music, Tone Def by Shawn on December 19, 2011

I’ve decided to give myself a new deadline, the date being January 3rd. I will use the time between then and now to finish a web build for Music Defense (or Tone Def).

Why the deadline? Well, mostly to try and keep myself in order. Life, as usual, as a ton of plot twist and turns. Unfortunately, with my schedule, finding hours to work is much more difficult than it really should be. Nevertheless, I still plan to put out a build for this game within the first week of January.

In regards to this project, a lot of the framework is done. It could actually be pushed out right now, albeit, it’d be in pretty poor shape, and very unbalanced. A lot of work that is being done now are cosmetic and nitpicking details that I need to finish in order to establish some sort of new foundation to build upon. One can only with primitives for so long….

This also means making more music. Because I’m quite slow with making music, since I like to walk away from it too often, I’ll need to try and mess around with audio files every day during this iteration.

But that’s it for now. I need to plan things out properly if I want to continue at a decent pace.

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New Resolutions

Posted in MCE, OriGamInc, Other, Tone Def by Shawn on December 15, 2011

Well, the new year is coming. And with it comes more resolutions, in more ways than one.

The first way I mean resolution is that I should think of some ones for this coming year. Like what? Well, work on my game more. And stay positive. To be completely honest with myself, my work ethics have started to get on my nerves since October, and this is something that I need to change. This could be from working alone for such a long time, and finding it difficult to motivate myself, or it could be from only finding a few hours a day to work on the game, hours that I only find after I’m done taking care of everyone else non-game-dev related, and I have to spend the hours where I’m tired working on Mr. Condyle’s Escape. Working when tired isn’t good….poor decisions are made, and only realized upon the following morning’s reflection. The show must go on however! at this point, I still wonder, would any one be interested in my game when I get closer to production? Who knows!

The second, and not so obvious resolution is directly to MCE. I made a mistake. The game’s resolution is semi-locked. Rather, playing the game on a computer without a 16:9 display will leave your play session handicapped. This is my fault, but something I’m glad I found out with only 40 levels instead of 100, especially with the changes being made. At this point in time, I’ve fixed one part for 30 different levels. Now, I have to fix a number of finer details. This means going through each level, and making sure that the GUI details are intact. My global changes should be able to fix the bigger problems, but there are some minor tweaking that needs…..well, tweaking.

When this is finished, the game should be playable from multiple resolutions without losing important on-screen data. For example, there was one level where a spiked ball shooter lies on the left side of the screen. with a 16:10 resolution, the spiked ball shooter would be just out of sight. However, it’s clearly visible with a 16:9 display. The shooter will definitely wind up destroying the player the first time around, but it’s nicer to know exactly why your player died, rather than having something completely off screen do you in.

On final resolution that I should probably have is to actually get one of these game ideas out there. It’s not like I’m all talk. At least, I do not think I am. I’m working on projects that are progressing at some sort of pace. However, two projects, MCE and MossHawk, are bigger than another project, Tone Def (formerly known as Music Defense). Because of this, I’ve decided to put MossHawk on the back burner for now, while focusing on MCE and Tone Def. Of course, there’s always the problem of more time. And, yes, I could be working instead of blogging and wishing for more time. But then how would I know at what point my mind started to melt? I could keep a personal & private journal, but…..well, I have no good reason.

That’s it for now. At this moment in time, I’m deciding between sleeping and working some more. I think I may fall asleep at the keyboard just trying to make that decision.

(I write these blog post in advance, so at this point in time, the back of my eyelids look very appealing).

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An Indie Pitch & being Tone Def

Posted in MCE, Music, OriGamInc, Tone Def by Shawn on December 12, 2011

So hey! There’s this thing that Joystiq does called the Indie Pitch where they interview indie devs trying to make games. And I was just interviewed. Makes me feel….somewhat special.

Read the interview!
So how about that Mr. Condyle? I’m still working on that game, of course. But I’ve also been working on that Music Defense game quite frequently. And thanks to a friend (thanks Tim), I have  a better name than Music Defense. Right now, the pending name is Tone Def. I think it’s pretty clever. I’m working hard to put together a prototype that I can upload online for others to try, so please forgive me if art is a bit crude, and if something doesn’t work properly, as they have done for me with my test builds.

So, to stay in line with the musical theme of this post, here’s one of the latest tracks for Mr. Condyle’s Escape. Right now, it’s called World ?, mostly because I’m not sure what world this song will be placed in. You can listen below:

World ? Music

Anyway, that’s it for now. There’s a lot of work to be done in many different places, and it’s exciting just thinking about everything!

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Music Defense

Posted in OriGamInc, Other, Tone Def by Shawn on December 9, 2011

I really need to work on these names. MossHawk? LavaOx? I forget what MCE’s code name was, but I’m pretty sure it was just as elementy-animalistic as FireFox or Thunderbird or RagingOrangeJuiceInfusedHippoBird.

Anyway, LavaOx is was the code name for Music Defense for a short period of time. But being that I already gave what the game was about in my previous blog post, there really isn’t any point in trying to hide what this game is/about. And also, because my game name skill (and codename skill(z)) are lacking, I’m going to keep this simple. Music Defense. As a matter of fact, this should probably go up on the OriGamInc home and games page. Well, maybe not yet, as the game is still very early in development, and there aren’t really too many fancy pieces of art to show off. Unless a transparent gray and slightly less gray grid is visually appealing. Actually, it may be, but not alone, I guess.

But…the name of the game is Music Defense. The theme of the previous blog post was whether or not I plan on continue work on Music Defense, as it could potentially become a negative time sink. Since I already have MCE to work on, and I was also messing around with MossHawk, I didn’t want something else taking too much time away. However, MossHawk is still very early in development, so it doesn’t hurt to put that on the back burner for now. The idea for that project also requires a lot of time and planning, so while I have down time from other activities, I can work plan the development for MossHawk, including writing the story. Unlike MCE, the story for MossHawk will be much more significant, as opposed to ‘Do this or die!’. Right now, everything appears to make sense, but I’m sure that will change when I manage to write in the giant metal octopus(!!!).

Back to Music Defense, there’s a lot to this game that makes it ‘not your typical tower defense game!’. Elements (some touched upon in the last post), such as synching, overloading, bonuses, support instruments, etc. will hopefully affect gameplay to a point where it is enjoyable for people other than myself. I also managed to do some things that I find interesting code wise, so I may actually blog a bit about some code…maybe. It’s much easier to post it on GitHub, say “Look at what I did”, and be done with it, which I’ve done during conversations in the past.

The development for Music Defense will be able to coexist with MCE much more easily than MossHawk, again, because MossHawk is such a intensive project. Music Defense is more along the lines of MCE, where you have a simple goal, you go and do it, and you move on. And it gives me an excuse to jump into sinking absurd amounts of time into music software.

That’s it for now. I’ll be consistently iterating over Music Defense, so I’ll most likely update about that a bit more often.

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A small earful

Posted in Music, Unity by Shawn on December 7, 2011

A couple of months ago, I had an idea for a game involving music. It was tower defense game, with some very simple concepts. I really wanted to make this, but at that point in time, I couldn’t wrap my head around how I could actually pull this off. The idea isn’t too complicated, but I just couldn’t get things working right, without them turning out convoluted and ugly.

Fast forward to about a week from now, and I get that urge to make that music game again. This time, I start out with a different approach (it’s been a week, so I forgot how I started….), and progress is made. At that point, I figure, I have about one week to actually make something of this. If I had more time during each weekday, I would have probably given myself less time. The main reason for this week deadline is because I did not want to spend too long working on projects that I wasn’t sure I was going to complete. Too much time dabbling around in other projects, and I wouldn’t be able to actually finish something.

It turns out that I have something that actually became enjoyable. The problem wasn’t the coding, or the mechanics or anything too technical. The game functions as it should, albeit, there are a few issues that need tweaking. The main problem was the music. It just wasn’t sounding like anything I would listen to outside of the game. And since this game is extremely dependent on music, this was an absolute problem.

But then something changed. I made an audio file, and a musical sheet to go with it (I call it my music sprite sheet…I think I may post code next update). And they were good. Good enough for me to listen to. I’m actually listening to the music right now.  But it made the game more enjoyable. The power-up duplication bonuses felt better when I got them, the synching bonuses felt better when I matched notes, the overloaded instruments made things less enjoyable. Things were taken to a point where I though “I think I’m actually having fun”.

It’s easy to say “Of course a game featuring around music must have good music”.  I knew that from the get go. But I’d at least think that a few other concepts from the game would be fun, even if the music wasn’t all too wonderful, but I have learned otherwise.

But that’s it for now. Since the testing week is over, I need to determine whether this is something that I can continue, or whether or not it will be a big distraction in terms of other development.

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