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[dev] Weekly roundup: Games, mostly

  • cc: I fixed an obscure timing issue and… well, that’s all, how exciting.

    I should really talk about this game more, but it’s big and I’m not the one designing it and I don’t have a good sense of how much we want to keep under wraps yet?

  • blog: I wrote a stream of consciousness about how Nazis are bad.

  • potluck: What? Yes! I worked on potluck a bit, believe it or not. I’ve decided to try procedurally generating the whole game — something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and a decision that has piqued my interest in potluck considerably. Step one was to clean up all my map code, which was entangled with parsing Tiled’s JSON format, to make it actually possible to generate a map. I finally did that and made an extremely basic proof of concept that just varies the floor height.

  • fox flux: The usual brief work on player sprites. The game has a lot of them.

  • gamedev: I made a video game with glip again! It was a birthday present for two of our friends, and it’s extremely specific to them and basically incomprehensible to anyone else, so I haven’t decided yet whether it’d be appropriate to release publicly. But we made something pretty coherent on a whim in two and a half days and that’s nice.

I’m currently working on veekun, which has finally progressed to the point that it has data appearing within the website! Hallelujah. I expect there’ll be plenty of stuff to clean up, but this is a tremendous leap forwards. I’ll be so glad to have this off my plate at last, argh.

[blog] Nazis, are bad

Anonymous asks:

Could you talk about something related to the management/moderation and growth of online communities? IOW your thoughts on online community management, if any.

I think you’ve tweeted about this stuff in the past so I suspect you have thoughts on this, but if not, again, feel free to just blog about … anything :)

Oh, I think I have some stuff to say about community management, in light of recent events. None of it hasn’t already been said elsewhere, and I wouldn’t say it’s really about “online” or has a strong “point”, but I have to get this out.

Hopefully the content warning is implicit in the title.

[dev] Weekly roundup: Taking a breather

Nothing too special about this week; it went a little slow, but that’s been nice after the mad panic I was in at the end of July.

  • cc: I’m getting the hang of Unity and forming an uneasy truce with C#. Mostly did refactoring of some existing actor code, trying to move all the reading of controls to a single place so the rest of it can be reused for non-players.

  • fox flux: I put some work into a new forest background, which is already just… hilariously better than the one from the original game. Complex textures like leaves are one of my serious weak points, but this is forcing me to do it anyway and I’m slowly learning.

  • blog: I finished that post on Pokémon datamining, which ended up extraordinarily long and slightly late.

  • veekun: Dug into some missing stuff regarding items.

  • art: Spent a day or two doodling.

Still behind by one blog post (oops), and slacked on veekun a bit, but I’ve still got momentum.

[blog] Datamining Pokémon

A kind anonymous patron offers this prompt, which I totally fucked up getting done in July:

Something to do with programming languages? Alternatively, interesting game mechanics!

It’s been a while since I’ve written a thing about programming languages, eh? But I feel like I’ve run low on interesting things to say about them. And I just did that level design article, which already touched on some interesting game mechanics… oh dear.

Okay, how about this. It’s something I’ve been neck-deep in for quite some time, and most of the knowledge is squirrelled away in obscure wikis and ancient forum threads: getting data out of Pokémon games. I think that preserves the spirit of your two options, since it’s sort of nestled in a dark corner between how programming languages work and how game mechanics are implemented.

[dev] Weekly roundup: Downtime

I had a few inexplicably rough days, which I mostly spent playing Splatoon, but I’m good now!

  • blog: I got a preposterous amount of work done on a blog post, but unfortunately it’s turning out to be fairly ambitious, so it’s taking a while to finish. Now it’s August and I didn’t post anything at all in July. Oops.

  • vidya: I streamed three hours of playing randomly-chosen fan maps from the entire history of Doom. And for once I turned on VODs, so you can still watch it on Twitch until it’s automatically deleted in a few days.

    I also played, uh, one of the GAMES MADE QUICK??? 1½ entries, which is very shameful. I’ll make an effort to play a few more, soon, I guess?

  • fox flux: I significantly improved and finished grassy slopes, hooray. Drew some more player sprites; only like, uh, 120 to go. Played with particle effects, to (imo) great success.

[dev] Weekly roundup: Never enough

Chugging along.

  • fox flux: Touched up another critter, some more terrain, messing with a background, blah blah.

  • veekun: Pokémon importing is so close. I’ve hunted down how incense affects breeding (which was sort of pointless since there aren’t any new incense), found shapes, dealt with evolution, and filled in a few other little things. It even runs to completion now! But I can’t fully import Pokémon until I import items — oops! — so I’m working on that now.

  • art: Drew some ridiculous nonsense.

  • blog: Been working on a post about datamining, since that’s a thing I’ve been working on lately.

  • cc: I think I basically spent two days squabbling with Unity Collab and the asset store.

[dev] Weekly roundup: Juggling games

I now have seven or eight things in-flight, which is way too much, so I’ve decided to make an active effort to spend four hours every day working on some combination of veekun, the potluck game, my book, and Patreon blogging. So far, so good.

Also, the rest of my Fridays and Saturdays have been reserved for working on Chaos Composer. So, uh, yeah.

  • fox flux: More portrait work, which was surprisingly difficult! I forgot that drawing an actual picture with pixels is a little more involved in some ways than drawing it, uh, without pixels? I also designed and drew a new NPC, vastly improved the sprites for a couple critters, and made a pretty good start on some terrain tiles for a new zone.

  • chaos composer: I fixed a long-standing problem (two, actually) with the pixel scaling being slightly off. I’m helping! I also made a completely empty scene and wrote a basic player controller from scratch just to get accustomed, which I’ll now probably throw away because one already exists.

  • veekun: Added support for extracting move flags and Pokémon shapes (which were hell to find). Wrote a move importer and wrote quick effect text for every move, so moves are now in the database, hurrah! I have a Pokémon importer mostly done, so that’s well on its way as well. I’m so close I can taste it, though I expect I’ll find a lot of minor followup work, and I haven’t even touched more complicated stuff like wild Pokémon encounters.

Most of my four-hour blocks have been going to veekun so far. I’d really like to get blog posts out of the way early for once, but both proposed topics are a little vague, and I’m not sure what I want to say about them yet. I also still haven’t spent any time on my book this month, augh, and of course haven’t touched the potluck game in a week now.

Meanwhile, most of my other time went to fox flux, where I’m just taking forever to do the art. I think I’m starting to get better at it, but spriting an entire game is still a hell of a daunting task.

I spent the week working at a pretty good pace, yet this sounds like such little progress? Making stuff just takes a while, I guess.

[dev] Weekly roundup: Out of potluck

Spoilers: I didn’t finish the potluck game! I think I bit off a little more than I could chew, since the game necessarily needs a bunch of mechanics and world to actually make use of all the tiles. So I’ll just… keep working on it over time. It’d be nice to finish by the end of the month, but suddenly I have far more stuff than before to be working on, so who knows anything.

  • potluck: I made an inventory, added UI for it, implemented the other colors of locks, made several kinds of projectiles, implemented damage and recoil and i-frames, made a whole menu for customizing gamepad controls, rigged a convoluted thing that tries to adapt the UI to the style of gamepad you’re using, implemented conveyor belts, and did a whole lot of planning. But still, so far to go, sob.

  • fox flux: Started touching up portraits from the first game while watching glip play Zelda. Results thusfar are promising!

  • chaos composer: I have been drafted into working on glip’s game, already in progress in Unity. I just got ahold of the game thusfar, and I’ve never used Unity before, so I’ve mostly been giving myself a crash course by clicking stuff at random to see what happens.

I have no idea what I’ll be doing this next week! I have a lot of things vying for my attention, and somehow the month is already one-third over. I’d like to knock out some low-hanging fruit, so maybe I’ll get blogging out of the way and try to finally finish veekun?

[dev] Weekly roundup: On the move

Busy week, including a friend’s visiting, but most of my time went towards only two things:

  • veekun: I got forms dumping (more or less), got moves dumping, spent a whole lot of time chasing down obscure little details, and wrote most of a yaml-to-sql importer for moves. That all leaves me pretty heckin’ close to having the core Sun and Moon stuff in the database. Finally, the end is in sight.

  • blog: I wrote about level design by going over some levels in games that are memorable to me.

I’ll be spending the next week working on the potluck game and watching SGDQ!

[blog] Some memorable levels

Another Patreon request from Nova Dasterin:

Maybe something about level design. In relation to a vertical shmup since I’m working on one of those.

I’ve been thinking about level design a lot lately, seeing as how I’ve started… designing levels. Shmups are probably the genre I’m the worst at, but perhaps some general principles will apply universally.

And speaking of general principles, that’s something I’ve been thinking about too.

I’ve been struggling to create a more expansive tileset for a platformer, due to two general problems: figuring out what I want to show, and figuring out how to show it with a limited size and palette. I’ve been browsing through a lot of pixel art from games I remember fondly in the hopes of finding some inspiration, but so far all I’ve done is very nearly copy a dirt tile someone submitted to my potluck project.

Recently I realized that I might have been going about looking for inspiration all wrong. I’ve been sifting through stuff in the hopes of finding something that would create some flash of enlightenment, but so far that aimless tourism has only found me a thing or two to copy.

I don’t want to copy a small chunk of the final product; I want to understand the underlying ideas that led the artist to create what they did in the first place. Or, no, that’s not quite right either. I don’t want someone else’s ideas; I want to identify what I like, figure out why I like it, and turn that into some kinda of general design idea. Find the underlying themes that appeal to me and figure out some principles that I could apply. You know, examine stuff critically.

I haven’t had time to take a deeper look at pixel art this way, so I’ll try it right now with level design. Here, then, are some levels from various games that stand out to me for whatever reason; the feelings they evoke when I think about them; and my best effort at unearthing some design principles from those feelings.

[dev] Weekly roundup: Breath of the Tired

I may have spoken too soon; I had some pretty sleepy nights this week. Oh, well. The slow march of progress continued nonetheless. Also I played Zelda a lot.

  • potluck: I built a few little mechanisms: platforms, keys, switches, etc. I don’t have much game yet, but I’m putting off the bulk of it until GDQ week. Hope I can actually do this game justice in just a week! It’ll be a different kind of experience, since the art is set in stone and I already have an engine that can do most of what I want; I just have to build levels and story.

  • book: I churned out a good few thousand words, rewrote the introduction, and got rid of a ton of stuff from the old book concept. It’s actually presentable as a work in progress now! Nice.

  • veekun: I struggled with form ordering for quite a long time, but finally got it figured out, which is useful and important. Getting there. Also I had to yakshave my self-hosted git (which I use for ripped sprites), after an upgrade caused it to bitrot.

I did less than I would’ve liked, but I’ve still got some decent momentum on these three big things. Still feeling pretty good, and eagerly looking forward to having time free in July to mess around with art and work on fox flux.

[dev] Weekly roundup: Successful juggling

Despite flipping my sleep, as I seem to end up doing every month now, I’ve had a pretty solid week. We finally got our hands on a Switch, so I just played Zelda to stay up a ridiculously long time and restore my schedule pretty quickly.

  • potluck: I started building the potluck game in LÖVE, and it’s certainly come along much faster — I have map transitions, dialogue, and a couple moving platforms working. I still don’t quite know what this game is, but I’m starting to get some ideas.

    I also launched GAMES MADE QUICK??? 1½, a game jam for making a game while watching GDQ, instead of just plain watching GDQ. I intend to spend the week working on the potluck game, though I’m not sure whether I’ll finish it then.

  • fox flux: I started planning out a more interesting overworld and doodled a couple relevant tiles. Terrain is still hard. Also some more player frames.

  • art: I finally finished a glorious new banner, which now hangs proudly above my Twitter and Patreon. I did a bedtime slate doodle. I made and animated a low-poly Yoshi. I sketched Styx based on a photo.

    I keep wishing I have time to dedicate to painting experiments, but I guess this is pretty good output.

  • veekun: Wow! I touched veekun on three separate occasions. I have basic item data actually physically dumping now, I fixed some stuff with Pokémon, and I got evolutions working. Progress! Getting there! So close!

  • blog: Per request, I wrote about digital painting software, though it was hampered slightly by the fact that most of it doesn’t run on my operating system.

I seem to be maintaining tangible momentum on multiple big projects, which is fantastic. And there’s still 40% of the month left! I’m feeling pretty good about where I’m standing; if I can get potluck and veekun done soon, that’ll be a medium and a VERY LARGE weight off my shoulders.

[blog] Digital painter rundown

Another patron post! IndustrialRobot asks:

You should totally write about drawing/image manipulation programs! (Inspired by https://eev.ee/blog/2015/05/31/text-editor-rundown/)

This is a little trickier than a text editor comparison — while most text editors are cross-platform, quite a few digital art programs are not. So I’m effectively unable to even try a decent chunk of the offerings. I’m also still a relatively new artist, and image editors are much harder to briefly compare than text editors…

Right, now that your expectations have been suitably lowered:

[dev] Weekly roundup: Potpourri

  • potluck: It’s about time I actually started on this! I spent a couple days squabbling with JavaScript frameworks, but in the end I gave up and decided to just build it on my existing LÖVE code. Trying out a new thing is nice, but maybe not when I have a somewhat complicated game in mind that I want to build as soon as possible.

  • fox flux: I made a font! Also drew a ton of player sprites and made my grass much prettier. I’m going to need to start thinking about environmental art soon, and I’m kinda dreading it because I have no idea what I’m doing there.

  • art: I did some (unfinished) modelling and painted some character art (warning: this pic is fine, but the rest of the account is NSFW).

  • blog: I wrote some thoughts about teaching technical subjects.

For the first time in possibly my entire life, I feel like I’m a little ahead of the game! The month isn’t even half over and I’ve already done some obligatory stuff, finished off one languishing task, and made some decent inroads into several other things. Nice.

[blog] Teaching tech

A sponsored post from an anonymous patron:

I would kinda like to hear about any thoughts you have on technical teaching or technical writing. Pedagogy is something I care about. But I don’t know how much you do, so feel free to ignore this suggestion :)

Good news: I care enough that I’m trying to write a sorta-kinda-teaching book!

Ironically, one of the biggest problems I’ve had with writing the introduction to that book is that I keep accidentally rambling on for pages about problems and difficulties with teaching technical subjects. So maybe this is a good chance to get it out of my system.