Friday, August 5, 2022

CUPdate 29: Spirits of Combination Village [Playable Game]

So for this CUPdate I get to present my final submission for the Indie Game Making Contest: Rebirth! A lot has gone into this since the last CUPdate and I haven't really documented it along the way, so my plan now is to go over my process using final screenshots instead.

You can play the final version of the game below:

I started out by working on the puzzles in the second stage of the game. I spent a lot of time making those functional and some of them were more complicated than others. I drew all of the character sprites and backgrounds to go with them as well.

Then I finalized all of the UI elements for all parts of the game. I even made some custom menus depending on which part of the game you're in.

And then I finally finished writing all of the other parts of the story, including Pamchan's route and the ending of the game.

And over the weekend I really worked on a lot of various things. I finally came up with a title for the game and made the title screen and credits.

Then I did a lot of bug testing. And I think I underestimated how long that would take. My brother played through it once, then Jinny played through it multiple times. They both gave me some good feedback to implement, and I kept finding little things that would be stopping points. I think I got most of them, but it was a stressful rush to the finish line Thursday night. I usually upload a web version of my games so it can have a larger audience, but this time around, it really wasn't working out. I had to remove a bunch of files to get the web version to even upload to without an error, and when I finally did, it had an error with the ink script almost immediately when starting the game. So I decided this one will be download-only!

So overall this was a really big experience. I had a lot of fun along the way but also I definitely wish I would've done things differently. For example, the first couple of weeks I didn't really work on my project, which left me with rushing a lot towards the end. I wish I would've had the extra week to properly bug test and make sure it was all uploaded at least a day before it was due. But I hopefully have learned from this and will try to improve that for next time!

Friday, July 22, 2022

CUPdate 28: Stage 1 of the IGMC Project Wrapping Up

So for this CUPdate, I mostly worked on my game more for the IGMC2022! I've been making a lot of progress on the first stage of the game and tried to get most of that finalized by this CUPdate so I could present as much of it as possible before it's finished (which is the goal for the next CUPdate!).

I started out this CUPdate by finishing some character art. I made digital drawings of all of the character portraits. I started with at least one drawing of each of them, then built off of that to make all of the expressions that I needed.

Then I started to work on the dialogue system. I set some things up in RPG Maker and set up the ink dialogue system. Then I wrote the whole first stage of the game (besides one character path). I made a bunch of branching story paths and wrote it all in Ink! This was my first time writing something this in-depth directly in Ink, so it was fun to fully utilize this powerful plugin. I really love it for longer story-focused games, so this was the perfect time for me to use it and test its full potential. I ended up writing a lot throughout the week (~3000 lines).

The transition from Ink to RPG Maker went fairly smoothly and it was honestly maybe my favorite part. It just felt so good seeing everything come together and working with more simple switches and variables to progress the story. I've been working so much on setting everything up with more complex code that I forgot what it was like to do the more simple parts! Those parts wouldn't have been possible without all of the setup I've been doing though, so it paid off!

Then I started to figure out the UI for all of the stages of the game. I used my initial concepts and added color to them so I could start to figure out what I wanted to do with them.

And then I finalized the UI and imported it into the game. Here's my first official final screenshot:

While working on the UI, I made the menu for the game. I wanted to keep it simple and really only include information that would be needed. Right now it's entirely mouse-based, but one of my wishlist tasks is to see if I can make controller/keyboard support too. Not sure if I'll get there, but maybe!

Then I worked on making some sound effects to replace some of the default ones. I plan to come back and make more, but there's at least something there for the minimums now!

And then I made the transition scenes to the second stage of the game. The writing for that is done and I have basic events working in RPG Maker, I just need to make the art so it all comes together. I'm having some trouble with plugins not working well together, so I'm trying to figure out what I want to do with the text boxes for the second stage of the game, since my original plan isn't working out as intended. I might end up using more manual coding of window positions than a plugin since I couldn't get them to work well together, or might just stick with something a little more simplified.

So for my next CUPdate post, I hope to have this game finished and playable!

Friday, July 8, 2022

CUPdate 27: Short Game Idea for IGMC

So for this CUPdate, I started to heal and had some extra time off, so I spent that time picking up some smaller projects. It's been so long since I've done much other than playing video games and watching anime, but I'm slowly trying to get back to it.

To start off, June was pretty rough, so I didn't draw much. This is all I've got for this digital sketchbook page and most of these were drawn earlier in the month. Hopefully next month I'll have a bit more!

Over the weekend, my brother and I spent some time writing the Baron Sisters Eventure. It was a pretty short one, but we didn't have a lot of time in the same day to write it, so it was broken up over the weekend whenever we were free. We ended up writing all of it though! And this is the one that leads up to Timer, so next time if we have more time, maybe we'll be able to write that one!

I spent a little bit of time recording sound files and editing those sound clips together for the Osyra Eventure also. I was kind of all over the place and was just trying out a bunch of different projects to see which one I was most in the mood for doing. Not a lot to show for this one, but you can listen to the sound file I did for Scott's post here.

Then I decided to do something crazy. To try and help myself get back into things, I decided that I'm gonna take on a small challenge. The Indie Game Making Contest just started, and I figured this would be a good chance to try and make a quick game for fun! The theme is rebirth and it's a contest centered around RPG Maker games, so I decided it would be a fun little challenge. I'm not planning to put a ton of time into it and maybe just spend each weekend this month working on something for it, but I thought it might help me, since I know I've been having trouble working on things recently.

So I started with an idea that I actually had a very vague idea for in my Game Project Ideas document. I honestly didn't have any specifics in there, and just kind of the structure and plot twist, so I'm not gonna give away what that is just yet. But last weekend I was thinking about some ideas and decided I want this game to be related to The Nays but not about The Nays. So it's gonna be about characters within the same universe, but they'll all mostly be new. Pamchan and Xing are the only two that might make an appearance, but they're not going to be a huge part of the game.

So I started to sketch out some ideas for a design of a character. I don't really know much about them other than they're a spirit/ghost-like person. So I just did some doodles for now until I figure more out.

Then I started to come up with ideas for the gameplay style. The first part of the game is going to be a visual novel, then it's going to still be an adventure/point-and-click styled game, but a little different. Originally I was thinking of including action RPG elements, but with the time I have, I don't know if I'll be able to make something that complex, so I'll likely just stick to the adventure gameplay style.

My plan is that as big story moments happen, the UI and gameplay style slightly changes. There are 3 main phases of the game, so I've concepted some ideas for what those might look like.

Then after doing some concepts and idea brainstorming, I started on the RPG Maker MZ project file. I mostly just got plugins in there that I wanted to use and made sure everything was compatible together that I would need. I also have just been brainstorming a bunch of ideas in Google Docs. I started to import some assets to get some of the functionality in there for menus and UI.

And then I concepted what the main character might look like. The blue ones are the ones I started leaning towards for her design. All I know at this point is that she's Pamchan's older cousin.

Then I started to design the fast travel system to move between scenes in the visual novel portion. I made these backgrounds as placeholders based on photos I took, but I have a feeling they're going to end up in the final game.

I spent this past week working on some character exploration sketches in my sketchbook so I could hang out in the living room with my roommate and watch TV while still working on something for my game. It was a really fun way to come up with designs and allowed me to be a lot more loose and experimental. I ended up spending more time on them too since I was multitasking. I started with the main character, who I think I'm gonna call Heidi. I haven't fully decided on her outfit, but I think I got her hairstyle and face down at least.

Then I figured out her childhood friend's design. I think I'm gonna call him Zane. Noah and Miles were other names I was thinking about for him. But his design came pretty quickly to me on the first go.

After that I made some quick sketch ideas for Heidi's mom. I'm gonna call her Lily. I only did a few iterations, but I think I'm planning to go with the left one.

And then I worked on the coworker friend. She took a few different design ideas until I landed on one that I was happy with. I think I'm gonna go with the name Faye for her. The design I'm going with is the one in the bottom of the second image.

Oh and while I was sketching, I decided to do a sketch of what Pamchan's kid self design looks like. She's gonna be around 8 years old during this game.

I started to implement UI and text into the game more. I'm working on spacing everything out and figuring out where windows go currently. I was able to find a word wrapping plugin after looking for awhile (since I can't use VisuStella's with one of the Galv message plugins I'm using). It was surprising how difficult it was to find such a basic and essential plugin! And while I was looking for plugins, I found a plugin that adds auto and skip buttons to your text, which is often found in a visual novel, so I've been playing around with those too. There's still some adjusting to do in terms of where things are located, but I have a basic mockup in there now. And I drew a colored drawing of Pamchan (using the sketchbook drawing as a base) to see how she would fit into the scene. I feel like she might blend in a little too much, so I might work on seeing how to make her stand out more from the background more. I might try making the outer outline a bit thicker or blurring the background, but we'll see.

So overall I made a lot of progress on the project over the weekend, but not so much during the week. It's definitely harder to work on these projects after a full day of work or going out and doing things, so I imagine I might need to scale my scope down a little if I wanna have something that's done in time. We'll see how things go with working on it this weekend though!

Friday, June 24, 2022

CUPdate 26: Return to Mr Marcus World [Version 5.0]

It's been 2 weeks already since the last CUPdate? I'll be honest, I didn't accomplish a lot since last time. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, I ended up having to get surgery on Monday so I've been trying to relax and recover from that, which means I'm not really dedicating time to being productive or working in the meantime.

And then other than that, there's just been a lot going on, and I'll be surprised if I accomplish much of anything until the end of the summer. I've been pretty overwhelmed by a lot of things, so on my nights and days off recently I've just been playing video games and trying not to worry about accomplishing a lot on my personal projects. So I did want to get that out there first.

So the first weekend after the last CUPdate was when the E3 events were streaming, so I was mostly just playing demos of new games and not working on my own projects. That was also throughout the next week, so I didn't really get started on this one until last weekend.

Last weekend my brother and I did a voice chat and instead of writing more of The Nays like we usually do, we decided to do a Nay Event. We used to do these all the time when we still lived together, but this was one of the first ones we did remotely over voice chat. One of our favorite Nay Events was the "Return to Mr Marcus World" event. In this event, The Nays will do various activities, and the scoring puts them up against 3 other teams where Allan and Ivan (the two Assistant World Leaders who say people's names weirdly) will give them grades based on which ones they like best. The teams are random and the order of Nays is random; there's a lot of randomness to this activity, so we make use of a lot. This time around I came up with a bunch of new activity ideas for them to do.

The first activity we did was to use the DALL-E AI generator to combine images based on The Nays' names, and then redraw one of them with the Nay in there. So Ralphie and Grenna were my first two up for this challenge. We also made the challenge of drawing in low resolution, with the mouse, and the Pencil tool.

(Drawings I did)

(Based on these images)

The next activity was an old one we did many times in the past. We'll go to the Twitch front page and find a random stream that's going on. From there, we use ScreenToGif to record whatever's going on, and then use the software to draw over the stream and add text to make up a story for them. I'm not going to post the GIFs here because that involves real people, so I'll just show some screenshots below to show a snapshot of these:

The next new activity was really fun! We had to create illustrations of The Nays but only using the Text tool in Photoshop. So every line you see below is actually a letter flipped and skewed to create these characters! It was a fun challenge and really got me thinking in different ways on how to shape characters. This ones who did these are Mar and Subeebia.

Another new activity this time around was a stop motion animation. I've been converting my old tapes into MP3s, so for this one, we were each assigned a sound file from an old tape. And from that, we had to create a stop motion animation that was 30 seconds to 1 minute long. We could use whatever toys and figures we found lying around for this, so I did one with characters


Then I redrew concept art from art books that I own but with The Nays replacing the characters in the scenes. The page number was decided by a random number generator. This first one is Jennie and Mahrio in the Inside Out world.

And then for the next one,  I redrew a concept piece of Fujin, Raijin, and Seifer, but replaced with my characters Amber, Shaw, and Scott instead. I referenced the Ultimania art book for this drawing.

And as a side note, I've recently been playing through FF8 again, but this was my first time playing through the HD Remaster fully. Also it was surprisingly only the second time I've actually beaten the game. I've played through it a lot until Disc 2, and a few more times to Disc 4, but only beaten it twice now. So it was a very fun experience and I honestly enjoyed it more than I ever did, which is saying a lot, considering it's my favorite game.

And as a bonus, I made a spreadsheet that we can use to track which Nays have already done which activities. We like to make sure no repeats happen, and since we keep doing this event more and more, it gets harder to track that over time. So I figured this would help us keep track!

And a quick side project I did was revisiting my AMVs and I decided to remake one that I made many years ago that had over a million views on YouTube. It was mostly popular for the song that I found, so I fixed up some of the timing and also used a higher-quality video from one of my DVDs. That's something I started this week and has just been a fun little side project.

So overall, I did end up with a few things to show for this time, even if most if it was off-topic and unrelated projects that I did for fun. I feel like these kinds of projects usually pull me out of times when I'm unmotivated though, so maybe something will come from this all for next time!

Friday, June 10, 2022

CUPdate 25: Eventure Writing & Cassette Tapes

We had a lot more time since the previous CUPdate, but also I've been having a hard time getting back into drawing often, so I've mostly been doing a lot of writing. Since the last CUPdate post, I wrote 2 Eventures, so I'd say that's pretty decent progress.

I started out this CUPdate by visiting my parents, where I picked up some of my old cassette tapes. It was very nostalgic! When I was a kid, I used to record my own "radio shows", opening theme songs for my made up TV shows, and more on those tapes. So I got a USB tape recorder that can convert those into mp3 files using Audacity. So I drew some sketches while listening to these tapes.

I had a slow transition back to working on my own personal projects when I got back because work was so hectic and taking up a lot of my time and energy. But since I took a few days off amongst the chaos, I did manage to get my mind off of things and write some Eventures. To get back into it, I first did a different approach for the Shinneas Eventure, which is now called the Sorceress Osyra Eventure. I started out by recording some sound files, which then inspired some story moments/planning of songs, and then I made The Nays make blog posts for each part that I had planned out. After that, I actually went back and wrote the Eventure, updated some blog posts, then I recorded some more final sound clips that I put on the blog. It was a fun and creative approach, which really helped me get back into things!

And then after creating the sound clips, I ended up writing the whole Sorceress Osyra Eventure on a day off. It was fun to have the blog post outlines for each of the scenes as I was writing.

After writing that Eventure, I spent a day writing the rest of the Sid Eventure with my brother! This was one that I started a few months ago and did parts with just The M Nays, then I had planned out the rest and we finished it off together.

Then the month of May ended so I finished another digital sketchbook page! This month was a little rough because I was so busy, so I honestly didn't draw every day, even traditionally. I'm trying to get back into it, but it's just a really draining time.

And then that's about it. There were some unexpected family things right before this CUPdate so I ended up spending a lot of my free time just playing games to just relax and take some time off. Work has also been super busy so like I said earlier, it's been a struggle to work on my own projects much these days. Days off outside of the normal weekend seem to be when I get most things done. Because things are so busy it's hard to take days off, but maybe some day I'll be less busy and able to get back to things. For now, not promising much for next time, but I hope to at least be able to get back into spending Sundays on working on projects.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

CUPdate 24: Eventure Statistics

Similar to last time, there's not a lot to show, but I have been reading a lot more Eventures recently, which has been making me feel more creative and in the mood for working on things relating to The Nays. I've still been super busy and burnt out from work so it's been hard to find a lot of time to work on things, but I'm slowly trying to stay motivated more often on weekday nights. Reading Eventures has been able to keep me relaxed and take my mind off of things at least.

To start off though, since the month of April ended, I started this CUPdate by finishing up my April digital sketchbook page. I ended up having a lot of days that I just sketched in my traditional sketchbook for this month, but I did spend a little bit more time at the end coloring some of the drawings I spent more time on. I was re-reading a lot of Eventures throughout that month, so I would sometimes sketch characters or scenes after reading or writing them.

Then my brother and I finally had a chance to meet for our delayed April Nay Day. And during that time, though it was a shorter time, we finished writing the Piko's Concert Eventure that we started a couple of months ago at this point. We woke up at 9am to write it on a Sunday, so I will admit I was kinda tired and not feeling the most creative, but I'm glad we finally found a time when we were both free to do it.

Since I've been reading a lot of Eventures lately, I decided to put together some stats in Notion so I could see how many words (and pages) we've written. So far with what I imported, we're at about 2,600 pages total and 1,090,000 words. I remember getting to around a million in the past, so looks like that's pretty accurate still.

And then some other fun facts relating to length from what I've read through so far (still have some that need copy edits which might slightly change things): The longest Eventure is Preliminary World Leader Exam at about 62,000 words, followed by Time Fabric Island (40,000), Truth of Yaguzi (31,000), Timer Afterwards (29,000), Tag World Wing School (28,000), World Leader Exam (25,000), War Over PS World (24,000), PS Amusement Park (24,000), Aiml World (21,000), Apple Cider (19,000), and Searching for Home (19,000). These ones are definitely some of the more memorable ones that were more in depth (with the exception of Tag World Wing School that just ended up probably being way longer than it needed to and was probably kinda filler that we could cut down on lol). I was surprised to see that Garlint was so high up there though since that's not usually one of the ones I think about when I think of the longer ones. Some of those Eventures in the top 10 aren't finished or need to be rewritten too, so those numbers are just going up.

So again, I've been super burnt out and it's been hard to work on much of anything. With summer coming up, I'm sure it'll be continuing to be this way for awhile too, but I am taking more time for myself at night to just read and doodle without any strict projects or anything. I hope I'll get back to projects like my Compass Nays game or storyboards for The Nays Twines again, but for now I'm just trying to make it through each day. No promises for next time, but hopefully I'll have at least another Eventure written since I know we're gonna have a lot more time before that meeting!