Greetings fellow adventurers!
Two weeks has passed since our last developer diary – usually that means our hero game developer is hard at work, coding up a storm and too busy to write on the blog. Indeed I’ve been busy – but alas, not on the game. All of a sudden I’ve been swarmed with freelance work, making patches and updates for other games and general housekeeping and so Everyone Gets Treasure has suffered – and at the worst possible time. When last we spoke, I was in the midst of designing the main game’s user interface and buttons.
UI is a tough proposition to get right at the best of times. You want your game to look uncluttered and approachable, but you also want to have plenty of options for your characters to choose from. Every few nights, when I had some time to work on the game, I would try to tackle the UI. Every time, something would go wrong – it got too busy, it felt anti-intuitive, it worked well on the desktop but not on the mobile. And so on. So I’d give up, ALT-TAB out of FlashDevelop (my coding program) and give in to what I call the Dragon of Distraction.
Alright, so this being a blog about fantasy role-playing-games, a dragon is a great (if cliched) metaphor – but I’ve no doubt everyone who’s had a desk job would be familiar with the Dragon of Distraction. You can constantly hear the beating of mighty wings in the distance. You’ll be struggling with a spreadsheet or unfinished report, and the dragon appears. I call it a dragon because it’s an absolute beast to combat. If you have access to the internet, you have access to a world of things just waiting to distract you. One minute you’re coding, the next you’re on Reddit looking at . Or reading tweets from your more productive peers in the game development community. ( And wow, there are a lot of very talented men and women out there making games right now. The bar has been set so high. )
Even this blog is a distraction of thoughts. It’s time consuming, though rewarding I think. It’s the best chance I have to engage with fans of the game, to create a bit of buzz about it long before it comes out. Marketing is hard and if you start it when the game launches, it’s far too late. I’ve learnt this the hard way on previous games and this time I’ve been determined to start a dialogue with the community from the very beginning. So , I appreciate any and all of your feedback, either here or on Twitter – I answer just about every tweet I can. I find it really motivating when people comment on the progress of the game.
Anyway, the Dragon of Distraction has been far too prevalent lately, particularly because I’m working on a section of the game that I don’t like. The problem here is that you’re frustrated, so you get distracted. You get distracted, time is lost. You come back to the game and nothing has changed. I’ve written in the past how going for a walk or stepping away from the computer can really inspire you and solve problems – this is totally true. Going on YouTube, checking your tweets or generally mucking about on the Internet, however, does not solve anything. The only solution for me was to actually unplug the router for a little while and focus on what the problem was. Turns out it was something relatively minor – I was overcomplicating the UI. Removing a big chunk of code and redoing it might sound like a lot of work, but for me that’s what needed to be done – and the new UI system is working well.
I’ve gone with a context sensitive ‘dynamic menu’ that appears above the character who’s turn it currently is – but only after you actually click on that character. The motivation for this? In playtesting, I’ve come to the conclusion that 80% of the time, players want to go with a standard “attack” – so by default, you click on a monster, your hero will attack them. If you want to do something else ( swap characters, quaff a potion, use a spell ), you simply tap on your character and you’ll see a context sensitive menu of options specific to your character.
For a visual demo of this, check out this animated gif of a very basic battle between the party and some Sagan Blobs.
As the various characters learn new abilities and spells, more options will appear in this UI. You also have the option to drag from your character to the monster to attack – which actually works pretty well.
So what else is new with Everyone Gets Treasure? Here’s a list of what I’ve done ( aside from idling away the hours on Reddit! ) the last few weeks:
- Characters and enemies have health bars now. They’re fully animated – when you’re hit, they tween to show much damage was taken, and also colour change from green to orange to red as you take more damage.
- Four of the six characters have been rendered fully – the Knight, Barbarian, Mage and Archer all have a standing pose and 5 colour variations. We’ve made them ethnically diverse in terms of skin and hair colours too.
- The Rogue and Cleric are still in sketch form but should be up by next week’s update so I can show off all six characters. Very excited about this
- Three skills have been built so far: A basic “Attack”, “Swap Character”, “Wait” that every character has. I’m about to start work on the “Area of Effect” spells such as fireballs which target multiple enemies
- Enemies have basic Artificial Intelligence – this will be fleshed out further into development. At the moment their choice is totally random, but soon they will react to attack injured characters or those they consider a threat
Here’s the rendered Knight clad in yellow armour.
That’s it for today. I’ve got some more freelance work coming up this month but I’ll try and keep developing a little every day. Even a few lines of code a day moves things forward. Before month’s end I hope to have an early gameplay video uploaded.
Cheers, happy journeys!