DEVLOG #44 – Tuning Up The Game

Hello everyone,

It is me, the one and only Amethyst !!!

It has been an exhausting month in Ascender team, I can’t believe It’s my time already to write the blog.

I want to share how we play test our game. After we talked to fellow developers, many of them suggested to us to hire testers. I believe that it is the best path if you have the opportunity and most important thing is “money”.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the budget to hire professional testers. One important aspect of testing aside of testing bug is the experience of the game itself. Our artist has been in the task of finding a bug while programmers are fixing and adding more content.

Tester :D
Tester 😀

But only having internal tester will not give an effective result of our testing. We are recruiting our friends in order to test our game. We also go to various events in order to get feedback. We would like to hear more of their experience playing the game rather than just help us finding the bugs.

Where is the metal?
Where is the metal?

There are some design flaws that has been found. Some can be easily fixed while others need to redesign the gameplay flow. One of the flaws in the game flow is a task called “Sharpened Metals”. We are given an objective to find two item called Sharpened Metal, we put it in a specific area in MUSTANG. In the story, we have created an event where a player needs to go to MUSTANG and trapped there.

How do I know that the metal is down there?
How do I know that the metal is down there?

Unfortunately, all player can open access back to DOLOPO and they don’t need to have the Sharpened Metals. It probably fine, but it resulting in a huge confusion to players where they don’t know the metal looks like. There is also no more hint of the metal including where to find it. We finally put more hint about the Sharpened Metals in the game and make it clearer for the player on how to get it.

That is only one example of many improvements made in the game design. Hopefully, we can improve the quality of the game better and make the game flow more enjoyable.

Best Regards,

Amethyst

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DEVLOG #43 – Credit Title

Hi Ascenderian, Fire here..

Ascender began entering the finishing stage. In this stage, there are polishing process and put some additional object to the game. Amber, the art director told me to make the credits title by using the concept of Ascender. So, the concept of this credit title is illustrated by showing the camera moving from bottom to top, showing the background that is used as an in game stages.

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The name of the stage are Rajumla, Helion, Mustang, Dolopo and Everest. There are a lot of NPC representing every stage and had a simple animation. The NPCs have many spreadsheet that wasting a lot of time to make and i must put it in after effects composition.In addition, Sky must be animated to jumping from text credit to the background platform.

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Sky character animation process is a little bit tricky because it must adjust spreadsheet from different layer and animations. Sometimes, I have to double checking the timing of each spreadsheet layer for smoothing the transitions.Stage also had changing several times. It caused by strange looking parts from the stage and it must be repaired.

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Unfortunately, the file does not have a Photoshop format so that the repair process is a bit time consuming. The credit title making process  is entering the finalization process, but I must wait for more people that will contribute in making this Ascender game. After that, I can finish it.

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That’s all from me, continue to support Ascender.

Cheers 🙂

DEVLOG #42 – Irritating Implementation of Platforming Predicament, Part V: The End, or Not

My goodness, there you are! You see, I’ve been buried in this pile of codes ever since the last devlog post, and I just barely have the chance to write this one!

Umm, where do I start? Oh well, I’m Chalcedony, and here is the 42nd entry for this devlog series. It might as well be my last chance to write, and hence the title. This will be the story of preparations towards the ending of this project.

Let’s start… Or not. Heheheh.

There is an interesting trivia about the number 42 to be the answer of life, universe, and everything. Others view it as death – the end. It’s up to you to interpret it your own way, but hopefully this entry, the 42nd, will provide you with some answers… Or not. Oh right, back to topic! Ending, from a coder’s perspective.

It is the time where every other members from the team flood you with their not-so-final creation. Yeah, nothing can ever be treated as final, as revisions pop out every day, hour, second, even millisecond.

Picted below is one in-game footage, after and before some lovely revisions… Or not.

airChange
The right one transforms into the left. Some rooms and corridors are generally widened for easier navigation.

Little changes are more often than not, jeopardize your code structure, if they are numerous and are done near the end of the development process. The addition of many if-elses is killing you. We have a couple of instances where some objects only appear at a specific time and place (and aren’t used in any other occasions). We have a dedicated folder containing local script object for those things, just to avoid massive lines of ifs.

localObjects.PNG
This cutesy folder of LocalObjects is home to nearly 100 scripts

Events that are tightly tied to time also serve as a genuine hassle when changes occurred. Mistimed jumps, stuck in closing door, you name it.

Ending sequence is constantly changing and therefore is a total time waster :(. The team made me swear not to post any spoilers here, so sorry, no more asking, and no, no screenshot nor gifs for you… Or not.

ending.gif
Watch it on your own risk.

Now you would think that, after applying all changes, we would just hit the build button, and everything should be okay… or not? Well, we still have to do the testing, assuring this game can run on most computers, et cetera. We have seen cases where people complained about this game crashing after the first screen. Weird, as it runs perfectly on our machines. This is one of the harder case of bugs, and sometimes we decide that sometimes, you just have to use a better computer for games.

typicalTestingScene.PNG
A typical testing scene.

Done checking (internally)! The next step is to distribute the executable to some secretly picked testers, for the final input for the game. We just need upload the game, and… Hey, look at the size! At the moment, our build is 2.56 GB, waaay above our expectations of how big this game should be. Zipping could reduce it to 357 MB though.

It is possible to check on what is bloating the size of your project in Unity. The editor log gives you a pointer in it. And in our case, guess what, the textures are totally dominating the build, by a whopping 97.0%!

Not all hope is lost, though. Unity also has the option to compress texture size – crunched texture the name. The upside is, crunching effectively drop the texture size to about 25% of its original size, with almost no noticeable loss of quality! The downside is, crunching takes a huuuge amount of time, and only textures with specific size could be crunched (must be 2^n or 100 * n, to be exact). And the worst part is, it is not even documented! It is recommended to write a script that selectively crunch your assets (you can do it manually, in exchange for your sanity), and let unity do its work while you party on… Or not.

crunching
Hold on, crunching may take up to a day or so.

Great! It’s finished and ready to be served! Or not. In reality, we are still struggling with constant changes, and haven’t reached this state yet. Hopefully this madness will soon reach its end! Yeah, that’s it, that’s all, guys! Tune in this channel weekly for more updates! See you around!

 

 

 

 
Still here? Okay… here’s some statistics as of 18th June.
– Build size: 2.56 GB.
– Project size: 13.8 GB
– script files in project: 400 items
– texture files in project: 5804 items
– audio files in project: 134 items
– script size in build : 1.0 MB (0.0%)
– texture size in build : 2521.6 MB (97.0%)
– audio size in build : 55.1 MB (2.1%)
Note that this will definitely change in the released version… Or not. Heheheh.

ProjectSize
The size of the project.

I’m outta here – Chalcedony

DEVLOG #41 – Trailer Designer!

Long time no see… Hi Ascenderians, Citrine here.­­­­­

As a Sound Designer, I’ll tell you that the sound designing progress on Ascender is almost done. I just have to make some sound effect for ending scene & retouch background music for ending to the credit title. But, over the development process, sometimes the programmer still give me some input related the audio. Because he is the one who plays Ascender every day on his Unity project, so I think he would understand if there something are less cool both in terms of art or audio.

Here some of my todo list :

  • Ending scene
  • Camera moving up
  • Glow SFX
  • Ocean walking, jump & land
  • Ocean transform
  • Charging SFX
  • Audio ending transition

So,  while completing some audio work, Rubi The Producer told me to make a trailer for Ascender. From sound designer to be trailer maker, hmm, Trailer Designer! lol. Well, to be honest, I was not too great in terms of making a trailer but I’ll try my best. 😀

This time, I’ll make a different trailer from the previous one that I made for Steam Greenlight trailer. The previous trailer is telling more about the arrival of Ocean to the GOA civilization. While the new trailer, I would emphasize to the friendship between Ocean and Sky,  so we can understand the motivation of why Sky want to fight for Ocean. Here is my draft for ‘brand new’ trailer.

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Less obvious? lol, it’s just little sneak peak for Ascender’s Trailer. I’m still working on it probably until next week or the end of June. Asap.

Sorry gtg I have to finish this ‘hopefully awesome’ trailer.

Citrine out. 😀

 

nb: Thanks to Moldovite has given me the idea for this trailer & help me make a draft.

DEVLOG #40 – Everest: The Root

Hi Ascenderians, this time, moldovite is back!! In this blog, I will tell you about Everest.

Everest is one of many districts in GOA’s civilization, it is not a mountain nor a city. Everest is a massive sacred root and becomes the center of religious activities.

So why it so special?

Citizen of GOA thinks that the root is the path to the heaven. It is a sacred bridge that connects the world below to above. Because of that, many people in goa begun to come to Everest to pray for health and success to the almighty.

Just like many focus grounds before, we start it with a sketch before we went digital. For Everest, Amber (the art director) make a sketch like this

And because Everest is the root that connects the two world, it surely has something magical and mystic that make Everest different from other roots. After a lot of discussions, we choose purple and violet for the color of the tree and the surrounding. The color is chosen because they represent the color of magic. mystic and fantasy.

Here is the digitalization of the sketch earlier

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Ta daaa…… The Everest! The root of God!! 🙂

If you look in detail, you will notice that there is a minor change with stair in the upper left, this case happen sometimes, for the sake of game design sometimes we must chop off the art, and adjust it. I think it’s not bad. And like civil war quote “sometimes we need to lose the small battles in order to win the war” so it doesn’t mind me at all.

And that will be our end of this session, let me say my goodbye to you…

Moldovite sign out.

DEVLOG #39 – GameDevs Story Literally

Hi, Ascenderians! Garnet’s here!

Well, right now Ascender almost reach the finish line, but we are still in the pit stop of a few laps to go. Polishing time before the checkered flag waved! So, I have to make my mouth shut to prevent anything spoiled. I want to share my checklist to you at this moment, the big parts before wrapping up:

  • Simplifying some dialogues
  • Grammar checks and corrections
  • Make ups some generic NPC’s Dialogues
  • Detailing the ending with artists and programmers

There’s more things has been done in past weeks. I feel so lucky that I can attend the Casual Connect event in Singapore from 17 – 19 May 2016. I have a chit chat with some story writers and learn some lessons from the story gurus. I’ve met this guy, Scott Chen, the story writer of OPUS : The Day We Found Earth, story driven telescope simulator-like game. He’s fantastic! He shared that the power of his game is the story and the gameplay authenticity. So, I asked him if he had the same struggle that I had as writer, and he’s not denying it neither agree with it, he is quite confident with his English and story concept. Lesson learned : Proof reading and dialogue fixing is one thing but having a confident in your writing is more important. His work is picked by Google Play Store as Editor’s Choice under the name of Team Signal, studio game based in Taiwan.

In addition, I saw another amazing story-based game called DĂ©sirĂ©, black and white point and click adventure from France developed by Sylvain Seccia. Best Game Narrative in Indie Prize Showcase! I heard his accent and his speech when receiving the award, his not so fluent in English, I think, but still, he won! So, lesson learned : even English isn’t your first language, but go for it! You still can make the best story! No need to worry so much about it!

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Best Game Narrative in Indie Prize Asia 2016

It’s been a quite remarkable story writer experience for me attending the Casual Connect Asia 2016. Last week, I also met one guy, Cipto Adiguno, the brain behind story in Celestian Tales: Old North, a classic JRPG from Indonesia who awarded as Best Game Narrative and Game of The Year in Game Developer Gathering Indonesia 2015. He’s so humble and we have quite long chit chat about being story writer and struggle delivering a lot of quests and dialogues. Lesson learned : If you find a publisher from US or UK, surely they will help you with narrative issues, but mostly you can make it in low priority because it takes a lot of effort if the number of narrative texts reach thousands. He said that player will understand what you want to deliver if you have a good basic in English.

No need to be so worry about that, visualization and gameplay  is the most important part, you just have to make sure the story is firmed. I’m quite agree with this as in this article said “Realizing that 95% of people won’t remember a thing you’ve written a week after playing……………. They won’t do any of the sidequests, they won’t read any of the lore, they won’t care about any of the time you spent trying to make sure.  And that’s okay.” With all these things connected, my confident is boosting up, as a newbie in game writing world, I feel proud that I can give my idea and writings in Ascender and become part of GameChanger as story writer. When I received the news about we won Best Game Narrative 2016 in Indie Game Festival Indonesia, I feel like “Really? How’s that possible? With all those grammatical errors?”, now I’m assured that I just need to continue polishing Ascender’s narrative parts and never stop learning to write an amazing game story from experienced one. Side Project: Read all those Warcraft’s tales (my book still being captive by Ruby anyway) and start to write Ascender’s  book.

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Best Game Narrative in Indie Game Festival Indonesia 2016

Garnet is signing out from GameChanger Team Headquarter!

 

DEVLOG #38 – Great memories of Casual Connect Asia 2016

Dear Ascenderians,

Packed !!!
Packed !!!

As you probably know from our Facebook page, Ascender has been selected as one of the exhibitor of IndiePrize on Casual Connect Asia in Singapore. We are so happy to show our game from 17 to 19 May 2016.

Ready for flight
Ready for flight

Two member of GameChanger team who went to the event is me, Amethyst, and Garnet. I go earlier on 16 May 2016 in order to attend the badge pick up party but my flight is delayed so I miss the party T_T. The crazy thing is that I am in the same flight with fellow Indonesia’s developer mr. wira and mr. hendrick from Anoman studio who also went to Casual Connect. At the hotel I also met Szymon and Artur from Bulbware who have developed Bulb Boy. We have a long chat and share our experience on developing and publishing game.

Eat and Chat
Eat and Chat

The next day on Tuesday, I go into the event with a provided shuttle bus. I think it is a huge improvement from the previous Casual Connect that I attend two years ago (even though the bus is late). I got excited and have a chat with fellow developers at the hostel I sleep in from Indonesia (Mr. Wim from Agate) and abroad. When I arrived at the event, I realized that everybody else is there and  the shot has started. One noticeable difference when I come to the event two years ago is the quality of the game. The games are awesome and amazing !!!! I am so proud to be part of them.

Ascender !!! Woooott!!!
Ascender !!! Woooott!!!

Garnet arrived on Tuesday night and we proceed to the party. We met with a lot of people from advertisers to publishers. We bring a press kit just in case if we met with the press. We got the idea from fellow developer in Indonesia Kris Antoni of TOGE Productions. you can read more detail here (Its in Bahasa Indonesia). It proof to be quite useful, we are not only using it for the press but also give it to potential partner and also friends in order to have feedback about Ascender.

Presskit
Presskit

After three full days, Garnet and me is exhausted >.< We are happy to some of the things we got from Casual Connect. We met many people who have given us many suggestion on improving both our development and publishing preparations. We also met with many great Indonesia game developer such as Mojiken, Niji, Joyseed GameTribe, Agate and many more. We all input and meetings that we had will help us to help perfected Ascender and market it World Wide 🙂

See you all on my next post!!!

Best Regards,

Amethyst