Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Blood Ship: Day 46

About a week ago I broke the bomb ability. The problem was dumb and the solution was even dumber, but it's surprising I'm over a month in and that's one of the more serious issues I've had. I can only think of two or three other times I wanted to rip my hair out by the fistful. (These kinds of problems seemed to plague my last game attempt on a daily basis.)

As I've said in previous posts, I've been circling and circling around the imperfect stuff, improving instead of building new stuff. I think the time to branch out to new stuff is almost here. I'm thinking proper stages, new bosses, etc. I'd like to make a browser version, too, so people can try the randomly generated mode before downloading the complete desktop version.

I'm kind of shocked I'm 46 days into this. It seems like last week when I started this blog on day 12. I would have hoped to be further along at this point, but I'm not disappointed with the progress, either. This has been more of a learning experience than anything else.

(Sonic Mania isn't coming out today after all, but that's probably a good thing for the sake of productivity. My day job is unusually demanding this week.)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Blood Ship: Day 39

Boob physics, anyone?

Looks like I'm using Toon Boom Harmony for my animations. I've tried most of the competing programs, and I resisted this one because I hate subscription models, but I fell in love with it minutes after beginning the trial. Super smooth, super intuitive (I haven't even looked at the instructions yet), and the subscription thing's not nearly as egregious as Adobe's subscription models.

Today's the first time I felt unmotivated to work on the game. I'm tired and I just want to play Slime Rancher, which is probably the biggest threat to my productivity since I started this whole thing. (I imagine next week's Sonic Mania will be the next big threat.) I managed to get some stuff done, but I'm probably going to bed at a somewhat decent hour tonight.

Visually, there's nothing terribly new in the game other than some of the effects, but it feels a lot tighter than it did last week. I'm currently fixing the stuff that was handled sloppily during my push to get a working prototype as soon as possible.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Blood Ship: Day 32

I'm 99.9% settled on an art style now. I'm 49.9% sure I can pull it off. I still haven't finalized a workflow from sketch to game. I'm bouncing between a lot of animation programs again, trying to find the one which suits my style the most. This is more frustrating than it sounds.

Two problems this week: sometimes the wave generator doesn't shut off when the boss appears and, even rarer, the player's projectiles impact on something which doesn't seem to exist. I'm still in "ignore it and hope it fixes itself" denial, but that's kind of like just driving a car until the check engine light burns out.

I've been studying a lot of other shoot-'em-ups and paying attention to the little details which contribute to the way the game feels. I want to nail the feeling of what I've got before adding any more new stuff. I want to get the artwork a helluva lot closer to the goalpost, too (as you can see above, it ain't even close). The problem is I have the best ideas for new stuff when I make it a point not to add new stuff.

Here's my end-of-month budget report:

$18.99 Gamemaker (purchased during last year's Humble Bundle sale)
$14.99 Aseprite (already owned it, but haven't used it in earnest until now)
$0.99 A bullet-hell script (which may not make it to the final version)
$69.00 Spine (also may not make it to the final version)
$5.00 Some generic laser sounds (almost definitely won't make it to the final version)

$108.97. Not bad, I'd say.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Blood Ship: Day 28

Placeholder sound is in and I've been tweaking it the last couple of days. I now have generic laser sounds and bullet-impacts, as well as dynamic boss music. I don't plan on leaving any of these sounds in the final game, but it's amazing how much more fun it is now.

Endless mode is completely functional at the moment... you can play it forever (if you're good enough). Although there's currently one boss, he gets tougher each time you face him. To give you an idea of the difficulty: I've beaten the boss twice in a single game, but not three yet.

For the next few days I'll probably be adjusting what I have rather than adding anything new. I have a little over two pages of notes I want to address, so there might not be a whole lot to report for a while.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Blood Ship: Day 25

early draft of a boss fight... it needs a lot of tweaking

I played around a lot with Adobe Flash in my late teens or early twenties (whenever Newgrounds was friggin' huge), but I never really liked the look of what I could do with it. I think those preconceived notions of tweening software are why I was so reluctant to delve into Spine, but I'm happy to say I'm over it. Spine is fantastic.

The problem is I kind of feel like I'm going to break Gamemaker every time I import a Spine animation into it. Its Spine support leaves a lot to be desired, so much so I'm not sure it's entirely worth upgrading to the Pro Edition of Spine yet. Maybe I'll check out the unofficial runtimes and see if that improves things, but I'm being lazy on that front. I just have a feeling if I were to do it all over again, I would do it again with Spine, but not GM. I guess it depends on how well the competitors integrate these types of animations, which I haven't read up on yet.

Yesterday I played around with backgrounds for a few hours. The test failed spectacularly. I had a generic cityscape going by in the background and there was no middle ground between "too slow" and "so fast I'm going to puke." (I'm not exaggerating... I've never had a game give me motion sickness and crossed eyes the way my own did.) I assumed I could quickly slap some backgrounds together for testing, but it's clear the backgrounds affect the way the game feels more than I expected.

On the bright side of things, I think I'm zeroing in on an artstyle. The mere thought of it no longer fills me with dread.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Blood Ship: Day 23

Looks shitty in gif form, but you get the idea. (This build is actually from a few days ago, so some of the old placeholder art is shown.) You can see the bar on the left, which powers the blood laser once it's filled. (Why is the blood laser blue? I don't know. I'll change it later.) You can see the slot machine mechanism in the lower left hand corner, which is initiated by collecting a power-up. When the bomb is used, the central slot rolls over again, giving you a chance to win an additional bomb or a forward quad-shot. The game itself runs at 60fps, but the laser animation isn't reading well in the gif, which is less than 30fps.

Right now the player's collision is set to the entire ship, but the final version will probably have bullet-grazing collision; only direct hits on the cockpit canopy will register as a hit. Sometimes I turn this feature on when I'm testing, but it makes collecting blood and power-ups difficult. I'm going to have to figure out how to make two hitboxes, one for collecting and one for detecting enemy collisions. The only problem I foresee is animating the ship banking when it changes direction. When it banks away from the camera, the cockpit will be obscured, so I'm not sure how that's going to work.

So I'm trying out Spine after all. I got the Essential version. I'll decide later if I want the Pro edition... after a few more paychecks, anyway.

I plan on deciding on an art style by the end of the week. This means I'll be doing what I've been doing the last couple of days: just playing around with different art programs and workflows. Maybe I'll finally settle on a color scheme, too, but that's pushing it. So far, I've hit every goal I've set for myself, but the art is tricky for me. Yesterday, I procrastinated for the first time since I've started this project.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Blood Ship: Day 21

All the old placeholder art is gone. Behold some of the new placeholder art:

Other than explosions, weapon effects, the starry background, and the current player ship, there are no colors in the game. Colors come later because I have a hard time choosing palettes that don't rub me the wrong way. I'm still trying to figure out the art style, such as how goofy and/or cartoonish I want to get. Evil Dead 2 levels of goofiness feel just right, but it's surprisingly easy to step over that line. (Yesterday I created a creature clinging to the side of a missile, Slim Pickens style. I asked my girlfriend, "Too far?" Her answer was an emphatic yes.)

Even though the game looks janky, at least it's all me. It didn't feel right showing it to anyone with other people's sprites in it. This weekend I'll spend a little more time checking out Spine, but I'm also looking into cel shading since I already know my way around Blender... kind of. (In other words, I'm still not sure what this game is going to look like.) 

Tonight: drinks.