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Story-writing [JDB]

Making Of / 12 April 2021

I've written this specific blog post a few times and it always ends up in the draft limbo or bin. Writing the story is probably simultaneously the best and worst part of making this game. I've really enjoyed writing since I was quite young but this is probably the biggest single piece I've done. I've also never gotten such a big "imposter syndrome" as I have when writing the story. I'm getting a little bit more comfortable now, though.

I've been using Plottr mostly, there are a bunch of different writing softwares and it might feel impossible to choose just one but Plottr is probably my favorite. It's not overly complicated but lets you keep track of all the characters and branching storylines. I've also been taking writing courses because I feel like I need help. I'm also reading books that directly and indirectly influence my writing so all of that takes a bunch of my time, I mean everything from Moby Dick to Japanese death poems. I occasionally do art for the game since it's a pretty great way of taking a break from writing, as you can see above!

Essentially, about the story in a nutshell: the water has risen to the point of making Earth largely inhabitable. Most people either died in the floods or were relocated to other planets that were terraformed over a long period of time. People on these planets don't really believe anyone is still out there on Earth but a small amount of resilient people have made their home on the sea. I don't want to say how and why *you* specifically stayed behind, that's for you to discover later!

For a long time I wasn't entirely sure about the world I was building but with some adjustments I feel like I'm on the right path. 

I've also started making new walking sprites for the new player character design, I might've mentioned it in an earlier post. 

It's still a work in progress, I have to work on the readability a little on the sideview before I can make the animation. And I did think that you will have a big raven friend buddy to help with certain areas!

But yeah, writing about writing is difficult. I'll try and work on some practical code stuff so I'd always have updates.

Hope you enjoyed your Easter and weekend!



Hub planning & Blocking out Boneyard [JDB]

Making Of / 26 March 2021

My initial idea for the world is that we are in the future where the majority of the surface of the planet is flooded and civilization has been slowly creeping up mountains and elevated spots of the Earth where the water has not *yet* reached. There was something very eerie about not only having the uncharted depths of the ocean underneath you, but entire cities hidden under the surface of the sea. People are forced to these small pockets of lands and there's not much left of modern comforts but people do want and need someone to retrieve food, valuables and useful materials from the sunken cities below. That's where you come in, diver! But you're gonna need a place to buy and sell things you find. 

Okay so let me unpack this chaos a little bit. My fast handwriting is somehow more legible than my proper one, oh boy.

So this dumpy map is essentially a little blueprint for the structure of the place where the player can sell stuff, get quests, interact with others and generally look at all the remnants of civilization and the little that is left of the life as we once knew it and try not to have an existential meltdown

Anyway, I've tried to look at how other games have done this hub town structure and apply it in my own map. This includes:

  • Paths that don't lead to a useless dead-end.
  • All the most important shops and utility points are nearest to the center, lessening the "running back and forth" annoyance.
  • Naturally leading to points of interest (Boneyard, Lighthouse on the ends of the main road).
  • Low, medium, high set structures to help with houses not obscuring too much of the scenery behind them, so north = more elevated. Works well in a setting where people are forced to live on mountains.
  • Naturally blocking off areas that are inaccessible (AKA no inexplicable invisible walls).

I initially thought to have the whale bones sort of in the middle of the town on the right but I ended up making that specific part accessible from the left side of the map as a separate area. It just felt right! I've also realized that, while it's fun to make, it certainly will take a lot of time to finish this hub town since I ended up making the player sprite, and as a result, the environment, much bigger than my initial 32x32 pixel sprite. Oops... I feel like it's right, though. It's more work but it feels like a good amount of detail when I paint.

Here's a part of the boneyard. I like making some rough shapes with a big brush and erase it down to something closer to what I was imagining. In the blocking phase it certainly doesn't need to be detailed at all, like making the grass on the bones was too much:

I just like painting organic stuff, okay!

But I figured the winding skeleton would be a nice way to organically block off the rest of the area, like I mentioned above. 

I'll keep working on this Big Boi Boneyard and I'll probably throw in some new character animating since it would be nice to walk around here. I'll keep you guys updated!

Now I just realized the tiny bone at the end that's half-buried kinda looks like a tiny head. Maybe it is? Maybe the player has a tiny head inside the helmet? Find out in the demo.

Have a great weekend!


Design and Code [JDB]

Making Of / 21 March 2021

Oh hey, it's been a little bit of time since my last post! Mostly due to sickness I've been having to skip some days of working on my own things and instead taking care of myself. At this point, when it comes to code, I've been working on collisions that determine which parts of the map the player can and can't pass through. 

They're currently ugly red blocks but they function! I've also set up the main menu but it's kind of a functionless shell at the moment.

The more I looked at my true top view character (much like in Darkwood, for example), I was thinking that maybe I want to go with top down after all, as it allows for a better view of the environments and town that I was planning.

Overall the change isn't particularly big, as I have set up the code in a way that I won't break stuff when switching things around since pretty much everything is a placeholder right now, as much as I wanna fight that thought. 

So that's where that new character design in the beginning came from, I'm kind of happy with it but it's not yet final. And using my current top view guy for now in testing the build.

I largerly decided to go for that top down as I am putting together a map of the hub town where the player spends most of his/her time, which is possibly my next update. It's been really fun so far but I'm trying to keep everything together and coherent. Code is very straight-forward but when it comes to design I have an issue of just overthinking things and tweaking them ad nauseum. Putting things down as a blog really helps me keep it together. 

A video series would be best but I think I need more courage to do that. Maybe one day. 

Hope you had a great weekend.


Janet's Dev Blog

Making Of / 02 March 2021

Did you know that over 80% of the ocean is still unexplored?

Howdy! I used to have a developer blog on a now defunct website and I feel like I need one to keep my thoughts organised without bombarding Twitter. 

Let's recap a little:

A while ago I had an idea for an underwater pixel horror game. I originally worked on it with Construct 3 but decided to give GameMaker Studio 2 a try. I decided I maybe want to go for that though I found that the visual coding in Construct was really neat. Having tried C3 and then GMS2, I liked GML! I figured coding was inescapable for some aspects so why not stick with something quite similar to C# rather than JS (the alternative language for Construct).

In this time I've also 

  • done a jam game
  • Ideated and made a base for a weird comedic visual novel
  • Spent too much time and money on WH40K
  • Dabbled in game music
  • Played all the games that could give me inspiration
  • Played all the other games in my backlog just because they're great
  • Somehow tried to work a 9-5 every day minus Fridays, which is the day I can do all those things.

So now I'm trying my best to convert what I did from Construct 3 to GMS2, it's not very difficult since I didn't get super far, a lot of the work I did stayed in the planning phase. My biggest obstacle was setting aside my need for everything to perfect because dang it, it just can't be at this point. The art is all gonna be a bunch of placeholders and there is always room to make things better later. I've gotten better dealing with the mental blocks. 

Okay, now that you are all caught up, I'll try to put a post up every weekend, since that is where I do most of my work. Currently I'm doing some test environments and I'm kind of excited to try how the fog of war and cone of light would work in GMS to make the atmosphere spooky. 

That's it, thank you for reading!