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misc updates

it's come to my attention that some people still read this and are awaiting updates! sorry, it's been too long. here are some quick updates:

- in preparation for saturated dreamers' release, i've been learning to paint watercolor for the cutscene illustrations. the cutscene illustrations and writing/editing the second draft of the dialogue (the first draft is done) are all that remain before release (also some playtesting/bug-fixing).

- i've also been working on the re-release of immortal defense on steam. it should be out on a few months.

for those who want updates more often, i tend to use facebook and twitter more often now:

https://www.facebook.com/paul.eres -- feel free to friend me if you want, but my posts are public there regardless
https://twitter.com/rinkuhero -- less used, but still more often used than my LJ
i'm going to report on non-editing game changes as i do them here, my main focus right now is on editing but when i make changes to the game's code/features i will report them here as per normal

- a week or so ago i added a long-requested feature by my playtester: the music now turns itself off when the game window isn't in focus. still requires some testing but it seems to work. this actually required tracking down a dll because game maker doesn't have the ability to test for this itself (at least in gm7/8; gm studio apparently has this feature now).
- today i changed the ares scripts so that they appear every third ares appearance rather than being spaced more widely apart. i also made it so that ares cannot be friended until all of them happen. and i made ares appear faster during hostile mode. this makes it much more likely that these scripts will actually be seen by the player.
- fixed an error in roar hotspot locations which put aphrodite's "roar" sound in the wrong place
- i wrote some extra details into the ares script as planned during the revision process
- fixed an error that was causing some of the ares scripts to not appear in the game at all; no wonder pandara-ra didn't see them
- coded a system for the new aphrodite-venus dream scripts that i have planned, and started writing one of them; they will appear after a purity stone is destroyed, but only once per room

giving myself three decimal / subtasks today, one for the aphrodite-venus code, another for the sound fade when the window isn't focused, and a third for the changes to the ares code/scripts

quick update on the SD writing process: things are going well. still working on improving the game's writing, story, and the wording of the dialogue. my cousin carrie eres (on lj her username is rebukes or something like that) is going to be helping me with this process.

i know that spending 2-3 months on revising a game's writing (not even just writing, but merely writing the final draft!) is probably almost unheard of for an indie game, but i want my story to be top-notch. not just 'a good story for a game', but something that could hold its own if it were e.g. a sci fi novel instead of a game. i couldn't bear to let people down after immortal defense's story was so well received. having a helper editor means that i don't have to devote myself full time to *just* the writing, it frees some time for other tasks, which i'll resume doing soon

i've also been working on redoing the studioeres, immortaldefense, and saturateddreamers site/host after a VPS donation from an online friend, ryan copley

Dec. 5th, 2013

- i have been revising  the SD script (well, reading it and writing down revision notes that i'll edit into the files at the end of the process) roughly at a pace of 10 pages per day. this is slower than i'd like, but it's steady. there are about 15-25 changes per page that i write down; mostly having to do with minor issues of wording, but occasionally larger changes.

-i also realized (through reading another e-book on revising stories) the "villain" of SD does not have a very strong presence currently; she appears at the end, too suddenly, and has no dialogue at all during the rest of the game. that isn't typically a good idea, so i've devised a plan to bring her into the story earlier, although this will require writing a new set of scripts. i just don't want it to be another ultimecia (the villain of ff8 which just suddenly appeared at the end). this is complicated by the particularities of SD's story and who the villain actually is, but i think i have a good idea of how it could work.

- there are a few other things that will require writing some new material, but not as much as the above. (warning, minor story spoilers ahead). for example, when venus leaves the party at the duck blind, the loss doesn't seem to be that strongly felt by mercedes (or the player); i need to increase that sense of loss more somehow (i have some ideas, but it'd require some time to figure out). i also want to add an epilogue to the best ending, to give it more substance and more of a reward than the other endings have. i also want to expand the theo (dream mode) dialogue a bit; they tend to be a bit terse, and it's also a good place to improve the conflict between theo and neotheo.

- i also want to add some new features into the code, related to the game's script. i want a dialogue review option (a way to "re-play" old dialogue, once the player has seen it). nothing fancy or ornate, just a way to do it, in case the player wants to go back and review something. it shouldn't be too hard to code something like that. i also want to add an in-textbox way to play certain sounds when certain segments of dialogue occur, or even within a sentence. that would add flavor to a couple of scenes (e.g. to have an emergency beeping sound when the dialogue says "Emergency!")

- the weakest part of my dialogue so far is the commtower sequence. they represent a recording of what happened to the duck blind while the leda was away from it. i felt overall that the writing for that sequence was fairly weak; i want to condense it, combine many of the scripts together, cut out a lot of the repetition, and make it more interesting somehow.

- the ares sequence of scripts is rarely played in the hostile mode sequence of the game; i want to make it so that it's much more likely that such scripts will occur; this should only be a minor code change though.

- i also want to space out the introductory scenes (separating them into smaller scene segments, with more gameplay in between them), because right now there seems to be too much text all at once. this will lead into one of the next tasks after this one (the improving the game's introduction task)

- lastly, as i'm doing this rewrite process i'm also adding some delay tags "$", screen-shaking tags "^", and "@" side conversations (parts of the conversation which only occur when particular members are in the party), where needed

- optionally, i want to add a sort of index/glossary for the game's terms, where if you hover over a key word (such as "duck blind") it will define it. this may be tricky to code however, due to how gm handles text placement (you can't really get the pixel location of an individual word from within a larger block of text very easily)

overall it's set to be a busy month, but a fun one. if i don't update this that frequently during december, just assume i'm revising another 10 pages of material a day.

Dec. 1st, 2013

i don't know what i was thinking when i said i'd try to read through and make editing notes for all 320 pages in one day, haha. i didn't even manage to do 5% of that, although i did start it. i'm pleasantly surprised at how good the writing actually is, there's a really great line that i had forgotten i'd written every page, sometimes two per page. i can only conclude i'm a better writer than i give myself credit for. anyway, i can see now that this will take a while. i am glad i printed this out though, it does seem to help a lot to read it in this format.

Nov. 30th, 2013

- went through 10-20 articles about revising writing, and wrote down useful notes
- re-read one of my how to write books, and wrote down useful notes (about 2-3 pages of notes about revising)
- bought two ebooks on revising (3$ each, all had good recommendations/reviews), and read one of them, marking down useful notes
- one of the major recommendations was to print everything out and read it through, all the way through, making only minimal notes about what to change, but doing no actual changes until it's been fully read. for this purpose, they also recommended you print it out. i asked my writer friends whether this is a good idea, and they concurred
- joined all the individual text files into one file, alphabetically; this took some doing because finding a file joining program that kept the file names in between the files in the joined file took several tries, but eventually i managed to create a single file that i'd want printed
- printed out the entire game's dialogue, 2 pages per sheet, 160 sheets (would have been 320 pages had each gotten its own sheet)

long day, but this is a great start. i plan to read through those 320 pages tomorrow (if possible; it may take more than one day, since that *is* a lot of text to read in a single day, and i don't want to rush through it)

Nov. 29th, 2013

i went through all of the game's dialogue files and organized them, and renamed many of them for organization purposes. here is the breakdown of the game's dialogue files, by category, in order of most text (per category) to least. things after the "//" symbols are my comments about special things i need to change in them.

[camp mode]
 mercedes camp mode (includes memories set and dearvenus set): 46.9kb [arbitrary order]
 spare camp mode: 40.0kb // combine and add new gameplay elements where needed [arbitrary order]
 neotheo camp mode: 34.0kb // update [arbitrary order]
 ikks camp mode: 29.6kb // update, add new gameplay elements, combine some old ones [arbitrary order]
 venus camp mode: 23.9kb // update, perhaps expand a bit with sidestories to even up the dialogue [arbitrary order]

[story events]
 [intro stuff, up to finding venus] thelaunch group, encounter, recovery, venusdream, venusjoin, venusjoinb, soundchain, theointro, tracking: 15.8kb [specific order]
 [core A endings] absorbed group, deathaphrodite, extralife, deathaphrodite, halffriended, halfhurt, lastlife, takecontrol: 14.4kb [specific order but with branching]
 [alternate ending B] htfc: 13.5kb // hidden town [arbitrary order within that "town"]
 [finding neotheo event] neotheo1, neotheo1b, neotheo2, neotheo3, nearneotheo: 7.3kb [specific order]
 [alternate ending C] escape, escapetheo: 3.9kb [specific order]
 [alternate ending D] getaend: 3.9kb [specific order / single script]
 [duck blind & hostile mode stuff] mercedesduckblind, return, hostiledeath, hostilemammoth, nothere: 3.2kb [specific order with optional elements]
 [finding spare event] sparemoment: 3.1kb [specific order / single script]
 [finding ikks and jewel event] followingikks, jewelrises: 2.8kb [specific order]
 prologue: 1.5kb [specific order / single script]

[system scripts, parallel story progress]
 teleport: 59.8kb [specific order]
 research: 30.6kb [specific order]
 theo: 24.5kb // shmup-dream mode dialogue [arbitrary order]
 first encounters: 21.8 [arbitrary order]
 alpharepo robots: 20.5kb [arbitrary order]
 explorescript: 17.7kb [specific order]
 terrascript: 14.2kb [specific order]
 entrances: 9.1kb [arbitrary order]
 limit: 8.7kb // lake limit, includes alternate ending E [specific order]
 commtower: 7kb [specific order]
 quickstart, debughelp, editorhelp, help, credits: 6.8kb [gameplay help stuff]
 tut group, memorycells, whatsthat, grabbed1, grabbed2: 6.5kb // tutorials [gameplay help stuff]
 ares group, aresaphrodite, aresfriended: 5.8kb [specific order]
 boss: 4.5kb [arbitrary order]
 demoexpire: 2.1kb [specific order / single script]
 death scripts: 0.8kb // possibly add alternatives for theo [flavor, used randomly during game overs]
so sorry for the lack of updates. basically i'm working on the game every day, but only feel motivated to update this when i make significant progress or finish a task. anyway, i finished the sound task. that's one more whole number task over with.


i'm not quite sure which task i'll tackle next, but i like to go after the remaining tasks in order of hardest to easiest, and probably the biggest task that can be completed next is the editing the second draft of the game's dialogue, which is composed of several parts: improving the writing, to clarifying information / fixing inconsistencies, adding "tone" symbols in textboxes (such as shaking the textbox, delays/hesitations, etc.), adding side conversations using the @ symbol when certain characters are in the party, and making a list of important story scenes that could be improved with illustrations.

this task is very big, though; there is about 300-350 pages of dialogue for the game. so reading through it and editing it all isn't something that can be done in a few days. but it's something i have to do, and it's probably task i've been putting off for too long, so i think i'll do that task next.

Nov. 19th, 2013

- made the sound test also work for music and soundscapes; there are still improvements to do to the sound test though, but the heart of it is complete and functional, the rest is just details / polishing


Nov. 18th, 2013

- created a wonderful spectrum visualizer for the sound effect test in the options screen. it's a lot of fun to see what different sound effects in the game "look" like. it was also useful for detecting "clicks" at the end of a couple of sounds that i may later want to clean up in audacity


Nov. 17th, 2013

- created a way to exit/enter hostile mode (the end-game sequence) which give players who want to go back and explore the game more before they end it a way to do so
- finished the last major part of the sound task (the normalization of soundscapes); now only a few minor parts of the sound task remain


Nov. 12th, 2013

- sorry for the lack of updates. i have been doing fun wishlist stuff; i made a list of about 10 wishlist items that i wanted to do for this "break" from core tasks, and did them all. so i'll count that as ten decimals (1/10th of a task). i don't want to name each one, but they were all cool.
- i also send the cycle 2 build to pandara-ra.

next i'm going to return to the core tasks, some of which are long overdue and almost complete.


Nov. 8th, 2013

- locked the mouse to the window (also locks to screen for fullscreen and multiple monitors), made optional, added to options, made default; not sure if perfect because it's somewhat "hacky", may need testing, but seems to work so far
- made circles for skill tree menu slightly transparent
- finished the calming effect change (for now)

doing some wishlist stuff in an attempt to stave off perfectionism


Nov. 6th, 2013

- i'm still finding it hard to update this every day, even though i continued to work on the game every day. i've devised a solution for this: i'm going to work on a more fun task. i feel as if my motivation to work on the game is falling because i've been forcing myself to work on things that need to be done but which aren't particularly fun to do, so working on a more fun aspect of it may be the solution to this

Nov. 3rd, 2013

- worked on  room calmness effect a bit; got some of the characteristics of it coded

Nov. 2nd, 2013

- made the new calm room conditional script to test if the room is calm or not (checks if all lilypads are touched, creatures friended, godstatues collected, dream faces faded); this is the easier half of the calm room suggestion

Nov. 1st, 2013

- coded a gui system where when the player levels up, instead of automatically upgrading a ship function, it has an upgrade button that has to be pressed. this will be for the rare cases where it may not be advisable to level up (since you want to use the memory cells for something else). i may make this optional in the options however, because i can see how it might be unnecessary too, and more a matter of choice.


Nov. 1st, 2013

i'm sorry i haven't been updating this regularly recently; i was having some dizziness problems, and then feeling as if i needed to try a vacation from updating each day to see how it affected my work. i've been continuing to do various parts of the sound task, but to my dismay i'm not done with it yet. i've been working on some more things from pandara-ra's big list of suggestions in order to prepare the game for his second cycle, which i'm looking forward to.

to recompense, and as an experiment, i'll be updating this journal *twice* a day in november, i wonder if working on the game at least every 12 hours instead of at least every 24 will work better. this is november 1's first entry; i'll make two entries on november 1, two on november 2, and so on.

during the first 12 hours of nov 1, i did a bunch of small things from the big SD suggestions list of pandara-ra. for example, making podo jump sounds not all play at the same time. i also discussed some ideas for the game with him; he had an idea to make a button to click to initiate a ship upgrade rather than to just let it happen automatically, and an idea abotu the peaceful state change of the lake for the water texture (although that idea is still unclear in specifics). i intend to try to implement those before sending him the game tonight.

Oct. 25th, 2013

- made the loading camp mode music at the start optional (for faster playtesting), with an option in the options screen
- made the title screen bg darker when in the options for visual clarity, and when entering the player's name

- worked a little more on the sound task. almost done with it
- improved the loading screen positioning of the text

- finished title screen background suggestion/redo/polishing
- continued to work on sound task


Oct. 21st, 2013

- made good progress on the sound task
- got sidetracked by a nice title screen suggestion, and spent way more time on it than i should have (staying up to like 4am working on it), made progress with that suggestion too

Oct. 20th, 2013

- continued working on sound effects; still making steady progress

Oct. 19th, 2013

- gave all of the ship functions and ship charge attacks in dream mode a sound effect, but they still require testing / modifying for volume to ensure that none of them are too obtrusive or annoying
- went through a lot of the sound effect code and removed sounds that aren't being used, and gave sounds to things that require sounds but didn't have sounds assigned, and fixed a few typos that meant that certain sounds were not being played or loaded correctly

still on track to finish the sound task on time

Oct. 18th, 2013

- added a shaking screen effect to the roar, to both make it more obvious that there *is* a roar playing (sometimes it just sounds like weird unknown background noise), and to give it a direction so the player knows where the roar is coming from
- added a shepard's tone (look it up if curious) to entering dream mode, to give a clearer audio queue that the player is entering it, instead of relying just on the visual que

these were both part of the sound task; on track to finish it in my target time