The Lost Adventures

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WIP : Savegames screen

Making save games is one of the most critical parts of an adventure game. I had a simple ‘save the game when you exit the room’ procedure before I created this. This was sufficient for a while, but I needed more flexibility. The player will be able to save the game at any time anyway. I have created a draft interface for making save-games. It will definitely be more polished in the future, but I wanted to get this thing coded. I need this badly for testing all the rooms, because it’s more convenient to load certain states by specially prepped save-games. As you can see it shows a small thumbnail scaled down but still pixelated when you click what I call a save-slot. A descriptive date will be shown on the thumbnail so the player knows exactly when he saved it. Players can add a title when they want to. This is not in the game right now. but these features will be in it. As you can see, I can play tic-tac-toe with this screen. So it’s now a game within a game!    

Screenshot Sunday Game Development

Work in Progress : Elevator to switch between rooms

I have a lot of rooms (about 10 rooms for each Act) There will be around 40 in total. I need to be able to switch really quick to test them. It’s a typical smorgasbord of buttons to do just that. Such a ‘switch’ screen will not be in the game because that would break the immersion of the game. I really wanted to make this ‘real’ transition room quickly, because it can be part of the game. It is a shown in a special way because it is projected from the side completely. The only thing Dave can do is press the buttons. Depending on the floor the speed of the transition is faster when the floor destination is farther from the current floor. Lang’s building is very futuristic, so such a turbo lift could be expected. The elevator is what I expected too be, I had made the art in pieces long before I made the movement so It was really coding all the movement. A lua script is driving the animation as all the other rooms.   Still, this is all not set in stone because I am not convinced the player should see the buttons all the time. I could centre the buttons when the player activates the panel and show some stuff buried in the concrete. The elevator created a new puzzle for the adventure, getting an elevator pass… The elevator above is an animated gif so click the preview thumbnail to look at it. It’s quite hypnotic…!

Screenshot Sunday Game Development

App Icon Evolution

Is it too early to look at an icon? I think you need to start early, trying different designs and get into grips with a certain look… It’s these kind of things that, if you wait too long for it to make and when you are trying to finish the game, you will not make a proper icon. Those final crunch days are gruesome because bugs need to be squashed, menu’s have to be made, a settings screen you forgot and maybe the gameplay still lacks some finesse? Eventually  you will not have the time to make it anyway! One other thing is that you need to know how long your icon could last. Does it bore you? Does it grow on you? Does it stand out? I am on to my third icon now, and it could be the final one. The icon below was a really early icon I created just to try to lay out the composition and to get off the default Spritebuilder icon, Dave was standing against the wall ready to be fusilladed by german WWII soldiers. I you think this looks familiar, it is! Because a part of the cartoon is actually stolen from the political cartoon for the Peking Olympics The idea was that Dave would transported back to the present day with a kind of transporter beam. I knew this was only a working icon and I would make a complete overhaul of it. But the transporter thingy, stuck with me though! A long period after that I thought that the Time Machine had a shape that could be fitted into an icon. So I made a Hires character and put that in the time machine. This was a first draft and the dave character was not recognizable on small icons. The colors were completely off and it did not have the pixelated look I was looking for. So I came up with this icon. I still use it today. The character is the Dave character as he will walk around in the game. The colours are bright and playful. The transporter twinkling stars makes it as if Dave is actually being transported back in time! Maybe I should tweak the shadowing a bit? Well, that’s it for now!  

Screenshot Sunday Game Development

Screenshot Sunday : When you gotta go, you gotta go

One of the rooms in The Lost Adventures will be the mens toilets. If I tell What Dave needs to do here I would  spoil one of the puzzles of the game. No spoilers here !. You can obviously try to “use” the toilet, but supporting this action would take me hours of animating those 9 frames to sit down and what to think about those frames for pulling the chord to flush? But who knows? When I have some more common animations for Dave, maybe…. Oh and do you see that white crosshair? I was watching the GUI of the Fate of Atlantis and this was still missing in my adventure game. The default action will be the “Walk to” action (not a button on the screen, but still an action). When you hover over the items, the label of a POI (Point of Interest) will be shown. This presented a problem on the iPad though… Your hand blocks the visibility of the label, so I need to place the label to the left or right. Or I will place the label-bar to the top especially for the iPad. Enough tasks left to improve though. I am still in the preproduction stage (and this is actually good!!). Polishing a game and making content  is much harder and more tedious! Luckily all rooms are in draft now, to support the entire story for Level 1. When the work on the adventure engine is finished and I have made one playable level, I will be in production stage. One of the main task is passing the list of actions to the Lua scripting engine. I have greatly improved the way the scripting works. The drawback of an earlier approach meant timing the various actions exactly before the next scripted action started. I needed to solve this because the time taken by walking through the room was not predictable. Now the character can walk to a certain tile, then proceed to a new action like picking up an item (this is calculated by number of frames * frame-delay). These walking and animation actions are handled completely in sequence. Playing a sound can be a simultaneous action. The next blog post will be entirely about this nifty system.

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Ambient Adventure Music

One of the problems as a hobby Developer is in-game-music. This is a tough nut to crack for any developer. A proper musician will cost you a lot of money. Luckily there are some solutions to this problem. Generative music is one good example. Recently some good tools have been made available. One of them is Ujam. It’s amazing to see how quickly you can make a decent sounding beat or melody. It converts you voice into a melody and after that you can choose an arrangement based on music style. It’s made completely in flash, so won’t work on iOS devices. I have also tried Noatikl2 and Mixtikl but they are too hard to use and have a steep learning curve, and I have some more things to do. For an adventure it has to sound decent enough.The most important thing is that it should not distract or annoy the player. Another possibility making music is whistling the tune, converting it to midi and make it into a song in Garageband. Here a list of commercial tools that can do such a thing : Ableton Live 9 Melodyne (better and much cheaper than ableton) Free tools Whistlemagic (can’t provide a good link, windows only) iOS tools (all Paid, but not) Magic Stave Midi One tools fits in both categories and it’s my favorite (for the moment). Casio Chordana Composer is absolutely fabulous. It used a short melody (keyboard,whistle or voice) as seed and generates a song after you have chosen an arrangement and music style. The best thing is that it doesn’t sound like it’s generated at all! The following music was generated with Chordana, played and recorded this midi file with Roland’s iOS Sound Canvas (it’s quite an expense app but worth it). Well enjoy the music…

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