Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Whim Independent Studios - Development Log #43

Hey everyone! Thanks for reading the 43rd development log, the first one for the new year.  Most of this month's update will be regarding Selatria and it's ongoing development.

We started off the year by opening up the studio to new interns for the new year. We've received more internship applicants this year than we've ever had. Professors and coordinators from both CSUSB and the Art Institute of the Inland Empire have been very helpful in sending us their talent. They get experience and college credit and we get additional help for our projects.

Meet Timothy Blanchet (Left) and Hamza Khan (Right) below!


So it's easier to report it to their respective schools, we assign the interns to work that's not spoiler related, and on features and additional content we would have otherwise scrapped in order to make the reasonable deadline on the game. Here's some examples below on what they've worked on.


What's this? It's just a title screen with a 2 in MS-Paint drawn over it! Actually, this will be replaced with the title screen for the second half of the game when it's completed. On boot up, if the save data exists for someone who has made it to Chapter 4 and beyond, the title screen will show the new Part 2 title screen. This is just a placeholder for now.



Centered battlers! If the party has less than four people, the remaining battlers will set up in a formation that is originated in the center, as opposed to the left with extra space to the right. Makes for a much cleaner battle interface.


When the player completes Selatria fully, they'll be able to access an extra window where you can manipulate voices and play through the game with edits varying from chipmunk to slow-mo. The above features were developed by Timothy.


Paul volunteered to play through some of the new content that's being worked on. Hamza is currently designing the Selactic monsters for Part 2.

 Fighting a Selactic monster with only two party members? Probably not the best idea...

We have had unimplemented blueprints for a lot of ideas, and we pair them up as Hamza fills in the blanks and implements and balances the difficulty.

Our E3 picture from last year is also immortalized in the studio. Small cameo from Matt and Paul to the left, there.

As for the main team members, we've been coordinating between Las Vegas and San Bernardino. As two of the fellow Selatria developers now live in Las Vegas, we're now able to collaborate on some Sundays when I'm in town, primarily with the battle system and the mechanics of the final two characters. Unfortunately, there are still tweaks and art/sound assets that need to be implemented before that's at a state we can show, even at a development phase.

For me, dialogue. I've been implementing dialogue into the engine line by line, adding in appropriate face art to go with the context of the line, and putting in context and direction. Before December 2017, we were developing cutscenes at the same time we implemented the dialogue and it caused considerable slowdown when we find that we were blocked by lack of context in the scene or missing voices, so I've since put in the following hierarchy:

1st - Implement all dialogue from section
2nd - If there is implemented voices, put in the section
3rd - Check to see if unedited recordings exist for missing implementations
4th - If recordings exist and were recorded/edited elsewhere, cut and implement. If not, send to Shadoe and update task management system
5th - When lines are edited/cut, go back and place in the sections.

Implementing Chapter 5-5A dialogue. Swapping in the implemented voices after pasting in the dialogue and adding faces is the best part.

To give an idea of where we were, we were only at the beginning of Chapter 4 the last time we had a development log, and now we're nearing the end of Chapter 5 in implementation. This method is much smoother and efficient. Once all of the dialogue and context is implemented, we will be cutting and pasting blocks of the implemented dialogue into the areas themselves and turn them into actual cutscenes. It's going to take another month or two to be able to get the dialogue fully implemented in-game so you will start to see new cutscene previews after that point. It's the "boring" part of the development cycle, but it's getting done.

Last but not least, we're going to be resuming the behind-the-scenes series. In this episode, Shadoe, our sound engineer on the team talks about their challenges with recording, editing, and implementing voices as well as editing the sounds we already had.



That's all for this development log. Until the end of February!



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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Stepping down from Viva - Retrospective a year later

So I wanted to type this out, because it's been on my mind lately.

Viva Eorzea 2016 - The last group picture under my tenure
Viva Eorzea Group Picture - 2016

It's been about a year since I stepped down from leading Viva Eorzea, one of the free companies (or in other MMOs known as guilds) in Final Fantasy XIV. I stepped down after leading it for a little over 6 years. (September 2010 to December 2016. I ended up making the decision to step down a few weeks before, but I've contemplated stepping down since 2014.

In 2014, we formed a static to tackle the hardest raid at the time, the Coil of Bahamut. The original static disbanded during Twintania (we couldn't make it past the snakes/twisters phase at a rate people were comfortable) and we reformed and got to Turn 7 and Ramuh. At the same time, I was balancing FFXIV leadership duties, running the video game studio, and took an offer for a full-time job that was a 2 1/2 hour drive one way. I was frustrated and exhausted every night by the time we would run (I think we went 3 days a week? Pretty crazy.) - It all came to a head when we were walling on the last phase of Ramuh, when in a mix of all of my emotions I let out all my anger and steam on the Scholar who messed up on one mechanic and made her cry. We disbanded the static the day after largely due to my outbursts and very poor attitude, which I regret. In fact, I consider it to be one of my biggest regrets in my gaming history. I vowed to never get that angry at another player or at a game ever again. I was directing the wrong feelings at the wrong time and exploded in a fit of rage.

At that point, I felt changes had to be made. I stopped desiring to be a hardcore player after that point, I figured as long as I do the new content at all (and preferably while it's somewhat recent and relevant), I'll be happy. I was stressing myself too much and didn't have the time and patience to be able to do things that way again if I wanted to keep my sanity. Part of this was wanting to step down from Viva Eorzea leadership which I announced to the group at the very first Fan Festival in Las Vegas.

After some compromise from the officers at the time to be able to shoulder some of the responsibility, I agreed to stay on board as leader for the Heavensward expansion. Fast forward another year or two, one of my longtime XIV friends from 1.0 comes back to the game and we form a new group called Zaelen's Revenge in order to tackle the newest raid and primal at a very midcore pace. I was happy again, being able to do some of the new content at a reasonable pace that is befitting of my lifestyle. I will say it took some time to find like-minded players. On Hyperion, at least, most players are either very hardcore or very casual and it's hard to find players in the middle. Some of this extended to the FC, it was very hard to come up with events people would attend and are interested in due to this range of playstyle preferences. Events started to be cancelled, people left for more active groups, and I found myself neglecting my personal projects on weekday nights to try and prioritize events that would never come to fruition.

Ultimately, in December, I took a work trip and some people took my week absence from the game as me leaving or quitting and we lost a lot of members that week. One week of me gone. By this point, due to unrelated issues with their static, some of my longtime XI friends who were officers had either quit the game or moved to other servers to play more hardcore. Who was I leading Viva for? A bunch of people I no longer really knew. That's when I made the decision to step down. I spent a week or two thinking of who would best be able to take over. I didn't want to throw away members' efforts who put money into the bank for our free company assets, house, and ships, to someone who would abuse it. I also didn't want to leave the free company either, so I didn't want to make the decision lightly. I chose Azu La to be the one to take over, because like me, he attended the Fan Festivals, was a dedicated member to the FC, and he helped run the events to get us our free company base and airships funded. He is and was the best person to take Viva Eorzea forward, and he still runs things to this day.

Now a year later, I have an officer title but I feel it's only honorary at this point, I don't really do any running of Viva any more other than posting news articles about XIV on the group.

What was the point of saying all of this? I miss leading Viva Eorzea, but running something like that requires a lot of thankless responsibility, and a lot of management behind the scenes is involved if you want to stay active and engaged with the FC. People will leave or get disinterested or start getting the feeling that "it's not the same" if you let up even a little bit from what is considered the norm. It's not easy, and at times feels like a full-time job. I'm really thankful for the opportunity for leading a great group for that amount of time, but I don't think it'll be something I do again, for this game or another one.




Saturday, November 25, 2017

Whim Independent Studios - Development Log #42

Hey readers, thanks for reading the 42nd development log, the final one for 2017.


Selatria

 

To start off! We've obtained the domain www.selatria.com ! For now, it will re-direct to the Selatria page on our whimindie website, but we have plans to make this either a full-blown page in itself, or re-arrange the Selatria page on the whimindie website to look less cluttered and more pleasing, especially as we get closer to completing Part 2.

Speaking of Part 2, development is ongoing. After a few months and several re-designs, we got the base of The Endless Desert, one of the prominent dungeons to take place in Chapter 4. The next big part of development will be working on branching paths. Unlike previous chapters in Selatria, the second part of Chapter 4 will involve being able to do certain events in any order.







This content is not final and is subject to change.

We have put the Endless Desert in closed alpha testing this weekend for our in-house testers in order to fix bugs while we begin eventing out the next section.

Airship Concept Art - Art by Deborah Groves
Everett - Art by Deborah Groves

This is the first look at the airship that will be featured in Selatria. The design is modeled after a flying fish as well as after the head engineer who created it., Sir Everett. If you've played Selatria Advent, you saw a small cut-scene featuring him at the very end of Chapter 3.
 

On a last note, I had a meeting yesterday in Los Angeles to begin talks about arranging our midi sound files and turn them into a full blown, 112-track soundtrack that will launch alongside the full game. We're beginning talks with the music team involved with the creation of the main game music to see what will work in terms of revenue split, and I hope to have more information as we go on into the new year. 


In 2018, we'll be showing off more characters and special monsters that will be appearing in Part 2. Stay tuned!


Selatria will be going for $1.24 on Steam throughout Black Friday to Cyber Monday. Give it a buy and play through if you haven't. We welcome all reviews and feedback.

Working with SSD Studio for more sound effects!

 



Since this month, we've been working with SSD Studio, a small sound/audio company based out of Poland and they've been working on some new awesome sound effects to finish off Selatria's development.

You can also check them out on Facebook.



Appearances at the Reboot Game Lounge!

 


If you're in the Las Vegas area, catch us at the Reboot Game Lounge! Most months, we'll be making an appearance during their anime and game nights. We're going to be using that as a first place to test our new Selatria builds and new content out to the public before we release it, so if you want to get a first play at what's coming, check us out if you're in the area during their events! We'll also be showing off future games in development here too.

You can check out their upcoming events on their Facebook page.

LVL Up Expo 2018

 



We're also gearing up for our next big demonstration, LVL Up Expo 2018 which we will have some big announcements regarding Part 2 of Selatria. If you're in the Las Vegas area, come stop by and say hello and check out our indie dev booth. More details to come in the coming months. Our last appearance at the 2017 LVL Up Expo was very positive and we were able to get a lot of valuable feedback and new fans, and we want to do it again next year.

You can buy tickets for LVL Up Expo at their website.

If you're an indie developer, you can apply to exhibit their show as well.

The Dastardly Dairy Debacle

 


Unfortunately, due to some issues in the project, we have decided to postpone the release of our next immediate game Dastardly Dairy Debacle into the Winter. This will be a small side story that will be downloadable for free for PC if you own a copy of Selatria already, and will be available for Android devices as well.

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That's about it for this development log. Have a happy holidays and I'll see you in 2018.



Saturday, September 30, 2017

Whim Independent Studios - Development Log #41

Hey readers - back with the 41st development log! This entry will likely be a bit shorter than usual, but I also want to keep the monthly updates on our projects going. So let's get down to it.


Gameacon 2017

At the beginning of this month, we demonstrated Selatria and ANTics at Gameacon Las Vegas. Unfortunately, due to this being their first convention outside Atlantic City, it seemed to be a relatively lower turnout than we expected. That being said, we still had a few players come to try out our games and we got some valuable feedback on some of the upcoming content of Selatria.

Namely that our boss was way too hard! We are going to adjust the battle itself for when the game comes out proper, but if you want some extra challenge, the original designed fight we had for demonstration will be implemented as an optional Selactic Battle.

Some pictures from the event!




Hope to see you at Gameacon in Las Vegas next year!

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Selatria

Work continues on Chapter 4 of the Selatria project. Due to the amount of branching and mechanic heavy dungeons, development of this project is taking a lot longer than I had anticipated. We have completed the rough mapping of the Chapter 4-2 dungeon and its mechanics, a lot of it now lies on battle balancing and implementation/polish of cutscenes. Some new pictures below!


Gnats, desert beetles, and scorpions. Oh, my!



The Endless Desert is an expansive, yet dusty dungeon with two mechanics. The accumulating heat gauge which you take damage over time if you let it fill up (like in the bottom shot). Due to the size, if you get lost, look for the sand sailers path (shown on the top) to try and find your way out. In order to reset the heat gauge, you'll need to find shade (to have it gradually decrease), or water (to reset it completely). Stay hydrated!


Art development by Deborah Groves and Jenny Gilliland

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Whim Indie @ Anime Game Night at Reboot Game Lounge!


One last thing before ending the development log for this month. Jonathan Dishaw from our team will be demonstrating some new Selatria content at the Reboot Game Lounge's Anime Night on Oct 7. If you're in the Las Vegas area, be sure to stop by!



That's about it for this development log. We'll have some new information about our other games in development in the next log for October. Please look forward to it!


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Whim Independent Studios - Development Log #40



The 40th developer log! To maintain the promise of a new development log every month, I wanted to make sure that I finished this entry by August 31st.




We'll be at Gameacon Las Vegas from September 9-10 at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada! We'll be showing off Selatria and ANTics there. Come check out our booth for special prizes, stickers, and t-shirts! We'll also be selling itch.io codes for Selatria for $5.

Come and say hi!





  The new logo for our game!
 
 
In my last development log  we unveiled our upcoming PC/Android game "The Dastardly Dairy Debacle". This post, I'd like to show some new promotional art.








We are still aiming for a Fall release for this game, so please stay tuned to future developer logs when we'll show more screenshots and release information.

Dastardly Dairy Debable art developed by Jessica Jacuinde



Work is developing steadily on our flagship project as well!


First, some new art!



The Grandma who lost all of her cats! Any lost cats you've saved in the game you can turn int to her for rare prizes and rewards. Also, rescued cats will be able to be played with in the Cat Garden in the backyard!



Did you see him in Part 1? :)


Since the last developer's log, we've funneled all of our studio into prioritizing work on Selatria and Dastardly Dairy Debacle and ensuring we get these two games complete before we go off on developing other ideas.

With this change in structure, Matt Estrada rejoined the team and he's currently heading the development of the final dungeons of the game. If you've played Selatria Chapter 1 and 2, he's been behind the development of the Slime Boss, the Mirage Fairies, the Engineer fight, and the Wit puzzles in the Pirate Cove. If you like difficult content, you'll be very pleased with the way Selatria is going to end.  We also brought on a new intern by the name of Donald Alfieri who is assisting with development as well. Some screenshots of what's to come in the final chapter.




Sliding puzzles are here. And they get pretty intense later on.




The Ice Passage will have both indoor and outdoor elements.


As for myself, I've been doing a bit of everything. Mostly dialogue/cutscene implementation and checking over the voices and art to make sure everything sounds good for the second part of the game. Unfortunately, a lot of my work as of late can't really be shown in pictures just yet. As a bit of insight, I port the script into the game first, then separate it into scenes, and then fill it in with character movements and voices. Almost done with the Chapter 4 part of it, and by the next developer log, you will see some more screenshots of cutscenes that have been completed by then.

Anyway, you'll be able to check out some of the Chapter 4 content I've implemented at our booth at Gameacon so please check us out then!

Oh yes, almost forgot! WASD implementation is coming! So you'll be able to play the game with WASD, arrow keys, or the numpad if you please. A big thanks to Jonathan Dishaw who was able to mess with a lot of underlying code to get it up and running. Players at our Gameacon booth will be able to play some of the new content with this implemented.

Art development by Deborah Groves and Jenny Gilliland



That's all I have for now. See you in the next development log or at Gameacon!



Friday, July 7, 2017

Whim Independent Studios - Development Log #39




Hey everyone! Back with the 39th development log!

First and foremost - our new 2017 team picture!



E3 2017 picture
L to R:
Matthew Estrada (Director/Game Designer)
Christopher Huber (Game Programmer)

Jasmine Baro (Game Tester/QA)
Ryan Homme (Writer)
Toria Bell (Voice of Melanie/Fairies/Writer)

Myself (Producer/Director/Game Designer)
Deborah Groves (Co-Lead Artist/Social Media)
Matthew Hawkins (Game Programmer)

Jenny Gilliland (Co-Lead Artist)
Shadoe (Sound Engineer)
Jonathan Dishaw (Programmer/Battle System Designer)
Leigh-anna Griswould (Game Programmer)
Jessica Jacuinde (Artist/Video Editor)
Paul Vela (Administrative Director)
Kevin Flores (Game Tester/QA)
Geno Quesada (Artist)


Since the last development log, we have since come back from two conventions: LVLUpExpo and E3! I'll be lying if I said I still wasn't pretty exhausted from all of it. LVLUpExpo was pretty fun and interesting, we had quite a turnout at our booth. 




Shadoe, the sound engineer on our team, is also very talented at cosplaying, and came dressed up as Shopkeeper and Mage for our booth!

Jen also worked on brand new art to be displayed for the very first time at LVLUpExpo, showing some of the new characters from the second half for the very first time!











LVL Up Expo was our first time demonstrating our games to a large convention-sized audience. It went mostly well, and we are excited to announce where we're heading next!


Next Whim Indie stop: Gameacon!





Our next showcase will be at Gameacon 2017 at Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas at the beginning of September! If you liked the special challenges and prizes we had at LvLUpExpo, we’ll have more challenging obstacles and fun things to show at Gameacon!

If you can complete the challenges, you'll be able to get special stickers of Selatria characters like what you see below!





New game announcement: The Dastardly Dairy Debacle!



First and foremost, we kicked off our with our own E3 announcement, our third game "The Dastardly Dairy Debacle", coming later this year for Android and PC. It's meant to be a small mini side story game that will keep you entertained.

For the project, we have Jessica Jacuinde with the art development, she previously worked with us on the trailers for Selatria: Advent of the Dakk'rian Empire and ANTics, Christopher Nuño, who worked on the soundtrack for all of our other games. Programming it is Matthew Hawkins who developed some of upcoming Chapter 4 of Selatria. Here's a preview of what to expect!












More information for this game is to come, and we’re aiming for a release later this year.


More information can be seen on our website!

Note that some content shown is not final and subject to change.


Selatria Development

Patch 1.22 will be coming later this month! It will feature unique sprites for knocked out characters (both in-cutscenes and battle), difficulty adjustments to certain boss encounters, and unique cat sprites! We also plan on making some adjustments to Chapter 2-3A Mirage Forest with visual cues to assist those who are hearing impaired.

If you have already collected the cats before this update, fear not! We will be implementing a special area in a future update where you can see all of the collected cats frolicking around.

We are also working very hard on cutscenes for Chapter 4-2, some of the sandstormy screenshots you'll see below is a part of a dungeon called the Endless Desert. The later screenshots show a preview an example of the new cat designs and the new fallen KO sprites for each character. Chapter 4-2 will be implemented with the release of the second half, and as mentioned previously the cats and fallen sprites will be updated with the release of Patch 1.22.











 
New voiceover casts!

We have started the casting for the character of Roussell. I know we previously had auditions for this role, but major errors on our part for getting the tone of voice, the accent, and character background prevented us from getting the auditions we were looking for. For that reason, we’ve since reopened it for people to give the role a try, and auditions are open until July 14th (a week from today!)

Auditions are available on our website.



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That's about it for this development log. Until next time!