Saturday, June 9, 2018

Whim Independent Studios - Development Log #46 [E3 2018 Edition]


Hey all - back with a new development log. Pre-E3 edition. For this June update, I wanted to make sure we had our own big announcements to show to go with E3.

Selatria




After seven years of development on the game, we are finally going to be completing our work on Selatria. We are currently aiming for a release date in late-2019 for the full Selatria game. As promised before, any progress from Selatria: Advent of the Dakk'rian Empire will be compatible with the full final release. Here is some promotional art and some new screenshots!













To accompany this announcement, we have a few new people on the main team to introduce or switched their roles. Donald Alfieri has been brought onto the team in the past year to join me on mapping and designing the cutscene movements and porting in the script for Part 2. We still have two more sections of script to port in for the main scenario before we can consider that leg finished and move 100% of our effort to cutscene designs. Dominique Hodnett is a brand-new addition to our team, and we have been working together on Wednesday nights and Saturdays to complete the content of Mage's journal and some side stories involving the main characters you will get to experience in Part 2. Leigh-anna Griswould has been behind the implementation of the voices into the cutscenes, and last but not least, Timothy Blanchet has been behind the scripting of some of the new features that you will see explained below.

Some new features:


-The journal will now open automatically to the newest page. As mentioned in the last post, we now will have an indicator that briefly popups when the journal is updated. When selecting the journal from the main menu or the items section, it will now highlight Mage's current thoughts dependent on your progress. I feel this will be good for players who take a long break between play sessions or are waiting for the new release and forgot where they needed to go.


-Quick Save will also be coming in with the 2019 update. Quick save will allow for shorter play sessions by being able to save and close the game at any time. However, when a quick save is loaded, that data is deleted from memory. This was a requested feature from different forums given that most games these days have save anywhere functionality. But due to the nature of the game, we don't want to have our players stuck in a situation they can't get out of. So we set up a compromise and implemented Quick Save.

Also to note, you will start to see more video footage from upcoming scenes that our team has worked on implementing, and I will be cross posting this to our new forums and on our Steam discussion board.

Regarding the new release date: Previously I have been concerned about giving away release date windows due to naively announcing an August 2012 release date for the full game back when we started.  Since then, we have better project management protocols in place and up-to-date metrics on where we are and what we need to do to be able to get there. I feel we've gotten to the point that if we can't finish it in the next year, it will simply never get done. I'm really hoping you'll continue to support this project as you have been as we go into our final year of development. For those of you who have supported us on Indiegogo, we will be making further announcements for physical rewards and fulfillment before the end of this year.


The Dastardly Dairy Debacle


After a few months of fixing issues and pushing back on release for The Dastardly Dairy Debacle, we're currently doing final checks on content implementation and we are aiming for a new release of this summer. For now, we've uploaded a new theme from the game, so please take a listen. Please also take a look at some new screenshots as well as a new song composed by Christopher Nuño!








We also have a new Whim Indie interview available regarding music creation and a new interview by Jabari for the J-Tendo show (if you haven't seen it yet).





Before we end for this month's update, I'd like to show some highlights from our time at LVLUPEXPO this year. We had a great turnout and we hope to demonstrate our games at the convention next year as well.








That's it for this update. See you next month or at the E3 show floor!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Whim Independent Studios - Development Log #45

Hey everyone! Thanks for reading the 45th development log, for the month of April.

Selatria

Since the last development log, we have hit a milestone, 80% complete of development!

80 percent complete with development! Woo!

A lot of this is attributed to the art development which we will finally be wrapping up in the next few weeks. The next big hurdles are getting the rest of the dialogue ported into the game for the final chapter and the voices of Mage, Melanie, Saewo, and Gobby for the last few chapters. As for the design being 0%, that's a category we haven't really used until recently with planning out the equipment for the characters for the last two chapters. Until recently, we've just lumped it in with the programming.

Due to a lot of work involving porting in the script, there's not a lot particularly interesting to show for the development, but we did address some quality of life improvements. First of which (below)

A window now appears when the Journal is updated. This is still subject to change.

Every time the journal gets updated, a notification will appear like the above. (The way this looks isn't necessarily final). I am wondering if this will confuse players thinking the game auto saved in the journal as opposed to letting them know where to go in the menu got updated. If you have a better idea on how to phrase the difference, feel free to send me a message or leave a comment on the forums.

If you're confused on where to go, the journal now auto-navigates to the newest written page

Another quality of life improvement for the journal is that the cursor will automatically now go to the newest page that has been updated. This will hopefully make navigating and figuring out where to go when the game has been put down for an extended amount of time much easier. Both of these updates will be implemented alongside the release of the full game/Part 2.

The Dastardly Dairy Debacle 


So we've been having a few technical difficulties with the development of Dastardly Dairy Debacle, and we want to hold off releasing it until we fix a few more critical bugs and fix some of the game balance issues. More to come on that in a future update!

Website Improvements!


We've made some improvements to our website and some of our web development interns implemented an initial build of our forums.  Instead of reporting bugs via email, we hope to have this available so other people can visit and comment with their finds. Feel free to give us feedback, report anything, or even say hi over there.

LVLUPEXPO


This year's LVLUPEXPO will be at the Las Vegas Convention Center on May  4-6, 2018. We will be demonstrating Selatria, ANTics, and possibly The Dastardly Dairy Debacle there. If you're in or plan on visiting Las Vegas, please visit us! You may win one of these!


You can purchase tickets to LVLUPEXPO here.
 

Whim Indie - Behind the Scenes: Episode #5


And finally, we'll end with a new behind-the-scenes video with Jabari interviewing Shadoe about sound engineering for Selatria. It's a continuation of one of the past episodes on the topic so check it out.

 

That's all for this one. Until next time. Hope to see you at LVLUPEXPO the forums, or in the next development log!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Midnight Updates

I don't write here as much as I should.

You know, when I'm at work, all I can really think about is coming home to work more on my game projects. Then I get home and I'm too tired to do anything about it.
Fast forward a few hours (and some FFXIV) and the inspiration wave kicked in again full force, and I decided to ride said wave until now, 12:30A - No regret.

Rinse and repeat in 6 hours (I'll be awake, I swear!)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Whim Independent Studios - Development Log #44

Hey everyone! Thanks for reading the 44th development log, to round out the start of March.

To start off, we've been very busy in the studio the past few weeks. Since January, we've gotten three additional interns: two who are doing web development work, and one who is doing additional work on filling in the missing sidequests for our projects. 

So we'll hop right into it!


Selatria

First we'll start off with some new screenshots from Part 2

The new title screen for Chapter 4 and on


You'll be able to make any party member the lead after Chapter 4.

Spells now have icons in battle!

You'll notice that the test "2" from the test title screen in last month's development log has been replaced with the final Part 2 screen. This places emphasis on the antagonists and the new characters "Waltear", "Saewo", and "Harmony" who will have prominent parts in the story. When the game detects any saved data from Chapter 4 or beyond in the directory, the title screen will change.

We're also working on various features of the game. We planned out exactly how many hidden cats will be in the game, and we're working on putting in the challenges to get them. Some of the cats in Chapter 4 and beyond will be especially difficult to get, so best of luck! We're also going to be addressing the issue where a lot of the cats had the same sound effects.

We're currently about to port in the dialogue for the final chapter of Selatria and from there we will resume production of the cutscenes. We'll also be merging The Dastardly Dairy Debacle team into the Selatria team for added resources and development. Please look forward to more updates!

Credit to Deborah Groves, Jenny Gilliland for the art development, Timothy Blanchet, Donald Alfieri, Leigh-anna Griswould, and Jonathan Dishaw for the programming development above.

The Dastardly Dairy Debacle 

We're putting some finishing touches on our upcoming mobile game! This is a small role-playing game with touch inputs, it started off as a project some students pitched to our studio to which we took over development and saw the game to completion. Below are some sample screenshots. Do note, these were taken from the PC and not an android phone, so the resolutions and pictures are not how they'll exactly appear in-game.






We're going to be putting the game in closed testing on Saturday March 3, and launch on Google Play later this month. You can follow our Facebook account The Dastardly Dairy Debacle. Credit to Matt Hawkins, Jessica Jacuinde, and Chris Nuño for taking over the programming, the art development, and the sound production respectively.

Whim Indie - Behind the Scenes: Episode #4

Finally, here's a new behind-the-scenes inside scoop on the studio. In this episode, Jabari interviews Chris Nuño who talks about some of the difficulties of compositions in Selatria.




That's it for now, until April!

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!



.

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.