Monday, December 31, 2012

Last blog post of 2012

[December 31, 2011]
For 2012, I want it to be a year of personal discovery. While I've spent 2010 and 2011 becoming 

more outgoing and social than I have been, I want 2012 to be a year where I take risks. I want to graduate college this year and maybe start up a studio. I want to release Selatria to a wide audience. There is so much I'd like to do, and there is so much I've done this year as well that I thought I would have never done.

I wrote that a year ago, I don't remember writing that at all.


Well here it is, the last post of 2012. This year was full of great things, and unfortunate tragedies.

But regarding 2011 goals, I guess it lingered in my head because for the most part, I was able to get most of the above done. At the time, I was hoping I could finish the game by the end of the year, but university at said no to that. (Not literally, but difficult classes had priority.) The last quarters were very stressful, I guess because I didn't manage my courses as well as I would have liked and saved the most difficult courses for last. You know, the ones that are only offered once or twice a year, and if you don't do well, you're essentially screwed.

I also don't really believe in New Year's Resolutions. People start them for the first couple of days and they fall flat and then that's the end of that. 

Anyway, 2013 goals! They're not something that came out of my head and said I would like to start precisely on January 1st. Most of these have been ongoing and just carried over because I couldn't finish it in December due to time constraints.

-Begin the fundraising phase for Selatria
-Attend at least three trips to Mexico to feed orphans
-I am going to stop a very self-destructive habit I've had for the last few years.
-Finish Selatria
-Do well on my job interview in a few days.


Life is looking up. Bring it on, 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Whim Independent Studios - Development Log #2

Hey all! Back with my second development log! I've been pretty much at the studio for the past few days overseeing the recording of Selatria Chapter 2 lines! Recording went very well! I was surprised that everyone's schedules worked out and could gather together and record between the holidays. And that was a hell of a lot of lines!

After some technical difficulties on the first day, Shadoe was able to fill in with some of her equipment and saved the day as far as recording goes.

Here is a collection of some of the photos from the last two days!

A small video of recording a line for a future antagonist!

That's about it for now! I need to talk to some people about what the plans are going to be, and begin production on a new game trailer that showcases some of the new cut-scenes, music and art that has been added since our last trailer which was showcased earlier.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Whim Independent Studios - Development Log #1

Hey all! I'm planning to write this new section of development logs in order to track the progress of the studio. Well, at least for now. After the studio is all set up and running, I'm going to be using the development log for a lot of things. Game progress, Kickstarter/Indiegogo backer updates, etc.

First of all, I wanted to say thanks to two of my friends Paul and Matt they've been invaluable help in order to get this started and off the ground from the get-go. For the past two weeks or so we've been cleaning up the office space we'll be using. It was originally a bunch of dusty unused rooms that we've cleaned up and set things up in order to get things running.

The office has a development room, kitchen, bathroom, Lead Programmer's (Matt's) office, Human Resources (Paul's) office, and my own office is going to be in the main development room.

I wanted to get some FAQs of the studio out of the way, too! 


Whim Independent Studios - An independent game development company. Established in 2009, but became official in late 2012 once the proper forms were filled out. Currently producing Selatria and an upcoming game on the Unity engine.


I wanted to put together a small game studio in San Bernardino that develops games. We don't have one. Most game companies require years of experience in order to get that dream position. I want to lead a team to do games and people can use the small company in order to build that needed experience or stick around if they wish.

Either way, it's a win-win situation.


San Bernardino, CA. About 60 miles east of Los Angeles. I am not planning on posting the exact address for a while. :) You'll need to be a member of the Selatria or the game studio to get that information!


Our first meeting will be January 12th, 2013. We're currently cleaning the studio and making preparations.


I'll only post the people who were confirmed to be on board for now. The team is subject to change, and we'll see who will be affiliated with us come the 12th. :)

Here is who committed so far!

Paul Vela (Co-Founder, Human Resources/Finances)
Matthew Estrada (Co-Founder, Lead Programmer)
Jonathan Dishaw (Unity Designer/Programmer)
Robert Reynolds (Unity Designer/Programmer)
Kevin de la Cueva (3D Modeler/Programmer)
Gerren Willis (Programmer)
Andrew Franks (3D Modeler)
Nikolay Figurin (User Interface/Pixel Artist)
Kyle Elder (Programmer/Designer)
Christopher Nuño (Composer) 
Donald Brown (Sound Designer/SFX)


Hmm, picture time?

Human Resources/Contracts Room (Paul dubs this as the room "where imagination goes to die"):

Whim Independent Studios Mascot(?)

One of the studio computers that had to be taken home for repairs. :(

The studio itself will get pictures soon. I was thinking of showing pictures of it as we clean it up, but it wouldn't do it justice. The walls still need cleaning and possibly paint before its ready for the public eye, and I'm going to be restricting who can see it to current team members first and once things are ready for public view, pictures will be in a future post!

Until next time!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Selatria - Development Blog Entry 12/10: Dev Team Changes and Updated Screenshots

Hey readers! An update of what's being worked on. Selatria as a whole is coming along very nicely. Once the cutscenes and the battles for Chapter 2 are completed, we'll be officially 1/3 of the way through the project!

The goal is to get finished with that around the end of the year and do each chapter in a two month time frame after that. The last two months will be for testing/playing through the game and implementing side-quests with the overall goal to be finished/released on August 20. :)

My policy for removing team members:

With such a volatile project, the development team is constantly changing and reforming. There's been some development team changes. Unfortunately, with a team where most people are working for free, it's hard to expect new things in a quick amount of time. I'm really hoping to get that changed with the upcoming game fundraiser and pre-order openings to where I can begin commissioning the current team AND get new people to continue helping with the project.

If I notice a team member is not contributing at all without letting me know (and I'm normally very lenient - I give a few months or so.) I typically replace them, and any resources they've submitted (if they've submitted any) if they are worth the loss.

If the person submitted assets that I intend on using, they stay in the group and will always have a share in the project. So if you got dropped from the project, don't take it personally. You would be more than welcome to come back if you show me you're willing to do something.

I don't know, though... is that policy fair? At least I think it's fair. This is why I need a human resources person. Someone's gotta lay down the law. Especially after money changes hands.


New Selatria Team Member!

We have a new sprite artist for the project! Her name is Hannah Bottenberg. You'll get to see some of her work in the redesign of the Hat character, and the designs of some upcoming yet-to-be-announced characters! She's a very talented artist and writer and a lot of the team recommended her even before I even asked! I'm happy that she agreed to join along.


Updated Ability Animations:

Instead of trying to find artists to improve the animations from a visual standpoint, I decided to go into the scripting and play with how animations are coded. I came up with a few of my own. Some attacks will be flashy (the higher level ones) and some of them will have them hop across the screen. It fits right in with the tone of the game and looks smooth. I think you'll like it.

Here's an example of Number 016 hopping across the screen assassin-style for one of the redone abilities.


Video Development Log Coming Soon!

I've been putting it off for a few months, but I'm going to be launching a monthly video development log starting in January from the new game design studio I'm working on setting up. It will launch on my personal YouTube account. It will go along with the fundraising pitch on IndieGogo and Kickstarter. Both of which will start once all of the legal stuff regarding Selatria and the team members are finalized.   


I also got a neat free phone cover the other day. Decided to get the logo of the game etched in it. I know, bad quality webcam is bad. Anyone have the Song of Time handy?

That's the end of my rant for now. Until next time! Stay tuned in January for the beginning of pre-orders of the game and fundraising for the project!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Game Design Philosophy: Cutscene Design - Decision Making

One of my favorite aspects of designing cutscenes (and why it takes me so damn long), is that I put in a lot of decision-making for the player.

It's always nice to have 1 or 2 rational options, and a troll option that has you make the cha

racter look like a jackass and pisses everyone else off.

Unfortunately, I was rushed on releasing the demo on time so I never got to do as much as I wanted, so I'm going back and adding troll options everywhere! Perhaps there may be an in-game reward for pissing off enough people. :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Codecademy: Website that teaches coding. -- My thoughts

 I posted the story on Facebook the other day. I was talking to my friend from college a week or so ago, and he got me hooked on this webpage called Codecademy, that he's used in his web programming class. I gave it a try and when I saw the different scripting languages that were supported, I became hooked.

I've been using Ruby to work on Selatria for the longest while, and I was happy to see a web track for that. 

The website gives little nifty achievements (called badges) on your profile if you make enough progress in their tutorial courses (called tracks), and it's a great positive reinforcement to keep going and working towards completing the track. There are also bonus achievements for working on activities on consecutive days (building a streak).

Here is a list of the possible tracks (if you decide to take any of them, I would highly recommend signing up first so it records progress immediately):

Although this website won't teach you high-level languages like C/C++/Java/etc or the more concepts behind them (pointers/linked lists/vectors/Big-O notation, etc...) but I think Codecademy provides a great foundation to branch into them later.

Personally, I wish I had a better understanding of the syntax in the transition from the initial 100-level Visual Basic course to the more advanced 200+ level programming courses I took in college. (I initially struggled with the concepts of loops/object-oriented programming early on.) -- I wish this site was around back then to learn these scripting languages before going straight into a high-level one.

I would suggest this site to any programmer who would also like to branch into C++/Java. Python and JavaScript are two scripting languages that would be nice to learn beforehand.

Hmm, anyway. I have my Codecademy profile here. (It's also on the top of the blog too. I'm in this for the long haul.) I would like to see yours as well! :) Feel free to let me know your username if you decide to take it up. Would love to have discussions on it. My goal is to stay 100% on tracks in order to keep the knowledge fresh in my head.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Game Design Philosophy: Selatria -- Primer System

(Fans of Western RPGs will like this post. Maybe.)

I always like seeing when people play games and use or power up their characters to do things the way they were unintended. But at the same time, I like to limit the characters to what they can do. It can always go in two ways:

If you limit the player too much, the game becomes predictable and monotonous.
If you give the player too much freedom in character development, then everyone can learn and be maxed on everything. That's no fun either.

The use of primers will be needed in order to fight some of the tougher optional bosses, but will not be required in order to advance through the storyline.

An infinite number of primers can be bought, and while there will be a chance that one can get stat bonuses from them, after a certain number of uses of the primer, the character will only be able to get HP or AP in 1 point increments in order to prevent the game from becoming too easy.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Small Life Rant

Four people at a table playing 3DS, guy comes up and asks if any of them have girlfriends. Treats it like problem when all respond with "No".

It's never good to be judgmental, I know plenty of nerds that have girlfriends. Also: How is playing a 3DS any different than using a smartphone while waiting on food?

That's the end of my rant on that. Night, night!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Selatria - Development Blog Entry 11/27

Progress on the game is coming well! Fundraising for the game is going to begin in early January, and that includes pre-orders. The proceeds from that I'm hoping to commission the current team as well as get some needed resources in order to have a completed project in a timely fashion.

So far I'm going to do that on Indiegogo and Kickstarter, if you guys have any other suggestions for fundraising techniques, send 'em my way. And damn, I just remembered I need to get a business card too. I keep forgetting!

I'll be starting a Development Video Log on YouTube so please subscribe if you would like regular updates of the project. I'll be posting them on this blog too, but I always appreciate the support. :)

Here are some screenshots of what's to come. (The raft is a placeholder graphic. What could it be? :P ) 'Sides, I can't think of any wooden rafts that can go over lava!

I would post videos but cut-scenes are still being tweaked, and it wouldn't be any fair to upload game footage when appropriate sounds/voices/music is still being worked on and finalized.


There's also an installer being worked on, too! If things go well with the project and/or the game is well-received when completed, I would love to port the game to the more professional JavaScript-based Sphere engine for a Linux version (possibly open it up to future mobile versions?).

But my ultimate goal right now is to finish the Microsoft Windows-version.

Friday, November 23, 2012

First Loves

November is a very special month for me. Did you know that?

I knew I was in love with a person I was with in November seven years ago and we got together around this time. (Was it before or after Thanksgiving? Who knows.) Unfortunately for a variety of reasons (one - we were both too immature), things never worked out, and eventually went separate ways.

But that experience did change my whole aspect on life. I went from being a very selfish heartless person to one who likes to take charge, and put things together, and one who isn't afraid to be himself. If people don't like me for who I am, then they shouldn't like me at all.

Anyway, since that ended, I have become some sort of matchmaker, and go figure they started their relationships in November.

Two couples in particular, one was a friend that I met in Final Fantasy who came all the way across the country to be with a classmate I went to school with. They would have never met each other had they not posted on one of my silly Facebook status update jokes.

The other couple we actually went to an anime convention together her, him, my best friend, and myself. My best friend and I looked down and up and BAM they were gone! Totally went off on their own. Fast forward a few months to when I was taking over a video group and put together one of our first productions, and they ended up heavily flirting with each other. Well after some time, I just told them to get on my computer and make their relationship official. So I always take credit for putting them together. (haha)

Well, go figure, both couples I mentioned got together the same day - November 6, 2010 and they're both still together!


It makes me happy. To see that people are so much a match for each other. In my opinion that makes it more worthwhile to me then being in a relationship itself.

...Where was I going with this again?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Black Friday

You know, it's the start of the holidays, and that's all nice and well.

But the concept of Black Friday never really sits right with me. Thanksgiving is a day when you're supposed to be thankful for what you have. Yet many stores are now opening Thanksgiving night at 8PM for Black Friday deals.

That makes me really upset. I posted my concerns about this on Facebook and the responses have been along the lines of:

"Already been like that."

"I just know it's sad when nobody believes in people being with their families on the holidays anymore. :( I mean- people who want to work for the OT- go for it, but many places don't even let people request off for such days."

"...its been about 15 years and black friday will be a weeklong event within a decade."

"You do realize that there are fast food places open all day on Thanksgiving. What about the employees there?"

"Eh. It's the price you pay for working in retail."

The only problem here, is that it will only continue to get worse unless people band together and stop it. Corporations and marketing strategies are testing the waters, what opened at 5-6AM five years ago crept to midnight last year and now is 8PM this year. Soon they won't be closed on Thanksgiving at all.      

It's the Bystander effect. I would honestly feel guilty by going into a retail store on Thanksgiving evening, and expect the utmost service from them on a time when most people are usually with their families. Lack of empathy that shoppers have for the sake of getting that next new TV or that better console or computer that is 1/2 off.

I hate the concept of greed. It really messes with people.

I just don't like the concept that people will push others based on their own greedy impulses. It really does bring out the worst in people. (In real life, in online games, in everything.) That's more along the lines of what I was getting at.

People really lose sight of what holidays actually mean in hopes that they'll just get new things or gifts.

But remember!

Be thankful for what you have, but only until 8PM! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

I met a Final Fantasy friend in real life!

Yesterday, after months of planning, I got to meet a long time Final Fantasy friend in person!

Those of you who have played XI or XIV with me will recognize who it is, I'd rather not display their name for everyone to see here, but I'm very happy to finally meet a friend I met in an online game in person.

We're gonna plan to meet again real soon in order to actually do things like raids in "A Realm Reborn" in the same room, will be fun!

People have said I look angry or unamused in the picture - that is definitely not the case. A mix of a lack of sleep and me not being very photogenic >.<

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gaming Rant

Alright, time for another nerdy rant. (Going to also submit this to Did You Know Gaming?)

Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow/FireRed/LeafGreen/Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald take place contemporaneously.

Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal/HeartGold/SoulSilver/Diamond/Pearl/Platinum take place contemporaneously after the previous games.

Pokemon Black2/White2 take place after both the above.

Then how is it that the Kanto leaders age in between the two generations (quite a bit at that), yet the Hoenn leaders look EXACTLY the same. It's been what, six years and Leaders Liza & Tate are still little kids.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The End of Final Fantasy XIV 1.0: The Coming of the Seventh Umbral Era - What a Weekend (Part 2)

XIV Terminology you'll want to know for this post.

Seventh Umbral Era - The era that is to take place after the events of the Meteor crash, and the small in-game events that took place before that.

Louisoix - An old sage who in the 1.0 version was a major NPC involved with fighting the primals (summons) of Final Fantasy XIV. Dies in the final meteor impact while using the twelve to attempt to seal Bahamut. Uses a spell from one of the twelve in order to send surviving adventurers to the future where they would be safe.

Dalamud - Eorzea's lesser artificial moon. It is summoned closer by the enemy Garlean Empire. Every patch leading to the meteor impact, it would grow larger in the sky. Bahamut cracks out of this in the meteor impact (below)

The Twelve The Twelve gods of Eorzea. Summoned by the players with /pray in the final 1.0 mission in order to try to rid Dalamud from impact. Used by Louisoix to attempt to seal Bahamut away with the players' help. Fails when it's shattered free. Louisoix uses the power of  "Althyk the Keeper" the Eorzean god of space and time to transport everyone to the future before being killed by Megaflare. The Twelve are gods, do not confuse with primals (the in-game XIV summons.) They are not the same, summoning the twelve can cause doom/chaos and is only left to important NPCs.


@1:31 - The three Grand Company leaders of the three city-states 
@1:35 -  Gaius (FFXIV's Main Antagonist)
@2:28 - Cid in FFXIV

On midnight on Sunday, November 11th, the original version of Final Fantasy XIV went down in anticipation for the re-launch of the game, titled "A Realm Reborn".

Here is the in-game justification of the impact, as said by Final Fantasy XIV developers themselves.
Eorzea. A Land embraced by Gods and forged by Heroes.
Seeking control over this realm and its abundant crystal resources, the Garlean Empire (a scientifically advanced nation hailing from the north) begins gathering an army of epic proportions. To ready themselves for the coming conflict, the city-states of Eorzea reinstate the Grand Companies?comprehensive centers of command which combine the commonwealths' military and economic assets. However, the commander of the invading forces, VIIth Imperial Legion Legatus Nael van Darnus (a.k.a. “White Raven”), has plans of his own. Driven by madness, he silently plots to usher in a more permanent form of devastation: Meteor.

The Meteor project is comprised of a complex scheme employing arcane magicks and lost technology to summon the lesser moon down to Eorzea in an attempt to annihilate the realm's inhabitants in one fell stroke. Dalamud, as the celestial object is commonly known, is revealed to be a colossal machine launched thousands of years ago into the planet's orbit by an ancient civilization.

Realizing the futility of standing alone against such a threat, the Grand Companies put aside deep-rooted differences and consolidate their forces under the banner of the Eorzean Alliance.

At the behest of this new confederation, adventurers from across the realm take up arms and march on the floating islands of Rivenroad. Here, the brave heroes confront Nael van Darnus, and after a heated battle, put him to the sword. But by this time, the White Raven's plan is too far along, and Dalamud continues its descent.

In an eleventh-hour bid to save mankind, the Grand Companies turn to Louisoix, an enigmatic scholar hailing from the forgotten city-state of Sharlayan. The 'Archon,' as he is called, devises a plan to summon the power of the Twelve, Eorzea’s pantheon of guardian deities, and use that power to banish Dalamud back to the heavens. But for this to succeed, the rite needs to be performed directly beneath the point of Dalamud's impact. After several sleepless nights of deliberation by the realm's foremost arcanists and astronomers, that point is determined to be a vast swathe of barren lowlands in central Eorzea known as the Carteneau Flats. With this information in hand, the Grand Companies order the immediate mobilization of their forces.

Unbeknownst to the Alliance, the soldiers of the VIIth Imperial Legion, oblivious to their leader's dark intentions, have also begun gathering in central Eorzea. Ordered to defend the area with their lives, they prepare for a fight, unaware that victory will bring about their own demise.

And so, with two great hosts amassed, the Battle of Carteneau begins.

Both sides fight with a desperation-fueled frenzy, neither yielding the other ground, until from the skies, a great roar issues. Dalamud has begun its final metamorphosis. In a matter of moments, the stone and metal of the moon's crust crumble away to reveal none other than the elder primal, Bahamut, now free from his ancient prison.

And thus do the people of Eorzea learn what it is that truly faces them. Never was it the White Raven's intention to blight the realm with Dalamud, but what slumbered within it.

Enraged after aeons of duress, Bahamut unleashes his wrath upon the realm, spewing forth endless fire and destruction. Louisoix quickly conjures a barrier to protect what remains of the Eorzean Alliance, and then begins the arcane rite that will channel the power of the Twelve and focus it into rebinding Bahamut. The sheer force of the primal, however, is too strong for even the Archon, and his efforts fail.

Realizing the end is nigh, Louisoix summons the last of his strength to call upon Althyk, the Keeper, god of space and time, to send those surviving heroes into an aetherial rift, where they are to remain untouched by the passing of the seasons until it is once again safe to emerge...and continue their struggle to forge Eorzea's future.
We await the return of FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn, and will look for you fellow adventurers in the dawn of a new Eorzea!

"A Realm Reborn" is going to include new class/job See: Arcanist // See: Summoner  a redesigned user-interface with tutorials, a new storyline explaining the post-apocolypse. Redesigned towns (meteor was the in-game justification for the change of zones). And a battle system overhaul that includes Limit Breaks, new spells and attributes, and a free company-summoning system (different than Summoner job to where the company summons can summon the primal at its full unleashed power.)

Here is a video of the re-designed Gridania, which in my opinion, was the worst off area out of them all. (And I say that with love. Sort of. That is my home.)

Here are some final pictures we took on the few days before impact. The last one being 5 minutes before meteor hit. :) 


Did you know?

The final boss of 1.0 (Nael Van Darnus) gets the power of meteor in his second form. His ultimate move is Megaflare. Should have been a good hint about Bahamut coming.

Dalamud and Bahamut sound similar, and have the vowels in the same parts of the word.


Some comments/questions I've been getting regarding relaunch:

Character data is not wiped. If you had a character in 1.0 and quit, you will be able to come back in ARR with your character. In fact, you will get a one-time chance to freely change your character look/race/gender/name with the new customization options they have given.

For people that stuck around in the hard times, they get a permanent discount of $9.99/month as opposed to people who will come back or join at PS3 release who will pay the standard rate of $12.99/month.

The alpha version will be coming out worldwide on November 26, 2012. They're about two months behind roadmap schedule, so the full version of the game should hit around March 2013.