Saturday, August 31, 2013

Whim Independent Studios - Development Log #19

Hey guys, back with a new development log! Lots of new stuff to show so I'll get right down to it.


Selatria:

We've been putting in a lot of hours into development of Selatria. While we have the main scenario of the game planned out, Tuesday we were able to split up the second-to-last chapter and put it into sub-sections. From there, we will make dialogue out of it for the voice actors and then implement into the game.

Starting off with some brand new art of upcoming main scenario characters, designed by Jennifer Gilliland




New Selatria Characters designed by Jennifer Gilliland


If you played the Version 1.3 demo on our website, you'll notice a new surprise in the opening of the upcoming version of the game with some new sequences that I hope you'll enjoy!


Matt has been working on mapping out one of the upcoming regions of the game, and adding a lot of battle content. Including taking feedback from some players to adjust boss battles in chapter 1, as well as come up with a lot of new exciting battles against Selactite foes. Many of them throw curveballs and might be too difficult during a normal playthrough. As they're optional, they will bring a lot of added challenge to the game for those who are fellow completionists in RPGs!

Jon has been adjusting a lot of battle content, and came up with a heck ton of abilities. We put together a small video last week that shows some of the abilities that are in development.


Selatria - Battle System in Development Video: Check out the Battle theme variations!

I have been working on some of the needed game functions. I have been designing a party management system in order to swap out party members at any save gate. Rather than have it be a window where you hotswap party members, I'm thinking of integrating the features straight into the gameplay. For example, you can see what your party members are thinking at the current point in the storyline before you ask them to join or swap out. They will also make snide remarks at you if you decide to "bench" them, so to say. I want to have every aspect of the game to be as fun as possible, even when doing things like managing your party or exploring.

An example of Luis being belligerent if you decide to keep him out of the party. Placeholder room.

Also what I've been working on is Chapter 3-1. You have to have a meeting with the council in order to warn them about the upcoming attacks from the Empire. However, the council isn't willing to talk to ordinary townsfolk, so Mage uses the celebrity pop star named Harmony in order to ride her fame to request an audience with the people of the Council Chamber. However, Harmony is only willing to do it if Mage uses his magic to power the visual effects for her concert.

Harmony's Concert - Still in progress. (Yay, debugging scores!) The concert music is a placeholder for now.

Last but not least, voice auditions! We've gotten a lot of them in the last month, and us as a development team were able to limit it down to a few choices for each character. I'm going to email them for call backs on lines in order to determine who will be the final picks for each role. Once we have the finished cast for the new roles for each character, I will post it publicly.


ANTics: 


For the first time we have a public demo for the game to show! ANTics will be a mobile/casual game that will require you to protect your hordes of candy from incoming bugs that try and attack it.

Lead programmer of the game Gerren Willis really took the helm on this game and made it run very nicely. There is still art needed to be worked on for the user interface, namely with buying powerups and icons, and that will be completed in the very near future. Paul Diggs worked on the art style for this game and the small CG scenes and animations, it came out looking great, as you'll see in the video below! The music was composed by Christopher Nuno who also did compositions for Selatria as well. As always, it's just magic coming to the ears!

We will be reworking a new user interface design into the game in the near future with icons and a unique window design in the near future!

The build you're seeing below is showing off levels 1-4, level 5 hasn't been implemented yet, but there's a special surprise coming soon that will show that off!



First public build of ANTics. Take a look at the credits for the dev team!

Look for ANTics to appear for PC/Mac/and your handy Android device or iPhone very soon.



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



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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The eve of a new adventure!





I'm really excited about getting to adventure around in Eorzea again! There are so many things I want to do and the two videos I posted above barely scratch the surface.

Paladin is definitely getting the forefront this time around, I would love to main tank for my group. Something I didn't really get to do much in the first version of FFXIV that I'd love to do a lot more. Of course we'll have runs where I will not be a superior tank just by not having the best gear in the group, and for that I have my back up roles as Black Mage and Warrior. Though, I've played the beta test and I liked how Arcanist played too.

Things I really put off from Version 1.0 is going for a relic weapon, I took a very casual approach to obtaining that due to thinking we wouldn't complete the content due to the latency and lag of the game client and servers. I wanted to focus on getting goals done when we could play at our best.

We've moved to the North American/European legacy server of Hyperion (we used to be on Aegis which has become a Japanese server), and I'm absolutely stoked about finally getting to take Garuda down. Fight Titan! Obtaining a Mog Sword. Get relic weapons for the group. Explore ALL the dungeons! Discover Eorzea's most hidden of secrets.

 

Oh, oh, and most importantly, save the world with a band of awesome friends of new and old.

I'll be around on Hyperion after 2AM Pacific Time Saturday morning. Say hi! I'm always down for a new adventure.



-Grover Eyeveen leader of Viva Eorzea Linkshell/Company of Hyperion











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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Computer Science graduate job-hunting

While I'm working on the small indie game studio, I've been eyeing more entry-level full-time positions that will pay a salary while I focus on getting Whim Independent Studios up and running.

I'm starting to see a catch-22 on a lot of open entry-level positions. They want 2-3 years of experience in multiple languages for an entry-level position.

I don't understand. The university I came from primarily taught just C++ for its courses, and I had a one-quarter course in Java and a one-quarter course in Python. How or where do they expect us to get the experience for the entry-level position?

I get it, technology is continually evolving and the standards for what languages are in and out are constantly changing, but how does one expect to constantly stay on top of everything? If I pick up a new language to learn in my spare time, I am not going to magically get awesome at it enough to get an entry level job.

So, Computer Science graduates, when you got your job, how exactly did you become good at programming? Any guides or books that you recommend I read in order to pick up or get efficient at languages a little better or faster than my current rate?





Thursday, August 15, 2013

I'm getting better at handling rejection!

Today I had a talk with a girl that I went to college with that we've been casually flirting back and forth online over the past couple of months.

After some back and forth conversation about some other topics, she outright brought up that she thinks that I was attracted to her. After admitting to her that I was, she calmly said that she wasn't ready for a relationship at this time and flirting was really as far as it was going to go.

I don't know whether or not she was just saying she wasn't ready, or if it was a nice way to say that she wasn't interested in me, and maybe I don't want to know. But I'm glad that she brought some closure to the subject.

And you know what? I'm not bitter or angry, or even upset. In all reality, I'm really happy that she was honest and told me up front that she had no intention of taking things further. Some people would be very malicious and lead them on thinking that they have a chance when in reality there's no way in hell things would work out.

I just wasn't the type of guy she's interested in, and that's OK! Just gotta keep moving on until I find someone I can click with and they can click back? (Click back? How cheesy!)

I do really enjoy the fact that both of us were able to handle it in a very mature up-front honest fashion.

And I feel fine!


Until next post.



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Monday, August 12, 2013

Whim Independent Studios - Development Log #18


Hey all, back with the 18th development log! Today's development log is going to focus mostly on Selatria! Some of the team were invited to a Game Audio meetup last Saturday down in San Juan Capistrano, and lots of networking opportunities were had. It was a lot of fun and I got to learn a ton of others' experience doing audio technical work in the game industry.

I've been pretty ill the past couple of days since that event, so a lot of game development on my end has been from the comfort (or lack of) of my own bed. I've been clipping together a lot of voices and doing the scenario planning for a lot of chapters in order to reduce the workload and get it planned out while we have a finished script.

Anyhow, I've gone off on a tangent. Let's get right down to it.


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New Selatria Characters:

I revealed a couple of new characters on our Selatria page the last week or two. I will elaborate on their personalities, at least a rough draft of their descriptions that will be on the Kickstarter pitch and virtual instruction booklet -

Waltear: 


Waltear - Art by Jennifer Gilliland

The original leader of a resistance faction against the imperial Dakk'rian Empire, Waltear was captured in a surprise attack, and taken prisoner to the remote city of Verwin, a remote Dakk'rian city that prides itself on being a desert resort for gambling and betting via its world-famous Arena, where prisoners are taken to fight for their lives against brutal monsters.

Doomed to a fate in the Verwin arena, fighting endlessly as a Gladiator to the amusement of the crowd, Waltear uses his Samurai skills in order to excel out of his situation, but time is running out before a monster will come that he can't defeat...

The main party is sent to retrieve Waltear from his doomed fate by the Resistance. But will they make it to him in time?

Abilities: 

Waltear focuses on physical team attack triggers. He can start attack chains where other party members can join in on. Here are some sample abilities (All abilities are subject to change!)

Whirling Dervish - Spins rapidly, attacking multiple times. May cause a Team Attack.
Rising Sun - Delivers an intense slash that inflicts two stacks of Burn. May cause a Team Attack.
Instant Incision - Waltear makes a series of incredibly fast cuts, attacking first.



Gobby:

Gobby - Art by Jennifer Gilliland

Growing up in the Goblin Village in the Southern Isle, Gobby had a peaceful life until recent attacks saw him and his companions conscripted to the Dakk'rian imperial forces. Gobby is sent on his initial mission under Commander Llona to attack the Faylien port metropolis of Heiveir.

Unlike his goblin companions who continue to follow orders of the Commander, Gobby realizes a basic sense of right and wrong and helps Melanie, who is trying to defend the harbor. After the Dakk'rian forces disregard him as a wretched beast and a traitor, the displaced Gobby begins to follow Melanie as a mother figure.


Abilities: 

Gobby makes use of archery and tools in order to create attacks. A lot of  Gobby's abilities are contraptions that require the use of items in order to execute. Here are some sample abilities (All abilities are subject to change!)

Aim - Delivers a precisely timed shot that never misses.
Overdraw - Fires with an extended draw for increased damage.
Poison Arrow - Strikes a Poison Arrow right to the heart. Has a chance of inflicting Poison.
Barrage - Fires multiple arrows at random targets.


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Music:

Composer Christopher Nuño stopped by the studio a few weeks ago to compose some themes for Selatria. He brought a small board to compose MIDIs and started to hammer out a couple of themes while we worked on the game. I recorded two of the themes when he was fine tuning them.

The first theme in development is going to be used for a beach resort. A sample of the finished theme is down below on the SoundCloud links.



This is a movie of a special boss battle theme in the works. I won't spoil it (though I really want to), but I hope the challenge that comes with this song will be justified! I only recorded part of the song, you'll have to hear the rest of it in the game itself!



Here are also two themes on the SoundCloud page. One is a completely new theme that hasn't been shown in the public yet. It's going to be the new theme of the Gatehouse composed by Luke Simpson. For those who have played the Chapter 1 demo, you'll see this in Chapter 1-3A when the next version of the Chapter 1 demo is released!



The second theme is one you've seen on the YouTube page, and one I've shared on Facebook and this blog already. It's going to be the theme for a Resort House and town. Check it out and listen! Chris wanted to go with a theme that is cohesive with the main theme of the game as well.




Looking for Voice Talent:

We have a lot of auditions coming in for voice talent for Selatria. Lots of roles for Chapter 2-4 are open. We originally had even more roles open than what we have listed, but in order to keep costs down, we voiced some of the characters that only have 1-2 lines in-house. So yes, I will have some voices as some very minor roles, as well as some of the other developers. Apparently I can pull off a "naive" person. Who knew?

Auditions end in just under two weeks, so take a look at the thread if you want to audition!


Other:

We will have a new PR person taking charge for public posts on Facebook, and our new Twitter and YouTube accounts. So posts will becoming more frequently for the games in development as we lead up to the Kickstarter pitch. His name is Louis Shepherd and he'll be managing several pages such as our upcoming YouTube page, our Tumblr, and our Facebook and Twitter.

I will still be doing big development log entries here as well, that way, especially for our backers in future projects can see the continued development of the project they help support.

At the rate we're going, ANTics is heading for a late August or September release and Selatria is aiming for December, but we're still not quite sure of a definitive release date for our games.

As the biggest feedback was the inconsistent art style for Selatria in the Indiegogo feedback, art-wise we're developing the game in three phases: Leading development on this is Jennifer Gilliland:


Phase 1
: Coming up with an art style we're happy with and morphing the faces to that style.
Phase 2: Redoing the monsters to fit the consistent style
Phase 3: Making unique terrain that sets Selatria apart from the RTP-style.

We're likely going to try for Kickstarter once Phase 2 is completed in order to get Phase 3 done since, personally, I think that will be the hardest section to do since environmental art is harder to accomplish.


Oh, I'll finish this off with a new screenshot of the Southern Isle, which is a group of towns on a group of islands that will be some of the focus for Chapter 3.

The mountain designs are unique assets and are by Jennifer Gilliland. The Southern Isles were mapped by Matt Estrada and Jon Dishaw mostly. We originally planned on having one small town in the center of the group of islands, but we figured it would be more fun if it was a group of towns that are interconnected by ferries and tunnels.





That's about it for this development log entry. I thought this would be a bit longer, but I'm not feeling very well so I'll let the medicine do the talking.

Until next time!






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Monday, August 5, 2013

Anime Vegas 2013

They pushed Anime Vegas convention back to November 1-3 instead of Labor Day weekend-

Good News: That makes me happy because there's time to plan a new costume and provides for more time to get our studio's games finished up to advertise at said convention!

Bad News: They still don't have a picked out venue and the delay explains on why they didn't answer my attempts to contact them for said advertisements in their program guides in the first place! >.<;;

But to reschedule so close to the original date, I hope there's no internal politics/cancellations brewing...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Things I'd like to say that won't fit in a status update - August 2013


I haven't updated the blog in a while, and I probably should have, but I've been busy with a heck of a ton of stuff in the 'real world' and sleep has been iffy. So here I am. I think I'll call this segment "Things I'd like to say that won't fit in a status update" (TILTSTWFIASU, if you will) due to just being all around ranty and "paragraphy" (is paragraphy even a word?) of things I'd like to say but it would end up being an ugly giant wall of text.

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TILTSTWFIASU, why?


My friend inspired me to start TILTSTWFIASU, my close group of friends and I used to have a gaming get-together every third Saturday of the month to meet and play video games, catch up, and have a traditional eat at Red Robin - Unfortunately real life took charge and we stopped doing that as often as friends got busy with jobs, me and one of my friends got busy with longer hours trying to finish our game, and the whole lot.

So last week (or was it two weeks ago? probably two weeks ago), I suggest to a close friend to start a blog after his family and some of us suggested that his public status updates on Facebook were getting a little too... I don't know, ranty, if you will. And I told him a blog would be a great way to express his creativity and what he really feels, without being judged too much by his peers (just only those who care to see it). He made his private and invited those who were interested to see his blog, where he posts things and questions that people would answer and so forth. 

Everyone has a different definition of blogging, some is doing what said friend is doing, some's definition of blogging is using Tumblr to find and 'reblog'  funny pictures and gifs they find funny (I don't really consider Tumblr blogging in a sense - it's more of a Facebook where sharing is more important than posting original material - but that's a different story), and mine is more of the traditional sense to really just write down what I'm working on and how I'm feeling to get my thoughts on paper somewhere. Alright, without further ado...

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MySpace and Online History:

MySpace recently revamped their whole website some time ago. I don't know when they did it, but recently I went to check some old entries in my old blog I had on there before I moved here to Blogger. I guess looking back, it was for the better because everything I had on MySpace was completely wiped except for A/ Who I was friends with (now it's called "connected to") at the time, and B/ your current profile picture (which was a drawing by someone of me and my FFXI character).

In a way it was kind of depressing because it feels like everything I did online in those years were now erased from memory, but in a different way it does feel nice for some other people who posted pictures of them doing inappropriate stuff and never really scrubbed it from their online histories. I have a friend who applied for a probation officer and their HR department made him look up all of his online profiles to make sure he was a good fit for their institution. If you don't have appealing stuff on those sites, it will come back to haunt you.

I recently found out that Xanga (the blogging site I used before MySpace and this) was also having some trouble and they needed funding to stay afloat. If that were to go, then all of the blogs I've ever had except for this one would be scrubbed from existence.

It really does say something. If Google ever gets replaced by something better in the future, will all of these posts be scrubbed from memory as well? Who knows, it would be kind of cool to have descendants be able to find my rantings hundreds of years from now to see what I did in my normal spare time, but YouTube videos and the like will be around in some archived format on future technology, so people will get laughs. Heck, people still watch TV and that's been around for over half a decade. I wonder how long the internet will be around before it gets replaced by future technology we can't even fathom.

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Final Fantasy XIV:

Words can't really describe how psyched I am for the game to come back. Our progress officially stopped counting on Halloween of last year with the epic finale of 1.0 on November 11, 2012. I was out in Vegas at the time without a stable internet connection and I worried that I wasn't going to be able to be there in the final moments, but in the end I was able to make it and zones were crashing due to the end-of-the-world events going on. We managed to make it to Ul'dah and were greeted with the End of an Era video as soon as the servers went down. I still remember it and we took a final shot of our 1.0 characters together right before impact.



As for my "A Realm Reborn" look, after much deliberation, I am going to stick with my Version 1.0 character with some modifications. I am too attached with my character itself to warrant a change in identity. Hell, we almost saved Old Eorzea from certain doom. I don't want to throw that away (and I feel like I would) for a drastically different look on my character.


 I like the look, though I wish there were more hair options, but I'm pretty pleased with my appearance. Added some additional scars too to show the meteor/1.0 damage!

Grover Eyeveen's coming back in full force on Hyperion. I can't wait! I'd like to get some real life friends into the game, and that leads me into my next point.

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Free-to-Play/Micro-transaction Model VS Pay-To-Play Subscription:
 
Most of my real life friends like the free-to-play/microtransaction model. Most of them have PS3s and play free-online gaming and/or are fans of the online RTS "League of Legends". I played LoL for a short while, but the attitudes of the players are very off-setting and rude. I think that's why I really like pay-to-play models of games, it really weeds out (or at least sets a high-barrier of entry) against immature people who just log in to insult others.

FFXIV is going to be 12.99/14.99 ish subscription. (If you want 1 character or 8 respectively) - Some people think that price is too steep for a month. But think of it this way.

12.99 divided by 30 is 43 ish cents a day. That's less than the price of playing two arcade games a day. You can use Amazon Mechanical Turk in order to fulfill a couple of online jobs and easily make that money in 10 minutes tops. It's a very inexpensive form of entertainment as compared to, I don't know. Going out to a bar or watching a movie.

Not to mention it comes with updates for the game, new boss encounters, new classes, all the fun content.

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Studio Progress:

I think I've been becoming slowly more and more of a Producer/Director by keeping people on track. We are working on getting our games out to the public. I really know what type of people I'm looking for to get things done. People with a drive to actually work on a project, even if the rewards aren't immediate.

For Selatria we have a pretty close-knit team of people (one artist, three game designers, two musicians, and one sound editor/recording engineer) who are working on the game about 24 hours a week ish, almost as much as a part-time job. It's hard to stay motivated sometimes when the results of the work aren't immediately shown, but we still hack away at the game getting as much of it done a week as we can.

It's kind of funny that the highlight of our week was programming a "Game Saved!" window into our game once it writes data to a file. I will show more of Selatria in the next proper game development log along with some music and art. At least check out this song, I love the peacefulness to it. Chris did a really good job on composing this, and Jennifer did a great job with the art.



Selatria will likely be our only game traditional RPG format. (Maybe demand will change that in the future, but it's uncertain. We are here to make money after all.) As a studio, though, we do not want to be stuck in a niche and eventually try one of each genre. With Selatria we're out to prove quality games can be made with an RPG Maker engine and we're proving just that.

We're in the process of really learning the ins and outs of Unity to prepare development for our next game project. We're using about half of the development days each day to learn the engine. It's a lot of fun so far, and it's easier to learn when we develop in a very patient, take-your-time atmosphere as opposed to college where I felt like I was being rushed the entire time.

My personal philosophy is to get farther today than you were yesterday. Never be stagnant, because that's when you really lost. Heh, that kind of brought me to my next point.

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Trying new things and experiences:

Not sure if I posted it before or not, but I'm known as someone who has a very wide comfort zone, and doesn't really like to escape it as often. I've also notoriously been known for swearing things off after one bad experience. Bad time at a restaurant? I never go to it again. Friend tries to play a joke, never trust them again. I also had a great fear of talking to people on the phone and intercom, and that includes talking to people in drive-thrus, not to mention being too passive and not taking charge when needed. It's kind of bad for someone in several leadership position like I am, so I've been making steps to change it.

I'm really trying to break that habit by trying new things and giving people second chances. I tried some new items at existing restaurants I already go to, and I've been using notecards and small scripts in order to go through things like a drive-thru or talking on a phone so I don't stutter as much. It's a good step forward!

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That's about it for my first TILTSTWFIASU. Maybe I'll post more, but this was a really good place to get things off my chest. Until next post!