Updated download links for my games

I realized the links I was using originally for my games are no longer active (they pointed to the gamejams I entered them in). Since the blog posts and post-mortems usually are the first things people see here, I went ahead and put in the links on those. For quick reference, here is Compendium (Quest is required to play) and This Game is Not a Dating Sim (installer package).

UPDATE 8/29/16: My Dropbox got hacked so I had to delete the account. However, the game files are now on Google Drive and the links can be found on those pages above ^.

Thanks and have fun!

A word on Project: Mittens and others

Two announcements! First off, I can finally release artwork and a demo based on the 2D RPG game I was working on with a colleague, Project: Mittens. Link opens to the demo we have so far, and a more finalized version will be out at September 30th.

Starting classes you can choose from, at left to right and top to bottom: Ninja, Wizard, Monk, and Engineer.

 

Example of one of the enemies you’ll be fighting, a rat. Armor coming soon!

 

In the mean time, a working demo is almost finalized for The Chair: Prison Break, based off of the successfully funded graphic-novel-to-indie-movie Kickstarter. Surprisingly enough, I got collisions working, and some obstacles and projectiles are now moving across the screen! (Will have a better gif at the end of the week to demonstrate this.)

Of all things though, the next hurdle became showing the player how many lives they have left! Arrays didn’t work, and when I used spritesheets instead, Marmalade decided to run out of memory and crash the game for the night. I’ll have to come up with a backup solution for the time being, but it’s a method I’m not fond of using for the final release unless nothing else works.

The demo is due by the weekend, so my next update will have all of the goodness I can show for, as the game wraps up quickly. I’m excited to finish up this amazing project, it’s taught me well on the ins and outs of Lua, and while some parts can still be frustrating, it’s becoming to make more sense to me. I’ve even looked at my code now and realized how much more efficient I can make it for the final release.

So with that, Project Mittens, and This Game Is Not A Dating Sim being wrapped up for demos soon, it’s fun seeing everything come together in one big package. For so long everything I’ve done or helped with has been under development that it felt like there was no end in sight. Good to see some great feedback out of it!

 

Speaking of, two Let’s Players reviewed my game for Insanity Jam #2! One was brought on by Lone Roach Studios and was quite extensive and amusing to watch! I didn’t even notice I had a few grammatical errors in the dialogue, so I appreciate him going out of his way to really provide good feedback with his LP!

The 2nd is Jupiter Hadley, who did a brief LP for all of the submitted games. I recommend watching through all of them (many on there I liked myself), but if you wanna jump to just mine, it’s towards the end. A great shoutout no less!

Currently, the game is still tied for first place for the jam with a whopping 8 out of 10! I kindly ask you again to spread the word, and play and vote if you hadn’t yet. You have until August 11th! (I was misinformed last time, you have an extra day!) Thank you, and good luck everyone!

Voting Starts Now for “This Game Is Not A Dating Sim”!

Clicking on image will open voting link in new window!

My submission for Insanity Jam #2 is all wrapped up! Voting starts now until August 10th! You’ll need an account for the forums in order to vote along the new criteria set up, so spread the word and give your feedback!

Please keep in mind that there’s only one route and ending available so far in the playable. My math skills in Python aren’t so hot and I ended up breaking things everywhere just for attempting subtraction. There’s a reason I was an art major!

After voting wraps up and feedback is gathered, I’ll be doing a post-mortem, which I’m actually excited to do since this actually is my first visual novel I made. First time making and putting in my own audio as well, with some help from friends and license-free material, of course.

Anyway, hope you enjoy and vote vote vote!

This Game is Not a Dating Sim!

(Okay, maybe I am trying to be witty, but it’s also the name of my submission for Insanity Jam #2!) In this game, a melon in a city of food dates a famous grapefruit actress, and has to survive a day without being bothered by paparazzi and annoying fans while they go on their first date. A point-and-click adventure with “survival” elements, it’s the anti-dating sim!

So far here are some screenshots of the working playable:

Tonight I also recently added more expressions for our plucky characters, and I’ll be drawing up a CG art as well (every visual novel needs some :). The game is being built with Ren’py, like of the other visual novel I’ve had to unfortunately put on the backburner.

I may only have one route playable by the time the jam ends however; this week has been busy for me. There will still be fun to be had, hopefully! I’ll also include some audio and even some voices as well this time around, though the voices will just be cutesy gibberish (like of Animal Crossing), so no actual spoken dialogue of a known language. It’s not that kind of game. (My other VN is though!)

My next update will have my forum link for download and voting for the jam!

VN screencaps and another project

For those anxiously waiting to see what my game actually looks like so far, here it is! For promo purposes I blurred out names and faces from the stock photos in the screencaps here (despite them being free but they’re placeholder images either way, they will not be in the final version).

In classic visual novel fashion, inner dialogue with the main character is in italics.

Character names will be in different colors, and for the most part, will appear as their last names (except for an unknown person talking, which will be “Voice” in grey).

I’m still playing around with the text size, since this will also be going on mobile. On PC the size is perfect, but one of the characters, Isis, has a very sheepish voice so her dialogue will always be in a smaller font than the others. Obviously since this will also be a mobile release, that would be an issue and would have to be tested. If you’re curious though, the typeface I used is Euphorigenic by Ray Larabie, a free-to-use font (even for commercial releases; just don’t sell the font or any alterations of it). It’s very lovely and polished! I’m a big fan of it and it helps me not get sick of seeing my work for this game.

Aside from that, while I did promise new colorings and lineart of avatar art, I was given a proposal for a game idea by my brother Peter. As the founder and head of Alterna Comics, he was looking to have a small spin-off game made to help promote his graphic novel, The Chair, since it has been picked up by director Chad Ferrin (The Ghouls (2003), Someone’s Knocking at the Door (2009) to be slated for an independent movie production. As seen from last week’s post, that was the endless runner project I briefly mentioned (and why I also decided to resurrect my little tomato guy, since he’ll be testing out the game mechanics and so far it looks good).

So instead I have been busy starting up on that project, and once I’m given the go-ahead, I hope to show some UI and item designs I did so far. Depending on how my pixel art skills are, maybe even graphics of that, but I admit I do more vector and tablet art work than pixels. But I do look forward to actually doing more of that though. The extent of my pixel art is basically my Animal Crossing QR codes for outfits and decorum, so I guess that’s a good start.

Developers Cagematch!: Construct 2 vs. Ren’py

These days there are many programs and SDK’s to choose from for creating your own game. Some have a steeper learning curve than others, and depending on what you’re making some are simply better tailored for the task at hand. For those looking to do a more narrative-driven game, such as a visual novel, this is no different. This week’s posting will focus on two programs I’ve tried out, and one ultimately came out as winner.

This doesn’t mean the “losing” program is a bad program. I mainly want to address their strengths and weaknesses for other devs out there, especially those starting out and grasping for feedback from other devs who have used them in the past. With that said, let’s get to the nitty gritty!

For my game, I wanted something that could publish onto both PC and mobile platforms. Because of that, I definitely wanted an SDK that would publish onto mobile as well as PC via web browser. Even before I entered my graduate program, I have been recommended Ren’py, but of course at that time the mobile space had just been picking up, and so when I did decide to buckle down to make this game, Ren’py had not yet released a way to publish onto mobile. After some digging, I leaned towards Construct 2 and tried that out for a few days.

(There also is a third program my fellow friend and collaborator Daggertail is using, which is Novelty. I will not be reviewing it though since I don’t use it, but it’s also highly recommended and very easy to learn. It does not export to mobile at this time though.)

CONSTRUCT 2 (https://www.scirra.com/construct2)

The awesome thing about Construct 2 is that its licensing fee is very easy to obtain and follow, depending on what you’re building your game for and where. PC is free to make since it exports with HTML5 and WebGL, however to make mobile games/apps you will need a Personal license (USD $119), and if it makes over USD$5000 in profit you will have to upgrade to the Business license (USD$399). By the way, unlike other services like Adobe Creative Cloud, these fees are one-time only!

The SDK’s site also offers great tutorials for all skill levels, although the ones built into the program itself are incredibly helpful and powerful. Virtually almost every game and app you can think of has its basics outlined in the tutorials; platformers, shooters, top-down dungeon crawlers, etc.

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Although an understanding of basic OOC (object-oriented code) is helpful, the interface of the program is very drag-and-drop and menu-based. Much of what you’ll be doing is maneuvering what variable does what and when, and selecting options. It’s very easy to follow and has a good learning curve for beginners to get into.

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Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the polish for a visual novel, unless you’re an expert with the program or want to sit down and figure out how to work it yourself. Regardless, it is a great way to make a quick prototype of any game. If you like your end product of your visual novel to have that nice polish and little details, but don’t like to program or dig through too much tutorials to find what you’re looking to do, you may wanna steer clear of Construct 2 until you feel more comfortable with the program.

Simply put, while it can make other games such as those I had listed, it needs more fine-tuning for it to be as efficient with visual novels. I quickly found myself struggling to do what I wanted it to do, and time was not on my side.

But then I found out Ren’py got a patch that could export to Android, and that’s where this next part comes in.

REN’PY (http://www.renpy.org)

Ah, good old Ren’py. Prior to June of this year, this program only published onto PC. Thanks to its new exporting feature, RAPT, it can now publish onto the Android market as well! Using and publishing games with Ren’py is free, however you’ll need to purchase the fee over at Android’s end for releasing it onto mobile (USD$25; it appears to be one-time as well but please correct me!). If you don’t mind not having a release on the App Store, you’ll be happy as a clam.

Like Construct 2, Ren’py’s documentation and built-in tutorials are incredibly powerful, despite the fact that it’s dedicated primarily on visual novels and other simulations. With more tailoring, you could turn it into other puzzle games as well. Whereas the other uses HTML5 and WebGL, Ren’py is run by Python, but has its own language that the developer can use to create their own games. While only changing interface skins are done with a simple menu, everything else is hard-coded.

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If you know basic OOC, you’ll have no problem diving into Ren’py, but if you don’t do much programming at all or are new to it, I would highly recommend tinkering with the tutorial files, and playing around with the variables as shown in their documentation first. Compared to most other OOC’s out there though, Ren’py’s is incredibly easy to grasp. It took me a whole semester or two to get into Lua when I was using CoronaSDK, and I still haven’t scratched its surface.

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After sitting down with Ren’py for a day, I was able to catch up with what I had built back with Construct 2 for my game and then some, and that’s including adding my typeface and adjusting the settings! It was such a breeze that I simply haven’t bothered to go anywhere else to make my game.

With that said, the verdict is in favor of Ren’py for this cagematch! Construct 2 is a fantastic program and I still highly recommend it, however if you’re looking to make a visual novel with no fuss to worry about, Ren’py is what you want. If coding really drives you bonkers though, Novelty is a bit of a marriage of the other two – its interface is more menu-driven like Construct 2, but it has powerful features like Ren’py does (it doesn’t publish onto mobile though).

I hope this post has helped your decision on your SDK of choice! Maybe in the future I will do more program/SDK comparisons, but we’ll see. As it is I realized the modern Windows Movie Maker for Windows 8 is horrible, and I had to reinstall a trial of Adobe After Effects in order to do some simple video compilations. That itself has its own learning curve, but I’ve used it several times in the past so it was cake for me.

With that said though, I am open to suggestions! Next week’s post will be something more design-related, so if you like that sort of thing I hope you dig it! Thanks for reading and take care!