Month: January 2017

Feature Friday: An Early Look at Catching Critters

This is the first of what will be many Feature Fridays. Each Friday I’ll take one major feature or interesting mechanic that I’ve been working on in Monster Village and really dive into it.

Today, I’m going to talk about the first of at least three hobbies: Critter Catching!

What are “Hobbies”?

At its heart, Monster Village is a village life simulator. With this in mind. you’re probably already expecting a fair amount of “stuff” to do, and you’d be correct to think so.

The game is going to be chock full of activities, pastimes, and a whole lot of other tasks that you can do on a daily basis. Today’s feature is about one category of activities called hobbies.

Hobbies are more involved than other activities, and there are a few things that really set them apart:

  • They require several specialized & upgradable tools to perform
  • There’s progression in the form of skills, titles, and other upgrades
  • Most important, the end result of each hobby is to find collectibles for your Compendium, the museum, your house, or just to sell

At present there are three hobbies in the development: Critter Catching, Fishing, and Treasure Hunting.  As you may have guessed already, today’s Feature Friday is digging into the first one!

 

What’s the best tool for catching critters? A critter-catching net! Seems obvious in retrospect

Tools of the Trade: Nets, Traps, & Bait

There are many type of critters out there to catch and collect. Some, like the annoying Sea Fly, require no hunting – they’ll find you

You again!

However, most critters aren’t so easy to catch. Take the Half-Hopper, pictured below. One look at the player and they’ll bolt away before you can catch them.

Don’t talk to me or my half-son ever again

Your net is your primary tool to capture critters. Sometimes you’ll need to chase the creature, and other times you’ll need to sneak up on them unawares.

But what if you can’t catch them with just a net? After all, this Half-Hopper – despite only having half the legs you’d expect of a frog – is pretty fast!

That’s where bait and traps come in.

Bait allows you to lure your quarry either toward you or a specific spot. This is especially valuable for critters that run away, but it can also be used to flush out creatures that are hiding in the environment.

Traps are often used in conjunction with bait to capture critters without the need of your net – in fact, you don’t even need to be around at all!

However, every critter in Monster Village is different, and catching them will require some planning. In fact, each critter has its own unique behaviors, likes & dislikes, and temperaments, so to be successful at hunting you’ll need to be observant, curious, and be willing to research.

Take the aforementioned Half-Hopper. It is known by all that these frogs have a special hankering for Sea Flies. As such, if you could just capture the easily catchable Sea Fly and then release it near the harder-to-catch Half-Hopper, you just might have some better luck…

Incredible! That frog was so hungry he didn’t even bother entering his walking animation!

Ok, so clearly there’s more work to be done here, but hopefully you get the idea!

The Future

Each area of the game will feature its own set of critters to catch & collect, and this will be a huge driver to explore and adventure through the many strange lands seen outside of town.

Some critters might be especially unique or bizarre, and they will certainly not be easy to get, so be sure to level up your skills, your net, and your knowledge to catch them all…

sure, why not?

Critter Catching is going to be a major part of the game, so expect to hear more about it in the near future!

Sprint 1 – Here We Go! – Plan

HERE WE GO!

Week of January 15th, 2017

WARP DOGS’ CORP LOGS

  • The state of our WARP CORP is still ~insanely heckin’ good~
  • The Extinction-Level-Event (ELE) is at an all-time record of 42 weeks away. Indescribable!

The Pre-Sprints have been completed – we are now in the full sprint mode.

A last minute rearrangement of finances was able to get the cash reserves to record levels. I now have 42 weeks to, bluntly, “figure this shit out”

and figure it out I will!

I spent so much time on foundational work that it’s time to reap the benefits. This sprint won’t be bogged down by getting things up and running, and instead will pick up exactly where I left off.

One thing I am unsure of is exactly how much I can get done now that I have a full 40-60 hours worth of time to work. I, uh, presume it’ll be a great deal more than I was able to get done previously, but just how much more? We’ll have to do a real proper retrospective in 7 days time!

SPRINT GOALS

With the Were-Release paradigm firmly locked into place, this next week will be laser-focused on iterating over the Wolf build and turning into something that resembles an actual game.

I’m loathe to use the term ‘vertical slice’, and prefer instead to think of this as a ‘horizontal slice’. Things will be very rough still, but that’s ok, because between now and release we’re going to iterate a whole bunch of times.

In looking at my Kanban board, I want to get some core gameplay loops up and running ASAP. This includes bug hunting, fishing, dog commands, and basic movement around the game world. By the end of this sprint it should undeniably look like a game.

Ok, let’s do our best today.

PRE-SPRINT-14 – IT’S REAL AND IT’S SPECTACULAR – RETROSPECTIVE

IT’S REAL AND IT’S SPECTACULAR

Week of January 8th, 2017

OVERVIEW

This is it, friends. This big ol’ life change no longer needs to be spoken of in future tense or hypotheticals – it’s real.

(and yeah, it’s spectacular)

The career is dead; long live the career.

All in all this sprint was absolutely wonderful. I was able to get some real good work done, and I even published the first were-release – it’s not very good, of course, but it exists.

Just the act of putting up a build helped bring my goals and ideas into sharp focus. I now have a great sense for what the next release (code named “Snow”) has in store, as well as some strategies for getting there.

This is the final “Pre-Sprint”. What starts tomorrow is Sprint 1, and we’ll keep chugging away until this thing is finished or the wheels come flying off going highway speed.

Thanks for following along

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The first official release has been, uh, released – no matter how rough, it’s impossible not to be proud of that
  • Lot of good work, like with a new text system, a very basic dog fetch, sea fly AI, and more
  • Oh, and I actually quit my job to dedicate my life to this new thing – guess that’s important?

LOWLIGHTS

  • Leaving work was incredibly melancholy. There are certainly some things I won’t miss, but those people? The people I sat with and worked with for 6 years? I miss them all terribly
  • Had some very frustrating Git moments in which I completely hosed my “master” branch seemingly by accident
    • Lesson learned? Treat master with a bit more respect and branch more often

SHOW & TELL

 

Flavors of the Week

Well, it’s officially official now – you know, the whole terrifying thing of quitting my job to work on games full time. I’m scared. I’m excited. I’ll have more to say pretty soon.

For today, I want to talk a bit about how I’m going to manage my time now that it’s truly mine to spend.

I know myself: I don’t necessarily respond all that well to rigid structures, but I do respond well to gimmicks and patterns. Weird, right?

So, in order to succeed at this being-my-own-boss thing I plan to assign each day of the week a theme or focus. This way my days are always different, yet (hopefully!) are always focused on the right thing.

Here’s the plan, one day at a time:

Start it on Sunday

Sunday is pretty straightforward – it’s time to plan for the upcoming week.

I’m guessing that planning is going to be pretty important for solo work, so on Sundays I’m going to go through my Kanban board and plan out exactly how I want the week to go.

What features should I focus on? What bugs need fixing? Is there a release or other special event going on this week? I don’t want to wait for Monday to think about these things, so instead I’ll start it all on Sunday.

(I will try to avoid working too much, though!)

Motivational Mondays

Here’s an obvious statement for you: I don’t like Mondays. Who does? Now that I’m on my own I’m trying to twist it around, because Mondays don’t need to be bad. In fact, I’m going to attempt to use Monday to get motivated

How? Well, a whole bunch of ways! I’m going to do fun things, like play video games, or inspirational things, like play video games, or something related to my work, like….well, you get it. It won’t always be video games but it’ll definitely be something I want to do.

I’m going to let the work – and the motivation to do it – find me on Monday instead of the other way around. That way I always start the week on the right foot: happy, motivated, and inspired.

Technical Tuesdays

Video games are a lot of things – bits and bytes of code, art, music, writing, and a whole bunch else. While it’s important to strike a balance between them all, the technical side – the actual code, the source control, the libraries and tools and all that other stuff – that all needs to be focused on and polished on a regular basis.

In a lot of ways the technical side is the most important one: “Technical Debt” isn’t just a business buzzword – it’s a very real project killer, and I could drown in it now that I’m on my own.

This’ll be the day to learn good practices – or correct the bad. Cleanup unused branches. Pay off technical debt. Comment and refactor code. Kill bugs. That sorta thing!

Wildcard Wednesdays?

Ok, I actually don’t know what to do on Wednesday yet. I’m thinking Wednesday will be a true wildcard and be a hodgepodge of a lot of things.

Thinkin’ Thursdays

Remember all stuff about how the technical side is the most important one for games? Forget that. On Thursdays I’m going to minimize the amount of techy stuff I work on and instead focus on the thinking side: the analytics, process and product maps, game design and theory, reading books, other creative works, etc.

If most my week is spent programming and fixing things then I’m hoping Thursdays will be a good break and a refreshing change of pace. Plus, it’ll serve as a fantastic springboard into…

Feature Fridays

Yeah! This’ll be my favorite day of them all. Each Friday will have one major goal: pick at least one big feature – maybe it’s already in progress, or maybe it’s brand new – and work like crazy on it.

Implement it, refine it, make it awesome, share it, get feedback, then do it all over again.

Feature Fridays are meant to be the ultimate culmination of the week. I get motivated on Monday, lay a technical foundation on Tuesday, do whatever on Wednesday, think a lot on Thursday, and by Friday I’m ready to see something major to completion and share it with the world.

(Or at least with the subset of the world that cares to see it.)

Saturdays are for Looking Back & Cleaning Up

Finally we reach the weekend again.

Weekends are going to be weird; I need them, much in the same way that any human needs a break from work. But I also want to maximize my time and make sure I’m making the best use that I can – that includes working on weekends.

I won’t do a ton of work on Saturday, but I do want to accomplish at least two things:

  • Do a retrospective on the previous week, figuring out what went right and what went wrong
  • Clean up the inevitable mess I made the previous week
    • This includes cleaning my desk and work area, but also files on  my computer, my email, and everything else

In this way I can feel productive and ready to go on Sunday – where it starts all over again!

Introducing the Were-Release

No development can be done in a vacuum, and with games player feedback isn’t just important – it’s absolutely necessary. Doesn’t matter how much I think a thing is fun if nobody else does!

To this end, I’ve committed myself to publish a new build to this site for everyone to play with each month. This fits well with my overall “sorta-Agile” strategy of iterative and rapid development, and it’s the right length of time to delivery substantially new releases.

But then I thought – you know what? Just doing something every 30 or 31 days is kinda boring. What if I tied to some monthly thing so it’s easier to remember and a bit more of an occasion?

Then it hit me – in a manner of speaking

The full moon happens each month! Sometimes twice!

Tying a monthly release to the full moon seemed to strike the right kind of balance between “weird” and “sorta makes sense, actually” that I try to live every day by.

I’m calling it the Were-Release. I don’t like that name anymore than you do, but it’s here, and we best just get used to it, ok?

The latest Were-Release can always be found on this page, and guess what? There’s already one there! The Were-Release for January, Wolf, has been uploaded to the site and is ready to be downloaded.

Be warned: This release, and likely all Were-Releases, will be rough and are not exactly release candidates. But play around with them and make noise in the comments if things are cool, suck, or just plain broken.

PRE-SPRINT 14 – IT’S REAL AND IT’S SPECTACULAR – PLANNING

IT’S REAL AND IT’S SPECTACULAR

Week of January 8th, 2017

WARP DOGS’ CORP LOGS

  • The state of our WARP CORP is still ~otherworldly~
  • The Extinction-Level-Event (ELE) has been pushed back to 34 weeks away. A new record!

Nearly 14 weeks ago (hey, that number looks familiar!) I made the decision to quit my job and pursue my lifelong dream to create, play, and become immersed in all things video game.

Didn’t seem real then, but it sure feels real now, and boy does it feel spectacular.

I’ve often wondered about what I’m suppose to feel – anxiety? Dread? Excitement? Some sort of mixture?

I have probably felt just about every emotion there is to feel these last few months, so what’s leftover is nothing but pure, unadulterated excitement. I’m so god damned ready for this to begin.

After this week…it does.

SPRINT GOALS

The biggest goal this week is to get through my last workweek successfully. Beyond that…

  • This week marks 2017’s first full moon, and thus begins my weird experiment to release a build of my game each lunar cycle. I’m calling it the Were-Release for now, but there is surely a better name
  • I’m also going to take the final steps to transfer my life to fulltime development
  • On the feature front, I want a hero that moves around and has basic actions, like dialog. I’m also planning out a basic UI, basic collision, basic room transition, and a whole lot of other basic things
  • By the end of this week, I’ll have something that actually & honestly looks like a game. For real!

That’s it for now. Let’s do our best today, ok?