Man, I should've posted this a long time ago, but being the complete airhead that I am, I totally forgot about it. Anyway, I just moved the blog to http://orchardl.wordpress.com . It's so much easier to use, especially with the new native app for the blackberry. Anyway, see you guys there.
Well, what I can say? It looks like this is taking more time than I have expected. No doubt, most people would think that the game is in a limbo right now, but it really isn't. But to be fairly honest, I do have to admit that it's been a while since I touched the gm file. I've been distracted by a lot of things lately, and not all of it has something to do with my work. There was this new android phone that I recently got (oh, the Android is a really neat OS, btw), that brand new PSP that I've been fooling around for weeks, and then a bunch of other gadgets most people probably won't care about. What can I do? I'm a gadget freak. It's one of my greater vices (aside from slacking off, I guess.)
Still, this doesn't mean that nothing's been done since my last post. I've done plenty of stuff, actually. I'm all done with the art assets for the expansion. That's one of the things with working lo-fi, you can get things done at a much faster rate. The thing that's really holding me back is actually the writing itself. I guess it can't be helped, I'm just not that good of a writer. Terrible actually.
The moral lesson? I guess I better make a game that doesn't involve a lot of writing next time.
I realize that the posts have been getting shorter and less frequent (drastically so) as time went on. There isn't a legitimate excuse for this. The truth is, I've been slacking off ever since I finally upgraded my internet service to an unlimited data plan (it used to be 3gb permonth with 5 cent permb after the 3gb quota has been exceeded.) I pretty much went wild after the internet service upgrade, I wasted 26gb in a mere 15days on youtubing, reading manga, and, uh... pr0n (what? don't give me that condescending look :/).
So uh, anyway, progress on Neverwhere is a tad bit slow, but it's getting there. Seriously considering the possibilty of holding off the release until I can get the next episode ready though.
I haven't done much in terms of productivity after finishing 44 tiles for SD. I just feel extremely exhausted at the moment. I can't even muster the enthusiasm to play the games I've been looking forward to. Yeah, it's that bad. This is pretty much something I go through every once in a while.
As for Neverwhere, well, I don't have anything new to add unfortunately. It's still going through the playtesting stage.
This last few weeks have been emotionally and physically taxing. Retail work tend to have that effect on people. I'm sick of dealing with buyers who are insistent on haggling down to unreasonable prices. I'm sick of dealing people who expect the sellers to treat them as royalty. And I'm sick of persuading people to raise their offering price (it's not like I'm making a killer profit out of it anyway!) This is what I have to go through during the day. By the time I get back from work, I'm just too tired to deal people. All I wanted to do is watch TV, play some games, and get in bed. Heh, well, that's my life for you. Or the lack thereof. You decide.
Well, unfortunately progress on Neverwhere has been going at an unexpectedly slow rate. I just went through the proofreading list two days ago and have been waiting for the next list. I also haven't heard from Kevin for days now, which is pretty frustrating since the game is nearing its release.
Okay, I just received a list of things to fix from one of my proofreaders. It's quite a long list and he's still at the beginning of the game. Boy, it looks like it's going to be some while before I can release the game. With the slow rate things are going, I'd say mid-March is a pretty fair estimation.
Well, it's been a while since the last update. I'll be completely honest, the last few days were pretty hectic. Work was tough, and chinese new year was unexpectedly pretty slow this time around. Let's deal with the bad news first, I hate to sound like a broken record here, but I'll be completely honest, I haven't touched the source code since I last added the speed dial code. The good news is though, I gave the speed dial code a whirl yesterday and it works just fine now.
What's next on the agenda before the release? Well, there are still a couple of things that need to be done. First, I need to "tone" down the difficulty for the lockbox puzzle. Then there are still some typos and grammar errors to be rid of. And of course... I still need some guinea pigs to test the game again.
Here is a list of things I've done for Neverwhere since my last post:
*Fixed lots of typos and grammar errors. Ugh, what can I say? I guess you reap what you sow. *Replaced all of the placeholder tracks with the stuff Rinku and I bought off indiegamemusic.com. Man, these tracks are awesome! *Toned down the music volume. *Inputting the wrong password in memory/epilogue now returns the players to the title screen. *The end of the memory cutscene now returns the players to the title screen. *Fixed a bug pointed out by Starmaker.
That's it so far. I'm feeling pretty optimistic about getting everything done by the end of the month.
Finally found a decent blogger client for winmo standard OS. It allows offline posting, so you can write your blog at your own pace. You can also save the post for later if you didn't get the chance to finish them. And oh, it also comes with the ability to upload images. Pretty standard features, but it works well enough. The only thing I dislike about the client is the GUI, or perhaps... the lack of it. It's ugly as sin.
Okay, just as I have feared, the variable-changing bug appears once again. I honestly don't have a clue what's causing it anymore. It just makes no sense. I've looked through the code over and over again and found nothing that could cause this bug. I'm absolutely certain that I've got all my bases covered. Anyway, I asked Retro (one of the playtesters) to send me his save file so I could take a look at it. It's very possible that it's a different bug altogether, but I doubt it.
I'm really, really, REALLY frustrated right now. With the way things are going, there's no way I could have a second build ready by February.
Well, I haven't been posting daily progress for a couple of days now. It'd be pointless anyway. The truth is, there's nothing much going on development-wise. I have mentally outlined what I want to do for Neverwhere episode 2, but that's about it. I'm mentally and physically spent, and I really don't feel like jumping back to game dev mode until April. For now, I'm just going to focus on SD's tiles and catch up on my ever-growing games to play list.
I suppose now would also be a good time to research possible payment method. So far Paypal looks like a good choice, especially now that I have learned that it is now possible to withdraw funds in Indonesian banks. They'll probably take quite a bit from the USD to rupiah conversation, but oh well... what'cha gonna do 'bout it, huh?
Okay, I think I got everything under control. I sent the game to a technical playtester, and the result is promising so far. She didn't encounter the "variable-changing" bug and was able to finish the game without any problems. Still, I should take precautions and test the game again tonight. Somehow I've got a feeling that I haven't completely fixed the bug yet.
Okay, so maybe I spoke a little bit too early, but then again... maybe not. Apparently the bug still exists even after rinku's fix. After checking the code yet again, we found another inconsistency. I made another change and tested it in-game, and voila... the bug's gone! Or is it? It's hard to be certain because of the tenacity of the bug. Every time I thought I had it fixed, it appears. Again and again. I'll have to delete the save game and replay the game again to make sure. This is seriously the most annoying part of the game development. Everytime I add a new variable (tag), I have to make sure that everything is okay. I technically didn't have to, but it's a habit... and you know what they say about old habits...
People will probably not believe me for this, but over the course of the game development, I must have replayed the game at least 200 times. This process really takes a mental toll on me. I feel like I'm on a limbo, forced to relive the same life over and over again with no chance of redemption. Hopefully though, this FIX will put the nail in the coffin once and for all.
If not... I might actually go crazy before I get the chance to release the game.
Okay, I made some changes to the Tomato Engine. I put in the fix as instructed by Rinku, and fiddled around with the "if" statements in regards to the final scene. I haven't fully tested the fix yet, so... don't have your hope up just yet. Aside from this, there's still the OGG bug which rears its ugly head every now and then. While I can't quite pin point what's causing it, I suspect that it's somehow linked to the variable-changing bug.
As we all know, the default Game Maker save system is pretty mediocre at best. It functions pretty much like save states in emulators. Thus... if you add new variables as you're debugging, it's bound to create some problems, since the save state only recognizes the variables defined when you first played the game. Anyway, if there's any indication, the OGG bug seemingly occur only when the save state gets nuked by the variable-changing bug.
Well, that's my theory anyway. I won't know for certain until I thoroughly tested the fix, which I will do later tonight... and honestly, while I'm very enthusiastic to see this pesky bug rid of, I dread playtesting it again for the... ah, heck, I already lost count by now.
Rinku checked the code today and found an inconsistency within the tomato engine. I think this might be the thing that's causing the variable bug, but as I haven't tested the fix yet, it's probably still too early for celebration. I remain optimistic about the possibility of releasing a playtesting version by the end of January though.
Well, nothing much to say. I'm just waiting for feedback from rinku in regards to the "bug". And then there's still the music files. For now, I've been focusing on SD's tiles. It's probably going to be a long while before I start working on Neverwhere ep 2.
VVVVVV is a shareware platformer game by Terry Cavanagh. A game that is sadly more widely discussed for its "OMG, I can't believe it costs $15" debacle rather than its merits or flaws. I won't say that the game is worth every penny I paid for, because I NEVER said that about anything I have ever bought (I can't help it. I'm just cheap by nature.) At the same time, I also won't say that I feel ripped off for the short game length. The pricing is just about okay. It's funny how most people in the indiegaming scene seems to go crazy for anything retro, but the moment you started demanding money for them, they think you're a nutjob for even thinking of selling your product. I guess shooting for a retro presentation is fine and all, but only if it's free.
I emailed the alpha version of Neverwhere to Kevin (the musician) and the game code to Rinku yesterday. I guess all I have left to do as far as Neverwhere is concerned, is wait and see. For the mean time, I should focus on Saturated Dreamers tiles later when I get home. I promised Rinku I'll have 45 tiles done by mid March.
Ignored the bug for the mean time. I spent most of yesterday fixing textual errors for three major characters. It's not a difficult task, but it's painfully tedious to deal with. With the exception of the bug I mentioned earlier, I only have one more room script to go through.
On another related news, I just received two new music tracks from Kevin, and boy... they're pretty awesome! Even if you don't particularly care about the game, the soundtrack is definetely something to look forward to if you're a chiptune enthusiast.
Usually when the textile shop is near closing up, I get pretty excited. I just can't wait to get home and work on my game. Today though, I'm not feeling the same enthusiasm. How can I? I know I will go home today facing a bug I'm not really sure how to fix. Oh man, I completely dread coming home today...
I'll be completely candid here. Forget the schedule. I'm not going to make it for the playtesting release tonight. I ran into a much bigger bug last night, and the worst part is this... I completely have no idea how to fix it. I've ran into this bug before, but I didn't realize that it was a bug until yesterday. I though it was just an anomaly caused by GM's obsolote save system. It isn't the case. As it turns out, it might due to my modification to the core tomato engine last year. This is going to be tricky. I'm going to ask rinku to glance through the code today.
Oh, dear... I think I might've spoken a bit too early about that playtesting release. I ran into a small problem earlier today. It's a minor bug, but due the way I lazily implemented the inventory system, it's probably going to take me the whole night "fixing" it. It isn't a difficult bug to "fix" so to speak, but it's definitely one of the most tedious. I'm still optimistic about getting it done by Monday though (tomorrow.) Oh well, back to work.
I used to think that I'm getting ripped off on my mobile data plan, but after seeing verizon's data plan... man, mine looks ridiculously cheap in comparison. $10 for 25mb? Seriously? $30 for 5gb? Yikes. I only pay $15 for my unlimited data plan. Okay, so maybe it's not as speedy as US's 3G connection (for the first 2GB I get 256kbps, after that the speed got capped at 64kbps), but if you're browsing with opera mini, speed isn't really an issue. Opera mini can load pages incredibly fast even at GPRS connection (64kbps). I personally think that as far as downloading is concerned, 64kbps is fast enough for mp3s or picture files. I really would advice against using your smartphone as a "leeching" device. Sure, it's cool that you can torrent stuff via your cell, but it's going to drain your battery capacity quickly. It's hardly worth the trouble, IMO.
Okay, now I can say for certain that I'll be able to release a playtesting copy by monday. This doesn't necessarily means that the game is going to be released soon though. The game has to go through several phases of playtesting for the final release.
For the first phase, I playtest the game alone, making sure that there are no game breaking bugs, and that the game is completeable. This phase, I'm nearly done with. Once done, I'll then send the playtesting copy for my musician and another technical playtester (who will make sure that the game is free of major bugs, and weed out possible minor bugs along the way.) After that, there's still the proofreading phase.
Will it be possible to release the game by the end of January? I doubt it. So close, yet so far...
There's one clear distinction between a hobbyist and a game developer. A game developer is someone who make a living from making games, whereas a hobbyist is someone for whatever reason, decides no to sell his/her creation. Some hobbyists make games because they're fun to make and want to have as many audience as possible, so they release their games for free. For the most part though, most hobbyists don't sell their games because they aren't confident enough that their games are worth selling. I've always thought that I am a game developer, but the truth is... I'm just a hobbyist. And there's nothing wrong with being a hobbyist. Well... except for the fact that they usually don't stay in the scene for long. Hobbyists eventually fade into obscurity as work and IRL stuff continue to eat up whatever spare time they have left (as opposed to game developers who don't need to worry about this since game making IS their life).
Not much to report today. As usual, I spent most of my time playtesting Neverwhere yesterday. If I have to completely honest, I've come to dread the playtesting process the most. It is the most monotonous aspect of adventure game development. After a while, I get pretty sick of reading the same dialogue over and over again.
Well, after fixing numerous minor bugs yesterday, I finally came upon a stumbling block. I spent long hours scrutinizing the code for typos and errors, but found none in the end. I'm sad to say that I"ll have to ditch the whole auto-dial code. This was a feature I implemented last year after a playtester complained that dialing the numbers manually can be pretty tiresome. Oh well... I guess it can't be helped. Sorry, Retro.
Anyway, I'm probably about 50% done with alpha testing. With some luck, I might be able to release a playtesting copy next monday.
I made some phonecalls to other dentists, and eventually found someone who can squueze me in today. So here I am at the dentist's office waiting for my turn. For some reason, even though I know I probably won't feel a thing when the doctor replace my fillings, I still dread the whole process. The sight of a stranger putting a drill into my mouth is probably something I'll never get used to. Ever. Oh well, better get this done and over with.
"Heartache hurts more than toothache," so the old saying goes. That's a load of malarkey. I'm on the strongest painkiller medicine I could legally get from the pharmacy, and I still feel as if someone's constantly hammering my jaw with a jackhammer. I already made an appointment with the dentist, but he's not going to be available until next week. I guess I just have to live with the pain for the time being.
Anyway, I've been playtesting the game extensively for the past three days. I originally thought that I could wrap it up by sunday, but boy... looks like I underestimated the playtesting process. I think I fixed about 75 bugs give or take these last three days. Mostly minor bugs, but there are some game-breaking bugs as well. The most crucial bug being the "phantom OGG bug."
Well, blogging via my cellphone will take some time getting used to. The QWERTY pad is nice and all, but it's still a pain to use. Anyway, the purpose of this blog is to document my game dev progress (and then some other stuff as well.) I'll be posting daily progress on my current tomato engine project called "An Invitation to Neverwhere" here.
Well, nothing much to say, I suppose. I'm just some guy on the net who enjoys playing and making games on his free time. I used to be more active in terms of game making back in the days, but as time goes on, work and IRL stuff slowly eats up most of my free time. Nowadays I just subsidize my lack of game development time with my sleeping hours. This might explain why I'm mostly brain-dead during the day. Oh well... there's always coffee, I suppose.