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Slowing down progress for Unearthed, so I can try some side projects in Unity Engine

Welp, it finally happened. It took 4 months and 3 weeks into this project, but now I am bored out of my mind and need to try something new. There was even a thread here on RMN about side projects, and I think a lot of the points listed in there are legit. I think reading into it a bit more has sparked my interest in side projects.

Lets talk a little bit of what is happening here in UnEarthed land. I just finished coding all the skills for the warrior class. Well, maybe more like 95% (need screen-shakes, sound effects, some definition values updated, other small stuff). This was a struggle, as I don't play melee characters and I had to do some research because I wanted to get this right. Anyhow, now that "Warrior" is pretty much done, the other melee class, "Knight" comes into play, and I feel like I am out of ideas again. At the same time... it doesn't feel like I am learning anything new. It's just same old same old. Of course, I don't want to add any delay to my game, I've pretty much hit every deadline I've set for it. But the engine/systems coding was what was the most interesting part to be honest. Once that is done, it is basically just adding stuff in, and this is where it gets repetitive and boring... Don't get me wrong, I don't hate it, I just want to learn something new as the coding for skills for each character is extremely repetitive. After this it's making maps, quests, etc. Probably be even more boring.

That's pretty much it for the progress report at the moment. Guess I can share a little story about my game development experience so far.

Gamemaker Studio 2 is the engine I am using for UnEarthed. Back in 2017, I bought my first game engine because I wanted to make an action rpg game. I had no idea how to code and no programming knowledge... so yeah you guessed it. RPGMaker time! RPG Maker VX to be exact. I lasted a total of (according to steam) 82 minutes with VX. Couldn't understand what the hell I was doing. I switched to Gamemaker 1.4 and tried the drag and drop tutorial that was included. Made a simple shooting game, took like 30 minutes! Yep, RPG Maker was too complex for me! But no really, it was more about the limitations. I wanted an action RPG and after several hours of youtube to see if I can find a game made from RPG Maker that would look like what I wanted to make, I did not see anything even close. Too many usage of plugins etc that may not even work/be compatible with other plugins... Anyway, I didn't last long with GameMaker 1.4 either. Probably a few hours messing around? Made the tutorial game and a simple platform game with blocks jumping around and that was it. Then GMS2 came out in May 2017, I bought it up and tried it, using only code and no drag and drop.

Made yet another platform game using it! Platform games with GameMaker seem to be very popular with beginners because they are easy to make. Total development time with this was about 3.5 months. From May to Sept 2017, minus a short vacation.

This game was the biggest mess in the history of messes. The code was almost unreadable, and was literally all over the place. It was impossible to maintain. What happened was I simply watched a ton of tutorials, and mashed them all together here. Naming convention, basically none. Organization? Nope. I got as far as making an inventory/shop system though, and that was when I stopped. I think I blew about $300 buying up pre-made assets too because I was over excited once it started to actually LOOK like a game (using some of those in UnEarthed, so not 100% waste). I actually liked making the game. But even I wasn't stupid enough to continue with this mess using my limited knowledge. I knew I needed to learn more first and then come back to it when I was ready. So, I quit making games all together to learn more traditional programming.

Fast forward about a year and a half later, I became a .NET software engineer. Yep, pretty much self taught myself programming and made it my career because I found out that I liked coding, and it all started with coding basic stuff using GameMaker. I felt like I was ready now, with a lot more knowledge on things like design patterns, coding standards, etc, I re-installed GMS2 in May 2019 and started on my current project, UnEarthed, which was actually supposed to be a short simple game but somehow grew to where it is today. In 2.5 months, I coded the ARPG engine that I am using. The damn thing was 50k+ lines of code! At the moment, I am at 53k lines of code, and this was after adding skills for 3 character classes. Once engine work is done, it's just adding new content.

Another thing with GMS2, it uses a language called GML. It is extremely easy to learn and use. I would say, with no coding experience, you can probably learn the basics of the engine in 1-2 weeks, and in about a month, you would probably know the basics of the code syntax too. You think the code for UnEarthed looks complex? Surprise! It's not. For the code itself, there is like 5-6 basic things you gotta understand: If/Else statements, arrays, enums, loops, switch/case statements, and writing functions/methods called "scripts". For the engine, you'll need to know about the resources, rooms, object events, and inheritance. You can learn this stuff within 2 weeks. Most of the code for my game is very very basic. There are a few things I used tutorials for (carousel selection for the blessings, basic movement, a few other things) but 95% of it is me designing the systems myself, using If/Else statements, loops, and arrays.

SO, does that mean it was actually easy to make this game? Yes and no. While the syntax and engine is easy to learn and use, the hard part is actually handling the complexity of the game. With my first game, I did not know how to handle the complexity of an RPG game at the time. I'll give you an example: With the first game, I coded a skill, mapped it to a button, and activated the skill, which shot out a moving orb that did damage when it hit an enemy. I thought I was pro after I did that. Seems simple right? But, what about the need for a skill system, with skills that can evolve as you put more skill points into it, that you can map to a skill bar, that will consume resources and go on cool down once you use it, that you would also need to code a UI for, plus the skill behavior itself? See what I mean? Now you'll need to hook up multiple systems and suddenly it becomes a lot more difficult, not to code, but to organize everything in a way that makes it maintainable. Just think of it like, many many small systems hooked up together to make one bigger system. This is where documentation + design skills come in handy. You'll need to list down all the dependencies when designing the systems. I usually whiteboard everything, put my technical notes into OneNote, and then use a a workflow management board called Trello to keep track of progress. Having knowledge of best practices (like naming conventions) helps a ton too.

You get BETTER with something as you do it more more often. I kinda regret not sticking with GameMaker as a side hobby when I was studying programming, as I might have become pro by now! I also regret not trying to learn more about pixel art, which I am ALSO going to try doing a side project to learn more about it. It leads me to the point of this whole story: I want to start learning how to code games in Unity too, and I need to start somewhere, even as a noob (although I'll have the advantage of knowing C# since I use it everyday at work). I feel like now is a good chance to start some projects in Unity to learn it, as my interest in coding project UnEarthed has died down a little. Does it mean I am abandoning the project? Not at all, it's just progress on it won't be insane like before. Also, I know some people on RMN might be interested in trying out different engines, so you'll be in the same spot as me. Yes, it will be difficult at first, learning something new for the first time is always difficult at first and that is normal. But soon enough, you'll get used to it to the point where it becomes easy and you don't even realize it. Who knows what it will lead to.

Anyway, enough for tonight. Have a nice day.


Progress Report

UnEarthed - Day 139, 4.5 Months Progress Report

Greetings friends,

Been quite busy with adding more content to the game, in this case skills. It's been a productive sprint. I managed to finish the skills for my mage class, although it was a day behind schedule. For the next cycle, I will be working on the warrior and knight skills. As someone who ONLY plays mages/ranged characters in most RPG games, I am wondering how I will go about creating skills for classes that I don't even use. Welp, time to find some research material. Anyways, I posted a bunch of images for some of the mage skills I finished. Check them out if you're interested.

Meanwhile, I'll add some random images here. Blog posts are boring without images!:

That's it for this week. Hopefully I can get another blog post next week, but it might be delayed again, gotta spend a lot of time researching skills before I code them...

Anyway, have a nice day!

Progress Report

UnEarthed - 4 Month update! Skills and Relics!

Greetings friends,

Big milestone! I finally hit 4 months on this project. The other game I was working on a few years ago was around 3.5 months, and it was basically just a bunch of tutorials mixed together. This means that this is the longest that I have worked on a videogame project. Good job PhantasmaX, big milestone, big fat pat on the back!

Would like to celebrate, but I am sick at the moment. Caught a cold for the last few days, haven't been as active working on the game, however I did manage to finish updating my documentation. Nose is like a water faucet right now, so bad.

I still need to clean up my Trello board though, some parts of it are a mess right now. Anyway,as I said in my last blog, I am now working on Phase 2 of the project, meaning adding content. Yesterday I added a few new things, and I think I have an idea of what to finish first for phase 2: the Tier 2 and Tier 3 skills.

Skills System:

Ugh, I'll try to keep this short but... basically the skill system in this game is a dynamic skill system. Leveling up skills doesn't just boost damage and resource cost, it can change the behavior of a skill. All class attack skills have 3 stages and hit their stage 2 and 3 breakpoints at lvls 5 and 10 (max). Skills are also divided into 3 tiers, T1, T2, and T3. Tier 1 skills are weaker, but cost 1 skill point, T2 costs 2, and T3 costs 3. With a max level of 65, getting a T3 skill to max (would cost 30 skill points!) is expensive, but should be worth it.

Examples of skills evolving as you add more points to them:

Multi Shot Stage 1 - 3 arrows:

Multi Shot Stage 2 - 5 arrows:

Multi Shot Stage 3 - 7 arrows:

Piercing Shot Stage 1 - 1 Shot:

Piercing Shot Stage 2 - 1 Shot, plus exploding shock waves that trail it:

Introduction of Relics:

In addition to different stages for each skill, the behavior for skills can be further modified by rare items called Relics, which are gained from either quests or crafting. Relics take up the relic slot in your equipment slot, and will usually boost a skill, but will also either have some kind of penalty, such as increased mana cost, added stamina cost, or longer cooldown.


Multi Shot Shard relic:

Multi Shot Fragmentation Relic:

Multi Shot Seeker Relic:

Here is Multi Shot with Seeker relic being used in action.

That's it for today's update. Next blog post will probably be delayed, but basically, I will try to finish the Tier 2 and Tier 3 skills for all the characters. One more thing, stupid windows 10 update somehow made CPU usage higher on my laptop, was a huge pain when using OBS to record videos, then see that the video is laggy, so I am moving my stuff to my new PC for my development work. Also, gotta rest for a bit until my cold dies down. Until next time.

Hope ya'll have a good day.

Progress Report

Phase 1 completed - Time to add content!

Greetings friends,

Haven't written anything for a while here, hope everyone is well! I'll try to keep this short. I took a two week vacation. Traveled, so didn't have an opportunity to work on the game, but I did finish up some stuff before I took the vacation. Phase 1 of my game is actually completed now. I probably should note what each phase has to give you guys an idea of the progress:

Phase 1 - Systems Completed (item, inventory, crafting, combat, skills, save/load, etc)
Phase 2 - Add content (story, quests, skills, more items, etc)
Phase 3 - Polish and balance (particle effects, shader effects, final sprites, UI update, etc)

Phew... about 2.5 months of work on the core systems, 50k+ lines of code, and a few hundred hours I think? To be honest, I think adding the content is going to be a lot harder for me. I don't have it planned out in my head like I did with the systems... Systems are easier for me since I have to look at backend logic everyday at work.

Estimations for the remaining phases? Maybe 3 months each, probably more, so this game might be completed in about half a year minimum, assuming I stick with the momentum I have. I do have some problems and concerns though, top one being the fact that I am not as motivated to work on adding content. It isn't as fun as coding the systems.... Also, I need to procure better sprites. Tried contacting the guy who made these time fantasy sprites but never got a reply, so I might end up learning/trying it on my own, it's gonna look icky.

So yeah, that's it. Currently working on adding the rest of the content. Making a story board, writing out what quests I should have, etc. I don't have any experience with this. It's a lot of documentation work right now, looking to finish this in the next week or so (hopefully!) before I start coding again. Gotta make this fun, keep up the good mindset so I don't end up getting that burnout that seems to happen to a lot of other game devs!

And finally, a blog should have some visuals, so here you go!


Fast Travel:

Monster House:

Upgrade Items:

That's it for now folks. Hope you all have a good day.

p.s. - Demo? When? Doesn't seem like there is enough interest/content yet though, might not be worth making a demo build atm. Might wait until there is a little more polish done first :D

Progress Report

UnEarthed - Day 78 Progress Report

Good morning, afternoon, and evening friends!

Another week, another blog post. For anyone reading this, thanks for showing interest in UnEarthed, my first game ever (other than the one I tried to make 2 years ago and abandoned)! The development time has been short, but so far a lot of progress has been made. It is officially 2.5 months after I reinstalled GameMaker. Rejoice! A lot of sleep was sacrificed for the greater good!

Anyway, to start off, I want to say that I am closed to finishing the engine. This is a pretty big deal, because once I am done with the engine, I can start to REALLY build out the content of the game itself by just adding stuff. It sounds kinda weird, but I had a lot of fun coding the engine, but when I was making maps (I think the term is mapping?), I wanted to bash my head on my desk due to boredom. Not good with that kind of work.

Although it looks cool in some parts, keep in mind, I have done ZERO VISUAL POLISHING on this game. It is 2.5 months into development, and still way too early to start polishing the visuals. I am expecting it to look a lot better once I start adding in particles and shaders.

Anyway, onto the progress report!

-- Systems --

Let's start with the miracle system - So what is this system? Well, I called it a miracle system, because I can't think of what else to call it. It's a specialty shop that sells skill resets, stat point resets, and special buffs that last for 30 minutes. You can only have 3 at a time maximum. There will be breakpoints in level where the buffs increase in effectiveness to stay relevant, and the idea is the more you purchase, the more expensive it gets depending on how many ACTIVE miracles you have. Pretty neat to have, especially if you want to challenge bosses or the harder dungeons.

Ore deposits - So there will be some areas in the game with an ore deposit. These ore deposits drop ores that are used for crafting equipment, and upon game start, they will have like 70% chance to spawn, so the location of them is not always static and you gotta hunt for them. In the future, I'll add a chance for them to drop gems as well, but lets save that for another time.

Town Portal system - You can now TP back to town! And also go back to where you created it!

-- Combat --

Hero vs Hero - So for combat, I added a few new things. I guess I can start with a demo of the enemy hero system. Enemies now have a small chance to spawn, with largely buffed up stats, and additional abilities, separate from their normal AI. Enemy hero abilities are separated into 3 categories: lesser, normal, greater. The lesser abilities have a short cooldown. The normal and greater are going to have longer cooldowns, but are more powerful, and can be cast at the same time as the lesser. Hero enemies will spawn with 1 lesser, and 1 normal ability. At higher levels, maybe add on all 3 abilities or have them spawn with lesser/greater. I have not decided on this yet. Before they attack, they will indicate it with a cast animation on top of their head. This will allow you time to know when to dodge the attack. Here are some of the lesser enemy hero abilities:

And of course, an example of a normal ability ( I have not coded anything of greater class yet):

So how does it look like in action when fighting hero monsters?

Summoning Scrolls - Yep, I've done it. I've added summoning scrolls, rare single use items with a terribly long cooldown of maybe 5-10 mins, that will nuke everything. Just cause I can.

Regarding Phase 1 of this project - All major systems need to be completed, plus forest area must have a miniboss. After that, I would say the game is pretty much feature complete, but content lacking. And of course, I won't polish until the end, no matter how tempting it is. I am expecting phase 1 to be done in about a week. There are only a few things left!

Roadmap remaining for P1
Save/Load system 80% (making me mad)
Fast Travel 0% (pretty easy one)
Plains area 0% (pretty easy one)
Miniboss 0% (probably gonna be hard to code)

(socketing/gem system moved to phase 2, since I cant decide how it is supposed to work yet)
(options menu moved to phase 2)

So there you have it. That's all for this week, folks. Again, thanks for reading, hopefully I can end up making something cool here once this gets fleshed out a bit more as I get more time to develop it. Oh and next week's blog might be late, I will be on vacation :)

Next time - Upgrade system(runes), boss battles (hopefully), dungeon???, town guild, shop, and job board.

Until next time-
Phantasma out.

Progress Report

UnEarthed - Day 71 Progress Report

Another week, another blog post. I made some small changes in the past week.

I've added maps! 31 mid sized rooms in total for the forest, will add more if needed. Here is the map:

Not too bad, buncha copy and paste, but I think it went well, just make a few changes here and there and boom, done, they look different, though still kinda bland. All maps have their enemy spawners set up, the harder maps have the tough ones. I will NOT do a visual pass anytime soon, polishing is going to be near the end once I have the other regions (graveyard/cave) set up.

Regarding enemies - They level up and scale with the player. They have a minimum level they can spawn at, and a max level that they cannot go past. At 15% increase in stats per level, it can be a challenge to kill them.

Regarding Loot - Enemies can drop their monster specific crafting material, but also a 5% chance to spawn a chest. If a chest spawns, it has % chance to be a normal, rare, epic, majestic quality chest. As the rarity goes up, so does the loot quality and loot amount. For example, a common chest can drop 2 items plus some gold, a majestic quality chest can drop up to 8, with double the chance to get higher quality items.

Regarding Items - For common gear, they can spawn with different rarities: common, magic, rare, unique, legendary, mythical. You can get a common rarity Adamantite Sword, OR if you get it Mythical quality, it will have around 1.5x to all its stats. There will also be a lot of distinct items that are unique-myth quality that will be added to the game later, to increase the amount of loot even more.

Regarding maps, there are special rooms (ones that contain ores, monster houses, etc) that will be set up. More on this later.

Regarding Crafting:

I've set up base items that can be crafted to have different qualities of rarities. There will also be special crafters in the game to craft unique distinct equipment that have their own special abilities, but for now, just the town crafter. With base equipment, you can get different rarities which change the stats, so if you have spare crafting equipment and want to gamble for an equipment upgrade, you can take a chance at it. You can also upgrade these items. I'll probably post about the upgrade system and how to get runes in the next blog.

Skill Scrolls - These are consumable items that can be bought/crafted. There are 3 levels at the moment, lesser, normal, greater. Each category of scrolls share a cooldown, so if I use a lesser scroll, all other lesser scrolls will get hit with the 5 second cooldown (10s normal, 15s greater). You can equip them in the item bar, same as with potions. You can also use them while in your inventory screen (it will cancel out of inventory and use the scroll). The spells are basically skills, so they have either magic or physical damage, and will scale with either INT, or STR depending on the damage type. I only have lesser scrolls to show off, but I'll have much better ones soon. Any class can use any type of scroll, the one drawback is that it is like ammo, once used, it will be consumed. One of the things I want to try is summon-class scrolls, that have a long cooldown, are very rare, and cause massive destruction to everything on the map.

Some examples:

Monster Houses - What the heck is it?

A monster house will be special rooms, where if you enter it, there is a chance to trigger a trap. What it does is, it blocks off the entrance/exits, and spawns a buncha monsters. The only way to get out is if you kill all the monsters on the map. Of course, there will be a reward if you do. I'm setting the chance to trigger to 50/50, but it will basically look something similar to this:

Welp, that's it for this week.
Next week: Item ugprade system / runestones, ore, hero monsters, miracle system.

Until next time.

Progress Report

UnEarthed - 2 Months In - Progress Update

Whelp, it's been a good, very productive 2 months into this project. Relearning how to use the Gamemaker engine did not take as long as I thought. I've finished most my game's engine (estimated 80%), but there are still tons of stuff that need to be done. I went and recorded some gameplay footage while using the mage, just to give a tour of the town, plus some of the systems.

I feel like it might be a good idea to post more blogs, just to keep my mind in check and keep on the right track. It helps to actually write this stuff out, most of the game I've coded so far was just "Oh hey this looks cool, lets add it to my game!". Feedback would be great. I'm making the game the way I want to play it - Fast paced, bullet hell style, top down - action RPG combat, with lots of crafting, lots of loot, lots of quests, and huge into character building and customization. Story wise? I haven't put much thought into it to be honest, most of my story revolves around a bad guy being awakened, and you gotta kill him before he kills us all. BUT - does that mean I cannot add to it? NO. I will definetly add more to it, but... not at the moment. I want the engine work to be done first. At 38k lines of code and it is still not done though!

A little bit about the special abilities in the game. Each character can use a movement ability, Mage has teleport, warrior as cyclone, archer has tumble, and knight has shield charge. During their special ability usage, damage taken is greatly reduced, or negated completely. It uses a ton of the secondary resource stamina though (45/100), and the ability itself can be upgraded to deal decent damage. The reason I wanted this concept in the game is I want the player to learn how to dodge, escape from enemy attacks. Why would they need to dodge and escape? Because if the player is mighty, the enemies should be mighty too! We're gonna need it.

Regarding sprites, I use the Time Fantasy sprites. I gotta email the guy who made them and get a commission set up though, I cant do art or music, and my characters need an Up and Down sprite attack animation.

I guess that is all for today's progress report. The game is very early pre-pre-alpha, I am still undecided on a lot of things so please forgive me if it looks like crap. There is also a chance I will try to make this a commercial game too, but for that to happen... yeah, a lot more work. Everything I am using at the moment, is either royalty free or I have a license for, so going commercial shouldn't be too bad, but I'll need to set up a twitter account for the game, external blog site, facebook, then come up with a company name, make an LLC, yada yada. I'll think about it later, as I need to figure out a decent story for the game first. Phase 1 is almost done, for phase 2, I will do a huge update on enemy AI, add more items, different crafters, more skill scrolls, finish blessings system, finish miracle system, and add the Tier 2 Skills. I can't wait.


Designing a top down Action RPG? How?

First blog post, yay! And the topic for today is... top down action RPG design for my game, UnEarthed. As a top-down action adventure RPG, there were a few things I thought of when trying to think of how the game will be be played. First, I wanted... characters that feel powerful, where we can jump in and see 100% ACTION. Second, I wanted faster paced action, not some slow motion combat. Third, I wanted some kind of challenge. So how would I make a game like that?

Skills need to feel powerful, characters need to feel powerful. But if they are too powerful, it makes the game too easy. To offset that, I'll need to make enemies powerful, and make enemy attacks that are harder to dodge (meaning we will have to use our special ability to negate damage, more on that later).

For the matter of faster pace combat, I figured that I need some kinda ability that all characters have, that either reduces damage, or has invincibility frames. Such an ability will either have to use a cool down timer or consume resources. I wanted the game to be faster pace, so I made it a resource consuming ability that either negates 50% damage or makes the character invincible for a split second. There is NO COOL DOWN, but it does drain the secondary resource stamina quite heavily. (Warrior cyclone, mage teleport, archer tumble, knight shield charge btw.)

Then last of all, the challenge part. I still need to figure this one out... That is why I am putting in rogue-like dungeons where the enemies are much stronger, and if you die, its game over screen, you lose all the loot, gold, exp that you gained during the dungeon run (for normal death penalty, I am planning to have the character wake up at the inn with 15% exp/gold lost). The dungeons will also contain the best gear though, so it might be worthwhile to give it a shot. Just a thought. I really need more ideas for this :(

As this is my second game ever (first one got abandoned) and I am only 53 days into coding it, I have no idea what I am actually talking about and I just want to make something fun to play. If anyone has any cool ideas, let me know and I might put it into this game!
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