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January Progress Report

Hello! Can you believe it's February already? Hope you're doing well. As I slowly move forward I wanted to share what's new, hopefully getting into a cadence of updates every month or two.

Before that, I wanted to express my sincere gratitude to those that played last month's prototype. Specifically from RMN, Darken, Zaeran, Aldu, and Zion you guys all gave me solid feedback I've taken to heart moving forward. I think it confirmed a lot of my assumptions (AI should be smarter, tutorials and input could be improved, puzzles are buggy, battles are frustrating.) and also opened my eyes to some questionable design decisions. All in all, for such a rushed release I feel confident with some polish this is something I'm happy to continue working on. On to new stuff.

Content-wise, I've been chugging away on maps. The first major village/hub is in-progress. This will take some time to flesh out, as the asset need for faces increases exponentially here. (Two new characters as well as several basic NPCs are introduced here.)

I've also done maps/cutscenes for the intro sequence of a new character and mapped out the second dungeon.


If you've played previous iterations of SU I'm sure you can guess what's next.

To speed up cutscene implementations, I spent some time creating tools to debug and modify events on-the-fly.



The top console displays the current state of event execution. The special pause() command is used in event scripts as a sort of breakpoint to modify and reload the current event. Additional debugging info is shown here so I can easily test different camera positions and find out where characters need to move to. I might expand this later on to allow stepping forward/backward through the event timeline, but as-is this should speed up cutscene implementation significantly.

Up next I plan on fleshing out the village flow with more cutscenes, small sidequests, shops, villagers, and of course fun banter between Amalia and Illari. After that, the second dungeon needs monsters, cutscenes, and a couple final maps.

Thanks for reading. Moving forward, progress will slow as I adjust to getting back into a schedule of fulltime work + parenting. I do hope to continue the momentum of working in bite-size daily chunks if possible to keep on track. Before you leave, I'd love to know: what tricks do you use to keep focused on your projects?

P.S. Shameless plugs for twitter and discord.

Posts

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I noticed you moved over to Game Maker Studio! I've spent some time with MV and Unity, but not GMS yet. How do you feel about it so far and the transition? Is there anything you miss?

author=dhm
What tricks do you use to keep focused on your projects?


I use a calendar to block out time in the day for it. I'm already calendar wrangling at work for meetings, game dev days are just another dedicated timeslot. Any other work that happens inbetween is the cherry on the cake.
dragonheartman
Developer, Starless Umbra / Heroes of Umbra
2750
author=yukipo
I noticed you moved over to Game Maker Studio! I've spent some time with MV and Unity, but not GMS yet. How do you feel about it so far and the transition? Is there anything you miss?

author=dhm
What tricks do you use to keep focused on your projects?


I use a calendar to block out time in the day for it. I'm already calendar wrangling at work for meetings, game dev days are just another dedicated timeslot. Any other work that happens inbetween is the cherry on the cake.

I really like it! Coming from 2k3 there are some niceties I do miss. It's really easy to make cutscenes, tile-based movement actually saves you some headaches. I gave it crap but the entire "event" structure works so well for RPGs. I've created something to replicate it and in many ways it works well but it is a bit more precarious. Having built-in databases and menus is also sorely missed.

Language-specific, 2.3 addressed all of my concerns. Prior to this I had built my own engine and did some extra work with unity. The engine thing didn't pan out because it got cumbersome. Unity felt like a challenge to get assets pixel-perfect, and the map editor was not as nice for my workflow. GMS feels like a good compromise, and little tweaks to the workflow--like the event debugger--go a long way in speeding up what has typically been the most tedious for me: making cutscenes.

There's a bit more discussion on discord in the #random channel if you're curious. (I think it's public?) I'd be happy to answer any other questions or go into more details as well. I actually went in to GMS with some negative memories of using and disliking it years ago, but my perspective totally changed.

Thanks for reading and sharing your tip. Having the time allocated out on a calendar helps with planning a bit too I bet.
Completely forgot to tell you how much I enjoyed your demo!
I've been so caught up in my own project I neglected to tell you here!
Everything was so smooth and I love the new direction you're taking with the game! The battle system is top notch, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was addictive and fluent. The UI looked great and had it's own original feel, while still making me nostalgic of the old Starless Umbra. You're work is always AAA in my opinion and I can't wait for your next release, my man!
Jeez, triple post. Don't know how that happened.
Game looks like it's coming along good. Great work man. I'm envious of your talent dude. Great job. Now, as far as maintaining momentum on a project here's my routine:
- dabble on rpg maker 2k3 for 2 months straight.
- take a short 17 to 20 year break.
- dabble on rpg maker 2k3 again for a few months.
-jump head first into a project that's way too ambitious for my own good.
- lose my job due to a global pandemic resulting in an over abundance of time to develope the overly ambitious project.
- get another job bringing all game development to a screeching halt.
- hopefully after another decade or so come back around full circle.

I promise it works. If you follow this simple formula, you'll pump out a complete quality project at least once a century... God willing.
dragonheartman
Developer, Starless Umbra / Heroes of Umbra
2750
author=dreadpirate
Game looks like it's coming along good. Great work man. I'm envious of your talent dude. Great job. Now, as far as maintaining momentum on a project here's my routine:
- dabble on rpg maker 2k3 for 2 months straight.
- take a short 17 to 20 year break.
- dabble on rpg maker 2k3 again for a few months.
-jump head first into a project that's way too ambitious for my own good.
- lose my job due to a global pandemic resulting in an over abundance of time to develope the overly ambitious project.
- get another job bringing all game development to a screeching halt.
- hopefully after another decade or so come back around full circle.

I promise it works. If you follow this simple formula, you'll pump out a complete quality project at least once a century... God willing.

That is honestly fair, haha. I keep hearing the whole "start small" "have a catchy hook" etc, but in reality all I want to make is an RPG. ._.

Here's to hoping this one won't take ten years haha.
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