Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Screenshots improve your game #gamedev

Something I don't think I have discussed before is the way in which Screenshots can help with getting the art for a game completed, or moving along a much more complete path.

There are a couple of elements to this.
1. You want your screenshots for your game to be as good as you can make them. Most people only see a few screenshots before making a decision on buying the game, be them on the back of a box on a web page in a review. So you really want them to be as good as you can make them.... (they will Never be perfect!).
2. Screenshots highlight a section of your game, or level or scene or whatever it is. This highlight does not always show context. It is unlikely to show as well as if the level is scrolling, moving etc. This highlighting can be a bit of a shock to view. It will tend to be plain. And we don't want plain in our pictures. #1 has already stated how important they can be.

OK, so you can alleviate some of the screenshot stress by only putting the ones you like into your press pack etc. Simple...

BUT
There is another great use of screenshots that most people do not bother with, or have the time to use them for. I am talking about Sprucing up the area of the screenshot. Giving the area a nice working over to improve the look, and even perhaps make an average screenshot look good enough for the press kit.

I have just done this to a very limited extent to show Leilani how this works and how beneficial it can be. So I took several screenshots, then one lunch time we sat down and discussed what we liked and didn't like about them. Good fun and the food was great too! (Thanks Brick Oven).

 The image above is the original we discussed. Our negative points we came up with were:-
  1. The Sky is missing something, it is too bland.
  2. The trees look all the same color wise.
  3. The front log is a bit over bright.
  4. The shadows under the trees is a bit small, and is over the roots.
  5. The area does not look dark enough for a forest.
In the image above we addressed the previous issues by:-
  1. I placed some clouds in the sky, it was easy to pull them from another scene and place them.
  2. I used to have a routine that gave the trees a variety of color. This was broken by me in the prefab. I actually moved the re-colorizing code to another class. So that was an easy fix.
  3. Easy to darken the front log of course.
  4. I spent most of my time working on the shadows for the trees. I had to get a good angle and also a good size for the trees. Now I think it worked out great, only I do believe I will darken under the trees a bit more, but the lengthy shadow is good.
  5. With the extending the shadows for the trees it addressed the darkness of the forested area quite well.
I hope you like the example above. I now believe that this screenshot is much better than the first and also good enough for the press pack!

Good luck fixing up your game :)

DaVoodoochief

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Alpha Demo is Ready - #gamedev

It is Amazing, but finally I feel the Alpha Demo is ready for people to view. Only...

Yes that's right. It means I now need to do a lot more work to support the Show and Tell I am planning for this Demo.

Let me explain a bit.

This Demo is going to be mostly for showing off the game to potential voice actors. I want them to see what the game entails and make sure there is some enthusiasm for their parts. It will also be a great way for me to get practiced at presenting the game and seeing what works and what does not. This will be a big event for me and Leilani, oh and the game of course. Also we have discussed having some associates here who have a large social following, as it would be silly to miss out on any promotional opportunities while doing something this big for the game.

I am currently working on a list of people I want here for the presentation. It will include Actors, friends who I hope to convince to help me test or finish some content in the game (create new quests etc). People to help promote the event (social media associates).

What's Needed?

So now I realize that if I am going to get the word out that the game exists, then I need a proper landing page and information on it. That must include at least a press Kit, and a way to have people sign up for an email list for more information. I will then be able to use that list to find Beta testers and get people to buy the game when it comes out. I am not sure what else, but I suspect a lot more!

Time to work
Laters
Da Voodoochief

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Eye Catching Marketing - The Gif

However you pronounce it, the Gif is an eye catching element to any web page.

It can bring any Web page to life instantly. Generally they are very focused visuals which should make them even more inviting, noticeable and engaging.

This image above is my first Gif. Yes really! After more than 30 years in the industry this is the first Gif I have actually created myself. This one above is a test... can I do it, does this kind of thing work... or will it? Ok, so I cannot answer all those questions obviously at this time.

Why?
I am an avid reader of Gamasutra  and all the blog posts especially that appear there. A few days ago I came across one that was new to me, original and informative. It is titled Marketing in Motion: A Year of Making Gifs and it an excellent read. This got me thinking that I could spice up my static web pages with some exciting animations. Hopefully bring some of the initial connectivity to my casual visitors to the web page.

What?
The image above works ok, and for a first try I am quite happy with it. I used a tool called GifCam. This made it pretty easy to create and the tool seems pretty good. Once I have gotten to play with it a bit more I will have to donate for sure.
My only real issue with the Gif is the fact that this one is 354kb. Which is quite large for a small image and is due to the fact that the whole image is updating/moving. I will try to make more that are a little more static so they do not overload the web observers bandwidth.

Whats the point?
I am always looking for things that could help me promote the game. I do not however at this major development time want to spend hours on social media each day. That time will come and is not now. So poking things into the social media awareness is what I really need. Then I will have links and thoughts all across the internet for me to pull on later (I hope).

So something else I have never done though I have been aware of it in some way is a place called imgur. This place is awesome I have to say. I could easily spend a long time looking at stuff on this site. Anyway the point is that I could post my images to this excellent discovery web site and hopefully one of them could possible go viral, which means on this site that it could get half a million views.. yeah! Imagine my game getting half a million eyeballs on it.. Woah!!!!

Now imgur is an interesting place and I believe it will take practice to get the title of the image correct as well as the image itself. It looks to me like an art form I have never previously seen. I hope I can pick up some of the skills quickly.

Conclusion.
Marketing needs to be done, using Gifs on a site like imgur could be a good addition to a campaign.

Laters
Da Voodoochief

Monday, June 27, 2016

Adult Female in the industry

I know that title is a bit strange. Let me explain...

Today my Daughter turned 18. A huge deal where I come from in the UK. Over here in SoCal USA it is not such a big deal. In fact I had such a hard time finding a card with 18 on it, that I never actually did.

Now being 18 means she is now officially an adult. Yes, an adult. She has already started her college career at a local community college this summer, meanwhile she is also of course working with her Dad (me) on our first game development together.

Leilani has been working on Very Bunny Haha now for over a year and are still going strong. We really have been connecting well on the game and as the game has developed we have added, changed and improved so much along the way. In fact in the last year the game has developed from our first ideas to the way it is going now. It has added many, many months to the development cycle, but we are really enjoying the ride. In fact adding in Leilani's graphics are a real pleasure, along with working with her on scripts and other aspects of design.

Leilani is a wonderful daughter that has her own ideas, and works really well with me. Something we will always have, and hopefully when it is completed many other people will also get to enjoy our game.

Leilani has now been in the Industry making this game for over a year. Do you think she will get an E3 badge next year? I don't know, but I will certainly try hard to make it happen. She works every day on this game... she deserves it.

Congrats my sweet Leilani. Follow those dreams and work hard like you always do. I believe in you.

Dad,
DaVoodoochief


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

VBHh ongoing Development

Been a while since I last wrote up a Blog post. We HAVE been busy however.

First off I want to mention something I only got set up a couple of days ago, but I am really chuffed about it to say the least. That is MantisBT.

MantisBT is Mantis Bug Tracker software. This will allow us to track not only bugs, but also features we are working on or desire in the future. We can Rate, Group, Sort  and Assign these bugs between me and Leilani. Later when we get real testers on the game we will be able to give them accounts as well. Brilliant and awesome for the future of the game. I will mention my mate Colby who helped me set it all up in no time at all. COOL!

We have also been busy developing the game..

We have been creating characters, characters that feel more real. Easier to connect with, along with story arcs for a number of them. Motivations, desires and goals. This all came about several weeks ago when I read this AWESOME article on Gamasutra.
Lively Game Characters
This was such a good read for both me and Leilani, we decided to give it a test run over lunch. We picked fairly randomly 3 of the NPCs we have in the game and followed the main bullet points. What we did was create something we didn't have, something more than wonderful. Real feeling, rounded characters, but along with that we got a hefty bonus. More story for these NPCs meant we also had more areas to create quests for the game. FANTASTIC!

There has also been some new graphics created, though not yet in the game. Along with some programming to fix bugs and add more features.

Finally one of the big things we have done is to do a 10 minute walk through. Ok, so we did not make ten minutes before I called it as we had three pages of notes half way through. Now I am very busy trying hard to get all those notes done and soon I expect we will do another game play through and try hard to make it to the 10 minute mark.

So the game is coming along. Never as fast as we want it to, but we want quality more than we need it finished. Along with that Leilani has college to deal with and me the usual day time job.

There will be more coming and I intend to start work on the Press Pack once more as now I have gotten over the fact that screen shots will not be final. Heck, who cares at this point... the game still looks original and AMAZING!

g'night
DaVoodoochief

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Goodies - featureset #gamedev

I love calling them the Goodies. After a very British comedy program from the 70s that I watched incessantly back then.

Today though these Goodies refer not to a comedy trio, but to a Trio of features added into the game. Interestingly or coincidentally it has taken me 3 weeks to implement.

The Trio are:
  1. Companions. Little friends to keep you company on your adventures.
  2. Wearables. Items you can wear, such as a new Fluffy tail, or a Halo because you are so good.
  3. Effects. There are a selection of different effects and effect attach points on your player Rabbit. So you can customize which Effect goes where. Fun little items.

The Goodies are selected through the in game menu. Selecting them brings up the sub Menu for you to choose what kind of Goodie you want to work with.
As you can see, this is the Wearables sub menu. Here you can select which items you would like to wear and in which slot on your player Rabbit.
Finally we have the player Rabbit. Your character ALL decked out in every slot, and being accompanied by your own Worker Bee companion.

We are very hopeful that players will appreciate the large amount of work put into this area of the game. It is not an essential part of playing the game, but customizing your character is always a fun thing to do. This will also double as rewards if and when we go and KickStart this game. I also think this simply adds value to Very Bunny Haha

Have a good night,
Da Voodoochief

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Steam Greenlight and Failure

This is a fantastic read in my humble opinion. Although I think he I a bit down on his own project I feel this is the way a normal Indie dev goes about their business.

How I failed at Steam by James Buckle
http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/JamesBuckle/20160509/272192/How_I_failed_at_greenlight.php

Some people I know and have known are insanely positive about their products, and what amazes me is that a LOT of those products are trash. Poorly designed, poorly implemented and these people are just so happy to be publishing a game. I am not one of those hyper positive people with my game. Instead I feel like I have a critical and sometimes even impartial eye towards what I can do, what the game can do and time... always time....

So reading James article was really cool as I could see myself writing it a while back. Ok, perhaps 20 years ago (I have been making games a looong time!). Here I am at 50 and yet I started making games at 15.. wow how the time has flown.

Oh right back to the main point here. I need to work on marketing my game, my blog my whatever now. Or that is what people keep suggesting. However I need to get it done. How can I do both?

I am thinking about blogging more about features added into the game, though that kind of thing will be slow.

For instance I have spent the last 2 weeks working on the menu's and structure to allow us to have Goodies, which include clothes and effects and companions attached to the main player Rabbit. so IF I blog about features added I would still have to wait a few days as I am not quite done debugging this area yet.

What to do about getting a following...  Still working on it, any ideas would be welcome, and yes, I read stuff on this area most days of the week, but nothing concrete it feels like that I can run with.

G'night
Da Voodoochief