For those who missed it:
On Power Outages (And Other Weird Things)
They suck. Our power was out for 9 days. For someone as hopelessly addicted to the Internet as I, it was like not having legs. Legs that could span the globe in an instant. Or at least under a few seconds.
The power came back on, predictably, about 2 hours after we had left for the airport to go home to Indianapolis for the holidays.
Thus, the tally of weird things that have happened in the 6 months since I’ve moved to Seattle area and started work at Microsoft is:
- My car (Which already had $3800 in hail damage) has been involved in 3 accidents, 2 of which were definitely not my fault and the third of which I can make a pretty good case for
- Approached by a guy with a knife near Pike Place Market. He didn’t threaten me with it, he just wanted to sell it to me for $5.
- Almost punched by an angry chauffeur in a stupid-looking suit at the Sea-Tac airport because I had the absolute audacity to try to help him out and tell him that the name on his little sign wasn’t visible.
- There have been floods and even a (mild, for Indiana) snow storm
- 9-day power outage
Life: Always entertaining.
Mop of Destiny: Last Words on Code Development
For the three (at most) of you that’s actually been waiting for the remainder of the info on Mop’s development history:
After getting the gameplay test done, I got around to actually loading level data. I ended up using TinyXML to load level data from an XML file.
Side note: Initially, each level was going to have a separate XML file, but that kinda got scrapped somewhere along the line. That’s why there’s 1 xml file named level1.xml in the game directory.
After that, I added fonts. I used a 3D modeler to make a 2D poly set of font characters, and then wrote a font loader to load them in and separate them out.
Essentially, the font interface allows you to request a string, where it then builds a vertex/index buffer set (a mesh) and hands that back. Simple and easy. And still no textures.
After that, it was adding animation code (simple: just different meshes for different frames of animation), the life meter (using a custom vertex shader to bend the meter partially around a circle), enemies, the knockback from getting hit, mesh-based instead of bounding-box-based collision, post process effects, ogg streaming, and spawners and enemy types.
At this point, I made a decision that would drastically alter my timetable, though I didn’t know it at the time:
I decided to make the enemy artwork while making the enemies.
The trick to this is that, in my initial plan, enemies were going to be coded as just boxes and the art would be added later. Not long into this process, I realized that having boxes was a terrible representation of the enemy, so I started doing the art, as well.
The enemy art was the second-hardest art-making process in the game (first being creating the main character). I had chosen shadow creatures partly to hide my own general inability to draw very well…with shadows I could simply draw an outline and some red eyes. However, it quickly became apparent that it was hard to create any INTERESTING shapes out of just outlines and red eyes.
Thankfully, I was able to do so. While I tried to keep to my inital development timeline, I didn’t really notice that I had moved alot of the art process into the “coding” block of schedule. Which meant that the schedule once I hit the “Art” portion was considerably lighter. Though I didn’t know it at the time.
Extra, Extra! Gameplay Complete! Game Still Ugly!
At last, I finished coding the bosses (which were the last enemies to be coded) and had the levels laid out (using solid blocks as backgrounds). The enemies looked cool, but the game looked ugly. A before-and-after, if you will:
So I sent it out to a bunch of playtesters, none of which were particularly enthused about the game because of its inherent blockiness. Oh well. One person (thank you, PfhorSlayer!) played through the entire game, as punishing as it was at the time (you think it’s hard NOW? You should have seen it then).
Anyway, I did a bunch of tweaks, and started on the background art. That pretty much catches up to the journal-at-present.
From that point on, it was art, scripting, music, sound effects, voice, credits, the manual, some bug fixes, the installer, and a last-minute save state feature addition. All in the span of 14 days. It was, as they say, a whirlwind.
I’m really happy with the music. Excluding the first 2 pieces (Piano of Destiny and Theme of Destiny), which I spent a few days on (Because I had the melody in my head for so long, and I wanted to do it justice), the remaining music was done in two day’s time.
I used FL Studio as my editor of choice, using a bunch of sample libraries, notably Vienna Instruments.
Anyway, I plan on doing a full-on post-mortem as my next journal post.
In the meantime, TO THE XBOX 360!