Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Indie Game Night and a New Game

We've had a fairly eventful week!  I attended the bi-monthly local Indie Game Night where we had a short presentation then went to show our games off.  I had three games to show, but in the end decided not to show March to the Moon since it was finished and Peter wasn't around to show Siphon Spirit.  Wait, three games?  What's the new one?  That's a little tricky, because I haven't settled on a name for it.  For now, I'm calling it Califer's Japanese Class.  That's right, it's a game for learning Japanese!  I'll get more into depth in a moment, first off I want to share what others had to say about the games I had to show.

Siphon Spirit

The alpha demo is coming soon!  Peter's done some great work, but a fickle new computer has slowed him down a bit since he's had to send it in twice for repairs.  He just got it back and we're hoping to wrap the demo up soon.  Greg Squire, the organizer of our Indie Game Night, said "It's looking really polished now.  The story really seems to add to the game and helps tie the gameplay and levels together."  You can read his full write up of the night on his blog.  Jay of Rampant Games said "It's looking like a lot of fun now, and it's got RPG elements and a story to boot.  It's still got a little ways to go, but it looks like a winner."  His full write up is right here.  Siphon Spirit also got a few fans who were very excited about the project so that definitely made me happy.

Califer's Japanese Class

Okay, I actually have this to a pretty functional level, but I've been having too many issues with the FlatRedBall engine and I think I'm better off not using it any more.  I feel that strongly enough that I've started rewriting the game from scratch in plain XNA.  So what I was showing at Indie Game Night was a much more functional version than what I currently have.  I'm still working on some basic engine things, like the controls.  I had a nice controller controller to handle input from a xbox gamepad or from a keyboard, but all the xbox gamepad stuff was working from the FlatRedBall code so I need to put together my own stuff for that.  

Jay didn't get me a write up for this game, which is probably because more people wanted to play Siphon Spirit so it was on the screen more.  Greg gave me a write up, but I think something got lost in the translation between me expressing frustration at the FlatRedBall engine and my frustration at how My Japanese Coach for the Nintendo DS turned out.  His write up suggests that I'm remaking My Japanese Coach, but I'm not.  I wrote the 100 lessons and did the translation of the 10,000 word dictionary for My Japanese Coach, but it's not mine.  Ubisoft paid us to make it and I have no rights to that game.  What I'm making is something that will allow me to go into more detail and teach more with my own style.  Most importantly, I won't have management that threatens to fire me for working on Japanese lessons.  What came out of the game was my first pass on translations and lessons.  I never checked until the game came out whether the characters were drawn correctly (because I wanted a paycheck) so I was really disappointed when I tested it out and found that if I'd have had my way I've have made them draw about 1/3rd of the characters again.  And I never even looked at the kanji.  

Anyways, Califer's Japanese Class (again, this is a temporary name) is going to focus on the two basic writing systems, Hiragana and Katakana.  I'm also going to teach a bunch of words so that the characters can be put into practice.  All of the characters will be fully animated and voiced.  There will be a flashcard system using a spaced repetition system so you say how well you understand something.  Things that you are having more difficulty with will show up more often and things that you think are a breeze won't keep popping up all the time.

There will be a companion character as well.  She will chat with me (acting as the teacher) and with you during the lessons.  The character in the screenshot above is obviously filler, and the lesson being taught won't be in the actual game.  This is all still in very early stages (even earlier than I'm showing since I started over), so expect some changes.

As it mentions in that screenshot, I'm trying to get more characters for the player to use as companions.  So far, we have the default (still being designed), Miranda from Siphon Spirit, and one of the main characters from Frayed Knights.  I'm probably going to go for one of the guys since I already have two girls lined up.  I'm hoping to get more characters, but I'm going to have to get the game to a more completed state before I start asking people I don't know if they're willing to put their characters in my game.

March to the Moon

Okay, March to the Moon passed on the Xbox.  But it still has a longer load at the beginning than I'd like.  I'm tempted to change it so that it uses spritesheets instead of individual images.  In fact, I'm probably going to do that as soon as it goes out on the Xbox.  I'm also still working on putting it on Indie City.  I'm pretty close.  I'm hoping that I'll be able to get it into the community approval process sometime tomorrow.

Long post is long.  Anything else?  Oh, right.  I'm still designing creatures for my monster collecting game I have planned, writing up a design doc for a dungeon crawler, and I'm studying more about story and emotion for Enchanter's Path, our next big game after Siphon Spirit.  I wish I was wealthy so I could just make games all the time.  Oh, and I'm going on vacation so I won't be around next week for another post.

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