Thursday, March 28, 2013

Siphon Spirit Audio

I've been recording and mixing my own placeholder audio for Siphon Spirit. Once placeholder sound effects are in, we will have a brief testing period, then we will be ready to share the game demo on our website!


The plan is to swap out the placeholder audio with better effects when we are ready to hire someone for the job. Thanks for your patience, we are excited to finally share our project with you in the near future.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Glad I'm Indie

Back when I was working on My Japanese Coach for the Nintendo DS I wasn't allowed to go back and double check things.  We were on a tight schedule and even though I had been putting in extra hours on my own they didn't want to keep paying me to be a language expert anymore.  They were paying me to be a programmer.  So in the end, what happened was most of the lessons were just first pass.  I couldn't completely organize the dictionary because of time constraints as well.  And since I never had the chance to look over how the characters were being written many of them were wrong.

For Japanese Arena: Kana I'm able to take my time.  I spent the last week reading through all my textbooks and dictionaries finding whatever information should be taught when teaching hiragana and katakana.  I've got the first two lessons in the game, but I will be updating those.  In fact, I plan on doing several passes on all lessons.  I'm just grateful that I'm now able to make sure that a game is correct and interesting without being pressured by management that threatens to fire me for doing what I was told to do.  I am going to do this game RIGHT.  I am glad that I'm an indie.

In other news, I've recently been playing King's Bounty: Armored Princess.  It's a strategy game where you travel across the map, get into battles and level your hero up.  I was excited about the fact that you get a pet dragon to help you out.  I love pet systems.  I've rather soured on it now.  It's way too imbalancing.  There's a stats screen at the end of the battle and once I switched it to show more I started realizing that my dragon was doing around 50% of the total damage from my side.  Even with five troops each attacking each turn.  It seems like I should have chosen the warrior class instead to use more of their dragon-boosting skills, since my spells aren't too useful.  One thing that bothers me is that whenever I'm playing, I get the urge to got to GOG and buy Heroes of Might and Magic III and IV.  That seems to tell me that no matter how much fun I'm having, I know that I've played something more enjoyable in the past and in the end, I'd rather be playing that.

Friday, March 22, 2013

How to Play, Part 2

Just wanted to go over what Peter said last week.   Hope this doesn't take too long to load, I wanted to try my hand at making animated gifs of gameplay.

First, go to the map and select a level to play.

Absorb orbs that are smaller than you.  This will make you bigger.

Orbs that are larger than you will absorb all your power.  Stay away or they will kill you!
Eaten by a demon.

Whatever you do, don't touch the demonic orbs.  Even if you're bigger they will hurt you and that energy is lost forever.
Ow, ow, ow.

Cast the Reveal Spell by pouring energy into it.  It's okay to touch spells, but be careful to not pour all your energy into a spell or you'll die.
A specter was hiding there all along!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How to Play Siphon Spirit

I'm taking a post to explain how Siphon Spirit is played, since it's difficult to tell from a screenshot. The game is very action-packed. The heroine, Miranda, fights demons using energy she collects, called a Spirit Orb.

On the PC, simply moving the mouse moves Miranda's Spirit Orb. Size and position are the most important things to consider--You may only absorb energy from Demonic Orbs smaller than your Spirit Orb. Touching Demonic Orbs causes energy loss so you must siphon energy from a distance.

Demon orbs sometimes move about, you will need to sacrifice energy to activate spells often, and you must regularly dodge blasts of demon energy. Defeat a demon by siphoning all the energy from its Demon Heart(s).

Magic isn't just a menu command as in most video games--In Siphon Spirit, it's a flowing pool of energy and a game of building up from weakness to strength.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Yep, time machine, alright.

Last Saturday I was able to get together with Peter and we finished up the last bits for the demo.  Except the audio.  Wait, why are we working on audio?  The purpose of the upcoming kickstarter is to pay for the audio.  Peter wants to get it all sounding at least decent so we don't drive people off.

But I did mention to him that it felt like a time machine to work on Siphon Spirit after I'd spent all this time coding up nice tools for future games.  He took me aside and booted up the earliest copies of Siphon Spirit that there were.  Now THAT was a blast from the past.  Looking at how it used to be and comparing it with how it is now.  Not only did I get to see some bugs that I have viciously squashed, but we got to see all the design changes we've made.  All of them seem to have been for the better!

As for the Japanese game (getting close to a name, maybe!), I wrote out the first lesson and showed it to my artist to get something better looking than what I had been using so I could figure out the placement of everything.  She got me something really nice and so I put it all together.  Below we have the previous lesson screen.

And underneath, but missing some character art, is the current version.  It's still got some changes to make, but it's much much better!

I'm nothing if not logical.

Friday, March 1, 2013

It's like a time machine

I've been doing some touching up on Siphon Spirit to get it ready for the demo, and it's a lot like I'm working in the past.  I got the game working quite some time ago, and made March to the Moon while I was waiting. March to the Moon was made with the FlatRedBall engine.  I decided to go the engine route because I was concerned that I wasn't using screens for Siphon Spirit and the whole game was basically in a single file with switch statements checking what 'screen' was currently active and running the related update and draw functions.

Using FlatRedBall taught me a lot about how to use the current game state and a lot of other things.  I was happy with it for March to the Moon, but near the end of development I started to get tired of it.  When you made changes with the program for controlling entities and screens, Glue, it would delete the related file and recreate it with the changes.  But for me, sometimes it would throw an error telling me that it couldn't make the file.  But it had already deleted the file first.  I would lose a good chunk of time because I developed most of it on the train with no web access so I couldn't just grab my latest backed up copy.  Then I had issues with how slow it was loading stuff in on the Xbox.  March to the Moon isn't a very intensive game, but every time I did something for the first time it would take time to load it all into memory, freezing the game during the process.  I had to make a new loading screen which I had to just loop for 14 frames after each group of objects loaded their art so that the rats showing the progress would actually move.  This baffled me, but the lead developer of FlatRedBall wasn't part of the creator's club anymore and couldn't run ccgame files on his Xbox.  I started making the Japanese game with FlatRedBall, but had issues with getting Japanese to display.  I eventually gave up and started building my own set of tools to help me make games.  It's slowed down the development time on the Japanese game, that's for sure, but now that it's becoming more mature it's so much nicer to use.

Siphon Spirit hasn't taken much from it yet.  I did go through and make everything into their own separate screens, but haven't changed much else.  So when I do go back and work on Siphon Spirit I need to remember that I don't have a Sprite class to handle positioning, and when I do position things it needs to be placed at the top right of the image instead of the center.  I don't have a nice text manager, but I can still write text to the screen.  Development's come easier than ever for me with these nice new tools.  We have a smaller puzzle game being planned out to pull people into looking at Siphon Spirit, and I'm excited to get his art from it and see how quickly I can build it into a full-fledged game.

This has been on my mind recently because I have been working on a new screen for Siphon Spirit.  It is going to be the most complicated one in the entire game by far.  More news on that next week.

Artist's Introduction

I'm Peter and I'm doing the art and lead design for Siphon Spirit! This piece of art shows off the game's art approach and one of the demons you'll face in the game.
From now on, I'll be helping Califer keep you up to date on the game's progress as it relates to the story, art and design. Check back often!