Thursday, April 6, 2017

What's Cooking at Tasty Stewdios? (Mar 2017)

Greetings! It’s time for another monthly dev update. Henceforth, these will be at the start of the month instead of the end of the month- this makes end-of-month scheduling a little less hectic on our end.

On the art side of things, the portrait art that was previewed last month is nearing phase one completion. After that is finished, we will be moving on to UI assets.

Similarly on the design side, most of the AI is at phase one completion- one class remains to be finished. In test-fighting the AI (which I currently have a losing record against) we’ve also come across a lot of edge-case scenarios that were either grossly overpowered or created uninteresting gameplay, so several character abilities and stat lines have also been reworked from their initial designs.

Read on for our continued exploration into the world of our next title.

Monday, March 6, 2017

[Magicmaker] March 6th Game Update

Greetings! We've deployed another update to Magicmaker. Read on for the details!

Mar 06 2017 - Patch Notes

GAMEPLAY CHANGES:

  • Increased drop rate of alchemy components (essences and stones)
  • Stones and essences now drop at an even ratio, instead of all alchemy drops having an equal drop rate (causing stones to appear less often)
  • Training dummies now display your damage per second (DPS) after receiving damage
  • Added a stone dummy to the training area. It is knockback immune.
  • Siren's Seafoam projectiles now begin oscillating upwards regardless of the direction they are fired (left vs right)
  • Siren's Seafoam lasers now undulate in a wave pattern instead of being a static shape
  • Adjusted tooltips to clarify their effects on spellpower.
  • Adjusted particle effects on the Pranksgiving Cornucopia artifact
  • Added some more loading screen tips
  • Allowed the player to modify their spells if they die to the final boss
  • Adjusted tutorial text to better explain spellpower and clarify controls


BUG FIXES:

  • Fixed an issue that caused keys to vanish
  • Significantly improved the performance of wind gusts in the Forest Zone
  • Fixed a bug where Crystal Ball-Diamond-Laser spells would only hit once
  • Fixed a bug that caused Trick Bullet-Turret spells to deal less damage than intended
  • Fixed an interaction with Trick Bullet and Diamond that would cause projectiles to double hit an enemy
  • Fixed a bug where very large Diamond Lasers would hit more times than intended on targets very close together
  • Fixed a bug where Crystal Ball-Diamond-Laser spells would repeatedly hit the same target
  • Fixed a bug where the turret robe would occasionally not appear or attack
  • Arrow drops from Quiver spells no longer prevent treasure room portals from opening
  • Fixed several instances of incompletable levels, especially in the forest
  • Fixed a rare bug that would cause floating standing stones in the forest
  • Fixed an issue where fire wisps and salamanders would get stuck in a corner of the desert sandpit trap room 
  • Significantly reduced instances of giant snowball enemies vibrating violently in tiny corridors
  • Removed a phantom hitbox on the Desert Boss
  • Fixed several typos. Now there aren't any spelling errors left in the game, as always. Was there ever a spelling error in Magicmaker? It's impossible to say at this point. We're looking into forming a panel of experts to thoroughly investigate rumors of spelling errors in the game, but if we're being totally honest it seems like a wasted effort, seeing as the notion of a spelling mistake in our game is downright absurd. I mean, come on.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What's Cooking at Tasty Stewdios? (Feb 2017)



Whats up! We've been working on character portraits the past month and a half and today we're gonna look at how these portraits are generated.

On the art side of things the portraits are really important because we want the random units to feel like individual people, so they need to have distinct appearances and personalities. Humans bond by looking at each others faces. Its why you can ascribe so much personality to certain chairs:

look at this happy little fella
This is also our only real opportunity to see the units in detail, because for readability reasons the units are abstracted to basically only their gameplay components on the map screen. Personality and individuality is limited to the portrait.

hello i am HUMAN  PUNK  BOY
Lastly this is our best opportunity to stand out visually. I'd rather make something unique than something good but unoriginal. (of course, its always preferable to make something unique AND good). I love personal, idiosyncratic styles of art.
however, i am also unafraid of wearing my influences on my sleeve
Our first step in our portrait voyage was to settle on a visual style. WHAT WE SHOULD HAVE DONE was hash this out in the original concept art, but that's one lesson learned. Oftentimes, you have to learn how to make the thing your making as you go.

behold my artistic range
The top half has some interesting tricks, but the proportions are boring as hell yo. I love love love the dynamic pose on the first two of row four, but if each class had such an extreme pose it would limit the re-usability of our art assets. We'd have to make separate faces and hairs for every class which would totally suck.

We don't talk about the third item on row four.

Row five is all different stylistic renderings of the same underlying sketch, but we really had it right with the first two. These were selected as the style guide.

the sketch that launched a million portraits
The key to any good randomized system is to rely on copiously large amounts of authored content. That is, to make a whole bunch of stuff, and then have the computer arrange it together. We've all had those dark nights were we thought we could program a computer to generate a whole game from scratch if our algorithm is robust enough. I once spent three years in a procedural-generation-fueled fugue state and made a game called Magicmaker. It would have been a disaster if other people hadn't pointed out that the spells people made were way more interesting than the spells the game was making.

You can't teach a computer to draw. You can't teach a computer to MAKE ART! DOES THE COMPUTER HAVE  A SOUL, A VISION? NO! THE COMPUTER IS A MACHINE. IT DOES NOT KNOW THE HEART OF MAN.

as always, my heart is "i like anime"
But you're not here for my quarterly screed against the coming AI menace (ask me about self-driving cars some time). You're here to find out how character portraits in a video game are generated.

The earlier drawing was broken up into component layers. We ended up with 2 body, layers, 3 hair layers, a head, a mouth, a nose, and eyes. There's so many body and hair layers because they have to occlude each other is a bunch of different ways.

you try layering this in a way that makes sense
There's bunch of different nose and mouths and bodies and stuff. To begin with the computer starts by randomly grabbing a set of layers based on the characters race and class.

now the portrait's looking like something colored in mspaint
At this point we use a shader to programmatically color the image. The character has a color scheme and we can use the shader to color the red parts dark, the cyan parts their skin color, and so on. The white and purple regions are off-white highlights that are automatically determined from the character's hair color and the color belonging to their blue region.

almost done!
Lastly, to introduce a little visual noise we overlay the image with a paper filter.

we did it yay
And that's it so far! There's a bunch of stuff I want to try in the future, like the portrait having elements that reflect character traits, or changing as stuff happens to them. I don't know how easy that will be to pull off, but I'm really invested in getting them in. We want people to see each of their characters and remember exactly how they came to be who they are.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What's Cooking at Tasty Stewdios? (Jan 2017)

Greetings! We’re back from a holiday hiatus and have got another development update/geography lesson!

The past month has been spent on character profile art and related UI elements. You know how in most strategy games you can select a unit, and get a readout of their name, stats, a little picture of them, so on so forth? That’s what we’ve been doing. It’s off to an awesome start, and we can’t wait to show it off, but would prefer to wait until all the temporary art assets have been replaced. What we have accomplished has laid a great foundation for the art style that will be expressed in every facet of the game.

On to the world history lesson!


Today’s three countries of interest as we move northward- Stoimont (yellow, on the bottom), San Gréava (green), and The Calpis (orange, to the west). 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December 6th Game Update

Happy Holidays! We've rolled out another Magicmaker update to address some bugs and other issues with the game. Read on for the full notes!

Dec 06 2016 - Patch Notes

GAMEPLAY CHANGES:

  • You can now warp between the boss-repelling giant gems in the Temple Zone (allowing you to return to the start of the level) 
  • Crystal Ball spells have again updated behavior for multi-hit effects. If there are no nearby enemies, they will loop back to the same target. 
  • Adjusted Beehives to be slightly more difficult to knock down, especially in New Game+ 
  • Agitated bees stay around for less time in New Game+, but deal more damage. 
  • Leaf piles now have health


BUG FIXES:

  • Poison and Fire status effects no longer do 100x their intended damage on the Super Murderfest challenge 
  • Salamanders now take knockback damage 
  • The title screen now displays on extremely large resolutions 
  • Fixed additional typos and adjusted some quest text. There are now absolutely no spelling errors at all within the entire game. Every single word of every line of text is spelled correctly.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What's Cooking at Tasty Stewdios? (Nov 2016)

Hello again!


This month we saw continued progress on our first map sprite animation pass, and it’s looking like we’ll be done with the basic character classes soon! To put those animations to work, we’ve also added a new AI system that gives us a lot more control over missions and encounters. This new AI has already taught us some interesting lessons in combat strategy!

Following in last month’s footsteps, we’ll also be featuring another piece of worldbuilding content  this month.


 This month we head south of the locales we explored last update. Looking at the map now, it’s hard to believe this all used to be a single country!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 25th Game Update

Greetings and Happy Halloween! We've pushed an update for Magicmaker containing bug fixes. This update also includes steam cloud save functionality, allowing your save files to go anywhere you do! Read on for the full notes.

Oct 25 2016 - Patch Notes

GAMEPLAY CHANGES:


  • Target Dummies can now be raised to 100,000 health in New Game+
  • Crystal Ball spells have updated behavior for multi-hit effects- the projectile will choose a new homing target each time it hits an enemy.
  • Adjusted how knockback is processed, preventing the rapid accumulation of gravity-related momentum
  • Adjusted the spread pattern of Illusion Dust projectiles
  • Necrom-nomicon minion HP and damage is now calculated on projectile expiration instead of on-cast, allowing them to benefit from Chaos Butterfly and Extract of Monday materials properly
  • You can no longer finish the tutorial on New Game+ mode without collecting all your equipment
  • Goblin wizards are no longer immune to knockback
  • Improved clarity of some material tooltips 

BUG FIXES:


  • Illusion Dust no longer stacks into negative damage or spellpower values in New Game+
  • Fixed a bug where Owlbear Trap/Siren Seafoam/Chaos Butterfly/Tonna Brick spells would have a life of their own and move in illogical ways
  • Fixed a bug where Illusion Dust robe projectiles could sometimes damage the player
  • Disabled the = debug key (it made a bunch of numbers appear)
  • Fixed a bug where goblin wizards would have some materials incorrectly set on the Goblin Revolution challenge
  • Fixed a bug where the gem ghost could get knocked out of the level bounds in the castle, preventing it from being collectable
  • Fixed a rare crash in the final battle
  • Fixed a bug where Fairy Wing/Optic Lens spells would hit an incorrect number of times.
  • Fixed a typo in the Halloween Quest

STEAM:

  • Magicmaker saves now use Steam Cloud Saving