The Tequila Den

Combines the world of Tequila with Games.

Making up for shortcomings…

I’ve spent the better part of the last couple of weeks going crazy over Canasta. It seems today it has finally paid off. I’m glad to announce that it right near reaching that elusive 1.0. It was a mighty struggle over the last few days in getting the AI to act properly under certain conditions, but after some constructive bug hunting, many of those have subsided. It was surprising to have the AI beat me, even when I could see their hands. I’ll have to dust off some strategies so that doesn’t happen again.

So, what’s missing before the 1.0 release? Well, there’s still a few things I’d like to clean up before I release it to the world (all… 3 of you that might see this,) I want to polish some of the animations I’m currently doing and adding a few tool tips in regards to game-play. It’s bad when you, as the script-er, forget some of the controls and necessary keys to actually play the game. I will also have to write some sort of ‘rules’ document to accompany the game as its not a completely common game to most. I was toying with the idea to have a bit of a sample hand, but I think that’ll be a 2.0 experience.

After the release of Canasta coming soon I can focus my energy on a game that’s been cooking up in my head this past while that just recently started hitting paper. I began thinking that one of my major pitfalls of getting ‘mouse’ or what should starting calling ‘rat’, is the lack of planning. It terms of canasta & traders I’ve actually planned a lot of the games’ GUI, functions and features on paper/word doc. I need to start doing this for ‘rat’ more extensively.

At roughly three o’clock this morning, when I had a bit of trouble sleeping, I opened up notes on my iPhone and started jotting down the ideas and story that I’ve concocted in my brain. Currently I was struggling with how to tie certain ideas together to make it all work. The biggest struggle for sure has been debating between sand-boxing and a more linear story line. As of now, it’ll be a mix of both, with more of a loose story and more of a sandbox given the universe it is loosely (or tightly [undecided]) based in.

But for now, Canasta is going to make the jump to 1.0. Stay tuned.

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Back in the saddle…

I’ve been a bit of a rock-star the last few days in regards to getting Canasta finished. I’ve nearly got most cases finished in the new AI scheme and it’s looking rather promising. I hit a few snags after the initial implementation, most being a few type errors on my part, and the other half stemming from me not paying attention or simply using the wrong parameters or creating a new undefined variable. For now it seems as though many of the bugs have been flushed out. Now to add a few more cases for the AI not to play so mindless and to fix some ungodly animation errors. Although, it is fun to see cards fly across the screen in one direction, even though they should be flowing in the opposite direction.

I haven’t done any sprite-ing or art of any kind the last few days. I’ve rather taken the approach of more planning and a bit of recon. The best way to develop a style is to study others. Another big obstacle I’ve stumbled upon is resolution. First, with Canasta, it’s been an issue which needs to be remedied. I need to lower the resolution so it fits on more native displays as most displays have gone widescreen. When I first developed the game I made it for a standard 4:3 display, well it doesn’t fit on my laptop. Once I get everything sorted out behind the scenes with AI and the card handling, I’ll be tackling that as definite.

Back with “mouse” though and resolution, it’s become an issue because it’s hard to develop graphics for a game when you don’t really know the resolution. A few pieces of art and my studying is that it’s much prettier if you can go with a larger resolution, and in some cases, easier. So right now I’m trying to find a new medium in terms of that. I’ve already decided to limit myself in terms of color, by selecting a specific palette. (pretty sure it’s an SNES, but I don’t recall for sure). There is a degree of difficulty when the resolution is smaller, you almost get limited in the detail and some things may seem unclear as to what it is, but then you get to the point “when’s enough, enough?”. So that’s where I’m at for the moment. Sooner or later I’ll crack down and whip up the debug room for the game, but for now, full steam ahead on Canasta.

Taking a small break…

I figure the best way to get back into the swing of things is go back to what I know. I know how to write JavaScript. So JavaScript I will write. I ventured back into the land of Canasta the last couple of days re-familiarizing myself with the code and working to improve it’s polish and fixing the troublesome AI issues I had with it back when it was in development. My goal is to ultimately release it to the world as I did with Traders. I’m hoping seeing some accomplishments with Canasta I could transfer that towards ‘mouse’/’whatever it is’ in the near future.

The problem I’m having with mouse at the moment is the lack of graphics, and my ability to make said graphics. So, the way I see it is that I can struggle fuck making the sprite I need to continue development, then when I’m frustrated, I go back to Canasta which is relatively straight forward. I just need to do it.

So about a month or more ago a few friends told me to download a game on my phone. And… I got hooked.

It’s an amazing game and they really are pushing me towards spending real currency on the game (which so far I’ve refrained from) just because I want so many different characters. I’m a bit of a completion-ist in some regards. Any way, I started a new account on the iPad and already bombed my way up to level 28. I took a different approach this time. Instead of evenly distributing myself across all the characters, I’ve homed in on some key characters I’d like to level up all the way to the end. I’m going for the light side clone army and the dark side’s geonosian race. Definitely pick this game up on android/iphone.

Between playing this game and watching Rogue One an unhealthy amount (that isn’t possible!) it really makes me want to play old Star Wars games, watch all the movies and make a bloody fan game.

Hard to find…

You know what’s really hard to find? Motivation. Well, actually, I had some of that the other day when I’ve been browsing and trying to locate decent pixel art tutorials. The biggest problem I’m finding is that there’s a huge gap from beginner to ‘passable art(ist)’. Let’s be honest, I’m not a good artist at all, however, I can teach myself to do some things and in the end I can be quite creative in that regard. The problem is I struggle mightily with sprites. What’s even more unlucky about that? Good luck finding a pixel art tutorial that leans towards making sprites, its near impossible. I sit most of the time with Aseprite (beautiful program btw) open with a blank canvas I’m either hammering in YouTube searches or google ones. But, it just seems to no avail.

So when I finally do stumble onto something worth reading/watching, it’s like this…

  1. pick a skin tone and draw a couple of blobs to represent the head and body.
  2. now, carefully outline the limbs and add in details of the face (eyes, ears, mouth, nose)
  3. clean up rough lines and add depth
  4. Boom done.

Wait… what?

It literally goes from drawing blobs, to rough outlining to a finished product some how. I need the parts that help in regards to body proportions. Unfortunately I’m thinking of finding a decent skeleton sprite that I can use as a framework for all the characters.

The reason I want a character sprite done first is that it gives you the scale of everything else. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t wanna make a 16×16 sprite of a 6′ person and throw them on a tile map with 16×16 tiles and have a single tile be a chair. Basically you’re saying to the player is that chair is 6′ high, or that lamp, bench, piece of paper, book, whatever it may be. Once I have the basic sprite/design, it’ll be much easier to make the world which encases that character.

Maybe I’ll throw up some ugly drawings I end up doing in my meager attempts at art. Be fore warned. Of course I’ll try and link to any articles and what not that I find useful in my efforts.

Sidetracked?

I think I’m some sort of master at being side tracked. I have an uncanny ability to not only stare blindly at a computer screen but I can say I have the ability to find other things to do, maybe I have a tiny bit of ADHD.

So this past couple of weeks, this happened…

Yea… decided to just beat the game over the past couple of weeks. It’s been a long time since I’ve really played the game, so it was nice to jump back into it and give it a go and try and remember a lot of the little secrets and such. I did utilize a lot of save states so it made life a lot easier. I tried not using a guide for a lot of it, but I did have to use it for a few things I couldn’t quite remember. Anyways, just a nice little accomplishment to start treading into April.

I haven’t done much of anything on the game lately, I started to roughly line up the menu and finish that, but desire just wasn’t there. I’ve been spending some time on YouTube gazing at aesprite tutorials, tips & tricks to try and help me with some pixel art, but I haven’t really begun to practice with it or play around too much.

I think the biggest obstacle at the moment is truly lack of direction. I think a plan going forward is to turn off the computer and start roughing out/hashing out some sort of map & character web. I just know I need to do a lot more planning that I have been. As I’m doing this I’m going to make lists of tiles and characters that I’ll need to make so I can start hammering off some of these assets for the game.

I should get a job, I feel a lack of motivation hitting me. Ick.

Daydreaming…

I spend a lot of time starring at the computer screen with the editor open and just sitting there with a blank face. I tend to occupy that time with Netflix on in the background. More often than not, I find myself paying more attention to the movie or the show that’s on than the screen two inches in front of my face.

I remember roughly eight years ago I couldn’t wait to get off work to come home, fire up a movie and hit up the editor and I just recall going to town. The motivation was uncanny. I didn’t have to sit and ponder up/make a decision in regards to the game, I just did it. Where’d that go?

I also remember one of the true passions behind Traders. It started out because of Asobrain locking up its doors and the lack of means to play Catan regularly. It was a perfect project. There was no planning needed. I knew what to do, what had to be done and how it all worked. I learnt a lot from that project. I learned the in’s and out’s of Sphere’s networking capabilities and I further immersed myself in Javascript as a whole. I’m proud I finished it. I really should step aside and conquer Canasta. but the desire for that is simply not there.

I have so many dreams for Mouse. I catch myself daydreaming about how I view the game in what could be its glory. I can recall the intro and the start of the game before the player has control then it muffles. My vision gets clouded.

Umm… plan? Yea, I’ve got one… kind of.

Right now, my thoughts are this. I’m going to make my hybrid of the two ideas I’ve been fighting with this past while. I’m going to make a “generic” type game that excludes Mouse’s key story/game-play thoughts that make that unique.

“Wait, that doesn’t make sense.”

Here’s my reasoning. I’m going to make this game as much as I can, with the spare/scrap ideas I’ve had before, and with that hope I can concrete the main points/game-play for mouse by this sort of, trial & error. Who knows, sometimes this is how beauty is found. We’ll see.

I’m a terrible artist…

I’ve known that I’m terrible at art for a pretty long time. I have a few issues with regarding pixel art. I’m indecisive as hell. I’ll rework the same few pieces countless times before I leave them alone, but then I’ll go back and hack them up again. I’m also pretty sad when it comes to color picking, there are a few go to colors I like to use and I just try and hash it together to make it somewhat…. nice. One other thing, I just don’t get enough practice. All of it is mainly my own fault, but it stems down to my indecisive nature. If I sat down and had a plan (which I definitely need more of), I could attempt more and get better.

I should also mention that I have a problem with shading/texture. My original plan for the game is to have a ‘clean’ look. So, lack of dithering and all that crap is going to be non-existent, for now. I truly understand this is going to hamper the look of the game, and will indeed turn people off of what I’m going for. However, this is my thinking, I see too many indie games (RPG Maker) that are either square-y or have a terrible mismatch of tiles. I’m hoping to avoid such a thing with everything having my own style.

Here’s where I’m at, yes, it’s not much, but there’s more going on under the hood and other prep that this screen doesn’t show.

The sprite is animated and can walk around freely. Now we’ll talk about the key things missing from the area. First obviously is the clutter and ‘decorations’ that fill up the rooms and such. Next is the obstructions and collisions. Of course the menu displays/HUD are also missing, but here’s my arguments for lack of showing at the moment. Remember my indecisiveness? That’s playing a key role at the moment.

So, for the menu I’m stuck between two ideas at the moment. A fast, easy inter-changeable items al-a Metal Gear Solid type (when you use the bumper buttons to navigate through your inventory), or a traditional, press the escape button and full up menu displays with different categories. The main reason I’m tipping towards the latter is that I can limit the number of required keys to be used. If I go with the former (MGS style), I’ll need to activate two additional keys. I’ve toyed with the idea of only using one action button, but it’s just that, toying around with the idea.

Can someone kill my indecisive nature?

Dug out the ole tablet…

I found my old drawing tablet whilst I was cleaning up some messes the other day, it was nice to see that now a days, it’s a quick simple plug & play. That was hopeful because I remember seeing the disc that came with it, but I no longer remember that location to date, I’m sure that’ll pop up eventually. Any who, I’ve hit a desire snag working on Canasta, I just can’t get into it. The biggest problem is that it’s a string of code I remember doing multiple times, and it’s tedious as fuck. I’m currently developing a much simpler, cleaner & clearer way of doing the AI card selections, but I’ve slapped that to the back burner for now.

You may (or not) have noticed a new tab presented on the site, ‘articles’. I tend to, in the future (ha… isn’t that a theme in itself), place random, interesting, and mainly my gear grinding thoughts/topics into. I’ve wanted a space in which I can write articles that not necessarily have anything to do with the topics of this blog (could very well be in left field), and instead of creating a new site, I figure I would just tab them off in a ‘separate’ folder per say.

So, no news on Canasta and I haven’t written an article yet, traders didn’t get an update, and CCG page is… dusty. So what have I been doing?

Mouse, actually. I’ve laid a lot of bare bones in the framework of the game, unfortunately, not a lot graphically has been accomplished which makes it nearly impossible to show anything at all. Although I’ve re-created nearly everything in the screenshots that are already provided in that tab. Right now though I’m at a crossroads of sorts. I’m trying to nail down a definitive graphics style. I want to try and be as consistent as possible. My first iteration was to basically make a mere zelda clone, graphics and play style. I’ve been following Elias Daler (blog) on twitter and through a SMFL forum post. He made a excellent post a while back about how unrealistic zelda’s view point really is, it simply doesn’t make any sense, the walls (and most terrain) represent a bird’s eye view and the rest is 3/4 perspective. I understand why they did it that way, but trying it for yourself doesn’t yield favorable results. So I’m going to a more true 3/4 view. I’m just fiddling with ways to show doors in a hallway north & south. Interesting.

Hopefully some screens to follow.

I’m really trying to make this a habit to post. It’s hard to lie about progress!

Familiarization….

Its been just about a day and I’ve been going through the code in canasta, trying to determine what I was I thinking in terms of some code changing. I almost abandoned the new additions I’ve made to the code because I think it was going to be a revert of sorts, but instead, it dawned on me, I’m re doing all of this to ensure the AI doesn’t get stuck in a position it can’t do anything, or the wrong/illegal move for that matter, I’m only partially through fixing and cleaning up, haven’t even got to the testing phase of it. In due time.

I know I should of just released it as 1.0A, then went back and fixed it properly for a 1.0B, or 1.1.

Every time I’ve been opening the editor up I’ve been thinking more and more about Mouse and what I want to do, plans for it, and such, then, after I’m doing with a tidbit I’ve been working on, I shut off my computer and start power up the XBOX, or my phone.

Big mistake.

I started playing GTA again since a bunch of friends also have the game and we’ve delved into the world of GTA online, oh my, now that’s a hoot. I absolutely love the idea of open worlds, do what you want kind of game-play. Then you have heists, robberies, businesses, and a bunch of mini games that can be played and land to explore. It’s my idea of a great game.

I also have a great idea of a game in my head, but unfortunately, that’s where it stands. Well, technically I have two, and the other problem with them is that they are not separate entities. They cross paths with each other so much that it’s nearly one giant game, but it can’t be. It wouldn’t make any sense.

The first, the one I mention most often, Mouse, was originally a two person party turn based combat game with close ties to Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy. I had a large storyboard made out with characters, backgrounds, maps, ideas, places and most importantly, story.

Cue: computer crash.

Roughly 6-7 years ago my computer failed and couldn’t recover my hard drive. I had an older back-up disc I made that had personal stuff on it, some gaming stuff and some applications that were handy at the time. It also included a rough, old copy of my dream in the making. It was demoralizing, it was really hard trying to motivate myself to continue and try and get back to where I was, which was a solid 4-6 months of good progress. So I stopped.

Anyways, idea number two. A lot of mobile games hinge around a couple of common themes now a days, building an empire of some sort, and PVP (player verses player). My initial thought was you logged into a server (which in a sense be a city), and you’d be at home. Generic place in the city, could of been an apartment, nothing really concrete at this point. But the idea was, you’re unemployed, and you’re broke, and you need to get rent money. So each day a paper shows up with a job opportunities and you get to explore the world to try and get a job and make some money. Then your, ‘life’, or such begins.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned is a huge undertaking, not likely something I’d conquer myself, but I had ideas for a smaller, localized scope, which also tragically gets ties with Mouse, and then shit just spit balls down a large hill full of crazy brainstorming.

So, as I squeamishly work through fixing Canasta, I dream, and think about working on Mouse. Soon.

 

New year, new….errr… same me?

Of course Its been a month since I’ve last updated about anything. Well, that’s because it was the holidays! So hopefully everyone had a great holiday and fed themselves excessively, as I did. Yikes, new year, time to get into shape… well at least curb my current lifestyle. The main motivation behind getting in shape (other than the fact I need to,) is that we’re headed to Cuba! Just temporarily of course! Two short weeks and I’ll be on the beach slamming cocktails and beers like no man’s business!

cayo-santa-maria-luxury-vacation-melia-cuba-84-luxe

So that’ll be the start to my February, I’m slowly getting super excited!

So… on that… game making thing… I haven’t touched it for a while. I’ll be honest, it’s definitely in the cards in the near future, just been a crazy start to the year. Especially since I’ve been out of province working all month, ugh. I promise work will re-commence! It’s even open right now on my computer!

I’ve also thought of opening more sections on to this blog with a lot of different topics as a lot of what I write and want to write about aren’t necessarily about game development. Don’t hold your breath!

Anyways, new shit coming soon! Hint… name of the site may be changing soon too!