Sunday, September 22, 2013

Where ever I lay my hat

So, congrats to newlyweds Heath and Jenna. Less congrats to my hangover.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fail state

So this weekend I'm trapped away from a computer... And my backup plan of having art already done has fallen through (on account of only drafting one post before I left). Cousin's wedding though, so what was I going to do? 

So to make up for it I was going to draw up something on this tablet, but right now that doesn't appear to be an option. So please, enjoy this Limerick instead:

There once was a man from port pirie,
Who found it hard to rhyme things with pirie.
So he laid in bed
With a very sorry head
Something something something rhyming with pirie. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Get a hair cut and get a real job part 2

Some old favorites, some new favorites.

I definitely think I've struggled with the hair the most out of all the layers so far... I'm just glad I made the faces cartoony enough that I could get away with all the oversimplification.

Other things I've learnt:
- I need to redo the ears for all of the face variants to fit the hairlines.
- If I want to do facial hair (and of course, I do) that needs to be a separate layer under hair. Which is fine, because I need somewhere for eyebrows, and what are eyebrows if not little moustaches for your eyes?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Get a haircut, and get a real job

So I thinking 8 different hairstyles (plus bald I guess). I'm also thinking it's going to be easier to just make the hats variants of the hair and keep it in the same layer, so I'm going to do that instead.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Take off your coat and jacket

I think 4 jackets is going to be fine, since the enemy wont always be wearing them. There's still multiple colour variants so that's more than enough. I am waaaaaaaaaaay too tired to talk about much else tonight.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Shirt off my back part 2

... And here is the other half of the shirts. The super big white one kind of breaks the size restrictions of the other shirts, so I was going to convert that to be a jacket. Unfortunately, the size isn't right for that either... So at the moment it's just going to kind of sit in limbo until I work out what to do with it. I've got plenty of other options so its not a big deal if it gets dropped.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The shirt off my back

So, I dunno why but I've gone a little overboard with shirts. This is only about half of them, plus I had additional colours and patterns for each one. S'all good.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pantsman Part 2

So... Pants, eh? What have they even done for us lately? Nothing, that's what. Constricting. Uncomfortable. Itchy. The list of complaints go on and on. But not the list of pants for this pose. That caps at 8.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pantsman Part 1

Pants! What can you say about them that would truly do them justice. They protect you from Nature's harsh realities. They keep you warm on a cold winter's night. I wear them daily, and so (probably) do you. So, let us raise our drinks and cheer on that unsung hero, pants.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sock it to me

So, yeah: Socks. What can you say about them? Not a lot. But there they are. Awesome.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Foot Fetish

Ok, so, seven shoes with a bunch of alternate colours should be more than enough. I kind of wanted to be able to have multiple shoes per era, but I'm no footwareologist. I guess maybe I'll look into it more for other poses.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Four heads are better than one

Silly me... Even after sorting out what layers I need and where about they should sit, I still mis-read my own notes. Faces where closest to the body, so they needed to be done first. I think 4 (times 4 different skin tones) should be fine for one pose.

Also after thinking about it some more, there are some additional layers I've missed (Facial hair, socks/stockings, tattoos). Possibly more.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Barred Lines

There was already a couple of things I realised I was doing badly (the boot top clips through the pants, hair specifically made for 1 face type alone) so I thought before I continue on I'd better think about what layer is going where.

I think also this means I've gotta start on the layers closest to the body first, so I hope you like shoes because there's probably going to be a few of them in the next few days.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Take 2

All today I've been kind of been back and forth over whether or not this style and workflow is going to be right for what I'm doing. The idea was that by adopting this kind of "paper doll" structure I could quickly do a lot of different stuff and hence introduce a lot more variety into the game. That thinking still rings true, it's not as fast as I was thinking it was going to be, but it's most definitely going to be quicker than doing individual enemies.

The bigger problem came from the look/style itself. Whenever I was looking at the images so far, I would kind of feel it was going to be enough, but whenever I wasn't I became anxious that there wasn't enough to it but couldn't quite put my finger on why.

If I was being super critical, and I knew I had a lot more time on my hands, I'd definitely think that the pose was lacking in style and attack. I don't know what else I could do to rectify that at the moment aside from starting again from scratch, which I'm not going to do. I know that the pose does leave itself open to a lot of accessory/prop usage though (i.e. I could get a guitar in there, or a walkman, or signed picture of Whitney Houston) so at least that works. I think I'll just have to be mindful to make the other body types more interesting. It's ok to have some boring poses at least.  

Secondly, I thought the colours looked flat and I think also too bright and washed out . I've tried to see what I can do to fix that a little by playing around with gradients, as well as darkening outlines and shadow levels. I'm happier with it but I'm sure there's going to be a few other things I can do. I was possibly being a little too thin with the linework. I'm mindful that a lot of the time I can use lines that are too think and use too much black and shadow, so I was trying to stay away from that here. Maybe I stayed too far away. I'm not sure if there's much else I can do about it without altering things quite a lot, so I might just follow the same guidelines for the moment.

I am worried about some knock on effects from this change though. Firstly, I don't know how I'll be able to get the gradients/shadows into the system I was planning on using in GameMaker. It may mean rethinking how that will be put together. To be honest though, I didn't know if it was going to work initially anyway though, so I guess there's nothing truly lost here. Secondly, I'm a little worried this means I'm going to have to assess gradients/shadows for every colour for each object. The idea was going to be that I do an outline, a colour, a shadow and a highlight and then just combine them in game. having a shadow worked fine(-ish) but the gradient might need to be tweaked quite a bit to work over all colour combinations.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

No shirt no shoes no service

So this is taking a little longer than I was really anticipating. I'm also not entirely convinced about the colours either at the moment, but I might wait until I have a background to place it over first.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ken dolls

The idea with the enemy sprites is that they need to be easy to reuse in different ways. I can easily do different skin tones, so that turns one pose into 4 enemys. I was toying with the idea of doing 1 head and then having multiple faces/expressions, but it looked kind of boring. Considering I'm doing things kind of cartoony anyway, it's pretty quick for me to just do a bunch of different heads instead, so I'll do that instead. The only problem then is eyebrows and eye colour, but realistically, maybe that doesn't even matter.

So secondary to this, I'll also do hair styles, clothes and accessories. Annoyingly, hairstyles and clothes will need to be specific to each pose, but hopefully I can make the accessories a little more ambiguous so they can be reused.

At the moment, I'm aiming to have about 6 poses all up, but if I'm going to see how long that takes. I'd like to do more if I can because variety is always awesome.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Strike a pose

Ugh... So it's just one of those nights where I just don't seem to be feeling it in my fingers. So I was trying to come up with a starting pose for the first enemy template, but nothing was really coming out. So instead I just kept sketching stuff in the hope that something would come out.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Design phase is over (?)

Alright so that's going to be about it as far as a design phase goes. I already have a fairly good idea of the main mechanics, and now with more of the game screens visualised I'm a little better prepared to make sure how all the pieces will fit together. I'm more than aware there's some things (maybe a lot of things) that still need to be laid out, but at this stage I'd rather focus on getting some kind of complete demo in place, and then do another design phase to think about whats missing.

Rest of the month I'll probably focus on art assets, and then maybe aim to get some of them in the game to test.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Back Up Plan

So if I get the vertical slice finished and it seems like its not going to work, this is the back up plan.

I'll have art and UI started, plus everything around the current 2 core mechanics should be able to work independently of each other. So rather than attacking each other's cred with musical recognition, we'll bring out more RPG-ish gameplay elements and have them fight each other with music instead.

In this scenario, players are a musician, tasked with finding talent and forming a band, and then clearing up the streets. Battles are fought in standard RPG fashion, by choosing attacks or magic, etc, but the difference here will be that the choices you make each turn carry on and have an effect on the next turn. Choosing the right move to follow up strengthens  your attack. Repeating the same attack over and over, or switching attacks at the wrong time weakens them. Consider it (intentionally) like forming a song, play the verse, hook into the chorus and then back to the verse.

Similarly, your band mate's attacks layer, creating harmony or discord in addition to their own effects. Your enemies will be doing the same thing, but you can always anticipate their flow and out do them, or even just drown them out with a guitar solo or something.

Naturally, typical RPG classes are replaced with musicians, and they can level and differentiate as they grow. Your drummer starts out just being able to keep a beat, but depending on how you play him/her they could grow into anything from a death metal drummer to a electronica beat programmer. I'm not sure of the exact correlation between standard RPG classes and what I should do here (or even if I should try and aim for standardized classes), but I would base each musician types strengths off of what they really do, i.e. drummers provide the foundation, set the pace and keep things moving. Guitars are at the forefront and do all the attacking and showboating. Singers bring the soul, etc.

So the biggest problem with this is that it's a lot more work than what I'm doing now. I can reuse pretty much all the art assets, but I'd probably have to do a fair amount more. I would also need to look at progression and probably write some kind of narrative as well. The systems involved are a lot more complicated as well, and I'd need to also add some kind of more in depth player progression system (RPG style). I'd also probably need to do some assorted music tracks for background, or even to match the attacks. Also the name would have to change. Probably from SoundsLike to SoundsFight.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Scrub level design docs

So this isn't really as concise or detailed as it should be, but I do have most of this in my head anyway. Since I'm not exactly relying on anyone else here, it's fine to stay that way. However, this was useful to visualise a couple of areas I hadn't fully fleshed out, plus it's allowed me to pick up a couple of possible development and gameplay issues I might not have noticed until it was too late, so it definitely had some advantages. I'll flesh these out later though, when I start doing work on them.

1. Intro Screen:
Contains Main Menu art in the background (maybe) as a quick way to provide something interesting as a background. The problem there might be that its not really all that musical so it kind of doesn't convey what the game is really about. Name and Icon obviously need to be better thought about too.

Only options for Press Start / Credits at this stage. I'm sure something else is going to come up that will need an option, so there will be space at least. A title/intro screen doesn't need to be too cluttered though so this should be fine.

I may also need to think about a first time/tutorial detour from this screen too.

I want to be able to port this across a variety of screen sizes pretty easily, so I'm going to see about having mobile be a sub-view of the tablet/screen view. I'm pretty sure I can do it, but either way its just going to be re-positioning of the same art assets so it shouldn't be an issue.

2. Main Menu:
The Main Menu is the central hub that allows you to select what time period you'd liked to focus on. It'll take the form of a city that's separated into districts that can then be selected. Each district will differentiate itself using palette and architecture to make obvious the divisions between the districts. The district graphics themselves should be kept as fairly separate vertical bars as well, so that districts can easily be added or removed if the schedule dictates. Districts will move left to right in chronological order, and at this stage will include: 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 00's, and Current.

Selecting a district will bring up the name at the bottom of the screen (and maybe some information, like what types of genres are available in that district).  Selecting that  district name takes you to the sub-menu.

There will be some little animated details to keep the screen from appearing too static (clouds, water ripples, etc). It might also be nice to have a day/night animated cycle as well.

Player and Options buttons are kind of just placeholders at the moment. I know I'm going to need something there but I just don't know what yet.

3. Sub Menu:
The Sub Menu is presented like a map that highlights clubs/concert halls/discotheques in the time period. They'll each be represented with an icon that quickly conveys what genre is at each club. Players can scroll around this map to see all the available icons.

I'm a little worried this screen will be a little too static, but I don't know what else I can do here without increasing the workload significantly.

Once again, Player and Options buttons are just kind of placeholder. Player button at this point should probably be a Back button or something.

4. Genre Selection:
Tapping on any of the icons should bring up more details about that club. Specifically, exactly what music and time frame its in,  who the leader is, and how many people you've beaten there already/how close you are to fighting the leader.

Selecting to go to that club should play some kind of animation... Something that can also be played between opponents as well. In a standard game like this (i.e. Pokemon) the player would walk around until they hit someones point of view. Doing stuff for that may be too much work, and if I'm going to do art for that, shouldn't I then also give the option to walk around and stuff?

Club names will hopefully be a little more inspired, but it was late and I was tired.

5. Encounter Start:
So both the player avatar and the enemy should kind of slide in from the sides of the screen and face off. There should be plenty of bells and whistles for this section but it should also be pretty much skippable by tapping anywhere.

I may make the size of the characters bigger and angle them so it makes them look closer together. Also I don't know if I should even have a player avatar if I can't make it customizeable. I kind of think it might look lacking without something to balance the enemy though.

6. Encounter Part 2:
So having life doesn't really work here, because its not like anyone's actually going to be physically attacking. Clearly what is really on the line is credibility, so we'll be using that to track fights instead.

So each encounter (aside from leaders) will feature randomly generated enemy. It'll take a random body shape and then attach a random selection of genre appropriate attachments (shirts, pants, accessories, etc). Names and taunts will also be taken from a pool of genre specific options.

Leaders will have Custom sprites and possibly more of a conversation prior to battle.

7. Gameplay 1:
So this is similar to the current prototype... Main difference is that:
a) There are more letter tiles, since song names could be a lot longer. I really have to look into what the average length of a song title would be. I'm pretty sure 24 characters should be enough but who knows. Also this does have an effect on the difficultly, but I suspect that most of the time being able to hear the song will make it easier anyway. I can also make the question "guess the artist" to double the amount of questions compared to song samples in the game.

b) If you get it wrong, instead of just trying again, you lose credibility. Lose too much credibility and you lose the battle. You have enough cred to get 3 answers wrong before losing. In a similar vein, Each battle consists of 3 rounds of back and forth. If neither battler damages the others cred, its a draw.

8. Gameplay 2:
So when you answer a question correctly, that artist/band gets added to your database of known bands. When you attack, 3-4 of those artist are picked at semi-random, and its up to you to pick the one your opponent most likely won't know.

When I say semi-random, I mean that at least one option will always be a "correct" option (providing that you have an correct option in your database). One will also always be an "incorrect" option (i.e. an artist from the same genre and time period, providing you have one in your database). The other 1-2 will be picked at random, but may be weighted to similar genres or time periods. Each artist can only be used once per battle. Players will start with a small selection of artists in their database, but all of them will be super-well known bands so they can't be relied on to win.

Winning is based off of percentage and chance rather than perfect picking, so even picking something in the same genre and time period might win if you get lucky. The percentage chance to win will be something like:
+40% for same genre
+40% for same era
-/+ X% depending on artist (like a measure of how well known the artist is)

So just based on the guy in the pic (70's punk)
Ramones = 70's Punk, relatively well known = 40 + 40 + 10 = 90% chance of losing.
King Crimson = 70's Prog Rock, not all that known = 40 + 0 + 5 = 45% chance of losing.
Whitney Houston = 80's Pop, very well known = 0 + 0 + 15 = 15% chance of losing.
Beatles = 60's Pop, bigger than Jesus = 0 + 0 + 100% = 100% chance of losing.

I am a little worried that this is a little too simple and/or boring, but it works really well with the other mechanic and extends gameplay quite a bit so I'm going to go with it for now.

Monday, September 2, 2013


Holy crap I am so tired I can't believe I even got this started. Too bad I can't even finish typing about it.

Please send your complaints to:
Mr J. Wallace
The Internet, 1334.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


I don't know how, but when I was all "post every day this month" it had somewhat slipped my mind that I'd  be starting off the month with my mate's bucks night. So, needless to say, I wasn't really in a right mindset to do anything today. However, I would hate to fail this early into a month so I've gotta do something...

When I was assessing SoundsLike I had this thought to make it a little more Pokemon-like, i.e. have a bunch of  "trainers" that you have to beat before you can get access to the "Gym :Leader" and claim the badge. The advantage with this approach is that it also allows players to focus on the music they actually know, varying the difficultly to a level they're more comfortable with, or allowing them to set their own goals (i.e. "I want to be the queen of pop"). I think that makes for a more interesting progression than just a linear or random "guess this song, now guess this song".

To that extent, I'll be splitting the game up twice. Firstly in terms of decade (i.e. 60's, 70's, 80's, etc) and then in terms of genre (i.e. Rock, Pop, Hip Hop, Disco, etc). Some genres will naturally transition well across time periods, but others (I'm looking at you Dubstep) will only be applicable to single time periods. It would also be cool to have some other categories that don't necessarily fit as well, like Classical, Jazz standards, TV and Movie Themes, but whether or not that actually happens will depend on time.

So players will need to beat say 10 trainers before they get a shot at the leader, but merely answering and reacting is not much of a battle. There's no back and forth there. The players really need some kind of method of attack. However, I don't really want to do a huge additional mechanic, plus I can't just reverse the main mechanic (I wouldn't even know how to start interpreting sound as a song, let alone cover every song that's ever been recorded). However, I think I have an easy option that will work here, by just drawing a little more from Pokemon, but also Secret of Monkey Island.

One of the more important key aspects of Pokemon is "Gotta catch 'em all". That kind of collection style gameplay is always great, and it can be used here as well. We can't get players just to add their own favorite bands when they begin, but we can take their correct answers as proof that they know the band. By playing the game, they can build a collection of bands that they can then use for their own attacks. Because really, when a hipster tells you that you wouldn't know their favorite band, the only way to counter that kind of attack on your personal taste is to call out their own lack of knowledge.

So every player will start with a stock of extremely known bands (The Beatles, ABBA, 26) that will obviously never be obscure enough to win a fight. Identifying songs will then unlock them as options for the player as well. When a fight starts, players will alternate defending (by identifying songs that the Trainers) and then attacking by picking a band from a group of three or four that the player thinks the Trainer won't know about. All bands will have some kind of recognition percentage, and that percentage will also be affected by the Trainers location (i.e. what decade/genre they're in). It also means that before players can really push through the game, they're going to need to try a couple of periods/genres so that they get some decent options for attack.