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[Devlog] Spacecat (Working Title!)

A topic by StumpCricket created Jan 11, 2017 Views: 749 Replies: 17
Viewing posts 1 to 12
Submitted (8 edits) (+3)

(mrowr!)

Hello! Jadon here! This might a weird devlog since we're already 3 days into development, but shhh. After a few days I feel like there's enough to actually make this post now, so it's fine! I should also note that we started on Sunday the 8th, so our Day 1 starts then. ALSO this is going to be a HUGE post since it covers 3 days, so get ready :)

Engine

Game Maker Studio

Concept

So Spacecat (again, working title) is a 2D sidescrolling RPG-platformer in which you play the intrepid space explorer Peanuts, a cat from Earth (Peanuts also happens to be my cat in real life!) However, his ship crashes on an alien planet, and it's your job to help him find the parts of his broken ship by exploring, interacting with the local aliens, maybe solving some puzzles or doing some mini games (depending on where development goes.) That's more or less the idea for now. As this is the first game I've ever developed, I'm not entirely sure how far I'll get or where my skills will become insufficient, so I'm leaving the future parts of the game open to change. Since I'm a few days into development, I'll summarize the past days' progress. I'll talk about the programming process, while Alex will chime in to talk about the art and animations in her own post!

Day 1 - Day 3

So over these days we've pretty much got the movement system (almost) completely worked out! The very first thing we had was Peanuts' (the protagonist) sprite, so I just added a basic left-right movement system to the game after implementing this sprite. Alex then added a 2 frame animation to the walk cycle which she can talk more about. It could have had more frames, but personally I think low frame animations like this are cute.


I imagine a cute walking sound here, like cute xylophone notes or something.

After this I added a basic jump feature, which was probably the first challenge. I was following HeartBeast's tutorial for movement at first, but since his tutorial dealt with an 8-direction RPG movement system like Earthbound or Undertale, it ceased to help me and I quickly had to go out on my own. I still look at it from time to time, but as my game is rather different, from here on out all of the programming is pretty much my own wonky attempts at coding. Surprisingly, I was able to implement gravity and jumping pretty easily using basic programming that I learned back in high school. I was incredibly surprised that I was able to implement coding concepts that I learned 3 years ago when I haven't programmed in almost as long a time! It's mostly due to GML being a really simple and intuitive language, but let me pat myself on the back a bit :) I had some... interesting issues when programming this too, which I'll put here.


(M R O W R)


(...he's completely oblivious)

After this Alex made the basic ground tiles, background, and spaceship sprites, which I think are really cool, and she can talk more about in her post!

When Alex and I first came up with this concept we wanted Peanuts to fly around the world in a jet-pack. Since now the game is based around finding the parts of your ship, you'll have to find the jet pack early on. However, the actual events of the game are probably going to be one of the last things I'm going to program, so I had to program the jet-pack physics first. Again, this actually turned out much better than I thought it would. I had just learned how scripts work in GML, and had converted the ground movement system to a script from a Step event, and so I simply modeled the jet-pack physics after the ground physics. Of course, this made the jet-pack physics decidedly not jet-pack-like, so I had to add in code for gravity to act specially on Peanuts when he's in jet-pack mode and you are not holding the jet-pack button, as opposed to when it is being held. For about 20 minutes it refused to work at all, Peanuts would just get stuck in mid air. Then I changed a few minor things around and suddenly everything just snapped into place and it worked. The hardest part of all of this was probably the transition from flying to walking. This took a while to make, and Peanuts would keep getting stuck in the ground after landing, but it works fine now!

Funnily enough, though the actual programming part of the jet-pack mode took maybe an hour total, the animations and sprite work for it took the better part of two days. In fact, I've only just now tweaked it so it works about 99% as intended! First there were problems with Peanuts getting stuck in the ground when falling from jet-pack mode because of the size disparity between the two sprites, which I fixed with some tweaks to his jet-pack sprite. Then I fixed up the falling and flying speeds. After that it came time to implement a fire animation which would come out of the jet-pack. This was an absolute nightmare. Earlier I said GML is an intuitive language and it's true, but when coding inside of the Draw event, nothing is intuitive. The idea was to draw the fire to Peanuts' sprite and have it animate. The actual drawing worked but the damn thing just would not animate. I looked everywhere online and many people had similar issues, but none of the fixes seemed to work for me. Finally, I got it to work by writing some extremely slapdash code which manually pushes the animation forward by 1 frame every Step of the game. However, this made the animation ridiculously fast, since Game Maker runs at 30ish Steps per second, which I fixed by only pushing the animation forward by around .4 frames each step so that every 3 or 4 steps, the animation would move forward.

3...2...1...mrowwr?

Finally, another animation issue. Alex drew up a really cute animation for Peanuts' jet-pack sprite where his tail swishes back and forth. I thought this would be pretty easy to implement since it's just an edit I have to make to the sprite and I don't have to touch the god-forsaken Draw event. However, for some reason the image just wouldn't animate. After some tweaks it would animate, but only when holding the left and right keys while flying. I'd talk more about it, but I'm still not entirely sure what happened to be completely honest. Eventually I found a random call to change image_speed in some other script which was running for some reason, removed that, and everything worked fine. Okay Game Maker. Now the entire flying system and animations were complete, and Peanuts looked like the regal space explorer that he is!


*Extremely loud purring and chirping*

After this I tweaked some code so that he wouldn't have a weird laggy startup before flying that he would have. I fixed up his sprite as well so the transition from ground to air would be a little smoother. I also added controller support for kicks since HeartBeast had a relatively short video on how to do so. I think it plays a lot better on the gamepad, actually (sorry PC mustard race.)

Current Issues

Mostly everything is working fine, but there's still a few issues that have to be fixed. First of all is the collision transition from walking to jetpacking. What I mean by this is because Peanuts' walking and jetpacking sprites are of different lengths, sometimes when there are blocks directly above and below him he'll just fly through.



This planet's atmosphere allows for cats to drill through the ground at incredible speeds.

At least, I thought it was an issue of sprite size, until I made their collision boxes the same size, and yet it's still happening. This must mean that I have to edit my collision code a little bit. Another issue is that when flying, you shouldn't hold UP while holding SPACE (UP being the jump key and SPACE being the fly key.) This sucks because I'm sure you'll often want to fly after jumping. The reason for this is that when flying and holding up, for some reason you can move right, but not left. This isn't an issue on the gamepad since the jump and fly buttons are mapped to two separate buttons which you wouldn't have any reason to press at the same time. Finally, and the most minor, but probably most annoying issue is when you hold both LEFT and RIGHT while on the ground. It works almost entirely fine, but if you're facing left and press L and R, you'll continue facing left, but if you're facing right and press them, you'll snap to face left. It doesn't have any actual movement issues, but it's still annoying.

Future Plans

So the first things that I plan to program next are the ability to transition from one room to another, which I'm sure won't be too hard; the ability to pick up items, and the first actual events of the game. The plan is to have the first item be right next to your ship, or maybe in the next room. This item will be the communicator and will allow you to talk with your contact on earth, and Peanuts' best friend, Zippy (my other cat in real life!) Zippy will provide commentary and hints(?) throughout the rest of the game through a text box on the various peoples' and places on the strange planet Peanuts finds himself on. Speaking of people, in addition to actual events, I want to add NPCs very soon! Alex has already drawn some sketches of some interesting/funny/weird/cute NPCs, whose dialogue we will collaborate on. I'm not sure about enemy NPCs yet, but I definitely want friendly NPCs who you will be able to talk to and who may also provide hints as to the location of certain parts. For example, one NPC might say something like "Oh yeah, I saw some small creatures carrying a weird shiny bottle with liquid dripping out into the forest earlier" which may tell you where the fuel reserves have been taken or something like that. For the actual events of the game I'm not sure yet. I haven't decided between if I want there to be like, one combat system through which you do everything, or if every part-finding event will have a different mini game or something like that, for example with one being a treasure hunt, or one being a combat based mini-game etc. I don't know about a full combat system since this is supposed to be a cute, nice game, so if there's any combat it will just be for fun :) Anywho, basically what I'm saying is I've only just begun, and now we're up to the actual hard/fun part of developing the game!

Music is also a must, of course. Alex and I are both very passionate about music and so we will be splitting this responsibility. However, this will be the very last thing we do, as it is unnecessary for the game to actually function. At the very least, expect two or three tracks!

Conclusion of the Introduction

Well, that's it for the first 3 days of development! Sorry for the long post and poor formatting, but we did a lot these past 3 days. I've had an amazing time making this game, it's so exciting to finally be doing what you've wanted to do for so many years but never had the motivation. I really appreciate the people who made this Game Jam a thing, since although I've always been intimidated by other game jams, I have a really hard time starting anything without a deadline, so I really feel like this game jam is the reason why I'm finally beginning to make games! I also think Alex and her art has helped a ton, since I was never really motivated to make a game when all I could draw were boxes moving around. Now that we have actual sprites and backgrounds with charm and atmosphere, it feels like I'm actually making a game when I program them! I think some people can have a good time programming a game even without good art, but I've always thought of games more visually, and so the art really helps to motivate me.

Anywho, Alex and I are really enjoying making this game, and I hope you've enjoyed reading about it! Please stay tuned for more updates and shenanigans about our game and to see where Peanuts might find himself next! If you want to chat I'll be in the discord every now and then (Stumpus #2821) and you can follow me on twitter @StumpCricket, where I'll be posting about the game's progress!


(He has no idea what's going on)

P.S. Since today is Day 4 I won't write the post for today, but expect the next post soon!

(+2)

(mrowr)

Hello, this is Alex (artisticazurite) and I'm doing all of the art for this project! I really don't have any background or practice when it comes to pixel art, ESPECIALLY not animation, so this is definitely a learning experience for me. I've also been switching between many different art programs to try to find what I'm most comfortable with for this project (Clip Studio Paint, Paint Tool SAI, Photoshop for animations, and Pyxel Edit).

This is Peanuts!

He's one of Jadon's two cats, both of who will be appearing in this game. Last year we considered joining myfirstgamejam, but found we didn't have the time. However, we still brainstormed ideas for what kind of game we'd like to make, and decided it would be nice to make a cute game about his cats exploring space. When it was announced that the optional theme for this year's game jam was cats/dogs, we figured it would be the perfect time to actually make this game!

If you want to know anything about the real Peanuts, he is friendly, fat, occasionally a troublemaker, and likes to sleep a lot. Definitely not fit for space exploration in real life.

ANYWAY, now to the actual art itself. I actually made the first sprite for Peanuts a year ago when we first came up with the idea for this game, but I never used or animated it. Now, I decided to use this sprite for the project. Again, I have absolutely no experience in animation. For that reason, and because the overall art for the game is more cute than realistic, I felt that a two frame hopping animation would work best.

This was my original concept art that I drew after we thought about this game last year. We haven't added in Zippy (Jadon's other cat) yet, but she'll be added in soon!

Here is the concept art I did for the environment of the planet that Peanuts has crash-landed on. We've changed the colors a bit in the game now but the overall concept is the same! Recently I've been trying to practice more with colors in my art, so I'm still having a little trouble judging what colors work best together. The background (which can be seen in other screenshots we've posted) was actually kind of difficult for me to make look nice. I ended up adding several more color gradients over the green sky, which I think made it look a lot better.

(What is he doing up there?)

I've made so many tile sets now by hand, including ones for floating rocks and islands in the sky. In some of the screenshots, you can see that I added a couple of variations in grass and flowers for the tiles to make it a little more interesting.

I designed the space ship to look like a cat, as you can see. Some of the pieces of it are missing, which Peanuts will need to find in order to get home. I'm proud of how it came out, I think it looks pretty cute :')

And lastly, this is the most recent thing I've worked on! The fire animation and Peanuts' tail movement are actually separated in the game, but I put it together in this gif to show how it's supposed to look. Again, I've never animated before, so I tried my best to keep it basic while still hopefully looking fluid. The fire especially was challenging, but I think I was able to make a nice loop for it.

That's everything that I've finished so far! I'll be updating more each day with the progress I've made as well as other concept art. The next things I'll be working on will be Zippy, as well as npcs! Outside of this devlog, I'll be around on the Discord chat (Azurite #2347) and have been posting the progress as well on my twitter as well!

Thank you for checking out our game!

Submitted

The spaceship is amazing :) ! Nice pixel art ! I want to see more.

Thank you! :> I'll be posting more soon, I appreciate it.

Host

AAA THIS ART IS SO CUTE i love all your color concepts a lot too--the red + green contrast is really nice. it's really awesome how well documented your devlog is--this can be useful for debugging actually. even if it's frustrating, just explaining what your code needs to do and how it was fixed or wasn't fixed can sometimes help you work through problems and spot their causes. i'm super excited to see more of this!

Thank you! I'm glad you like the colors, I messed around with them a lot :'D I'm trying to be more conscious of picking better colors for my art lately, this project included.

Submitted

Thanks for the comment! Hopefully you like reading these, because trust me, there'll be more where that came from, I haven't even gotten to the hard part yet! :)

Submitted

omg I really really REALLY love the art! It's supercute and such a sweet concept. Can't wait to get to play this! X3

Thank you!! :>

Submitted

Thank you! Don't get your expectaions too high now though! C:

(+2)

Day 4 Progress

Here is the work that I did yesterday! I didn't get the chance to post it because I was out all day.

Today my goal was mostly just doing npc sprites. Here are a few of the ones that I've made:





Here are some of the npcs you will meet in the game! I'll be working on a few more soon. It's fun making simple animations for their talk sprites, too, since I feel like it kind of help gives a little personality to the characters.

Originally, I made the mouse way too big in comparison to Peanuts' sprite (80px height while Peanuts is 64px) which...doesn't really make sense. Unfortunately, you can't scale down pixel art as I found out the hard way last night, you can only scale it up. I ended up remaking the sprite of the mouse, but because I had the old one for a basis it didn't take too long.


This was the old mouse sprite. I think the newer one is much cuter.


Other than that, the other sprite I added in was a communicator that Peanuts will be able to use. I made it look like a little cat walkie talkie (is that how you spell that...?)


Beep beep beep.



I also made a few alternate colors to the first npc I posted, all of which I actually like better than the original...they'll probably be a general species of alien cat. I didn't animate these ones, but here are their sprite sheets:




Anyway, that's all of my progress from yesterday! It's a little late, so tonight I'll probably be working on just the text box, and maybe a few more npcs.

Submitted

This is fricking adorable. Kitties in space!

Submitted (4 edits) (+2)

Day 4 + Day 5

Hello again! I wish I had more to post today but I've been pretty busy with other things these past two days. I'll be moving back to college in a few days and I've been trying to get everything I need to do out of the way before then, so I haven't been able to do much with the programming yet! Soon I will be back to my original schedule, hopefully! I've made some minor progress, though, despite this.

Firstly, I've figured out how to move between rooms! It took a bit of trial and error, and after nothing seemed to work I finally figured it out. Even though it may seem like a small achievement, when any little thing works I get so excited! There's no feeling quite like something working after hours of trying.

Bet you can't tell who did the art for the door! (wasn't me :^) )

Secondly I've begun to implement NPC interactions, dialogue, and some primitive events. Again, none of these are finished yet, and I don't know if I'd even say that they work properly, but I've begun the process! The dialogue...sort of works, but it's kind of, uhhh...

(Hello!) (Hello!) N-no, (Hello!) it doesn't ;_; (Hello!)

This is actually the reason why I waited a few days to do a big post rather than to do daily ones: the nature of the game means that over 2 or 3 days I'll begin like, 4 different processes, and none of them will be finished or work. Then, on the 4th day, all of them will suddenly work all at the same time, so progress seems to come in bursts rather than even intervals. In any case, the daily format is a lot better for posts here, so I'll try my best to make daily posts (though obviously I'm already failing at that c: ) Just don't expect every day's progress report to be as interesting as the last! There will definitely be days like this where I more or less say "yeah uh I started some stuff but none of it works ;_:" and then other days where I say "oh by the way every single thing suddenly works."

Luckily, Alex is always making more art for the game, so if my posts are boring for the day you'll always have her cute art to look at :)

Anywho, I hope you'll all stay tuned for the next chapter of this crazy saga, and hopefully the next time you read my post there will be something more interesting to read!

Thanks again for checking out our game!

-Jadon

Submitted (8 edits) (+2)

Day 6

Was out most of today again, so I didn't get much done. HOWEVER, I did get something rather major done, but the feelings about it are incredibly mixed.

I'll explain. So I began coding the text system yesterday, thinking it would be a very easy task. It was for the most part, but I kept getting some strange issues, as seen in the last post: dialogue seemed to progress randomly rather than according to the order. I tried all of yesterday and most of today to fix this, but no matter what I tried, no matter how many times I looked at the code, nothing seemed to work. I was getting really frustrated because other, seemingly more difficult problems I was able to solve rather quickly by looking through my code and thinking logically meanwhile this relatively simple problem just would not go away.

And then I discovered something. The reason I couldn't figure out the problem despite looking through my code dozens of times, thoroughly understanding what all of it did, was that the problem stemmed from something completely different. The reason the code seemed like it was going in a random order was that the specific type of button checker I was using was sensitive to holding down buttons, and so even the slightest tap of the controller button would count as multiple instances of being hit, and thus progress the dialogue multiple times. I was equally relieved that I had fixed it and upset that I'd spent two days fixing an issue that didn't exist.

In any case, I fixed the issue, and after some lengthy trial and error in terms of getting the text to get where I wanted it on the screen (and even more trial and error to do the same for the text box, again, Game Maker's draw event is a horrible mess) I finally got it. I also made it so that the player cannot move when a dialogue box is up. And thus, we have these!


Yes, yes it is :')


You want to help him, don't you?


Of course it's not perfect, and nowhere near done. For one the text box does that annoying jerk to snap to the center of the viewbox, and the text is way too small for the box. The text also snaps to the next line on the individual character that pushes it over, while I'd like it to go to the next line on the word that will push it over. I'd also like to add talk-sprites for some of the characters. It's also a bit off-center. However this is all cosmetic stuff which can be fixed later on. For now, the important part is that it works! After two days of feeling like I'd been defeated by a simple text box, it works!!

On the one hand I'm frustrated that such a small thing took so long, and I've definitely got some catching up to do. On the other hand, however, I'm just so relieved that I figured it out and that it was a really simple solution. The best part about it was that once I figured out the button-press issue, all of the small fixes I needed to make came just as quickly and naturally as they had been when I first started the game, it really felt like I got my mojo back! Reading over and over through the code I thought I understood and having it all still not work really made me feel like I'd completely lost any momentum I had with this game, but it turns out I was wrong, luckily!

Anywho, that's it for today's devlog, hopefully now that I'm past this tiny hurdle there will be much more content to come, and more quickly too! Thanks again for reading, and stay tuned for the next bitter defeat --> triumphant victory!

- Jadon

Submitted

Oh gosh, this looks so cool! Love the art and the concept. Can't wait to play this. :'3

Submitted(+3)

Hey guys, Alex and I both just returned to college, so we haven't been able to work on the game much, but I finally have some time to work on it tonight, so starting tomorrow expect some updates again! Because of how busy we've been we probably won't be able to get as far as we planned, but if we can just get the first event or two in it'll be pretty close to what we planned to implement. So watch out for an update tomorrow, and once the game jam is over we will likely continue to work on this game, so if you are interested we might start our own personal blog about it! Anywho, I hope I'll be posting more progress soon!

(4 edits) (+1)

Hello! As Jadon said, we've been pretty busy since we just got back to college and so I haven't been able to draw much these past few days. Here's some things I've gotten done, though:

Day 5

As you can see in earlier screenshots, I made a simple text box for the game. As it's just a simple box, I don't really need to repost it, but I made a similar box for the inventory as well.

I've also made a talksprite for Zippy, Peanuts' friend from Earth who you will be able to talk to using the cat communicator.


(Do cats know how to use computers?)

Zippy, like Peanuts, is based on one of Jadon's cats. The real Zippy is very sweet, but also gets very grumpy. She likes to nap on blankets, sit on your lap, and groom herself.



I also made art for a title screen, which Jadon has been working on implementing into the game along with an inventory system. Here is a mock up for the art for it (which might not be final), pictured without the menu or Peanuts' animation:





That's all the art I've done in the past few days. Right now, I'm working on assets for a small town, which hopefully I'll be able to finish by tomorrow.

The only other things I've done are a few songs for the game, which I made about a week ago but forgot to post here. I know absolutely nothing about making music, really, but I just threw together a few things for fun.

https://soundcloud.com/user-861323188/zippys-theme

https://soundcloud.com/user-861323188/cat-cave

(I don't actually know how to embed the audio player onto here, so here are the links)

(+1)

The Final Day

Doing one last update before the jam is over! I hope all of your projects are going well!

These are some of the last of the assets I've worked on for the game:





What can you find in here?


Anyway, that wraps up pretty much all of the art I've done for our game! Thank you again for checking it out, and I think we'll make one final post once it's done.