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[Devlog] G. Ramirez and the Missing Hat (point & click)

A topic by wDracaena created Feb 03, 2019 Views: 301 Replies: 24
Viewing posts 1 to 22
Submitted (2 edits) (+2)

Hey everyone! I'm Windy, and I’ll be making a point and click adventure game in Adventure Game Studio (against the advice I’ve been given lmao. Apparently it’s frustrating to use but I invested a bit of time into trying to figure it out already, so I don’t wanna switch at this point aha). The plan is to make a lil game about a detective looking for their hat in their horrible, horrible messy office. It'll be a super short game (guessing it'll be around 5-15m?) with just three rooms. 

I've never done any coding before, but leading up to the jam I spent a bit of time (literally 3-5 days) learning HTML/CSS and a tiny, tiny bit of Python. I've been An Art Person for a while (check out my art blog :D?) and I... knew some music theory at one point. So I'm gonna do my best to handle all the assets myself!

And... I'll paste my Day 2 update from tumblr in the post below. Stay tuned?

EDIT: came up with a game title aha

Submitted(+2)

DAY 2

I spent the last while turning really rough sketches into slightly less rough images of vaguely the right size, and then googling stuff like ‘how do you move rooms in Adventure Game Studio’ and ‘how do you make two numbers add together to make a third number’. I also replaced all the default GUI images with scribbly pics, as well as making some room navigation buttons.

Took a REAL long time to get those buttons to show up (mostly) when I wanted them to and getting them to actually move you from room to room, so I’m pretty happy with how they turned out :’) Might try to figure out why they stick around on the screen for a bit instead of instantly disappearing, but this is as much as I’m willing to screw with those for today.

image

The game’s just gonna be three rooms, so here’s the roughs for them so far:

image

Not 100% happy with the fade in and out to move between rooms, so I might see if I can change that… much later.

Finally, I didn’t post this earlier but here’s the uhhhhh one single Game Design Document I made before the start of the jam lol. As most of my Projects go, the majority of my ideas for this are in my head and not written anywhere, so it’s a 50/50 tossup to see if they’ll actually make it out of there at all?

image

I’m still thinking about whether or not I’ll actually have this one single character in the final thing. My original idea was based on some noir detective tropes, so this lady’s asking Cool Detective Man to help her solve… her husband’s murder or whatever case. But he won’t leave the office until he finds his hat, and she’s just sitting there judging him as he goes through his messy, messy office lol

But now i’m kinda realizing that uhhhh coding is hard and I might not have time to put a whole conversation system in, so we’ll.. see what happens in a couple of days!

Goals for the next couple of days:

  • figure out the optimal, bare-bones speedrun path through this game and what Things are necessary for that
  • make those essential Objects and write/draw some stuff for them
  • get rid of the last few default images (default items and cursor)
  • start making final images

Other things I’ve started doing:

  • fighting the default speech display system of AGS
  • fighting the default text display system of AGS
  • fighting the ‘mouse mode/interaction mode’ system of AGS
  • slightly regret using AGS but not enough to get discouraged yet!
Host

aaa i love seeing the concept sketches for point and click games. it's really cool to see how they end up in game!

also haha... i do wish there was a more current point and click engine that we could recommend but AGS does fit a very specific game dev niche with the only competitors being paid programs or else coding point and click mechanics yourself in other engines (renpy, rpgmaker mv, construct, etc). this post is actually very helpful so far in seeing where AGS fit your needs as well as where it came up short, and i actually would love to read an in-depth post-mortem of this game. i haven't used it myself so it's hard for me to articulate to jammers what is challenging about AGS exactly.

if you are really having issues with text display systems, people have built out point and click systems in renpy. there is a bit of code to it, but renpy is pretty customizable when you get a feel for it (and you can actually prototype an adventure game through text choices): https://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewtopic.php?t=20541

Submitted(+1)

Ooh, thanks for the Renpy links! I actually tried messing with Renpy for point and click games some time ago, but I had 200% less coding knowledge so I had absolutely no idea what was going on. If I get super super frustrated in the next few days I might give it another try (with my newfound beginner coding knowledge!) but for now I'm gonna stubbornly fight AGS (and hopefully have some thoughts to share at the end!)

So far, my main problem with text is that I was really envisioning a kind of Ace Attorney style game with point & click investigation sections and visual novel looking conversation sections. The point & click sections are pretty much like I imagined, but AGS dialogue is EITHER speech bubbles above sprites' heads or text boxes on the top half of the screen with a special character portrait to the side. And there isn't much of a way to customize it except coding your own system from scratch, so... I think at this rate I'm gonna just try to make the default settings work for me aha :'(

But I'll definitely write up something about AGS at the end of this, because I imagine I'll have lots of words to say :')

Host

yeah it'd require some coding chops for sure, but it could be something to pick at after you get a prototype with the main path locked down and running in AGS!

Submitted(+1)

DAY 3

No significant new images today, since I spent most of the day deciding what things to make, and what objects should interact in which chain of events. So for today, I’ve got a lil walkthrough/cheat sheet and some placeholder objects roughly where they should be.

Upcoming goals are to:

  • write text for interactions with (essential) objects
  • code the interactions with said objects
  • maybe start writing the intro/ending bits of the game

I think I’m going to leave the ‘making final visual assets’ to the very end once I have everything else figured out, because I can do that while zoning out and listening to podcasts or something. The actual coding/writing part requires focus and brain muscles, so I’m gonna do that first before I get sick of the project…

Also, here’s yet another fun problem with the speech system I encountered: AGS only really allows for two styles of speech display: Lucasarts (text floating directly above a 3rd person sprite’s head), or Sierra (a text box with a floating character portrait).

This is a Problem For Me because I want the game to be from a 1st person perspective, so the player won’t have any sprites and I don’t want to make a character portrait for them. BUT if you don’t include a character portrait though, the text box won’t display properly/at all (??? why). So I’ll have to decide between having a single floating pixel for the player’s character portrait, or just bite it and make an actual character portrait… 

Also, both dialogue styles are a lil… ugly as they are, but at least for #2 you can change the text box a bit… Don’t like how you can’t really move it from the top left corner of the screen, though. So I’m not too pleased with all the concessions I have to make for the speech display system right now. (And I’m not sure I’ll have the time/knowledge to code an entire different speech system from scratch.)

Other than that, though, AGS has been pretty good at giving me exactly what I want so far, though that’s probably because ‘what I want’ is exactly what it’s made to do? Though I’m already thinking about how I’d love to somehow combine AGS with a visual novel maker like Renpy to make kickass Ace Attorney style games in the future :0

Host

wow this post is really detailed and helpful! i actually didn't know this about the dialogue systems (+ i like that you labeled them w the studios they were associated with) in AGS so this is really interesting. 

Submitted

This looks neat! Also your art is aMAZing, whoa. Can't wait to see more!

Submitted

DAY 4

HAHAHA in my last couple of updates I was complaining about AGS’ speech display being locked to the top, but I accidentally stumbled upon a solution for All My Complaints in the AGS forum while googling something else (and I feel REAL DUMB now). So I now present my improved speech display system!!!

image

I’m adjusting the display position for each individual line of text in that example, so tomorrow one of my to-dos will be to code a Thing that’ll automatically move all text boxes where I want them to be… amazing (or: I might also get lazy and just keep copy/pasting the same position string for each line of text. Who knows!)

So while that got worked out, another new problem popped up: a dialog between two characters won’t display properly unless both characters are in the same room. Which… makes sense I guess, but I’m always trying to do some Dumb Stuff, so for the above dialog example to work, there has to be an invisible ‘notes’ character moving between each room. Feels a bit janky but… I guess it’s harmless?

Anyways, in terms of other stuff I got done: I wrote up a full script of object interactions! It’s pretty short (there’s only 13 Things total), but some of them are more complex than others and rely on you having certain items in your inventory and such. I also started the hard part today, meaning the actual coding, and it’s… actually pretty fun! It’s really satisfying to see the project start coming together/behaving and doing what I want. Coding is cool :’)

I also figured a way to work the game jam’s theme of ‘love’ into the game… But I’ll write more about it when I actually start coding that part, because I feel like I might change that section a bit before then. 

Goals for the next couple of days:

  • Finish general coding
  • Add a space for inventory item descriptions
  • Figure out how to make a spinning combination lock puzzle…
  • Fix speech display (maybe)

Probably won’t have an update tomorrow because I have 10 HOURS OF WORK, but I’m pretty happy with my progress so far anyways so a day off won’t be too bad. And I still have a bit more time to do stuff todayyyy

Submitted(+1)

DAY 5

Had a crazy long shift today, but I did figure out one thing for the game: I coded a spinning combination lock!

I wanted one of the last puzzles in the game to be a lock where you have to enter a combination. AGS has a text input box feature, so I could’ve just thrown one in and called it a day, BUT I want my game to have a kinda 50′s aesthetic. So my ambitious ass decided to try to make a combination lock with spinning number dials for an analogue look!

And… it actually works like I want it to, shockingly? Example GIF is below (it’s really ugly lmao).

…Okay, for the placeholder buttons I’m using random sprites that were already in the engine, and the placeholder background image is a random TARDIS pic that was on my computer because I’m tired. The sprite in the top right corner is a back button. SUPER JANKY but I’m planning to spend most of next week on graphics…

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT, the code works, so I’m happy with it for now! I’ve even got it set up to recognize a placeholder combination:

So that’s my progress for today. I’ve got the (majority of the) day off tomorrow, so I’ve got big goals:

  • finish first pass of coding (intro, ending, last 15% of game)
  • make placeholder images for above
  • test the game a little bit

I think I have a decent idea about my working speed now, and I think there’s not tooooo much to do so I can probably maybe get the rest of the coding done tomorrow! I want the game to be almost completely functional ASAP so I can get working on graphics.

this is probably less coherent than usual bc i need to sleeeeep

Submitted

DAY 6

I finished coding all the most important pieces today! The game is a bit shorter than I realized, but ehhh it’s a learning experience, right

So the next while will be dedicated to making things Look Good. I started making art (specifically backgrounds) today but this isn’t new and exciting for me like coding, so I’m not going to go into as much depth about it.

I’m also PRETTY DISSATISFIED WITH THE STORY I WROTE… I don’t want to completely spoil the whole thing (it’s a 5-10m game…) but right now I feel like the ending is kiiinda random. I think it’s partially bc I tried to squeeze the game jam theme of ‘love’ in (which isn’t my subject of choice lmao). But in shorr the whole thing isn’t super cohesive yet and I definitely need to do a second writing pass because WE CAN DO BETTER (hopefully)

TL:DR; finished ALL (95%) of the coding today and starting on art. Gotta spend the next couple of days thinkin of how to make the game more cohesive without Significantly More coding.

(ALSO I’ve been calling it 'hat game’ for a week so it might be time to start brainstorming a title)

BONUS: 

combination lock box that isn't horrible


Submitted

The placeholder sprites were hilarious to watch, Im not gonna lie- but it's shaping up so cool!! I love the clutter the roughs already have in them! Definitely something that gives you the urge to click at.

Submitted(+1)

DAY 7

Spent most of the day.. being at work and napping (not simultaneously). Here’s some art I did in between.

My worst enemy in art is colour, so I always overcompensate for lack of colour knowledge with detailed lines… Here’s a before and after of two rooms.

Big signatures because I know better than to post clean, decent-res lineart on the internet lmao. Most of the work on this one was fighting a perspective grid lol. Comparing these side by side though, I got a lot more detail in there than I expected? 

And room 2:

This one needs a good handful more clutter still… There’s not much space to put it though lol

THAT’S IT TIME TO GET 8H OF SLEEP

Submitted

This is looking great! Even the lineart without colour looks really polished. Also I've tried using AGS before, so I know you've done really well to hack it into shape for your game.

Oooo what a good concept!! I used to play these kinds of games all the time when I was younger! I can't wait to play it!

Submitted

DAY 8

ajfhdgska it’s 3 am. main bgs finished

ALSO just wanna say a quick thanks to everyone who's written nice comments so far,  I'd individually reply but my brain's been a bit fried lately. I'm reading and appreciating your comments though! Thank you!!

that’s it bye

Submitted

DAY 10

No update yesterday, but over the last two days I did a shit ton of GUI stuff (like nav buttons, inventory, and text boxes), and drawing objects. I’m.. roughly 70% done with art at this point I think!

Here’s some GUI gifs:

Not exactly the high contrast Cool Film Noir look I imagined at the beginning, but I think I kind of gave that up when I made the BGs that colour palette instead, and I really don’t have the time/energy to go back and fix it at this point. But a stronger Aesthetic is a thing I’ll keep in mind for future projects..!

Finally, the last thing I have to show for today is the combination lock box:

..And I’m just realizing right now that I need to finish the back button lol… (putting that in my to-do list immediately.)

I’ve also made a concrete to-do list, so I’m no longer just winging it and setting goals for the next day as I write them in this devlog! So upcoming goals are:

  • finish remaining art assets (5 ‘big’ pieces left and a bunch of smaller buttons/etc bits?)
  • final writing pass (add extra interactions, fix writing)

And that should be it! I’ve decided not to try to compose music for this: I had a little adventure redownloading the music software I bought some 8 years ago now when I was still A Music Student. And then I quickly realized I haven’t done any music theory type stuff for uhhhh 5-ish years so I don’t really remember what I’m doing anymore. So I’m probably going to use free resource music for this, or… have it be completely silent! Not optimal but sometimes it be like that

I also found out that I’ll be leaving the city over the weekend, so I have until Friday night to finish everything and post it… I think I’m making pretty good progress to finish before then anyways, but mmmmm those shrinking deadlines huh

Host

oh wow the dialogue workaround is really smart! and honestly "having invisible ___ in the scene" is a actually a pretty common hack. also these backgrounds are gorgeous!! its so exciting to see this in the home stretch!

oooo it looks so good! I like the GUI a lot :>

Submitted

DAY 11

whew, did a lot of art today. I think I have one more full screen pic to do today and then… just a second pass on the writing, a couple of general touch-ups, and… I’m basically done! Probably going to finish and post the whole thing (on itch.io) on Thursday or Friday.

(pics and especially long rambling under the cut because I’ve been trapped inside all day due to a snowstorm and I need to WORD DUMP)

(might edit the above pictures slightly if the mood strikes me (probably not))

Lots of full screen close up type pics today, I think I did 4 of them in total? I spent a lot of last year learning shortcuts for how to draw faster, but even I’m kinda pleased with how quickly I finished all the full screen art pieces (8 full BG pieces in 2-3 days). They’re maybe… 7/10 on effort, but you gotta make sacrifices when you’re on a deadline I guess? (And also indulging thoughts like ‘look, I’m not going to draw faces on these people because I just don’t fucking feel likelooking at this particular picture anymore’)

Oh but on an unrelated side note, I’ve been re-listening to The Adventure Zone while working on this, and fittingly I’m at the end of the first campaign again just as I finish up this project. I probably listened to something like 30 episodes (about 1.5h each) while working on backgrounds and random buttons and pics so THAT’S a way to track my hours put into this project… :’( 

(on an even more unrelated side note, you should listen to the Adventure Zone if you haven’t already. I was just reminded of how good it is because I thought ‘oh I need something to idly listen to in the background while I draw’ and then I listened to 30h+ of podcast because I was too invested to stop listening. on a second playthrough.)

ANYWAYS my goals for the next two days are:

  • finish the last full screen pic
  • second writing pass

Almost done..!

Submitted

DAY 12 (I think?)

We've got a title and cover pic (lol):

I think I'm finally done with all the art stuff, so I just gotta write a couple more things and I think I'm done..! Hoping to post the final thing tonight or tomorrow afternoon. That's it for now, gonna sprint to the end >:0

Submitted

Adding some extra interactions now so the game could theoretically be longer than 5 min lol… Gonna put this here because I think I’m funny :’(

Submitted

I'M DONE CHECK IT OUT

Having the same feeling as when you finish a long essay and you just don't want to look at it anymore so you just submit it without proofreading it... So there might (will) be bugs probably. Let me know if there's anything major/if you got Thoughts aha

I'll prob write up an in-depth Thing in a day or so... for now it's time to play video games that aren't this one :'D

Submitted

WRAP UP (very long, rambly post below)

finished and posted my game yesterday, so here’s some closing thoughts about making a game, the final results, using Adventure Game Studio, and… whatever other random thoughts I end up typing

Making a Game

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the coding part a lot more than the art part despite being an Art Person. Maybe because coding is new and exciting, and art is old hat to the point where I can zone out and watch Youtube while drawing?

In any case, ‘game making’ was one of my new years resolutions so I’m glad to get that finished before the first quarter of the year is over. HA

End Results

WELL… I tend to not be satisfied with most of the Final Products I create. I said something about ‘handing in a rushed essay and not wanting to proofread it first’, which tends to be how I feel towards the end of most projects… But still, I’m trying to focus on the fact that I created the story, art, and coding for this game in 2 weeks. So yeah, it’s a bit rough but in the end… at least it’s finished!

Also, because I don’t know if it’s actually clear from the last pic, but the detective is supposed to be Not Male. I’m Very Interested in characters that are GNC girls that I can project on, so to that end:

image

To be honest, I feel like the sketch on the right is clearer than the in-game pic I ended up using, but ehhh

Using Adventure Game Studio

Despite a bit of griping at the beginning, I think that ultimately Adventure Game Studio wasn’t that bad to use. All of my problems were really just a result of uhhhh never making a game before lol.

I personally struggled with the inventory GUI a bit. I wanted some objects to display text or an image when you clicked on them, but the default setting was to select objects so they could be used on the environment, when you clicked on them. Figuring out how to really customize the inventory screen was one of the few things I really struggled with, and in the end I left my inventory system as just a row of images you could scroll through and select. imo editing the inventory GUI takes slightly more coding than it feels like it should.

I also don’t really like how image uploading was handled. Transparency is… weird in AGS, and I sometimes had images with jagged edges (especially when they were resized). You also have to cut individual images out of a spritesheet with a rectangular selection, which made it a bit inconvenient for my weirdly shaped objects all tetris’d together in a single image file. These aren’t seriously major problems though, and if you know what to do while creating your images, it’s not that much of an inconvenience. I just kinda wish that the way image uploading worked was clearly written somewhere, but it’s the kind of thing you learn as you go, maybe?

I guess it could be said that AGS isn’t the most flexible program, since it’s built to primarily make… adventure games. But I feel like once I got a decent handle on the system I didn’t have much trouble hacking it into the shape I wanted, and there’s even tutorials on the wiki on how to make an RPG with different stats and tracking HP and such… So I’m pretty sure that if (someone with more coding knowledge) really wanted to use AGS to make something complex, it could be done, AGS doesn’t feel too inherently limiting. It could definitely be easier to do some things, but I feel like the engine does what it’s supposed to pretty cleanly, otherwise.

The only major issue I’d have with using it again is that the community seems pretty quiet, both in the sense that it doesn’t seem like a lot of people are actively using it and most of the support forum posts are from around 2006. So for future projects, it might be hard to find people who want to collaborate and use AGS, and I also feel like it’d be harder to get help with more complex coding issues if any arose.

???

I have lots of plans for what comes next!! I want to get back into pixel art and make tilesets because I’ve seen a lot of good pixels lately and I’m Inspired. I think I’m going to buy Aseprite because my go-to pixel program used to be MS Paint…

In terms of other game-related art stuff, I also want to try 3D modelling because that just seems like the next logical step up. I’ve had crocotile 3d bookmarked for a while, so once I get a handle on pixel art again maybe I’ll try some lowpoly stuff as a midpoint between the styles!

…And then to make 3d games, I’ll probably try Unity. Got some gamedev friends who said Unity is better than Unreal for a beginner… Also, I’d love to try more coding but the little taste of C++ I had was.. scary lol. Hoping C# will be slightly more forgiving for me…

AS FOR ACTUAL PROJECTS… I kinda styled this game jam’s protagonist on another character of mine, who’s a 12 year old detective in an urban fantasy story… Her story’s supposed to be a comic, but now that I’ve made a game I feel like I can get a game done faster, so maybe I’ll convert the comic into a visual novel type thing instead, since I’d like to try Renpy or GDevelop/Godot (something that’ll let me do an HTML5 browser game). I’ll probably make this an intermediate project to learn another engine/language/etc stuff before I try something big (and it’s coming up pretty soon, but I’m kind of considering trying this out for NaNoRenO maybe…)

…In terms of Big Projects: I got slapped with inspiration by this post (about a game that switches back and forth between a coffee shop AU and high fantasy AU with items/concepts transferring in between) so I KINDA REALLY wanna try to make that happen. Any version of this concept is gonna be pretty different from a point and click/visual novel style game though, so I’ll have to spend a while learning how to do other things first… This is obviously a pretty long term goal though. HOWEVER my favourite phase of any project is spending months brainstorming and not doing anything, so I’m gonna go back to that for a while!

o/

Submitted

Got an anonymous message on tumblr saying they couldn't download my game because the game was infected by "FileRepMalware", so I'm reposting this here so they can hopefully see it...

I’ve googled around for solutions and scanned my computer a couple of times… and my antivirus software can’t manage to find anything on my computer D:

I’m not much of a computer person, so I’m not sure if my computer has a virus I can’t find which was passed onto the game, or if the process has something to do with the itch.io uploading process, or if it’s something else entirely… A friend also suggested it might be because the game is an .exe file created by a less known game engine from an ‘unknown publisher’, so it might be freaking out your antivirus software.

I don’t know what to say other than maybe you could disable your antivirus software to download the game? I didn’t intend to include any viruses with my game (aha…) but if your computer is detecting something then there might be something I’m just not able to find. VERY MUCH HOPING THAT'S NOT THE CASE...

I’m gonna try out another antivirus program in a day or so, and if anything pops up I’ll update the game files and make some posts about it! Sorry there isn’t a more definitive solution to all of this because I’m kind of stumped myself… But at the very least, I’ll make sure that if/when I make any more games in the future, I’ll do my best to make sure I don't have/pass on any malware!