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Soluna's Secret

A topic by Callum John created Aug 03, 2017 Views: 697 Replies: 4
Viewing posts 1 to 3
(10 edits)

DISCLAIMER: The following devlog features images and writings representative of the discussed game before its release. All content is subject to change.



My name is Callum, and I'm making a  game called Soluna's Secret. It's a first person mystery puzzler about light and darkness being developed in Unity with C#. Each day, I try my very best to update this post with the most intreguing news about my project. All in the hope that I have something to show before the deadline. Here goes nothing!

Day 1

So I'll be honest: I'm technically starting this jam three days late. I feel that this puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to the other participants, but here goes nothing. When it came to choosing the technology, I originally wanted to go with PICO-8 for the sake of variety, but after getting a more solid grasp on my idea, I felt that it would be much more economical do to it in Unity.

Are you ready?

Bam. After a whole day of work, here's where I'm at. Two cubes on some giant chessboard. Though this doesn't look very exciting, there's a little going on here than meets the eye. Most of it is framework and setting up project management tools to help speed things along, but some of it is in fact visual:

By looking at and clicking on the cubes, you can get them to display text on the screen. Sure the text doesn't display within the pixel grid as much as I'd like, and there are some other quirks with input I haven't worked out yet, but hey. It looks OK so far. Baby steps.

I hope for this to eventually give puzzle hints and small amounts of exposition.

There are also some interactable cubes as a different class, and graphics for a hand used to indicate such objects. These things all work but don't do anything visually interesting enough to warrant showing off just yet.

Day 2

I'm writing this segment prematurely, because I have matters to attend to that may prevent me on working on this at that time. Sorry.


So yes, my entry has a devblog now. I'm very glad to have finally got this out for you to keep an eye on. New posts will be sent as edits to this initial post, as suggested by Jack. Be sure to let me know what you think. My sincere apologies if this has so far been rather awkward and self-depricating. I'll fix that at some point.


Day 3

Third day in, and I'm just starting to get into the really interesting stuff. Most of my progress can be summed up in the following image:

Most of what I've done has involved improving the 'inscription' system and adding the really important thing: the Pilgrim's Lantern (working name). Represented by this lovely yellow cylinder.

I hope for the Pilgrim's Lantern to drive many of the different puzzles in Soluna's Secret. It's a magical artefact that burns without fuel, and it's light may have some interesting effects that I'm not willing to spoil. I've added a pickup for this item, which adds the lantern to the player's inventory when looked at and clicked. Right now, this exchange is one way, but I may consider letting you drop the lantern on the ground as well as toggle it on and off.

Any appearance that you can drop the thing from the provided image is just editing trickery.

Much of the code has also been cleaned up, but I'm sure you care little about something you won't see when it's done.

Finally for today, I want to mention a feature I tried to add, but didn't yet have time for:

Doors. What puzzle game, or game in general would be complete without doors? They're everywhere! Though I must admit: building them out of solid stone was a stupid idea. One that I'm kind of regretting, but hopefully will look much better once it's done. Until next time!

Day 4

You know... I learned something today. And that thing is that 3D modelling is much much  harder than it looks.

I'm, uh, getting there slowly. And no. I have no idea how this happened. It's supposed to be a lever, by the way.

Regardless, other improvements include better animations for doors, as well as the associated framework behind them to be expanded upon later. All in all, kind of a slow day, I must admit, but even though some of the assets aren't done, the individual parts - such as the tiles you see above -  are complete and saved, so I can always use them later.

This means that, fingers crossed, tomorrow will be more productive. Now before this update begins to look like an apology, according to this here hit counter, this thread just hit 100 views! Thank you so much. Hopefully I can give more exciting updates for you all in the future. Until next time!

Day 5

A much, much  better effort all around today, though I must admit that the ending was a little rubbish. Kind of like the film adaptation of Life of Pi, actually. Doors are almost finished, and I have added support for unlocked doors that can be opened and shut just by looking at them and pushing the 'Use' key to pry them open and shut. Complete with pretty animations! (Not at all diminished by the strict resolution.)

But enough of my perculiar fetish for increasingly functionable gateways, here's the thing you've all been waiting for:

The lantern finally has a purpose! Other than lighting your way through the dangerous depths of the tomb, the lantern's light can reveal hidden objects and make them tangable, or do the opposite, as in this example.

With this knowledge in hand, I hope this will lead to some very interesting puzzles in the near future, as very soon, this won't just be bound to how far away the lantern's light is, but also if it's on or off. Though unfortunately a few hiccups in the workflow pipline (or a flipping annoying bug to you non-marketing folk) meant that I couldn't get that done today. Something for tommorrow, one would hope!

Any feedback is most welcome. Until next time!

Day 6

I'm nearing the end of the first week, and I'm starting to feel the crunch. A lot of progress was both made and lost today, paradoxically.

Part of this comes from the fact that, while I have improved Soluna's Secret in a few rather significant ways, I have just come to the most startling realisation; I don't know how to texture models properly. And yet, somehow, I have made this:

That's the work-in-progress model for the Pilgrim's Lantern, sans handle. Would you like to know what it looks like in game?

Are you sure? Because this one's a doozy...


It looks like someone vandalised the top of the TARDIS. I have done as much research as I can on this, and it turns out that making models for video games is not as simple as slapping the model together in the modelling program, saving the file, then dragging it into Unity. Oh no, that would be far too easy, and who doesn't love a challenge? Definitely not. Rather Blender (the program that I use for this sort of thing) has a materials system that was developed on the opposite side of the universe to Unity. They're 100% incompatible. 

Not to worry though, after you've swallowed your tears (and your pride) you learn that there is a solution. And that solution is done via the process of Baking and UV Unwrapping. Anyone reading this that actually does this sort of thing for a living probably just let out an uncontrollable shudder... Or not. I wouldn't know. I've never done it before. But the long and short of it is this: If I wanted to make a texture for a cube, I wouldn't draw like this...

I'd instead draw it like this:

That's because the computer needs to know what each side of the cube looks like laid flat, so it can do some maths in order to wrap it up again and draw it to the screen correctly. Now you can imagine that as models get more complex, the net of the shape will too, and very quickly it becomes unfeasable, so we need to turn to the computer once again to do it for us. A lot of software simplifies this whole process by allowing for texture painting. Literally, you can paint texture directly on the thing - kind of like airfix - which is pretty much what I've ended up doing.

The problem is when you have your model all painted up and ready to go, you need to blast it back to its basic bits for anything else to use it. This is where I am right now. Nearly halfway into the jam and I've found something I don't understand at all. Yet. Tommorrow will almost certainly be a crash course in this sort of thing so I can fart out all of the necessary assets as quickly as I can. and get on with building the rest of the game.

But enough of that, let's have a look on the lighter side. The lantern itself has seen some noticable improvement:

The lantern's light is now much more even; it's much easier to tell where it's influence stops. Initially, I fretted over this problem, and tried many half-hearted solutions, until someone pointed out that spot lights give off a much more even glow than other kinds of Unity light. This gave me an idea:

Instead of having the light come from the lantern, have the light come from the light. It's a cheap hack, but one I find amusing. Sure, it's nowhere near as drastic as flipping the whole game horizontally , but I thought it was cool.

In addition to this, switching the lantern on and off affects both Lunar and Solar objects. If I ever get this UV unwrapping problem sorted in time, I'm sure I'll have a better way to show this off soon.

Until next time!

Days 7, 8, 9 and... 10?!

It's been a long time. How have you been?

I've been just fine. You know, after I spent two days learning UV Mapping. I've been working my socks off to get as many art assets as possible finished  before the deadline in the hopes that I can go on to making some nice environments to walk through, if not a whole game.

I'm going to be honest with you and say that the odds of me finishing this within the deadline are starting to look slim. Never fear however, because even if I miss the deadline, I hope to continue on with this project until it becomes some form of  small prototype, at the very least. It's funny how something that seems simple can suddenly slip away from you into reams of complexity that you can never fully realise. Throughout this whole process I've been buzzing with ideas, many of which will have to be cut from the final product. Especially ones that require more art assets (I enjoy the process, but it's very time consuming).

Additional features thus far have been slow, achingly so in my opinion. To the point where this latest update doesn't really have that many improvements over the previous version in terms of mechanical content. This is entirely my fault for not finding my minimum viable product early, something I am usually diligent about, and also because this puzzle game about light, darkness, and a helluva lot of doors actually started as a Tomb Raider demake. I might write about this more in my planed postmortem after the jam, so stick around for that.

In that regard, I'm happy how much I've managed to do, and how far I've come. I could have given up much sooner, but I didn't. This fact comforts me, and looking around and witnessing the honest efforts of others really helps.

Now let's get down to specifics:

The lantern's light now flickers at the edges. Mostly an aesthetic detail, but the script is more than recyclable, so you should be able to see this elsewhere in the project. The rest, as previously mentioned are art assets. I have two planned features in the work to round out the core gameplay that I hope to have done soon.

The only really bad news is that I have more personal matters to attend to that will prevent me from 'jamming' tommorow.

My humblest apologies for the absence, and stay tuned!

Final Words and Release - Day Whatever

OK, so it's been a whopping 5 days or so since the last update, and a lot has happened since then. Soluna's Secret is now done, submitted to the jam and the response has been so far overwhelmingly positive. The game has received multiple comments, ratings, over 150 downloads, and has been featured on the front page alongside a bunch of different projects both big and small. Even though I only made a prototype of what could potentially be huge, this is a better turnaround than I could ever have dreamed of.

So this final post is mainly to announce that as of this day forward, this devlog is dead. Sorry.

I'll be sure to archive this somehow in the future, but for now, you can find all future updates over on the official Soluna's Secret page:

I want to give a warm thanks to anyone who read this development log, and I'll see you all real soon.

Love the visual style. This looks really really cool.

Much obliged, Lepidus. Though please keep in mind that a lot of this is programmer art and is subject to change. I'll be sure to clarify this fact in future posts to avoid disappointing people who think the game's gonna look like this up until launch.

Nice, another 3D entry :). I feel mine might end up being similar in terms of walking around and inspecting objects. Looking forward to more updates!

Thank you for your feedback, crabmusket.

The next update should come this evening, as I write this.