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Topics - SpacePirateCaine

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1
Ahoy all,

So I'm taking a short break from the meat of my game and coming back to a small issue I've had since starting to develop my own GUI. I've managed to create null event handlers for standard interactions with a simple application of the IsInteractionAvailable function, but I am having trouble working out how to make a null event handler for when the player clicks an inventory item on a hotspot, character or object that is not an expected interaction. I attempted the following:

Code: Adventure Game Studio
  1.     if (IsInteractionAvailable(MouseX, MouseY, eModeUseinv) == 0){
  2.       player.Phylactere("I can't use that there.");
  3.     }
  4.     else {
  5.       if (lt == eLocationCharacter) {
  6.         Character *c = Character.GetAtScreenXY(MouseX, MouseY);
  7.         c.RunInteraction(eModeUseinv);
  8.       }
  9. ...
  10.     }

And it works to a point, but it is also a dead giveaway that something has an item interaction, because if there is any item interaction available at all, it reverts back to no interaction at all. I tried Inventory.IsInteractionAvailable(), but that seems to be just the same as the above, when clicking on an item in the inventory itself. Not quite what I was looking for. Is there another function that I should know about?

2
Ahoy there!

This thread is a quick response to a rather common bit of feedback that I'm getting on my Games in Progress thread regarding the readability of the fonts I'm using in my game. I've taken the large amount of critique that has been offered, and decided that I would do well to get a few extra eyes on this. I always have the option of creating my own comic style TTF font, but I'd like to avoid resorting to doing such for the time being, if at all applicable.

A little bit of background before I share: The game is meant to at least evoke feelings of an English language comic book, using comic-style text in speech balloons for speech (When enabled). Because I am attempting to create something that is reminiscent of this style, I am limiting myself to only comic style fonts that are all upper case (Which is the common style for North America). Unfortunately, my project is also being done in 320x200, though I expect players to resize at least to 2x if not 3x or even full-screen. Because of this, while not being entirely stingy, I still want to minimize screen real-estate taken up by speech balloons and GUIs. This means that my fonts are 7pt for speech, and 5pt for menus. For this reason, readability can be an issue.

While maintaining the above limitations, I'd like to build a consensus as to the readability of 4 fonts that I am courting as ideas for use in the game. I am also willing to mix-and-match if one works better for speech while another works for menus, etc.


Digital Strip 2.0 (Bold)

The above is the font that I originally chose, though I have changed to the bold version for readability's sake.


Kid Kosmic


Web Letterer


Fanboy

I'd greatly appreciate some feedback on which of the fonts here are easiest for everyone to read/understand for both the speech balloons and the menus.
All of the above fonts, for those interested, are available from Blambot.com

3
AGS Games in Production / Anarch Universe
« on: 18 Feb 2014, 01:05 »
0xDEDD00D5 presents:
TM

"My name is Dave. I'm a regular guy who was born on a tiny, unremarkable planet called Earth.
A year ago, my biggest concern was whether to get the hazelnut latte or a hot chai for my commute to the internet startup I worked for.
I was blissfully ignorant to the fact that the entire universe is populated by aliens - most of whom are hostile,
led by a 'Creator Race' called the Altareans.

Unfortunately for me, one night after a pretty sweet office party and a few too many shooters,
I was abducted by mistake by a pair of space pirates making an emergency stop on my apartment building roof.
Honestly, I was kinda pissed off about the whole thing at first.

But if you were suddenly offered the chance to experience the whole universe, instead of working nine-to-five, what would you do?

So here I am: Captain of a galactically feared band of space pirates, on the run from the Altarean Galactic Police Force.
Stranded in space with a pair of guys who treat interstellar larceny like a day-job.
Their biggest concern - aside from getting vaporized by the GPF - still being where to find a good drink.

Funny how that works out."





Synopsis:
Anarch Universe is a story about a couple of guys, living in space, trying to make a buck. You take on the role of Dave (A.K.A. The Dread Space Pirate Captain Tytan), a reluctant member of the galactic community and ex-resident of planet earth who is now the head of a band of intergalactic space pirates. You've been killed, resurrected, you've been the savior of an entire planet and you've seen a supernova up close, and now it's time for a little R&R.

And what better way to start your vacation with a little new tech? Ship's engineer Jin (A.K.A. Twisty) has devised a plan for a piece of technology that will greatly enhance your life in space: You just need to build it first. You've got everything you need except for one last piece. All you need to do is pull a heist on a luxury space station. What could possibly go wrong?

Features:
Graphics in glorious pixelated 320x200 (Scaled to preference!)
Simple, user-friendly context menu interface
Full voice acting!
Multiple solutions to puzzles: A story that changes based on how you solve problems!
Full OGG Soundtrack
Developed in AGS 3.3

Notes:
Anarch Universe is planned to be a Full-length commercial Adventure game. Planned release date is within 2015.

Team:
Art, writing, scripting, music, biz-related stuff: Luke "SpacePirateCaine" Rideout
Additional Art: Greg "The Serpent Sage" Gibbons

Progress:
Story/Puzzles - 50%
Scripting - 10%
Graphics - 10%
SFX/Music - 5%

Dev Diary:
February 17, 2014: Publicly announced the project. Working at breakneck pace to get everything moving and intending to make regular updates on this page to keep motivated and keep me and my team honest.

4
Hi all,

I'm currently working on background music for my game, and have run into some small snags in the way that AGS handles background music. I've managed to find a method to keep music from restarting upon room entry thanks to a thread I found from June of 2011, and was hoping that I could make use of that system globally somehow.

Khris was the one who originally proposed using this, so he'll likely recognize the following code, but what I'm attempting to use is:

Code: Adventure Game Studio
  1. AudioChannel*bgm_channel;
  2. void SetBGM(AudioClip*bgm) {
  3.   if (bgm_channel != null && bgm_channel.PlayingClip == bgm) return;
  4.   bgm_channel = bgm.Play(eAudioPriorityHigh, eRepeat);
  5. }
which allows me to set music to my BGM channel by room using SetBGM(aWhatever); and change volume with bgm_channel.volume = whatever while also having the added benefit that it doesn't reset the music every time the player enters the room.

I have attempted pasting the same set to the top of individual room scripts, but if I want to do a volume change in any room aside from the room it triggered, I need to call another SetBGM, which in a new room resets the music and essentially voids the entire point of the above script. I'd love if I could use that globally, but so far I haven't found anywhere in the GlobalScript that seems to work, and I don't have a very good grasp yet on import/exporting of functions. I'd be very grageful if someone could let me know where I could set it or if there's a better way to accomplish this.

5
Ahoy there - back again with a question about GUI design.

I managed to custom-create from scratch a GUI that functions similarly to a Windows-style right click context window, with the default functions working like a charm, but I have run into a bit of a snag when creating an inventory system that chains off of the existing GUI.

First, the GUI as I have it:


I have successfully built the section that correctly positions the Inventory GUI next to the Context Menu verbcoin, but what you are seeing there listed as "Inventory Item" is currently a placeholder button. It was originally my plan to have the GUI automatically populate itself with buttons representing the individual inventory items and resizing the GUI based on the number of buttons displayed, then having the game set player.ActiveInventory = <Whatever the button represents> then run a ProcessClick based on mouse coordinates saved as String a when the first GUI was opened inside the function btnInventory_OnClick(...).

Unfortunately, I am having trouble figuring out if it's even possible to generate GUI buttons at runtime and if that's even feasable, how to populate that list based on a list of inventory currently carried by the player/set so that they would be able to set the correct String for a call from ActiveInventory.

Maybe I'm thinking of this in needlessly complicated terms? If someone could point me in the right direction, it would be greatly appreciated. Should I change my method and go with an InvWindow, and if so, how would I display item names as opposed to icons and set the game to handle inventory item clicks as using them immediately, instead of setting them as the cursor, etc.?

I've been poring over the manual for a couple of days now and haven't quite figured it out.

Many thanks.

6
Hi all once again (Hopefully two in one day isn't too much),

I'm currently working on a room in my game that has a "reflective floor", where I would like the main character to have a reflection walking with him, purely for aesthetics.

I've managed to set up a separate mirrored character that has all of the same animations, flipped vertically, and have the character following the character's movements without much issue, but the problem crops up when I use Continuous Scaling in my background as the player walks further back into the room - as the character's movements are tied to the coordinates of the player, the sprite gets "smaller" correctly, but appears further and further away from the character's feet. I've attempted to tweak the reflected character's z coordinates based on the player's y in the room's script with iffy results ranging from appearing to remain connected but no longer scaling to disappearing altogether.

The code I have is as follows:

Code: Adventure Game Studio
  1. function room_FirstLoad()
  2. {
  3.   cTytanReflect.z = player.y-75;
  4.   cTytanReflect.Transparency = 70;
  5. }
  6.  
  7. function room_RepExec()
  8. {
  9.   cTytanReflect.x = player.x;
  10.   cTytanReflect.y = player.y+130;
  11.   cTytanReflect.Frame = player.Frame;
  12.   int l = player.Loop;
  13.   if (l == 0 || l == 3) l = 3 - l;
  14.   cTytanReflect.Loop = l;
  15. }

(Code largely poached from Khris' code in another mirror thread and re-purposed to my own needs)
The current code has the reflective character staying more or less at the feet of my Player sprite, but is not scaling properly. Is there some easy way to set the main hotspot to the top of a character's sprite which would allow the sprite to scale correctly from that point, or am I grasping at straws?

7
Hi folks,

I'm certain I'm just missing something very simple, but I've run into a bit of a brick wall, and although I am sure this question has been asked a zillion times already, I'd like to get some information on how to have objects in-game with semi-transparency (PNGs with an alpha channel that isn't completely black/white).

Allow me to explain exactly the issue I'm having:

I have a room in my game that has a holographic display that the main character can interact with, which is supposed to be semi-transparent. My intent is that the main character will be able to walk behind the object and still be visible "behind it" - in addition to the background that it is displayed over. At the moment, although I have imported everything as PNGs with alpha channels (tested with both top-left pixel and "as-is" import), including making sure that the background has an alpha channel (though I don't know for sure if this is important or not). I have upgraded to AGS 3.3.0 beta 12 and set alpha rendering style to "Proper Alpha Blending," but as yet I can't seem to get it to work.

I'm under the impression that this should work, and I believe I've seen a lot of information about semi-transparency in GUIs, but not much about sprites rendered as part of the scenery. Again, not entirely sure if this is even feasable. I've mocked up what the final image should look like and below compare how it appears in-game:


Mockup


In-Game

I have re-confirmed that my game is set to 32-bit color, though GraphicsGale only works with a maximum of 24bpp color depth (is this, perhaps, the problem?). I am certain it's doable, as I'm convinced I've seen similar things done in AGS games before, but I'm at a loss. Is there anything I can do? I've been searching the forums for a few hours already and just can't see to find the solution, so I would be greatly appreciative if someone could explain the whole process of importing and using sprites with semi-transparency in detail to me, ideally including any settings that I may have overlooked.

Edit: It appears I may have missed a problem with my alpha channels. I will do a little testing and see if I can resolve the issue

8
General Discussion / AGS get-together around GDC?
« on: 23 Jan 2012, 08:48 »
Hi there, boys and girls. I haven't been too active around here for the last couple of months, but I'm still working on some AGS stuff on the sly, and hopefully will have something to show everyone (Especially the KI team) very soon.

I just realized that GDC is getting really, really close and I'm happy to say that thanks to being one of the only english-speakers in my office, I'll actually be attending this year. Anyone else from the AGS community going to be in San Fran around the time of the event that feels like getting together for a drink or two?

If I can drum up some interest, I'm sure I can wrangle up some reservations at a restaurant where we can all meet up, or something along those lines. I've been a member of the community for years and years, but never had the chance to get all the way to Europe for the various Mittens and related shindigs, so I'd be thrilled if I could finally get to meet up with some of y'all, shake your hands and so on and so forth.

Any takers?

9
General Discussion / Tokyo Game Show 2011
« on: 14 Sep 2011, 14:27 »
So it's September once again, and though that doesn't mean a whole lot to most of you who have already finished E3 and GDC and Gamescom and all that great stuff, it means for good ol' East Asia that it's time for the Tokyo Game Show 2011! I just got home from my company's pre-show setup day (and man are my feet tired), and was thinking - a lot of AGSers who are in the industry do seem to get to the other major trade shows, but is anyone coming to TGS this year? If you are, stop by the Acquire booth! Also, we should do lunch or something. I'll be there basically all day every day.

In the seemingly likely event that nobody in the AGS community is there but me, would anyone be interested in a first-hand account of the show as it goes? If there is community interest, I'll go about taking some photos and taking some notes. Likely not going to have a whole lot to say that you won't be able to find on any of the big gaming news sites, but still happy to do it.

10
General Discussion / GTD: DLC
« on: 13 Jun 2011, 11:28 »
Game Theory Discussion: Downloadable Content

First, a disclaimer. This appears to be a bit of a sore spot for many consumers and I do not wish to start a flame war. I swear I am not trolling - This is a huge point of discussion and one that is extremely important in my line of work. I was recently reminded about the hatred of DLC by the outcry regarding EA's Battlefield 3 and I would like to open a discussion within a section of the gaming community that I trust to give me informed and intelligent responses about important issues that face the gaming community as a whole. I recognize that this is not entirely relevant to this community, but I believe that as game creators, it is something worth thinking about.

A little background: 2 Years ago, I re-entered the world of professional game creation as an assistant producer in a publishing studio (The evil overlords of commercial gaming). I have recently also been promoted to a proper producer's position and am therefore very deeply involved with the DLC planning/implementation process. I have had the very educational experience of releasing a number of very distinct projects that have run the gamut of varying levels of successful and unsuccessful since I began. My company is also one of the first studios in Japan to really have embraced Downloadable Content (DLC), and we had the honor of being recognized by Sony Computer Entertainment at the end of 2010 for our contribution to downloadable gaming.

We released one game in late 2009 called ウィザードリィ 囚われし魂の迷宮 (Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls) - a PS3 title that is a reboot of the classic 1980s Sir-Tech "Wizardry" property, whose license we obtained the rights for a ways back. It was released as a Download-only title on PlayStation Network and for all intents and purposes, even with a relatively small install base (compared to huge game companies), it was still something that I consider successful. One of the reasons for the project's success was with its large amount of available DLC. We managed to achieve a DLC attach rate (The rate of users that purchase the original product and also pay for DLC) of close to 50%, and though this is a rare case, I will be using this project as a reference in this discussion, as it contains examples of all forms of DLC.

As we are a game development community, I assume that most if not all of you are familiar with the concept of DLC, but for posterity's sake, I would like to take a moment to define DLC and its subsets.

What is DLC?
DLC stands for DownLoadable Content. It refers to any content related to a single product that can be obtained separately via a monetized (Paid DLC) or non-monetized (Free DLC) transaction. Paid DLC is a hot topic in gamer circles for popularizing the concepts of microtransactions, in which the end-user purchases a product, and pays separately for small, frequently insignificant items (avatar items, equipment), though it can refer to the purchase of Expansion Packs as well.

How does DLC work?
Traditionally, computer and console games were not designed to handle additional content; but as of more recently, developers have created a method by which certain parts of code or script can be altered through "patching". Patching has existed for many, many years in the PC gaming space, but is still a fairly young concept for console gaming. These patches can be downloaded and applied individually to a product, adding content that can be accessed in-game through a method as specified by the developer. This content can be accessed in two distinct ways: Via Content Licenses and Downloadable Packages. I will touch on these subjects below.

What is the difference between Standard DLC and an Expansion Pack?

The simple answer to this is that there is none - both are content added to further the experience of the game, provided separate to the main "Vanilla" experience but dependent upon it to function. On a more deep level, when we get into nuance, they become very largely different entities of their own. The general consensus seems to be that "Standard DLC" ranges from cosmetic upgrades (Costume packs/Avatar items) through to "Map Packs" (Additional levels of gameplay not previously available in the main product). In contrast to this, you have Expansions, which are similar to map-packs, but also serve to extend the game's narrative, and often contain a variety of other additional content (Items, cosmetic upgrades, etc.). To put more succinctly, Expansions are Bigger and more all-inclusive versions of DLC (Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls offers a large variety of small, monetized items, as well as a full Expansion Pack and smaller Content License Expansion. I am contractually unable to give specific numbers, but at its peak, the most downloaded DLC was the full, downloadable Expansion Pack, though there are content licenses that do very well financially).

A fairly large amount of research and monitoring of varied gaming-discussion forums/sites leads me to believe that the general consensus is that Expansion Packs are more widely accepted by the common user-base as "Good" DLC, which leads me to Theory 1*:

Theory 1: Larger and more inclusive DLC is better than small individual DLC, even though larger DLC is traditionally more expensive.

To elaborate: As opposed to paying for an enhanced existing experience, players would rather spend a large amount of money for a completely new additional game experience, within the confines of the original game's engine and narrative (In some cases, the cohesion of narrative is tenuous, with expansions like Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare expansion**).

What is the difference between Content Licenses and Downloadable Packages?

A Content License refers to a DLC item that unlocks existing content by downloading an identifying key. The game recognizes this key and allows the player to access this content. This is often referred to as "On-Disk*** DLC" or "Unlocks". As the content in question exists as data that is installed as part of the game, but can not be accessed without the aid of the unlock (Generally monetized), it is one of the largest targets for end-user ire. This is also closely tied with the concept of "Planned DLC". See Below for more information.

A Downloadable Package refers to DLC that is not released as part of the original package, but contains data that must be downloaded and added to the game in order for content to be accessed. As the data for a Downloadable Package can be created separately from the original product, this allows for long-term support for a game, expanding the scope of a project beyond the finished product at release.

How can a publisher justify charging for DLC?

"If I buy a game at full price, why should I have to pay for a part of the game? Also, how do you justify releasing a game "unfinished", then forcing us to pay extra to get the whole game?"

The above quote is a paraphrase of one of the most common arguments against DLC that I hear when discussing the theory and practice thereof. I put specific emphasis on the word "unfinished", as it is one of the major complaints related to DLC - the assumption that once extra content is released for the game, the game ceases to be complete until the additional content is applied to the game. This is directly related, in my opinion, to a common completionist attitude in popular gaming culture and boils down in many players' minds as a matter of perception which is very much at odds to the mindset of a game publisher.

To put it very simply, the publisher does not withhold critical content. The game will be able to be played from beginning to end without any significant hindrance regardless of whether DLC has been purchased or not. This does not mean that a number of publishers do not design their games with incentives to have the player buy extra content, whether it be via expanding the game world through an expansion, or allowing the player to "buy time with money", and lower the difficulty level by buying powerful items and removing the effort traditionally required to acquire them.

If a game requires DLC to be purchased in order to progress to the end, that falls into the realm of Patches  (or Updates), Paid Demos or Episodic Content. I will touch upon Episodic content further down in this document. To very briefly touch upon patches/updates, if a game contains a "Game breaking bug" that can not be circumvented and prevents the player from progressing to the end, that must be fixed via a patch. Patches are never (to my knowledge) monetized. If anyone wishes to hear my justification of "Day one patches", I will be glad to write about them, but this is already very long, so I will save it for later.

The purpose of DLC from the perspective of a publisher is that it is content that enhances and enriches an already-finished product. The player is given the option to add extra content beyond the structure of the game itself that changes the nature of the game or adds to the overall experience, but is not critical to the game. Episodic Content is generally considered to be an entirely separate entity, and though relevant to this discussion, deserves its own section.

If Content Licenses are already on the disk, why should we pay to access data we already purchased?

Content Licenses are one of the trickier areas of DLC and harder as a publisher to justify without seeming like money-grubbing suits. Ultimately, it is justified with the same argument above - as it is non-critical content that does not restrict the narrative in any way, it should be considered as such. The benefit of releasing extra content on the game disk*** is that it is more easily accessable to the end-user, as it only requires a key of a few kilobytes worth of data to unlock.

Content Licenses also have other applications, such as what I like to refer to as "Paid cheats" (or "Buying Time with Money", as outlined above) - allowing the user to pay for an item instead of finding it in-game, or pay for an item that will increase the power of their character(s). This is very often applied in "Freemium" or "Free-To-Play" model games, MMOs being one of the most common examplese. In Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls, we released a relatively large library of equipment that could be purchased in this manner, as well as items that raise the randomly generated bonus point value available to a character during character creation. In this instance the player is considered to be "Buying time". By spending money (At their own discretion), the player is spared needing to "grind" to find rare equipment (In the case of Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls, it is a single player game, so does not give paid users an unfair advantage against others, though this is a common occurrance).

What is Planned DLC and why do people hate it?

Planned DLC refers to expanded content that is in development prior to the release of the original product, most commonly the target of disdain when announced also prior to the title's release, once again leading to frequent "unfinished" claims, such as "If they are already making it, that just means that it's part of the game they're not putting in so that they can force us to play later!"

In order to explain and/or justify the existance of Planned DLC, it requires a little information about product releases. Without going into too much detail (Unless specifically asked), the mastering phase for a full product is separate from that of the downloadable content for said product. This is particularly relevant in the case of console software, as with the PC, it is often up to the discretion of the publisher who are not at the mercy of a licensor (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo). Console software in particular should be in masterable form (Publisher QA finished) at least 2 months prior to release. Ideally somewhat earlier. However, once you enter into the QA phase of a piece of software, generally a large amount of the design staff are freed up for other projects. In order to keep them employed, as well as release finished DLC long before the game's product lifecycle has ended, this means that almost invariably DLC is being developed as soon as a project is finished, if not months before in the case of larger games.

To use a well-recieved example, Dragon Age: Awakening (DLC Expansion to Dragon Age: Origins) was in development for almost a year before its release.

What is Episodic Content and why is it more well accepted?

Episodic content refers to an almost subgenre of game in which the game itself is (generally) a budget title that requires less time to complete than other games in its sector, that provides a singular chunk of a larger narrative including a beginning, middle and end (to the individual episode). It takes popular Television nomenclature, "Episode", and applies it to a game design philosophy. In Episodic Games, you can "Enjoy one episode from the beginning to the end and receive closure, but understand that it is a part of a series with a definitive 'Macro' beginning and end". Episodic games are frequently released as "Seasons", particularly well done by Telltale Games (Which, as adventure gamers, I'm sure we're all familiar with).

Episodic content is, for all intents and purposes, no different from larger, sequelized game franchises except for the fact that it is understood by both parties involved (Publisher and consumer) that there will be multiple sequels in short succession, generally without or with minimal updates to the game engine. It was resisted at first by many consumers, but seems to have been largely accepted at this point - a phenomenon I am still mulling over. This leads me to Theory 2:

Theory 2: If content is provided as separate, autonomous entities, users will for the most part cease to consider them purely as DLC.

Finally, I would like to briefly address another facet of DLC that is being addressed by gamers in relation to the previously mentioned Battlefield 3: Exclusive Pre-order/Store DLC.

It is not uncommon for a Publisher to enter into an agreement with a store, or the general user-base by proxy, wherein purchase of the software under certain conditions is incentivized by the inclusion of downloadable content exclusive to those purchasers (i.e. Receiving a specific special bonus level or item when you buy a game from GameStop, as opposed to a separate special item when purchased from Electronics Boutique - which may no longer exist, apologies as I haven't been game shopping in the states in years). This is done with the user base in the form of what is referred to as "Preorder Bonuses" - Special content that is offered exclusively to people who promise to purchase the game prior to its sale (Often putting up a percentage of the cost of the software ahead of time).

The reasoning for preorder bonuses, as you may suspect, is to encourage users to pre-order their software, which in turn gives stores and distributors incentive to buy more copies which they can retail to the general public. I'd like to just put forward the reason behind this practice, and allow you to judge its validity on your own.

Why does a Publisher need to sell copies of a game before it even goes on shelves?

There are many reasons, most of which are between the individual companies involved in the creation, distribution and selling of games. Many years ago (Disturbingly, before many of the members of this very forum were old enough to be playing/buying games), games were a booming industry in which development costs were reasonable, and the returns were large because a very large number of users would purchase games frequently. As of the recent market crashes, users are becoming more frugal (Which they rightfully should), and by that same right, stores are doing the same.

I can only speak from experience for the Japanese method in this section, and I know that it is different in North America and Europe, but here, every copy in the store is a copy of the game that the store has paid for prior to selling it to the consumer. This is why they call it retail. Even though they are traditionally the only channel by which people can purchase their games, the stores still need to buy a specific number of copies to put on their shelves. Stores have analysts****, or "buyers" who research user interest and make a quantitative decision as to how many copies of an individual game they think that they can sell.

These sale forecasts are heavily influenced by factors like preorders, especially in the case of new IPs - Stores relay their purchase numbers to the distributor (usually an external company, as only the largest publishers have distribution channels of their own), which in turn offer to purchase a number of copies from the publisher (Who pays for the games to be created on disc usually by the licensor - i.e. Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo). Everybody in this line takes a risk by spending their money, and if they pay for too many copies and they can't sell them, it creates a surplus, drives the cost of the game down after sale date and nobody wins. The opposite happens when a game is under-quoted, which leads to an unmet demand (Exactly what happened with our most recent game, AKIBA'S TRIP).

As most games make 80% or more of their total profits within the first week of sale, if there are too many or aren't enough copies in circulation, there is either a loss of funds by the stores, which in some countries will sell back the extra copies to the publisher, who in turn has to essentially throw them away or convince other buyers to take the extra copies, or there is a loss of potential profit due to waning interest/loss of potential day-one sales.

Now, I move on to the questions I would like to have answered:

  • What kind of DLC are you willing to pay for? Why?
  • Do you believe that DLC is a good/bad thing? Why?
  • Do you agree/disagree with any of the above statements? Why?
  • Do you think that the inclusion of exclusive DLC warrants Boycotting? Why?

* Please note that these sweeping, blanket assumptions will almost certainly be wrong when picked apart on a deeper level.

** These products were also released as packaged retail products, which in a manner of speaking takes it out of the realm of pure DLC, as it is not Downloadable, but extended content. However, for the purposes of this topic, it will still be referred to as DLC.

*** On-Disk DLC can be something of a misnomer - it should be clarified that data does not need to be contained within physical media to be "On the game disk". On-Disk DLC can exist within downloadable packaged games.

**** The "Store" referenced here is generally not the individual store that the consumer shops at, but the greater corporate entity that owns and operates every store under its wing.

TL:DR
DLC

Y U NO LIKE?

11
Critics' Lounge / Artistic Consistency
« on: 06 May 2011, 18:40 »
Ahoy there, folks.

It's been a long while since I've posted up any of my own project-related work. Aside from helping Mods with KI, I haven't really had any major sort of game developing presence lately in the AGS scene, but I've been feeling a bit of a rush of inspiration lately and have started working as quickly as possible on a new old project (Something I've been planning for a few years now, but never had the energy to work on).

The big issue I'm having at the moment, however, is with maintaining consistency in my backgrounds. I've never been much of a background guy to begin with - I much prefer to do sprites/animation. But I've put in the hours studying various background art techniques and I'm making a lot of progress - the biggest issues, though, come when comparing my organic and non-organic artwork. Natural scenery - deserts, forests, etc. are generally similar-looking, and interiors are also generally similar looking, but I'm wondering if my interiors and exteriors look like they belong in the same game or not?

Allow me to give a few examples:

Interior (Made last night):

Airlock from game opening, character sprite rendered for scale and reference.

Exterior (Some of you may recognize this one from a couple of years ago):

Behemoth in the Galen Desert.

And even more jarring, my space scenes:

Used in a cutscene, potentially also title menu background. Please forgive the lens flare.

Could you folks see these images all used in the same game? The bottom-most graphic (cutscene) is probably the one that fits the least and I may attempt to redo it eventually - I like the way it looks as an individual piece of art but it is admittedly a little too well rendered, perhaps, to fit with the rest. Any thoughts? Similarly, as this is the critic's lounge, please feel free to offer comments/criticism of the individual images/sprites.

Are interiors/exteriors just inherently that way? I could use an extra pair of eyes or two.

Much appreciated.

Edit: Added the new, pixelly version of the space scene for easy reference

12
Fun in the Sun!

Ahoy there, boys and girls - time for another Sprite Jam. Sorry that it took as long as it did for me to start the new topic, but I was spending some time deliberating on what exactly I wanted to do for the topic this time around. I spent some time playing Tropico 3 and a little Just Cause 2 and thought, "Man, I wish I was in a tropical paradise - Preferably one without the threat of despotism or parachuting terrorists with satchel charges".

So our newest sprite jam will be "Fun in the sun"! - For those of us in the southern hemisphere, Summer's on its way soon. The season of volleyball, string bikinis, surfing, shark attacks, all of those great, warm-weather activities. So I thought just to get pumped up for the upcoming season, let's see some character sprites engaged in markedly "Summery" activities! You are free to interpret that as you will.

Now, for the specifics:

  • Your sprite should be a character (Human or otherwise is up to the creator)
  • Your sprite should depict the character engaging in a "summertime" activity (Passive activities, such as sunbathing, etc. are acceptable)
  • Your sprite should be independent of a background - please include an image with transparent background (or flat color if you are unable to set transparency).
  • Backgrounds are allowed, but an individual sprite should be provided separately in the format stated above.
  • If a sprite is not self-explanatory, a text description is encouraged.
  • Sprite resolution and color depth are not specified

The competition will continue for 1 week, and end on Friday, May 6th, 2011 at midnight.
Only 1 sprite will be judged, if submitting multiple entries, please specify the official competition entry.

13
Completed Game Announcements / Kuma Story
« on: 29 Sep 2010, 17:49 »
SpacePirateCaine presents:

(Kuma Story)

Kuma Story was originally created as an anniversary gift to my girlfriend, Da Young (to whom this game is dedicated), for our 3-year anniversary. It grew to its current form in time for our 4th and I have created a non-anniversary edition for everyone else as of today. I’m happy to say she enjoyed it very much and allowed me to continue with the game, and share it with the rest of the world. So this is our Gift to you.

The game is meant for a less hardcore adventure gaming audience, so most of you should find it to be extremely easy (A seasoned adventure gamer may take less time to read this post than to finish the game). The concept revolves around a series of small, self-contained puzzles where the protagonist, "Kuma Bear" is doing nice things for his girlfriend, "Cinnamon Bear".

Please note that what little text there is in the game is generally in Japanese. There is nothing specifically important written at any point as Kuma Story is intended to be a short, mostly text-less adventure game, playable and accessible by anybody in any language. The choice to render the existing text in Japanese was made as it's the common language between myself and the person the game is dedicated to.


Outside Kuma Bear's home, and in a windy field

Please download from the AGS Database entry, viewable here, or download it directly from Mediafire.

The Story:
It’s Kuma Bear’s anniversary with his girlfriend, Cinnamon Bear. He is hoping to surprise her on their anniversary with a small present, but doesn’t have anything to give to her yet. Help Kuma Bear find something nice to give to Cinnamon Bear, and a way to surprise her with it.

Playing the Game:
The game interface is meant to be very simplified - only consisting of 'walk' and 'interact'. Not all objects in the game can be interacted with, but most of the important objects stand out, so they shouldn’t be hard to find.

Left click: Kuma Bear will walk to the specified location
Right click: Kuma Bear will interact with the specified object


Credits:
All art, animations, music, story and scripting: Luke "SpacePirateCaine" Rideout
Special Thanks to Shane "ProgZmax" Stevens for scripting advice
Massive props go out to Chris "Pumaman" Jones for creating this amazing engine.

If you have any comments, questions or criticism, I would love to hear from you all. Thank you for downloading and playing, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.

14
General Discussion / AGS Steam Group?
« on: 02 Jan 2010, 19:22 »
Ahoy there, folks.

So, it's been a while since I was really all that active as a forum member - mostly because of my current job taking up most of my time, and being in the game industry, I sort of started to feel a lot less motivation to work on them in my spare time as well. What other free time I have is being spent either spending time with the SO, or playing games.

I have sunk a whole lot of time in Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead (Now L4D2) recently, but I'd have to say that the worst part of those games is the other players - There are a whole lot of asshats with microphones out there, and I've been thinking how nice it would be to be able to play together with some people that I like, and have gotten to know in some capacity other than just in the game I'm playing against them.

For that reason, I wanted to check if anyone has ever tossed out the idea of making a Steam group comprised of AGS forum members? It'd be great to be able to keep track of other AGS forum folk and play with/against some of you. I know that back in '05 there was some talk of a CS server, which is all well and good - so I know that some of you do play, but a semi-thorough search hasn't yielded any results on the forum of making a Steam Group, or people sharing their Steam IDs.

Anyone game?

Predictably, my username on Steam is SpacePirateCaine - anyone who would like to add me as a friend and play a friendly game of TF2, Killing Floor or L4D1 or 2, add me, send me a note. I'd love to shoot at ya for a while.

And if there are enough people interested (assuming there isn't one already), how about a Steam group/clan for AGS?

15
SPRITE JAM 2010

Hello folks, Sorry it took so long to start up a new competition. I was in the middle of writing this when I realized I needed to step out for a while and, well... Look at the time. Regardless, here I am - glad to be hosting another Sprite Jam, I love these competitions and I hope to see a decent turnout, though I imagine a good number of you are off enjoying the holiday with friends and family.

Regardless, here comes the competition.

So, boys and girls, we finally issue in the year 2010, but I have a question or two - Where's my hovercar? And what ever happened to Jupiter imploding to create a second sun? Wasn't that supposed to happen ages ago? I contend that the image that was painted for us as 'things to come' was sadly overstated.

Now, I'm pushing 30, so it's possible I'm a touch above the average age of the AGS user base, but I still remember watching the Jetsons when it was on TV and thinking "Oh man, that will be awesome". Well, I'm not looking for retro specifically, but The 2010 that you imagined in your childhood.

It's a bit of an open topic, I realize, but I think everyone had an idea of what the future was supposed to be like. We're making great strides in scientific and mechanical engineering, but we're just not there yet. I'd like to see what you all thought we'd have been able to see by now.

Now, for the specifics:

  • Your sprite can be an inventory item, a set piece or a character.
  • Your sprite should depict an item/object/person that embodies a concept of the 'future' as seen from the past.
  • Your sprite should be independent of a background - please include an image with an alpha channel.
  • Backgrounds are allowed, but an individual sprite should be provided separately.
  • If a sprite is not self-explanatory, a text description is encouraged.
  • Sprite resolution and color depth are not specified

The competition will continue for 1 week, and end on  January 5th, 2010.
Only 1 sprite will be judged, if submitting multiple entries, please specify the official competition entry.

16
Critics' Lounge / Desert BG in need of some TLC
« on: 13 Feb 2009, 23:37 »
Hey folks. I'm trying to expand my horizons a bit and work on my background art, and hopefully also bolster my portfolio a bit that way as well. I started this landscape here, and got quite a ways in so far, but I've basically run into a roadblock. I'm relatively happy with the background, but the sandy foreground leaves a bit to be desired. Would anyone be able to offer some advice on how to fix it up?


Original (Pre-C&C)


Newest (Post-C&C)

I'm really trying to avoid creating extra colors just for AA. I've already hit 10, but the top of the large hulking technological behemoth in the background is a bit jaggy (above the darker half of the sky), and basically everything on the sand as well. Regardless of how finished it is, this background is going into a CD of my portfolio I'm sending out on Monday (Sunday for most of you, I suppose), so Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Also, if any of the Pixel BG people out there could take a look at the steps I'm taking, and tell me if I'm doing everything bass-ackwards, please let me know what I can do to streamline.



Update x3

Alright, brief update to show what changes I've started making. I actually sort of did the opposite of what SpacePaw suggested by darkening the low tones using a nearly unused AA tone - I just really prefer the high contrast, as it creates a much more stark environment.

Fixed some shading issues where shadows should have been pointing in the other direction. Now that I've had some time to rest, I've also healed my laziness and am getting really down 'n dirty with the pixels - no more sloppy shading down below. About 1/3 of the way through, and will continue to work my way to the right.

Also added yet another tone, specifically for the purposes of Anti-aliasing at the top of the 'technological behemoth' in the background so that the top won't be quite so jaggy.

x2: With a few comments by Evil, I think I was able to fix a few compositional issues and make it an overall stronger piece. The right side of the foreground is still a bit stark, but I think that the high contrast does wonders for it.

x3: Very small edit - added a little depth to the darker area on the right part of the foreground. Thanks, SpacePaw!

xWhatever: I made a drastic alteration to the palette following some of the advice imparted to me by wise master Progz, and also fixed a small issue with over-AA in a dune or two. Also, there was some gnarly banding going on around the sun (Thanks Helm!), that I took steps to rectify.

17
AGS Games in Production / Kuma Story - Demo Available
« on: 10 Feb 2009, 14:01 »
SpacePirateCaine presents:

(Kuma Story)

Kuma Story was originally created as an anniversary gift to my girlfriend for our 3-year anniversary. I'm happy to say she enjoyed it very much, and asked me to continue with the game, and share it with the rest of the world.

The game is meant for a less hardcore adventure gaming audience, so most of you should find it to be extremely easy (It may take less time to read through this post than to finish the demo). The concept revolves around a series of small, self-contained puzzles where the protagonist, "Kuma Bear" is doing nice things for his girlfriend, "Cinnamon Bear".

Please note that what little text there is in the game is generally in Japanese. There is nothing specifically important written at any point as Kuma Story is intended to be a short, mostly text-less adventure game, playable and accessible by anybody in any language. The choice to render the existing text in Japanese was made as it's the common language between myself and the person the game is dedicated to.


Outside Kuma Bear's home, and in a windy field

Please feel free to download the Demo, for a very small taste of how Kuma Story will play.

The Story:Playing the Game:Left click: Kuma Bear will walk to the specified location
Right click: Kuma Bear will interact with the specified object

Progress:
  • Puzzles: 10%
  • Character Art: 30%
  • Backgrounds: 20%
  • Animation: 20%
  • Scripting: 20%
  • Music: 0%

Credits:
All art, animations and scripting: Luke "SpacePirateCaine" Rideout
Demo music borrowed from Crayon Physics: "Crayon Dreams" by Stian Stark (Not with permission)
Special Thanks to Shane "ProgZmax" Stevens for scripting advice

18
Ahoy,

I'm recently working on creating a lot of very detailed animations for a project that I've been involved in, with some highly variable delays in some frames (i.e. 2 seconds here, .5 seconds there...). I'm really sorry if I've missed something, but the actual information on animation speed doesn't really seem very well documented. I know that the engine processes 40 ticks per second, so with every frame having a delay of 1 (0?), I'm looking at 40 FPS, but how does the manual delay on frames in a specific loop work into the equation?

Say I'm playing a loop with 10 frames of animation. I want the first 4 frames to be 1/10 of a second each, but the 5th frame to be 1 full second, before moving on to the 6th. At the moment, I'm setting the 5th frame with a manual delay of 40 (for 1 second), and leaving the rest with the default delay (Which seems to be 0). Afterwards, I'm animating the character with:

Character.Animate (x, y, eBlock,...) but having trouble working out what I should be choosing for my y integer. At first, I assumed it should be 4, for a default 4-frame delay, but that looks a lot slower than 1/10 of a second per frame. My question is: What is my y in relation to the delay set manually in a loop? If I run an animation with a y of 4, does it add a delay of 4 to each frame?

For some reason, it seems as though the closest I've been able to get is to animate with a y of 3, but I don't really know why, and I'd really love to know exactly how the animation system works in AGS so I can make my animation as smooth as possible in-game, and eliminate the guesswork.

Edit: I've been fiddling around with the editor - Firstly, I think I got the number 40 erroneously from watching Densming's tutorials. So assuming that the editor runs animations at 30 FPS (Which is a lot cleaner a number anyway), running at a y of 3 does make sense, if the animation speed sets the default delay for frames... but I'd still like to know if that affects the manual delay on loops? By setting it to 30, does that give it a delay of 33, or am I still way off base?

19
Hi folks, I don't usually start a lot of threads on the AGS forums, but earlier in the year, there was a lot of debate, I believe partly due to a contest in the Competitions forum that I hosted, about the differences between high and low resolution artwork and their usage/viability in adventure games.

Note:
The below thread topic is very wordy and very tangental in places. Much of it was written as sort of a stream of thought in the wee hours of the morning, so I'd like to cut to the chase right here for people that don't want to slog through the enormous post below:

"What are the real differences between High and Low Resolution graphics, and what can the members of each camp do to help raise 'awareness', and perhaps assist the other group to really understand and be able to work together?"


Now, it's a no-brainer to ask whether hi-res adventure games exist or not - 2.5D games like Grim Fandango, Vampyre Story and the lot-so-lauded Escape from Monkey Island, and full 3D games like the new Sam 'n Max games or Dreamfall aside, we do have games like CMI and I know that we have lots of people in both camps, and double-agent people like myself who dabble on both sides (though in the last few years, I'll admit I've been leaning a lot further to the pixel-pushing side), but I'd just like to start up a topic for some open discussion about the merits of both sides, how they can be used within adventure gaming - particularly in our own little neck of the woods that is AGS.

I've done plenty of work in high resolution, but in the AGS scene, I consider myself almost on the hardcore end of pixel guys. I post art on Pixel Joint and have an unused account at Pixelation, and most of my work at Deviant art is also low-res sprites. I think I've fallen as much as many others in to the mindset that pixel=low-res. I suppose a lot of this stems from my extreme exposure to low res work here on AGS - almost all of the games released on this platform are low-res, but there are some very outstanding exceptions developed in our very own backyard that I think, if not revolutionizing our engine and rebranding it as a more versatile tool for both high and low res games (Please stop me if I'm wrong about Nelly, Ali), have proven that it certainly does work.

That said, are we more suited to low-resolution games here at AGS? CJ has done an awesome job of implementing usage of alpha channels, extreme color-depths and higher available resolutions, but how many of us are using them? I'd also like to talk about whether this medium of ours really is anachronistic or obsolete or not? I'm of course in the camp that would say pixel art is alive and well, and provides a great challenge (as I believe, at least, that it's a lot more difficult to really convey a lot of emotion in a character with an extremely limited palette, etc, and I love the challenge that it provides). But what about our high-resolution brethren?

High Resolution
We have some very talented hi-res guys here. loominous, zyndicate and Misj' stand out recently as very active contributors, and were key faces in the above-linked debate about the sprite jam representing the high resolution side of the coin. I really respect their work, but at times, I question the viability of their sprites based on my own preconceptions of how a sprite should fit on the screen, so to speak.

Let me mention again, in game development, I'm mostly low-res. I open up the images in my sprite editor of choice, GraphicsGale (Which you'll note is designed for pixel art) and end up with some very interesting issues.

1) 2) 3)
(Apologies to loominous for using these images without asking first)

1: Pristine .PNG image, clipped from loominous's most recent Sprite Jam entry
2: What happens when I use a 0-tolerance fill tool on the background, attempting to make a transparent solid-color background)
3: Who knows what happened there. Looks like something went majorly screwy with the alpha during a copy-paste.

Basically, this is one of those technological issues that can trip up someone, especially who is used to working with low resolution. My natural want to work with .gif files as an animator, and the higher potential for problems in high resolution sprites can really trip up someone who isn't prepared.

Is this actually a problem? No, not at all. With prodigious use of an alpha channel, the first image looks clean and reads beautifully. When I attempt to convert it to a .gif file, problems abound. To avoid this issue with a 'halo' (an issue I think a lot of us have seen with non-alpha sprites) or worse, the team at Lucasarts for Monkey Island used a technique to solidify the edge of the sprites by giving them a one-pixel-wide black outline:



I believe Igor uses the same technique in Ignac (another hi-res AGS venture that I'd love to see in action again). It works like a charm, and looks great in-game. There are various methods to avoid having hi-res sprites reading badly in a lower-resolution environment, so from the pure standpoint of a sprite as being something that can be used in a game, I suppose that there really is no issue with any of the high-res sprites that we see. Now, where was I going with this?

Basically, the question is, how well-adjusted is AGS to the hi-res scene? And are we really equipped to make adventure games in hi-res? I certainly believe that it's possible - a sprite is a sprite is a sprite, but how can we apply ourselves as a community in the creation of 'current generation' graphics... Or at least graphics that fit a little better with the times, as it were.

I'd like especially to invite the members of the community who have successfully completed and released high resolution projects (Ali, Le Woltaire, etc) to educate us on their techniques in smoothly integrating high resolution graphics in their games. I believe that any insight that the rest of the community can gain from your triumphs would be a great asset and help us all learn a lot.

Low Resolution
Now, I've spent quite a bit of time on high resolution. Let's talk a little about low-res. This is a lot more my speed, I think. As primarily a pixel artist, of course, I'm going to be biased about the usefulness and ease of working with low-resolution sprites. I've been doing low-res since I started doing pixel art for a failed team project competition with Geoffkhan, Cameron, Rui and Custard a number of years back. One of the main draws of low-resolution sprites in my mind is the ease of animation. With a tool geared towards that very task, like GraphicsGale (Linked above), animation becomes a piece of cake. In my current project, I'm regularly making in-game character animations of up to 100 frames per loop (Thank you, CJ, for taking the limit off of frames per loop). I can cut a lot of corners by copy/pasting certain parts of a frame, and only making minor pixel adjustments which would (and I may be misinformed), in my mind, require complete redraws of each individual hi-res sprite per frame to achieve the same amount of fluidity.

Is low-res more convenient for our purposes? I'd like to make note that there really don't seem to be all that many games that really fit the bill - most of the high resolution adventure games out there jumped straight to 3D. With the exception of a few games like CMI, there are actually very few games of any genre that I can find that make use of hand-drawn 2D graphics. This leads me to question, why not? It's not like there weren't a few years where this was considered cutting-edge; so was it a matter of 3D just being there at the same time and easier to create lots of various animations without having to redraw frames?

I know of course that it's impossible to discount all of the animation that has been done since the dawn of time which was all hand-drawn and looks just marvelous, but those (with a few exceptions) were done by a whole studio of artists, and took a damned long time to do, in general terms, and also weren't used in adventure gaems. How does the hi-res crowd compensate for this? Of course, nobody ever said that an AGS game has to be animation-heavy, but I'm a real sucker for a lot of fluid movement (Limey Lizard is a great example of what I think visually you can really accomplish with a motivated animator in an indie project, even in a very short period of time).

For the members of the community interested in working in high-resolution, does hi-res make animation more difficult? Or is it just a difference in approach? As a low-res artist, I do all of my work on a digital medium. I actually don't take a traditional approach to sprite development almost at all - I start and finish all on the digital format, at the sprite level (no concept drawings - or if there are, they generally aren't used as part of the final product).

As an independent game development community, how well-equipped are we to develop a full hi-res game? I've seen plenty of concept art coming out of our hi-res members, but most of the actual product leans very heavily to the low-res spectrum. Someone mentioned during the debate I linked at the top of this thread that the tendency towards low resolution in AGS is because we're generally focused on the adventure games of the '90s. I wouldn't say that's incorrect, but at the same time, I am willing to bet that a number of us would be more than happy to develop or play a game done in high resolution like CMI or Toonstruck, though it seems a bit inaccessible.

What are everyone else's thoughts about the differences between high and low resolution?

20
Ahoy again, folks,

I'd like to apologize again for the late response after that last competition, I'm afraid I wasn't accessing the net for a few days. I'm back now, though, and ready to start us all up on a new Sprite Jam! I'm not great at working up themes for these Jams that are overly complicated, but this one came to me on a train ride today, while contemplating how some adventure games would play if you changed the setting that the characters were in.

I'd like to see a reimagining of a character from a reasonably well-known adventure game (Commercial games or Independent adventure game characters are fine, as long as they're established - Pib, Larry Vales, Rode Kill are fine with me as much as Bobbin Threadbare or Sonny Bonds), but I'd like to see how you'd present them in a different setting (Example, Guybrush Threepwood in an office environment - Larry Laffer... In Space!)

I'd prefer to avoid paintovers in different outfits, if possible, so all I'm looking for is to be able to recognize who the character is, and what kind of setting they've been re-assigned to.

For this contest, size and color depth are free, but I will still be making sure that sprites are viable in-game (If you're going to make a sprite, scan and resize, please clean up the outline so that it will fit on multiple background colors). Please make the Background of the sprite transparent (Or at least one color, so that I can change it to transparency).

Looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!

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