Brooks Bishop — September 12, 2012
The the main focus of the past week or so has been on doing some polish.
I built some graphics utilities into my engine to mimic those available in iOS like resizableImageWithCapInsets, so I can do some nice looking and easily resizable UI elements for dialogue scenes, HUD and menus. Having graphical elements instead of plain flat colored boxes is just another one of those extra little details that pushes the game a step up. I think you can agree as you’ll see below.
On the art front, I’m up to six of eight characters fully painted. And this includes something extra on three of them (so far) that Nate had been asking about from the beginning: facial expressions. In the original interview when I asked him what was hard about writing for the game, one of the major things that popped up was how he was writing for characters with nothing but text and a single image was very hard. As I started to get down into actually painting I figured out a way to throw in various facial expressions without too much work and I think he’s enjoyed the extra flexibility it’s given him. Speaking of, I also hacked together a system that lets Nate build and debug dialogue scenes in the editor, including choosing which expressions to show. I won’t get too into details though, because I honestly think it would be way more interesting for me, and for everyone else to hear him talk about it, and what it means for the process of writing for Aeternum.
I’ve also mentioned numerous times already my struggle with a desire to balance accessibility with difficulty. To this end, I’ve done a lot of work on the “Easy” difficulty under the advice of Nate and a couple other testers. Thanks to my methodology with difficulty, these changes have absolutely no effect on the work I built up in the “Insane” difficulty, which I believe balancing at being slightly above my skill level will effectively pay off. I’ve also worked out a fairly rudimentary “tutorial” option which basically works out to be a cut scene that plays with some text overlay to point out some important things and note a few tips. I was skeptical of its efficacy, but when I showed it to a couple of testers their response was that it actually had information they weren’t aware of. So I’m going to run with it, and see what the general sentiment is later.
I’ve also had promotion on my mind more and more lately. Getting left out of the latest uprising was a bit of a disappointment seeing as how it’s getting some pretty nice coverage, and there even being another at all is kind of up in the air at this point. On the other hand it feels like that one missed opportunity was just a small setback, and anyway, it was a good kick in the ass to work harder. I think the worst of Jesse’s situation is past, since I managed to speak with him however briefly, and it looks like work will pick back up and we’ll hopefully get some more music in the can soon. This also means the one major thing that was keeping me from really promoting the game, a trailer, will likely be on our plate soon, since Jesse has much more experience with video editing than I do.
In all, things are looking very good. I may not hit the summer time frame like I wanted but it’s actually getting pretty close. I’ve lately been getting pangs of anxiety and excitement as I test things, and I think that’s got to be a good sign.