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Messages - merrak

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Windows / Mac / Flash / HTML5 / Re: Space Pirate
« on: Yesterday at 12:25:18 pm »
Hi Space Pirates!
i wanted to give you a tiny update and let you know that all levels are done...

That's a big milestone! Congrats. Looking forward to seeing the final version.

Journals / Re: Merrak's Isometric Adventures -- Alpha Release 1
« on: December 13, 2018, 10:52:32 pm »
This sounds all great!
Let us know when we can test :)

It'd be great to have another test version ready in January. I don't think it will take too long to finish the rough draft of the "A levels" of all four towers. So far I have level0 (the hub), 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, and 3A in various stages of completion, with the B's mostly empty but the A's mostly done. Since the new intent is for the player to complete the A level maps first, the next demo should have approximately the first 1/3 of the game playable.

I've been doing a lot of play testing, tweaking balance and adjusting stats. My spreadsheet with its difficulty estimate has actually worked out pretty well, but needs some tuning as I expected.

I have three armor items and they make a big difference, so I need to adjust their locations so that the player finds them before giving up.

The big unknown in the next month's timeline is how long it will take to revise the memory routines. I can see that being a significant task. And of course, there are the various Flash-dependent issues that will need to be resolved. I've done a lot of play testing in the past few days on desktop, and have not encountered any of the timing bugs or map exit bugs that were reported on the demo. Exactly where the problem is occurring is a bit of a mystery.  :o

One thing I want to do is see if these problems persist on the HTML5 version. I can't even test on HTML5 without fixing the memory usage issue, though. Once I got an HTML5 version to compile, game loading slowed to a crawl.

Journals / Re: Merrak's Isometric Adventures -- Alpha Release 1
« on: December 11, 2018, 11:35:51 pm »
...I am interested in the idea of the jump skill book. But I don't have a clear visual representation of such behavior in my mind so it will be interesting to see how you will do that

So you are sticking to the Game Boy resolution for Towers?
Will Temple of Idosra still be on the roadmap?

Do you focus on Towers because of the low resolution, which gives you more performance, or is it more convenient to
work/design on a smaller canvas?

One of the purposes of the skill books is to introduce complexity at a steadier pace. In the Alpha 1 version, you can jump right from the start. But in the first level there aren't any places to use jumping... so jumping kind of comes out of nowhere when it is finally encountered. I thought about revising the hub area to have some jumping, but I didn't want to throw too much at a new player's way. I remember watching my nephews play the original Idosra and they had a hard time getting used to basic walking around. Granted, the oldest was age 8, but I still think a gradual learning curve is more appropriate than what I had in the demo.

Temple of Idosra is definitely still on the roadmap. I wanted to have a web game that could act as a demo, and the low resolution makes it easier to get a web version that performs adequately. Although a few people complained about lag in the Alpha 1 version, I don't notice any lag at all. So optimization wise, I'm not that far off from my goal (albeit not there yet). My "rule of thumb" for code optimization is that if my code's efficiency is within one order of magnitude of my goal, I have a realistic chance of achieving it.

I may upgrade Temple of Idosra to full color, and target it to desktop only, where as it is now currently 8-color. It's a deviation from my earlier plans, but I learned two important things once the core features of the game engine got to running reliably: Desktop performance is way above what I envisioned, but Flash/HTML5 is worse. When I first outlined my plans for Temple of Idosra, I was developing on Stencyl 3.4. Stencyl 3.5 with the new OpenFL had a significant impact on my rendering speed, so a lot more is possible than I had first planned for.

I don't want to set that plan in stone yet, because there's still one more potential upset: I really need to fix the memory usage issues. I'm pretty certain that's the source of most of the lag. I have a lot of fast memory, so I don't notice it. I suspect, based on commentary, that 1MrPaul1 is on the other end of the spectrum and has a lot of lag. Everyone else falls somewhere between the end points. The Flash version claims 2.5 GB and that's just the Alpha 1 version with a handful of maps. I know how to fix it--I just need to sit down and do it. But that might open up more web options than I'm thinking I'll have right now.

Journals / Re: Merrak's Isometric Adventures -- Alpha Release 1
« on: December 11, 2018, 10:01:47 pm »
Progress! Towers of Vallas is starting to feel less like an engine prototype and more like a game. I've been busy working on maps and adding content.

The overall game map layout has stayed mostly the same as in August. There are four towers, three levels each, connected to a central hub. One thing that has changed is the intended progression. Originally, the player was supposed to pick a tower and complete it from bottom to top... sort of a Mega Man approach to level completion.

This idea hasn't panned out too well. For one thing, the higher levels are much too difficult. I could drop the difficulty of the top levels, but then the sense of player character strength gain is lost.

Game progression works out better if the player clears all the floor 1, then floor 2, and so on, maps. To keep the player from having to backtrack through the hub zone, I've started adding corridors between towers.

The player now has some more choices. Maybe they feel up to the challenge of completing a floor 2 early and reaping an early, strong reward.

Each tower has a rough theme: Shooters, Platforms, Dark, Melee

The platforming tower is the only one that can't be completed first, since the player will need to find the Jump skill book and enough exp to learn from it. Every other tower has an item or skill book that makes another tower's challenge easier.

Here are some other things I've been working on...

Little UI and graphical changes that make life easier. Chests now show with an open cover when all the items have been extracted. An icon shows what weapon is equipped. I thought about merging this icon with the move points meter, but later in the game you can find projectile weapons, and the ammunition count will have to go there.

I implemented reading. All skills are obtained by finding books, but the player must obtain a certain amount of EXP to learn from the book. Some books will grant experience when read.

A wide array of items can be found now: weapons, utilities (lamp and fuel), armor items, elixirs, books. I still haven't updated the inventory UI. There are already more than 15 items.

Here is a scene from Level3A (Dark Map, Level A). Dynamic lighting works on staircases. Longer readers of this thread may remember that staircases always caused all kinds of problems... so I'm glad to see that's working.

The lamp activates automatically when walking in and out of dark areas. The lamp burns fuel which must be found in various maps. It is possible to stumble around in the dark, but dark areas sometimes hide pits and traps.

This is another room in Dark Map A. It has the easiest gimmick to overcome--the dark, but in turn it has tougher combat situations.

Deep inside Dark Map A is the parry book. Shield Block and Parry are very useful, since they allow you to block enemy attacks when standing idle (and a shield is equipped) and swinging a weapon respectively. I was a bit surprised how much easier the lower level enemies became once those items and skills were obtained.

All armor items have an encumbrance value which subtracts from the player's max move points. The max move points cannot drop to below half the actual max (max-max? :o) but the player can gain strength by... what else, reading books! Rather than automatically gaining HP and move points, these are gained by reading just like all the other skills. So support your local library, reading is power 8)

So far I'm happy with the feeling of progression. There's a definite reward for exploration: tough situations become much easier after finding the right items and gaining enough exp. Since I have books that reward exp, I can now reward players for finding secret areas.

Ask a Question / Re: Optimization for Bullet Hells
« on: December 10, 2018, 08:25:27 pm »
I'm not familiar with ALM. I looked up "Abigayl's lagless method " and found it on Kongregate, dated back to 2014. If that's the guide you were working from, keep in mind there are some very significant differences between Stencyl 2.0 and 3.x.

Windows / Mac / Flash / HTML5 / Re: Project Innocence
« on: December 10, 2018, 08:18:57 pm »
I think the series is off to a good start. I played the first game a bit. Controls and balance feel fine to me. It'd be nice to have more feedback when I kill an enemy, though. Right now they just kinda fade away and I'm probably shooting at them longer than necessary.

Why is the game marked unstable on Chrome? I had no problems playing it.

Ask a Question / Re: Game won't load
« on: December 04, 2018, 09:31:15 pm »
>> Error: The input swf newgrounds.swf is corrupted


Ask a Question / Re: Implementing Scripts?
« on: December 04, 2018, 09:28:43 pm »
I'm don't know about scripts for that, but there are some simple ways to work with screen size settings in Stencyl 3.5. I'm not sure what's doable in 3.4 since I haven't bothered with any of that myself.

One thing to check would be your collision shapes. If the bottom most edges of the shapes have different y values, then when an animation changes an actor can go from standing to "floating" because its new collision box is suddenly a few pixels off the ground.

Ask a Question / Re: Can I set two different gravity ?
« on: December 02, 2018, 03:55:32 pm »
You can implement gravity manually instead of using the scene. Each engine tick (in an always event) add

G / (step size * step size )

to the actor's y velocity, where G is your chosen gravity.

Windows / Mac / Flash / HTML5 / Re: Puffy Man Demo
« on: December 02, 2018, 12:42:35 pm »
I wasn't able to download it. When I click download, it takes me to a screen that says "Thanks for downloading", but the download itself never starts.

Ask a Question / Re: How to find source code
« on: November 30, 2018, 06:53:07 pm »
You can get to the raw files for your project at Tools > Workspace > Folder for this game

If you compiled to desktop, you can view the generated CPP code by going to your game in the games-generated folder.

Ask a Question / Re: Can the Memory Limit be Removed?
« on: November 30, 2018, 06:50:01 pm »
There isn't... at least, not any way I'm aware of. The Stencyl toolset runs in Java, and the Java Virtual Machine needs its memory limit specified when it starts.

Windows / Mac / Flash / HTML5 / Re: Space Pirate
« on: November 28, 2018, 09:49:15 pm »
Oh man, I've definitely been there myself. Maybe you even saw my "Schroedinbug / LD03 error" story I posted back in July in my game journal thread. It never fails to be discouraging. If I ever hit that point where I feel like throwing it out and calling it a day (so you're not alone there), that means a nice vacation is in order. No problem is impossible to solve, but sometimes it takes a few days break to remember that.

Crashes are actually a good result of a bug, because with the right tools you can then analyze where things went wrong. I didn't know about what Luyren advised, but it's useful to know. Since I develop on Linux, I usually use gdb instead.

The worst kinds of bugs are the ones like the sound, since they leave less of a foot print. The one thing that's absolutely saved me countless times in my game is my error reporting system. It's probably the most important feature of the game engine. I've posted a few screenshots of them from time to time. They usually post a four symbol error code.

What you don't see is the mountain of info that's dumped to the log file-spitting out any data that I thought might even be remotely relevant. It's my version of assertion.

My advice to anyone working on large scale projects is to invest some time predicting all the things that can go wrong and checking for them in each critical function/script you write. The extra time spent doing this early on will pay off in improved sanity later :o I have 683 error checks right now. Some are intended to catch things like damaged files, modders who want to tinker with the maps, that sort of thing--but the vast majority of them are intended to catch my own mistakes... say, if I forget some criteria for a certain method to work correctly.

For example, if I want to make a new kind of tile, there are several things I have to set for it to work correctly. If I forget a step, the game will run, but maybe there will be a clipping error, or the tiles draw out of order. Without some assistance, there are dozens of places to look for a problem. Is there some numerical round off error? A memory issue? Did I just draw the image wrong?

In your case, maybe you have a behavior "A" that loads an actor in an "on created" event, then another behavior "B" reads that attribute in its "on created" event. It works fine, but then for some reason, two years later, the order the behaviors are loaded changes, and suddenly behavior "B" tries to read the actor attribute before "A" creates it. If you have a check in behavior "B" for a null value, then you get an error message telling you exactly what went wrong. Otherwise, you have a crash, and two year's worth of code to look through to find it.

I will second Luyren's advice on inverting your workflow. Flash is not as rigorous as desktop. It'll let you get away with some null values that desktop won't. By testing on desktop more frequently, you're likely to catch these kinds of errors earlier, when there's less work to sift through when the problem occurs.

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