For February, most of the work was towards getting the cutscenes for the demo completed. Additionally, the player menu UI rework has begun, treasure chests have been added, and the way that the data is stored has been updated to make localization much easier.
Lights, Camera, Action!
There are a total of nine cutscenes for the demo and they have all been completed! The cutscenes range from 15 - 60 seconds if you're just talking about the animation portion, without the dialogue. Making the cutscenes took a decent amount of time to be honest. I tried my best to make the movement not seem super robotic so even if characters are sharing the same animation clip, I would ensure that the starts and ends of character movements wouldn't be exactly aligned. I also made sure that there would be an offset in the animation clips and put a speed modifier, unique for each character, so movement like walking in the same direction would look a little more natural.
Trying to avoid showing every cutscene, but I think these scenes are pretty cool looking without being massive spoilers :p
Looks like there's trouble:
Welcome to Pendle:
Let me know what you think! It's nice to have a fresh perspective on things and there might be things I just don't notice right away, so any advice is really great!
Speaking of getting advice to make improvements, I was able to get some great advice on the Squads menu by fellow Redditors and from Twitter. So, one of the things that I wanted to work on for February was the player menu and I wanted to tackle the hardest menu screen first; the Squads screen. There's a lot of info to display here since this is where you configure which party members are part of which squad, and who the leader of the squad will be. Info such as squad stats, active ability info, passive ability info, weapon specialization, and squad leader/members need to be shown on one screen. This was the first attempt at reworking the Squads screen:
One of the things that was mentioned multiple times was that the screen was too busy, especially with the popup that appears when trying to swap party members around. It covered a large portion of the screen and be positioned on either the left or right side of the screen which would be disorienting. Taking this feedback into consideration, a newer revision was created:
The most notable change would be in the stats change popup appearing under the changed squad. This makes it much cleared which squads are being affected with a swap and the stats that are being affected. The new stats change popup is also aligned with the full squad info to make it more predictable where on the screen to look, for information. Some more minor changes include:
- Darkened background when swapping party members to give more focus on the stats change popups.
- Hiding the full squad info, to also give more focus on the stats change popups.
- Got rid of labels since info like the stats and abilities are intuitive
- Large space to show the active ability info
- Shows slots for the multiple passive abilities
Early in the development of the game, it was convenient to use JSON as a way of storing data but as time went on it became clear that this was not something that should continue to be used. Making changes to data was tedious since it involved having to navigate through multiple folders, just to find a specific item file. Instead, CSV files are being used which makes a lot more sense since a lot of data can be stored in one file and it's a lot easier to see a comparison between the stats of different equipment or party members. But more importantly, having the text all in one file makes localization a much more manageable task!
So far item/equipment, unit, log entry, and codex entry data has been converted. The only kind of file that needs to still be updated are the dialogue entries. Converting these files was postponed because the cutscenes were being created, and bugs may occur when making the dialogue file type conversions. Getting the dialogue files put into a CSV file is the most important when it comes to localization, since it has the most text, so this will be completed early March.
Getting that Loot
I'm pretty sure the hard requirements of being considered a JRPG include:
- Treasure chests
- Sewer level
Now I can cross one of those off the list, since treasure chests are now implemented! These treasure chests work as you would assume they would, where they persist in the town as opened/closed when you reload the town. But I also decided to add an optional story state trigger when opening the chest. The idea is that maybe opening a chest can have consequences, such as opening a chest in someone's home might make them start looking for their items which could affect the story. Not too sure if this would be too confusing when the game is actually played, but the mechanic is there just in case.
Behind the Scenes
I usually add this part to show what updates/fixes were done for the month but aren't noteworthy enough to have their own section. For February though, there was nothing extra done in the background. A majority of the month was done on creating content (the cutscenes) so there was not much time to work on feature centric tasks.
Now that all the cutscenes for the demo are completed, I can breathe a sigh of relief since that was one of the heavier content related tasks to be done. And now I can focus on finishing up the game features. For March here are the tasks I'm hoping to get completed:
- Finish the enemy combat UI
- Main menu UI
- ESC button menu UI
- Finish up the player menu
- Create some scenes for material to include in the trailer
Things are looking pretty good, but I think I might go with a closed demo release instead of a public one, to make sure that there's a good amount of polish before it's shown more publicly to the world. If you want to be part of the closed demo testing, you can send me a message on any of my social media (Discord | Twitter | Reddit) since my DMs are open and I usually check them all daily. There's no requirement if you would like to try the demo out, so everyone that messages me will get the download link when it comes out!