January 2018

You know, doing these devlogs is brilliant because every month I look back and get a nice surprise at how much things have changed since the last update! So let’s see what’s happened this month…!

I guess it’s best to start with the biggest change and that has been the focus and scope of the demo. Previously the aim was to put together a small demo that showcased building of custom objects and decorating a room. I got to a point where I felt this worked really well, and was in the stages of polishing it up ready for sending out when after some conversations with friends and general pondering I realized that the demo wasn’t particularly good at showcasing what the game itself actually was. It was good at showing that building objects and decorating will be fun, but without the concept of the rest of the game visible it didn’t really work very well as a demo; and I didn’t feel confident in it as something I could show to publishers/investors. So i decided to expand the demo and focus on getting as much of the rest of the game in and working as possible and not worry as much about polish. After speaking to some publisher friends I was reminded that the most important thing for them is to see what the game is going to be, and they’re totally fine with things not being snazzy or polished.

With this new “direction” I got to work busily cramming stuff in, and fixing up old systems I already had.

The play area has been expanded to include other buildings and an external area too now. I’m thinking you’ll have your own house, a few houses for villagers and the “workshop” where you’ll be designing and crafting objects.

I got loading of areas fixed up and using the new system I had made for loading custom decorated levels (I had made the system nice and general and that meant I can apply it to any level of the game and loading/saving and decorating of that location should “just work”)

Next step was getting a basic inventory in. I decided I wanted to try out having a player “backpack” that contains items. Before you would place items from something similar to a catalog of things you had made or purchased. I felt this was a bit disconnected from the player, and so now you actually carry items around with you and place them out in the world from your backpack.

With a backpack it also meant I could get resource gathering in. I got to work on putting trees in the game. Trees are great because they’ll act a source of wood, from which you’ll be making furniture, and also drop fruit you can sell, or give to residents to make things like cakes/jams.

I built a system for “item spawning” that can be attached to a game object. This component specifies what items to create when you interact with the object, it also allows you to set how many you want, and if you need a special tool equipped to get them. In the case of the tree, if the player interacts with the tree normally, it will drop apples. If the player has an axe in their hands, the tree will be felled and you’ll get wood.

To get an axe in I had to get equippable items working; so now that’s in too. Right now it’s missing animations, so any equipped item just hovers about your head, hehe. These equippable items can have a “level”, so you’ll need more advanced versions in order to take down bigger trees/smash bigger rocks, and so on. Oh, and you can craft your own custom equippables….!

Speaking of custom equippables, I got quests in to the game. One of which will feature in the demo involves you helping some villagers out in order to get a blueprint for an axe. With this blueprint you can create your very own axe, and use that for chopping down trees left right and center. The quest system ties into the text based conversation system I’d made, and in it’s current state can move through quest stages depending on dialog choices you make. 

I’m going to have a handful of mini quests in the demo, and one somewhat longer one that will give a better idea of the characters and dialog I want to achieve in the full game. 

I had no house exterior to use so I made one of those

The design tool got a bit of a visual and interaction polish pass. After having a friend play the game and seeing how complicated designing objects was I reworked the interface to make it a lot simpler and easier to understand. I also simplified the UI a chunk so it’s less cluttered now, and focuses more on the item you’re designing.

You can now apply materials to parts of your objects when you design them too. Originally I had thought pieces would have their own material, and that you’d pick for example the “metal 2×4 piece” when you wanted metal, and the wooden one for wood; I quickly realized this meant creating a lot of assets that didn’t really vary at all apart from the material on them. So now you’ll place a 2×4 piece and then “paint it” either metal, or wood, or plastic, glass, and so on. The sum of all the materials you’ve used on your object will go on to be what you’ll need to collect in order to craft that object later.

I separated the designing and crafting of objects from one other. Previously, before I had resource gathering working you would design an object, and once you’d done that it would be available for you to place in the world, and as many times as you’d like. With the two separated you are free to design your object, and then once you’ve gathered or made the necessary “ingredients” you’ll be able to craft your object and place it in the world. For example you’ll design a wooden chair, and it will require 4 pieces of wood to make one. You’ll need to go and gather those 4 bits of wood and take them to the workshop to make your new chair. Once you’ve done that and crafted your chair, it will be in your backpack ready to be placed anywhere in the world. Some of the materials you’ll need for crafting will have their own ingredients themselves (for example, fabric with a pattern will need a dye and fabric), these will also need to be gathered, forming a chain of designing, collecting, crafting and decorating which I think will be super fun.

And….I think that’s it for new stuff!

Elsewhere I fixed an issue I had caused that meant the game was stuttery; it now runs nice and smooth again, and it feels so good!

I bumped into a friend who works at Raw Fury (nice little publisher here in Stockholm) and after a little chat I popped into the cozy offices to talk about Wonderville, and hear what they were up to. They seem super lovely, and I’m going to be speaking with them a little bit later on when I’ve got something worthy of their time ready for them to play.

And in funny bugs; I worked on getting villagers to move out’ve the way when placing things but accidentally got them to actually shove the furniture instead…

Expanding the demo and focusing on getting more of the actual game in has also been good for morale. Being focused on a small area meant that I didn’t feel like things were going anywhere, and it also didn’t feel like I was making a game. It was becoming a bit of a grind and combined with the dark cold here in Sweden was getting me pretty down. Now, with all the pieces coming together you can actually see what the game is going to be, and this has made me a lot happier and reinvigorated. Oh and the sun has been peaking out a bit more recently, which always makes me feel good too!

Thankyou for reading! If you know of anyone who might be interested in what I’m up to, please let them know! Also, if you want to keep up to date you can register for my mailing list, and you’ll be messaged with updates!

Thanks for reading!
/Robert

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