May 2018

Let’s get stuck in to what happened in May!

I mentioned last month about making Wonderville more game-y and one of the changes that went in this month in line with this involved switching up how villagers unlock. Prior to last month I was moving towards having villagers present you with quests and storylines that would eventually unlock new villagers that would move to town. Building quests and unique storylines for each villager would amount to a very large sum of work, and I felt that in order to do this as well it would require more time than was available. Focusing the game around building and creating of items I decided to tie villager unlocks to this too. Similar to an idea that was in the game a while back, villagers now unlock based on what buildings you have in your town. I decided too that villagers would visit your town now, instead of all of them being resident as I like the idea of “enticing” characters to come to town based on how you’ve decorated it. So now, at several times during the day a train will appear at the station and drop-off a bunch of villagers that are coming to town to visit. Near the end of the day they’ll each head back to the station and take the train home. Certain villagers that have gameplay attached to them, like the shopkeeper or carpenter will live in your town permanently and over time you’ll be able to invite your favorite visitors to move in too. Functionality for villagers visiting, and unlocking based on your buildings was implemented during the month; and you’ll see villagers hanging out in their favorite buildings now.

The baker villager arriving at the make-shift station. Again. And Again…. and Again… Whoops!

I decided to re-implement an idea from a while back too that affects how you place types of buildings. Previously villagers would come with their own specific building, with its own pre-made design; as each design was custom this meant a lot of content to make, and strayed away from the new focus of the game: letting the player create what they want. So, going back to a previous implementation, buildings are now completely up to the player to place and customize. You’ll choose a plot of land, a building base, and customize the roof and walls to give it a look you like. In order for the building to become a specific type, you’ll need to customize the interior with items that relate to the type of building you want to make. Essentially, buildings will have a recipe, and by placing down items in this recipe, you’ll make that type of building. Extending upon this the style of decoration you use will affect what villager will visit; if you make a cute cafe you’ll see a certain visitor, but if you make an industrial themed one, a different character will come visit. This means your visitors will be a direct representation of the type of town you’ve created. Functionality for placing buildings, customizing their appearance and also unlocking visitors based on contents and style all got in in a basic form this month.

Continuing the theme of letting players really get creative I started work on the painting tool. Like the design tool that allows players to create their own 3D objects and furniture, the painting tool will allow you to create your own patterns and images to use on your creations. By using paints and brushes you can create an image; after which this image can be applied to furniture you’ve made as a paint or pattern. I need to work on a more performant way of painting, as right now it gets a bit sluggish, but otherwise creation of images etc is all in too!

Here’s me doing a test sketch!

In the game you collect resources to use in your creations; chopping down trees for use as wood in your furniture etc. Expanding on this I wanted to add a small crafting element for the paints in the game. You’ll need to try combining different ingredients to make different paints. By foraging and collecting different flowers, shells etc and combining them you’ll craft new paints, these can then be applied on your furniture or used in the painting tool to make patterns and images. I wanted to make gathering and use of resources a bit more playful than just picking wood/mining ore and using it straight away in a creation, and I think this “cooking” mechanic could promote experimentation and some fun from discovering new stuff too.

The design tool got some updates this month too. You can now edit existing creations, allowing you to go back and tweak furniture you’ve already made. You’ll also be able to use objects in other creations, meaning you can use an item as a base and expand upon it to give it variation or a new style.

Picking parts when editing objects has always been a bit finickity, so I fixed this up this month. The previous implementation used raycasts and collision boxes to detect what object the cursor was over. This horribly inaccurate and frustrating, so I used a method (that I thought was completely new… but turns out it wasn’t) where each piece is given a unique color and by rendering these colors to a texture I can look up with pixel-precision what piece the cursor is over. It took a bit of wangling to get it working but now it’s in it feels so much better!

I decided to focus development on Mac/PC and stop getting bogged down with thoughts of console (at least for the first release) and so I’ve begun the process of getting mouse and keyboard support in. You can now steer your avatar with the WSAD keys, and interact using E. If you so desire, you can also click on the ground to go there, or click an interactable to go to it and interact with it; giving you choice in how you want to play the game. As the game so far has been controller-centric, things are now in a weird in-between state, where some things are controller based, and other are keyboard/mouse. Because I’ll be working more on UI and other elements further down the line it made sense to accept this “ugliness” for the time being as re-fitting everything when I know it’s going to change seemed like wasted work.

After a bunch of time spent on features and code I was getting a bit depressed that I wasn’t seeing the game move forward. So as a change of focus I got on with some content. What nicer content to start making than trees and bushes? I had been aiming to make trees similar to those seen in the game: The Witness, but after playing with a first implementation and getting a feel for that style I decided I would go with a more chunky, slightly retro-feel for the trees, inspired by games such as Pokemon and Zelda.

Chunky, retro-inspired Trees!

I mentioned last month about stress and dealing with that whole thing. I came across this talk from an experienced indie developer about how to keep going through hard times, and I’ve taken some inspiration from him and started doing shorter, but focused work days. I get pretty much the same amount of stuff done each day as I’m more effective with my time, but now the day has shifted to having more non-work time which has dramatically helped how I’m feeling. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now and I intend to keep going as I’m definitely feeling a lot better!

You’ll also no doubt have noticed that I’ve shifted my updates away from Patreon. You can still still support me on the site, and I’ll continue to post update info there but I decided to move the content of my devlogs away. This is for a few reasons: 1 – Patreon is incredibly slow to use, and is generally not that fun to post on. 2 – I think seeing Patreon links could potentially be off-putting for some people when seen on social media. I think there may certain assumptions made with the site, and I wanted to get away from that. 3 – I wanted to feel I could write more directly and uncluttered to readers, and this was a better way of doing it. It also allows me to more easily present options for following along or getting involved otherwise, that don’t require additional sign-ups etc. We’ll see how it goes!

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