Here's a run down on what I was able to get up to in September with your support. As always, there's a bulleted summary at the bottom.
The month started pretty slowly with me recovering from the flu. While I was couch ridden, I took some time to revisit Quest for Glory 1 again and play through Quest for Glory 2 for the first time.
It was an interesting experience moving onto a sequel to a game that had such a big impact on me and to see what different kinds of directions it moved in. Initially I was concerned that it might change my perspectives on QFG1, and by extension change how I feel about the things that it's inspired in Winter's Wake, but QFG2 moves along different axes and most of the things that it carries across from its predecessor are consistent.
In particular, I was looking for an opportunity to have some fresh experiences with the kind of writing that I enjoyed so much from the first game. I feel like playing through both of them put me in a good mindset for revisiting and thinking about the writing in Winter's Wake, and although I didn't get much chance to poke around with that last month, I feel a little more confident and better equipped to pare down my verbose placeholder text.
I spent some of September working on a patch for the Linux port of Day of the Tentacle Remastered, which I'm currently expecting will go live sometime in October. There weren't any critical issues with the game that needed attention, but it was nice to come back and do a little optimisation and improve experiences for a couple of edge cases (like allowing ALSA users with multiple audio devices to use a launch parameter to specify their preferences since FMOD helpfully ignores system defaults).
Also on the DotT front, two podcasts were published in September (there'd be a third, but SteamLUG Cast publishing is a bit behind), which focused on my experiences with and perspectives on porting.
I sat down with Ekainjo from Boiling Steam to talk about my history with game development and Linux, and how I came to be offered the DotT Remastered port. We also touched on some technical aspects of porting. The original recording was much longer and talked a bit more about community dynamics and things to aim for with regards to cultivating healthy community culture (in the context of interactions between Linux and game dev communities), but unfortunately it needed to be trimmed down for time. I think it still ended up being a good show and is worth a listen if that's the sort of thing you're into.
I also rejoined the GOL Podcast crew after some time away to give a high level overview of porting DotT, and then chat about Linux sales, developer/consumer relationships and why it needs to be acceptable for developers to investigate/attempt Linux support and not be able to make it happen.
I spent a little more time messing with Flashback and the REminiscence engine, but I don't have anything exciting or meaningful to show at this point in time.
In the second half of the month, I was able to really push forward with a bunch of Winter's Wake stuff (expect a patron only post soon!), and have been able to iron out all the engine bugs/missing features that came out of the playtesting I've given the start-to-finish playable build I put together last month (which so far has been limited to my composer Anton, my foley artist Jasmine, my Dad, and my partner Mim).
I've also been moving ahead with some in-engine content editing/authoring tools that now allow new scenes to be created and exits automatically added and positioned between them. It's still pretty rough right now, but this reduces a process that used to involve copying a scene file and populating it with placeholder data then copying another scene's exit's object file and manually calculate what its position/rotation should be (do that twice), down to three keystrokes and two mouse clicks (plus some dragging and dropping if you haven't created scenes with the positioning you want).
In terms of making Icicle usable for people beyond myself and/or for projects bigger than Voices of the Past or Memories of Myst, this sort of stuff is a big deal even with the rudimentary implementation I have right now. It's also a key step on my (embarrassingly undocumented) roadmap toward release and gets me to where I can start thinking about planning milestone events to help grow/raise awareness for both Icicle and Winter's Wake.
To help give a good test-bed for the new editing tools, I've started work on another Icicle game in collaboration with Henry, which is both of smaller and larger scope that Winter's Wake. If all goes well, it should come together really quickly and not impact Winter's Wake/Icicle's timeframes. I'm looking forward to sharing more detail on this later in the month.
I had some good meetings with Anton and Jasmine last month and am looking forward to seeing the impact their contributions have on the shape of the game moving forward. On the sound effects front, we're focusing on pulling in placeholder content to rough out scenes' soundscapes ahead of a focused recording push at the end of the year. For music, Anton is giving attention to the waterfall cave scene and a key sequence toward the end of the game's second act.
While poking around with some other stuff, I came across some notes on how link ordering could mess up SDL's capturing of the ugly, ugly WinMain() function that I've had sitting in the Icicle codebase since I first added Windows support. With a bit of jiggery and pokery, I was able to throw that away, which felt very, very good. I think I can also get rid of the final remaining Windows specific ifdef, but if I did that, then I'd have nothing to complain about.
I also finally got around to renaming winters_wake.cpp to icicle_main.cpp, which I think is the last reference to Winter's Wake in the Icicle codebase. It's a small thing, but it feels significant ^_^
During September, I also found time to create a new sand planet for Hidden Star (both this and the ice planet have been committed to the Github repository now, but I'm waiting on some more stuff before doing another dev blog post), and made a little more headway on the music front with udoncat.
apo, who contributed some rendering fixes to Hover Drive last year for Hacktoberfest is looking at coming onboard to add audio support, look at some keyboard shortcut stuff, and maybe tackle travel mechanics.
Also on the Hidden Star front, my friend Linuxzen has expressed some interest in maybe trying to do some voice work for the alien races. Since the alien alphabets are character substitutions of the latin alphabet, we're thinking about maybe mapping each character and/or some combinations of characters to non-English/non-human syllables, which would allow us to generate scripts (voice actor scripts rather than computer execution scripts) from the existing dialogue that's been written. The nice thing about this is that it'd allow for cadence and tone to be maintained, but it also runs the risk of sounding a little bit too much like the translated text if we don't merge enough/the right letter groupings to impact on word length. Either way, it should be fun to experiment with!
Lastly, I managed to send out patron postcards before the end of the month after forgetting about them for a week after they arrived. I hope they arrive safely into supporters' hands ♥
Oh, and I forgot to mention in last month's update that I'd finally found time to try to start putting together a more thorough list of games I've helped out with over the years. It's still pretty incomplete because I'm silly and don't keep notes, but it's a start!
In October, I'll be continuing to give Icicle/Winter's Wake most of my attention, dividing that between content editing tools, refining/reworking placeholder content and working with Anton and Jasmine on audio stuff.
I also feel like I need to stop researching and start writing the Another World article and push the Flashback stuff forward, but I don't want those to derail any Winter's Wake momentum I have right now.
Primary Project: Winter's Wake
- Fixed bugs identified from playthroughs of the start-to-finish build
- Added initial implementation of scene relationship editor
- Added initial inventory screen
- Renamed winters_wake.cpp
- Across October, I'll continue to work on editing tools and refining placeholder content
- Sent out 2016 patreon postcards \o/
- Worked with udoncat on refining our concept for Hidden Star's music
- Created a new sand planet stack for Hidden Star
- Preliminary work on a new Icicle game to use as a test bed for the new editor features
- Across October, I'll give a little attention to overseeing apo and udoncat's Hidden Star work and will push the new Icicle game forward
- Added a page with a list of other people's games that I've helped out with
- A little more poking around with Flashback stuff
- Another World questionnaire is now closed. Research work on gathering reviews, analyses and fan works of the game will continue
- Article on numeric ratings in game reviews is still coming - sorry for the wait!
- Article on the Godot engine to accompany Tiny Chopper Raceway is on the way
- I plan to look at revisiting Cheese Talks' back end and styles soon to allow for nicer navigation
Thank you all so much once again for your support! It means the world to me :)