Monthly Archives: October 2014

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of October 20, 2014

Last week’s achievements

* Got a 3D model mostly functional on a 2D tile map
* Various story writing done (more than usual)
* Wrote flavor text for Impini, Gigarat, Greatwolf, Kobold Chief, Ogre, Vivavines

Current focus

Wrapping up character art, starting pixel art, and the transition to 2D.

Sample stuff

Flavor text for Kobold Chief:

Kobold chiefs best exemplify evidence of the common races’ belief that this species could develop and become one of them, like the florauna in the past. Chiefs exhibit multiple high-level combat tactics like body mastery, well-timed reinforcements, and even magic. Although their strategies are slightly let down by their middling strength, all kobolds serve exactly the right masters.

Flavor text for Vivavines:

One side effect of the Shield Our Surface mage rotation, instituted centuries ago, was an upswing in vivavines. These plants always existed in small number, having become carnivorous and more animated by absorbing latent energy from the natural mana flow, but they truly flourished with access to barriers and healing magic continually pumped across the planet. Vivavines primarily aim to trap beasts and siphon energy from them for extended periods, but their own success actually keeps their population in check; after draining a beast for a while, they cease to absorb mana and return to being passive vines.

Weekly goals

* Write bestiary flavor text for remaining enemies
* Figure out how to use 2D Toolkit (and other Unity assets if needed) to get basic top-down map movement functional


One step closer. Previously I couldn’t even make a 3D model (the kind more natural to Unity) operate in a 2D space since it was unmovable or would go through things, so, even though functional 2D still eludes me for now, I’m one step closer. That made me happy enough to focus on that for the week, but I’m still not there quite yet. =P

One bright side of this 2D bottleneck is that I’ve never looked forward to writing the storyline more than I do now. I’ve always enjoyed writing flavor text, of course, but the entire beauty of flavor text is that it’s optional and therefore gets to break all the rules. For example, Metroid Prime is proof that “show, don’t tell” doesn’t apply in video games—it earns the right to tell because the telling is both the reward for and a process of discovery. There are entire backstories about the space pirates and the Chozo and you’d never have the tiniest hint of either one if you don’t seek them out in two ways: physically examining each room for scan points and mentally piecing together the scattered information you’re given. That’s the kind of writing that excites me.

Well, that kind and getting cutesy with alliteration and rhyme and rhythm and homophones.

But the player has to see the main storyline.* So my usual free-form fun with writing feels extra pressure to get all the details right, convey few enough to keep things moving at a good pace but also convey a sufficient number that people know everything they need to know, and so on.

That said, pressure is preferable to not knowing what in the world I’m doing for weeks on end. =P Looking forward to finally figuring this 2D thing out…

* Given infinite resources, I’d make a Gameplay-Only Mode where the story is turned off and even the antagonists join the party as playable characters, kind of like the Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones post-game. After all, if they have no story then they have no character, so there are no moral conflicts or personality incompatibilities. Anything goes and the player who turns off the story is rewarded with superior character choices. But given finite resources, well…

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of October 13, 2014

Last week’s achievements

* Sent character feedback for Winter
* Gathered references and writeups for Miharu overworld
* Gathered several references for Den of Kobolds and Spring Lake Valley

Current focus

Wrapping up character art, starting pixel art, and the transition to 2D.

Weekly goals

* Write bestiary flavor text for remaining enemies (the ones who are functional for the sake of an initial demo, of course, not all enemies in the entire game!)
* Figure out how to use 2D Toolkit (and other Unity assets if needed) to get basic top-down map movement functional


Not too much to say this week other than that the Big One is coming up again: making character models move and animate properly. Can’t delay it any longer! Just have to face up to by far the greatest challenge yet…

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of October 6, 2014 (Birthday Edition)

Let’s talk a bit. This one’s gonna be rambling, but honest. =)

The pixel artist I want just got married and is taking off a few weeks, which makes me feel oddly better about essentially doing nothing this past week because of Smash Bros. 4. Not to compare our circumstances, of course! …but this brings up something I’ve definitely wanted to mention here.

Right now I’ve backed 135 Kickstarter projects and I often see creators mentioning in their Risks and Challenges section that family comes first and that if anything happens to their spouses or kids, they’ll have to sideline all work on the game.

In one sense, this is a silly thing to list as a risk; anyone could get into a horrible accident, after all. The composer for Midora just lost a finger in mid-September and about the only good thing one can say there is that at least it was his pinky and not an index finger or especially a thumb. It could have been worse! Whether on Kickstarter or not, every project run by a human bears the implicit risk of the sudden death or incapacitation of its creator.

In another sense, listing the risk makes sense; not everyone has spouses or kids, so a solo individual like myself only needs to worry about one person. Sure, I could develop amnesia or get hit with SADS (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome) or a 9.4 earthquake could completely destroy California or something, but I can’t go through a divorce, a child can’t run away, and a death in the family wouldn’t leave me depressed for three months.

…but I wonder if there’s a third sense. Maybe in my case the “risk” is that I don’t have someone encouraging me and pushing me forward every day. I used to resent family obligations; truth be told, there’s probably still more of that within me than there should be. Isn’t there value in a supporting voice?

Three years ago I would have been upset by the idea of celebrating a birthday. Why bother? Unproductive. Frivolous. Wastes of time. Those were the kinds of things I thought about celebrations, family obligations, and more. Because I considered weddings, honeymoons, and vacations to be useless wastes of money, I couldn’t have sincerely said “Congratulations” to Becca, the pixel artist. Today I can, but it’s only because I assume that she understands the value, not because I myself understand.

In a few hours I turn 30. I’ve already been out for a birthday lunch and I still feel slightly guilty about it—more than I feel guilty about playing Smash Bros. and not making a game, which in turn is more than I felt guilty about playing Bravely Default and not making a game back in February. At least Bravely Default is an RPG, you see, and one that’s balanced in a shockingly similar way to what I’m aiming for. Smash Bros. is, though I’m stretching, at least a video game. What’s a birthday lunch?

But should I feel guilty at all?

Make no mistake: I’m the furthest thing from a “Type A” workaholic personality. I’ll put in 12 hours if I feel like it, but “if I feel like it” usually depends on whether I’m having fun. My days are more commonly six hours whenever I find the first natural stopping point or hit some roadblock that I need to sleep on.

At the same time, the idea of taking three straight weeks off—like for a wedding and honeymoon—would probably make me squeamish. And I mean that: frustration and anxiety would pile on until I’d feel sick. I can’t even fully enjoy taking a week off here and there for a major game release (major to me in the case of Bravely Default) without that nagging guilt feeling. I still haven’t touched my copy of Tales of Symphonia Chronicles or Tales of Xillia 2 because I have my own Dreamblazers to make.

And yet… I’m not in a traditional job, so there’s no technical obligation to put in a certain number of hours per day. All of my guilt is of my own making. My ambition clashing against my interests. “All work and no play” battling with “all play and no work.” What’s the appropriate balance? Can I take a week off here and there? Is that okay or is it unacceptable? To be honest, I’ve cut off nearly all social contact, so my life is about either playing video games, making a video game, or pondering. Is that fine? Could I do better? Would I actually be more productive if I disconnected completely on occasion?

I don’t have any ultimate answer to my questions. Like the Musings side of my blog implies, I’m much more interested in raising questions and thinking about them than finding solutions. Since I don’t have an ultimate answer, I probably won’t change anything that I’m doing. I only want to be honest and straightforward—and, for posterity’s sake, these are my true struggles at this time, right now, while I’m arriving at the border between 29 and 30 years old. I’m an indie game developer who recently hit a severe roadblock with making functional 2D movement, I’m burying myself in someone else’s game, and I feel guilty about it and I wonder if I should feel more guilty or less.

At 0, 10, 20, or 30 years old, life can be a mystery.

And I suspect 40, 50, 60, and 70 won’t be any different.