Sunday, January 30, 2011

Week 5

Sunday; January 30th, 2011
So the second month of development will officially begin today. I hope you enjoyed the first of several teasers I plan to make, I realize that just about nothing was animated, but I assure you that will change. This first teaser was just to show progress on map design and how Lily controls so far. I honestly haven't done any coding in awhile so maybe this coming week I'll upgrade something in the engine and talk about it. However, I've been rather focused on getting the artistic end of Project CAS done before the end of the the third month of development; so for the duration of Month Two I will be focusing on art. Speaking of art, I have a surprise...

Say hello to Lily and Castiel; two of the major characters of Project CAS! Check Week 1 if you don't know who these characters are yet. This is the first of many conceptual art pieces for CAS, so expect to be seeing some legit art updates in the coming weeks. Other than this piece of work here, let me just say that if I thought I got a lot of work done last week, I was lying, because this week I have gotten almost too much work done. I have gotten two very large (2400 x 480 and 1888 x 464) level concepts completed and have even received a bit more music from Jack Yeates. In that vein, I plan to keep artistic updates (at least in-game ones) more secretive from this point onward. I will keep you updated on exactly what I'm getting done however and maybe from time to time I'll give you guys a screenie, but for now, until more gameplay content gets complete, I think I will be keeping things closer to the chest.
Secrets aside, this week I completed the Grasslands location concept (it is now part Jungle) and I've completed the concept for a City environment (and said city is beautiful btw). The name of the city is a surprise for now, but it will be revealed in due time (it is one of the three cities in the game). Design wise, I have decided on designing approximately 16 locations to be explored in CAS, each location will be comprised of sectors and each sector is going to be about the size of the larger scale mock-ups I made note of earlier; there will be a minimum of 4 sectors per location and a maximum of around 15, so expect some rather large locations to explore. It takes me about 7 hours to design and map a sector, so I have a lot of work ahead of me, it's going to be great fun however. I haven't decided on the exact locations yet, but here are a few that are set in stone...
  • Jungle/Grassland
    • Jungle clearings
    • Lakes
    • Animal praires
  • Cavern
    • Small caves
    • Mountains
  • City 1 (Urban Tech City)
    • Target City (I'll explain what that means another day :P)
  • City 2 (Submerged City)
    • Underwater base
  • Dark/Night Forest
    • Haunted forest
  • Cruiser
    • Boat
Of those six locations, there are many sub-locations with their own smaller sectors, so Project CAS is going to be rather large. Think around 200 sectors or so in size. I hope to have all of the art done within a few months, but since nothing is tiled and everything is hand drawn, it may take longer, especially if I'm going to be coding in between all of that spriting (and updating the blog, living, and other stuff...). But overall, I am very much enjoying creating this game thus far, considering I have never sprited a game from scratch or created all of the content (besides music) this experience is rather fantastic; complete with learning and everything! Yay.

Goals for next week? Get the entire story outlined and come up with all the locations (and names thereof) that will be explored. Expect greatness. Ryan Huggins ~

Total Time --> 12 hours

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Month 1 Reflection - Update Part 2

Thursday; January 27th, 2011

So today I have a rather large, yet short-winded update. For the last couple of days I've been working on creating a small level design that is expressed in one of the screenshots from yesterday's update, but tonight I will be releasing the first in action tech trailer of Project CAS. Not much has been programmed or sprited, but I always believed that the best way to show progress is through video, at least for with video games.

At the moment, nothing is animated except for Lily, so the fish are static and so is the water. Additionally, bats and and the levels themselves don't move, however by the time of the next trailer much of the art assets will be animated and the game will be running in 50% or more of its full glory!

Video will be updated with higher quality version after it is done uploading and processing to Youtube.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Month 1 Reflection - Update Part 1

Wednesday; January 26th, 2011

Considering just how, well, booked I was today despite having the day off (I'm still working even as I type this), I will manage to make at least half of this update right now...with only four minutes to spare!

Every month I plan to make a reflection on what I've done so far on Project CAS. Each reflection will involve a small rant about game design and then will continue on to personal progress, progress on the game itself and finally, I will speak about goals. There will be no particular order to this content and things may be added or removed, so expect everything and more. Today marks the date of my first reflection (all reflections will be made midweek as to offset the balance of development news) and allow for a regular development schedule. Anyway, here is my reflection for Month 1.

My CAS project, adequately named Project CAS, is effectively a small-scale video game design project with a couple of innovative ideas incorporated such as reversed leveling and dynamic storytelling in the platformer genre. I have been working on the project for approximately four weeks so far and today would mark the 29th day of actual game development time. Game development, indie (independent) game development inclusively, is a highly iterative process, with many milestones to reach, goals to achieve, risks to take, changes to integrate, and most definitely things to learn; because of this, a major aspect of Project CAS is risk taking and accepting change. A game designer, like myself, is consistently increasing his skill set and broadening his range of talents, whether those talents be right-minded or left-minded (artistic or logical). This is in opposition to many other professions where much of what you learn is very streamlined and linear in relation to your career. Game design incorporates a plethora of different talents and is a very broad profession that requires knowledge in the fields of Computer Science, Art/Film, Literature, Music, and Philosophy/Psychology.
                Arguably, the most important aspect of game design is the consideration of human relationships and how social interactions, perception, mood, and even smaller things such as art direction and story influence entertainment and the creation of an experience within a game. Game design is really about player interaction within a world (world can mean anything from a board game environment to entire 3D universes) created by the game developers and crafted by the game designer. For Project CAS thus far, I have been focusing on the actual physical content as opposed to the design of the gameplay and story. For that reason, not much thought on the social aspects of the game has actually been done; what has been considered however is how a player’s perspective on disease and life will be influenced by the game’s story and gameplay designs. With CAS, I hope to depict realistic relationships between people at a more personal scale than is attempted by many other games in the platform genre. My goals for Project CAS are to do several things: put the effects of degenerative disease into perspective for a gamer, where protagonists are generally heroic and relatively flawless (as is the convention); craft a memorable gaming experience that can be referred to not only by gamers and game designers as a depiction of the natural world and mankind, but by members of all trades and professions; and to raise money to help fund a search for a cure to a currently unspecified degenerative disease.
                If this past month of development on Project CAS has taught me anything, the most important thing is the relevance of time and how little of it we really have. As a child I used to spend very large portions of my time reading about nature, looking up facts, exploring forests and caves, and more often than not, being rather unsocial outside of my group of close friends. As I got older, I became more confident in my social skills (another very important aspect of game design) mostly through comedy, but ever since I have been consistently spending fewer and fewer hours doing what I used to love in order to pursue less relevant goals such as parties, social events, friends, and women; this could be better described as procrastinating. The pressures of school have hit hard and the IB program is doing what it’s supposed to, make life difficult for students so that we won’t bend under the pressures of real life. Procrastinating is not an option here, and yet, I still find time to sit and do nothing for hours at a time. A personal goal of mine with Project CAS is to fight my natural urge to go out and socialize (but not completely) and do work where work needs to be done. So far, Project CAS has helped quite a bit, but I’m still not anywhere near what I want to be at. My perspective for this project is that if I spend more time being productive, I will be able to craft more enjoyable experiences for larger niches of people and maybe one day I will create something magnificent.

One Month Reflection of Project CAS
By Ryan Huggins

Time Spent (Total) --> 24 hours (Creativity only so far. Service comes after the game hits Beta in a few months)

It should be noted that Part 2 of this Month 1 Reflection will include something development wise, a rather large update in fact. I think that I will utilize the monthly reflections to make big updates and to time releases of big content changes and or demos. But for now...until tomorrow (morning)~

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week 4

Monday; January 24th, 2011

So, it's officially been a month of development time now, and I actually have a decent amount of content to show for it; well, I will. I have spent quite a bit of time working on Project CAS this week, but until Wednesday at the latest, you will have to take my word for it. On Wednesday, I will have a surprise of sorts for anyone who reads about Project CAS.

Anyway, to detail what I have done this week. First off, Jack Yeates (Nekomage) has created two small pieces of WIP music. We have decided on a piano intensive soundtrack and I believe that it works wonderfully with what I have done so far. Uploaded is a short teaser song located here; it hopefully will give you a taste of what the game will sound like overall. Other than this musical teaser, I did promise a rather large update today, however, that update will be pushed back to Wednesday. There is however a few smaller surprises for today!

This is a conceptualized title screen of Project CAS. The title will be completely dynamic and you will have complete control of Lily while at the title. A small level will serve as the title background and new "title maps" can be unlocked (or purchased?) while exploring the world in the game. Other options for the title screen will also be unlockable via exploration, but for now, those options will remain secret (to you and me both). I am looking to create about five or six "title maps", each about 960 by 360 pixels in size. Every "title map", being explorable in a sense, holds a secret, what these secrets are will vary from map to map; it may be an item of some sort, or it may be knowledge, nothing is the same. Every secret will slightly influence the game and/or serve a purpose.

In addition to this title screen concept, I have created a concept of another level location: a cavern.

As usual, nothing has been animated and the entire map is rather static, but Lily can walk around and so far, everything works rather smoothly. This map will incorporate some cool effects such as animated bats that fly away if you get too close or just if you make to much noise, rolling water surfaces, animated fishes and enemies (not sprited or designed yet) and even some particle effects for atmosphere. Compared to the outside, grassy plain location...

...which also lacks any animated features (fish will be animated, water tops, flowers that sway in the wind, etc), this location is far more cramped and the music will be designed to fit. Both of these areas can be easily integrated together in the same map without detriment and without screen transitions, but whether or not I will do this often depends on lag and other efficiency issues with animation and map sizes.

It has also been decided that Lily's sprite will be gaining arms soon. She kinda looks like a duck right now and I feel like arms would help out quite a bit honestly. Other than that however, not much in the engine has changed, just artistic changes have been incorporated. Look forward to another level concept for next week as well as some new story/design details and ideas. I do appreciate feedback if you have any at all because I am new to this spriting thing and I'm not sure if my levels look as nice as I think they do. Personally, animating things will help quite a bit, but as is, what are your opinions if any?

But in conclusion, Wednesday, large update. Look forward to it!

Total Time --> 5 hours

Monday, January 17, 2011

Week 3

Monday; January 17th, 2011

Quite honestly, nothing has been done this week, and by nothing, I mean quite a little bit because I always get something done. This week, I have mostly spent my time doing such things as listening to video game music from other games to create a profile for a frame of reference for Jack (Nekomage) and outlining ideas for the actual gameplay of the game in a conceptual GDD. I wouldn't call it a wasted week, but with finals looming (tomorrow) I didn't manage to find time to work on actual content for Project CAS.

On the bright side however, I have a very clear idea of what I want to do for the introduction and many of the gameplay concepts are theoretically coming together nicely. As with all games however, the process is highly iterative and things more than likely will change as time goes on. The next couple of weeks will be rather simple on my brain and social life I would presume and with my mentality intact I will be spending progressively more and more time on this project. But now, for some actual news....

I will be conceptualizing more locations for the game this week, what these areas are however will remain a secret to even me until I figure it out. I will probably finish up the outline of the story and areas this month as well. Other than that, I have spoken with Jack and have decided that a WIP piece will be created within the next week or so. Hopefully that can be a mid-week update to offset all of the content I hope to update with next Monday. Usually, his music is conceptualized via .midi so that trend will more than likely be continued here. Do expect something amazing to listen to however! :D

So, what I am saying here is, anyone who watches/supports/stumbles upon this blog, check in next week for an update that will actually, well, update something. Continue to expect a tech demo in a few weeks as well! :) 

Total Time --> 1 hour

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Week 2

Sunday; January 9th, 2011

Fantastic news! The engine has been decided upon and *we will be making the game in Game Maker. The project will be scripted primarily in GML (Game Maker Language), though some other assets will be scripted in other languages and incorporated in via .dll.

*I say "we" because a member of my game studio (Siifour Studios), Jack Yeates, also known as Nekomage, will be assisting in developing the musical assets of Project CAS. Jack is a good friend of mine (though he lives many miles away) and is one of the longest standing members of Siifour. He is primarily a musician/composer but triples as both a game designer/writer and artist. Check him out over at DeviantArt at

This week, a great deal has been done to further the development of Project CAS. Besides deciding on the engine to write and run the game in as Game Maker, a good friend of mine, Jack Yeates has also agreed to write and produce the musical assets of CAS. Examples of his music can be found at the link above. Other than this, I have managed to code and sprite/animate the basics of movement and collision into the engine thus far. This is a major feat as I have no experience with Game Maker and GML and will be learning the code as I go. Right now, Lily can move from left to right, duck, and jump onto platforms with ease! Collisions are working fantastically and the game runs smoothly at a beautiful 30 frames per second (the final speed of the game is however undecided).

I can honestly say that I spent a good 7+ hours debugging and staring blankly at Game Maker's script editor while attempting to fix a collision bug causing my character to get stuck in the corner of the invisible blocks used for collisions. It turned out one of the built-in functions -move_contact(direction)- was rather buggy and the variables -vspeed- and -gravity- ended up having to be redefined so that I could control them completely the way I wanted. Other than that, the vast minority of my time was spent making the art assets (animating one character) and splitting the mock-up picture from last week into a foreground and a background image.

But development is going great and I can confidently say that a playable version (with no story or gameplay, a tech demo really) will be released in a few weeks. :D

Total Time --> 14 hours

Monday, January 3, 2011

Week 1

Monday; January 3rd, 2011

Today marks the date of the first update for Project CAS...and so far not much has been done. I still need to decide on an engine to use or a language to code an engine in and the GDD has not been written yet. What has been done however is a bit of "in game" concept work to show what the game will likely look like when it's done.
The woman in pink will be known as Lily. She is the main character of Project CAS and her son, Aster, is the small boy to her left. To the right edge of the screen you will find Castiel, who is the male lead of the story. So far all that has been determined about the game is a fairly unique gameplay mechanic and method of progress and the general idea of the character designs.

Lily is the main character of Project CAS and is the single mother of one child, Aster. She works as a secretary for a small business firm that deals with managing flowers and other medicinal herbs for various pharmacies and doctors around the world. Lily lives and works from a small island that her boss and CEO of the company owns. Recently, she has been diagnosed with a very rare and incurable degenerative disease (of which a name has not been decided) and has been given several weeks to live before her organs cease function.

Aster is Lily's son and the sole love of her life. Aster is an aspiring comedian who looks up to his mother for motivation and has never met his father. He is generally carefree and initially unaware of his mother's condition. Aster is nine years old and attends private school on the island's coast.

Castiel is the male lead of Project CAS and has come to the island for undetermined reasons. He states that he is an angel sent from Heaven to help Lily find a cure so that she may raise her son to become an important figure in what he calls the "New Regime" of the world. Whether or not he is serious or metaphorical in this explanation of his purpose is questionable, but what is known about Castiel, is that he is adamant about helping her find her cure. This dedication means that Castiel will stop at little to help Lily achieve her (and ultimately his) goal.

The gameplay will focus on the strategic implementation of the little combat ability Lily has (and is rapidly losing). Progression will be reversed in that the PC (Player Character) will begin at the highest level and will slowly, as time goes on, become weaker as levels are lost. On the flip side of combat, there is exploration which is also a major component of gameplay and at the moment, will be handled normally as in a regular platformer. Project CAS will have a heavy emphasis on puzzles and skill of player control with a smaller combat emphasis.

Total Time --> 4 hours