it sure has been a busy couple of months!
I'll try to keep it simple and short, starting with Shadow Dreams, the game's development is still going strong as ever, but i'm making a few bold moves that could bite my in the a**, the shadow dreams game is not taking an open world approach, honestly that was the plan all along, but the one thing that you learn early in game development is to not bite more than you can chew, open world was a bite too big for me to chew back then, but things changed!
With the game gaining more attention and support I have managed to upgrade the studio's set up, as now the studio is running a top of the line PC for development purposes.
and the big surprise, now the studio has a full body motion capture system!
face body and hands! it sure wasn't cheap or easy to learn but it's a huge step in the path of expediting the development process, the coming updates will sure contain some of the motion capture set up process and results.
Summery of the past few months:
work, life, no work, life slaps me in the face, panic, recollect and push forward, been a messy few months, a bit more than the average messiness, which put a hold on my progress, BUT NO MORE!
currently my engineering job is from mid night to mid noon, which comes with its pros and cons, pros being that things are more quite, cons being that my sleep is all over the place, which turns my brain into mashed potatoes, I literately go through phases where I don't know where I am and need a minute to process my existence.
ANY HOW, back to the game and my beautiful demons, which ironically help me survive these rough changes of life and keep my mind excited for the future to come.
So a little update list summery:
- I had to reconstruct the full magic summery system after a few play tests that proved the need for a better interface and spell choosing mechanics, inspired by DooM
-the new spell system allowed me to add a different combat stance and cross hair to each ability, which I also noticed from the play testers, that they don't know which spell is active, so they need more of a visual stimulation to understand what spell is going to happen when they shoot
- finally, added blood! and reconstructed the hit box of the monsters, so now you can aim for the head and BOOM! dead!
-new cross hairs that look amazing, with a recoil effect and camera shake, to make you feel the strength of the spell
-new interface gauges for health, mana and stamina for better reading, inspired by skyrim's interface
-scrapped away the inventory system, sometimes you have to let go of curtain features that are not essential to the experience to be able to finish the game
and alot more that I can't remember, even though I spent days making and adjusting, but here is a gif that gives a clear view of what is new!
My first official game dev convention
this is just a little update, the GDC Dubai convention is going to be happening tomorrow and after tomorrow (12th-13th of April 2018).
To be honest, I have no idea of what to expect, I just made sure that I booked my self for 1 on 1 meetings for both days from 10AM to 4:30PM, so whether I like it or not, I'm going to try my best to create new connections, it may feel scary at first, putting your self out there with no team or previous relationships with ANY of the participants, but if there is one thing I think I'm good it, it's adapting, so the plan is to blend in, and interact with my environment, and I heard that there is some sort of competition for game developers, so if things go well I may be able to show case my game there.
so in short, I'm simply hoping for the best.
-Ahmad Yassin Al-Natshe
It's been 2 months since my last update!
well to put it in simple terms, I have been busy! (which is a good thing)
After the major panic attack episode, I took a minute to listen to my body, I calmed down, put the game development on hold and listened, and do you know what it said? "CHILL THE F*** OUT!" as my body wasn't catching up with my mind and decided to call it quits.
Which is understandable, as there were way too many "Back ground tasks and open taps" running in my brain, consuming all the processing power without me giving it the attention it needs.
One of those tasks was the threat of losing my job at any minute (That's the life of contractors), so I signed up for a few courses, managed to pass the exam for booth the ISO 9001 and the LEED GA, which hopefully could boost my chances in landing a better job, and divert my brain from being fried from all the over thinking and from the cloud of guilt that's screaming "you are not doing enough", So those few months were basically me upgrading my educational skills.
BUT don't worry, not developing the game, didn't mean I couldn't work on the game, so I made some attempts to reach out, try and get some attention to my work, Most of these attempts were met by simply ignoring the massages, BUT out of no where, one of those massages some how reached some one and the game got it's first article ever, on AlphaBetaGamer's website! which thankfully boosted the Demo's sign up list by a few hundred sign ups!
And! one of those attempts was reaching out to Microsoft's Xbox team, and guess what? the game MAY just be approved to be launched on the Xbox one console!
So with that last boost of confidence and validation that my product isn't a pile of garbage (which is what every developer think's their game is), and with the new mind set of not killing my self by over working, I have started the development process again, and who knows? perhaps this time things could actually work out in my favor.
I'm preparing my self for next week's DGC convention in Dubai, wish me luck!
Founder of FishyTushy Studio
9th of April, 2018
my mind is telling my yeah! but my body is telling me no!
I want to start by saying that this Blog is not to show off that I work hard and that getting to where I got is a good thing, it's not, my purpose is to warn every one about the dangers of over working your self without noticing it.
It's been almost a month since the IGN convention, my ambition was on an all time high, and nothing could stop me!
But here is the thing, I work every day in a high stress job from 6 AM to 6 PM as civil engineer, so I have to stay on high alert all the time, as dropping the ball could literately lead to a disaster.
So I put my brain on over drive and worked the game and the job at the same time on full power, creating new features for the game while creating new walls for the mall we were building, and here is the thing, it worked! the progress on the game was huge while still maintaining a great job output.
Until yesterday, I was in a meeting and some sort of numbness crept up on me, and I could feel my heart racing even though I'm just standing there, my hearing turned into a slight buzz and my sight turned into a black static, I lost my balance and had to sit for about 5 minutes before connecting back to reality and regaining my normal blood pressure.
I'll spare you the details and just call it a severe panic attack that was most likely caused by over working the brain to it's maximum limits, most likely my body had given me enough warning signs but I didn't notice them in the high of feeling unstoppable.
So in conclusion, please take care of your self and take a moment to listen to your body, you may think you're invincible now, but that won't last if you don't respect the most precious machine in your toolkit, your own self.
If you feel a very slight numbness in your hands and body, feel a bit disconnected reality and not being able to put things together and focus, JUST STOP, completely stop what ever you are doing and just breath, take your blood pressure reading and make sure you are alright before anything else.
It's been exactly 1 year and a half since I started my journey as a game developer, I believe in my vision and my self, but I may need to take it slow for now, to continue marching forward but on a more healthy pace.
WHAT A DAY!!!!
Morning came, I woke up, feeling down and going with pretty low expectations, "OK.. a max of 10 people will test the game, MAYBE they'll like it" I said to my self in trying to prepare for the worst case condition, packed my gear which consisted of my wife's laptop (my laptop can't run the game on higher than 25 fps), my mother in law's TV and big patch of cookies baked by my awesome wife as a reward for who ever kills the boss.
We arrive to Hub Zero, things are looking good, the place is well organized, and I'm faced with my first let down, the table I booked had a pretty terrible location where it's nudged in a corner, sure my expectations were low already but along with that came the attitude of "what do I have to lose?"
So we pushed the table forward to be more in the view hooked up the TV and blasted it to it's max volume, clicked on the game launcher and here it was ! all my hard work was playing on that screen that said "Shadow Dreams Alpha Build"
The moment of truth
"this looks nice, can I try it ?" said the first person to test the game
"Sure, here you go" as I handed him the controller and pressed START GAME
the cut scene starts, and the game begins and the player doesn't know what to do as my tutorial isn't clear enough!
Then something clicks in me, one thing I learned from playing music in-front of strangers, when you mess up, don't show it and improvise!
So i took a hands on approach in teaching the controls and things started to improve, more people started to show up, wanting to test the game and before I knew it 9 hours have passed with the game being played NON STOP by every passing visitor! I was in the front explaining the game to every new tester while my two awesome friends handled the people in the back, keeping them interested while the player finishes their turn, and to my surprise even kids enjoyed the game and handled it pretty well, the information I collected were priceless and no amount of google research could have taught me the things I learnt.
IN SHORT, the feed back was over overwhelmingly positive with over 70 feed back cards filled, If you were one of the people who tested the game that day, THANK YOU!
let's start with a few pictures of the progress, oh beautiful progress.
It has been two weeks since my last update, the one where I was freaking out about not having a level ready for the convention (which is in two days from now), I started by me casually freaking out, bashing the keyboard when the game engine breaks down and deletes my progress and in general screwing up.
But out of the sudden, clarity came and I could connect the dots again, I had that moment when I saw the level in my head and all I had to do was convert it into reality, so in short, I started work, fixing monsters, adding environment upgrades, studying lighting and discovering how stupid I was before by making things way too dark (which I did in a sad attempt to raise the FPS as my poor laptop couldn't handle the game).
So my routine was wake up, go to work, think about the game, come home and work on the game!
one day off I managed to pull a work session from 7 AM to 10 PM, thankfully now I'm at the final steps, I am happy with the Demo and believe it's good enough to be shown in the convention.
BUT no happy endings for your casual game developer, as I'm facing a major error right now in packaging the game, which is basically the FINAL step before it's ready to be played on any other computer, but that's a story for another day.
"SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT"
That's what my brain was shouting when I noticed something, all the levels I made were not even close to being ready for the convention, they were either too dark, too empty or too confusing with no back story what so ever.
I was lost in what i call "the developer vision", it's where my brain fills the darkness of the level with the information it gathered while I was designing every little corner of the god forsaken cave I was making.
HOW EVER, I tried a new approach, listed down all the problems I had when I designed all the other levels, took note of the performance issues I had and set my standards to fit my poor abused laptop.
And that's when things started to get interesting, I was making progress in no time, every day I moved the level a bit forward than the day before, after the MANY mistakes I made, things started to make sense once I had a fresh start.
I have always loved the world of giant creatures that make you feel tiny compared to them, shadow of colossus instantly comes to mind as fighting giant bosses has always been my favorite, thinking about it again it kind of makes sense, the challenges I like to face are not the average ones, I want to slay giants instead, like making a progressive death metal album or developing this game on my own, I want to face greatness and come out triumphed, that's where this level had it's inspiration.
The time has come, about 2 weeks left until the convention!
it's a dangerous move, showing the game when it's not fully ready, but what other options do I have? staying invisible isn't going to do me much, so what I can do is make the game as shiny as possible, and do what i do best at, IMPROVISE!
If there is anything I learnt from play a few concerts and small gigs is that the audience won't notice your mistakes unless you point them out, they don't care if you built the game in a year or a decade, they care about what's in front of them at that single moment of time, so brush your mistakes under the rug (for now), focus on making the game FUN, from what I saw at game con last week is that the attention span of the visitor is hardly 2 minutes, that's why I changed my approach from showing the story of the game, into an arcade level where you jump straight into smacking monsters left and right and going against a boss at the end of the level, I removed the complicated spells and the items, replaced them with a straight forward fire ball combo, and implemented a score system so that the person with the highest score can win a prize at the end of the day.
People, and gamers specifically like competition, they want to be the best!
When they are playing on the large screen I'm going to set up with a crowd watching over their shoulders, they want something to show off with, dodge the monster's attack, jump, slow down time and smack a monster in the head with an ice lance!
I am no expert as this is my first convention, I did the best I can do by researching and learning from other developer's experiences, and the plan is set, what I can do now is work hard and hope for the best!
SO! some things happened lately...
Don't worry, I'm still alive and well and they didn't take my wallet (not that there is much in it).
So! a lot of things happened in the past few weeks but i'll try to make it short, I found out that there is an IGN convention happening in Dubai on the 15th of December, so I took a breath, and went ahead with signing up for an artist ally table to show case the Shadow Dreams game for the FIRST TIME ever!
The game is FAR from finished, would hardly call it an Alpha build, but if there is one thing I know about my self, is that I become very productive under pressure, which is the case here, I had to create a polished, playable and fun demo in a month! now we are at week 2 and SHIT it's difficult.
I use my lunch break hour to go work on the game in the car and write my codes on paper when I don't have a computer around, and when I think that my game looks good I post a video on an Indie game group and it gets bashed to pieces, *Sigh*.....
I put on my tough skin suit and take the criticism, fix the problems and move forward, there is no other way to success!