Thursday, November 22, 2018

Development Worries and Updates

This post is pretty negative compared to my usual post, so read only if you wish to see the bad side of game development.
Whoa, how long has it been? Sorry, but sometimes, I forget to update this blog. I believe I'm becoming too lazy to even write a blog post lately, even though that's easier than other work I haven't been doing, working on Mary's Magical Adventure. Anyways, let's get to the updates about the game! It's been a long enough wait for this!

Indie Game Troubles

Work, Work, Work...

 Let's just start this blog post with the negative, as I have to get it off my chest. If you want to develop your own indie game, take it from me: It's way harder than photography and, "music theory" aside, even harder than playing music on an instrument you aren't familiar with! You'll start off with many ideas, things you can't wait to put into the game. Sure, at first it's easy because there's barely anything in your game to keep track of, plus it's easier to take it easy at that point.

However, as you start really developing things, you start raising your standards, like improving the game's textures, lighting, and overall look. Problem is, doing this only increases the amount of work you have to do from then on to put something in the game, as placeholder art and basic shapes would look very out-of-place beside finished assets. This is one thing that affects me, as I've done just that over the years, adding and improving textures, even redesigning Mary. This isn't even mentioning the music, which initially improved with song after song, beginning with The Nightlife for Rooftop to Rooftop. However, since the music is so high-quality, like the textures, this presents me with a bit of work that I have to look forward to doing, which I rarely do.

All of this has made me too lazy to add much before hitting the invisible walls that an artist hits when in an "artist block". As a result, not much new is here for those who have been checking the Xane's Development group on Facebook or kept up to date with the Facebook and Google+ pages. For readers of this blog, it will seem like I've done more than I've really done, due to these blocks and laziness. Hopefully this can be bypassed and work can resume going full speed, but with how I'm a single developer with no team members, this will be way slower to finish, and will probably take a big chunk of my life to finish, to earn barely any money to make up for it.

Legal Potential

No, don't worry, no companies were dumb and threw a cease & desist letter at my face, thankfully, but, you see, I read /r/gamedev on Reddit and people on there mention that any indie game developer should get two things before releasing their game, an accountant and a lawyer (and said lawyers sometimes make posts there). The first, I assume, is just to make sure your money is all in order. However, the second one made me really start thinking: I have no lawyer. This would be a big problem, should Mary's Magical Adventure get released then have legal trouble for whatever reason. Additionally, lawyers can handle getting trademarks registered, so things like "Mary's Magical Adventure®" can be used, like Intel®'s legal symbol obsession! There's a third thing lawyers can help me with, and with how lazy I've become, I'll probably need it...

Work-for-Hire Contracts

Yes, they can write legal contracts in that confusing Legalese English variant that somehow is more legally-binding than actually-understandable English! Since I barely seem to feel like doing work lately, I'd like to pay others to make things like character art, animated parts of cutscenes, and even music for me. It sounds straightforward, but trust me, reading that subreddit reminded me that even if the commissioned person gave me their finished work, they still own the legal rights to it, so they could backstab me after the game is released and cause a lot of trouble and wasted effort from me. With a contract, this is eliminated, as their legal rights are forcibly transferred to me, so I can use them in my game with no problems, the way it should be by default (but isn't, unfortunately)!

Anyways, hopefully you understand the problems in my head now, knowing I have a lot of work ahead of me if I want this game to be released but I don't feel like working enough anymore... How about we move on to updates?

The Many Minor Updates

Compare Rooftop to Rooftop (1-2) and City Street Run (1-3) in both of these videos. The top one is the first video on the newly-created Mary's Magical Adventure YouTube channel while the bottom is the last gameplay video on my personal channel. You may notice most of it is the same, but there are some small differences...
There's really too much changed to be explained in a blog post, but I'll show comparisons of a couple things here, anyways. It's up to you to find the other differences between the videos.
v1.95 - Did someone paint the ceiling black? Nice try, whoever owns this place.
v2.0 - Now this looks more believable! Want to follow the coin arrow up there?
One subtle difference between v1.95 and the upcoming first demo is this secret room found in Rooftop to Rooftop, hidden in the room down the hallway with the three trolls. In the older version, the holes in the ceiling where panels are missing were just pure black ceiling parts, raised slightly above the panels that didn't go missing. Nowadays with how much more detail I put into levels, this seemed too simple, so I converted the ceiling into 3D floors then added an extra "floor" above, hiding a Powerup Coin and upgrade!

You can get up there with Mary's upgraded Air Dash, Xane's multiple jumps, and Mary's Hammer Jump upgrade, the latter used in the newer video. In case the player couldn't see this obvious secret, an arrow of coins was also added below the "ceiling" to encourage players to try going up there. Yes, in a way, this is now a secret within a secret.
v1.95 - A Gex tile texture was used for many floors in the third level.
v2.0 - Not only is this more legally-safe, but it's high-res and has nice reflections!
The second change to point out is...well, new textures. You see, like the legal stuff mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, using assets from other games could cause problems for Mary's Magical Adventure, so I've replaced some textures since the old video. For example, the checkerboard tiles seen around City Street Run, most obvious in HCPD HQ. Notice how nice and shiny that floor is! If you play MMA and want reflections like those, get the Materials Mod, which adds realistic PBR reflections to some surfaces around the levels.

v1.95 - Most textures here come from SRB2. Also, note the background.
v2.0 - This dimension is more realistic now! Goodbye, trippy rock sky!
This particular change goes even further than just replacing level textures; All Special Stage textures were also replaced, just in case Sonic Robo Blast 2's developers could legally do a thing when their game's not an official Sonic game.
v1.95 - Who cares about soap? We've got a meeting, guys!
v2.0 - Soap's on the table, in Mary's inventory, and more! Don't underestimate soap!
Returning to the video, there's another obvious difference that can be seen when Mary goes to the HCPD HQ: When she visits the meeting room, there isn't a Soap Box on the table! Out in the hallway around each corner? Same thing, no soap in sight! Soap Boxes were a recent addition, added to represent my fear of soap. In Mary's Magical Adventure, soap is harmless unless there's enough of it, in which case it becomes deadly! Soap Boxes are this game's equivalent of explosive barrels, but you can push these boxes around before hitting them.

You can also purchase soap boxes to carry around. This can be seen in the new version's inventory, which shows the Soap Box as the first item. Additionally, magic was added as both a form of ammo and a timer for Mary/Xane's transformation. Collect at least 25 magic and you can transform, but you will lose the magic gradually over time.

Well, there's more to talk about, but due to that intro section, this is already pretty long, so more development-related stuff will be included in a second blog post. See you then!

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