Item Padding, Trailer Preview, and OOO Early Next Week

Hey Folks! Spent a good chunk of the day working on updated sprites for mobile items, as well as checking out video-Josh's first draft of the trailer!

Even though it's just a first draft, the trailer is already impressive. I was surprised at how intense it was. One of the goals we were hoping to hit in the piece was a sense of gravity, and man, we hit it. I'm even a little concerned it might be too strong!

But the more I review it, I think it could be one of those things that starts out shocking, and gets better with time/review. Provided it moves in that direction, even very slowly, we may have struck just the right balance.

Most of the rest of the day was spent reworking certain item sprites to have a faint (10% alpha) padding around them, so touchscreen selection is easier. Certain items, like lockpicks, bows, and other "wiry" items had holes in them or were too slim to hit with a touch input. At least, whenever they were slotted. (Grid is fine as it uses a different method to hit-test.)

I'm about half done now, with a large chunk of the time used to re-export the wound images. (So many wound images!) I think I should be able to get those integrated next week.

Which segues into my next point nicely: I'll be OOO early next week since we're moving!

Usually, there's a day or two as we get necessities unpacked and setup, and I'm expecting that to be the case here. And one never knows if internet will be up and running in the new place on time. So if it gets quiet here, you know why. I'm here, just disconnected or without a desk :)

Have a good weekend, and talk to you soon!

Hardware Install, Bug Triage, Trailer Footage

Hey Folks! More loose ends tying-up today, plus a hardware upgrade!

The hardware maybe isn't too exciting to anyone but me. It's a 1TB solid-state drive (SSD) for my work PC. But since my old 500GB SSD was 90% full, space was getting tight. And recording game footage was making this painfully obvious!

So I spent about an hour with a dissected PC on the floor today as I installed and configured the new SSD. And I'm now in the process of copying the largest blocks of data I can over to that one, so I can free up the 500GB SSD for OS use and frequent work files.

The bug list got a huge triage today, with a lump of new user-experience (UX) tasks bumped to the top. I'm going to see if we can add some more swipe input support for certain UIs, better hit registering on UI elements, and some context-specific tutorials. Not the most glamorous work, but it'll hopefully make a big difference. Especially to new users!

Finally, I recorded one more in-game scene of crafting some specific items. This covers all our basic needs, except for maybe getting ambushed in sleep by a dogman. "Video-Josh" (thanks, Malacodor!) says he has what he needs for now, and will keep me apprised of progress.

It feels like things are in order and nobody's blocked by me for now, which is a nice change!

Game Footage, Store Page, and Admin

Hey Folks! Bit of a mixed-bag today, as I tied-up some loose ends.

One of the top priorities was to get some game footage to Josh (trailer producer) for cutting into the trailer. Yesterday's tests left us with some workable settings for capturing mobile game footage, and I had about 5 files to upload. Some crafting, map movement, freezing, bandaging, scavenging, and combat. There's still more to record from our wishlist, but this is a good start, and gives him a chance to test drive the footage for issues.

I also reviewed Josh's (composer) latest ship-editing track. And as usual, he delivered the goods. I told him it conjured images of a draftsman hovering over backlit ship schematics with a cigarette into the wee hours of the morning. Which also inspired me to scribble some new notes about the space game.

I stumbled upon the Google Play developer page settings today, which is a bit alarming. The amount of stuff I accidentally discover in publishing a mobile game is worrisome :) But I guess the good news is that I discovered it now instead of later, and there is a nice blurb, logo, and background image for my company now.

In the meatworld, I managed to get my internet service scheduled for the new house, as well as post office change of address/forwarding. Both were a lot less painful than expected, though I reserve judgement until both are actually in process :)

It was actually a pretty productive day, in retrospect. Not any coding, but a whack of stuff that needed doing got done!

Game Footage Capture, and Script VO Read

Hey Folks! Mostly another day of trailer prep, here, as Josh and I work out the best way for me to record in-game footage, and we read through the script with Nelson and Phil.

The game footage was a bit of a mystery at first, as no matter what settings or codecs I used, it seemed to have compression artifacts. Even lossless settings at 7GB per minute!

However, I think part of what we were seeing was in fact game-asset artifacts resulting from me scaling-up gradients used in the UI. The banding/dithering is literally built-into the graphics. So we're mostly squared away on settings, and I've started capturing scenes from the game to be used.

On the audio side, the four of us (Josh, Nelson, Phil, and I) held a conference call in which we had them read lines to each other. Each had their own audio setup for recording that we can splice together later, so this was mainly to have faces/audio to act against.

And man, was it good! After a few runs, you could really hear the weary vet's impatience and savoring the kill, while the upstart stuttered, begged, and babbled in fear. I think it's going to be an awesome match for the footage we shot.

It's going to be a hard couple of days of waiting to see the rough cut :)

So the Mobile Trailer's Coming Along Nicely :)

Hey Folks! Sorry for the several days of missing devlog. I was on an important business trip. And by "business," I mean this:

IMAGE(http://bluebottlegames.com/img/screenshots/screenshot-2017-03-20.jpg)

Research!

Braving 45°F (7°C) Vancouver rain in nothing but a hospital gown and pink flip flop, we set about filming the new NEO Scavenger mobile trailer. Let me just say, I have a newfound appreciation for what Philip Kindred must go through in every early game. And what's more, how a film production works!

Digital Cyclops ran the production up in Vancouver, and did an amazing job. Especially considering the cold, rainy conditions! And what's more, they brought in Dalias Blake to play the veteran scavenger! You'll see soon enough how imposing this man can be, decked-out in layered attire and strapped with tools and optics for the wasteland. He had some great suggestions about the various shots, as well.

The footage is currently being uploaded to Josh for editing, and he's already lined up none other than @WritNelson and @ElConquistadork to do VO.

That's right folks. This trailer is going to be a pretty stark contrast to my first, game-footage-only trailer back in 2012.

I'm pretty psyched!

NEO Scavenger Is Officially Updated to v1.15

NEO Scavenger is now officially updated to v1.15! Since the test builds have been relatively stable, I've just finished updating the default builds to 1.15 on all sites. The "test" links are no longer necessary, and have been removed for now.

This updates the following builds:

New changes include:

  • Fixed a bug that caused misplaced/missing items and camps when autosave is enabled.

It's not a big patch, but based on feedback so far, it solves a couple of really annoying autosave bugs. It definitely seems to have solved missing camp item issues. And whether coincidental or not, the number of corrupt save reports seems to have dropped as well.

It seems to be a net improvement, in any case, so it's finally time to make it official.

As always, if there are any issues with the new build, let me know on the forums!

Website Nearly Done, Taxes, and Mobile Woes

Hey Folks! Feeling a bit worn out today by taxes and mobile issues. But at least there's one glimmer of good news: the website is just about done!

I'm currently reviewing the last handful of fixes from the developers, and after that, it's just migrating email services from the old to new providers And then...launch the new site, I guess?

I might want to wait and see if there's a way to time it with the mobile launch. But it might also just be good to get it over with so the kinks are worked-out before more visitors come. Hmm.

Taxes are, well, taxes. Suffice to say it feels like every year, there's a new layer of annoyance to deal with no matter how many other layers of annoyance we've cleared in years past. This year in particular feels a bit like that scene where Gandalf knocks the balrog off the ledge, and just when you think it's dead down the hole, a firey whip zooms up and grabs Gandalf's ankle. Except the balrog is the CRA, and Gandalf is our retirement funds.

And if that wasn't enough, NEO Scavenger mobile is stumbling hard on certain devices.

On one hand, small screens are frustrating some test users (legitimately), and I'm really worried it might not make the cut. We've tried to mitigate a lot of that pain, but when you get down to it, NEO Scavenger is a fiddly game with lots of precise UI. And small handsets are not a good pairing for that.

On the other hand, iPhone screen sizes are just annoying. Apple has this "logical vs physical" difference in the reported screen sizes, and it's playing havoc with UI. The game engine thinks the iPhone 6 has a screen res of 667x375, while the actual screen is 1334x750. Apple wants people to measure things in "points" for consistent UI sizes on screens of varying sizes, but the game doesn't work that way. It just places things on the screen at certain pixels, and that's that. (Seriously, look at this mess.)

At one point, I was like "F-it. This is the straw on the proverbial camel's back. No more smartphone support." But I'm going to try and sleep this one off. There are more than a few smartphone users out there who want it, and it's worth me at least trying.

But seriously, Apple. Kick me in the gut some more, will you?

Scavenging Supplies

Hey Folks! Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend. Ours was yet another one of cleaning and repairing the new house, as will likely be the case with many future weekends :)

Today was a bit of an oddball in that I spent most of it out "in the field." Namely, sourcing props and costume items for the new trailer!

Items on the list include an olive hoodie, pink flip flop, kids' backpack, and other dress-up stuff. I think I managed to find each of those after two trips out to thrift stores. And at the same time, Kevin and Vicki (photographers) have found us a location, additional props and simulated campfire, and even bona fide actors!

Josh (trailer editor) is back from PAX has started reviewing the stories you all have submitted. He's also watching via Google docs as we add notes, photos, and drawings of the film shoot, and is pretty happy with how everything is coming together.

Whatever happens, this is shaping up to be a fun experiment :)

Leaderboards, and False Performance Bug

Hey Folks! Been quietly working on some more code the past couple of days. I managed to carve out almost a day and a half of coding to work on the remaining leaderboards for mobile.

It was fairly straightforward stuff. I needed a few bits of info from Tiago, but most of the lifting was formatting the data to the (sometimes different) types needed by Google and Apple. That, and setting up the receiving end on the relevant game centers with names, units, display formats, and unique IDs.

Also, our discussion prompted Tiago to work on an offline data saver in case the server couldn't be reached when submitting scores. It'll simply save the file and try again later.

As of this afternoon, we'll be tracking shortest and longest survival time, shortest times to reach the DMC and end game, most distance traveled, most hexes revealed, and min/max temperatures experienced. Should be an interesting bunch of stats to peruse! (Even I'm curious what we'll see.)

Unfortunately, there was also a good chunk of the day lost to a performance bug.

Around midday, the game started taking an enormous amount of time to load. Simply starting a new game would take updards of 30 seconds to show the skills screen. Framerate started tanking when the mouse moved. And at one point, the game just gave up while loading and crashed.

I started retracing my steps, looking through recent commits for clues. I also fired up hxScout to see what was causing the lag. And strangely, it was instantiating lots of point data types in the hex map. Stuff which should be near-instantaneous, not half-a-minute.

Well, Tiago came to the rescue and suggested clearing my build and starting fresh. (Think of it like clearing cache in a browser.) And sure enough, the game was smooth as silk again after.

Crisis averted! Though there was a bit of panic in there for a while :)

Anyway, leaderboards still require testing, but I think they're basically done. The trailer is still in "info gathering" mode. The website team is probably overdue for feedback from me. Lots still to do.

But first, I think I'm going to set aside some time Monday(ish) to finally update all builds to v1.15 for the PC version. It's been in beta/test mode for a while without any major issues, and folks like those on GOG.com don't have access to its fixes yet.

Until then, have a good weekend!

NEO Scavengers: Tell Me Your Stories!

Hey Folks! As many of you know, I'll be launching the iOS and Android versions of NEO Scavenger soon. And along with it, a new and improved NEO Scavenger trailer!

However, I need your help.

IMAGE(http://bluebottlegames.com/img/screenshots/screenshot-2017-03-09.png)

We're planning to showcase some "NEO Scavenger moments" during the trailer, describing some of the more dramatic, funny, or even confusing experiences players have had. This will (hopefully) show new players what they've been missing, and why it's worth their time to take a look.

Ideally, we need examples of the following:

  • Gravity (1 sentence): What was an example of your early, pitiful death?
  • Storage (1 sentence): What was your first "eureka!" moment related to storage/carrying items in the game?
  • Triumph (1 sentence): What was your most triumphant moment in the game?
  • Unnerving (1 sentence): What was the most messed-up thing you did in the game?

The more interesting the story, the more a viewer will want to have similar experiences. But remember, it has to be short enough to fit! If it takes a paragraph to set-up and get to the point, we can't fit them all into such a short trailer.

So if you've got an interesting story to tell, post it here! I'll be monitoring each of the social channels where this is posted for feedback. And even if you don't have a story, please spread the word so we can reach others who might!

Thanks, guys!

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