Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Sound synching Pt. II

Hey, good to see you.

Audio synch:
I've spend the weekend and last couple of evenings working on my little audio engine to synchronize sound to the action onscreen. Came up with a much more human-readable solution that means I can add sound to a scene in a matter of about 30 minutes, provided I have the sounds at hand, that is.
I've not really released any audio, usually sticking to gifs. You'll have to trust me when I say it sounds the tits right now.

Spent some time at the weekend making more field recordings for sound effects, adding a further 99 since last time, for a total of 381 new sounds since April (not counting music or background tracks).
This should be enough for now, though I am looking forward to recording for sword fights and dungeon ambience for the microgame. I'm thinking table knives and a leaking faucet, gravel footsteps etc. Also noticed my dishwasher sounds cool as fuck when I overload and run it, kinda a creepy LOST hatch vibe, so I'll be recording some of that for the 1.4 scenario (Spoilers).

- I've added some juice to the Hentai minigame itself to make it more fun to interact with.
- Added a couple of new options to the menu, changed it around a little
- Fixed an old mechanic that was broken by debug measures I took one time about 3 months ago.
- Added an extra scene, then felt bad about it all week, because it was not part of the release plan. (b..but I just want to make it nice for you, anon)

I've also started backing up a cloud service now, as if my current regime wasn't paranoid enough.

I used to only back up the game files themselves, but the more time I put into this, the more precious I get about it. This is 10 months of my life I'll never get back, so I'd better fucking look after it.

1.3 News:
Back in September I swore to myself I would work every hour I could in order to release 1.3 on Halloween. Here I am, on Halloween, having worked every hour I possibly could since and I'm still not ready. I am sad, but not demotivated. If anything I'm gonna work harder, but I'm also not going to set myself dates to feel bad by.
I was tempted to take the last week out and just get a rough draft of the microgame out since it's pretty halloween-friendly, in a DeCap Attack / Masters of the Universe: Skeletor Gaiden sort of way, but decided against it. I didn't want my first release in over 6 months to be a half-finished small game in a totally different theme to Lateshifter. Doesn't look good, y'know?

No other news, really. I didn't take note of all the small fixes and additions I made today, but there were many. An anon gave me advice to hold back on releasing new visual stuff until I have a trailer together and I think this is sound advice. I don't want the trailer to be just full of stuff everybody who cares has already seen. Hopefully my dry, sexless words are proof enough that I'm working.
No zero days, no exceptions or excuses.

Over and out,

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Roadmap + user suggestions implemented!

Demo to version 1.3:
So it's been over 6 months now since I released anything new to public, and I wanted to state that optimistically, this is a one-time setup period for the project and not a sign of the way things are going to be going forward.
I needed this 6 months to create my own framework in the engine to support the modules I'll be releasing over the coming months.
When 1.3 is released, the groundwork will have been laid and from then my workload ought to be 90% animation, audio, scripting and writing, like a regular, sane wegdev.

Correcting for my optimism, once all these systems are in place, the time between 1.3 and 1.4 ought to be about 2 months (initial storyboarding for the next scenario is in place) and I'd like this to be a sustainable, working cycle for the next year+.

Defining project success:
Since it's important to define success so I can know when I've failed; success to me means within the year making around 3000USD a month in order to quit my average-income job and do this exclusively. I'd be open to the idea of making half that and moving someplace with cheaper cost of living, but I have commitments that keep me stationary for the foreseeable future.
The other side of this coin is simply; if financially it's not happening 12 months from now, I'll accept it and cut back to hobby-level in order to spend more time IRL, as two 40-hour jobs won't be sustainable for longer than a further year.

So I've been working around a particular system for a while and coming up against its hard limitations in the last couple of days has spurred me to just fix it once and for all.
I was previously using a system where certain keys were mapped to common events, like the arrow keys and spacebar in H-mode; it was a way of giving them another job other than moving the character around or navigating menus.
The problem with this is the plugin I'd been using to accomplish this set them to this new job by default, and so I had to keep manually setting arrow keys to return to controlling movement.
As an added side effect, this is also the reason why in the demo you can't use keys Z and X and probably a few others as part of the character naming process. Whatever, a bit of a pain but no big deal, right?

Thing is, this caused problems when, for example, loading my Esc menu in a H-scene where I'd have to hotswap between button functionality to make the menu usable, then back again to make sure the H-play picks up where the menu ends without gap. There were so many conditionals to what should behave how, where and for how long.

I've gotten rid of it entirely, and married it up with my previously-mentioned positional system where I track the player room and make systems work differently depending. Now I don't need to manually set keys to behave as they should, I just have a simple group of checks that say "If the player is in a hentai scene and the Escape menu is closed, have arrow keys behave this way" and "at all other times behave normally".

It's not really a massive change, it took about 30 minutes to implement and the game doesn't feel any different afterward, but it's another massive load off my mind, I no longer have to worry about swapping functionality and it's one less authoritarian overarching process correcting everything every tick or few ticks. I now just have a set of conditional guidelines handled automatically with smart, minimalist rules for all situations.
My logic is the more fixes or systems like these I have in place, the quicker I can iterate and release new scenarios.

For the last 3 days I've been fixing up and outputting files for all the main sex scenes that'll be in this latest release:

8 scenes*:
6 regular scenes:
One position, 4 speed animations, 5 variant endings

2 deluxe scenes:
Three positions, 4 speed animations each, 5 variant endings each

*This does not include the 4-scene hidden microgame and 3 to 4 incidental side character (Cybil-tier) scenes that'll be added after the initial release. Initial 1.30 release will be main character routes, but there should be around 15 full animated scenes in total by time this scenario is completed

Suggestions made manifest:
I've talked about the upcoming AUTO mode before, but not sure I've shown it, so I've made a little gif to show it off, along with a couple of other suggestions:

AUTO: Just as it sounds, adds an automatic mode which defaults to building your meter, but pressing arrow keys UP or DOWN once will start the meter moving in that direction. This means you can just leave it and watch the scene play out hands free, or use minimal input to 'edge' in a high-speed sweet spot to maximize the JIZZOMETER.

Escape menu
: Now hitting Escape brings up a neat menu, though it does not pause the game. I've decided against that functionality for now simply because with RPGMV is far too easy to fuck up scripts by pausing them partway through, same problem as saving mid-level. There are too many background processes that don't behave 100% correctly if interrupted and restored midway through.

Control guide: Now hitting [F1] while in the Escape menu will show controls relevant to the scene you are in:
If you are in regular play, it'll tell you how to control Anon.
If you are in H-Mode, it'll tell you how to build the meter, switch between scenes and climax.
If you are in a minigame, it'll remind you of the game rules.

I'm considering adding in a "Hint" menu using the same logic some time in the future, where it'll tell you what you ought to do depending on your place in the current scenario.

That's all from me, let me know what you think about anything here in the comments below- it's anonymous, no signup required, so post away. I'll give answers where I can!

Oko x

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Patreonocalypse Now


If you haven't heard, many /weg/ devs got up this morning to suspended accounts as Patreon got a little tighter on what's allowed; adding the super-popular incest genre and an expanded definition for non-con to their list of double-plus-ungood things they've deemed unsuitable for our eyes.

I've not been hit, and have taken compliance steps on Patreon to ensure I won't be, just to be safe.

I'm not big on censorship, but I am big on following the rules. It's a complicated kind of feel.

I don't have any incest stuff, it doesn't interest me at all, but the implication that all sex needs to now be explicitly consensual does kinda limit storytelling. I've already gotten over separating the horrible IRL crime from the harmless fictional depiction.

I enjoy a bit of FPS once in a while, and I recognize the difference between a war game and real people dying in mass numbers.
It sucks that war, rape, betrayal, thievery, hate etc exist. It super sucks. How does including these elements in fiction cause real world harm?

They're just stories with varying outcomes, so I feel Patreon are drawing a line arbitrarily to avoid headaches. Hey, it's their house.

There's actually not any offending content in Lateshifter at time of writing (all demo assets have been stripped and replaced over time in a Ship of Theseus sort of way), but just the idea that I'm not supposed to now add X or Y if I suddenly feel the need rustles my jimmies pretty hard.
I've gone and made all Patreon posts Patron-only as a precaution.

Anyway, it seems devs are having their pages reinstated when removing offending words and tags related to the offenses. Whether or not they are also making commitments to remove offending content remains to be seen.
There are a hell of a lot bigger devs than me this directly affects, not meaning to take it too personally, it's just been an 'interesting' development.

I hope this gets sorted out.


Progress report:

This week:
- Added Scenario selection screen
- Finished 50% of the large conversational content
- Added a new H-Scene from scratch
- Created some promo art for the upcoming release
- Created some music for the upcoming trailer
- Added some background sprite wandering and details to quieter sections for TECHNOLOGY fans like myself

This weekend:
- CG Creation for promo and in-game reward
- Hooking up new H-Scenes
- Adding 3 new H-Scenes
- Finishing the bulk of narrative content

Friday, 13 October 2017

Wordcount + Complexity

I may have given the impression in a previous post that the conversational complexity will be lessened, but I wanted to assure anybody concerned;
I've just finished writing one conversation scene with a little over 3,000 words.

It branches off quite far, but there are funnel points, so that the main story beats are covered, but the outcome can obviously still differ based on your responses.
I've made it more difficult to fuck up or get a bad ending than before, but it's still possible. You just need to try to be an asshole (if that's your sort of thing) and you shouldn't ever get tricked into a HATE NEWSPAPER scenario with choices, either.

It's kinda neat, so far. The conversation itself realistically only takes about 3 or 4 minutes to read through, but playing it again with different choices does feel different and nice, which I think is key when making a bank of these smaller, repeatable scenarios.

I've taken to writing a lot of the game dialogue during my lunch hour at work, since it's the only way I can work on my game inconspicuously in broad daylight around real people.
Then in the evenings I need to transcribe, iterate and add emotes, portraits etc. Ideally this lets me squeeze in an extra 5 hours of writing a week, and frees up my evenings and weekends a little to allow for more animation and scripting work instead. I wish I'd started doing this months ago.

It's coming along. Tonight's work is entering and scripting the conversation branches, tomorrow after work I'll be tweaking portraits and animating the scene further, by which point 2/5 main story sections for this scenario will be fully complete, basically in release condition.

That's it for tonight. Thanks for reading.

Monday, 9 October 2017

NaN Reasons why Lateshifter will be better in future!

Reflecting today on lessons learned, the changes made and how it's going to affect development.

Warning and apology: Lots of sexless text ahead.

I learned a lot making the demo, primarily what stuff takes most time, what people like, what they don't like, how much of what I think would be cool and special is actually just annoying or unnecessary!

Things I know for sure from feedback:
Stuff I did to make the game behave differently was received fairly badly at times, which is fine- people just wanted to be able to turn those things off or avoid them, which I've implemented;

>slow movement speed

Totally understand this. You had to hold shift to move faster, even in minigames, and I didn't point this out or add an ALWAYS RUN option.

>the time delays with typing sounds to simulate proper IM chatting was slow and annoying, prevented skipping through dialogue, 

This was kinda legacy because the game was originally going to be a modern office setting where much of it would play out in simulated IM chats. I wanted there to be the same tension you get waiting for a reply being typed IRL, but this fell flat in practice, people just didn't like it the way I did it.

>drugging / forcing wasn't received too well

This one surprised me most, because I set out to make something like my Japanese rapelay games and actually thought options to do taboo or illegal stuff would scratch an itch you wouldn't get from regular dating games. It seems from feedback that people prefer consent given, even in a convenient likes-you-for-seemingly-no-reason way, to sex taken from the heroine in a plausible but despicable way.

>anal fixation wasn't received super well
I wasn't too surprised with this one. People like regular intercourse, and I didn't deliver it.
I could spin some bullshit about how I wanted to communicate the Lateshifter's sexual frustration by withholding vaginal intercourse from the player, but I honestly just found anal scenes to be more aesthetic at the time.

>the stamina game is annoying because it requires 2 hands (actually only 2 fingers, git gud fgt):
I Have No Free Hand And I Must Fap. This one I totally understand and was something I wanted to do for the demo but couldn't figure out how. Now that I've changed the system behind the scenes, it's been trivial to add in a semi-auto feature that doesn't just plow from 0 to 100 in 10 seconds in a linear fashion.
The way the auto-game builds up in intensity makes the scene play out pretty well, and it's semi-auto because the player chooses the direction- either begin building stamina with UP, or begin decrease with DOWN and the computer does the work for you. Defaults to UP at the beginning of the scene, but means that if you are willing to put in a small amount of work to stay in the sweet zone, you can quickly build up the Jizz-o-meter before the finish if you're as into ridiculous cum firehose crescendos in your vidya as I apparently am.

Things I'm assuming few did or noticed because I heard no or few comments on:

>Reading Heroine's chatlogs

Never got comments on this, but it's not the most remarkable part. It's just one of the ways you can find out she was groped if you shut down all her explanations until that point.
The way they talk about you in the chatlog changes depending on how you spoke to the heroine earlier in the night.
>Tittyfucking Cybil
This sort of required you to pick an option that didn't obviously end up in immediate sex. The sort of thing that could only exist in a demo or as an easter egg.
>Rubbing it in Bern's face that you were about to titfuck Cybil
This was just a stupid little thing, not sure why I added it.
>The holocards
To my knowledge, only one or two anons actually quested to catch 'em all.
>Dialogue with Heroine for the whole night colored by early interactions
Most of the dialogue with her changes over the course of the night depending on how you behave toward her. If you are nice, she's nicer, if you are a bit of a jerk, she's colder and flat out insults you.

Take-away and things to consider:

There's no real urgency in making multiple variations on every bit of dialogue tied to your word choice or tone. It's not normal to have word choice block off or alter the story, and I thought this was an immersion-breaking problem in game narrative I was challenging by going off-piste.
I get it now, there's a logic to game worlds that enhance player experience and part of that is allowing the player to act out things without necessarily 'punishing' them for it by mirroring the sort of reception and lasting impression of you that kind of talk would garner IRL.

Game logic: Insult somebody and they get momentarily angry and insult you back, but then the score is settled and the game continues.
Real life logic: Insult somebody and if they just met you, they will think of and treat you differently from now on.

The lesson here is to just get with the program.

If people are replaying, it's probably a faster run to see the other H-Scenes, not a committed 2nd play to see if the game plays differently when you pick other options.

The holocards are a lot of work for an incidental pickup (they are unlocked after an H-Scene which is its own reward) and don't add that much value to the replay in/of themselves for this reason.
They are a kinda nice way to generate more shiny art, but they're not exactly fappable, and as such the time investment : fapworthy ratio is off and they likely won't return.

Fictional anal rape is way not cool, man. People want to see more consensual vaginal intercourse, so I'm gonna have to concede and place at least an equal focus on that.
It seems the objection is mainly to forced content the player feels is hard to avoid, so while non-con roleplay will still exist, it'll be something you'll need to put more deliberate effort toward.
Also adding an option to disable it entirely, so those options won't even show up.

The way I was adding switches for everything and conditional branches based on this was dumb and error-prone. That's it, really. It was dumb, it was easy to fuck up the flow and a lot of workaround was needed to make the demo playable fully for a second time on the same save file.

There's probably more, maybe I'll do another one of these after 1.3.
I'm actioning a lot of the points people raise, but I will mainly be adding in switches or toggles to disable content and won't be actively removing things I still personally like.

TL; DR -  I am taking criticism seriously and will address anything that gets a lot of feedback.
I'm adding optional toggles to remove things least liked, because it's simple and helps others enjoy the game, but if I still like the thing, I won't remove it entirely.

This image is for good boys who read the blog post. You no read, you no look!!! Ok Praise Jesus

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Graphic week

Aaaawww yeah.

With the exception of some hours of dialogue writing and the work that comes with implementing that, this week is for the most part going to be about animation; tidying up and bringing into line existing stuff from the last couple of months, as well as some all-new scenes.

I don't want to spoiler everything I've been doing, but here's a teaser.
1.3 is really starting to come together now.

Hope this weekend is being good to you,

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Bust overhaul

This'll be the last I talk about busts for a little bit because it's getting to be less hilarious with time.

I love tits
, is the upshot.

Tonight I implemented a cool little system to fade between the animated faces. Still tweaking the time to fade between them but happy enough for now- it's less instant than the gif makes out.

For now I'm just continuing with the dialogue. It's getting pretty well-structured, with a lot of branching and converging that hopefully feels more 1990 Lucasarts than Bioware.
That is to say, there should be value in playing through a conversation again and choosing a different branch or topic in the style of say, Monkey Island 2, and not the super-efficient infodump you'd get in Mass Effect or similar, where there's no real reason to talk to people more than once.

That's not to rag on them, just to point out the direction I'm going. It'd be pretty cavalier to get on my high horse about game design when I just use minigames and existential monologues to punctuate my crude puns and ass sex.

For serious, though, I fucking LOVE working on this game. If Patreon ever took root for me, I'd do this 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for half of my current salary.

Anyway, that's enough shitposting from me.
Thanks for reading.
PS. Just surpassed 40,000 blog views since the start of the year. Pretty neato, mang.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

New Busts

Hey, here's what I've been working on today.

Busts, hurr.

Been working on new portraits / busts this evening. Think I'm getting the hang of making subtler expressions and avoiding overlap or needless variations on the same emotion. I have 9 for this character done and ready to be added in-game. In the coming days I'll be doing the other characters in turn.
I'm really enjoying practicing backgrounds and adding movement to these scenes. It's not perfect, could use a more subtle hand, but I was an absolute pixel art beginner when I started development last December, so I'm happy enough with my current level.

UI Tweaks:

Also touched up the Choices UI, giving it a pretty cool prompt node on the left hand side, which flashes when selected and is overall much nicer and more subtle than the old flashing bar under the selected line.

I'm spent. Gonna hit the hay and get back on this after work tomorrow.
Not sure if I'll make a habit of updating every day, but I figure I've a bit of absence to make up for, and it's kinda fun keeping an itemized list of what I'm fixing or implementing or creating as I go.

Hope you're well,
Your friend always, Oko

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Refactoring, automating, stability


Redid character voices, added nice new ones which are far less grating and are just plain tits by comparison.

Changed player location tracking system to dramatically cut down on manually scripting work and the bugs that come with that. Now automatically gather player location type, specific location, indoor/outdoor and room tracking within a location.

Was able to free up 20+ flags and a lot of headaches wondering if I set the right flags for the room the player would be entering etc.

Added weather effects, it now rains when I'd like it to, which is pretty neat.

Added HUD fading based on the same synch logic from sex scenes.
If the player has no item or verb highlighted, the hud will fade out after a few seconds.

Added some more debug to help find problems quicker during tests.
Fixed that fucking annoying bug I've had since February, where text boxes would change color as they close. Found an elegant, lasting solution that just looks way better.

That's all for this weekend. Wish I had some sexier pics to show off; I'll have to prioritize that for next time. A couple of days of sex scenes and cum animations or something.

I'm out- have a good one.