Basic menu and improvements to the battle engine.

This past week, after wasting my time playing videogames because I'm lazy and procrastinating, I actually kept working on Harmonia Warders.. I have some updates to post and a few screenshots (nothing spectacular) with what I've done so far.

I was able to add the HUD menu in game, it is the basic and normal menu that every jRPG has with status, items, equips etc etc. So far it doesn't look good because I will actually have to put real graphics and not placehorders, however it is functional and very versatile...

As you can see from these screenshots, these are the actual main characters of the game but I won't say more because I don't want to spoil it yet.. Due to a particular story gimmick in the game, you can't have more than 3 characters at the same time in battle and you can switch them with each other only in particular pairs. For example, Michael can be exchanged with Viviane only, Mint with Katie and Jack with Oberon. I know it sounds stupid but, in my opinion, it actually works best this way and the combat will be even more dynamic. Alas, I won't say more anyhow.

Another nice fix I put in the game is the battle system, even though it still lacks monster AI, I was able to put more than one character in battle, switching their order in the menu and make them fight against the monsters.

Now I'm either going to work on the full menu (all the options and entries) or perfect and finish the battle engine (with monster exp, full skill choice and monster AI). Either way, the game is really going well and I'm satisfied with what I've done so far, I hope to be able to keep the ball rolling...

Anyways, off onto the next update, stay tuned.



Portals, portals, portals! No, this is not Valve...

I am glad to say that today I was finally able to fully add the portal feature in my game. No no, nothing groundbreaking and nothing taken from the famous videogame. It just mean I was able to transition from one map to another and viceversa. Basically I just added the door functionality in my RPG which is something awesome, at least in my opinion, because since it got integrated in the editor (v2.1 now, lots of bugs fixed) it is really easy (and fun) to make maps linked to each other.

After testing and rejoying over my small but big success, I started jotting down the basis of my HUD and game menu. It will be a classical menu à-la Final Fantasy with normal party information, player status and stuff like that. Now I just created the class and tomorrow I'll probably try to fill it in and make it work with some nice placeholder graphics, who knows.

Also I will have to add a new video of the Tile Editor because I'm actually proud of it. I just fear the time when I will have to complete all its functionalities... Meh, I'm not good at this job, I should probably go work at McDonald's...




More concept art and the portal editor...

Hello my readers..
Today, after days of mindlessly drawing, reading tutorials on how to draw, and getting used to my tablet, I was finally able to come up with a result that I would consider pretty good for my abilities... It's still not perfect, but it's closer to what I imagined the finished product would be.

I'm going to post here the concept art I drew these last days and you can clearly see its evolution (Actually attempt #2 is better than some other attempts..). This was really helpful to me, cause now I am able to draw Viviane's face without having to follow a tutorial step by step, watch a youtube video on how to draw eyes (Those eyes.. ugh, I hate it) and I am able to draw different expressions while still giving the same resemblance to the face... which is something not easy to do.

I'll keep practicing like crazy... This needs to be perfect (and it's actually pretty fun!).

On a more serious note, about programming... I am glad to say that I was able to introduce multitasking in my Event engine and now I am able to run more than one scripted event at the same time (provided they don't conflict with each other). For example I can move a character somewhere while another character changes position and another one changes animation. This is really useful if I want to get some cool fighting scenes or dramatic entries (which will happen).

Now I am working on adding a portal feature to my maps, which is basically a door/teleport tile that allows me to load another map when the character steps on it. In theory it's actually pretty easy, but it's more harder than it looks because I have to completely re-write the TileMap class to incapsulate all the informations needed for the new maps as well (like NPCs, Events etc etc). So far I've almost finished the TileEditor for those portals which did give me some troubles... It's currently at version 2.0 and it's no-where close to the end. I will have to add NPC support, treasure boxes, event adding (not event editor... that's already completed) and something more maybe (like support for multiple forelayers or moving sprites like water tiles).

This was a nice update and I'm pretty satisfied of what I've done. Probably next time the portal feature will be up and working, who knows? Let's keep our fingers crossed.



I'm a master at art... no, actually not.

Here I am my fellow followers...

I spent the past two weeks working on the concept art for the game, getting down the plot, scenarios, dialogues (actually, just the characters...). Also, I bought a Wacom Tablet (Bamboo Pen, always wanted one) even though I don't know how to draw, so I'll learn and be able to draw the art for this game myself...

I will obviously get some help from the outside, but this is my project and I will get it done.

After working with guides on how to draw (yeah, I'm THAT bad at drawing) I got some improvement and I was able to get on the paper (on the screen actually) my first personal concept art for Viviane.. It's not the best but looking back at my improvements, I've already done a lot from stick figures..

I still have to fix the eyes and the personality.. add shades and everything but as a first try I guess it passes...

Now I'll go back to study drawing theory,



I'm back in action... maybe?

Good day followers... I'm back in action and ready to go on with my quest to program this RPG.

No, I haven't abandoned the project, I know I keep doing this it's just my way of dealing with things... especially since the game is just a hobby and real life stuff always comes first..

Also I've been quite involved in a few other stuff (like 2 jobs and university exams) that took away most of my time. I got back into gaming with some games I had missed from the past 6 months and I had some catching up to do. Right now, though, I'm back in action (God only knows for how long..) and I'm planning to completely write down the whole story and dialogues before going on, I want (and need) something to work on since the basic engine is going on steadily and it is pretty stable already. I want to get something done because I don't want this to become an abandoned project yet.

I will release it, I swear to myself! Since one of my troubles was looking for a graphic artist I've opted for the cheap option I had.. I'm going to buy a tablet and try to work some of the arts myself. I know a few people who can help me out and give me hints and I'm not bad at pixel arts already (been doing the sprites so far..), I hope I can manage this.

Lastly, I hope I still have some followers or just people who wander on and off this blog, because I won't disappoint you guys, I will get this project done one day... and that will be the best day of my life probably.



Rebuilding the Tile Editor + Tile Engine - Part 2

Welcome back my friends. This is the second part of my huge changes applied to the tile engine.

I'm glad to announce that I was able to modify the TileEngine to be faster and easier to understand, I was finally able to implement ContentLoaders to help me manage the project inside Visual Studio. Now, if I want to load the whole map level (which consists of a .map file, each .layer file + a collision layer + a forelayer + all the used tiles) I can just reference the .map file inside the project and the Load call will take care of everything.

The new content loaders were a bit of a pain to create, however now they work pretty smooth and most of the loading speed is based at build time and not at the load calls inside the game, making it a bit faster to load levels.

Soon I will have to implement a warp feature inside the tile engine, not too difficult actually, to load different maps depending on the position of the player. As of now, I'll have a little fun with the new features I put in the game, seeing if I can get something nice to show up for you guys (few people to be honest..) impatient to see a piece of the game.



Rebuilding the Tile Editor + Tile Engine - Part 1

Hello my followers..

Today I've entangled myself into a very unpleasant task. I noticed that my TileEngine, taken almost directly from Nick Gravelyn's tutorial, was incomplete and was lacking a few important features I may need in future for the game. Especially the Tile Editor was full of small bugs, references to directories and stuff like that. It was nearly unusable.

That is why I decided to completely rebuild it from zero. The appearance is almost the same (save a pretty nice toolbox at the top) but the underlying classes, file parsing and functions are all improved/modified. I decided to use a completely different set of classes and project/solution because keeping a lot of different projects inside my own Harmonia Warders solution, in Visual Studio, was making it a real mess (and the two versions, PC and Xbox360 were not certainly helping).

I had to re-write from scratch the Layer, CollisionLayer, TileMap leaving only the required functionalities. I took out all the NPC support, collision detection etc etc that is needed in the game itself since it's just an editor.

I also changed the save/load functions from a simple .txt file to an XML file with linked tiles (so I won't have to manually load them into the projects on VS) and a fixed folder structure. I won't use a different structure anyways so I see no real reason to make it more complex than it actually is.

The more interesting add-on I put, which is what mainly led to believe I needed a new TileEditor, is a nice ForeLayer. What is a ForeLayer you may ask? It's a ForeGround TileLayer. It's a normal layer that, in the draw function, will be drawn AFTER the characters, sprites, monsters, npc have been drawn. This way I can simulate a bit of prospective and make the NPC/Character go behind a house, or behind a tree or show clouds (with an alpha channel) or other stuff. It's really nice in my opinion and really needed to make a tiled RPG feel more "lively".

Today I've only managed the code for the Tile Editor, tomorrow (or as soon as I have time) I will modify/implement those functions inside the actual game and, who knows, a somekind of promotional video might pop-up if I can get it done nicely enough.

Thank you for reading, keep tuned for the Part 2 of this update, coming soon!



A new video..? Not much to show.

Hello my followers...
Today it's been a pretty bad day for development... I've been one whole day trying to figure out a new error (Exception unhandled) in my Content Processor for my Event class... Apparently it just decided to stop working and Visual Studio 2008 went on strike and decided to stop every builder/debugger ever...

After spending a whole day figuring out what the problem was, I found out that my project was building a different source code (which I have yet to understand what it was...) than what it was supposed to and whatever changes I was applying they weren't even read.

What I had to do is to delete the whoe Content project, remove every assembly related to it and restart from scratch (well, I copy+pasted the sources...). This at last made it work... but only after 8 hours of hair-ripping debugging (Which wasn't working).

Sometimes I hate computers, I seriously do.

Anyways, since I haven't posted much in a while and I came back to this only a few days ago, I decided to hand out a new video and a screenshot of what I'm currently working at.

The video shows the Event Editor I use to code the event scripts in my game and the screenshot is an Xbox screenshot of a running event (the one I was changin in the video).

I know it's not much and the graphical assets are all missing (Tell me something I don't know..) but it's still something I go proud of.

Enjoy the screenshot and the videos. To the next update!





Events, Xbox360 and a step closer to spaghetti code.

Hello my lovely followers (so few followers actually..)!

Today I have a nice update for everyone. Since I pretty much disappeared for a while, with Christmas holidays, ET and exams at the University I had no real time to work on the project, however today I came back to it with a nice update and new features ready to be used!

1) I was actually able to deploy the game to the Xbox360 through the Trial membership (I love being a MSDNAA student!) and, after having fixed a few graphical glitches due to the change of resolution and some annoying bugs, the game is perfectly working on my small (very small...ugh) TV at 720p. This, to me, is awesome since I honestly never thought I was ever able to see my small game (even if incomplete and pre-alpha version) on my Xbox360, makes me feel really pro and one step closer to a real AAA game.

2) I stopped the development of the Battle Engine since it felt almost complete, I will have to add implementation for skill animations, attack animations, items support + animations, monster AI (scripting... ugh!) and multi-character support, however the backbone of the engine is done and it's very versatile, I will have no real trouble adding those features once I have them planned.

3) I started working on the event engine for scripted events on the TileMap screen and.... it's awesome! I was able to get it ready, loaded and running in less than 4 hours (still have to implement some functions thoguh) and that is a record time for me... Since I've never coded a script engine before and it was my first approach. Now I'm able to write simple and easy to write files with commands and instructions to the NPCs on the map to perform all the various actions/conversations available... To be honest, I really squealed like a fangirl when I saw an NPC coming on the screen, from offscreen, walking happily toward the (X,Y) point of choice after I told him so. I was so happy that everything was working that now I feel a new adrenaline charge to dive in the project once more and try to finish the backbone engine for everything as soon as possible.

Thank you for reading this, my friends.


PS: Next time hopefully I'll post some new screens from the game... maybe.