Big news first... Ethereal will also be releasing on Wii U! I've recently been accepted as a developer. The PC, Mac and Linux versions will take priority and likely release 1-2 months before the console versions, however.
Engine Work and Overhauls
Last month I considered switching over from Game Maker to Unity. I was intrigued by its new 2D features. After a few days of creating a prototype in Unity, I decided, however, not to switch. Ethereal will continue being developed on Game Maker thanks to its ease of 2D game development. Another reason being that a completely new engine would take away at least a month of development time.
Late June I worked on completely overhauling Ethereal. I restructured much of its code and even removed a few unnecessary features. Along the way, game performance skyrocketed and many bugs were fixed.
These are randomly generated clouds. Over 300 sprites/layers from over 80 poof variations are utilized.
If you're interested, the process is...
The cloud decides its size, then fills that space with randomized poofs. The poofs are restricted to within a certain distance of the furthest poof so the poofs don't simply cover the entire rectangular area evenly. Bigger poofs are added in, and some poofs are given wider range to allow for the unique appearances of every clouds.
Once organized, every poof draws the first layer, then every poof draws the second layer and so on. This allows the edges of every cloud (the first layer) to be drawn below every other layer, so the clouds have a definite edge without each individual poof having a definite edge. All of these layers are drawn onto a surface, which is then converted into a new sprite. This makes it extremely easy to handle. The shade of the clouds is dark as you can see, but that is actually something I made adjustable. The default brightness is that of the example I posted last time. I can easily make the clouds darker depending on how dark the area they are in is. Lastly, the clouds move across the sky slowly. The point of making them randomized is to keep the clouds from feeling too repetitive. So, when a cloud is past the edge of the screen, it deletes itself and a new one is created at the beginning of the sky. At first, the whole process of creating clouds, destroying them and keeping track of them took a lot of processing power, but after a lot of fine-tuning and tweaking, the whole process barely makes a dent! The cloud are not final, of course, as nothing is until the game is released. I will probably tweak them again somewhere down the line, but for now these will do great.
EDIT: I was asked to elaborate on how the clouds are drawn into the game, so here is a post about it: Forums.tigsource.com
Other News and This Month
The last news I have is that I've redesigned the indiedb page, the tig devlog and the website! I think they look much better, so check them out. The rest of July, I will be working further on securing funding to continue development (and at a better pace). I will also be programming and designing Pugatory, the world hub. Near the end of July we should be finished with that and I will begin designing the game's first world, Brookstone Cemetery.