Hey there! Wow, been a decent while since the last proper-ish long development log entry... and wow, sure a lot of garbage happened since. Hell, there’s been yet another thing that went on booming all about which completely was the reason why I even went into full radio silence for a few good months as to not attract their attention. And we all know that no sane mind would ever want to shower in their attention. And their smell of weed. Of cream. The body fluid type of cream.
You know, those shills no one shall speak of their names. Otherwise they’d be rushing down to people’s front doors aggressively promoting that useless Ponzi shite just like how some Christian missionaries would take it to the extreme (for example in two words: property damage), despite the same person making it abundantly clear that they’re an atheist or something. That stuff hasn’t just been annoying, but very... discouraging from speaking about or sharing anything related to game development or artistic stuff in general. And very f****** dumb.
So yeah, unless until all that completely dies down when that IRS thing slowly but surely starts kidnapping their shins, I don’t think I will be making these lengthy posts as frequently as I would, despite being in college doing stuff and real life crap taking more and more tolls on me like a big tall truck.
Like, recently my parents and I have tested positive for COVID-19 about two weeks ago, – around that time almost everybody over here got sent back to do school/college/uni/work stuff remotely at home again anyway (which normally helps this game’s development due to obvious reasons, but... the Omicron variant just had to break into our houses in fuming rage and ruin the f*** out of everything (...and there goes my 2-years-COVID-free streak...) ...so that’s been the worst distraction by far of this game’s development that isn’t just – GASPE, THE GREAT OFFENDER – playing video games developed by other people instead of making my own??? God forbid people having lives and interests outside of game development?! (unless if we speak of another monster whose name should not especially be mentioned, like, at all - I think you would know who I may be referring to if you’ve been unfortunate enough to waste your life on the internet for long enough, considering the fact that the person may or may not have done stuff a lot worse than that)) – now we’re sort of doing better, most of our tests came back negative and I guess we may slowly go back to our normal lives...? Kind of? We’re still recovering from this mess of a disease, so the emphasis on getting our lives back on track slowly is pretty high, cos if we don’t, then chances are that there will never be a good time to spend our time doing whatever.
In short – literally everything has been too overwhelming for the general past 67% of 2021 for me to ever write about anything related to this project, even the past few weeks aren’t exceptional - as unfortunate as it turned out to be -, but I have been working on it, even it was just more like ‘from time-to-time’ or ‘slowly but surely’ kind of stuff. But honestly, it’s better to have things go like this rather than having nothing happen at all nor crunching away just for the sake of getting something done and ending up with an extremely buggy and unpolished mess or something equivalent to it that feels very unfinished or gives off horrid red flag raising vibes that may even (but kind of unlikely...?) get players to question what in heavens was (or still is) going on behind the scenes.
I too, in fact, have had some things going on behind the scenes (hell, some of them were also problems that required some fixing – granted that more arise), and fortunately(?) most of them aren’t real life related garbage. Just technical stuff. Let’s talk about all that right now – this introduction has gone on for long enough and I am really sorry about that.
Yep. As this section’s title suggests, I did, and I kid you not, get a new computer to develop Stramedia on. My previous old one has been struggling to run the programs I am using to make this game and some media material types for it with. Hell, the problems arose so far up the ass that two-three months prior to making a life-changing decision it nearly died on me completely. How do I know it nearly died on me? A Windows Recovery menu popped up after restarting the computer when it crashed, showing off the Blue Screen of Death. Normally it would have sent me to the Lock Screen after a minute or two. ...yeah, the boot up time has been abysmal too. Don’t even get me started on the system randomly shutting down and turning the power back on its own on the occasion before all that.
But yeah, those problems aside, I was no longer feeling comfortable working on a PC from around 2013 or so, so a tough decision must have been made. Cos if I did not and if I kept working with what I had, Stramedia’s development would have met a very unfortunate end. But now, check this! I kind of have the closest equivalent of an industry standard type of work station at home! How neat is that?
This... may probably be the most boring news I would ever share, but considering some stuff my new PC has that the previous one did not and some other internal junk, there’s quite a lot that can really come in handy when developing Stramedia. “How so?” I will elaborate on that more throughout this log. There’s a good amount of stuff to unpack here, whenever it’s literal or not.
If you’ve been peeping over the game’s store page on Steam from occasional time to more occasional times, you may have noticed something indicating about there being Linux + SteamOS compatibility. Honestly, it really isn’t that much of a secret, given that in the previous entry from last year I did mention that it will be very much possible as of the engine change alongside the Windows and Android versions (with now the only upsetting ‘considerably major’ difference being that the Xbox versions may have to be done only after the game’s initial release on PC, Linux and Android devices - unless if I figure out something if I want a simultaneous release to happen - because... let’s just openly say that Microsoft are quite notorious for making the dumbest of decisions sometimes, and it does not only apply to their business shenanigans - far from it - they also tend to apply to several development tools, shall the devil feel like [REDACTED]).
Although ever since Valve has officially revealed the Steam Deck to the public, this has become a MAJOR motivational boost for me to want to work on a native Linux/SteamOS version of Stramedia more, which could also be considered to be some kind of a compensation for not being able to work on a proper console version of the game for the long time period (also taking in the fact that I am the only person working on the majority of the game).
I know, I really shouldn’t be going that far up, considering that the Steam Deck is using Proton to run Windows software and games natively on Linux based systems which would normally save a lot of developers’ time, but considering that Valve had previous history of having Windows games running on their previous Linux based hardware, I personally think it wouldn’t hurt to run several double-checks and put a little bit of…extra effortful work to ensure that Stramedia definitely works not only on the Steam Deck, but literally the rest of machines that run on Linux. There is still a chance that some Windows games may still not work well running on Proton, and to make Stramedia a good exception, some extra steps need to be taken.
But hey, if that will help people possibly save a couple of clicks (or in the Steam Deck’s possible case: several D-Pad and Face Button presses) away from the Steam Settings and make them happy, I will be extra happy as well!
Of course, I will not be stopping there. I will be sure to work on a few extra features and other boring stuff (i.e. settings, some extra code and such) that can help ensure Stramedia’s more proper optimization for the Steam Deck.
It is a lovely thought about playing this game on a go or something similar to it being a near-console-equivalent experience, but… sometimes (maybe cos of Steam Input or something IDFK) whenever Gyroscope and/or Trackpad would be recognized as mouse input, gamepad control icons suddenly changing to keyboard/mouse ones and even gamepad input potentially being disrupted is something that you really do not want ruining the experience on a handheld PC.
With that being said, Linux/SteamOS development and Steam Deck optimization is absolutely on my to do list and is certainly going to remain one of my priorities before I ever release anything related to the game (whenever it’s a full on release, an early access build, a new demo build, whatever I’ll make my mind up on). If something goes completely wrong, you will be hearing that from me.
For now, I may focus on working on the core bits of the game, as well as new stuff for it and such while I wait to hear from Valve regarding getting a Steam Deck of my own. Cos I don’t have one. I still cannot even order one. Regional stuff suck ass. I really need that Steam Deck. It would not be the same without the Steam Deck.
(…on the other hand, at least I can work on the game more on an actual computer – like, seriously, why is the dock station sold separately? Just so I could plug in a stinky keyboard, mouse and a TV/monitor for this thingeth? Whose idea was this, Gabe Newell? I just want to talk to them! I really just want to talk!)
...Oh, I definitely should have started with that first instead of yapping about new computers and Steamed Ham Deck Docks and all of that stuff. Cos like I said, there’s a good plenty of stuff I’ve been (and still) working on to add into the game, and if I were to talk about it in a lot of details, you’ll probably be stuck here reading this log for a lot more longer than you probably should (I mean, looking through what you just read past, I don’t seem to know when to shut up – like – ever), even if majority of all that stuff is more on the technical and functional levels, y’know, the more vital parts that get games going, but there have been some other things.
These other things are just me giving things a new fresh coat of paint, redesigning characters, making newer cover art…stuff…or something…just the visual kind of stuff. Nothing very important. Just making the game look a little bit prettier and somewhat more stylized.
Generally speaking, I think I am finally starting to get the game to function, look and feel (maybe feel just a little bit) as I first envisioned it before more proper development commenced…a second time. The first one being whenever this game’s Steam page went live two years ago now and a second one when I changed engines to Construct 3, which I am very, very happy about, because it has let me do plenty of things I wanted to include from the very beginning, but couldn’t do so because of the previous engine’s (pretty dumb and unfair) constraints. This of course also includes being able to make the game look prettier too.
Oh, and there’s the little rush down on the very noteworthy vital “rest of the stuff”, featuring some gifs from a much later time (I mean, some of them are actually from around November, last year, I think, or much earlier):
The camera system has become more dynamic now. And by that I mean that aside from the camera movement speed, screen shake (overall, environmental and user feedback) and viewport focusing can now be readjusted, it can also zoom in and out, pan around from one point to another whenever or something and all that, and I am extremely happy about.
…Oh yeah, and since the beginning I wanted to have a telly as one of the parts of the main menu, so here’s that too. (obviously some incomplete stuff, but whatever)
The combat system has gotten somewhat more robust, now that it’s somewhat more ‘animation based’ – currently having implemented the functionality of four firearms, the stuff using ammo, aiming at 3-6 directions now and of course being able to walk around while holding and using a weapon. Because previously there was no way to move around with a weapon taken out nor to aim down as well as up and…the front. Because I was too lazy to figure out how to do that, aside from obviously animating that. That was my fault. I am sorry. I am not sorry about making the ammo very limited though.
Support for more screen aspect ratios is now sure to be there, even allowing for ultra-widescreen compatibility. Probably the most stupidly easiest thing implemented into the game by far.
Although this wouldn’t have been time consuming if I didn’t sooner realize to set a right mode for it, cos I am an idiot using a new engine and all that goodie good stuff is too new for me. But yeah, pretty easy stuff. Surprisingly pretty easy. Extremely refreshing not to make things very overcomplicated.
Another screen related thing that isn’t as easy though, is optimizing the game to run well not only on 60Hz refresh rate monitors. I am talking specifically of optimizing for monitors with refresh rates being unnecessarily much higher than that. You know, mostly so that certain things don’t have an extreme trigger-happy-like functionality based on a higher/lower framerate, similarly to how that one LEGO Island game functions on modern hardware in some places.
This ongoing work started when sometime after I got my new computer all set up, I decided to toy around with the refresh rate toggle options - something that my previous AIO (all-in-one) PC didn’t have for whatever f****** reason - and yep…some things weren’t looking good as expected. Soooooo… glad I got all that neat new stuff in time to catch all that, so I may get all that taken care of prior to anything, yeah? ...I suppose it is so. I really don’t have to worry about this thing being patched up post-launch anymore, as I now have the right tech to work with and I am already doing that now alongside the rest of the game.
Some things needed a little bit of reworking (programming-wise), some things have been tweaked, I believe I may have missed a few currently existing spots here and there – I am still looking for them – but I am confident enough to claim that it’s all going surprisingly well so far, things seem to be looking good even at 144 FPS (yes, not just 60 FPS, but also 120 FPS and even up to 144 FPS, granted that it’s running on a decent high-end PC), although I am still gonna be questioning whenever the game framerate should be unlocked (be unlimited) or not…while keeping things locked at either the standard 60 or 120 FPS maximum for the time being, just to be safe. I dunno.
...I really don’t know what else to say without being a complete nerd about it, well, maybe aside from the fact that I am not going to be done with this until I am sure that the stuff operate well enough. But just so you know: yeah, I am working on this.
(…but look at them test enemies exploding into bloody bits though!)
More honorable mentions. I am kind of running out of things to talk about in a little bit of more detail here, so I’ll yap some more about other things…but in less detail:
- With the new inventory system, each party member is going to have their own inventory and key item storages – I am still working on this thing;
- Keyboard controls will have secondary keys available for binding, cos there weren’t any previously, but now there are – it’s pretty much complete;
- I am also working on a possibility to configure gamepad controls through what I call ‘profiles’: so far, the code creates, picks up and deletes the data that is imported into the input system – the base stuff is in – although I need to make an interface that allows for all that stuff to be…you know…manually edited, so I guess I can officially say that this feature is half-complete;
- There has been more work into the accessibility settings, with the most noteworthy new addition being the option to turn on the Screen Reader: considering that Stramedia is gonna be one of those text-heavy games that aren’t well suited towards players with visual impairments and learning disabilities, there was no way and no excuse for me not to add it in, and with the last year’s engine change, this feature may also be available for use on Windows, Android and Linux based systems that have built-in screen reading support – there will be options to change the screen reader’s volume and reading speed, and upon the first time you’ll launch the game you’ll be asked if you wish to keep the screen reader turned on or not;
- Other new additions to the accessibility options also include the UI scaling, more adjustable gamepad rumble, off-screen bullet hitmarks and probably some more features I probably forgot to mention;
- …oh yeah, and on the subject of settings, there’s also an option added to auto-rebind keyboard controls based on the preferred/selected keyboard layout: for the record, the options that will be available are the standard ‘QWERTY’ layout, ‘QWERTZ’ and ‘AZERTY’, I also tried adding in the option for the Dvorak layout, but that ended up being scrapped because of how switching to and out of Dvorak kept crashing the game, so that’s a No-Go, unfortunately – I am very sorry;
Obviously, what I’ve shown off at least from the technical standpoint, all of that is just but small potatoes before getting into the real meat of it, so before I finally get to things like actual level (re)designing and building, cutscene making, planning, drawing/animating, music composing and whatever I still have things like menus, more drawing and animating, proper internal functions and other boring stuff to take care of.
There’s a lot of that stuff, even more now that the development restarted from scratch in a new engine last year – even though I got through recoding of the important half of the vital game functions already – and I don’t really think I would be stopping any time soon, and constantly writing only about tech shit would probably get old really fast. And that same tech stuff is a part of the game I am enjoying making and writing about. So I will be honest when I’ll say this, for as much as I am trying to shut myself up from speaking of it every time, I wanna talk and share more about what I am doing with the game, even if it’s just mostly about the most boring parts that would help it stay on its own feet.
If anything, it’s in my duty to try to report to you on how this game’s ongoing development is holding up, because I am just as passionate about it as you probably are. But I’ll admit probably for a hundredth time already, constantly working only on that game tends to get kind of…boring, and burning out even, aside from the real-life stuff I obviously tend to take care of from behind the scenes before going back to satisfy my interests. I sometimes even want to make a side project that would sort of be a financial boost for me if I want to make everything possible, but even with that I keep running into constant idea and creative blocks that constrain me from trying to make whatever I want to make. Taking breaks kind of help, sometimes.
I am the only simple person working on this game – all the slightly-albeit-janky programming, the art, animations, music, I handle that myself - as in, like, on my very own: alone. I am not working on it full time for obvious reasons, I don’t really have active Patreon funding to back me up and neither do I have a high-ass AAA budget that would allow me to anyway, cos all of the funds for it comes from my own pockets, sure, let it be lunch money, gift money, even drawing-commission money if I am lucky to withdraw these onto my bank account.
No matter the size of teams working on games or the budget that is poured into it, I believe that a good game is a product made with true love and passion for it, and I am going to take all the time I need to make this game as good as possible and nearly close to how I first envisioned in, even that now with the recent years developing such a game has become kind of a gamble.
I know this sounds pretty cheesy to say, but I really want to make a game that both me and you can be really proud of, even if it would be a bit messy in some places. With Stramedia being, like, a first more proper commercial project of mine that is planned to launch on Steam sometime after it’s gone gold – it’s both an ongoing learning experience and a fever dream.
I really want to thank you a hundred times for sticking by and being able to put up with my rambling nonsense for this long. Even if the game is still gonna remain in development in favor for it becoming what it’s meant to be and me stabilizing several things in it that would stop you from getting killed while playing the game.
For now, I am gonna log off to keep working on this thing. And I have a 20th birthday of mine to celebrate, holy crap!
Until then, I wish all of you a good day.
☮ Make love and videogames for the better tomorrow, not war and NFTs.