Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Tale of Despereaux

See some pics of the game here. This was the first commercial game that I worked on at Sensory Sweep, and it's looking pretty good (I haven't worked on it for a year since they pulled me to other projects). Unfortunately, the company that was paying us for the game, Brash Entertainment, has run into trouble with the economy problems and is shutting down. So . . . we still have the game since it's not completely paid for. Hopefully we get a new publisher soon so that the first game I worked on gets out to the world in time for the movie!


P.S. I know Peter did some artwork for it, and I'm pretty sure Steve did some too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Writers Guild

I have to admit, not a lot happened this week on the game front. I started work again, and when I get home until I fall asleep I'm on baby duty. But I think I might be able to get something done anyways without the programming. Apparently some people at work are starting up a writers group and they asked me to join up. I think I will join, and write up the storyline of DD2 for my project. That way I'll be able to get some work done on it even though I can't really get any programming done right now.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

I'm a daddy!

Remember how I said last post that the baby due dates are rarely accurate? It turned out to be exactly right for this one! Her name is Celeste Karen Mirci, weighing 7 lbs 6 oz (3.334 kg).

She's really cute, but hasn't yet got the hang of that sleeping through the night thing. As a result, I'm really sleepy. I haven't worked on DD since she was born. Peter tells me he's gotten some artwork done, so at least the games still being worked on even though I can't really do anything about it right now.

The next thing that I'm going to work on will be using the mouse and setting up a system for clicking on different things. But I have to admit that I might not be able to start on it for a while.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ability and basic inventory are go!

Basically everything that I said I'd get working from the last post I got working. I can walk around on the map, see which items are around, and pick them up using an ability that is run by scripts. This is a HUGE step and I'm really happy that I was able to get it done before the baby comes along. She's due to be born November 1st, but those due dates are never very accurate...


Thursday, October 23, 2008


Alright, I have the scripts set up so that they run correctly. For anyone who is interested in making their own mods, start studying Lua since that is what is being used. I'm currently working on adding a script-writer to the game maker. Hopefully by this time next week I'll have a hero with an inventory and an ability! The hero would then be able to use the ability (gather) to get all the items nearby and store them in his inventory.

Next up, start getting menus up an using the mouse!

Of course, if I happen to become a dad between then and now I probably won't get that all finished.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Japanese Coach!

From my last post, I decided to go with option 1. This could have been decided with a simple coin toss, but instead it was decided by Peter. He mentioned that we could handle the mouse interface differently, so I'm going to go through and decide exactly what I want the mouse to do before I get into programming what it will do. Adding in scripting is exciting for me since it allows for players to make their own content.

Peter mentioned beforehand that we both did some work on My Chinese Coach and My Japanese Coach for the Nintendo DS. I did some work on My Chinese Coach, but spent most of my time working on My Japanese Coach. The biggest things that I worked on in the game were translating the dictionary, writing the lesson plan, and helping make design decisions. Even though my title at work is 'programmer' I didn't end up doing as much programming as I'd have liked because there was so much other work for me to do on it.

Looking at Amazon today My Japanese Coach is listed as the 8th best seller for the DS. 3 of the top sales are actual DS's, so it is the 5th best selling DS game on Amazon right now! I'm pretty excited about it :D I just wish that Amazon would start selling them, seeing as how it is for sale in gamestop since yesterday... Anyways, I'll be stopping by gamestop on the way home to take a look at the box so I can be happy about the second game that I worked on being in stores :)


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Item Fantastic!

Now it's possible to simply put in that a location will have 5 red berries and when you run the game there will be five berries randomly placed in that location. This is great for making maps since I no longer have to systematically place every single item on the map that will be on the map. They show up on the map as little bags, and when you walk up to them they display the actual item picture on the top screen.

There are two big things that I could work on next. I can either (1) start getting skills, abilities and scripting in followed quickly by an inventory system so that I can create a gather ability to get these items, or (2) set up the inventory system and then make it so I can use the mouse in-game and set up things to display menus when the mouse goes over them and make use of those menus.

Next I can work on fixing that nasty run-on sentence. In any case, when I finish either of them I'll start working on the other one. And I imagine that it doesn't really matter to you guys which one I do first since it won't be released any faster no matter which I do first. Not even sure if we still have readers since no one put a comment on the last post that I asked for feedback. Oh well.


Thursday, October 2, 2008


I got some basic things done this week, but not a whole lot to talk about. I blame it on the bout of insomnia that's been beating me up all week long. It's hard to focus on getting work done on a project when you've already spent the whole day at work programming.

Anyways, at work I've been working on the multiplayer part of a DS game that has not been announced. This is the second DS game that I've done multiplayer for, the first one hasn't been announced yet either. With all this multiplayer going on I'm highly considering making a MMO after I finish Darkened Dreams 2. Or should I start working on my book again? Or should I do something else entirely? I already have a collaborator for the MMO, we've got a wiki hidden away where we put in our ideas of how we want to set everything up, and he's able to get a server for us to host it on. It will NOT be Darkened Dreams based though...

Lastly, Nintendo has announced a new DS system! Am I excited about it since I'm a DS fan? Not really. It's got a camera and a music player, but that's not really a big deal for me. I'm more upset about the loss of the GBA slot, since I always seem to have a game in there. And what are they going to do about games that use that slot like the guitar hero game, my health coach, and arkanoid? And what about the awesome idea that I had and was going to start programming a demo for at work as soon as things slowed down? :(


Friday, September 26, 2008

It's all about the location

And now I'm delving into locations. I have it now so that you can specify the color, the background, and the items that will spawn. For example, all I'd have to do is tell the location that it will have five rocks and it will spawn those correctly in random places in the location without me having to go through and specifically place all of those rocks.

This same setup will be used for monsters, NPCs and leveled lists. Leveled lists allow percentages and the players level to determine what shows up. Using this you could make sure that a player never fights anything to hard no matter where they go, or make it so that a certain treasure laden cave is protected by a nasty monster until the hero is high enough level. This also helps with making sure that rare treasure stays rare by giving it a 5% chance of spawning while giving other items a larger percentage.

But I'm not certain if I'm going to do both levels and percent. Which do you think is better? Leave a comment!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Planning Stage

And now I'm back to planning things out. Figuring out how to get the randomly spawning item data in is a little more tricky than I thought it would be. It would also help if I had gotten a single good night of sleep this week. Every time I sit down to start working on it I'm too tired to really focus :P


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Movie time!

I said I'd do it, and I eventually did! I've got two movies here, one of the game maker, and another one of the actual game. Take a look and enjoy!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hey, it's looking pretty darn good!

Alright, now walking on the map REALLY works. There were all sorts of problems with it before, but I'm really happy with it now. I've also got it set up so that we can make random heroes and show them on the screen. I've also got collision working for where you walk. This also means that location information is being stored correctly.

We've also got it so that we can change backgrounds and skies on the fly, though I still need some different backgrounds and skies in order to really test it out.

I should have a movie of it in action this week.

Also, sorry I posted so darn late :P


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Character Art

I put all the art for the Male character together at last. So far I have 6 faces in 5 colors, 3 costumes, and 11 hairstyles in 7 colors, making 110 images all together that can be combined in 8470 different ways...Cool, that number sounds pretty big, hehe.

Califer, the images are in our email, so you can start experimenting with them at last.


By the way everybody--Califer and I both worked on a Nintendo DS game that teaches Japanese, I didn't do near as much as him on it, but I also did a little bit on one that teaches Chinese. My Chinese Coach appeared in stores this week, My Japanese Coach hits stores the 24th of September, so get ready to learn some languages :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It walks, it lives!!!

Walking on the map works! It's very basic at the moment, but it works! When it's working all the way I'll get that movie made like I was talking about.

Recently I've decided to play all the final fantasy games in a row (skipping 11). I've just beat 1 and started on 2. The way that final fantasy 2 handles leveling up is quite interesting. There are no levels, but your stats increase according to how you've been playing. The more often you use magic the more MP you will have, the more you get hurt the more HP you'll get. I like those kind of leveling systems, and will probably make a game that uses a system like that sometime.

But I'm not going to make that for Darkened Dreams. That kind of leveling system just wouldn't work with classes.

Well, back to coding!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A nightmare is kinda like a darkened dream

Right? I only ask because it was a total nightmare saving off all the data in the game and making it possible to load back into the game maker and into the actual game. I had originally thought that it was going to be a simple step for some reason. I'm not sure what the reason was, because I had previously told Peter that connecting the game and the maker was going to be one of the hardest things to do...

Anyways, 1 week later and they're being good friends and talking to each other. Just BARELY got it working last night. Now I should be able to get images going without too much trouble since I have already got some graphics working. Now I'm going to get a system set up for the real game and hopefully make some visible progress by next post!


P.S. Peter's on vacation!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Play nice together!

Once I had the map-maker working nicely I decided that it was time to implement those maps and start walking around. As it turns out, windows forms (which I'm using for the game-maker) and XNA (mentioned in a previous post) don't handle images the same way. Because of this I had to go back and spend a few hours modifying the way that the map data was saved and making the map maker still work correctly and display everything just as it used to.

The big downer about this is that if all you do it look at the running game-maker it looks like I didn't do anything even though I worked on it for two hours and got a lot of things cleaned up! Oh well, at least I'm getting closer.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Tale of Despereaux

The map maker has been cleaned up some more, it's ready to start holding information about the different locations and where the player can walk. It'll be a very short amount of time before it'll be all finished and have a map saved away.

Once it's saved away it should be easy to load the data into the actual game and walk around. I just wish that I had more time to work on Darkened Dreams!

On the other hand, the game that I was working on when I first started at Sensory Sweep has been announced! I was only on it for 6 months (it's an 18 month project) so I don't know any of the recent details, but here's a link about it on gamespot. Also, here's a link to a trailer of the movie that the game is based on.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Moving finished!

And I also got the map maker to select, write tiles, erase tiles, and even give two layers of tiles for that extra level of detail!

Internet still a little wonky in the new place, so a short post.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Still alive, just exhausted.

I'm moving next week and I only have the evenings to pack everything up and move. Hopefully it'll all go smoothly but work on the game is pretty slow this week.

However, I did make it so that the map maker will load up a texture map, chop it up and show the different tiles in a part of the map maker. Next up is being able to select them and write them in the map maker. Then making all new location and walking boundaries.

And sorry for not posting on time. I totally spaced it.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back when the map-maker was finished...

A while back I finished making the map maker. It's nice and easy to use, though it does require the user to draw a map with an art program to really get use out of it. Then I found a library to use for making games. (I'm using XNA, which means that it could possibly be ported to the Xbox360's live service.)

Anyways, I got some programming done with XNA and set up a small character that could move around and have a scrolling background. This was enough for me to figure out how to make the map work and scroll correctly, but it turns out that chunking up the map is the best way to make it work.

So before I can get the map working, I need to completely rewrite the map maker. But I think it will be better than before, since it will be possible for people to just use tiles that have already been made to make new maps.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Just so you know...

I am still drawing pictures, I got four more drawn last weekend. I'm not looking for any help, it's just gonna take some time to do them all, but I appreciate how people are giving encouragement and showing at least a pint of interest in what we're doing.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ummm . . . j/k?

Yeah, I decided to just go ahead and work on Darkened Dreams instead of the book. Right now I'm working on finding a good library to work with so I don't have to write anything from scratch. Walking on a map, here I come!


Friday, July 4, 2008

Back Burner Time

As it turns out having two major projects at the same time is not a good idea. I'm going to put Darkened Dreams 2 on hold until I finish chapter 8 of my textbook. When I finish chapter 8, the textbook will go on the back burner until DD2 is finished. I finished chapter 4 last week and am currently studying up on things that I'm going to put in chapter 5. Chapters 5 and 8 should be the hardest. I'm planning on it taking about two months from now.

Sorry for putting DD2 on the back burner, but in the long run this will make it possible to finish it much quicker.


Thursday, June 26, 2008


Note that those are all first drafts of creatures on the previous post. After he goes through the entire list we'll go over it together and decide how we want them all to look in the end. Most of those creatures are summon creatures, but there are a few from the original game. Look for the foaming cat, lizard, rat, blue angel and shrike.

Since we have so many summon creatures drawn here I'm going to go over the summon skill a bit. When you start the summoning skill you'll learn a single summon spell. After that it depends a lot on the other skills you have. For example, you won't be able to summon the shrike until you have a certain amount of both lightning magic skill and summoning skill. This isn't limited to only magic though, if you are good at summoning and animal training you can learn to summon the beast king (the winged lion)!


Monday, June 23, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hooray for posts noone will read!

Hi, this is Peter reporting for the week!

Since I think I'm the only one who reads Califer's posts, that means noone will read this.
But the vitally important task of reporting the week's progress on Darkened Dreams 2 falls upon my humble shoulders nonetheless...

Califer probably hasn't done anything, he's on vacation.

I have done very little also, except that I am filling up a sketchbook with drawings of all the monsters for the game... I think I've done 8 or so of the 130 monster drawings, and I haven't colored any yet, so there's lots left to do!

The monsters will be simple stills, and probably a few battle effect animations will play on top of them when they fight. They might shake and flicker when they get hit or fall in battle, that kind of thing. It's a similar style of fighting animations to Final Fantasy 1-6 or any Pokemon game.


Edit (July 15)-I misspelled Hooray as Horay... one of those important words my elementary school conveniently forgot to give a spelling test on.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Welcome to . . . Nothing!

We had two super late nights (ended up being mornings!) so my whole schedule was rocked. I got some done on the book, but I've still got a little ways to go. Also, no post next week as I'm going on a family vacation.

Be patient! Progress is still happening, it's just slow.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Survived a week!

Since I got IM'd asking how I was holding up under all of the stress, I think I should give an update.

Schedule has been changed to next week for the testing, and with a 1/200 chance I'm not really worried.

The offer was accepted for the house, and they ran a 72 hour clause to see if the people in first position would give up and let us buy it. So we should have known last night, but still no response. We have decided on what we will do if it's a no though, so we're not really stressed about that anymore.

We're finishing one of the games that we're working on tomorrow, which means it will be a late night. That's why I'm posting tonight instead. Not that I really mind. After we get a build ready for the testers to find problems with we have about an hour in which not a whole lot is happening on our end so it's a good chance to play games with each other. Plenty of games in our library at work :)

After I showed the professor how my lesson plan worked he was really happy with it. So I decided that I wouldn't change how I had chapter 4 planned, but did go back and change a section or two of chapter 3 because of the meeting. I got back just ten minutes before class started.

As for the actual game, I haven't worked on it this week to get it ready. I've worked on the book to get all the previous chapters ready for review and I've got some work done on chapter 4. When the walking around is ready I'll take a video of it to show that progress is actually being made!


P.S. Peter, when are you going to post again?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Game Maker now saves!

And . . . yeah, that's all I did.

My life has been mugged and beat over the head recently. Far too much stress.

My wife is pregnant, and we just found out that there is a 1/200 chance of it having down syndrome, so we need to change our schedule around for further testing.

We've put an offer in on a house, but even if it gets accepted it will be in a secondary position, in case the current offer on the house falls through. My wife and I are sick and tired of looking at houses, and so we're trying to figure out what to do if this one doesn't work.

Work has been busy because we're just about finished with the games we're working on (but since they still haven't been announced I can't say what they are.)

I've been getting crap on how my lesson plan is set up for my Japanese class, so I need to meet with a professor of Japanese today which might make me miss teaching class tonight, which is bad because it's lesson 1.

Also, I haven't wanted to work on chapter 4 on my book because it directly relates to my meeting today.


And you want me to work on a game too?


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Map Maker finished!

The Map Maker is now working! Now it's time for me to take a little break and work on the book a little. I've just about finished chapter 2, but there are a few things I want to add in. Since I've spent a lot longer on Darkened Dreams than I have on the book recently I'm going to get chapter 4 finished before I get to making it so that we can walk on the map that just got made. Should take me a few weeks, it's a very busy time of life for me.

But it is happening!


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Map Maker: Round 2

Last time what I showed you was a picture of what I wanted to have happen. It does draw lines but those lines are meaningless since nothing is being written to map data. Now writing actually works and you can make new maps and all that. I just need to add two fairly simple things and it's all good.

I could have finished last night but I was busy celebrating my third anniversary and going over details of houses that we are looking at buying. Many women, when pregnant, get cravings for different foods. My wife seems to get cravings to play board games with me. So if I get enough time I can finish the Map Maker tonight. If not I'll finish it later.

After that I need to get back to my book for a little bit. I still need to rewrite chapter 2 so that I can have people read through it again.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Map Maker!

Here it is! The Map Maker works for the most part, and I've even got a picture to prove it! When making a map you choose an image to use then draw all over it. In the picture here I'm drawing a boundary along the edge of the sea, so that in-game you couldn't just walk on water. It's like 1000 times faster than how I was making it in Darkened Dreams 1!

You can also make different regions and locations. Regions are larger areas and hold different information for your reputation, how NPCs in the region react, as well as weather patterns. Locations can hold information about what kind of plants grow, what kind of creatures are randomly generated, and where NPCs go during the day. For example, an NPC with a farmer job would go to the farm that is just to the right of what you can see on the map there during the day, and return to his home at night.

Lastly, about the interesting thing that I ran into in Daggerfall that I mentioned last week. I had just found the NPC contact that I was looking for and finished my minor little quest. I thought I'd see if the innkeeper had any food that I wanted, but as soon as I talked to him, he accused me of stealing his amber. He then disappeared and a warrior came through the door to get me. I had been framed! It was difficult, since I was only a level 1 character, but I managed to beat the warrior and snagged his stuff. I was pretty hurt, but I thought it would be safe to try and track the guy that accused me down. Everyone seemed to think he was still in the inn that I had come from.

Eventually I went to the other inn in town to rent a room. That innkeeper called the guards on me but slipped me a note. I was too hurt to try and fight, but I managed to slip through and went to the house that was in the note. It was locked. I had no lock picking skills. I bashed the door down, getting the guards attention again, and talked to the guy who let me know that I had been framed by the leader of this town. He let me know where her stash was and where her house was.

I went to the house first. Unfortunately no one was there (I was in the mood for a fight . . . if I could survive it) but I did find a note that proved I was framed and also explicitly mentioned who I should take the note to. Found him easy enough and then I just had to go into a dungeon to find the amber and clear my name. It was all unexpected, and I had a blast doing it. Coyote at rampant games had a similar experience.

So what do you think? What if there were random quests that just jumped at you like that every once in a while? Would you feel it was interesting, or would you just groan and reload your last save?


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Being taught a lesson

The lesson that I'm learning is to not let the readers of this blog know when I've got a grand plan for finishing something by a certain date. Last time I said I would have the map-maker finished by now, but because I said that I ran into all sorts of trouble. On Friday I worked a double shift. That left me tired for Saturday, and we also went house shopping. Then I realized that in order to do a really good job on my book the rewrite would take a lot longer than I thought. Then when I was just getting ready to get going again, Monday reared it's ugly head and I ended up working until 4:30 in the morning. I got Tuesday off but I was so tired I just managed to finish cleaning up chapter 1.

That's not to say that I didn't still get some work done on it! I managed to figure out all the drawing methods, though they're all going to change code-side once I get actual map data behind it all. Peter's working on a few buttons to help with making it all look nice, and I think that once I have the map data behind it all and am able to change the size of the area depending on the picture used for the map it should all be downhill from there.

On another note I started playing Shadow of the Colossus (Which was in Peter's top ten game list) and I've got to say, I'm really enjoying it. I've only killed two of them so far though. I've also started playing Daggerfall again. I get about 45 minutes a week with it. I need more free time!

Next time I want to talk about some stuff I found in Daggerfall that I think would make things more interesting in Darkened Dreams 2. Stay tuned!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Back on Track

Well, we're back at work. The flooding got cleared up and the building is safe to be in so we only lost two days. Every once in a while cleaning people come by to make it a nicer place to be in, but otherwise it's business as usual.

I've been slow about getting the map-maker going because I'm busy rewriting chapter 1 of my book into chapters 1, 2 and appendix A. Appendix A is almost finished, and chapters 1 and 2 shouldn't take too much longer. Then I'll have 3 chapters and an appendix finished! Yay!

As for the Map Maker, it is still being worked on! I've got it so the form is split up, it loads a map image by default, and you can draw on the image. Hopefully I can have it working by the next post. If I get it working I'll take a screenshot and show you guys.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Free time because of a flood

Well, I get today and tomorrow off of work because of flooding at the place I work at. I was one of the few people that was inside the building when it started (I get there early to exercise) so I got to check out the walls cracking right before my eyes and watch the water slowly try to take over the building.

This is only half a blessing, because odds are that when things get cleared up at work we'll need to work weekends to make up for the days that we weren't there. We still have milestones that we need to keep with the publishers!

But back on the Darkened Dreams side of things, I finished the item maker and have started on the map-maker. I got some code off of the internet showing me how to use the mouse to draw, so it should be easy to put in different boundaries on the map. This will be nice because when I put in a boundary that cannot be crossed it will be that way no matter which direction you are going. Players of the original Darkened Dreams may remember bugs where they could walk into the ocean but not walk back. That will be a non-issue now.

But before I really get cracking on the map-maker

Right after the map maker is finished, well, I'll probably work on chapter 3 and cleaning chapter 2. But right after THAT I'm going to get the game-maker save files working, get actual programming in the game, and get me walking around on the map that Fox got me.


Crap, I left my DS charger at work. Guess my game time is limited this weekend!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Munchies and Bling

Almost done with the item maker! I'm currently working on the food, which will be followed up by armor and clothing.

The big question is . . . can armor and clothing co-exist?

The bonus of having clothing instead of armor is that it can hold more powerful enchantments than armor can. Common sense dictates that you can put on a chain mail shirt on top of a cloth shirt, but common sense also dictates that wearing an iron helm and a baseball cap is rather silly.

The two easiest scenarios are as follows . . .

1. Each armor and clothing use a location guide and each location can only have either a piece of armor or some clothing in it.

2. Each armor and clothing use a location guide and each location can have both a piece of armor and some clothing in it.

Either one spits in the face of common sense. This results in a Califer that fuddles around trying to find the best solution.

Darn me and my commitment to excellence!


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ace of Base

Now I'm starting to actually program in details for things that can be crafted. For some games I imagine it doesn't take a lot. No matter how high your skill gets you can never make the item better. But not in Darkened Dreams 2! You'll be able to put points into what you are going to make the focus on then luck and skill helps determine the final product.

In order to make sure that we don't end up with beginning equipment being super-powerful and to make sure that high level equipment has some real benefits from a skilled crafter I need to make a 'base' for all things that can be created. The base is going to hold the max and min values, as well as hold onto the recipe.

So, the last tricky thing I need to do before programming in making recipes is loading that base information in for making regular items. Bases are not going to be actual items, but just guidelines for making items. Thus if you want to make an iron sword to put in a treasure chest in the game you should load up the iron sword base to make sure you're not making it stronger or weaker than it should be.

Meh, this post is a little programmer-oriented.

On a non-programming side (kind of) I'm going to shoot for finishing the item maker this week.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Catching up

This morning I started the day by thinking of what was special about Thursday. I knew there was something that I was missing, but my tired brain eventually just accepted that Thursday was the day that I taught Japanese after work. Well, during work today since the teaching happens at work and I was working late. 9:30 PM rolls around and I remember that I need to post something!

So, the game maker is coming along nicely. The item-making section of it could be done in a few weeks depending on how much extra work I need to do at home and at work. On the plus side I needed to bring my laptop into work last week (Friday) so I was able to show my semi-functional game maker off to people at a professional gaming company. One person did complement it saying that it was easy to use and made sense. w00t! Peter didn't get to see it though since he had the day off because he had to work a lot of overtime recently. And he still manages to get some nice-looking artwork for Darkened Dreams too!

Fox assures me that I should get a map eventually.

So, remember when I kept saying my wife wasn't well so I had to take extra time to make dinner, clean up, take care of her, etc? It's morning sickness, I'm gonna be a daddy!

Last off, I've been playing ICO recently. I figured I'd mention it since Peter lists it as one of his top 10 games. I really like it. The atmosphere is wonderful and the puzzles are challenging without being too impossible. I'm not sure if it will make my top 10, since one of my rules for getting in is that I could play the game over and over again. Even with me now knowing most of the puzzles, I might just end up forgetting everything in a few months, so who knows. It might get up there after all. Next up, Shadow of the Colossus!

(Can you believe that I've never played these before?)


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The best games EVER

Hi! No art updates today, but here's my all-time game favorites, and these are in order ;)

1 World of Warcraft (PC)
2 Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)
3 Secret of Mana (SNES)
4 Final Fantasy Tactics (PS1)
5 Final Fantasy 9 (PS1)
6 Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 (PS2)
7 Dragon Quest 8 (PS2)
8 Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
9 Beyond Good and Evil (PS2)
10 ICO (PS2)

I like a bit of variety, but I certainly am a fan of Fantasy overall.

World of Warcraft is great because I play with friends, it's one of the few ways a married guy can get some time to play games with buddies every now and then.
Shadow of the Colossus I'd say is my model of perfection in games, as the game managed to present 18 hours of straight challenge without one bit of repetition. This game also has the best soundtrack of any.
Secret of Mana was my predecessor for Warcraft, it's the game I played with friends over and over before online gaming existed--love the art and story, too!
Final Fantasy Tactics has a ruleset and job system that allows you to replay the same game over and over in infinite ways, I love how you can always find new parties to assemble and new strategies are everywhere.
Final Fantasy 9 is gorgeous to look at. I love the characters and environments, I also love the writing, the characters are so well developed.
Dance Dance Revolution lets you get in the beat of music and after sitting at a computer all day, it often helps me get a necessary bit of body movement.
Dragon Quest 8 is the longest game besides World of Warcraft that has actually kept me entertained the entire time (92 hours). Many other rpg's I feel like I have to work hard to get through the dumb parts, but this one never got boring. A lot of that has to do with the enemies being presented in a kind of cute manner, they always did silly things when they attacked you. The music in this game is live orchestra, I can never play games with midi-music any more without cringing.
Zelda a Link to the Past has an amazing art style--When the Super Nintendo wouldn't support graphics like our current-gen systems, they found a way to make a super appealing style. The music was the best of any Zelda (there still aren't any live orchestrated ones :P ) And the gameplay was extremely fun, including the great puzzles.
Beyond Good and Evil-- If you've never heard of this game... poor you! Stumbled upon it by accident and I was totally blown away! This is a game that mixes so much variety into one game, there's never a dull moment! It also has a humorous tone to it that keeps it fun. The main character is a fun and attractive girl with a sense of humor.
ICO preceded Shadow of the Colossus, and is worth looking at just for that, but it's also got some fabulous puzzles. It's a bit short and the girl you have to escort through the enormous castle is a little hard to lead around sometimes, but the puzzles and stunning visuals will keep your brain on high attention the whole time. It has one of the best endings of any game, and it can teach you a little something about yourself.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Top 10 Games

To give you a bit of a feel of what games I like, here are my top 10 favorite games. Of course, it has to be a game that I've played before for it to make the list!

In no specific order:

1.) Morrowind (PC)
2.) Bionic Commando (NES)
3.) Final Fantasy Tactics (PS1)
4.) Pokemon Diamond (NDS)
5.) Secret of Mana (SNES)
6.) Heroes of Might and Magic IV (PC)
7.) Twisted Metal Black (PS2)
8.) Final Fantasy 6 (SNES)
9.) Final Fantasy 7 (PS1)
10.) Super Mario Brothers 3 (NES)

Runners up
Twisted Metal 2 (PS1)
Daggerfall (PC)
Super Metroid (SNES)
Mario 64 (N64)
Black and White (PC)
Tecmo's Deception (PS1)
Soul Caliber II (PS2)
Prince of Persia (PS2)

Lastly, my system of choice is the Nintendo DS.


P.S. Oh yeah, Darkened Dreams 2. Still working on it! More info next week.

P.P.S. I started writing in details for each game but it was taking forever. :P

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Art progress

Califer asked me to post something... about two months ago... so here it is!

Here are a few sample character combinations, of over 25,000 character combinations you will be able to customize.

Where did I get that number?

In Darkened Dreams 2 you'll get to make a male or female character. Each gender will have 20 hairstyles in 8 different colors, 6 different faces in 5 different skin colors, and 3 different starting outfits (determined by character class).

Some NPC's will be randomized, using the same art that you use to customize your character. You never know who you'll meet in the game.

I've made a lot of progress on the art for the characters. The jpg image posted above has just 4 of the combinations demonstrated. Enjoy!


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Weeks like this . . .

Weeks like this make me glad that I don't have a publisher. I was able to break down some important things and learned a good deal about GUI programming, but since my wife wasn't feeling well I lost a lot of programming time. On the plus side I got a lot more meal-cooking practice. A few more and I might get a new level!

One of the big ugly things that slowed me down this week was trying to figure out how I could get item crafting to work well so I could know what kind of objects to make so I didn't have to redo it all later. I eventually decided to tone it down since it was getting really complicated. It's still going to be done in a way that you will be able to make items that are different, and even let you put in what your focus is. Do you want your new sword to be sharper or better balanced? Also, some items will be more useful for different points of the item. If the recipe asks for so many units of a metal, you can put in steel for more strength, or you could use gold, which would add to the beauty and value, but put nothing towards the toughness and sharpness.

Coming next, ingredients, ability books, and chapter 2 of my Japanese book!

Tune in next week for my Top 10 Games!


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Game Maker is Go

I've learned a few important things from when I made Darkened Dreams.
Number 1: Make sure that the save file and other data storage doesn't make it a pain to add anything new.

Everything was hard-coded in. That meant that I had to write code for every single thing in the game. The maps were especially terrible, since I had to go through and fill in every single thing for every square. This included which directions you could travel in. This made maps take FOREVER to make and left them prone to error.

Now, I'm making a game-making program where I can make and store items, maps, npcs, monsters, etc. It slows things down a bit to start, but I am convinced that it will make things much faster and nicer in the end. Especially since it means that Peter or Fox could also make stuff for the game without having to learn programming.

The basic plan behind the Item Maker part of it is finished, I just need to put in the rest of the details for all the different item types.

Peter made a rough mockup of what the game may end up looking like. The top right corner of the game is the map (which is going to be very different). Below it is where bad guys appear. The player shows up full-size, and pets, summoned creatures and hero allies show up behind. Commands will not be issued through text anymore. This GUI will probably change as we think about it more and actually get the game working.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Items and Study

I now have all the data for the item types put into the game. This turned out to be a little more difficult than I originally thought because of items that can have varying values. Items with varying values have been put in mainly because of crafting skills. In other games where crafting is possible but no matter your skill you just can't make something better (such as in Rune Factory), I found myself stopping caring about making stuff. Once you've made the weapon there's no point in making another except for grinding. You could also do it for money, but I was already really rich by that point anyways.

Most of my crafting was done in Star Wars Galaxies back in the day before it completely changed around. In the crafting there you were able to put points towards what you wanted to work on (do you want the gun more precise or do you want it to be more sturdy?). You'll be able to do that in Darkened Dreams 2 with crafting tool, traps, jewelry, weapons, armor, food, potions, etc.

That's part of why the item-maker program isn't functional yet. The other reason is that it's been a long time since I used the GUI programming for C#. I've been studying up on that and I've got a good idea of how I'm going to do it, I just ran out of time this week.

Speaking of GUI, we've got something that looks really nice! Peter sketched up a mockup that I'm going to be basing the GUI on when we get to that point. The map will be a big part of the game, so we're hoping to get a basic map sketch from Fox pretty soon here.

On the Japanese Textbook front, I borrowed a book from the library that I'm going to buy. It's called "Making Sense of Japanese Grammar", and it's a very good book if you already have a working knowledge of Japanese. This made me put off chapter 2 until this week, but I have got all the studying and planning done and I am ready to start on chapter 2 tonight.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

I've decided that I'll be posting every Thursday with an update.

As a programmer I find that the hardest part of a project is getting it started. In this case, I need to brush up on my C# to really get things going, and I have to make sure that all my base objects will work with each other well before I can actually test to see if they do.

Although, I do have a good amount done already. I have a general idea how the story line runs (big chunks at the beginning and end are decided, as well as a few smatterings in the middle), and I have a fairly good idea what items, abilities, skills, classes, animals, monsters, etc. are going to be in the game.

It does feel a little like I'm biting off just enough to make chewing unpleasant. I spend half of my evenings working on Darkened Dreams 2, and the other half writing a Japanese textbook. They're both fairly early in, but I don't see myself dropping either of them.

This is my third time around on the Japanese textbook, and this time it's going to work. I've gone through numerous other books, both books in Japanese and textbooks for Japanese, and picked out everything that's worth teaching. It's all sitting in a database so that I can simply look up the concept I'm teaching and it tells me where all my sources are for it. This book is going to be awesome.

Then I remembered that this is the Darkened Dreams Game blog and not the Whatever Califer is Working on Blog. Anyways, I've got a lot planned for Darkened Dreams, and it's making steady progress. I should have an item-maker done by next week this time.


P.S. We're going to be setting up the main ideas for the GUI tonight. This is another instance where it's great to have artists on the team, since I'd probably end up making it look just like Darkened Dreams 1 :P

Monday, February 18, 2008

We've got mention!

Even though we're just barely starting with the game we've been mentioned in the Rampant Games blog as a 2008 indie RPG! I guess we're really committed now :)

I've got all the main object types decided and got some programming in. I'm hoping to have a functioning game-maker program by the end of the month.

Also, we've got art! Here's a picture of a female scout that Peter drew. You'll be able to choose your gender, face, skin color, hair style, and hair color at the beginning of the game. Your outfit changes depending on what your class is. Odds are you'll be able to go to a hair stylist to change your hair style and/or color.

Lastly, Fox has been working on maps since I finally gave him enough details for the full starting island. Hopefully those will be posted soon.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Changing things up from the start

The original plan was to keep pretty much the same gameplay as the original Darkened Dreams. After a bit of thought we've decided to change two major elements of gameplay.

First, things will no longer be text-based. We haven't decided exactly how things are going to work, since there are a lot of abilities, but we are going to make it as fun as possible.

Second, the map will no longer be blocky. Travel, items, NPCs, creatures, etc. will be smoothly placed on the map rather than all in a certain space.

Short post, but we'll have some artwork to show you soon!


Monday, February 11, 2008

Darkened Dreams 2


The Darkened Dreams Team is composed of three members; Califer (Programmer/Designer), Peter (Artist: Characters and Creatures) and Fox (Artist: Maps). We all work full time for a game company, but we also wanted to make this game outside of work as a freelance project.

We have begun work on a new game, currently titled Darkened Dreams 2. It is loosely based on the original Darkened Dreams (a free game located at in that you are a hero summoned to a new world to fight against the darkness that is slowly destroying the land. You are not the only hero that has been called to this cause, so you will have opportunities to team up with other heroes and discover the secrets of your past.

Because we are just starting this project we don't want to give too much away. We will be giving out more information as the project develops. We look forward to seeing you around!