Jennifer's blog

1st Draft of Age Demo Finished

  Happy to announce that we've finished the demo for part of an Age.  :)  Still got a lot of work left to do on it, but it's pretty darned thrilling to walk around in. We'll start setting things in motion to release it for testing once we've gotten our project management system straightened back out.  Redmine?  It finally bit the big one.  Too many errors, too hard to fix when it breaks.  Also, some of the official "upgrades" were actually Vista-style upgrades, if you get the drift.  So right now we're looking at OpenAtrium, which seems like it will be an improvement in any case.   "Then the game designers grew proud of Redmine, and forgot their humble origins in the darkness of the ancient Ilathid forum.  And so a great catastrophe struck their project management system.  The survivors fled to a new home, OpenAtrium, where they could begin anew."  Story of our project!

Cautiously Optimistic

  We're currently in the final stage of assembly for the new area--the slides are done, the animations are done, and the programming is estimated at 25% complete.  :) Plans for the future are to focus on smaller bites at a time.  

Update on Upcoming Demo

Back in April I mentioned we were trying to finish a new demo in a scorching 30 day blitz. The operational part of the post was the following: Not that we finished it all on schedule (let's just throw back our heads and laugh at that silly idea) At any rate, it's time for a progress update. We're done with the modeling, sounds, voice recordings, landscaping and a bit of the rendering. Which leaves the animations, the rest of the renderings, the coding for the navigation, some voice alteration, and the puzzle logic. But--due to some problems one of our team members is having, we'll have to put this on hold for awhile (a month or so, I guess). I thought I'd share some of the work done for the demo here. This animal is called the stinger snail. (Due to the import process from Blender to Bryce, the snail won't look this good in the demo, but in the final version it should look right.) Stinger Snail

Pushing to get part of an Age into alpha testing

  It's truly amazing to see what people can do when they come together. We've been scorching along on a 30 day blitz to get part of an Age into alpha testing.  Here's what we laid out for the first week of work: Week 1 (March 24 - March 31) Jennifer - Finish rough mockups of all models to be used * conveyance device  DONE * creature  DONE * creature  DONE * creature  DONE * creature  DONE * Puzzle device  DONE James - Make list of sounds needed  DONE - Finalize details to terrain  DONE - Put in Jennifer's mockups for stand-ins  DONE - Begin planning out screenshot layout  DONE Fanni - Read and research puzzle, Age, character 1  DONE - Make 1 journal entry for character 2  DONE Paulo - Get all newsletter subscribers into Mailchimp  DONE - Write a nondisclosure agreement for the alpha testers to give their assent to  DONE Not that we finished it all on schedule (let's just throw back our heads and laugh at that silly idea) but it did get done, and surprisingly fast too.  :)  The Age is looking the best it has yet, and I'm really looking forward to sharing it with alpha testers in the next month--if all goes well.   Besides the tasks listed above, I (Jennifer) made a voice recording for character 2 and Dan cleaned out the background static and deepened my voice.   Wish more could be done with the recording as my voice is not really right for the character, but without good,free, voice changing software, that's simply not possible.  Richard has been giving me free vocal coaching, so hopefully I'll at least be able to produce a realistic, natural sound. The scripts I'm reading, fyi, are written by Fanni, who not only designs characters and does occasional concept art, but also translates texts into Hungarian for that version of the game.  (She's already translated the website, but thanks to some trouble with a special character we haven't been able to get it up yet.) James (with the help of the local bookstore cat) has been designing the sound scheme for the Age, which means that he creates every button push, every ambient noise, and every animal sound. Right now James has the biggest job of us all; besides putting together the Age terrain in Bryce, he's also importing all my Blender models & Joël's Maya models, creating/rendering the slides and navigation layout, and eventually working out the puzzle logic and adding sounds. All this will be put into the Pipmak game engine, since James is comfortable with that engine, and then eventually into our own Ilathid engine for final distribution.  Eric, who programs the engine and maintains everything from the website to the blog to the old forum, will be doing that based on James' mockup. The Age's music was composed by Leeran Z. Raphaely, an excellent musician who was on the team about a year ago.    In other news, Richard finished the building code as far as he can. We won't get to see his contribution to the alpha test in this particular go around, since he has been involved primarily in designing a part of the Age that the testers won't yet have access to, but I will reveal that it involves some spatial critique on the interior layout of a very unique building.  Other stuff done by the team: Composed rough draft of newsletter, designed template, preparing to distribute. Printed out Ilathid flyers to post around campus, hoping to find a few new hands Created words for the cardinal directions in a fictional game language Created rough dates for journal entries based on fictional dating system Spruced up the blog with a new look based on the template designed by Minz Meyer. 

New Models, Timeline

  Finally got the timeline into Timeglider.  I can't sing enough praises for this program; I appreciate it more each time I use it.   Looking at our storyline/backstory from a visual perspective has made me aware of a few temporal problems, namely the surprising antiquity of certain events and the too-spread-out-ness of others.  Fortunately we haven't added any real dates to the journals yet.   James gave the Age terrain he's in charge of modeling a complete overhaul: Sky, textures, object placement.  He also added a very nice walkway.    It's really looking good! I did an hour of work on a musical instrument, the _________-zela.  [Spoilers redacted]  Just the basic geometry for now, I haven't even added the keys yet.  It'll be part of a really fun puzzle when it's finished.  And no, it won't be as bad as the organ puzzle from Myst.  It'll be so much worse!!!  ...Just kidding.    I also did a bit of work on the terrain I've been mentioning in the last few entries.  Added a beach (a twenty-polygon beach--the terrain is just a mockup) and roughed in a power-producing device.  

Progress Rolls On...

Lots of news this month: Game timeline improved by adding Earth dates to go with existing dates.  (Previously we only had dates in the format of Before Fall and After Fall.)  Check out this fun little D'ni time conversion program, the Cavernian Calendar Converter:  Eventually the plan is to commit the timeline to an online program called Timeglider that is specifically meant for storing dates in timelines.  Building code in progress - a new addition to our game specs is being put together by Richard.  This will help keep architectural styles consists throughout each particular Age, preventing a mishmash of unmatching buildings.   A previously mentioned arthropod model has been improved by the addition of better texturing, more accurately jointed legs, and leg hairs. A previously mentioned terrain model has been changed to prevent Relto waterfall impossibilities.  :P A texture for a decorative carpet was finished after sitting for like 2 years without any progress! Base for a building was designed by Richard. Endgame document was improved, script still needs to be written. New decal created by Daniel, a companion to the one mentioned earlier. Tray model created and partially textured. Two new plugins installed by Dan.  One plugin whines if a task isn't updated in 30 days and the other one allows you to arrange tasks to create roadmaps.  The latter has some kind of issue that is preventing me from getting results with it, so I'll need to consult help before it'll be useful.   Paulo gets done with med school in three weeks!  It will be very nice to have him back again.  :)

New Years Update

  Did a New Years clean up of the forum today.  I turned all the unfinished tasks I found into "Issues" so they don't get forgotten about.  This happened often before we switched to Redmine.  As it is, a task may not get worked on for months, but it's still there on the to-do list, waiting to be finished.  I also did some work on a model of a sea critter (Hooray for Blender's sculpt tool and multires!) and drew some statues that I still need to post on the board. 

Merry Christmas!

  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!  And so passes another busy year.  :)  For several months now we've been focusing on the Ages of Caliben and Veegtara.  Right now I'm pleased to say that puzzle design is 80% complete and concept art is about 50% finished.  Modeling is perhaps at 5%?   Did a little revision to one of the journals today to reflect a change in the storyline.  Santiago and Dana, who are doing the Spanish and Croatian versions of the game, respectively, were really quick on the draw--took them less than a day!   Various things created for the game recently: 1. A really nice texture of a plastic logo, meant to be applied to glass 2. Layouts of several new buildings 3. Drawings of special windows and "stuff" to furnish a room 4. A model of a unique tree

More Tidbits

  Did a bit of work on the bug model, but it didn't turn out so I'm going to have to redo that piece of the model from scratch. We're finishing up the electrical puzzle, which we've been working on for like 4 months now.  Whew, I am glad this one is done.   We've been doing a lot of wordbuilding and backstory development.  Gotta have that rich history if you're going to do a Myst game!  :) Paulo's been making some maps for this purpose. 


  Did some work on the Bad Ending today...a task which appeals to the deeply sadistic side of most puzzle game developers.   ;)  ("Hahaha!  Imagine the poor saps trying to figure this one out!")  C'mon, you know we're like that.  Might begin writing the scripts soon, we'll have to see what other stuff needs to be done.  I queried on the Redmine forum, but nobody seems to know how to fix the problems this latest version has created.  -__-