November 4, 2013

Telepath Tactics October 2013 Update

October’s done, and so is a lot of work on Telepath Tactics! Here is the latest update on the game’s progress.

  • We now have old and young portrait variants for NPCs:
  • We’ve finished up animations for the Mentalist, Engineer, and Stone Golem! That leaves us with just three more base character classes to animate–Bronze Golem, Spirit and Skiakineticist–before we move on to animating gender variants and NPC sprites. You can see the Mentalist animations, along with the Stone Golem’s punch animation, in this video; the golem’s throwing and smashing animations are below:
  • We now have an expanded Grass tileset! Included: cliffs, chasms, and less blocky-looking waterline tiles. This gives me a lot more flexibility to create different types of terrain–elevation bonuses and falling damage should now be much easier to add into outdoor battles.
  • The game engine now supports attack sound effects! I’m currently in the process of actually assigning particular sound effects to different attacks. For now, I’m mostly just reusing the sound effects from Telepath RPG: Servants of God. I’d really like to be able to hire a sound designer to create higher quality sounds for the game’s attacks, but our Kickstarter backers were pretty resolute about not wanting to devote resources to hiring a sound designer, so this may just end up being out of our budget. We’ll see how it goes.
  • The biggest feature I added this month has to be the common inventory system. At the end of any battle where loot collection is enabled, the game now automatically dumps the contents of all uncollected item sacks into the common inventory instead of entering loot collection mode. You can now enter a Reserve Supplies menu during battles (if it’s enabled), or during scenes in between battles: drop items from specific characters into the reserve; drag items from the reserve onto specific characters to dole them out; click characters to see their inventories, then equip and unequip items. Now, I know that that sounds like some extremely basic functionality, but you’d be amazed at what a pain in the ass it was to actually program it all.

  • Related to the common inventory system: new script actions! OpenInv opens the Common Inventory menu. I’ve also extended GiveItem, RemoveItem and RemoveItemByName so they can drop items into and out of the common inventory.
  • You can now mod the game’s AOE reticle patterns. Want to create attacks that hit all enemies in an X pattern? Or perhaps attacks that hit in a checkerboard pattern? Now you can!
  • I’ve finished cleaning up procedural dungeon generation; with the few niggling issues left over from last month resolved, I’m now prepared to use this feature in the campaign.
  • Various interface improvements. Notably, attempting to attack an empty space will now simply give you a “No target!” pop-up rather than canceling the attack entirely; and character inventory screens now size properly with inventories containing up to 54 items. Also: the game now prompts you for confirmation when you’re about to attack an ally. This is mostly to prevent newer players from accidentally attacking their own units–which for some reason, happens a lot when people first get started. (Note: if it’s an AOE attack and an enemy is going to be hit as well, the game will assume that you’ve deliberately chosen to take some friendly fire in exchange for nailing an enemy, and won’t prompt you for confirmation. AOE attacks like this don’t exist at the start of the campaign, though, so it’s not much of an issue.)
  • After a bit of playtesting on the flight to LA for Indiecade, I realized that there were a few pretty major bugs I’d accidentally introduced last month while adding new features. Those are now fixed, along with others I’ve noticed along the way.

I return to work at my day job in exactly one week, at which point I’ll be back to working on Telepath Tactics on nights and weekends. I feel satisfied with what I’ve accomplished over the course of this sabbatical–I coded every system I wanted to code, and I still have a bit of time left over to devote to working on extra stuff.

I’ve really enjoyed working on the game full-time these past four months. Part of the goal of the sabbatical was to help me determine if this is something I’d want to do as a full-time job going forward; I’d been having some doubts based on things I’d heard from people I know who are already doing it (Greg Wohlwend, for instance). However, based on my experiences during this sabbatical, I think I have my answer–and that answer is an unambiguous “hell yes, I want to do that!” The work is challenging, creative, satisfying, and ever-changing. I’ve never had a line of work that I find as fulfilling as this. Perhaps more importantly, though, I found that I apparently have the discipline and organizational werewithal to work every single day without needing a boss to tell me what to do.

As of this moment, my medium-term goal is to get Telepath Tactics to sell well enough that I can pursue game design full-time. Telepath Tactics currently sits 93% of the way to the top 100 on Steam Greenlight. Getting onto Steam is an important step toward making sure Telepath Tactics has everything it needs to be financially successful. If you haven’t yet, please take a few minutes and upvote the game, then pass the link along! I’d certainly appreciate it; it will go a long way toward ensuring that I really can leave my day job behind and pursue this full-time, all the time.

Until next time!