Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Musings

Blogging on a Monday is fast becoming quite the norm. I'm not a terribly interesting person, least when I'm not working on something, so leaving a week in between blogs will hopefully give me some ammunition to shoot you with. The chamber is fairly loaded this week so strap on those bulletproof vests; my trigger finger is getting twitchy.

PSP2, sweet jesus! Sometime last week, Sony unveiled the successor to the hugely popular PSP, okay, well in Japan at least, where they are as common as the mobile telephone. Hop on a bus or tram and gaze in wonderment as your average commuter is locked in a hypnotic trance with a crab-like grip, bashing away on Rathalos or Rathian with 3 other nearby Monster Hunters. There is no doubting the phenomena over East, so why has the uptake in the rest of the world been so modest in comparison, and what will the PSP2, or NGP (Next Generation Portable) as its officially called, do to change that?

Game Changer?
I bought a PSP, one of the first generation models. I was an early adopter. I got some use out of it, mainly when flying back and forth to the UK, but ultimately, it was left to rot. I couldn't even tell you where it is right now. My imported Nintendo DS has also been subjected to a similar treatment. Handheld negligence at its worst. I shouldn't be allowed to buy handheld consoles. Of course this has nothing to do with why the PSP hasn't been the worldwide success Sony wanted it to be, but I had to get it off my chest, I'm a bad owner. 

I talked about the iPhone and DS and what they mean to gaming in my last blog, but they're presence is relevant here. What do all 3 platforms have in common? They are designed to be used on the go. 2 of these prevail with flying colours, whereas 1 falls criminally short. When the PSP was released in 2005, it seemed like the promised land of portable gaming had arrived. A Playstation 2 I can play on the bus? How awesome is that? That in itself, was its biggest issue. I owned a PS2 and the games I enjoyed on that platform, were also being released on the PSP. I remember owning Pro Evolution 4, I think it was, on both platforms. Stating the obvious, but they were pretty much identical. It got a fair amount of use whenever I was on the plane, but otherwise, I would sit on the couch and pick up my PS2 pad and play it on a big TV. 

It seems as if Sony has never quite understood the handheld market and with the announcement of the NGP, they look to be headed in a similar direction to its predecessor. You'd think they'd have learnt from past mistakes. Sure, its features are simply mouthwatering, but its shortcomings are more prominent. I can't imagine sitting on the bus, firing up Uncharted, for a quick climb up a viney wall and a tense build up to a key part of the level, only to be interrupted by my stop. I want a short, fun, meaningful blast to get me through the boring 30 minute journey. Not a console standard game, where pacing is slower and where that instant sense of gratification is almost always, never to be found. 

Oh Drake, now I can take you everywhere!
I own game consoles for a reason; I leave the heavy hitters to the comfort of my couch and 32" HDTV. I think Sony have gotten it all wrong here. Playstation Mini's were an attempt at offering twitch and on-the-go gaming, but fell miserably short. Why? The cost in comparison to the Apple store, is literally hilarious. You can buy a Mini for €3.50, or find something almost identical or better for either free or less than €0.79 on the Apple store.

The touch screen is an obvious attempt at attracting the Apple crowd. It is a smart move, but I don't see how it will add much to games like Uncharted or Killzone, where you have to swipe the screen to move Drake over a collapsed tree, or tap a Helgast in melee range in order to punch his lights out. The demo of both, looked rather awkward in that you have to take your left or right hand off a thumbpad and hold that heavy looking beast with the other. It seems counter-intuitive and more of a gimmick that a gameplay enhancement. It also doesn't look or feel natural; moving a human male over a log or up a ledge by swiping the screen in the right direction. We have motion controls with the iPod, Kinect, Wii and Playstation Move. Motion control is supposed to serve as a natural extention and fit within the context of the game. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories on the Wii is a fine example. The Wii remote serves as a torch for your ingame character. It feels as if you are actually holding and moving his torch and it complements and adds immersion to the overall experience.

Free food.. Sweet!
It's early days yet of course and most software on show are either tech demos or early builds, but I just hope the developers don't get lazy in the face of PS3 quality graphics, in favour of innovation and genuine gameplay enhancements. Also, it's supposed battery life is 3-5 hours, by my estimation, would become a right pain in the arse. 

Enough about the PSP2 then, only time will tell whether or not aiming for the hardcore market is a smart move on Sonys part. Development budgets are set to be close to that of AAA console titles, so it will be interesting to see what software support will be like. Either way, its a fantastic piece of kit that will no doubt please at least one market. 

OK! What else have we got. Dead Space 2! I hope we've all picked up a copy by now? Survival horrors are few and far between. Good ones are even more rare. Exquisitely polished, oozing with Hollywood style production values, it feels great to be back in Isaac's boots. The atmosphere, attention to detail and sound are all top notch. It's hard to imagine that EA was the same studio I loathed not so many years ago. I was so sick of seeing the same old crap, churned out year after year. The publishers recent shift to focus on quality rather than quantity, is blatantly apparent here.

Hey! Pick on someone your own size!
If you enjoyed the first Dead Space, or missed it entirely, you can jump right  into this with its thoughtful 'Previously on Dead Space.." introduction. It does lull a bit in the middle, a little too much of 'Get from point A to B', but it has really picked up again since chapter 10. (15 in total) Man, the amount of times I have literally jumped out of my chair or screamed like a little girl. I was more than happy to part with my limited funds to support Visceral Games and their hard work. Hopefully it will do the biz in the charts and enough to warrant a third entry in the series. 

I also picked up a copy of LittleBigPlanet 2. As previously stated, I didn't entirely enjoy the first, but my god how the second has improved. The campaign has been an absolute blast to play. Find someone to play with if you can, it adds to the experience tenfold. The variety on offer is breathtaking. Each world has its own visual theme and they are packed full of goodies and bonus levels (Basketball, Rat Racing, Air Hockey to name a few..) and had my brother and myself in absolute stitches all day yesterday.

Game Changer!
 I've mucked about with the tools and they do seem more accessible than LBP1 but I have yet to get properly stuck in. I did make a sort of blade-runner'esque shop though, complete with a Neon sign that had alternating lights and even one part that was fizzling as if the element was about to burn out. Looked pretty cool, I must say. 

In other news, I recently received an email to confirm my interview for a place on a 1-year degree course that I hope to attend commencing September. It takes place on March 14th and I have to prepare a short presentation on a Media subject that I would be doing my dissertation on. I also have to start preparing for a short presentation I will be doing on Craggy Island, on the 19th of Feb. It's all go!

See you next Monday. Have a good week.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Don't you just love Monday's?

Its been a strange week. Everything feels different. As I'm currently spending less time in front of my PC, I've made a habit out of having to rewind chunks of House Season 6. Sorry Greg, but the patient cases aren't enough to hold my attention. (Can anyone honestly understand all that medical mumbo-jumbo?) Browsing the web on my iPhone has become something of a mini-obsession. It's just so convenient and effortless. I couldn't justify buying an iPad, but if there was ever a guilty pleasure..

Quickly changing topic here, but check out the L.A Noire trailer from Rockstar. This looks set to be a Game of the Year contender, with its innovative face morph and lip syncing technology. Looks like a mix between Heavy Rain and GTA IV. Mark your calenders for May 17th!



Back onto the iPhone buzz. I've also been gorging a bit on the Apple Store. Cut the Rope, Angry Birds and Pocket God are amongst the credit-card-denting culprits, though at less than €1 euro a pop, who's counting? Clearly designed toe be played in short bursts, this is handheld gaming at its finest. Makes you wonder how Nintendo and Sony will justify charging up to €49.99 for 3DS and PSP2 games, when such frighteningly addictive little games are available for peanuts. With emergent tech such as Unreal Engine for iOS, paving the way for more 'blockbuster' mobile gaming, will we begin to see a shift in consumer buying behaviour over the coming years? The all-conquering DS series is for the first time, in danger of being knocked off of the top. With the impending release of the 3DS, I think Nintendo are positioned nicely to dominate this space for a while yet, but with the evidence on show and how more and more 'triple A' studios are getting behind mobile gaming, the shift might come sooner rather than later. You only have to try 'Infinity Blade' on iOS to be convinced. Not to mention browser based gaming growing in strides.

No doubt the 3DS will sell like hot cakes, but unless Nintendo address the massive pirate business that has effectively killed software sales for previous DS iterations, I can see studios being somewhat reluctant towards producing the goods. Anyway, competition is always good and even Nintendo could do with a bit of a shake up.

So I've ordered a refurbished PS3. My ill conceived attempts at fixing my borked 40gb model over the weekend, resulted in a blunt screwdriver and a cracked chassis. Never been much of a handyman. It will set me back €160, but hey, they are replacing it with a 120gb Slim, so I can't complain. I'd eventually need one later in the year anyway, what with The Last Guardian and Uncharted 3 pegged for release. My reasoning behind shelling out, came down to timing and the gravitational pull of one game. Little Big Planet 2 was released last friday as I'm sure you are all aware. I like the first one but never really got into its seemingly over complex toolset. I found it a bit tedious and didn't have the patience for it. Things have changed since then and since it was revealed last year, I found myself toying with the idea of creating some content for it. My biggest gripe with the first game, was that no matter what you created, it always ended up feeling like Little Big Planet. The toolset has been expanded so much so that you can now create a game from practically any genre imaginable. Check out the 'Afterburner' video below. The possibilities are breathtaking.


I had a chat with my brother earlier and after throwing some ideas back and forth, it looks like we will work together on a Little Big Planet project. He's quite a talented writer (Would have written the CI script, but his new born baby got in the way!) and is hugely into cinematics and direction so it could be a great little collaboration. I'm practically salivating at the thoughts of getting my hands on this. There is the fear that it might not stick with me, as with the first one, but my thought process and methodological way at approaching things has vastly improved since 2008. It will most likely be built on a short schedule, what with Dragon Age 2 on the horizon amongst a pluetora of other things and as variety is indeed the spice of life, I plan to dabble my hand in as many different tools and platforms as possible. I would love to do more Dragon Age content, but I will have to weigh up my options and try and pick the most beneficial route.

So a week has passed since the release of Craggy Island. I must say, I miss working on it. I miss the assurance of knowing exactly how I would spend my evenings and days off. I hate not having a plan or something to think about excessively. Boredom really isn't good for me. I've also realized, that for the time being at least, I enjoy making games more than I do playing them. Feedback for Craggy Island in general has been far better than I had ever imagined. To think that there has been hundreds of people who have sat down and enjoyed something that I have created, is a feeling that is hard to describe.

Dinner is ready, so I'll leave it there. Oh, one last thing. I have applied for a the position of 'European Marketing Assistant' for Riot Games, the studio responsible for the fantastic 'League of Legends'. It's a free-to-play, tower defense-style PVP game, with Blizzard-esque artistic qualities and ferociously addictive ability based gameplay. You can buy the full version to unlock more characters and it uses a micro-transaction system for unlocking more content. I implore you to check it out, I'd love to find the time to play again. You can download it and start playing now. You can also play versus AI if you aren't into multiplayer gaming. Anyway, the position was advertised via gamedevelopers.ie, it sounds like a fantastic opportunity. The job is based on 15minutes from where I live too.

Over and out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Updates, Shmupdates.

How are we doing on this fine, frosty day? My sister keeps going on about how the world is going to end next year. Apparently George Lucas believes so too; there are birds falling out of the sky where he lives. My sister says that scientists are aware of the impending doom but don't want to unleash utter chaos upon the world by telling everyone. Gosh lads, at least give use some sort of warning; it would be nice to have a few days off work before we all get burnt to a cinder, like those poor people in the playground in Terminator 2. What an epic way to go though right?

It has been a relatively smooth launch for Craggy Island. Only some minor bugs have been found and generally the feedback has been fantastic. I'm delighted that people have been enjoying it.

Patch 1.1 has been released, which fixes some of the issues that have been fed back from the public. A big oversight on my end, came in the form of excluding any sort of 'GAME OVER - YOU ROCK' message, once you had completed the game. I went one better and included something else for the eager beaver to discover. I shall say no more! Some of the other issues confusingly weren't occurring on my end, nor Timelords. Granted I'm not running from the DAZIP install, but Timelord is. Very strange. All I could do was delete the incriminating files and re-export them. I've instructed users to drop the files into their core/override folder. The engine reads these files as a priority over any other files of the same name, in other directories. Hopefully this has solved the issues people have been having and will result in a smoother experience overall.

So what have I been up to then.. Nothing much actually. Already thinking about the next project. I've been asked to bring Craggy Island along to an indie development day being held in Temple Bar in Dublin City on the 19th of February. I'll be doing a short presentation/post-mortem on Craggy Island to a small group of indie devs and industry enthusiasts. It will be a great opportunity to meet some new people who are in or interested in working in the games industry. Really looking forward to that. I'll have to get working on drumming up a powerpoint presentation.

Went to see 'The Next Three Days' last night. Really enjoyed it. Had me on the edge of my seat and guessing until the end. It's a little far-fetched but Russel Crowe manages to make it work with his on-screen commandeering. If you liked 'Law Abiding Citizen', you'll enjoy this for sure. It's a better movie than what the critics make it out to be. Also been playing some Vanquish. Beautifully realized shooter; if a little arcadey for my liking. Fun in short blasts, there is enough variety in enemies and bosses to keep it interesting. Some fairly epic set-pieces that certainly raise the bar for action games.

Over this weekend I will be recording a bunch of videos of some of the character conversations in Craggy Island. A fair few of the voice actors that generously supplied the use of their vocal chords, have no access to Dragon Age: Origins, let alone the toolset. I'll be sending on videos of their character in action so they can add them to their portfolio, if they so wish. As I've said before, I'm also toying with the idea of migrating Sticky Brain to a custom website. Blogger is great, don't get me wrong, but I feel like I will have more control of the layout and graphical design if I go custom. For the time being however, I will be trying out various template changes and also investigating how to add extra pages to the navigation bar.

That's it for me for now, whatever you're doing with your day, I hope it's a good one!

Monday, January 17, 2011


                                         Available to download here

For the next 2 weeks I will sit on my arse and do absolutely nothing. Mind, that's not likely to happen since I get like a hen on a hot griddle if my mind isn’t at least partially stimulated. Might be a good time to get through the huge backlog of games I have stacked up on my desk. Have a tonne of movies to watch as well. What else will I do.. Oh yes, a long, long drive is in order. Being the small country that we are, if you pick a direction and drive for 2 hours, you’re likely to end up somewhere nice. Nothing like clearing the head with a good big drive in somewhat unfamiliar territory. Will probably have the Tron soundtrack on. Hans Zimmers Inception, too, with a sprinkle of John Murphy. Yes, I like my ambient, composer music. Although that will remind me of sitting here, working on Craggy Island, which is what I’m trying to rid my mind of.. Blargh!

Welcome to Craggy Island

Coincidently, my last long drive into the wilderness was about 10 months ago. I had taken a weeks annual leave, with the intention of deciding what it was I wanted to do with my life. I remember that morning very clearly. Blue skies, the quietness of the roads as everyone was in work, constantly flicking through rubbish radio as the Ipod I had on charge all night, somehow hadn’t charged at all.. Mind you, I didn’t get very far. The intention was to get at least get outside of Dublin. Meath is 10 minutes down the road and is chock full of beautiful countryside, but for some reason I always go the other direction. I won’t note to self, it‘s irrelevant here. It’s like travelling through France, but the minute you get off the ferry, you fall asleep, only to awake as you arrive at your destination. The journey is the best part.

So yeah, I didn’t get very far, yet in other ways, I did.

Production Schedule

Craggy Island has been the focal point of my life for the past 9 months and finally, after something like 600+ hours of work, it’s done and available to download. I’m one part hysterical, one part scared, one part disappointed.

Hysterical because I’ve actually released something.  I’ve achieved my goal and there sure is a sense of elation. There was part of me that felt like I’d never see this through. That part is well and truly gone and is not likely to show up ever again. Never doubt yourself. I’ll take that to my grave.

Scared because it’s scary! Not the module, but the whole experience of releasing and hearing peoples opinions on something you’ve been so close to for so long. Critic will be invaluable and feedback crucial. I will be extremely thankful to anyone that downloads and plays it in its entirety. Even more thankful if you let me know what you think.

Disappointed because I don’t think that it turned out any good. Ok, it was my first attempt at a mod of any kind, in that respect I’m happy with the results, but I hold myself to ridiculously high standards and am a perfectionist to a fault (I’m working on this!) That side of me is not happy.

Development began in late April. As I was completely new to mod building, many a mistake where made, some of which have left an impression on the end product. The terrain that is present in the final release, is the first terrain I ever created in the toolset. In hindsight, I would have built some dummy terrains before committing to the final one. Of course problems were going to arise and as they had only showed their ugly head after I had much of the terrain moulded out, I couldn’t simply start over. I had no idea about terrain chunks and lightmapping, so I was more or less using the default settings for a new terrain. I ran into many problems early on with lighting and it seemed that I had committed some grave errors. Nothing was working, everything seemed broken. I was out of my depths and there was seemingly no hope. I just persevered. After weeks of hair pulling and scouring forums, I had finally gotten light maps to work in my favour and things started to pick up from there.

At this point, I had absolutely no idea of the road that lay ahead. Building the Island turned out to be the easiest and most enjoyable part. The Island itself, minus some tweaks and polish, was finished mid-July.

A Map of the Mind

Originally the idea was to create some dungeons. Having played WoW and of course Dragon Age, I felt that DA had lacked the distinguishable pacing and encounter design that makes WoW so enjoyable. That idea didn’t materialize, as I had looked at some of the available dungeon models and felt that they weren’t going to support what I had had in mind. (Not to mention the scripting needed!)

The next idea, was indeed to create a small island. At this stage, if I had built that and it looked good, that would nearly have sufficed. I knew I’d add a story and some quests, possibly a boss fight or two, but I had no idea of the complexities of doing so and assumed I could just throw stuff together relatively quickly once I had the Island complete. I had actually planned on doing the scripting myself as well. I actually got high grades for programming in college and felt that I could get my head around it. I’m not ashamed to say I was na├»ve and while I eventually did do some snippets of scripting, without Timelord, there would be no Craggy Island as you see it today.

An Early Render of the Inn

I was adamant about doing every aspect of the project myself. I wanted the experience in all channels, primarily to see how everything worked and to gain a full understanding of the modular nature of game development and how everything slotted together to work in tandem. Secondarily, I was curious to see which skill set that I not only enjoyed the most, but also, the one I was most suited to.

As September approached, I knew that I would have to find someone to do the scripting. At this point, I also began building the characters and started work on the dialogue. There was no point looking for a programmer if I only had an Island as a blank canvas to give them, so as the first few characters and script had been laid out, things just fell in place. Perfect timing from Timelord (no pun intended) as he replied to one of my blogs and from there, things were on course for a November release. There was also a solid plan in place. Conceptually, the module had a beginning, middle and end. It would be comprised of some quest chains, some cutscenes and a small dungeon encounter at the end.

Design Document

One of the big disappointments for me with CI, is the script. I’ve determined that I’m no script writer. Quest design is also rubbish. I’d of liked the module to be longer too. With the time scale we had, I decided to cut our loses and think small, so it all turned out rather plain and dull, I think. It’s also not much of an investigation; the narrative leads you in one direction, with little to no room for trial and error. There was some big ideas floating around, some really unique quest designs that would have required a part-recoding of the DA GUI amongst other things, but there wasn’t time to realize these things. One example being, an integrated clock. I’ll just say that there is a certain time pressure aspect to the module and I wanted it emphasised. How long you took to finish the case, dictated how tough the final encounter was, as well as giving the player access to multiple endings.

After months of passing emails and B2B files, CI started coming together. We had our fair share of game related issues and delays. I had to re-write portions of the script (still rubbish, mind!), sometimes things just flat out didn’t work and I reckon I’ve rendered lightmaps about 20 times now, those little black jaggies just never stopped showing themselves. Bioware use a more powerful renderer in-house and the python lightmapper we’ve been supplied with, is frankly rubbish. I’ve also recently discovered that certain models were not rendering at distance, so I had to go and create low-LOD versions, which forced a re-render too.

As October hit, the worry about voice-overs kicked in. I knew this would be a huge undertaking but it was crucial to a module that relies so heavily on immersion and character. ~450 lines of dialogue have been recorded by various artists. It took 2.5 months of chasing, emailing, re-recording, sampling, directing and outright headaches, but it got done in the end. A huge thank you to everyone involved. Some of it turned out really well, others, not so well (mainly down to poor quality microphones) but overall, I’m really happy with the results. DahliaLynn also provided some excellent feedback on camera work and dialogue flow; even if I didn’t have time to implement the changes across the board, I will carry this advice forward.

To think that simply adding the voice-overs was the end of the line, I had a rude awakening when I discovered that I had to add specific animations to every one of the 430 lines, to make sure they were as believable as possible. That alone, was enough work for one person. Add in the building the stages and changing cameras; it was a fairly substantial undertaking.

Character Mapping

Music was supplied by Daniel Byerly, who kindly allowed me to use his pieces. It took a bit of effort to get it into the game - note of thank you to Cuvieronius of the Baldurs Gate Redux team for this excellent Wiki tutorial. The choice of using custom music was an easy one after listening to Daniels work. Be sure to check out his YouTube page - Alacazam.

Running out of steam here. All in all, Craggy Island has been a massive experience. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very talented people and for that, I’m extremely grateful. It was all so worth it. Again, as massive thank you to everyone that helped out, particularly TimelordDC. He has given me much of his time over the last 4 months, even though he has his own module to complete and a job and family to take care of. No doubt I tested his patience on more than one occasion! I’ve also learnt a fair bit of scripting over the past few months. Thank you Dilip, for everything. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Be sure to add his blog to your reading list and follow his progress on Blood and Lyrium. Having read the design document, I can tell you first hand that it sounds terrific. He’s also given so much help and support to the Dragon Age community - something that should be acknowledged.

It has been a tough 9 months. Ok, in average I’ve spent almost 3 hours a day on this, but even when I’ve been away from the computer, it’s been with me. I did try separate myself from it with varying degrees of success, but it was always on my mind. I’m sure that will get better with time, being able to distance yourself from your work, will be a vital skill to possess in the industry, I imagine. Not only because you can lose perspective on your work, but also to avoid burnout.  I never did once feel burnt out, but I’ll sure enjoy my few weeks break before I set my sights on the next adventure.

One thing is for sure though, I will not be undertaking so much work, from so many different disciplines again. Level design, for me, feels like the most natural fit. Now that I have ‘credentials’ so to speak, I will most likely look to join a larger team. Building one is also a tantalizing prospect. In future, I’ll leave the writing to the writers and the cutscenes to the animators. I’d like to now focus my efforts on level design and improve my skills there. I’ll have to wait and see what becomes of Dragon Age and its toolset once DA2 is released. If they update the existing tools to support development for DA2, I might very well stay put. Branching off has its obvious benefits though; we’ll see.

This is the end of the first, of what will hopefully be many more journeys to come. An exciting year lies ahead with many possibilities. If things go to plan, I’ll be a college student once more, come September. With budget cutbacks and pay cuts taking a chunk out of my projected savings, it might not happen this year. I won’t risk anything, so if I have to work and save for another year, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. More time to develop, right?

I hope that you’ll get something out of Craggy Island, but whether good or bad, I’d really appreciate any feedback I can get.

Thanks to anyone that has been following my blog. I have plans to move it to a new custom website over the coming months, so stay tuned for that.

See you on the other side.

Paul Conway

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Final Hurdle

Pretty exhausted. This week has been insane! I have worked a 42 hour week and every other hour, has been spent on getting CI ready for tomorrows launch. Literally. Feels absolutely fantastic though, having my own little mini-crunch here. I'm actually loving every minute of it; even with some sheer moments of frustration.

This time last week, everything seemed well on track, with plenty of time to spare. I thought I had actually over-budgeted for the release date, just in case any unforeseen last minute issues popped up. We hit final build around Wednesday or so and its just been polishing since then.

Thursday was an utter nightmare. Much of my evening was spent trying to fix things that had seemingly broke out of the blue. I double checked everything and couldn't find the source. Turned out that I had forgotten to re-compile all scripts after I had cleared the export directories. I had individually compiled the related scripts but had obviously missed one or two vital ones. Stress was at an all time high at that point, but it got sorted in the end.

So where do we stand now? I'm going to have some dinner, then put some hours in. From the last few playthroughs, it appears that everything works. In fact I'm pretty damn sure everything works. There is one final lick of paint to put on and that will be it, off to the printer!

Anyway, I don't have an estimation for when it will be up tomorrow, but it will be available from Dragonagenexus for starters. The final file size is ~400mb. Going to try chop a bit off there by tightening up the music.

You'll be hearing from me tomorrow.

Paul

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What's with the long face!

Mere days before launch and up cropped probably our biggest issue since, well, ever.

If you've read Timelord's blog, you will notice that we've been having an ongoing issue with a plot flag not firing correctly. It was working perfectly fine on his end, but not on mine. Also, there was a missing resource that other resources (mainly the main area) were looking for and kept giving an error upon load. Looked through old B2B files but couldn't find the culprit. I think it was a resource I had created and deleted again shortly after, but was still linked in with other resources. This led onto me loading an earlier build of the main island area, but that caused more problems and eventually everything started to come a part at the seams.

Thanks to Timelords guidance, I managed to backup the database, delete the Craggy Island module, create a new one and import the full B2B I had sent to TL the previous night (albeit with working quest, which he had tested and had confirmed working) Low and behold, the plot flag still wouldn't fire on my end; yet the B2B I loaded was one TL had packaged up just minutes beforehand. We had already spent hours upon hours trying to solve this one issue and it was becoming incredibly frustrating. Hair was lost and I might be 2 years older, but the decision was made to change that section of the quest entirely and create a new avenue in order to complete the cursed quest. It's actually turned out for the better anyway, at least that's a plus.

Next problem. Since I had entirely reloaded the module with a full B2B load, it completely changed every single one of the 430+ dialogue line ID's. So I've been busy working on renaming every single line of dialogue to their new corresponding ID, re-generating VO and face FXs. So far its taken me about 4 hours and I'm about half way there. We sure didn't need this so close to launch!

Anyway, other than that, everything works. I'll get finished with this tomorrow morning hopefully and can focus on a last couple of play throughs to make sure everything is in order and will be testing a Builder-to-Player build to make sure all files translate properly.

Wish us luck.