Git'n Back Up and Runnin'


This is "The Designer" here, back from my internship. As a team, SoloVid is at a place now where I think we are shifting into "full-time" production (as full-time as a handful of students' free-time work can be). We are looking dreamily at a release around the end of the school year.

As Freedan briefly mentioned earlier this summer, we are now using Git to version-control Maven. For those of you unfamiliar with Git (as was I before the summer), Git is one software which allows multiple people to work on the same set of project files simultaneously and then merge the changes together. On top of that, Git keeps a record of all changes made to the project so that changes may be reverted if necessary. Basically, what that equates to is easy collaboration and an total inability to irreparably mess up the project--no more emailing or Google Docs-ing files back and forth, and no more archives.

We are working primarily out of a private repo on BitBucket in order to hide our assets (we have to save some surprises for the game's release), but we do have a periodically up-to-date mirror of the repo (minus assets) on Github. Feel free to check it out!

Unfortunately, we didn't make our goal of releasing the new and improved demo yet, but we are still hoping to get that out in exactly soon...

Hiccups Hath Occurred


I do not want to be writing this post. Unfortunately, The Designer and I were mistaken to give a release date of August 6 for the demo. Being new to game design, we are still figuring out how long goals will take to reach. Ironically, though I made a blog post concerning time management just last week, The Designer and I are still working on our own. We hope that you will nevertheless continue to follow our progress for the day on which the demo actually releases. In the meantime, here is one of the sprites that you will find in the map:

Thanks for reading,
~ Freedan


Stall

Working with Time


This week has been a busy one in the development of Maven. The Designer and I have been working on our own respective roles for the game, in order to reach the point where we have something playable. One of the most difficult aspects of a project like this is organization. Knowing when to get something done, and how to complete it, can be a challenge. We have been using online resources to help overcome this, such as a nifty organizing website called Trello. Tasks in Trello are created on "cards," which can then be relocated to slots such as "do to," "Finished," etc. Because of this visual representation, we can see everything we need to do and when we need to do it.

This system has allowed content for Maven to be created in a more timely manner. It can also be quite satisfying to literally drag "to do" cards into a "finished" slot! In fact, I need to mark my "blog post" card as finished. See you next week!

~ Freedan

P.S. Don't forget ... the demo releases on August 6! :)

Progress Update


Hello,

This is just another quick update on the demo progress. The designer and I will be looking over the completed demo map tonight, in preparation for adding story and gameplay elements. We would also be happy to hear peoples' feedback on the demo when the time comes. If you are interested, read the August 6 blog post. Again, that is when the demo will be released.

Come back next week!
~Freedan

Demo Next Month


This week, I've been putting together more of the demo map. The Designer and I plan to release it in August. I am aiming for no later than August 6th, specifically. The demo will include a full map, basic NPC interaction, and hopefully even a combat section. In the meantime, The Designer has been experimenting with the engine to see how many sprites we can run, as well as fixing bugs.
I won't be showing any screenshots just yet, although I may show a very, very small screenshot later on, just so that you can see a portion of what The Designer and I are working on. For now, mark August 6th on your calenders!

See you next week,
~ Freedan

P.S. We have a simple playable demo on the site that uses a much older version of the game, with mostly pre - made graphics. This will use custom graphics and an updated, custom engine created by The Designer.

Maps and Demos


Hey guys,

This post is going to be short and sweet. The Designer and I have been working towards creating a working map in Maven. We also decided that I should be put in charge of creating a demo for the game. While The Designer's main focus is creating the finished game, I have been extremely eager to give people a way to experience the game before it is completed. So, that is what I aim to do. I am finishing some preliminary concept sketches (Similar to the one in the previous post) for the demo map, which will then be made into a fully functional map within the editor! It'll be a while before it's done, but that is what you can look forward to in the future.

See you soon,
~Freedan

Pre-Production!


The longer one works with digital media, the more one realizes just how necessary planning is. For Maven maps, this is especially true. After creating the first section of a larger map (The garrison, which I showed in an earlier post), I decided to draw a simple map of the next section: The marketplace.

This section is designed to evoke the crowded feel of a chaotic marketplace while also being simple to navigate.  To the left and right of the market will be living areas, and above it will be the garrison, whose soldiers guard the market from potential thieves. In the game, characters will also hopefully be able to obtain food and armor from market stalls. I hope to create a more immersive environment by including different areas in this map like this rather than just slapping a bunch of tents onto it.

Next up: Actual graphics for the marketplace! For now, here's my quick concept sketch. The Garrison paper is just a list of object markers so that I know where my garrison objects are in the editor.

Enjoy!
~Freedan

Things Aren't Always Epic (And They Don't Have to Be)


This week's post was, at first, difficult to write. The Designer and I were both busy, and I had nothing incredibly exciting to post. The map is slowly being built, and progress is being made. I wanted to write about something big though, like a finished map, or a new game mechanic.

And then I realized that I was falling victim to something I have fallen victim to many times in the past. That is, I wanted a major event or accomplishment to the point that it hindered my other work (Like actually writing this blog post). Sometimes, however, it is the mundane things, such as plugging away slowly at a job, that eventually get things done and lead to a major accomplishment. When that time comes, I will certainly be excited to write about it. For now, however, I will just let you know that the game is being worked on :)

~ Freedan

When the Bugs Bite


Have you ever worked on a project, only to find that it didn't work as intended? This was the issue the Designer and I faced last week. As I was working with the level editor, I found that some of the sprites were not loading correctly. The issue caused map creation to come to a halt as the Designer and I investigated the program. What was going to be a time of map designing and planning turned into a tedious hunt for elusive program errors.

I have found in my many years working with digital art that, whenever I tackle a project, there are always errors that cause considerable frustration and delay. I have also found, however, that I am always glad to have worked through those problems in the end. In fact, the Designer has already fixed the level editor, and I am once again creating levels. Both the Designer and I are learning from this experience and adapting accordingly. For example, code for Maven is now being stored using GitHub, for easy access for members of the project.

Additionally, now that the bugs are gone, I have an updated screen shot for you:

Enjoy!
~Freedan

P.S. There are NPCs in this map! See any other changes that you like? Any that you dislike? If so, let me know. Constructive criticism is appreciated!

A Merging of Elements


Hello! I'm the creator of Freedan Studios, and lead (Well, sole) artist for Maven. I'll be contributing to the blog for a while, as Solovid's founder and lead blogger (He would prefer to remain anonymous, so I'll just call him "The Designer") is busy with an internship this summer. So basically there will be more graphics - related posts for the next few weeks.

One of the most exciting events graphics - wise is the development of the first fully customized map for Maven! The Designer wrote a browser - based level creator which has made level design quite a bit more straightforward than it would otherwise have been. One of the best things about using the level creator is that I can see how all of the visuals in the game will work together as I'm placing them on the map. Until recently everything has been isolated ... tents were separated into their own individual sprite sheets, backgrounds were just single images, etc. Now they are all coming together to form a whole image, be it an outpost or a merchant's camp. Here's a small taste of the first map. I will be making changes to the doorway (E.g. the grass should cover the bottom of it) and adding additional props to make the scene more interesting, but I think this will give you an idea of what levels will be like visually.

Hope you like it!
~Freedan

P.S. I will post an update later this week showing an improved version of this scene.