Saturday, 8 February 2014

Shun Goku Satsu Assignment: Game Engines Part 2

Game Engines Part 2
For this part we had to create a Ren'py game and the document below features around what I created, however I don't want to produce the link of the game as it shall hopefully be for my last assignment.

For my Ren’py game I’ve based it on Elemental Wolves, which is a story I’ve been working on for a few years; basically this is my personal FMP that I hope to make on the side.  Ren’py itself is mainly used for Japanese novel games such as: Toginu No Chi, Clannad and Kanokon Inc etc. As the story starts off with Faith (the main protagonist), wandering the streets of Osaka, Japan it does collaborate well with the program’s background giving almost an authentic Japanese anime/manga feel. Plus most (if not all) virtual novel games involve the manga art style which is what I’ve planned to stick to.  The perspective of my game is 2.5 D (closely resembling some of the Final Fantasy series) where I have the backdrops as a 3D modelled environment and the characters or certain assets like the sedative, for example, in a 2D format which not shows I can be capable of 3D modelling but drawing on Photoshop as well. In my game I wanted menus so the player can choose Faith’s motives, variables so that depending on what the player first choses, it might lead them back to the main menu and their last option blocked so they have no other choice but to choose something else. Then there’s sound, images and animation which should tempt the players into finding out more if the gameplay is more realistic and they have something else to interact or sympathise with the character- rather than just relying on the story/ dialogue alone.
In my game I’ve managed to do all this, two of the backdrops have been made 3D as I wanted to spend a lot of time into less models, than make loads of environments that don’t look anything like I’ve planned. One of them is based on Osaka’s streets where Faith begins to unfold her story, in there is a Ramen shop with the rafter’s containing a watercolour painting of a bird in a cherry tree and under that I’ve managed to create a tiny Japanese lantern which most shops or restaurants like that, have hanging up. Across the road are two other convenient stores and behind one of them are three red circular neon lights that are usually plastered around the whole city. In my modelling assignment I did say I wanted the environments to have not only a Japanese theme to them but possibly an English theme, hence why I created a town hall that looks a little like a bridge underneath. To be honest with this scene I did enjoy making it as I’m not the best at modelling, but once I was able to break pieces down my looking at certain photographs of the city and focusing on one picture at a time rather than looking at the bigger picture, the buildings started becoming more accurate and in time I felt I was able to make little things like the lantern, the neon lights and even the glass ‘oddly-shaped’ dome that sits on top of the town hall. I think what really done the scene a bit of justice was having the multiple lights lit around it, hopefully giving that night-time feel to player when they begin the story.
The other scenes were an alleyway and a deadend which were easier to do. Although I didn’t have enough time, I would’ve liked to have finished my graphite dragon texture that would appear on the building with windows. To be clear I still enjoyed this environment but I don’t think I could’ve added anymore models than what was already there. There’s a long building that has three windows which turned out ok, at the side is a brick wall leading onto another brick wall which behind that is cherry blossom trees. I made a random chair in one of my modelling sessions and felt really happy that it looked like something and imported it, into the scene and adjusted it to make a bench for that atmosphere. The only thing I had a problem with was the lightning and where I could put it. Above the windows I put three spotlights there so it would look as though there are security lights there and one just in front of the brick wall on the left-hand side to make out it’s a street light. There would’ve been lights amongst the trees but I felt that maybe might be too much for the player and look extremely messy so I decided against that.  When it came to rendering these pictures I did set them at a resolution of 800x 600 which is what my Ren’py format is set at and saved the pictures as a JPEG file, easy enough to code down and for the program to work with.
For the drawing which I found the easiest part, it did take me quite a while to first think about what actions and poses the characters would be doing in the game write a list and then create concept art and final drawings to be produced in Photoshop.  Already I had quite a bit of the coding done so I knew some postures that my characters would be doing like walking, becoming tired, angry or confused. I think what threw me off a little was one of the characters had already been re-vamped from the final designs I created a few years ago but only when Faith would arrive at Crystal Dynasty- not during the streets or Sukkusu house scene. Others like Lord and Madame Smith, Ichi, Suso and Diane hadn’t had their re-vamping yet and it was something that needed to be done so there would be a final design. Luckily when I finished that it was simply just drawing loads of different poses and scanning them into my computer to work on Photoshop, although I had the concept art and designs done I hadn’t coloured them in- so again I resorted to the final designs that were drawn and inked and had to colour them in before started these Photoshop pieces. Before I saved my images, again I re-scaled them to a size of 800x600 (which I thought I did) and saved them as a PNG file, so that when I did add them into the game there would be no backdrop and only the characters of what I’ve drawn. Sadly I didn’t save all my files to that size and it turned out during the coding I had to re-size most of my images by zoom 0.5- zoom 1, so that the player could see them correctly.
Animation and sound wasn’t that hard. Initially I did want voice actors to say the lines of my characters so it added a little more to the game, but a couple of the people already chosen for the roles couldn’t do it for certain reasons and there wouldn’t be enough time to find these people in under a week. The sounds I found on people who already collected them and have written this in a bibliography so the websites have been credited, once I got them I changed them into a .ogg file which is compatible with Ren’py. The animation though I did struggle with a little but I noticed if I show the images and then put with dissolve underneath, it would make a transition from one piece to the next giving almost a heart-beat change which is great  for adding tension which in the story, Faith does get caught by catchers and I wanted to add that tension for the audience as Ren’py doesn’t allow you to add cinematic animation to show the players but can allow you to add transitions that will change the player’s features if drawn correctly.
Production Log
The modelling itself had taken me about three weeks to be full UVed, textured, lightning/camera’s added. To be honest I didn’t really record down what I had completed in what lesson as the Alleyway I worked on at college, looking back I remember creating a proxy scene and started working on the building in one lesson, another trying to UV all my models and having a go in Mudbox and another doing texturing and lighting which was my last lesson (3.12.13). In one of my Game Engine lessons I modelled a chair to be put in UDK and decided I wanted it to be in my scene, so in the last modelling lesson I added the chair, UVed and textured it.
For the drawing I started on 19.11.13 with creating the concept art for the characters. After a week a later I spent two full days doing the drawings of different poses and week after that putting them in Photoshop and adding the line art. Only on 29.11.13 did I colour in my characters and started making some of my backdrops on Photoshop like another alleyway and the Sukkusu House. The sounds I found on 1.12.13 and spent the night adding them into my coding.

The coding itself I started not long after our interim deadline and did leave it at points to do other things for other FMP groups like concept art, or work on other assignments or to see to things at home. During the last two weeks though I really got into the coding and added more in like music and menus trying to picture how I would want my game to pan out. On the 4.12.13 I added in variables and had a huge problem trying to get them to work, unfortunately I have forgotten to screenshot this and show what I’ve done but in the end after some help from my tutor I did finally get them working and make the game do what I want, where if the character chose to ‘flee’ they would eventually be brought back to the same option and the ‘flee’ button would be disabled. Below though are the errors that came up when I tried to load the game, and I’ve shown how they can be fixed.

Problem 1
My first problem was I forgot to type in the music’s format so that when my game played, it couldn’t find the music files I had typed in my code. Basically all I had to do was write down the music to mp3, but later I changed this to .ogg  format as Ren’py didn’t pick up mp3/wma formats. Later in the code I had found out you had to write :
Play music (or sound) “Sounds/tiresscreeching.ogg” fadeout 0.3. This is basically what you had to type in your code for the music to appear. The fadeout 0.3 will be how long it will allow your music to play before fading out, this sound only lasted 3 seconds so I set the fadeout to that.

Problem 2

If we look above you can see that I’ve typed my image files as JPEGs when in fact they are PNG files, all I had to do was change the file format on the Ren’py, and so the program could find them in my “Images” file. 
Problem 3
The problem I had here was I had given the program too much to take in with the images, so what I had to do was cut the phrases into lines so the program didn’t get confused.

Problem 4

As the ‘and’ phrase didn’t work I decided to take this out and stop confusing the program, so that’s what I did and it finally worked.

Problem 5

This is where the trouble started, as you can see here  I didn’t put a gap between my = sign and the True, which was my first problem. After that the problem was I had assigned ‘failure’ as a variable in the wrong the place.

Problem 6

If we look after the “Leave it here~” I didn’t put a colon in there, so the program didn’t quite know what to do. Below you can see I put the colon in and the game re-worked again.

Problem 7

The problem is here, I’ve made my image too big to fit properly on the screen. This is a pretty simple problem so all I had to do was change it to : zoom 0.5 as shown below.

Personally I felt my game did lack in a couple of places after I compiled it into a zip file and re-played it a few times. By looking at my Beta testers who tried both ways of ‘fleeing’ and ‘fighting’ I have noticed that the characters did need more work on them. The reasons why I made my characters bland was because I believed I wouldn’t have the time to finish this Ren’py if I spent too much time making the art look like the rest of pictures by adding shadows and light rays and the line art being cleaner. For next time though I would spend more time making the art look like what I would do for Deviantart instead of panicking about finishing after the deadline.
Another problem was because I didn’t carry on the story any further to where I wanted to, in all honesty I would’ve carried this on if again I didn’t panick about not finishing this in time. Finally the last thing that seems to bother a couple of people was the animation being too fast and sending them ill. In order to stop this I will have to put: with dissolve fadeout 0.5 which will slow down the transition time so people can see the images.
So what can I do for next time?
Not panic and rush my art so it seems messy, but instead put in the same level of detail as I do for my other assignments. Make sure I keep the coding going to the last couple of days so the story will stay on and the animation be slowed down so people can see what happens clearly or make people sick. Otherwise I really enjoyed this project and if I were to continue to make Elemental Wolves it will be on this program.

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