Archive for July, 2017

Shadowhand Dev Diary #18: weapon modifiers and inventory stacking

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Weapon Modifiers

I’ve had a busy couple of days adding some neat features to the game.

First I added the ability to show a modifier e.g. +2 as part of the weapon card name (see screenshot above). This means that there can be more powerful versions of weapons found earlier in the game. I also added the same ability to Grog Bombs because they deal a fixed amount of fire damage and later in the game the player will need more powerful ones.

This turned out to be quite a big task because I had baked the card names onto the card graphics (I was going to change to dynamically drawing them if we ever localise the game). However, now that I needed to display +X next to the name I basically had to re-export all the weapon and gear cards in both small and large format which was 136 exports!

I also needed to create a special new small font to draw the card name. It’s no good scaling down a larger font as it just looks bad, it’s always better to export a font at the exact size it’s planned to be used in-game for clarity.

Inventory Stacking

I coded gear stacking so that the player’s various bombs and potions can be stacked in the inventory instead of taking up zillions of inventory slots. The quantity the player has “in stock” is shown on the bottom right of the card on both the small and large versions.

Coding the stacking was a bit complex as it had to handle taking one off the top of the stack and allowing it to be equipped in one of the player’s 3 gear slots and vice versa.

Furthermore I decided to auto-sort the inventory as well so that the weapons/outfit/gear/ability tabs are always sorted in a sensible order. However, new items will still appear in the top left of the inventory tab (and be marked with a new icon) so that players can check them out. This is basically what Dark Souls and the latest Zelda does, so it should be OK :-)

Shadowhand Dev Diary #17: sound effects

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

Shadowhand has got a LOT of sound effects, mostly supplied by Power Up Audio, though a few are ones I have carried accross from older games such as Regency Solitaire.

There are:
- 71 UI/gameplay sounds
- 60 combat sounds
- 73 Voice over samples (for enemies)
- 119 ambient background sounds
Total: 323

And for good measure there are 37 music tracks!

Each one of those sounds (and music tracks) has been specified, created, plugged into the game, tested/edited, and finally mixed. That’s a lot of work for Power Up Audio and me as the guy integrating them into the game.

Attack Sequence

When an enemy attacks the player in the game several sounds are triggered in sequence with carefully timed delays and balanced volumes so that you can hear them all. For example:
- Enemy yell (triggered immediately)
- Weapon attack sound (like a swoosh of a sword which is triggered immediately but peaks at 250ms)
- Weapon impact sound (e.g. a crunch or squish. This occurs after 300ms)
- Player hurt sound (played at same time as weapon impact sound)

Furthermore those attack sounds have to be heard over the battle music which plays at a volume that doesn’t blot out the general cardplay sounds.

Anyway, for the last couple of days I’ve been listening to the final mix in-game and adjusting some volumes here and there. I listen with headphones on, then through my speakers which are quite large, just for a different perspective.

Shadowhand Dev Diary #16: the final push

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Right, this is it, the final push to get Shadowhand done! July was a scrappy month as I had a lot of Aikido going on plus we went to the Develop conference in Brighton, but now we have a wonderful clear calendar for August and that feels great.

Shadowhand has been in development since June 2015 and it’s the biggest most complex game we’ve ever made. It was supposed to be finished over a year ago but it turns out that making a turn-based RPG combined with a solitaire-style mechanic is a lot of work. Who’d have guessed it? ;-)

TODO List

Here’s a summary of what’s left to do. There are of course many sub-tasks within these tasks and lots of smaller tasks are not listed. The tasks won’t necessarily be completed in this order but it’ll probably be somewhat close to this.

- Finish balancing the first 5 chapters and send to beta testers.
- Finish loot drop dialog code and test all loot drops.
- Finish Gear code (stacking).
- Duel mode loose ends + Chapter/Story related loose ends.
- Some simple new mechanics/goal items e.g. jail bars, wanted posters (requires art and maybe sound effects).
- Request some loose end art items from the art team.
- Finish Active Ability code (Gavel, Stand and Deliver, and loose ends).
- Finish Smoke bomb, extra gear/ability slots, lantern, spooky doll.
- Maybe another Beta test of first 10 chapters.
- Process remaining enemy art for 2nd half of game and plug into game (about a week).
- Finalise some game design questions.
- Finalise weapon/enemy stats and test.
- Edit and test levels for chapters 6 to 22.
- Balance game economy (shop item prices vs earnings etc)
- Set goals for normal/hard difficulty modes.
- Finish End Game screen.
- Edit all game and story text.
- Beta test
- Tweaks based on beta test results
- Steam achievements/trading cards
- Launch!

There will of course be post-launch fixes/improvements and also localisation if the game performs well enough to justify it.

Crunch or what?

Phew, that sounds like a lot of work, but none of them are giant tasks as the bulk of the game and the systems are done. It’s just finishing things off and making sure it plays well from start to end!

My main todo list (in Excel) has time estimates on it and it claims that the remaining work will take 217 hours. Some of the work may go well and take less time but the reality is some of it will take more time and there will be unexpected new tasks cropping up. Currently I’m aiming to have it done by the end of August, which is about 46 hours a week, so not a crazy crunch, but it’s going to be pretty intense.

Anyway, the plan is to keep regularly posting dev diary updates now (and the occasional video) until the game is done.

Wish us luck in finishing it soon! Thanks.