Category: Progress Update

September 2020 Progress Update

Hello everyone! Welcome to the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall. Here’s what we’ve been up to in the last month!

Cutscene Upgrades

Last month we talked about our work into upgrading the skits to make it easier to add content to the game. We mentioned that this type of work would also be going into the Cutscenes, and we were also hoping to tackle a number of bugs.

We’re unfortunately still in the process of converting cutscenes over and fixing bugs, but a majority of the cutscenes have been converted (50/80) and the others are soon to be finished. We plan to go into detail about the sort of changes we made from a coding and workflow perspective next month, but we’d like to show off the type of bugs we’ve been fixing.

This is how cutscenes currently behave when one is required to start immediately when the map/level loads. The level starts, and then for a split second you can see the level incorrectly, before the cutscene starts and sets everything up.

This was a bug that was really bothering us for the longest time. Outside of potentially causing issues with flashing imagery, it doesn’t look great, and if we wanted a single cutscene to play across different levels, it would look really, really bad.

This gif shows the bug fixes we’ve been making alongside the cutscene conversions, and what is currently running in game. As you can see, we no longer have the popping effect and the cutscene starts smoothly as soon as the level transition finishes! It looks a lot better, and it adds an extra level of polish to the game that we hope people will appreciate!

Fall Beta Update

Last month we said we were cutting the Fall beta update down and moving some of it into the Winter update so we could focus on the Gamemaker 2.3 update. Although we’ve been working hard to finish that off, there are still too many bugs, and we require another month to finish it and get the game back into a playable state. So we’ve decided to merge the Fall Beta Update with the Winter Beta Update.

The content at the end of the year will still be what we intended to publish this year, but we’ll be giving ourselves some extra time to make the changes we need to get it done. We hope to provide a very nice Christmas gift to you all!

In the meantime, for Fall we are thinking about releasing an update to the demo. There has been a lot of Quality of Life improvements we’ve made over the past year to generic gameplay elements and we’d like to share it with more of you. We can’t promise a date, but it will likely come once we’ve got the game in a stable state again.

Thanks for all your support, and we hope to have some more interesting news next month!

August 2020 Progress Update

Hello! We hope everyone’s been having a good summer thus far! Here’s what we’ve been up to over the past month!

Gamemaker 2.3 Update

Last month we were able to upgrade Gataela from Gamemaker 2.2.1 to the 2.3 Beta! The new beta has a large number of features that would really help to clean up a lot of the code and make it easier to add and organize content, so it’s something we’ve had our eye on for quite a while. If you follow us on Twitch, you’ve seen us stream some of the process while fixing the bugs.

Overall the upgrade is going well, but it is very, very time consuming. Much more time consuming than expected. While doing this upgrade we are also taking the time to refactor code and clean things up so that we can fix a number of fundamental bugs, and add new features like cutscene skipping.

So as a result of this, we’re planning to shuffle around some of the content from the Fall Beta to the Winter Beta. We’ve gone ahead and updated the Roadmap to better reflect our plans. In summary, we’ll be removing the inaccessible map additions, and moving over two of the MSQ to Winter. This is also a good opportunity to make this change, as we’ve been feeling the amount of content we try to get into the Betas is more than a little ambitious.

Full Screen

Something that is highly requested is the ability to fullscreen the game. A big reason why we haven’t supported it thus far is that Gataela’s UI is not pixelated, while the game itself is. This means that either the pixel art is blurry or the UI is pixelated when scaling.

We took the first step to implement this by making sure all of the UI was rendered on the GUI layer. This way we can specify the UI be rendered at a specific size with interpolation.

At the moment we haven’t yet figured out how we want to scale the pixel art; if we want it to be at whole numbers only (1x, 2x, 3x, etc.) or not. Once this is sorted out, we’ll be implementing the second step, where the pixel art can be rendered scaled without interpolation.

Skit Improvements

While working on upgrading to 2.3, one of the big things we wanted to do was clean up and change how we add skits to the game.

Each one of these skits is a small scene showing off a small interaction between the different members of your party. They are usually very short, so it is very easy in comparison to the cutscenes to write and add.

One of the big problems we had with how the skits were handled programming-wise was that they weren’t very flexible when it came to editing them, and it took longer to add than desired.

How we had it setup before was that each skit was a timeline, and each “node” of the skit was a timeline moment. Timeline moments cannot be easily swapped around, so if we wanted to insert a character jumping, or another one slowly moving in, it would be quite difficult. We also needed to remember a lot of enum codes, sprite file names, and other information, and if any one of these changed or we mistyped them or we forgot them, it would cause a huge headache.

We’ve since adjusted everything to solve these problems, and to have the programming be closer to how the new cutscene system works. The skit shown above now looks like the following in code:

This is a lot less code, a lot easier to edit, and a lot easier to read!

Another benefit of these changes is that we can now implement skit skipping, which is something we are also looking to put in for the cutscenes during the next beta update.

What’s Next?

This month we’re hoping to finish the 2.3 upgrade and related bug fixes, convert all of the current cutscenes (80 of them!) to the new cutscene system, and fix a number of cutscene related bugs, while also adding some new maps and working on the content for the Fall Beta.

Take care, and we’ll see you all next month!

July 2020 Progress Update

Hello again! We hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of summer! We’ll be talking about the beta update that went out yesterday, and the plans for the beta update in Fall (Q3).

Summer Beta Update

Yesterday the Beta Update went live! So if you haven’t given it a look at yet, please do so! We’ve been working on this update since the end of February, so we hope everyone enjoys it.

This update was very large, and quite difficult to get done on time. We added in another quarter of the world, doubling the size of the in-game world, and had to move one of the story segments to the Fall update due to the impact of COVID. That being said, we’ve been able to make quite a lot of progress in rebalancing the battles, adding more features to them, and so on.

One change we’ve made with this update is adding a public bug and feature submission form. If you play through the game and encounter bugs, please check the list, and if not there consider logging it! Similar for features, if you have an idea, feel free to log it! There’s no guarantee that features will be added, and some bugs may not be fixed (i.e. can’t reproduce, not a bug, etc.) but we hope these forms make communicating these issues and ideas easier.

Fall Beta Update

So what’s the next update like? Well, it’ll be mainly focused on finishing off the story in the new province we’ve added. We’ll be fleshing out a lot of the area, fixing a lot of bugs, and working to rebalance the game. As such, we will also begin adding more of the overworld for the Winter update behind the scenes. Also, if you happen to be a fan of the debate battle system, the next update will be rather heavy with debates!

As always, consider giving the roadmap a look if you are interested in more of the finer details.

What’s Next?

In the immediate future we’ll be focusing on adding the maps for the next update and finishing up planning for the next update. We will also be looking at fixing a number of bugs, and hopefully working on upgrading Gamemaker versions.

Take care and see you next month!

June 2020 Progress Update

Hello everyone! We hope that everyone is staying safe and doing well! Here’s what we’ve been up to for the past month!

Battle Improvements

Last month we made a number of improvements to the turn-based battle system focusing around RNG, and worked to ensure that they functioned properly. Such as adding crit, missing, and escape failures back into the game.

In the November demo release we removed the RNG capabilities from the turn-based battles. The main reason was that we couldn’t ensure that if we said a skill activated 30% of the time that it actually did. It required a lot of manual testing, and if by chance we were mistaken and it really worked 3% of the time, then people might become very frustrated with the battles.

As many readers of these posts know, we’ve been working to add unit testing into the game, particularly for stability and battle simulations, but also to ensure these types of situations work properly. It is very easy for a computer to simulate 100 uses of the skill and make sure they are used more-or-less 30% of the time.

A lot of that work has now paid off, and with some fixed up algorithms, we’re comfortable to add a lot of these features back into the battle system. We hope you look forward to them!

Beta Update

Now for some exciting news! The next beta update is scheduled to be released this month! We’re working on finishing up the release and doing a lot of testing and adjustments, but we hope you’re looking forward to it!

We’ve updated the roadmap for this release, and some of the big things coming your way include:

  • A load of battle improvements: HP bars changing colors, criticals, missing attacks, escape failures, equipment & skill stat fixes, and more!
  • A new dungeon!
  • The overworld has doubled in size: new towns, & locations to see and explore!
  • A new party member!
  • More story!
  • And a few other things here and there~

The Fall release has also been updated, so take a look and we’ll be going in more depth with what we have planned for it next month!

What’s Next?

Obviously, we’ll be working to get the release out around the end of the month. Otherwise, we’re looking to focus on improving the cutscene system post-release to fix a number of bugs related to it, and we’re currently evaluating Gamemaker Studio 2.3 to upgrade when it leaves beta status.

Keep well, and we’ll see you all soon!

May 2020 Progress Update

Hello everyone! We’re hoping Spring has sprung and you’re all enjoying the weather. Here’s what we’ve been up to for the past month!

Maps

Something we’ve been doing a lot of recently has been adding new maps (i.e. game levels) to the game. In a previous update we mentioned that the Q2 release will be quite large since we are working on doubling the current overworld size. This is just a small preview of some things we’ve been adding: Steam Factories!

Once more of the towns and cities are added we plan to show some of the new areas off in more detail. But for now we hope you enjoy this!

Status Points

A small improvement we made last month was how we handled Status Points

When your party members level up, they gain status points which can be used to improve individual stats. A common problem that people run into while playing is that they will level up and forget to set the status points.

An improvement we made a while ago was a reminder on the main menu screen that you would have status points to apply. However, that wasn’t really enough, as people would go from one battle to the next without entering into the menu.

Generally speaking, setting one or two points can make a very big difference in battle, so after going through a whole area, and then facing a boss, you might find yourself in a lot of trouble. In fact, lots of people failed when fighting the first boss battle because they forgot to set points.

We came up with a couple ways to approach the problem:

  • Forcing the player to select the status points on the level up screen after a battle (ex. Paper Mario & TTYD)
  • Putting a new icon on the HUD indicating your had status points to spend, and clicking on it would bring you to the status screen

The first case is very, very restrictive and limits the player from doing “no point” runs or hording a bunch of status points for later when they feel things get tough. It also keeps you from looking at your party as a whole and deciding what would work best.

The second option is far less restrictive, serving as a reminder, but it does add another element to the HUD. Also, arguably, it may not solve the issue of forgetting to set the points.

We asked twitter in a poll which option (or another?) they would find would work best, and came up with this:

Most people who filled out the poll would prefer the less restrictive option, so we worked to add a new icon to the HUD. Now beside the Main Menu button, there is a reminder that Status Points are available to be set. Clicking on it will bring you right to the Status screen!

Thank you to everyone who filled out the poll! We hope this will help solve the problem, and we’ll see how it does during the next beta release!

What’s Next?

We are still plugging away at the next beta release, and working to add in the new maps, NPCs and other story events. We’ve been asking a few polls here and there on twitter and will be showing off some more results from them in the near future.

We hope everyone keeps well, and we’ll see you all next month!