Hey everyone! Happy May~ Last month we made a huge leap forward with the demo update!
Most of last month focused on updating maps, NPCs and checking to make sure everything both ran smoothly and we didn’t run into weird “getting stuck in collisions when changing maps” errors. These things aren’t quite glamorous to look at, but there’s nothing worse than it actually happening, especially if you haven’t saved in a while…..
Some of you folks will have noticed that last month we made a return to Twitch streaming! We had to stop streaming a couple years back due to a poor internet connection. How poor? Let’s just say on average the download speed was 600kbps.
So we got a new connection last month, which means streaming is now possible again! We don’t have a schedule at the moment, but if it happens it will typically be sometime around 6pm to 9pm EST. To find out when we stream, follow us on Twitch!
We’ll be continuing on as usual. We’re getting closer and closer to feeling comfortable of calling a date for the new demo release, so keep an eye out on the next few updates!
Happy April! I hope everyone had a good March! This past month was more chugging along as usual on the graphics update, but here’s some of the cooler stuff we’ve been up to!
We showed it off a bit last month, but we’re putting in time-of-day shaders! We showed off the sunset one last month, so here’s our nighttime one!
When the game was first conceived, we wanted to have a dynamic day-night cycle for the whole game. Except that is a heck of a lot of work. So we now have it for select maps during select story segments to help set the mood~
We’ve been told that it’s much more impressive in-game so we hope everyone looks forward to seeing them in action!
Another small thing we’ve done is include these quest popup icons whenever you gain a new quest. In the old demo there wasn’t any indicator, and that was fine since it only had main story content. But as we move forward with the new demo, we’ve realized that it’s a big improvement to just know that you’ve picked up a new quest or finished one! Plus, talking to some NPCs will trigger sub-quests, so it’ll be good to know when you’ve picked one up~
Bit of a ~spoiler~ but we’ve been making some interesting upgrades to the Debate Battle System. If you don’t want to hear any of it, best skip to the end.
In the current demo, during the tutorial section, there is a merchant you speak to, to get some bread. In order to convince her to hand it over to you, you need to gather a set of facts from around town and use them.
We’ve talked about it previously, but some of the upgrades we’ve done to the Debate Battle System is to divide gathering statements into three types: Facts, Testimonies and Evidence.
In the current version of the demo, there’s three statements and only one guy has the one you need to advance through the main story. In the new version, these three are now testimonies and gathering all three will produce a statement for you, which you can use in the debate.
Cool! This means we can have less facts, but more meaningful ones.
In the grand scheme of things, no one really cares that one bread seller in Vuni is not selling well, but it being a symptom of a larger problem and being used to back up a conclusion (i.e. poverty in Vuni) is much more substantive.
And there’s more~!
Another minor improvement we made was to add support for custom actions during a debate. For instance, our merchant friend is a merchant, it seems obvious that she might just offer the bread to you to buy. In the old system, this wasn’t possible. To do something like this the debate would end and you could be given the option in a cutscene of sorts. Now she’ll give you the option to buy the bread instead of trading it for info.
This’ll open up more possibilities for more interesting options, so we hope you look forward to it!
Going forward we’ll be continuing to work on the demo update. We’ve been getting a lot of feedback from testers and the build is very stable so we’ll be adding in a bunch more content in the next month! We’re steadily approaching completion, look forward to it~
Happy March Everyone! This past month was shorter than normal, but oddly enough very, very productive. We’re moving along very well with the new graphics update and adding a bunch of polish to the game. One such example is the use of day-of-time shaders, like shown above, and also things like battle animations/transitions, more environmental/background effects during cutscenes and just general QoL improvements.
One of the big things we did this past month was migrate to a new site! This has been something on our todo list for a while and was one of our 2019 goals! We hope you like it, but also if you come across any problems please let us know!
One of the reasons for the new site is to post longer-form blog posts about some of the tech behind the game, maybe some creative decisions, and so on. For the moment we’ve done a quick poll with some potential ideas, so look forward to these in the next coming months!
For the most part, we’re still spinning our wheels on the demo update, and will continue to do so for the next little while. This is our next big goal for the year and we are steadily approaching it thanks to the help of a couple of testers who’ve allowed us to stabilize everything much faster than expected! We’ll likely have more before and afters to show of the old demo and the new one in the next little while. In the meantime, I hope what everyone has seen so far has gotten them excited about what’s to come!
Final Overworld Maps – 14.2% in progress; 71.7% complete
Worked on adding new music
Worked on updating the UI
Worked on updating and adding new animations
Worked on updating older maps
Worked on a new website
Optimized the new shaders
Added Battle Screen Transitions
Revealed more new characters
Added a file version number to save files
Added location popup information to some maps
Added shadows to Wynoa houses in the overworld
Add a dev mode that will identify objects which will cause the player to be stuck into on map load/spawn
(i.e. this shouldn’t happen anymore)
Changed the run button to be a toggle between running/walking for hand comfort
Changed Pharyon and Klatchez town layouts completely
Modified some of the opening sequence changes back to the original
Set the max number of file saves for the game to 10
Worked on updating more dialogue for older cutscenes
Fixed a bug where the new opening cutscene would lag on computers with 8GB of RAM or less
Fixed a bug where loaded skills would be drawn off screen except in certain situations where they were on screen
a bug where switching between the main menu and the overworld would
have roofs, water, grass effects, house shading and other effects
Fixed a problem where some cutscenes would freeze
Fixed a shader issue which caused more complicated screen transitions to draw incorrectly
Coming up next:
This past month focused on optimization, bug fixes, updating older maps, new music, new art, and some much needed polish.
Also this update is unfortunately very late due to a lack of internet.
2018 in Review
Now that we’re firmly in 2019 land, I wanted to talk a bit about 2018 and how much we actually got done!
know for a lot of people who have been following the development for a
long time that it doesn’t feel like much has happened the last couple of
years. As you may or may not be aware, due to family situations I had
to stop all work in 2017 shortly after the Steam greenlight.
I started up work again in 2018, I spent a lot of time thinking about
the feedback from everyone from the demo, how to make the game better,
and how to finish it faster. Most of this year was putting everyone’s
feedback into the game.
So 2018 was a really big transitional
period. I’ve been working a full-time job since that time in 2017, so
all my work on Gataela has been part-time since then, not to mention
most of the Gataela team work part-time to begin with.
And with all that going on, here’s how 2018 went for the game:
Finished all of the skit/debate images, including updating older ones
Changed all of the animations to be 8-frame+ instead of 4-frame
Changed the turn-based battles to be from the side view instead of top-down
New pixel art style for the characters!
Added new character battle animations
Re-did over half of the battle skill animations, and all of the character battle animations
Re-did all of the overworld sprites
Re-did all of the UI (25+ screens)
Added a new screen for summarizing known debate facts
Went to two conventions (Anime North, Otakuthon) and showed off a sneak preview of the new demo
Added run animations + the highly requested run button
Doubled Gataela’s soundtrack (~70 minutes long now)
Added a screenshot function to the game
Added a unit test framework (i.e. more future stability)
more polish to debate battles: a countdown sfx, debate images with more
expressions, the character profiles will animate more based on what was
Updated Vuni’s layout to make it easier to get around
Redid Pharyon and Klatchez, and other in between maps
Created a new opening sequence, with new animations and music
Moved beta testing to Steam
Optimized the heck out of the game, including reducing textures, switching to using shaders, optimizing shaders, etc.
Saving is now instant (1 second or less)
Map transitions for larger scenes are now almost instant 1-3 seconds
Converted older methods of map making to shaders, added new cool shader effects such as walking through grass, time of day, etc.
Download size for the game is stable around 250-300MB. (Final game size was originally estimated to be 2GB)
RAM usage down, i.e. lower end devices can now run chrome, OBS and Gataela at the same time.
Reworked a lot of dialogue and debates, removing a lot of it, adding new scenes
system was upgraded from strictly being talk-to-npc based to include
facts, testimonies and evidence gathering (i.e. a little bit more
Revealed new characters!
Fancy battle screen transitions
New Quest pop-up and Location pop-up was added to the overworld
So TL;DR a super busy year.
what’s up for 2019? I’m not going to promise anything in particular,
but there’s a few high-level goals which I will touch on below:
New Website: We’ve
been working on a new website for a little while that will give us more
support for writing longer-form posts, and act more of a hub of
information for the game which will be easier to search through. We
really want to post more technical posts, like the shader work, how we
approach the level design or some of the changes we’ve made and why,
etc. Tumblr is a site focused more on micro-blogging, which makes posts,
particularly with code, difficult to organize nicely.
80% Hump: We’ve been at 79% completion for a long time. Let’s get past that.
There will be a new demo published this year showing off all of the
above work. It will be the same length as the older one, but with all of
the improvements, and obviously the new dialogue/story segment.
This year I would like to get to a point where every quarter (after the
demo comes out) there is at least one new beta release to the beta