Alpha Homestead [Windows|Linux|Steam]

Discussion in 'Work in Progress' started by Lukan, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. Lukan

    Lukan Gay Wizard Freak

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    [​IMG]
    GifCam kinda... Shat on this, I'm not sure why. But this is the cropshop now! :D More little leaks to come!
     
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  2. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    Today I drew something Homestead has been sorely lacking for a long time.

    [​IMG]

    (It's honestly taken me years to be able to draw a semi-decent tree.)

    There's obviously still a lot of work to be done. I really hate when games, RPGs in particular, have a single generic-looking tree that they then proceed to copy-paste everywhere. I'm planning a lot more visual variety for the foliage (especially so that moving between different areas and biomes is aesthetically meaningful).

    Project "replace everything with temp art" continues!
     
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  3. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    I like the colors here, but I think the shape of the tree could be better. The large tree feels like a shrub with a trunk attached rather than a tree...making the trunk smaller might help - If you check out google images, you'll find that trees in general have very little trunk showing compared to the foliage on them. The smaller trees (shrubs?) would actually make for pretty decent trees if they were scaled up, I think.

    About tree variety and staying on the grid versus breaking it, which feels related to me...I was just thinking about this yesterday while working on a new tileset for my own game. A lot of developers go for a lot of variety nowadays, and general pixel-art wisdom is to hide the grid as much as possible, but I don't think that's always going to lead to a better looking game. If you check out games like Link to the Past or Secret of Mana, and take a look at their forests, you'll see they're the same tree repeated a million times and arranged in an obvious fashion. That may look weird to some people, but to me, it can give a game a very clean, stylized, iconic look. Pixel art isn't going to look very realistic, no matter what you do. Most of the games I love embrace that, and present very clean scenes, instead. It's something to think about, though!

    That's not to say having a variety of trees is going to automatically make your game look worse either though, of course. It depends on what you do in both cases, I think. Secret of Mana had a few "special" trees for variety, while Link to the Past didn't. Both looked great, I think.

    Just mentioning this because I was "planting flowers" in my own game yesterday, and I wasn't liking how it looked. Then I thought "right now I'm just planting them randomly off the grid, but what if I embrace the old look and lock them to the grid instead?" Ended up looking much better, hahah!
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
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  4. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    Thanks for the feedback.

    The reason for the thicker trunk was because I wanted a clear one square (16px) collision mask that would be easily visible to the player, although perhaps the upper/mid trunk could benefit from some thinning like you suggested. For a placeholder tree I was kind of going for a generic "thick oak" look you see everywhere, although it might need another pass for realism.

    I agree that it's important to balance "breaking the grid"/variety with workload/stylisation. I don't want the game to look like a visual mess with a hundred different kinds of trees competing for attention. But since the game takes you from cold northern mountains to southern tropical areas I think it's important for that journey to be represented visually - if nothing else, so that players can instantly tell where they are with a glance. Besides, in games like this with a huge open world and long standard playtime, it's important that the player doesn't feel like the dev is just copy+pasting everything (even if they are!).

    I think it's worth mentioning Stardew Valley here (for those who don't know, it's a very popular game in the same genre as Homestead that was released early this year). It uses most of the same art in the area we're told is "the mountains" as it does around the beaches and in "the forest". I think its lack of visual variety was one of its biggest weaknesses and really broke immersion for me. That's something I'd like to improve upon in our game.

    On a different note, I'm hoping to have some proper character sketches to show you all soon.
     
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  5. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    I never played Stardew Valley, and never liked its art much, so I won't comment on it. About recycling tiles, though...Secret of Mana impressed me again just yesterday with just that, coincidentally! The first area in the game is a tightly winding forest with little rivers going through. Hours later, the set is recycled, but the area is much more open, and the river tiles are used for lakes instead. The first cave set is reused, too. The first cave is full of shallow pools, but the second loses the water for bottomless pits. Again, same tileset, but the areas feel completely different. Stuck out to me as being very clever. Good learning experience. Squaresoft knew what they were doing!

    About your tree: yeah, I understand the collision problems. I messed around a bit too to find a shape I liked that worked collision and occlusion-wise. You want a pretty tree, but it can't take up too much collision space, or block too much of the play field with it's foliage. Depends on your game and how you plan to use your trees I guess. Secret of Mana had one tree they used in large groups to border levels, and then another oak-type tree for detail. The oak was much larger, but it didn't matter, because they used it sparingly.
     
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  6. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    Sounds like I should play this Secret of Mana thing.
     
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  7. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    Whoaa, you haven't?! Classic game! Grab two friends or siblings or whatever, and go through it. It's a great game! =D
     
  8. Lukan

    Lukan Gay Wizard Freak

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    Well, I'm still messing around with foliage placement.
    [​IMG]
    I'm not too great at it, but I'm trying to make it look nice.
     
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  9. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    "Boy howdy Clarence, I'm sure glad we have all these knee-high fences around to keep out the foxes..."

    (Scaling issues will be fixed...)
     
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  10. Lukan

    Lukan Gay Wizard Freak

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    Lol, the fences look fine, @Ninety !
    Also, some screens of Layala Valley!
    [​IMG]
    Layala Woods, the big tree is still old art, but otherwise this is all new stuffs.
    I'm going to mess around and make the tree shadows less blocky soon.

    [​IMG]
    The new and improved Crop Shop, now with Melvin the NPC! :D
    He actually talks to you, and he doesn't cause out of bounds grid errors anymore! Yay, Melvin!

    [​IMG]
    And the titular Homestead! (not final layout probably)

    Sorry for lack of updates... I'm a tad overwhelmed with life at the mo!
     
  11. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    [​IMG]

    Farm Friday #1


    Welcome to the first cheesily-named Farm Friday (which is actually Saturday for me)! Each week I’m going to be posting a little progress update showing what we’re working on and how the game is coming along. I thought it’d be good to have a more regular schedule than the current “post whenever” system, so we’ll see how it pans out.

    This week, I thought I’d break down how the game currently stands. Some of this is probably old news to regulars, so bear with me!


    Where we’re at

    Homestead was designed as a farming RPG inspired by the likes of Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. It’s planned to have a strong story focus, with interesting, diverse characters and quests, as well as the classic farming gameplay everyone knows and loves.

    We’ve come a long way from the jam version way back in October 2014. Back then, Homestead looked like this:

    [​IMG]

    I said a long time ago I was redoing all the art, which hasn’t quite been finished yet. We’ve ended up redesigning and expanding huge parts of the game which set us back a bit with the graphics. However I’m still working on it, and it’s slowly coming along.

    [​IMG]

    The basic gameplay is mostly in place. The NPC engine is well underway, but the full NPC cast aren’t in yet. The main story is also yet to be added (but rest assured we have one… hopefully you’ll like it!).


    What we’re doing now

    Lukan (lead developer and programmer) hasn’t had time to work as much lately and nor have I (stupid university taking up time!). However right now I’m diving into character design and bios. Here’s a little preview:

    [​IMG]

    I’ll expand on this in a future Farm Friday, but for now rest assured development is full steam ahead.

    ~~~~

    That’s it for this week. Follow us on Twitter for regular peeks at development (Lukan, the lead developer, or myself).

    I’m also setting up the Homestead subreddit, where I’ll be posting these updates. Head on over and subscribe, and keep an eye out for Farm Friday next week!
     
  12. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    [​IMG]

    Farm Friday #2

    Welcome back to Farm Friday, our series of weekly progress updates!

    This week, Lukan was trying out the GameMaker Studio 2 beta. I also did some work on GUI, tiles and character design.


    GUI

    Homestead’s GUI has been through a few revisions as the game evolved.

    [​IMG]

    It’s functional, but I think we can do better, especially since the game has become much more complex since we began. This week, I worked on some more concepts:

    [​IMG]

    I’ve also been drawing up a detailed design document for what the GUI will show and how it will control, which will give me a better idea of what to pixel.

    I’ve never really worked on a GUI before, so this is all new to me. It’s more work than you’d think. One thing I’ve learned from studying others, though, is that a good GUI is unobtrusive. I want navigating Homestead’s menus to be simple and intuitive.


    Tiles

    Tiles are fast becoming the bane of my existence. It’s not that they’re hard to draw, but rather that they need a lot of planning so that the layout is versatile and doesn’t look repetitive. I drew a few concepts this week, and I think I’m getting closer to something workable:

    [​IMG]

    Of course, the final game will have a lot more variety in the environments. I want the art to reflect the variety of biomes you’ll travel through. Each area is should be unique and easily recognisable, from snowy mountain peaks in the north to tropical beaches in the south.

    (I’ll do a full writeup on tiles in a future update, but I thought I’d show what I’d been working on!)


    Characters

    As you may know by now, I’m working on sketching out portraits for each character before I commit to spriting them fully. I find this helps me to get a sense for their appearance and lets me prototype clothing and hairstyles quickly. For many of the marriage candidates, I already have a clear idea of what they’ll look like, but some of the other townsfolk are pretty much completely unknown. This will be a slow process, but I think for a game of this size such planning is essential.

    I was never good at drawing characters, so I’ve been practicing a lot. I’m still no da Vinci, but I think I’m approaching a point where I can get a basic, readable sketch done fast enough to make it worthwhile, if not particularly pretty.

    Here’s two of the bachelors, who you can marry if you so choose! I chose these ones to show because you’ve seen their sprite versions before.

    [​IMG]

    I might show a few more sketches later down the road, but I don’t want to spoil everything. You might have to use your imagination instead!

    ~~~~

    That’s it for this week. You can read the previous update here, or follow us on Twitter for regular peeks at development (Lukan, the lead developer, or myself). You can also follow our progress on the Homestead subreddit or at TIGSource.

    See you next week!
     
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  13. Barvix

    Barvix Member

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    Just now finding out about these Farm Fridays, they seem cool! If I wasn't lazy I might do Teufel Thursday... but that'd be a ripoff.

    Anyways the GUI looks nice, as does the grass. Can't wait to see the variety in biomes! Uhm...is there going to be a snowy biome? I like snowy biomes.
     
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  14. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    This actually started as a way to motivate myself to make regular progress updates, and allows me to focus on work for most of the week and leave marketing to 1-2 days. Since they're actually articles of some substance, instead of the one-sentence notes I was making here before, they're also good for cross posting to other places since they are more readable by themselves (I've been putting the Farm Fridays on TIGSource and Reddit as well as here, and I've already seen a bit of an increase in interest). It's early days yet but I hope it'll help me keep to a more regular development cycle.

    So, yeah, I recommend other devs give it a go! I'm not far enough along to tell how much of a difference it'll make, but it's much better for my workflow than my previous approach.

    Well, there's mountains in the north, and it snows in the main areas during the winter. I'm not actually sure whether Lukan intended the mountain peak to be a permanent snow biome... But yeah, you will get to play in the snow.
     
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  15. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    [​IMG]

    Farm Friday #3

    Welcome back to Farm Friday, our series of weekly progress updates!

    This week wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped on my end, thanks to real life getting in the way. Lukan however was trying out the new version of GameMaker Studio and working on the in-game map.


    Engine port

    As some of you know, the new major version of GameMaker Studio (which Homestead is developed in) began a limited beta about a month ago. A couple of days ago they decided to make the full (non-trial) version available for purchase. GMS:2 brings a lot of updates, most notably to the room and tile systems, but features some changes to coding and is priced differently to the previous iteration.

    I briefly mentioned last week that Lukan had been trying out the limited beta, but since the full release he’s been working on transferring Homestead into the new version. It’s going well! It looks like we might be able to move forward with the new engine.


    Farm layout

    Lukan also spent some time adjusting the layout of the farm you’ll manage in the game, as well as adding new buildings to the town.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is still a work in progress and subject to change, obviously.


    What I’ve been working on

    I mentioned earlier that this week was a busy one for me, so I haven’t as much to show for Homestead this week. I spent a lot of time on behind-the-scenes stuff, tidying up design notes and so forth.

    I have, however, been working on a couple of new assets:

    [​IMG]

    Some of you may have seen on Twitter that I had a play around with some of the new tiles (although I can’t really pretend it counts as work, heh).

    [​IMG]

    I also did some work on the music. The soundtrack has been on the backburner while I focus on design and art, but every so often I stop to sketch out a few ideas. Perhaps soon I’ll preview what I’ve been working on.

    Incidentally, I’ve been listening to some GDC talks this week. They’re great background audio for pixelart.

    ~~~~

    That’s it for this week. You can read the previous update here, or follow us on Twitter for regular peeks at development (Lukan, the lead developer, or myself). You can also follow our progress on the Homestead subreddit or at TIGSource.

    See you next week!
     
  16. Lukan

    Lukan Gay Wizard Freak

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    @Barvix About the snow "biome": There really isn't biomes in the game, the landscape changes depending on season. However, there is a planned mining area that can only be gotten to in winter because you need the water around it to freeze over!

    Tl;dr You get damp cave, not snow biome.

    Also, here's some pics of the pretty lighting I have going on!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016
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  17. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    [​IMG]

    Farm Friday #4

    Welcome back to Farm Friday, our series of weekly progress updates!

    This week, I did some more work on characters, and Lukan expanded the map. These devlogs are cross-posted to a few places, so some of this will be old news to GMCers.


    Map updates

    Lukan spent some time adding new buildings to the town map. He made a video of it, have a look:



    This is a temporary layout, but it lets us test new features and the newer tiles. With this done there’s only a few assets left in the game from our previous artist.


    Lighting improvements

    Lukan also did some work on the lighting:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Character designing

    In Farm Friday #2 I showed off some of the character designs I’ve been working on. This week, I got several more done! I said I was going to avoid spoilers as much as possible while we’re still at this early design stage, but here’s a preview I showed a few days ago on Twitter:

    [​IMG]

    I’m now moving into the characters whose designs I don’t have a very clear idea of yet. A good opportunity for experimentation!

    The characters I’ve shown so far are based on concepts by Lukan, by the way. However, there’ll be some completely new characters soon! I’ve mentioned before that one of my tasks when doing character designs was working out relationships and family trees, and I found that adding a few extras was necessary to build family units and flesh out the world (for example, by adding characters of different ages and professions). Some are still just notes for myself (“XYZ needs a wife”, for example) and it’ll be a while before they’re at all interesting to read about.

    Once the characters sketches are finished, I use them to make these “character bios”. Here’s Hamilton, whom you saw a few weeks ago:

    [​IMG]

    The bios include the character’s sketch and pixelart sprite mockup, descriptions of their role and personality, and any reference material I find represents them well. For Hamilton here, I’ve included hairstyle and clothing references. (Note: I do not own these additional pictures!)

    All the bios are a work in progress and none are really finished yet. However they’re proving very useful to keep all character information in one place!

    ~~~~

    That’s it for this week. You can read the previous update here, or follow us on Twitter for regular peeks at development (Lukan, the lead developer, or myself). You can also follow our progress on the Homestead subreddit or at TIGSource.

    See you next week!
     
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  18. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    [​IMG]

    Farm Friday #5

    Welcome back to Farm Friday, our series of weekly progress updates! Sorry for the lack of an update last week, I got quite ill and didn’t get enough done to warrant its own entry.

    This week, some new assets made it into the game, and Lukan did some bug fixing. I also did a lot of behind-the-scenes work on design documents and other stuff I can’t show. We’re in the process of working through this as a team now, but in the next few weeks we should have some exciting new gameplay features to show you. Homestead is evolving!


    New assets

    I finally got around to updating the bed sprite. I posted this progress picture on Twitter:

    [​IMG]

    I also made some new sprites for the farm. They were long overdue.

    [​IMG]


    Music

    Since there’s not so much I can show in terms of development, I thought I’d talk about music, and how we ended up where we are now. I’ll link tracks as I talk about them — consider this Farm Friday a little playlist for your evening’s listening pleasure!

    Here’s a little trip down memory lane:

    [​IMG]

    This is when I first approached Lukan about his game, way back in November 2014 when I had just finished high school. I was just getting into music production, and I thought a “little” farming RPG would be a great way to get some practice. A single profile comment was all it took. A week later, Lukan got back to me and asked if I was interested in creating some tracks.

    I quickly realised it was a bigger job than expected, but I was loving the chance to finally work on a real project. Homestead’s first year of development gave us a lot of setbacks, including Lukan moving across the entirety of the US and me beginning university, but I learned a lot in that year.

    When we began working on the soundtrack, Lukan had a clear idea of what he wanted, and showed me a few tracks from older Harvest Moon games. This, for example, was the reference for the Spring theme, a track from Back to Nature:



    You can listen to Homestead’s Spring track here. It’s actually one of the earliest tracks I made for the game, and honestly while I’m proud of what I achieved back then, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

    Harvest Moon was the main music influence for a long time, although I did draw from other sources such as Animal Crossing and To the Moon. However, as the game progressed, and we began turning our eyes towards adding more depth to the game, I began to look at a wider variety of influences. Lukan’s request for a track to play at night led me to study calmer, more emotive game scores. At the time, two of my favourites were this track from Starbound (composed by Curtis Schweitzer) and this from Minecraft (composed by C418). I’d still love to bring a bit of the ambient quality these tracks have to Homestead.


    Where the music is at now

    Work on the soundtrack is currently more or less on hold. I need to prioritise design work and art. My current plan is to spend my summer break focusing on these, then move back to the music. However, I still take the time to sketch out an idea once in a while, and in fact we added a new track for the beach not so long ago.

    I’m always looking for new ideas, though, and I’ve had the time to collect a wide range of tracks for inspiration. The classic RPG soundtrack is loved by many people, but it has grown a little tired, and I’d like to bring something fresh to it. In particular, I’ve been listening to a lot of work by Tomas Dvorak and Disasterpeace. But that’s a story for another time!

    ~~~~

    That’s it for this week. You can read the previous update here, or follow us on Twitter for regular peeks at development (Lukan, the lead developer, or myself). You can also follow our progress on the Homestead subreddit or at TIGSource.

    See you next week!
     
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  19. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    [​IMG]

    Farm Friday #6

    Welcome back to Farm Friday, our series of weekly progress updates! This week, it’s our final update of the year!


    This week

    We spent some time discussing the game’s direction, and it became apparent that we need to get some basic systems in place before we went too far. Some of you will have seen on Twitter that I spent some time working on GUI:

    [​IMG]

    It’s still early days, but hopefully we’ll have more progress to show you soon.

    And speaking of progress…


    Looking back on 2016

    We’ve come to the end of another year! In 2016, Homestead changed a lot. At the start of the year, it looked like this:

    [​IMG]

    Now, it looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There’s still a long, long way to go but I’m really happy that it’s starting to look like the game we want it to be. At this point, we only have a few assets remaining from our wonderful first main artist Kepons, whose talents brought the game to life long before I took his place.


    What's in store

    In the new year I’ll be revealing some new features we’ve been working on. The farming game you know and love is still here, but with some exciting new additions…

    [​IMG]

    ~~~~

    That’s it for this week. You can read the previous update here, or follow us on Twitter for regular peeks at development (Lukan, the lead developer, or myself). You can also follow our progress on the Homestead subreddit or at TIGSource.

    See you next year!

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. hippyman

    hippyman Member

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    I'm digging the new art! Very clean looking.
     
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  21. Lukan

    Lukan Gay Wizard Freak

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    OH MY GODDESS, the GUI/HUD art made me cry a little. It's beautiful...
     
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  22. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    I like the beds and the new HUD. Beds are a pain in the ass, but I think you did a pretty good job, here. I like the grass and path tiles too. Looking good!

    The music though...do you play any instruments? It feels like you might have written these directly from your DAW? I dunno, it feels like you just put in semi-random notes, and then kept on layering. All the pieces feel floaty and meandering to me, which is why it feels like you may have built them up inside a DAW, instead of inside your head or on a piano. The best music advice I've ever gotten was "don't write when you're not inspired. Buy a tape recorder, and hum anything you think up into it for later use." These pieces here feel like you just sat down at Fruity Loops and said "well, I need a song like 'Spring' from Harvest Moon," and started writing whatever came to mind. Instead of doing that, I'd recommend taking lots of walks during the Spring with a tape recorder, and recording anything good inspiration gives you.

    Anyway, yeah. Keep up the good work!
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2016
  23. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    Thanks for the feedback. I'm actually decently experienced on piano, but these tracks were written before I had a way to interface a keyboard with my DAW, so they sound more artificial than I'd like. Like I said, they were written a while ago and there's a lot of room for improvement; Spring in particular was written when I was very very new to composition and leaned too heavily on loops for quick and dirty orchestration. Night was a little later but came out less "flowing" than I was aiming for, largely because I made it by drawing together half a dozen different melodies. The basics of both were written at a real piano but you're correct that they were entirely produced within a DAW.

    The post above was intended to show how the music originally came about, but I'm planning to revisit it properly once more of the ame's groundwork is in place. I'd also like to move away a little from traditional HM-style scores and make something more unique, which I alluded to above. I find constant, in-your-face upbeat tunes can get annoying over a long playtime. This time, I'll make sure to compose "properly" :p
     
  24. Nexusrex

    Nexusrex Nexusrex Games

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    Man, the new art is totally beautiful! I like the "Farm Friday" thing too :D Good luck
     
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  25. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    Yar, no problem. I wasn't talking about interfacing your keyboard with your DAW, though. I don't think you need to do that at all, hahah!
    What I was saying is that the style of composition didn't feel like something that would be written at a piano by someone with a lot of experience. A DAW lets you noodle around and write some random notes down.....and that have it loop, and then add a few more notes with a different instrument.....and then have it loop, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat. Which results in a wishy-washy, random sounding piece of music. A piano doesn't let you do that, which is why I made the comparison. Basically, it feels to me like you just kind of started randomly on these pieces, and then added a little more and thought "ah, that sounds okay..." and then added a bit more and said "yeah, sure, that fits...." and then kept going and going. My advice to you is to wait until inspiration smashes you in the face with a great piece of music, and then quickly hum it into a recorder, or if you trust your memory, play it on the piano and start notating it. You should know what your whole song is going to sound like before you sit down at your DAW, is basically what I'm saying.

    That could very well be the case already, but it didn't feel like it to me, hence my advice.
    To reiterate, I'd really recommend taking something you can record your voice with you on long walks or whatever, and keep it beside your bed. All of my best music was "written" when I was about to fall asleep, or in the shower, or on a walk. Never when I was sitting down at a piano or computer. Which makes sense, I think. When we're (or when I'm, at least) sitting at a piano, I'm thinking of songs I already love, which ruins any chance I have at writing original music. If I'm taking a walk or otherwise distracted, my mind is free to wander until something great bubbles to the surface. If you haven't tried it, try it out! Record everything you think of. Even if you don't think it'll fit your game, it doesn't hurt to have a bunch of good motifs you can use for later, and you might find a place for something later on! I have like fifty great themes on my recorder from the past year ready to go. Half of them probably won't fit my current game, but they're on the bench for later at least, hahah! X'D

    All that said, don't let my critique bother you. Music is frustrating and tough. Unlike drawing, we can't just look up a reference when we get stuck...there are no photos of music, and any direct "inspiration" we take from other composers is usually obvious and only hurts our music. Which is why, again, I think it's easiest not to force yourself to write anything. The tape recorder really has been my best friend, musically!

    Anyway, good luck to you. Good to see you working steadily on this.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2016
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  26. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    Yeah, you described my approach on those old tracks almost to a T. I'll try your recorder idea, thanks. Glad someone's holding me to a high standard here, RHC ;)
     
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  27. HayManMarc

    HayManMarc Member

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    I agree with RHC for the most part, and I tend to come up with tunes while driving (I seldom turn on the radio). But, I've written some using the random approach that turned out well. However, I always end up making that "random" make sense by changing the notes that need to be changed. Then, when adding to it, there's no more "random". I'll add in harmony. "October Space Lizard Cosmonaut" is probably my best example of this.
    Anyway, my point is that a random approach can work, but it needs to be developed and refined. Much like drawing a picture or writing. You start with a rough draft, then keep changing it and refining it, making it better.
     
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  28. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    a-HEM.








    :p
     
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  29. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    No update this week as I said before, on account of the fact that I'm currently sitting in a restaurant in Vietnam in the pouring rain being all cultured. And also because Christmas new year blah blah. (Assuming that's what you were aheming about)
     
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  30. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    Pfffff, okay. If two holidays and world travel are enough to keep you away from your game for a whole week, then I guess there's nothing I can do to change that.
    Goes back to watching anime and playing videogames

    Have fun on your trip, hahah! =)
     
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  31. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    Alright, before RHC coughs at me again -

    [​IMG]

    Farm Friday #7

    Welcome back to Farm Friday, our series of weekly progress updates!

    This week, in our first entry of 2017, we have some new features to announce! There’s a lot of in-depth design talk here, so I apologise in advance, and I’ll try to break it up with pictures.


    The problem with Homestead

    Late last year, I got thinking about game direction, and how we could improve on the systems we had. Homestead wasn’t a bad game, but it was turning out to be less exciting than we’d perhaps hoped. There were problems with the design that, even at this incomplete stage, were already becoming apparent: the economy was entirely based around getting more money, and essentially enforced min-maxing; the player didn’t have meaningful ownership of their farm; most items served no purpose except to be sold; the world remained static and, after a few early-game unlocks, never changed. If you only play the game for an hour or so, these problems might never show up. But Homestead is a game with a big story and lots of content, and making the game playable in the long term is vital.

    [​IMG]

    I spent a lot of time agonising over how to fix these issues and had a few long talks with Lukan, and we’ve come up with some big changes to the gameplay that (we hope!) will address these issues in the long run. So without further ado…


    What’s new

    Firstly, the old farm layout is gone. There will be no more default barn, no more shed. Instead, the player builds their farm from the ground up.

    [​IMG]

    Many important items must now be crafted at workbenches such as these, using raw materials from the farm and around the map. Each crafting recipe requires a blueprint, which can be obtained in a variety of ways.

    [​IMG]

    The player can now also place buildings on their farm. You’ll have to build these yourself, and they take a lot of raw materials. The advantage, though, is that you can have as many as you like — so with hard work and a bit of patience, you might make the ranch of your dreams, or a little suburb of sheds.

    [​IMG]

    Of course, you won’t be limited to just buildings — fences, furniture and decorative items will all be making an appearance. With this development, I’ll also be looking at different building types and styles further down the road. But no promises yet!


    Breaking down the new systems

    Assembling a building isn’t a simple task. First the foundation must be crafted at the workbench; then, a space must be cleared and the foundation placed in the field. Each building must be worked on for a set amount of time before it is completed; a shed, for example, might take 12 hours to fully construct. You can work on buildings in chunks, but this means you’ll have to manage your time carefully.

    [​IMG]

    Also, under the current plan, each crafting or building operation carries with it a stamina cost in addition to the raw materials (you can see a rough mockup above). This means you can’t craft or build all day; you must weigh the cost against the reward. It also means that eating and cooking become necessary if you don’t want to tire out before midday.

    It had bothered me that I was usually done my chores by 10AM, and that I always had enough stamina for everything I needed to do. I’m hoping that these changes will make Homestead a more challenging, but ultimately more rewarding game.


    What this means for development

    …more of it, essentially! Lukan has been a marvel and has several of these systems nearly implemented, but I have a lot of art to do yet. It’ll also mean new items and a lot of new GUI/systems work. I hope this won’t extend development by too much, but it’s a possibility.

    But that’s okay. It’s going to make the game a lot better, in the long run. And we think you’ll all be just fine with that.

    Thanks to Lukan, a lot of these new features are already partially prototyped. And once they’re in, they allow so many more possibilities for what we can do with the game.

    ~~~~

    That’s it for this week. You can read the previous update here, or follow us on Twitter for regular peeks at development (Lukan, the lead developer, or myself). You can also follow our progress on the Homestead subreddit or at TIGSource.

    See you next week!
     
  32. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    *cough cough cough* :p

    Glad to hear you've found some ways to spice up the game some more. The stamina idea could be fun if your implementation is smart, or really annoying if you implement it badly. I already know what could go very wrong or very right, because I just finished a four hour zazen session, and my mind is exceptionally clear. I'll let you figure it out for yourself though, heheheh. >;D

    The barns look nice overall, but the lighting on them doesn't make sense, which makes them a little tricky to look at.

    Letting players build their own buildings is a good idea.
     
  33. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    The game's always had stamina, this just means a few more things affect it. I don't want it to become impossible for the player to actually do anything, more that they have to plan in advance. The point is that stamina and time become meaningful resources. The main thing I'm worried about is making the late game more challenging (which is good) at the expense of a really difficult early game (which isn't). It'll be tricky to balance but the only way to know is to try it out.

    Idk. Maybe it won't work out. We'll see.

    The building tiles are so broken and will need to be redone. Coincidentally, this update requires me to redraw all the buildings in multiple stages, so that's a thing that will happen. And this time they will actually have depth and not suck. Also the scale will be better.
     
    RichHopefulComposer likes this.
  34. shadowspear1

    shadowspear1 Member

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    Before I say anything, just wanted to point out that I've been reading these for a while, and am loving how Homestead is coming along! Awesome work guys, and Ninety, I really enjoy reading these dev blogs :)

    In your post you stated that you can only do a certain amount of work before you need to rest or somehow restore your stamina; this can work either as a logical mechanic or as a large hindrance (as RHC said). I think it's great you mentioned how there would also be some ways to temporarily increase your stamina during the day, so that sleep isn't the only thing that restores it. Certain activities or food items should do it as well, and maybe there could be some limited ones that permanently (or temporarily) increase your maximum amount of stamina?
    Building your game around this mechanic, so as to not limit the player's actions and/or not allowing them to do what they want, will hopefully work in your favor, as you'll be able to balance the cost/performance along the way when creating new things to do. I also love the idea of physically building your own structures - every other farming game I've played (albeit not many) you just purchase what you want and it's there for you. I think this, instead, could be really fun.
     
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  35. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    Don't worry, all these mechanics are in there already. Depending on how it plays once prototyped, we might look into extending the ways stamina can be upgraded.
     
  36. Lukan

    Lukan Gay Wizard Freak

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    I'm hard at work trying to get this stuff working properly.
    I know the game hasn't been updated in a long time, but bear with me. It's a difficult process to change so much and still have it work.
     
  37. Ninety

    Ninety Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2016
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    [​IMG]

    Farm Friday #8

    Welcome back to Farm Friday, our series of weekly progress updates!

    This week, I did more on the GUI, and Lukan worked on integrating some of the systems I wrote about last week.


    Art

    I was pretty busy this week with real life (stupid job!) but I spent some time working on GUI. Here’s the inventory almost complete:

    [​IMG]

    (Can you tell which icon is the placeholder??)

    I also recently worked on some logo concepts, here’s a quick taste:

    [​IMG]

    These are still heavily WIP and just a few ideas, definitely not anything final! I’m more working on nailing down a direction right now.


    New systems

    Lukan spent some time working on the farm layout to prepare for the new building system:

    [​IMG]

    You can see the workbench in that screenshot, which is where you’ll be doing all your crafting.

    He also worked on a new scrolling GUI using placeholder assets. (I’ll be making the proper art for this soon!) It’s going to be a key part of the crafting menus amongst other things, so it’s important to get working right.

    [​IMG]

    ~~~~

    That’s it for this week. You can read the previous update here, or follow us on Twitter for regular peeks at development (Lukan, the lead developer, or myself). You can also follow our progress on the Homestead subreddit or at TIGSource.

    See you next week!
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2017
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  38. Lukan

    Lukan Gay Wizard Freak

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    Farm Fridays is going to be written by me this week, as Ninety is off gallivanting about the place doing lord-knows-what.
    Expect it to be more focused on future features and things I've noticed while using GMS2 over 1.4.

    There won't be much about art, as that's Ninety's area. I only know what he's doing, not how far along it is.

    So, stay tuned! :D
     
    Barvix likes this.
  39. RangerX

    RangerX Member

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    As an Harvest Moon fan I shall try this soon. Will comeback with feedback when possible
     
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  40. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    [​IMG]

    Farm Friday #9

    Welcome back to Farm Friday, our series of weekly progress updates!

    This week, building and crafting progress, and more GUI work!


    Building and crafting

    Lukan did some work on the building and crafting system. Here’s a video of him putting up some fences and a nice little farming patch.



    Those rocks, logs and weeds around the farm are used for raw materials. They're very important in the crafting system.

    One thing you’ll notice in this video is how slow the crafting system is. We’ve already talked about this issue and are working on a new system that involves the inventory more.


    GUI

    Still working on GUI! Here’s a preview of the crafting system, and dialogue.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    ~~~~

    That’s it for this week. You can read the previous update here, or follow us on Twitter for regular peeks at development (Lukan, the lead developer, ormyself). You can also follow our progress on the Homestead subreddit or at TIGSource.

    See you next week!
     
    shadowspear1, Barvix and Lukan like this.
  41. Lukan

    Lukan Gay Wizard Freak

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    *drools*
     
    Ninety likes this.
  42. Nexusrex

    Nexusrex Nexusrex Games

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    Amazing stuff! Hype!
     
    Lukan and Ninety like this.
  43. Lukan

    Lukan Gay Wizard Freak

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    Just a quick lil update because I've been working on this for the past couple days!
    [​IMG]
    LOOK AT THE HOTBAR! YAAAASSSS
     
    Rivo and Ninety like this.
  44. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    [​IMG]

    Farm Friday #10

    Welcome back to Farm Friday, our series of weekly progress updates!

    This week, Lukan started integrating our new GUI into the game, and we did some more work on the NPCs with the beginnings of a dialogue editor and sprite improvements.


    GUI

    The GUI isn’t done yet, but Lukan has started transferring art into the game. This is WIP, but it gives an idea of what it’ll look like:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We had some problems with fonts and scaling, which produces the mixed resolutions in those screenshots. However we’re working on a fix and the final GUI should be lovely and crisp!


    NPC code

    In games like Homestead, NPCs are a really important part of gameplay. And unlike in your standard RPG, our ones have daily schedules, relationship stats, individual likes and dislikes, and more — which is fun for the player but requires a lot of work and planning.

    Lukan’s been working on getting some of the basic code in place for NPCs. He also began work on a dialogue editor to make random dialogue a breeze to create.

    [​IMG]

    This system will also let us set parameters for different lines — so for example, we can have certain lines only appear in winter, or if the player has befriended the speaker.


    NPC art and new editor

    I also did some more work on NPC sprites this week! You may remember I spent a lot of time getting the design right a few months back, and used the base to make a few placeholder sprites for the game, but I had to shelve it for a while to focus on GUI and design concerns.

    [​IMG]

    This week, I decided it was time to move to a new pixelart editor. Until now, I had been using Pixen, which is fast and intuitive but incredibly buggy and lacks proper layer and animation functionality. Specifically, I wanted something which would allow me to track palette use better, which would make animation easier, and which would make it easy to separate out different parts of a sprite onto layers to make creating variations easier. Homestead has a cast of over 30 characters, so it’s important that I’m able to make character art quickly and easily. Making the spriting process modular (so I can change a shirt or hairstyle without having to edit the entire sprite, for example) will greatly improve my efficiency.

    I’ve tried a few popular programs, and I think I’m going to stick with Aseprite. It’s gaining popularity especially among indies, and it’s a really solid program.

    [​IMG]

    The first step is to transfer my existing sprites and animations (which are flat) into the new layer-based system. This takes some time, but it means everything is modular: for example, I can give a character a new shirt in under a minute and not have to edit the entire sprite. This opens a lot of options up.

    I’m also taking the opportunity to fix up palettes a bit. I think Pixen has some colour issues, because I ended up with some slight variations on what was supposed to be the same colour. It’s a little fiddly to fix (I wish Aseprite had an automatic colour reduction function!) but it’s well worth the effort.

    [​IMG]

    More to come!

    ~~~~

    That’s it for this week. You can read the previous update here, or follow us on Twitter for regular peeks at development (Lukan, the lead developer, or myself). You can also follow our progress on the Homestead subreddit or at TIGSource.

    See you next week!
     
    Lukan, BitZero and shadowspear1 like this.
  45. Rivo

    Rivo 7014

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    It's nice looking through this and to see you guys making more and more progress. Keep it up! :D
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2017
    Ninety likes this.
  46. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    [​IMG]

    Farm Friday #11

    Welcome back to Farm Friday, our series of weekly progress updates!

    It’s a short one today. This week, I made more progress on redoing the character animations, and Lukan worked on the building system.


    Building system

    Lukan is currently working on a few bugs in the building system. Most of the basic functionality is in place, and layouts can be saved properly, but the loading is still causing issues.


    Character animations

    I’m pleased to say the base character animations for the male sprite are done! This includes standing and walking in four directions. There’s more to be done — especially for the player character, who need to run, swing an axe, fish, and so forth. But this means that many NPCs are now going to be much easier to create.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In the coming week, I plan to begin some of those new animations. I might also reskin the base for one of the NPCs as a test, just to see how long it takes.

    ~~~~

    That’s it for this week. You can read the previous update here, or follow us on Twitter for regular peeks at development (Lukan, the lead developer, ormyself). You can also follow our progress on the Homestead subreddit or at TIGSource.

    See you next week!

    EDIT: Predictably, Lukan fixed the loading bug 30 seconds after I sent out FF. More on the building system next week, then!
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
    Rivo and Lukan like this.
  47. Lukan

    Lukan Gay Wizard Freak

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    I literally fixed the loading issues minutes after @Ninety posted this! XD
     
  48. shadowspear1

    shadowspear1 Member

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    This almost looks like it would perfectly fit an 8-directional movement system. The left/right sprites look more like walking down diagonally, so if you ever decided to make more animations for all 8 directions of movement, you have those sprites already done. I'm not sure if this is just me looking at it in the wrong perspective, though, so maybe it would be better left as only 4 animations. Good work on the walk cycles!
     
  49. RangerX

    RangerX Member

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    I thought I'd play a demo with the new graphics, menu and stuff. I'll wait on that to give useful feedback.
    At least I appreciate all those updates you keep posting. Cool to see progress ;)
     
    Ninety likes this.
  50. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    Yeah, sorry, the current demos really don't reflect where we're up to. Hopefully we'll have something for you soonish!
     

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