It's the end of the first week of the New Year and boy do I have alot to share! Last week I gave you a general overview of what the premise of my new game Mellow Meadows is all about. I also told you to comeback this week to find out what progress I've made on this game before my first devblog. I will also go into detail on what progress I've made this week so I can get into the swing of things for explaining my weekly progress on the devblog. So let's get started.
I came up with the idea to create a dog breeding game in September of 2017 and decided that was the genre of game I was going to pursue after I finished my college courses for the semester. Because I am taking shortened 8 week courses I finished my courses around the end of October. Ideally I would have started working on Mellow Meadows November 1st but I ended up relaxing for a couple weeks since I had just finished my fifth college class of 2017 on top of my full time career in the military. So I didnt actually start working on Mellow Meadows until around 15 Decemeber 2017.
I spent about four days working on the game about 4-5 hours a day just trying to get a generic template for the game that I could build off of. In this time I created the home screen which has a pixel picture of a meadow that I grabbed from a free assets website. I plan on replacing this with my own pixel image before release but I am using the free image as a placeholder for now. Also on this home screen I created a simple start game button. If you click the start game button and it's your first time starting the game it will bring you to a setup screen I created. The setup screen allows you to pick one of three dog breeds and select the name for your character. I bought an asset pack from Time Fantasy and used three of the four dog breeds in that pack. The three dog breeds are Australian Terrier, Scottish Terrier and a Welsh Terrier. I plan on replacing these starter breeds with more common dogs once I focus on creating pixel art for the different dog breeds. The only other thing I currently have on the setup screen is a next button that requires you to input a name and select a breed before clicking next to start the game.
Clicking next at the setup screen will bring you to the main screen of the game which is what I'm calling "The Meadow". The Meadow will be like the hub of the game. This is where you will breed your dogs, play with your dogs, feed your dogs, pet your dogs, research dna mutations for dogs, walk to each mini game entrance and walk to the campaign entrance. In the four days after 15 December I focused on getting a tile map setup from the tiles I purchased through Time Fantasy. Once I completed a general tile map for The Meadow, I started to add images at the border of the walkable area to distinguish where you could and could not walk. The images I added were darker terrain tiles at the edge and trees to create a forest around the edge of The Meadow. Once I finished the general layout of The Meadow I created a hitbox at the end of the north trail that leads to the first of three minigames.
The first minigame I began to implement was a top down endless runner minigame similar to my Dodge It Rocket game I released on the app store in January of 2016. (As a heads up so I don't have to type out endless runner minigame a bunch of times in this blog I will abbreviate it with ERM) In the four days after 15 December I was able to get the basics of ERM setup. I set up a scrolling background to simulate the dog running. I added the dog and its running animation. I added fallen tree logs that get in your way as you are running. I also added the first enemy cat in the game which is just a simple house cat that runs down the screen to attack. That was basically the extent of what I finished prior to beginning my web development bootcamp.
I spent the next week soaking in as much CSS/HTML/JS as I could so that I could create this site and start reaching out to people. Once I completed that bootcamp, 90% of my time went into creating this site. But I did work on Mellow Meadows just a little to give me a break from web development. The work I put into Mellow Meadows after the bootcamp and before publishing my first devblog on 1 January 2018 was simple tweaks and adding a few things to the ERM. I created my own pixel health bar and heart symbol and added those to ERM. I also added a dog bone that your dog can try to catch. As of right now I am thinking dog bones will be the ingame currency used to purchase treats, toys, adopt dogs, buy DNA mutations, etc. I also added a dog bone counter that adds up how many dog bones you've caught in the ERM. That is just about all the progress I have made on the game before posting last weeks blog. Now I can finally tell you what I've done this week!
This week actually started out rough. The day after posting my blog to all the social media outlets, I recieved comments on the Reddit post saying users were having DNS issues accessing my site. This was weird because my link was working from all other social media sites, just not Reddit. I finally narrowed down the issue to a problem with the subdomain forwarding to my Apex DNS address. Basically in Layman's terms if you typed www. before marvingardengaming.com it would not load the website because the www. subdomain wasn't sending you to my regular address of marvingardengaming. After figuring all this out I started feeling pretty sick and I spent the first few days just laying in bed after work feeling like crap. Thursday I finally told myself to suck it up and start working on Mellow Meadows.
Coming back to it on Thursday I knew exactly what I wanted to do first. There were a few bugs in ERM that I knew I needed to fix before I added anything. The first bug was that the players dog could move below the screen and it was impossible to get the dog back on the screen. I fixed that by adding a boundary at the bottom edge of the screen. The next bug was that if the cat hit the dog enough times the dog's health would go negative and the health bar would scale to that negative number. I fixed this by making the dog's health count not allowed to go below zero and once it hit zero the ERM would end and the users would be booted back to The Meadow. Also I wanted this minigame be about a dog outrunning a herd of cats so if the dog hits the bottom boundary he gets trampeled by the herd and its gameover. So I implemented that and now hitting the bottom of the screen will boot you back to The Meadow aswell. The only other bug I had to fix was a memory leak with the dog bones. Basically the game would try to manipulate the dog bones transparency after the dog bone was removed from the scene and it would cause a memory leak. The last thing I added on Thursday was a level system that increased the speed that the cats would attack you from the top of the screen everytime you scored "x" amount of points. Now on to Friday!
I spent a couple hours adding things to the game on Friday but I dont have much to show for it. Friday consisted of adding a gameover scene for ERM so that you weren't booted back to The Meadow immediately if you died. I added this gameover scene and the background is a still version of the scrolling background on the ERM. I also added a panel that will show off all the stats from the ERM. I then proceeded to add all 8 HUD buttons to the scene. This is including a restart button and an exit button. The exit button sends you back to The Meadow. I didn't get around to added the functionality for these buttons all I did was add the visuals. So you could see the HUD buttons but they didn't do anything. After finishing this I just tweaked the positioning of the buttons and the stats panel until I was satisfied. That was the last thing I did on Friday.
Saturday was easily my most productive day. The first thing I did on saturday was add a score to the ERM. This score accumalates over time based on how long you survive. The score is placed at the top center of the ERM. The next thing I added was save data for a Highscore and save data for the score you just recieved that way I could include the Highscore and the last score in the gameover scene. I then moved over to the gameover scene and created these stats labels and referenced the appropriate save data for each stat. I also decided to add a stat for how many total dog bones the user now has. This required me to create save data for total dog bones and a label for that stat aswell. Once I added everything to the ERM gameover scene I played around with font colors to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Now it was time to add functinality to all the HUD buttons. I made it where the user can click the up or down arrows to select between restarting ERM and exiting to The Meadow. I also added a pressed down version for each button so that the user knows which button is currently selected. I then linked each button to the appropriate scene and made it where if the user pressed the A button it would take the user to a scene relative to the selected button. The final and probably most impactful thing I did this week was add taptic feedback to all the buttons in all scenes of the game. Taptic feedback is basically vibrations you feel if you press a button. I did this so that the virtual buttons felt more responsive and the user actually knows if they pressed a button.
Thats it for this weeks devblog! I hope you enjoyed the read and I apologize that this weeks blog was a little long. These devblogs will usally be about half this length but I had to recap all the progress I've made since 15 December so that's why this one was so lengthy. If you would like to check out my current game on the appstore called "Dodge It Rocket" its only 99 cents and your support goes a long way! Download link. Anyways look out for next weeks blog and stay mellow!