No word from the server admin yet. Time for another nudge-y email. Soon, though!
In the meantime, I've been adding a bunch more content to the system!
I'm trying to limit it to one piece per style (without adding in lots of color options) at the moment because I haven't QA-ed a lot of this stuff, and I'm going to want to have some time with it first. There's some pieces that don't keep to a 'only use 5 or 6 colors' philosophy and don't match some of the rest. There's some pieces that don't line up properly with their bases. There's also a couple of female armors that are obviously just male armor with holes cut out for the arms, and it doesn't look great.
Anyway, for now, I've gotten a lot of new
clothing options into the system for men and women. Hair is probably the
next big thing. Those functionality to-do's are still in the works, but I'm taking a code break before I tackle them.
The UI is in game. The buttons work. The character can be moved around with WASD / arrow keys. It's starting to look / act like such a finished product I'm starting to get really annoyed how few body / clothing options I have (during testing).
To-do list for small, immediate things:
Make the GameObject that holds those buttons resize based on its content. In other words, the window should be as long as the items inside it (which are being generated dynamically and confusing the thing). That will make the scrollbar work appropriately.
Light up the background of the category you're currently on (buttons on the top left).
Bar on the bottom right: instead of action 'buttons', add numbers and have the bar on the bottom be an 'equip' hotkey bar. Perform the selected action with the spacebar or 'E' key instead.
Hide hotkey bar if all actions are disabled (if the character can only walk around-- useful for NPC creation).
Enable the 'settings' panel.
Then add in all the fancy options.
Also-- get that server access up so I can upload this online.
What's going in the settings panel:
Render single image button
Render animation sheets button
Change the preview setting. Eventually, it'll probably have a blank, empty background, a town, a field, maybe some woods. That's for later, though.
2nd build! Restart button is in! Five graphics bugs fixed, two non-graphics bugs fixed. It's been so long since I used my web dev stuff that I can't get in anymore, though, so... sorry, it'll take a few more days to get a playable version online. Support emails required.
I've also made several new children's shirts-- since the shading on the kids' clothes was... well, it looked off compared to some of the rest, and there's really few children's options. Then I added a couple of colors, and I'm going through the color dilemma again. Why this color and not that one? What options should I include? Do these palettes clash? Am I going overboard on the colors? Pixel art is supposed to make heavy use of repeating colors... and this is only sort of pixel-y...
It goes on. Still debating myself if I should remove the washed out skin tones and just have 8, then add the custom color option once I get that working. 'Comet' and 'Dove' will probably not be used nearly as much but... I erm... wanted to make dark elves. Don't hate me.
Moving on. UI thoughts--
I've got some UX in mind, but how to make them look cute and professional... that might take some work.
Just imagine the bottom 'action' bar has icons that make sense. A sword, a bow...
I have no idea what I'm doing here (visually).
You probably see my point. UX-wise, it's pretty okay. Visually... ye gods, someone help me.
Dang, I love well designed code. Adding clothing XML, slots, methods, the works took half an hour. Yes!
I'm going to need to fix a few more things up-- some quick image QA for the basic clothing options, a few options for women and children bodies, being able to go back to the body menu from the clothes menu, a 'restart' button... but basically, we're done with the super basics! Yes! Victory!
Almost finished with the men. Women and children come next. All animations in all directions in all colors being scrutinized.
What's finished so far:
Body / Male / Walk / South - Flickering around the temple
Body / Male / Shoot, Thrust / West - Highlight on head flips to the right side
Body / Male / Idle / North - One pixel too high
Body / Male / Shoot / East - Meta file had a frame off by 1px, jolting the image
Body / Male / * - The darkest skin tone doesn't match my color standard
Body / Male / * - Give all bodies the same eye color (on the base)
Body / Male / Walk / * - (Eliza's a moron who didn't standardize all her walk cycles)
Body / Male / * / Shoot / * - Non-standard skin colors!
About half of these were my fault. The other half came with the LPC set. What's left is looking like a tiny bit of hair before I move on to the next set.
The animation preview is still ugly as hell, but it'll do for now. I estimate it'll take about two or three more days of work before I upload the prototype online and invite people to bang on it with rocks to see if it'll break.
Just a quick coding update; the refactor is about done! Six beautiful, small classes instead of one huge ugly one and an awkward side-growth. I can navigate it! The code compiles! It's lovely! Yeah!
Of course, with a nice, happy refactor comes a nice happy bug hunt. Here's what I'm dealing with right now:
Weeding out character options that don't have the correct animations results in an out-of-sync error. This is weird. It's also disabled at the moment; I'll tackle it after I get some sleep.
Trying to manually set a default starting body (so you're not adding eyes to the empty air before you select your skin color) results in an error. But setting the body by the 'skin color' interface works just fine?
My very clever trick to make all layers animate together doesn't work on children, which have a completely different animation set. This one is 100% my fault, because I'm lazy and haven't gotten to it yet.
WooOOoo! No body!
Otherwise... I've got some super ugly UI preview controls I'll need to make pretty (the bars on the top right). I'm thinking of having the character controlled by the keyboard-- WASD style, with actions tied to other prominent keys. Maybe a test environment to walk around in.
For now, I can't tell you how great the animation-speed slider is. I can scrub through animations in slow motion and spot weird flickering distortions even on the base model. The image QA work coming up as soon as I fix those three bugs is going to be so much easier.
Expand the preview tools (animation speed, preview size)
Restrict sprite options by animations needed.
QA all current images. (43 sprite sheets)
QA's moved to the bottom, because it'll be so, so much easier to do with the previous three items added.
In tackling #3, though, I've found my folder structure / XML solution's failed me. I wanted to group things together without redundancy (different versions of the same sprite set shared between body types)... and it's not working. Basically, I tried to do this:
And only now am I realizing, "Wait, child bodies have completely different animations than men and women... but they're in the same... um..."
I'm going to need to restructure my folder and XML, take out a few things, and smooth it back over.
Thank goodness I only had a few options listed though. Seriously. I can't imagine what I would have had to do otherwise. Still, I've been finishing everything else up at a very nice clip, so hopefully I'll have this finished tonight.
It's been a while. I'll keep the recap quick-- a lot of sickness, chronic pain, and ER visits were involved. Sometimes it's really hard to program when your head feels like it's caught in a bear trap. The pain's not gone, and I'm popping NSAIDs like they're Halloween candy, but I have been seeing a new specialist since the end of July. And even though I get exhausted pretty easily, the thought of a quick recursive method doesn't make my brain want to melt out of my ears anymore. So! That's good.
So let's talk about the Character Creator, shall we?
You'll notice that this screenshot doesn't look like the others a little further back in my blog. Truth is, the last version and my last approach were getting way too complicated for me. Manual buttons, categories, UI overflow, the sheer amount of all the sprite sets... it really adds up. I needed a better approach.
So, bit by bit lately, I've been going back to Unity and putting in a bit of work here and there. A new responsive UI. A scroll bar that appears when too many options appear. Cataloging everything with XML and dynamically creating the navigation menu.
More importantly, it's working. I'm able to put in major features more quickly and easily than I had with last version's code bloat. Yesterday it was the entire XML import and dynamic navigation system. Today I've finished all preview images and have the program disabling options that don't fit the current body.
So, here are my immediate goals:
1. QA all current images. This includes:
3 body types (man, woman, child)
3 skin colors (coffee, sienna, and ivory) / body type
Add them all up, and this comes out to 43 sprite sheets. Which isn't a small number, but it's not unmanageable, either.
2. Add the animations back in. I'll need to redo a bit of work with the base animation, but the challenging part right now is thinking of a really good UI for it.
3. Expand the preview tools. Add a slider to control the animation speed, increase / decrease the preview sprite's size.
4. Restrict sprite options by animations needed. Because if you need to build a mage character, and your nifty coat disappears during the 'casting' animation... well, that's just not going to work. Select all the animations you'll need when you start and go from there.
Once I have all those things, I'll feel really good about starting to expand the library to the vast and awesome amount of work the good artists at OpenGameArt.org have spent their time and skill sharing with us. I'll also feel okay about releasing an early demo to the web. The heavily, heavily restricted library will only give about 150 unique characters, but playing with it's a start.