Spellcaster Studios

Make it happen…

The Librarian

Today I added to the story one important character: The Librarian, an information broker that operates in this part of the galaxy.

The player will have to go to him to get some information, and (obviously) will have to do some dirty work for him.

This cutscene is one of those I’m sad I probably won’t be able to afford speech in the game… The dialogs sound amusing in my head, with all the appropriate pauses, tone and nuance, but it falls a bit flat when we only have text… Well, can’t be helped, although I’m thinking of improving the text system to gradually write the text, instead of showing it one phrase at a time. That way, I could have a bit more “timing” in the text, which would help I think…

The talks with The Librarian will be onboard of his space base, The Library. I’ve made a video showing the authoring process… It’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but some of you might find it interesting!

Now listening to “Alloy” by “Trillium”

Link of the Day: This is an overview of a technique that can be used to make trailers (and menus, or even whole games), called Camera Mapping… It’s very cool, it’s one of the possibilities for the trailer for the game (storyboard’s still not written): http://gamasutra.com/blogs/KoenDeetman/20140714/221001/Camera_Map_Your_Teaser_Trailer.php

Orbiting planets

Just added the concept of orbiting moons/planets/bases to the game.

For the side-missions and the storyline, sometimes I want a base to appear somewhere, so the player has somewhere different to go, so I had to add custom planets that can be added/removed during play (instead of up-front)… Since I had some stuff hardcoded, it was hard making this work…

Because I’m a nice guy, jumping from orbit to the planet and vice-versa doesn’t consume fuel… Smile


In this case, this is a custom map (made in the voxel editor). I can also build entire planets from scratch (which might be interesting to generate the side missions without influencing the main game generation), or moons (to make the description of the random missions more interesting).

Now listening to “Festival” by “Jon Oliva’s Pain”

Link of the Day: This is good advertising… I had a good laugh at this:

Take that!

Not much time today for development, it’s my wedding anniversary (11 years and counting!), so I’ll make this quick…

After some balancing, tweaking and bug fixing, I managed to kill the boss…

The fight is not as fun as I’d like… You almost never can see the boss, because he’ll kill you if you’re too close, so to make him walk where you want him to be, you’ll have to move out of the screen and make a guess… I even considered adding a different PoV for this fight, in which the camera is behind the player and focusing on the enemy, like a standard lock-on in third person adventure games. I’ll consider that when I receive playtest information…


Now, to get to another place… For that, I need fuel, but the new loot tables make it easier, so you can focus on grinding only if you want the alloy to purchase weapons, shields, armor, health packs, clone tubes, etc…

Now listening to “The Christmas Attic” by “Trans-Siberian Orchestra”

Link of the Day: Here’s some extremely nerdy humor from “the biz”… Most of these are obscure even if you’re in the field, but some of them are really funny: http://timothylottes.blogspot.pt/2014/07/bad-industry-humor-computer-engineering.html

Dead, dead, dead…

Today I added a bit more of story to the game, including another boss fight… Wanted something different from the previous ones, so following a friend’s suggestion, I made a fight in which you have to use the environment to destroy the enemy…

Unfortunately, today I’m feeling very lazy, so something that should have taken 2 hours tops, took over 4! And it’s not done, still lot of small bugs, blargh!

Anyway, I still haven’t managed to defeat the boss, so I probably have to tune it a lot…


This has been my life for the last 30 mins… Adjusting the boss, dying fighting him, etc… This planet is also a nightmare… No oxygen desert planet. You can die of thirst, asphyxia, sandstorms, sandworms and enemies… Oh, did I neglect to mention the cultists?! Smile

Link of the Day: I definitely have to make a Physically-Based Renderer on Spellbook one of these days… Here’s a very impressive tutorial/tool demo to paint PBR materials… It has a lot of interesting ideas, which I hope to use one of these days! Check out his channel for more cool stuff (he has a demo with procedural texturing which is just amazing!):

Random spawns

Today I’ve added one more cutscene to the storyline (an important one, too!), and added a new type of enemy: the ninja! I call it ninja, but he’s more of a warrior-cultist kind of thing… but he periodically (or when he takes a lot of damage), he disappears in a puff of smoke, only to re-appear a short while later.

These enemies show up periodically after that, when you’re playing around in the planets… It really adds an extra dimension of danger (you’re hiding from a sandstorm and suddenly, one of these guys spawn next to you!

As the matter of fact, that last bit is a bit too stressful… Smile


The game is becoming a bit challenging even for me with just the gun and no secondary weapon… It’s probably a bit too easy otherwise, really need to work on the weapon balance, but too be honest, I’m not sure on how to start that work so it will be methodical.

Link of the Day: Very interesting article about the the issues surrounding indieness for profit… It’s a  bit blunt, but eye opening: http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/07/why-indie-gaming-s-obsession-moneymaking-hurts-us-all

Everybody’s Kung Fu Fighting!

Today was very productive… Added a new type of enemy, with a special ability, which is rather cool, and it makes gameplay more varied, and finished a couple of cutscenes…


I got to say, working a bit on the game every day for more than a month is really good for morale… not only I have more fun making the game, I’m more productive and new ideas are always popping up in my head… Most of them will be left for sequels/offshoots/other games, but a lot of those I actually used, for example the new ability of the *****…

The only bummer is that I’m reaching that part in the game development that I have to be careful with what I say, don’t want to spoil the story for anybody (not that this is exactly a brilliant, unpredictable story, or that anybody actually reads this… Smile).

Now listening to “Unification” by “Iron Savior”

Link of the Day: Super-cool science thingy! The image where you can’t even see the crinkles is specially impressive! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2690424/Scientists-discover-new-black-British-researchers-devise-material-dark-looks-like-black-hole.html

Battle stations!

Don’t want to talk too much about what I’m doing at this moment (it’s an important moment in the story, and I don’t want to spoil it)…

Let’s just say that Steve and the Skydancer go into battle stations:


Red alarm light always gives some urgency to the scene, especially if I can find a good alarm sound to go with it (I’ve not worked on sound as much as I should).

Now listening to “Kartika” by “The Eternal”

Link of the Day: Been looking forward to this one for some time now, and it launches in a week, yay! Check out the trailer and give them a follow on Twitter (@robotality):

Playthrough, Part IX

As usual on Mondays, not much time/energy to work on the game, so I started on the next cutscene that leads to a new phase in the game…

Without giving too much away, I needed a ship:


And I needed it to be bigger than Skydancer, but the map doesn’t have enough space for it… Will have to use some sort of trick so that the enemy ship looks menacing without being any bigger than the player ship… Probably will have to work with camera angles (or scaling and hope for the best! Smile).

Link of the Day: This is some masterful animation, really impressive stuff, done by just two guys! Can’t wait for the movie (in 2016!):

Playthrough, Part VIII

A bit more work on the storyline… Some new cutscenes, and a big boss fight (grenades and pulse gun, which wasn’t working on the enemies). It’s a quite hard fight, if you only have the gun, which is my case…

I fear the game will need a bit more difficulty… I’m more than halfway through the storyline, and I haven’t bought any upgrades yet! Don’t know if I should make the enemies hit harder, or just give them more health…


Also added a piece of code that links enemies together (so if you attack one, all of them in a vicinity will come running)… Just need to tweak the value a bit…

Link of the Day: Another game that looks pretty cool… It’s a mixture of shooter and point’n’click adventure, all side scrolling… Indies are really doing cool stuff, I feel very jealous!

Playthrough, Part VII

Continuing the path through the game, I had to build one more temple…

First problem I had: because of the procedural generation and random factor, the temple was spawning in a cave planet, which meant that all was dark, so any cutscene would have to account for the possibility of this happen, which makes matters much harder to deal with…

To sort this out, I decided to do the same as the previous temple: have an entrance in the planet, and then build the whole temple separately… This worked very well!

Then, after almost two hours painstakingly building the temple, the editor crashed when I tried saving it! That’s the problem of half-assed tools… :\ Here’s a shot of it before it crashed:


After I stopped yelling, I started all over again and built the new temple (almost the same as the one before)… and ran into the next problem: scenario. Contrary to the previous temple, we’re not in the dark, so if the camera pans, the player will expect to see some scenario around the temple… I have a few ideas on how to solve this (using the background sub-system to solve it), but for now, I just erected walls around the temple (which kind of screw the camera a bit…).


Finished the presentation cutscene as well, so I just need to spawn the bosses… I want this fight to be against two big guys, so I need to add a system to the game in which they can call to each other (so the player won’t fight one at a time)…

Finally, also modified the gun effect to leverage the line code I built the day before yesterday…


I think it looks way better than before…

Now listening to “Clockwork Angels” by “Rush”

Link of the Day: Japan is known by it’s weird TV commercials and shows… Japan in the 70s was apparently even worse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=eak26ohx1Y8