As many of you know, I was invited to attend TFF (Texas Furry Fiesta) this year and did a showing of some of the game’s current progress, as well as showcase some art and merch.
Quite honestly, this wasn’t in my plans at all for the year, but I’m glad to have been a part of it!
The Demo’s Scope
Given that we had a month to develop a demo for the con, we needed to decide what we believed could be done in that amount of time. Our initial plan was to complete 3 things:
– A basic physics room to test movement and attacking objects
– A demo phase or two against Camo
– A demo shop and some other secrets
While planning the assets and actually getting started with some initial prototype code for Camo’s boss phases, I realized that tackling his battle by itself would likely consume an unreasonable amount of time, so I decided that the other two pieces of the demo would ultimately become stretch goals (spoiler alert: They didn’t make it).
Animation and Sound
Given Camo’s size for this demo, and the number of possible attacks needed for him to have a “boss amount” of attack variation, I started off with prototyping some concepts without the use of assets. I created a new scene and started building a hypothetical Camo out of normal squares.
These squares included one for his body one for his head and two for his arms. I then began to program them, the arms becoming hitboxes as well as the head and then proceeded to program functionality to allow for these parts to be animated via code.
I did this part in phases to ensure that I had an understanding of how much space Camo could take up and introduced several variables that allowed for speeding up attack patterns animation duration and judging whether or not I needed Camo to move around while attacking.
At this point, I was going to continue handling this boss battle in a very puppet-like way, meaning that Camo’s arms head and body would be animated with several parts that would each have their own individual animations.
I thought at the time that this would make the animation workload a bit easier, but as I began to test with some existing art assets of Camo that happened to fit the direction I was envisioning, I quickly became skeptical of whether or not we’d be able to create all of the pieces and their animations in time, let alone any room for revisions.
So next, I decided to do something even crazier: I elected to have all of Camo’s animations done in the traditional/hand-drawn manner, but with fewer keyframes compared to characters such as Breeze.
I created with a list of potential attacks, many of which likely wouldn’t have all of the parts created in time, and Clipey created keys for them based on descriptions and rough animations I did.
This meant I would need to make sure that the keys were very strong, seeing as how they would be seen on-screen much longer than the frames for things that are more fluid (such as Breeze’s animations).
(Speaking of which, Breeze got some nice new animations as well from Piti)
I ended up cleaning most of Camo’s animations myself (at least, enough for demo) but didn’t have the opportunity to color and shade them in time. Here are some examples:
Another thing that needed to be done was to create any and all sounds needed for the demo. At the beginning of this “sprint” for this demo, we didn’t have any sound effects at all, especially for Camo or any of Breezes attacks and movement.
We also didn’t have any environmental sounds that would match the scene (which I will get to in a second). ultimately, this meant I would also need to recruit a sound designer.
Fortunately, a member of the team had a friend (Emily) who is experienced in this area and I reached out to them. They were able to create several of the sounds right on time allowing me to have some time to integrate them into the demo!
I worked with Cindy to get a concept together for a background going, and honestly, the sketching and layout was the easy part, but the coloring and contrast parts were challenging. Rhandi and I bounced some ideas back and forth, ultimately resulting in getting a color balance figured out.
So without further ado, see a montage of footage here:
A few roadblocks came up during the rush to get this demo completed. Around the second week of February, I actually ended up sick and was out of it for most of that week (though I tried to get some work done, it was just a bit difficult considering I was well tired most of the time.)
Once I recovered, I needed to focus on getting a lot of Merch-Kickstarter related things handled. (such as manually adding chains/keyrings to 150 charms, mailing out around 40 packages, and figuring out just how much the Coronavirus production delay would stall the new pin orders)
Another roadblock that came up was that I was having to personally work on many things for the demo that took me away from coding (mostly due to team and guest artist availability) and having my project management ability tested!
It did, however, allow me the opportunity to strengthen my animation skills and give me a much better understanding of what can be completed in a given amount of time.
Lastly, I ended up having to travel for work the last week of the month, so between the travel and other related matters, it greatly took away from any extra time I would have had to work on the demo.
I was hoping to be able to crunch and get most of what I needed to get done (such as animation cleanup of Camo), the day before the convention and perhaps during the convention.
I was, unfortunately, unable to do so between setup and actually managing the booth so I decided midday of the first day that I would instead demonstrate some development footage (as well as sell some merch and show off some 3D prints that I made in the last month)
Fortunately, I was recording the progress of the demo’s creation on a near-daily basis, which made it much easier to have a catalog of video footage.
Alright, lessons learned: Absolutely Nothing (jk)
Okay, but a couple of things that I learned: People like prints?
On the first day of the con, I laid out some prints that I made of some of the Criterion and Breeze, and every other person that showed up at our table asked me if they were on sale… (luckily, I had a pretty good inkjet printer at home, not far from the con), so yeah, guess what I sold the next day.
Secondly, having a deadline REALLY sharpens my focus. Ultimately, I didn’t get all I wanted to be done in time, but I did feel the pressure, and it made me cut out a lot of distractions.
Anyway, overall, mission failed regarding the demo?
Ok, maybe score us with like, a C- (or D+?) rating?
But truly, I do think this has helped greatly with the momentum of the project, as well as made it more clear which parts of the development process will need more focus, or at least, which parts need a better process.
Regarding my earlier remark relating to the Coronavirus: Due to that outbreak, production on many of the new merch was paused due to companies shutting down around the 1st of Feb.
I was informed earlier this week, that production has begun again, and that I should be expecting the order of the new merch (Pile, Cori, and new Camo/Sodo silver/gold pins) to arrive around mid/late March!
Next, I fully intended on releasing the demo to the Patreon backers after the convention was over, however, if not obvious, I will need more time :O
Anywho, I’m tired! I hope this was insightful! Here’s a picture of Sodo by Benny