Category Archives: Development

Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, Spanish and almost complete + other news.

(Not happy with this image as ball is dull, and its during falling section which makes little sense in a single image)
(Not happy with this image as ball is dull, and its during falling section which makes little sense in a single image)

I’m now at the stage where I’m doing the boring (but I love it) stuff which is localisation. I have done a little research and it seems silly not to support other languages so I am. One of the few perks of a masters course is meeting clever people from all over the world; then coaxing them into helping me localise Forgotten Ball’s in game text. There isn’t much of it, so no biggy really and most are glad to help, but I don’t know any Russians.

So, Russian? Please help :D

Also, should I support any other languages? I can probably fit 3 more into the space, so Dutch? Swedish? Norwegian? Portugese? Indian? I dunno outside of the other languages.

Moving blocks are back to the (very) old off-orange.
Moving blocks are back to the (very) old off-orange.

Now is also a good time to write that Forgotten Ball is almost complete. Which is surreal, and kind of scary. All of the big tasks have been ticked off, and that means the game is playable from start to end. Everything is there. User Interface was completed yesterday and localisation code went in this morning. AI was wrote months ago, and I fixed that up last week. UI was the last major pain, and I’ve got it down.

UI has not been easy, I made a decision to support desktop/mobile in a single design and that was kind of tricky to implement. I mean, it has been tough. I’m happier with it now, but yeah it was a few days of hell. I plan to have a narrated video of current UI on mobile soon, which I will try and post next week. I suspect the UI won’t be to everyones taste, but it’s not too far out. Full controller/keyboard support in navigation was a little nightmare and multiple display resolutions was what broke my first (beautiful) design.

Balls look at eachother.
Balls look at eachother.

One of the last things I’m working on is giving the ball some personality (random squeaks, jumps/movement) as there is life in there, I’ve just got to show it.

I’m hiring a teen (in a ballsy, somewhat crazy move) to test Forgotten Ball for a few days over a couple of months. This is the last of my pennies, so yeah boo. I plan to trial him for a day, if good, hire again.

I’m a proficient tester, but oh my, its hard testing a game you’ve built. You just don’t see stuff.

Always worth sharing a little gameplay segment, as this area is late game and quite tricky. New code pushing player out of world, and yeah I am happy with what is happening. Testing it with people has been good too.

Still busy, but coming to a close.

The changing of colour

Colour is a pig, I barely understand it, I dress in black, white and grey almost exclusively. Colour is not my thing. This post is going over some of my older screenshots through to where Forgotten Ball is today, some lessons learned too.

I have been unhappy with the way Forgotten Ball looks for a long time and the last few weeks I had gone a little into colour hell – I was prepared to make the change. Forgotten Ball is nearing completion and let me be frank – it wasn’t up to the aesthetic standard I had hoped to achieve.

Forgotten Ball’s mechanics came about as a mid teen, playing with Lego. I think the style Forgotten Ball started to take was inspired from those bricks too.

legoTower

Forgotten Ball, Lego, minimal, a lot of blocks, lots of colour combinations, and ultimately a lot of mistakes. These images are kind of in order, from years ago to today.

This is one of the very first shots from the very first builds of Forgotten Ball in late 2012, was a whole new world of learning and looks horrible, but for the sake of progress…

old

This image is an old image. From around Jan 2013. Green floors, placeholder UI, Specular shaders – not ideal. It didn’t look good.Bo_a7BvCcAA7k8E

Brown body, black background, poor lighting. Looked clean though. 2014-07-17 18.51.59BpjRQPkIIAAXQyC

Solid background colour – looked drab, uninteresting. Conflicted with world.B6_4Xy-CAAA525s

Lighting in some sections was poor, trying to create atmosphere at the expense of visibility. Darkness certainly induces tension, but it was never perfect. It has gotten better though, the second image down is still somewhat used, but it’s much more visible.006007
Bllo7uyCQAAcCmg BmJLxtKCMAAhV2-

The falling section of Forgotten Ball is another area that colour really never made sense. As you would fall through world, the colours would show different areas, but really in the end it just made a mess. Colour was starting to create confusion.2014-09-09 17.37.142014-09-09 17.37.19
In a similar series, I was happier with the lighting, but the game still looked unpleasant. 002004

I like this image. 005

I’ve always liked this area, and with a fixed camera Forgotten Ball looks very clean. This area is still the same in game but colours have been changed of the floor.008003001

I still hope to create a fixed camera version, one day.

Everything before now, was an pre-alpha image. So they are old. The next images are recent, up to today.

The next two images show that I really had started to think about colour. The ball with a pink skin was lost within the blocks, the red objects were not as prominent as they should have been due to the red of the smaller body blocks.

Untitled

I desaturated the image so that well, everything was grey. This brought the red objects and the ball into clear view.CApS-e-WAAE2CCY

When this change was made I was very happy, as much as I like the colour of the older versions grey meant that the ball, and objects of the game were prominent. However making the geometry grey had a very clear problem and one I didn’t really see at first. Grey is boring, different shades of grey, makes it confusing for the player to separate playable area and geometry, this was a problem.

The last week or so of tweaks..

The next two images were the 4th or 5th iteration, a midpoint from the old to the new. The big change is that the millions of small blocks are no more, and that I am introducing colour again.CBSF_GrW8AA3bNGCBSF_jcWwAAhJtA

Transparency didn’t really work without shifting the rest of the game into a futuristic transparent wireframe version. It also made a user during a play test say she felt ill.

The next changes were quick, and clear.

The lighting in Forgotten Ball has been changed- one light, above the player as opposed to two lights to looking at the player from the side.

I reduced the colours of Forgotten Ball. Right now there are 18 colours in Forgotten Ball, 13 colours for the Ball themselves, with a maximum on screen colour count of 6.

Enemies and buttons have been desaturated, their colours are more in line with pastels. A dark background highlights the game area. The ball has a stronger colour, highlighting the ball to the player, hopefully showing importance.

a

As Forgotten Ball is moving into its later part of two years of development – I really am starting to feel happy with the game, and also where I am going with it. 

It really does look very clean.

Forgotten Ball Control updates

I have had a tremendous amount of feedback on the controls of Forgotten Ball, and from that I have taken some small steps to make Forgotten Ball more in keeping with what players expect.

Forgotten Ball’s physics are the most discussed feature when I share and show Forgotten Ball builds, and this pre-alpha is no exception. The most discussed and debated aspect is that you can change your direction/momentum whilst in a jump. This is something that normally is only brought up by those whom have programmed game controls in the past, but other have also queried it.. I’m not planning on changing the controls, regardless of how easy or difficult this change could be for me I really like how the Ball feels in the air.

Forgotten Ball in a later section gives you the ability to invert gravity, but really this is just letting you float; It is kinda hard to explain as I don’t invert gravity, I just apply an upwards force and then cap how far from the ground the ball can float to. The set height was the lesser of two evils I encountered about a year ago; I either designed the game fully around gravity inversion (which I didn’t want to do) or I allow the ball to do this bobbing thing. For later reference the balls ability is still called gravity inversion, but its more semi buoyant as such.

The main thing I got back from the Kickstarter pre-alpha backers was that the gravity system was erratic/cutting out etc. I know this to be true as I programmed it this way (badly). In short the Gravity Inversion of Forgotten Ball used to work pretty simply, I apply a force to the ball, and control it by some simple rules: if the ball is witinin 12 units of ground allow the ball to float; if the ball is within 24 units of ground, bring the ball down to 12, if the ball is over 24 units from ground turn of Gravity. Turning off gravity inversion is where the erratic behaviours comes in.

I have made a lot of changes to the Gravity Inversion system in Forgotten Ball; it’s weight is slightly different, it’s more responsive and Gravity will only now cut out if there is nothing beneath the ball.

Video:

Inversion of Gravity Fix/Update from Joshua Croft on Vimeo.

Worth noting is that in air the ball is not held back by friction. So I’ve noticed people just flying or jumping around to get from A to B quicker, this is a problem but it’s something I do in other games so I need to think carefully before making late changes. I will however be adding enemies and blocks to slow down that sort of progression.

Fixes, FAQ, mumbles.

I released the pre-alpha 002 earlier this week/last weekend, and since then I have fixed 4 game breaking issues, to the backers of the pra-alpha game I’m sorry these sneak through. Some were obvious, others not. Forgotten Ball has become a very large game, or at least it is now a game that I have forgotten about code/gameplay in some areas – that is kinda scary. It isn’t growing anymore though.

I’m slowing implanting the last gameplay before the final sections; it’s all coming together well, but I have scrapped CPU intensive AI. So, sadly ‘freddy’ will never make it to the public release, or at least won’t be on mobile platforms. I am kinda sad about this.

I was playing Castle of Illusion this week, you know, the Sega Game Gear ‘port’ I think it’s a port built from the ground up for the platform, but that doesn’t matter. Caste of Illusion has some lovely ideas, it’s a little late to incorporate any inspirations, but still… one of the later level memories does have a direct influence.

I want to answer a few questions raised to me in person and in email…

Q “Forgotten Ball should have collectibles”

It does, and it will have more. Previous ball memories will allow you to unlock their skins, and there is a trick up my sleeve incoming. I should say though, I don’t want to make the game mario-esque, going all over the place trying to collect coins/fruit/cubes etc just doesn’t really appeal, maybe that’s another mode.

Q “Where if Forgotten Ball’s audio?”

JB is working on audio, lots of this needs to be implemented; there is a lot of game and until we’re satisfied that we’ve got enough audio in game we will be holding off sharing. I personally don’t want the music to be repeating to often. The audio is very interesting, is dynamic, minimal and layered. Currently tracks are saved at around 2 minute length and looped/ changed/layered, but it’s not quite there, but it is coming.

Q “Where is the story”

Okay, I lie, only one person has asked this – Forgotten Ball isn’t meant to be an epic story, it’s a minimalist interpreted story, which for the most part is turned off. You know, when you’re developing these things it’s kind of difficult to say “right this is good enough to release”. As I don’t think it will be until near release. It’s told in small sections where Ball has a moment. I kind of like that, interpret these moment as you will. I believe these tell a story, but they also tell yours.

Q “How do I exit”

As a ‘computery’ person, to exit an application I use cmd+q, to ctrl,alt+delete. So with that in mind, I haven’t really thought too much about ‘quitting game’. You will be able to exit relatively easy when you wish to quit Forgotten Ball, without these shortcuts, but I’m a way of from adding that to Forgotten Ball. It’s the cross platform bits that I need to think about.

Q “How do I save”

Right now, you don’t have the option to save, but that code is incoming.

I’m fixing lots of bugs, the erratic behaviour of the player dying and respawning is slowly being fixed, I believe it is fixed – but you know how these things go. Testing, testing, testinggg.

Sadly, this weekend is going to be devoted to uni work… I’m not behind on uni work, but I’m aware of it. I need to get a working prototype running, then I won’t worry so much. I met a lovely backer of Forgotten Ball by chance at university, and I think that is worth sharing. I mentioned on FaceBook, but it was the highlight of my day, albeit the lady only reported bugs!

A new build coming this weekend, probably Sunday. Lots of fixes that have been fixed.
- Josh

Forgotten Ball is now in the last stages of pre-alpha

I expect Forgotten Ball to be complete mid October; with UI following. Then it is a lot of testing, tweaking and more testing before releasing. I have also made the decision to not release all platforms at once. I want to give each platform the attention is deserves and iron out any platform specific features that need to be implemented. I believe I have said this before but it will be around a weeks gap between each platform. This won’t be an issues for Kickstarter backers as they will all receive a Beta early December.

One of the last things I have to do is the animation of 7 more boss enemies (I know, it’s a little more woe than I thought). I love animation, truly it was the first (well second if you include fishing) art form I really put my energy too, but after years of development of Forgotten Ball I am not looking forward to turning ideas into animations. I plan on using some money to find a local animator to help with this, preferably someone aspiring. Animation is a skill, and if I had a couple of days to give to each animation then yeah I could do a great job. Sadly, I don’t have spare time.

I read a post about colour not so long back, and I thought to myself how important colour will be in Forgotten ball. As Forgotten Ball is minimalistic I need to represent that better with colour and make sure the environment ties together. To do this I have enlisted some help from a talented artist friend of mine whom is creating the colour of Forgotten Ball as it were. Well we are working together, but she has skill.

These new colour decisions mean that the pre-existing ball skins will need modifications, as in most of them won’t be any good (too complex) or, at the very least not as part of the main game. When making a game that I am describing as minimalistic I should in my opinion actually honour what minimal is. Too much colour is exactly that, too much colour.

Lastly, and most importantly the game is large, I forgot how large it actually is. It takes 53 seconds for the Ball to fall through the entire world (in that drop sequence); I mean that is impressive, well I am impressed. Certainly feeling like I will be offering good value for money.