Meta #1 - Alpha Release & The Future

Hey, welcome! I hope you have been well. After a few years of on and off work, Pilgrimage of Embers was finally released on February 1st. I'll go into more detail in a section below.


Alpha Release

For those who have had time to play Pilgrimage of Embers, thank you for participating in the alpha release. A little over fourty people received usernames and keys. Fifty people signed up, although some had invalid emails and no social media links, so they could not be given it.

The bug reports and constructive criticism sent by the players has been immensely appreciated. I've enjoyed reading your responses. One person even messaged me as he played it, which was really fun to read. Most computers were able to run the launcher and game with no issues, although some couldn't. It was really valuable experience for me to think of solutions why it was crashing on start.

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I'm a bit of a perfectionist, a trait I'm trying to balance out. There are a lot of areas that needed improvements, but if I waited until they were complete, I would have never released. So, that's why there are flaws (and you hear me mention that in other places).

I'm self-critical, so I often don't appreciate what is finished, but focus on what needs to be done. If you've talked to me, you know I've always talked like this when asked about Pilgrimage of Embers. I've decided to mix it up a bit by talking about what I personally love about my game, mentioning nothing negative. In no particular order:

  • Flora & Fauna. The palewood trees, with their autumn-like leaves. All the flowers and herbs, and how they sway in the wind. The rabbits, both soot and ashwhite variants. The insects are really fun to watch, too.
  • User Interfaces. The inventory (and quickslots by extension). I love the items, which have good names and great icons. Offerings UI, Ore Smelting UI, and Brewing UI are nicely put together.
  • Lore & Characters. I have yet to put any of this in, so you won't know what I'm talking about. I love the location names, descriptions, and how they connect together. The characters feel alive (even the dead ones). The timeline from the beginning of the world is solid and well-planned, and will be a strong foundation. The past is important for the direction of the future. It's the "seed" of a story.
  • Code. I have written some good code for Pilgrimage of Embers over the past few years, like particles, audio, game objects, AI, weather, etc.
  • Launcher. If I can count this as a part of the experience, it's my best written software, both in user experience, code, and creativity.

The Future

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I'm going to take some time off from working on Pilgrimage of Embers. It's been quite a few years since I started this journey, and I have learned a lot. This was my first real game project, and I'm proud that I was able to get it to an alpha stage. Don't worry, this won't be permanent. I love the world I've created, and I want to keep improving it. Unfortunately, I feel it's in my best interest if I work on different, much smaller scale projects.

For the bug reports you have submitted, I will likely update the game one more time to fix them. The alpha won't discontinue, so you can download any time. I love the launcher, and want to continue using it. I plan to re-code it to support multiple games, split into two tabs: one for alphas, and one for prototypes. This ties in with the section below.

With that, I'll change how my Patreon page is structured to a multi-game format and back to monthly subscription. I'm decent at making games, but making communities isn't my expertise (yet). It would be incredible if a community of people who love my games joined together.

Finally, I'm going to write more meta posts (kinda like this one!). These will be various articles where I talk about a specific process, whether that is in art, coding, or game development. I hope it will help other creators in some way.


An Improved Creation Process

I need to drastically improve my process for creating games. I'm not absolutely certain how that looks, but I know some key points:

1. Planning. This is both for planning small features, and making sure they actually fit into the game. I often did the former, but the latter less so. The result of this was a game that had some great UIs, but didn't necessarily match up well design-wise. I should truly define the "core" of the game, and stick to it. PoE underwent quite a few lore, world, and plot design changes. This caused a few features already coded to become obsolete.
2. Prototyping. This is step would be putting the planning step into action, usually through coding. I will try to be okay with using "programmer art". I will set a timeframe to code it. If it's not fun or playable by the end of that, then move on. The one feature that would have made Pilgrimage of Embers truly engaging is combat, but I saved that until the end, so the core experience I wanted to portray suffered.
3. Early Feedback. After the game has reached a playable state, upload it for others to try! This will tie in with the improved launcher I mentioned earlier.


If you have any ideas, constructive criticism, or just want to tell me how much you dislike my projects, you can: Send me an email, tweet @TheShyyGuy, gab to @ShyyGuy, comment on the Facebook page, or respond in the comment section below.

Do you want to support the developer? Here's what you can do:

  1. Become a Patron here!
  2. Tell your friends and family about my projects!
  3. Retweetrepost, and share the content that you like!

Thank you for reading!

From Enckling, with love.

Update #55 - Alpha Release on February 1st!

Hey, welcome back! Yea, you read that right. The alpha release is coming, and in a little less than a week. Before I get to that, let's go over the minor changes for the week. This should be my new record too, which was around thirty changes and fixes in one week.

  • Added footstep SFX to player character.
  • Improved how SoundPlayer.cs sets sound position. Can be per SFX now, rather than attached to the GameObject's Position.
  • Slightly improved how AI is structured. This won't take effect until sometime after the alpha release.
  • Moved main menu UIs to better positions.
  • Improved how SoundPlayer.cs is structured.
  • Added SoundObject.cs for easy, customized SFX playing in levels.
  • Added lever and iron gate SFX to the game maps.
  • Fixed the camera not locking onto the player on load until he jumps. CameraDelay speed value was not set at beginning.
  • Made it so that withered/picked flowers would not be selectable by the player.
  • Changed "Harvest: Flying Insect" to "Murder: Flying Insect", so they drop dead rather than disappear. The butterflies don't have items to give yet, so this is temporary.
  • Added tree leaves SFX to all maps with trees and wind.
  • Added descriptions to every item. They will be improved some day, but good enough for alpha release.
  • Fixed a fatal error involving the player taking control of a creature, an invalid AI entity reference, and a barstool.
  • Added a number of rumors, which will help guide the player (or perhaps mislead?).
  • Since there won't be any monsters on release, rabbits now drop a bit more embers.
  • Hooked up the rumors to various actions and locations.
  • Improved item buttons so they can't be overwritten. This won't affect the user in any way.
  • Player classes have been improved, adding better names, descriptions, and items.
  • Placed all completed items in the game world, and removed all unfinished ones too. Yay!
  • Fixed an odd glitch that prevented rumors from being sent to notifications, but only sometimes. Weird issue with load order, dunno.
  • Updated Monument UI button names to reflect their UI counterparts.
  • Added stats to all armors (and a neat hat!).
  • Improved equipment comparison text slightly, showing the player if the new armor piece is better or worse (-/+).
  • Added a couple of skill requirements to various armors and weapons.
  • Fixed a fatal error caused by the player dying before ever resting at a flame monument. Now you will be put back where you started (tutorial map).
  • Fixed a game breaking mess-up that prevents the player from picking up any item ever.
  • The player can no longer activate flame monuments with any ember quantity. Changed temple monument cost to 100 embers.
  • Tweaked the selectable starting items in the New Game UI.
  • Changed all of the possible exchanges in the Offerings UI.
  • Fixed a glitch causing ores to smelt even after reaching 0 (infinite ingots).
  • Updated the following icons: iron ingot, silver ingot, gold ingot, common stone, riverrock.
  • Map data is now SAVED before loading a new map. Surprised I missed this until now!
  • Minor tweaks to the item reinforcement UI to make it more user friendly.

Alpha Release

After a couple of years in development, I'm comfortable enough to release the game for people to play it. While there is much to be done, I have some good content to keep you entertained. This includes reading item descriptions, exploring all areas, hunting some rabbits, picking flowers, brewing potions, doing offerings, smelting, etc. If I were to estimate total play time, those who want to just get through it can expect it to last a couple of minutes. Although, that effectively turns it into a walking simulator. The average user can expect to play the game between fifteen minutes to perhaps an hour.

The AI for the monster wasn't great, so I decided to skip any aggressive creatures on release. There are rabbits and butterflies, so there won't be any resistance. Another reason was I felt the combat needed to be redone, or perhaps simplified. Of course, you can't hunt rabbits without weapons, so there are still a few in-game.

I'll be releasing the alpha to everyone who signed up in groups. Sadly, I don't have experience in porting to Linux or Mac. Those of you who selected that OS will still be sent the alpha, but you'll have to find a computer with Windows first. I apologize for any inconvenience this causes. I'll be setting up a separate page here with all the details you need to know about where to download, requirements, etc. If you missed the chance to sign up, you can still play by supporting me on Patreon.

The Friday immediately after, I'll do a blog post on how the alpha went, and possibly do a look back on the "pilgrimage" from start to finish. It might be as a video, putting together up old screenshots and game recordings. After all that, I'll see where I go. As I finished this up, I've been invigorated to work on this game so much more, though I may end up taking a short (or lengthy) break to work on small games, software, and engines for a strong portfolio.

February 1st comes soon!
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If you have any ideas, constructive criticism, or just want to tell me how much you dislike my game, you can: Send me an email, tweet @TheShyyGuy, gab to @ShyyGuy, comment on the Facebook page, or respond in the comment section below.

Do you want to support this ambitious project? Here's what you can do:

  1. Become a Patron here!
  2. Tell your friends and family about Pilgrimage of Embers!
  3. Retweetrepost, and share the content that you like!

Thank you for reading!

From Enckling, with love.
Shyy Guy

Update #54 - Player Animation, Various Artwork, & Alpha Info

Hey, I hope you've been well. After a long gap between updates, I'm starting off 2018 with some good work.

  • Updated the PoE logo on "Creations" page, and the promo image on PoE page.
  • Changed the promotional pop-up to focus on Pilgrimage of Embers rather than the newsletter.
  • Changed the announcement bar to focus on weekly update subscriptions.
  • Switched the "Feedback" page with two new pages: Inquiry, and Report Bug.
  • Big improvements to the PoE page: Added "Quick Content" and "Media" sections, removed images, and a few other small changes.
  • Minor changes to existing icons, such as stones. They felt lacking compared to the newer icons.
  • The Patreon page has been completely re-done. Check it out!
  • Visiting enckling.com/patreon now redirects you to my Patreon page.
  • Fixed sound being played left of screen coming out of opposite speakers.
  • Finished two sound effects: iron gate, lever.

Player Animation

The lack of color will be changed eventually, but it's certainly alpha-ready. If I added color to him now, it would be skin tone which would make him look a lot more naked, which would make me want to add clothes to him. It would've snowballed, so I'm keeping him like this for now.


Various Artwork

I really enjoy drawing item icons and creatures in basic monochrome, as it's quicker and forces me to get the form right rather than partially relying on color. You'll see below seven creatures (with smaller, baby forms), as well as some item icons in full color.

creature forms 1.png
creature forms 2.png
rocks plus eye.png

Alpha Info

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I'm content enough with how the game is, so I'll be releasing the alpha very soon (likely less than two weeks). If you've signed up, I will send you the important info via email, social media, or both. If you missed the alpha sign up, you can get access to the latest updates by supporting me on Patreon.

Though MonoGame allows porting to Mac and Linux operating systems, unfortunately I won't be doing that in alpha (for now). Managing the different bugs on different platforms while adding and changing content is a little outside of my skill level, and would hinder me even further from releasing updates consistently.


If you have any ideas, constructive criticism, or just want to tell me how much you dislike my game, you can: Send me an email, tweet @TheShyyGuy, gab to @ShyyGuy, comment on the Facebook page, or respond in the comment section below.

Do you want to support this ambitious project? Here's what you can do:

  1. Become a Patron here!
  2. Tell your friends and family about Pilgrimage of Embers!
  3. Retweetrepost, and share the content that you like!

Thank you for reading!

From Enckling, with love.
Shyy Guy

Update #53 - Item Artwork

Hey! I apologize for being away for so long. My productivity and motivation for my game went to zero for some reason a month or two ago, but I'm back now! I guess we'll start with the minor changes:

  • Added game logo icon to program.
  • Improved how dodging functions, now based on time rather than distance.
  • Fixed weapon moves not moving the wielder (think momentum).
  • Small improvements to the Stats screen, including replacing "Magic" with better terms and positioning some text correctly.
  • Replaced old company and game logos with the new ones.
  • Fixed an error with reading Storage tags from state files.
  • Fixed combo swings increasing past max values, leading to weapon glitches.
  • Changed the promotional pop-up on the website, improving the look.

Artwork

There's a lot to show off from this past week! This section will be mostly visual.

 Ores & Ingots

Ores & Ingots

 Coals & Stones

Coals & Stones

 Key & Lockpick Shapes

Key & Lockpick Shapes

 Various Shapes (one with colors)

Various Shapes (one with colors)


If you have any ideas, constructive criticism, or just want to tell me how much you dislike my game, you can: Send me an email, tweet @TheShyyGuy, gab to @ShyyGuy, comment on the Facebook page, or respond in the comment section below.

Do you want to support this ambitious project? Here's what you can do:

  1. Become a Patron here!
  2. Tell your friends and family about Pilgrimage of Embers!
  3. Retweetrepost, and share the content that you like!

Thank you for reading!

From Enckling, with love.
Shyy Guy

Update #52 - Completed Maps & Sound Effects

Hey, happy early-Independence Day to my American friends! My focus these past two weeks was on map design, and I got a lot done! Let's jump into the minor changes:

  • Added "SoundPlayer" class, used for conveniently and neatly playing sound by GameObjects / UIs.
  • SoundPlayer now works better... random sounds won't play when in the middle of nowhere.
  • Fixed a bug with the monuments that prevented either teleportation or rendering, and improved overall code neatness.
  • Resolved a bug that caused maps without wind to obliterate the audio until the program gets restarted.
  • Fixed a minor issue with ProximityRange trigger not locking.
  • Added water-based flora to the small river in the main map.
  • Fixed an error caused by scanning the map for pathfind generation more than once.
  • Fixed an error with adding MultiItem containers to the map.
  • Improved FadeImage, adding a min and max fade option.
  • Added TextObject game object, which allows text placement in-game.

Completed Maps

I'm happy to say I've completed all of the maps necessary for the alpha! Additionally, they now have a more "dramatic flow", rather than each map being accessible immediately as it was before. To prevent spoiling too much, the pictures below only show a glimpse of each new map.

 Tutorial Map

Tutorial Map

This is the first map you will start in. Here you'll be shown some basic controls on how to interact with the game world and the user interface.

 The tower's cellar, discovered from a fall...

The tower's cellar, discovered from a fall...

This map is directly below the tower, and is required to progress to the end.

 The temple cellar.

The temple cellar.

Directly left of the tower cellar. the ladder leads back up to the surface behind the temple.

 The final map, to the north...

The final map, to the north...

This is the final map, which has an item letting the player know they beat the alpha.


Sound Effects

I added in a few completed SFX from awhile ago. These include:

  1. Rabbit Footsteps

  2. Rabbit Screeching

  3. Potion Gulping

  4. Essence Us

  5. Familiar Fragment Use

  6. Shriekhorn Use

  7. Fill Bottle

  8. Empty Bottle

It's coming together! Audio really helps make the game feel more alive. As for what's left, there are still a few more to add, such as sword swooshes and clanks.


If you have any ideas, constructive criticism, or just want to tell me how much you dislike my game, you can: Send me an email, tweet @TheShyyGuy, gab to @ShyyGuy, comment on the Facebook page, or respond in the comment section below.

Do you want to support this ambitious project? Here's what you can do:

  1. Become a Patron here!
  2. Tell your friends and family about Pilgrimage of Embers!
  3. Retweetrepost, and share the content that you like!

Thank you for reading!

From Enckling, with love.
Shyy Guy