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  • kildorf kildorf

    Gruedorf Post 2021-07-07

    • (Mostly) finished forest maps
    • Started planning out the maps for the second half of the game

    Continued Slog

    Things have continued on their recent slow trajectory. I meant to get back on my normal posting schedule by posting on Sunday, but I didn't do that, so now it's Wednesday. Ah well.

    I've gotten all of the forest maps drawn (though not brought into the engine yet). I've got some more caves to draw to link up some parts of it, but I decided to instead finish up the planning/"blocky" versions for the maps for the rest of the games. They're coming along! There are three (kind of four) distinct areas in the second part of the game (Black Mountain itself) and the biggest one is done(ish?), and I've got some preliminary sketches of the rest.

    I'm actually starting to worry about the size of the game -- Black Mountain was supposed to be a small game that helped me get a process worked out and some engine development out of the way. My map-focused development so far has made it easy to imagine larger (and more) maps than I probably need. For the time being, though, I'm going to keep on with the current plan and build out the draft maps. That was the point of the drafts, after all. I need to focus more on getting through them instead of getting bogged down in details while drawing them... but I'm also cutting myself some slack since this is a very personal project, I figure if I'm having fun doing the details then I could certainly be spending my time in worse ways.

    I just need to balance that "having fun" against "taking forever", because it's ALSO fun to finish things.

    A map of the entrance to Black Mountain.

    Here's a "work in progress" of the entrance to Black Mountain (that I thought was finished until I looked at it just now and realized I didn't finish the ruined walls that are sketched out on the ground there). This is a small rest area between the last section of the forest (an abandoned, ruined road) and the first section of Black Mountain (the partly-flooded, lowest level of the interior).

    And Art

    I've also been spending some time doing some drawing. I realized that maybe I should warm up a bit each day before working on the maps, so I have been. Warming up is actually mostly pen/hand-control exercises, and then I do a bit of free drawing or some figure drawing or whatever. Lately I've been looking a bit at artists I admire and trying to break down what they're doing and seeing if I can synthesize the bits I like into my own stuff. It's nice to be drawing again, I think?

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  • kildorf kildorf

    Gruedorf Post 2021-06-27 28

    • More map work


    Eugh, I wasn't at my computer a lot yesterday because I was trying to give my hand a rest (I tweaked it weirdly so it was aching over the weekend). It's feeling improved, but not all better! Anyway, I never got around to posting here yesterday so I'm a day late.

    Even disregarding that, I wasn't super happy with my productivity this week. I've been trying to chip away at it each day, but that hasn't always been happening! Such is life, I suppose.

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  • kildorf kildorf

    Gruedorf Post 2021-06-20

    • More maps
    • A droppable ladder


    Hey, did you know it's Sunday? I forgot.


    One thing that I appreciate in map design is when you traverse a map multiple times, but when as you go through you open up little short cuts for yourself. I've actually implemented the first instance of this in Black Mountain; a rope ladder.

    You first encounter the rope ladder rolled up at the top of a cliff. There will be a small cutscene drawing attention to it (mischievous forest spirits up to no good, naturally). You'll go far, far out of your way to work around a different path and eventually come to the top of the cliff.

    The player at the top of a cliff next to a bundled up rope ladder.

    If you use the ladder, it'll flop down, and what was an impassable cliff is now a climbable area.

    The player at the top of a cliff, next to a rope ladder that has been let down and now provides a way up the cliff.

    Aren't you clever?

    This will be useful, because just north of this area is a small boss fight (mischievous forest spirits, again) and then a town. In the town you will be tasked with doing something that involves returning to the forest and unlocking a new area -- I certainly don't want to have to walk all the way back through a damp cave system to get back and forth while testing, so why should I make the player do it?

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  • kildorf kildorf

    Gruedorf Post 2021-06-13

    • Progress on the layout/world map
    • Drew six maps


    Decided to ride the momentum of map making for now. Filled out the maps to complete the initial forest area, drew a little town, and have started the transition maps to the next area (which is actually more forest, but centered around an abandoned and blocked road).

    The numbers on this week sound like a lot of progress but honestly I was hoping for more. I'd also like to tackle something that needs some more thinky work in the next week, so I have more to write about! There's only so interesting "yep drew some maps" is, week after week.

    I guess the good news is that eventually I'll run out of maps to draw. Theoretically?

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  • kildorf kildorf

    Gruedorf Post 2021-06-06

    • Finished up the cave I was working on


    Not much to report. I've (almost) finished the cave I was talking about last week. This means that the game's maps up to the first boss fight are ready to move on. I've got to draw the boss' "lair", and then another town.

    I'm not sure exactly what I'll do after that. I'm waffling on whether I want to just forge ahead and keep drawing maps, or if I want to go back and fill in what I've got. I've got a few more maps in the forest area I've been working on that the player doubles back to after visiting the town, which then takes you to the second boss fight. I'll probably just go ahead and finish those maps, and then start filling them in, which will mean making some more monster art and starting to tackle some things I want to fix up in the battle system.

    Alternatively I may just try to ride the momentum of map-making and try to get all of them done for the whole game (or at least all the maps that you actually need to visit -- there will be a number of places that only exist for side-track stuff). Then you'll be able to walk start-to-finish, and I'll get a better sense of how big it all feels, and then I can start to cut down or expand as necessary. I'm not convinced I'll get a good understanding of that without stuff like monsters in place, so we'll see.

    See you next week!

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  • kildorf kildorf

    Gruedorf Post 2021-05-30

    • Made a lot of headway on a new map


    You know, I was thinking about it. A very, very classic staple of jRPG maps is the Cave. Really, in a lot of ways they're almost the quintessential dungeon in fantasy stuff in general! I suppose this could probably be traced back to Tolkien's books -- The Hobbit especially involves a great deal of the protagonist grubbing around in caves that aren't ancient ruins or whatever. Just caves. Since it's Tolkien, this probably dates back even further; I suspect Beowulf was gallivanting about in caves when he was off killing Grendel and his family.

    It seems a little absurd, though, right? When was the last time you were in a cave? If you're not a professional or hobbiest spelunker, it's not really something you generally do! Caves are unpleasant places; they're formed by flowing water which absolutely does not care about making anything resembling a nice safe floor for you to walk in, or making tunnels anything other than a claustrophobic nightmare. Maybe caves are over-done, you know?

    So anyway, the next area I'm working on in Black Mountain is a cave.

    The Shorthand

    So I fell into a trap of my own devising. I had gotten pretty quick at drawing the maps I'd been working on, and foolishly believed this means that I could just steamroll through and become an unstoppable map-drawing machine. Unfortunately I failed to account for the fact that my speed was based on the fact that I had developed a quick shorthand for drawing the forest maps I was working on.

    Then I started drawing a cave and realized that I have no clue how to draw a cave. They're terrible! I'm not convinced any RPG has ever featured a realistic cave (see my rant above). So I had to actually force myself to do real work and figure out the shorthand I would be using.

    (As a reminder, the stuff I'm drawing now is not a final version of anything -- the entire goal of this current "draft" version of the game is to just stand up a beginning-to-end version as quick as possible*, so I can start evaluating it as a full game and I can start showing it to others. Then, either through my own work or those aforementioned "others", we'll start making it look good.)

    Anyway, I started and re-started several times on my first map. Just like with the rest of my maps (see the process discussion back in I started with a quick, dirty sketch of the area, and then resized it to full size for the level drawing. I ended up trying several approaches before I eventually found one that struck the right balance of fast and readable.

    A screenshot of the current cave style.

    I'm still not completely happy with it, but as I keep having to remind myself, it took drawing three or four full forest maps before I was happy with that shorthand.

    Have a good week!

    * I'm actually doing an awful job of doing it as quickly as possible. I'm taking far longer than necessary on the art, but I'm hoping that the time spent will translate into less time trying to explain incoherent chicken scratches to an artist, later.

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  • kildorf kildorf

    Gruedorf Post 2021-05-23

    • I don't actually remember

    This week sure was something. Between a hectic week at work and setting up a new computer, I'm not sure I actually got much of anything done on Black Mountain this last week. My drawing tablet isn't even set up on the new computer yet. THAT SAID, I am taking some time off for the next bit, so I will have plenty of time (in theory) to get things set back up and get back into the flow of things.

    In theory.

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  • kildorf kildorf

    Gruedorf Post 2021-05-16

    • Finished a map, started a new one

    I know that saying this is asking for trouble, but my time should free up a bit in a couple weeks. Hopefully that'll mean more to actually show off, AND a return to my ramblings. This is a threat.

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  • kildorf kildorf

    Gruedorf Post 2021-05-09

    • Worked on a map

    Still Busy

    Too busy to get a lot done this week, but at least some progress is still being made! Far better than just letting it lie fallow for months. I'm optimistic that the next couple of weeks will see my free time opening up a bit, but I also feeling like I'm inviting a curse on my own head for saying that. Well, we'll see!

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  • kildorf kildorf

    Gruedorf Post 2021-05-02

    • Finished up a map, completely did another, and started on a third


    Got in some decent work this week but nothing really to ramble about. Still working on finding some place to move. See you next week!

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