January was a very busy month for the game, and I feel like we've made some great progress on a number of fronts. I think part of the reason is that we had set a goal for ourselves: try as hard as we could to get most of the work for Act I finished by January 29th, the date of the first Utah Indie Gamers night of 2009, so we could show it off in public. Setting goals can be useful for getting people focused on particular tasks, and it's probably a good way to work even when those goals aren't met.
Which is a good thing, because we didn't meet that goal.
Which itself is probably a good thing, because I wouldn't have been able to show it off at the Utah Indie Gamers night anyway. This past Tuesday morning, I recall having a slight wispy cough as I left for work; by late Tuesday night, I was begging for mercy. The microbes have barely let up on their stranglehold since. I was pretty sure this was influenza (despite getting my flu shot), although some of my colleagues tell me a similar bug called parainfluenza is making the rounds here these days, and the symptoms are similar. It matters little, they both suck. There are few things more humbling than sleeping on the bathroom floor (because the bedroom garbage can was already full of my heaving) or shaking with chills on the couch despite layer upon layer of clothing and blankets. The Utah Indie Gamers night was Thursday. By then I was only feverish. Now I'm finally not feverish, but I've been reduced to little more than a cough, mucus, and virus factory.
But enough of that. The Vespers engine code is up to version 04k with the addition of a few lines to detect animation triggers. The Torque animation exporter allows you to set keyframes within animation sequences that act as triggers for whatever response you want, which you can specify in the object's onAnimationTrigger method. Like most things that involve the Torque model and animation exporter, it takes a bit of time to figure out precisely how to set this up, but I believe I have it working now with Constantin. I'm now using triggers to specify when to play the scraping sound of the knife skinning the hare, which is nicely timed with the motion of the knife. I'm also using it to more smoothly transition between his idle animations. That should prove to be a very useful tool in the future.
Constantin video. Best viewed in High Quality (bottom right corner).
(Might need to turn up the volume to hear it.)
A lot of the progress in January has been with the animations. Shawn has been working his tail off, and we're now basically finished with the Act I animations for Ignatius, Constantin, and Matteo. The latter two were already animated by our previous guy, but we needed to re-do them for a couple of reasons: first, the animations weren't so great and we wanted to improve them while adding lip sync; and second, we would need re-rigged characters for the first cutscene anyway. Constantin looks tremendously better now than he did before (even my wife noted this), with much smoother and more interesting motions. The same goes for Matteo.
Lem continues to work on Lucca, although it's going slow for him. But that just leaves Drogo and Cecilia, and once those two are finished, we should have ourselves an actual, complete Act I. Add a cutscene on top of that, and we might just have ourselves a working demo. Soon.
Despite having some family issues that demanded his attention for a while, N.R. made some nice progress in January mostly on the 2D front. Most of his efforts were directed at spiffing up the GUI and HUD elements for the game, and I'm very happy with the results. In addition to updated window frames, he designed really nice Options and Help window GUIs, incorporating some of the elements from the church fresco designed by Régis.
He also incorporated a sweet ribbon design with a medieval image he obtained and utilized in the Main Menu GUI.
(Click for larger version)
He's also been working on additional visual goodies such as a more realistic and bloody stone for Lucca to scrape at, and a more interesting and natural appearance to the top of the belltower, exposing the floor boards while mounding snow around the outsides.
(Click for larger version)
(Click for larger version)
N.R. also spent a crazy amount of time working on a new Orange River Studio logo design for me during January, and I think we're getting close. By next month's update we should have a design finalized. N.R. has been dealing with a lot this month and I'm amazed that he's been able to get as much done as he has, and he continues to do some pretty amazing work. I am a very lucky person.
Despite my bitching about fonts earlier this month, I'm still in negotiations with the P22 foundry for a much more reasonable licensing fee for the Cezanne typeface, which is good news. I really like the font and I appreciate it for what it offers, and it's nice to know the P22 guys are very much open to creative solutions for this and are willing to work with small developers like me. I'm pretty confident it will work out well, and I'm really looking forward to settling on that font once and for all.
Finally, as I reported last month, we decided to try a little something different and utlize Pieter Bruegel's famous painting, The Triumph of Death, as the main background for our opening splash screen. I tried a couple of new things with the splash screen, including some nice closeups and crossfades, and I'm very satisfied with how it turned out. I'd like to go over some of the Torque-specific techniques I used to create it in another blog, hopefully during February.
So despite the bloody, protracted battle with the microbes, January turned out to be a very productive month for Vespers, and I'm looking forward to a good February as well.