Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sisters - The Ritual v.2.0 Patch Notes and Update

This is it, I finally fixed all the bugs of the previous version and added a lot of more features to the game.

I'm very excited to see people's reactions and feedback about the new version, there's a lot of effort put into it. With no more further ado, the patch notes:

Sisters - The Ritual v.2.0 alpha

Patch Notes:
  • Added Original Soundtrack
  • 'Catacombs' rooms revised
  • Reworked the AI mechanics (use your flashlight well)
  • Added more scary events
  • Added 2 endings (without the cutscene)
  • Removed camera animation from main menu screen
  • Added 'hints' in the beginning of the game
  • Added colliders on the starting area for better guidance for new players
  • Ritual mechanics fully functioning
  • Sisters textures changed
  • Added new furniture
  • Reworked stamina mechanics
  • Removed lower quality settings (causing a lot of problems on lighting and performance)
  • Added new option on the main menu (change quality settings in-game and info/controls)
  • Added two new options on the in-game menu (manual sound volume and track name)
  • Minor adjustments and bug fixes.
New main menu

Thats a pretty big list, I'm proud of this progress and it's very close to a final project now.

Link to download:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sisters - Original Sountrack, Updates and Gameplay Videos

Hello guys, it's been a VERY busy month and I couldn't write what's happening to the game here. There are some exciting news about what's coming next on Sisters.

I'm very happy to announce that Sisters is just a few steps away from an ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK! Yes, that's right, a completely original and specially made for the game by Andy Solace, you can check out some of the tracks here:

I'm still implementing the tracks to the game, not all of them are finished. But I must say, it's looking good.

A couple of days ago I received a message from a player at Game Jolt, he said he played the game and recorded it, he is a very nice guy and sounded really excited about playing it. He made three videos, three different playthroughs, discovered all the mysteries and in the final video, finally beat the game! I think he is the first one to do so and record it.

It was an amazing experience for me to watch those videos, seeing my game being played and people actually enjoying it, I can't describe the feeling. Also it's helping me a lot to fix bugs and game design problems, there are a lot of things that I didn't predict from players that I need to change. So, for the next version, I think the game beginning might change a little bit, I'll try to make it more friendly and don't let the player start to wander around without knowing anything about their goals.

Well, I'll put the links to the videos here, the first part is the one he gets to know the game, get used to the mechanics and the atmosphere:     

The second part he progress through the game and start finding items and solving some 'puzzles':

And finally, the third part where he find the items, solve the puzzles, curse me when get jump scared, and sings like a hero while he beats the game:

I'll work on bugs fixes, minor updates, text revising/hints, and inserting the tracks into the game for the next weeks. After I finish these steps, I'll start implementing the new areas and the game endings. Wish me luck!

As usual, if you want to download and play the game, check the link below:

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sisters - Textures and Normal Maps update

Hello, this is a quick update on Sisters textures. In this post I'll compare some textures I've been working on this week, hopefully it can be improved.

I'm learning how to make Normal Maps and use Bumped Diffuse/Specular textures to make a more realistic environment. Normal maps are used to fake lighting, creating bumps and making the texture have a 3D look.

Here are some before/after screenshots to notice the difference. Click to enlarge.

Blood - Transparent/Bumped Specular texture slighly shinning. 

Walls - Bumped Diffuse texture

Walls, Floor, Roof - Bumped Diffuse texture

Walls, Gates - Bumped Diffuse wall and Bumped Specular gate high level of shininess 

Walls, Floor, Roof - Bumped Diffuse textures

Well, I made custom normal maps of all my current textures and this is the final result. I hope it gives a more realistic look and immersion to the game.

This changes aren't applied at the current game version, I'll release a new version soon. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sisters - Alpha Version

It's been a long time since I last posted, although I'm not very active here at the blog, Sisters development is progressing a lot. I worked hard the past weeks and released an Alpha version of the game.

New foliage, trees and 3D models. Click to enlarge.

There are a lof of new features, I'll list and explain in detail the changes.

Items - A whole set of items were added to the game, a holy water bottle, bible, some notes, a teddy bear and a key. Not all items have functions yet, but you can still pick them up and use some of them. Some items have a random respawn point, the item might not be at the same place on your next play through.

Textures and Models - I changed some of the textures and 3D models, rebuilt some walls and adjusted resolutions. I'm trying to diversify and use perfecly seamless textures to the walls and stuff. 

Foliage - The alpha version doesn't have much fooliage and diversity, but I'm currently working on new trees and grass, trying to make the atmosphere more immersive and close to reality.

Lighting - It's been pointed out that this alpha version is too dark. When you are walking on a grass field at night (doesn't happen too often, but just imagine), you can still see the floor and grass, that's why I added a moonlight. Moonlight is not in the current alpha version but it will be added soon, along with the new foliage.

Tree's shadows casted because of the moonlight. Click to enlarge.

Sounds - New sounds were added to make the game more realistic and immersive. There are some sounds still missing but I'm working on it. 

Cutscenes - Intro cutscene is now officially in the game. I might make some small changes here and there, but it's pretty much done. Next step on this matter is make the ending cutscenes, which will take a lot of time and effort due to my lack of skills.

Mechanics - There are some new mechanics, most of them are related to the game ending. Ritual mechanics and some triggers were added to the final area.

Check the website below for more information and to play the game:
follow the game profile to recieve the latests news of Sisters.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sisters Huge Update - Storyline, new download links and Week of Horror!

It's been some time since the last update. I've been pretty busy on personal stuff and couldn't find time to write new posts. Although the released version is still the same, the project is far ahead and I'm almost finishing one of the game endings, yes, one of them.
That being said, there are some huge updates I need to talk about, most of them regarding the game story (thanks Andy!). I'm trying to get Sisters to participate the Week of Horror event, so I wrote this small document and divided in small sections to keep it organized and easy to read.

Also, I finally found a better way to upload my game versions. I created a profile on GameJolt for Sisters, I'll be uploading the game there and linking the download page here. Now it's completely secure and I no longer need to keep heavy files sitting at my Dropbox account. The link will be at the end of the post, as usual.

Hope you enjoy it, if you have any ideas just contact me.

Sisters is a mix of successful horror concepts all into a singular horror game. It has a strong storyline/backstory, full game immersion characteristics, randomness factor to surprise the players, high replay value(multiple endings), puzzle solving and of course, jump scares.

The game is designed to be short, you can beat it in less than one hour. To make a fair tradeoff to this factor, a couple of endings are possible, so the game has more than one way to be completed. The story will change accordingly to the player's decisions and actions.

Sisters - They are watching you.

There are some information regarding the current version of the game, it's a pre-alpha prototype to test immersion, environment, enemy AI and some small features. All the notes, licenses and known bugs are included on the game download (README.txt and the Licenses folder).
Keep in mind that most of the information given below is not fully implemented yet, since the game is on a early stage of development.

In Sisters you play a man that calls himself “Father”. In the first cutscene he explains why he is there and what are his reasons and objectives.

He mastered the ritual of exorcism long time ago and developed a strong sense of evil presence. The place caught his attention because it exuded negativity, he felt attracted to it, a strong urge to cleanse the area. He is devoting his life in this mission and he won't stop until the evil entities that haunt the place are gone, back to the hell they spawned from.

Mid-game and play through
At start, your only item is a flashlight. Use that to explore the areas and find the other items you will need in order to complete the game. There are several items spread around the map, most of them are items used in the exorcism ritual (cross, bible, etc), well, most of them. You will also find some notes explaining some of the story and giving 'hints'.

While exploring you need to be careful, or they will find you. The girls are always looking for you..

The premise of the game is that the spirits are immortal unless bound to a physical object, their vessel on the real world. Spirits will only attach themselves to objects that once they considered important or special. Once they are bound to an object, you can successfully perform the ritual and finally banish them.
The end of the story depends on your play through. But don't expect happy outcomes to this particular story.


The game version is the same as the last post. (working hard on the next release, soon enough)
Link to download the lastest playable version of the game:
GameJolt - Sisters  - just hit the download button, it will automatically detect and download the game for your operational system.
Keep in mind that the game is still under development, so there will be bugs. Read 'readme.txt' file before playing for more info.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

First gameplay video + Mac version

As I promised earlier this week, I made a short YouTube video showing some new features and gameplay content about Sisters. Hope you guys enjoy it.

In the footage you can see some of the features already working on the game, areas to explore, structures, 3D models, the flashlight, riddles, also a bonus of one of the girls. I cut the long walking parts to make it simpler, focused on the important stuff.
For some reason the audio didn't take. I don't feel like it's interesting to show some features without the audio, so I removed the part where I show the insanity effects (heartbeats) and some places where audio is necessary to keep the tense atmosphere.

It's my first uploaded video and I've never done recording nor editing before, I hope it's enough to make a good impression of the game that I have so far. The quality is a bit off and my editing is not perfect, but it's better than I thought it would be. I appreciate if you give me any feedback so I can keep improving the game and the content I create about it.

Also, I'd like to share a link to the Mac version of the game, since most of the viewers are Mac users, I must add this version to the options. Now it's available for every system.

I don't have any website to host my game, so my only option is to upload it on my dropbox, I guarantee it's completely safe to download but I will find a better host as soon as I can.
Link to download the latest playable version of the game:
Keep in mind that the game is still under development, so there will be bugs. Read 'readme.txt' file before playing for more info.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Blog's statistics & content review

Now that the blog is running for almost a month, I can start improving the blog based on viewer's statistics and some feedback given by a few people who contacted me.

My pageviews by operating systems are 62% Macs, 26% Windows, 1% Linux and some amount % of Mobile OS. Those numbers made me realize that I didn't even released a version of Sisters for Mac users, my main viewer's OS. I'll fix this on the next post and add some gameplay content as well. 

Pageviews by Operating Systems infograph - 14/10/2014

It's been pointed out that my blog explains the progression and changes I make to the game Sisters, but most of that is just theory and thoughts. There is no actually mention about the gameplay. I'll work on that on my next post, I'll try to record a video, show some features, explain areas, etc. From now on I'll balance the post's content about game theory/progression and gameplay material.

I still need to figure out how to record and edit videos, make something decent and will upload it as soon as I can.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Projects - Sisters #2

It's been only a week since my last post and it's crazy how so much have happened in a so short period of time. This week I dedicated most of my free time discussing ideas and trying to implement and make them work on Sisters.

It all began with a gameplay video Hamenopi made of Sisters. I couldn't imagine how awesome and helpful it would be for me to watch a video of someone playing my game. It helped me A LOT to realize things that I would never figure out by myself.
I test the game countless times a day, but it's nothing compared to someone who's not familiarized with your code and doesn't even know the game map. Every time I play the game, I go strictly to the point I want to test and do the exact correct action expected. I made a secret door, of course I know where it is and how I activate it, but... is the trigger on a good spot? How do I expect players to know why is that door opening? From what I experienced, you can just smash the buttons searching for the switch and if you are lucky enough you will find it. The same can be applied for the puzzles and riddles, if I make a puzzle that can be solved based on luck, how would the player know he solved it?
So I spent some time reworking trigger ranges, doors colliders, general objects positioning, basically everything I wanted to be easy to find and easy to interact with.
Those were some of the points made regarding the game design after watching the gameplay video and talking to some friends. I'll talk of each major change individually, to explain in detail what's going on.

An important topic to talk about is the change of the player's only tool to light the way, the torch. I don't know why it took me so long to realize the torch wasn't a good element inside the game, I was carrying this burden and didn't even know why.
Firstly, the torch was using 1/3 of the screen to nonstop render a flame animation right in front of the main camera. This is terrible for performance, screen visualization, lighting, damn.. so many bad things I can think of.
Secondly, I don't need to work on the wooden grip animation anymore, I tried improving that, but the transitions between idle and sprint animations were really bad. Also, that torch had a magic switch where you could light it up from nothing, so realistic..
Thirdly, why would someone use a torch when there is a lamp post pretty much anywhere? A flashlight makes much more sense. The torch would've been a good thing if there were no electricity, or if the game were medieval, I mean, some specific cases where there is no other option.
The fourthly and last reason, the flashlight helps a lot on the jump scare factor. The vision angle is almost half than before, you can only see the center of the screen, your sideways are very dark and mysterious. The sight distance is much higher, good for map exploring and gameplay in general. Both of them combined are perfect to build a suspense atmosphere.
I think I can go on with this forever, but I'm done talking about it, goodbye old torch.

Flashlight effects - Sister's in-game screenshot

I've made some updates on the Sister's AI too, always increasing the random factor. I want to get to a point where even I, the creator of them, get unexpectedly caught and scared. I must admit it happened few times already.
It was a calm and warm night, I was casually play-testing something and totally forgot about the Sisters, then, the inevitable happens, "Hm... maybe I should move this door a bit to the riOMFG!!!".....Out of nowhere she appeared, I don't know how I didn't see that one coming. 
"I'm not touching your code tonight" Yes, I grounded them for the night.

Anyway, back to updates. I started working on some puzzles and riddles, developing some ideas that will make the game more interesting, especially when talking about replay value.
My game is considerably short, therefore I want to make something you can replay and still have fun. To do such, I will be working on several puzzles solutions, their results can be combined in order to generate an alternative ending or path.

THeRe Is no Good way - can you solve this mini riddle ?

I consider events that get triggered considering your past decisions a very good technique to make a game not linear, 'replayable'. People can play the same game over and over again just to see what happens if he chooses another way, especially when talking about a short game. If I really decide to go down this road, I'll need a lot of inspiration and storytelling skills. Soon enough I'll be on vacation and have plenty of time to study and develop this idea. 

I'm working on a friend's suggestion on sanity regeneration. After some discussions on the matter, I decided to try and implement it. The main idea is to create a sanity source. While the player is close to it, he regenerates sanity faster. The source would be located on a corner of the map, away from the game dangers.. The end-game areas are far away from the source, therefore, less affected by the sanity regeneration multiplier, making it progressively harder as you explore and progress.
The visual representation of the sanity source can be anything that reminds the player of something good, currently I'm starting to build a lighthouse, but it's not definitive yet.

There are also some minor changes that I won't get into much detail. The in-game menu is improved, game pauses when it is opened and some options are now available, like mouse sensitivity and sound volume. The remaining changes are all inside the game code, some tweaks and little adjustments.
I also started working on a game opening scene and a splash screen with my logo, unfortunately my insane Photoshop & Blender skills makes me very limited on this subject.

Cup of coffee for the splash screen - made on Blender

The original idea was to make a hot cup of coffee, which represents the Java language and of course, coffee. The cup holder forms the letter 'P', my initial. I have some ideas to make it better, but my lack of skills and knowledge won't let me, at least for now.

I'd like to sincerely thank those who are helping me and contributing in some way. This keeps me motivated and hopefully I won't disappoint you.

If you have any feedback, please contact me.

I don't have any website to host my game, so my only option is to upload it on my dropbox, I guarantee it's completely safe to download but I will find a better way as soon as I can.
Link to download the latest playable version of the game:
Keep in mind that the game is still under development, so there will be bugs. Read 'readme.txt' file before playing for more info.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Projects - Sisters #1

I was planning on making posts on a chronological order, but then I thought of something. It's interesting that before making posts about my old projects, I write this one about my current project. The reason is that everything is still fresh in my head and I can document easier. I'm having some trouble trying to remind the problems I ran into on my old projects since it's been some time and they are on stand-by now. I'll need to do some digging on old codes and specially more time to write those posts. Maybe it's better if I go reverse and talk about recent stuff before the old ones.  
That being said, I have a couple of projects I'm working on right now, the main one is the game Sisters.

Sisters is a psychological horror game where you play a defenceless character haunted by two sisters, as the name sugests. The place where it happens is an abandoned area containing a house and a small cemetery with a chapel, I still have 3/4 left of the map to do, but this is what I have so far.
The game storyline still a mystery, I have some ideas but there is no mention of story inside the game yet. I will work on an opening scene explaining the beginning, then as the player progress through the game the story will start making sense and the pieces of puzzles will fit together. 
The game doesn't have an objective yet, it will come along with the story, but I decided to go with puzzle solving kind of goal.

Main menu - Sisters

I've been reading a lot of articles and forums about horror games, I learnt a lot on some of those articles and decided to make some changes on my project. I'm adding some components that I find crucial for game immersion and connection between player and character, some of them are listed below.

The User Interface(UI) - on a previous version of the game, there was a stamina and sanity bar on the screen, the user could always check his stats by looking at the bars. This is not interesting on a horror game, it breaks the virtual reality immersion. So I removed those and instead of vision representation I might add sound response (heartbeats acceleration, breath change, vision blur, camera shake, etc). I realized that if the player only needs to pay attention to the game scene, I will need to work hard on the environment and graphics stuff, to make up for the lack of UI.

You go first.. - in-game screenshot

Another factor that I consider important is the intuitive and easy control commands of the character, so the player doesn't have to think of which button to press. From the moment that the player looks at his keyboard to interact with something, the connection is instantly broken, he gets out of the game atmosphere and back to real life, also not acceptable on a horror game. 

Finally, and the one I'm struggling most to learn, is the frequency which scary events happen. By scary events I mean jump scares, loud sounds and surprise events in general. I was reading this article and came across a quote:
"There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it." - Alfred Hitchcock
I realized this is the core of psychological horror, the main idea is build a tense atmosphere where the player's attention is raised at it's maximum level until you finally scare him. That's why is so important to dose correctly the frequency jump scares happen, if the player sees a sister too often, he will eventually get used to it and won't scare him anymore. However, if he doesn't see her at all, he will get comfortable with the suspense atmosphere, neither can happen. It needs to be balanced, so what's coming will always be unexpected.

I believe that if I follow the concepts mentioned above and dose the elements correctly, I can make a good horror game in the end.    

Link to download the latest playable version of the game:
Keep in mind that is still under development, so there will be lots of bugs. Read 'readme.txt' file for more info.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Arena - The Chaos Masterpiece

As mentioned on the previous post, about 5 months ago I took my first shoot at developing programs on my own and Arena was my first contact with game programming. Surprisingly it went pretty well, I didn't expect the results that I had since I knew nothing about C. The concept is simple, a text-turn-based game where you can battle some pre-defined creatures and get stronger as you win matches, the goal is to kill the last creature in the Arena, the Behemoth. 

I started by making the player structure, this task doesn't require much programming skills and it helps to get used to the language, that's why I choose it first. Basically, I just made a bunch of switch statements and lots of printf's, both things I was already familiar with. All I've done after this was really hard to me at that time and required some time studying the C language. Funny thing to mention is that all the code I was writing was in the same file, I mean, I had a 'main.c' containing my whole game, wasn't much code but still disgusting...

I created players, enemies, visualization on console, all the trivial stuff. Then I realised that I couldn't make that work together without having the basic knowledge, I thought "This code is getting pretty messy and I still don't have anything I can play with". That was the point I stopped 'programming' and started studying for real. I needed to know how to deal with pointers, attributions, headers, how to access variables, and so on. Summing up, I started it over again, best decision ever.

This second time I started by creating all the structs that I was going to use in the beginning, all the headers and files, and while I was creating the console visual I was already putting the values typed by the user on the right fields on my variables. So in a couple of hours I had the 'create player' functions fully working. I got excited and went right to the battle system, the disaster of course.

Pointing to the wrong direction maybe? 

It took me some time and a lot of testing to figure out how to manipulate my pointers correctly...but when I got that working, it flowed pretty well. After this phase I implemented the whole battle system, level up, some techniques, the 5 enemies and then, I had a playable game at last. The main functions were done and I was still excited to make more features, so I added in-game experience calculators, two more player classes, polished all the battle printf's, and I was done. 

Finishing a match against a globin at Arena

After playing it for a while I sometimes found myself leaving the game open so I didn't lose my character progress, that's when I decided to learn how to generate .txt files with the data I needed and load a variable assigning those values, so I could load my character and keep playing from where I left off. Even though there is no serialization involved, it was really tricky for me to implement at that time, but worked pretty good for that occasion.

I never touched the code since then. I thought of refactoring almost the whole project and write it properly, but.. I can't do this... my first 'game' ever, no solving problems skills involved, everything done from the top of my head, so I decided to leave it exactly as it is, a chaos masterpiece.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

#1 - Introduction to Game Developing

I first started trying to make games about 5 months ago, it was very casual. As science computer student, my goal was just learn how the C language works. I had to study the subject 'Data Structures' and my teacher was using C, I was clueless at that time... So I decided to study at home in order to succeed.

My first thought at that time was to make a game. A simple Turn-based C game where you create a character and battle creatures inside an arena. Guess what, I called it Arena. Type your option on the console, attack, use skills, level up and that's it.

Arena - C

The project is abandoned but the game is working, it's buggy but you can still save/load your character and level up until you are strong enough to kill the final boss, the Behemoth.
I was very satisfied in the end, learned a bit of C, got something working, good grades on the subject and a brand-new game for me to play.

That was just the start, after this first try I decided to learn Java. My goal was the same as the first time, study the subject of object-oriented languages. But this time, I decided to go further, 
ArenaGame 2D RPG in Java was born. 

ArenaGame 2D - Java

I started by following The Cherno's tutorial on java game programming. I watched the whole series in 3 weeks, the goal was to make a game from scratch, engine, mechanics, etc. To be honest, at start I was just copying code and trying to understand what was going on, but after several weeks working on this project, my Java language skills improved a lot and I found myself solving problems, writing code on my own, implementing features, things that I couldn't think of doing before, but this is a story for another post.

Finally I reached where I am today, still eager to learn more about game programming and currently working on a couple of projects. All my projects involving game development will be recorded here, so I can share/gain experience and when I finally finish each of them, I get to see the progress made, the problems I faced, how I managed to solve those problems and so on. 

More posts will come soon, I intend to do a couple of posts for each project, explaining in detail what is it about and showing the progress so far. Hopefully I can keep going with this and make it work.

Feel free to give any feedbacks.