Archive for the ‘ Gaming ’ Category

Pride is evasive…

Well, Arden’s Vale v1.1 is released! And it’s better than it used to be. I’ve fixed every bug I know about, added music, animations, and an additional cutscene.

So far, the game’s got good reviews. It’s entertaining and the puzzles aren’t frustrating. It’s short, but has some replay value. It’s got some suspense, but plenty of quirky humor. It does everything I hoped it would.

So why am I still not happy with it?

Well, I still hate the monochrome floors, the lack of convincing lighting, the monotony of the death-by-enchanter endings, the lack of depth in the story, the shortcuts I took in the animations, etc. It’s hard to take a lot of pride in something that falls so short of the vision you had when you started.

But I really think I’m well and truly done. It’s like the songs I wrote in high school. Looking back, they’ve got so much potential, but if I try to go rewrite and rewrite and rewrite them, I’ll never finish them or write anything else.

So learn what you can, move on, and make the next thing better, I suppose. And at least I can take pride in knowing that somewhere in Serbia, someone played my game.

I’ve always liked Ben304…

If you’ve never played Shifter’s Box or Eternally Us, you’ve missed out on some amazing AGS games. Ben304 always has delightful graphics, clever puzzles, and a fun atmosphere behind all of his games.

But now I like him personally. He just picked Arden’s Vale as the AGS Game of the Month! Thanks to everybody who has already played, reviewed, or rated the game. I’ve never published anything like this online before, and it’s delightful to see where the game keeps turning up.

I only wish I’d gotten v1.1 finished a week earlier… It’s almost done, I swear!

And… Cut!

It’s a wrap! Arden’s Vale v1.0 was officially released last night at an hour that I’d prefer not to divulge. I hate to admit it, but Arden’s Vale was my first game.

Download awesome adventure here.

But why is that bad, you ask? Because it was much too ambitious a project. The original story calls for a game easily six times longer. A nice Sierra-size full quest. And me, being an idiot, decided to tackle it. I figured after about 3 months, I’d have the enchanter’s castle (which is the entire current game) done. And after three months of work, I had the following shameful game:

Download shameful early version of the game here.


The puzzles had all been mapped out (except the raven, which came later, as the original puzzle was rather stupid), but I’d hardly even made it into the castle, much less animated anything past the walkcycle or drawn a background worth looking at. The one redeeming graphic – the force field – was rendered straight from GIMP using my 0 artistic talent.

Long story short: to make this game I had to learn to script (from YouTube, using densming’s videos), draw (using YouTube again, as well as an awesome book by Ted Smuskiewicz, which is, I believe, his real name), and reseed all the hair I pulled out. I’ve got a very patient wife to thank, who let me work on it so hard for so long, when I probably should have been taking her to the movies.


The point? I’m glad it’s over. I’m glad it’s done. I’m glad it ended up being such decent quality, considering where I started out. Just don’t ever, ever, ever, ever let me do that again. Next game: Either one room, or with a whole lot of help.


There is, of course difference between perfection and perfectionism. Hopefully, we all seek perfection, but there comes a point where you have to step back and accept your own offering.

After reworking old backgrounds and poring over books on painting techniques as well as online tutorials… I’m still not thrilled with anything I’ve done art-wise. But the point has come where I need to just move forward and say, “If I’m ever fool enough to make another game, then my art will be better. I’ll start off where it took me all this time to arrive at.”

I’ve posted this on the ags forums, but thought I’d post the process of the first introductory shot. It was painful.

Here’s the first version. The house isn’t finished, but I don’t imagine that a house in the woods would be gray anyway. And the tree was the biggest disappointment. I wanted a good deal of action to happen in the foreground, and the tree was the big set-piece in the middle. And the more I worked on it, the worse and worse it looked.

Figured that I’d try again. I initially imagined a sort of Kung Fu Panda-esque (-esque only in the sense that the artistic style varies so greatly with the rest of the production) intro, with only slightly detailed sketches on a monochrome background. This one didn’t look too great, but the next scene, inside the house, was actually kind of moving.

I like the style and the angle and the emotion without seeing any faces. The other obvious perk to doing these sketchy backgrounds is that they don’t take forever to do! But deep down, I just wasn’t convinced. That, and the words over the picture looked terrible in the dialogs. So back off to the drawing board (ha, ha).

Long story short, this is what I came up with. The letterboxing is a pretty obvious rip off of the introduction to King’s Quest VI, but it’s effective, and the speaking looks great being UNDER the picture instead of marring it.

So the point is? I’ve decided to keep being a perfectionist about the intro. But the rest of the game is done. I’m not going back. I’m not going to repaint the rocks again. The hallway floor can’t handle texture. I don’t want to paint in torches even though there aren’t any visible light sources in most of the castle and it’s night. I don’t care that the backgrounds are inconsistent…

I’ll take what I’ve got, perfect or not.

March in Arden’s Vale

Here’s a nice shot of the outside of the castle.  This is one of the backgrounds I’m most pleased with, especially considering where it started out! This screenshot also shows off the main icon bar.  All icons, graphics, GUIs, animations, and backgrounds in the game are 100% original.

Here’s the castle hallway.  This room actually has a nice fake parallaxing effect; as your character walks across the screen, the pillars in front, the pathway below, and the wall ahead all animate as if you’re walking by them.  This also shows the mouseover helper text.  I always hate it in games when I can’t tell what in the background is important and what isn’t.  Important objects here have the helper text.  This feature can be turned off, or the text can be displayed at the top of the screen.

I’m almost there!  A few more edits, a bit of music, and we’re ready to release.  I’m thinking early July.  We’ll see how close I come.

February Arden’s Vale Update

Generic Walkcycle

Generic Walkcycle

The game’s coming along nicely, but I don’t want to give too much away just yet.  I will say, however, that the whole thing has been scaled back considerably from a full-length game to a medium-length one.  Originally the story called for a large number of NPCs that you’d encounter in the town of Arden’s Vale.  Instead of reanimating every one from scratch, I decided to create a “generic man” walking animation.

The walkcycle is meant to be painted on top of using layers, like in PhotoShop or GIMP (which is what I use).  After you create the character’s head, for example, you simply paste it onto each frame of the walkcycle.  Later, when you need to put it all into the game, the sprites are already evenly placed for quick group imports into AGS.

It always takes some tweaking, but the results aren’t bad at all!  The character even has perfectly smooth stepping if you set them to move 4 pixels in the x-axis and 2 in the y.


Generic to Specific Walkcycle

Here’s a sample from start to finish…  Introducing the enchanter!  Do note the fuzzy purple slippers.

Feel free to download and use generic man.  If the sprites are the size you need, this just might save you loads of time!

A Few Graphics

The game is called “Arden’s Vale.”  Your character, Riel, is on a dangerous mission to get a magic healing stone to save her dying sister.  The only problem is that the stone is in the clutches of an evil enchanter, who is holed up in his castle east of the town of Arden’s Vale.

Outside the Castle

The Enchanter's Room

More plot information is to come, but for now, just a few features:

  • Day to night fading cycle.
  • Animating icons.
  • Sliding menu bar.
  • Full-size animating dialog portraits.
  • Saved game screenshots.
  • Quirky humor.
  • Almost logical puzzles.

That’s it for now!

Walking Left

Riel Dialog Portrait