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3/28/14 -Friday: GOOD NEWS... BAD NEWS...


Latest testing for BETA 1.0 has completed. No game breaking bugs, I was able to complete it fine, for the most part, things are looking really, really good. The highlight of playing came during a particularly tough combat encounter a few hours into the game. For years, I've been trying to tweak it so that it's not too tough, because hell, even I have issues with it. However, since then, I've introduced a new Last Resort, one that, well, worked out as it should be: as a last resort :)

So anyway, I'm in the middle of the battle, and 1 of my 2 party members is high enough to have a Last Resort, the other, not so much. Even worse, the lower ranked one is damn near struggling to stay alive. Luckily, the stronger one generates enough of a threat to the enemies, so they focus on him. But of course, now his health is dropping. And I've done the battle enough to know that if he falls, it's only a matter of time before the other one does. So I've got the game paused for a minute or so, weighing my options... I don't want to spoil what the ability does, but like all abilities I create, there is a pro and con to them. And this one has a HUGE con. After thinking about it, I decided to pull the trigger, and he goes nuts, chopping everyone down in no time, boom, battle over!

These are the moments when I can sit back and say, "Okay, this is not just a fluff ability, this was really, really needed!". Good times...


While 20+ bugs were found, 19 of them were not that big of a deal. It's the one critical one that has me pissed off. I worked like hell to fix it last fall, and it absolutely has to be a new bug I introduced when making changes these past few months. I guess that's the downfall of batching up too many changes: things inevitably get lost in the shuffle and break. Luckily, the issue is a well known one, and very isolated. So I have an idea of what I did that could have broken it. It just sucks that it happened, because it meant I wasn't able to get a real true test. But, what can you do?

Till tomorrow...


I have very fond memories of going downstairs to my Dad's basement, which had fully surround sound (top of the line stuff back in 1994) to load up a save game for Final Fantasy 6 at the end, beat it, just so I could watch the ending sequence, and more importantly, listen to the music. So yeah, I was happy as hell when I heard this remix. Enjoy!



So, I've started the latest testing cycle on my desktop, while I have my bug tracker on my laptop next to me, so I can enter tickets as they come up. I've entered a few here and there after playing for about 90 minutes, but none are really serious, and if push came to shove, I would just leave them in the game. But for the most part, things are looking really solid, as I had expected.

Besides playing through the game and looking for bugs, I'm also verifying fixes I've made over the past few months. Some bug fixes can be verified on my development box while doing some parachute testing, but some, I feel I need to verify in a full blown test of the game. There's abotut 30-40 of them, and I'm hoping I verify about... 30-40 of them :)

I guess the only lingering issue is determining how to package up ability_core.nss. I opened up a thread on the new toolset forums, and while I've gotten some advice on a smaller subset issue, I still have not gotten conclusive help on why I need to drop the files in this packages/core/data/override directory. I'll do it if I have to, with a warning of course, but I'd really like to implement a more elegant solution.

With all things I've gone through over the past 4 years, I'm not really worried about it. These things always seem to work themselves out eventually.

Tomorrow, I'll start fixing those issues on the train, and when I get back home, continue going through the game.

Till tomorrow...


Another great original, turned into a great remix. Enjoy!


3/23/14 -Sunday: PREPARATIONS FOR BETA 1.0...

Preparations for BETA 1.0 are well underway now. The most time consuming part, as I quickly remembered once I got started, was building the actual player package. Because of some weirdness with file extensions and other such things, I can't just select every resource and package them up. I have to intentionally leave some out, create the package, then manually add them in. Luckily, the last time I went through this, I wrote up a small doc outlining the files that had to be handled manually.

And of course, building the package didn't just work. I got a toolset "out of memory" exception the first time, after it took 10-15 minutes. I vaguely rememberd getting something similiar last time, so I just restarted my laptop, did it again, and I was good to go.

Next, I had to copy the 1.4GB file to my flash drive, then get it to my desktop, which has now been serving as my builder-to-player package deploy test machine. Of course, that machine still has all sorts of issues, so copying the file takes like 30 minutes.

Once that was done, there was another 30 minutes to install the game, via DAUpdater.exe.

So things should have been looking up, right? Of course not :) Within playing the game for 10 minutes, I immediately ran into some annoying bugs, as well as a game breaker.

With regards to the annoying bug, that had to do with party members being able to use Last Resorts at any time, when it should only be available when their health is below a certain percentage. This is a very known bug to me, something I was happy as hell to fix not too long ago. Turns out, it had to do with how I fixed it. Because of some weirdness I don't want to go into right now, I needed to override a core script, ability_core.nss. However, I guess the files were not placed in the right directory, so it was just calling the standard ones, not mine. After moving them about, I found that if I dropped them into the override directory under the packages directory structure, things worked. Now, this may be a nasty thing to do, so I'll have to scour the forums (or what's left of them) for the most elegant way to do this.

As for the annoying bug, it just happened to be introduced when I enhanced an existing Last Resort a few days ago. Hell, I even talked about it in my last journal post. I guess I hadn't done enough testing with it... After about an hour of debugging, I was able to fix it, and move on.

I guess the bright side in all of this is that the game breaking bug validated my need to test on the deploy box, versus the development one. I would have never found the Last Resort issue otherwise.

At any rate, the only thing left for me to do is figure out how to properly package up ability_core.nss, thne I'll be back to testing. Actually... I may just test while at home, figure out how to package it up while on the train. The sooner I can validate the 100 or so tickets I've closed over the past few months, the better. Even though many of the changes were isolated, it's still a lot of changes nontheless, so I'm sure somehting else broke along the way. We'll see...

Till tomorrow...


This was one of my top 5 tracks from FF6, so much so, that I rushed my Mom into my bedroom some 20 years ago, just to prove to her that video game music was serious stuff. She didn't seem too excited. This rendition is pretty good, though I wish it was just a little longer. Anwyay, enjoy!


3/21/14 -Friday: ...BACK...AGAIN... AGAIN...

So yeah, I'm back... again... again...

In my defense, I went out to Chicago, Illinois, to visit family I haven't seen in 7 years. It was good to get away from the real world, and just relax a bit. Nothing like being around those who know you best. Plus, since I used to go out there every summer for 2 weeks when I was a kid, it was a nice trip down memory lane. Hell, I was tempted to fire up the old VCR and put in one of the many Disney tapes I used to watch so much.

It was a nice diversion, but I quickly got back to work once I returned.

One of the first things I worked on was something that has been sitting in my ticket queue for quite some time: enhancements to an existing Last Resort. I really wasn't going to do it, because I thought it would adversely affect the balance of the combat, but in the end, it was just too cool to pass up. The actual work took about 2 train rides, so it wasn't anything too difficult.

Once that was done, I started some work on things needed for the marketing of the game. I can't go into too much detail, because I don't want to spoil things, but just know it's been a long time coming. This work itself has been going on all week, and is almost done.

Once I'm done with that, I'm going to finally begin my latest playthrough of the game before cutting BETA 1.0. Besides the normal stuff I do when going through a playthrough, I'll also have to verify every single ticket that is marked "fixed", and move it to "verified" once I'm happy it has been taken care of. Really looking forward to this.

I also expect to be posting more often now. As you all know, game development has it's highs and it's lows. I hit a pretty nice high around Christmas time, and then went through some lows around February, mostly because of my real job. Now that things have slowed down there, I can put my all into this game. I know I've said this before, but... such is game development (which I have also said many times :) ).

Till tomorrow...

P.S. I've corrected the "music of the day" in the first post of this month. Stupid copy and paste...


This is another example of a so-so song for me from the OST, but this remix really ups the ante. Enjoy!


3/11/14 -Tuesday: ...BACK...AGAIN...


So let's get the obvious out of the way. The lack of updates. Well hell, not even lack of updates, but lack of a website. The short answer is that my hosting company recently made some changes to their backend last month. One of these changes required every client to go into their domain configuration and confirm some details, essentially activating things. Sort of an opt-in thing. I did not find out about this until I had to call in, and when I went in to activate it, I saw that there was a typo in my email address, meaning I must have missed the email they would have presumably sent out telling people what to do.

As for why it took so long, their tech support hours don't exactly allgn with my own hours, and I've been on this push the entire month of February for my real job, trying to get this new system out the door. When working with a large group of people, the last thing I want to do is be the blocker for things, so I spent many weekends getting ahead of the game so that I could sit back and relax later on. And that later on is now, thankfully.

All of that said, even though I couldn't report the status of development, know that I was working. A couple of highlights are:

General Bug Fixes

Nothing special or sexy about this. Just taking care of the normal, run of the mill bugs that were discovered during Alpha 1.4. I'm currently writing this where I don't have internet access at the moment, so I can't report actual numbers, but I can say I'm down to only 5 bugs! I wanna say that I've dealt with at least 100, whether fixing them, or making them invalid/wont' fix/etc. Either way, I'm cleaned house in the ticket system, which is a positive thing.

Level Pathfinding

In the past few weeks, I've spent a lot of time on this. While most of the testers didn't actually report any issues with the pathfinding, I'm assuming it's because they stuck to the beaten path, and weren't actually trying to break things. But I always knew that once the level design was more or less finished, I would have to go in and add terrain collision objects all around so people wouldn't be able to walk through walls or fall off cliffs into the great abyss.

In doing so, I learned a lot about pathfinding, and level design in general. It's no secret that level design is the weakest part of my suite of skills, and this was highlighted a lot these past few days. Really, I just need to get better at creating more realistic edges of areas, so the player isn't blocked by so many invisible barriers. I'm too far into development to make drastic level changes, so it is what it is.

As I always say, I'm constantly learning new things about game design with every subsequent game I work on, so I can just chalk this up to a new lesson.


So where do things stand now? Well, like I said, I only have 5 bugs to deal with, and I'm not sure all of them will be dealt with. Once that is done, I'll be doing my own internal tests, to make sure everything I've added to the game over the past few months works. Then, I'll be jumping ahead from alpha status to beta status. I'm making the executive call that the game is content complete, hence the new status.

To that end, BETA 1.0 will be released, and the expectation is that the turnaround time will be quite short. Also, since it's a BETA, I'll be more aggressive in my triaging of tickets that come in. Only the most important things will be handled. Other things will fall to the wayside, or maybe get marked to be changed after the first official release.

Till tomorrow (hopefully!)...


I didn't really like this song from the OST, but this remixed version is quite good. Enjoy!

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