More Mapping and Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

The mainland map is essentially complete.  I finished up the northern area yesterday evening (all work on this project is done in the evening) and went on to tweak a few areas that needed tweaking.  While I had the editor going, I roughed in another map for the next large area I have to create. This new area will have a different sort of terrain and I hope to keep interest high by adding in several “focal” elements to explore. The difficulty in making maps is largely in making them interesting enough to explore.

Modern map design tends to crowd a lot of “stuff” together so that the player doesn’t have to wander too far to get to something interesting.  Old map design tended to keep things spread apart and allow random combat to fill in areas in-between towns. Both styles have some merit. What I’m going for is a “natural” design with areas dictated mostly by natural processes. I’m not coding those in, I’m just doing the equivalent generations myself – by hand. Hopefully it will yield a hand-made yet somewhat “natural” look.

This weekend I’ll probably stay away from the map editor and catch up on some manga, watch some movies, and work on a hands-on project.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to paint some miniatures or sculpt walls for a dice tower. Maybe I can work on both. If you like manga (or anime) I’m currently recommending “Girls Last Tour” which is kind of a buddy-movie travelogue through a wasteland. It’s sweet in a melancholy and vaguely depressing sort of way.  I tend to like that sort of show.

I’ve eaten vegan shepherd’s pie before and it’s actually pretty good.  This recipe calls for lentils and appears to be fairly similar to the one we use at home.

 

Mapping and Corned Beef

I generally only post an update here when I actually have some progress to report (like today for instance).  I only have a map showing right now, so game-play still needs a lot of work, but for what I’ve got I thought it looked in keeping with the “retro home-brewed” feel I’m going for.

The mainland
a tile map

You can get free tiles over here so please don’t take mine.

Anyway, I’ve mapped a large section of the game world. Creating terrain brushes allowed me to speed through the process of making a landmass and getting mountains set in. Now I’m able to “decorate” terrain with vegetation and other details. I made a bunch of variant grass tiles to keep the world from feeling quite so repetitive.

RPGs deal with a lot of data. They’re not exactly simulations, but they also kind of are. To deal with all the data I’ve purchased a data management asset that will allow me to pull numbers and text from a comma separated value sheet that I can create in Excel. I’ve already input a good deal of the necessary data, but I still have some items to go. It seems like most of game development is tedious setup followed by fast development, but maybe that’s just the way I ended up doing things.

I’ve coded up a “turn based” game loop that takes into account NPC “speed” values. Some monsters will be able to move more than one tile per turn, with one “turn” being taken after each player movement. I will also probably pass a turn automatically if the player hasn’t moved in a certain period of time. This will make “game time” pass whether the player moves or not, and allow me to fire events off at certain times of day (in game).

Here are some cool links I found, including a good looking recipe for corned beef in a crock pot (with a horseradish sauce).

This person is molding tiny bricks to construct a late medieval period palace. Click his links for pictures and explanations of his process.

This person read through the original source code of Rogue and added comments to each section that explain what’s going on.

There’s always time for corned beef.

Terrain Brushes and Carnitas

I spent an evening and figured out how to use the terrain brushes in Tiled.

I’m currently using Tiled to create maps.  Tiled is a map editing software that’s been around a long time and any noteworthy game engine should support it.  I use Tiled so that I have a standard file format to deal with in case the engine I’m using unexpectedly ends development (this happens more than you’d think).  Proprietary map editing software with proprietary file formats can leave you high and dry in that case, so I’m sticking with Tiled.

To learn how to used Tiled’s terrain brushes, I recommend this Youtube video.  It explains step by step how to get brushes working in a concise manner.  Using the tutorial, I was able to make terrain brushes and draw my own coastline tiles very quickly with a good amount of variation.

Terrain brushes have been a time saver. If I had used the manual method of tile placement, I’d still be making coastline right now. Using terrain brushes, I finished that job in ten minutes. It was definitely worth the effort of learning.

If you’ve never eaten carnitas, head to a good Mexican food truck and dig in – then check out this recipe.  I haven’t tried it yet but it looks promising.

 

Brushes and pizza dough

I spent the weekend trying to figure out fringe brushes (or “auto-tile” brushes as they are also called). Fringe brushes are brushes that automatically draw the correct tile as you move the mouse. An example of use would be coastline. Fringe brushes are quick to use, but require some setup. They also create a modern tile-game look, but I’m not entirely sure that is what I want.

I’m currently debating as to whether I want a “blocky” look or a “smooth” look for the tile game.  The further I get from the old tile look, the less nostalgic I feel about the game, which is probably telling me what I need to know right there.

I have not yet started my Apoxie Sculpt dice tower. My recent attempt at creating a wax seal stamp was somewhat of a disaster, so I paused to clean that up. As it turns out, hot wax sticks to Apoxie and does not release.  Ooops.

Many things may have gone wrong in my attempt to make a wax seal out of resin.  Perhaps I need to make the seal out of a material like silicone. Perhaps I was too slow to move the seal away from the blob of wax when I tried to stamp. I’ll investigate it more later – using a new sculpt to test with.

If you’re interested in learning how to mold things and use resins, I recommend watching the Smooth-On channel on Youtube.  I’ll try to work on the dice tower (or something like it) this weekend.

We ate some pizza over the weekend using a new (to us) type of flour that is actually ancient.  It’s called Einkorn.  Einkorn was grown and harvested for ages in ancient times, but modern wheat (a mutation) is easier to machine harvest, so the use of Einkorn fell away.  Some people find Einkorn easier to digest than modern wheat. Einkorn makes a great no-knead bread, and an excellent pizza dough.  You should be able to find it in most health food stores and food coops.

Salmons and Prefabs

I finished up tweaking the anim brushes. I’ll probably say that again later. I love tweaking. I need to move on though. When I scan through all the animated brushes now I don’t see any glaring problems so it’s time.

Today I will plan and start to create a bunch of prefabs. In Unity if you create and manage a lot of prefabs at once I’ve read that there could be performance issues. In practice I haven’t seen any issues, but it’s also possible that I just haven’t tried to manage enough prefabs yet. If I make world objects (eg: a clock, a sword), and NPCs prefabs, everything else can be a tile. Maybe that will work out. I’ll create some test maps to see how things are going to go before committing to a design.

Speaking of maps, I’ve got a couple projects to do this weekend. I’m either going to work on a custom dice tower or a pen and ink world map (or both). I have some hand-made paper to scrawl the map on that  I got on Etsy from Kelsey Pike.  For the dice tower, I am planning on using Apoxie. Apoxie is a resin that cures without an oven, and once cured it can be sanded, painted, or carved. I’ve made a few small things with it and I like it so far.

Here’s a recipe for salmon cakes. They’re the best I’ve ever eaten anywhere. Instead of fresh salmon we use frozen since it’s easier to acquire and manage.

Chili and RPGs

I don’t participate in social media anymore. It’s not a positive space.  I enjoyed my time with friends, but I like a quiet venue where people talk to each other, not at each other. I’ll branch out into dedicated topic sites (art, game dev., etc.) and reconnect with old friends in a while.

After creating a lot of anim brushes I noticed that some of my sprites needed a little help. Animation isn’t my forte and I’m only doing four frames per monster. Four frames gets the idea of movement across and helps to maintain the naive “retro” feel of the work. Four frames also helps me finish the game – because I have a lot of monsters and it takes time to animate. What I’m not going for is the “glitch” look, so I did at least go through all the anim brushes and fix the most apparent errors.

My inspirations for this project include Ultima, Pools of Darkness, Might & Magic, Rogue, Planet’s Edge, and The Magic Candle. I like the “simulation” aspect of Ultima, the “crunchy” combat of Pools of Darkness, the goofy monsters of Might and Magic, the survival / procedural aspect of Rogue, the multiple worlds of Planet’s Edge, and the idea of party members having “jobs” from The Magic Candle. You can find links to a lot of those games on my links page.

Combining all of those games into one is a tall order, so I’m trying to keep the features list trimmed into something manageable. I do have other hobbies after all. Mostly I just want to make a game that reminds me of what I used to play 20+ years ago. My goal is to have a nostalgic feeling while keeping some of the modern niceties like mouse support.

By the way, this chili recipe is great.

RPGs and Butterscotch

Most of the titles on the blog will never make sense.  I’ll just warn you ahead of time.

In my spare time I use Unity to create an “old school” tile RPG sequel to “DBQuest” – a game I originally made 25 years ago. I have worked on the sequel on and off for decades.  I programmed my own engine, scrapped it, programmed it again, scrapped it, decided to go with Unity, scrapped it, came back to Unity, and now I’ve gotten as far as I ever have.

Last night I started using a Unity addon called Super Tilemap Editor in earnest.  I got all my tile sheets in and created a ton of anim brushes.  If you have used Unity’s new tilemap editing tools, Super Tilemap Editor is similar, but more advanced.  It also has Playmaker extensions, which are handy.  I decided to use Playmaker to speed development.

You can find Super Tilemap Editor at the asset store.

You can also find Playmaker at the asset store.

You should also check out this butterscotch recipe.  That’s extra.  I just like to post recipes.

Despite developing a computer RPG, I don’t actually play as many PC games as  I used to. In the face of loot boxes, horrible online behavior, and unending DLC, my interest in PC gaming waned and I went back to board games.  My interest in board games almost immediately got me into painting miniatures, which lead to interests in mold making, resins, and more.  Talk about giving a mouse a cookie!

 

A fresh start

Hi.

I work on D&D terrain, minis, tiny sculptures, Arduino, a retro-inspired tile RPG, and art.

There’s no schedule here and I’m not trying to entertain anyone but myself. Posts may be clustered together or far apart – it just depends on what I’m doing.

Check out my free RPG in the downloads section.  It’s a (now very retro) computer role-playing game from 1993 called DBQuest.

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