10/14/16 – Progress report – Looking forward and many thanks

Hey everyone! At the end of last month I gave a presentation to Mississippi State University’s Entrepreneurship Center Advisory Board (what a mouthful, normally we call just it ECAB). I mentioned in a very early post here that I came to MSU to get my MBA, and a big part of choosing MSU was because of my positive experiences as an undergrad with the university’s Entrepreneurship Center. Since coming back to Starkville they’ve been incredibly helpful in so many ways. I want to give huge thanks to Eric Hill in particular, the head of the E Center, for meeting with me several times to give me advice, helping me prioritize, and helping me organize my timeline to keep myself focused.

Anyway, I presented at the end of last month to get both advice and ask for one of the university’s start-up grants. They gave me both!

I’m extremely close to being done with the prototype version of the game (it’s currently playable for in-house playtesting), and so this grant money is the final financial aid I needed to get to Kickstarter. It’s the final push!

Obviously I’m not on Kickstarter yet so this may be premature, but I wanted to take a moment to thank all the people who have helped me get this far. Whether I end up succeeding or not, these people all deserve to know how much I appreciate their advice and support.

First and foremost, I have to thank both of my parents, Rick and Shelly Gilbrech, for their love and support. I doubt I would have even tried if both of my parents hadn’t encouraged me to pursue it. Thank you so, so much for your support then and every step of the way.

Brandon Gilbrech and Jeff Hsu for both of their help in brainstorming gameplay ideas, critiquing my work, and helping me stay motivated.

Eric Hill, for all the reasons I said above and much more.

Angelia Knight, for all her support throughout the MBA program and beyond.

Nick Thompson, for being my mentor as an indie game dev, for answering all of my scrubby programming questions, and for sharing my passion for indie games.

Nathan Bercaw, for always being there to give me advice, bounce ideas off of, and being just an all around great friend.

Rajiv Puvvada, for being the friend and mentor I don’t deserve. Haven’t heard from you in a while, but I always know I have your support whenever I need it. It means the world to me.

Starkville Melee for the best memes and Melee nights on the planet. You guys are all great, and you constantly remind me why I love the Smash Bros. community. You make me want to give back to the community I grew up with, and that’s what this whole project has been about from the start.

Thank you all.

9/22/16 – Progress report – HUD, Teching, and Missed Techs

Okay! It’s been a while since I updated last, but I have a lot to show off. First, the HUD:

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It’s pretty basic looking, but it took some work (and math) to get it to display properly on every type of display. No matter what resolution your screen is, the percents at the bottom will display properly at the right size and location, as will the markers above each character’s head.

The other thing is much cooler, and more fun! A month ago if you got hit into the wall or ground, you would just sort of stop there, which is boring. Now if you hit a wall or ceiling you bounce off of it. You can also bounce when you hit the ground, but only if you’ve been spiked into it. In that case even if you tech, you’ll still end up in the air, but you’ll be out of hitstun. It’s a neat mechanic I’ve been playing around with, and I’m looking forward to playtesting it further once the game has all its bells and whistles.

Oh, and teching is in the game as well. For anyone not familiar, that’s where you press block before hitting a wall, ceiling, or floor. If you time it properly, you’ll end up stopping your momentum, ending hitstun, and be able to get back into the fight as fast as possible. It’s one of the core mechanics in the Smash games, and it’s a very fun tool.

I’m not 100% done with teching/missed techs yet. There are still the grounded tech options I have yet to finish, but the really hard parts were getting the physics right for bouncing off of walls and slopes. There are still some kinks to work out, I’m sure, but after several weeks of work I’m happy with how consistently the character bounces off of walls correctly. It’s also really fun when playing around with it, so that’s exciting.

This weekend I’ll be busy helping with a move, but once I’m back home it’s back to finishing the rest of the tech options. After that, there really aren’t many more features to create! It’s the final stretch!

Oh, and as a bonus, my brother and I were playing around in the game for a bit. Here’s one of the clips we recorded. There are still things left to iron out, but it looks and feels like the game I imagined when I first set out on this journey.

8/17/16 – Progress report – Aerials done!

Finally, all of the aerials are completed and in the game! I had to redo two of them from scratch because I couldn’t figure out how to get the particle effect I was going for. I also touched up several other animations (mostly attacks) and spent a lot of time making particles since the last blog post. Most of that stuff is not really able to be showcased, but the attacks are! Here are the five aerials both in blender and in the game:

  1. NAir: Blender & in-game
  2. FAir: Blender & in-game
  3. BAir: Blender & in-game
  4. UAir: Blender (full speed, half speed) & in-game
  5. DAir: Blender (miss), blender (hit), & in-game (both)

I already know I’m going to have to go back and either fix or redo the FTilt animation since it looks…off right now, but for the moment I’m satisfied! The game actually feels playable, which is really amazing.

There’s still a lot of work to go. Tomorrow the first step is to finalize the knockback and damage formulas, after that I’ll probably get to work on the four special moves. I have an idea of what I want for two of them, but I’m not completely sure what I want to do for the others. Guess we’ll see!

8/8/16 – Quick update

In the last update I typed out how there was no way I would be able to solve the issues with NAir, I ended up solving them the very next day. Whoops.

Turns out it was a “bounding box” problem, but it was a kind of bizarre one. So when the game makes a particle effect, it can take a lot of cpu usage depending on how complex the particle is. To help solve that problem a little bit, you can basically make it so that the computer doesn’t bother rendering the particles unless they’re on screen. In order to do that, you make an invisible box which tells the computer “Whenever this box is on screen, render the particles.”

The problem was that my original bounding box was apparently extremely small. It was so small that the character model blocked it, but only when facing one direction. When facing the other direction (or while moving), the bounding box wasn’t blocked from the camera and the particles rendered. So, mystery solved! After a few other tweaks, NAir ended up working pretty much fine.

In other news(!), I also finished the animations for FAir and UAir. No video for now, but when the final two aerials are finished and they’re all in the game, you can expect a post showcasing all five of them.

8/4/16 – Quick update – NAir problems

This attack has been giving me some real headaches. I’ve made three different versions of the attack, including animations and custom particle effects, but right now I think I’ll have to scrap pretty much all of them.

The general idea I had for the character was to use the nice particles I created for the DStrong attack and modify them for the NAir. The idea was to have an air blast around his waist knocking people away, but… a few problems cropped up which made me scrap the idea completely. Well…not completely, I do have one last ditch idea I’ll try tomorrow, but I wouldn’t put money on it working.

The first problem was that I couldn’t make the whirlwind particles follow the character. They would spawn in the correct place (his torso), but they would not move with the character. On the plus side, this gives me a good idea for one of the special moves, which means the work I put in has not gone totally to waste.

Another problem, and this is the really big one, is very…strange. It’s so strange and oddly specific that it’s the first bug I don’t think I can fix at all. When the character is facing right, not moving horizontally, and at the peak of his jump (so pretty nearly not moving at all midair), the particles stop displaying. They display in any other circumstance, such as facing left or moving, but the situation described above happens more often than you might think. It’s pretty awkward, and I’m not comfortable shipping even a prototype with something that clearly wrong in it.

There were a few other smaller problems, too, but I’m pretty sure that I could work through them eventually. The two above ones were the really big issues.

So anyway I’m going to try one final thing before coming up with an entirely new NAir idea. I guess I got more experience with particles, but that’s not much consolation to me right now.

7/29/16 – Quick update

Really quick update today. I spent today and yesterday finishing all the hitstun animations and getting them into the game. Dash attack is working in-game as well. Next step is either the aerial attacks or finalizing the knockback formula. They’re both about equally important, so I guess I’ll just see which I feel like doing tomorrow. Maybe both!

7/27/16 – Quick update – Dash attack and recoil

Today I made the dash attack from start to finish, here is the early, rough version and here is the final version (for now). Try to imagine that this is coming out of a run or dash, as that’s the only way to initiate the dash attack. That’s why it starts so abruptly.

I also got a few animations for hitstun completed. They’re pretty simple and there are a few left to go, so I haven’t recorded them yet.