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    Xilef
  Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:09 pm
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Made this to test out my Mode 4 code:



Spent most of the time trying to optimise the random number generator. Quirk with mode 4 is that it has two pages that you are supposed to swap between for reading/writing pixel data, but what I did here was Direct Memory Access (DMA) copy the back buffer to the front buffer when in VBlank.

A normal CPU copy involves reading from memory to the CPU then writing from the CPU to memory (load/store) - with DMA you basically connect the memory directly so the data transfers without touching the CPU (well, not quite). The CPU is halted during the transfer, but it's really fast compared to even the fast CPU copy mode (which does load/store copy but locks the CPU to do it as fast as it can).


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    Nathaniel3W
  Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:06 am
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That looks great. I don't know your whole process for picking the colors, but the way I would do that with a material in a modern engine is like this:

Bands of color, from bottom to top: white, yellow, orange, red. Also, opacity decreases as the color darkens. Place over a black background. Take two repeating noise textures that you scroll, one toward the top-right, the other toward the top-left. Add their red channels and green channels together and use the resulting numbers to offset the colors from the color bands.

That's kind of the standard for procedurally generated fire nowadays, easily done when you have a multi-gigabyte engine and a modern operating system sitting between you and the video card. Is the process for choosing the color at all similar on a GBA?

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    Xilef
  Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:36 pm
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I forgot to mention that video was based on the code for Doom PSX's fire effect, which is a more lazy implementation of old-school demo-scene fire. The image is scanned from top/bottom left/right and when a coloured pixel is encountered it is randomly propagated to one of 3 pixels above it, the pixel receiving the colour has its value randomly reduced too. The fire is seeded by a solid white line at the bottom of the screen.
Here's an article: http://fabiensanglard.net/doom_fire_psx/

I later made a more GBA optimised version that's a little different (same principle, but more quirks) where I do this on entire scan lines at a time - which allows 8bit operations on the pixel data. VRAM on GBA only allows 16bit data so an 8-bit write requires reading 16-bits, masking off 8-bits, or'ing 8-bits, then writing 16-bits - this was the bottleneck.


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    BizarreMonkey
  Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:10 pm
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3/14 happened, had some fun doing a splash video on my website. https://www.crazychimps.biz/

Despite how uneventful the week has felt, I've actually gotten quite a lot done! I began by grabbing some DLC and having fun adding sound to these animations.

[center][/b]Lifestrom, Eschaton, Floor Shatter, Scarlet Sun Supernova


Now with these new animations, I also endeavored to optimize the Denui Damnation scenes, there's a large chunking / frame rate issue when these play, and the reason is mostly that the 'rotate picture' command in rpg maker as a whole is one of the most costly processes you can run. So, I remove that and the other tidbits, and instead simply play a pre-rendered short and sweet cinematic, like these two
Absolute Tempest // Heavens Wrath

Haven't implemented these changes into the game yet- but I will probably today.

Jake "MoneyMenace" Gamelin, the composer for Fantasia, has also been busy! Lumi's themes have been completed and they are great!


Xiie also finished the sprite for Rolly, and it's adorable!
ImageImage

I myself, have been busy updating Fyori's portraits with the tattoos, magic body-runes and fine details along with adding Pjcr's wings into the equation, now she's sitting pretty, and even has a shrugging pose now! More to come!
ImageImage

I also updated Esperia's Sclera to be black... which is accurate given how tanked she is on Heldathian mana.
ImageImage

I've also re-calibrated all the instances for music playing, I had to re-order the OST recently as it went from 56 tracks up to 64. Here's what the tracklist looks like now.
Image
Which meant updating every wrongly named instance in the games events, thankfully this didn't take overly long, and during i got to do some incredible improvements to some areas where the writing felt a little hammy.

For now, that's all~ But i think given that I'm gonna have to be a potato this weekend, I'll get quite a lot done!


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    Xilef
  Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:32 pm
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Your production standards for an MV project are much, much higher than most other MV games out there. It's pretty cool being able to look across your past projects and see how much your work has improved.


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    BizarreMonkey
  Sat Mar 23, 2019 2:50 am
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Xilef wrote:
Your production standards for an MV project are much, much higher than most other MV games out there. It's pretty cool being able to look across your past projects and see how much your work has improved.
Ahahaha, why thank you. Gosh you're making me blush!

PFC was the first massive jump, all my games prior, discounting Boned- had no artistic coherency, PFC did (for the most part) and it was praised not only for that, but for it's pretty stand out evented ABS gameplay and use of in-game cinematics, although in many regards it did feel sluggish and weak in areas.

Fantasia has the sped up and more open-armed combat PFC lacked, on top of that because I have two incredibly devoted artists doing virtually all of the art for me, it's incredibly beautiful looking. Maps also further took the 'parallax' treatment, although some maps do still use tiles, such as London Downtown, The Starship YHWH and any obstacle courses, where tile-collisions need to be easy to read. I've been called on one occasion the 'Platinum of RPGmaker' due to the colorful hecticness of my games and how I think so hard about mechanics and what works and what doesn't, and always raise the bar higher.

After PFC, I knew I couldn't excuse anything lesser, and I was excited by that! I've always sought to push myself and the engine I use beyond the limits I thought once existed, but the ceiling can always go higher! It's really epic making these evented battles and then seeing how radical and epic they feel to play. I've currently still got three to do for the main storyline in regards to Demo 2, and I'm thinking about how each will go and play out so as to give them a feeling of uniqueness to other fights, but also to keep them fun, fluid, and at least somewhat challenging!

Rolly's fight will have a 'break the floor' mechanic, you'll start on the roof of a skyscraper, and go down five floors ending in the parking lot underneath by the time it's over. Rolly will mostly Rolly towards you, which you can interrupt and stagger him by defending against.

Tristy's fight will be complicated, like the character herself. She'll summon Wormholes that will redirect attacks, that one should be fun to implement! beyond having a chaotic mix of purple, (which means move or suffer) and yellow (can only be avoided with skedaddling) attacks. Your own attacks can also be redirected to hit you.

Lyza's fight I don't know much of it yet, but she's the end of disk boss, so she's gotta be pretty fucking intense, much like Yi is now for Disk 0. her fight and the scenes that follow will be the finale of Demo 2, from there, players will be in the dark until Demo 3 comes out.

So Lyza will have to combined all of the knowledge the player has gained up until this point, and test the player on that said knowledge and see if their skills can match up. She'll likely go through a multitude of phases where she changes from different colored projectiles, summons adds that have to be killed before time is up, and then possibly even just a 'stay the fuck alive' phase before the finale. I'll make sure her track is suitably epic for such an encounter.


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    coyotecraft
  Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:15 pm
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I'm going nowhere fast today. Rpg maker MV is being touchy. Like, closing a window also clicks whatever is behind the window. So I've have to retype the same dialogue 3 times in a hour. Whenever I need to closed the event command box it's conveniently in-front of the Clear Event Button. And since there's no "UNDO", I'm always just 1 unsteady click away from oblivion.
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    Xilef
  Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:44 pm
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MV projects work well with source control (git); it may help out with restoring backups whenever you accidentally delete the contents of an event. But it really should not be doing this to begin with, it behaves well for me on all my machines.

Do you have a gaming mouse with some kind of background service? Or anything like that at all? My keyboard's background service prevented game controllers working with Steam and caused visual studio to take about 4 minutes to debug launch a GBA emulator - both these things are entirely unrelated to a keyboard. Updated the service recently and those issues disappeared (GBA emulator launches in about half a second, like it should do).

The MV project I'll be working on will be within source control, I'd put any important MV project onto a git service of some sort (even if it's just on local network).


As for what I've been working on: Finished writing data compression/decompression routines. Need to test them with the GBA BIOS still, but that was a crazy amount of tools code to write that's now finished. So the data format will support run-length compression, LZ77 (great for text) and Huffman coding - as well as difference filtering for improved compression of stuff like music/sound files. The next step is write the tool for editing the archive format so I can shove stuff into it, an image converter with image formats, and then get the GBA version of archive/image reading done so I can load up tile, palette, map and animation(!) data into memory.

Also been looking into using GBA tilt sensors for analogue character movement. The game would not have a tilt sensor, but emulators can be configured to use it anyway and a gamepad's analogue stick configured to be the tilt source, resulting in analogue control in a GBA game with emulators.


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    coyotecraft
  Tue Mar 26, 2019 3:16 am
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I made some adjustments to my left-click button. Seems when I put my laptop back together I made a screw too tight. I'm just surprised how much trouble an erroneous double-click can cause.
Like why isn't there an undo? Or a warning prompt before deleting everything?
When selecting a faceset, double-clicking the file name automatically confirms and closes the selection window. It's annoying, especially when I'm just browsing.


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    Nathaniel3W
  Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:39 am
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Never had that double-click problem, but my wife had this mysterious problem on the laptop she used for taking notes when she was working on her master's degree. Giant sections of her notes would disappear, or she would have huge sections of notes in the middle of previous notes. What I think was happening was the side of her palm, near the thumb, was brushing the touchpad, which would select a bunch text, which would then get overwritten. Or it would move the caret and she would start typing at a different spot in the document. It was extremely frustrating for her.

I tried a bunch of things: decreasing sensitivity on the touchpad, setting the touch-here-to-enable-touchpad option, maybe even making a keyboard shortcut to enable/disable the touchpad. The extra steps to enable the touchpad were just too annoying and cumbersome for her, so she just went through grad school with horrible notes.

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    LaDestitute
  Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:54 am
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Some long overdue interior/house tiles for my a-rpg gamekit project. It's a start but I'm just doing simple singular/autotile ones so I at least have something to show for at the end of the day.

Note: These are heavily WIP and are subject to change!

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    coyotecraft
  Wed Mar 27, 2019 4:42 am
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My left-click button isn't entirely fixed. Like every 20 click or so it reads a double click. Or if I just roll my finger while it's pressed it somehow reads a click, which is annoying while trying to highlight text.
I pulled out a really old wireless USB mouse, like maybe 2005? It worked fine but then it started doing strange things in the browser. Like I'd be typing and nudge the mouse, then the browser goes back a page. I have no idea how or why. Also, it messed with the wifi signal, so it had to go.

I have my pen & touch tablet but I can't touch and drag to highlight text unless I mess with the button configurations.

I really just need a new laptop.


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    BizarreMonkey
  Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:12 pm
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Just buy a decent mouse and plug it into one of your laptops USB ports.

If it's entirely a hardware issue then it's just your mouse being weird, lel. Be a darn sight cheaper than replacing a laptop, lmao.

Progress has not been great lately, been more busy streaming games and taking a break. Burnouts suck. However one of the best cures is my artists or composers getting work done so I have files to implement and test out.

If they manage to get me files I'll edit this post with them if there's no response between then and now.


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    coyotecraft
  Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:33 pm
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Spring is in the air and I'm reminded of a text-adventure game I made for an April GameJam last year. After a month of indecision I've decided to do something similar with my Perseverance fan game, only I'm going to add some first-person rpg elements to it.
By "first-person" I mean, Sven is going to have some close encounters. In keeping with "The Hanged Man" imagery, things are going to latch-on and cling to him. So like, a slime attacks his leg and the battle screen is him looking down at his legs. He can fight it off or use a mechanic to turn the slime into leg armor. So basically, that's how Sven will be leveling-up.

With a full set he can acquire a permanent ability. With slime-armor, I'm thinking an ability to slip-away, or swap limbs reallocate the monster attachments to other parts. I need to playtest this idea to see if random battles are fine. Or if I should let the player do the hokey-pokey and "stick you left leg in and shake it all about" to initiate choice battles.


Last edited by coyotecraft on Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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    Xilef
  Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:47 pm
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BizarreMonkey wrote:
Progress has not been great lately, been more busy streaming games and taking a break. Burnouts suck. However one of the best cures is my artists or composers getting work done so I have files to implement and test out.

If they manage to get me files I'll edit this post with them if there's no response between then and now.
Kind of why I'd like to be in a team project as the rest of the team is a motivation factor.


Today's progress; completed Nitro Archive format reader/writer. The cool thing is that DS ROM hacking tools can be used to inspect and modify the archive files produced by my tool. The next step is to write a reader for this archive format on the GBA.

The workflow is basically shove assets into a folder, then use the archiving tool to compile them all together (and compress stuff where possible), then that gets loaded into the GBA ROM. I can write a mechanism for modifying the ROM directly, but it would probably be smarter to compile the archive into a binary blob that's referenced in the source code itself.
This is getting pretty exciting.

Archive open in a ROM hack tool


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    Amy
  Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:50 pm
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better watch it doesn't get too lewd for the UK


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    Nathaniel3W
  Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:53 am
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Xilef wrote:
Kind of why I'd like to be in a team project as the rest of the team is a motivation factor.


Team project? Did you say team project? I've got a team waiting for you! Do you want to implement features that require digging through years of outdated C++? Do you want to port an ancient .NET program to macOS, Linux, and possibly consoles? If you want in-the-weeds coding tasks, I've got weed-obscured code for days.

And Amy, I get that was a joke. But seriously, isn't the UK a lot more lenient with the material that can be shown to all audiences?

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    Xilef
  Fri Mar 29, 2019 11:27 pm
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After much, much struggling I managed to get DS archive format working on GBA with great efficiency: zero memory overhead, it's all read from ROM.
There's a quirk with the GBA where 16bit reads from ROM must be aligned to 16bit addresses. Had massive issue where I was trying to read a 16bit value across an odd boundary and it was resulting in:
if ( ( 3 * 8 ) == 0x32000003 ) // this statement is true

Which was just amazingly hard to debug. Eventually identified the issue when checking out the NARC in a hex editor, seeing the 3 was on an odd 16bit boundary and then changed it to two 8bit writes.

Expand to see the code.
At some point I want to make a version of this archive reader that works on file streams, so an archive can be read from SD card without needing to load the entire thing into memory.

Next up is writing an image asset converter - which is made way easier due to using C# for writing the tools so all these file formats will work. GIF format would be interesting as that could directly convert into sprite animations, which would make creating attack/spell animations super easy.


Was thinking about the idea of writing a quick and dirty shitty software 3D renderer for drawing directly into sprite memory. The Tony Hawk GBA games used a 3D model for the player character - worked very well too - I wouldn't want to go down that route but I was thinking perhaps something like a save-point book could be an animated 3D model. Book model could slowly rotate and then when the player gets close it could open up and turn to face the player, perhaps some pages can flick past too. Would be very subtle in a 32x32 pixel canvas, but may be quite charming to see. If I were to do this it would be in the distance future, something like this is incredibly low priority compared to getting actual game content working.


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    coyotecraft
  Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:39 am
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Prototyping my "close encounters" battle idea. Doing this in the MV Battle System has it's up and downs. Within the database, Battlers can't be positioned lower than status window.
I should blur backgrounds out of focus for depth of field. At least with the arms. With legs and feet, the ground can be in focus, but I realize this presents a challenge to tie the battle background with different angles to certain monster-limbs. Especially if I want an ability to transfer a monster from an arm to a leg, I'll need the event to change the battle background along with the battler graphic. Of course I could do without backgrounds all together.
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    Xhukari
  Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:03 pm
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Joyous times! Finally gotten out of my rut for game dev, ideas are flowing, hours are being sunk into it. The days even feel better... it's strange. I just had to scrap some work due to less than legal software, so I'm back on the ol' Aseprite horse again, and starting some spriting, with a head! Early days, so won't post it right now.

Good to be back. :-)


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    coyotecraft
  Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:11 pm
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Edit: I'm sorry. If I wasn't having computer problems all week I would have prepared a more entertaining april fools post.


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    Xhukari
  Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:05 pm
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Quick update! (I weren't just here for April's Fools!) I know there's a load of issues with it, but i'm happy with it. Aseprite uses the Rotsprite algorithm for rotating, which looks pretty good I think, so I plan to just use these pieces and rotate them for animation frames. :-)


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    Xilef
  Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:01 pm
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I hadn't heard of Rotsprite before; looked it up and I'm quite impressed.

Discovered "Valkyrie Profile" on PlayStation 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoGECwz8p1A
This game's 3D battle camera is exactly what I needed to see working, it would work on the GBA so I think this is the direction I'd go for the visual style of battles.

I've got DS palette format sorted out, just writing up a tool to convert some known palette formats to/from DS and then I'll make a GBA loader for that. One cool thing I added was the ability to gamma adjust palettes, which solves the problem of the very different screen brightness between GBA models and PC monitors. That removes the need to consider display technologies when producing art assets.

Being able to preview all this in someone else's asset viewer is really nice. I can quickly verify everything works without having to write a loader and pray the entire pipeline is correct.


Most of today was spent doing some client work, so progress on game development was pretty slow today.


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    Nathaniel3W
  Thu Apr 04, 2019 6:54 am
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I'm fighting with my compiler right now.

In UE3, you control most of the gameplay using quick-compiling UnrealScript. There is some deep-down functionality that has to be done in C++ and sometimes something has to be more performant and you can program that in C++. Then to get the C++ engine code to interact with UnrealScript, Epic games put together some tools that automatically generate code that links the two together. At the start of all the automatically generated header files, there's this warning: "DO NOT modify this manually! Edit the corresponding .uc files instead!"

There are good reasons why you're not supposed to edit those header files yourself. For one, I'm likely to screw something up. Next, all my C++ changes get overwritten every time I recompile my UnrealScript classes. And finally the dealbreaker: UnrealScript classes that are associated with C++ classes check to make sure that everything matches.

Everything would have worked fine if I could have just told UE3, "OK, thanks for autogenerating this file for me. I'll edit it manually from now on. Just trust me that I'll make sure everything works." But instead I'm in a very frustrating cycle where I feel like I'm blindly throwing code at UE3 to make it crap out the right .h file, with annoying long compile times preventing me from making faster progress.

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    BizarreMonkey
  Mon Apr 08, 2019 8:28 pm
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Gedday folks! I didn't do April fools this year (or last iirc), was too busy giving my Mum the day of her life (her birth was awkwardly timed xD).

But goods news is I have news rather than nonsense as a result! Let's begin with two new music tracks, Koko's passive theme and her hero mode / battle theme.


I've also made some headway with the end of disk 1 cinematic, say hello to some adorable Tristy.

Had a lot of fun doing all those Tristy animations.

Xiie recently finished the sprite for Baron Jehkal "Splode".
ImageImage

And for now, that's about it!


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    Xhukari
  Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:48 pm
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Nothing to show this time, but I've been steadily working on my game, within Construct 3. It's a fun web app! It has this 'live preview' thing I've been using to test the game on mobile; it gives you a QR code (or an url) to put in, and it just loads like any other HTML5 app hosted on the net.

I made some animation (from the previous template), I was to originally animate within Aseprite, due to the RotSprite algorithm, but ultimately decided against it. Instead I'm animating within Spriter, which reminds me a lot of the Animate CC timeline with tweens. But the great thing is I'll be able to just switch out the graphics for a different human (clothes, etc) load up the Spriter file, and just export my previous animations, but with the different appearance. Which will save a lot of time! Also got movement from Keyboard, gamepad or touch inputs. Currently making the start of battle encounters, complete with camera pans, zooms, and fade outs / ins.


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    Xilef
  Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:02 pm
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Non-stop coding all day to finally get to this stage:

This is a 4bpp (16 colour) Tileset + Tilemap 256x256 background converted with my development tools.

The input was a 256x256 jpg image, the output was a 16x16 banked colour palette, a tile set of graphics and a tile map for the screen data. Outputs are in DS format, so they're viewable with DS ROM hacking tools.

This is how tile-sets will be converted for use on GBA. The tool also allows an input palette to be given, so rather than generating a poorly optimised palettes from the image you'd make your palette along with the tile-set graphics and use that.

It does a very, very good job of automatically generating a palette, but hand-optimised will always be 20x better. The optimisation basically quantises the image (reduces colour), splits it into 8x8 tiles, then packs the palettes of each tile as tightly as possible into the allotted number of banks (merging shared colours); if it fails then it further reduces the colour and repeats (uses a binary search to find the best colour reduction).

The automatic tile generation will merge duplicate tiles (including x/y mirrors) but it isn't very aggressive, so won't merge tiles that have 1 pixel difference.


The tile-map generation would be used for user-interface elements. It is not ideal at all for generating actual RPG style 2D map data (I'll have to use a custom format for this).

It's probably good for converting sprite-sheets too, but I'd need to test this out.


Next stage is writing a C++ API for managing the backgrounds in modes 0, 1 and 2. The GBA is weird in that the tile-set and tile-map share the same memory region, so I'll have to come up with a good C++ way to handle this.

Been looking at the MIDI music format recently.


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    LaDestitute
  Fri Apr 12, 2019 1:49 am
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Been fiddling with a 2D sandbox-sidescroller terrain gen thing in Construct 2 as a side-project:
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    BizarreMonkey
  Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:49 pm
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Woo I've been busy lately!

I've commissioned a plugin (actually did about a month ago) from a good friend and reliable man of practise, and working together on getting it error free, basically it'll make animated busts work without the inconveniences or file-mass that SOULS script did, while also conveniently being a single plugin rather than two.
Image
So I've lately been busy sorting out file structures, the pictures folder has dropped from over 2,400 files to just under 300.
ImageImage
And now a new folder called ani_bust contains the animating busts, albeit- with another nifty twist. Instead of over a thousand files, its now a sixth of the count, just over 300. So even together, the file count has been cut into a quarter of what it was.
Image
The faces folder has also jumped to being half as full, now that I don't need to make duplicate blanks for use with souls bust sequence script.

So, that's one thing!

I've personally begun working on really pruning unnecessary dialogue, adding flavor text and even rewriting scenes or part of them to be less jarring and more smooth. I've also been slowly but surely working on some optional events for Disk 1.

For what is a thirteen minutes long dialogue scene, there's a lot to it.

Yes I'm aware of the character duplicates on the same screen, that's been fixed since that recording.

On the music side, it's been incredibly productive! Four tracks have been composed since my last post! Lilac's themes are done. Playthings No More is done, and one of Sacreblu's themes is done, also!


I love all of them! But if I absolutely HAD to choose a favorite, I'd go to with Sacreblu's boss theme.

I've also been implementing and working with sprites, making some simple animations and giving Yi a more imposing battle sprite.
Pep and Pexepe
ImageImage
Fyori, this one is actually kinda old, but I just love the nimbus riding one so I felt the need to share!
Image
For those wondering, yes- Fyori does have a nimbus she rides and has since Menagerie, in fact before it was scrapped it was the way you could fast travel between zones.

And Svoli's sprite was finally updated with the one Xiie made ages ago.
Image

Last, but far from least-the battle sprite for Yi Hellrider.
Image
I'm hoping the after images will look epic as fuck in game.

Progress is on going!


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    Xilef
  Mon Apr 22, 2019 10:42 pm
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Big Dumb Guy

Location: UK

My god this was annoying. I'm pretty sure there's still a weird bug related to memory pointer alignment somewhere here just waiting to break everything.
At one point I had a bug where nothing would draw on the screen unless some debug printing was going on.

Quality is poor due to a few things; this uses various 32bit fixed point types without caring about maintaining accuracy. HBlank interrupt is used for the scan-lines, so not only is everything 1 line too late it will also stretch out any lines that took too long to calculate for whatever reason.

What I want to do is make this into a special 3D matrix type where something akin to traditional OpenGL matrices can be used and then you can either pull out the correct result at a given scan-line or dump a series of matrices for each scan-line to be uploaded with HBlank direct memory access (fastest way to do the perspective 3D effect).


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