Got very far into the player cape development, probably going to scrap it

It’s a tough decision to scrap something after you put so much work into it, but this cape thing ended up being a much bigger project than I originally intended, and I really need to finish this game one of these days.

The problem with making an animated cape is that it really needs to be a lot more reactive than a basic player animation.  Honestly, the best way to do this would probably be changing the cape animations based on physics, but I don’t have anything that complicated set up, so I am currently changing the cape animations based on changes to the player animations.

BUT… It’s not that simple.  For instance, there are currently several different actions where the player has the same jump animation… a regular jump, shooting off the high jump button, falling off of something, bouncing off of something, being caught in a wind stream (up or down), etc.  Sometimes the player is moving up, sometimes down, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, sometimes up a short time then down, sometimes up a long time then down, sometimes coming into a fall from a jump, sometimes from a float, sometimes from hitting an enemy, etc.  A single cape animation simply does not work for all of these different contexts.  Often it won’t even be hanging in the right direction.

That’s just one example, albeit the most complicated one.

So I’ve had to make a lot of cape animations, and a lot of small transition cape animations to get from context X to context Y, etc.  Already the cape is by far the largest animation sheet with the most animations right now.  Which also means that a lot of the animations are currently a bit wonky looking, since I made many of them in a short amount of time and haven’t had the time or energy to go back and clean them all up yet.

The TLDR is that it’s been a ton of work and it is tough to really get the cape flowing the right way for all cases.  I think I have it more or less playing acceptable animations correctly for 90% of cases, but it’s those edge cases that are tough to figure out, and require some deep dives into the code and really understanding exactly what is happening with the player at any given moment.  And even once I got decent cape animations set up for all possible contexts, it would still take a lot of work to go over the many animations and make them look good.  I know I could do it to my own level of satisfaction eventually, but is it really worth the time and energy?

Maybe not.

Anyway, below is a quick video to show you where I left off.  You can see some places where it isn’t really using a good animation for the context (running up hills in the start, in the wind streams, etc.) and you can also see how sloppy some of the animations are even when the cape is in more or less the right place for the context.

I’m not sure if I’m going to totally scrap the cape idea yet, because I love it in theory, but I’m at least going to put it aside for now.  Much more important things to be working on at the moment, and I don’t want to get caught up in stuff that isn’t helping get this game finished.



Who knew planning a wedding was so much work?

Well, I’m getting married.  Actually that is kind of old news at this point, the engagement was last year.  But the wedding planning has started in seriousness this year, and oh boy, it’s a pretty huge project!  Especially if you are like my fiance and I and basically want to do everything yourselves in your own creative ways.

So, to be quite honest, the game has taken the back burner for a bit.  I’m still working on it but between my day job and wedding planning it has been tough to find the time and energy for it.

What I have found time for is to is work on the main character design again.  I never really finalized a main character design that I liked in the past, so I made a sort of abstract character as a placeholder.  I decided to go back to old designs though and tweak them a bit, bringing back the helmet but adding stars on the glass of the helmet (which look pretty cool when it animates but I’ll save that for another update) and I think I’m finally falling upon something that I’m happier with.  Oh, and I’m adding a cape (VERY much still a work-in-progress) because why not, capes are cool.


I’ll try to keep things updated regularly but there may not be a ton to say until after June 22nd when I can dive back into this much deeper again.

No big update this time

Just checking in at the start of the new year to let you know that yes, development is still proceeding well and a 2019 release is still the plan. Will post soon with a more detailed update.

Some of my favorite video game logos

Although I’ve done most of the graphics for In Retrospect myself, I hired a graphic designer friend of mine to do the logos for the game and my company, Paper Salamander. And he came up with some awesome stuff.  But we’ll get to that later.  During the process of communicating what I was looking for to him I collected a fair amount of video game logos that I like, so I figured I’d make a post about it.

Let’s start retro.  One of my all-time favorite logos is the Yoshi’s Island logo, because it totally nails the fun, youthful tone of the game (you play as Yoshi and baby Mario.)  Simple, colorful, and a super neat font.


I also always had a thing for the “perspective” style logos that appeared a lot in the 8-bit and especially 16-bit eras.


They often did some neat things with the coloring / gradients in that era as well.


Of course a lot of new indie games are heavily inspired by the past, and sometimes a nice simple retro logo does wonders for a game.


Another thing I like in my logos is a sense of simplicity and beauty.  Of course, this depends on the game and whether that fits or not, but when it works, it really stands out for me.  I especially like the colors on this one, and you’ll see below that they also show up on the logo for Paper Salamander.


And then you have something like Gone Home, which keeps it VERY simple in the text itself, a single color scratchy font, but it works in the context it is used.


Thomas Was Alone also keeps it simple, but add in the shapes and it really represents the game well.


Indie games in general have a lot of my favorite logos.  They really seem to try to say something about the game through the logo.  Celeste is about a lot of things, but on the surface it is about climbing a mountain, so they put the mountain right in the logo.


I mostly like this BIT.TRIP logo because of the colors, but it’s a pretty cool retro logo with a neat font as well.


Life Is Strange works the photography in as well.  And has a custom scratchy font that works.


It almost feels unfair to include Tomorrow Corporation logos because their art is so amazing it feels a step above most indies.


And another Tomorrow Corporation game logo that works very well in context.


One of my favorite indie game logos is for Night in the Woods, it has a lot of energy and style.


And finally, some busy logos that actually work as busy logos.  The World Ends With You to start.


Just love everything about this Earthworm Jim logo.  It has a LOT going on, but it all looks good together.


Pikmin 3 uses the Pikmin themselves to create a logo, it’s so adorable!!!


Viewtiful Joe, a wild game with a wild logo.


I don’t know if this is an official logo but I can’t do anything about style without including the king of style, the Persona games.


I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of great ones, but this will have to do for now.

Anyway, here are the logos for Paper Salamander and In Retrospect!  I think they both turned out great!



Some new screenshots for you!

If you’ve been paying attention to In Retrospect, you will probably notice a few things new to these screenshots.

1. The old player design was fine but it was too specific, I really want this game to be about YOU as the player playing YOUR life story, regardless of who you are. So instead of a specific character design, I decided to go more abstract. Not totally sure if this is working out as well as I imagined, but I think I’m heading in the right direction.

2. Enemies and other objects were too hard to pick out at a glance, so they all have outlines now. Enemies have red outlines, but other colors like green, yellow, and more are used for various objects as well.

Anyway, here you go!







Check out more here!

So this happened

This was an interesting little bug.

As far as I can tell I accidentally left the test character turned on just randomly hanging out up in the air, the actual character was also on and somehow got moved directly on top of the test character (no idea how the heck that happened), and they got stuck in some weird loop where they kept bouncing off of each other but couldn’t escape each other?  Something like that?!

I am so exhausted

Timeline of yesterday (and this morning):

6:30 am – Get up to get ready for work.
3:30 pm – End a busy day of work.
4:00 pm – Take a nice walk.
4:30 pm – Decide to change the colors of my wind object so that it will stand out better from the backgrounds it is often used on (the wind is two different shades of blue, and a lot of my backgrounds are also primarily one or multiple shades of blue as well.) I project this will take about 15 minutes.

Ha ha.

5:30 pm – Wow I can’t… quite… find the right mix. Either it doesn’t stand out enough or the colors feel wrong.
6:30 pm – Am I seriously still working on changing two little colors?
7:00 pm – FINE. WHATEVER. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. I’LL HAVE TO LIVE WITH CLOSE ENOUGH. (For now.) Time to do a build, do backups and enjoy the rest of my night.

Ha ha.

7:05 pm – Hmm, the game got all the way to the end of the build and then crashed with errors. That’s odd, literally all I did was upload a new spritesheet, that shouldn’t change much. Well, I’ll just try again.
7:10 pm – It didn’t build again? Ok it’s probably just some Unity glitch, a reboot should fix this.
7:15 pm – Ok, still not building. Weird. I guess I’ll just revert back to yesterday’s working version and upload the spritesheet again. But first I’ll just test yesterday’s working version which is OBVIOUSLY still going to work because it worked then and nothing has changed…

Ha ha.

7:20 pm – Ok yesterday’s version isn’t working either for some reason. I guess I’ll go back further.
7:30 pm – Wait, weeks old versions aren’t working either now? How is this even possible? All of these various versions worked when I saved them?!!?

Hours and hours of troubleshooting which involves loading various past versions, which seem to work inconsistently, trying to slowly move forward from working versions to figure out what is wrong, everything breaks again but I can’t pinpoint it, start over.

Eat dinner somewhere in there.

2:00 am – It APPEARS that whenever I do anything that affects this one specific tileset, the game will no longer build after that. But it’s way too late to fully test this. And even if that is the case, I’m not totally sure what to do since that is an important tileset that I will need to update regularly again in the future. Well, whatever, time for bed.
3:30 am – Actually fall asleep somewhere around here.
6:30 am – Get up to get ready for work again.

Game dev is so much fun.



My Top 10 Games of E3 2018

Don’t worry this is still a game dev blog, but I will occasionally make some posts about other stuff happening in the game industry, and E3 is one of the biggest things in the game industry. Some new games shown off, some old games with new footage, whatever the case here are the 10 games of the show that got me most excited.

10. Control – I’m not a huge fan of shooters but Control feels like it stands out a bit with a really strange environment-shifting sci-fi setting that looks like it was inspired by the movie Cube. If they add in some horror elements too it could be pretty sweet.

9. Super Mario Party – Unfortunately I think my days of regular local multiplayer are mostly behind me, but I have still been holding out hopes that a new Mario Party would come along that went back to the individual character board progression style of the old games, which me and my family loved to death. Will this be the one? And even if it is, will I ever get people together to play it? Who knows?! I hope so.

8. Death Stranding – I love Kojima’s artistic vision even, especially when it gets ridiculously over-the-top, and Death Stranding looks ridiculously over-the-top. But… what is the gameplay? All we see in the trailer is walking? Surely Kojima isn’t making a walking sim? Well, I trust that there is more to it, and the presentation is certainly compelling.

7. The Last of Us Part II – I only recently played The Last of Us with the Remastered version on PS4, and although it was less of a horror game than I had hoped, it was still a very great experience. I wish Naughty Dog were more innovative, but they are very good at taking industry staples and creating an excellent product out of them, and part II looks like it should live up to the first.

6. Beyond Good and Evil 2 – I absolutely adored the first Beyond Good and Evil and everything about 2 looks pretty awesome so far. Except, again, what is the gameplay? Why are we still only seeing cinematic trailers when this game has (supposedly) been in development for years and years? Can’t put it up much higher on my list without seeing gameplay.

5. Daemon X Machina – I theoretically love mech games even though, for some reason, I barely play any, but Zone of the Enders 2 is one of my favorite games ever and I’ve been hoping for a 3rd. That may never happen, but Daemon X Machina has an impressive looking trailer and it could scratch that itch. It’s hard to say how this one will turn out though, I don’t know enough about the developers to get expectations too high yet.

4. Cyberpunk 2077 – I’m not sure exactly if the gameplay will be up my alley or not but wow, the setting for this game is sweet. I’m a big fan of cyperpunk and in games it usually gets thrown on top as dressing, but it looks like they went all out to create a whole detailed world here. I anticipate watching how this one comes together.

3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Hmm, where to even start with this one? Admittedly, I’d be more excited for Smash 5. But if they had to do a… what would you even call this? Port? Remake? Kind of sequel but without much new content? Whatever the case, if they had to do this, they sure are doing it right. It looks absolutely packed with content (every previous Smash character ever + some new + most? previous Smash stages?) and the new tweaks will surely make it the best Smash yet.  Also, playable Ridley!!!

2. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit – I was already sold on “a new game in the world of Life is Strange that is free and coming in just a few weeks” but this trailer looks so good. It really manages to capture that youthful creativity and excitement, and it (hopefully) will show us that there are lighter stories taking place in the world of Life is Strange as well.

1. Resident Evil 2 (Remake) – GOTS. To be honest I played the original Resident Evil 2 was my 3rd Resident Evil game, which I played after the amazing 4 and the excellent Gamecube remake of 1, so it felt a bit antiquated, and it didn’t end up one of my favorites in the series like it seems to be for most people. With that said, the characters and setting and everything are great so I certainly don’t mind revisiting that story, and it looks like they are basically making it a Resident Evil 4 style game (at least with the camera and controls) with totally revamped gameplay and everything, so… I’m sold. But I still need to finish Resident Evil 7!

What does the inside of a whale look like?

One of my early ideas for In Retrospect was to have at least one large object that the player goes inside of, and for various reasons (probably the fact that our cultural mythology has several examples of this?) that ended up a whale.  Which meant that I would need an outside and an inside version of the whale sprite.

Of course, this led to some decisions about what that would look like.  Designing in 2D space is actually pretty interesting, you’re basically trying to convert 3D space to 2D space, but there is no direct formula for the best way to do it.  Maybe you do a cross-section, but that’s not always going to work, because true cross-sections look WEIRD.  Probably you’re going to pick and choose and just kind of wing it until it looks ok.  If you’re me, you’re definitely going to wing it.

Designing 2D space for a video game is even more complicated, because it’s not just a neat picture, it’s an interactive object.  Now, I could have gotten really complicated and made the player travel through the entire digestive system or something, but that wouldn’t really work with some of the constraints of my game’s core logic, not to mention I wanted to give the player space to maneuver inside without the whale being TOO big, so actually, almost the entire inside of the whale is “empty” space the player can move around in, while the actual guts and organs and such of the whale are behind the player in the scene.  Does this make sense logically?  No!  But 2D space never makes sense! Shut up I can do what I want!

I didn’t want to totally wing it though, so I searched something like “inside of a whale” on Google and ended up using this image for reference:


Whether it is accurate or not I have no idea, but it looked good enough to me and I doubt many whale biologists are going to play this game and get mad that I don’t have more accurate whale biology in it.  Oh, and also I found out later that it’s not even a whale, it’s a dolphin.  WHATEVER.

So I used that for the core design, but it still felt empty inside.  So I just started filling it in with a bunch of uh… just sort of vague… organy looking… things?  I was making them up on the spot, basically.

Anyway, this is what I came up with, part real dolphin biology, part totally made up junk… for my whale.


My GF said it reminds her of a Miyazaki movie and I was like hmm, yeah I can see that.  I wasn’t thinking of Miyazaki movies when I made it but his movies definitely have a lot of colorful kind of gross biological… things… with white lighting on them.

“But why is there so much direct light inside of a whale?!”

Shut up, it looks cool, that’s why.

Here is a video of the whale in action. A lot of work for basically a couple of seconds of gameplay where the player won’t really have a chance to notice all of the little details anyway, but I guess that’s just the way I roll…

Some of the more basic enemy animations


I don’t claim to be a brilliant pixel artist by any means, nor a brilliant pixel animator, but considering how little experience I had with this kind of thing before making this game, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done.  I could probably do so much better if I had the time to focus on just getting good at graphics, but the reality is that I’m doing everything here… design, programming, graphics, audio, you name it.  Sometimes it is hard to really dig super deep into a single skill when you have soooooooo much other stuff to do all the time.

Ah well, it’s all getting there, slowly but surely.