Monday, May 22, 2017

Dev Blog- Colonial Sea Trader- Improving the look, continuing to work on the town layout, starting a website

This week has been an interesting one. I'm continuing to work towards getting it ready to show off. To do so, I improved the look of the mountains and terrain in general, I started working on a website, and continuing to work on the town layout that I've been working on for a few weeks.






Looking at the terrain, I realized that I had made it too flat in appearance. I fixed this, as can be seen above.

I also have started to replace the city layout, as I've mentioned a few times before. You can see how it will roughly look, although I'm continuing to improve it. The next version the buildings will look different, and the city label will contain more information, slightly. I'm fairly confident I can have a fully working version of this by the end of this week!

As mentioned, I started a website. I have a host, and will be continuing to work on improving things further, although I'm still trying to decide exactly what it will look like. Stay tuned, I hope to have something in the next week or two. It will result in a new blog location, and I'm going to try to import everything from this blog to the new one (At least, all of the dev blogs for this game). My Amateur Radio following group will be happy to have this return to it's original purpose!

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Dev Blog- Colonial Sea Trader- Building a city layout

This week I've continued to put together pieces for my city layout tool. I finished building design, and started to layout the city. In the process, I learned how to do something I've long wanted to do, but haven't gotten to yet, namely how to do custom inspectors!


The city layout still isn't quite as I want, I want to do more bitmasking instead of the current layout that I have. I've started work on it, but I just haven't gotten to it yet, I'm hoping to have that done pretty quickly. Assuming I can finish that, I will then add the buildings to the layout, and hopefully have a functioning town!

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Dev Blog- Colonial Sea Trader- Button improvement, Reworking the cityscape

The first thing that I  did this week was to improve the buttons.



I started working this week on improving the dialogs, but I quickly realized that my current ways just weren't cutting it. My first poor attempt ended up as follows:

This just looks hideous, and I started thinking, there has to be a better way. So I thought about it, and made the following sketch:





I showed it around to a few people, and generally they liked they idea. I then started playing around with how to make it work, most notably looking at Kenney's graphics.

I think that kind of style will do. I'm still working on generating these automatically, this one was a bit of a manual pain, but when it's done, I'll have procedurally generated building using Kenney's artwork. I will then decide at a future date if I want to keep going with that, or improve it further. I've toyed with doing some kind of a 3-d model similar to how my world scene is generated, but for now, I'll go with this, and see how it looks.


This week I'm going to work on setting up the city, allowing one to visit places by clicking on them instead of the small buttons that are currently available. I will continue to improve the dialogs. If I have any time beyond those two items, I want to fix the tooltips, that can sometimes appear behind items, and the size is too variable.

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Dev Blog- Colonial Sea Trader- Theming the UI, adding support for localization, lowering reflection

This week I had two major accomplishments. The first was to add localization support. Note that I'm not fully localized yet, but it's coming along. The second was to add a theme system to my game, to allow for easily changing large sets of items to have a particular theme, allowing me to tweak the look of the game. I also toned down the reflection, which was mentioned by many people to be a bit too high for most people's tastes.


So, why localization support? One of the things I decided to do was to change the font in my game. If I was going to do font, I might as well change everything to a Text Mesh Pro. When doing that, it seemed natural to do two other changes that would require touching almost every box in the game, localization and theme support. I added both of these, and have been gradually changing the fonts to support these changes.

I'm content with most of the buttons, although I'm still going to re-work the ones in the lower left, which currently just contains a single button. I haven't decided what I want to do yet with that, which is why I haven't bothered theming it.

The themeing was accomplished by using Scriptable Objects, which I allow for picking a background, font style, font color, and image color.

I'm still trying to figure out exactly how I want the dialogs to look. I haven't figured it out yet, but I'm getting there, slowly.

For this week I'm going to continue to work on the changes from last week, mostly focused on dialogs. I might then take a break from all of this to figure out a website, now that I have a name and am approaching the minimal threshold that I can consider seeking out Steam Greenlight or KickStarter or generally speaking to get the name of my game out there, although a website is really needed to take that next step.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Dev Blog- Colonial Sea Trader- Yes, it has a name finally! Also, UX improvements

Well, I've been talking about it for ages, and it's finally happened. This is no longer the unnamed Sea Trading Game, it has a real name! And that name is Colonial Sea Trader.

Still working on the artwork, of course, but there it is!

And there's more! I've been working on improving the UI considerably. I've reduced the amount of things on the screen, showing just the important stuff. I've also done the start of an effort to improve all of the dialogs. See the start of it below. Note that there will be tweaks, but it should be something like what you see below.

Other improvements include the start of keyboard shortcuts, which can be expanded easily further,
improvements to the map edges, studying some of the edge cases to improve the display, and starting to do work to improve some of the artwork.

This week I'm planning on continuing the UI updates I did last week, and in general will be working on the polish of the game. I might also improve the tutorial, world creation, and other such things, I haven't decided yet.

If you haven't yet, feel free to like me on Facebook, join my Google Group, subscribe to my Sub Reddit, or follow me on Twitter, where you are likely to get frequent updates!  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game. Let's give it a name, and fix UI stuff.

Well, I've decided to finally give my game a name. Right now I've been floating two titles, "Colonial Sea Trader" and "Columbian Exchange". Perhaps not the most original names, but, hey, it's better than "Unnamed Sea Trading Game" that I've been floating for over a year. I'm quite interested to hear what you have to think of, let me know.

In conjunction with the naming decision, I also released a new video. This will probably be the last one from this channel, I'm going to work on a dedicated channel soon for this game, but I'd like to get it named first.


A few other things that I did:

  • I upgraded to Unity 5.6.
  • I improved the way the layout changes with resolution, I think it should be more consistent now. I'm going to be improving a few other of the displays as well, but overall...
  • I've now made it so the entire screen is visible, and not the the small portion visible before.
  • I fixed a number of bugs.
  • I have a new camera system in place that I think will take me to the final system. Lines are no longer visible, although I need to improve the cloud system a bit to get it perfected.


My goals for this week are as follows:
  • Improve the image display slightly.
  • Make my final name decision!
  • Numerous bug fixes to make the game feel more like a game.
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Monday, April 10, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Making rectangular worlds, larger worlds

For most of my development process, I've been making square worlds. I've long wanted to play with rectangular images, but I haven't had it happen yet. This week, I worked on making that change, as well as improving the overall speed! Finally, I improved the rendering of the worlds to look better for large worlds.





There are still a few things that I'm adjusting, namely the behavior of the minimap, some of the world layout, etc. I also temporarily reduced the number of cities displayed, to make the rendering quicker.

This week I'm going to fix a few of the issues I'm still seeing with world rendering, and work on speeding it up as well. I'm then going to work on some balance, and if all goes well I'll work on re-making the main UI, although I'm not particularly confident that I'll make it that far.

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Adding map labels, steeper camera angle

I've continued the trend of updating the UI, some slight performance tweaks, and other related things. The dialogs are still in need of a pretty massive overhaul, as in the main UI, but I'll be working on those at a later date. For now, check out the latest improvements!


The next UI I'm going to work on is reducing, if not removing, the side panel information bar. I'm just really not happy with it, but I haven't figured out how to improve it quite yet.

Another likely update is the buying/ selling process, which I've never quite been happy with.

More likely improvements for the next week will be focused on gameplay fixes. I'm still working out exactly what those might be, but I am quite convinced that

Lastly, I will work on non-square play fields. I've long been using square fields, but I feel it would be more realistic to have something rectangular, and I'm going to work on implementing that.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Depicting the wind on screen

The main accomplishment this week was to improve the loading screen, which now looks like this:





I also changed the intro screen, which now looks like this:

I've also been playing around with the angle of the camera. Here's a much steeper angle than is currently shown, just to give you an idea. I haven't decided yet what I will do, but it's at least an interesting perspective. Obviously if I do this then something will have to change with the text, but I'm interested to hear your thoughts.




The last thing I did was to fix a few bugs that have been driving me crazy in regards to dialogs. Principally, I changed the trading goods dialog so it all fits in the window, no more overdrawn images! I also fixed a few issues where certain dialogs wouldn't scroll depending on where the mouse was.

For this week, I'm going to continue to make visual changes. I feel like this is the single most important thing for me to work on, and thus it is my main plan going forward for the next few weeks. Expect lots of UI and graphical changes, and more images than text, for the weeks to come!

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Loading Screen created!

I finally have a loading screen that actually works, as can be seen below. It took quite a bit of time to get everything running smoothly, but overall I'm quite happy with the progress! Take a look below at how it works!


As with last week, I found a number of other issues while putting this together, and was able to speed up the process a fair bit. There are 3 threads that are involved in creating the world, one that creates the textures, one that creates the world, and a third for the UI updates, which is the least used thread. I'm still going to try and improve it someday, but for now, I'm quite content.

This week I'm going to do some bug fixes, and probably some more graphical improvements. I'm hoping to get a reasonable demo of the game done soon, and maybe even a name!

If you haven't yet, feel free to like me on Facebook, join my Google Group, subscribe to my Sub Reddit, or follow me on Twitter, where you are likely to get frequent updates!  

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Threading the world creation process

For some time, my game has taken about 10 seconds to load, and it has been left as a blank screen while that was happening. I've long wanted to do something about that, and this week, I was able to start tackling the problem.

There were a few different ways that I thought to try to make this happen. The first that I tried was using the Asynchronous loading for scene management. This works great if you have a large number of objects that needed to be loaded, that each object doesn't take a long time to load. That didn't mix well with my game's system, where the loading time essentially happens with one slow object being created.

The next system I tried was using a coroutine. This didn't work, as the UI thread was still locked. There was a somewhat related option left, although it proved to be quite difficult in the end. The solution was to thread the world creation process.

I should note that the entire process is a single thread. This made a few things easier. The largest difficulty was that Unity's random number generator only supports the creation of random numbers on the UI thread. I managed to work around this by using the System.Random engine, but it took quite a bit of work to get it all to work properly.

Having this system in place is somewhat meaningless if I'm not giving the player an idea of what the system is actually doing. In order to make that happen, I added debug code to my logs to start to test the system before I start to work on the UI. While so doing, I effectively profiled the world creation process, and I noticed that one particular part was taking 90% of the time. I was able to speed up this process considerably, and now the time takes only 3 seconds, at least on my computer.

This week I'm planning on working on the UI part of the loading system. I am hoping to also get a better game over screen in place, which I was also able to start working on in this week.

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Improving the buying dialog, finishing tutorial

This was a surprisingly productive week. I had thought the release of a game I have longly anticipated might just delay my game development a bit, but it turns out I was able to accomplish more than I have in recent weeks! I started out by finishing the tutorial, fixing a few related bugs, and I ended up re-doing the contract selection dialog (Broker)


The Broker dialog, as you can see, has a full background now, compared to what it had been before. I also added the arrow, which will give you an indicator as to which direction the city is. The plus side is, you can plan now your routes better. I'm quite interested in your feedback. This was in response to a request that I had to show the map of the cities to let one plan our their routes a bit better, I figured this does just as well and is a fair bit less cluttered.


As for the tutorial system, I have set it up now to hold the complete state, which fixes a few bugs. I now have a reasonable tutorial, which I want to do some user testing with soon. I fixed a bug that showed up in the tutorial map where the zoom was stretched too far. Now at max zoom, the entire map can be seen horizontally, as seen below.


I also fixed a bug where the contracts were recreated every time one docked. Now the contracts actually have to wait a day before they are recreated. I'm going to re-design the internal system further at some point in time.

This week I'm going to work on bug fixing and UI improvements and bug fixes. I suspect my work might be further slowed due to the release of the previously unnamed game, but I'll still continue to chug along.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- New Tutorial System started!

This week I finally got a start on my new tutorial system, which you can see below. It will basically be a series of checkpoints that are unlocked, giving you clues as to the next thing that you need to do, until you've learned how the basic systems of the game work.


This week I'm planning on finishing importing the original tutorial files in to the system, and do some testing to see how well the tutorial works. I'm also going to work with ways to let the user know to check the status of achievements, if it changes.

If you haven't yet, feel free to like me on Facebook, join my Google Group, subscribe to my Sub Reddit, or follow me on Twitter, where you are likely to get frequent updates! 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Continuing conditions, reaction to similar game

This has been an interesting week. I was able to fix a number of annoying bugs, although I still have a few more to squash in the process. But more than that, I was able to get the game to actually work, including a "You Win!" alert that can appear! Note that the final version will have a sandbox mode, but it will also have some missions, if nothing else than for the tutorial.






The main thing I did this week was to improve the dialog displaying the victory conditions. I'm still trying to decide exactly what I want it to do, but I can greatly improve it once I have the decision made on exactly what I want to do with this dialog. It is coming along, slowly, however.


One of the big things I did this week was to look in to a similar game that has just been released, Winds of Trade. I've known about this game for about 8 months, which was about 6 months after I started my own project. Those early looks, well, I wasn't discouraged too much. When I first looked at the released version, however, I became a bit discouraged, I will admit. In a lot of ways, it is the game that I set out to make when I first started. But the more I've looked in to it, the more I realize that while it is certainly in the same space, and has a lot of the same features, there are quite a few differences, and I think those differences will make a huge difference in the feel of the game overall. In the end, I've decided to study the game, learn from it, possibly including a few similar UI/UX type features, but in the end, my game will be different than it will be. One thing that I have been convinced of as a result, however, is to defer my game a bit until I've made it better, and that when released, it should be of a similar quality level, if not higher, than Winds of Trade.

This next week I'm continuing the conditions, and tutorial fixes. I'm going to also start working on squashing some bugs that have been on my plate for a while.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Android Privacy Policy for my apps

This blog post will serve as my privacy policy.

I do not store any personal data, with the exception of grid squares for those who report location issues with Ham Finder. I will provide your location to the various APIs that I use to determine your location.

I do use a unique id for each phone to ensure that a token is unique to a given device. This is stored via a complex system of hashing, which will not allow me to identify any devices. That token is only stored on the local device, and is not sent anywhere.

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Moving conditions to files

This has been a busy week, but not unfortunately for game development. The major thing that I was able to accomplish this week was to get conditions processing to an external file. This will allow for tweaking the conditions without re-compiling, eventually leading to mods being allowed. I was able to make a decent start, however, I've realized that this will be far more complex than I had previously considered, owing to the fact of adding checks and actions to make it smoother. I'm going to be continuing this effort this week, with a focus on moving the tutorial system to a conditions based setup as I have been desiring to do for a while.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Displaying mission goals

The big improvement this week was to activate the objective display diagram. In order to make it work, I had to do some re-organization of underlying items. The end result is as shown below:





I'm going to play with the background and colors somewhat, but it looks fine for now. There will be 2 types of objectives, those things to avoid, which will appear on the bottom, and those which you need to achieve, which are on the top. I will also show the status of these. There is a simple system that shows the status but that will be improved dramatically soon.

Next on the plate is to replace the tutorial system with this new objective system. Until next time!

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Setting task system, UI changes.

The big thing that I did this week was to tweak the UI, and add a button for mission objectives. I added a bit more functionality to aid in the display of the mission objectives, but I haven't finished it off. I also increased the amount of the screen space that is devoted to the map. The result is below:


What this will allow me to do is to create a system of scenarios. The Tutorial will then be a series of these "conditions", that will teach the game. I'm fairly close to getting to this stage, hopefully I can get something working this week, and then continue on for next week!

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Improving game over conditions, cancel buy order, bug fixes

Pretty much everything this week I did was some kind or another of bug fix. The one exception was a UI improvement, shown below, where I improved the buying menu considerably, and in the process learned a lot about Unity's UI management, especially Layout Groups.

The biggest improvement was adding a cancel button to the Buying/ Selling goods dialog. What do you think of the new layout?

Bug fixes include bugs related to the newly added game over conditions, updating the estimate of goods when buying new goods, improving ship placement location, getting the correct number of items on the ship, and more.

The plan for the next week is to keep working on bug fixes, and start working on an improved tutorial system. I'm thinking of essentially setting objectives for the tutorial, that can be seen on the screen somehow. I haven't figured it all out yet, but it's coming along.

If you haven't yet, feel free to like me on Facebook, join my Google Group, subscribe to my Sub Reddit, or follow me on Twitter, where you are likely to get frequent updates! 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Starting Conditions, Ending Conditions set, new gameplay video

I managed to do most of what I intended to do this week, although I did fall a bit short of the ending conditions. Still, I'm quite happy overall. But first, let me include a video!

In putting together the video, I noticed a few bugs. The non-UI ones I fixed, and I looked at a few of the UI ones as well. For instance, I found the goods don't scroll on the right, but I was able to fix that.

The main thing I was working on this week was conditions, both starting and ending. For starting, I have cities configured to starting levels. Each city will receive a starting food and water, gold, silver, and a set of random seeds. I have seeds now for the entire set of possible plants. Overall, it seems to be working, although I haven't played much with it in use.

I also set up starting goods on the ship. There is a fixed amount of food and water that each ship will start out with.

I started to work on ending conditions, although I didn't get that far. These conditions could potentially be used for other things as well, and have a good chance of overtaking my tutorial system. Here's an example of a game over bug.





As for this week, I'm going to finish the game over conditions. I'm going to make the UI look at least a little bit better. I am going to set it up so seeds and food can be put in barrels easier, which will make things look better overall. Generally speaking, it's going to be clean up, bug fixing, and polishing. I think I'm going to start working on a video and web site to go with my KickStarter campaign, which I think I'm getting close to doing.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Ship supplies lifetime indicated, speed improvements, cursor shown, bug fixes!

This has been a productive week, showing a number of new features. I'm hopefully two small steps away from adding the game over conditions, at which time I'll be at an "alpha" state, and will start doing more formal testing!

I added a cursor this week, as well as an indicator as to how long your supplies will last. The color of the line changes depending on how long your supplies will last relative to the expected length of the voyage. I'm also probably going to change the cursor, but it'll serve for the time being.

I fixed a few speed issues, so the game now takes less memory and runs faster. It is now running at a similar speed to how it was several months ago, despite adding quite a few new complex features!



I also improved the display of the icons showing what goods are being grown, as can be seen below:


This week I'm hoping to get the game over conditions, which will basically occur if your crew gets to the point that they are wanting to revolt because you haven't fed or paid them. More similar details will occur, but that's the general idea for how the game will end. I'm also hoping to get the starting conditions better set, and possibly work on some improvements to the brokerage system.

If you haven't yet, feel free to like me on Facebook, join my Google Group, subscribe to my Sub Reddit, or follow me on Twitter, where you are likely to get frequent updates!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Dev Blog- Sea Trading Game- Good specified needs added

My major accomplishment this week was to add good specific needs to a ship. For instance, Sheep will require food in order to thrive on a ship at this point in time, at least they would if you could load them on to a ship. I also started the framework for giving indicators of how long you can survive with your given resources without dying.

Another small bug that I fixed was that the distance to the ship no longer indicates the distance to the land, if you are navigating to the land. It still shows a tail as you can see below, but I'm inclined to keep it as is. What do you think?

This week I will get the indicators as to if you have enough resources to make the trip safely. I'm also going to so some improvements to selecting the tiles. I'm hoping to get to a game over condition if I can get to it!

If you haven't yet, feel free to like me on Facebook, join my Google Group, subscribe to my Sub Reddit, or follow me on Twitter, where you are likely to get frequent updates!