Developer Log #1 | February/March | Character Creator!

Hey everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts in the two months. The idea was to post at least one Developer Log per month but shortly after I made the initial announcement post, my computer died. We’re back now though! Here are some things I’ve been doing:

Main Update

Character Creator

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I’ve been proudly showing the creation process on Twitter and am at a point where I can say it’s finished! There are still some little bugs and I plan to spend a couple hours clicking things in various orders to find any issues. The UI is placeholder and be completed at a date closer to release.

One thing I haven’t decided is what happens with accessories and the Randomize button. I’m considering one of the following:

  • When you press Randomize, all accessories are removed.
  • When you press Randomize, the accessories you have equipped stay but none are added.
  • When you press Randomize, accessories are randomized.

I originally used the first one because it meant less coding but feels a little weird. It’s currently replaced with the second option, which you can see in the GIF below. I have considered randomizing the accessories as well and may try it in future but probably with weighted outcomes.

The Character Creator was originally started last year but used placeholder assets made by me in Painttool Sai. 

If you you're interested, the whole creation process has been made into a Twitter moment! 

Updating Main Game Appearance

After the user has decided what they want to look like, the game must reflect this choice properly.

Although the game’s wonderful artist Zinkase provided the content to do so, I thought it’d be really cute to remove accessories while the player sleeps. Obviously, facial hair will still remain!

Other stuff

Random username for yourself:

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At the start of the game, along with creating your character, you get to select a Username for your video channel. For those of you who don’t feel like typing your own, I’ve added a little randomize button that’ll generate a new one every time it’s clicked. 

In-game VR games:

In Let’s Play Manager, the player has a wide range of console and PC games they can record themselves playing. I thought adding in VR games would be a small, fun addition.

 

Welcome to Let's Play Manager

Introduction

Throughout the year, I’ve occasionally been posting Game Development content to my personal Twitter and thought it was about time to actually announce what I was working on.

 Our titlescreen image, by  @zinkase!

Our titlescreen image, by @zinkase!

My game is called Let’s Play Manager and is a Tycoon/Management sim where you become an online content creator, specializing in videos about playing video games. In Let’s Play Manager, you will need to find a balance between keeping fans happy and making enough money to stay afloat.

The player will begin with lousy equipment. As the game progresses, they will get access to Ad Revenue and sponsorships. I can't talk much about it right now but players will have large input in the video creation process. I am also exploring different types of fans to encourage multiple play-styles!

As a staple of Tycoon games, random events will also occur. I have had a lot of fun jotting down ideas for this and a very basic skeleton has been coded. What would you do if a company asked you to praise their game for money?

What have I worked on this year/so far?

1. A lot of boring stuff

A lot of game development chalks down to mundane but required code. Some of it the player won’t even notice!

According to Trello, I’ve completed 1238 tasks on my checklist for the game and still start sweating when someone asks me how much I’ve done!

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UI, bug testing and a save/load system all fall into this category - at least for me personally.

2. Hired an Artist

  Zinkase's  concept art versus finished art

Zinkase's concept art versus finished art

I spent a long time looking for an artist. I checked /r/gamedevclassifieds, ArtStation and various art commission related tumblr tags. I knew I wanted a Flat/Vector style. My main inspirations for the art style were Dyscourse and Two Dots

After not receiving a response from various Tumblr artists, I looked on ArtStation and found Zinkase. I sent him an email and over the last few months, he has been doing an absolutely phenomenal job! 

3. Started working on a character creator system

 The character creator, still with placeholder UI.

The character creator, still with placeholder UI.

The player will be able to customize their character appearance. This will include skin colour, hair, top, bottom and various accessories such as earrings and facial hair. I have decided not to restrict clothing or hairstyles to one gender - this means less coding for me and makes it more inclusive! 

The appearance our player decides on will then transfer into the main game. There are multiple states such as being asleep or sitting at their computer which must be accounted for. 

4. Account creator screen

 The account creation room, still with placeholder UI.

The account creation room, still with placeholder UI.

Either before or after the player decides on their appearance (I haven’t picked an order yet), they will then be presented with the account creator screen.

The UI will be designed like a sign up website page. The player can enter a name (used for in-game jobs), a user name (displayed on videos and used by fans) and select gender. Gender will decide what pronouns the game will use, such as her or she. Along with male and female, I decided to add "n/a" which will cause the player to be referredto as they/them through-out the game. This required very little extra coding and I hope makes the game more inclusive!

5. Worked on the main room

 The main playable room, still with placeholder UI.

The main playable room, still with placeholder UI.

Outside of videos, the player will mainly spend time in this room. Many objects are interactable via a mouse click:

  • Bed: Go to sleep for x hours and restore y stamina
  • Computer: Go online, check emails, view self channel and make a video or start live streaming
  • Door: Go to work
  • Mini-fridge: Eat x food and restore y stamina
  • Controller/TV: Play video games outside of video creation.
  • Cat: Make it vibrate and purr.

The main room has been my focus for a while. All of the features above listed are functional!

 

6. In-game computer and internet browser.

 The in-game computer browser, still with basic placeholder UI

The in-game computer browser, still with basic placeholder UI

The UI has not been touched and all of the sites frequently use shoddy Ms Paint rectangles. This will eventually be designed to look like a web browser. Here the user will be able to:

  • Buy food: This food will then be available in the mini fridge.
  • Change their job: After starting a new game, the player will not be able to make a living off their videos alone and will be given a job. A job will have x number of hours, give y payment and the player can change it at any time.
  • Trends: This is designed like a games journalism site and displays various released video games and a popularity number next to them. When the player uploads a video, I want the popularity to influence the amount of views they get. I may scrap this room as game popularity will most likely be shown in UI elsewhere.
  • Buy Equipment: The player will be able to purchase new equipment such as microphones and recording methods.
  • Buy games: The player will be able to buy new video games that they can play and make videos on. I am playing around with the idea of the player being able to pre-order games, maybe it will cost extra and they can arrive a day early. The player would have to check the Trends website to see what is being said about upcoming games and gauge which are worth spending the extra on.

 

7. Username generator

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This feature was heavily inspired by Game Dev Tycoon which, as the name suggests, is a tycoon game about making games. After a player finishes their creation, a score out of ten and a simple sentence is given by multiple in-game reviewers.

 Game: Game Dev Tycoon

Game: Game Dev Tycoon

I liked this idea a lot and wanted to do something similar, maybe even more complex! Before worrying over imitating full Youtube comments, I decided to start with a username generator. There are many already available online but none were fully satisfying. Normally, it was a describing word connected to an object with optional numbers on the end - a good place to start.

My username script has two parts to it; generating the original username and then optionally applying a quirk to it, such as attaching numbers to the end or placing ‘that’ at the beginning. Although you can still identify patterns within the usernames pretty easily, I am happy with the variety in the results and it will only grow as I continue to add various describing words and objects to the pool of available options. So far, my absolute favourite has been xxxGayVampirexxx.

Unfortunately, some of the generated usernames are, quite frankly, garbage. My original plan was to keep tweaking my code until the chance of producing something incoherent was low - but multiple friends said my generator is fine the way it is. They said that in real life, there ARE people usernames that are garbage. If you’ve played Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, you’ve probably killed or been killed by one of those people. One other issue I personally have is that the same word can be used twice in a name, like SwordSword or BreadBread. I dislike this a lot but every person I talked to said this was fine and should be left in.

The next step is generating video comments to go with the results. I have started this but the only result is asking if you recorded using a potato.

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What next?

My main plan for 2018 is to regularly post updates about my game with a consistent schedule. As well as uploading GIFs to twitter, I plan to start writing a Dev Log for the less flashy things I'll be making. 

The second is to release a playable demo by April. I would love to get feedback from people - find out what works, what needs to be changed or even scrapped fully.

Thank you so much for reading the Let's Play Manager announcement post! If you'd like to discuss ideas or just chat, feel free to join our Discord - I'm frequently looking for feedback.