Super Glyph Quest Dev Diary 05

After an interesting trip up to Birmingham to introduce Willow to her great-grandparents and her great-great(!)-grandmother, it's back to sunny Worthing and work.

Character Customisation

This style requires a pillow
This style requires a lot of effort
After going back and forth on this for a while, I think I've decided to get over myself and just implement the damn thing. You buy clothes. You wear them. They can affect your stats. Simples. There might be clothes that you like the look of but are not very efficient against the types of monsters you're going to meet on your current quest, but hey.

I've written a compound sprite system to allow us to layer in the various clothing options. Not just clothing either - it will also be used for things like hairstyles and weapons. It sounds like a simple thing but, as is so often the way, starts getting a bit more complex when you think about it a little more. The main issue is making sure everything looks right and things overlap other things in the correct way. That means that robes should be drawn in front of the character's body...

... apart from the robes that you might want flowing out behind or if you needed to do the back end of a cowl or big collar. So robes are split in to two bits - front and back. The player will only ever choose a single item and everything else happens under the hood. The same is true for hair - there are times when we want it drawn in front of the robes and bits of it that might need to be drawn behind.

Japanese Feedback

Whilst the boys at Chorus Worldwide were doing the conversion, they tweaked a few things and added the odd feature or two. Some of these bits and bobs are going to find their way into Super Glyph Quest. Their version of the characters feature a couple of frames in addition to the standard pose - one for when the player attacks and another for when they take damage. It all adds to the feedback presented to the player.

It does somewhat increase the art demands on Leanne as we now have to have multiple versions of each item of Gear to cope with each pose, but it's totally worth it. Actually, we're skimping a bit by some judicious code that tilts the idle sprite when it gets hit, meaning that all we'll need to do is adjust the underlying body sprite and make them blink or wince or something.

Hang on! Where's the baby? NOBODY MOVE!
There's also an attack frame and the character leaps forward a bit. It's a lot more dynamic and even though it's a pretty simple thing, really adds to the feel of the game. Again, a simple task if one that has extra layers of complexity the further you dig in to it. Different sprite for robes? Check. Wait - two different sprites for robes given that robes themselves consist of a front and back sprite? Check. Different sprite for weapon to make it look like the character is actually pointing it? Check. Wait - different position for the weapon sprite because the character's hand has moved as part of the robe 'animation'? Okay, now male and female versions for each...

Sticking with the art, the new character designs are also taking a leaf out of the Japanese version's book. That is to say they're a weeny bit more brightly coloured than they were. In all of this, it was very exciting seeing Leanne back in front of her computer.

Work Hours

There are two* things guaranteed to mess up working from home. Daytime TV and a baby. We have both. Cake Boss is a problem. It makes us want cake**. All day. I've also got a soft spot for Fast and Loud. Pointless isn't a problem though - we have that on series link.

The rest of the time is spent looking after*** Willow.

Whilst I can normally get on with some stuff during the day, it's only after she's gone to bed and we've had dinner that we can really get down to business. We tend to get quite productive but unfortunately, it's usually around 2am.

I can see why new parents - dads in particular - might be eager to return to the office, but I can't stress enough how privileged I feel to have been here these past 4 months. Willow has changed so much in that time and, if I were back in the peace and quiet of an office, I'd have missed it all. Sure, it's not easy - we're getting it done though. We're shooting for a submission in two months as that's when the money runs out. Well, assuming, of course, that the Japanese version doesn't go all Angry Birds on us in the meantime.

Items & Shopping

The Items are back in****. You can buy them from the shop and use them in combat. They use the ever-so versatile Attack system, although for the more specialised items there's going to have to be a layer of special case stuff added. I'll probably end up adding it to the Status Effect stuff and just giving it a single turn's duration.

Remember what I was saying last time about having possibly unsuitable-for-mobile game systems in there? Well, we're thinking about that again with the shops. It would be quite simple for us to hook up multiple shops that sold different items. It makes narrative sense - here's the Hat of Cold Resistance, weaved in the frozen north and only available from the Viking Village shop, for example. Or the exotic Robe of the Sands that can only be bought from a faraway land to the south.

In other games, this would be fine. It would also encourage exploration and travel (such as the game allows) to find these places. But in a mobile game for this increasingly lazy bunch of modern gamers, I reckon most developers would tell you it was madness to fragment your storefront in such a way. Of course, that might only apply to those selling you items for actual money, but I'd hope it was okay for in-game items.


Given that we've got two extra elements this time around, the board can get a bit crowded. This means it can be trickier to make longer Chains although that definitely becomes easier when you unlock Combo spells and utilise the features of the new spell parser.

Still, it got me thinking that maybe we'd got a bit carried away with the extra elements and they'd be more trouble than they were worth, so after I'd hooked up the Attunement***** bit, I wrote an elemental bias thing. It works alongside the Attunement to weight the randomness of the glyphs getting swapped in whenever a spell is cast. Elements used in a previous spell are given higher priorities and so are more likely to appear, therefore giving the player a better chance of maintaining a Chain. It still retains the 'at least one swapped glyph will match a neighbour' feature of the original, but the others will be decided according to this weighting.

The risk here is that the weighting is so high it's possible for the player to fill the entire board with a single element or that it's so low that it doesn't make a blind bit of difference. Thankfully, this is just a couple of numbers in the balancing file but we're still going to have to keep a close eye on it.

Leanne remains sceptical. Willow doesn't have an opinion on it one way or the other.

* Three, if you're single or the missus works elsewhere.
** A problem I have solved thanks to a judicious trip to the local cake shop.
*** Read: staring at until she goes to bed. Actually, after she's done that there's still plenty of good staring time to be had. So cute!
**** Well, the system is in place. Now it sits there, screaming for content, like so much of the rest of the project.
***** A player can adjust his Attunement to a particular element, making that element more likely to appear as well as being more effective (damaging) when it's used. This can happen either though levelling up or wearing the right Gear.


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