Another Castle

It has been nearly a year since I’ve posted anything of late. Quite a lot has changed over the past months, some good and some not-so-good. However, I still consider it an overall positive time. I’ve had to stop development on Cursed Gold due to our funding getting cut. I had the option of pushing forward with a Kickstarter, however, I knew that without the grant funding, it would not be the game I wanted it to be.

It took me a long time to come to terms with this. I wasn’t sure how I felt, or how I would react to working on this post, so I just ignored it. I ignored it for a long time, going through the motions, and just getting by. However, I’m now at a point where I finally feel like doing something about it. I’ve closed the forums on Cursed Gold for the time being, and it will be put on permanent hiatus until further notice.

Looking back at Cursed Gold, I still admire the project. I don’t have animosity or hatred for the events that happened. How could I? I was able to do what I love to do, but also learned a lot! My biggest take away was that, scope of a project gets out of hand very, very quickly. I wanted Cursed Gold to be amazing, and part of what makes games amazing in today’s standards seems to incorporate a lot of depth and complexity. We had a really cool system for delivering this ides, but from a single programming perspective and a short development time frame, it got out of hand and felt overwhelming.

The largest issue that I didn’t care for was trying to run a studio, while developing a game. I spent so much of my time taking care of business needs that I started feeling overwhelmed because I couldn’t actually work on the game. Not to mention I was trying to work another job that kept interrupting my development time. Still had bills to pay and personal commitments to make. It just wasn’t coming together like I thought it would.

I started a new job, one that has given me a lot more free time throughout my week. So, I hope to pickup the Wii U development kit sometime soon so I can start tinkering with it. I’ve discovered a love for electronics with my new job working on copiers. The technology that drives those machines is astounding, and the job provides me with a sense of security that I didn’t have previously.

Looking forward, I am going to work on two separate blogs. The Wicked Soul Studios website will be rebuilt, kinda. I’ll be removing the Cursed Gold Forums from the website, and the blog will be in reference to any kind of game development related information I am working on. I’ll be creating a personal blog at www.cassidyschnase.com for everything else. Wicked Soul Studios isn’t done yet, I have no intention of given that up, but I currently don’t have any ideas on what its endgame will be as of yet.

Tile tearing in Unity solution finally found!

Something that has been bothering us ever since Unity developed its 2D engine. We know we are not alone when it comes to 2D development and line tears showing between tiles. What a frustrating issue that seems to be a Unity related issue. We tried everything we could think of, and while many solutions reduced tearing, it didn’t get rid of it.

line issue

The solutions we tried include:
1. Set pixels to equal unity units in a 1:1 ratio. Default is 100 to 1. Was one of the best solutions, and made tile placement much easier.
2. Tried creating a default shader that allowed sprites to “snap to pixel.” This did not work for us, nor show any improvement.
3. We are using no compression-highest quality sprites we can. Our compression level is 8192, with format set to Truecolor, turned off mip-maps, and point filtering mode.
4. Anti-aliasing is turned off, but didn’t seem to help all that much.
5. While overlapping tiles does indeed fix the issue, the problem is that you lose tile snapping and have to adjust the 1 pixel border manually when placing new tiles. While this could work, it also means a LOT more time spent creating levels.
6. We confirmed our orthagraphic camera size so that our tiles would not be scaling at all. For us this was 360 based on a tile of 32×32.
7. Made sure that our tiles are being placed in integer unity-global coordinates. Didn’t seem to make much difference.
8. Confirmed all sprite tiles causing issue were power of two. We knew that they were 32×32 but wanted to verify if it was something stupid.
9. Finally we bounded the camera to integer usage only.

This was a really big pain for us. I spent months researching online, but could only find other developers suffering from the same issue. I really did not want to implement the overlap method because it wasn’t really a fix, and would cause other headaches to deal with. Finally, I found a blog post explaining that the developer bounded the camera to integers to remove its movement in floats. I didn’t know exactly how to do that, nor could I find many articles that could explain it well. I finally found the code snippet I needed, which I am going to share with you now.

line issue code

In case it isn’t showing up well for you, the code is as follows:
gameObject.transform.position = new Vector3((Mathf.RoundToInt(gameObject.transform.position.x)),
(Mathf.RoundToInt(gameObject.transform.position.y)),
(Mathf.RoundToInt(gameObject.transform.position.z)));     //used to keep camera bounded to integers

As you can see the same spot no longer shows us a line, as well as our gameplay has so far verified that the solution is fixed. This is a huge triumph for us. I personally felt really stuck by this issue because I know that I can’t release the “perfect” game, but I want it to simulate a high amount of quality. And such an issue really, really irritated me. Especially because so many people were suffering from it, and no one had posted this solution. So, now doing our community a favor, here is our solution. Thank you for reading this, and I hope it helped you.

line issue gone

Where did Wicked Soul Studios go?

It has been awhile since my last post, and that shouldn’t mean that I disappeared. Wicked Soul Studios is still around, and will continually be involved in our community development.

Due to the recent budget release in ND, the Technology-Based Entrepreneurship Grant (TBEG) was rebranded into the Innovate ND program. Which included changes that were no longer suited for my project development in Cursed Gold. With that said, Cursed Gold is still in development, but at a much slower scale. I am still working on bringing it up to speed for a Kickstarter release, but will due so on a part time effort.

While this was a bummer in its own right, I am also freeing up a lot of time with other obligations that I am letting go of. So, while Cursed Gold work will still be happening, I am also looking at a smaller shorter game project that I will be releasing within a month. Nothing as ambitious as Cursed Gold, but need to keep the ball rolling. In addition to, starting up streaming and other video game related news coverage, I hope to share things that I learn along the way that I feel you all will find fascinating. Thank you for your continued support, and I look forward to future discussions with all of you.

As always you can email me with questions at cj@wickedsoulstudios.com.

Last week of College for Kids, loads of events, and more!

We knew July was going to be a busy month with two weeks filled with teaching kids how to create video games. Man what a rush! Those kids were so creative and smart! We were also featured on Fox News, which can be viewed here, http://www.kvrr.com/news/local-news/kids-and-teens-design-games-at-msum/34302440. It was a great load of fun working with those kids. While we were sad to see it end, we were also happy to be done. It was a lot of work, and will be looking forward to doing it again next year. A following note, the course instructor, Dave Binkard, loved the class so much that he is starting his own company that will teach more kids how to make video games. Check out his Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1963536759/pods-game-design.

During the last two weeks of CFK, we also had numerous events going on. The Fargo Game Makers were involved with a tech meet up event called Tech Tailgating. There are several meet ups in the FM area, and this was a great way to get to know the other meet ups going on. We were able to talk to a lot of folks about what we were doing, as well as spread word of upcoming events that were happening. Plus, the Fargo Brewing Company, which hosted the event, gave out beer to the local meet ups for raffle drawings! Emergin Prairie had a great article about it as well: https://www.emergingprairie.com/tech-tailgate-gets-9-local-meet-ups-one-bumpin-party/

Fargo’s very popular street fair also happened during this time, and to help the Prairie Den get rolling, more than ten developers got together for a 24 hour game jam. Much like a 48 hour film festival, these guys divided into three teams and worked on three very different games. One team worked on a virtual graphic novel featuring a compelling moral story of forcing the end of the universe to try and create a new “big bang.” The second group worked on creating a 3D version of a popular game called Agar. And, lastly the third team worked on remaking an Atari classic, Warlords. It was a lot of fun, and we were super tired afterwards, but very glad we did it. Also, our mission a success, we were able to advertise the Prairie Den space to the public during that time. The event was sponsored by the Economic Development Corporation, Prairie Den itself, and also Botlink! Thank you so much for your help!

We also had a great Fargo Game Makers meet up where Dave was able to talk about PODS Game Design, and another local Fargo Game Maker, Dennis Frohlich, was able to show off a neat little dice game he calls, “Shields.” If you are interested in checking that out, be sure to go to his page for the rules: http://dpadblog.com/shields-the-dice-game/

Next up, we had our Gamer’s Unite meet up, sponsored by 702 Communications, where we were able to showcase our current build of Cursed Gold, and were able to see people playing our game. This was one of our first public beta tests, so it was really great to see people playing our game, and they love the story and journey the development has taken thus far. We also were able to show off the game from our 24 hour game jam, and got a lot of laughs from the 4 player multi-player all on one keyboard. You can follow them on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/702Communications?fref=ts

As if this post wasn’t long enough, we then had a blast at the MSUM Planetarium playing Artemis on the dome! So cool to see the huge crowd of 50+ people that showed up to that. 702 Communications sponsored that event as well, and provided some door prizes for the event along with some planetarium related prizes. It was a great turn out and got to see some experience and some new to the game play it on the big screens. Six stations with six projectors all synced up for a lot of fun! Stay tuned for new events on the MSUM Planetarium Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/msumplanetarium?fref=ts

Finally, lastly, we had our 1 Million Cups today where Dave Binkard was able to present his PODS Game Design business idea. Essentially doing what we did with the College for Kids stuff, and turning it into a year round classroom setting where kids can continue to learn how to make games with different platforms. 1 Million Cups has been a huge asset for any startups in the FM area, big or small, and have welcomed game devs with open arms! They meet every Wednesday at 9:15am at the Stage by Island Park. Come check them out!

Like I said, July was FULL. What I didn’t mention was that I finished 2 classes including finals surrounding the 24 hour game jam. It wasn’t pretty but the courses were passed and that is all that matters. As we get back into gear, we have one announcement regarding the Cursed Gold project. With the budget being passed July 1st for North Dakota, it affected startups that were looking forward to the grant program. For companies like Wicked Soul Studios, we were relying on that financing to push us through the Kickstarter. The budge being passed changed the grant program, in a good way, but also in a negative way.

The good news is that there is more overall money available, but there is a lot of work that goes into accessing it. Working with a new group that is now in charge of the program, we have to take time to establish the relationship and get the process re-rolling again. The first steps of the program also give less funding to start with. So all in all it slows us down tremendously. We are still pushing forward to finish our feature completed level for our Kickstarter. It is just going to take a bit longer.

Thank you all for your support thus far. We look forward to seeing your reactions to our future updates as we near our Kickstarter launch.

Looking for the Alpha Download?

If you are having trouble finding the download for the current alpha release, make sure to sign in, and go to the Forums section. There (once logged in) you will see new options appear. Find Alpha Build (ex. 2.0.6.29.2015) and there will be a link in that posting. If you have trouble please email us at team@wickedsoulstudios.com.

Also, if you want to check out the alpha, sign up at launch.wickedsoulstudios.com.

Week 1 of College for Kids is complete!

We were really busy helping 36 kids ages 10-15 learn how to make video games this past week. Using RPG Maker VX Ace, we were able to see their young, creative minds work on some cool game ideas.

We were also able to show off a couple tech demos to our kids, as well as at the local Fargo Core Con. The feedback was tremendous, and we are excited to soon release our demo for our early bird subscribers!

We had to delay it a little bit, but are excited to begin receiving feedback as we move into launching our Kickstarter! Stay tuned, and if you haven’t already, sign up for the early bird demo!

Sign up here!

Box Art is Here!

In honoring our SNES style graphics, we thought it would be awesome to create some box art that would resemble the era as well!  Check it out!
Cursed-Gold-Box-Art-720p

We also added this cool comparison to what that looked like back in those days!
Side-by-Side-comparison

Unity 5.0 Finally Updated For Console Development!

We’ve been waiting a long time for this! But, Unity 5.0 has finally come to consoles for development in beta format. We are very excited to being able to bring the updated 5th edition of Unity to the Wii U for our Cursed Gold project! Please continue to follow us on Facebook for more updates. Again, as always, thank you so much for your dedicated support!