Find the Gnome 2 Demo is out now!

The Find the Gnome 2 Demo is out now on Steam!
https://store.steampowered.com/app/1855160/Find_the_Gnome_2/

The Find the Gnome 2 demo is available starting today, and this article contains everything you need to jump into the action.

This demo version will be available alongside the full version from now on. And keep up with the updates on the full version.
It features 4 levels from the full version.

You play this game by looking for the gnomes, clicking on objects to find hidden gnomes, and if you see a gnome running click on it to send out your helper to catch the gnome.
A gameplay trick is to click on the object the gnome is heading to, so that it has to stop and redirect course, and thus buys time for you helper to catch this gnome.

Find the Gnome 2 is built for playing with mouse and keyboard, or with gamepad. The gamepad uses a virtual mouse to mimic mouse movement.
The camera controls from a top-down perspective and rotates around a certain position on the level that is bound within the level bounds.
If you have difficulties controlling the game, post a message on the Steam board or contact me on Discord. I am gathering input to tune the controls and camera movement and give the ability for multiple input settings so that it plays flawlessly. The SteamDeck control set is currently problematic, so I advise you to play this on other platforms.

47 Demo is even closer

So much stuff to tell about! That is a good thing I think, that means the demo release is closer than ever.

Here is a link for if you haven’t wishlisted the game yet. You can use this same link to get onto Steam to install the demo when it releases. https://store.steampowered.com/app/1855160/Find_the_Gnome_2/

New ideas for existing problems

I am currently working on finishing up the last things that make the demo ‘good’. I came to find that this pressure had a very positive effect on me. Let me try to explain this.

There are all kind of things that I know aren’t perfect. Coming up with a good solution is hard. So in the past I have delayed to work on solving these issues until I came up with a simple but smart solution, or simply had more time to work on a ‘more complete’ solution.

However not fixing these things before the demo release will very likely result in people pointing these issues out. And even worse, the demo is there to make people want to wishlist the game & buy it later on. So a bad performance would hurt in the short term and long term.

So with the limited time, I have to try something. Preferable the simple solution I had already in mind but that weren’t ‘complete’ enough to my preference before.

Funny thing is, this deadline really helps coming up with even smarter solutions than I had previously come up with. That fit within the time boundaries of the demo release. And these solutions aren’t limited to ‘its fixed for the demo’, but these often are also really fixing the problem for the full version of Find the Gnome 2. This makes it that there are even less hurdles to take before I can release the full version. And that on its turn makes my mind a lot less stressed about the full version release because all the hurdles are magically disappearing.

The mind is a crazy machine. And I probably have ADHD (because thats a thing apparently: they work a lot better under a deadline)

Controls

So I got a SteamDeck last week. Ordered this thing like a year ago, and it finally was delivered at my home. I took the opportunity to install the Find the Gnome 2 full version on it (its a beta build, not completed yet). And showed it around to a few people.

However, the controls were lacking massively. It wasn’t play-able on the SteamDeck. I hoped the mouse emulation did work, and it did, but the total set of controls (mouse emulation, touch screen, gamepad contollers) didn’t work together at all. So imagine touching on the screen to catch a gnome, only for the screen to move around on touch and you missing the gnome. And if you hit a button of the gamepad controls, all kind of unhelpful movements where made.

This is one of the long standing issues with Find the Gnome. The control scheme isn’t that great, and I don’t have gamepad support. I know a lot of people play games similar to Find the Gnome and get really frustrated with the control schemes of these hide-and-seek games. So I had controller support and a good control scheme on my backlog for years.

So I set out and added the new Unity input system. Had to tune a lot of things to get it going with the different situations the game can present. But it turned out to be a very good and extensible platform to build upon. I have now a simulated mouse for when you pick up the controller. And you can switch now between mouse&keyboard, gamepad or touch. On the fly.

Still need to finetune a few settings. But it looks really promising currently.

Steam platform integration

While I was on it (getting the game to work better on the SteamDeck) I also continued on to integrate the Steam platform by adding the Steam API.

This API will enable more fluent startup of the game and the Steam overlay. Later on, I can extend the achievements from in-game to also be reflected on your Steam profile.

But for now, I mainly updated Steam to also include Cloud save support with Find the Gnome 2.

Another small touch I added, specific for the demo, is the inclusion of a wishlist action in the menus of the game. It isn’t as shiny als the old demo games from back in the days, that had these ending screens with elaborate collages of levels and things from the full version. My wishlist button suffices for now.

Up next

There are a few remaining parts to work on. These are the following:

  • Tutorial section on start
  • In-game feedback form
  • Improved responsiveness for menu’s
  • Basic game setting menu
  • Credit menu

I don’t know if I get all these things completed before the demo is released. Most important is the tutorial part.

Interesting detail: From that list, 3 things are menu related. I really seem to struggle with all kind of menu systems. Have a hard time coming up with good solutions, and struggle to get myself to work on these things. I had this back in the day of the first Find the Gnome game. And other game projects. And now with Find the Gnome 2. Well, I just keep trying. Adding little improvements. Until its ‘good enough’.

46 Demo is close

The demo is very near to release. Finally!

If you want a sneak peak watch this post from 2 weeks ago.

Rework

Finally, my list of things to do before releasing the demo is getting manage-able.

Past weeks I completed reworks on levels 3.1 and 4.2. For 3.1 that is the ‘village’ theme level for the demo, 4.2 is the ‘city’ theme level for the demo. Added small puzzles (machines to fix), reworked some level layout issues for more interesting searching of gnomes, added a more granular difficulty to make earlier levels more easy to play (and thus start with), and a ton of other fixes.

Still some replay-ability issues that I have to fix before the demo launches. Thats the most important gameplay thing that is left to be fixed.

And I have still a whole backlog of menu systems to work on. Achievements is a major part of that. But also a lot of accessibility issues, like key remapping, enabling controllers or touch input, graphical options, etc. Even a main menu is still not in the game.

Regarding the menu systems, I think I will launch the demo with a limited set of features. Achievement UI will be disabled, but achievements will be collected in the background.

Roadmap

A demo release in 1 month is currently my plan.

After that, I will continue on completing the 12 levels in total. Add the menu systems (and retroactively update the demo with it too).

It will take at least another 3 months after the demo release to do a first full version release. So a December release would be the first viable date for a full release (that you can buy) on Steam.

I will keep you updated. See you next time!

Find the Gnome 2 Upcoming demo

Sneak peek at the upcoming Find the Gnome 2 demo on Steam. This video is shot on a development environment. Shown two levels are in the demo, accompanied by two other levels for a total of 4 levels.

Not shown here, but in the demo there will also be 2 high quality cartoons that show a part of the story element of this game. The first release of the full game will feature 12 levels and 9 cartoons.

Find the Gnome, a hidden object game about gnomes trying to rebuild their home. Find it on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1855160/Find_the_Gnome_2/

A note on the development part of this video: the UI overlay shown is a debug UI, not available in the demo or full version. The sounds are being reworked at the moment and so is the music. Other than that this is pretty much what the demo will be. Between the demo and the full version, gameplay will not change. Full version will contain slightly different map and menu systems.

45 Simple update

I am having a hard time getting my thoughts on paper for this update, so this update is simple and straight forward. Not the usual format. Just some interesting things that happened.

Overall, I am still working on Find the Gnome 2. Trying to get the hours in, but I am having a hard time getting myself to actually do the work. (ADHD kicking in I guess).

Sounds

On the sounds, I am working together with Tobias. The same guy as from the music. He is going to supply a full set of sounds and help me out making it a balanced sound mixture.

I switched over to FMOD for the sound handling. I kept having things to solve with the sound system in Unity that are just not an issue in 3rd party sound solutions. I was looking at Wwise or FMOD, and choose FMOD because it looked simpler out of the box and simpler with its licensing structure.

Rework

In the previous update I stated that I was going to do rework. Here are some pictures of things we are going to change to the levels:

And this one:

There are more changes to come. But hinting them here would spoil the fun of you exploring these mechanics.

Workplace and ADHD

I am still looking for ways to make myself more productive.

I know that ADHD is something that can be solved using medication combined with behavioral changes, where the medication helps to enable these behavioral changes. I don’t have meds since they started to have side effects when I was 16. But it seems as if I still struggle with some of the ADHD specifics, like knowing what to do and how to do it but not getting to actually do it. My original examination was over 25 years ago and these documents are not around anymore. So if I want to get some help with this, I need to go through the whole medical thing again. And I am unsure if I want to go through that medical thing again.

So in the mean time I am optimizing the way I work. In the hopes this enables me to perform more consistent and get to the actual ‘doing’ of work more easily. My current idea is that working from home is not optimal. Too much things require my constant attention here and remind me of (parental) duties I have to fulfill.

With that I am actively looking for some working places in the near surroundings that have this mixture of solitude (if I want to) and connection (if I want to). But without the mixing of private concerns and work things. In the hopes this makes it easier for me to get to work on stuff.

Roan’s game project tricks me

I work on Roan (my son) his game. Not that much though, Find the Gnome 2 has my focus. But I can use these 2 projects to ‘trick’ my brain to get to actually work on something.

This is the way I do this: I work on a project (for example FtG 2) until I run into some difficulty. Then I switch over to the other project (for example Roan’s game). While I work on Roan his game, eventually things get more difficult there too. But in the mean time, I had time to think about my ‘problems’ on FtG 2 and they don’t seem to be that hard anymore. And before I know it, I am working on FtG 2 again and fixing that issue, because I then dread to work at Roan his game. These projects trade places every so often. And while this isn’t as fast as working on 1 game, it works for me because its better than not getting to work at all.

It keeps being funny to trick my brain.

O, by the way. I made a ‘turret’ for Roan his game and he is loving it! He has made 3 turret types and just runs around in the game placing them. Because they are that much fun:

Turrets like these aren’t going to end up in the final game. Because this world has a magic system, and miniguns with bullets don’t fit. But it looks cool and plays fun.

Thank you for reading this blogpost! I finally came to write it down so I am happy that I did. So now I hope you got something out of it too.

44 Optimize workflows in Unity

Good news: a new video on my game development process! I know a few of my loyal readers really like the development side of game development, and like to know how I approach development. For them: Enjoy this new video!

And of course, the regular updates on Find the Gnome 2. With the demo release approaching, I am finishing up all systems and mechanics. In this blog I will tell you about 3 systems that need some rework now everything is coming together.

And a short update about Roan his game to finish up this blog post.

Optimize workflows in Unity

The video segment of this blog is this time about: How I use Unity Editor scripts to optimize my workflows.

In it I use Find the Gnome 2 to demonstrate most of the scripting. And on the end there is also a bit of Roan his game to demonstrate how editor tools can really improve the workflow of an artist.

Demo

From the video, on to the upcoming release of the demo. With first a bit of background on what the demo will be.

I know that I projected the game to be completed around now, but reality proved to be a stubborn thing. Especially with me wanting more and more quality. On the music, on the story clips, on the amount of content, on the mechanics, on the animations… pretty much on everything.

So that is why I am working on a demo first. With a few levels in it. That’s a goal that is manageable for me.

A few blogs ago I told I didn’t know when the demo would release due to asset delivery issues, but those issues have been solved. Most of that work was fixed and then done leading up to the previous blog.

Past weeks I have worked on a ‘demo’ release pipeline. These scripts and pipeline make it so that I can work on Find the Gnome 2, and automagically always have a demo that derives from the ‘full’ version.

How close is the demo? Its closer (than before), lol. But something happened last week.

3 Systems that need rework

I sat down with Meinder last week. He is my cartoon artist and concept artist, and he basically does the prototyping of the levels with his concept work. However, with time it became clear that almost all of these levels need rework because their layout and items don’t work that well together with the game mechanics.

So that is what we did. We played the game together. And talked about what needs rework to make the game even better and more interesting.

Do I think its a problem that the early designs of the levels didn’t work out? No. Not at all. We didn’t have all the components together like we do now. Its until now that we know for sure we need rework.

The 3 systems are

  • The hidingplaces for the gnomes are unbalanced. Some levels are extremely hard because of this. While other levels are waaaay to easy.
  • We had planned for some puzzle mechanics with machines you needed to activate. We totally forgot to include these. But we need them for the later levels for having ‘enough’ interesting & fun & challenging interactions.
  • The amount of levels is 12. That is 3 levels in each theme, with 4 themes in total. I want to make 6 levels in 4 themes, because creating more levels is relatively not that much work compared to inventing a whole new theme or adding in a new mechanic. You are probably finished too soon with these 12 levels.

Basically I have an amount of content problem and a difficulty curve problem. And I know I have the solution to solve these, so lets solve this in the 4 demo levels first. So that when you guys can play the demo, I know that at least these problem are less of an issue.

This brings me to the planning:

Release plan

I don’t have a release plan. Other than: I will release the full game after releasing the demo. So no point in time currently. The steam page is saying otherwise, but that’s just a date I keep pushing forward.

I do know what I need to do after the demo to get to the first release:

  • Complete all 12 levels worth of content
  • Complete all 9 parallax cinematics
  • Complete all the support systems: menu’s, achievements, control schemes

When this is completed, I will launch the game.

After that, I will do another content release:

  • 12 additional levels
  • 4 additional cinematics
  • accessibility improvements and requested features

And, while working on Find the Gnome 2, I am (of course) working on other projects. That’s something I need to keep going. Especially if some work is tedious, I need a side project to keep me happy.

Roan game

The game from Roan is such a game.

If you watch the video of the blog, you will see at timestamp 36:03 that I introduce Roan his game. It was called ‘Icelands’ when I introduced it a few blogs ago. The current name is a bit different, but we haven’t updated it yet.

But we did work on the game! We have sword, damage and death animations, a lot more dungeons, a lot more enemies, a lot more items. Still a lot of work left, but Roan is going very strong on the design and art. I barely keep up with my supplies of scripts and tools.

Sword with damage, and puddles of blood. In one of the starting dungeons:

A desert dungeon inside a pyramid. With mummies, traps, teleports, puzzle hallways to get lost in, and much more:

A part of the overworld that is a swamp with toxic clouds:

Roan is working on a lot of boss designs with interesting mechanics. All dungeons have their own bosses with their own mechanics. You need to kill these bosses to upgrading your tools so you can progress on to other dungeons.

We are still working on importing the animations from Aseprite into Unity and thinking about interesting ways we can script your actions and the enemies. So that its easy for Roan to create the world, but also for the mechanics to look cool and work properly.

That’s it for today. See you next time!

43 A work day

This week I have something new, something special: a video of me showing what I do if I do gamedev. Its 1 full hour of goodies, so, have fun!

What is further in this blog: a lot of work is done on the introshots, the music and the collectibles.

Peek into a work day

And a little note on the video: on the time of the recording I didn’t know that my camera had focusing issues. They are solved now, so next time better.

A work day

I have done vlogs on my gamedev before (in 2018), I am retrying this format. But with a lot of changes, like a better camera setup and more easy video editing workflow (no post editing, all live). And I am open for suggestions and improvements on the format.

In summary, this is what I am talking about in the video:

  • How do I find work to do.
  • Start working on a new movie sequence.
  • Using an editor script to speed up work.
  • My parallax movie scene setup.
  • Background info on how I approach animations.
  • Prepare assets for import.
  • Create the first scene in the movie sequence.
  • Whats next for this movie sequence.
  • Git commit.
  • Integrate new movie sequence: update map and unlock sequence.
  • Pull requests and build strategy.
  • My branching strategy in my build pipeline.

I am going to do more vlogs about specifics during game development, with my work on Find the Gnome 2 as an example.

The next vlog will be between now and the next blog. Maybe I release it at the same time as my blog (each 4 weeks), or maybe I am creating these vlogs when I am into it. I just don’t know yet.

Introshots

In the previous video I mentioned, I add a new movie sequence, or ‘introshot’ as I like to call them. The past 4 weeks I did a lot more work on these ‘introshots’.

In the previous blog I mentioned my renewed parallax engine. So with the new engine, working on the introshots was really fun.

I did have to redo some of my old work though. Especially the introduction movie that plays when you start the game had to be fully redone. I also took the opportunity to make it align to the music clip.

Music

This brings me to the music: Tobias is almost finished with his work on Find the Gnome 2.

In the past 4 weeks he has created the final tracks for the City theme levels. And helped with me understanding the music, and making sure the introshots are aligned with the music.

He also helped out with an improved loading screen music transitioning model. Still need to rework some things of it though, but I really like this concept of the music corresponding to what is in view. And he helped out with that a lot.

Level flow

While working on the music transitioning, I came to the realization that the level flow had some bugs. But also, it just didn’t convey the message I wanted to convey as good as it could be.

Before I did rework on this, the levels played with the introshots in between. Until you completed the game. However, if you wanted to exit the game you got back to the map. (And probably did see the map for the first time).

The map is the ‘captain cabin’ and Tobias has put a lot of work in creating these adventures-vibe tracks. On top of that, the ‘captain cabin’ room has a lot of stuff in it that is there for tracking progress and replay-ability.

Tobias his idea was to give the players a break on the end of each theme, return to the captain cabin, and let them continue to the next theme from there on. I really liked this idea because it solves a few things for me, and better presents his music.

So that is what I did change to the flow. You now play a theme, return to the map, see your progress while listening to a matching theme music, and then continue with the story (or do some replay on levels).

Collectibles

That brings me to the last thing I worked on: collectibles.

Each level contains 2 items that the gnomes lost. You can collect these. All these items will be on display in the map / ‘captain cabin’. And for certain items, completing the collection will reward you with an introshot displaying the gnomes in their daily work. So you get more of an insight into the daily life of these gnomes you helped out.

So, that’s it for today. Have a nice day, and see you next time around!

42 War… War never changes

This time not a video to start with, but some important announcements.

If you find it hard to read through the moody stuff fist: keep reading, I end on positive notes.

Ukrainian modeller

Important things first: I work together with 2 modellers. One of them comes from Ukraine.

He is safe right now and in hiding. Contact with him is difficult due to internet lines not being stable. He wasn’t used to use phone connections, and getting that to work is also not easy in a country in war.

Peek into the life of a Ukrainian game dev, confronted with the sudden outbreak of the war in his country

Its obvious he can’t work on my game right now. I completely understand this. I also wasn’t able to pay him on his last works due to things changing so fast. He said he doesn’t need the money, and if I am going to pay him eventually, he is probably going to use it to build up his country again.

With having said that, I have a problem right now. He was actively working on models and animations, and I need his work. So the consequence will be that this part of my game dev is going to slow down. And its probably going to be me filling up this gap.

Mood

If it wasn’t clear from earlier blogs, then let me state it clearly: I am a very sensitive person. Years back when the Ukraine revolt started, it already hit me hard. This time, it got even closer. And don’t even start on the pointlessness of this war, and war in general. Or that Putin threats Europe to start WWIII. Or that, with the advances of the real time media, images of the effects of war are at the tips of your finger.

The ‘war… war never changes’ quote comes from the Fallout game series, where WWIII has devastated the world in an all out nuclear war. At one moment I felt this was closer by than ever before.

But back to my game dev. I had a hard time past months getting to work on Find the Gnome 2 due to a few circumstances. This war is another things that makes it hard to get to work on my game. It is all really demoralizing for me at this point.

On the bright side: this is apparently how it works when being a solo dev, having a lot of other priorities at the same time, and having ‘life’ getting in between you and the things you love to do. Had the same mood issues when working on Find the Gnome (1) back in 2018. And its a recurring theme on Reddit, to find posts about solo game devs getting into despair or ADHD game devs getting into issues related to their weakpoints.

My solution to these issues is very simple: just demand less of myself. Postpone deadlines, relax the daily work schedules, look at what is really important.

Parallax engine

But all is not lost. I have been able to work on stuff. Past 4 weeks I have been working on my parallax cartoons. And specifically the way I create these parallax effects.

I used to have to spend 20 to 30 hours on 1 parallax scene. But I improved my tooling and have reduced this to a max of 3 hours, depending on the complexity. On top of that, I can now facilitate much more complex animation paths and camera paths.

Previously I did use the 2D camera view and sprites. Then I animated them with the Unity animator. The parallax effect was all manual, with me trying to gauge how fast each sprite needed to move. And once I liked how the sprite sketches moved, phase 1 was completed for this animation clip. Then in phase 2, when the final images arrive, I had to redo almost all this due to how the animator stores the animation links. This was all very tedious and time consuming.

Find the Gnome 2 – parallax ‘old style’ with the Unity animator

There are animation tools from Adobe that have the ability to simulate parallax effects. I didn’t want to use them, because I want to become proficient in Unity, not in some tool with some strange flow that you are not going to use if you want to create a game with a bit different of a feel (like no parallax).

But yeah, I sensed that I dreaded working on these animations so much. Something had to change.

So I looked up tutorials on how to do parallax animations in these Adobe tools and rebuild them in Unity. I used other Unity parallax tutorials to find out how the math works.

My own solution doesn’t have the same behavior as the ‘official’ parallax effects. However, I have seen a few parallax animations now and they are all a bit different in how they calculate movement, sizes, and effects in general. So I used this creative freedom to create a signature parallax behavior of my own.

Find the Gnome 2 – parallax ‘new style’ with a custom parallax engine

The side effect of this was that I immediately got more proficient in Unity editor integrations. I now know a lot more about custom inspectors.

Improved workflow

With the parallax animations working a lot better, and having seen a lot more about Unity editor integrations, I realized I had a few other area’s I dreaded to start working on. Especially the repetitive aspect of importing level models and making them scripted and animated properly is problematic right now.

So I looked at how I imported these objects into Unity, what I had to manually do each time to get objects to work properly. And then converted these actions into buttons I can push in a custom Unity window.

So now this work is just a matter of selecting something like a tree in the imported model, and then pushing the button ‘update to behave like a tree’, and then the tree is fully animated. I can then use other buttons like ‘add obfuscation spot’ to add a spot to the tree where a gnome can hide.

Find the Gnome 2 – improved Unity tooling to streamline the workflow, in this example applying the tree scripts and animations

Same for adding gnomes. Previously I had to create a script in a folder, give it a proper name so I can find it again, and then to search the object in the scene I want this gnome to hide in. Now it goes like this: select a spot a gnome can hide in, push the button ‘add gnome’, and it automatically creates a correctly named gnome and adds it to the right script on the object that is selected.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of these automations before. When I started GameFeelings I had this idea that I could use my software development knowledge to much more easily create games (than people that aren’t so much into programming). But it is until know that I finally understand what it means that a programmer has a few tricks of its own to speed up game dev.

Demo and planning

To be honest, I can’t give any estimate right now on the release date of the demo and on the release date of the final build.

But with the massive improvements to the level create flow and parallax animation flow I am now confident that a demo is close.

The only real obstacle is the following: I need to add a collectible items to the levels, and update the captain cabin (the level selection / map). My Ukrainian modeller was working on both of these. So I have to find a way of finishing up his work and/or change it into something that is good enough for the demo.

Thats all for today! Thanks for the read, and see you next time.

41 Gnomes making music

Hello and welcome to another blogpost!

Most of the blog is about the gnomes again. This time they got some nice music going on. And some lovely UI updates.

But I do have a special guest for today. Something about Roan, my son, and a game he is working on…

Video

This is my most recent gameplay video. With a lot of minor improvements. And the major improvement of a whole new music composition.

Latest improvements

This brings me to the first item on my lists of things to discuss for today: details on the latest improvements on Find the Gnome.

Most noticeable is the inclusion of a new music composition. And on top of that, there now is a fully dynamic music system that reacts to the tension in the level. The composition is for each level different, with a per level AND a per theme progression. To further support and emphasize the story. For me this was very important, to have the music and story and gameplay have connection with each other. For that reason the map background scene (a captains cabin) is also going to include some of the instruments used in this game, as if the gnomes are playing on their instruments while you are catching these gnomes.

Another major improvement is the updated UI. A lot has changed since blog 40. In blog 40 you could already spot some sketches. But the UI / HUD in a level is now fully flushed out and final, the map UI / HUD is almost final, and the menu’s are also close to completion.

On the note of getting notification about my updates: On January the 9th I released a video showing off some of the new UI already. New updates will always show up on my channel on YouTube first before molding it into a format like this blog. So follow me on YouTube. And get on Discord, because I will post all available content there asap after creation.

Back to the improvements: I also started working on achievements. The support structures are in place currently. To get started, I integrated the ‘level finished’ achievements. The UI is far from completed, but if you look closely at the upper right corner of the video you see an achievement popup on a level completed.

Am I on track

And this brings me to the next item to discuss for today: am I on track with the progress made in the past 4 to 5 weeks since the last blog post?

To be honest: no, I am not on track. I did deliver on some nice features (like music and UI) and I am proud of the overall progress that I did make. However, the plan was to at least have the Stream page up by now, and at the end of this week to have a demo of the game available on this Steam page.

Overall, for me, January was a bit of a downer. After the mediocre results during the holidays, I hoped to get back some lost productivity, but it was the same story all over again during January. I regularly just didn’t feel healthy enough to work on my game besides my main job.

So yeah, mixed feelings about this one. Considering the circumstances I did make good progress on complex area’s (for me at least) such as music and UI. But I didn’t reach my goals set in the roadmap.

Good thing is, the store page is ready. But just not published yet. I still need to create some supporting articles for the launch of the store page. And I want better screenshots… but that requires the game to be more near completion (especially the achievements part) but I do think now further delaying of the store page isn’t going to increase the screenshot qualities by that much.

Icelands, by Roan

From ‘am I on track’ to ‘Icelands, by Roan’. This has more to do with each other than you might expect. But lets start from the beginning.

Roan is creating his own game. Inspired by YouTubers and the game ‘Forager’, he decided to download a 2d sprite pack and craft his own game around it.

A dungeon in Icelands

This tileset is from 0x72 and can be found on https://0x72.itch.io/16×16-dungeon-tileset.

Roan already has started on modding the tiles, creating new monsters, new tools, new weapons, new items, recipes, overworlds, multiple dungeons… he is going strong!

So thats where daddy comes along: I am making it happen from the technical perspective, facilitating his asset pipeline, and adding the code to make the mechanics come to live.

And yeah, I did have to spend a few evenings on getting things to work. I haven’t created a 2D game yet so I had to research a few things first and/or adapt my scripts from my 3D games to fit his needs.

Here are some more screenshots:

Dungeon crawling in Icelands
The overworld of Icelands
Hand crafted assets for Icelands

Thanks, and see you next time!

In the mean time, you can join me on Discord. If there is interest for it, I can see if we can create a space for Roan his game if you all want to track his progress too.

40 FtG content

Past 4 weeks I added a lot of content to Find the Gnome. In this post I will take you through the things I added and the learnings I had.

And of course, a happy new year to you all folks out there! (Or ’in’ there, if we are literal and take in account the COVID measures lol)

Video

GIF of the FtG 2 gnome catch mechanic

Its not actually a ’video’, this is a GIF. A GIF of the improved catch mechanic. And here you see the new gnome model in use.

The bird is called ’Floris’ by the way.

Bird flight

So yeah, I spend a lot of time getting the bird animation right.

Mac7ua, the character modeller and animator, worked on the bird for some time. He created the lovely character ’Floris’ from the sketches provider by Meinder. And then set forth on animating the bird.

The most difficult part was to get the catch working. He did spend a lot of hours on trying to come up with a solution on animating the catch of the gnome. For example: he tried to animate the claws going forward in the descend, grappling the gnome at the shoulders, and then getting back up into the air. It was very hard to get this right. In the end I was like ’well just hand it over to me, it looks OK enough’.

I ended up removing the part of the catch. And focusing more on an interesting looking flight pattern. So your attention is drawn away from the actual catch. I even simplified it to the point its just an ’attach gnome to claw point and turn the gnome 90 degrees in an instant’. Its hard to spot on the GIF. But in-game it is even less apparent because your attention is on the other gnomes and not the drone.

Another thing worth mentioning is that I integrate all assets myself. I came to this conclusion after working together for a short time with Goran. I had even setup am Azure DevOps account for him. But it was waaay to much to handle for him, to fit into my way of working. So from then on I decided it was much more easy for me to integrate stuff and control the coding quality and project progress management. At least for now.

Gnome model

Another model by Mac7ua is the ’crazy gnome’ you have to catch. Meinder provided sketches for them:

FtG 2 character sketches

You can also see the bird ’Floris’ here. And some other, very interesting looking drone models… But that is something for later.

Its hard to spot in the actual level, so here is an animated GIF of the crazy gnome model:

FtG 2 crazy gnome model

Lovely fellows, aren’t they? Its really fun watching them running around, catching them, and returning them home again to join their fellow gnomes.

On the images I show here on this blog of my game: on one hand I want to keep my game secret, so there is something novel to explore if you buy my game. But on the other hand, I want to write blogs about the development process and give my fellow artists a way to show off their work for me in their own portfolio’s.

That’s a trade-off I have to decide on myself. I am more the ’just show what you have got’ type of guy, so thats why a lot of stuff is already known about FtG 2.

About portfolio’s of the other artists: You might want to check out Meinder his website on https://meinder.nl/. He is giving it a total overhaul. While writing this blog it was still under construction, but I know he has some interesting stuff going on. (By the way, Meinder is the cartoonist and concept artist for FtG 2)

Map scene

Back to my work on Find the Gnome 2 (in short, FtG 2). The map scene.

A part of the game that was a long time in construction is the overworld / map scene. It has seen a few iterations, but I still wasn’t sure on how I wanted it to work and look like. I knew I wanted it to portray the journey the gnomes have taken, it has to be integrated well into the game world, and I wanted it to be the hub from where you can replay previous levels and cartoons.

These are ways the map scene has looked like before:

And this is how it looks today (animated GIF):

So this map scene takes place in the inner hull of the hot air balloon, the same one the gnomes use to go onto their journey. The levels are plotted onto the map. And I want this room to include things you collect during your play-through, to add even more immersion.

Still a lot of work is needed, but i really like the direction this is going.

By the way, inspiration for this scene is from the Assassins Creed games. There are a few titles of this game in witch you command a ship and have a captain cabin in them to do stuff and direct people around.

And a shout out to Mac7ua for his work on all the models you see in view here. I gave him a few directions, but he nailed the execution. And even gave me some more very interesting idea’s, but those are for a later moment in dev time. I will get back to work on the map scene, but for this moment in the dev process its good enough.

COVID, holidays and delays

So, with all this work done on the game. Is there something that didn’t go as planned? Yes, a lot of stuff actually.

My wife and daughter got COVID during the holidays. And my son and I weren’t completely healthy either. So we dialed down the amount of festivities and rested a lot. I had hoped to make some progress on FtG 2 between the festivities, but with my wife out of action I had to step in a few times to keep it fun for everyone.

Also the kids are at home because we are in a total lockdown. The goverment had also mandated an additional week off for the kids before the official holidays. So it was already a bit harder and less efficient working from home. Add the health issues on top of this, and I had enough circumstances to not put out as much work as I wanted to. This total lockdown also limited the amount of stress relieve I and my family could have, so that was another reason I just started to work less to be able to keep my mind sane.

And, as a cherry on top of the pudding, I hadn’t thought about my artists taking some days off too. And that for my plan to work, I needed the assets to be completed beforehand. The plan I presented 4 weeks ago in my blog wasn’t counting in that a lot of my work comes from others having to work at it first. So yeah, my asset pipeline has a planning issue currently…

FtG 2 release plan… thats already outdated

So combine the short term pandemic related issues with the short to medium term asset pipeline issues, and I think I have to rework my planning. AGAIN.

But looking at the bright side, this plan made me make more progress in 2 months than I had made in a whole year. So I definitely work more efficient if I have a plan.

The downside is that I am not going to launch the full game in Februari. Maybe the demo will be available by then. But the full game will probably be available in late April.