Day 5 – Coming along

Turns out pygame is really only useful for including minigames. I suspect I’ll want to return to it when I’m ready to start setting up the farming system. There appear to be 2 or 3 games in the library with a similar mechanic. Maybe not though, and Renpy’s included functionality will be enough. At this point actually, I’m certain I may be able to just map the “plants” growing and sprites changing out to time passing in the calendar.

After some digging through the Renpy wiki, my hopes were correct that all the parts to make my game function how I envisioned were already there, created by someone else (usually Renpytom). Among them, a stats screen and “affection” counter, as well as a shop, inventory, money, and calendar system, with included graphical parameters. If this is how game development usually is, I could probably do this forever (lol).

The calendar at this point actually seems to be the most complex addition to the game, requiring an entire separate “calendar.rpy” script in addition to the references in the script itself.

You can advance the calendar at any point by adding on minutes in the regular script, like so. This seems labor intensive, but someone with some nice youtube tutorials says this is the best way to do so. Like this:

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I have to say this is the first time in my life I’ve started a new technical project and could progress rather quickly due to everything being fairly easy and self-evident, instead of being overwhelmed and confused from the get-go and falling into a spiral of self-doubt. Probably thanks to Zed Shaw’s book, huge shouts out, and of course Tom’s engine.

Next time: polishing the inventory system.

 

Day 3 – Text Editors and Placeholder Art

Now that it’s clear I may not have to make many of the game mechanics from scratch, I set up an intro scene with some stock photos and I’m going to initiate the calendar and farming system from there. Here’s what that looks like on my end:

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A little lower down:

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And on the user end:

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Ma you’re looking a little flat today, lol

Renpy lets you use whatever your preferred text editor is. Mine is Atom, because that’s what I learned on, but I’d recommend whatever you’re most comfortable and can work the fastest with.

Next up: Calendars, calendars everywhere.

 

Day 2 – Tutorials

Digging around in the guts of Renpy’s included exmaple game is much less intimidating than I feared. Thanks to finishing Zed Shaw’s famed free Python guide Learn Python the Hard Way, I feel well-equipped. The example game is in addition to the tutorial that features Eileen in Washington DC for some reason.

Eileen also had the good sense to address my creeping fear that Renpy will not have the muscle for a simulation game.

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A tutorial after my own heart.

So after dicking around on the Renpy developer wiki, turns out there’s an entire open source library of Python game tools called (duh) Pygame that Renpy fully supports. Wow, the depths of discovery you can reach when you don’t do your homework.

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I can’t overestimate my excitement that this library exists. It seems that will drastically reduce the labor required to get all the mechanics in place, though tweaking will be necessary to get them all to play nicely together.

My thoughts now are that I should first write an introduction scene, with characters and setting and such, then work out all the mechanics stretched out over a calendar (and astrological) system, then go back and finish the story once it seems like everything works.

Estimated time to completion: 9 months

 

Day 1 – What are you even doing

The summer after I graduated college was confusing. I felt like I could do everything, thus it was impossible to do anything. I took some weird job and partied constantly and played a lot of games to avoid addressing my total life dissatisfaction. It follows that that summer, I accidentally read the entire Little House series cover-to-cover in about 4 weeks. Something about Laura’s child-view of homesteading was intoxicating in comparison to my cramped, hurried, urban lifestyle, but also that is a damn good series.

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There’s nothing like calming your existential dread with children’s lit on cheesemaking.

So in this process of little house, game, drink, little house, game, little house, drink, I realized I’d like to play a game with Laura. I knew what I liked, and that I wanted part Harvest Moon, part Princess Maker 2, part Oregon Trail, and part something a little grittier, that I wasn’t getting in the source material.

This blog is going to chronicle the process that I, a computer-literate child of the 21st century and a “creative,” am going to undertake, to figure out how to make this game. The past six months have gone like this:

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Month 1

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Month 2

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Month 5

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Month 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which brought me to Ren’Py, a cute japanese-y branded engine designed with visual novels in mind. A visual novel, I discovered, is a kind of point-and-click game that focuses on a story, and usually includes a way to track time passing in a calendar, relationship points, an inventory, and includes many possible endings. ‘Yes,’ I thought, ‘This sounds familiar. Optimal, in fact.’

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Adorable.

Up next: watch as I dive headfirst with no overarching story structure and only vague ideas of characters and systems I want to include.