One More Week until Steam Demo (Week 16 Update)
The Steam Games Festival was moved by a week. This gives us more time to gather and respond to feedback for the game and make our demo even better for new players to try out. Over the last week, we added a couple of new episodes for Annabel and Dante accordingly. Those episodes contain some new procedures for helping patients. We worked with Zac Bolubasz (@_sneb_) to update Dr. Holiday's design. We also been working on performance bugs and improving out workflow.
Showcase the game
- Steam Games Festival (
Demo Deadline: May 15th, 2020, Event: June 16th to June 22nd)
- New Update: The Steam Games Festival has been moved back by a week. This gives us more time to work on bugfixes and polish for the game demo to be ready for the event. You can wishlist the game on Steam. We are still planning on having some fun events throughout the week of the festival that I hope you will join us for.
In preparation for the Steam Games Festival, we've been releasing latest builds of the game on Friday evenings to get feedback. This has been great for getting more eyes on the game and finding bugs that we didn't even know about. We will release a new version of the build this Friday and get some final feedback before the Steam Games Festival.
Support User Generated Content
The first Story Jam wrapped up last Saturday. The event's theme was "Start Of the Summer" and the goal was to create a story using the custom scripting format we had. The results were some new characters, and update to existing OC, and a whooping 34-page storyline with a bonus followup. You can see more in the #story-jam channel in our Discord Server
Annabel - Episode 2
You join Annabel to quickly operate on a cat named Tardar Sauce, involved in a car accident
Dante - Episode 2
Multiple patients are injured in a large, multi-car accident. You work with Dante to triage through the patients and address new patients as they are found on the scene.
There are a lot of operations and procedures that we want to introduce into the game. Every new procedure that we add in allows for more story scenarios.
Broken Cat Leg Bone
Re-using the work from the broken ribs, JT put together the assets for the cat leg, the cat bones, both fixed and broken as well as the broken fragments of bone to scatter around.
A new procedure for casting broken limbs. Use the bandage tool to wrap the patient's limb, bandaging between a series of anchor points. We used this new procedure for the mending the cat's leg in Annabel's new episode as well as addressing the arm of a patient in Dante's new episode.
Dr. Holiday Update
We worked again with Zac Bolubasz (@_sneb_) to update Dr. Holiday's art style in preparation for the Steam Games Festival. We wanted to keep a lot of what we loved about Zac's original design, and update the style to match the other characters with color.
Core features of the previous design that we liked are Dr. Holiday's hair, earrings, the coat and collar, as well as her neutral facial expression. A hard thing with switching to a more anime-like style is the desire to make character's eyes big and expressive, but that never felt right for Dr. Holiday.
Lighting and Line Color Test
We like adding in lighting and having the coloring for lines highlighting the surround light and surface for key areas. We all agreed that the lighting here is too powerful but we though it was fun. It received comments like "Dr Holiday is actually powered by an active volcano", "Dr. Holiday is powering up", "That collar vaguely makes me think that she's one of the first successful recipients of a full-body transplant." We'll continue to work on it :D
We really enjoyed coming back to do Dr. Holiday's design after doing passes at the other character's first. The look of the coat and its spikes and ridges give it distinct look, with the golden lining around the edge. The royal red works well for the interior of the coat, sleeves, hairband, and earrings. We went with a messier but still together hair style that retained the volume that the original design had.
Minor Update: Google Drive Syncing - ZSync
I made some improvements to the ZSync Unity utility I talked about last week. I wanted to expand the tool to sync a folder of Google Doc episode scripts to a local folder as well as sync a folder of background music MP3 files to another local folder. The Google Drive API treats downloading Google Docs different from download files like MP3s so I added a field to the zsync configuration file to specify whether docs were to be sync'd.
Minor Update: Shader Optimization
We use a few shader effects in the game to get certain aesthetics that we like. The two biggest ones of a stripes shader and a frosted glass shader. The stripes shader looks like uniform diagonal lines that move over time and are composed of two different colors. The frosted glass shader creates a blur effect for anything behind it, giving the illusion of seeing things through a frosted glass. These shaders were quick to create and because I had them, I used them in a variety (every) situation I could. Used them for the dialogue box, for the operation background, for character's backgrounds, for scene transitions, for menu panels and even for buttons.
But nice shaders aren't free and as I learned the hard way, their overuse can come at the cost of the performance of the game. We noticed that simple menus with mostly static content seemed to get the fans going on our computers, a sign that the game was causing our computers to do something intensive.
I used the frosted glass shader in a couple of menus in the title scene to make the background art look a little out of focus and make menu UI easier to see. These are two full screen uses of the frosted glass shader, which does two passes and many iterations in it based on the size of the blur. This is pretty expensive.
Considering the specific problem, the background art that is being blurred never actually changes, while the frosted glass shader is applied constantly, always achieving the same result. The quick fix was to take the background art into GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), apply a gaussian blur over the image to match the shader's result, and saved that as a new image to use instead.
Hallway background by Michelle Pineda (@pininkela). Looks great in scenes, but certain UI elements and text have trouble standing out directly on top of the background. Adding the blur helps with readability.
Original + Frost Shader
Gives a blurred look, but at the cost of recalculating the same output result unnecessarily for static scenarios. Good for dynamic scenarios like the dialgoue box and characters moving in and out behind it, but not a for a full screen background.
Static Blurred Image
Blurred image costs as much as displaying any other static image. Changing the amount of blur will require tweaking the original image again manually, but it is not a frequent enough workflow to be worried about
Steam Games Festival Events
We have two major events plans for the Steam Games Festival. From 7pm to 8pm June 16th, we will do a developer livestream of JT and I playing the game and talking to viewers about the game, answering any questions live. From 12pm to 2pm June 17th, we will be doing a developer Q&A on our Discord Server. We look forward to showing off the game and hearing what people think!
Feedback and Bug Fixing
Our Discord users left us with a lot of great feedback and found plenty of bugs for us to fix before the Steam Games Festival. This week addressing a lot of those issues will be our main focus.
I hope you enjoyed this week's edition of our studio's status update. Each week, we try to bring new and interesting updates about how our studio and game are developing that we think people will like and learn from.
If you have any questions, comments, feedback for me, you can email me, Zappy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you've been a part of our playtests and would like to chat with other players or us directly, join our Discord server below.
If you are interested in playing our latest demo, you can click the button below!