After what may seem like a very long time, the number of pieces left to be added to Moon before it could be considered complete is finally starting to get smaller not bigger. There are no obvious new bits of feature or technology to be added, the main structures of the entire game world have been laid out and there’s now a real sense that as long as I stick with it I could actually release a finished product. A game that a few people might enjoy playing (and maybe even paying money for). Don’t go rushing off to steam just yet, there are still plenty of things to do but I can start to put actual numbers on things in a way that I’ve just not been able to do up to this point. With numbers I can count down the remaining work and even see a point in the future when they all reach zero and I release it all into the wild. The landscape of indie development is littered with games that never got finished. I recon it probably kills about 99% of the projects ever started. So, as another year comes to a close I have …
Inconsistencies If you’ve played any of the Alpha releases of Moon you may have noticed the moon in the sky in the outdoor areas around the Observatory. The more observant of you may also have noticed that the phase of the moon matches the current phase of the moon. This is all great stuff. Except it raises an annoying inconsistency that’s been bothering me for a few months now. The changes of moon phase imply the passage of time, but the lighting of the world never changes. One one hand you experience the passage of days but never the passage of hours, so It’s always night. The Solution For a long time I’ve been resisting the temptation to implement a full day/night cycle, aware that if I ever want to actually finish Moon I have to be a ruthless as possible with my ideas. If it not absolutely needed, time shouldn’t be spent on developing it. However, the mixed messages about the passage of time were too much of a problem to leave alone. So now, in the outdoor areas, the daylight light matches the light in the real world and the passage of time is made clear. Concessions Things …
They might be fun but the test levels have got to go The recent release of Moon alpha 1.5 has brought me to a rather amazing place. About 95% of the code I expect to need is written, most of the biggest bugs are gone and feedback indicates that (at least some) people are having fun. This means almost all that remains is the creation of the actual content I want in the final game. So, the exciting place I find myself is in front of my level editor with a head full of ideas and nothing to stop me letting them out. If you’ve played Moon at all then you may have wondered about a few odd design choices. Why is the key to the caves stored in an inaccessible location in the generator room? Why is the first puzzle so hard? Why did I have to pick up the weird blue thing at the start? Well, the simple answer to all this is that the levels present in the alpha builds have been there to test specific mechanics and ideas. There was a hint of some progression (mainly so the alpha releases didn’t feel totally flat) but it’s …
Suddenly, a new version of Moon appears. By the time I’d released the last version of Moon I was reasonably happy that all the significant technology code was written, that there would be only minor changes to code and that I’d be spending most of my time making new levels and interfaces and adding music and more audio. I was very, very wrong. I went into a lot more detail about some of the most significant changes in a previous post if you’re interested. In short, there’s cloud save support, new game mechanics, new puzzles and music. Oh and probably a few new bugs. As ever this is still a preview of the game, you’ll get a few snippets of the story and a few puzzles to beat but it’ll be a while yet before the whole thing is done. There are definitely still some knobbly bugs in there but in general things should be mostly stable and crash free. Please let me know if you have any trouble (or suggestions / annoyances) Download
Some areas in Moon are stranger than others so I wanted to create some music to convey that strangeness. Nothing so odd that it’s annoying but odd enough to feel other worldly. Also, I’ve not really played much with pentatonic scales so I thought I’d experiment a little in that direction too
The results are suitably odd with out being too discordant but I think the whole track could do with being at least twice as long. It feels a little like it just getting started and the it comes to an end so there might be some updates in the near future I think.
Before I release the next version of Moon I want to create about three or four music tracks for the various areas that are currently present. I think if I can enhance the feel and mood of the observatory, the caves and the hidden areas I’ll be very happy.
This track is my first attempt at something for the caves. I’m pleased with lots of things about it (especially the ‘drip’ notes) but over all I’m not sure if it’s right. At the moment it feels too much like the sound track for a random RPG not Moon. It might be easier if I just let it sit here for a while and come back to it with fresh ears. Anyway, please let me knoiw what you think.
It seems that my new enthusiasm for music creation is having some effect. Having completed the previous track I went straight into another one.
This one is much lighter and has a lot more of the mystery I was looking for. Obviously I’m still learning so it’s not as polished as I’d like but I think it’s an improvement none the less. Once I start to feel a little more happy and comfortable about the creative processes I’m using to drive my composition I might make a post about it.
Since I began occasionally fumbling around in various bits of music production software about 14 years ago I’ve used samples almost exclusively. Occasionally I’d throw in a half a dozen notes or a pad sweep from a synth but these occasions were exceptions to the norm.
The main reason for this has really come down to my lack of knowledge of the language of music itself. I’ve got reasonably good at knowing when I like something and even if it’ll work with everything else in my track, but I’ve never really known why; At least not at a fundamental note by note level. I can’t actually play any instruments and have never read music so this is not all that surprising.
Some time ago this lack of understanding began to bother me. The rate at which I poked at my music software dwindled to almost nothing. I’ve made one track I actually like in the past 3 years. I just wasn’t getting what I wanted anymore. So I stopped.
Then I did something better; I started reading.
Three weeks ago, I spent some money and updated my music software. This meant I’d have to justify to myself the expense and put it to some use. I also bought a book on music theory to supplement all the reading I was doing on the subject across the internet that had lead me to upgrading in the first place. Plus I need music for Moon and it’s not going to create itself.
Suddenly, in the space of two weeks I’d produced more than 16 bits of music that I didn’t hate; Each one constructed without samples from individual notes up. Each one based on some actually musical theory. They’re more like crude sketches than anything I’d put on here but the important thing is that I actually produced something I liked. Possibly for the first time in years.
Anyway, This last week has been spent putting together something that might end up in Moon, assuming I don’t fall out with it. To people that are more skill in these things than me it may seem simplistic (I still think the mix of each of it’s elements is a bit rough) but it’s made without the samples I’ve relied on for years. I think that in itself is worthy of putting it up here.
In keeping with the traditions layed down by many other indie developers I’ve dsecided to give you a quick summary of what I’ve been upto and what you can expect in the next release. All this while at the same time giving no clear indication when that release might be. For some time I’ve been hearing reports that Moon takes a long time to start on laptops or that everything starts up fine, except the graphics (the black screen bug as it’s been called). Along side all this I’ve also had some requests for some sort of cloud save support, so that when you’ve played for a bit at the office you can carry on where you left off when you get home. So, to address all these things I’ve spent much last few months making some pretty significant changes to the file system, graphics startup code and game save files. First, I’ve added additional checks into the graphics startup code so thet if your playing on an intel laptop that has more than one graphics system it chooses the more capable (non-intel) one if it’s available. This should much improve the experience of those of you that see the …
So soon, what’s new this time you might ask? Well there a few bits of hidden fun stuff for you to enjoy (maybe the image above is a clue). Lots of little bugs squashed and a nice quick simple installer. I’ve also added some extra code to make it a little easier to help you if you do get bitten by any of the remaining bugs, so please let me know if you have any trouble (or suggestions / annoyances) For best results you should delete the files in your AppData/Local/Moon folder and start a ‘New Game’ Download