WarHorse
Upcoming Shooter Game
WarHorse
Dev Blog
July 9 2015 Today's Update
Creating some initial assets in DAZ 3D.
Keeping a log of what I ran into while doing the process.

Using "aniMate2" so that I can save sequences for re-use with multiple horses. This way I can apply the same animation to the regular horse (zone 2), the toy horse (zone 1), and the nightmare skin (zone 3), which are all based on "DAZ Horse 2".
I have acquired other horse models, but I don't think the animations will transfer. So, to use those assets I'll need to re-key the animation for those other models.
Since I can use the "DAZ Horse 2" for zones 1, 2, and 3, I'll only have to re-key for new horses in zone 4. By then though, there will already be several options for the player, so introducing a new horse may not be necessary, at least not for the first version.

The animation sequence I'm using for the running animation has some unusual offsets, so I need to adjust each frame (16+1) to make it loop in the proper location.
Because there are so many joints in the horse, sometimes when I click the "new keyframe" button in "aniMate2" it won't treat it as a keyframe for all joints and transformations.
Then, when I go to a different frame and make it a keyframe, then apply a different pose, any properties not changed end up tweening between keyframes.
The solution seems to be to make all frames into "zeroed" keyframes first, then apply the poses to the frames. I can then delete in between frames to let it properly animate the tweens between the key frames.

Yet, even realizing this, I had a lot of trouble getting the "zeroed" keyframes to populate across the animation.
Still not sure why it wasn't working, or why it finally did work.
I wonder if some of the offsets were being applied to the model, rather than being stored as keyframes.
It seems that I need to re-apply the "zero" for each frame, at least whenever I modify a joint that wasn't previously keyed.

I said 16+1 because the animation has 16 frames, so I need to repeat the first frame at the end in order to generate the tweens for looping back to the first frame.

When I went back to animate the tail (which was often ignored in the poses), I had to make a change, then go to the previous and next frames to undo the change or tween that was added.
I think this is due to the tail joints not being included in the earlier zeroes.

When I had previously tinkered with the animations, I had used 90+ frames, which resulted in 4MB of Flash .swf data for each asset.
So, this time I reduced the number of frames to around 60+ frames. If I reduce the pixels, then I should be able to reduce the filesize even further.
I'm looking forward to seeing if I can apply toon effects to the zone 1 horses, which Flash should be able to turn into vectors, or otherwise drastically reduce file sizes.

I figure I have to get these initial animation blocks just right, otherwise I'd have to redo all of the assets everytime I make a change.

For lighting and cameras, I place a camera orthogonal to the horse, then apply 4 lights.
I'm using directional/distant lights for all of them.
The key light is at 75% intensity, 50% for the fill, and 25% and 10% for the other lights.
They are arranged around the horse in a square pattern, based on the location/angle of the camera.
It may not make "realistic" lighting, nor dynamic lighting, but I like the look of it.
I then point the lights and camera at the horse.

I put the lights and camera into a group, then duplicated it.
For some reason, the camera and lights are no longer pointing at the horse.
So, I have to tell each camera and light to point at the horse again, by first pointing them elsewhere.

Need to divide left from right, so that I can layer the items appropriately.
But, I can't select subsurfaces to turn off visibility, as the surfaces are designed for easy colorization, so they span left and right.
Adding green planes that I figure I can use GIMP to turn into Alpha.
Let the far surface contain the full image, and the near surface contain just the near elements.

Calling it quits for tonight.
Haven't rendered out the animations yet.
But, decided to at least do a still of a good "basic warhorse".
Will likely use these elements to act as the basic "real horse", and allow user color customization.
Hoping that I can demo that in tomorrow's update.

When doing cutie marks, I should remember to add a thumbtack.
While editing the poses for the horse's tail, I had to put a pin (thumbtack icon) into the pelvis to keep the rest of the horse from moving when I tried (and failed) to use inverse-kinematics to position the tail.
Found easier/better sliders for making the tail look as I want it to.
Still of the "basic warhorse"

July 8 2015 Today's Update
I will try to make an entry everyday, partially as a way to force to make daily progress.

Today's progress is pretty much setting up this blog, and making this entry.

WarHorse is an idea I have been looking forward to starting for a while now. I have been collecting assets to use (DAZ 3D), and relearning Flash (I last used it when it was Macromedia). As such, I haven't actually made anything for the game.
So, I am hoping it qualifies for the Indie Game Maker Contest 2015. Even if it doesn't though, the IGMC 2015 will goad me to make a lot of progress over the next month (contest ends August 7th).

There are many game ideas I want to make, but WarHorse is the one I am most excited about, but I'm not sure why. But, I am excited about it, so I won't look a gift horse in the mouth (I will try to find more horse puns and quotes for other blog entries, and loading screens).

Gameplay wise, WarHorse will be an overhead shooter. While playing "Sky Force" on my new phone, I figured it would be a good type of game to make. It was like "1942" but you can buy ship upgrades to make up for lack of gameplay skill.

Then I got to thinking about what would my customizable ship be? Spaceship? Plane? Tank? Obviously, I went with Horse. Why? Well, I figured it hadn't been done really. It could be a game for bronies, but with guns and robots and Nazis.

Why Nazis? I find the most enjoyable games tend to involve killing Nazis, space aliens, or zombies. Some games even combine all of them, such as the "Metal Slug" series. Games also often involve robots (guiltless to kill) and rescues (a justification for the violence). The Borg in "Star Trek" (and the "Dr. Who" Cybermen I feel they were 'stolen' from) are like robot zombies that can be rescued from the fascist regime of space aliens that killed them. So, my take? A bit of all, I'll explain more later...maybe.

So, "My Little Pony" inspired horses fighting stuff... but what is the initial appeal of MLP? The new show (I haven't seen the old within memory) has great writing, clean animation, and a strong fan community (including the aforementioned bronies). But, the toys, what was their appeal? I figure it's the customization with the hair, accessories, and color change decals and such. I saw a parallel to the avatar customization in most games nowadays. Thus the obvious connection of providing the user with a high degree of both combat and aesthetic customizations to appeal to both the gamer and the dollmaker.

While I've tried to improve my drawing skills, I am no where near where I'd need to be to make a full game. Same with music. Years ago I got a bundle of Digital Juice StackTraxx, so now all I have to do is listen to them over again to figure out which ones to use. But, I hadn't found such a thing for graphics yet. Then a few weeks ago I found DAZ 3D and it's 3D asset marketplace. Then I found they had many horse assets, including Toy Pony, Nightmare, and Space Horse, which all fit with the four zones I wanted to make for the main story. The assets they had also gave me ideas for new zones (for side stories and future updates). The only 'catch' is that I can't use the meshes or textures in a game, but any 2D renderings can be used, which works well for me wanting to work in Flash again.

Each zone will have its own currency for costumes and new weapons. Weapon upgrading will be purchased with an 'alien tech' currency obtained from beating enemies.

Long term plan is to make it free-to-play, with in-app purchases of in-game currency. And somewhat regular updates with new costume items, weapons, zones, and story missions.

The main story will go across four zones and a final boss fight. The zones will be cartoon/toy (happy forest), a 'realistic' western zone (finally some real guns), a horror zone (nightmares and skeleton horses), a space zone (that isn't really in space, think "Space Mountain"), and the final boss fight in a pseudo-zone.

That's all for today. My other posts won't be as long. Also, I don't want to give away too many details yet. But, I might, especially if I don't have real progress on a day.

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