Dev Blog- Colonial Sea Trader- Playtesting at District Arcade, UX improvements!

As I’ve been mentioning for the last month or so, I had the opportunity to present Colonial Sea Trader at a local indie gaming convention, the District Arcade. It was a very interesting experience, and I learned a ton from it! It was quite encouraging to see people play my game, some of them for upwards of 20 minutes, and some of them better then I’ve ever played the game so far!

First of all, a few things that I wish I had done. I particularly wish I had tested more on my demonstration machine. I found a few issues that only showed up on the test machine on the day of the convention themselves which proved to be quite annoying, namely that it was far too slow, and particularly that reloading the game tended to just not work. I’ve started working on those, and I believe with only a little work I was able to identify the cause of the restart crash, but I wish I had done that before!

I learned quite a few things. I brought a notebook, and took two full pages of notes while watching people play the game. I noted areas that people clicked that didn’t do anything, confusing things that people didn’t understand right away, and generally speaking tried to help them to do the right thing. In the end, I managed to find quite a few things, of which I’ve already fixed about 20% of them.

The biggest thing that I noted that people wanted to do was to click the background to dismiss a dialog. The good news is, it now works!

Clicking outside of a dialog now dismisses it

Other items include continuing to improve localization support, fixing the minimap clicking that wasn’t working before, and making signs transparent if the ship is behind them.

Lastly, I fixed the scroll wheel support such that it isn’t as slow as it has been. I personally used other ways to scroll, so that was quite helpful to see.

To end on a positive note, I had at least 4 people who really seemed to like my game who played it, and quite a few others that gave some really good feedback. If you are one of those who played Colonial Sea Trader, I thank you very much!

This week I’m going to continue to tackle the slowness that happens on the start. I found some of the issues, but I’m not there by a long shot. I’m also going to consider adding some controller support, which should allow me to improve things otherwise.

I did two videos this week, one just showing the game play, and another sharing my experience in voice my experience at the District Arcade. Check them out below.

If you haven’t yet, feel free to like me on Facebook, join my Google Group, subscribe to my Sub Reddit, or follow me on Twitter, where you are likely to get frequent updates! You can also subscribe to the Old Ham Media YouTube Channel, where I post frequent videos showing the progress of gameplay and more! Finally, follow me on Twitch, and help me develop games!

Dev Blog- Colonial Sea Trader- Improving dialogs, twitch decision, and improved productivity!

As with the last few weeks, I’ve been working towards my game demonstration at this week’s IGDA-DC District Arcade. I’ve been making dialogs clearer, looking for issues, but most of all working on improving productivity. This week I was able to find quite a few issues, and I think I’m pretty much there! I’m now able to play for about 5 minutes without any issues, and I’ve identified one more thing that when I get it fixed will allow me to play for even longer!

The biggest difference to allowing me to play longer is the fact that water and food are now available in ports. After digging in to the issue, I found that it was a simple rounding error that prevented me from getting more water, fixing that allows for me to continually get the water that I need, as well as some food. It will still need tweaking, but overall it’s looking pretty good!

I made a few dialog improvements, related to buying and selling. The trading post now shows a much improved price list compared to before, as I started to do last week.

Also, I’ve been working on solving the issue of seeing behind the sign when I have a ship there. This is one potential solution that I’ve been working on, let me know what you think. I have a few other things that I can try out too, but I’m really curious what you think.

As for Twitch, I’ve decided the following. I’m going to stream when I have the time to do so, and am working on something that will work well for Twitch. The most likely times that I will stream are Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. There are other times that might work as well at random, but I won’t count on them. I’m going to try and do it once a week. There are a number of ways to find out when I’m streaming, the best is to follow me on Twitch.

This week I’m going to continue the playability improvements. Specifically, I’m going to work on better showing what is limiting one’s ability to travel. I’m doing this because the lack of funds was actually what limited me, which wasn’t what I thought my issue was. I’m probably going to also further refine the dialog improvements from last week.

If you haven’t yet, feel free to like me on Facebook, join my Google Group, subscribe to my Sub Reddit, or follow me on Twitter, where you are likely to get frequent updates! You can also subscribe to the Old Ham Media YouTube Channel, where I post frequent videos showing the progress of gameplay and more! Finally, follow me on Twitch, and help me develop games!

Dev Blog- Colonial Sea Trader- Improved localization support, start of the journal!

I intended to work only on the journal this week. It turned out that while I did this, I realized that I needed to improve my localization support considerably. The previous method only allowed for the translation of entire phrases, which works for some instances, but not for all. To remedy this, I decided to allow for the insertion of words in to localization strings, as I have seen done in other places. This allowed me to add in stuff, like where you docked, goods you purchased, etc. I also started to work on a journal display, which I will be working on to improve quite a bit.

There are a few other things you might notice from here. The first is that I now have an official date entry, showing the year, month, and date. I’m still going to be including that in more places, but it is a start.

The other thing you might notice is that I’m now using color icons for the bottom right bar. I still am going to play with them some, but I think colored icons are better than the old mono-color icons I was using.

Previously I had only the barest skeleton of localization support. I now am officially using it! The localization dictionary is actually the first modable item that I am supporting. The script will come in a folder that anyone can change, should they so desire. When I have done more localizing of strings, I will give this out for assistance in translation, but right now it is premature, if anything.

No video this week, up until the last moment I was working on just getting anything graphical to show up, but I should return with a video next week.

This week I’m going to continue to improve the journal display, both in adding more items to the journal, as well as improving the display itself. I’m also going to work on actually localizing all of the strings in the game, now that my localization support has made it this far.

If you haven’t yet, feel free to like me on Facebook, join my Google Group, subscribe to my Sub Reddit, or follow me on Twitter, where you are likely to get frequent updates! You can also subscribe to the Old Ham Media YouTube Channel, where I post frequent videos showing the progress of gameplay and more!

Dev Blog- Colonial Sea Trader- Improved table layout, debugging low food

This week I did a lot of bug fixing from my last video, including ensuring that food can be directly purchased. I added the ability to use a number of interesting emojis, and have started using them. I made the goods table scaleable to all sizes, improving the look at full screen. I improved dialog to purchase goods as well.

One of the biggest things that I discovered when I added the good tables was that I have a pretty severe lack of resources available. Despite the roughly 30 goods available, I was only using maybe a third of them. Why might that be, I wondered? To solve that, I did some diagnosis of the number of tiles produced of what types, and what the cities that were produced were. By so doing, I found that I had almost no grassland produced, where many of my plants are programmed to start, and lots of jungle and rainforest type land. In a word, my land is too moist! Also, many of my cities are made on islands, and I currently consider islands to be a different type of biome, which I haven’t done a lot with. Bottom line is, I have a lot of things to improve in regard to the world generation. This will be high on my list in the coming weeks.

There was one bug I fixed in regard to the world generation. I had discovered that the poles were no longer showing as covered in ice, as had been done previously. To figure out what happened, I looked at images from this very blog over the course of the last month to determine when the bug was introduced. Knowing when it was introduced, I could more easily track down the exact problem, and had it fixed within 10 minutes. Keeping a blog can have many benefits!

The biggest improvement was to my price dialog introduced last week. I added some darker columns to improve readability, allow for it to be scaled, and removed items that aren’t actually available for sale anywhere. The bottom line, it looks like this now:

 

One thing the eagle eyed might notice is there is one icon that looks quite a bit different than the others. The sheep icon is new. I used the fonts from the Noto color emoji to the mix, and in so doing find a few nice icons for use elsewhere in my game. The sheep was one of the ones added. I haven’t decided on a final style for these, but more that I am looking for a temporary icon to give me something to think about in terms of the final style.

I did another video. I’m going to work on improving these videos overall, but these early videos are teaching me a whole lot, including what to include, how to make the video production work, and last but not least, showing me bugs in my game that I might otherwise miss.

All in all, it was a productive week! This week I’m going to start a new dialog, namely an activity journal to show what you have been doing, and what is going on in the world. I’m also going to give the procedural world generation a bit more thought, and possible start using that!

If you haven’t yet, feel free to like me on Facebook, join my Google Group, subscribe to my Sub Reddit, or follow me on Twitter, where you are likely to get frequent updates! You can also subscribe to the Old Ham Media YouTube Channel, where I post frequent videos showing the progress of gameplay and more!