April Downers Bring May Floundering, and Geez It’s June Already

So, how’s everybody’s 2020 going? That’s rhetorical, I’m pretty sure I can guess. Barf.

2.5 months without a game update or blog post, barf again, sorry. But despite the evidence, development on Cheer and Track very slowly continues!

The next update should arrive sometime in June and will be another small one, again with one short new level, some minor bug fixes, and some small performance increases, I think mostly from updating to Unity 2019.4x. The new clouds are in everywhere and have an okay little spawn effect, but they still need sound effects and proper de-spawn visuals, and those probably won’t be in the next update, or ready for a while. Everything always needs more work. That’s typically game development at any level, moreso when you’re at such an ultra-basic level, but, anyhoo.

I didn’t expect the next update to take so long. It’s often very hard to get fired up to create for myself, especially when life is so stressful and unstable. I feel like so much of what I’m doing just drifts off into the void, like a message in a bottle tossed into the Pacific. So I made a little cartoon (literally!) about it.

I’m not sure why, but I find it relaxing to work on such low-res, lo-fi art. Maybe because my creative skills aren’t back where I’d like them to be, or beyond, at least not yet. So I get heavy anxiety working on “good” art, animation, music, or whatever, with expectations I can’t yet meet. Not that my technical skills are especially more solid, but I just don’t feel the same pressure when I script the game, and I’m not sure why. Whatever it is, I just have to grow beyond it.

I may add some super-simple animation with Blender later, or maybe I won’t. So, yep, this cartoon is also early access! Everything’s early access! Gimme five bucks and keep checking back, it might get better! C’mon, roll those dice!

If you’re one of the few people who have picked up one of my bottles, stuffed in a few bucks, and tossed it back, thank you!

Hey! You! Less Awful, My Clouds

The last new level was another one featuring the “cloud” hazards introduced towards the current end of the game, which reminded me just how rough they look. Sometimes the clouds are good, sometimes they’re bad, but they always look pretty bad. So they’re the next asset to get upgraded to “okay,” or maybe at least “better.”

For reference, the originals were just quickly-made polygon blobs, shown here.

Here are the new clouds. They still need work, but they’re getting better.

These clouds are made from Unity’s particle system, one of the key visual effects particles were made for. And the good and bad clouds now have different colors beyond just the shafts of light. The light shafts are still polys, but I’ve added some streaky bits inside. Is it rain? Is it energy? Do you care? Probably not, but I’m glad you’re still reading anyway! (They’re meant to be streaks of energy.)

Beyond more particle and other visual tweaks, there’s still lots to do before the clouds can be considered a fully-upgraded asset, even just to “okay.” They need “real” spawn (appearing) and de-spawn (right before disappearing) animations, with some additional particles and effects just for that, replacing the current, silly scale-up from nothing and squish out. And all that needs sound effects, which a majority of things in the game are also lacking. So it’ll be a little while before the new clouds show up.

As always, more to come.

v0. Released!

The update with the new skybox and the new level is now live on both Steam and itch.io! Don’t forget, use the “new content playlist” to immediately play the new level!

Press Start to Continue

I began this development blog on Leap Day, only about two weeks ago, hoping to draw more customers to buy and play my small, unfinished indie game. I know it’s trite, but that really does feel like forever ago, now. So much craziness has happened since then, near and far, and there is so much more to worry about.

The most fantastical thing about Cheer and Track is supposed to be that two college students were warped into deep space by a quantum-connected hivemind of alien flowers that won’t let them die. Now it’s maybe that, once they inevitably return to Earth as best friends, they happily go back to attending college as usual. There is no COVID-19 outbreak in the Cheer and Track not-so-cinematic universe.

As humanity continues to fight it, someday COVID-19 will no longer be a problem in our world, either. We will get there. But we’re not there yet.

Whoever you are and wherever you are, if you’ve given me a few minutes of your time to play Cheer and Track or read this vanilla blog about one more video game among hundreds of thousands, thank you so much, and I hope it helped you through a few more minutes of your day. I also hope you and yours are okay, and I hope things get better soon for all of us around the world as we do what we must to get through this crisis. Now go wash your hands, and do not give up!


Level Up …Soon

The new level (plus less-barf skybox) update isn’t up yet, but I’m too lazy to think of another title right now. However, the new level is playable and complete-able! …wait, is “completable” a word? Online dictionaries don’t seem to have a consensus, and I’m also too lazy to look into it further. Farther? No, further, it ain’t distance! That one I new.

Without farther ado, here’s the full-size version of the level’s “thumbnail,” the little graphic you see to identify it in playlists and the “Times & Deaths” score menu.

I’ve taken to calling it “The Church of Pain” because the center bit kinda resembles a church and steeple. But it’s not difficult, although there are lots of moving dangers, creating good tension. Most Cheer and Track levels are admittedly pretty easy, although getting to the exit without a single death and/or cutting down completion times to their lowest can be challenging. Harder levels will be part of the mix someday, but the game has to have much tighter platforming controls and responsiveness first.

This coming week is mostly about bug fixing. I’ll be starting off with a full playthrough to look for anything egregious, then working on some of the new player movement bugs I’ve seen lately. When those have been fixed, or the movement is at least a little better, update ahoy, hopefully by the end of the week. Always more to come!