Toytles: Leaf Raking Progress Report – Holiday Talk

Here’s this week’s progress report for new updates to Toytles: Leaf Raking, my family-friendly leaf-raking business simulation available for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

Learn how to get it at the Toytles: Leaf Raking page.

During the previous week’s report, I talked about how my existing system for choosing which dialogue text to display needed to be updated to handle dates. I thought about all sorts of ideas that required a solution which allowed for them, and then ultimately remembered that I can always build up to a more complex solution and should go with a simple one for now.

Sprint 14: Holiday-specific dialogue

Last week’s sprint plan was:

  • Create holiday-specific dialogue
  • Fix holiday text being cut off next to weather window

I did 4 hours of game development last week. It’s not as much as I would have liked, but once again I had some long hours at the day job and I found myself feeling exhausted especially near the end of the day when I might otherwise have been productive.

The following “holidays” are currently in the game:

  • Labor Day (also known as “Day 1”, the start of the game)
  • Talk Like a Pirate Day
  • State Fair
  • Halloween
  • Harvest Festival
  • Thanksgiving

It’s a bit U.S.-centric, I know, and I might need to make some tweaks. For instance, are there any State Fairs that take place in Autumn? If not, I might need to change that day to maybe “Fall Fair” or something like that.

Anyway, I expected that with 19 neighbors x 6 holidays = 114 unique scripts of dialogue that I wouldn’t be able to get all of it done this week. So I set a goal of getting dialogue written for the first four holidays.

Early in the week I spent a little over an hour getting knowledge of the calendar into the components that would need to determine if there is a holiday-specific dialogue in the first place.

After that, it was mostly adding new dialogue tags related to those holidays and writing the dialogue, so basically the majority of the time was spent on adding content.

Mr Cardinal dialogue on Labor Day

In terms of my internal debate of either creating a general holiday dialogue tag that takes arguments or just making a tag for each holiday, I am glad I did the latter because within the first day I was already adding dialogue, whereas I expect that if I had gone the other route, I might have found that I was spending the entire week on making it possible to add dialogue. As I said, I can always refactor if it makes sense in the future. In fact, I had predicted that I was going to refactor fairly quickly, but I haven’t yet and don’t see a reason to do so yet.

I managed to write dialogue for the first three holidays, and if I had another 30 minutes to an hour, I probably could have gotten Halloween finished as well. Instead, I only have three of the neighbors saying anything unique on Halloween.

One thing I realized was that I had a defect I noted back in June:

Holiday text getting cut off

“Talk Like a Pirate Day” is getting cut off at the top of the screen. It should be an easy fix, but I wonder how many other pieces of text are not fitting into their assigned box and causing issues like this.

I am using NFont by JonnyD, and I recall that there was a way for it to do the detection for me. That is, I should be able to set it up so that if there is any text that doesn’t fit correctly that I can either have it render differently or log to a file or something. I’ve done something similar either in this project or a previous project, I can’t recall which. I just don’t do it at this time.

In any case, I think I did a decent job anticipating how much work this holiday dialogue feature was going to be, and I expect to get the rest of the dialogue into the game and published in a new release this coming week.

I am very pleased at the progress despite my lack of time dedicated to working on it this sprint. I think my Personality Injection updates are definitely making the game world feel like more than mere stats and variables, especially now that the neighbors have more than a couple of things to say to you throughout the game.

Thank you for reading!

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