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.

Get it at the Toytles: Leaf Raking page.

In last week’s report, I said I was almost finished with adding holiday-specific dialogue to the game. I predicted that it would be a matter of a couple of hours at most to finish the work, then I could create a new release and get it published.

Sprint 15: Holiday-specific dialogue

Last week’s sprint plan was:

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

I only worked on game development for 45 minutes last week, a far cry from the 5 hours per week I’ve been aiming for.

As such, while I finished adding dialogue for Halloween, I only barely got started on the next holiday and made no further progress.

Luciana's dialogue on Halloween

Why didn’t I spend more time on the game? The rest of my life had a higher priority on my time.

My parents are celebrating 40 years of marriage, and so I’ve been talking with my sister about last-minute preparations. My wife is celebrating her birthday, so I’ve been finishing up plans for it. And I’ve been working very long hours at the day job, getting on early and staying on late, which means I lose the opportunity to do game development when I normally would and I am sapped of energy after the kids go to bed, which is the next opportunity.

In terms of game development, last week was mostly lost. Which is too bad because the work is straightforward, and I still believe that it will only take a few hours more before I could publish a new update.

One positive thing is that I found a defect in the game while testing out the Halloween dialogue in those 45 minutes I did dedicate to making progress on this project. The defect isn’t the positive thing, but the fact that I found out that it exists is, because I can address it before publishing a release.

It turns out that if you load a save game and are in a neighborhood other than Midtown, which is the default one, then when you go to a neighbor’s yard and leave back to the neighborhood screen, the clock advances 10 minutes. It should only advance 10 minutes if you move from one neighborhood to another.

I suspect that the reason that it is happening is that when I load the game, I don’t set the current neighborhood correctly somewhere, and so when you leave a yard and return the neighborhood screen, the game detects that the neighborhood has changed when it hasn’t.

As far as impact is concerned, it’s not a huge deal…except when it is. In my case, I was visiting neighbors to see if the dialogue was formatted correctly, and I currently need to reload the game when I change it to see if the changes look better. Each time I did, I advanced the clock without realizing it, until it was past the time when visiting neighbors is considered polite. Then I had to reload the game entirely and reset the clock to the correct holiday in order to continue testing.

It was kind of annoying for me as a developer, but I can also see it being a problem for a player. If you saved the game during Mr. Matt’s store opening hours, then discovered that after you loaded you accidentally advanced the time so that the store was closed, it would mean that you can’t you can buy emergency yard bags or a replacement rake until the store is open again.

Time management is a key part of the game, and this defect makes the game a bit unfair to people who try to get to the store at a decent time.

So that defect needs to get fixed before I create the next release as well.

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