Toytles: Leaf Raking Progress Report – Transitions & Starting Dialogue

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.

Last week, I reported that I quickly prototyped a fade-out/fade-in screen transition to get a sense of how it felt, then worked on the production version once I determined that I liked it.

Sprint 20: Screen transitions & time-based dialogue

  • Create screen transitions when entering/leaving yard
  • Story progression when finishing a yard (unique monthly client dialogue w/ difference between clear/uncleared yards
  • Defect: Visiting a neighbor causes unsightly refresh
  • Defect: Reloading from the store loads a store with no items and no visit button.

I did 6.25 hours of game development last week. I finished the scene transition fades quickly enough, and then I fixed a couple of defects I found.

With the transitions in place, it is clear that the yard screen gets recreated each time you visit your neighbor. It has not been an issue, and it doesn’t affect the play of the game, but the unnecessary redraw is now distracting. So I fixed it.

More importantly, however, was finding out that there was a problem with reloading the game if you were in the store. Normally the game reloads and regenerates the screen you were on, but if you exit the game by way of the main menu, it behaved differently than if you merely shut down the app.

The problem was that the game code didn’t anticipate that you would ever be in the store on loading a game. I think the idea at the time was that it was difficult to save the game for whatever reason, plus it wasn’t strictly required. If you exited the game while in the store, the last automatically saved data would put you in the same neighborhood as the store, so when you load the game, you’d just enter the store. No in-game impact occurs.

But what I discovered was that if you reloaded the game in the store, the store screen would be empty. So you’d have a “Leave” button, but it would otherwise have no store items. It was eerily empty. If you left the store, it would transition you back to Midtown, which meant you lost 10 minutes of game time due to the neighborhood movement.

Since that impacted you as the player negatively, I needed to fix it. If you’re interested in some of the details, I initially had a false start where I tried to prevent the game from saving if you exited to the main menu, which seemed to work.

But as I tried a bunch of things, I eventually found out that it broke the game even worse: If you exited to the main menu while sleeping, on reload, you would perpetually sleep. The game didn’t load something properly and so while time didn’t advance, it offered no menu options, so you were forever sleeping at 3:00pm.

So I reverted that changed, and instead I decided to go with it and had the game generate the store screen properly. The reason I didn’t do this at first was because I was convinced that the save game data had the wrong data for the store, but it turned out that I was wrong.

The last thing I worked on was finally getting started on dialogue based on which month it was. I started with September, and it’s going smoothly.

The other piece was changing the dialogue based on whether or not the yard is clear. So the end result will be that your neighbor with say one thing before you rake their yard and another thing entirely after you do so.

Eventually, I want each day to offer multiple conversation paths based on who your other clients are, what time of day it is, and more. I won’t get there all at once, though, but I can still build incrementally up to it with each release.

But there is no new release yet. It has been over a month since v1.4.4 was released with holiday dialogue. I feel a bit behind schedule, even though I don’t really have a schedule. But expect the next release soon.

Thanks for reading!

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

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