Coming to Kickstarter: Family-friendly Coding Game Time Tails

I learned today that Snowbright Studio will soon be launching a Kickstarter campaign for Time Tails, a game about traveling through time, learning to code, and designing games.

The game follows two time traveling cats from the 80’s as they help kids learn coding and Unity game design.

According to a college friend of mine who is one of the people behind it, it’s aimed at middle and high school students, but it is a game for the entire family and anyone who wants to learn a few things about coding games and/or 80s time travel. “We’re working specifically to bring this game to girls and LGBTQ+ youth interested in computer science.”

The Kickstarter campaign is expected to launch on October 16th.

Sign up to be notified at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/snowbrightstudio/time-tails

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!

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

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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.

Last week I reported that I finished adding the neighbor status indicators into the game.

All that remained to do was to create a new release for iOS and Android, test it, and publish it.

Sprint 13: Holiday-specific dialogue

Last week’s sprint plan was:

  • Create iOS release
  • Write blog post announcing release
  • Write email announcing release
  • Create holiday-specific dialogue

At the end of the previous week, I had created an Android build. I spent the earlier part of this week on creating the iOS build. In both cases, I installed the game on a physical device, then played the game until I was satisfied that things seemed to work more or less fine.

Then once I felt it was ready, I submitted it for review at the respective app stores, and then I published the announcements once they were ready to go live. Read more about it at the Toytles: Leaf Raking v1.4.3 announcement post.

Then I could start working on the current sprint’s actual goal, which was adding dialogue related to the current date of the calendar if it was special somehow.

I ended up not doing much. I worked long hours at the day job due to commitments at both the top of the morning and the late afternoon, which meant I did not work on game development at the times I normally would.

I did only 1.5 hours of game development, most of which was spent on getting the release published. I found that I had effectively taken most of the rest of the week off, even though I hadn’t wanted to. I found myself exhausted and needing to rest each day, and so I listened to my body.

In the future, I think I need to plan and make time for a periodic break instead of letting it happen.

I did finish the week my looking at my code related to dialogue and the calendar. Currently, I have an enum called DialogTag (I’m clearly still struggling with picking either dialogue or dialog, which depending on who you ask are both acceptable in North America. Alternatively I’m using dialog when I should be using dialogue). Each neighbor has a collection of things they say, each of which is tagged based on whether they are clients, ex-clients, prospects, etc.

Now I want to add dialogue that is tagged based on a calendar event. While I could add a tag for each holiday, I’d like to have one tag type for holidays, and then I would have a separate piece of data indicating which one.

There are 6 holidays, but I can create more, such as birthdays for the neighbors. Still, it isn’t like I’ll be adding hundreds of holidays, so it wouldn’t be so bad to hardcode a separate enum value for each holiday.

But then I start thinking about a neighbor getting excited the day before a holiday. Or being sad the day after.

Of course, what this kind of scope creep tells me is that there is still a lot of interpretation for how to handle the immediately work, and I need to remember that I can put something together that works now and slowly change it to do something that works later.

So hardcoded for now.

The other big thing I need to figure out is how to decide which dialogue to show. Up until now, a neighbor can say only one thing based on their status as a client. Since you can’t have a neighbor be both a client and a prospect or an ex-client, there was no choice to make. Only one option filtered out.

With dialogue based on the current date, however, now two options can be available at once. Perhaps clients and prospects should say the holiday-specific dialogue, and ex-clients say their normal ex-client dialogue? Or maybe only happy clients (clients who have no leaves in their yard) say more interesting things? Or perhaps holiday dialogue is said first, then followed by regular dialogue? Or regular dialogue followed by holiday dialogue? Or randomly choose among options, so sometimes a neighbor might talk about a holiday and sometimes they might not?

There’s clearly more I need to think about, but for now, thanks for reading!

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

Want to learn when I release updates to Toytles: Leaf Raking or about future games I am creating? Sign up for the GBGames Curiosities newsletter, and get the 24-page, full color PDF of the Toytles: Leaf Raking Player’s Guide for free!

Watch the 4th Annual Black in Gaming Awards

On September 13th, the Black In Gaming Awards honored the outstanding achievements and contributions to video games by black game developers and corporate allies.

You can watch the ceremony at: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/740532074

Learn more about the awards at https://www.blackingames.com/

Blacks in Games is a community dedicated to cultivating, supporting, and promoting black professionals in the game industry. BIG is actively working on creating opportunities for Black people in the video game industry while also developing action plans to combat systemic institutionalized racism that manifests itself in unsafe spaces, microagressions and hidden discrimination in the workplace.

The award looks amazing, and it honors pioneer Jerry Lawson, who developed the first cartridge-based game console.

Congratulations to all the award-winners!

Know Who Your Clients Are in Toytles: Leaf Raking v1.4.3

I’m excited to share another Personality Injection update for 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.

With v1.4.3, you can now more easily tell which of your neighbors are clients and which are ex-clients thanks to the new client status indicators.

In Game - Client Status Indicators

While walking around your neighborhood, you’ll now see a speech bubble next to your client’s home.

If you see a rake, it means the client is waiting for you to clear their yard of leaves.

If you see an angry squiggle, it means the client is getting worried that you are allowing too many leave sit in their yard and are not being responsible.

And if you finish raking all of the leaves in their yard, they’ll show a smiling turtle face.

But if you neglect a yard for too long and lose the client, you’ll see an icon to let you know that you can’t rake that yard anymore. You can still visit the neighbor, but do not be surprised if they are unhappy to speak with you.

Thanks to these changes, your time playing Toytles: Leaf Raking has just gotten a bit easier.

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

Get the 24-page, full color PDF of the Toytles: Leaf Raking Player’s Guide for free by signing up for the GBGames Curiosities newsletter!

Toytles: Leaf Raking Progress Report – Status: In Game!

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.

In last week’s report, I wore my developer hat and started out trying to create a general-purpose animation system, then I put my producer hat on and decided to implement something smaller and more specific to my needs to get the next release out the door.

Sprint 12: Neighbor Status Indicators

Last week’s sprint plan was:

  • Make it clear from the map which neighbors are your clients, ex-clients, and prospects

After 10 hours of game development last week (thanks, Labor Day weekend!), I finally have the neighbor status indicators in the game!

In Game - Client Status Indicators

After testing it on my main phone, which runs Android, I started the process of creating the new release for Google Play. I did not start work on the iOS update before the end of the week, so I’ll need to do so early this week.

Ideally, I’ll have v1.4.3 available tomorrow. Phew! Finally!

What took so long?

Now, for those of you who are paying attention, it is the fourth sprint in a row with that same plan.

And each sprint I write a report like this one, explaining how things went.

To recap:

  • Sprint 9: 6 hours – creating and iterating on mock-ups for the indicators, including getting feedback from colleagues. I expected I’d get the actual implementation done in Sprint 10.
  • Sprint 10: 5.75 hours – moving code and adding tests around existing code that manages the neighborhood in order to make the project more maintainable. Performing legacy rescue took longer than I thought, and I speculated that perhaps I should have tried adding tests to new code rather than rescuing old code in order to get a release out sooner. I expected I needed only a few more hours to get the indicators implemented.
  • Sprint 11: 5.75 hours – creating an animation system, then realizing that I was still nowhere near delivering on the sprint goal, so I changed tactics to implement just enough to get what I needed for this project completed. I did not make a prediction for the next sprint, but I did make a point to focus more on doing just enough to make an indicator work for this project’s needs. It just came near the end of the week.

This feature has taken me about 28 hours of work so far, which works out to a little more than three 8-hour work days. And since one of those days was spent mostly creating and getting feedback on mock-ups before implementation, let’s say it took a couple of days to implement the work once I knew what to implement.

But it didn’t take a couple of days. As I have said before, I am a very, very part-time indie game developer. In the last couple of months I have averaged about 5 hours a week of game development time.

Which means that it took me about a month of real time to do this work and get it ready for a release.

And maybe I need to be fine with this kind of progress, but I was really expecting to have something closer to two to three weeks between updates.

So on the one hand, I might need to right-size my own expectations, but on the other hand, I think I need to figure out how to work on implementation more effectively.

I mean, I was worried about maintainability and automated testing, but once I started test-driving a less generic animated sprite widget, I had something on the screen.

My AnimatedSpriteWidget derives from SpriteWidget, and as arguments it takes a collection of Frames.

A Frame initially only specified an offset, a duration in milliseconds, and a sprite image to render. So each frame, the sprite image to render would change. And since all I needed to do was loop between two or four frames of animation, it worked well enough.

Later I needed to make the no-raking sign blink, and I just did it. I added a parameter to Frame for scaling. That way, I can change the width and height of the image to 0, and it effectively disappears.

And while it feels like it is a hack, it’s actually built up from something well-built.

The code appeared when the tests drove the need, and the tests came from me focusing on trying to get the actual indicators in the game rather than implementing a general-purpose, track-based animation system.

And I love it when it happens, and I need to trust that it will happen more often.

Thanks for reading!

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

Want to learn when I release updates to Toytles: Leaf Raking or about future games I am creating? Sign up for the GBGames Curiosities newsletter, and get the 24-page, full color PDF of the Toytles: Leaf Raking Player’s Guide for free!

Toytles: Leaf Raking Progress Report – Animation False Starts

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.

In my previous report, I once again lamented how little capacity I have as a very, very part-time indie game developer.

And yet, I still felt optimistic.

Last week’s sprint plan was:

  • Make it clear from the map which neighbors are your clients, ex-clients, and prospects

This week I did 5.75 hours of game development. I had a few false starts, and in the end, I still don’t have the indicators in the game.

I started working on creating an animated sprite, which is basically just a regular sprite but with frames, where the frames have a length of time and an image that should show during that time.

Then I wondered if perhaps there were best practices or at least expected ways it should work, so I did a bit of research, and I remembered that CSS animations are a thing, too.

For a good part of the time, I was feeling fine. I designed and started to implement an animation system that works similarly to how the animation systems in CSS or Godot engine works. That is, if there is a property to change, I can setup “tracks” to change those properties over time. Position, scale, color, sprite image, etc, all of these can be changed independently and simultaneously.

And then I realized: my sprint goal is once again nowhere near done. I was spending a bunch of time creating a generic animation system when these indicators really just need to flip between a few frames and bob up and down.

Neighborhood indicators mockup

So after a few hours (which as a reminder is over the course of half of the week) I stopped working on the generic animation player, and I went back to my animated sprite widget.

And now I’m at the point in which I am creating an animated sprite as an indicator if a neighbor is a client. That is, I am actually starting on the work that will actually get the sprint goals accomplished.

I can see a way to do all of the above in a hacky way. That is, I’m sure I could have quickly coded up what I needed to show indicators if I didn’t care about trying to ensure the code is supportable and maintainable in the future. And after three weeks of not getting the indicators into the game, it sure feels like I made the wrong choice.

Others might argue I made the wrong choice earlier by not using an existing game engine instead of writing all of the code myself.

But I need to remember that the last three weeks of amounted to a total of about 17 or 18 hours of work. That’s not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things, especially when those hours are broken up across entire days, making it difficult to keep focused.

And I also need to remember that I want to be able to support and maintain this project in the future.

One thing I’ve learned is that the game framework code library I’ve created and updated and modified over the last 10 years still has some inconsistencies, and so working to add animation on top of the existing sprite and widget code was more confusing than it needed to be.

For example, widgets are objects that I create once and then reuse across update/draw cycles. Widgets can not only be drawn, but they can also be made interactive/clickable.

IWidget is the base class that not only provides the interface for widgets but also handles drawing child widgets. That is, any derived widget automatically gets the ability to add and render child widgets, and all a derived widget needs to provide is a way to draw itself.

IWidget provides a setOnClick() function which allows you to specify the rectangle in which it should detect a click (usually the size of the widget) as well as what option/command should occur when a click occurs.

How does it know that you clicked it? Widgets have an update() function that takes the input (mouse button presses and mouse location). I have a ButtonControl class which IWidget takes advantage of.

What does this have to do with animation? Well, how do I make sure an animated sprite changes over time? I’d use a different update() function that takes a deltaTime in milliseconds.

So throughout GBLib, which is what I call my library of general code for all of my GBGames projects, I have some update() functions that handle input and some update() functions that handle the change in time. And IWidget provides an update() that handles input, and now that I have an AnimatedWidget that derives from IWidget, I also want an update() that handles the change in time.

And while most programming languages let me have two separate update() functions that take two different sets of arguments, I think it would be confusing and is just one example of the kind of lack of cohesive design to GBLib that makes me want to sit down and figure out what I actually want this code to look like.

But it doesn’t mean I’m going to do it just yet. I’m focusing on getting the indicators in with an AnimatedWidget, and if it means it is a bit awkward, then it is a bit awkward. I can fix awkward later, especially since I have an automated test suite to support the work.

And I can eventually make a more generic animation system. The optimistic developer in me was convinced I only needed a few more hours to finish the work I started the week on.

But the producer/delivery lead in me also recognized that after a few weeks, it would be nice if I had something to show for it. I thought I was working on a compromise between quick & dirty and generic & clean, but I realized I was still doing too much for future needs.

So I’m doing the simpler work now in order to get a new release out, and I can worry about generalizing the code when I have something that needs generalizing.

Thanks for reading!

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

Want to learn when I release updates to Toytles: Leaf Raking or about future games I am creating? Sign up for the GBGames Curiosities newsletter, and get the 24-page, full color PDF of the Toytles: Leaf Raking Player’s Guide for free!

Toytles: Leaf Raking Progress Report – Still Creating Neighborhood Indicators

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.

In the previous report, I said I had spent time mocking up the indicators that tell you whether or not a neighbor is a client and getting feedback from friends and colleagues.

Neighborhood indicators mockup

I also said:

I expect it won’t take me long to actually get the indicators working in the game. I think the bulk of my time this coming week will be playing the game and getting a feel for how the indicators change the experience.

Last week’s sprint plan was:

  • Make it clear from the map which neighbors are your clients, ex-clients, and prospects

After 5.75 hours of game development, almost as much as the previous sprint, I…still do not have indicators implemented.

So what was I doing?

Well, as I said in previous progress reports, I wish my Past Self had spent more time on making the code more maintainable for me today. It’s almost entirely implemented in a single file and has very few automated unit tests, which means most changes can be difficult to make, and they might introduce bugs or make the game unplayable without anything to warn me.

So in the spirit of helping my Future Self, and in the optimism that I’ll be continuing to create updates to Toytles: Leaf Raking for years to come, I am moving old code carefully into separate files, adding automated tests to ensure they work correctly, and even playing the game to make sure that everything continues to work (since there weren’t tests already, I might miss something important that needs to be tested).

In this case, in order to add the neighbor status indicators, I wanted to make sure I can do so by test-driving a solution. The problem was that most of the code handling the logic of setting up and managing the neighborhood was split across a few otherwise unrelated functions and data structures.

So I spent last week moving all of those functions and data structures into a Neighborhood class. I did so as safely as I could considering that there were no tests to prevent me from breaking the game. I used the existing code, then moved a data structure into the class, including its related functions, then replaced the old function calls with calls into the functions of the class, then deleted the original data structures and functions. Then I repeated again with each of the remaining data structures until I had the game using the class instead of the original disparate data and functions. All in all, it was a fairly smooth, if tedious, process.

And the class has automated unit tests associated with it, which means going forward I am always going to be more confident that this code will continue to work in the future.

Now, it’s very easy to change code, run tests, see them pass, and not realize that I missed something important that prevents the game itself from running. It’s especially true when working with untested code. The main way to catch these issues is to bring up the entire game and play it. So one change I am glad I made was a very high level test that does nothing more than run a single iteration of the update() loop in my main game state (InGameState). It won’t catch everything, but it has helped me catch more than a few crash bugs as soon as they are introduced, saving me a lot of time.

The downside is that all of this work took longer than I expected. I really thought I was going to finish this work earlier in the week and then move on to adding status indicators to the Neighborhood class by test-driving them in.

And at almost 6 hours, that’s once again the equivalent of less than a full-time day’s work, another reminder that I wish I could dedicate more time to this project than I do. Another couple of hours, and I would have finished the sprint’s commitment and then probably would have created and published a new release.

Maybe I could have created the neighbor status indicators independent of the above the code changes above. That is, I could have test-driven the new code and left the old code as-is, and I would just have to deal with adding more untested code around the usage of the indicators. I probably could have gotten the feature into the game sooner and only then spend time moving code around and adding tests.

I might try that approach in a future sprint, but for now, I will say that I am pleased that I took out hundreds of lines of code from InGameState.cpp, which is now at just under 4,000 lines. I have another class that holds most of the data structures relevant to the game, GameData, and its header has shrunk from 359 lines to 190 lines. Most of these line count reductions are the result of moving the code into separate modules.

Lines of code aren’t everything, but fewer lines generally means less complexity, which means it is easier to write tests for.

And automated tests are a key investment into saving Future Self time. In fact, as I mentioned above, I am already getting benefits out of having a a more robust, automated test suite for this game. Unlike game developer Ron Gilbert, I have always found unit tests in games to be useful. I just wish my Past Self had valued it enough to bother adding them earlier.

Anyway, this week I expect to finally implement the neighbor status indicators and publish a new update of the game. Make sure to sign up for the GBGames Curiosities mailing list (see link below), and I’ll let you know about the next release.

Thanks for reading!

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

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Toytles: Leaf Raking Progress Report – Creating Neighborhood Indicators

Last week’s report hinted that I’d be working on making it easier to see which neighbors are your clients as you travel the neighborhood.

Sprint 9: Visualizing client status

Last week’s sprint plan was:

  • Make it clear from the map which neighbors are your clients, ex-clients, and prospects

I put in a total of 6 hours of development. I’m actually feeling relatively good about that number because out of all of the weeks in the last two months, it ranks 4th in terms of hours of effort per week. And as a very, very part-time indie game developer, roughly 5 hours a week is what I aim for.

I spent a good part of that time using pen and paper to figure out what my indicators should look like. I even created some mock-ups and posted them on Twitter and in the local chapter of the IGDA’s Slack to get feedback.

I created a speech bubble with the idea that it alone will tell you if you are looking at a client or not. What’s inside the speech bubble can indicate if the client is worried. Prospects won’t have any indicator.

In the following image:

  • Mrs. Smith is a client
  • Isabella and Alberto are both unhappy/worried clients
  • Marsha is an ex-client

You can ignore Brian’s empty speech bubble, as it was just a placeholder, although I got feedback that it was confusing, so…good then.

Neighborhood indicators mockup

I also got feedback from the image above that the exclamation point looks like someone is trying to get your attention to give you a quest. The angry scribble is playful while communicating that someone is upset, but it isn’t clear why.

I was worried that the “no entry” sign makes it look like you can’t visit Marsha, when in fact you can. My wife pointed out, “Why would your ex-client want to talk to you anyway?” which got me thinking about how much work I want to put into allowing you to visit ex-clients.

Maybe one of the consequences of losing a client is that you cut off access to all sorts of witty writing by yours truly?

I created a new iteration based on the above feedback:

  • Mrs. Smith is a client
  • Isabella is an unhappy/worried client
  • Alberto is a happy client (no need to rake the yard at the moment)
  • Brian and Marsha are ex-clients

Neighborhood indicators mockup

I don’t like Brian’s speech bubble because it goes completely against the idea that a speech bubble is a quick visual indicator that you have a client.

But the smaller blinking “no entry” over a rake symbol should make it clearer that the raking is what is prohibited, not necessarily visiting.

At least, I hope so. I realized surprisingly late that feedback from mockups only gets me so far, and that I’ll need to observe playtesters to see if it actually works the way I want it to work.

The other feedback I got was that the happy turtle face I created to indicate a happy client looks more like a frog, which is confusing in a game about turtles.

And when I look at it…yeah, it does look like a frog.

So I spent some time trying to make it look less frog-like and more turtle-like, getting feedback from local game developers as I went:

I tried making the beak more obvious:
Frog to turtle edits

I doodled a bit and experimented with a cartoony emoji-like face:
Frog to turtle edits

An artist presented a sketch with the eyes a bit farther apart and with some nostrils, which looked waaaay better than this initial version:
Frog to turtle edits

So I doodled a bit more and came up with this:
Frog to turtle edits

Frog to turtle edits

I was told that the eyes looked sleepy, so I took away the lids and thinned the smile, creating what I think looks like a pretty decent smiley turtle face:

Some of the images above were pictures I took with my phone because it was easier to do so to share on Slack, which is why they are such poor quality.

The last part of the week was spent moving the neighborhood rendering code out into its own files to make it easier for me to work with to add the indicators. I haven’t finished that work yet, which means so far last week was spent designing, iterating, and getting feedback on the indicators but no indicators are implemented yet.

Next sprint: actually implementing it

I expect it won’t take me long to actually get the indicators working in the game. I think the bulk of my time this coming week will be playing the game and getting a feel for how the indicators change the experience. Do they make it easier to understand who your clients are and which ones need urgent attention when you are looking at any given neighborhood screen?

Worries I still have:

  • Should prospects have an indicator? Will people ignore them if there is no indicator?
  • Will people avoid ex-clients because the indicator makes it look like they can’t or shouldn’t visit? Should I, in fact, make ex-clients less interesting (or beneficial) to visit as a natural consequence of losing a client?
  • Does the happy turtle face still look too frog-like?

Hopefully I’ll get some answers in the coming week.

Thanks for reading!

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

Want to learn when I release updates to Toytles: Leaf Raking or about future games I am creating? Sign up for the GBGames Curiosities newsletter, and get the 24-page, full color PDF of the Toytles: Leaf Raking Player’s Guide for free!

Chat with Grumpy Clients in Toytles: Leaf Raking v1.4.2

Here’s information about another one of my Personality Injection updates for 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.

There are two major changes in this release.

Streamline waiting for rain

Waiting for the rain to stop so you can rake a yard is now less tedious. Your options before were to wait 10 minutes or to wait an hour.

The idea is that drizzle starts and stops every 10 minutes, but heavier rain starts and stops at the top of the hour, and so here are two options to match.

But the problem was that you might try to rake leaves in the middle of an hour. For example, let’s say that it is 3:40pm and raining. If you try to rake some leaves, you’ll be told it is raining and given the two options above. The optimal thing to do is to wait 10 minutes twice because it might stop raining at 4:00pm. The less optimal thing to do is to wait an hour, because then it would be 4:40pm. You would lose 40 minutes of time in that case.

But the optimal decision is annoying, especially if it were 4:10pm and you would have to wait 10 minutes five times!

So I changed it.

Now you can either wait 10 minutes or wait until the end of the hour, which is what you were trying to do anyway.

Wait for rain

Hopefully this change makes the game more enjoyable and less frustrating.

Unhappy client dialog

In keeping with the Personality Injection theme, your clients now say something unique when you neglect your work and allow too many leaves to remain in their yard.

You already get a report from your mother at the beginning of your work day to inform you who is getting concerned about their yard, but now when you visit grumpy clients, they can express their grumpiness to you in person!

Mrs. Smith is a sweet elderly turtle who never has anything bad to say about you.

Mrs. Smiths grumpy dialog

Other neighbors are a bit more direct about their displeasure.

Brians grumpy dialog

Future updates will continue to allow your neighbors to share their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and fears with you, as well as the occasional reminder that you have a responsibility to do what you said you would do. I continue to look forward to meeting the neighbors with you.

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

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