Verdant Skies - Life Simulation, dating, farming, plant hybridization, and more!

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Post: #16
Gamer's Rhapsody: Best Game of 2016!
At Gamer's Rhapsody we won 2016 Game of the Year and Best Story! And best of all, we had a lot of players who got to sit down with Verdant Skies and play through the beginning of the game. Since Gamer's Rhapsody is a relatively small convention, players were able to continue their saves on the second and third day of the convention, so half a dozen players were able to get 1-3 hours of gameplay! Thanks to our dedicated testers who got through the first 3 character events, picked and sold $500 worth of flowers, and got all the tool upgrades.

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Thanks to Gamer's Rhapsody for an amazing con!

Feedback from the testers filled several notebook pages and has been a huge help in balancing prices and the timing for the first dozen events.

Polishing Animations

A lot of polishing is happening throughout the game. One good example is this new animation when fields are watered.

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Look at those fields!


Fertilizer, Sprinklers, and Area Specific Crops

I've been working on some of the more advanced farming features. After watching some of the people who played a longer amount of time at Gamer's Rhapsody, I realized there was room for more advancement in farming. Once players have done a few rotations of crops in one or two fields, they are looking for some ways to make themselves more effective. Fertilizer increases the growth rate of a crop - and a certain genetic trait makes it a requirement. Sprinklers allow you to water a whole 2x2 field with a single touch.

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Drag and drop to apply fertilizer

I've also finally done the programming to unlock region specific crops. Rice, for example, grows only in the marsh. Cactus plants can only be cultivated in the mountains.

Controller Support

We've added controller support and the ability to rebind the keyboard keys. The game is still completely playable with just the mouse, but our goal is to make it playable with just a keyboard or just a controller as well. We're testing with XBox, PlayStation, and Steam controllers, but the system should work with just about any controller you can imagine. Worst case, you'll have to bind some buttons manually in the interface. </p>

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The biggest challenge with controller support is making sure all the menus can be navigated effectively with the controller. This has proven to be time consuming so far, but it's just a matter of sitting down and doing the work.

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This is one of six new hairstyles.

We're continuing to add new clothing and hairstyle options. I've developed an animation testing tool so it's easier to make sure all the clothing lines up properly.

Introducing Rosie

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Rosie Martinez is the colony’s talented mechanical engineer. Blind from birth, she never let her disability hinder her adventurous nature. She has a knack for fixing things and has many patents for her original designs. Respected by her peers on the home world, Rosie now uses her gifts to aid you in your colonization of Viridis Primus.</p>

Howling Moon Software - CrayonBall for Mac and iPhone, Contract Game Dev Work
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Post: #17
Yeah, technically it might be March now, but we've been so busy working on the game, posting about the news falls to the back burner. And honestly, making the game is more fun than writing blog posts anyway.

Cleanup, polish, improvements, and even a few new features have been the focus for the last month. Under the hood, there's been some big upgrades to the audio engine (upgrading WWise to a new version) and a major rework on how shadows and reflections are rendered. These changes allow for better performance and fix a few outstanding graphical glitches that we've mostly just avoided showing in screenshots. Shadows and reflections are now much more consistent. For example, when you see a flower waving in the wind, the reflection and the shadow now also wave.

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Insect Catching

Insect collecting is a new memory-matching style mechanic we've introduced. Alpha testers have loved the fishing mini-game, so we wanted to expand that to other resource gathering tasks. In order to successfully collect an insect, you need to find a matching pair of them out in the world. Once you've got a pair, the insects go into your inventory and can be sold (maybe even cooked), or given to a character who collects them in their terrarium.

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Jade's Room

New Interior Decorations

Lizzy has been hard at work making new interior decorations (in addition to new portraits for old and new characters). The extra wallpapers, floors, and new furniture allow for a lot more personalization in the interiors.

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Rosie's Room

Story and Dialogue

Two new characters now have their arrival events written, bringing the total of already unlockable in-game characters to six. We've got 6000 lines of dialog in the project so far, and we've fleshed out most of the first five friendship events for the first four characters. After the five friendship events, you unlock the next five romance events- somewhere towards the end of that group, you make the decision to exclusively date that person, which can lead you towards marriage.  

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We've also done the programming work necessary to move the quests, mails, and event triggers out to a separate file. These are easy-to-edit json files, and it allows us to work on them without having to recompile the game. But more importantly, it allows for the possibility of users editing the files to add their own content!

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The cave has also received some upgrades.

Preorders Available

We've made pre-orders available via the Humble Bundle store! Once Verdant Skies is released, you can redeem a steam key for the game through the Humble Bundle site. If you'd like to support our development process, you can preorder on the Verdant Skies (http://verdantskies.com/#preorder) page. Pre-orders aren't for everyone- don't worry, we'll let you know when the game is released too!

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Trees take a few days to regrow now, forcing players to explore a bit further if they are doing major lumber construction projects.


Introducing Jade

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The mastermind behind the colonization of Viridis Primus, the colony’s administrator Jade Worthington is a force to be reckoned with. Direct and driven, Jade enjoys the company of likeminded people. Laziness or ineptitude is sure to land you on her bad side. Her motives are a mystery but it is obvious that she is determined to make this endeavor succeed no matter the cost.

Howling Moon Software - CrayonBall for Mac and iPhone, Contract Game Dev Work
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Post: #18
New fog effects, audio, controller support!
March has been a busy month for us; we showed Verdant Skies at MinneBar, a Minnesota tech conference. We all worked really hard to make VS as polished as possible for the event. For me, that meant a lot of work into perfecting the controller support, since only XBox controllers were available at the event. We got a great team picture of myself, Beth, and Lizzy.

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Marsh Fog
Scott ( @slembcke ) had some free time to help out on the project, and one of the awesome shaders he wrote adds fog to the marsh. Fog changes with the time of day and has a configurable height off the ground. It’s all drawn in the same pass as the sprites themselves, so it’s very fast. We’ve also got a nice night-time / morning fog that occurs in other areas.

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Even More Interiors
Beth ( @bethkorth ) has been hard at work making interiors for the new characters. Without revealing too much about the new ones, here are a few sneak peeks.

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New Sound Effects and Music
Our two audio masters have been hard at work! Troy ( @yellowchord ) has started writing adaptive music for Verdant Skies, so the outdoor music will flow and change with in-game events dynamically. Topher ( @PhantomFreq ) did a great pass through the sound effects in-game. There are a few special events like the house construction that feel much more satisfying with sound.

Improved Fishing
Spear fishing has been a big hit at testing, people say it’s a lot more exciting than waiting for a fish to bite. Topher added new sound effects to the fishing mini-game and I programmed different fish characteristics, so you can see which fish you’re going to catch.

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Each region of the map has different fish. Being able to identify which fish are which is pretty handy. In this case, the little fish in the middle is a “Flying Trout”, and it’s a good one to target since it’s great for sushi- an easy to make early cooking recipe.
The fish that are easy to cook are great early-game energy boosters for players who want to get the most out of each day.

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Since there are more regions, we needed more types of fish!

Meanwhile, work continues on character events, bug fixes, usability and UI improvements, and all the usual stuff.

Introducing Wyatt
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Every space farming colony needs a reliable botanist, and Dr. Wyatt Jones is yours! Friendly albeit a little distant, Wyatt finds little use for small talk. However, he will be more than happy to speak at length regarding the sciences. Use his vast knowledge to aid you in your farming endeavors.

Howling Moon Software - CrayonBall for Mac and iPhone, Contract Game Dev Work
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Post: #19
Spring has sprung!
Much like our world outside, there's many things blooming in the development of Verdant Skies! From crops to insects, we've added some great new art. Love is in the air as we continue to expand on the relationship system. Of course, what update is complete without some bug fixes!

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Working on Relationships
Lead Writer Beth ( @bethkorth ) finished the first draft of Rosie's entire character arc. From your first meeting all the way to the commitment ceremony, it's amazing to see it all come together! Andy ( @kortham ) worked on the programming required to flag relationships as exclusively dating or married. Different characters respond differently to you based on your relationship status, and each individual relationship moves at a unique pace. Some characters want exclusive status early in the relationship, and others don't care at all.
If you become good friends with someone, but decide not to date them, you move down a friendship path, and you'll get an extra friendship event in place of the dating ones. Next month, we'll give players a way to break up with someone they are dating. A similar interface can be used to start dating someone you previously turned down.

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Finalized Crop List
Crops are done! Lizzy ( @Pixilizi_Art ) has completed the artwork for all the growing stages of the 14 crops in the game. There are four crops native to each of the regions - plains, mountains, and marsh, and there are two extra crops found across the river. In testing, this is a pretty good sweet spot where you've got a lot of variety but you don't have crop-overload. Since the player can genetically modify each species they have, they can end up with a lot of seeds!

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New Bug Art
Lizzy has also been busy working on art for the bugs that will be inhabiting Viridis Primus. Here's six in addition to the Angler Mite you'll see in the insect collection image below. These little guys are probably a lot cuter than the insects that may be invading your garden or home this spring. Check out that fuzzy coat on our adorable little Umbra Bee on the bottom right!

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Lots and lots and lots of fixes
I skim through the changelog to remind myself what we did over the past month, and this month there were about 4 pages worth of fixes. A lot of these are too small to mention, but it includes many fixes to furniture, controller support fixes, improving the usability of various UIs. We made a concerted effort to go through all the clothing and fix minor layout problems with them. One playtester noticed that the crafting recipe for sawdust required that they already had some sawdust, so that was fixed. Some of the oldest art in the game, such as the shipping box and scrap pile was redone to match the improved standards we have now.

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Play Verdant Skies at GlitchCon17!
Verdant Skies is honored to be included in this year's Minnecade! Come playtest at GlitchCon May 5-7th. We're hoping to get some really long playtests out of this convention in order to test some of the new content. Most people who play for 2 hours really only start to scratch the surface of what we've got finished... which is really encouraging!

Howling Moon Software - CrayonBall for Mac and iPhone, Contract Game Dev Work
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