Another Day Update Blog Jan 2022
Don't worry, despite the silence, Another Day is still going!
2021 was the first year me and Melo were both outta college and starting to figure out things going forward. That includes figuring out the foundation for Another Day.
Last update, I mentioned a “special tool” that Melo was developing to help me write the dialog for the game. It’s finally been finished and called Diagen—short for Dialog Generator. It's been Melo's giant project of a really robust dev tool for making dialog. It was supposed to have been finished around the summer, but I managed to convince Melo to play TWEWY and get him to introduce some of the features from that game into what Diagen can do. It's set things back but it also meant the tool is so much more rich and complete. I’d love to make a full demonstration on using it and it's features but that will come at a later date.
Fun fact: when I first had the idea for Another Day back in middle school, I pictured it in TWEWY style cutscenes with all the pacing and effects it had, so I guess this is a big return to how I always wanted the story to be told.
One massive benefit of Melo having taken the time to make Diagen, is that I’m able to work on writing dialog independently from anything he’s doing with the code. Originally, I was going to just write things out on a spreadsheet but it presented 2 problems. First of all, we set a limited resolution so it’s possible to write something and have it be too big for the text box. Counting how many characters I could use max was one solution but it still meant problem number two: having to rely on Melo to input the dialog manually. Now while it would be cool to sit next to Melo and tell him everything I want in each text box like how Itoi did for Mother, having this tool means that I can write things out, edit them, and play them back at myself to adjust things like pacing without having to bother Melo too much. It also automates some of the code that would have to be attached to any dialog. It’s a big timesaver overall so we’re both thankful for it.
On the idea of writing, I think I can confidently say that I have 70% of the story figured out in terms of what happens. That 30% chunk is something of a good vague idea of what needs to happen to tie it to the end point, so I think it's safe to say I know what's happening. Right now I’ve been sorting through all my old notes and digging up writing scraps for fleshing out scenes as I start writing scripts for cutscenes. I’m starting with key moments before I worry about things like what some random shopkeeper or NPC says. It's sort of like painting—first you block in shapes and then you start working smaller and smaller until you’re done.
We've also gone back to revise things with how enemies work in the overworld. Initially, we wanted to have enemies visible on the overworld and you could approach them and enter a fight with them pretty seamlessly. It was a fun idea but it meant 2 big challenges: Designing the overworld to accommodate enemies and pathfinding.
Accommodating enemies is a pain on the art side (aka my side) of things because I can’t have things like more narrow cramped areas which I think are cool and cozy if enemies appear in those areas at all. The art has to follow the amount of space enemies need so I’m bound to what the gameplay needs more than what I want to put in the overworld to make it pretty and fun to run around in visually. I think making fun locations is something really important to an RPG, it's certainly something that I enjoy, but gameplay is probably more important and if something is annoying and frustrating to a player, I’d rather avoid it.
Pathfinding is also another headache and a half. For what we had planned, enemies needed to follow a pathfinding algorithm that was buggy and not fun. So instead of trying to make it work, we decided to take a different approach. I came up with an alternate TWEWY inspired idea that would work to have players pick their battles and do some fun things like chaining them together. It doesn’t depend on any pathfinding at all so there's a lot more freedom, we’ve even been thinking up how it could be used for puzzles which is really fun to think about. We’ll show off more of the feature and what it can do at a later point when it’s more developed though. At the moment we just have an extremely rough prototype, but we know how it works and all so that's good.
In terms of the battles themselves, Melo’s been working on those too. He’s made a test character that can do everything the player and other characters will be able to do, and all the logic to make it work. It’s all placeholders right now but it all works so the next steps for the battles will be giving their animations, mapping hitboxes and writing what moves do. The system is pretty flexible and Melo’s experimenting with having more than one opponent— which is something the game can handle just fine. We’ll continue messing around with that idea to see if it's fun for players so no promises on it making its way to the final game just yet.
Hopefully now with more things set up and other things being figured out, I’ll be able to work this year a lot more on the game. I’m dreaming of the day when I realize I’m just on that slow and gradual grind of making things and exporting them for Melo to put into the game. I’m not sure if 2022 will be the start of that but I’m certainly hoping it might be. I’m sure all of you would be really excited for that point too as I’d be able to share screenshots and record footage on the progress. It’s certainly a lot more exciting to see that stuff, as you can start to put together in your head what the game will really look like. So far all the stuff we’ve shown so far is all we have. Technically you could say a lot of it is placeholder and though I wish I could show off more pretty things, it’s important to work rough and dirty so that less work is thrown out later.
I know I said last time that I’d be making another update for September. This time there’s no promises on the next time I make an update other than in a year’s time when I remember again haha. Can’t break promises I don’t make after all. Either way I hope you all have a good 2022!