Development Diaries, Volume 16

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Oh, the places you'll go:

What you see in the video above is confidence that the main game itself is pretty much feature-complete, and that I've moved onto another system: the Screen Saver. In this video, I briefly feature the collection of 65 images that can be unlocked by playing the game.

Assembling and editing the photos for the Screen Saver/wallpaper system was, actually, a lot of fun. Most of the U.S. and Canadian photos are my own, but seeing as how I'm developing a global game, it turned out that I'd need more than, ah, U.S. and Canadian photos. So I hit up the interthump in search of good Public Domain images, of which it turns out there are quite a lot. (I sourced all of them through Wikipedia, which unambiguously states the copyright of each hosted image. In these cases, I only used the ones listed "Public Domain.")

And I really did have fun working on these images. Each image required three resolutions: thumbnail (for previews), standard definition, and widescreen/high defintion. Cropping and adjusting the images were a challenge, and I learned a lot about how to frame or reframe image content based on not only the image size I needed to achieve, but also what was going on in the photo. Ground-level shots of tall objects started emphasizing the sky and a feeling of height, while photos taken from up high de-emphasized the sky and instead focused on the expanse of scenery unveiled across the image. Those are just two examples. Of course, for the images that I didn't take myself, all the credit goes to the photographer, many of whom snapped some flat-out fantastic photos.

Working on the Screen Saver also allowed me to lay the framework for finishing one of my other major outstanding systems: the Leaderboard. Both the Screen Saver and the Leaderboard require the use of menus, so I actually went back and wrote a brand new MenuSystem class that could be easily created, modified, and moved around the screen to fit a variety of purposes. Both the fairly orthodox Main Menu and now the Screen Saver menu (which also uses the checkboxes to enable/disable images for the Screen Saver lineup) use this new system.

Of course, the Screen Saver itself isn't done. I need to add the appropriate button prompts under the preview thumbnail to let the player know what to do and what to press. And I need to add the actual, um, Screen Saver component, as opposed to the photo preview component that I demonstrated in the video. Fortunately, those can be finished up quickly.

One last detail: I've started swapping out the default blue menu backgrounds for some artsy blurred photographs. For the longest time, I couldn't decide what I wanted the background of a geography quiz game to be... I always figured that it'd be an undulating ocean, a clear blue sky, and the requisite title and text. I probably could've just implemented the 3D ocean class that I tested out roughly 12 Development Diaries ago, before I started my custom water shader. But in the meanwhile, I've settled on some dark blue photos, which I think look pretty and dignified. Does anyone think otherwise? Should I shoot for a different aesthetic? I still gotta go and add menu titles, so nothing is set in stone right now.

P.S. I'm still working on the achievements required to unlock the wallpapers. The text describing what needs to be done to do the unlocking appears in the video above, but it's just text. For the video, I auto-unlocked all the photos by hitting a debug button on my controller. This is necessary, seeing as how end users won't be able to fully view photos that haven't been unlocked.