The main Project Gaia thread is doing great as the Q&A and General Discussion. Changing this thread to talk more about the current work in progress in the early access thread, and general plans for upcoming features.
State of the Game - August 2022
First of all, I’m really happy to work with Erronwolf, who has come in to provide writing support for all of the pregnancy dialog. So now all of the expansion stages and anomaly logs for that gameplay is filled. That was a massive amount of content that was very nice to see get put in. That did require some formatting work on my end, which did take a lot of time. Took longer because RPGM is very picky about text formatting, and I was simultaneously trying to put it into the language support at the same time.
Second, I tried to make the game as modular as possible, but going over playtesting for both gameplay themes in the game, I realized how many things need to be different for the pregnancy gameplay. There, distortion shouldn’t accumulate until the main character is actually pregnant. In the weight gain theme, everything is constantly accumulating. So this has been a lot of reading old code to make sure I’m tracking all of the places where I need some branching logic.
Art assets has been the hardest challenge for this game, namely because it’s the one that I don’t know where to even begin with. I feel lucky to collaborate with two amazing artists that has allowed me to provide two different themes for players. Two other themes has been requested often, breast/butt and blueberry expansion.
My breast/butt artist has been working on art assets for a while, which like the pregnancy I started to get started on some of the gameplay content to be ready for it. However, in the end of July they backed out. So not only am I on the search for an artist again, but my time could have been spent on current content.
I did start talking to a blueberry artist, but after starting it just didn’t seem like a good match. They also ended up backing out.
My objective for Project Gaia is to provide more what the players want, so I’ll be continuing on the lookout for art assets. However, I have reached much farther than I first thought I would ever get to. Instead of wondering if I would get this project completed, I’m securing stretch goals, and need to start thinking about final release plans.
As for what those plans might be, I’m still looking into that.
Dev Log - October 2022
Monthly I have State of the Game articles sent by Patreon to my supporters, but I honestly don’t get metrics from downloads and rating there. When it comes to metrics for the general free release of Project Gaia second only to itchio where the game is held, the greatest number of players come from this community. And so again I thank you for your support, and all of the feedback that has helped me try to make Project Gaia better.
The current general version is v0.8.3. v0.8 in general was big because I had managed to accomplish a really big desired feature for the game: to be able to have different expansion themes and stories. All players now have the ability to select in the beginning of the story whether the source of expansion is weight gain or through pregnancy, depending on the players preference.
Doing so brought in a lot of bugs, mainly in the formed of moments where the separate game mechanics and story elements weren’t properly setup, or placeholders were put in. That means that v0.8 does have a lot of bugs, mainly for the pregnancy side, that prevents completing the game, or some parts of the story. That’s where v0.9’s focus comes in. Supporters are getting early access to efforts to fill in story and dialog gaps, fixes to puzzles, and most importantly hints and other ways to be able to continue on with the story with some explanations or help.
That’s my main development focus now; getting back to story and dialog. Which is fun, because I get to do things that I feel offer some help with quality. The only challenge is trying to convey the value of every change that occurs. Because it’s a lot of little things, and definitely not in the same places. Some places are rewriting a single line of dialog, or even beginning to color code keywords in the current dialog, to help players get clear objectives and expectations of the story. Even fixing bugs in “theme gating” - what I’m calling those switches that gives different dialog or mechanics depending on the current theme, are not always clear from the player perspective.
That’s where I’m at right now, and I hope that players from here get some benefit from the insight into the development process. As always, I’ve organized the Discord to be a center for feedback and bug reporting. But if you see something, even (especially) if it is some moment in the story where you as a player are unsure on what to do, I’m really enjoying your insight so I can make my game better.
Devlog - November 2022
October was a big month for development progress. v0.9 was a big focus on bug fixes and trying to add more dialog to existing content to help move the story along, help explain puzzles and moments in the game, bring the amount of content for Pregnancy gameplay up to the level of Weight Gain, and so on. While it didn’t get everything, it was a lot of tiny efforts across the whole game.
Meanwhile, I’m reflecting on the differences between the progress made last month, and the visibility amongst the players. A wave of tiny changes across the game is hard to show to players. Meanwhile, there was background research into game design in general, but also into the RPG Maker engine. When I first started making this game I was starting from scratch from a knowledge basis. Meanwhile, there were game elements that I wanted, and I couldn’t quite figure out how to make RPGM behave the way I wanted to make it work. So there were a lot of creative features and workarounds at first. Now that I have learned so much, there has been work to try to remove those flashy, creative features in favor of practical, well-functioning methods that are much easier to use in more places, and that I can build off of. This also means that features may have been fixed at best, or appeared as it was to a player perspective. The lesson I’ve learned is to also try to approach design and features so that players can see and enjoy the value better.
Looking forward, v0.10 is underway, and has some clear goals in mind. At the end of v0.9, the blueberry art content was completed. Also, art assets opened up for NPCs! I had such trouble at first getting art assets that I didn’t think it would be feasible to get any other humanoid characters. So I even wrote the story and encounters to avoid it. Now that I have NPCs, I’ve started doing some work to bring them in, including another attempt to revamp battles to make it more fun. That’s also why you see a new view to combat, so that the players can enjoy seeing the characters more. Here are the three main goals for v0.10:
- Blueberry expansion theme (Art is complete, writing dialog and events now)
- NPC introduction! (Som art is complete and in game, a simple placeholder cutscene introduces them. More maps will showcase them later)
- New battle system. The NPCs are now showing up in encounters after their intro cutscene. New energy types are in for a rock-paper-scissors strategy, and attacks will follow to help provide a strategy to combat encounters. New boss NPCs and fights are planned!
I am seeing reports of more bugs and some features which I’m unable to replicate. I’m trying to look at them. I’m also guessing that working now in v0.10 instead of v0.9 that some of these changes have already been fixed. Handling versions up to release is going to change, and I’ll address that in a specific dev log for my plans for the final version release.
December Dev Log
December is here, and the objectives haven’t changed. Meanwhile, there has been a lot in the background that happened in November. v010 was released to supporters, blueberry content and new NPCs with their own story is in progress. Meanwhile, a lot of behind the scenes work has been done. There’s a studio name, deployment is getting ready for steam and itchio, and I’ve been improving my skills for image and audio editing.
Adding in all of the things that I have learned in game development in the engine and in general, and there has been a lot for the whole year.
I’ve been also getting the quality of the story and sfx elements up a notch. To do this, I’ve created a new game and been reviewing all of my code and dialog as I add them back in. It’s resulted in me cleaning up a couple hundred lines of code, adding a few hundred lines of extra dialog, implement a new UI system for displaying information, and a new quest system that’s been just as useful for me finding gaps as it will be for players tracking all of the story arcs in the game.
I’m still in the process of adding everything back in, but the game main story arc has been nearly complete already. Aside from finishing up blueberry and the new NPC stories, there hasn’t been too much to add. Doing this helps to get the game to a finished quality.
When do you get your hands on this? I’m finishing putting a lot of the essential stuff back in, and then I can put out a general release according to my deployment plans.