snacko 8 / The Great Outdoors

I feel like every month I get ready to write one of these, it takes me a while to go through memory lane and figure what happened last month, and what happened this month. They sort of blend together after awhile…

April felt a little short – we spent a lot of time developing and designing the meat of the game that will sit on the skeleton that we’ve created so far. To make sure we eliminate the risk of restarting parts of our game as much as possible, we want to be comfortable with our ideas and how they fit into the existing world of Snacko before they’re implemented. 

Even though a lot of the work we have done this month isn’t plainly visible in GIFs or screenshots, it’s an exciting time since we can finally move out of the stage of implementing basic features such as watering tiles or moving the character!

🍑 Crafting & Cooking

The first thing we tackled this month was putting in the basics of a crafting and cooking system. Both of those things, in our opinion, are instrumental to motivating players and encouraging experimentation.

Now, the debris and drops you find around your farm and out and about will serve a purpose. Some of these items are purely cosmetic, such as the planter. Some items help you on your farm, such as lamps lighting up the night, and sprinklers that help you water your crops. New tools, cosmetics, and building recipes are found when you discover new places, talk to new people, and obtain new items! New things in Snacko could inspire you to think of a new recipe, so try to explore and collect as many different materials as you can!

Cooking works a little differently in Snacko. In addition to the recipe book where you can access learned and tried recipes through your adventure like the crafting menu, you can also choose to experiment. There are three different kinds of recipes in the game – explicit, general, and a hybrid of the two. Explicit recipes would be dishes that need specific items, and they turn out the same every time – tomato soup, potato salad, and so on. There are also general recipes such as a garden salad or winter stew that will look for any item with the correct attribute. Each consumable item in Snacko has assigned attributes – is it a vegetable? A protein? Is it sweet, or sour, or  both? General recipes can accept any ingredient and turn into the dish as long as those conditions are met. For example, a garden salad would look for any 3 ingredients with the “vegetable” attribute, while a fruit tart may look for both a “fruit” and “sweet” attribute to be successful. 

Currently there are only a few dishes in Snacko – but more on that in the next part….

🍑 SnackoEd – The First Custom Tool

Recursive made a nifty web application that allows us to quickly add, remove, or modify item data and run it through a script to automatically update our data in the game engine. Before this, I’d have to painstakingly do it on the teeny-tiny UI of MySQL, and before that, I had to manually set the data for each new item I created, which took longer than making the sprite in some instances.

Using SnackoEd makes creating new items and recipes much faster. Less time spent setting up the item means more time can go into brainstorming yummy recipes and designing new items! Although this tool will never see the light of day outside of our own use, it’s been extremely helpful and a big time saver.

🍑 Camping Out

Now that the skeleton of the game is working without much issue, we can start doing the fun stuff! Next up on our queue is adding effects for different seasons, as well as new areas for the player to explore. In total, there will be four distinct islands asides from the main island where your farm and town is to discover, each with their own puzzles, resources, monsters, and creatures. With so much to do, what happens if you want to stay out for a few days instead of trekking home mid-hike?

Sleep in a cardboard box, duh. We were originally going to make this a sleeping bag, but after realizing that a cat would be much happier with a crummy box than anything else, we went with this. If you ship a lot of items, Mikan may come back the next day with a cardboard box or two that she used to haul your crops away. Some shops may also have free boxes to give away, or you could just try your luck at the junkyard. Recycling is important! Each box can be used up to three times before it turns mushy and useless…so stock up if you want to go for a big adventure! These boxes can be used in safe zones only – if it’s raining or snowing, you best find a clearing with lots of cover or a cave to camp out. Cardboard boxes are comfortable to sleep in, but only when they’re dry.

🍑 Seasons

At the moment, it’s always spring in Snacko. Winter? Cherry blossoms. Fall? Green leaves. It’s the same no matter how long you play, or how much time you skip. It gets a little boring, and since we will need different weather or environmental effects anyways on other islands, I figured let’s start implementing the basic 3 seasons that are left: summer, fall, and winter.

I started with winter just because it was the one that made me scratch my head the most. I didn’t want to do a “snow” version of every asset I would create, as that would take too much time. Instead, I wanted to create a material within the Engine to automatically cover everything with a thin layer of white snow. Stylistically, I did decide to leave paths and tilled dirt clear of snow – otherwise, it was a little hard to navigate your way around.

We’ll probably remove all the long swaying green grass and big green leaves from the trees as well – I’ve never seen such happy foliage  in such cold conditions!

With this material, once a box is ticked, it generates a nice bit of snow on the tops of things. How much is covered in white and how distinct the shape is can be modified with two numbers that can be set individually for each item’s material, but the default numbers work quite well for most things. If you look closely in the previous image, you can see little footprints behind Momo as well as fluttering snow!

🍑 Special Thanks

Thank you for everyone’s amazing support in April! I’ve been able to stop taking commissions and focus on just Snacko – along with that, we were able to start selling merchandise on a store front, and provide our supporters discount codes.

This month, I’ll be sending out the newest Snacko merchandise: shiny key chains! Without our patrons, none of this would be possible. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to create things for Snacko outside of developing the game! It’s like a dream come true.

See you next month!

Supporters on Patreon give us the opportunity to work towards developing full time. If you’d like to help us out and receive some cool perks, join the Snackie Guild!

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