What’s Been Going On (Again)?!

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INTRODUCTION

This is another What’s Been Going On?! update, and it’s an important one because it addresses several major issues, things that can no longer be ignored or deferred. I wanted to get something out before the New Year but decided to write this at the crest of 2019 instead.

I’ll first address two big issues – the elephants in the room, if you will – before moving on to the plans for 2019 as far as Smile Game Builder (and other gaming projects) I’m planning.

It’s not as gloom-and-doom as it might sound in the beginning, however, as there is an eventual positive outcome. Just bear with me.

DEPRESSIVE STAGE

Now, I know I haven’t uploaded anything for quite some time – since September, in fact – and I apologize for that. I’ve been asked often throughout this period if I’ve abandoned the SGB tutorials in particular and NO I HAVE NOT!

I have been going through a "depressive stage". While I’ve suffered with depression most of my life, it’s not something I talk about. Most of the time it can be managed; sometimes, though, it manifests more volcanically.

Unfortunately, this time fell into the latter over a long period of time, kind of like a "creeping depression". I didn’t see those all-too-familiar telltale signs (and I don’t think anyone else did either), so when it reached critical mass and I had a meltdown, it was particularly nasty, something I’m not very proud of. I almost lost something – someone! – very precious to me, so it was at that point that I knew something had gone seriously amiss and it was time to take a step back for an extended timeout while I sifted throught the root causes and sorted the crap out. I’d rather forget about this and move onwards and upwards!

And now that things are starting to make sense again, I can finally do this update, which I’ve continuously deferred until now. But, as I said, I wanted to start the new year with an update, and this is it.

Despite this, I’ve still been fairly active. You can read about that on my Twitter and Facebook. accounts.

And, if you haven’t already, I’d recommend you join our Smile Game Builder Discord server, where we have sections for modeling, Blender, Unity, and a lot of other SGB related channels.

TUTORIALS HISTORY

The lack of videos has nothing to do with Smile Game Builder (or game dev in general); it has to do with YouTube itself, more specifically what it has ultimately become.

When I first started the channel back in 2010…Yes, the channel is 8 years old! Anyway, when I first started the channel, I’d intended to upload a lot of content relating to RPG Maker (showcases of my scripts and projects mostly), as well as some animations I did from time to time.

But there was no clearly defined theme, no structure and no planned direction. It was just "fluff"! The videos were inconsistent and irregular. But back then I didn’t have too much confidence for things like public speaking or hard-coding. And I didn’t really think anything would become of my channel; it was just a means to showcase some of my projects, more for me than anyone else.

So when I had the privilege to beta-test Smile Game Builder before its official launch, that actually became a game changer for the channel. And it started to grow, moving in a direction I felt comfortable and confident with.

The very first SGB video I uploaded was an experimental sample game called SGB Quest: Faerealm.

And that was back in August 2016 shortly after SGB’s official release, I believe.

The second one I did was a Zelda styled forest maze (inspired by the forest maze in The Legend of Zelda for the original NES). I eventually did a tutorial on that – Tutorial #26, which you can also watch if you want to see how that’s done – but both videos were intended to showcase some of the things that could be done in SGB.

When SGB was officially released, the next set of videos were mainly overview videos going through all of the features that SGB had to offer. Pure and simple. But then one thing led to another and the next set of videos were again essentially showcase videos focusing on events and other features. And that sparked a revolution.

I started producing tutorials based on things I’d found: useful routines, workarounds for SGB’s limitations, additional information and ultimately answering various how-to questions that were asked or which I’d seen somewhere else. And this became the foundation for the Tutorials & Showcases playlist.

Almost 60 videos later, there’s still room for more tutorials as SGB continues to grow. That means that I will continue with the tutorials for as long as I’m able.

YOUTUBE

And that leads to the other elephant in the room which is YouTube and what has affectionately become known as the YouTube "adpocalypse", which I’m sure you’re all aware of by now. It affected many channels, both large and small, with far-reaching ramifications across the board. And my channel was included in their demonetization purge because I had no chance within the timeframe to reach their immodest new subscription requirements. I’m not going into details about that. There’s little point.

But what I will say is that, as a result of that, perhaps as an additional knock-on effect that may have been the trigger for the depressive state, I found myself becoming increasingly demotivated to create any videos for YouTube, regardless of content. Therefore, ironically, the demotivation to upload to YouTube was, first and foremost, BECAUSE of YouTube.

Now, although I’m not able to create content as regularly as I’d like because of my work schedule, I still have a 3-day window to create a video, update and maintain the blogs, work on the online store and work on my RPG Maker plugins, and SGB models and games (without including those all essential chores we all need to do!). Cramming all of these things into 3 days per week isn’t fun! And it’s simply not viable, even with a good time management system in place, as I’ve discovered numerous times.

But somehow I’m going to do it to make sure that all you wonderful people who subscribe and follow me, and benefit from my content, can continue doing so well into the new year. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart; it means a lot to me. It’s given me the motivation to forge ahead, in spite of everything that’s happened; it’s given me more of a direction and purpose, and it’s something I enjoy doing.

INTO THE NEW YEAR

So, yeah, going into the new year, what are the plans?

Smile Game Builder 2019
Smile Game Builder 2019

SGB TUTORIALS

Well, as I mentioned I’m going to start with the SGB tutorials and upload them every Sunday, as I did previously. In the beginning, though, it won’t be every Sunday while I regain the routine I had, but they will still be regular and consistent.

Now given the nature of YouTube and its current climate, while I always try to use content for which I have permission to use or which is used under the "Fair Use", if any of my videos are falsely flagged for things like copyright infringement, policy violations, or anything similar (which they ARE inclined to do), or if anything happens to my channel here, I will have a backup this time. That way it’ll give you the option to choose which platform you watch the tutorials on and if one is down then the other should work regardless so you can still view the video.

I’ll announce the link nearer the time.

ONLINE STORE

As many of you are probably aware by now, especially if you’ve been following me on social media, we are in the process of creating an online store. My other half and I decided to consolidate our products so they’d conveniently be in one place, rather than scattered in several places.

I will be putting my assets packs for SGB on the store and she’ll be putting her own arts and crafts there too. Eventually we’ll expand it to include other things as part the business ideas we’ve entertained and discussed for awhile, on and off.

Next year, we’re seriously pushing forward with this and the store’s grand opening will be closer to the middle or end of January 2019. So that’s something to look forward to. I know we’re excited about it because we’ve been bouncing ideas for the past 2 years and now, finally, it can all be realised.

LIVE-STREAMING

Also in the new year, I’m going to start live-streaming proper. I started it this year but, being a very slow bloomer when it comes to this sort of thing, it was mostly for experimentation, testing and experience.

Now that I have a decent set up, I think it’s time to use that experience for regular live-streams, which I’m scheduling for every Friday.
I’m not sure what I’ll actually stream yet, but it looks likely now that it’ll be Witcher 3 for awhile. I will also occasionally live-stream Smile Game Builder, where I might be able to answer some questions, perhaps even with a how-to demo, as well as FINALLY doing some play-throughs of games that people have sent me.

In the past I tried multi-streaming to both Twitch and YouTube, but I had a few problems with live-streaming to YouTube so am going to stick with Twitch only. At least for awhile.

SPONSORSHIP

Finally, as part of the transition into the new year, the wife and I have talked about various strategies to bring much more regular quality content to you guys without being limited by things like time constraints and finances.

And part of this is, of course, in addition to moneys from the online store, seeking donations and sponsorships. Basically pushing towards a more monetized business model so that for the longer term goals, we’d be able to generate a consistent income stream for things like hardware upgrades and new software. But, ultimately, the end-goal has always been so that I can devote a lot more time on game development specifically, notably the Smile Game Builder part of it simply because it’s proven to be a solid engine worthy of attention. The ultimate goal, however, is to be able to quit my job and focus on game development as a whole full time and migrate to Canada or the USA.

Before YouTube’s adpocalypse and demonetization purge, my channel was slowly gaining traction and viewership, so it meant that revenue from their ads was slowly accumulating. Early projections even suggested a cumulative increase of 200-300% from previous years over the course of the next year or two. Because of YouTube’s sweeping policy changes, I’m pretty much writing this off as a complete loss.

So that meant we had to look at alternatives, studying them very carefully, and seeing if they would fit our business model.

One option was, of course, the dreadnought Patreon, but now, given the recent controversy building up around it, I don’t think we’ll pursue that. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, and you’re really interested, you can do a search on it yourself. It’s a hot topic right now and YouTube in particular is rife with videos on it, so see for yourself.)

We are looking at other similar sites, including Subscribestar (which also has some "rhubarb" of its own), and we’re weighing our options. I think over the course of the next few months we’ll reach a decision on how best to proceed with this.

If you would like to make a donation – you don’t have to, of course, but every dollar will be greatly appreciated and will go towards these goals – that option will be available on the online store soon. Or you can donate directly through PayPal and your name will appear in the list of "special people" at the end of my videos, as well as on this blog.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me throughout this journey. May it continue into 2019!

Changes to Smile Game Builder
Hi-Tex Packs Content

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As part of a restructure of the Hi-Tex Assets Packs for Smile Game Builder, I decided to reorganize the contents of the assets packs. I also changed the numbering system; this is to improve integration when new volume packs are added.

Ground Terrain Pack Vol. 1

The Ground Terrain Pack Vol. 1 contains 81 terrains in total.

Hi-Tex Ground (GRO) Pack Vol. 1
Hi-Tex Ground (GRO) Pack Vol. 1

¶ The number of variations has been reduced as it was deemed that there were too many of them. Instead, I opted for less that can be expanded more in future packs.

House Pack Vol. 1

This pack contains a total of 287 assets. These are designed specifically as indoor walls.

  • 001-STUCCO (Terrain)
  • 002-REDBRICK/STUCCO (Terrain)
  • 003-ORANGEBRICK/STUCCO (Terrain)
  • 004-STONE (Terrain)
  • 005-LINTEL (Models)

¶ 001 through 004 each have 71 variations with different cross-beams and 005 are models designed to fit above doors.

Furniture Pack Vol. 1

At the moment, the Furniture Pack Vol. 1 contains 42 models, which may or may not be expanded later.

It has 3 types of chair (Mahogany, Oak and Pine), both normal and cushioned, in various poses (Normal, Overturned and Ruined). It also has matching tables (Square, Long and Round) and 3 paper decorations designed to fit on top of the tables (Plain, Symbol and Writing).

Furniture Pack Vol. 2

The furniture models in this pack are currently being revamped, but it will contain matching chairs from the Furniture Pack Vol. 1. These are designed to sit upside down on top of the tables (Single and Dual).

And it adds more paper table decorations (Bloodstained, Handprint and Bloody Handprint).

Although it currently has 15 models, I plan on adding more later.

Furniture Pack Vol. 3

In the Furniture Pack Vol. 3, the focus is on bookcases and pictures.

Bookcases match the previous packs (Mahogany, Oak and Pine) and the books are modular so can be stacked on the bookcase events in SGB, filling the entire shelf, partially filled shelves or having the top, middle or bottom shelves filled.

For the pictures, all artwork (except for the 2 maps) were created by my other half, Tina, who gave her permission to use them.

Release Date

I plan on releasing these packs over the course of next year, starting with the Ground Terrain Pack Vol. 1 and the House Pack Vol. 1.

To be informed of their releases, and for other information regarding SGB and this site, be sure to subscribe/follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

Happy Second Birthday, Smile Game Builder!

Happy 2nd Birthday SGB
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For me, it’s hard to believe that SMILE GAME BUILDER is already 2 years old and that I’ve been involved with it since slightly before its release. It’s been an exciting ride and an equally exciting learning curve.

The first video I did after release was intended as a kind of overview, but then I started sharing a few things I’d learned and it progressed from there.

Now, with almost 60 tutorials produced, I’m still here, still with SGB, still learning and still eagerly anticipating the next update. I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone at SmileBoom for giving me this opportunity and thanks to everyone who has taken the journey (from my very first video) with me! Long may it continue!

Update: What’s Been Going On?

Update: What's Been Going On
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This is a small update video on what I’ve been doing and what’s being planned regarding SMILE GAME BUILDER for anyone who is interested.

This is a short update video. The theme of update videos might be a more regular feature, not just for SGB, but RPG Maker MV as well.

Hi-Tex House Pack Vol. 1
Withdrawal and Revision

Smile Game Builder Hi-Tex Assets Models
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The House Pack Vol. 1 for SMILE GAME BUILDER has been withdrawn. I’m in the process of revising this entire pack and its contents, and separating it into different categories:

  • House Wall Terrains Pack (including Lintels)
  • Furniture Pack (chairs, tables and bookcases, including modular decorations)
  • Pictures Pack (various pictures and frames)

Individual packs and the bundle pack will be available on Itch.io and the online store, as well as other places.

These will be bundled into the newly revised House Pack Vol. 1 and, as a thank you, anyone who already purchased the asset pack will receive the bundle for free.

Note: I’m still not sure that I trust Itch enough to sell through them, but we shall see what happens.

What Happened to the SGB Discord Channel?

SGB Discord Promotion
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A few days ago, we all woke up to discover that the SMILE GAME BUILDER Discord Channel we all enjoyed so much, and which we all worked so hard to develop, was "missing". It had vanished from the Discord app, along with all of its content, as though it had never been.

Smile Game Builder Channel Discord Error

Oh noes! It seems this Discord Server is not setup correctly
or we are having issues fetching data!

The error message received when clicking on the invite link.

If I’m honest, I’ve been avoiding writing this post while I’ve dealt with a cocktail of emotional responses, from bewilderment to shock to despondency to blunt anger. I didn’t want to write anything without some facts first and certainly without being influenced by emotional bias.

What Happened?

After providing as much detail as possible, including the invite link, to Discord, and after further digging around, Discord’s conclusion was:

We’ve checked that invite link in our system, and it looks like that server does not exist in our system or has been deleted.

I also spoke to the "owner" and, after a discussion with him (without going into too many details for privacy), the channel was compromised and it’s now GONE.

He has expressed his dismay over the situation, but what happened was unfortunately beyond his control. So he will be taking the time to sort things out in his life first before returning. I wish him well and look forward to when he can rejoin us!

Where Do We Go From Here?

Where do we go from here?

The answer is simple: Where buildings and empires fall, we rebuild. And we rebuild stronger than before, aware of what happened in the past so we don’t repeat the same mistakes in the future! And that is what I’m focusing on.

I’m in the process of creating a brand new SMILE GAME BUILDER Discord server, which will be endorsed by SmileBoom and eventually may become properly "verified" as the official SGB Discord server. I don’t know yet. It all depends on a number of factors.

In the next day or so, it should be ready. Both SmileBoom and I will spread the word as soon as it’s set up!

Thank you for your patience and support! And be assured with the knowledge that the phoenix is rising out of the ashes, reborn and renewed, and ready for the future!

Online Store Starting This Week

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This coming week, I’m starting work on RPG Maker Times’s online store. It will contain:

  • SMILE GAME BUILDER assets and asset packs (including the House Pack) and additional materials I create.
  • RPG Maker MV plugin commercial licenses.
  • Our new and upcoming range of merchandise.
  • The services we provide, including proof-reading.

Hopefully this should be painless, although in my experience it’s not that simple. It might take awhile to fully implement!

Tutorial #53: Let’s Party! On Schedule

Smile Game Builder Tutorial 53 - Let's Party
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This week’s Smile Game Builder tutorial is on schedule for tomorrow (in its usual Sunday/Monday slot). However, my planned topic has changed.

I’m also making a few changes to the way I deliver videos. Dailymotion is no longer viable option for videos; output is limited to 360p, which renders tutorial videos in particular useless. (If it was in my budget to "upgrade" I might consider that for resolutions up to 1080p max, but most likely not even then. I may just inactivate my account there now.)

The more viable alternative is DTube. This is something I’m seriously looking into, although I’m still holding back on committing to it. This is for no other reason than I’m studying it very closely and considering what kind of content would be most suitable, whether the Smile Game Builder and RPG Maker tutorials/videos would be suitable there, and whether post-livestreaming videos would also be an option.

I’d like to continue providing regular quality videos (tutorials and showcases) for both SGB and RMMV on platforms that don’t limit creativity or false-flag videos for content. And at the same time give higher-resolutions suitable for most devices.

Updates: Smile Game Builder v1.10.2 & Exporter for Unity v1.1.1

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SMILE GAME BUILDER V1.10.2

– We’ve fixed an error: the scrollbar in the event editor doesn’t display or work properly.
– We’ve added a feature: you can update your game file thumbnail on the top menu by right-clicking the preview screen of Edit Game Data > Title Screen.
– We’ve fixed an error: if you have changed DPI settings of Windows, the main window is disarranged when you export the preset materials.
– We’ve fixed an error: when you select “Choose from the Installed Font” in “In-Game Font Style”, playtests sometimes process very slow.
– We’ve fixed an error: when you move from a map to another without darken the screen, the player faces the south direction a moment.
– We’ve fixed an error: during a playtest in FPS mode, if there are events with a battle effect icon or an emotion icon, the mirrored icon has been displayed at the opposite direction.
– We’ve fixed an error: during a playtest in FPS mode, if you move the playtest window, the player cannot make turns properly.
– We’ve fixed an error: even in FPS mode, the mouse cursor will be displayed in the title screen.
– We’ve fixed an error: even in FPS mode, the mouse cursor will be displayed during battles.
– We’ve fixed an error: if a monster’s resistance was set to “Heal” and a critical attack was performed by a party member, the monster gets the damage from it.
– We’ve fixed an error: cross map objects overhead if ‘Allow Underpass’ (in Add Assets) is set.
– We’ve fixed an error: when you use the renaming resource file name feature, it doesn’t rename the def file.
– We’ve fixed an error: some parts of stairs and slopes had a wrong passage determination.
– We’ve fixed an error: when you run a common event, Move to Another Location, from a map event, the rest of the events are not executed.
– We’ve fixed an error: you cannot select motions for 2D graphics on the event panel “Change Character Graphics”.

Exporter for Unity 5.6 V1.1.1

– We’ve fixed an error: when it’s dividing motions using def files, it doesn’t take into account its frame rate.
– We’ve fixed an error: when a character has multiple meshes, display and hidden didn’t work properly.
– We’ve fixed an error: when you play FPS mode on a smartphone, the player can only speak to events which are facing the north direction.
– We’ve fixed an error: the diagonal moves cannot be achieved on the Xbox game pad.
– We’ve fixed an error: motioned map objects only repeat one time.
– We’ve fixed a feature: when you build games for PC, the window can be switched to a full screen mode by pressing F4 or Alt+Enter.
– We’ve fixed an error: the drawing priorities of billboard characters were different from PC.
– We’ve fixed a feature: fogs can be achieved.
– We’ve fixed an error: characters that were made by 3D Character Editor don’t play their motions.
– We’ve fixed an error: some preset 3D materials don’t play their motions properly.
– We’ve fixed an error: the shake effect level was different from PC.
– We’ve fixed an error: after event battles, the event cannot move from its coordinates.
– We’ve fixed an error: after losing event battles, it sometimes crushes in the middle of the branch.
– We’ve fixed an error: if the names of maps contain “<” or “>”, sometimes it fails to create map folders for mesh and material.