As many of you already know, I started live-streaming SMILE GAME BUILDER on YouTube, specifically for developing Tutoria, the lands in which the game takes place.
Tutoria is a vast land mass sitting in the centre of the Primeval Ocean (a bit like Pangea before it shifted into the continents we know today).
It’s divided into two supercontenents: Aetios, the frigid ice-bound tundra in the north, and Kryuth, comprising more temperate climates in the south and the sweltering desert regions farther south and east.
Connecting them is a man-made bridge in the east, referred to simply as the Crossing, and an isthmus in the west known as the Dragon’s Causeway. The capital of Kryuth is Ancieryth and Aetios’s capital city is Cloverleaf.
The above image provides a very basic layout of what Tutoria is meant to look like. Details will inevitably change as development continues throughout the live-streams and the map itself might change over time. (The map was created on Inkarnate, an online map creator. You do need an account to use it, but you can still make some useful maps even with the Free version; the Pro version isn’t that badly priced either.)
The Purpose of Tutoria
The basic idea behind Tutoria – and the purpose of the live-streams on YouTube – is to create a game from start to finish (however long it takes) and then to post-process it in Unity so that it can then be downloaded and played by all.
It isn’t a serious attempt at game making! It’s simply to create a game over the course of one- or two-hour streams for others to watch. And that’s it!
As I develop Tutoria during the live-streams, I’ll also revisit some of my older video tutorials and bring them more up-to-date. Plus I’ll demonstrate how to create some of the graphics for the game, including icons, effects, and so on. This essentially makes it a tutorial live-stream with the end-goal of a completed game.
Incidentally, Sana of SmileBoom suggested the name "Tutoria" some time ago because I initially wanted to create a series of videos dedicated to creating a short game in SMILE GAME BUILDER based on my tutorials. And it stuck! Hence why it’s so named now.
During live-streams I’ll be giving away free stuff! Everyone likes free stuff, right?
This could be anything from Title screens to Game Over screens to assets that I create. In last week’s stream, I gave away a Title screen of a nice fairy sitting on a toadstool in a fairy ring.
In the beginning, these giveaways will be sporadic, pretty much as and when I feel like it, but over time, they’ll become a regular feature for all the Tutoria streams. I’ll usually announce this on Twitter and Facebook.
The rules for receiving these freebies (as they become available) are:
You must say "Hi!" during the live-stream (even if you say nothing else).
After the live-stream, you must contact me on Twitter or Facebook, or in Discord, with the name you used during the stream.
You must NOT use them in anything but SMILE GAME BUILDER.
You must NOT share them with anyone else or on any other website. (Of course, you can still use them in your games if you want to.)
A final note about the giveaways: In time, these free assets will make their way in packs on the Gnome Treasure online store and Itch.io. So if you want free copies you can collect them in the live-streams only!
Tutoria Live-Streaming Schedule
Live-streams for Tutoria were initially scheduled for Fridays. I had to fit this into my shifts at work. Now that they’ve changed slightly to Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, however, it makes it easier to work with as far as game development as a whole is concerned.
Starting this weekend, I’m rescheduling these live-streams for Sundays because, being the weekend, and based on the feedback I’ve also received, this seems to be a more convenient slot for a people to attend.
From now on, I’m going to live-stream SMILE GAME BUILDER only to continue building Tutoria, a game created from scratch, start to finish during the streams.
I’ve wanted to do this for quite some time; I just wasn’t in a position to do so. Since upgrading my computer and Internet speeds, it’s now viable to live-stream at a decent speed and quality, usually at 1080p.
As many of you probably know by now, I already started live-streaming SMILE GAME BUILDER, intending on creating a game from scratch, start to finish, during the stream. So far its schedule has been every Saturday at 10pm GMT/2pm PST/5pm EST, but I’m now aiming for twice per week to continue its development.
Next week the stream is scheduled for Friday and Saturday. However, as of the week commencing 25 March 2019, my work hours change, so live-streaming will be rescheduled for Thursdays and Fridays Sundays.
The idea behind developing Tutoria is to creating a full game from start to finish, including any necessary graphics during the stream.
It also serves tutorials and additional techniques in SGB, some of which are based on many of my old tutorials (updated to the current version) and some are new ones.
During live sessions, viewers will be able to offer suggestions for shaping the way Tutoria evolves. Although I’ve written an outline for the underlying storyline, in the beginning I probably won’t worry too much about it. As the game develops, however, that plot will be adhered to more as it’s gradually fleshed out.
Viewers can also ask questions about SGB in general in chat (or talk amongst themselves) and I’ll answer as many of them as I can – if I can!.
The reason for this is simple: I don’t care for Twitch. Sorry!
I’ve tried to stream on Twitch – and, indeed, tried to like the platform – but I simply can’t do it. Until now, I’ve multi-streamed on both platforms, sometimes smoothly, sometimes with a few hiccups. Many people like Twitch; I don’t.
Twitch tends to "expire" videos after a set amount of time. One way to bypass this is to "highlight" videos, which is somewhat of an inconvenience. YouTube does no such thing. Besides, I’m more established on YouTube and, rather than having too many fingers in too many pies, as a sequitur being able to eat one pie is better and easier.
When the game is finished (however long it takes), it’ll be fine-tuned – including post-production through Unity – and released for all SGB users to play.
The link will then be available on my Itch.io account and it’ll be freely available for download.
I’ve mentioned numerous times about having a backup for my Smile Game Builder tutorials and any other videos I create just in case something happens to my YouTube channel because, well, you never know with the current partisan and increasingly censorial climate there. So, it’s time to make it official.
Backing Up To BitChute
If you haven’t already, create a BitChute account. That way you can comment, suggest ideas for new tutorials, or just to say Hi.
My new alternative BitChute Channel will include playlists for Smile Game Builder and RPG Maker MV content. The latter playlist will also include some unique content.
I’m not completely migrating to BitChute; it’s intended as an alternative or a backup channel only at this point. Moreover, videos – notably the Smile Game Builder ones – will start at #61 onwards (whatever their topics).
When it comes to promoting any new videos I create, I’ll try and post links to both BitChute and YouTube to give a choice on which to visit.
Although I started live-streaming Elder Scrolls Online, I’m also going to have regular live-streams with Smile Game Builder. In the beginning, these will be sporadic but as time goes on they’ll be more regular.
The content of these live-streams will eventually move towards creating a proper game, based loosely on the tutorials and containing many of the methods I used in them, until it’s complete. The game, under the title Tutoria, will then be released as a public free game.
At the moment, my live-streaming schedule is every Friday at 10pm GMT, so be sure to check my social media accounts for updates on when I go live.
The bookshelf and its modular books Smile Game Builder models have been resized to match the size of the default bookshelf. The narrower models didn’t look or feel right.
This will be a part of the Hi-Tex Furniture Pack, which is scheduled for release later this year. It has been set as Vol. 2 of the Furniture pack. However, I’m considering releasing this as Vol. 1 instead of Vol. 2, as I’d like to remake the chairs and tables, basically a few adjustments to size and form.
I’m in the process of revising and restructuring all of my furniture models, including creating more modular content specifically for the bookcases and tables.
The last SGB update on Steam was announced on June 21, 2018 (at the time of this post), which becomes a cause for concern for many of its users. However, SmileBoom has been working feverishly on updating Smile Game Builder; they just haven’t announced it.
When Is the Next Update?
In fact, the commonest question right now is "When is the next update?".
An update IS on its way! For now, however, the next imminent update will fix some minor issues but it won’t comprise any new features yet. These will come as soon as SmileBoom is ready, but for now they are making absolutely sure that all of their updates for the "big one" are working as they should and that when it IS implemented everything will function error and bug free.
I share everyone’s frustration regarding the lack of updates, but patience must be the virtue here. SmileBoom has consistently proven that they climb on top of any bugs that may arise in Smile Game Builder and, most importantly, they listen to people’s feedback and suggestions.
Smile Game Builder’s development team is small, so time and resources are often limited to fulfil demands and update new features. Regardless, they work hard on updating their engine to make it competitive enough to stand apart from the others.
I’d like to quote something from Mr Karate (mrkarate1983) in the SGB Discord:
SmileBoom is a company that has been fully dedicated for years to provide tools in the field of play programming.
They, like any company, have different teams that are responsible for developing the various projects in progress. This is subject to a strict budget and the capacity of the human team that is dedicated to it.
The larger the budget, the more developers will work on a project. In the same way that a lower budget, less number of developers will be assigned to it.
Some of you are aware of this. Managing resources and working with what you have on hand is very important in software development.
Although SGB is relatively a young program in comparison with the other competitors, we can see that it has a series of functions -and potential- that do not envy the competition at all.
Programs like GODOT, Unity, Unreal, GameMaker Studio, Scirra’s Construct 2 & 3, and many other video game development programs have a long history of work and development in the market.
They were not products that from the first day were free of failures, bugs or errors – and even today they still have problems and constant fixes.
That is the reality when working with software programs. It is part of the development, improvement and polishing cycle of a product.
Those who have been with SGB since the first day understand how it has improved and advanced throughout these years. It has its virtues, advantages and disadvantages, but at no point is a program that does not fulfill its purpose.
On the contrary, it is probably the easiest to use RPG game editor in the current market and with an incredible potential for those who are willing to take advantage of their potential.
And that is thanks to the honesty, integrity and effort of the small development team that is behind it.
I understand the inconvenience about a lack of updates or bug fixes, taking into account that they can frustrate your current projects, however that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a future update of course! I remember that it took 4-5 months back on 2016 for an update to be live. You need to understand that some things just take time. You can’t rush it.
But also if a tool does not meet your needs, you have complete freedom to explore other possibilities.
This is so true that some of us have had the opportunity to get to know different game engines and apply different programming languages in order to find what most facilitates our work and the fulfillment of our goals.
I think this encapsulates the developmental process and prospect concisely.
Ending on A High
Be patient and have faith that the update – even if it’s been deferred for awhile – is on its way, with a number of new and useful features.
We should not lose faith and trust in a development team that has worked hard over these years to provide us with a low-cost program – and easy access for both beginners as for advanced users, that allows us to develop video games in a pleasant and simple way.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!