My game for SMILE GAME BUILDER, Conflux (formerly named Confluction), was meant to be in a modern setting.
However, while writing the main plot, its overall theme changed.
I ended up adding some fantasy elements to it. I can’t help it: I just love those types of games where Old World meets Modern or ancient technologies are interwoven into fantasy realms. The clincher is that this change of theme seems somehow more appropriate.
I turned 50 in July, so Conflux’s original concept was born from the depressive state I found myself in. I guess it was some kind of existential crisis, wherein I started reflecting on my life, questioning the choices I made to end up where I am today.
Filled with what-if’s and if-only’s, my mind transported itself back in time to those key points in my life when I was presented with tough choices.
What would have happened if I’d taken the other path? Would things have turned out differently or would they have remained the same? These are valid questions, ones we all ask ourselves at some point in our lives, but there are no valid answers because we won’t know the answers once that decision has been made. There’s usually no backtracking.
And this became the premise for Conflux, where all choices matter!
At its core, Conflux is a philosophical view about these choices and their consequences, and why each decision we make matters in the grand scheme of things. Those choices – whether our own or others’ – determine our future decisions and shape our future, putting us on the paths we take in life. We’re often presented with two or more paths, each with their own perils and rewards, and each with a different outcome and consequences.
Much of the content in Conflux – the events, incidences and influences – are based on my own life experiences. I intended it as a kind of autobiography from the start but from the perspective of addressing the what-if questions.
That means that there is no right or wrong path, no real success or failure. However, since choices matter in the game, whereas some decisions you (the player) make results in more successful outcomes but less propitious consequences, others might result in unavailing outcomes but profitable consequences. It all depends on those decisions, taking one path over the other.
The game also subtly focuses on the notion that Destiny is a fixed path, predetermined, along which you travel – and stray – but you always return at some points to its path. You either return to it on your own or certain events push you back onto it, often forcefully. You’re allowed to stray again and again, of course, but somewhere, somewhen, you’ll return to this path.
The end goal, your final destination, your death, is also a fixed point in time, except we don’t know when that is. The ultimate destination at the very end of the path is more open and malleable, shaped and formed by all the decisions you made, the consequences that arose and a combined measure of successes and failures.
Although development is slow, and updates are sporadic, I am still working on Conflux in the background when I have the time.
Actual game development stagnated for awhile and I couldn’t determine why until its theme changed from modern to fantasy-modern.
At the moment, I’m mostly focused on creating the models, especially now that the plot and theme are established. And with that in mind, I’ll continue working on it and try to post more regular updates on it, mostly on Twitter.
I will mostly live-stream SMILE GAME BUILDER game dev, including my own game, Conflux, as well as games – Skyrim, Witcher, Fallout 4, and other games (including indie games) – which will usually videos from previous live-streams.
In the beginning, however, I’m going to start test-streaming various games, classic, indie and new to see what works on my mid-spec rig. Details will follow.
We’re looking at streaming from this page. It’ll be either here or on YouTube. Stream themes and times are yet to be decided.
Here’s a nice little "fog of war" effect for exploring the rooms (in Conflux, the game I’m working on in SMILE GAME BUILDER).
This is a feature in my game Conflux, where when you enter the room it and all of its contents are revealed and when you leave it’s covered the contents are hidden again. Eventually, all rooms will have this feature.
I’ve been asked how I achieved this, but for now I’m keeping this method a secret and I’m neither confirming nor denying any guesses on how it’s done. Perhaps in time I’ll create a tutorial on it. For now, however, I’m not going to.
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.
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.