Feel free to get in touch anytime by E-Mailing admin@healingprocessgame.com . Thanks!
_____________________________________________________________________________

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
#010. Anger while Calling out a Blatant Plagiarist, and Moving to YouTube.
October 26th 2017 15:08, (Tokyo)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Welcome to the Healing Process Devlog.

I was going to follow up with all the good points opposing the use of rotoscoping today but I am going to give it a break and come back to it tomorrow.

The Plagiarist
Today I am going to talk about something that angered me as I was looking at pixel art on Twitter last night. This devlog is really only for my own journey creating Healing Process: Tokyo, but I couldn’t help making this post today. Please look at the following tweets.







This game ‘HunTale’ is clearly ripping off ‘Hyper Light Drifter’ (below).
Video by ‘SplatterCatGaming’ on YouTube


Today’s date is the 26th of October 2017. Keep your eye on @aitchunter’s timeline from now on and see what he does. Let me ask you 5 questions.

1) Why is there no dash animation? It just uses the plagiarised running animation to do the exact same thing as Hyper Light Drifter when the player dashes. Is this because you can’t make your own animation for dashing? Don’t copy it now, it will be obvious. But you might think about getting an animation for that dash.

2) Why do you only have animations for running up, down and left/right? Could that be because your whole running ystem (speed, dash, etc) is a complete copy of Hyper Light Drifter? Maybe you should try drawing those extra 2 animations to make 8 angles and improve upon Hyper Light Drifter’s way of doing things if you are serious about creating this game. Or maybe you can’t, because all you can do is plagiarise Hyper Light Drifter.

3) Why does your character wear the exact same type of clothes as the character from Hyper Light Drifter?

4) Why do you have 5 ammo blocks or HP or whatever they are, that look exactly the same as the HP bars from Hyper Light Drifter. With the exact same spacing and the exact same size, don’t you think it’s a bit too obvious?

5) Finally, why do you think it’s okay to rip off Hyper Light Drifter’s work and call it ‘HunTale’?

The movement of the animation in this indie game is blatantly ripped off of Hyper Light Drifter’s main character to the extent that it’s not even worth arguing about.

I want to use case to reiterate something that enrages me about lazy game creation, and that is the lack of effort, just to make a quick buck. I also want to add another point to my argument that people only use ridiculously safe methods of creation, to the extent that they will rip off other people’s creative achievements to the Nth degree. This can be seen all over the place in indie game groups on facebook.

So what is plagiarism and what isn’t? Plagiarism is taking someone’s art and vaguely recolouring it and calling it your own. ESPECIALLY in animations, as it is a succession of images – thus multiplying your plagiarism. In this specific game the running animation, size in comparison to the resolution and even the dash technique are all stolen from Hyper Light Drifter. Stolen to the point that the poster themselves even posted this:

You might be asking yourself, ‘okay Sam, why do you care so much?’. I’ll tell you why I care so much, because there are people out there who slave over their game for absolutely ages, day and night. I’ve been working on this game alone (HP:T) for the past 2 years and haven’t plagiarised one piece of another artist’s work in any way. Credible creators must go day in, day out trying to create something great and respect the work of others. If you have to use someone else’s work, at least pay someone else to make animations for you. You can buy a cheap little animation if you can’t draw it yourself or find your own method. Please realise that taking someone else’s work to further your own name and gain the acclamation of others who don’t know what you’ve done is simply wrong. Why are you making the game? To further yourself as an artist, or storyteller, or programmer? Well how are you going to improve anything by just copying the work of someone else? Do you plan to sell the game? Are you going to take money from someone else, selling someone else’s assets?

Doesn’t that make you feel dirty?

Find your own path through hard work. Don’t tread on other people’s efforts to further yourself.

Let me drill this into your head. You can take ideas from games and mix them together to make something new, such as the dash that you like from ‘Hyper Light Drifter’. However, please realise your vision in your own way!!! If you can’t animate, find another way to do it – but at least make it from your own assets! I use rotoscoping as a shortcut for my animations, but I do NOT steal other people’s animations and call them my own. At least I present something original. This is unforgivable as a director, creator or as an artist. By the way, don’t think I didn’t notice the squirrel idea you stole too. What does your game have that’s unique about it?

I’ll post about my own game again tomorrow but I felt it worthy to write a piece calling out this guy’s plagiarism.

The YouTube Channel
( Search ‘Healing Process: Tokyo Devlog’ on YouTube or follow this link ) From today onwards, there will be a video attached to the top of each entry in this devlog, this will be my narration of the post you’re reading. Up until about part 30 I’ll keep the soundcloud links on the right, however I am not going to pay for more upload minutes on Soundcloud, it’s $15 a month to get unlimited minutes, so YouTube will be my main medium for the narrated entries from mid-November onwards.

I’m going to keep an eye on this guy’s work from now on and see what he does. There probably won’t be any more entries on the healing process devlog website but I might track his progress with YouTube videos, etc.

Thanks for listening!
See you tomorrow

Sam

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
#009. Pressing On, and Rotoscoping Excuses.
October 25th 2017 15:33, (Tokyo)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Welcome to the Healing Process Devlog.

I woke up this morning and banged my head on the table. Good start.

So as you know, with the level art I try my best not to take shortcuts, I do however have 2 weaknesses.

1) Animation 2) Programming

As I am not good at either of the two, I have to take shortcuts. My shortcut for programming is the software known as ‘Construct 2 / Construct 3’, in which you can make pretty much any 2D game with minimal or no programming knowledge. This software also distributes quite well cross-platform.

The other shortcut I take is for animation, and it’s known as ‘rotoscoping’.

Rotoscoping
Rotoscoping is the practice of tracing over frames of a video to achieve animations. It is sometimes used in movies – see ‘Waking Life’, and is also used in video games.

One of the most famous video games utilising this technique is 'Another world', a classic platformer which was originally on the Amiga, but is now available on most platforms and even Steam.

Now, I am going to go on a tangent a little bit and say that I am SURE that the animations from 'Another world' were reused for ‘Abe’s Oddysey / Abe’s Exodus’. This hasn’t been discussed online as far as I know, but the similarities are very uncanny. See the worm type creatures in Abe’s Exoddus and compare them to the worm type creatures in 'Another world' (or are they leeches?). Also, just look at the running animation and level structure. If you search online you will see there is some overlap in staff (I think) on both games so I’m quite sure they’re somehow related. Let the record show that I noticed this and commented on it on October 25th 2017 :), although I noticed it years ago when I first played 'Another world'!

I am providing an image of some frames of me kicking, then the animation of Charles kicking below.


It’s no secret by now that I use myself as a reference for Charles. This could come across as a vanity thing but it’s really not, it’s just the most practical way for me to get access to animations whenever I can, and Charles has the most animations of any of the characters. I can quickly go to the first floor of my apartment building, set up the cameras in the bicycle storage area and do some moves. The neighbours must think I’m a nutcase. Honestly, at this point even if I were good at animating I’d still use rotoscoping because the animations are just so smooth! I understand for people who think that rotoscoping is a cop out and ‘not real animation’, I agree with you completely. As someone who values artistic work it did personally make me feel bad when I started using the method, but I have a good excuse. When I started this project I couldn’t design levels or even really draw anything at all. Now I am able to draw levels after a lot of practice, and there are over 200 in the game. By just looking at, and copying reference images I am able to draw levels now, and in the case of the dreamworld, they’re done completely from scratch. Not only that, I don’t use tilesets. I understand tilesets were designed and used in games to save cartridge space back in the old days, but now they are often used as a shortcut and time saver in my opinion. For some games they’re necessary if you’re trying to copy the exact limitations of a console, and I respect that. However that’s not my aim. I draw every blade of grass, and although sometimes there may be a little copy and pasting, each screen is its own creative piece of work. I feel this makes up for the rotoscoping animations. I am doing everything in the game, including music which is my forte – so don’t judge me too harshly for not becoming a professional animator too. Hey, there are people who make games completely based on store-bought assets so go bug them. It still takes ages to rotoscope by the way! Having to add in extra objects and flourishes to the characters, also the process actually takes quite a while with the whole video taking and tracing time. And interpreting the lighting for a small sprite and doing decent dithering is in itself an art. Another issue is the scope of my game. I can’t really expect (or trust) another animator to come in and make over 500 animations, so using myself as a reference for the rotoscoping cuts a lot of the time spent without compromising the quality of the work. I could learn to animate properly I suppose, but it would take me another 4 years to get the game done! There are some dodgy rotoscoped project out there so I want to be careful.

I also use rotoscoping for humanoid enemies! Here’s a current work in progress;



The process: 1) I draw a sketch of the way I want the enemy to be 2) I imitate that pose and take a video and do some actions 3) I then rotoscope the frames to make an enemy. Then I’ll add the additional parts I envisioned in the original sketch.

So there’s about 20-40% creativity there… right? ;)

My friend Jesus Rivera says;

I agree, and I also suppose that 3D models being rigged to the movement of actors is kind of the modern equivalent of rotoscoping, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about it.

And another commenter Laszlo in the pixel art group on facebook mentioned that:

Another good point, it’s definitely worth making your own modifications.

Finally Agnes says,

So thank you for that.

I wanted to add some negative or opposing opinions (about rotoscoping) but there haven’t been any so far, if there are I’ll mention them tomorrow because I don’t want to avoid them. Finding opposing opinions was actually the reason I even asked the question of rotoscoping’s artistic integrity in the first place.

What I want to emphasise with today’s post is that I’d rather be judged as a musician, SFX designer, level designer, storyteller and creator than an animator or programmer. I hope those reading can respect that, and I will never claim to be the latter until I learn those crafts properly. Do bear in mind I started making this game as a home for a 4 hour, in-depth soundtrack and rich sonic environments.

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to listen to me!

See you tomorrow where I’ll post some more images of progress.
Sam

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
#008. About the Level Art.
October 24th 2017 16:21, (Tokyo)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Welcome back to the Healing Process Devlog.

I told myself I would not reveal my process of creating art until the game was complete, however I have decided to be more open about it.

When I was younger I always used to think I’d be a painter or illustrator until I picked up the guitar, but I’d never really improve, and continue drawing the same thing over and over again. When I started doing the art for Healing Process, I felt it would be a daunting challenge, and tried to think of shortcuts straight away. That was a waste of time. I wasted a week or two with various techniques and came to the realisation that there are no substitutes for consistent practice and hard work.

I decided to get a better understanding of art, but I didn’t just want to copy other pixel artists so I started watching tutorials of oil painters on YouTube, finding the link below (Kevin Hill) especially useful.


So how would I usually go about ‘painting’ something like a sky in pixel art?

There are many examples of amazing and perfect pixel art skies such as the following pieces:



Well, I choose the base colours of the sky and place them around the ‘canvas’. I then gradually fill in the shape of the clouds from the bottom up, and finally add details. This is a basic technique of painting, but honestly I didn’t really even know about it until recently and I don’t think this is how everyone makes their pixel art either.

The basic technique of pixel art is using a minimal amount of colours to express as much as possible. This is, in fact directly contradictory to the nature of oil painting which flourishes in the mixing of colours and shades to get the desired effect. For this reason I use a lot of dithering (which I know is against the apparent rules of pixel art), but I try to keep the shades used to a minimum. While limiting myself to a lot less colours than a conventional oil painter would, I do use more colours than most pixel art I think. I kind of just stumble through each piece, aiming to make something new each time rather than something uniform with the last piece.

Here are a few stages of a pixel art sky I recently drew. You can see the various phases of development of the image, it took me several hours. (Open the orange sky image on the right photo list to see the large version of the various stages). My main aim for this piece was just to do my best to create a unique sky with no reference images.


I’ll also link the Facebook post.


Please do drop me an email at admin@healingprocessgame.com to let me know what you think of the final piece. Although I accept criticism, I am doing my best to make my own way of making things – I think the only way to make something unique is to follow your own sense of what looks right and just keep practising, taking inspiration that moves you individually. This is not an attempt to be ignorant of people’s ideas of my work which I am definitely interested in, I would just rather let my pieces flourish in their own way.

The great thing about practising art is that it has made me look at musically differently too. Simplicity and complexity have different ways of flourishing on the canvas in comparison to the music studio. Imagining the concept of ‘dithering’ in pixel art makes me think of music differently too. Fading instrument tracks in and out of each other, using arpeggios or continuously ascending or descending riffs.

Incidentally the track ‘Bloom’ by Radiohead that I mentioned in a previous entry is a perfect example of how I would see a pixel art cloud and the way I would draw them, so I often listen to this live version of the song as I draw pixel art skies;


The Camera
I use a Canon EOS 700D DSLR Camera that I received as a gift from my family. I make a point of going out every day to take reference images. I like to take photos of the buildings and structures here in Japan, and especially the sky. Taking images of the sky is really the one thing that constantly changes, and that only I can capture in that moment. Seconds later it will be completely different.

Here are a few images I’ve taken recently in reference for Healing Process:
By using images I’ve taken myself, I can remember the mood of the place. This is especially useful when taking inspiration from various images and merging them into one level. Where you might see a telegraph pole like this:
when you look at it, I remember this:


I mix structures from different images and draw them from scratch in a new piece, and the various memories I have of each object will be lost to the player. For that reason I have to use other media such as sound effects or music to convey the impression I have of each object. ‘Oh, this telegraph pole was here, and it felt like this’, or ‘this phone box was old and had a sense of mystery about it’, thinking and composing music in this way is something only I can express (as I took the photos and know the feel of the place) through the music once that object is mixed with other images. I hope to get good at blending different imagery and sound design together and present you with something worthwhile. All of this underlining the story of the characters in the game should hopefully be a very worthwhile experience to the player, leaving an impression on them.

If there’s any kind of imagery you’d be interested in seeing from Tokyo, or anything unconventional that isn’t usually displayed in media I’d be happy to have a hunt around for you and include it in the game, again feel free to E-Mail me about it and I’ll have a look around. It will also be good for me to add more depth to the game as well.

I’m going to leave you with this track from the Healing Process: Tokyo soundtrack. It’s a piece I wrote in 2015 called ‘Final Thoughts’. It’s the music that plays as Charles is contemplating ending it all as his life is spiralling down into nothingness. So, pretty light track really. ;)


Right, I’m off to continue working on the game.

See you tomorrow.
Sam

_____________________________________________________________________________

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
#007 – Learning Japanese and coming to study abroad.
October 23rd 2017 12:54, (Tokyo)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Welcome back to the Healing Process: Tokyo gamedev log.

I had some more people interested again at yesterdays post with supportive comments and compliments for which I am grateful. Thanks to you new listeners and those on the mailing list.

Learning Japanese
Today I am going to discuss about how I started learning Japanese and ended up in Japan.

When I was about 16, I began to realise that all of the music and games I liked came from Japan. It wasn’t really intentional and it was a gradual process, but I became very fixated on media, especially composers such as Hirasawa Susumu, who were making sounds I just couldn’t comprehend. I’ll attach a track called ‘Parade’ that really got me into Hirasawa’s work, from the movie ‘Paprika’. Guitarist and songwriter Miyavi also had a massive influence over me directing my thoughts towards Japan, after seeing his live concert in London when I was 17.


As I felt I had somewhat tackled and become very confident with music, I asked myself the same question as when I picked up the guitar. ‘If I am not fluent in Japanese by the time I am 25, will I regret the wasted time?’ The answer was a resounding yes. I started studying straight away, going to a night class with one of my best friends (it’s a short list) called Grant. For the first year I didn’t push myself that much, and didn’t even learn the kana correctly (that’s the phonetic alphabet) correctly. I could speak a little bit, but it was nothing special.

I saw my progress wasn’t going as planned and after 1 year I decided to get a little bit more serious about it. I downloaded every video I could find on learning Japanese, focusing mostly on those in Japanese. I also use the Pimsleur Method which I highly recommend, it’s an audio series that really drives the sounds and vocabulary into your head through constant repetition. It actually feels like you’re having a conversation with someone. I would recommend this to everyone, and I even recommended it when I was teaching Japanese in London and Derby. As well as this audio and visual stimulation, I decided I needed contact with a native speaker and started visiting a private tutor every week or two. It wasn’t overly expensive and it was definitely worth the money Finally, I joined stickam.jp which was a kind of live broadcast website with various rooms you could go into, and you could host your own live stream and people could come in. Kind of like twitch but with no specific topic. Stickam US used to be a thing but it was shut down, but you may be familiar with it.

Using these various methods, I studied until I was 20, getting to a level where I was pretty confident with speaking to Japanese people, however I knew my knowledge wasn’t academic enough, and I wasn’t as fluent as I wanted to be. I studied at a music studio from ages 19-20, using the qualification from that to go from Sheffield my home city to London to study Japanese at the University of London (SOAS). I considered this to be the first major stepping stone to Tokyo. However the small steps before it were important, learning music, learning the guitar- and then turning that effort into inspiration for learning language too. If I hadn’tve succeeded at music, I don’t think I’d have even had the belief in myself to learn a language. As you may know English people rarely like leaving England (well, leaving Europe). Bilingual or trilingual English people are quite uncommon in my experience.

The course I studied at university was absolutely perfect for me, it was Japanese Language and Music. A dual degree, where you had to take the core parts of both subjects, and then the additional ones you were interested in. I wouldn’t have been able to go there had my mother not discovered the music studio in Sheffield which allowed me to get double the standard amount of qualifications usual after leaving high school. So I am extremely grateful to her for that. (When I say high school, I mean college. College was attached to my high school so I see them as one in the same).

So, I started going to university a little late. 2 years after High School (college). I say ‘late’, but there are people who go to university in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s and 70’s. The Japanese classes were easy in the first year, as it was mostly recapping what I had already learned. For that reason I was put under a false sense of security for year 2 which really took a lot of effort to get through. Music classes were, let’s say… not challenging, however they really did open my mind to the different types of music in the world. One thing I really disliked is how many posh white kids were absolutely obsessed with India and they all constantly talked about how they were going to India again. There were so many rich white ‘hippies’ with ridiculous clothes and… ah don’t get me started. I don’t believe in ‘cultural appropriation’ one bit, or anything like that, but these guys drove me up the wall with their… new age… this is a tangent for another day.

In the second year we had a placement test of our Japanese ability which would determine the university we would go to in our third year abroad in Japan. I studied extremely hard for the test, however, I couldn’t get to the top of the class like I had hoped, actually it was really an impossibility for me at that time as I had already started freelance composing and it was taking a lot of my attention. This was a shame because I really wanted to go to Keio University in Tokyo, and there were only 2 spaces, my second choice was Waseda, for which there was about… 14 places if my memory serves me correctly (maybe 12?). At least I would get in there, another extremely good university that many Japanese celebrities go to.

However, there was an unexpected miracle. After a quite a few people had gone in, it was my turn to make my choice. My teachers knew how much I wanted to go to Keio University. As I sat down, my second-year teacher Kanehisa-sensei said to me with a massive smile on her face, ‘so, where did you want to go most of all?’. I immediately lit up and said… Keio? She smiled and let me know that there was 1 of 2 places still remaining. I couldn’t believe it. As it was first come first served, I was certain that it wouldn’t be an option. Needless to say my following September saw my arrival in Tokyo, an exchange student at Keio University.

This was my first real step of coming to live in Japan, however, it wasn’t my first time visiting, and I was somewhat used to it already. Thank god for that. I knew many people who hadn’t been before, and gave up and went back to England mid-study. I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on studying if I lived in the university dormitory with foreigners, so I decided to start off by looking for apartments before the school term.

That’ll be the end of the first part of my story about coming to live in Japan. I’m going to come back to this story later, maybe not tomorrow.

I am going to start uploading these devlogs to YouTube as well as Soundcloud, as there’s a limit to minutes you can upload to soundcloud and you have to pay $15 a month to lift it, which I find ridiculous. I know that Soundcloud has currently been taken over and there’s a new guy trying to save it, but I’m not throwing my money at it any time soon. I don’t even use soundcloud to listen to music, only for this. I will embed the YouTube video link at the top of each entry from tomorrow onwards and also post compilation videos every week or so.

As always, thank you for taking time to sit down to read. See you tomorrow.

Sam

_____________________________________________________________________________

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
#006 – Broken Glass, Mailing Lists, Lucid Dreaming and Sharks.
October 22nd 2017 16:20, (Tokyo)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------


Hey guys, I’ve been busy… welcome to the Healing Process: Tokyo devlog.

Broken Glass
So what have I been doing in the past 24 hours? I hear roughly 3 people ask me. Well – since I wrote the last entry, I have been drawing, cutting up and animating over 200 pieces of glass for a scene that lasts about 5-10 seconds maximum in the laboratory I have been working on recently.


Now, there is probably a way to take an image and split it up into pieces, dividing it and animating it smashing with programming, sadly, I don’t know how to do that so I have to do it all by hand. Hey- with any luck it will create a unique effect anyway, at least that’s what I’m hoping.

Tedious tasks like this take time but add character to a game. Also, when doing something as mind numbing as editing the physics for 200 shards of glass individually it makes you appreciate how effortless other tasks can be. You just have to tell yourself ‘in return for this effort, my speed in other areas will improve’.

Mailing List
I got a tip that I should include a mailing list sign-up today. This feature was actually on a previous version of the site but I hadn’t implemented it on the new site, I have added a form above my devlog entries. If you don’t mind getting daily mails about my updates and you only want to read, you’ll be able to do that in your emails now. I will also send out an E-mail a week before the next Kickstarter campaign, so please sign up at the top of the devlog page if you are interested.

Lucid Dreaming
Lucid Dreaming, what’s that? I’m sure many of you know, but Lucid Dreaming is having alert consciousness, or even control of your dreams.

Lucid Dreaming was a concept that became popularised with the release of ‘Inception’ and another film called ‘Waking Life’. However, I had started messing around with it at about 17 years old. I am currently 27 and still do it fairly regularly, although unplanned.

Oh, That? Yeah it’s Dumb.
I can already hear the sound of people’s eyes rolling in their heads at the mention of lucidity in dreams across the internet from here. There is a sceptical branch of thought that has permeated the internet in the last 10 years or so, claiming that lucid dreaming isn’t even a real thing, and that people who think they can do it are deluded.

I am generally quite a sceptic myself, and I understand why this misconception has come about. If there is any weight to my words, let me try to convince you otherwise.

Lucid dreaming is not your spirit flying outside of your body while you’re asleep, leaving a defenceless shell at risk of demons entering it. In other words, lucid dreaming is not ‘astral projection’, or some kind of unexplainable paranormal activity.

Lucid dreaming is lying down sleeping, but being aware of that fact. Everything is happening in your own brain, there are no outside factors other than sounds you may be hearing, previously intaken information, or your body temperature. You are aware that you are dreaming, and depending on your mood, or ability to control your feelings you have a limited control of what you can do in your ‘dream world’. You can interact with characters in your dream world. What is the point in Lucid Dreaming?
There are 3 good reasons for lucid dreaming I’d like to discuss today:
1) I’ll start with the obvious, flying around. Just doing random fun stuff can be very rewarding once you have your first lucid dream, especially when it’s intentional.

2) It can help you be creative. So many scenes and ideas from Healing Process: Tokyo have come to me directly from my dreams and nightmares. Even those from my youth are still vividly real to me today and make an appearance.

3) You can talk to your buried subconscious. Speaking to the previously mentioned dream characters can help you be honest with yourself, or realise truths that you had forgotten. They are just an extension of you. This may be one of the most important possibilities of lucid dreaming. Accessing a truth that exists nowhere else in the world other than your head. I find it a strange paradox that something as anecdotal as your own memory can be the one tool to discovering actual truth in the world. I have explored this idea in Healing Process: Tokyo.

A Negative to Lucid Dreaming
Something I find to be detrimental about lucid dreaming is that any time I am about to have some fun or speak to someone, I am rudely interrupted by one thought. ‘Sharks’. Yes, whenever I see a dark space in the dream world, like under a bed, I think ‘Sharks’, and a shark appears every bloody time. I have an irrational fear of being stuck in the deep sea that developed from playing Tomb Raider 2 when I was young. It sounds silly, but this trauma has been a massive issue for me whenever I dream. Funnily enough I have no problem actually swimming in the ocean in real life though. If I’m in a large open space like a field in a dream, I automatically imagine I’m underwater. Suddenly massive whales and sharks surround me, even if I’m not underwater. They’ll be floating around nearby, or far away in the sky as if they’re swimming. I actually usually wake up after seeing them for less than a split second as I am very good at waking myself up. There’s a good reason for that involving my mum and dad’s advice to me when I was a child having nightmares. I will leave this story alone for today though.

In line with the topic of lucid dreaming, I’d like to share 1 piece of music from the soundtrack of ‘Waking Life’, although obviously the soundtrack to ‘Inception’ is a lot more famous, it’s not my thing. You can give me an artistic film like Waking Life over Inception any day. I’ll also include a scene which I feel captures the experience of being in a lucid dream very well.




Next time I’ll actually try to discuss what I mentioned in part 5 yesterday about learning Japanese and coming to live in Tokyo. I find it’s usually more important and honest to write about what I feel like at the time though.

See you tomorrow!

Sam

_____________________________________________________________________________

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
#005 - What is Healing Process: Tokyo? And… An Experience.
October 21st 2017 14:35, (Tokyo)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Welcome back, I’m Sam, and this is the Healing Process Devlog.

What is Healing Process: Tokyo about exactly?
Yesterday I had some good feedback from Yanni H on Facebook in the Indie Game Development Feedback (IGDF) group, letting me know that my site is lacking a real explanation of what the game actually is about and how it works, so I’ve updated the home page with the following;

Healing Process: Tokyo is the story of Charles, a doctor who started his own firm once he moved to Tokyo with his wife Miu. Sadly, Miu is involved in an accident while Charles is away at a medical conference abroad, and sadly passes away before he reaches Tokyo.

Charles returns to Tokyo and continues his empty daily life. Months later, his surgeries begin going wrong, and he is forced by his colleague James who he brought to work in his firm from England to take a break, and see a new therapist with a controversial but effective technique known as AST (Assembled Slumber Treatment) a type of Dream Therapy to help him with his chronic night terrors.

As for the actual gameplay, the player takes control of Charles through real places in Tokyo, meeting people and helping them with their various issues. The player then dives into the Dream World by visiting the therapist and guides Charles through his Dreams. Gameplay in Tokyo does not include combat or side-scrolling action, where the Dream World does. However, quests and helping people in Tokyo have a direct link to what is happening in the Dream World, and sometimes you will have to further remedy the issues of people in Tokyo to help work through your own issues and progress through the Dream World. The game is split into chapters, each corresponding to a new Dream World and new events in Tokyo. There are plenty of side-quests in both Tokyo and the Dream World.



I hope this clears up any confusion about what the game is about.

One Bad Experience in Tokyo
A few years ago in my first year of marriage, I would go to greet my wife from work every day as she was employed by a fashion company while I was working from home. It was a nice routine and gave me a break from my work composing and translating games. This was in Summer, just as I was beginning to mess around with making pixel art and game software, but I hadn’t yet begun thinking up Healing Process.

I’m not entirely sure, but there had recently been reports of a foreigner who had assaulted a Japanese woman, or someone in that area selling drugs or something, which may or may not have been related to the following events.

So, I got on the train with my milk tea from the Jidouhanbaiki (vending machine), and at that time I would have been listening to the band called Petrolz religiously. If you know Shiina Ringo, a huge composer and performer in Japan, Petrolz is the band of Ukigumo, the guitarist from her former band Tokyo Jihen (Tokyo Incidents), and their music is incredible. I will link two of their songs, one called ‘Tomare Miyo’(or ‘Check the Stop Sign’) and ‘Watch Me’ below. ‘Watch me’ is all about being faithful to one person and not messing around, a personal favourite of mine.

Two tracks of a library of great songs by Petrolz. Every song of theirs is truly unique! Give them a try.

So I was sat on the train listening to Petrolz, and drinking my tea – possibly playing my 3DS. I noticed an old guy looking at me with an angry face from down the carriage, you know that feeling you get when someone is looking at you – it must be one of the unnamed senses (unless it has a name which I am oblivious to). I’m no stranger to getting weird looks as a foreigner in Tokyo – more often than not it feels positive rather than negative anyway, with the person smiling kindly. There are occasions where the smiles are mocking though, either way it doesn’t really bother me what other people are thinking. For that reason I thought nothing of his glare and continued what I was doing. Probably playing Shin Megami Tensei IV which was out early in Japan, another fantastic game by the way.

So I got off the train to make my change to the train to the station where my wife’s workplace was. Walking in front of the ticket machines, there was the usually flurry of people, hundreds, maybe thousands of them. Through the crowd, walking toward me was the old guy, again giving me the same glare as before. I was pretty sure by this point he was drunk. He was wearing a suit with a loosened collar, and he just looked like an average salary man.

Now I want to preface what I am about to say with my honest thoughts of Japan. Japan is a hugely safe place. You can walk alone at night with absolutely no fear of any violence or crime being inflicted on you, and you will definitely be safe especially where there are lots of people. I don’t think my experience is normal at all, and I don’t expect it to ever happen to me again either.

So, what happened? As he passed me, the old guy grabbed me by the neck! It was seriously painful – I actually couldn’t breathe to the extent that I could say he was trying to kill me. Now in this instance, I immediately felt the urge to throw him to the floor and give him a smack. I didn’t. In these situations I’d like to credit myself as a quick thinker, and I knew that in an area full of Japanese people – a foreigner punching an old man would not look good. So what did I do? I just forced my way walking through his grasp, and he let go. I turned around and looked at him, laughing down at him. He looked absolutely furious. I think he knew how me retaliating would look in an area crowded with people in Japan. What’s more, there were police standing about 30 metres away who witnessed the entire thing.

I was immediately relieved that I didn’t realiate because if I had it would have looked terrible. When I say the guy was old, I mean between 55 and 60, and I would have been about 23 at the time. I don’t think I would have seriously injured him or anything, but I probably would have been arrested. Despite seeing me grabbed by the neck, what did the police do? Absolutely nothing. I couldn’t be bothered to go and talk to them about what had just happened, and I didn’t want to be late to meet my wife so I just let it go.

I don’t want my story to paint a bad picture for you about Japan, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong old drunk guy. Japanese people are very respectful of privacy and space, and it still feels like a bad dream to me that this ever happened. The positive thing is that I can use stories such as these in Healing Process: Tokyo. I will write about some of them here, but not enough so that you can guess what is based in reality and what is based in fiction. I think it’s better to leave you guessing. I guess that’s it for today. Please come back tomorrow where I’ll begin to talk about how I started learning Japanese, studying abroad and then living here in Tokyo. I’ll also tease some more screenshots from the game. Until then I’ll leave you with this track from Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru or ‘Night on the Galactic Railroad’, by Hosono Haruomi.

The final theme from Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru, a great piece. A timeless sound with uplifting yet mysterious and dark melodies.

Thanks for taking the time to read, if you’d like to get in contact and discuss the game you can do so by dropping me an E-Mail at admin@healingprocessgame.com .

See you tomorrow!

Sam

_____________________________________________________________________________

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
#004 – Time and Care, Patience and Slowing down.
October 20th 2017 12:33, (Tokyo).

---------------------------------------------------------------------------


Welcome back to the Healing Process Devlog.

Today I’d like to talk about something I consider to be the most important when it comes to creation, and that is patience. As I mentioned before, the original Kickstarter campaign for Healing Process: Tokyo was not good. Rushing a piece of work will rarely yield good results. When I was younger, I believed everything needed to be done quickly, and if I didn’t see results instantly I would be unsatisfied and give up. The only thing I could really persist at is music, for which I feel now I am finally seeing my progress in leaps and bounds.

Why do we rush things? Because we want validation for our efforts. We don’t want to feel like we are wasting our time. For that reason, we constantly harass ourselves to make things quickly. In the early development of anything, especially skills for creating a game or creating a music album, it takes time and effort. If something is worth doing, and you are frustrated at getting minor results back, you actually need to continue your efforts and alter your expectations so that you are expecting the timeline of your project to span over a much larger period of time.

I don’t really buy much into self-help much, but I was trying to find a YouTube video of someone mirroring my realisations about patience from the last year, and I came across this on YouTube. I must say I agree with Leo from Actualize.org here:


So where did I learn these values of patience? Well my granddad always used to make sure to tell me to take time with things I was working on, be it a drawing or putting together a small figure or model. Of course, as a child I couldn’t see the value in what he was saying, but I am constantly reminded of it now. I believe he planted that seed of thought for me. Seeing the first Kickstarter project fail made me decide I would never rush a piece of work again. In mainstream culture, we are always focused on getting something new, and getting it now, and with access to the internet we are bombarded with information which confuses us. We forget that creation of something worthwhile takes real patience. Let’s take Radiohead’s music for example. Radiohead will write a song, perform it live and constantly play it live, maybe for years before they record it. And what’s the result? The song will go through immense shifts and refinement, until an immensely deep and inspired piece of music with unrivalled depth is born. They record and re-record endlessly until they finally have a piece of music they feel is worth giving to the public. This level of care is definitely something to aspire to when aiming to create emotionally moving art. This is the kind of art that will stick with the you for a lifetime. Also, if you are asking people to part with their money, you can’t just give them something that you created half-heartedly. I feel as if that is completely immoral.

Rather than forcing expectations on myself of when the game ‘should be finished’, I respect the project for its potential greatness and keep working hard at it. It doesn’t ‘have to be finished’ at any time, I would go as far as to say it should be treated as a being that you are raising, taking care of its finest aspects until it is worth presenting to society.

I’m paraphrasing but I think it’s Alx(?) Preston from heart station who said, as he was being pressured to reveal a release date for Hyper Light Drifter 'it's ready when it’s ready', or ‘it takes as long as it takes’. He had a great amount of patience when creating the game, with an eye for quality which really shows. I will link the video of the developer’s release video log below. It’s a short but inspiring video which I feel really captures the effort that people will go to to achieve greatness.


So, to keep working without getting burnt out, what can you do?

Just don’t be so specific and restricting with your creation. There’s a reason you had a certain idea when you are creating something, so if you start making something on a tangent that you feel doesn’t fit in your project you should still go with it. Don’t force yourself down a certain path and let your creative ideas take fruition. In Healing Process: Tokyo, the great thing about the dream world for me is that dreams are a random mishmash of things that you recently experienced during the day. So if I created something, such as a random clapping monkey toy – well, throw it in the dream world. I’ll then link it back to something, such as Charles’ visit to the zoo. If he didn’t visit the zoo then the clapping monkey toy won’t show up in the dream world. I believe that allowing these small creative tangential ideas to flourish, rather than trying to control them is what helps you create the quirky finer aspects to a game, or any good piece of art. Once you let these ideas play out you will be able to continue on with the project as you planned, and won’t feel bogged down or distracted by small ideas you are constantly pushing away. Again, this comes down to your patience and allowing your mind to move more freely, I think this is the healthiest and most honest way to come at any kind of creative project. While you’re still controlling what you put out eventually, you’re not controlling your initial creativity too much. If you control your creativity too much it can feel forced, so if you just create the thing first and edit it afterwards that has much more raw value in my opinion, and also it keeps you sane as a creator :)

The way I came to realising that these small ideas could be directed into a large project, almost like patchwork was by listening to Radiohead’s album ‘The King of Limbs’. As the title suggests, this album is a sum of its parts, with each of the members going away and bringing back a multitude of music samples they had created, and re-arranging them in the studio to come up with a coherent project. I am mimicking this patchwork of ideas with Healing Process: Tokyo’s dream world, throwing in a barrage of random aspects and then linking them back to the very tangible daily experience of Charles in Tokyo. Here’s The King of Limbs, a full studio-recorded live performance with video – it’s pretty inspiring to see how they recreated the music from the CD live once you know how it was originally created:


Tokyo has a lot less randomness in this regard, as all of the places are created after reference photos I myself have taken. While experiencing these places will hopefully be interesting to the user, creating them is a much more specific – and narrow process. Take the photo, copy the places, put them together in the game. Like Japan’s society, the creation of Tokyo mimics their way of having a ‘system for everything’. If you don’t know what I mean, you can probably look it up. In my experience Japanese people have a specific set of rules and systems to deal with every situation of life, the way companies work, the way people function in their day to day routines and interactions – everything has a strict system, and for foreigners it is very hard to deal with. It’s one of the main reasons I work freelance. I can’t be pressured by the expectations of that system. So for that reason, I escape into the dream world I am creating in Healing Process: Tokyo, which defies all of these rules of expectation.

Finally, I will leave you with a screenshot of improvement of the laboratory I uploaded in part 2.


I’m going to call it a day here, please come back tomorrow for my next entry.
Thanks for listening,
Sam



_____________________________________________________________________________

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
#003. Why is it so long?
October 19th 2017, 13:52 (Tokyo).

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

One question I am asked by my game developer friends, and people in my family is, ‘why do you have to make the game so long?’ I am aware that if I make the game shorter I will be able to clean up the artwork and tweak the finer aspects of the game more easily. However, I personally wouldn’t be proud of making a short 4 hour game, and it wouldn’t nearly have the depth that I envision.

Today’s entry is going to be a bit preachy, with me spilling some likely unpopular feelings about the current state of the game industry and games themselves in general, if you don’t want to hear that I suggest you come back tomorrow and give this one a miss.

In the last 10 years the gaming world has been turned upside down. For a while indie games ruled the whole scene, however this has bred the mindset that ‘anyone can create a game’. The truth is anyone can actually create a game now, but the harsh reality is that it has become a market where small devs have been aiming at mobile gaming. 95% of the games out there are poorly produced with little time spent on them, capitalising on tiny, meaningless yet addictive mechanics. These games have become the go-to grab for cash, and in my opinion they are the death of nobility in recent games.

Allow me to take you back to 1997, Final Fantasy 7 is released, you pick it up in your local game shop. You bring the game home to find that it has not 1, not 2, but 3 game discs! A truly meaningful story unravels as you switch out the discs upon advancing. You finish the game, beating your adversary Sephiroth, who has been tormenting you through days or even months of your life. So you finish the game, and shortly after this, both Final Fantasy 8 and 9 are released, with 4 discs each. Fast forward to any time after 2013 and what are so-called ‘gamers’ wasting their time on now? Flappy bird? On the other end, AAA games have pay walls, allowing you to throw tens if not hundreds of dollars at games that were most likely not even complete at release, paying for apparent ‘expansions’ which should have been in the game upon release.

There are good indie games, but sadly there are thousands of shit games too, and these games saturate the market. This isn’t a massive problem for the customer, as you can always check YouTube to see what you’re about to buy, but it does bury good games that really deserve a bigger market. For those indie game developers aiming to use platforms such as Kickstarter to fund their games, this presents a massive challenge. Making a decent game is hard enough, and the last thing creative people need is the crowdfunding to part become challenging too. If you have good content and good presentation, you should be funded, but sadly this isn’t always the case. At any given time on Kickstarter there will undoubtedly be hundreds of terrible games with overproduced trailers that don’t deserve the funding they receive.

Don’t get me wrong, the past year has seen the release of some great games, to name a handful I personally enjoyed, Hyper Light Drifter by Heart Machine, Owlboy by D-pad Studio and Rain World by Videocult. And I would also be stupid not to mention the incredible Undertale by Toby Fox from 2015. I would like to join the wave, or looking at things in perspective, the ripple of games bringing back some of the old-school nobility to gaming if I can. So I’m creating a fully produced product, offering no pay walls, and no way for the player to bribe their way past the challenging parts of the game that they just can’t overcome. Let’s bring back the base challenge of games shall we. You know, even Final Fantasy, albeit not necessarily challenging, at least had a game over screen, forcing you to go back and try again. A game over screen that frustrated and angered you. Oh what? You’ll feel anger while playing? Well that’s good! You should feel something rather than just ‘pay… it’s too hard… I’m just gonna… pay’.

As indie developers we don’t have to aim for the lowest of the low, creating these kitschy games that end as soon as they begin. Let’s write a story, let’s create a boss with a back story who attacked your best friend, or let’s program an entire mini-game within a game. We can even make a mini-game within our game that challenges the player more than a phone app does. Let’s then tie that back into the main story. Did you know in Final Fantasy 8 and 9 there was a card game within the game? I have started designing my own game within Healing Process which I am currently naming ‘Battle Statues’, it’s essentially a mini game with small figures made of rock or crystal that you find within the game, and can challenge NPCs to play against you in-game, acting kind of like a strategy RPG. You then receive or lose pieces upon battling them. I’ll put a screenshot below.
Battle Statues uses enemy animations from within the dream world to bring the game pieces to life. The player can travel all around Tokyo, challenging NPCs for their unique game statues.


I’m also adding another screenshot today that I previously shared on Facebook, it’s an area inside a temple inside Charles’ dream world.


Charles finds himself in a Temple, about to be joined by an unwelcoming group.

So, as I briefly mentioned at the beginning of this entry, my game will be long. The player can hop on a train, visiting many places in Tokyo, with about 100 screens worth of places hand-drawn. Not only that, taking a trip to the dream therapist, a staple and core part of the game will allow Charles to visit 5 dream worlds within his mind. This adds another 120 screens to the game. Again, no tilesets! All hand drawn.

The Soundtrack: Tokyo
The areas in Tokyo all use established genres of music. Shibuya is big for bands and live music, so the soundtrack from Shibuya will utilise jazz, rock and blues elements, whereas Nippori is famous for its large graveyard, so sombre piano pieces will be used. You can then head over to the bustling Shinjuku which has a more modern techno-esque element to the music. A genre for each area (of which there are 10). Music will play a huge role in the story, and I plan to implement classical to extremely modern elements as tastefully as I can. I guess in this sense it is reminiscent of the Persona series soundtrack by Meguro Shoji.

The Soundtrack: Dream World
The dream world is a complete reverse of Tokyo. While the soundtrack of Tokyo is comprised of strict genres, such as jazz or classical music, the sounds of the dream world are taken from other cultures, gamelan music from Indonesia is one genre I am currently adapting into the game. A powerful adaptation of gamelan music was heard in the movie ‘Akira’ in 1988(?) (I think). I think a good example is the track ‘Kaneda’, I will link it below. The powerful use of ‘the other’, utilising the music of cultures outside of the west will invoke mystery of the unknown which still exists to pretty much everyone in the west, as long as the correct music is used. For that reason, in the dream world the gamer will have a sense of diving into the unknown. I have a feeling that this could be a controversial subject which I am not particularly interested in arguing about, but I might be forced to one day.
Kaneda’s Theme from Akira (1988) and its inspirational use of Gamelan-esque tuned percussive instruments.



As well as utilising types of music and adapting them into the game in my own way, I am trying to create one or two cultures of music myself. These cultures or dare I say genres have come from my own experimentation and I hope they will be interesting to the listener.

So to summarise, the reason the game is so long is that I am pouring a lot of myself into it, I am trying to create depth within the game while also fine tuning every aspect. A lot of time goes into writing and rewriting music, the script and rethinking and recreating the game’s programming and game mechanics. Once I begin the Kickstarter campaign this will hopefully be evident by the trailer, music and art I have created.

As always come back every day to hear my new ramblings. I’ll try to keep it lighter tomorrow.

Thank you for reading,
Sam

_____________________________________________________________________________



---------------------------------------------------------------------------
#002 – Motivation?
October 19th, 2017 02:37 (Tokyo).

---------------------------------------------------------------------------


I was going to talk about various games, movies and music that have inspired me during the development of Healing Process: Tokyo, however I decided to talk about something different today which is motivation, and how I remain so motivated to complete this game.

Since I was about 9 I have always idolised huge figures in the music world. It started off with Uematsu Nobuo, from when I first played Final Fantasy 6 / 7 / 8, and Iwadare Noriyuki when I started playing Grandia. At this time, I heard music continuously for the first time, and like anyone who played those games, I could hum along and memorised every melody to every instrumental. This is what inspired me to analyse music. Thanks to this experience, I have an obsession with analysing every piece of music I hear, I’m sure this isn’t unique to me and anyone who composes music probably has that same compulsion. From this age, I wanted to be a composer, but I didn’t even know what a composer was, or how music was made, I just knew it was the most important thing I had experienced. Music held a kind of magic to me that nothing else did, and what I didn’t know at the time was that the experiences in the games I was playing tied to the music have immense emotional power. I can listen to the track Fisherman’s Horizon from Final Fantasy 8 and all of the memories of that little town come flooding back to me more vividly than places I went to on holiday in real life, or other short experiences in my life. I think the only thing stronger than music in this regard is the sense of smell, but I don’t really have an interest in perfume.

I’ve had many people I consider role models thanks to this yearning to compose music, in somewhat chronological order, Uematsu Nobuo from Final Fantasy, Iwadare Noriyuki from Grandia, Matsumae Kimitaka from Jade Cocoon, Naruke Michiko from Wild Arms, Mitsuda Yasunori from Chrono Trigger and many more I will get into in the future. More recently I have been listening to Meguro Shoji from the Shin Megami Tensei series, Kanno Yoshiro’s soundtrack from Angel’s egg and Hosono Haruomi’s music from Night on the Galactic Railroad. Living in Tokyo I have had the pleasure of meeting and even befriending some of these people, and I am grateful for that, it’s something I couldn’t have done when I was 9. People always take you more seriously as an adult!

So, my motivation comes from this fact; if there is impactful music (or just loops of arranged sound) along to emotional scenes and interactive experiences in a game, it can trigger the memories and feelings of the gamer in the time that they originally experienced the game. For me, hearing the Grandia or Final Fantasy 8 soundtrack, or even Jade Cocoon’s (PS1) soundtrack takes me back to when I was 9, playing games with my best friend Ethan and being at home, living a happy life as a kid. The music recreates this environment for me. Which is probably why I play Final Fantasy 8 once every year. It helps me recapture my youth, saying that I’m only 27 though so I’m not an old man yet.

Growing up with inspiration to create music, I picked up the acoustic guitar my dad was always playing at about 13 years old and claimed it as my own for a year or so until he bought me my first electric guitar, a Fender Stratocaster and small Marshall Amp. I played it from when I got home from school until about 2am religiously for the next 6 years, while sitting in front of MSN Messenger to keep some kind of connection to the outside world. My aim was clear – I would create music. I didn’t yet know how, but I would be creating music from now on. I continued idolising game composers and imitated their music on the guitar, as well as guitarists, very specifically John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Ask me to play something from Blood Sugar Sex Magik to Stadium Arcadium and I will be able to play it any time.

As well as wanting to create these experiences with Healing Process: Tokyo, and lots of them, I also would like to one day be considered by others how I see my idols. This is a more selfish thought, indeed, I too would like to make my mark on the world. I would like to join this group and possibly give someone else the motivation that my heroes have given me. I would like to inspire the same hunger for creation that I have in someone else. Not only for music, but for anything, animation, art, writing, these are all things that can give people a sense of great purpose, and things that I feel aren’t particularly encouraged in school. We have English classes, but the main emphasis is on reading the work of others, music classes are usually a joke, as are art classes in my experience in high school and below. Why do we emphasise so much on the intake of the work of others in school when we do that outside of school anyway? Why can’t we have at least an equal time creating?

Okay, I am kind of taking this on another tangent – forgive me as I am just writing in a stream of consciousness trying to keep everything together.

So, motivation, yes – this obsession with music would probably be called unhealthy by most people, causing me to shut myself inside, constantly creating things. But I don’t share that opinion. Creating this game has caused me to go outside more than I usually would, taking thousands upon thousands of reference images in only a year. On the recorded narration I am interrupted by a political candidate’s promotion van driving around with megaphones attached to it, you should check this out – it’s pretty common in Japan. I have started a band, for which I do compose all of the music – but I have somewhat consistent contact with my band members when we practice and I keep in touch with my band’s bassist Benko a lot outside of band time. If you’re interested in that project by the way, we have 2 tracks up on soundcloud. The band’s name is Autocoders, I am currently recording our first album, another project which I have been working on for almost 2 years now. The website is auto-coders.com .

Motivation towards music has always been my main reason for living. It sounds dramatic, but once I discovered music, all irrational fear and feeling of doubting myself slowly faded away, if I can do this, I can do something, and something I hold in high regard. I owe it to music that I have never become depressed, or felt suicidal, or anything like that. I can’t understand people with no passion. Even if I had to stop after losing my hearing , this passion for music has granted me a way of seeing the world differently, and I would definitely just become a full time photographer or animator or something if I had to give it up.

I could talk about this for forever but this is a daily devlog and I don’t want to take too much time away from development. I am attaching an image today’s work in progress, a kind of industrial, steam punk styled laboratory. If you are listening to this recording outside of my official site, please go to the gamedev section on my website healingprocessgame.com to see the image. I am also going to provide a YouTube link to the main theme to Angel’s Egg which I find to be endlessly inspiring. That’s the devlog section at healingprocessgame.com.


Today's work in progress from Healing Process: Tokyo.


Angel’s Egg: Main Theme
As always, thank you for reading. See you tomorrow.

Sam



______________________________________________________________________ 
Fade out track: ‘Final Thoughts’ from Healing Process: Tokyo (By me). ______________________________________________________________________ 


_____________________________________________________________________________

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
#001 - Introduction - A new devlog
October 18th, 2017 01:53 (Tokyo).

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Healing Process: Tokyo is a game created by me, Sam Jones.

I live in Tokyo with my wife, working as a composer and translator on freelance terms, while creating my game Healing Process: Tokyo. From today, please visit healingprocessgame.com for more details, photos and constant updates about the development process. That's healingprocessgame.com

Healing Process: Tokyo

I am going to begin the story of the development of my game Healing Process: Tokyo from the beginning. Where else? I originally had the idea for this game in late 2014. At that time, HP was a simple story of an English doctor called Charles Russell living in Tokyo, having problems due to his depression. These problems include unnecessary deaths during surgery, with Charles being completely unable to take care of his patients correctly. The end game was going to be one final surgery that the player had to prepare for, they would then be given a grade and a good, bad or perfect ending depending how well they did. In 2017, the game has the same story line, however, it includes a twist of dream therapy, which allows the game to include side-scrolling battling, exploration and various metroidvania style game elements. The original plan for the gameplay was about 5-10 hours. However, now the scope of the game is now huge, with over 100 enemies, 200 screens worth of areas to explore, not tileset based art mind you, each area drawn individually by hand.

Back in 2014, I had no idea how to go about making games, and no idea about making animation or programming. One thing I did know about is creating a good soundtrack and sound effects for a game. I draw a massive amount of inspiration from Final Fantasy 6,7,8 - Star Ocean for the Super Nintendo, and more complicated scores such as Grandia for the PS1. Soundtracks and imagery from movies such as Angels egg, Metropolis and Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru (or Night on the Galactic Railroad) have been endless sources of inspiration to me. I have listened to these three soundtracks thousands of times each while drawing game art and writing the script for the game late at night.

Honestly, the reason I began making a game was so I could create a long, in-depth soundtrack. The soundtrack will be around 4 hours, and currently in 2017 I am still creating the game with that soundtrack in mind. I want complete control over the soundtrack and sound effects, the mood of the game, everything.

Yes, I started making my own game to write a soundtrack without limitations. And not only without limitations, but with the events and flow of the game being so tied in with it, due to my writing and creating the whole experience.

Anyway, in Winter 2014 I started making the pixel in ridiculously high resolutions, like 1920x1080(!), drawing everything pixel by pixel. By 1920x1080 resolution, I mean the target window size would actually be 1920 by 1080 with no double sizing of the pixel assets. Old Super Nintendo games are only around 220 pixels height and lengthways. I really did not know what I was doing. I am now working with a huge screen size for pixel art, at 640x360 pixels, it's a lot - but it's managable for the style I am drawing in.

It was completely ridiculous once I started out, but I used these sprites that I made to mess around with the programming and getting used to the game engine.

After 2 to 3 months I decided to start working with an artist called Igor Green, as I wasn't entirely sure what direction to take the art. I believe we downgraded the pixels at that time to around 300 by 200 pixels roughly but I don't remember precisely. Igor goes by the name grigoreen. I'm sure if you type it into google it will come up. He would provide the pixel art for the levels, the sprites, everything except the character portraits. Despite our differences, and issues during creating Healing Process: Tokyo in the beginning, I believe to this day he is talented as a pixel artist, and I wish him well in his career as an artist.

Shortly after Igor joined the team, I found Niho Ame, an artist, who again I believe to be a very skilled. I am a fan of him and his work, and still consider him a friend to this day.

We began working together on Healing Process: Tokyo, with the agreement that the game belongs to me, but we would have revshare reflective of a person's work on the project. Everyone owns their own work until payout.

We worked together until September 2015, aiming for Kickstarter.

The Kickstarter campaign was rushed, I'm sure it will come up on google if you type 'Healing Process: Tokyo Kickstarter'. You should check it out, it will be the top result. I believe it will definitely be worth comparing it to the kickstarter campaign I will be launching soon in 2017. The music and programming, trailer, and other elements were by me, the promotion art was by Niho Ame and 95% of the pixel art was by Igor Green, with me filling in a few holes during programming.

We actually got some backers - about 150 people. I am eternally grateful for these people, however we only got about 35% of the money we requested, so the campaign failed. The demo was poor, buggy and boring. I thought 'okay, well that's that', and directed those who backed to the pre-order page on my site. I got some pre-orders, not a lot, but a few. Saying that, it wasn't even enough to pay a month's rent or anything.

As time went on, Igor and Niho's work slowed down, I was requesting art assets and pieces for the game, and the pieces from Igor were either rushed and subpar, or just too late. Needless to say, without money, people can't prioritise making a game like this. But I always have prioritised it, even over my own work.

Igor gave me reasons time and time again as to why he couldn't create the art fast enough, and eventually, his excuses were just too much to deal with. He claimed that he had given up all of his money to help his sick friend, and I gave a cold response like 'well those excuses aren’t going to help the progress of the game, are they?' At this point, I was sick of his excuses and wasn't sure if he was telling the truth or not. I was very cold to him at that time, and anyone would say it wasn't the best way to deal with things.

I parted ways with Igor, we blocked each other on Skype and Facebook, and I didn't see him around online from then on. However, I kept him as an admin on my Facebook group by mistake, honestly - I forgot he was an admin, and didn't use the group very often at that time. This lack of awareness came back to bite me about a year and a half later, but I will save that story for next time.

With Igor off the project, I began working on the pixel art myself. Honestly, I wanted to go solo at this point, but I couldn't bring myself to kick Niho off of the project and decided to continue working with him. I like his work, but like Igor, he became progressively became slower and slower, sometimes with no art for months on end.

I like to have control over things, and for that reason, I eventually let go of Niho as well, as he’d only drawn a very few amount of pictures in the space of months.

Let me be clear about this now, all intellectual property of Healing Process: Tokyo belongs to me.

I decided to take the project on by myself. I began again on the art from scratch, and I decided to see it through to the end alone. The story remains the same as how I originally envisioned it, but with new gameplay battling, adventure in a dream world, as well as exploration in Tokyo. Needless to say, Niho and Igor's assets are not being used in the game anymore, and any media on the website and Facebook group is by me (except art in the old trailer).

At the time of creating the original kickstarter campaign, it goes without saying that I was stumbling (fumbling) in the dark not really knowing what I was doing, learning various bits of skills along the way. Could I complete a game? Would I be able to make it entertaining? At that time, I probably couldn't have. Now, 2 years later with the experience of working on this game daily, I finally have something I feel I have to get out into the world. I am working alone, but this gives me a level of security I didn't have when working with others. I will get the game completed how I envision it. I simultaneously can't wait for it to be finished and am enjoying the development process, crafting each aspect of the game to my tastes, getting further lost in the world I am creating. I have made the right choice with continuing Healing Process: Tokyo, not that quitting has ever been an option for me anyway.

People may be reading this, or listenining to this (or not at all) thinking that I am taking too much on, and I must get burnt out with the creation of all of the game's assets, however - that's not the case. Once I've had enough of drawing art, I can switch to music which I never get sick of, and even if I do get a bit burnt out from that - I can go outside and take reference images of Tokyo for inspiration.

I am going to continue talking about how I started drawing art for the game, and the scope of the game next time.

Please do come back for daily recordings of my game development on Healing Process: Tokyo. And visit Healing Process: Tokyo for the visuals of how the game has improved from its initial state.

Thank you for reading, Come back again tomorrow.

Sam ______________________________________________________________________ 
Fade out track: ‘Main Theme’ from Healing Process: Tokyo (2015 Version) (By me). ______________________________________________________________________ 

<<< Go to newer entries          Entries #001 - #010           Go to previous entries >>>