If you're checking my dev blog out for the first time, this blog is about my journey while creating the The Girl Who Knew Time, a game I wrote and currently developing! You can check it out here in the Google Play Store.
🧚🏻♂️Last updated: July 3rd, 2021
👋🏻🥰 Hey everyone!
I hope everyone had a fulfilling rest during the holidays and welcome to 2021!
Despite everything going around in the world right now, I hope we can focus on the positives in our lives. From that, let's take the love that exists there and share it with all those who need it most right now—especially family and friends.
It’s been a little while and I’m ready to share a much-awaited update for The Girl Who Knew Time!
First, I want to give a big thank you for all your support!! Especially for everyone who has purchased the game while it’s so early in development! I feel so grateful for all the lovely reviews + feedback. I just want you to know that you are super appreciated!! ❤️❤️❤️
You have no idea how much I am in awe of all the love and support. The fact that you can see the potential this story has so early on in development—I feel so grateful for that. ✨Thank youuuu.
I wanted to post an update of all the things that have been going on during game development these past few months since the Prologue was released in late October(ie. October 27th), as well as share details on what I’m working on for Episode 1 development.
I hope this article will give you a little insight on just how much effort it takes to create a game, especially one like this without a large team. I’m always in awe by other people who have done something similar, and after this whole experience, I can say wow—these people are definitely some hard workers.
Compared to how I used to view any visual form of art(shows, animation, anime etc.) this entire experience has really made me grow in so many ways. Now I feel so much more admiration for all the hard work put into these creations and no longer take the beauty I see in front of me for granted.
Two Major Chunks of Work
There are two major things I have been doing(and still currently doing) in order to speed up the entire game development:
- ✅ COMPLETE (November to February): Organizing files for all episodes, reviewing assets for the last episodes(so I no longer have to focus on reviewing any assets again), bug fixes + a few feature updates, and working on mini-projects for Episode 1.
- ✅ COMPLETE (February to July): Simply put, a ton of new exciting features are introduced with Episode 1 release. These will continue to be used throughout the entire game + I'm working on Episode 1 development(ie. story, camera shots etc).
The first chunk of work, which is now complete, will allow me to focus less on searching and reviewing assets, and more on the development of each Episode.
👼Holy mother of cows🐄🐄🐄, what a relief it feels to finish this.
Trust me, having all the files organized for this big story is going to save so much time so I can get these Episodes out faster for you. This chunk of work also includes creating art assets for Episode 1 features.
The second chunk of work includes the creation of many core features used throughout the entire game. Time spent on these now means no time spent on them for future episodes.
I've broken down these into further detail month to month below. Feel free to jump to the section that interests you, or read it all 🧚🏻♂️.
🥰 I'm looking forward to sharing Episode 1 with you, I think you will really enjoy the experience! This article will continue to be updated as more work is completed, so be sure to check back to see my progress.
Table of Contents
🧚🏻♂️Last updated: July 3rd, 2021
November (100% COMPLETE)
December (100% COMPLETE)
- Episodes 1 - 3 Will Be Merged (100% COMPLETE)
- New Asset Mini Projects (100% COMPLETE)
- Reviewed and Improved 12,818 Words (100% COMPLETE)
- Story Files Ready to Go (100% COMPLETE)
- Test the Game (100% COMPLETE)
- Memory Check (100% COMPLETE)
- Reverse Time, Change The Future (100% COMPLETE)
- Sound and Music Added (100% COMPLETE)
- Enchanting Mysterious Full of Twists and Turns (100% COMPLETE)
- Camera Shots and Scenes Created (100% COMPLETE)
- Intriguing Character Relationships (100% COMPLETE)
- Can you earn Catherine's trust? (100% COMPLETE)
- Charming Loaders (100% COMPLETE)
- New Languages UI (100% COMPLETE)
- Timed Real-Life Choices (100% COMPLETE)
- Internet Check (100% COMPLETE)
- Upgrade Purchase System (100% COMPLETE)
- Upgrade Asset Loader System (100% COMPLETE)
- New Tutorials (100% COMPLETE)
- Other Possible Fixes/Features
🐛🐞Bug Fixes + Player Feedback
November was focused on the after release process of the Prologue.
This includes bug fixes, player feedback, and learning about different phone types and their issues. Some phones have graphic issues while other phones don’t have any problems at all. Most, if not all of these issues are either related to graphics inconsistency between phones to a Unity graphics bug that keeps coming back on certain phones. The few people who reported these issues to me were all using the phones that were known to have this Unity bug. Apparently, it was “fixed” by Unity, but other developers are also reporting the issue exists on their end, even with an updated version of Unity.
Fortunately, most people were able to play the game without any issues. For those that had issues though:
- Some were using tablets, even though this game was not made for tablets(at least not yet). Once they switched to an Android phone, the game worked fine.
- Some didn't have enough memory on their phones. After making more space for memory, the game worked fine.
- Some older mobile devices that were not updated for a long time, updating fixed the issue.
Honestly, it’s very difficult to dissect every possible issue on every phone because there are literally thousands of them. See the screenshot below. This is the Google Developer Console showing me how many devices the game "supports" unless I exclude them manually—The number is crazy big.
Fortunately, most players use only a few devices, usually one of the 10 devices in their country. On the other hand, each country may have a different variation of these top 10 🤦♀️. Some devices I have never even heard of luckily work fine.
So far, I've manually excluded devices that I know have issues due to user feedback, but there are hundreds more, and I do not have the resources to explore this testing route much further/deeper until the game is complete + more successful.
I have noticed though that pattern for users who have these issues are either using the phones with the known Unity Graphic issue, or they are using Android 7.0 devices(luckily most users are using the most updated Android version—Android 10), or they don't have enough memory on their phones. I have to look into these issues more when I have the time.
I will continue to monitor bugs as they come in. If you experience any major setbacks, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to work through these bugs together with you!
Keep in mind though that on the development side, I’m doing everything by myself. So if any incoming issues take more than a day to solve, and only affect a few phones, I will work on them after all the episodes are released. I really appreciate your understanding on this.
👨👩👦 Family Time
Finally, after more than a year and a half of non-stop reviewing, writing, and developing, I took more time off to spend with my husband and our one-year-old son.
December was a pretty busy month.
🐛🐞🧚🏻♂️ Bug Fixes + Feature Improvements
I created an article that explains most of the things I focused on the first half of the month.
📚 Organized over 300+ asset files
The second half of the month, it was a mix of family time and organization.
From all the reviewing, back and forth for every single character, background art/animation asset between myself, artists, and animators—I badly needed to organize it all if I was going to create these episodes without my head exploding.
It’s a bit frustrating that after a year and a half, I had so much to arrange because I always intended on keeping everything nice and organized from the beginning.
Managing a team while raising an infant and being a perfectionist for the past year and a half—I can tell you, it’s not pretty.
It’s also ironic because when I worked for companies in the past as a Software Engineer, I was always super organized, but then throw in the "Founder for the first time part", and you’ve got a new bag of worms. The good side of this experience is that I learned so much during this time. For any future projects, things will be much more neat and tidy.
So finally while things were a bit more relaxed at the end of the year, I sat my butt down and reviewed around 300 files. Technically, it’s probably more like 450 - 500 files since each file had several versions of static assets + animations that needed to be put in order/updated.
Finally, they’re all nice and organized and it takes a second to find what I need.
This chunk of hard work and time invested was so exhausting but well worth it as it will be a big time saver moving forward.
📚Reviewed Last New Assets For the Game 90% of asset art and animation were complete before November. Organization of these completed files was complete in December. There was still 10% that was not reviewed and organized yet, so finally I able to give feedback and work on fixes with the artists(some back and forth happened here, which took a bit more time than expected).
This section will constantly be updated until Episode 1 is ready for release.
🧚🏻♂️ Episodes 1 - 3 Will Be Merged
Originally 12 episodes were planned, but I decided to merge the first three episodes into one big fat Episode 1. To be 100% clear, the story is the same exact length, everything is the same, except now there will just be more content per episode…Yay🥳🥳🥳!
If you want a gorgeous, interesting story, it's worth the wait! I'm a perfectionist and my mind is constantly producing new ideas. I want to release something that I myself would greatly enjoy playing, so I rather spend more time on it and share the best version with you! I appreciate your patience and support 🥰✨.
I will be updating the episode count once Episode 1 is released. It might end up being about 5 episodes instead of 12, when the others are combined as well.
🧚🏻♂️ New Adorable Art + Animation Mini Projects
We also started working on a few mini-projects: Tutorial Art for Time Reversal, Loading Animations, and a new Game Logo.
✨ Mini-Project #1: New Time Warp Tutorial Art
There will be a tutorial for the Time Reversal Section. Working on my ideas with the artists, we were able to create super cute chibi Catherine. See below for a preview. She will be explaining how Time Reversal works in the game.
✨ Mini-Project #2: New Loading Screen Animation Assets
The second mini-project we worked on was updating the loading screen. I wanted to create this for two reasons.
First, some users complained the game wasn’t starting for them, and it turns out they just didn’t wait long enough for Google Play to login. We need you to do this so Google Play can save your game progress. The feature works through them, although I had to enable it with code.
According to all the info I’ve found online and my own experience, it can take up to 10 seconds to login into Google Play on game startup. Most cases less, and in some cases more depending on if your phone/internet connection is slow, the phone's memory is on the low side or if any heavy graphics are involved etc.
These user complaints were partially my fault, since currently when starting the game and after downloading the initial resource update, you will see a pink circle with no feedback on the bottom right corner. In this day and age, we are not always accustomed to waiting that long and may feel that something is wrong, which is completely understandable. So I will be adding some text feedback here once the art/animation assets are added.
Second, I wanted to add some cute character animations while users are waiting here, and in any other part of the game where players have to wait. Why? Well, because it’s just darn adorable ok!? And because it’s less boring than waiting for a circle moving.
Here's a preview of these animations for the boys below. They're super cute and match their personalities. I like how they turned out❤️:
✨ Mini-Project #3: New Game Logo
In the third and last mini-project, we worked on creating the game logo. We designed and colored in black and white as well as a colored version. I may or may not release this with Episode 1. For now, it's a surprise.
🧚🏻♂️ Reviewed and Improved 12,818 Words
It took about a week to review all the files for the newly merged Episode 1—12,818 words total. That’s roughly about 25-30 pages if it were a book.
I spent a lot of time thinking, reworking the language and adding more depth to the story. There are parts that I completely rewrote, and they are so much better for it.
🧚🏻♂️ Story Files Ready to Go
The review process mentioned right before was for the writing.
Now I need to make sure there are no actual errors in each file, the choices work smoothly and go into correct paths, as well as several other things. Naturally, after this is complete and I work on other tasks for the game, I will continue to improve these files as ideas come to me.
- All choices work smoothly
- Points are allocated correctly
- Possibly more choice options
- Possible more choice reactions
- Fix errors and test the files in-game to make sure they all work
🧚🏻♂️ Camera Shots and Scenes Created
As you read previously, I will merge the first three episodes into one big fat Episode 1.
Each asset has a setup process that includes what shots, music, and animations will be included. I have to think of how each one will look like, sound like, as well as what feeling I want to portray in each scene(yes, even a half-second shot).
Creating the scenes is the biggest chunk of work here and might take a while if I want it to be a super fun and interactive experience for the players. I will of course do my best to finish as quickly as possible...But it's so much work. 😫Halp.
Before the prologue was released I created several in-game dev tools that will allow me to create the shots, music, and animations much faster and more organized than before.
✨(March 15th, 2021: This is helping me create the scenes faster, but along the way I ended up creating more tools for new character situations since character assets weren't used in Prologue.)
- All basic shots created (what shots I anticipate will be used right away): backgrounds + characters imported and known shots set up. This part took longer than expected because I had completely forgotten about needing to organize character data. ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- All variable shots created (what shots I can create inside the already created shots): backgrounds, characters, animations, effects: This is taking a lot of time since I'm adding more tools for the characters, to make filming them easier in the long run.) ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
🧚🏻♂️ Sound and Music Added
Music is important to the interactive experience so I will definitely take my time finding/editing just the right tracks. I would love to finish this in 1-2 weeks, but it's difficult to say until I get into searching and adding each sound. I need to find, add, and edit each sound/music for each shot and scene in the game. And there are A LOT of shots within the 5 scenes, let's see how progress goes here.
UPDATE June 6th:(Luckily I am finding some really good tracks but found several audio bugs along the way that took about 3 days to fix. Then another small bug that took all day to find. I'm aiming to complete adding music for Scene 2 and 3 tomorrow. After all, music is added to all scenes I will begin working on adding sound effects/shorter sounds etc.)
For each of the scenes(5 total):
- Find and add all music. ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Edit music sounds(I won't be able to include the entire music track as it currently is since it would take up to much mobile memory so I need to edit + shorten each music file). ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Find and Add sounds. ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
🧚🏻♂️ Intriguing Character Relationships
With every choice, a consequence. Get to know the main characters with unique conversations and reactions based on your choices. You'll be able to visually see how each character feels/thinks about you.
- Create UI ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Add cute animated emojis to UI ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Based on current game logic, show character's thoughts/feeling ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
🧚🏻♂️ Timed Real-Life Choices
There are two choice types. Choices without a time-limit, you've experienced this in the Prologue, and timed choices like when Catherine is having a conversation with someone and can't wait too long before it gets awkward ie. real-time.
- Create timed choices ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- A Choice is auto-chosen for you if you don't pick in time ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
🧚🏻♂️ Can You Earn Catherine's Trust?
Can you convince Catherine to trust you?
Hot tip: This will be based on choices you made in the Prologue, choices you make in Episode 1, and your conversation with her.
- Test all the choice variations ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Create the UI ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
🧚🏻♂️ Reverse Time, Change The Future
Ever wanted to jump back and change things? Now you'll be able to.
- Add time warp animation effect ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Create the UI ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Add new assets in-game for tutorial ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Create the tutorial and tutorial UI in Game ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Last Security Check ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
🧚🏻♂️ Enchanting Mysterious Full of Twists and Turns
As the game progress, there will be more mysteries, twists, and questions. This feature will show currently unlocked in-game mysterious and unlock achievements once they are solved as the game progress. Some can only be solved by walking through certain paths.
UPDATE: This has been changed to Achievements. Details about this will be explained with an in-game tutorial.
- Create UI and all functionality ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Test all functionality ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Create achievements for prologue ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Create achievements for Episode 1 ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
🧚🏻♂️ Charming Loaders
Generate a different adorable chibi main character whenever parts of the game are being loaded. The mini art project I mentioned earlier, is related to this.
- Add new assets in-game ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Show during Google Play load wait to login ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Show when loading scene within Episode ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
🧚🏻♂️ New Languages UI
Eventually, I want to translate the game into many different languages. First thing that must be done is to create a UI at the beginning of the game asking what language the player wants to play. This will help with some save data when I eventually add languages. Later I will also add a feature to change languages in the Pause menu(this will be included after all episodes are released).
🧚🏻♂️ Memory Check
This is quite important, as it will help avoid memory issues on a user's device. Most likely once Episode 01 will be released it will be more memory heavy so this check is crucial.
- Let the player know how much memory is needed before downloading Prologue/Episode.
- Let players know if they don't have enough memory.
🧚🏻♂️ Internet Check
Another important feature! Since game save data will happen through the cloud, it's important the player has good internet before the saved data is loaded or saved. Otherwise, weird data bugs might arise and this game's saved data is super vital in order to use the Time Warping feature.
- Create UI for warning players if the internet is poor ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Check for internet before each load and save ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
🧚🏻♂️ Upgrade Purchase System
I need to upgrade the payment system since the Google payments have made a big change and require all developers to update. Also, I will add future episodes available to purchase.
I need this to work before I work on the Time Warp/Reverse feature.
🧚🏻♂️ Upgrade Asset Loader System
The loader asset has made some big changes. I use this to load all the backgrounds, characters, and animation assets from the cloud.
I need this to work before I work on the Time Warp/Reverse feature.
🧚🏻♂️ New Tutorials
There are quite a few new features released with this Episode and I feel they need a clear explanation. I'll be adding a few mini tutorial explanations for this.
- Time Warp ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Achievements (formally Mysteries) ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Earn Catherine's Trust mini-game ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Update Prologue's Tutorial UI as well ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
🧚🏻♂️ Experience Real-Time Waiting System
✍️ IN - PROGRESS
UPDATE: This was originally planed to be release with Episode 1, but due to time constraints, I've decided to release this with Episode 2 instead. Instead, I will be including more crucial features to Episode 1 first. Also, this will be used starting in Episode 2 anyway, so it makes sense to release with Episode 2.
I wanted to add this feature for those who want to have an experience that feels closer to real life. I’m contemplating on waiting(no pun intended) to add this feature to Episode 2 instead since they will be moving across several places by then, but it might work for Episode 1 as well. Let's experiment and see.
I also want to give you a chance to relax and sink in what just happened after each scene. But of course, if you can't wait to see what happens next, feel free to skip through this feature(available with full-game purchase only).
🧚🏻♂️ 4D Experience with Vibration
✍️ IN - PROGRESS
UPDATE: This was originally planed to be release with Episode 1, but due to time constraints, I've decided to release this with Episode 2 instead. Instead, I will be including more crucial features to Episode 1 first.
I will be adding vibration for a more 4D experience in some moments in the game.
- Vibration added to Prologue
- Vibration added to Episode 1
🧚🏻♂️ Test the Game
Game is complete! Now It's time to test everything on computer then mobile. Lastly release to a few people to test before releasing to the public.
UPDATE: June 28th: I found a very annoying save bug and as well as fixing this, got an idea how to make the save file even simpler. So I ended up spending a few days on all these fixes--it was a big chunk of code and cleanup. Good news is now everything works so smoothly on the backend, ✨yay!✨
Update July 1st: 2/5 Scenes have been tested by a few closed beta testers and work perfectly. The 3rd scene has a save bug. I will try to fix it as soon as I can. Stay tuned.
- Test the game fully on my computer. ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Test the game fully on mobile. ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
- Release to a few players to test. ✨🎉(100% COMPLETE)
🧚🏻♂️✨ Other Possible Fixes/Features
These are fixes/features which could be potentially included in Episode 1 release, or right after(meaning after Episode 1 is released but before Episode 2).
- Players can take screenshots in-game(maybe).
- Add parallax to some backgrounds(maybe).
- Create a preview of Episode 01 for people who completed the prologue
- Decrease the game size
- Write articles on android development and other topics related to the indie dev journey after episode 1 complete
- Add Google achievements