After spending ten weeks working on this nonstop I've certainly learned a lot, I'll try to parse the most important bit for everyone here, but I think this is a good point to look back and reflect on what's changed and happened recently.
Originally I planned on creating an Idle game within the same genre, using similar mechanics to Anti-Idle and Adventure Capitalist, but after being pursuaded by my collegues I decided to go full SRPG instead and create something in the vein of my end product today. I'm really glad that they convinced me to change becuase I think it turned out to be a more accessable and better product overall because of it.
What I've Learned
I set out to learn how to better schedual my time and more about the breadth of my capapbilities in this short time frame, I ended up not only surprising myself, but making a product I genuinely enjoy, showing other people, and having them play. I really hope this continues as I work more on this project. More on that later.
I ended up having to figure out how to create a makeshift dialogue system and originally had something really simple that just played the dialogues on demand, but I wasnt satisfied with that, so I rewrote it to allow for player input in the form of actions, and also showed representations of the character speaking, I think this will be a more rich experience, but we'll have to see in due time.
As I kept working on the project I actually began to learn a lot more about what things UE4 could and couldn't do, Mostly issues with blueprint involving delay nodes and making sure that things were cast correctly from child BPs, but I think that this has given me a better understanding overall of the engine itself and I can see a lot of the things I worked on being applied elsewhere.
I decided to practice a better naming convention hierarchy and found that I could find files better too. I had to learn a new tool called Qubicle to do this project, It was a slightly intimidating tool that held a simple UI, but lack of a lot of control, After a while I found a good workflow involving exporting Pngs and combining meshes together like they were cards, This proved to be effective and let me quickly make meshes and end up with a maya-less workflow, which, if I wanted to go indie, is definitely a plus!
I also learned small things about communication and self publicity, but I plan to work more on that in the future.
What I Could have done better
My biggest pitfall was underestimating the complexity of Dialogue and Turn based combat. I created systems for both that ended up needing to be scrapped and nearly rewritten, but as a result I gained a better understanding of the capabilities of myself and of my preplanned ideas. I started making more detailed ideas and writing out in notes how I wanted these features to function and that led me to having a greater insight on the process as a whole.
The radial menus defintely need some work, They are currently in a more diamond-like pattern, and this is due to how UE4 handles their gridspacing, I'll have to go back later and manually manipulate it, but Hopefully next time it wont be so bad to fix given my understanding now.
I at one point, made structures to house my character data and level data, I thought I had a good knowlege on exactly what needed to be there, I ended up having to revise and add to it so many times that I lost track exactly.
Other things that needed to change were the UI and Map screen. I iterated with a few different versions of the game UI, and ended up trying to get it as integrated in the game as possible (both for technical and time constraints), The transitions had to work well with the game and the UI elements, this took a little while to recreate the effects I wanted, and I was having a hard time transitioning UI elements, but now, given the proper time and masks, I could probably make a good transition in a short amount of time.
I still want to go back and tweak the UI, but it functions for now (sans the lack of numerical representation of health). The other element that desperately needs a rework is the map screen, it lacks any interactable elements, actually, the whole game lacks interactable elements, its a shame honestly, people enjoy them so much in the main menu and in the b attle scenes themselves, I'm almost tempted to make a game about clicking and squishing things for the catharsis of it all.
I still lack a great victory and game over screen, but I created a small image that I find nice, so hopefully it stands correctly for me.
Sound design was also a big issue for me, mostly because I found it hard to get sound designers that were interested and had the time to work on this project. I ended up finding a way, but in the future I'm going to be more persistant with hunting down sound designers in general for my projects.
Plans for the future
my next goals are pretty straightforward, continue to update and fix bugs in the current build, and eventually release online a small segment that would be representational of a full game. A very clean and curated experience tailored to players, if I am able to pull this off, Then' as I slowly build a fanbase, Im planning on attempting to take this to patreon or kickstarter in order to sustain myself. I think the idea has enough cuteness, style, and attractiveness to it in order to become a successful title, being sold on steam or distributed for free, whatever the case.
I also plan to see if I can get some more permanant sound designers on board working with me, This would certainly make me feel more secure in general. I have discussed plans with a few writers and concept artists that are interested in working with me, so I plan to write up a proper story document and create small module sized adventures for players to go through, maybe styling them after DND modules in terms of brevity and length. We'll see.
Either way I feel like I learned a lot and that I really want to keep working on this game. Below is footage of the newest version, I suggest you check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!!!