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Current Projects: Americana Engine (Game Engine Development)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Americana Engine: Beta 4 Updates

My gear setup on Foster when running the battle simulator.

Americana Dawn has since switched over to Unity and is moving right along on their builds; on my side I have focused on engine development since I need my version working as proof of coding and game development experience. The portfolio maps still occur within the same universe, however, and will share the game's continuity, but I'll have to find or make some assets first. I am dedicated to providing a detailed development process, and will include any major changes and commentary behind them.

(In the month since the engine project page was put up, the number of people visiting it was a lot lower than expected. I may have to break the convention of not actively promoting material and reappear on social media sites to get this noticed and get further up search engine rankings, as well as relying on chance that someone relevant will find it.)


The following main features were updated in Engine Beta 4 (Released 7/21/15), emphasizing more on character customization rather than straight-on gameplay:

  • The status page has been slightly retweaked compared to the original concept image on the Kickstarter; tabbed interface will now display inventory items (to equip gear) as well as skills and passives on the character instead of using separate menus
  • Navigation in Status screen now completely functional; See notes below
  • Passives are now displayed when selecting an accessory, and Skills when a weapon is selected.
  • Carrying capacity was moved up to main statistics
  • Caps on maximum inventory greatly increased.
  • Mastery gains readjusted

Simulator Changes

In order to test all of the above features out, The simulator has been expanded to include the following:

  • You can now access the menu and change your gear via the Status Page in between battles. Your inventory contains a large amount of items to setup your characters however you so choose, and to experiment with various combinations and statuses. Around a dozen different weapons, accessories, and consumables are available in the simulator. I do not know how much variety AD has in terms of accessories, but I can tell you that this place has plenty of stuff.
    • libcurl will be used to automatically update the items/skill database for the simulator as needed; this should keep game engine re-downloads to a minimum (at least until a major update occurs) and keeps everyone on the same version level, but overall don't expect any of the weapons here to be fairly balanced at all.
  • Lucille has her own portrait in the menu when available, based off of the concept piece of her. There was no official vertical portrait for Lucille, and she's too far down, so there were two options for this, to recreate it myself, or to find an artist to do this. I picked the former for now, but only as a placeholder. The configuration for non-human type characters hasn't been fully defined yet, so Lucille cannot equip weapons, but can hold 4 accessories and twice as many items.
  • Some new enemies are planned to be made based on those in AD that were still work in progress.
  • The help file has been moved to the Journal in order to explain most concepts.

Other Notes:

Despite this post taking into account updates from July 10th, this post was originally created on June 28 and will be dated as such.

Navigation between tabs are used with left/right keys. (X) on any item in your inventory will transfer it to the character if possible; (X) on any item on your character will send it back to your inventory.

Skills are attached to weapons (along with a limited number of character skills) and what you equip for each character determines what attacks you can use. You can slot up to two (or more) weapons and accessories, so you'll have a variety of skills at your disposal, and you can get more variety over the course of the game. I'm still trying to think of three/four skills unique to each weapon, complete with descriptions and such.

Weight is represented on an item as 'Wg' (using the same abbreviation as in Fallout games, where the idea for this came from) until I can think of an icon for this. It's not related to lbs or volume, they are instead weighted solely for balance purposes in a battle.

Mastery also works a bit differently in this version. You get mastery for weapon types used in battle, and when you level up it increases your stats depending on the weapon, which may allow you to use more advanced skills. The only difference in this game is that at high mastery levels it also gives an overall percent bonus towards those stat(s), so you can either focus towards skill variety or strong stats in one area.

I did not add status effect support in the initial release of this version, as I am currently working on a way to add them as needed instead of hardcoding them in the game engine (as well as Journal support).

Monday, June 22, 2015

California Zephyr

Overview: The California Zephyr is an Amtrak Train that goes from Emeryville all the way the Chicago, passing through scenic places like the Colorado River along the way. I took the route westbound from Omaha to Sacramento, a 45-hour train ride. There were many occasions where I had to transfer stuff from my camera chip over to my laptop as there were too many good views and not enough memory to get all of them.


  • This train is designed to be a leisure ride; make no guarantee on getting to your destination on time. If you're getting onboard a specific stop, text notifications will be extremely helpful, as the time between its intended stop and when the train arrives can be hours apart. (There was a touring group onboard the train I was in that had at least one of their tours in Salt Lake City cancelled). It was fortunate that I didn't take yesterday's train ride or the day afterward, as they were 12 and 7.5 hours late respectively, and would've probably had to stay in Sac somewhere.
  • Some of the delays during this trip were the train cruising along at 25mph in some areas for whatever reason, stopping for other train traffic, and even stopping in the middle of nowhere while the current crew left as they were over their 12 hour operation limit, and waiting for a replacement crew to arrive to continue.
  • The observation room's the best place to look around from both sides of the train. At night, it gets pretty quiet so it's a good place to watch movies and do other work.
  • Bring snacks if you need something to eat; they get expensive if you buy from the cafe, and you'll probably need this on the last day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cadillac Ranch

Previously, landmarks in the Midwest was something only to be looked up and seen online. Now that I have an assignment over there in Missouri and passing by, I might as well see this monument up close.

I was aware of the pictures and the changing grafitti, but it didn't look as clean as I would've expected.

On the barbed wire fence surrounding the entrance, there are several pairs of shoes that were tied on it; I didn't read about this anywhere so I'm not sure if it was becoming a new thing to do that.

A storm that passed by a few days ago caused a majority of the monument area to become flooded, meaning that I was unable to get real closeup shots; it didn't dry up like everything else. There were also hundreds of empty spray paint cans lying around on the ground, no trash can nor any shop in sight; perhaps someone could make a profit by selling spray cans nearby.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Grand Canyon

There's several routes to see the Grand Canyon, via the West Rim, the North, or the South Rim. I took the latter because the West required a tour package to enter and would require spending most of the day there.

Regardless, there's a grand view in almost every spot along the rim that panoramas and even Street View can't show you. Expect to spend at least a few hours over here, with some priority on the Observation Station (for a bit of history) if you arrive late and the Visitor's Center closed.

There were so many people watching the sunset that it's hard to get a good wide-angle picture without anyone in it.

Note: I know a friend who attempted one of the trails three years back, I'm not sure if she completed it, but it's hard to get a full view of the canyon from the South Rim, so maybe I'll attempt to go down one of these trails at some point or another.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Discounted mSATA SSD

While looking to buy a new SD card at Roseville Fry's, I stumble upon this deal that I could not refuse. A mSATA 500GB (840 EVO) for 100 bucks, well below the normal price of a SSD drive of that size. Without looking at the fine print, I got the invoice, but was not informed by the associate that it was used, only that it was a discontinued item.

Upon going to the register to buy, it was actually returned. Twice. I decided to back out, since I do not have much trust in returned items when they are used for critical systems.

They said that it has been tested and it works fine, and I doubt that they were returned for any reason other than not being the right SSD type for their laptops or as an expansion (mSATA SSD uses different plus than a standard SSD, and you cannot plug in SATA connectors). They still come with a 30 day return policy, so you have a good deal if it's being used as part of a redundant backup and/or you don't mind losing the stuff on it any time.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Yahtzee, Dave and Buster's

91 is less tickets than from a large straight...

I only heard about Dave and Buster's only recently around four years ago after reading a post about how someone was raking in hundreds of thousands of tickets from the place, and now I've gotten a chance to experience some of it firsthand. Lots of tickets from a full game that required five swipes, and a bit over 600 tickets total. I'll return again as I haven't completely used up all the chips on my card yet.

Prices: Overall when converted to money per game, the price is significantly more than what you would normally find at Boomer's, John's, etc. (which is 33c / 50c a coin respectively), but the ticket rewards (in most games) scale up appropriately. Of course the ticket price for prizes go up as well, but not by too much. (The ratio for coupons to chips is around 10:1 if you play decently and consistently get at least 40 tickets on certain machines during 1/2 price days).

Food: I also went here to try out some of the food, and they were better than some other places I've been to. Got some mac and cheese, was not disappointed.