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Flashcard Clash Weekly Update #1

Adam C. Clifton
9 Feb 2017

So I'm going to attempt to try and to weekly updates on the status of Flashcard Clash. Even tho I figure most of the changes are all backend technical things that usually don't have any pretty pictures to go along with them. I hope you like words!

Prestige
I've added prestiging to the game, basicly once you've battled through enough dungeons and it's too hard to contine, you can reset all your characters and the dungeons back to level 1. In doing so, you get rewards for how far you progressed and these rewards make it easier to go deeper the next time round.

Currently the rewards are pretty slim, just a useless gem, and there's not even any fanfare animations or sparkles. But I wanted to add it in anyway as my own personal account was running into a dead end and I needed to reset my progress :P.

Scarves
We've been working hard behind the scenes with Ariane for a little while now to get our main characters animated before we can start showing them off publicly. One of these characters, the Adventurer, has a scarf that turned out to be a bit of a challenge to animate. A scarf animation is pretty simple technically, the first bone swings backwards and forwards about 15 degrees in a smooth motion, and each child bone swings the same way, but is slightly delayed. Hopefully you can make that out in the animation below:

It's pretty simple to animate the first bone, you just set key frames for the left and right positions and Spine will animate through them in a smooth motion. Which you can see as the red checks in this very exelent diagram I have created.

The trouble comes when animating the second (green) bone, beacuse it's delayed, you can see that it does not have a check on the orange line, which is where the animation starts. Te way Spine works, is all bones will be in their default position at the start of an animation, and the first time they are keyframed, they will jump to the correct position, so you need a keyframe on the orange line.

We could add a new keyframe at the start of the animation, but we'd have to manually work out the start position and somehow adjust the interpolation so it matched the existing stuff. Which all seemed like a bit of a pain.

Note the keyframe on the far left, before the animation starts. Being able to set a keyframe there would be my dream solution to this problem, but alas Spine does not support that.

My solution as a programmer was to overengineer things, and precompute a sin wave and use that to set the angles for the animation. For this I used the most powerful program in the world, Excel.

In the far right columns you can see what angle the bone needs to be at what frame, which was easy enough to setup, but a lot more effort than just having left and right keyframes with smoorth interpolation. The bonus was that for the child bones, we could just copy and paste these keyframes and delay them easily.

Another option mentioned on the Spine forums was to force the animation to loop between a set of frames, ie: use frames 50 to 150 instead of 0 to 100. This would have worked as well but it kind of breaks everything else that expects animations to start at frame 0 and end at the last keyframe, like exporting gifs. The game code would also have to be updated to support this.

Vocabulary Cards
Previously all cards in Flashcard Clash are free standing, with a bit of text for the question and answer. It's a little bit more complex than that, with things like dynamic cards, but it's still all based on a fixed set of text on the cards.

Currently reusing cards between decks is possible, but error prone. So adding a new type of card which is slimplified toto "this card uses this vocabulary" will make it easier to stop cards being accidentally duplicated. Which also means that if you learned a word in one deck, you can skip it in any other deck since the game will know that you already have it.

Longer term i'm looking to have things like automagic substitution for nouns, eg: currently I have a card that switches between "there is a cat" and "there is a dog", but those permutations are fixed. What I'd like to have one day is that if you learn "fish" then that card will dynamicly pull that in and become "there is a fish". That's a long way off, but the first step is building a solid vocabulary in the database to be able to reference.

Currently the only Vocabulary cards are the new ones I'm adding to the Yotsuba decks. I'll need to go back and convert previous cards, and cleanup a lot of those old decks in general, but I'm just focusing on the things I am studying at the moment :P.

That's it! That's what happened this week!

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