Black Friday has eaten away at most of my time and sanity but between my 8 days of constant work (at my day job) I managed to finish up about 30% of our character customization menu. I also cleaned up the buttons scripts and setup a dandy system that allows for both the logic, and rendering to be handled in the same script at no cost to the game's performance.
Of course Panos (the artist behind Rock God Tycoon and original creator) and I have a lot more work to do but we resolved a lot of issues involving Spine over the past week. We are both confident that this game will make the most of its potential.
What About Project Explore?
I'm still working on Project Explore. I made sure to publically announce on Steam that I would be pushing Project Explore's development into bi-weekly segments. It allows me to spend a whole week on each project one at a time. I have made far more progress this way. It is quite refreshing doing something different each week. I do plan on finishing each and every promised feature for Project Explore. While I can make no guaranteed due dates, what I can do is ensure everyone that it will be finished before 2017 without a doubt. I have nearly finished mod support and after that the game is only missing Steam Workshop support and multiplayer functionality.
A lot of people seem to think that Game Maker: Studio is incapable of properly handling external resources. Perhaps this idea was created by inexperienced GM:S users or it was due to the fact that Game Maker doesn't have any functions called "Import_My_Files()".
Step 1. Importing Sprites
There is a function called "sprite_add()", let's begin by using that. It will return a sprite index that can be used to draw the sprite later on. So try using this line:
spr = sprite_add("image.png",1,false,false,0,0);
It is important to note the removing the background and/or doing smoothing drastically increases the time it takes to import an image. I recommend removing the background in advance and just importing the image as is. It'll both look better and take less time to import.
Step 2. Cache Those Sprites
If you don't feel like spending forever carefully placing your sprites onto a surface, I recommend checking out this excellent collection of scripts that do that hard work for you! http://gmc.yoyogames.com/index.php?showtopic=669935
The way to do this on your own is to draw the sprites to a surface, then import that surface as a single sprite or background. From there you can call those sprites from their respected places that new texture page.
Why is all this important? Every time you have to draw an image from a different texture page, you sacrifice loads of performance. Try to draw 1,000 sprites from 2 separate texture pages back and forth compared to drawing 1,000 sprites from the same texture page. You'll see the difference.
Step 3. Realize The Potential Of External Resources
Allowing your game to use external resources will open new doors for you. Imagine being able to use the Game Maker: Studio runner and not face a compile time, EVER. Reducing the number of texture pages Game Maker has to compile at run-time speeds up the process by quite a bit. My game generally launches in under 2 seconds and I only have to wait for the game to compile texture pages for the parts of the game I want to test.