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TIGSource ForumsFeedbackDevLogsSoulstrand (tactical puzzle RPG?)
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Author Topic: Soulstrand (tactical puzzle RPG?)  (Read 7307 times)
Chis
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« on: October 31, 2012, 02:29:18 AM »

>>watch my derpy preview!<<

Hey guys! I'm working on a game that combines turn-based tactical strategy with puzzle elements/time shifting. Soo Disgaea + Zelda + Braid. It'll have a better name too, I swear.

ART








GAMEPLAY

(some of this stuff is just notes for me. also constantly changing.)

- turn-based puzzles
You'll have several characters in your arsenal at any point. There will be a ton of characters total, but often the party will split up and you'll be given some subset of characters for each area. Along with fighting enemies, you also solve puzzles where the environment changes after every turn. Eg. there might be a wall that drops a little every turn and you need to figure out how to move each character during each turn to get through in time.

You'll also be able to go back in time to previous turns if you've screwed up a puzzle, to reduce frustration. Dungeons will be nonlinear and the player will almost always have multiple puzzles that they can solve at once, when they're not fighting.

I would like puzzle elements to be as interactive as possible. A plant might burn under fire, but it might also grow with water, or blow away with the wind, or be picked and stored as an herb. I'd like the player to enjoy experimenting with puzzles as much as they do solving them.
Something else I've been considering, which goes hand in hand with the large state space, is puzzles with multiple solutions. Mostly because I hate games that force you toward a solution even though other ones should theoretically be possible.
I see some scope creep coming along, so I'm going to ignore the above for now.

- enemies
I hope to deviate from classical turn-based tactical games here by making enemies more diverse in their behavior. I'm not looking for the most intelligent AI here, but rather AI with their own unique ways of getting under your skin. Moreover, except for some specific cases, enemies will plan their moves independent of others. This may result in a Moblin vs Moblin scenario, which I don't mind and totally encourage!

- soul strands - finally figured out what this does! fwaaah
There are four normal elements, fire, earth, water, and wind; then there is the soul element. The soul element has the power of giving life to/enchanting objects. The only way to to use soul is by performing a soul strand, where you connect multiple characters together in a closed loop. Since the game is on a hex grid, the sides of the loop must be along the six hexagonal directions, but otherwise it can be of any shape. Different characters have different amounts of soul, and more soul means that you can form larger loops. After a soul strand is initiated, all objects within the loop are affected.

- skill ghosting
When a (magical) skill is performed, it leaves behind a ghost of excess energy on the affected tiles, and if another skill is performed on the same spots, it gets a boost in power or some other effect. So it could be advantageous to perform a bunch of skills that overlap each other.

- skills/stats
Each character will have a set of fundamental skills that they will use to solve puzzles, as well as extra skills that they can learn from weapons/other characters that may help in battle. Since you can't choose the characters, puzzles will be based on the characters given.

My idea for now, subject to change, is that instead of stat growths based on one level-up, each stat gets its own level. Both attacks and skills add experience to one or more stats. The advantage is that characters are much more customizable depending on how you play them, and different characters will become stronger at about the same rate, if used the same amount. The disadvantage is that it's harder to keep track of more levels, and levelling up stats individually might feel less satisfying.

Characters will not have classes. I want to encourage experimentation with character growth and the kinds of roles they play as much as possible.

- character interactions

Unfortunately the plot will be pretty linear outside of some town subplots. That's okay though, cause I'll have the best story ever Cheesy I do want to put emphasis on writing and character development. I'm aiming for characters that the player will like and remember. I want them to be fun and crazy, but also multidimensional.

- towns
You can freely walk around towns, shop, do mini-quests, etc. The story takes place on a bunch of islands floating in space. It'll have a weird ethnic/steampunk/sci-fi theme to it.

The game is being made in Unity. I'm using 2D sprites with a hexagonal grid over 3D terrain  Durr...?

I'm hoping to get a super basic puzzle done by December/January cause this will be my final project for my game programming class. I'll find out whether this idea is feasible by then, and if so I'll keep on developing.

SETTING

So the game begins after the third nuclear war/meteor strike/other apocalypse, which makes earth completely inhabitable and also wipes a lot of technology. During this time, a couple of land masses either separated from earth or fell into earth's orbit, and they now float above earth.

The few humans that survived took residence on these islands, and many generations later, the human race is flourishing once again. The evolution of civilization pretty much restarts - the current world is in a peaceful golden age and more diverse than ever before, with influences from ancient and modern cultures alike. This includes the rediscovery of magic, which was lost after the ancient civilizations.
Moreover, the apocalypse caused a drastic shift in the ecosystem, so you'll find all sorts of strange creatures inhabiting the islands. Bit of a far stretch, I know  Tongue but worth the fun.

The game starts with Perplexi and her merry crew as seemingly simple adventurers that dungeon-dive for rarities. And then everything changes when they meet Ven. And that's as far as I'll say!

Some areas I have in mind:

The mainland - the most frequented area in the game, and basically the hub for commerce and travel. Extremely advanced compared to the other areas, has a spacey scifi theme.

The desert - huge, covers half of the continent, contains several tribal kingdoms.

Ara Lude - wind-themed island. It floats lower than most of the other islands, so it's completely enveloped in clouds.

CHARACTERS


Perplexi is the unofficial captain of NOMAD, an eccentric gang of explorers. (NOMAD has 5 members when you start, but gradually you amass many more.) She literally knows no fear. Excitable, hotheaded, always looking for a good fight. She holds a strong sense of justice and enjoys playing the part of Robin Hood. Sometimes lacking common sense; loves getting the crew into trouble.
She wields a lightweight hammer and specializes in wind damage. She's extremely fast and hits hard, but doesn't have the best aim.

Passeus is the unofficial secretary of NOMAD. He has the ability to seduce nearly all female town NPCs, which is great for getting free items and lodging. He's quite narcissistic, but good-humored; he's the level-headed one of the crew. He and Perplexi often exchange banters.
He uses bows and specializes in earth. Slow and sturdy, high attack and accuracy. He's cursed to break his weapons after a few uses.

I might redo him, he looks really weird ...
Ven was found dying in the desert and taken aboard NOMAD. (You meet him after the first dungeon) A quiet, melancholy daydreamer who can walk while sleeping and doesn't respond until you've called his name a couple of times.
Although frail, Ven has an incredible mana capacity and high magic attack. His element is water, but he's adept in pretty much every element. Begins with very little soul.

Progress so far (OLD):

- figured out grid tile placement
- showing sprites with SpriteManager. There are rendering issues I'll resolve later ...
- calculated reachable tiles for each character
- moving the character without animation for now

I'm working on skills next.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2012, 02:09:50 AM by Chis » Logged

Quarry
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« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2012, 09:06:27 AM »

Sprites are very good, don't scrap them
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Code_Assassin
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ok


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« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2012, 09:15:37 AM »

This seems like a pretty interesting game idea. Looking forward to seeing more progress on this. Nice concept art btw.
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CorazonAzul
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« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2012, 10:47:56 AM »

Hand Thumbs Up Left The soul strand idea sounds attractive. Hopefully it can be implemented smoothly.

Hand Point Right I'm not a huge fan of sprites that remind me of Cave Story where the eyes seem further apart from each other, but it's just personal preference. Perhaps a couple carefully chosen pixels and they'd reflect the more normal-looking concept art.

The project seems ambitious with plenty of room for growth. I remember planning my RPG as a months-long deal, and considering my ideas at the time it would have been fine. But some strange funk happened, and at some point the project just started taking form on its own. Eventually the game began to write itself, and what kind of man would I be not to let it hatch naturally? Well it's not every case, but seems to be the phenomenon for games with strong characters and story elements that I think I see within your goals. Bewarrrre!

Hope to see interesting things blossom- keep up the work!
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Chis
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« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2012, 04:23:07 PM »

Thanks so much for the encouragement guys! I wasn't sure if this was a good idea, but you can bet I'll be working on this like a crazed person now Tongue



Quarry: Thanks! I'll use these sprites now and consider replacing them in the future. I do like the shading style, but at the very least I want to try making larger versions of them.

Assassin: Thank you! I feel good about it too, and I'm leaning toward that art style for the rest of the game.

Corazon: I'm glad you think so! I've just began to implement the soul strands, and aside from a bit of math it's not too bad.
Now that you mention it, the sprites do look pretty cavestory-esque. I'll keep them as placeholders and figure out what to do with them later.
That sounds like a great way to develop a game and I hope that mine will go in that direction as well. I plan to advance story and gameplay at the same time. Well, I have the beginnings of a story in mind; just need to think it over a little. I'm ready for whatever good things may come Beer!



And some very rudimentary screenshots! I've coded in some menu actions that don't do anything, as well as the beginnings of soul stranding. To make a strand the player selects each participating character in order. Now I just have to figure out how to get the affected tiles.
also, bond => strand. Naming error fail

« Last Edit: October 31, 2012, 05:06:50 PM by Chis » Logged

Inanimate
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« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2012, 08:04:10 PM »

The idea of this is very intriguing, and your art is wonderful. I'm sure this will bloom into an amazing game! Best of luck.
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SolarLune
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« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2012, 09:45:41 PM »

Sounds interesting, and like an idea for a game I had a little while ago. Great sprites, by the way!
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Chis
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« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2012, 11:53:35 PM »

Inanimate: Thanks man! Hearing words like that always keeps me trying hard Smiley

SolarLune: Thank you! What sort of game?
I thought about it for a while and while I like the sprites, I think ultimately I'm going to ditch them in lieu of something more in line with the art style I have going.

Speaking of art style, I arted some more today.


I think this has better flow.

Also

Here's the tritagonist. (here's the toned down version)
Holding off on the deuteragonist due to character design woes.

So I've run into an interesting dilemma concerning the soul strands. At first I thought about basing them off of simple geometric formations - squares, triangles, crosses etc. But then I felt like it was too much arbitrary fluff and not enough emergent gameplay. So I simplified it down to a simple loop/circle formation for everything. And just now while coding, I thought about the possibility of strands crossing themselves and forming multiple loops at once. And then I started thinking about geometry with multiple loops, so I'm back in the same place again Facepalm.
Not to mention my maps will have height differences, which leads to all sorts of interesting configurations.
I'm not sure where to take this right now, so I'm going to mull over it for a while.

In the meantime, another feature I want to implement is skill 'ghosting'. When a (magical) skill is performed, it leaves behind a ghost of excess energy on the affected tiles, and if another skill is performed on the same spots, it gets a boost in power or some other effect. So it could be advantageous to perform a bunch of skills that overlap each other.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2012, 12:40:01 AM by Chis » Logged

SolarLune
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« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2012, 01:11:08 PM »

Cool mechanics ideas!

My game was kind of a top-down RPG where you go around beating dungeons. It wasn't really fleshed out, though.
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« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2012, 03:36:34 PM »

Art is pretty unique and not generic. I like it very much.
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Connor
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2012, 04:29:21 PM »

love it!!! dude, if you make a mac demo for it, ill make sure to play it hands down... sadly my pc needs to be replaced...
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Chis
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2012, 11:27:43 PM »



Animation's going to be a pain, but I like these enough anyway. What do you guys think?

Today I spent the entire afternoon rewriting some bad code design ... what is programming  Screamy
On the bright side, I was able to start implementing skills, and now characters can pick up jars/items, Link-style! Also, characters can undo simple actions like moving.

SolarLune: Thanks, and that sounds cool! Would love to see it being developed.

beetleking22: I deliberately tried to make an impact with the art style, so it's great that you think so!

Connor: It's being developed in Unity, so your dream will come true, when I finish in twenty years or so  Corny Laugh
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 11:38:55 PM by Chis » Logged

Quarry
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« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2012, 11:35:37 PM »

Looks certainly better, be careful with the scaling though
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happymonster
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« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2012, 12:24:42 AM »

Sprites look good, although the second one might need more contrast. Have you thought about making them busier and using the same kind of very loose style as the concept art though? Smiley
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Superb Joe
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« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2012, 03:44:43 AM »

turn based puzzles? it's always cranks and shafts with you, leon kennedy. we're through.
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Chis
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« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2012, 10:34:24 PM »

Updates for today:
- Characters can now perform basic attacks. No skills yet but the system is almost there.
- Mini health bars are shown for characters when you move your cursor over them.
- I was able to unblurrify the sprites by using a power of two texture. Who would've guessed  Tongue

on the other hand, soul stranding is giving me a headache.

Ignore the patch to the left and random trailing line at the bottom, that's just bad math on my part. The point is that the boundary for these tiles isn't very intuitive, and I don't want to player to guess if a tile's going to be in range or not.
I see two solutions to this:

- force a mathematically perfect formation.
You would be restricted to one of the six hexagonal directions as you move to the next character. Actually, this doesn't seem so bad now that I think about it. You could form triangles and hexagons and other nonconvex shapes of arbitrary dimensions. Also requires a bit more strategy since you need to think carefully about positioning of characters.

- or do away with the grid entirely.
It's painful thinking about this option, mostly because all the coding I've done has revolved around the grid. But I feel like eliminating it would also solve a lot of problems.
The one glaring issue is that without a grid, I'm not sure how to plot the range of a character's movement, let alone enemy pathfinding. Has anyone ever tried something like this?


Nevermind, I opted for the grid. It would have been way too complicated otherwise.

Well, it's working now! I feel pre-tty good Well, hello there! The strange bending issues with the lines shall be fixed later.

->

Works for non-convex polygons too!



Oh and here's a cool bug that might turn into a feature:

If you draw the formation clockwise the boundary is inclusive but if you draw it counterclockwise it's exclusive. I could see this being useful for an attack type strand vs a heal/boost type strand.

Sorry for image spam, I just thought it was cool  Tongue

Quarry: Thanks! I can fit a lot of tiles onscreen with the current sprite size so everything's good.

happymonster: That's certainly something I'll consider. I'll take another stab at them later.

Superb Joe: Soo ... good or bad? :O
« Last Edit: November 04, 2012, 01:35:35 AM by Chis » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2012, 03:44:53 AM »

I love the graphics Smiley
Can't really comment on the gameplay ideas though, since I never play tactical/strategy RPGs.
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« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2012, 09:32:35 AM »

love the sounds of this/gameplay/visuals, so i basically love everything you have done atm. good work and good luck fellow dev!
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too bad eggybooms ents are actually men in paper mache suits and they NEED to be agile
Chis
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« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2012, 12:13:24 PM »

HernanZh: Thanks! You should, you're missing out Well, hello there!

Connor: That's great to know, thanks so much! Tears of Joy


Still not as loose as I would've liked, but I think it's a step in the right direction.
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« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2012, 01:00:37 PM »

Looks better to me.. have you tried adding the more loose wispy lines around her? Smiley
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