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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsAeon of Sands - the trail (is a story-driven rpg) is OUT (December 4, 2018)
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Author Topic: Aeon of Sands - the trail (is a story-driven rpg) is OUT (December 4, 2018)  (Read 31644 times)
SiENcE
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« on: February 27, 2012, 03:48:26 PM »



Aeon of Sands - the trail
is a "Dungeon Adventure": a story-driven role playing game and a love letter to classic PC and Amiga games of the 90s.

Release Trailer





Aeon of Sands official site and socials
- Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/907820/
- Official site: https://aeonofsands.com
- Presskit: https://aeonofsands.com/presskit
- Blog: http://blog.aeonofsands.com
- Fb: https://www.facebook.com/aeonofsands
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/aeonofsands
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv5pWton5kS8wIdSVqFY3mA


About


The Trail is the first chapter of the Aeon series, in which you follow a young city clerk on his adventures in a world under two suns, between the life they nurture and the ruin they bring.

The clerk Setrani is unwillingly sent on a critical mission, searching for a missing diplomatic caravan in the most dangerous territory. Will he track it down in time to save his precious dome city and its sacred tree, or will this prideful outpost of humanity be claimed by the sands, and by what lurks in the desert's hot dark heart?







Features
- Extremely non-linear, replayable story with multiple endings
- Real-time combat
- 20 locations and more than 60 mazes and dungeons to explore
- More than 140 dialogues
- Completely hand-drawn 2.5D environment, 240 hand-drawn illustrations
- Up to 2 other characters can join your party during play
- Each character’s personality influences the outcome of the story, and opens up new paths

* Platforms PC: Windows | MacOSX

Available on Steam December 4, 2018 on Steam


Gifs

Party combat



Dungeon exploration


heavy Sandstrom





Artworks



In the following posts we’d like to show you the progress of the game and our thoughts, why we did it this way or another… We know, that there are still many fans of old-school dungeon crawler, so if you have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to comment.


Marco - Artist, Game Direction, Story
SiENcE - Development, Technical Direction
« Last Edit: December 04, 2018, 09:33:25 AM by SiENcE » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2012, 04:30:26 PM »

Wow, fantastic research and graphics. Multiplayer dungeon crawler sounds great. Color me interested!
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SiENcE
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2012, 12:55:06 AM »

Developing the Viewport and Controls
The Graphics
The pure view of the dungeon in Dungeon Master is 224 wide and has a height of 164 pixels. This is not much, regarding that my preferred screen resolution is 1920x1080.




Pixel vs Render?
Thus we have some problems: First of all: We don't have an graphic artists in our team. So, drawing hi-res graphics is not an option. If you are an experienced artist with skill in doing dark fantasy 2D graphics (walls, monster animations, portraits, icons, gui elements) and want to be a part of our team, please send us a mail, im, twitter.
The current solution is to resize the old Dungeon Master graphics with an “hq3x” upscaler algorithm. This are only placeholders, until we have own graphics, because we want to have a playable game at any time.




We did some research how other dungeon crawlers and their approach to fill the screen.

The Classics

Eye of the Beholder,


Black Crypt


...and of course there are many others like Dungeon Hack, Lands of Lore, Wizardry, Phantasy Star, Shining in the Darkness, Might and Magic, Ultima and many, many more…
Most of the classic games had a similar interface. You have the cursor keys as buttons to move, spellbooks, a compass, four or six avatars with their primary and secondary weapon or shield. Next to the avatar is always the healthbar and sometimes there are additional bars like magic or endurance as well.
Besides the use of more graphics and less text, the interfaces didn’t improve over a period of about 10 years.

There are a few limitations and relicts this interface:
  • Clicking on the cursor keys is no longer the preferred movement control. Since the approach of 3d-shooter, moving by Keys: QWEASD is mandatory.
  • Attacking enemies in real-time RPG’s is done by fast clicking on the weapon with the left mouse button. The resulting damage is calculated in the background. You cannot do extra damage by attacking the head or slow down the enemy by attacking the feet.
  • Using magic is mostly tricky, because you can’t cast the spell directly with one or two mouseclicks. First, you have to open the spellbook and then go down the list and search the spell. "Dungeon Master" is even more complex because you have to arrange the runes in the right order, but during a fight it is almost impossible to search for a specific spell.
  • The Inventory: Well, to be honest, that annoys me for over 20 years… In most RPG’s every Character has its own inventory and you can often collect further bags or chests to put in stuff. Searching and organizing the inventory is one of the most  time consuming jobs as hero. Especially when the carriers have a weight limit or you simple haven’t enough slots for all your stuff.

New Developments

There are two directions… The first one is having an eye on remakes or new developments in the spirit of the old adventures and the other one is looking at new 3d-RPG’s and more action-orientated Games.

One of the recently most anticipated dungeon crawlers is "Legend of Grimrock".



The interface looks cleaner and not overloaded in comparison to the old games.The Dungeon is now fullscreen, the avatars and some buttons are overlays.

Other games like Prelude of the Chambered are only using one actionbar where everything is organized.



More complex games like World of Warcraft also have a tidy screen.



This interface is one of the best so far: Characters and their health status are well visible. The items are well grouped and can be accessed by shortcuts. You have a minimap and a small chat on the left side.

The primary goals to GUI and controls

  • Fighting and moving should be possible without a computer mouse.
  • It should be easy to learn and it should be orientated on other RPG’s and 3d-Shooter.
  • Items and Magic must be easily accessible when needed.
  • The Inventory must be grouped sensibly.
  • In one screen all the important information must be at hand.

The solution?

  • Forget the cursor keys (only optional) - Keys: QWEASD is for movement
  • Our first prototype has already a setup for 4 Players. As mentioned above – fullscreen with hi-res graphics would be awesome, but not realistic to achieve.
    So we use a bigger window for the local player and up to three smaller windows for remote players.
  • The avatar is not really necessary, but we where convinced that they are atmospheric and with a click a good overview of the character stats, the applied clothes and weapons and the map of the maze.
  • By attacking the monsters: We are unsure to use the old school fighting button by clicking on the weapon (or pressing “space or ctrl”) and let the computer calculate the damage or if it's better to directly click on the enemy and to hit specific parts of the body. Killing the enemy should not be too easy, so it could be realized with an automatically moving mouse cursor, which movement could be minimized by gaining up levels or using lighter weapons. It also would be possible to implement combo attacks by multiple clicking at the right timing on the enemy.
  • Using magic:  The rune system from "Dungeon Master" is awesome. We are again unsure how to implement it – perhaps by pressing a four-number-combo on the num-block? An alternative would to choose the spells from a spellbook and assign some of them to the numbers or the F-keys.
  • The inventory: As we mentioned before – a big and unsorted inventory is in my opinion no longer needed. Roughly the inventory can be divided in following classes: Weapons, Clothes and armor, Food, important items needed for the solutions of quests, Items without any specific function (just for trading), Magic scrolls and drinks, Items for the recreation of the character, i.e. first aid
  • Every item-class can be opened with a specific shortkey. Multiple items from the same type are stored in one slot and show the amount on the right corner of the slot.
  • A symbol for the status of the hero (poisoned, healthy) is also shown.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 01:10:58 AM by SiENcE » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2012, 01:00:39 AM »

Wow, fantastic research and graphics. Multiplayer dungeon crawler sounds great. Color me interested!

Thanks Smiley.

I just splitted the first post, because it was too much.
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2012, 01:09:32 AM »

This sounds fantastic, you really know your stuff.
Look forward to watching this develop.
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2012, 05:31:47 AM »

I really like how you're researching your interface: I think this is the right way to go, to have a user friendly game. As and old time pen&paper rpg player, I hope you're going to keep the rpg rules as simple as possible (at least the part of the rules the user sees, let the cpu do the tough work in the darkness Tongue).

Also: multiplayer crawling? hell yeah! Well, hello there! Hope you find a good artist soon!
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st33d
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2012, 07:05:16 AM »

You forgot Bloodwych, which was also multiplayer:



You could technically effect an attack via the roguelike method, by forcibly walking into an enemy.

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SiENcE
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2012, 07:51:06 AM »

You forgot Bloodwych, which was also multiplayer:

You could technically effect an attack via the roguelike method, by forcibly walking into an enemy.

Thats true Smiley. We also played and reviewed Bloodwych. In one our next posts we analyse the gameplay mechanic in relation to multiplayer, the specifics and of couse Bloodwych (Are there any other classic Dungeon Crawler Multiplayer games out there?).

The problem i see and doing a rougelike attack is the face direction in classic dungeon crawler games. Rougelike are mostly top-down games without face direction (or i'm wrong)?
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« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2012, 03:02:05 AM »

A possible interface?

Now some roughly made mockups we made for this post to show you the first interation of a possible gui.



The Elements

[1] A click on the icons opens a specific part of the inventory. In this example, all quest items are shown. At the moment our hero has three keys, two of them are the identical.
[2] Every group consists of 12 items, so you can easily use them by clicking the left mouse button or by using the F-keys on the keyboard.
[3] The action bar: Here you can drag&drop your items. There are ten slots available, you can control them by hitting 0-9 on the keyboard or the left mouse button.
[4] A small chat window
[5] The avatar with two bars: One showing health the second one the magic status.
[6] On the top your weapon in the left hand and on the right hand your shield. Below are the stats of your character. In this case, he is poisoned. On the right next to it you found the passive spells – here you have a lighted torch for a clearer sight.
[7] A minimap showing the environment and other fighters as well.
[8] The view of the dungeon

As we said, at the moment we don’t plan to go hires, but at 1920x1200 Resultion there is much screen to fill.

Player 2 has entered the game


The game will be prepared for up to 4 players. If a third player enters the game, players 2-4 will be showed in reduced windows.
Their view is reduced – just showing the map, the avatar with the health status and their dungeon view.



The first prototype

So you’ve seen some old graphics from the good old games, now you see the status of our project.

The 2D rendering engine is working. You can walk through a dungeon with up to 4 players. There is one enemy, which can be looked at from every side. We have collision detection implemented, you can’t share the space with an enemy but Players can stand on the same quadrant.



For the first two weeks of the development, we are very satisfied with the progress of the game. The next steps are implementing a chat and realizing the interface.

So far our first thoughts – fell free to comment!

cheers
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« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2012, 07:52:49 AM »

Quote
Besides time we are lacking a reliable and skilled graphic artist, who also likes oldschool RPGs and likes to do some pixel graphics. Idealists please give us a helping hand!

Sending you a PM right now.

Quote
(Are there any other classic Dungeon Crawler Multiplayer games out there?)

Hired Guns is the closest, though it's not really a traditional 'dungeon crawler'. Though that's mostly a difference in setting.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2012, 08:43:05 AM by Cow » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: February 29, 2012, 08:36:00 AM »

Hi
Just asking, will you look towards automatic dungeon & rooms generation, or will there be some specific dungeons with some narrative elements ?
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« Reply #11 on: February 29, 2012, 11:25:57 AM »

Quote
(Are there any other classic Dungeon Crawler Multiplayer games out there?)

Hired Guns is the closest, though it's not really a traditional 'dungeon crawler'. Though that's mostly a difference in setting.

Yes Hired Guns. Good point. The Gameplay is more similar to a shooter. I played it years ago. Maybe i should try to play it again.

Hi
Just asking, will you look towards automatic dungeon & rooms generation, or will there be some specific dungeons with some narrative elements ?

hi peous,

thanks for your interest. I played around with random dungeon generation. It's not that hard to implement. But Softwahn wants a story and hard Quests like in the old Dungeon Crawlers. We are also thinking, how to combine this with our Multiplayer mode.

We want to integrate and combine different modes.

  • First the Quest/Adventure mode: The Quest/Adventure mode is only for 1-2 Players (maybe 4 but we will see) and terminable.
  • Second the Exploration mode: In case of longterm playablility random dungeon generation is needed. But this is a longterm project, because i have lots of ideas about this (hint: "Space") ;-).

The focus is first on the Quest/Adventure mode. When it's done and fully playable we continue to work on the other mode(s).

I want to create the Quest/Adventure mode like a campaign. That way users can create a different campaign themself (a campaign should be no more as a zip archive) and play&exchange this with other users. This should be easily possible, because it's only 2d and limit graphic assets.

I'm not shure if i add an inGame Editor.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2012, 09:29:57 AM by SiENcE » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: February 29, 2012, 12:02:20 PM »

This looks pretty cool. Following!
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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2012, 07:09:18 AM »

You might consider looking into a little Dark Souls influence, especially where spellcasting is concerned. Also, I vouch for the editor and the randomizer; curious to see what you've got on the drawing board there.
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« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2012, 07:01:59 AM »

Hi,

I also want to say hello and thank you for the warm welcome and your interest Smiley

A short development update: We now have a chat implemented.

Your suggestions:
Quote from: Caran Elmoth
As and old time pen&paper rpg player, I hope you're going to keep the rpg rules as simple as possible (at least the part of the rules the user sees, let the cpu do the tough work in the darkness).

Besides working on the interface, I'd like to plan and design the ruleset. To be honest, I'm not yet sure weather orientating on the dungeons and dragon ruleset or to design something new. But I agree to make it as simple as possible for the user.

Quote from: Cow
Hired Guns is the closest, though it's not really a traditional 'dungeon crawler'. Though that's mostly a difference in setting.

There is also an Amiga game called Kargon:

This a not really an RPG, more a deathmatch with some RPG-elements...

Quote from: baconman
You might consider looking into a little Dark Souls influence, especially where spellcasting is concerned.

Never played the game - but I'll have a look.

For the multiplayer:

In my opinion most modern RPGs have no or at least no serious quests. I would like to use more than the typical take key - use key quests. But by implementing a multiplayer you can't implement hard riddles, so that four player are getting stuck in the dungeon. I think, most quest should be for getting better equipment and not to keep the player from getting deeper into the dungeon. This should be the part of the monsters...

There different multiplayer-modes:
  • A deathmatch-mod could be developed later - but shouldn't be our primary concern.
  • A co-op mode with everybody beginning at the same starting point. I think this will end by getting roque-like. No time for quests - just fast slaying monsters...
  • Everybody starts at a different starting points and tries to escape the dungeon or to reach a specific goal (killing the big boss at the end of the level or to get a specific item - something like that).
  • The map consists of four parts of the same dungeon just mirrored and some connections where you meet the other players (perhaps at the end of the dungeon at the boss). So here it would be possible to implement real quests, if one or two players get stuck you can watch the other players...
  • The last one is an open world where you can meet other players and trade items but you do the quests on your own.

These are just my first thoughts, if you have a better idea or found your favorite just give us a call Wink
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« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2012, 03:43:23 AM »

In my opinion most modern RPGs have no or at least no serious quests. I would like to use more than the typical take key - use key quests. But by implementing a multiplayer you can't implement hard riddles, so that four player are getting stuck in the dungeon. I think, most quest should be for getting better equipment and not to keep the player from getting deeper into the dungeon. This should be the part of the monsters...

Portal 2 had you stuck in areas in multiplayer and it worked out fine. All you need is decent communication tools, which you will want anyway.

I've even found myself in making a multiplayer game that co-op puzzles are very fun, and you should at least consider having some areas that are co-op orientated.
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« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2012, 04:32:47 AM »

You could go with a three-part questing system.

1. The Beginning

Rather than an NPC asking a favor, let's just say there's some kind of random event occurance on the map. Well, step one in the quest is to simple get yourself involved, one way or another. This part can be simple and straightforward as a race, chase, battle, or discovery; and success leads you in the direction of the part two:

2. The QUEST

So now that you're acquainted with somebody or found some piece of lore and there's an X on the map to follow, you go there. Of course, you'll want some kind of underlying theme about the experience, something to distinguish it and it's unique gameplay style - this is a key difference between games like this that feel grindy and games that feel explorative. Maybe it IS a lock-and-key dungeon, a mini-collect-a-thon (more like 3 pieces, less like 13), and an exciting... conclusion?

3. The TWIST.

Here's another ingredient missing from quest-heavy games that make them feel more like errands and less like actual adventures. Sometimes it's a good one, sometimes a bad one - but real adventures always have some sort of twist about them, and errand-running fetch quests just... don't. Maybe you need to make a daring escape, maybe your partner was just using you for their own benefit, or you ended up taking the wrong side on an issue. Maybe the sacred treasure ~was~ here, but now it's gone or moved.

However you line it up, the twisted part 3 takes you to your real conclusion.

4. Non-permanent benefits.

So now you have this great treasure, or this wonderful reward for completing the good deed of the day. If it's a permanent effect like equipment, then there's no point in doing it twice. If it's something you can buy for 50g in the general store, why'd you spend 40 minutes on it?

The trick in the reward system is that a decent player should be able to accumulate two or three of these at a time, and they should be notably beneficial to gameplay; but certainly not permanent, or things players can stash forever, because then they'll never get around to using it.

The potions in Terraria, IMO, are about the right level of rewarding for this kind of thing - many of them have profound and distinctive effects which are all temporary, but also all really cool and stackable. Maybe making these sorts of things effective immediately (rather than consumable) and a bit longer-lasting will provide incentive for semi-constant adventuring, with an engaging risk/reward cycle. (And naturally, NOT making them for sale at shops, or making them rather costly if they are.)

Finally, I guess it depends on if you want the experience to be more one-shot arcadelike, long-term character developing, finely tuned and structured or systematically randomized.
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« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2012, 04:44:08 AM »

You could go with a three-part questing system.

Thanks for your contribution! A three-part questing system is a good idea. We add all this forum ideas to our wiki and todo list. I a later posting we will analyse all this different ideas.
At the current state the whole gameplay is brainstorming and we are grateful for every ideas!

We also found an Artist, but if you are an Artist too and want to create a completely different Tileset / Setting for a 2D Dungeon Crawler Engine you are welcome!

I'm currently developing the game-engine:

0. dungeon renderer (100% done)
1. animation system (75% done)
1. fighting system
2. quest system
3. modding/scripting (50% done)
4. sample campain (20% done)
5. aso.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2015, 05:42:54 AM by SiENcE » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2012, 06:58:40 AM »

Hi, this looks all very nice, and you're obviously putting a ton of thought into it.

Just from the design angle though - have you thought about making the GUI/interface less blocky, with more focus on the game graphics and no "windows on grey background" feel?
I'm heavily assuming that the old PC/Amiga crawlers had these tiny gameplay windows mainly for RAM reasons, and because time-consuming pixel art was pretty much the only way of making decent-looking graphics.

For your game though, you could easily go full-screen (maybe offset the center) and add all the GUI as an overlay. It could look a bit more inviting and modern, and less angular.

Just my two cents, carry on the good work! Eagerly awaiting the new art!
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« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2012, 01:46:05 PM »

Hi, this looks all very nice, and you're obviously putting a ton of thought into it.

Just from the design angle though - have you thought about making the GUI/interface less blocky, with more focus on the game graphics and no "windows on grey background" feel?
I'm heavily assuming that the old PC/Amiga crawlers had these tiny gameplay windows mainly for RAM reasons, and because time-consuming pixel art was pretty much the only way of making decent-looking graphics.

For your game though, you could easily go full-screen (maybe offset the center) and add all the GUI as an overlay. It could look a bit more inviting and modern, and less angular.

Just my two cents, carry on the good work! Eagerly awaiting the new art!

Hi Miguelito,

yes of couse, as we currently have no real artist, all graphics are placeholder. the style of the  gui elements can also be changed. the good thing is, everyone who wants to create his own campain, can change the gui and the gui-style too Smiley.

I think a fullscreen gameplay window is not our aim, because we want to make it feal like the old dungeon crawlers. In my opinion the menu and character-portraits are closely connected to this feeling.

But maybe i add this to the modding options for others to create a fullscreen gameplay window.

cheers
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