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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsBlade of Verdance - A 2D turn-based J-RPG
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Author Topic: Blade of Verdance - A 2D turn-based J-RPG  (Read 30085 times)
tchassin
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« Reply #40 on: March 13, 2015, 12:56:49 PM »

Update 22
As shown by the gif above, visual effects are now a thing. We added global effects since then, and also made it so an arbitrary number of effects can be played when casting a skill. Hence this dumb gif:

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tchassin
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« Reply #41 on: March 18, 2015, 01:10:54 PM »

Update 23
Sorry guys, We've been mostly working on the game design documents this week, so we don't have anything to show nor much to tell. We're doing our best to come up with interesting mechanics that won't bore the player after 2 hours. I'll tell you more about that when we're done.

Pierre doesn't have access to a computer at the moment so the artworks are not clean yet, but they might be next week, so stay tuned.
In the mean time, have a little preview of a new sprite for one of the main characters (WIP):

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tchassin
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« Reply #42 on: April 29, 2015, 11:25:44 AM »

Update 24
Pierre and I have been super busy for a while now so the game is making little progress. I'm mostly prototyping gameplay mechanics at the moment, and I think we're finally getting somewhere, but I don't have anything to show for now.

Also I have to learn Unity for some other project and I'm considering trying to port the game, since it would probably save me a lot of dev time.
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tchassin
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« Reply #43 on: October 10, 2015, 06:55:20 AM »

Update 25
I don't really know where to begin.
I set out to port the game to Unity in April which took some time because my custom C++ engine did not work like Unity so I had to re-write large chunks of code.

Most of what broke was related to visual feedback and UI, so the ported game had the same features but looked rather dull, which is why I decided to wait a bit before showing anything.

Furthermore, we decided to switch from vertical slicing (building a very polished but very small chunk of the game) to horizontal slicing where all features are built simultaneously, so the polish got delayed again.

On the other hand, the game have more key features: instead of one single battle, there are several maps you can swtch between and random encounters. Defeating enemies now rewards the player with experience and items, and the party member can level up.

The battle system, while not set in stone, is shaping up and I think we can say that the game is progressing smoothly. But it's not animated anymore.

Regarding Unity, here are my thoughts after 6 months:
  • Coding in C# is a lot easier than in C++. No more low-level memory management!
  • Having a large community and a thorough documentation you can rely on is a bliss.
  • Thanks to the customizable editor, creating content, such as new spells or enemies is no very easy, and I don't have to worry about creating my own editor
  • Pixel perfect rendering is earned, not given
  • Working with 2D and more precisely pixel-art is more complicated since Unity is heavily focused on 3D. Unity 5.4 will pack many 2D tools so it might solve this issue.
  • Unity makes it easy to distribute a demo, so I might share one when it's a bit more polished. Maybe around January

On a less technical note: the scenario has been re-written and the new version is 99% complete, so we'll most likely start writing the dialogues before the end of the month. Since the story has gotten longer, this should take quite a while. Since neither Pierre nor myself are native English speakers, we have decided to write the dialogues in French then find a collaborator to help us translate the game. We think this is the solution that will result in the best writing quality.

Finally, have some concept art by Pierre:

Erik, the mercenary and Latharn, the foxman shaman
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tchassin
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« Reply #44 on: October 29, 2015, 08:24:27 AM »

Update 26
The game just reached a new milestone named "v0.2" because I have a lot of imagination for names. Basically, the second iteration over the game is done (the number of iteration is not set in stone, but it should be around 10).

The current process consists of choosing a set of features that will be implemented in one iteration over the whole game. The idea is that all aspects of the game are developed simultaneously so that we can easily test whether they work as a whole. Once an iteration is done, we can feel pretty proud and then decide how the game should evolve next.

So what's new?

First of all, the battle screen has received a complete UI overhaul (but still uses placeholder art)

Since we haven't settled for a target resolution yet and I haven't mastered all the secrets to pixel-perfect rendering in Unity, it looks a bit strange and have these large empty gray areas but they will disappear in due time.

Loosing a fight will now prompt you a game over screen and send you back to the main menu.

A pause menu was also added, alowing the player to use items and skills between two encounters.

As you can see, some feature are still missing and will be added in the next iteration.

On the downside, maps are still placeholder because I'm waiting for Unity's built-in support for tiled maps. Since I have replaced the colored squares by some less basic placeholder art, have a screenshot:


Cheers!
« Last Edit: October 29, 2015, 08:33:28 AM by tchassin » Logged

tchassin
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« Reply #45 on: November 10, 2015, 03:29:52 AM »

Update 27
I have been working on a debug console for a few days and it's coming along nicely. Now I can type in commands and cheat codes to make testing and debugging easier. I should have done this sooner, having simple yet powerful tools saves a lot of time and effort.

For example, to test the 'Phoenix down' last week, I had to change its drop rate to 100%, then start the game, fight an enemy and manage to win while letting one of my characters die. THEN I could test whether it worked correctly. Oh and of course the drop rate had to be restored.

Now I can just type in 'set_health eric 0' and 'get_item phoenix_down' to kill a character and get the item.
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« Reply #46 on: November 10, 2015, 09:17:31 AM »

Ah! A turn-based rpg! My fav!

It's been a while, so I'm not sure if you still need (or would like) for people to test out the prototype. If you are, I'd love to take a stab at it.

Heck, I'll take a stab at in anyway, haha
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tchassin
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« Reply #47 on: November 10, 2015, 10:20:10 AM »

Ah! A turn-based rpg! My fav!

It's been a while, so I'm not sure if you still need (or would like) for people to test out the prototype. If you are, I'd love to take a stab at it.

Heck, I'll take a stab at in anyway, haha
We're not looking for testers for now, but don't worry! We're planning a demo around August, and you're all invited!   Beer!

Cheers!
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« Reply #48 on: November 10, 2015, 11:06:45 PM »

I'm really, /really/ liking the look of this so far! Excited to see more.
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tchassin
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« Reply #49 on: November 17, 2015, 11:38:58 AM »

I'm really, /really/ liking the look of this so far! Excited to see more.
Thanks, I'm happy to oblige!

Update 28
What would be a good RPG without...



... dialogues*!
As usual, it's not very polished, and won't be until the next slice. Next is adding combat dialogues, for the sake of drama!

Cheers!

*Dumb joke not included in the final product
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tchassin
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« Reply #50 on: December 01, 2015, 10:00:19 AM »

Update 29
Today's update will be a bit longer than the last one because I have important things to say. Good things.

First, Blade of Victory now has a composer! His name is Luke and he will be in charge of the soundtrack and sound effects for the game. This is really a turning point for us, because this means we have every aspect of the game covered! Hurray!
Since we have just begun working with Luke, we don't have tracks to share with you yet, but you can find his demo reel here.

But wait, there's more: programming is going pretty smoothly and the save/load system is pretty much finished. We're even a bit ahead of the schedule!  Coffee
Since the game is linear, the save system is pretty straight-forward: each time you start a new game, a new save file is created and automatically updated upon reaching a save point or leaving the game. Of course, you'll be able to have as many save files as you want.

I also managed to get our very first fully colored artwork from Pierre (who is a very busy man) last week, so it's eye-candy time! (The design is not final, it's more a about mood and colors)


Aiguemont, capital of the Kingdom of Verdance

Regarding the story, we have decided to share some details. The story is divided into eight chapters, plus a prologue and epilogue. The chapters may vary in length and drama, but we tried to slice the story as logically and naturally as possible. You can read get a brief summary of the game (Warning: spoliers included) in PDF format here.

EDIT: I should REALLY update the front page

Cheers!
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« Reply #51 on: December 13, 2015, 09:19:41 AM »

That is some gorgeous art there! I love me some good RPG. Following!
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« Reply #52 on: December 13, 2015, 02:17:21 PM »

Love that art, it paints a picture of a world I'd be interested to explore. Will try to follow.
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tchassin
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« Reply #53 on: February 09, 2016, 09:18:55 AM »

Update 30
The past two months have been quite a ride. Caught between finals and other projects, I didn't have time to work on Blade of Victory at all, hence the lack of update. Things have settled down now, and Pierre and I have resumed working on the game. We're
on schedule and we should reach the 30% milestone by the end of the month.

Since the last update, I focused on interacting with the world outside of battles. It is now possible to trigger dialogues or pick up items by pressing a button, or attack enemies and destructible elements.

Attacking enemies grant allows the player to have the initiative in a fight, while being caught off-guard will result in an empty ATB.

Destructible elements, such as plants or crates, will sometime block the player's path but breaking/cutting them might result in item drops. For example, in the forest, the player can acquire healing herbs by cutting down white flowered plants:


The cube is a debug tool that helps us visualize how collisions are tested:
  • When the cube is gray, only collisions with interactive elements such as NPCs and pickups are detected
  • When the cube is yellow, collisions are turned off
  • When the cube is red, only collisions with hittable elements such as enemies and crates are detected
Of course, the cube will be replaced by an animation in due time, but that will be for a later update.

A few debug/refactoring/polish aside, the last big feature planned for Blade of Victory v0.3 is equipment, so I guess that's what the next update will be about.
Cheers!  Beer!
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Ford Audio Design
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« Reply #54 on: February 16, 2016, 12:05:45 PM »

Audio Update

Hi there! Just dropping a quick message to introduce mysef as the audio guy for Blade of Victory, as well as share the first piece of music written for the game  Beer!

Here's the main theme: https://soundcloud.com/ford-audio-design/blade-of-victory-theme

It's inspired by music such as 'Dearly Beloved' from the Kingdom Hearts series, so we've gone for a strong motif that might also appear in other tracks throughout the game, we hope you enjoy it!

Any and all feedback is welcome as always, would love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers!
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tchassin
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« Reply #55 on: March 20, 2016, 06:07:07 AM »

Update 31
Although it was delayed, Blade of Victory v0.3 has been completed! The major reason behind this delay is that I moved to Japan for an internship shortly after the last update. There has been some unexpected complications, but things seem to have settled down so I should be able to work more regularly, although at a slower pace.

I also spent some extra time working on a better sprite for the main character, but I'm not confident enough to show it. Some animations need to be re-worked, but I think it's much better. However, some frames are larger than other so it seems that I am going to have to manually place an anchor point on each frame. If I don't, the character looks like it's being pushed back and forth by some mysterious force when a bigger frame is played.

Regarding equipment, a lot of refactoring was needed because all the item-related code was written almost one year ago for a prototype. Adding equipment without refactoring was possible, but seemed to dangerous on the long run to be worth it.
To keep things simple, there are three different kind of equipment for now:
  • Weapon
  • Armor
  • Accessory
Each character gets one weapon slot, one armor slot and two equipment slot. There are no restrictions on who can equip what right now, so if you absolutely want your foxman shaman to carry a two-handed sword, you can. I will add these later, when Pierre and I will have finished designing an other feature related to weapons.

Altough it is far from final (better looking menus are planned for v0.4) I can share this screen of the equipment menu:

I only realized how hard to read the red text was after taking this screen  Durr...?


Before moving on to the 4th iteration on the game, I still have some refactoring to do in order to keep the code clean and maintainable. This is very important because there is a lot of important features to add so I don't want to be slowed down by past mistakes once I get started.

There are a lot of exciting things planned for Blade of Victory v0.4, because we are planning on releasing a playable demo soon after it's complete. New features include:
  • Tile-based isometric maps
  • A better battle system
  • Merchants
And other things that will be revealed in due time...

In addition, many visual improvements are planned, such as new sprites, visual feedback during battles, better user interface and menus, an animated transition to the battle screen, etc. These feature were originally planned for later but we have decided to implement them as soon as possible in order to have more engaging visuals to share. I'll get into details in a later update.

This change of plan has one major drawback: the demo has to be delayed until further notice. There are many features that need some research before being implemented so we can't give a release date for now, but don't expect anything before October. We hope we can make something worth the wait!

Cheers!  Coffee
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tchassin
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« Reply #56 on: March 30, 2016, 06:55:32 AM »

Update 32
Today's update will be more technical than usual, so brace yourself!

I am currently working on a better way to build maps for the game. As you have probably noticed in the gifs and screenshots, the maps currently consist of a dull flat colored 3D plane. We're trying to make things more interesting by creating more complex tile-based maps, but it turned out to be quite a pain with Unity.

While the Unity Editor is a great general purpose tool, it is not as powerful as other dedicated tools when it comes to tile-based maps. Since there will probably be more than a hundred maps in the game, having the right tool is important.

I found some interesting articles (I think this one is a good read for any Unity developer) about storing maps without using the Unity scene system, using XML for example. Some of the stated advantages include:
  • Reduced loading times (not really a concern right now)
  • Easier handling of persistent data (like the player's character, the main camera) across maps
  • Easy to interface with third-party tools
  • Other technical details
However it does not solve the editor problem, and it implies writing an import tool. Side note: I think Unity takes care of compressing the map into a binary bundle file when building the game so the player probably can't modify the maps shipped with the game, but I will have to check.

I have tried working with Tiled and Tiled2Unity, a Unity plug-in that can import maps, but I don't think it is the right tool for us. It is clear that it is a tool tailored for top-down and side-scrolling games, not isometric games, because it does not seem to support any form of 3D, and the imported maps are just 2D objects. Tudee, an other tile-based editor does not provide isometric support at all.

I have also experimented with custom editor windows in Unity, but it seems that it will require a large amount of work to get satisfying results. During this experiment, I have created a handy tool to handle the camera bounds and rewrote most of the camera code, so I guess it was not in vain. Here is what I have for now:


Also remember: don't drink and code, or your editor could go all modern art on you


Cheers!  Coffee
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tchassin
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« Reply #57 on: April 20, 2016, 06:59:14 AM »

Update 33
After some more research, I decided going for a custom editor inside Unity. I got a first version working with only support for basic tiles and made a the first tile-based map for the game.


You know what would make this map look much better (and prevent the character from falling of the map)? Pine trees. Those things make everything more RPG-ish.


This first version, while fully functional, was not exactly an efficient tool so I decided to try something different and use autotiles. If you are not familiar with autotiles, it is a very convenient way to produce maps much faster with less errors. The idea is to indicate the terrain type (eg: grass, dirt, water...) for each tile and let an algorithm choose the right tiles. Here is a more in-depth introduction.

In order to support autotiles, the map is represented in a completely different way, because tiles are not manipulated directly, instead they are deduced from the vertices of the isometric grid. This additional abstraction will allow a lot of cool things such as easily updating the tile sprites if the tileset image is modified, or changing the tileset without placing a single tile. How cool is that?!

For the moment I only have a (resizable) painting tool that can set the terrain type of the vertice. I'm having trouble with the save/load system so it's not very useful right now...


The vertex painting tool in its current state.

However, progress is slow for personal reasons and it is starting to get to me, so I'm thinking of taking a break from the editor and working on the new battle system. It will probably take quite sometime because I wrote most of the code more than one year ago when I didn't know Unity at all and I never took the time to refactor it.

I think now would also be a good time to slow down on programming and spend some time on better assets. I'm working on rough animations for the characters and maybe throw in a new enemy.

In other news, I have playing Hyper Light Drifter recently and I was surprised by the visual brutality of the game at times. I have been thinking about it and we discussed it with Pierre, and we are considering shedding some red pixels on screen (there would be a warning at the start of a new game and an option to disable most violent animations). Any thoughts on the matter?

EDIT: Added a gif showing the current state of the editor
« Last Edit: April 20, 2016, 07:09:11 AM by tchassin » Logged

tchassin
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« Reply #58 on: April 26, 2016, 07:09:07 AM »

Update 34
I DID IT! I finished the new map editor! I had to make compromises, but I'm pretty happy with it. Making a simple map now takes less around two minutes, so it was really worth the time spent. I decided to postpone cliffs and slopes support, because we are focusing on the forest area at the moment.


First map made with the new editor

In other news, Pierre and I have settled for a resolution of 640*360 (see the previous screenshot). It feels neither too big or small and it scales perfectly to 720p and 1080p. We will not change the resolution for now because it would break most of the UI so we'll switch after replacing the assets.

Regarding the discussion on brutality I evoked last week, we reached the conclusion that fluids requires a lot of work to be animated properly and have the desired impact. Because I'm both the animator and the programmer, handling the extra work would be difficult and would slow development down, so we're closing this discussion for now.

Aside from some tool refactoring, the next big task is the battle system and the new assets that comes with it. I'm pretty confident with the new system, but I have to take some time and think of the implementation, because most of the battle system was written as a prototype and is has to be rewritten.

To conclude this update and celebrate the completion of the editor, feast you eyes on this sweet new artwork Pierre made!


Cheers!  Coffee
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« Reply #59 on: April 27, 2016, 11:43:33 PM »

I'm having trouble describing the graphics... It reminds me of C64, but with more fidelity. Either way, it looks really cool. Will be watching this.
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