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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsLife was hard back then
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tristydee
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« on: August 04, 2014, 12:16:22 PM »


A survival game about a village and its people

Life was hard back then is a roguelike strategy game where the player manages a small village through many generations. The villagers must struggle to protect themselves and their children against wild animals, cruel bandits and an unforgiving climate. As time passes, the children grow up and are able to fend for themselves and eventually, their children. Below is the first iteration of the female villages at various ages.


The game is split equally between combat and village life.

In combat the emphasis is on protecting the children and livestock from marauders and wild animals. Archers can divert animals, while spearman block routes and prevent the animals from approaching their prey. Different animals have different priorities in battle, wild dogs stay clear of grown humans, while quickly trying to dart for the children and chickens. Leopards however, try to stay in the tall grass and approach without being seen.

In more peaceful times, the player must ensure that there is enough food to go around and that villagers are procreating happily. This is however, not a complex simulation, like Banished is, for example.The village size is much smaller, the gameplay is much faster and your village is more of a by product of your villager's actions, then a direct result of them.

Target platform is PC first, then tablets. It is a single screen game, to make the association to Go and Chess stronger and to keep the controls simpler.

I am still very early on in development and there is still a lot undecided, particularly regarding the day to day village life and seasons... but I'll keep this thread up to date as I work on the game.

Here are some animals as a goodbye for a now
https://twitter.com/Tristan_Dahl/status/496327114774544384
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 12:04:36 PM by tristydee » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2014, 03:50:36 AM »

This looks really promising. Really like the art style. Looking forward to seeing it in action.
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tristydee
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« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2014, 07:30:08 AM »

Thank you! I'll post an animation sometime soon
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tristydee
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« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2014, 09:06:58 AM »

I thought I'd give a little update on the combat system.
I was deliberately vague on whether the game is real-time or turn based. Because, it's both! Time only passes when a villager is moving, so opponents only move when you do and respond directly to your actions. In order to prevent players from moving an inch at a time, to see how enemies will respond, the villager's only reach their max speed after a certain distance.
The combat is inspired by Go and is essentially about controlling territory and channeling enemies movements away from livestock and children.
The villagers age during the game and are quicker and or stronger depending on their age. A 20 year old male, for example, cannot beat a bandit in melee combat, but a 30 year old, or a 20year old male and female working together, can.
Keeping the children alive is very important, otherwise one ends up with only pensioners, who aren't much good in a fight. There is no way of training units or hiring more fighters.

and here's an animation!
https://twitter.com/Tristan_Dahl/status/495138187375677440
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 10:45:42 AM by tristydee » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2014, 11:21:13 AM »

I like the concept! Smiley
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tristydee
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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2014, 07:45:49 AM »

Peaceful times update!
I would like for the player's actions during peaceful times to have consequences for war time and am busy trying to work out ways to implement this.

One could assign an occupation to each villager. Hunting, gathering, herding etc. Each occupation would then have an influence on combat, by dictating the position of the villagers (Where they stand is important when bandits suddenly appear, adults can afford to be near the edge of scree. children cant). And so, assigning position to certain people is a strategic choice that would then affect combat.. But there is abviously still a lot to work out. I'm scared that it could quickly become boring once all occupations are assigned and then the player just waits it out in a certain position. But seasons, flash floods,harvest time and mad cow disease could help spice things up. I'm scared of the fact that this occupation feature would rely on another set of features to be fun, seems like a bad sign.

I would appreciate any ideas and thoughts on this matter!
I'll post an animation for every good idea!

and here's another animation in the meantime!
https://twitter.com/Tristan_Dahl/status/497408008444719104/photo/1
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 11:45:48 AM by tristydee » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2014, 12:33:47 PM »

I haven't really been working on the game much since the last post. Since I can't program I've had several failed attempts at trying to get started in Unity. But I've now decided to make a paper prototype / board game out of it, since these enables me to iterate quickly. Then once I've iterated sufficiently I can start turning it into a video game.
The board game version is turn based with one player controlling the villagers and the other controlling the wild animals and bandits. Player 1 wins if the village reaches a certain size and player 2 wins if all villagers are dead.
Movement takes place on the intersections between tiles on the board (like in Go) and each turn a player can move a unit onto one of the four adjacent intersections. Although different units can move differently, animals might be able to move two step in a turn.
Units are killed by either stepping onto their intersection or ensuring that they have no more potential moves (like in Go).  Level Design is an additional factor, stones and patches of long grass are placed on intersections or across numerous tiles, these also restrict potential moves.
In order to place units on the board, player 2 has to roll a dice, a high enough roll enables him to place a creature on the edge of the board. The enemies that player 2 is able to use depends on the size of the village. He starts off with wild dogs and as the village increases in size is able to place leopards, then bandits, slavers.. etc.
There are many things that are still undecided: How do the villagers age? When do they give birth, i.e are new children placed on the board? What movement variations could be implemented. etc etc etc etc...
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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2014, 10:10:52 AM »

I like the idea! Especially the fact that its single screen and that it could be somewhat streamlined. I think the enemy AI sounds could be a bit too ambitious, but I think being a round based game, even giving them just different strengths, movement speed or patterns would already cause enough variation.

I would recommend to prototype the most basic version of the game as fast as possible. The paper prototype sounds like a good idea. Maybe have each character just age by one or two years on every turn. To make tuning and readability easier maybe put them into different ranges, like child (1-18 years), young adult (19-30), adult (31-60), senior (61-80) or something like that, instead of having the player to sum up specifc ages. Child have 0 strength, young adults 3, adults 2 and senior 1.

Fertility could work like this. The village players choses a amount of adults that he doesn't use for combat, but instead for harvesting/hunting. For every character that you used, add one child after the combat.

Basically saying: for the first version drop everything that is not absolutely essential.

Just my two cents Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2014, 12:34:13 PM »

Thanks for the reply Riad!
I'm going to try to keep the AI as simple as possible. Just change the speed and the type of villagers that they chose to approach.
Thanks to my very, very limited programming skills I cant prototype particularly fast... But I'm keeping the scope down to compensate.
Its now just a family of three and not a village, aging is also out. That should help keep it more personal as well.
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« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2014, 05:20:17 AM »

I've been lucky enough to find a very experienced programmer who's joined me on the project, so development is progressing quickly for a change!

In the spirit of iterative game development we're adding features that should result in a (hopefully) fun prototype in the next week or two.

Whats in the game so far:
At the moment village life is working relatively well. One can select one (out of the 3 present) villagers at a time and tell them to interact with various objects. Trees with fruit, a river and driftwood.
One gathers resources from these objects to a)cook on the fire and b)provide wood for the fire to burn.
The villagers starve to death if left unfed, so its important to make sure everyone is running around and working. The objects are located at different position on the map, some of which are closer to the edge than others.
Being close to an edge is dangerous, since a leopard can appear at any time, while the parents are able to scare the leopard off, the child is vulnerable and will get eaten. So

When the leopard arrives one can click on a stop button to freeze everyone in place. Since time only moves when villagers do, the leopard will then also freeze in place. One then moves one villager at a time and must ensure that the leopard cannot reach the child, by placing either of the parents or objects between the leopard and the child.

That's about it at the moment. Steve, the programmer is working on random level generation at the moment, so that each playthrough is unique. The locations of the objects will be randomized so that one has to use different strategies to survive.

I've just set up a website (including mail subscribtion Smiley )
which you can see here: http://tristandahl.co.za/lwhbt.html

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« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2014, 07:45:07 AM »

This game looks really great. I'm excited to see further developments.
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tristydee
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« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2014, 07:51:08 AM »

Thanks!
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« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2014, 03:38:00 AM »

Another little update,

random level generation is in! Steve is now working on adding a deer to the game. This will bring the total food gathering options up to three (the other two being a tree with fruit and fish in the river). This means that each of the 3 villagers currently in the game will be able to get food from a different location and in a different manner each playthrough.

Once that's in there are two major more things I want in the game before I upload a build to the web for everyone to play.
1) A tutorial in the form of text popups that appear the first time one plays.

2)If the child is killed by the leopard, then each of the parents have a chance of 'grieving'. They will then kneel next to the corpse until they nearly die of hunger.
This would be the first crude attempt at giving the villagers emotions and will hopefully make the players empathize with them.

The photo below is shows the game with and without dark patches of ground on the background. I would be interested in hearing your opinions on whether this is an improvement or not? I find that the ground is a little boring without the patches... but they're not ideal either... hmmmm
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« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2014, 05:15:20 AM »

I like the concept very much.

...and the dark patches on the ground are a "must have"!  Wink

It looks much better and has some three-dimensional look.
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« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2014, 06:39:29 AM »

looks like something I want to play...

any idea on how big can the village get?
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« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2014, 07:26:24 AM »

Two replies! It must be my birthday Grin !

The dark patches will stay in for now! I'll have to change the grass patch in the corner since it seems out of place now, but its for the better.

My current plan for the maximum village size would be 10. Its small enough to still be personal and since the game is single screen more than that would be a bit cramped. Even 10 might be a bit much though. I'll have to see I guess Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2014, 04:09:26 AM »

I really love what you're trying to do with this game.

With regards to the ground shading, definitely looks better with the shading.

Looking through your development log, when I saw that you had a paper based prototype version I had an idea. Your characters are already very angular shapes - look into what card cutout characters would look like. It should be easy enough to animate - You could either switch out limbs for different positions, change the angle of the limbs or even just photograph the different parts separately and combine and animate digitally. I think it'll add that traditional touch to the game that it needs.

You could either do this by hand or if you want more intricate stuff, use a laser cutter.

The last project I worked on, CHIGUN was all handcrafted elements manipulated digitally and I can tell you it was so much fun building it all by hand.

You could use the card based functionality to represent the age of units: The paper starts out fresh and new when they're children and becomes more worn and crumpled as time goes on. For injuries you could make little scrapes into the cardboard and fill them with red ink.

I've featured the game on #DailyDevPromo - Best of luck with the project mate and look forward to seeing more!
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« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2014, 05:06:12 AM »

Thanks a lot for the reply and for the promo! Super nice of you!

And that is very tempting regarding art style... Particularly since I stumbled onto this earlier today:
http://www.luminocitygame.com/
If I were to go down this path wood would also be an option. But getting it cut would be a chore...
Animating could be particularly quick if one were to do it manually, as one just has to rotate the parts.

If I have the time I'll see if I can make a mockup of a villager in the next few days. Using card at first

It would of course mean that I'd have to 'throw' out the 130 sprites I've made already, but youve gotta do whatever you can to set yourself apart these days.

Thanks again
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« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2014, 05:59:08 AM »


It would of course mean that I'd have to 'throw' out the 130 sprites I've made already, but youve gotta do whatever you can to set yourself apart these days.

Thanks again


It wouldn't necessarily mean you'd have to throw out all the parts if you go about it this way:



Convert the images into vectors - the workflow for doing this was taking the image into photoshop, applying threshold to the image (after setting most of it to black) then taking it over to illustrator and using live trace to convert it to vectors. You could then use those files as co-ordinates for a laser cutter (or failing that, a template to cut out from with a knife).

Personally, I'd separate the characters into their different limbs. That way, you could replace their arms with differently posed ones/differently equipped ones.

Try it out with basic cardboard first though to see if it works!



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tristydee
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« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2014, 06:20:19 AM »

Ah! Thanks a lot! I'm not a photoshop expert so that saved me a bit of time.

I can of course also use the sprites I've done for animations already as references, so they wouldn't be a complete waste Smiley

And I'll definitely use card before trying out wood. I'm still not quite convinced on whether going analogue is worth it... I have a habit of getting excited about things too quickly... Smiley
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