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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsAlbert+Zoe - a narrative rhythm game
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Sacha Holsnyder (Appeau Studio)
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« on: September 02, 2017, 02:22:11 am »

Hello, good people of TigSource ! Let me introduce the first project of our newly-founded game dev studio:

Albert+Zoe




The story

Once upon a time, deep within the forest, a man was setting up his firecamp like he had been every day for a while now. All of a sudden, a cross-shaped blaze tore apart the sky and the warrior’s heart. An irrational strength pulled him into the woods and compelled him to seek where the light stroke. And there he saw a young magician, tied up to a holy altar. She was wrathful and struggled wildly as an illuminated priest intoned a dismal chant. And their eyes met. And as time froze, the warrior’s heart filled with dauntless courage and the mage’s anger vanished as serenity whelmed her mind.

And thus began their story...


Core Gameplay

Albert+Zoe is a rhythm game in which the narration is part of the core gameplay. It tells the journey of two lovers in a fantasy universe where magic has spawned an ideological conflict. Dialogue phases between our two heroes and the inhabitants of this world are interspersed with action phases involving rhythm game mechanics. Each one of the player’s decisions will take them to different parts of the world and confront them with various characters, while weaving a bond between the two protagonists the way the player chooses.


Combat system

Sometimes speech won’t be enough to keep the journey going and you will have to fight powerful enemies in a rhythm game. Albert & Zoe is a 2-button game and the player has to understand his foes’ patterns to defeat them. The player will have to pay attention to 3 main elements :
  • Albert’s gameplay : one input is controlling him. Press it on the beat to attack. Long press to charge a stronger attack. Release to guard.
  • Zoe’s gameplay : the other input is controlling her. In the manner of a rhythmic Morse code, the player has to press and long press according to the music to make sequences which cast various spells in order to help Albert or damage the enemy.
  • Bosses and minions : enemies have different patterns of attack, stances and skills. The player has to understand them and determine the best response with Albert and Zoe.


Goals

Our primary intention with Albert & Zoé is to make the player live a love story and to approach, sometimes metaphorically, the key stages of a couple, from encounter to romance to break-up... Or perhaps everlasting love?
We also wanted to fit this storytelling with rhythm/musical game mechanics, which can imitate the ebb and flow of romance, and tell a story alongside the narrative ; thus, during combat sequences, every single event and feedback is part of the music.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 04:53:42 am by CawawaC » Logged

Sacha Holsnyder (Appeau Studio)
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2017, 04:05:35 am »

Hi !

We'd like to tell you about our engine/framework choice. It wasn't an easy one.

For A+Z we were looking for a language which :
  • Can easily compile to multiples plateformes (we would like to target IOs, android, mac, PC, linux)
  • Is optimized for 2D
  • Has a precise sound management
  • Allow us to easily share our code between the two developers who are working on the project

After a bit of benchmarking we narrowed our choices to 3 competitors :
  • Game maker
  • Haxe flixel
  • Haxe starling

Why not game maker ?

Game maker seems, at first sight, to be a good choice for a small indie project. But it's really expensive if you want to target a lot of platforms. Also our devs were not used to the interface, we were a bit afraid of getting lost in it as the project would grow bigger and bigger (we had messy experiences with unity and flash)

Flixel or Starling

These two engines are running on top of haxe/openfl.

As we were unsure of which one of these two engines would be the best for A+Z we decided to build a small demo of our game with each one.
Flixel is a powerful 2D engine, with a lot of functionalities : great tilemap support, many handy features (pathfinding, collisions, cameras, etc.). But as A+Z doesn 't needs much of these, using this engine feels a bit overkill. In addition of this Flixel as poor support of nested sprites (compared to starling) and building our screens was kind of tedious.

On the over hand Starling has a lot less features, but does really well its business ! It has, in our opinion, a better support for nesting and positioning sprites. It is also better for graphical features such as masks, shaders, etc.

For the matter of the audio the haxe support is really reactive, we do not experience any latency, which is a must have for a rhythm game ! The downside is that we couldn't access the audio buffer, this is a bit sad because we wouldn't be able to implement any live audio filter.

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Sacha Holsnyder (Appeau Studio)
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2017, 04:53:16 am »

Hi ! Previously, we briefly presented the concept of Albert+Zoe, but we didn't tell you who's behind it: Simon Stefanelli, Sacha Holsnyder and Nathanaël Tardif, aka Appeau Studio! A name born for Albert+Zoe, and which will outlive it for later projects.

Originally, we are three friends and have been sharing our passion for video game development during game jams. As our skills revealed themselves to be complementary, we decided to start developping our own, more ambitious, concepts.

Nathanaël brings his programming and art knowledge, Sacha writes music and takes part in the programming, and Simon steps in on the art, the narration and the game design. We spend a lot of time discussing together the decisions we make in each of these domains. The advice of others allows us to rethink some ideas or validate them.

Below you'll find some links to learn more about Appeau Studio and its members.

Personal pages:
https://nathanaeltardif.com/
https://soundcloud.com/sacha-holsnyder/
https://simonstefanelli.carbonmade.com/

Social media:
@appeau_studio
Tumblr
Facebook page

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Jovu
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2017, 06:28:30 am »

This looks beautiful. I'm always interested in rhythm based games. Smiley

One thing I will say is that you should try and focus on the rhythm aspect of the game. By this I mean putting an emphasis on the soundtrack and places to purchase it and making stuff like DDR pads that can be used for the game. Crypt of the necrodancer understood this very well, and even though the game sold well, the devs were able to attain additional funds from all the music avenues.

definitely curious where this goes.
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Sacha Holsnyder (Appeau Studio)
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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2017, 12:02:20 am »

Thank you Jovu ! :D and this seems like very good advice, we'll definitely try and figure out something unique to help the reach of our game Wink

Stay tuned, we'll be posting updates every week Smiley
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Sacha Holsnyder (Appeau Studio)
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2017, 12:18:01 am »

Today we want to share with you the origins of our game as well as its very first "playable" version: A+Z was born during the Ludum Dare 34, which had the theme "two button controls". You can find the page for our submission here.

This post is a post-mortem (ha) of that first prototype, and it has already TREMENDOUSLY evolved since we took up the project:

1 - The sound design was more than archaic and the audio for the combat was not melodic at all.
2 - The score (as in sheet music) for Albert was not visible and extremly simplistic: you only had to mark the beat.
3 - The boss had a single attack animation, and at the last moment we had added a basic anticipatory feedback because it was impossible to foresee.
4 - The gameplay quicly revealed itself repetitive and jerky: hit with Albert, get life points, try boosting.

But we had already fallen in love with this little duo (here are some old designs), and the basic concept of a rhythm game/combat hybrid appealed to us. We wanted Albert+Zoe to tell a story, et wanted to see them overcome new dangers!

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Sacha Holsnyder (Appeau Studio)
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« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2017, 11:17:41 pm »

Hey! This time we'd like to present to you the sound of Albert+Zoe, and invite you to listen to a previously unreleased music from the game: Psychomagic!

As a rhythm game, A+Z has an important place for music, and we wanted to extend this even further and completely avoid sound effects: from player feedback to enemy attacks, everything is musical during the fights, and part of an ambience during the dialogues.

The musical style was inspired by the flashy pixel art graphics, which gave birth to powerful effects-rich electronic music, in contrast to the dark medieval-fantasy universe of the game. It tells of magic, the epic adventure of Albert and Zoe and their extraordinary relationship.

Specific influences tint the music according to the environments the protagonists explore, like the shamanic sounds, bells and guttural vocals in this music which accompanies them during a magical trance...

Also, 2 little gifs to show the progress on the animations of our fights: some Albert attacks, and some boss attacks. N.B.: they are not supposed to match this music.

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TheGiant
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« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2017, 09:05:11 am »

I like the concept and the art. Interesting.
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Sacha Holsnyder (Appeau Studio)
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« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2017, 03:12:59 am »

Hi! Today we need your help and I have a question for all of you!
We've been recently accused (some social networks I won't name are much more agressive than others) of basically plagiarizing Hyper Light Drifter Mock Anger It definitely is a visual reference for our game but never did we intend to copy or clone or plagiarize it in any way. Thus we were quite unsettled by these statements.

What do you think?

After a lot of grumbling Screamy and cursing Waaagh! against afore-not-mentioned social network, we decided to start trying to steer further away from HLD, and so our artists produced some new mockups:



Now, do you prefer :
  • The 1st pic
  • The 2nd pic
  • The 3rd pic
  • I liked how it was before
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