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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsEpocha Tower [Action-adventure RPG] [Godot]
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Author Topic: Epocha Tower [Action-adventure RPG] [Godot]  (Read 12000 times)
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« Reply #120 on: November 09, 2018, 08:47:33 AM »

Hey there. I read the entirety of your blog in one setting. Just wanted to say that I like what i see, and that I have been working in Godot for the past few months, and if you have any questions regarding it, feel free to pm me. I am still technically a novice, but maybe I could give you some insight.
Thank you so very much!  Embarrassed Honestly, I know this will sound stupid, but I actually never thought that someone will read this entire blog. My Word! Or at least not more than the first and last post. Maybe I should do it myself. After all, it’s been a year since I started with it.
If I ever get to the point in which I couldn’t find solution myself, I will write you for sure.

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« Reply #121 on: November 12, 2018, 05:56:05 AM »

The release of the The Dungeon Exploration Prototype is almost here! It’s been a year since I started making it and now the first step on this journey of making the Epocha Tower is
Nearly done. So What exactly did I made?
It’s a zelda-like game without enemies. It was created as a proof of concept, to see if it is possible to make a game solely about exploration. Well, it was more like test if I have what it takes to make it. :D
There were two reasons for such a focus on one aspect.

1. Exploration is going to be the essence of the Epocha Tower. All parts of the game, like combat, story, level design ... should at least to some extend make the player feel the joy of discovery. The game will be nothing if the player doesn't enjoy the act of exploring the city, its people and most importantly this enormous tower.
That's why I wanted to make sure that I have at least some understanding of how to achieve it

2. As a fresh solo developer who never programmed a thing before I thought that avoiding the combat and enemies would be the best way to go. Honestly I don’t think it anymore. :D
It seems that almost every beginner wants to make a game with a combat that the engines are kind of shaped around it. And the tutorial materials represent it as well. Tutorials for top down shooters and screenshake are everywhere. Tutorials for puzzel or scripted events not as much :D
I hope that this fact will make the next step of the development easier. :D

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« Reply #122 on: November 18, 2018, 04:24:03 AM »

Few months back I’ve bought a tileset, because it really fits my creative vision and it shouldn't be hard to expand on it.
But I still knew that I would need to redraw at least the walls. Because as you can see...

(1) the original walls are too small. Our main character is an adventurer. Why would he struggle finding the path through the dungeon, when he could easily jump over the walls? :D

(2) So I simply made them 2 tiles tall. The result was not ok. The vertical walls were much more thicker than the horizontal ones. And the horizontal walls were so thin that they felt weak.

(3) Once I tried to make them wider, while still holding the precise 2 tiles height, they became too small once again. So I had to get higher to 3 tiles.
When I was there, I thought why not to try a precise proportions 2 tiles height : 1 tile for the top. It will make the drawing process so much easier, if I could use the same tiles for both vertical and horizontal walls. But I got rid of that idea really quickly. The world started to look very unnatural (too much game-like) with these boxy walls.

(4) After few more attempts I finally found the right proportions. Walls that are high enough to present a challenge. Thick enough that it make sense to walk around instead of breaking through. And also optically of the same thickness in both directions.

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« Reply #123 on: November 21, 2018, 11:29:02 AM »

Do you know some useful questions?

Hi fellow developers.

To help myself with the planning of the future development and to make sure I’m on the right track, I regularly ask myself some useful questions.

One of my all time favorite is: What is preventing me from accomplish my goal within the next six months?​

Right now I'm deep in the planning phase. I would like to make a vertical slice, which will also serve as a demo for the kickstarter campaign. And because of that, good questions are vital at this point. What I have is:

What do I need for the player to understand after playing it?

- that the lore of the world is well developed

- that the long journy awaits him if he wish to continue

- that there are countless amount of secrets awaiting to be explored

Why would the player want to continue?

- because he now understands what is the goal and that it lies beyond the demo

- because he wants more of what he experienced so far

After that I continue digging until I got to the bottom where lies specific points and tasks I can work with. :D

Do you have questions that you ask yourself? Or can you think of any that I should ask myself at this point?

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« Reply #124 on: November 30, 2018, 07:48:53 AM »

And it’s out! Please, if you are interested feel free to grab it. I would really appreciate if you did os and gave me your feedback afterwards.
The prototype is not perfect. I know very well that I can do better. Especially now with everything I’ve learned from it. But it is still a good reference and it would be awesome if we could discuss about it together.
What I would like to know the most is:
If you had fun, what have you enjoyed the most?
If it was horrible experience for you, what was the worst? And even more importantly, what do you think could make it better?
And for everyone together, did you find some secrets or gems? What was your score at the end?
« Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 09:18:05 PM by M0ti » Logged

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« Reply #125 on: November 30, 2018, 11:01:42 AM »

I think this is looking great so far!

Not so fond of the looping music though. The tune itself is nice, soothing and puzzle-appropriate, but it loops constantly. Not a lot of devs give enough attention to music in games, and I think there's a lot to be gained simply by simply having moments of no music. You can have background noises, bats echoing in the back, water dripping etc. Then after a couple of minutes you can play something, or maybe when the player finds a treasure etc. This is just my subjective opinion on music though.

BTW, how far can I get in the prototype? I didn't find any gem! I found the necessary loot to exit and left. When I realized that was the end I went back in and kept exploring until I exhausted every possibility.

I did enjoy playing it. I like this kind of games and I don't see enough of them out there. It has a point and click adventure flavor but with traditional systematic gameplay (this is hard to explain but I'll try). It reminds me of The Immortal, an old Amiga/mega drive game (that one had NPCs and enemies though). Following that impression I would say this game might shine more when it looks more hand-made and less procedural. OK, that sounds weird but here's what I mean: here I see buttons on the floor and levers and I don't know what they will do specifically but in general I do: door, trap, or stairs. That's the traditional game elements peeking through, what I loosely called 'procedural', because it follows repeatable patterns, like keys in zelda. A set of recognizable interactive systems. The hand-made elements are those drawings I found on a wall at the lower left part of the map. It only shows up there and it made me wonder about it.

The reason I brought up The Immortal is because it also feels like a point and click adventure game disguised as a traditional game. The first level has you finding an amulet. You need to raise this amulet at a particular beam of light to open the stairs to the next level. This is highly contextual, no object like that appears again in the game, you never have to open a stair like that again. You know, like in an adventure game. It's a "Use amulet with light" situation but it plays like a zelda game, with some repeatable patterns, like enemies, life meter, stamina, potions etc.

Following this philosophy with your game will definitely be challenging but I would guess it would also allow for a much smaller game too.

EDIT: I was having the weirdest dejavu while writing this. Because I wrote a blog post on this two years ago and even used Immortal as an example:


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« Reply #126 on: December 01, 2018, 07:56:34 AM »

I think this is looking great so far!

Not so fond of the looping music though. The tune itself is nice, soothing and puzzle-appropriate, but it loops constantly.
Yeah, the music is my mistake. I’m working on it with a very skilled musician but I didn’t explained him correctly how I plan to use these thracks. Even he thought that it will only play from time to time.

BTW, how far can I get in the prototype? I didn't find any gem! I found the necessary loot to exit and left. When I realized that was the end I went back in and kept exploring until I exhausted every possibility.

The prototype is complete. All four gems could be found and the final door could be opened. :D But if you didn’t found any of the four gems, don’t worry. Most people finds like one or two at max. Only one dood so far wrote me, that he found all of them without the guide. :D But every playtester found a different ones so I don't think that some of them are unfindable. They are just all unreasonably well hidden.
That’s also why I made the Guilde, which could be bought for 3$. So that anyone who wants to support the project will get the answers and leads to everything that he/she missed. :D

Thank you very much for the feedback. I’m glad that you liked it and I will read the blog post once I finish this small marketing window I’m going through right now. I think that you pointed out everything that I was aiming for, which is great. The final game will be more like a typical Zelda game, with enemies, useful items and gradually harder and harder puzzles. But I would also like to give each floor it’s own unique story, quests, environmental details or a mechanic, just as you described.
So I’m very glad that this mix of gameplay is appealing to you.


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« Reply #127 on: January 13, 2019, 01:32:07 AM »

The year 2018 is behind us do I think it’s a great time to look back and see what type of a progres I did.
Overall the year 2018 was not easy. I don’t even want to count how many hours I’ve spent in waiting rooms of different doctors. We never had much money, but this year was the worst I ever experienced. The more I think about it the more I realized that in every aspect of my life, no matter how much I’ve tried, mere survival was the best outcome I could wish for.
Expect for the game development. No matter how hard the life was, if I could somehow secure a free time for work, I would make a progress.

At the start of the year there was almost nothing.
The character had different proportions; no animations whatsoever; nothing playable and there were topics and problems I didn’t even knew I would be concerned about one day. :D

Automatic appearance of the podium and coins were two distinct occasions, when I genuinely had fun with programming. Unfortunately none of these features ended up in the final prototype. Concept of coins was abandoned and the podium was not ready in the crucial point of the journey.

In April the game got a name, The Epocha Tower. It also got the longer version The Last Legend of the Epocha Tower but no one will ever call it that. :D
The game had multiple code names before it. The “New Druaga” is probably the oldest one. After all, the first spark of inspiration for this project was born from watching the Tower of Druaga anime and then trying out the game. Even now I still use files with this code name attached to it.

NIGHT IN THE ZOO - first game jam of the year

In May, most of the features were already done. It was before the Game Access 2018, where I planned to showcase the game. Each day I worked around 3 hours before going to the job and another 3 hours when I got back home. The result of it was a saving system, text box, interactivity with the environment, inventory system, and half of the dungeon level...

After that I had to rest for a month. Big stretch and overwork always results in a non-productive time of approximately the same proportions, but usually longer. Once I was good to continue, the summer has begun, which seems to be my least productive time of the year. I’ve spend some time learning new stuff, making different prototypes, but that’s all.

When I’m gone - our entry for the GMTK jam at the start of the September
Because it’s not the Epocha I almost never talk about this, but When I’m Gone is the strongest prototype I have. Even though it’s for free, multiple people paid for it. With over 1000 downloads and positive feedback, it’s clear that we made the most known and important game in my portfolio. Even today, the itch.io page is visited and the game downloaded daily.

At that time I also left my job, to become a full-time indie game developer. Because I had almost no savings, I knew it was more like a longer break before I start searching for a new job, that’s why I planned to make the most of it.

I did a talk at the GameDev Area Meetup, here in Brno, which was amazing. I love to share my knowledge and I would like to do this kind of stuff more often. The topic was: “The morning routine - secret weapon in the arsenal of an Indie developer.”

I’ve spend three months polishing and preparing the prototype to be released publicly. This time also covers the marketing preparations. Even though I knew it will not be ease it was still shocking to see how much effort is needed before you can release your game publicly. Things like making main menu, tutorials, general polish, performance optimization, promo materials for different sites, scheduled tweets, blog updates, etc.

I think that the lunch was success in more than one way. It was great experience from which I learned a lot about social media, mailing lists etc. and also the downloads are not bad. Especially on the gamejolt. The prototype is nowhere as popular on the itch.io, which I always viewed as my main platform and where I was focusing all my marketing efforts. I released the prototype on the gamejolt just because I could, I put zero effort in promoting or even making the store page optimal and it was still downloaded plentifully. The whole weekend it was number one game in the adventure section and to this day it generated over 600 downloads on the gamejolt alone.

And that’s how we got here, in the presence. Last month I’ve got a job as a level designer, so it will slow the Epocha development a bit. Or at least the visible one.
I’ve realized that I planned to make a giant tower with who knows how many floors, with almost zero experience in this field. So I started reading articles, making notes, watching GDC talks, listening podcasts and more in hope to learn and absorb as much as possible. :D
So even though I don’t know how much new assets and features I would be able to make this year, I’m convinced that this focus on learning and growth will help with the development in a long run.

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« Reply #128 on: February 24, 2019, 10:08:16 AM »

As I’ve suggested at the end of the last blog post, I was hired as a level designer. Which was a bold choice, considering that I had no previous level designing experience except for this dungeon map. I still took the challenge and I’ve also decided to make it as fruitful as possible. The goal is to study and practice level design so much that after these six months I will become more experienced, than what I would be from just doing my job. :D I hope it makes sense. :D

The experience so far is totally eye-opening and this step in the journey is probably the best thing that could happened to the project.
I planned to create a tower of tenths of levels?
Without this it would be impossible. And the more I know the more I see that no matter how good I will become, I will still need another dedicated senior level designer with me. :D

If possible, in the next few months I would like to try to share bits of this new knowledge of mine, and always connect it to the Dungeon Exploration Prototype or the future development of the Epocha Tower. Smiley

The first topic that I would like to express my thoughts on is THE SIZE OF THE LEVEL because the Dungeon Exploration Prototype failed in this aspect miserably.

Too short levels could be a problem as well. Level ends too quickly and the fun is interrupted before the player could get immersed.

Obviously big and empty level sound bad right off the bat. Large traveling distances between interesting stuff only leads to boredom as you do nothing else than run (or jump/roll, if it’s even slightly faster).
But huge levels packed with juicy and fun stuff could be a result of a bad design as well.

The main aspect which should affects the length of the level is for how long can player remember or care for the main goal.
Think about it. If the level has a main plot and a goal, like for example: rescue or kill someone, steal/place or destroy something somewhere; you would like for the player to progress through the level with these intentions in mind.
For that you should tell or show the player what the goal is early, like in the first 10 - 30% of the level. And the rest of the level should be as long, as the player could hold to this info, or for how long you can remind him of it.
If the player forgets he/she could probably still finish it, if the structure is linear or if there is an ingame compass. All that needs to be done is to continue forward, pulling every lever and killing every enemy that appears. But even though the game is still playable, it brings an unnecessary confusion.
Some actions like activating or opening something related to the main goal could hold less meaning and impact, if the player does not remember, why he did so. It also means that the player needs to be forced into every important act, with no way to turn back or progress further until he does what we need from him.

This doesn’t represent a problem if the level does not have a unique main goal. If all that the main character needs to do is to get to the end of the level, then it’s the same motivation as what player instinctively has no matter what game he/she plays. But if there is a specific goal, the size and the layout needs to support it.

Ways to make sustainable and large levels

In 3D this could be done by using a landmark. If the goal could be represented with a place, you can have it visible from different points in the level. That way player reminds himself what the goal is. This also helps him to see what kind of progress he did, as the goal gets closer and closer.

Last of us

In 2D games it’s usually impossible to show what lies far ahead of us. But there are still things that we could do, like placing the goal of the level in the center hub area. Easy trick to remind the player what the goal is. After finishing each of these sections he needs to return back to the hub area, to progress further.

If none of these is possible, we can still remind player what the main objective is in many ways like through partial goals, dialogues or scenes.


  • Main character wants to rescue a specific person that was kidnaped. He gets the briefing at the very start of the level, after which he infiltrates the complex.
  • Gameplay infiltrating the complex
  • There he finds a bunch of hostages. [← REMINDER]
  • Gameplay rescuing the hostages
  • He savethem and says: “my target is not here. They must took him somewhere else.” [← REMINDER]
  • Gameplay progressing through the complex
  • Two guards talk to each other about a special hostage who seems to be someone important [← REMINDER]
  • Gameplay progressing through the complex
  • Behind the glass / one level below / in another building the player sees his main target, as he is escorted to the interrogation room [← REMINDER]
  • Gameplay progressing to the interrogation room -> Final encounter -> Rescue successful

Now, what I did in the prototype and how bad it really is.

There are two endings in the game:
Collect enough loot and then return to the starting point
Find 4 gems and enter the secret room at the top

The gate requiring 4 gems, that most players identified as the main objective is totally out of the main path. Players could stumble over it only by going off the main path in these three occasions.

People usually collect enough loot when they get into this white area, which is
1. As far from the exit as possible
2. The main path leads in different direction so the player would have to intentionally and willingly go from it in the direction of the exit
3. The information of going back is told to the player only once. When the main chunk of content is explored, he/she already don’t remember where to go or why.

Also, for those who considered the 4 gems as a main goal, the map is unreadable. Every gem is inside of a secret, which means that the player has no indication where to look after them, from the level design perspective. If the hub structure was used, and each gem was in different path, even though they would still be hidden and optional, player would know where to look for them.

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« Reply #129 on: March 17, 2019, 12:04:37 AM »

few notes on the ...
Environmental storytelling

Designers In Bethesda, in the first phase of the level design process, before tools are ready and all you can do are some paper designs, they take some time to write a story.
But not the story of the main game, or sidequests. They write a story of the fictional space they are about to build. Who build it? For what purpose? How old is that place? What happen there between the time it was build and the time of player’s arrival?
Purpose of this work is the same, as the research on an architectural style you will do for the game that’s based on an existing world and time period. It helps to make the space believable.
It’s a type of a story that would never be pushed onto the player, but would be presented all around him. Huge scratches on the walls from a werewolf’s attack which killed first residents. In a treasure chests you will find stuff that was left there by a bandit, who was then killed by a trap on the way out (that’s the skeleton you’ve looted on the way in).

I’ve already tried to work with this in the Dungeon Exploration Prototype. Every skeleton in the game is placed only in spots where someone could possibly die. Be it from a trap or from getting lost. Also treasure hints, which points to different secrets of the game, could be found only in these skeletons of former adventurers. Because it makes sense this way.

What I was surprised of was how little attention players paid to this. The only place that worked more than others was a room full of skeletons. This absurd room which reeks of death was the only point, where player stopped and became caution in like 30 - 40% (btw, that number is just a total guess).

What didn’t worked at all, were these guys. It’s from a room, where player possibly for the first time encounter the crumbling floor. There are two facts about this mechanic that player will learn here.
  • You need to run over it or you will die. Walking is no good.
  • Tile like this could be crossed only once. You need to check in advance, if you have a way back.
I knew that player will most likely figure out the second point the hard way, but I wanted to make a hint for those who pay extra attention to the surrounding by placing two skeletons on unreachable spots. These adventures died exactly this way. They ran over a crumbling floor without having a safe way back. I haven’t saw even one person pointing this out.

The lesson I’ve learned from this is:
  • The goal of the environmental storytelling is to imply previous events which makes the space believable and interesting.
  • Most of these nuances will be too small for player to ever notice. And even if the person noticed, it could be easily interpreted differently, than what we as the designers had in mind.
  • If we want to use the environment as a tutorial hint that is noticeable and sends a clear message, we need to prepare such moment with much more care. (the most famous example of this is probably from Half-life 2 when player learns that grabbing and throwing discs with a gravity gun creates powerful weapon which cuts enemies in half.)


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