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1359221 Posts in 63162 Topics- by 55011 Members - Latest Member: stevewilliam007

April 23, 2019, 02:57:39 AM

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badru
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« Reply #20 on: October 27, 2018, 06:43:15 PM »

Guess I'm gonna write a little devlog update while I wait for a bar to fill up!

Spent this week working mostly on my overworld and narrative stuff, largely by just walking through implementing the first bit of the game. Wrote and rewrote the format for my scene/script data, which for instance lets characters perform actions, say lines, propose quests, and is used both within a combat encounter or just as a simpler version in the overworld.

Did a bit of work to genericize my water shader so it functions right both in combat and in the overworld, and blends between the combat version of itself and the overworld rendering in the background of a combat. It's a bit sloppy in certain places. The biggest reason I did this is because I decided to make the combat ground based on the overworld where the combat was initiated, and if that happens to be right on the shore I wanted the water to blend into the lake smoothly. Oh yeah! I also put in the logic so that if the combat water surface is below the water level, water can rush in from off-grid to fill it to lake-height. Gonna try to get a flattering screenshot, lets see...




Made a new region you can see in those screenies, meant to be a more colorful, inviting, happy place for the earliest zone.

Oh yeah! One thing I did during this process that was exciting - until now I only had AI control of non-magical units - knights/archers/scouts, which are obviously simpler. But I really want the very first scene in the game to be of two AIs fighting with high tier units, so I mocked that up a bit. It was incredibly easy to make fairly stupid, but still fun/satisfying AI for the units I chose for this - Shaman, Bog Witch, and Warlock.



Oh and because it's something I worked on this week, here's a shot from some early story stuff, that I probably won't share as candidly??

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ANtY
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« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2018, 12:27:05 AM »

Nice progress! Not sure if you already wrote about it but I wanted to ask how does the progression outside battles look? Can you upgrade your "soldiers"? And if so, in what ways? How about the equipment choice?
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badru
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« Reply #22 on: October 29, 2018, 09:17:14 AM »

Nice progress! Not sure if you already wrote about it but I wanted to ask how does the progression outside battles look? Can you upgrade your "soldiers"? And if so, in what ways? How about the equipment choice?

Thanks! I guess you mean like upgrading your folks' skills and such?



Right now it's really simple. You level up in whatever class you're playing as.

Having enough levels in the right classes (and the right affinity, which is a born-in attribute currently) unlocks classes further down the tree. E.g. level 3 Scout unlocks both Archer and Knight. Level 3 Knight unlocks Battlemage (if you're any affinity but life) and Spellsword (if you're any affinity but fire).

For each level you have in a class, you get one skill slot. At any time outside of combat, you can swap out your skills freely.

There isn't any equipment system anymore - cut it. I might put something back in but I'm leaning towards the simplest version of this thing for now.
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ANtY
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« Reply #23 on: October 30, 2018, 12:57:41 AM »

Sounds cool, I like class progression trees! I agree that not including eq might be a good idea, but in that case I'd also not put any consumables - maybe do some refilling fountains or sth.

Though I'm not sure about the Knight -> Battlemage  Cheesy
maybe something like a battlepriest or paladin would fit better?
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badru
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« Reply #24 on: October 30, 2018, 09:57:38 AM »

Sounds cool, I like class progression trees! I agree that not including eq might be a good idea, but in that case I'd also not put any consumables - maybe do some refilling fountains or sth.

Though I'm not sure about the Knight -> Battlemage  Cheesy
maybe something like a battlepriest or paladin would fit better?

Hm okay. Yeah I don't have any consumables or items at all currently.

The comment on classes is a weird one. Battlemage is the name I'm using for now for the class which has at its core: fire/earth/water spells at very close range, broad AOE, high health. I don't think your suggested names fit it at all? Seems like you're projecting world/story ideas from other fantasy universes onto this game. Maybe you're trying to be helpful but it feels rude to me. Maybe the "Cheesy" is just a bit too much.
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« Reply #25 on: October 31, 2018, 01:26:26 AM »

sorry, man, definitely didn't want to come off as rude. don't take my comments too seriously
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« Reply #26 on: January 05, 2019, 02:41:17 PM »

WOW I took too long between devlogs, so this is kind of a biggie. I'll probably just drop short notes on certain things and then possibly dive into them deeper as a follow up. Are dev-vlogs a thing people like?? It might be easier to just stream me talking through the stuff and then post the recording as a sort of vlog... just thinkin' out loud here...

THE BIG AND BROAD STUFF

Okay so the first thing that I'm absolutely not going to talk about at all yet: I've done a ton of work on the intro sequence, implementing features I want for storytelling reasons, changing around the way the characters work and even the world concepts. Writing is hard but it's what's going to make this real.

One thing I'll mention is I decided to frame all of the humans as goblins for thematic reasons. A core theme I want to address is the gradient of intelligent life and moral personhood, and part of how I want to talk about that is by framing the goblins (ex-humans) as dog-like compared to the spirits. I want to write them as stupid and cute and loyal, and I think goblins already have some of that baked into them as a concept. Plus, I want it to feel playful on the surface to be fighting your lil dudes against each other, and I think goblins come with that for free too, whereas humans killing each other feels more fucked on the surface, for good reason. Got a lot of work to do replacing all of my Human___ code with Goblin___ code, heh.

Hugely, the game's been silent for a long time, but we've just added a full first audio pass, and its REALLY GOOD AND I LOVE IT so maybe I'll do a deep dive into that later. Probably definitely. It feels so much more full and deep and rich and wild.

An important functional change, that impacts a lot of the game's structure:
  • All jobs other than scout/archer/knight start locked now.
  • When a unit of yours meets the req for a job you dont have, a pointer shows up on your horizon, where there will be a special encounter with units of that job type, which will grant you the job unlock.
This has helped a lot with reducing the information load on the player right at the start. It also adds a nice structural component that adds spatial meaning to the overworld, which has helped a lot with making the overworld and travel important. AND it has added a nice way to build out a game-long structural arc that relates to the overworld navigation and is narrative-esque but can live on its own for players who don't care about the story.

COMBAT

Added a pause menu. While paused all of the goblins sit down. This wouldn't be a combat note except that! The reason I added a paused menu is so I could but in it a button to run from combat
  • for enemies, to make fights end faster (and with less violence) when you're clearly winning
  • and for you, so you can bail if you're clearly losing or just don't want to fight right now
This is a major improvement for gameplay, but I'm also really happy with the way this changes the tone of the violence.


Added trees as fixed impassable objects per map for more tactical variation. Has done a lot to make each match more specific and interesting.


Improved the readability of bushes and difficult terrain by adding a particle pop to them (and adding a ton of late snap to the animation) when they get full grown.


Added a concept - interior encounters! Excited about the narrative and visual possibilities this opens up for me.

OVERWORLD


Added a map to the overworld. Currently this indicates roughly where you are, but nothing else. I'm not sure what I'll do with it long-term, but I wanted to start to build this in because I want wayfinding to be a functional element of overworld play. I'll probably want a compass and to mark some key locations? But it's also nice to just give players a map and let them use it manually.

Goblins now scale down as they get further away from you in the overworld, until they disappear.
  • better for perf
  • adds mystery and required attentiveness for players when in dangerous areas
  • leaning into the thing I've got going where reduction of detail due to distance is a structural part of the visual style


Built a system to blend regions in the overworld spatially rather than temporally by serializing material properties into color values and writing them onto a data texture, blurring that texture, and then sampling it with bilinear filtering. Did a lot of tools work to build a better editor for this.


Added a concept - overworld forests.
  • Now feral goblins (which are the source of random encounters) only spawn in forests
  • The player now moves faster and the camera zooms out a bit outside of forests
I did some fun shader work on this to get the models to pan in worldspace (there's just a single static mesh for those trees, with no C#). Could be a fun little post maybe?

PARTY MENUS


Built real skill trees!
  • Used to be a simple pool of skills you could choose between
  • Now skills level up into other skills - More powerful, and sometimes more complex
  • With this came lots of polish on the skill menu UX


Really built the early classes out further
  • Added earth mod to knight (slam - an AOE skill that lowers the earth),
  • plant to scout (canticle - an aoe heal that grows plants), 
  • fire and earth to archer (fire and explosive arrows)

On a last note!
I've decided to actually try to maintain social media accounts. They'll be 100% (95%?) focused on creative work, because that's the internet I miss existing. So if you want to follow my creative work in a way that's more regular and less of a wall of text, my sig has a link to my website hub thingy, which has links to the various social media platforms.
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badru
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« Reply #27 on: April 08, 2019, 10:09:51 AM »

Okay it's been a long while again. I'm at the tail end of a big push to polish the combat enough (in places) visually to be able to produce a teaser that more clearly communicates the genre and intent. Hopefully I'll be launching that real soon, and I'll post here as a follow-up. Trying to launch it along with my Steam 'Coming Soon' page so people who see it can wishlist it - and waiting for my Steam page to be approved now.

I've had to do some more visual development for what the primary color palette is for things like icons, store capsules, and such. It sucks and I'm super bad at it!! But here's where I'm at, as represented by my title screen and icon -





Just trying to make it feel acceptably presentable for now I guess!

-

For this last, more marketing-focused push, I've been thinking some more about this 'screenshot theory' write-up from adamatomic bit ago. This thing honestly hasn't crystallized enough to deal with the finer points, but I think I've been failing to really communicate visually things that will clue the right people into what might be exciting about this game.

I don't want to emulate the visual style or feeling of Final Fantasy Tactics, but I DO want to make very clear to fans of that game that TT is firmly situated in FFT's legacy.

So for starters I took my current 'Evolve' menu, which I had no strong feelings about other than that it was definitely not finished, and emulated FFT's 'Job' menu. The process of doing this forced me to make simple placeholder silhouettes for my full roster of planned evolutions, which was a lot of very helpful creative work.





You'll see I also refined or reworked the early jobs I wanted to show in the teaser, and in doing so made some more concrete costuming decisions. I've decided to pull inspiration from a very broad and unbounded era of Russian historical dress around the 14-1500s. This might get more specific and clear as I learn more about the history and dress but for now it's just a treasure trove of colors and silhouettes for me to grasp at. Ultimately it's not a historical game, but I think having a historical source, even one this broad, will help unify the look and feel.

Some other stuff I did for the teaser that's smaller and so I might not screenshot it or anything - refined my damage reaction + popup text to emulate roughly FFT's, simplified my overly ornate tile highlighting in the direction of FFT's simple squares, improved a variety of UX / player communication issues such as path highlighting, enemy highlighting, damage and kill prediction UI (many of these thanks to very helpful notes from friends Galen Drew, Nick Kaman, Reed Erlandson, Isa Hutchinson - god bless).



-

I've been doing more playing of similar titles to see what's out there, what interesting design developments have happened in and around the genre more recently. One that excited me the most was Human: Year Zero. To be fully honest I couldn't really tolerate it once it had any level of difficulty - I think I just find XCOM-likes uninteresting on a fundamental level - but it had some very good things in it that I'm just going to borrow, at least as starting places.

For one thing, it felt GREAT to be embodied as a single party member, with the others following. So, that's been implemented in TT now. For another, I loved being able to see the enemy aggro radii and use those to inform my wandering. Also in TT now.



-

And as always I've been doing a lot of writing and rewriting. Michael Bell, who's doing sound and music, is also an English professor, and recommended me the excellent book on writing Wonderbook, written by Jeff Vandermeer, whose books Annihilation and Authority are some of my recent favorites, and have certainly influenced TT. Borne was alright too. Wonderbook's been an incredible help for me in thinking out the story, both in terms of broad scope, plot, outline, and also in terms of presentation and tone, especially in terms of where the story starts, who tells it, and what order to introduce elements in. I think I finally have a solid outline of the whole thing??

In addition I've gotten some really great feedback from Isa Hutchinson, who's been my design collaborator on this, playing the fuck out of builds and giving pages and pages of notes for probably years now. The most essential bit of feedback relevant to this bit I'm talking about now: that maybe it would be nice to just hang out with a goblin and NOT kill them. Which yeah. Why would these living things want to attack you? I feel like I've been sort of penned in by the genre and I'm excited to break out of it a little here for the sake of world building and storytelling and tone.

So these two things together - I've decided to more or less kill the idea of "feral" goblins, in favor of one clear enemy: The Fog, one vast spirit miasma that has possessed the many goblins who attack you. The idea for now is that the Fog will have a clear (but growing) border, and if you stay on the safe side of it you won't be forced to fight. There will be a smattering of goblin towns along the coast outside of the Fog border, and the story will ask you both to visit these towns and warn them of the Fog, and also to venture into the Fog to attempt to stop its growth.

I'm excited about a lot of parts of this.

I'm excited to have a bulk of the writing be one-off towns - the kind of world writing that lets players explore freely and discover interesting novelties. And also to have a clear mainline plot which can live in a clear relation to that nonlinear one.

I'm excited to have a chance to communicate some positive visions of the future, to give players something to fight for. What are you protecting and why is it worth protecting?

Similarly to the way I feel 'goblin' more clearly communicates my intention than "humanish but sort of stupid and degenerated and animal-like, in a way that can be cute and endearing, but also it shouldn't bother you too much if they're violent and die," I feel that "The Fog" is a trope that more clearly communicates "sort of like a vast hivemind that is encroaching slowly across the landscape and turning the people and towns in passes over into zombies." I love the way these things fit together as fantasy tropes.

-

What's next?

I think I need to be focusing on how my development process relates to my ability to release teasers and other updates that double as marketing assets.

Now that I feel I've got something that at least hints at the genre and intent of the combat, I want to do the same for world and story. Which is kind of terrifying. But also exciting.

I think I need to redo my overworld terrain. The way it warbles and undulates is nauseating for some who've played it, and I just really want my work to be accessible. Maybe need it to be accessible, given that it's a pretty niche genre. So I'll probably try to find a solution for that that feels more stable and grounded.

I need to build out at least one goblin town and get a sense for how players interact with them.

I need to build out my writing integration better. I think I may look into Ink as a solution. Copy-pasting strings into the inspector is obviously not a good plan long-term, haha.

-

Eventually I think I may be trying to release a playable demo of the intro, alongside an early access storyless 'foreverlands' mode, so I can have more player feedback as I develop out the classes more specifically. And also money. But I think it makes sense to resolve and communicate the world and story before I start asking people to buy an unfinished thing.
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ANtY
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« Reply #28 on: April 08, 2019, 11:07:08 AM »

Lovin' the evolve menu, looks awesome
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badru
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« Reply #29 on: April 10, 2019, 12:07:46 PM »

Thanks ANtY!

Finally launched my combat teaser and store pages I've been working on... for now I'm too lazy to make them look good in links here but you can find em all at https://badru.graphics/

edit: did not know you could just paste a youtube link and it would embed it???



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ANtY
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« Reply #30 on: April 10, 2019, 11:30:17 PM »

Added to my wishlist on Steam, great work on the trailer!
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« Reply #31 on: April 11, 2019, 09:49:18 AM »

Dude, this is awesome. Also, the music is superb! Any info you can give on the composer? I'd definitely want to give him a shoutout.
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badru
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« Reply #32 on: April 12, 2019, 12:55:21 PM »

Dude, this is awesome. Also, the music is superb! Any info you can give on the composer? I'd definitely want to give him a shoutout.

Thanks!! His name's Michael Bell - it's on the Steam page and at the end of the trailer but I could probably do better attribution... He's so stellar! Some of his old audio tests for this are up on his bandcamp (along with some other fantastic stuff).
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