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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsVernal Edge: Character Action Platformer
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« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2019, 11:58:24 PM »

I didt found this blog until now and i didt know how much cool stuff you did.

Good luck with your smalelr scope endevour! Totally am behind ya!

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« Reply #21 on: May 28, 2019, 06:13:09 PM »

I really like the momentum mechanic you have there!

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« Reply #22 on: June 01, 2019, 08:06:49 PM »

Happy June everyone, the blog is back.

It's good to see you guys again, by which I mean stare blankly at the text entry field while I hurriedly compile the important things that have happened since my last update.  It's been a few months and the game has had an increase in followers and fans since then, alongside some design changes!  For those reasons and more I will be restating the core pitch of the game, and give an update in what's changed, what's new, and what to expect from the game.  With that out of the way...

Vernal Edge is a 2d pixel art sidescroller with deep combat mechanics, an open world to explore by airship, and a character focused story to drive it all!  You play as Vernal, a punk young woman who has set off to a mysterious land that has been fractured and uplifted from the earth floating high in the sky, in search for the father she's never met to beat the hell out of him.  Along the way you'll meet lots of characters, explore islands, discover there's more to your journey than there first seemed, and discover dark places not meant to be seen.

The combat aspect of the game is inspired by action games such as Devil May Cry, God Hand, and Kingdom Hearts 2.  You will be juggling enemies, managing resources mid combat, and obtaining new moves for your character to increase your capabilities.  With special attacks, spells, items, and environmental mechanics, each combat encounter should feel fresh and like an opportunity to express yourself through gameplay.  Vernal fights brutally, throwing in punches and kicks alongside sword slashes, spells, and special attacks using the power of her sword.  To top off all this decision making, you can carry a limited supply of consumable items to augment yourself during combat.  These are expensive, so don't expect to just fill out your inventory with healing potions and heal your way through every encounter.

Exploration will not play out like your typical metroidvania, although it will share in some of it's design philosophies.  You explore the world via a top down map of the world and several islands that you are given the option to land at.  There will be several available at a time to explore, so try and keep your goals in mind when setting off.  As you progress through the game you gain the ability to travel higher and higher into the atmosphere, allowing new islands to be discovered and discovering information that may lead to useful discoveries on old islands.  You always have a goal in mind to progress the story, but the requirements to reach that goal are laid out non-linearly to grant you the freedom to approach the situation any way you want.

Alongside the islands to explore there is another aspect to exploration to tie the world together that is being kept a secret for now.

On islands themselves, the layouts will be left mostly open, with the occasional locked door and ledge you just can't quite reach yet.  You will rarely find an island that is just a linear set of maps to charge through.  I love secrets and hidden goodies, so expect to be rewarded for exploring areas that seem weirdly accessible and revisiting old areas with new abilities.  Expect things to get weird.

You will also discover new abilities by exploring and making purchases with your money collected from enemies and hidden locations.  Take advantage of the time in-between upgrades to learn how to best use your tools before you obtain even more to expand your capabilities. By the end of the game you may find your ability to move and fight a little crazy.

The goal for now is to develop a nice vertical slice for a crowd funding campaign to fund production of this game.  Art and animation at the quality I make isn't cheap, and having to code on top of it makes this a lot of work.  While I've gotten assistance on this project with certain things, for the most part right now I am the sole developer.  In the future that may (hopefully) change, but for now The boost from that will be a necessity to complete production.

What's changed?

Alright so if you're caught up on the previous blog entries, then there has been some big ol' changes to the combat system to promote freedom in combat.  The first aspect of that is the removal of the 5th hit combo finisher.  Time spent testing the concept proved it was far too restrictive and incredibly difficult to teach to players.  It ended up making any action that wasn't leading to a combo finisher feel inefficient and locked up decision making.

Now your combos are all focused around your normal moves, with the ability to weave other action in-between.  Your normal combo is just 3 hits long, with the third hit being considered a finisher (all finishers are unarmed attacks using Vernal's punches and kicks to make them more recognizable).  You can still freely manipulate your combo by selecting different directional inputs in the middle of the combo, allowing you to perform whichever combo finisher you want.  However, there are rewards for weaving pulse attacks and spells in-between your normal attacks.

Vernal now has a new gauge tied to her performance in combat, and filling this gauge up rewards you with a boost in power.  This gauge is tied into combat pretty heavily, so lets break down how it works.

As you hit enemies with attacks, a grey meter fills out above Vernal's head (ui placement subject to change).  The grey meter however, only shows your potential gains.  In order to turn that grey meter white, Vernal most perform a combo finisher.  These are the unarmed attacks I mentioned earlier, and unarmed attacks should consistently fill the grey section of your meter.

At the top left you can see a counter as well, this counter increases with every move you perform before a combo finisher or dropping your combo.  The higher the meter, the more the grey bar will fill per hit.  This means that weaving other actions in-between your attacks will increase how much potential meter you get per hit.  This creates a risk reward scenario where you can try to extend your combo as long as possible before cashing in with a finisher, but risk getting hit and losing that progress.  This new system means that contextual attacks such as the slide attack or dash attack feel more relevant since they also increase the grey on your meter, but don't become the best options for dealing damage since regular combos are required to fill this meter out.

Once this meter is filled out, Vernal enters an empowered state where her stats increase and her moves gain new properties to empower them, this is now the cause of Vernal's hair turning white.  Keeping your momentum in a fight is important to maintaining this state, and taking damage will cost you a significant amount of the meter you've gained, so be sure to dodge and counter attacks to keep your battle momentum going. The specifics of this buff are still being determined.

As for juggling, that system is mostly the same, but in the near future I will be working on mechanics for launching enemies into each other to break their poise more easily.  An option to break enemy poise with counter hits is also being considered.  The goal is making the act of stunning an enemy differ depending on the situation, rather than always being about just wacking them until it breaks.

And lastly, items are another method of self expression during an encounter.  While they aren't used to attack enemies (currently) they allow you a chance to shore up your shortcomings while learning encounters and the combat system.  A more experienced player can use items to perform more difficult tasks early or increase the rewards of good play.  Items will be fairly expensive, you will only be able to hold 10 at a time, and the player's money will be set to a low cap (having maxed out money won't be enough to fill your entire inventory with healing items). making sure you usually leave a shopping spree broke, and are cycling through your money often instead of hoarding it all.

I've mentioned that exploration of the world will be fairly open, but objective driven.  This is fairly simple in concept, but does open up the possibilities of what how your combat style will come to form.  For example, say your goal during on of the game's arcs is to collect 3 mcguffins; you will be able to obtain them in any order you choose, and multiple steps would be required to obtain each one.  This means the spells and attacks you find along the way will vary depending on your order of operations.  On a subsequent playthrough you may have to learn to fight a boss without one of your moves unlocked, or steam roll a fight that gave you trouble your first time with knowledge of upgrade locations and better knowledge of how to play the game.

When exploring individual locales the layout will be very open.  I want to capture the feeling that you're exploring a real place rather than a linear level, keeping more open floor plans and maintaining player agency.  Finding hidden spots and collecting items from obscure places in the environment will be a big factor.  Poking around an environment is fun, and following threads to reach secrets is fun, like "Can I climb up there?" or "Can I make my way under that bridge?" should be rewarding questions to try and answer.

Level design work hasn't really started yet since combat systems are being created still, but these plans should hold solid going forward.

What's being worked on?
Right now I'm wrapping up the player moveset to capture all the basic elements.  The design for combat is finally satisfying and I'm loving playing with the new options and combo system.  There are still a few more features to be fleshed out for combat and a new player ability I need to work on.  After that it's going to be the infrastructure for enemies.  It's been a long time coming, but now that combat is so much more enjoyable it's safe to start the work for creating does to fight.  I'll be adding depth and functionality to enemies throughout development, so it won't be a big stopping point for several months, but it is important work to get started on!  I'll determine what to do next afterwords.

Q: What mechanic gave you the most trouble to implement?
A: Most likely sliding.  Aside from the interactions with slopes being a nightmare to work out, it's not a real common mechanci so I've had to program little systems and make little tweaks to make it feel nice.  To be honest I'm still not 100% satisfied with sliding so it will see more tweaking and work in the future.

Q: What part of the game that you've worked on do you think was the best investment?  The best bang for your buck?
A: At this point in time I'd have to say it was probably the character action system.  It's incredibly easy to create new actions with unique behaviors for the player and enemies.  Aside from variables I can change on a per action basis, the system is also set up to easily allow custom behaviors like attacks that move you in a certain way or end at an irregular time.

Q: What is the name of Vernal's sword?
A: It currently does not have a name, I don't think she's particularly care what it's name was either...

Q: What is Vernal's talent tree?  What spec did she roll?
A: Well her personality may lead her to be seen as a typical berserker, but combat has such a unique gameplay loop that I kinda struggle to find a good archetype to classify her under.

Other news and information:
Just a week ago I actually finished another game, you can find it here for free (or you can donate money please).

As well as the discord server for the project has been verified!  You can check that out if you want to keep up to date with the game, catch development streams, and read my mad ramblings about the game while I'm working through problems.

As always, thanks for your support everyone, if you have any questions about the project please ask!  Whether it's here on tigsource, a dm on discord, or a private message on twitter.  Just don't ask what the game's name is I'm working on it okay?
« Last Edit: July 01, 2019, 06:58:35 PM by HyMyNameIsMatt » Logged

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« Reply #23 on: July 01, 2019, 06:55:17 PM »

Welcome to July!

This month has been really exciting in a lot of ways, and there's a lot to talk about.  The first and second most important is the final decision on the name for the project.

Vernal Edge is the name we've decided to go with.  The name of the project has been deliberated over for a really long time (about 10 months) and it's time to settle down with one.

The actual most important update is that Alex (twitter, soundcloud) has ascended from pure musician to completely dedicated developer.  This means he will be working on music, sounds, code, and design.  He's helped spearhead a lot of progress and put the game on track to a fully fledged demo, and loves experimenting with combos.  Knowing that, lets dive into what's happened this month.


With new input support, new and reworked mechanics, and the fundamentals of enemy ai finally laid down, a lot has been done to fully flesh out the action this month.  There's only one core feature of the game left to really finalize, and we're close to doing so, so we'll keep that to ourselves for the time being.  Let's start by going over the changes to action inputs and new/changed systems.

The game now supports inputs for charged attacks.  By holding down an action button you can charge up an action on that button for an attack, usually a finisher. The system for this is very unrestricted, allowing you to hold the normal attack button while performing a spell or another long animation. Previously the games input reading would only accept single key presses to make actions happen, and now there is a greater range of input options available to you at any given time.

Also important is the addition of modifier supports, allowing you to hold down one button, such as a trigger on a gamepad, and press another button to change the result of that button.  This is now how we're handling the usage of spells, by allowing you to hold a modifier and press another core action button.

With the input for spells moved away, there is a new game mechanic occupying that slot.  But before I can explain that, I need to explain the changes to the pulse mechanic as the two are integrally tied.  Like before, hitting enemies with physical attacks builds Vernal's Pulse Meter, which can be spent on special attacks, or creating a pulse of energy around Vernal that affects certain objects in the environment.  What is new, is that each enemy will have a special condition in which they are vulnerable to Vernal's Pulses.  Upon reaching low health, having a particularly strong move countered, or maybe just being stunned, an enemy's spirit is temporarily made vulnerable.  Hitting an enemy that shows signs of such vulnerability with a Pulse or Pulse Attack, will allow Vernal to steal that enemies spirit.  This will kill weaker enemies, and an enemy spirit can also always be stolen by hitting them with a Pulse Attacks as the final hit, and stealing an enemy spirit allows Vernal to use that spirit in combat.

Ghost summoning is probably the most fun mechanic we've devised this month, and implies some rather scary things about the nature of Vernal's sword.  When you've successfully stolen an enemy's spirit, you can summon a ghost of that enemy in combat.  A ghost of the enemy will appear near Vernal, and perform one of its attacks against another enemy, increasing the amount of tools you have to fight enemies and create combos.  This comes at a cost to your Pulse Meter, and as a result the max size of your pulse meter is going to be upgradable to allow more excessive resource spending.  You do not lose an enemy spirit upon summoning it to battle, but holding onto the same spirit an entire fight does come at an opportunity cost.  Successfully stealing an enemy spirit refills some of Vernal's health, so holding onto the same spirit an entire fight may result in death if you can't avoid enough damage.

Lastly the framework has been put down for enemy AI thanks to Alex.  While I can't speak fully for the technical process, I can talk a bit about the idea behind enemy design.  Every enemy in an encounter is designed to challenge your space in a different way.  Some force you to stay on the move, others may limit your safety in the air or make an entire area of the arena unsafe.  Of course having the ability to knock enemies into each other, as well as use the environment to your advantage with a pulse means you can also make very effective use of the space around you to fight back.

Lastly to wrap up this section, the basics of menus and user interface have been written.  Support for item management, changing gameplay options, and text box display are all up and running.  I've also established an art style for character portraits, meaning characters will soon be able to have conversations with each other, and realize why conversing with Vernal herself can be taxing...


This month a lot of artwork has been done to more fully flesh out Vernal's moveset as well as some of the aesthetic direction for the upcoming demo.  Vernal in particular has been receiving a lot of animations and cleanup to old animations in tandem with her new abilities.  Faster drafting has really allowed us to capture the spirit of our main character in combat, and once these animations are all fully polished game's visuals will really stand out.  You'll see enemies in a variety of encounters that not only the combination of enemies, but the environment itself to create challenges.

Aside from visual art Alex has been hard at work creating sounds and music samples.  Experimenting with motifs, moods, and the overall sound direction for the game has been very inspiring.  Here's a sample of a track Alex has been working on for the demo:

Q: What plans do you have to release content prior to any crowdfunding.
A: We'll be releasing regular updates until the campaign launches, at that time there will be a playable demo.

Q: What part of making the game are you putting off as long as you feasibly can?
A: The end credits

Q: How big do you think the game will be?
A: The scale will vastly differ depending on funding.

Q: When will the game be playable?
A: We plan to start testing before the crowdfunding campaign.

Q: What's the best way to get in touch with you?
A: The project has a verified Discord server that I read everything on.  You can ask us anything there and get updates too: https://discord.gg/TgdZcyY

And with that this month's update is all wrapped up.  If you want more frequent updates, every Saturday Alex and I stream development updates on Twitch, as well as play some games and talk about our feelings on them: https://www.twitch.tv/hymynameismatt

Thanks to everyone who follows the game, this month was really tough and it is genuinely helpful to see everyone's support.  Development is really moving forward now, I'm already excited about next month's update.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2019, 07:17:03 PM by HyMyNameIsMatt » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2019, 11:22:54 PM »

Good August everyone!

This month has been pretty exciting as we've gotten to work on some core features that make the game feel more complete, as well as the level design for the demo.  On top of that we've been working out some kinks in the combat system and are approaching the final design of the combat system.  Let's start with the layout and the new tools we've added to assist us in level design.

Level Design:

This month Alex and I have designed and blocked out the level layout for the demo.  This takes place on a single island and contains multiple maps that you explore.  Because this place will serve as many people's first introduction to the game, we've decided to tailor this location to be a little bit more linear than an island would be in the final game.  While we'd like to build something more true to experience for the final game's level layout, we have decided it would be better to give people trying the demo a smoother difficulty curve and more time to understand the core mechanics.

A few things became apparent to us while working on these level layouts.  The first being that Vernal's methods of traveling vertically needed some variety, and the second being that we needed more control over what the player can see.

To solve the first issue we created these poles for Vernal to grab (art and animations pending).  While these are still being refined they are a fun way for us to add vertical to levels and combat arenas without shifting the terrain around.  We may create more common level design elements like this in the future as we create content.

On the issue of controlling the player's view we've created adjustable camera regions.  These regions clamp the camera so it can not leave a specified area while vernal is colliding with it.  This allows us to create the illusion of smaller, more contained spaces inside of a larger maps, or lock the camera somewhere for cutscenes.

Game Mechanics:

A lot of more mundane but important developments were implemented this month.  Improvements to the enemy AI, further work on user interface support, a scripting system, and many bugs (yes Alex, I know you are the one who did all those things).  What's more interesting is the changes we've decided to make towards the pulse and spirit mechanics.  These are still being implemented so look forward to the results next month.

The issue is, while we were happy with the themes and possibilities opened by the mechanics, the execution leaves a lot to be desired.  In testing it's currently too easy to use your pulse on a vulnerable enemy, with almost no risks, and the mechanics do not tie together with the other mechanics very cleanly.  Just hitting the pulse button and absorbing the spirit of the nearest vulnerable enemy on screen is kinda boring, and actually using the spirit in combat doesn't feel very distinct from using any of Vernal's other attacks.

We both enjoy the resource management involved in using pulse to absorb enemy spirits and attack with them, as it creates dynamic encounters where you use attacks not in your standard kit, it isn't quite hitting the mark.  The solution we've come up with keeps a lot of the same core elements but involves me making a whole bunch of extra art assets more active effort on the player's part.

The solution we've come to, is to make the process of using an enemy's spirit more strategic.  Now when an enemy is vulnerable to the effects of a pulse, Vernal can spend pulse energy hurl a ghostly image of her sword forward in a boomeranging motion.  When the sword hits a vulnerable enemy, it will plant a ghostly sword inside of them, marking them for the rest of the encounter.

Once an enemy has been marked, it's fate is sealed.  With a button press, formerly used to calla spirit to your side, you may now choose to execute all marked targets, killing any standard enemy, and stunning/damaging bosses/very tough enemies.  Afterwords the spirit of the enemy appears in it's place to execute an attack on other enemies.  As well as giving Vernal a small heal for each enemy.

This change should tie pulse more closely to other mechanics of the game, since the effectiveness of an enemy's spirit is based on its position.  This means you're ability to juggle an enemy will allow you to throw enemies into situations where their spirit will have the most impact upon execution, as well as the decision to kill an enemy with a pulse or to keep hitting it normally for more meter to use in the future.  The change also keeps the benefits of using enemy attacks to create encounter variety, while adding more skill expression.


Naturally Alex has also been working on music while we design encounters.  I'm getting really pumped fighting enemies while listening to it, and once final art is implemented for enemies we're going to reach the closest point to being a real game!

Q: Do you have any plans for console ports of the game?
A: It all kinda depends on the funding and whether or not we are given the opportunity.  It isn't as easy to port or publish to a console as it is to steam, and licenses for them are pretty expensive as well.

Q: If you have to scale down at some point during development, what would you toss and what would you keep at all costs?
A: To be honest it would mostly be game content and additional enemies.  We'd likely be taking enemy concepts we currently have and homogenize them down into a selection of super variable enemies we'd use.  Less content speaks for itself.  If the game receives really high funding I'd like to implement more playable characters and their own campaigns.  I'd also like to create new game+, second quest, and randomized game modes, but we'll see where the crowdfunding goes.

Q: Why is Vernal missing colors sometimes or looks weird for some of her animations?
A: While I work on the game I prefer to work with in-progress animations to get a feel for how they feel in the game before I spend the time polishing them.  It takes just as long to polish one of those animations as it does to draft it in the first place, and while we iterate through ideas it is very possible that some of those animations will just be thrown away.  In fact several already have been!

Q: What are some of your influences for animation?
A: Aside from the few 3d animation classes I took in college, I started pixel animation because of Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight.  The character animations were very satisfying and inspired me to break out of my shell and try it for myself.  Now a lot of my inspiration for animation comes from 3d games, Devil May Cry, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy XIV, etc.  This is part of the reason why Vernal Rotates so much during her actions.  I don't care for the way many platformers animate their character at a constant 3/4 view no matter the circumstance.

And that's the last of the updates for this month.  As always Alex and I stream weekly updates every Saturday:

And if you want to speak with any of us, be caught up on development news, be notified when the streams start, or just see me ramble incoherently about design stuff, you can join our verified discord server!

This month was really exciting, getting to work on content and refine the game has made Vernal Edge take a long stride towards being a high quality game.  Once that's all done and I have time to focus on art, I know everyone will be surprised with what we've made.  Have a good month everyone.

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« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2019, 12:21:19 AM »

This looks truly awesome, and I can’t wait to play it. Thank you for sharing your inspiring work!

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« Reply #26 on: August 05, 2019, 04:09:48 AM »

Really nice pixel-art! Following Cool

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« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2019, 09:56:33 AM »

You guys may have noticed we're refraining form posting this month, it's been crazy busy and we're at a testing phase so we'd like to wait until we have some results from that.  As well as we're taking a very short break to get some of our affairs in order.

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