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Keops
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« on: August 02, 2019, 07:13:36 PM »

Hi everyone! Welcome to the Hearthstead devlog. We’re glad to have you here!



Entry No. 1: Introduction to the project

Overview

Hearthstead is a farming/town life Simulation RPG set in a fantasy world not unlike our own but also completely unbound from creative restrictions. Inspired by beloved games such as Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing and Suikoden, Hearthstead focuses on giving you, the player, as many options as possible to enjoy everything the world has to offer. It’s mantra: Let players enjoy Hearthstead in their own terms.
Whether that means developing and improving your farm, meeting and interacting with the many inhabitants of the land, finding items and completing collections, delving into the lore of the land or just engaging in the many activities available to have fun in the game’s world, Hearthstead has got you covered and will become your home for years to come!

  • Enjoy your fantasy life in the town of Hearthstead. You own a piece of the land and it's up to you to decide how to engage with the game world.
  • Farming, crafting, fishing, foraging, town events, holidays and more! Activities and tasks are abundant and ready for you to engage with.
  • A colorful and varied cast of characters for you to meet: Dozens or interesting individuals make life in Hearthstead and its surrounding area. Uncover interesting stories and take part in the life in town.
  • Customize, customize, customize: Build and personalize your farm, your home and your character to your heart’s content. Hundreds of customization options await you!
  • Player options and accessibility are key: The game features many options to fine tune the mechanics to your own style of play. Find fishing too hard? Toggle easy fishing! Time goes by too fast? Tweak the timescale! You’ll be able to play and enjoy Hearthstead your way!

Features

  • Flexible single player gameplay
  • Charming pixel art graphics
  • A massive game world for you to explore at your leisure
  • Full character and farm customization
  • Tons of collectables, achievements and secrets to uncover

Who's making this?

I'm Ricardo and I've been working on this game on and off for two and a half years, but mostly making design notes and concept sketches & pixel art pieces. I did some tests in Unity and implemented some simple stuff like map transitions and character movement.

So during this time I compiled a massive ideas doc, currently over 150 pgs long, chock full of character biographies, descriptions of game mechanics, maps, calendar of events, etc. Mostly done by me but I received input and collaboration from my brother and my wife.

Fast forward to 2019: I lost my job in june and had to freelance to earn a living, and I also decided that since I was mostly working from home I'd use the extra time and flexibility to resume development on the project. Now my brother has joined me to help me with the coding and implementation of the design as well as to further flesh the setting and characters.

Even with all this conceptual work done, the game is pretty much still living inside my mind, that's why I consider it only 10% complete. My brother has helped me now and there is some more stuff implemented now, like the date and time system.

The game is being created using Unity. All the art is being made by me.

tl;dr version:

Ricardo Chirino (me): Original concept and game design, graphic design, pixel art and marketing.
Elías Chirino (brother): Additional game design and coding.
Patricia Alastre (wife): Additional game design.
Engine: Unity.

What's going on with dev:

I'm currently working on the website for the game. We already have a Twitter. I'm also streaming art and devtalk for the game mon-fri at 9:30 am till noon on my Twitch channel.

I will be updating the devlog with relevant news and progress reports about the game as it progresses.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy Hearthstead's development journey!

« Last Edit: August 04, 2019, 07:04:44 AM by Keops » Logged

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Keops
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« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2019, 08:13:51 AM »

Mini-update No. 1

Today I made an avatar and profile banners for the game's Twitter account and also made the first tweet! It's such an exciting moment and I want to keep the momentum going forward, so I'm working on a simple website that'll serve as a hub for all things Hearthstead. It should be up soon, hopefully.

Here you can take a look at the avatar and the profile banner art I made for the game's Twitter profile. The avatar features Alice, one of the characters in the game, while the profile banner art showcases some additional characters and assets.




Sadly, yesterday my brother's computer died and we are expecting a friend who will take a look at it to see if the problem is fixable.

I'll keep you guys posted.

Ribs out.
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Keops
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« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2019, 04:37:17 PM »

Mini-update No. 2

Website is up. It's just a basic site linking to the Twitter account and this devlog, while I finish fleshing the real website. Still looks terrible on smartphones, but on 1080p desktops it looks fine. I need to figure a way to make it work well on all screen sizes and form factors. Gotta do some research, I only know old school Notepad++ HTML + CSS.


Oh well. More work for tomorrow, I'm a bit tired now and will do something else for the evening.

Ribs out.

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Keops
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« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2019, 05:34:51 AM »

Mini-update No. 3

I'm doing daily dev streams over at twitch.tv/rchirino, 930 am PTY time. I mostly focus on pixel art and dev talk, explaining the game and mechanics. In the future I will probably delve into other areas of development as well. Feel free to join us for some Hearthstead dev <3

There is also a thread over at pixelation which focuses on the art and art direction for the project. You can check it out here: https://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=36243.0

See you around Hearthsteaders <3 Ribs out!
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JosephSeraph
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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2019, 01:41:52 PM »

Oh whew your project looks neat! Sprites are very charming~ Do you have a Youtube channel? It's kinda hard for me to watch streams but I do love to watch speedpaints and commentary via Youtube~ (I should remember to do that myself, also)

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Karlipoppins
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2019, 01:44:16 PM »

Oh whew your project looks neat! Sprites are very charming~ Do you have a Youtube channel? It's kinda hard for me to watch streams but I do love to watch speedpaints and commentary via Youtube~ (I should remember to do that myself, also)

+1 for sprite speed paints, I'd love to see your work in action. Looks really charming so far!
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Keops
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« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2019, 02:10:55 PM »

Oh whew your project looks neat! Sprites are very charming~ Do you have a Youtube channel? It's kinda hard for me to watch streams but I do love to watch speedpaints and commentary via Youtube~ (I should remember to do that myself, also)

+1 for sprite speed paints, I'd love to see your work in action. Looks really charming so far!

Thanks for the kind words, I'm glad you like our little game Smiley No YT but you can watch the VODs, although they are long, not really timelapses. I work fairly slowly and since I'm streaming I engage with the audience and sometimes we chat about the project or otherwise. I might think about doing some. In fact I've been asked if I make pixel art tuts in the past and I'm really considering it.
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Keops
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« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2019, 10:17:19 AM »

Mini-update No. 4

Made more progress with the beach tiles and some more sprites, including starting the palm tree and some frozen water tiles.







Also mini-ranted this: https://twitter.com/RibsChirino/status/1158798381327585280 won't post here for brevity, the tweets are good enough.

I'm working on some planning stuff and another devlog post should be up before week's end! Thanks for reading!

Ribs out!
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« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2019, 01:15:46 PM »

The art style is very cool! I like that there are also the tileset for a snow environment, the water transparency is done very well, also the title font is full of personality. Great!  Smiley
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Keops
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« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2019, 03:13:08 PM »

The art style is very cool! I like that there are also the tileset for a snow environment, the water transparency is done very well, also the title font is full of personality. Great!  Smiley

Thanks! I'm very happy you like it Smiley Hopefully it'll keep improving and looking even better as time goes by and I put more work into the game Smiley
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Keops
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« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2019, 09:25:01 AM »

Mini-update No. 5

I've been doing some studies to break the monotony with the characters and improve the pixel art/art direction, here are the results!

I'm going to copy the post from Pixelation's art thread and elaborate further in Devlog Entry 2 soon. Feedback, as always, VERY appreciated and welcome.

***

So, on todays dev/pixel art stream I decided to take it slow and instead of pushing new tiles without a clear sense of where I'm going, I decided to do some studying! Using the good feedback I've been receiving here and elsewhere (thanks Yuroran on Twitter, https://twitter.com/yuroran/) I put some work into revisiting one of the characters, ALAN.

ALAN is an android and the first version was based on the same scale/template than the player sprite, and also it looks quite stiff. So I revisited the art for him using the 2nd iteration on his concept sketch. Here's the pixel art and below the sketches (left old, right 2nd iteration)



What I like is that I've broken the template so this opens more variety for characters. Mind you this sprite is not 100% pixel art, it's just a quick study, it needs tons of refining still but its me exploring different dimensions for each character, they don't have to be constrained to 32 px x 48 px.



Also made some experiments with a new grass tile, now studying some refs, including Sword of Mana as suggested by eishiya. I think SoM has beautiful pixel art and might use it as an inspiration.

I will continue doing more studies, cliffs too to put the great feedback by Chris2balls to good use.

Stay tuned, and keep the suggestions coming, much much appreciated!

Ribs out!

EDIT: The VOD of the stream is here if you want to take a look or listen to my dev talk/thought process: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/463874271
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Keops
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« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2019, 10:15:43 AM »

Hi everyone! Welcome to the Hearthstead devlog. We’re glad to have you here!



Entry No. 2: The Three Pillars & art experiments

***

The Three Pillars

Overview

There are many inspirations for Hearthstead, from the realm of videogames and beyond. Among these, there are three games that I call the “Three Pillars” and they represent the biggest influences in the direction of this project, whether its because of their gameplay mechanics, their aesthetics, visuals, sounds and tone) or their setting/game world.

Hearthstead’s “Three Pillars” are:



1) Stardew Valley: The indie darling developed solo by Eric Barone (aka. ConcernedApe) is certainly an essential title within the farming/town life simulation RPG genre. Stardew Valley’s mechanics, aesthetics and charm are a big influence for Hearthstead.
Mechanically and aesthetically this is probably the biggest influence so that's why I listed it first. The core gameplay loop will probably be extremely similar with the respective tweaks to QoL and added flexibility/options for the players.





2) Animal Crossing: Animal’s Crossing laid back and relaxed style is a big influence  for Hearthstead. The many options for furnishing and decorating your home as well as the many activities and collectables are integral to the experience we want our players to have with the game.





3) Suikoden: The massive and varied cast of characters from Konami's classic JRPG is directly related to the huge cast of characters to be found in Hearthstead. 108 Stars of Destiny will be matched in number by 108 Main NPCs in Hearthsted. This is a big jump in scope for town life sims, as these games usually feature character counts in the low teens up to the mid twenties or thirties.

This increases the amount of content exponentially and I'm still debating if all of the characters will be added for 1.0 release or some of them after release.


***

Art direction studies & Sprite lighting experiments

As part of acting on the feedback received about the game being way too similar to Stardew Valley (check out this twitter thread: https://twitter.com/RibsChirino/status/1158798381327585280) and feedback on Pixelation (art thread here https://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=36243.0) I went back to references and other games for studying their style.

I came up with a new set of grass, dirt and water tiles:



Also to further differentiate and since I'm not gunning for a pixel purist aesthetic (ie. I will use modern lighting techniques and effects like 3D overlays, particles, etc...) I made some experiments with using normal maps for lighting the sprites. After some research I found this tool that is available on Steam, called Sprite Lamp (https://store.steampowered.com/app/316830/Sprite_Lamp/) and it seems to do what I want, so I will probably have to invest on it soon. I tried the demo and was pretty impressed, its kinda easy to use, not sure what other options are out there, will probably do some more research into tools and workflows before committing to purchasing any tool but this looks very promising.

Here are some quick gifs showing this in action (the maps are quickly put together so they have some weird stuff going on them but they are a quick experiment/proof of concept)








So that's the devlog for now! As always feedback and encouragement greatly appreciated! <3
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy Hearthstead's development journey!

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« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2019, 05:50:28 PM »

I really like your pixel art and I think that not being a pixel-art purist is a good thing. As a matter of fact, I think that mixing pixel art and modern lighting can be a very good way to give out an old-school vibe without having to necessarily cut off the realistic feeling that modern games have.

Keep going on! I wish you good luck with this project and I hope it can turn into your real job some day (if that is what you want for yourself, that is a given).
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Keops
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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2019, 05:14:41 AM »

I really like your pixel art and I think that not being a pixel-art purist is a good thing. As a matter of fact, I think that mixing pixel art and modern lighting can be a very good way to give out an old-school vibe without having to necessarily cut off the realistic feeling that modern games have.

Keep going on! I wish you good luck with this project and I hope it can turn into your real job some day (if that is what you want for yourself, that is a given).

It makes me happy that you enjoy the pixel art and I appreciate the good wishes and encouragement! Yes, the idea is that people love the game and we can dedicate full time to improving it and creating more games Smiley

Thanks Heirukichi.
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« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2019, 06:57:45 PM »

I will always auto-follow a fellow life sim developer. Looking forward to seeing where this goes
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Keops
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« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2019, 05:59:00 AM »

Mini-update No. 6

I will always auto-follow a fellow life sim developer. Looking forward to seeing where this goes

Thanks Josh! I'm also going to check out your project, seems very unique <3

***

Normally I do daily mon-fri dev streams for Hearthstead on my Twitch channel, but I'm rethinking this strategy. I have like 25% of the assets I need for v0.1 but I will shift focus to implementation and leave asset production for later. I will still do streams but I'll announce them soon. Doesn't help that today I have a severe bad case of torticollis Sad

As for the project, we've migrated what little we had implemented to Unity 2019. Remade the camera to use the 2D Pixel Perfect package Pixel Perfect Camera component. This not only works better, it guarantees a pixel-perfect, crisp look for the game.

I also made a few more tweaks here and there to graphics, like new waterfall and cliff tiles and some small tweaks to the player sprite.



Here's a gif of the latest sprite in-game (still featuring the old tiles).



We already have an early implementation of the game calendar and time system and work has begun on inventory.

Maybe things slow down a bit on the devlog but maybe not, let's see how it goes!

Ribs out!
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« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2019, 06:23:22 AM »

Hi everyone! Welcome to the Hearthstead devlog. We’re glad to have you here!



Entry No. 3: Upgrades, interactions and experiments

***

Upgraded project to Unity 2019 + Pixel Perfect Camera

As I mentioned briefly in the previous mini-update, we updated the project to Unity 2019 and remade the camera to use the Pixel Perfect Camera component. 2019 includes some improvements for 2D as well as many other new features that might come in handy down the line. Since the codebase for the project is still small and it was being made in Unity 2018 the upgrade process was basically painless.

Aside from implementing a new camera, we used also used the upgrade to clean-up some stuff in the project so we start with a solid foundation. However we've noticed some slowdown that's been bothering us: When making changes to scripts, it seems the compiling is taking waaay longer, between 5-10x more. Mind you, it is still seconds, but it quickly adds up and it is kinda annoying to be honest. We *think* it might be related to the 2D Pixel Perfect Camera comp. but to be sure we'll need to try some stuff first.

***

Inventory and interactions

Some work has been done for the inventory system, which is a key element for some of the other mechanics we want to implement soon. The system is barebones right now and uses a placeholder UI, but it already features drag and drop sorting, hotbar linking, item destruction, tooltips and persistance across scenes.





The player also has a interaction button which is context-sensitive. If you are standing next to a pick-up you will grab it and add it to the inventory. This same button will be used for tools (ie. using the hoe to till the ground), advancing dialog texts, etc.

We are stil figuring a way for the hotbar to persist. Right now the hotbar points to the inventory, and since the persistence we have is that the inventory gets recreated in a new scene the hotbar resets and you lose the items you had placed in there.

***

Placeholder tiles, icons, maps and experimentation

I was previously iterating on the core tileset and while I think it was improving, someone pointed to me that it was not a good use of my dev time to focus so much on asset production so I put the brakes on that and made this geometric flat color tileset so I can start implementing maps in Unity and not waste time in final asset production.



I will definitely revisit the tileset later on, but the idea behind this is that we start building the maps in-game and then I'm able to just update this sheet as much as I want. There are draft maps made for the 10 areas that will be featured in v0.1.



On the last devstream (you can watch them on most weekdays starting around 9:30 am Panamá City PTY time over at my Twitch channel) I made some work on icons, including icons for the 5 basic tools, some fish and seed packs.



Also made more experiments with Sprite Lamp (Thanks to Corne for donating the tool! Forever grateful!)
and I still think this is something I will explore down the line, but since this falls squarely in the polish category I'm parking it for now.





***

Marketing front: Website updates, "Meet the Hearthsteaders" and Discord prep

Made some updates to the website. It is _kinda_ responsive now but there's some funky stuff going on with the BG image. This is low priority stuff too so I'll take another look at it later.

Also started the "Meet the Hearthsteaders" tweets to introduce some of the characters gradually. I'm publishing these once a week, using #screenshotsaturday, although I might move them to another day once I get better in-game shots or gifs to use on SS.


https://twitter.com/HearthsteadGame/status/1160279930279747584


https://twitter.com/HearthsteadGame/status/1162726996742475777

And finally I'm prepping a Discord server: Creating the channels, server rules, emojis, etc. Not sure when I'll launch this but probably in the next few weeks. Some say its a bit too early, but I think it's a good idea to prep it and release it soon. I want to focus on the community and make them part of the dev process as much as possible. The Discord might be a good avenue to foster that, engage with the community in far art contests, have their input there, etc...

***

So that's the devlog for now! As always feedback and encouragement greatly appreciated! <3
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy Hearthstead's development journey!

« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 06:30:30 AM by Keops » Logged

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