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October 20, 2020, 09:35:14 AM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsBloodlust 2 - Vampire RPG
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EmanuelMontero
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« on: September 20, 2020, 06:08:35 AM »

Hi!
My name is Emanuel Montero and I'm working on a 2D vampire RPG as a hobby project. I've spent the last months in pre-production, a stage which is often overlooked in many devlogs. So I'll try to describe how I handled the process. But first I need a bit of background.

Last year I made Bloodlust: Santa Monica, a point & click graphic adventure demake of Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines. The demake is free at itchio so I'll leave a link in case you want to check it out (it plays in your browser so it doesn't take too much time to give it a try).


I enjoyed a lot the process of making a graphic adventure in Unity. It was really fun: adding characters, items, puzzles and branching dialogue trees. But the scope of the game became huge: 23 rooms, 7 playable characters, 47 NPCs and thousands of lines of dialogue and quests. So I couldn't fit in all the RPG elements that I wanted. And that's why I've started pre-production of the sequel: codenamed Bloodlust 2. I want to improve on the original demake on every aspect but since I need a more specific direction, I've made a small post-mortem of Bloodlust. Don't worry, it's not a four-page article on gamasutra. Just a couple of highlights on what went right and wrong during development.

WHAT WENT RIGHT
   - Unity + Ink as a graphic adventure engine
   - Pixel art style and palette
   - Branching dialogue and puzzles
   - Quests and quest log

WHAT WENT WRONG
   - Navigation: the character gets stuck or walks off the scenario
   - Inventory bugs broke the story
   - Lack of dialogue voice-over
   - 7 playable characters: skills not giving enough replay value
   - Too much content, the warehouse quest was cancelled
   - No cut-scene at the end of the game

Then, I made a list of specific things I want to improve in the sequel:
 
FEATURE REQUEST IN BLOODLUST 2:
   - RPG instead of graphic adventure
   - Tile-based scenarios and movement
   - Improved pixelart style with more animations
   - Turn-based RPG combat
   - More branching dialogue with skill checks
   - Full dialogue voice-over
   - Cut-scenes for the intro and different endings
   - 7 playabe characters with different skills, weapons and play-styles

The first task of pre-production was finding the perfect screen size for the pixelart. I toyed with different sizes of 16:9 until I finally hit 192x128. Since my tiles are 16x16 pixels, this size gives me a whole number of tiles, which is kinda nice for the mockups. With the screen size in place, it was time to find the overall tone and style of the new pixelart. I am pretty happy with the Famicube palette so I stick with that. I started making mockups of different RPG styles. Here's how it turned out:


RPG combat mockup with VATS.


RPG combat mockup with active reload.


RPG combat mockup, party-based JRPG.


RPG combat mockup, turn-based.

After a couple of months, I've established a character base for male and female characters. I'm still trying different animations for the combat and the walk cycles and I've sketched most of the scenarios of the game using 16x16 tiles. Also, I've started coding some prototypes in Godot to handle tile-based scenarios, player movement and a turn-based RPG combat.
Here's a sample of the combat animations:


Combat animation mockup

Ideally, pre-production ends when all uncertainties about game production are solved (in my case using mockups and prototypes), so you can just start actually making the game. I think I'm not too far from that. In order to visualize progress I've made a list of all pre-production deliverables:
 
PRE-PRODUCTION IN BLOODLUST 2:
   - RPG instead of graphic adventure [ Mockups in progress... ]
   - Tile-based scenarios and player movement [ Prototype complete! ]
   - Improved pixelart style with more animations [ Mockups complete! ]
   - Turn-based RPG combat prototype [ Prototype in-progress... ]
   - More branching dialogue with skill checks [ Prototype pending ]
   - Full dialogue voice-over [ Prototype pending ]
   - Cut-scenes for the introduction and the different endings [ Mockups pending ]
   - 7 Playabe characters with different skills, weapons and play-styles [ Prototype pending ]

Expect more updates on pre-production soon!
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EmanuelMontero
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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2020, 02:29:21 AM »

Another week of pre-production of Bloodlust 2 and here's how the RPG combat prototype in Godot is coming along. I have a couple of progress bars in the HUD to show the attacker and the target HP, some tweens and particles to show who is attacking who, and some very basic floating texts to display the damage, MISS, DODGE and CRITICALS. It's all very ugly but pretty functional. Also the console shows a verbose output of each turn action.


Win some...


Lose some...

The combat system is fairly simple and works as follow: each character has a DEXTERITY attribute. At the beginning of each combat round all player characters and enemies are sorted by descending DEXTERITY and they take their turn in order (faster characters act first and slower characters act last). In their turn, a character can perform any of their available combat skills. For now, the rats only have a basic attack and the vampire character has a basic attack and a bite skill which drains HP. All dice rolls in the game are percentage rolls since I'm a huge fan of RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu. This means that all skills have a hit chance % and a critical chance of 5% which results in a spectacular attack or bite that inflicts max damage x2. All characters also have a dodge skill that allows them to avoid incoming attacks or bites. Performing more than one action in the same turn reduces dodge by 10%. This prevents the vampire from dodging infinitely all three rats in the same turn. Her 25% of dodge is reduced to 15% after her first dodge or attack, and then is reduced again to 5% after the second dodge or attack. When dodge goes below 0% the character can't dodge.


The prototype has no player input yet, so basically the AI is controlling both the player character and the enemies. The system allows more than one player character so I'll try to add more characters to the party in the next iterations of the combat prototype. Also, I have to add cooldown for the skills, armor points, status effects (bleeding, poison, stun, etc) and lots of other features... including player input Grin

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Beastboy
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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2020, 05:46:18 AM »

I love when developers put so much passion in the project. But why not make a standalone title? I mean can you monetize the game if you use this title?
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EmanuelMontero
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« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2020, 07:10:13 AM »

Thanks for the comment! I'm calling the project Bloodlust 2 since I'm improving on my previous vampire game but it might end up as a standalone title, of course (who knows at this point). My intention however is not to monetize the game at all. It's a passion project I'm doing in my spare time so I'd like it to remain free.
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negator2vc
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« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2020, 12:52:02 AM »

Nice to see a sequel to my favorite advt-rpg demake of one of my favorite game!
You should definitively put a link to this project on your original game post so people can easily find it (especially those that loved  Grin the original game).
Why the change to full rpg? One of the things that made your original game unique was the adventure-rpg style.
Also Disco Elysium proved that you can have an combat-less rpg game.

In any case if the sequel must have combat consider the Darkest Dungeon style of combat (similar to one of your mockups - RPG combat mockup with VATS).

Just out of curiosity the game is developed in Unity or Godot (in your posts you said you made the combat prototypes in Godot)?

In any case good luck with your project!
« Last Edit: October 01, 2020, 12:58:45 AM by negator2vc » Logged

EmanuelMontero
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« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2020, 09:27:34 AM »

Thanks a lot for the support! I'm so glad the original demake left such a good impression!

I enjoy puzzles and non-violent conflict resolution a la Monkey Island but I also enjoy a good story-driven RPG with interesting choices, skill checks and dice rolls such as the original Bloodlines. The change to full RPG is because of that, trying to balance the adventure and RPG sides of the equation. I want to solve quests using stealth, intimidation, seduction and a turn-based combat. Of course, there's room for puzzles and item interaction (I'm not giving up on that so easily) but the focus of the game will be the story-driven RPG elements.

And about Godot, yeah, I've recently discovered Godot and I'm not planning to go back to Unity. Nothing to complain about Unity, I just enjoy how Godot works and I want to try it out in a full game Grin

PS: Also, you're totally right about linking the devlogs!
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EmanuelMontero
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« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2020, 04:09:36 AM »

After a couple of weeks of animations and prototyping, I've made some improvements to the combat prototype. The first thing is the much needed player input. Now you can select which combat action to perform from a list of buttons and then you can select the target of the attack. The UI updates to show the health points and armor points of the enemy (the red and blue bars). For now I'm using both the mouse and the keyboard to cycle through the enemies and buttons (I haven't tested other controllers but we'll get there eventually).

Also, I've added a console log to read the dice rolls and combat actions so I can follow along more easily.
The animations and visuals of the prototype are also a bit more polished. There's still a ton of work in the animation department to be done but I'm quite happy with the overall result being a prototype. It shows a clear visual feedback for each action and it's pretty fun to fight against different enemies. Here's a couple of GIFs to show all the progress.

Fighting the rats in the basement

Getting beat up by a group of punks

As you can see, rats are easy even in big numbers but humans are tougher to beat. I'll probably need some allies to help the character against the groups of punks. More skills, weapons and armor to come soon!
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Beastboy
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« Reply #7 on: Today at 07:19:36 AM »

I like the new combat layout, this is very nostalgic feel
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