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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsBattleJuice Alchemist – Now in Early Access!
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Alain
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« Reply #660 on: July 16, 2023, 11:47:27 PM »

That’s a great animation: sympathetic and disgusting at the same time.

Thank you!

It resembles wriggling worms emerging from the bird’s stomach. An unfortunate consequence of not chewing before swallowing.

This sounds so disgusting that it must be true :D I could not find anything about that on a quick Google search, so I guess it is not a real thing. Or is it?

I have my own disgusting bird + worm story: A long time ago we shot a close-up of a dead pigeon for a student film. While shooting it, a small worm started crawling out of the pigeon's eye. I almost jumped up, because my face was so close to the bird when it happened, it felt like right from a horror movie.
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Alain
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« Reply #661 on: July 21, 2023, 04:51:33 AM »

BATTLEJUICE ALCHEMIST DEVLOG
Rendering Cutscenes



Hey folks!

Those of you following this devlog may have heard that I was playing with the idea to move our cinematics into Unreal Engine. Now I did it and would like to discuss it with you!

If you played the playtest version of the game, you may be familiar with our pop-up book intro cinematic.


It was animated and rendered in 3dsMax. I'm still a big fan of Max and will continue making the animations and all 3D models with it, but I decided to move from pre-rendering videos in Max to render the cinematics in realtime in Unreal. Let me tell you why:

1. Rendering in-engine means people with high resolution screens can see the cinematics in high resolution, as it is not a rendered video file and e.g. limited to 1920x1080.

2. With only the first cinematic, the game was 600 MB in size, 150 MB of which were the one video file alone. Now, rendering in-engine, the game is only 500 MB, so the cinematic is only 50 MB of size and I expect the following ones only to even be less than 20 MB, because we will re-use the pop-up book models and animations.

3. We become more flexible in our workflow and don't have to wait for long renderings.

Before I tell you a bit about our workflow, here comes the first comparison:


As you can see, the difference is not crazy big. This is actually intended, because we quite liked the cinematics as they were visually. But when watching on fullscreen, you can see that the visual style of the new version fits the look of the game itself a lot more than the old version. One reason for this is that I am able to simply re-use the post-processing shaders that I wrote for the game itself when rendering the cinematics.


In this second comparison you can see that we use the new assets that were changed as the game evolved. Also, we took out the pop-up titles. I myself and others from our team were big fans of them, but they simply posed a problem regarding localization, which is why we removed them in favor of traditional subtitles for now.


In this last comparison you see that we e.g. switched out the raven that was crudely painted by me years ago with ravens how they actually look ingame, now that they are implemented. The reason here is mainly consistency. Also, we increased the level of detail a bit by adding a background to the scene.

I'd love to hear what you think. Maybe you don't like some of the visual changes or don't agree with the advantages I see in rendering in realtime? Let me know!

Alain
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Ramos
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« Reply #662 on: August 07, 2023, 02:57:53 AM »



I love this old vs new, before and after type of presentation style.

This being said I think the first one is a solid improvement, the only nitpick I got is with the final pic with the crow, it felt more organic in the original, I think that's because of the way the outline "paper" was cut



Good luck Alain  Gentleman
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oldblood
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« Reply #663 on: August 07, 2023, 05:54:01 AM »

Rendering in real time seems like a big win, and the changes to the visuals all make sense. Always been a huge fan of the pop-up book art style you're using. There's a whole game aesthetic in that look and feel to be honest...
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Alain
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« Reply #664 on: August 11, 2023, 08:09:16 AM »


I love this old vs new, before and after type of presentation style.

This being said I think the first one is a solid improvement, the only nitpick I got is with the final pic with the crow, it felt more organic in the original, I think that's because of the way the outline "paper" was cut

Thanks Ramos! I can totally see your point regarding the paper cut outline of the raven. In the old version, there is also a bigger emphasis on the raven because there is more white around it. I might change that when I am working on the cutscene!


Rendering in real time seems like a big win, and the changes to the visuals all make sense. Always been a huge fan of the pop-up book art style you're using. There's a whole game aesthetic in that look and feel to be honest...

Thanks oldblood! The pop-up book style is something I am quite fascinated with, I hope I can explore it more in the future Smiley
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Alain
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« Reply #665 on: August 11, 2023, 08:23:06 AM »

BATTLEJUICE ALCHEMIST DEVLOG
Building Vertically



Hey folks!

A quick organizational announcement first: I'll be writing this devlog every three instead of every two weeks from now on. This allows me to hopefully go into more depth on the one hand and on the other hand get more work done on the game itself. And it perfectly aligns with a post Gamescom devlog in three weeks! I will be there the whole time showing BattleJuice Alchemist. I'll post details on socials, so please stop by and say hi if you can!

Today, I want to share some insights on verticality in our game. While you can zoom into a third-person perspective, the main navigation occurs in a top-down view. This perspective has posed interesting challenges, but we've been hard at work finding creative solutions to make our world truly come alive. One of our main goals was to incorporate vertical diversity, despite the limitations of the top-down view.


We knew that having mountains would add a sense of grandeur to the game world. However, our world is procedural, making it hard to have predefined giant mountainsides. Besides, most games with such mountains usually don't allow players to interact with them. But in our game, vertically diverse landscapes can be crossed, even though they presented issues with the physics of certain game mechanics, such as when explosive flasks bounce off the mountains. In the end, we decided to keep this feature as it helps players feel more connected to the environment.


Another aspect we've been working on is buildings, especially those with multiple stories. When you enter a building, the upper floors need to be hidden from view, but they should be visible when you climb the stairs. We came up with a simple height check system to achieve this effect, ensuring that your interactions with buildings feel natural and seamless.


The game's isometric perspective led us to face some challenges with building designs. We wanted to avoid obstructing the view of your character. So, we carefully crafted the buildings, cutting out certain parts to ensure they don't block your view.


In the end, we did not want to rely on the hole-cutting shader all the time. So we designed buildings that have holes in them by nature, like ruins. This gave us a more open, inviting feel, as seen in the blacksmith's shop.


One of the most exciting features of BattleJuice Alchemist is the ability for players to create their own portable base - the alchemy tower. However, navigating these unique structures using mouse-clicking and WASD controls required ongoing improvements. It's not perfect yet, but we are getting there. And I just love the view from up there, so the work is definitely worth it.


As we continue to refine BattleJuice Alchemist, I want to express my gratitude for your support and feedback. We're committed to making this RPG a unique journey, and a small part of it is not chickening out on verticality Wink

Have a great weekend everyone!

Alain
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marcgfx
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« Reply #666 on: August 11, 2023, 10:11:00 PM »

interesting progress, have you tried fading in the floors? or it might be nice to have some kind of line drawing of the remaining building. popping into existence works too, it might just take some getting used to.

I think it's a great idea to render the cinematic in game. On the tiny previews it does look like you lost some of the brightness/contrast so the old ones currently look better to me.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #667 on: August 13, 2023, 10:45:13 AM »

My first thought was also that a more gentle fade-in would be less jarring than the floor popping in.

I think I have also been conditioned to associate pop-in with bad game engines a bit, which probably doesn't help Wink
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Alain
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« Reply #668 on: August 13, 2023, 01:49:10 PM »

interesting progress, have you tried fading in the floors? or it might be nice to have some kind of line drawing of the remaining building. popping into existence works too, it might just take some getting used to.

Thanks for the feedback as always! I tried some fading, but did not get to a satisfying result. I can't simply lerp the opacity because of the way shaders work in Unreal. But if I put in some time, I should be able to make it look fine and not kill performance.

I think it's a great idea to render the cinematic in game. On the tiny previews it does look like you lost some of the brightness/contrast so the old ones currently look better to me.

You're right, it seems like we lost some of the brightness in the bright pars there, which I can definitely fix!



My first thought was also that a more gentle fade-in would be less jarring than the floor popping in.

I think I have also been conditioned to associate pop-in with bad game engines a bit, which probably doesn't help Wink

I never thought of people looking at it and associating it with geometry popping in in the distance sometimes, which, as you say, is nothing to be desired. It really helps that you and marcgfx both mentioned it. I wrote it off as being fine as it is, but now that you both mention it, I should have a look at it again, thanks!
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #669 on: August 14, 2023, 02:51:54 AM »

Yeah, it basically feels like a draw distance error, except near the camera instead of in the far distance.

I know for sure I have seen that kind of mistake in actual game engines sometimes, like NPC character models presumed to be out of view and therefore culled except they are still partially visible.
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marcgfx
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« Reply #670 on: August 14, 2023, 07:25:39 AM »

interesting progress, have you tried fading in the floors? or it might be nice to have some kind of line drawing of the remaining building. popping into existence works too, it might just take some getting used to.

Thanks for the feedback as always! I tried some fading, but did not get to a satisfying result. I can't simply lerp the opacity because of the way shaders work in Unreal. But if I put in some time, I should be able to make it look fine and not kill performance.

maybe you can replace the shader on the floor you want to "preview". maybe this could be some low opacity black, something that makes it clear to the player there is another floor but with very little detail/information.
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Alain
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« Reply #671 on: August 15, 2023, 02:43:18 AM »

Yeah, it basically feels like a draw distance error, except near the camera instead of in the far distance.

I know for sure I have seen that kind of mistake in actual game engines sometimes, like NPC character models presumed to be out of view and therefore culled except they are still partially visible.

Oh yes, that happened to me with my game as well, when I set the bounding box of an object too small. This way, it popped into existence although it should have been drawn a few frames ago when its edge entered the screen.

interesting progress, have you tried fading in the floors? or it might be nice to have some kind of line drawing of the remaining building. popping into existence works too, it might just take some getting used to.

Thanks for the feedback as always! I tried some fading, but did not get to a satisfying result. I can't simply lerp the opacity because of the way shaders work in Unreal. But if I put in some time, I should be able to make it look fine and not kill performance.

maybe you can replace the shader on the floor you want to "preview". maybe this could be some low opacity black, something that makes it clear to the player there is another floor but with very little detail/information.

That would be an elegant solution, I'll put it onto my list Smiley
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mobilelast
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« Reply #672 on: August 15, 2023, 05:45:40 AM »

It resembles wriggling worms emerging from the bird’s stomach. An unfortunate consequence of not chewing before swallowing.
This sounds so disgusting that it must be true :D I could not find anything about that on a quick Google search, so I guess it is not a real thing. Or is it?
To veer the thread entirely off course, a particular memory from my childhood comes to mind.

My father used to hunt birds, and he once accidentally forgot a couple of birds hanging outside. Discovering them a year later wasn’t a pretty sight. Our dog seemed thrilled by the discovery, though.
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Alain
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« Reply #673 on: August 18, 2023, 05:06:47 AM »

It resembles wriggling worms emerging from the bird’s stomach. An unfortunate consequence of not chewing before swallowing.
This sounds so disgusting that it must be true :D I could not find anything about that on a quick Google search, so I guess it is not a real thing. Or is it?
To veer the thread entirely off course, a particular memory from my childhood comes to mind.

My father used to hunt birds, and he once accidentally forgot a couple of birds hanging outside. Discovering them a year later wasn’t a pretty sight. Our dog seemed thrilled by the discovery, though.

Hahaha, thanks for sharing your own disgusting dead bird story :D I don't know what it is about birds, but to me their corpses feel more disgusting than other animal corpses. Maybe it's just a personal thing and related to that dead pigeon story I told about earlier.
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Alain
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« Reply #674 on: September 01, 2023, 06:00:50 AM »

BATTLEJUICE ALCHEMIST DEVLOG
Our Journey at Gamescom 2023



Dear diary,

with Gamescom behind us, I can say it was a rollercoaster: challenging, but also a ton of fun and a great learning experience. This was the first time ever I had a booth at Gamescom, let me tell you how it went for us.


Wednesday - Press Day:
The adventure began on Wednesday, the first day of Gamescom 2023. The event wasn't too crowded as it was primarily for the press. I had the incredible support of our wonderful 2D/3D artist, Patrick, by my side. We had the pleasure of meeting the amazing team from our publisher, ESDigital Games. They had prepared these adorable tiny flasks as giveaways for our players at our booth in the indie area, which people liked a lot. We also found the time to have a beer and great evening together.


Thursday - The Real Deal:
Thursday marked the first "real day" of Gamescom. The venue was packed, and my feet were already starting to hurt from standing up all day. It was incredible to see so many players at our booth throughout the day. My voice started to get scratchy from all the talking and trying to scream louder than the Rockband booth next to us, blasting Bon Jovi's "It's my Live" in what seemed like endless loop. My sister-in-law bought me some "GeloRevoice" in preparation for a longer interview scheduled for the next day and luckily it worked and my voice returned.

Friday - Interview Galore:
On Friday, I managed to get Patrick to man our booth, supporting the ESDigital crew and lifting everyone's spirits with his positive presence. Meanwhile, I spent most of the time filming with the fantastic folks from the World Trailer Awards (whose Emerging Talent Award we had won earlier this year) and AMD. From my perspective it was a whirlwind of attention on me as a person, which I am not used to. But of course I enjoyed it to talk about my work and the game.

Saturday - Two Booths, One Adventure:
Saturday was a double-duty day as we had our regular booth and were also showcasing BattleJuice Alchemist at the GameUp RLP and Media Funding RLP booth, the latter being one of our generous funders. They had a giant TV that actually drew quite a lot of attention.


Once again, Patrick came to the rescue, running around and organizing everything. I had forgotten a crucial item, a mousepad, and he had to make a rather expensive purchase, a giant Diablo 4 mat, which we later gave away to thrilled fans who showed a lot of love for BattleJuice Alchemist and also happened to be Diablo fans.

In preparation, we had this pop-up book made that resembles our ingame cinematic style. I love how it turned out and even though the book isn't huge, people complimented us for the attention to detail.


Sunday - Farewell and Gratitude:
The last day of Gamescom had arrived, and by this point, my feet were absolutely destroyed. However, the enthusiasm of the players remained undiminished, as they continued to pour into our booth. We wrapped up our unforgettable journey and bid farewell to our fantastic booth neighbors, the creators of Drake, a top-down Mass Effect-style game. They were incredibly friendly and supportive, and being in the trenches with them was a memorable experience.

I also can't express enough gratitude to the tireless team from ESDigital Games, who never seemed to slow down and powered through the event with us. We couldn't have done it without them.


Gamescom 2023 was a ton of of fun, challenges, and I was able to share great moments with the team and the players. I collected a lot of invaluable information from talking to people and watching them play our game. The feedback and support from players, colleagues, and partners left us with a heart full of gratitude and excitement for the future of BattleJuice Alchemist.

Alain


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  • Wishlists Gained: 550
  • Impressions: 50,000
  • Click-Through Rate: 3.9%

We had a stream running at all time but no demo on Steam (saving the demo launch for Steam Next fest). Friends of us with a similar booth had no stream but a demo and got twice the impressions and a bit less than twice the wishlists (CTR was a bit lower). Despite Gamescom being one of the best Steam events we have been in so far, you don't do it because of the Steam event alone, of course.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #675 on: September 02, 2023, 04:57:00 AM »

Please tell me you have a full video of going through the IRL pop-up book!
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« Reply #676 on: September 02, 2023, 09:12:51 AM »

Wow, amazing to see how far this game has come.  Gamescom looks like it was a ton of work, but must have been very rewarding!
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Alain
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« Reply #677 on: September 04, 2023, 05:23:40 AM »

Please tell me you have a full video of going through the IRL pop-up book!

I do! And you already saw it... the book is actually just this one scene that pops up and not all the different scenes in the intro cinematic Wink


Wow, amazing to see how far this game has come.  Gamescom looks like it was a ton of work, but must have been very rewarding!

Thanks dangersam! It was a lot of work, especially because I had to squeeze it into an already tight production schedule. But it worked out in the end and we also delivered the milestone on time. So I'm glad we had the opportunity to do Gamescom and as you say, it was very rewarding.
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« Reply #678 on: September 05, 2023, 02:35:19 PM »






WOW, this is so awesome!

I love this type of interactive book, and as an optional suggestion, you can add the print PDF version as a DLC(I did this in the past with a printed mask pattern on another game and it had nice results)

And Thank you Alain for sharing your experience with us and also Congratulations!


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Alain
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« Reply #679 on: September 06, 2023, 08:14:24 AM »

WOW, this is so awesome!

I love this type of interactive book, and as an optional suggestion, you can add the print PDF version as a DLC(I did this in the past with a printed mask pattern on another game and it had nice results)

And Thank you Alain for sharing your experience with us and also Congratulations!

Thank you Ramos! That is a really cool idea to have a PDF you can print and make your own pop-up book. I will definitely keep this in the back of my head for something we could do for the launch!
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