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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsZpellCatz - Action RPG with Magical Cats
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Author Topic: ZpellCatz - Action RPG with Magical Cats  (Read 7691 times)
Sima
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« on: April 10, 2021, 12:51:11 AM »



You are a cat with magic powers, stranded on a cursed island. Spiteful dogs are lurking in every corner and a fateful evil is about to emerge from the darkness. ZpellCatz is a magical Action RPG set in a colorful fantasy world.

Play it your way


The best way to fight evil? Your way! Choose a combination of hero class and path to best match your favored style of combat. Let your cat look the way you want to by picking from a wide selection of colors and garments.

Build your hero


Enjoy a multitude of ways to increase the power of your cat hero. Manage two skill trees, loot items, craft items, enchant items, refine gems, find permanent stat bonuses and more.

Help the townsfolk


The residents of the Greencat Village have lots of problems that need to be solved. Do you prefer rushing through the story by completing main quests only, or do you take the extra mile to gain impactful rewards from optional quests? Your choice.



Progress

I would say the game is about 70% finished at the moment and I hope to be able to release it in 2022.

The journey so far:
After releasing Legends of Pixelia in 2015, I've did a lot of prototyping and trying new ideas. Should I make a sequel to LoP? Should I create a digital board game?
I’m working as a software developer so I only have a few hours a week to put into my video game passion projects. It was in late 2018 when I first tried to do something with low poly styled 3D meshes. The modeling and animation workflow in Blender felt very smooth compared to 2D pixelart animations (in my opinion) and for the first time in years I had the feeling of "wow, I’m actually able to create and finish a game that looks okayish!"
Two+ years later, the game is in a nice state now and I decided to try to share the progress with you from now on. Working as a solo developer has the risk of a one-sided view, so any feedback is welcome. Leave a reply to this post or join our Discord: https://discord.gg/D6CkrUu
« Last Edit: June 14, 2022, 09:41:08 PM by Sima » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2021, 01:07:01 AM »

I love it!

Just all of it :D!

The artstyle is right up my street - would totally play this Grin!
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Sima
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2021, 07:27:25 PM »

I love it!

Just all of it :D!

The artstyle is right up my street - would totally play this Grin!

Thanks for your kind words!

I'm glad that you like the art style. Creating the art assets has always been the most challenging task in game development, at least for me. It's nice to hear that the work is worth it. Smiley
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Sima
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2021, 02:14:09 AM »

Hey there, fellow catz!

Today I want to talk about the itemization in our upcoming game ZpellCatz.

Every Action RPG player knows that items are a very important aspect of the genre and I'm pretty sure that they have a clear idea of what to expect from items in an APRG. What does that mean from a game developer point of view? Well, in order to not disappoint your (future) players, you have to follow the usual itemization concepts for the most part with only a small margin for creativity and improvements. So the goal is to use this small margin to make the gameplay as nice as possible.



One of the game design pillars of ZpellCatz is "Randomization vs. Reliability". This, of course, includes items as well. So lets dive into a never ending wall of text about items.
:-)

Item Qualities

We have normal, special, rare and epic items in ZpellCatz. At the start of your cat hero's journey you'll find lots of normal and special items. Endgame drops have more and more rare and epic items.

Normal Items

https://www.simagames.com/games/zpellcatz-assets/dd/itemization/0-leathervest.jpg

Normal (white) items have fix stats only. Fix stats are 2-3 base stats that define an item type. So, for example, a "Cotton Robe" always has defense + intelligence on it, whereas a "Leather Vest" always comes with defense + fire resistance. Regarding our "Randomization vs. Reliability" pillar, fix stats grant reliability and since the stat amount is rolled, we also have some randomization.

Special Items

https://www.simagames.com/games/zpellcatz-assets/dd/itemization/1-cottonrobe.jpg

https://www.simagames.com/games/zpellcatz-assets/dd/itemization/2-oakstaff.jpg

Special (blue) items have fix stats + some bonus stats. Every item class (body armor, boots, gloves, etc) has its own pool for bonus stats. Attributes (intelligence, mind, vitality) show up in every pool, but all other stats only show up in some item classes' pools. Gloves can be found with increased storm damage and faster cast, for example. These stats can't roll for boots. But if you're looking for increased nature damage or faster move, boots are your friends.

Remember the "Randomization vs. Reliability" pillar? Randomization clearly wins this round. But since special items also have the fix stats of their item type, there is at least some base reliability. Also, the amount of different stats per pool isn't too big. So you see similar combinations from time to time -> reliable.

Rare Items

https://www.simagames.com/games/zpellcatz-assets/dd/itemization/3-lightgloves.jpg

https://www.simagames.com/games/zpellcatz-assets/dd/itemization/4-leatherboots.jpg

Rare (yellow) items are basically special items with a different color and more bonus stats...
:-D
The main difference is that rare items sometimes pick bonus stats from a pool with more powerful stats. And, of course, they drop less often compared to special items.

Epic Items

https://www.simagames.com/games/zpellcatz-assets/dd/itemization/5-epicgloves.jpg

https://www.simagames.com/games/zpellcatz-assets/dd/itemization/6-epicboots.jpg

Epic (orange) items have fix stats from their item type as well as fix epic stats. Every epic item type always drops with the same stat bonuses, but the values are rolled. The amount and value of epic stats are all over the place (and hopefully balanced). You'll see epic items with very few high value stats on them as well as some with more and lower value stats.

Item Slots

Every cat hero is able to equip 8 items at a time. The item slots are:

- Weapon: Staves can be equipped here. They usually provide offensive stats.
- Offhand: You can equip a book (offensive) or a shield (defensive) in your offhand item slot.
- Body: Equip a body armor here. Defensive stats most of the time.
- Head: Helm and hats can be equipped here. Balanced stats.
- Hands: You can equip gloves in this slot. Balanced stats.
- Feet: Equip boots here. Movement speed + balanced stats.
- 2x Jewelry: You have two slots to equip necklaces (offensive) or rings (defensive).



Rings and necklaces are unusual item classes. First of all, you have 2 slots to equip those. So you can choose to equip 2 rings, 2 necklaces or one of each. Next, their "fix stats" (white) aren't fix but rolled from bonus stats instead. And lastly, there are no epic quality rings and necklaces. So all in all, they break nearly every rule of ZpellCatz' itemization. And the question is: Why?

The answer is "endgame". Crawling dungeon after dungeon, you will find more and more epic items. That's great. At some point you will be fully equipped with epic items, which is great, too. But regarding the "Randomization vs. Reliability" pillar, a cat with only epic items equipped, is a clear win for reliability. Epic items have fix stats only. So in order to counter this, 2 of your 8 equipped items are super random. It's nearly impossible to find "perfect" rings and necklaces but you will find more than enough "good" ones that match your build.

https://www.simagames.com/games/zpellcatz-assets/dd/itemization/7-nobleringdark.jpg

https://www.simagames.com/games/zpellcatz-assets/dd/itemization/8-nobleringevade.jpg

There are a lot more things about the items in ZpellCatz that I'd like to talk about, but this entry is getting quite long already. So, expect to read more info about how to find, craft and enhance items in a future post.

What do you think about the itemization? What would you do differently? Lets hear your thoughts by replying here or by joining the ZpellCatz chat in our discord: https://discord.gg/D6CkrUu

Note: All info here is in development content and subject to change.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2021, 10:27:04 AM by Sima » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2021, 10:38:16 PM »

Hey Sima! Thanks for sharing your approach to itemization, it was an interesting read.
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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2021, 10:29:45 AM »

Hey Sima! Thanks for sharing your approach to itemization, it was an interesting read.

Thanks, Alain. I'm glad that you liked the post  Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2021, 01:03:24 AM »

Added a new epic item today. Very useful for totem based shaman catz.

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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2021, 09:43:26 PM »

Some catz learn to master the dark arts to fight their enemies. Behold the Frailty spell!



The spell used to look quite boring, so I added mix of different particle systems to enhance the VFX.
Combined with the camera bloom effect, I'm quite happy with the result.  Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2021, 09:54:40 PM »

Bosses now have a longer and quite cool death animation. Pow!

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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2021, 08:58:55 AM »

Shaman cat in a treasure room. Loot!

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« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2021, 12:33:07 AM »

DevRecap April & May '21

Hey there, fellow catz! The end of May is soon, so lets recap the development progress of April and May 2021.
:-)

Items
- Played around with item stats, drop chances for epic items, etc
- Added new epic items
- Wrote an article about the itemization in ZpellCatz ( https://www.indiedb.com/games/zpellcatz/features/zpellcatz-itemization )

Visuals, Special Effects
- Added teleport effect for cat heroes and enemies
- Greatly improved "Frailty" spell effect
- Added a longer death effect animation for cat heroes and bosses (normal enemies die a lot quicker)

Input System (work in progress)
- Upgraded the underlying input system to the "new" Unity Input
- Added gamepad control for ingame and menu
- Added joystick control for ingame and menu
- Added an options menu screen
- Started implementing an input rebind system (WIP)

I'll write an article with more info about the input system in ZpellCatz soon. ^^

Have a wonderful weekend!
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« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2021, 09:40:26 PM »

Hey there, fellow catz! Today I want to talk about the input system in our upcoming game ZpellCatz. Being able to smoothly control your character (or cat) is important for non turn-based games. Lets have a look of what to expect in ZpellCatz.

I talked a lot about the "Randomization vs. Reliability" design pillar in the last article about the itemization in ZpellCatz. The input system is a quite technical feature but we can still satisfy two of ZpellCatz' design pillars here: "Comfortable to Play" and "Clean & Minimalist".


Keyboard and Mouse

Since ZpellCatz is a PC game, we can assume that every player has access to a keyboard and a mouse. Menu screens are controlled by mouse only, like in every other ARPG out there.

For ingame movement controls, players can choose to move their cat hero directly by keyboard buttons (arrow keys or WASD for example) or indirectly by pressing the left mouse button. So they have the choice between action adventure default controls or action RPG default controls. Both movement options are active at the same time, so players can toy around with them and find the preferred one easily.



Casting spells and driking potions is realized via hotkeys, like most modern ARPGs do. Since ZpellCatz should be "Comfortable to Play" (design pillar), there is no button mashing or rapid left clicking to attack enemies. Every spell has a cooldown and if you keep the hotkey pressed, the spell will automatically be cast again when it is ready. So do you have to run around and wait for cooldowns to finish? Not really. Every hero class has one "default attack" like offensive skill that has a rather short cooldown - about 1 second or so.




Gamepad and Joystick

Over the last few years, more and more players started using their gamepad for PC gaming. In February 2021, Steam wrote that about 10% of all gaming sessions are played with one (source).

In my opinion, full controller support is a must have for action games today. To clarify the term "full controller support": It means that the whole game from start to finish, ingame and menues are playable with a controller. It does not mean that every gamepad / joystick / input device of the world is supported by the game on every OS - that would be a rather impossible task.



ZpellCatz is developed using the Unity3D game engine. The engine has a quite new "Input System" package that classifies input devices in multiple categories. Every device that is classified "Gamepad" or "Joystick" is supported in ZpellCatz. A "Gamepad" is a typical modern controller with 2 analog sticks - XBox / PS / Switch for example. A "Joystick" is an input device that has some kind of directional input (e.g. an analog stick or a dpad) and at least one button. It might be very hard to play ZpellCatz with just one button, but maybe it's possible. The reason to support the "Joystick" classification is that older gamepads (without analog stick) are classified as "Joystick" although they have multile buttons (for example an SNES controller or an original PS1 controller).

Designing menu controls for gamepads is no easy task. Navigating menus on PC with a mouse feels really natural. But playing some ARPG console port, it sometimes feels weird to just equip an item with a controller...

When I first played one of my favorite indie ARPGs on PC with a gamepad, I noticed that they had a different solution to this problem: They simply let you navigate your mouse with the controller and let you "click" with one of the buttons. This felt really good! No circle menues controlled by analog sticks that are impossible to control - just the same old menu UI you already know from playing with keyboard and mouse.



Since this is by far the best option to navigate menues with a gamepad (in my opinion), I had to go the same route for ZpellCatz.


Hot Swapping Controls

To really satisfy the "Comfortable to Play" game design pillar, supporting all different kinds of input devices alone is not enough. We need to be able to easily change our control scheme.

I implemented hot swapping for input controls. For the moment, this applies to single player only since I'm not sure how to handle this for local multiplayer yet. So, whenever you use a connected input device, the game will automatically adjust to the last used one.




Input Rebinding

Input rebinding is super important. In the options menu, players are able to rebind their keyboard, "Gamepad" or "Joystick" devices. Looking at the menu screen, you certainly noticed that the game design pillar "Clean & Minimalist" is at work here.



When rebinding your gamepad, you can even choose a gamepad button layout. To avoid any trademark issues, I decided to replace all brand icons with numbers / characters. Movement (ingame as well as menu mouse pointer) is always bound to left stick and dpad and can't be remapped at the moment. (The colors on the gif below seem to be a little bit off - they are better ingame ^^ )



Sadly, we can't add these nice features if the input device is classified as "Joystick". We know the amount of buttons available for the controller, but we don't know how they are labeled or where they are physically positioned on the device. That's why we have stick / dpad for movement and numbered buttons for other input. I highly recommend remapping controllers that are classified as joysticks.



So, I hope you got a good idea of the input system in ZpellCatz. Do you like it? Is there any feature missing that you find important? Lets hear your thoughts leaving a reply here or by joining the ZpellCatz chat in our discord: https://discord.gg/D6CkrUu

Note: All info here is in development content and subject to change.
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« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2021, 11:41:07 PM »

Thanks for the detailed update on your controls!

For ingame movement controls, players can choose to move their cat hero directly by keyboard buttons (arrow keys or WASD for example) or indirectly by pressing the left mouse button. So they have the choice between action adventure default controls or action RPG default controls. Both movement options are active at the same time, so players can toy around with them and find the preferred one easily.

It's funny, I just started working on adding keyboard movement to my ARPG as well after it has been classic Diablo style mouse movement exclusively so far. I myself am used to playing ARPGs with mouse movement, but almost half of my playtesters intuitively reached for the WASD keys first.
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« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2021, 06:58:25 AM »

Thanks for the detailed update on your controls!

[...]

It's funny, I just started working on adding keyboard movement to my ARPG as well after it has been classic Diablo style mouse movement exclusively so far. I myself am used to playing ARPGs with mouse movement, but almost half of my playtesters intuitively reached for the WASD keys first.

I also used to play with mouse movement, but after playing Diablo 3 / Torchlight 2 on the Switch and Grim Dawn with a controller, I really fell in love with the direct controls.

Today, I would always prefer direct movement via keyboard or gamepad - if the game allows me to do so. Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2021, 09:27:45 PM »

I also used to play with mouse movement, but after playing Diablo 3 / Torchlight 2 on the Switch and Grim Dawn with a controller, I really fell in love with the direct controls.

I really have to check out playing those with direct input. Also, I am really curious to see how Diablo II Resurrected will handle direct controls Wink
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« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2021, 04:56:18 AM »

I really have to check out playing those with direct input. Also, I am really curious to see how Diablo II Resurrected will handle direct controls Wink

Yeah, can't wait to play that one, too! Good old D2... Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2021, 05:23:41 AM »

Reworked the title screen - animated and alive now. :-)

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« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2021, 01:43:19 AM »

Working on a harbor area at the moment.

Here's a screenshot. But... Where have all the seafarers gone? Find out soon!

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« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2021, 06:29:19 AM »

:D! Love it!

Reminds me of a game I made a long time ago for Android except you're doing a much better job in my opinion lol

Keep going!
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« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2021, 02:50:39 AM »

:D! Love it!

Reminds me of a game I made a long time ago for Android except you're doing a much better job in my opinion lol

Keep going!

Thanks again :-)
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