Thrusting All Over

Horizontal thrusts? Up thrusts? DOWN thrusts?! I've got you covered, Barbarian Horde!

The last few months I've been grinding away at the one last juicy feature I felt was necessary to make Savage really shine: Directional combat! I mean, I can't cite one of my big inspirations as Zelda 2 without allowing players to strike their enemy's head from above. Let's have a look.

Directional Combat

Upward-strike-1.gif
Upward-strike-2.gif
downward-strike-1.gif

Across several new player states, new sprites (774 frames), new armor sprites (2,322), shield positions (you can also shield bash upward and downward!), and weapon positions, bringing the pain to the baddies is now possible from WHEREVER. This has also fixed certain issues I wasn't excited about. Situations like climbing a ladder and having a stubborn enemy directly above you, or some harder to hit, low lying enemies like the cave crawlers and rockbiters.

This also makes existing enemies (like skeleton warriors that spawn with specific gear sets, for example) that are able to mimic the down/upward attacks feel a LOT more fair, giving the player the same strategic choices -- making combat feel WAY more interesting.

Timing a perfect downward strike and HOLDING the attack button also gives you some good air on your bounce!

Let's Talk About the Weather

In those gifs above, I'm sure you've noticed some new sprites and visual effects, like new clouds, and an honest to goodness SUN in the sky. Good eye, I say! There is now a fully functioning dynamic weather system, along with new sun sprites and effects, moon sprites (with actual phases, i.e. new, waxing, waning, full), new cloud sprites that reflect the day/night/weather change, and star constellations that correspond to the different deities worshiped (or abhorred) in the world of Lor.

Here's a look at all of that in action in the 2D platforming sequences and the 3D overworld:

SunsetOverworld.gif
Moon_newmoon.gif
SunriseOverworld.gif

The weather system is also dependent on what in-game season it is (and what location you are currently in -- probably not going to snow/blizzard in the desert, ha!). Along with it, a slew of new backgrounds reflecting things like snowstorms (and winter) have been added:

Snowstorm.gif
Rainstorm.gif
snowstorm_platforming.gif
Rainstorm-Platforming.gif

New weather types include clear skies, cloudy, thunderstorms, light rain into rainstorm, snow, and blizzard.

The combination of location, day/night, season, weather, moon phase, and dominant constellation can, and sometimes WILL affect what sort of randomized encounter you are going to have on the world map.

There are also some secrety fun things constellations can do, depending on what God's fetish, fetish level, and FAVOR stat you currently have (more on that in a future update!).

Daggers in the Dark

The new Gosen Highlands location also brings with it some new areas, dungeons and baddies, like the Noctwurm Assassin, courtesy of the Noctwurm Cult (all with their own backstory and lore)!

Noctwurm_Assassins.gif
Noctwurm_Assassins2.gif

Patch Notes and Release Breakdown

NEW FEATURES

  • able to attack upward and downward from all appropriate player states (i.e. DOWNTHRUSTING!)
  • new animation sets (across 774 player frames, 2,322 armor frames!!), weapon and shield placements, and armor sprites to reflect the new directional attack feature
  • Dynamic weather added
  • Clear skies
  • Cloudy/foggy
  • Thunderstorms
  • Light rain
  • Rainstorms
  • Snow
  • Blizzard
  • Sandstorms are planned for appropriate areas
  • The dynamic weather is dependent on the current area (biome) you are in, and what game season (fall, winter, spring/summer)
  • New sun sprites and effects to reflect runrise, noon, sunset, and if there is currently "bad" weather
  • New cloud sprites that actively reflect the time of day and current weather
  • New moon sprites and moon phases
  • New stars and constellations that change over time
  • New seasonal backgrounds for different areas to reflect the change in season
  • The day/night system, along with factors like season, weather, moon phase, and what constellation is currently dominant in the sky will affect the randomized encounters on the overworld map. Constellations and their corresponding gods will also trigger certain events and secrets on the overworld map (MUCH of this is still being worked on!)

COMING SOON

  • New Gosen Highlands overworld props and locations including the "Hell's Teeth" dungeon
  • Gosen Highland specific enemies, including members of the Noctwurm Cult (assassins and ambush-y warriors!)
  • Vanaheim overworld props and locations
  • Vanaheim specific enemies, including icy themed monsters, frost giants, and the Vaniir - hardy frozen wasteland warriors
  • Bug fixes... ALWAYS bug fixes

A reminder - Kickstarter backers can access all the newness via Steam, provided they have redeemed their Steam Keys.

Groupees Greenlight Bundle folks can access the same from their product pages (their Steam Keys will unlock once the game is released).

Why Is This Taking So Long

I have zero excuses why this is taking me as long as it's taking, but the reasons are pretty important. Wanting to deliver a game to you all that is worth your time to play is chief among them. It turns out trying to make the best damn game I possibly can takes time, and more time than I initially accounted for. That's 100% on me, and I'm sorry for making you all wait so long. 

I will also not release a crippled, ugly thing that I am not proud of, ha! So, the battle continues, but the end is certainly in sight. With the directional combat completed, in the game, and fully functional (and actually feeling pretty great), aspects of the game like personality, mood and atmosphere are coming together very quickly. Especially with the new atmosphere and weather effects in place, the game is looking and feeling like the game I wanted to bring to life in the first place - and I have all of you to thank for that.

The current step is content, content, content (finishing dungeons, NPCs, items, weapons, armor and shields, and a handful of enemies that are not completed to flesh out certain areas). 

So again, thank you for your patience, your involvement, and your support - it is keeping the fire going bright, strong and SAVAGE... (*ahem*)!

Your loinclothed (is that even a word?) friend,

-Matt

P.S. Forgot to mention! If you're curious about checking in on the game's progress more frequently, I have been very active with live development streams here: https://www.twitch.tv/toborprime

New Playable Build!

Yes, new build! But we'll get to that in a second -

- I've been down in a development hole working like a demon to get this game polished, feeling great, and worth your time to play. I'm finally coming up for air to show you all the shiny new progress that's been done, and I'm sorry it's taken me since January to do so - but here we go!

NPCs Finally Added, New Dialogue Font!

The mining prison is now teeming with characters you can interact with in the current build - their stories might continue on from here, or end tragically depending on how you handle these interactions. I also completely redesigned the dialogue font for better legibility while retaining the dark fantasy theme:

There is also a new KEYS section in the inventory to store mundane Iron Keys, Gold Keys, and unique quest keys and items:

Updated Controls, Tutorial Prompts and Sequence

The game FINALLY has a tutorial sequence with appropriate prompts (the prompts are purely optional and can be interacted whether you choose to or not) at the start of the game, leading up to the intro story bits:

There is now also a DEDICATED GRAB button for grabbing objects, pushing/pulling them, lifting and tossing them:

Tutorial prompts have been placed elsewhere in the game world where necessary, also:

GUI Madness, Mouse Support and Options

The user interface elements have all gotten an overhaul (visually and mechanically) and now have mostly functioning mouse support! In addition, you can now fully remap either a gamepad, or mouse and keyboard to play EXACTLY how you want to play!

Swapping between gamepad input and keyboard input will also be reflected now across ALL prompts, user interface elements, and HUD elements:

New Essence, Level Up, Restore Point

You can now gain Essence Points from battle and spend them at designated restore points (or, for the lore junkies, "Essence Vessels"; artifacts left behind by ancient beings as they carved their way through the old world):

Spending Essence Points on your three primary stats (FAVOR is a liquid stat, which can also raise and lower depending on other actions) will increase your level, but also increase sub stats like knockback resistance and knockback power, dodge speed, allow you to equip more powerful gear, and lots of other things that we'll go over closer to release!

Vendor System and Gear Comparisons

You can now sell and buy things! FINALLY!

As is included in the vendor system, you can also compare potential weapons, shields and armor stats against your currently equipped gear to see whether you will gain any increases (or decreases) in things like damage output, resistance, armor hit points, and whether you have enough MIGHT or RESOLVE to use a piece of equipment:

New Music

Here's an assortment of new (and redone) music tracks that have made it into the game! These are mostly done, but still need an eventual final pass for EQ-ing and mixing/mastering:

... And MORE

There are many other improvements, additions and bug fixes in the latest build - to many to go into detail over, so here are the patch notes!

DreamHack Austin

I had the spur of the moment opportunity to bring the game to DreamHack in Austin over the weekend. 

I was incredibly nervous and didn't quite know what to expect (and wasn't sure if we were going to make it), but the show went well! I got a LOT of good feedback, and PC Gamer came over and did a video interview and captured some game footage. Here are the videos if you fancy watching me be a sleep deprived idiot in front of a camera!

(the Youtube comments sections are especially hilarious) 

Here is the article featured on PC Gamer also.

If you are a backer and already activated your Steam key, the new build should automatically update in your Steam client!

After this update, builds will also differ between what's available via Steam and the other live demo locations:

GameJolt

IndieDB

Anyway, thanks for checking out the update! That's all for now - more to come soon!

-Matt

Seven Palette Army

Hail, Barbarian Horde!

Sorry this update has been a long time coming -- October turned out to be unusually busy and I had a number of large game-related issues I wanted to tackle before delivering you all an update. But rest assured, challenges hath been slain and there's a ton of new work to talk about! 

Here's what's been going on since the last update:

NEW/Retro-fitted Bad Guys

I've been diving into my already-finished bag of tricks to produce some newer baddies, especially for the starter areas that many people are having trouble with. 

For example, the bats (which a LOT of people have been getting slaughtered by) have been nerfed and are more manageable now, as far as their speed and aggressiveness. I've done a palette swap of them to create a newer, deadlier bat monster. This little process has been done on a series of baddies to help balance out the overall experience a bit more, especially in an attempt to teach the player early on what is expected of them, mechanically.

Here are some other screencaps and examples of newer critters I've crafted:

Area and Level Tuning

Some of the areas go on for WAY too long (in my opinion) and feel like filler. I've been cutting down on area maps and tossing rooms that feel excessive.

I've also been going through the finished areas and FINALLY adding physically visible and interactive save/checkpoints:

... AND, adding shortcuts (probably letting my Dark Souls fetish show)!

There are certain areas, too, that I felt lacked a solid visual identity (mainly, background images and graphics)-- especially unique locations. I'm fixing that:

... As well as:

  • enemy placements
  • item placements
  • persistent event triggers
  • general cleanup!

All of these aspects are finally making certain areas feel "complete" and polished.

Massive Mechanical Tuning

Across all of the finalized content I'm addressing and tuning several things:

  • Platforms/breakable platforms timers  
  • XP drop values  
  • XP gain distribution across player, equipped items
  • HP/defense values  
  • Attack/damage values
  • force resistent values across all enemies

Those have been my main priorities. Now, here's a BIG one:

Anyone who has played the live development build would notice a lack of effective area surrounding your weapon strikes, especially when you are flush up against something you're trying to hit, or trying to hit one of those pesky, smaller and agile bats. 

Here's an example of this problem:

Each weapon has it's own unique hitbox, usually using a type of 'precise' collision detection. Obviously, this can be a problem when you have a situation like the one pictured above; the player is standing RIGHT NEXT to a door, they strike it, trying to open it, but their weapon's hitbox winds up OUTSIDE the door's hitbox, therefore resulting in NO collision.

I've taken steps to fix this by reworking the combat system to accommodate an additional invisible, inverted hitbox that bridges the gap between the player's bounding box and their weapon (in other words, a hitbox that is an arm's length).

This took a lot of doing and re-engineering of the current system, but is WAY worth it. Combat feels more responsive since you have better coverage, and attempting to strike things like levers, switches and doors will now no longer (mostly) result in a complete whiff.

Unintentionally, this also introduces an interesting 'direct hit' kind of system; if you are not striking an enemy with the actual bounding box of your weapon, BUT your mirrored arm-length hitbox collides with an enemy, it won't do quite as much damage is slicing an enemy directly with your rad sword would. Accidental, but interesting and offers a bit more depth to the combat!

MORE Events

I've added a TON of new dialogue and NPC interaction including but not limited to:

  • unique events based on dialogue interaction
  • side quests
  • hidden enemies
  • mini-boss and special enemy encounters
  • <spoilers>

In addition, I've gone back to previous dialogue and edited it for either length, or to bring it all up to speed with current character arcs and goings on.

Fixed Issues and Bugs

I've been pouring over all of your feedback (thank you!) and issue reporting, and I'm busy at work cracking all these little suckers, and addressing a few issues.

I'm also working on RE-working the save system -- at present, it isn't perfectly future-proofed, and some technical issues need to be ironed out, but this probably won't be 'perfect' until closer to launch.

Anyway -- thanks for reading another update! There will be a big juicy patch coming to the live development build soon including all of these changes, content, and more!

Thanks again for all your support and patience, and have a great Thanksgiving!

-Matt

I Have Something to Say!

"... It's better to burn out than to fade away!"

Sorry -- I've been listening to too much (is that even possible?) of the Highlander soundtrack while working. On a completely unrelated note, how about a project update?!

Talk!

I've begun the process of rewriting old bits of dialogue, as well as creating brand new bits of NPC dialogue and story events. I've updated the old dialogue system to better perform under different circumstances, like whether or not the player should 'trigger' a dialogue event to auto start, or whether they should press the 'interact' button when colliding with a dialogue object to start a conversation with an NPC...

In this one below (don't worry -- the ugly green box is just there for debugging purposes), the player waits until colliding with the dialogue object before pushing 'up' on the gamepad or keyboard:

This system was already in place, but not wholly hooked up to NPCs. It was also super clunky and a bit all over the place in terms of multiple different dialogue objects that would handle different scenarios. It's all been condensed and trimmed down to one tidy little dialogue object.

Direction!

In addition to tidying up the dialogue event system, I've added practical events to the game that will give the player hints and objectives, as well as main and sub quests:

A semblance of this already existed, but again, has been tidied up and older events have been rewritten, as well as new ones added.

 

Music Break!

There's plenty of audio and music work left to be done, but every once in a while I'll run over to my music creation and editing software and crank something out to help emphasize the mood and tone of the content I'm working on. Here's a little bit of that (rough and work-in-progress):

Feedback

I want to thank everyone who's been playing the alpha demo for all of their feedback and bug reporting across Steam, Kickstarter, Castlevania Dungeon Forums, IndieDB, Gamejolt -- I'm hearing all of it, adding your reports and issues to my todo lists and replying where I can! Thank you so much - it's a huge help!

There isn't an update to the alpha demo this week since there's a bunch of dialogue and quest content yet to be added to make the beginning area stuff make more sense, but expect it soon!

Thanks again! 'Til next update!

-Matt

Super (re)Sized!

Happy Sunday!

This week sees quite a few fixes to issues plaguing the alpha demo! Let's talk about a couple of the biggest and most obnoxious ones:

Alt+Tabbing

This... this has been the bane of my existence for quite a while -- BUT, there's finally a fix for it!

Once upon a time, the game, when minimized, or not in focus, still accepted input. Gamepad buttons would still register, as well as keyboard key presses. So if, say, you were alt+tabbed out and Googling something, any keys that performed an action in the game would register.

I tried to fix this by locking out controls when the game registered an "OS pause event". The problem with this, was that locking out controls if you were in a menu screen, title screen, fade in/out -- ANYWHERE but the actual game-y bits, you could not regain control when maximizing your window or trying to get back into the game again.

Now, you can alt+tab like a monkey on too much caffeine and the game (maybe) won't break! YAY!

Display Size

Currently, the game only draws to an aspect ratio of 16:9, and this caused issues when in full screen on some displays.

Now, the game will respect the size of ANY crazy aspect ratio, while still maintaining it's visuals and aspect ratio.

I even got some use out of this older monitor for size testin!

Different aspect ratios will be supported down the road, but at least now you can play the demo without having vital information cropped from the screen (like the player character's life bar).

Anomalies and Weird Stuff

Here are some (hopefully) extreme edge case issues someone reported to me:

My first response to this would have been to take the cartridge out and blow into it.

Super weird (and very unsettling from a technical standpoint)! Though, I did get some silly enjoyment from seeing those screens. I have no idea what's going on here, but hopefully no one else is experiencing this madness. Let me know if you are!

Steam Keys

This week, I sent every backer a Steam key that gives you access to the current build uploaded through the Steam pipeline, regardless of the game's release state (i.e. it's not out yet, but you can play the in-development build RIGHT NOW).

Make sure to check your email associated with your Kickstarter profile -- if you DID NOT get your key, let me know and I will send it to you again via Kickstarter's messaging system!

It's worth noting, as well, that if you redeem your key and download the game, it will auto-update to whatever build is currently live, too! 

Once I get to a place with the live demo that I feel is all tidied up, I will cease updating the demo. The game on Steam, however, will get updated frequently and you can play all the latest builds if you want to see how things are going before launch.

If you redeem your key on Steam, feel free to post any issues you have with the game here:  http://steamcommunity.com/app/408060/discussions/1/

Latest Build and Fixes

The latest build for the alpha demo, if you don't get it through Steam, is here:

 http://gamejolt.com/games/savage-the-shard-of-gosen-alpha/16310

Patch notes for alpha 5.1.2:

  • Alt tabbing no longer causes certain screens to become unresponsive  
  • When application loses focus (alt+tabbing or clicking outside of game window), added click prompt to unfreeze game  
  • Fixed a bug that caused playtime to reset once you exit a procedural encounter on worldmap  
  • Fixed the game crashing if you navigate to the 'skills' or 'quest' menus  
  • Fixed mining prison elevator wait time  
  • Pickups are now drawn in front of everything to make them more visible
  • Improved game scaling based on display size  
  • Tidied up a couple door, tile, object and enemy placements in mining prison
  • Fixed save/load system and ironed out a ton of bugs (more probably remain)
  • Deleted save files will clear their display data when deleting a save slot from the load game menu  
  • Game would crash when backing out of Sound menu if a "yes/no" prompt was up Smith hammer drops off of a certain boss

It's a somewhat short list, but a big chunk of last week was spent making sure all of the Kickstarter backers Steam keys were sent out. Again - if you DID NOT get your key, make sure to check your email. If you didn't get an email, send me a message here and I will get you your key ASAP!

Thanks again everyone, and I hope you all had a great weekend!

-Matt

Hammer Time, Saving the World (and everything else)!

Good Morning (or whenever)!

Save System

Just jumping right into it -- this update sees the completion of the game's save system! YAAY!

This was one infuriatingly complicated task, I don't mind saying. To give you a rough estimate of the keyboard gymnastics involved, to get it up to this point (fully functional, with save slot support and deleting said slots within the UI) took over 60 hours this week -- but it was worth it. 

There were a number of complications I ran into, especially getting those save slots to draw their relevant data correctly. I was originally accessing the appropriate save files (in .ini format for the time being) to draw things like armor, HP, play time... this caused the framerate to plummet like a ton of bricks.

To remedy this, when the game now saves, 'display data' is now saved to a much smaller, seperate file that is only accessed to display the nifty graphics on the load menu. In fact, as I write this, I'm thinking of ways to improve it even further... so everything I just typed will probably change - ha!

Deleting a slot was challenging to engineer as well -- having to set a flag in another settings file to reset the "working save slot", and also tell the newly deleted and recreated save slots that it has "no data" in it, so the game knows that when the empty file is accessed to simply start a new game.

It's all working and fully functional now, though! The game will save your progress every time you transition from screen to screen -- this will NOT, however, function as a checkpoint. For now, checkpoints are invisible, but will eventually look something like the main character taking a swig of some fun juice (as pictured in the first gif of this post). 

When you die, you will start back at your last checkpoint visited, but will retain all of your items and story progress.

Another challenge moving forward is remembering to save the player's location and state after a big story event or something, like after you're taken prisoner and complete the initial burning village sequence:

Go here to check out the latest archived livestream I captured while working on the save system: https://www.twitch.tv/toborprime/profile

Sorry it's muted -- I was listening to too much unlicensed rock and or roll. I'll re-upload the stream on my youtube channel with some of my own music over the video later on.

Hammer!

The forge hammer pickup is now active in the game, and you now need it in order to interact with the forge. To convey this I threw together some extra UI animations and elements:

 ... And then after finding the hammer, you can go ahead and pound away on the anvil:

Big Screen!

I have a live build constantly updating via the Steam pipeline, and it feels pretty awesome to access it via the big screen!

For the past week, I have been doing most of my playtesting this way to get a feel for how everything works the way someone playing the game normally would -- I gotta say, it's pretty exciting to interact with it this way!

Fixed, Completed, and ToDo

Here's a list of fixes and addressed issues:

  • Added fully functioning Save, Load, and Delete save system
  • Added 'Continue' and 'Load Game' options to main menu, as well as some visual clean up
  • Shield doesn't get created when loading or continuing a game  
  • kell can't attack when colliding with anvil object  
  • Slavers no longer drop gold keys  
  • rewrote gamepad and keyboard input
  • there was a problem on Windows 10 while using an Xbox 360 gamepad - button mapping was all messed up and most buttons would not register  
  • removed 'global.fortOpen' checks that were crashing the game  
  • fix burning village NPCs not showing up  
  • pickup forge hammer  
  • static values (like what sprite a weapon or armor should draw in the UI) get messed up on loading a game file  
  • rewrite save system to re-initialize static values  
  • create seperate data file to save load screen display data to so that we are not opening 3 massive save files  
  • display forge hammer in UI if found  
  • can only use forge if a forge hammer is owned
  • Create "up" arrow effect when able to interact with anvil  
  • create 'no hammer' prompt when trying to use the anvil without hammer  
  • going back to burning village after escaping mining prison starts the beginning of the game all over again

... And next up:

  • alt+tabbing is horrible and can lead to the game becoming unresponsive, while keys and buttons become frozen (i.e. holding 'left' is always true), especially when on title screen  
  • when game is minimized, it still accepts input from gamepads and keyboard  
  • dying before getting throwing knives in cave starts you back behind the cave-in, which makes progress impossible  
  • redesign UI interaction with gamepad and keyboard  
  • create little loading icon thing to alert players that the game is auto-saving  
  • overworld hide armor sprites  
  • change some door positions  
  • fix elevator wait time  
  • create a mirrored player attack object when attacking for better attack coverage  
  • if you hit 'enter' during the intro while you are defeated, the game breaks and you cannot progress  
  • candles should also cast light  
  • rewrite certain lines of intro dialogue 
  • lifting enemies is buggy, especially on ramps 
  • cannot lift objects on ramps 
  • pushing down + forward + dodge causes kell to dodge backward 'forever' 
  • Torches can be destroyed and drop items (like a certain super rad video game series featuring a very serious gentleman brandishing a deadly whip) 
  • pickups that get stuck in boulders
  • completely get rid of backpack check
  • completely get rid of hunter belt check 
  • completely get rid of warrior belt check 
  • completely get rid of item pouch check 
  • finish first NPC village including (finally) a vendor 
  • finalize dialogue bits and interaction with the NPCs in the mining prison 
  • finish burning village Maginoch events and boss fight 
  • finish Tra'Tibowt boss fight 
  • updated impact sprites (like jumping on an enemy's head and stunning them) 
  • more general and universal sprites for the overworld encounters 
  • fine tune enemy and item placement 
  • Sort items based on category in inventories (clean up function) 
  • flames hurt and will 'burn' enemies
  • create new 'thug' enemy (less powerful, unarmored 'Brute')

Try the new build here: http://gamejolt.com/games/savage-the-shard-of-gosen-alpha/16310

That's a wrap for this update! Have a great rest of your weekend and I'll continue to keep you all posted!

-Matt

Midnight Oil-Schmoil (and new build!)

Hey there!

You'll have to forgive me if this is a somewhat short update - I've been up for about 24 hours at this point, but it's been worth it! The shiny new alpha demo is up and ready for you to break!

New Playable Alpha Demo

You can download it here: http://gamejolt.com/games/savage-the-shard-of-gosen-alpha/16310

Things are still rough, broken, unfinished and unbalanced, but this is FAR more indicative of what the final game will look and feel like.

On offer is the first section of the overworld map. I've artificially constrained the gameplay to that area (boo!) because venturing beyond this zone will quickly cause things to fall apart (yay!) since all of that stuff is lying in pieces in front of me on my monitor.

What Didn't Make it?!

There's also a TON of stuff that I wanted to have ready for this demo that didn't quite make it and would require another week of play testing, chief among them being the save system, unfortunately (or what would eventually turn into the rock solid save system). But that's next on my list.

An early form of persistence is intact, though, and will keep track during a play session of (most) pertinent things, like which doorways have been unlocked, gates opened, etc.

I've also been digging around in Steam's backend (that sounds super wrong... or right, depending) to figure out the Steam key delivery system, and it looks like I'll have that figured out soon, too.

Keys Update

I want to also give backers (Kickstarter and Groupees Greenlight) "beta" keys that allow you to circumvent the release status of the game. In other words, I would be giving you access to live development builds as progress is made, and Steam would automatically (I think) update the game for you.

Anyhow, have a gander at the new build and feel free to tell me what you think so far!

Have a great rest of your weekend! 'Til next update!

-Matt

The Shadow Knows

Greetings!

Last week I talked about fixing bugs and tidying up issues in preparation for releasing a playable build that includes the first few levels and areas of the game. The battle continues this week -- here's a list of issues and bugs that have been utterly destroyed (fixed)!!

Bugs and Issues Slain

  • Fixed shield door bug
  • Fixed blood on moving stuff bug 
  • Fixed hitting/opening treasure chests 
  • Fixed falling spike hitting shield 
  • Black circles around torches when fading in/out and creating pause screen
  • Redid Screen Draw post FX pipeline to accomodate for day/night and torchlight
  • Fixed pause screen shuts off day/night 
  • Fixed pause screen turns off season check 
  • UI elements placement fix 
  • Overworld solid mountains 
  • Other overworld solids 
  • Shield UI 
  • Fixed hide armor duck block sprite (pictured above)
  • Recolor plain GUI background sprites 
  • Drop armor bug (dropping a set of armor from the inventory screen crashed the game)
  • ACCOUNT FOR ALL DROPPED ITEMS!! (certain other dropped items from inventory screen crashed the game)
  • Throwing Weapons XP bug (incorrect display of throwing weapons experience points, level, and damage values in inventory screen)
  • Fixed enemy hit by thrown object hurt timer 
  • Fixed saber weapon animation (just looked crappy)
  • Spiked enemies hurt when you jump on them
  • Redid shadow sizes and distance

An issue and criticism that's been repeatedly brought up is the way player character shadows are drawn when a light source is nearby (torch, candle, etc.). I've finally gotten around to addressing this and tidying it up.

While not 100% where I'd like it, it's a lot more appealing to look at and far less dramatic than how it used to be. I can now turn shadows cast by instances of light sources on and off, so if there is a lone torch against a sky only backdrop, for example, there won't be a shadow drawn awkwardly against nothing but sky.

Enemies also cast shadows, again!  

And for those tricky cases where there is only a limited amount of space that you'd like a torch to cast a shadow across, I have put "shadow limiters" in certain areas where, if there is a limiter between an entity and a light source, the shadow will not be drawn.

Here's the video of the livestream I captured of trying to sort out this very issue (the video will be available later on youtube later, as well):

https://www.twitch.tv/toborprime/v/83490580

Speaking of bad guys, I finally switched on spiky bits causing damage if you attempt to jump on their heads. I've gone through every enemy object in the game (so far) and made sure this works where appropriate (enemies that can potentially spawn with a spiked/horned helmet, creatures that can spawn with naturally grown spikes or horns). This definitely makes fights more interesting and challenges your ability to make snappy tactical decisions. I got so used to testing the game without this feature turned on -- it's nice to get my butt kicked in a brand new way, ha!

In this livestream here, I also talk about padding out the game with artificial progression. By that I mean I had planned to include certain items in the game (the core UI code is also built around this) that gave you the ability to quick slot off hand weapons and certain consumables.  

Those boxes there are (or, were) tied to whether or not you found the "Item Pouch", "Hunter Belt" and "Warrior Belt" respectively. I've scrapped all that and these features are available right from the get-go (your equipped shield now shows up on the hud, too).

Take the Item Pouch, for instance: consumables that are equipped to this slot can be used on the fly with a mapped button press. If you did not have the Item Pouch, you would have to pause the game by going into your inventory screen, accessing the consumables tab, FIND the item you wanted to gulp down, and "use" it. The same result can be achieved by simply having the chosen consumable slotted to the Item Pouch box and hitting your "Use Item" button when you need it.  

The only real difference between these two methods is that one simply takes longer and is a hassle. It doesn't make the game more interesting or challenging... So, bye bye equipment-dependent sub item slots!

LOTS of UI Fixes

For a while now, since I changed the way the game was drawn to the screen, the in-game menu has been drawing all sorts of wonky. That's now fixed, as well as properly displaying your shield.

I've also eliminated the "Shield" menu item in the equipment screen, since shields and weapons exist within the same inventory list. The manner in which you equip a shield is the same as how you equip a sword, etc. Having a seperate "Shield" access node on the equipment manager felt needlessly complicated and redundant.

I've also adjusted the brightness of text boxes and general UI windows to make text more readable. I want to give players more options concerning that later, like different style backgrounds for these elements.

The Battle Continues...

Here's the list of things that still need to be (potentially) addressed or fixed before I release the playable build:

  • Improve the manner in which shadows are drawn
  • Torches can be destroyed and drop items (like a certain super rad video game series featuring a very serious gentleman brandishing a deadly whip)
  • pickups that get stuck in boulders
  • completely get rid of backpack check
  • completely get rid of hunter belt check
  • completely get rid of warrior belt check
  • completely get rid of item pouch check
  • finish first NPC village including (finally) a vendor  
  • finalize dialogue bits and interaction with the NPCs in the mining prison  
  • redesign UI interaction with gamepad and keyboard  
  • implement save system  
  • finish burning village story events  
  • finish Tra'Tibowt boss fight  
  • updated impact sprites (like jumping on an enemy's head and stunning them)
  • more general and universal sprites for the overworld encounters  
  • fine tune enemy and item placement  
  • Sort items based on category in inventories (clean up function)

I'm still on track to get you guys a playable build, but I still have to figure out the delivery mechanism -- like, it would be GREAT to start figuring out how to get Steam keys to everyone who still needs one, and give them access to a live development build that I update regularly before launch. I'll keep you all posted as I figure out the particulars on that as well!

 

That's all for this week! Have a great rest of your weekend and I'll see you next update!

-Matt

Bug Hunt

Happy Sunday!

This update sees a general lack of shiny new visuals to show off, but there's plenty of messing around going on under the hood. The battle to get the current content up to a release worthy standard for a playable build continues!

Bug Fixes

There are a TON of these little jerks lurking in the game, and I've prioritized a handful for the playable demo.

  • A couple obnoxious ones have come about thanks to my fiddling with the day/night cycle:

You can see the drawing of the torch gets weird during a fade-in/fade-out, as well as when you triumphantly pause the screen and hold your newly discovered item aloft (so much for fanfare).

  • Hitting treasure chests, especially when they are up against a wall triggers a bug that causes the chest to REFUSE to open unless moved:
  • Opening your inventory screen turns off the day/night drawing effect:
  • Opening your inventory also turns off the seasonal check for future rooms that you transition into. You can see the second room deciding it's just gonna draw ALL the seasonal tile layers... because it hates me:
  • Certain (and only certain, of course) falling hazards ignore your shield (game needs hardhat):
  • If you have a shield equipped when entering and exiting a doorway, things get real screwy:
  • Blood particles, when hitting a solid that can potentially move, don't move along with the solid object they've landed on:

Minor Improvements and Fixes

Things aren't all doom and gloom, though! Here are a handful of tweaks and fixes I've made this week:

  • I can't remember if I've addressed this already, but you can now grab one-way ledges (the background platforms you can jump up through and land on top of. This certainly makes traversal feel better and more fair:
  • Picking up liftable objects and enemies is faster. Again, a minor tweak, but it feels a LOT better and less sluggish. The minor speed adjustment feels like it improves survivability, since you are vulnerable during this animation:

Here's the slow lift:

... and the lift after the tweak:

  • The new Clingjaw enemy has been fixed -- segment spacing has been improved, and when the head and segments meet a solid object, they are easier to see -- attacking segments did not carry the damage over to the "head", and the enemy now dies correctly:
  • Biome detection has been simplified when on the overworld. The pink ovals you see on the map used to set the active biome when the player object collided with them. Now, the active biome is set when the player collides with a random encounter based on proximity to the pink object. This cuts down on collision detection on the map:
  • Weighted pressure plates used to be... um... yeah. See the before and after for yourself:

Save System

I've started to plot out how this thing is going to work now that I have enough junk to track, like:

  • certain doors and gates opened/unlocked
  • cinematics and story events completed
  • quests completed
  • bosses killed
  • character level, inventory, general progress tracked
  • certain items found

... and a host of other things. This is a daunting prospect, but one I'm slowly getting to grips with and figuring out.

Playable Build Checklist

In addition to all of the previously mentioned tasks and issues, here's a general rundown of everything I'd like to have completed and/or addressed in the next couple weeks so you all can give it a try!

  • finish first NPC village including (finally) a vendor
  • finalize dialogue bits and interaction with the NPCs in the mining prison
  • GUI improvements
  • redesign UI interaction with gamepad and keyboard
  • implement save system
  • finish burning village story events
  • finish Tra'Tibowt boss fight
  • updated impact sprites (like jumping on an enemy's head and stunning them)
  • more general and universal sprites for the overworld encounters

That about covers things for this week. I'll keep you all posted with another update next Sunday.

Have a great rest of your weekend!

-Matt

Getting Slimed

Hail, Barbarian Horde!

I've got a handful of things to show you and discuss, including an upcoming playable developer build (more on that below!) for the backers to try out.

Continuing to Solve the Platformer Problem

I've talked before about making the traversal within the game more "platformer friendly", in that I have a bunch of bad guys that aren't necessarily learn-able in the sense that they are much more reactive; the environment and player position largely dictates their behavior. I've been trying to solve this by adding enemies that have a more dependable, hazard-like set of rules.

I've added a couple more baddies to my arsenal of insidious creatures that fill that hole:

First, we've got a new enemy that I've affectionately dubbed "clingjaw". It's mostly a static monster; it's claw clinging to the ground and walls, with segments and a head that move about in relation to its claw position. It's great for "blocking" the player's progress, forcing the player to figure out a way around the thing (hacking it to pieces is always a good option).

Another beastie I've been messing around with is the slime (finally - yay, slimes!). The basic variety just sort of wobbles around and will occasionally launch itself at the player. Since it's design is so basic, I've kinda gone hog-wild with it, producing a bunch of different varieties and appropriate palette swaps:

The Blue Slime is the derpiest of the bunch, as pictured above. The Red Slime is a bit more aggressive, and has an attack animation. The Green Slime behaves like the Blue Slime, but upon death, pops apart and produces a series of hazardous acidic droplets. The Purple Slimeis the real jerk and can cling to ceilings, drop onto the player, and attack him like the Red Slime.

Also, for anyone interested, I've been using a free piece of software that's saved me a ton of time to map out enemy behaviors:

Visual Understanding Environment -- http://vue.tufts.edu/

Beats the heck out of scratch paper!

Also, I've finally dropped in a working collision-based spike trap -- simple, and a no-brainer for games like this, but it's great to have it in, now.

Subterranean Forest

In addition to the newer Devil's Shade forested area, there is a new underground forest zone,Helsgarten, that connects to it along the path to the Highlands area on the overworld map.

For this, I've been able to reuse a ton of assets to create a new area. For example, tree tilesets have been reused to create sort of organic pillars, inverted roots allow me to create trees that "grow" upside-down, along with inverted grass tiles.

Seasons and Random Encounters Redone

I have been working from a very convoluted and clunky system that draws the appropriate seasonal tiles, based on the season and biome you're currently in. I've scrapped a LOT of that particular way of doing things, and simplified stuff like crazy. For example, I used to have a layer dedicated to "green grass", and another layer dedicated to "summer weather". Likewise, I had a "winter snow" layer, and a seperate "snow" layer for the Northern regions of the game where snow falls year round. Apply that logic all across the other areas of the game and you can probably start to see how unmanageable it eventually becomes.

I've cut all that out and now just have a global "summer weather" layer, "fall weather" layer, etc., regardless of the zone type you're in. Having redone that, I've also gotten rid of the old random encounter system -- or at least shaken it up a bit. In conjunction with the old seasonal rendering system, I had a set of rooms that would ALWAYS be randomly picked from when you triggered a random encounter on the world map. The array of rooms picked from would always be the same, regardless of your current biome, and then "skinned" appropriately based on biome and the current season/weather situation.

Nope. No more. I now have biome-designated rooms that will be appropriately picked from. This also lets me create signature geometry styles based on your current region, adding some much needed character to each zone.

See?! SO MANY less tile layers! And less headaches, as another positive result!

Drawing Pipeline Redone

The old way of rendering the day/night cycle got the boot, too. I used to clumsily "draw" a semi-transparent rectangle over the front of the screen with a color appropriate to the current time of day -- I hated it and always wanted to change it. So, I rolled up my sleeves and did. The rectangle made it hard to see the screen in a lot of cases, especially at sunrise, dusk and full night. 

Now, instead, I blend a color into the application surface (the end result of all the game's drawing events -- or, the screen and what you're seeing every frame). This gives me a lot more control over adjusting the color values of what the player is seeing, while still maintaining readability over your character and environment. Blues are now bluer at midnight, oranges and reds are more apparent at sunrise and sunset, etc.

This also allows me to do fun stuff with my light sources during the evening and night times, "cutting out" a circle around, say, a torch, where I don't want any color blending:

On top of that, the transitions between day and night on the world map have gotten a lot smoother and more varied (albeit a little buggy at the moment), also thanks to now applying color transitions to the 3D fog:

Story Sequences

With the content that's in the game and already finished, I'm going back and tightening up existing story sequences and cinematics:

New Update Schedule - Playable Build

From here on out, starting this weekend, I'll be posting weekly updates on the project's progress -- I've gotten into a bad habit of releasing this updates every 4-8 weeks -- no good and I'm sorry about that! ... Which brings me back around to the subject of getting a playable build to you! 

Within the next couple of weeks, I'm aiming to release a playable build to the Kickstarter backers and those who obtained the game via the Groupees Greenlight Bundle, containing the first few areas and such brought up to a polished and near release-worthy state. Polishing up and finishing the content that comprises the first chunk of the game will give me a good idea what it will take to finish this game, as well as getting feedback from anyone interested in giving it a go!

There are several things that I'd like to get in place before doing so, like getting a working save system in place, now that I know what it looks like to progress through the game (things like tracking opened/unlocked doors, solved puzzles, defeated bosses, completed cinematics and quests, etc.). I'll keep you all posted as I get closer!

'Til the next update, have a great one!

-Matt

2016.5.25 Gaiden Mode

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the silence through April -- allergy season plus our new location hit me pretty hard for a couple weeks which wound up getting me sick. Annoying! We invested in a neat little air purifier though, and that thing seems to be helping out big time. But enough complaining and excuse making -- onto progress!!

Boss Redux

You remember Tra Tibowt from the last update, yeah? I felt like something was missing with her to make her fight more memorable and give it more character. I decided to go back and revamp her bear companion (Mag, the Avatar of Magdragh) visually and mechanically, and allow her to ride into battle on the guy!

This gives the fight an initial, more interesting phase with different behaviors. Damaging them enough eventually knocks her off the mount and you wind up having to take them out as a pair.

New Areas

I have been going on a grayboxing rampage with the remaining levels and zones, stopping to whip up a couple necessary assets. The most recent of these being a revamped tileset to make the deep forest areas visually more exciting.

I've also done some palette swaps and some minor adjustments to some older tilesets to bring it up to snuff with the rest of the finalized ones.

These are all added to the growing arsenal of bits and pieces I'm using to crank out rooms. SO MANY ROOMS.

New Enemies and Hazards

As I grind through the room and area content, I am mopping up the remaining enemies and entities that still have to be created and dropped into the game. A couple examples are the brand new "platform wasp" and "forest ape".

The wasp enemy in particular is starting to fill a growing need for the game to include more of what I call platformer-friendly hazards. I have plenty of enemies that sort of track your movements and are largely reactionary in how you deal with them. I need more enemies like this that are more "learnable", or have a much more apparent pattern. This makes platform-heavy situations more satisfying, since you have readable obstacles that you can navigate around.

This guy, on the other hand, is a bit of a hybrid of those two enemy/hazard types. He can be set to a more static sort of artillery behavior, where he lobs boulders at you from a fixed position -- or, he can engage the player and bust out a few interesting attack moves. He is also one of the more vertically aware enemies in the game, following the player up onto, or underneath ledges and other obstacles (being a big monkey guy and all).

Here are the previously mentioned elements (tilesets, new assets and enemies) all working together:

Those are some shots from one of the new areas, "Devil's Shade", that bridges the Gosen Hills and Highlands areas of the game.

Game Flow

With all of the new elements and rooms I am creating for the game, I am slowly addressing my game flow concerns. Things like, "Is this too repetitive?" "How do I make these rooms more interesting?" have come barreling their way to the front of my concerns. Pacing things like interactivity, enemy placement, and things like powerups are a real concern for me. After all, how many times can someone smack something with a sword before it starts to get boring? Hopefully, quite a few times if the core combat mechanics are good enough, ha!

Structuring levels and rooms, I have started to notice annoying design crutches that I repeat. Like tunnel shapes and similar geography elements. It's like writing music -- you start to realize that maybe you are using similar progressions across multiple songs. This is not necessarily a bad thing in some situations, I guess, since this also evokes a certain style, but I feel it's necessary to be aware of so I don't wind up with a finished game and thousands of rooms that all feel too same-y!

Here's a bit of an example of how I sort of map out general flow and some of the critical path out:

Using visual aids like this helps in defining pacing for me, and shaping those "peaks and valleys" that compose the player's overall experience with the game.

Cinematics!

I've also, finally, gotten around to knocking out the game's more lore-heavy sequences, which will be delivered in the form of Ninja Gaiden-esque cinematics.

As of now, I've got the majority of these sequences completed, but there are still a few more that need doing.

Also, with a lot of this stuff getting wrapped up, I submitted the last bit of game footage to my friends at Escaping Westlawn Productions for the launch trailer!

Here are some work in progress screens from the visual FX shots Christine Carstairs is working on:

I am really excited to see this thing!

Progress!

So there we have it -- I am in the middle of grinding out TONS of rooms that will make up the final areas and levels of the game, and I hope to have a build finished soon that I can play through from start to finish. I can't believe I just said that - pretty unreal!

I know it's taken a lot longer than I initially planned for, and I'm sorry about that, but even more grateful for all the support and positive feedback from you all! I am continuing to work hard to make this thing fun, and a suitably brutal and bloody adventure!

Thanks for letting me share with you all! Have a great one, and I'll see ya next update!

-Matt

2016.3.28 Un-Bear-Able!

Man, what an em-bear-assing headline (sorry, I can't help it. It's, like, a serious problem)! 

Ahem. Anyway... Progress goes on, my to-do list grows ever shorter and the game gets closer to something I'd consider fun and playable! At present, there is enough rough content (still in desperate need of a polish and balance pass) that I can speedrun what's mostly finished in about an hour and a half -- and I'm enjoying it, rough edges aside!

Here's what's been going on behind the scenes:

New Location and Sub-Areas, Cairns of Magdragh

This zone is heavily populated with the cannibalistic hill tribes, the Ilgogi. Worshipers of bears and the bear god, Magdragh, their weapons and clothing mirror their brutal way of life.

This area features a few new modular enemy types:

  • Ilgogi Maneater
  • Ilgogi Huntress
  • Kin of Magdragh (Hill Bears)
  • Rockbiters

Yes, Rockbiters are back and working within the new enemy system! These little buggers were a pain to bring back into the fold, but worth it. Here's a debug screen of me attempting to snap them to their new locations -- challenging, given their wall-crawly nature.

The area also features some new puzzly mechanics:

New Boss - Tra Tibow't, Mother of Bears, Feastbreaker and Warcaller of the Ilgogi... and her bear Mag!

Here are some work-in-progress bits for the new boss and her pet, based on a friend of mine and her online twitter persona, @twobitart!

I had built out the boss room a certain way, and after some testing, found out I was really not very happy with it. It had too many small platforms that sort of created small uninteresting choke-points during the fight.

The rebuild of the room came out much better - still keeping a bit of deviation in the terrain, but keeping it open enough for everyone to move around.

New Gear

Pictured in the above gif madness are new Ilgogi and bear themed shields, bone based weapons like spears and clubs, as well as a shiny new powerful polearm called Phalanx!

Archived Livestreams

As some of you know, I livestream every now and again on Twitch. I have recently decided to start archiving the streams on my Youtube channel, which you can find here!

That's all for now. Thanks again so much for all your patience and support! I'm as ready to be done with this game as I'm sure you are to play it, and I'm working hard to make it worth the wait - we're gettin' there!

See ya next update, and have a GREAT one!

-Matt

2016.2.7 You Shouldn't Run With Knives... BUT

Hi everybody! Sorry for the quiet during January (speaking of, hope you all had a great holiday season and your new year is off to great start!), but I have been cranking out ALL the things! ... ALL of them.

Productivity levels have been super hot, so let's take a trip down to update-city so's I can show you all the shiny new stuff, shall we?

NEW LEVELS

I am at a really exciting place with the game right now. All the grinding out of props, animations, baddies, etc. has supplied me with what feels like a massive bag of legos to play with. This weird piece of software is starting to look like what I imagine the final game will be. I actually have fully functional, final versions of areas and stages to play through - YAY!!

As a (crude) example of a stage in the making, here're some pictures and stuff!

... And some in-game shots from the new areas:

NEW NPCS

Parts of these areas (including towns) need a few non-aggressive denizens to chat it up with. I added a whole slew of mining prison-specific unfortunates that you'll  run into.

NEW PROPS/HAZARDS/INTERACTIVE BITS

There are lots of new ways to navigate areas and engage with puzzles, enemies, and other dangerous bits. Included below are also a few shots and examples of one of the new and finished areas.

TUNES

The shower is great. Not only does it make me smell better than I usually do, but for whatever reason, pieces of music tend to assault my brain while scrubbing. Clean + music = yay!

Over the last few days, a couple of tunes materialized and pretty much demanded to be recorded/commited to ones and zeros. I OBEYED and did this:

These tracks are still rough and need a few passes yet:

Whew. I went a little gif-crazy there. Sorry about that! But again, thanks so much for letting me share all of this with you, and for all of your support! 

The game is going great and work is happening pretty darn fast.

Until next time!

<3 Matt

What Sorcery is This?!

Happy Holidays, everyone!   

Sorry for the lack of updates through November - I've been nose to the grindstone over here and sometimes it's hard to remember to come up for air. Before we get to the new stuff, let's talk about release since we're about to head into the new year.

To be frank, the game isn't finished yet, which is as big a downer for me as I'm sure it is for you. I was hoping to be close to wrapping the project up by this time, with mostly sound, music, and quality assurance work left and well underway. I'm not quite there, mostly because I feel that what I have isn't the game I want to play yet. When this game launches it needs to be well worth your time to play through! Sorry to be a bit of a broken record, and thanks so much for your patience and support!

On the other hand, what I do have is coming along great! Over the past year, I have essentially been building myself a toybox full of cool action figures and set pieces at my disposal. It's a relief (and very gratifying) to be able to pick and choose from an array of neat looking stuff and build out interesting little rooms and levels. I have learned that this is also one of the most challenging parts of the process - to produce interesting and playable levels that don't get boring, and keep the experience fresh from start to finish. The map maker and designer in me is having an absolute ball throwing all of this together, while the obnoxious art-coward in me is throwing a fit at the challenge. The map maker part is totally kicking the coward's butt, last I checked ;)

As a small example, here's what the old pre-alpha starting dungeon looked like:

And here it is again after a pass using some of the new art assets and props to populate the scene:

It feels a lot more alive and a bit more "real" (as real as a low resolution pixel art scene can feel, anyway, ha!). 

So, New Stuff! 

Here's a sampling of the new area, Blackfen, in the works:

An example of the new visual props I've cooked up:

New Boss!  

This particular character has definitely been the most challenging to create thus far. He does a lot of things that I'm not used to - flying around, shooting magic, teleporting, etc... From a raw engineering perspective (and an art one), it's been a real battle trying to get it right - but I think I've finally nailed down something I am very satisfied with.

Here is a graphic representing his most basic finite-state machine loops (horrible graphics tablet handwriting and all!):

Some character fluff - because!

He was called Gizmotin - a sorcerer from from an ancient civilization who reached too far into esoteric wizardry, flinging his body across time and space into the Beyond, a realm composed of madness, nightmares and raw psychic energies. He has spent so long away from the physical plane that the sum of years comprising his absence are trivial. He has since re-materialized in the world of Lor where his body and mind are broken and in a constant state of flux. Bits and pieces of his ego phase in and out of reality, quadrants of his psyche are constantly fragmenting and reshuffling, existing in several places at once. His sojourn has made him alien, mad, and even more dangerous.  

With him he brings things strange and vile; creatures that devour, break and bury anything not of their own.

My gif software doesn't like the game's framerate, so Gizmotin's teleporting animation looks strange here

My gif software doesn't like the game's framerate, so Gizmotin's teleporting animation looks strange here

Trailer Update!

The super talented Christine Carstairs of Escaping Westlawn sent me some composite shots of the Savage "TV commercial" she's been working on - Behold!

I'm hiding behind the 'table', holding the sword up in place :)

I'm hiding behind the 'table', holding the sword up in place :)

To see the full update including a sample video, go here: http://www.escapingwestlawn.com/savage-the-shard-of-gosen-commercial-preview/

Music!

When time allows, I've also been cranking out some in-game music, as well as music for the trailer.

 

This is the full version of the track, "Sei-Thahn", featured in the recent teaser:

Here's a mashup of different versions of the Savage theme, "Hymn of Doom", that will go in the final trailer:

So that's all for now - again, sorry for the delay everyone. I can't tell you how grateful I am for your patience and support - it means everything! It will be super worth it once your game ships!  

The Happiest Holidays to you and yours!

-Matt

2015.10.31 They (un)Live! Halloween Update

Happy Halloween!

To tie up this series of spooky inspired updates, I figured we'd end with an undead extravaganza!

They're Back

And loaded with all sorts of improvements! I took a final pass at our skeleton friends and gave them a fresh coat of paint and a slew of new combat abilities. They can potentially spawn with a number of different weapons, shields, armors and helmets - each giving them a different behavior and attack set:

 If you don't land a blow that removes their head, or smash a skeletal corpse to pieces, they have a chance of getting back up on their feet!

 Again, depending on what gear they spawn with, they have access to some neat defensive moves, too. Some will try to stop you from stun-stomping them on the noggin (you'd be foolish to attempt this against a skeleton warrior who has a spiked shield!):

 Even in death, their addiction to the dark arts is as strong as ever...

To complement the skeletal ground troops, I introduce the Undead Warlock (or, Wraithlock, if you prefer)!

 The souls of long dead dark wizards and magicians, trapped in limbo and refusing to give up their hold of dark energies they still command.

That's a wrap!

I hope you've enjoyed this little series of horror-y themed updates! Thanks again so much for your support, and have a happy and safe Halloween!

-Matt

P.S. Enjoy this little Savage related monster mash (with hints of things to come!):

More Spooky Monsters!

As promised, I've been finishing up some more creatures that'll fit right into your Halloween festivities!

Bats!

Spiders!

Pictured above, I've also given the player the ability to deflect certain projectiles with a shield bash, making the projectile dangerous to enemies

That's all for now - thanks for reading and see ya next update!

-Matt

Gettin' STEAM(ed)!

The Steam store page is LIVE!

Click the image to check it out, or go HERE!

Along with the store page, I threw together a teaser trailer showing off more of the game's combat and other systems: 

Work is still being done on what will be the "official release" trailer, but I'll have plenty to tide you over with until then!

Now, since it's that spooky time of year, I figured I'd crank out some of the game's more season appropriate content, like these little puppies (pun intended, I guess):

 ... After all, what's a Halloween without blood thirsty (giant) wolves trying to have you for dinner? I'll keep you all posted with more spooky goodness as we roll through October! 

A release date has not been locked down for the game yet, but I'll let you know as soon as I have one. Lots of other little improvements have been made and there's still a ton of work to be done, but rest assured that I'm working hard to deliver you a game worthy of your time and attention!

Thanks so much for your patience and support!

-Matt

I Got Crabs (sorry)!

Apologies for the radio silence through August! Long story short: a series of obnoxious and painful mouth problems culminated in the removal of my wisdom teeth. I expected there to be a degree of recovery time, but it hit me harder than I anticipated. Anyway, good riddance!

I did manage to get a few things done through August along with a bunch more this month - so, onto the good stuff!

AVAST! Ship Travel!

  • The player can now board (and dock) ships and travel to areas otherwise inaccessible!
  • The ocean is now populated with Argeshii navy, mercenary ships, pirates, and other unsavory entities.
  • (On a technical note) Had to engineer a way to invert collision masks with land vs. water where appropriate, i.e., whether the player is on land or sea.

New Scenes and Encounters! New Art Assets, Baddies!

  • New ship and underwater scenes
  • New ship tilesets, underwater tilesets, and background artwork
  • Shark enemies (variety of species and appropriate abilities)
  • Crab enemies (crabs can also spawn with one giant pincer that they can use for defence - this pincer can be severed or destroyed by the player!)
  • Water physics, water breathing (some baddies can drown!), and "swimming"!
  • New water effects, like splashes, bubbles, wave type shaders, blood effects 

HAVIN' A SHELL OF A TIME (... sorry again)!

  • OMG GIANT CRAB MONSTER

So - a LOT done, but still tons to do content-wise. I'll keep you all posted as I continue to flesh this game out!

Thanks for reading!

-Matt


The Room(s)

Since the last update, I've been in mega content-grind. What I have been focusing on for the most part is rooms. Rooms and rooms and rooms and ROOMS! All the pieces that will make up randomly generated encounters and mini-stages (including dungeons and caves).

One of the challenges presented with these "sections" is that they all need to match up - ground levels and ceiling levels need to be on the same coordinates from screen to screen, so the player's character doesn't get "stuck" in a solid during a room transition. This is all handled during the stage randomization, right before the area is loaded. Rooms are tagged with a base coordinate, so that the algorithm knows which batch of rooms it can choose from... like a giant grab bag of rooms stamped with a number, all shuffled and mixed up, and then slotted into a randomly chosen sequence.

Another thorn in my side has sadly come from Game Maker: Studio's room creator/editor. Doing so many of these, I started to get really worn out - the user interface is a bit challenging to work within, especially quickly! BUT - I found an alternative in a piece of software called Tiled.

Tiled is freakin' awesome! It has (just about) everything I have been craving that's missing from GM:S's room editor - fill commands, randomizers, line tools, buttery smooth UI interactions - it's seriously good stuff. It has cut my room production time waaay down - I am able to crank out a room in a quarter of the time it was taking me in GM:S! This is especially handy since each room needs to be "skinned" several times over with location and biome specific tilesets. Highlands need to look like highlands, swamps need mud and vines, mountains need snow and tons of rocks - you get the idea.

 

If you're interested in checking out Tiled, you can grab it here: http://www.mapeditor.org/

There's also this brilliant little program created by someone named Pasty on the GM:S community forums that will convert your Tiled files to .gmx files (asset files used by GM:S) which can be enthusiastically enjoyed here: http://gmc.yoyogames.com/index.php?showtopic=583235

These two programs have made my life about a billion times easier - yay!!

I've also been cranking out all of the remaining environment art that still needs doing. Things like props, varied backgrounds, climbable bits, and so on.

Here are some composite test shots with some of the background and parallax scrolling assets:

One last thing for anyone interested in project organization and the like - My good friend Tim (of Boss101 and Donley Time Foundation) introduced me to Cloudforge and TortoiseSVN. You see, GM:S had recently kinda melted on me (MY FAULT!)- Savage WOULD NOT compile! The last week has been quite the nightmare, pulling my hair out trying to figure out what the heck was going on.

I had been going about managing my backups very stupidly - creating a brand new project file every time I pumped out a new iteration, with titles like "Savage - the Shard of Gosen_a 7-27-2015". Somewhere, somehow, GM:S's streams got crossed and assets were overwritten or deleted. Trying to compile resulted in GM:S not being able to find things like sprites, backgrounds, rooms, or whatever, and causing it to crash when I would try to compile the game for testing.

I ultimately managed to fix things by digging around in a backup's asset directories, and overwriting my working directory's asset folders.

What TortoiseSVN and Cloudforge allow me to do, is have this sort of live project folder that keeps track of EVERY change I make every time I choose to update to the repository created on Cloudforge. If I need to, I can delete my entire project file locally, and grab a previous build from the repository, while also monitoring every single modification made to the project! BRILLIANT!

Things like this have slowed me down somewhat, but I am in a much better (and more stress-free) position to plow ahead.

There's still a lot to do, but the game is getting beefier and more exciting all the time - it's become a ton of fun to run around the worldmap and see what sorts of stages are generated when you run into a baddie or a dungeon!

Talk to you soon, and thanks for the support!