Fishing, Sprites & Release Plans

This week I worked mostly on the visual aspects of Tales, improving sprites and drawing promotional art. Sorry about the delayed posting date, sometimes it happens. Oh well, let’s get into it!

New Character Sprites (AGAIN!)

For the fourth time, the character sprites have changed. This time not as drastic as the first three though. This time I added shading and polished the animations, removing strange artifacts and making them seem a little more natural. Oh, and they also have eyes now. Previously  they did not have eyes because of the theme, “you’re just another person” and not having eyes made the characters seem more like they were all the same. But now they have eyes, which makes it easier to give their faces more expression like surprised, angry, happy and so forth. Skjermbilde 2017-04-09 15.15.11.png

Itch.io and release schedule

Because of Valve’s recent announcement of removing Steam Greenlight and the new pricing model still being uncertain, the plan is currently to release Tales of Astya over at Itch.io instead. I spent a little time refreshing my pages, even the one for Color Tunnel, and you can see it by clicking here. There are currently no files uploaded, I’ll get to that shortly.

I’d like to talk a little about the release schedule I’m imagining for Tales. First up is releasing the base game, with the Uspya region fully done. After the initial release, I intend to spend some time fixing bugs that show up or are reported. After most of the bugs are smashed, the plan is to release yet another region as a free content pack, then iron out most of the bugs in the following month. This is how I intend to release all the regions in the time after initial launch. The extra content will hopefully be much faster to develop, since most of the base systems are already in place and most that needs to be done is writing quests and creating new art assets. I don’t want to predict how long each of the packs will take, but I’m looking  at around 4-5 months for each of them. Time will show. Progress will obviously be shared on this blog as it unfolds.

Fishing

Another addition this week is the fishing system. This is something I’ve wanted to add for a while now, but never really got around to doing. But here it is. It’s very simple at the moment and I haven’t got around to making animations for it just yet, but they should be implemented sometime this week.

fishing.gif

Early prototype captured in the testing map. This was made before the new sprites were implemented.

The system is similar to how it works in World of Warcraft, where you walk up to a school of fish and press the action key. In order to catch the fish you got to press the Reel button when you hear and see a splash. Each school can hold up to three different kinds of fish and other random trash, even a treasure chest (chances are very slim). You can then take your newly caught fish and bring it to either a stove or a campfire to cook it, or sell it to a fish monger if you need some money. Currently there are five different kinds of fish you can catch, with more planned for later expansions.

Other changes/additions

  • Increased base resolution from 960×540 to 1920×1080, due to text being blurred when scaling up. Now it looks super crisp and nice, also with more items shown in interfaces with lists in them.
  • Redid all graphics for interfaces, including buttons, frames, icons and more to have  more detail in them, but still having a clean feel to it.
  • Made a proper version of the world map. Now it looks like this. It’s also shown on the loading screen when starting the game.worldMapBorder.png
  • Cities and towns now have their own loading screen images, showing how the location looks while waiting for it to load (doesn’t take long, usually only 1-2 seconds)
    • Certain maps are loaded and unloaded when needed to prevent performance from being bogged down. When entering a location with interior maps, those maps are being loaded.
  • Fixed more issues related to Z depth rendering.
  • Finished cooking, brewing and alchemy interfaces.
  • Replaced more of the trees from 3D to 2D.
  • Fixed up a lot of interior maps (houses, shops, dungeons etc)

That’s all for this week, hope you enjoyed. See you again in the next one! Oh, and lastly I wanna post some GIFs I made for a podcast I listen to, Rad Crew. Enjoy!

Magic, Soundscapes and Interview

For this weeks post I want to talk a little more about how the magic system works, sound effects and an interview I did with the local newspaper. I also tried something new this week, recording a video for YouTube so you can get a better feel of the current state of combat. I haven’t spent as much time as I’ve wanted to lately and a lot of that comes from this new game you might have heard about, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS. It’s so much fun, especially with friends. Higly recommended, despite being in Early Access. I was sceptic about it at first, but after playing a few hours I’m glad I purchased it.

Magic

Magic in Tales of Astya isn’t a big part of the world, but it still exists. The general population does not know how to cast spells, and not even the Ring of Wizards (mage faction) really knows how it works, only that it does. Casting spells is easy once you know how, and that can be learned at the Wizard Tower somewhere in the south of Uspya, if your character is smart enough.

Skjermbilde 2017-03-26 14.48.29

Learning area for new spells in the Wizard Tower. Still WIP, something will be placed in the side wings.

I’ve been working on some new spells of late, shown in this video right here. Sorry about the low quality, I’ll do my best to improve that in the future.

Soundscapes

Again, more sound stuff. This was my primary focus this week, working on mixing various sound effects to create richer soundscapes for cities, forest, caves and all the other environments found throughout the game, some with variations for night and day. They’re almost done and should be fully implemented by next week.

Interview with local paper

Right before writing the previous post, I finished a small interview with the local news paper about Tales. A journalist came over to my place, we played the game for a bit and he took some pictures while asking questions about the development, the game and the production pipeline. The article was published in last weeks weekend paper as a feature article, and the feedback has been great so far with a whopping double increase in page traffic the days after it was printed.

cof

Local paper, in norwegian.

Other changes/additions

  • More map refreshing with the transition from 3D to 2D trees.
  • Better colors for day and night. Nights are darker and days a little lighter.
  • Changes to AI in relation to entering their home
    • Some won’t go out if it rains
    • Specific hours for going outside
    • They would previously walk to their home, but this turned out to be too unreliable. NPC’s instead just spawn/despawn based on their home hours. Better than nothing at least.
  • Cleaning up the character sprites, removing strange pixels left over from the 3D rendering. Won’t be too noticeable, but it’s been irking me for a while.
  • Changes to overworld travelling time, now with different time passage between maps that makes more sense than the previous static 15 minutes.
  • Started work on player housing, allowing you to place one piece of furniture in each of your homes that gives various buffs and abilities.
  • The usual, more dialogue and typo fixes.
  • Completely revamped getting in to Stonehaven, the capital city. Now with less loading screens and more options to influence the guards at the gates.
  • Traveling merchants with rare items for sale. Only available at select locations, for a limited amount of time.

That’s all for this week. I’m gonna start making more of these videos showing various aspects of the game instead of just GIFs. Some things are just better with sound. Until then, have a good one.

One year anniversary!

Woah! This website/blog is now one year old, and still receiving new posts (almost) every week. Gotta brew some extra strong coffee to celebrate! Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s get into this weeks post. Some interesting stuff this week, including new art assets for trees, new mechanics, interface tweaks, a new minigame and bug fixes! Without further ado, let’s go.

New gathering mechanics

Resources found on the ground, like mushrooms, flowers and wheat have received a small revamp. If you have the correct tools, various collectibles will yield more of their resource. Using a garden knife to cut flowers or a mushroom knife to cut mushrooms yields 2-4 more of that resource. Wheat and grain gathering is now more engaging, as you have to cut it yourself using any sharp weapon or farming tools such as a scythe or sickle. It also bends out of your way when walking through it, adding even more satisfaction.

gatherWheat

Using a sickle to harvest some wheat.

New tree sprites

When I first started this project, I made the trees using the program MagicaVoxel to easily create 3D trees that fit the pixelated style. And to be fair, they were ugly blobs of random shades of green and a brown trunk. I spent a few hours drawing some new trees in 2D instead, with separate material colors for Trunk and Leaves to be able to reuse the same sprites everywhere with color modifications. They’re also animated, which the old trees were not giving much more life to the maps.

windTrees

Bribing Minigame

Previously if a bribe was attempted, it would only give have to choices with a preset sum of money based on your Cunning stat. If it was greater than the set value, it’d cost less and vice versa. With this new system however, players have more influence over the final sum of gold to hand over. It’s still based on your Cunning stat, as well as the Targets Cunning stat. The target becomes more and more annoyed by the players attempts to bribe it, and if the annoyance bar is filled completely the bribe is a failure and you must deal with the consequences. Weather can also play a role in how quickly a Target is annoyed. Who would like to stand in the rain with a random person trying to give you too little money to get in somewhere? This feature is still in early development and should be done sometime next week! Then it’s all about replacing the old bribes with the new one, should be fun. Here’s a screenshot of what it currently looks like.

Skjermbilde 2017-03-14 22.06.14

Better interface highlighting

One problem that I never thought much about before was that interfaces were pretty badly highlighted, at least when it came to changing categories in your inventory, quest journal and so on. I’ve now made it so your current category is highlighted in various shades of green to show the “layer” you are currently on. Top level (pause menu category, options etc.) is a little bit lighter than the colors signaling your selected  sub-category.

selectionHighlight

Other changes/additions

  • Added time of day preview to character creator to preview how your character will look under different lighting conditions.
  • Changed colors for clothing in character creator to better fit the palette.
  • Added Input tab to options, allowing you to specify what input mode to use(Xbox, PS4, Keyboard) and other settings related to controlling your character.
  • Fixed some issues with tiles showing even if screen is faded out.
  • Started work on new water tiles with proper animations.
    • Directional flow of rivers
    • Ocean waves
  • Improvements to ambient sounds.
  • Almost completed wizard tower.
    • Added magic school trainers that will teach you how to cast various spells.
  • Various tyops fixed.
  • Started refreshing of older tiles to be more consistent.
  • Animals have been seen running into fire when being chased by the player. They will soon learn not to do this.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

The big interface cleanup

For the past two weeks I’ve been working mostly on questlines and redesigning some of the interfaces in the game. The inventory, trading, map, character/party and spellbook interfaces have all received a new design to make them easier to navigate and give information more clearly. Also, Temporal Turmoil ended up getting first place in the GameMaker Jam! Without further ado, let’s jump in to the changes.

Trading changes

The trading interface has seen a small change in design, adding in a new button; Haggle. This allows you to change the price of items either higher or lower, based on your Cunning skill. Please note the GIF below is a work in progress, so it might change.shopHaggle.gifThe inventory screen looks more or less the same, except that the Haggle button instead says Drop Item. I’ve also removed item icons from the list view on the left side to a single one that changes when you hover an item(see the apple in the GIF above?) for performance reasons. Below the item icon the item type graphic is displayed. The number next to the item name is how many you are currently carrying of that item.

Party and Character management

The player/party screen has seen a face lift too, as noted at the top. It used to be a single screen with all the information showing, but only for the player character. Not any more! The party screen has been “updated” to use the tabs as well, allowing you to see each characters individual stats, equipment, background information and some gameplay stats related to that character.

charScreen2.gif

New character/party screen

charscreen

Old character screen, very old. I should’ve taken a screenshot before redesigning it.

Party members will appear in a list below the button that says Player Name, allowing you to click them and see their stats and all that. You currently can’t give party members items and equipment to carry for you, but I might add it if enough people want it. Having party members is fully optional, even in quests that tell you that you should take one or two with you, because you’re the best around and nothing will ever keep you down.

Speaking of party members, I’m working on the ability to hire mercenaries and other followers that’ll help you fight if things should get too hard. Most party members are predefined though. Talking with them is in many cases context sensitive, aka being in a cave or out in the field can trigger different dialogue options.

New map screen

The map screen has received a complete overhaul, now including tabs for all the regions, filters, location descriptions and redone icons for the various locations. Here’s a comparison of old/new.

The new map allows you to mark custom locations by clicking tiles you have discovered. Hovering over a map tile will bring up a basic description of the location along with its name. The green tile is your current location, which can also be toggled off. Quest locations do not appear, both because it would require a redo of the current quest system and making you actually read the quest descriptions to find out where to go.

Spellbook

This has been the interface I’ve paid the least attention to while working on Tales, as I wasn’t completely sure what type of spells should be possible and their categories. Now it’s fairly complete, the remaining task is to create icons for the spells and particle effects when using them. The number next to the spell name is the mana cost when casting that spell.

spellbook

Same as always, tabs up top to change the category of spells you want to view. The to rightmost buttons are Alchemy Recipes and Cooking Recipes. Not fully done yet, I expect to have them done by next week along with more information about how magic works and some more spells.

Other changes/additions

  • Added a variety of teas that give different bonuses if drank before sleeping. EG more health when waking up, bonus experience for a small time and so forth. Tea can be crafted either on stoves or on a campfire (requires a teapot)
  • Lighting and audio improvements
  • Blood splatter effects when fighting enemies, if they have any blood to shed. It even spreads on the walls if you’re close enough. Enemies wearing heavy armor will spill less blood, and those with light armor, more.bloodeffects
    • Blood and gory effects can be turned off in the settings if you want
  • Started planning a short trailer, hopefully coming out in a few weeks if all goes according to plan.
  • Imported two new music tracks for dungeons and the swamp. Delicious!
  • Music dynamically changing to combat music when aggroing enemies.
  • New sound effects

That’s all for this week, cya all in the next one! Feel free to leave a comment with thoughts about what you just read, it’s greatly appreciated.

Quests & Character Generator

For the past two weeks I’ve mostly been working on writing quests and whatnot, therefore no post last week. I’ve also made some other smaller additions of course, more details below. New art and maps aren’t such a high priority right now, as it’s mostly done. The focus forward will be on adding in all the quests and characters, which means posts will be less frequent (not every week, but definitely every two weeks). Let’s jump in.

Questlines

For the most part I’ve been working on the questlines related to the Outposts,  one of the primary factions you interact with. To begin either of them, you have to travel to the West Outpost and talk with the commander, telling him a skill you’re most sufficient in, which determines which of the outposts you are sent to (East, North, South). So far I’ve only worked on the North Outpost quests, amounting to six so far. There’ll be more as time goes on, of course.

skjermbilde-2017-02-16-16-43-23

The North Outpost

You might wonder, what are these Outposts? They are the primary quest hubs for advancing the main story and are spread to each of the four corners of Uspya. Each of the Outposts have a commander, a smith, a trainer and some soldiers stationed there. The blacksmiths each specialize in one kind of weapon/armor that they craft better than anyone else, but will only sell their best goods to those of higher rank or after completing some tasks for them. The trainers can help you gain some free experience points by completing their training tasks.

Deeper Character Creator – Homeland and backgrounds

A few posts ago, I wrote about the redesigned Character Creator. I’ve added two more tabs to it, allowing you to set your homeland and create a background for your character. Changing your homeland affects your stats, as each of them provides a +1 bonus to a specific statistic, as well as changing dialogue from time to time. EG people from Sedresh might not like a person coming from Usmor, or they might want to be their best friend and so forth. This can also affect trading to some degree. The background generator allows you to set your parents professions, your aspiration and your previous education. These settings determine what items, stats and money you start out the game with. EG; your father being a blacksmith starts you out with a iron sword.

backgroundgen

Work in progress.

Other changes/additions

  • Added a variety of cloaks to shield the wearer from rain and keep warm in cold environments.
  • Fixed various sprites and item icons.
  • Added magical wards, placeable by the player. Wards are temporary and stationary objects that attack enemies within range.
  • New types of plants and cooking ingredients.
  • Animated banners and flags to ripple in the wind.
  • Started work on some new enemy types
  • Added transition animation when sailing by boats.

That’s all for this week, thanks for reading!

Facebook, dungeon refresh & game jams

This past week I’ve primarily been working on refreshing some dungeons, recording audio and drawing sprites. I also made a Facebook page to autopost new blog posts over there. More on that later. I also helped out a good friend drawing some sprites for a game he made for a GameMaker Game Jam over the previous weekend, which you can download by going here.

Dungeon Refreshing

Some of the dungeons I made back when Tales was just in its infancy was in desperate need of a refresh, primarily in layout. My main focus has been a frozen manor in the northern parts of the game world. I ended up scrapping the whole thing and redoing it from the ground up instead. I’ve included some ancient screenshots below, and screenshots of the new layout below those again.

Old

New

The new layout also features loads of new sound effects and other small things to improve the atmosphere drastically. Can’t say much more without risking to spoil what is going on there, you’ll have to try and find it whenever the public beta is available(shouldn’t be too long).

Temporal Turmoil

r0fnosk

Temporal Turmoil is a fast paced puzzle platformer where a clone of yourself is spawned on a timer that follows your exact steps. You control Cat, a dude who has a cat named Dude. The game is free to download by clicking this link, it’s worth taking a look. Programmed entirely by Johnwo, and both of us made sprites for it.

Facebook page

As mentioned earlier, I made a Facebook page you can like to get new blog posts directly into your wall. No more needing to head over to Twitter or checking the blog for new posts if you’re unsure there is something new. Click here to check it out.

Other changes/additions

As usual, the list at the end of the post about other smaller changes and additions to Tales.

  • Added a storage box to banks and player houses where you can put items you don’t want to carry around all the time. Storage boxes are linked, similar to Stash Boxes in Diablo or a bank in any MMO.
  • Fixed shops
    • Prices were all messed up
    • Errors when hovering certain items
  • Lighting improvements
  • New hair styles, available at the barber shop
  • Fixed saving/loading (big one)
  • More variation in food and drink items
  • Started working on more animals

That’s all for this week. Please leave a comment below if you want me to start writing a new post every week, or if it should still be bi-weekly. Every week will results in shorter posts with less exciting stuff, while bi-weekly results in longer, more in depth posts. Bai!

New Damage Formula & Character Creator

For the past two weeks, I spent some time updating the damage formula to be slightly more realistic, redesigned the character creator to better fit the rest of the interfaces in the game and drew the basic shape of the world map.

New damage formula

A new damage formula has been implemented, intended to increase realism and make the player care a bit more about what equipment they are bringing with them when heading out. With this new system, weapons are split into three categories; Sharp, Blunt and Ranged. Sharp weapons are things like swords, daggers, small axes and such. Blunt weapons cover maces, clubs, greatswords, war- hammers and axes and last Ranged covers bows and crossbows.

Blunt weapons are generally heavier, slower and more expensive to purchase, but deal more damage per hit. Sharp weapons is the other way around; cheap, fast and deal less damage. Ranged weapons are a mix, where you can either use Shortbows, Longbows or Crossbows. Shortbows shoot faster, Longbows shoot longer and Crossbows offer a middle ground between those.

Sharp and Ranged, except for crossbows, deal less damage towards plate armor. Instead when fighting these opponents, you should use a Blunt weapon instead to instead crush the armor. Sharp weapons are still effective towards light armor such as leather or chainmail, and more if the enemy has no armor at all.

World Map facelift

The world map has gotten a facelift, going from Excel spreadsheet style to something that looks like a proper map. It’s still gonna need some work to make it complete, but here’s what I got so far.

astya-world-map

New character creator

Back in October 2016 I made a post about making a new character creator interface. Now, it’s time to post about that again. The new character creator screen has all the features of the old one, along with some new randomization buttons and layout. The old layout wasn’t coherent with the new design philosophy of interfaces, where most of them now have sub categories that you can choose between. Here are some of the new things you can do with this character creator:

  • Choose a gender
  • Randomization
    • Hair
    • Hair color
    • Clothes
    • Clothes color
    • Statistics
    • Gender (50/50 chance of either)
    • Name, based on gender
  • Rotate the character to get a proper preview (up, down, left, right)
  • Better performance

So without further ado, here’s some screenshots showing how it looks:

Minor stuff

Apart from the new stuff mentioned above, some smaller tweaks and additions have also made it into Tales, list below.

  • Icon changes
  • Resized message box text and height
  • Made outhouses interactive after testers complained they couldn’t use them
  • New alchemy and cooking recipes
  • Changes to the outposts quests to fit a stat theme based on their location. EG Strength up North and Dexterity in the South and so forth
  • New traps; spinning blades and swinging axes
  • Fixed some locations where player can get stuck (this’ll probably be on more lists in the future)

That’s all for now, thanks for reading and have a nice day.