Another Development Update!
Greetings to all you would-be cryatists out there! It is time for yet another progress report on how Cryamore is coming along.
DUNGEONS AND STUFF
It’s been tricky to find much to show lately as a lot of the work done recently has been put towards laying out more of the maps for the Overworld and the “dungeon” areas.
As we may have mentioned in the previous updates, we’re making sure everything is clear and concise with the maps, so that the cleanup process is as smooth as possible once everything is laid out. In retrospect, it took quite a while, but we noticeably figured that usually there are whole teams devoted to map planning & puzzle design in a comparable game. But we’re definitely making it work! Every now and then, we have to go back to some of the maps we’ve completed to make sure everything looks right and sometimes add or take away from them, tweaking things until we feel it’s solid.
We did just that recently in a Cryamore team meeting where we decided to run through some of the map layouts we’ve made so far. We’re happy to say it’s really going to be a lot to explore as it took us about 15-20 minutes to explain all the rooms and puzzles of just one of the maps. Translated into game-time with the player not knowing the puzzle solutions, exploring each area, running around and fighting mobs, each dungeon could take quite some time to finish. And as we’ve stated with previous updates, the way to explore will not be strict at all. This will be a rather lengthy game. With the speedy and adaptive abilities we’ve designed (like the ability above which has not been revealed yet), we’re also making sure levels and areas are tweaked as well for speed-running too, at the best we can.
While we ran through the areas, we made sure each puzzle wasn’t too hard or too easy, as well as scaling the difficulty appropriately. We tried to make some of the obstacles the player face accept multiple solutions so just like Esmy, you’ll have to use your head a little and experiment between different abilities or gameplay methods.
Before we got started on fleshing out the backgrounds though, we were working on designs and animations for some of the baddies that Esmy will encounter throughout her adventures. Here are few work-in-progress silhouettes of a few:
We’re going to be reworking how the Butcherknife (sword) attacks work. Its swings were inconsistent since North & South are a sweeping slash while East & West has Esmy slashing downward instead.
The guide above should help provide a better idea of how the swings will work. The green arcs give an estimate of how wide the sword’s hitbox should be. We really wantCryamore’s combat to be as enjoyable as the other aspects of the game so we feel reworking the current sword attacks is important.
We’ve also decided to make the weapon you choose visible at all times. Shown above are the first batch of weapons, the Butcherknife (sword), Pizzaxe (axe), Javelink (spear) and Megadart (crossbow). This should help you feel a bit more of an attachment to your weapon of choice as you go through your adventure with it.
Another tweak to gameplay we’re working to implement is being able to cast certain abilities while running. Not all of your abilities will work with this as some require channeling like Rock Drill and Cubic Ice but other abilities like Spitfyre should now be more useful as you can run and gun to your hearts content (or until your EP runs out…) While running, with some abilities, you sacrifice precision even though casting is instantaneous, compared to neutral/idle casting, which takes about 3 frames to initiate.
No, we’re not having a breakdown! It’s just a breakdown of where we’re currently at! Overall, Cryamore is still far from finished but we’re constantly making progress in all the fields.
Most of the programming for the game’s core has been set a long while back by Ryan and Brandon. We can easily add new things as we see fit, monster sprites, assign a behavior to them, their drops & attacks, event-threading, and cutscene creation. What remains of the programming is working on some core combat tweaking, special AI for bosses, shops, map checking, and playtesting (a LOT of playtesting, which will lead to fishing for bugs… but we’re sure you all will help us out in that regard when that time comes).
MUSIC & SOUND
Music and sound are worked on as we go along. Aivi bases the music she makes on what the environments look like so as to make sure everything fits the feel of the area nicely, the same goes with sound as Surasshu bases the SFX on what the character looks like and how they’re animated, as well as how each ability effect is designed and animated.
Rob, Alan, Judy and JC have the designs halfway done as all the major characters are fleshed out already. The other half consists of certain NPCs designs ranging from people, critters and bosses along with gathering all the backer NPC designs and making sure they’re all set with what they want before we make concepts of them as denizens of Noka Island and then Rob and Alan can convert them to pixel sprites.
BACKGROUNDS AND ENVIRONMENTS
Rob and Alan have the backgrounds nearing about 75% completion also as the laying out of the various dungeons and Overworld are coming to a close. There are still interiors of buildings in Ghilcrest and the Settlements but the only concern with those are making them pretty. After that it’s all cleanup, color and slicing of elements to layer them in the game, which is a rather brisk process in itself. For example, a whole area/dungeon can take about a little over a week to draw, color, and add into the game itself.
The animations may not look like they’ve had much progress yet but once the backgrounds are ready for cleaning, Rob, Alan and Chris will get back to animating the many creatures and effects in the game.
While the story and plot of Cryamore is set already, the script still needs a lot of work. If you’ve played an RPG before, you should know the amount of dialogue present in them. Rob and Chris head the script with the rest of the team around to help brainstorm when needed. As we add the character sprites into the game we can further work on the extra bits of the supporting dialogue (which includes backer NPCs).
There may not be much dialogue recorded yet for the game but the progress shown indicates the voice talents that have been set already. As the script is finalized, we can begin voice acting (which will be directed by Chris) and then apply the recordings into the game easily.
We’ve been feeling a bit down on ourselves while working that we have not been able to reach our original goal, but we’ve come to admit to ourselves that our original goal was quite optimistic with a game of this caliber and depth. With that said, we have to change the original March release date to TBD, but we’re still making substantial progress to the game each day. Apologies are in order, but we will continue to do our best to keep you all updated as usual!
Also, we’re finalizing the revamped site with the new preorder system/widget fromHumble Store, and we will definitely have an update when that goes live!
Also, you know we can’t let you read an update without leaving you with a bit of musical love! Here’s the groovy and moody theme to the Phantom Marshes at night, when all the big baddies come out and jam to beating poor Esmy up! Enjoy! (Don’t worry about us spoiling you too much with music, we have so much more where this is coming from.)
Until next time!
New Year For You All, Same Kinda Day For Us!
WOOOO! It is 2014!!! We wish that everyone had a hyper-safe holiday season these past few weeks! We don’t have a lot to share on today’s update, but we’ll give you a general rundown as to how things are progressing. A lot of text coming up!
Designing, DESIGNING, DESIGNING!
We haven’t made much progress since our last informational update in terms of content creation. Alan and Rob are still tweaking things in the game’s design before moving on to creating art assets again. Design should never be taken lightly; the outcome of it can either make or break the game; it also leaves us mentally exhausted every day, although its very fun! (Though we’d prefer just making sprites and backgrounds in a perfect world.) We feel before we move on to getting back to creating animations and environmental assets, we want to make sure that everything is 100% solid so we’re not forced to make changes later down the road.
The issue here is that we can’t just design one area, finish it and then move on to designing a new area, finish that, and rinse and repeat, as much as we’d like to. Since this kind of game has no “stages”, we have to design on a broader scale and all elements of the world need to rely properly on each other. One error in design and it can break the whole flow of the game. The other issue is that we want to show stuff but can’t relatively show much without spoiling it, since Cryamore is pretty story-driven.
We’re close to finishing and laying out each area, however. Once everything is throughly checked, we can get back to work and making the gameplay solid and visuals pretty. We’re finally zeroing in on this, and we reckon that in about another week, we’ll be finished with this phase of development and can finally start showcasing more actual fun things to whet your appetite again.
Programming Side of Things
The greatest news here is that we’ve figured a lot of the more complex problems out, and since Cryamore is a relatively huge game, that is what has taken up most of our time; figuring out the most proficient method(s) to making the rest of the game. A lot of what you’ve played in that GDC demo has been scrapped and reworked from the ground up, to be better.
Cryamore utilizes what we call a “World Object Hierarchy”, where each object in the game has its own unique ID. Our system can call to each of these IDs and can be manipulated via our other systems. It gives us a way to maintain the state of our scenes (rooms/areas in the game) and the world objects within them (What doors have been opened? How many monsters and what variations of them have been killed? What shop is open at this or that time? What switches have been pressed? What puzzles have been solved? etc.). We don’t have to manage and keep track of an index of system checks ourselves for each different scenario, puzzle, item, and cutscene. Each object has its own ID we can just reference through any other system. If this is confusing, we apologize, but basically this just means that level, event, and content creation will be a breeze from here on out.
We also pulled an additional programmer, Felipe Ramos, to help out on the more lighter systems we still need to code in, like shops and AI (of which AI is his forte!) Welcome, Felipe! But as a whole, things are going smoothly in this area. We also can’t championUnity enough, as it has made a lot of things easy thus far and we’re not looking anywhere else when it comes to game development.
We also want to get some input from our backers and our audience as a whole. If you can answer or give your thoughts to the following questions, we’d greatly appreciate it. It’ll help give us further thought as we’re finalizing this aspect of the game’s development.
- Do you prefer to have a bit of control when it comes to directing your narrative or do you not care? How much do you weigh “choice”?
- We’re following a puzzle system to where a puzzle progresses the game indirectly (in the later parts of the game, as the second half of the game is completely non-linear). If you’re stuck on a puzzle, you can leave and go to a different area, and come back and try again later. With that said, how frustrating do you find difficult puzzles? Does it turn you off from a game? Do you like the challenge?
- How meticulous are you when it comes to management? For example, we have our Fatigue system, Cryamore Currency Exchange system, and Ability (Learning and Organizing) system to manage, all at once. Do you find this overwhelming, or do you welcome it?
Please note that we do not cater to a general populous as we’ve set out to do what we’ve already lined out, but we do take these kinda viewpoints into account, and will help us make necessary changes to our game if the need arises!
With all that’s said in this post, we’re coming up close to a full year since we’ve launched our Kickstarter, and we’re no where near to where we thought we’d be at this time. We call it ignorance, as we’ve never made a game of this scale before and our estimates were off. But alas, Ignorance is Bliss! We’re not too worried about it since we still have a firm hold on everything! Things are finally going to pick up a constant speed, and as much as we’d like to hit the end of March for near-completion, it’s probably not going to happen. We apologize in advance for those who were looking forward to the game’s completion closing in around that time. However, as we move further along, you will continue to be in the know as always, and a lot more often than it has been now that things are speeding up!
We end this update with a new piece of music from Aivi!
Another thing: we’ve been getting a literal storm of emails and messages from those who have found our Kickstarter late and would like to show their support for the game. Please know that we definitely would appreciate that you want to help out any way you can, but we’re focused on the game and haven’t found time to set up a method for you to contribute yet. But it will be up soon and we will definitely announce when you’re able to preorder the game!
Again, here’s to a great 2014! We’re personally pretty excited ourselves over here. =)
Dev Diary: Cryamore World Design, Part 1
As many of you may have seen from the recent update, progress involving hammering out the entirety of Noka Island along with its various interiors have been underway.
The Little Bit We’re Showing You Of The Overworld, Noka Island
So what exactly goes into our process of designing the world of Cryamore?
Well, the first step we took from the very beginning was to assign the various elements to a “dungeon”. Then we decided on the placement in Noka Island along with the location the town of Ghilcrest would be in.
We then made a list of all the important collectibles (Ingredients, Cryamore Catalysts, HP/EP upgrades, etc.) and mini-bosses. From there we distributed the collectibles and minibosses to specific dungeons or the overworld.
List of Every Cryamore Catalyst in the Game to learn Abilities
Then begins the tricky part of the process for us. We had to decide on what abilities will be readily available to the player during certain parts of the game. We split the abilities into multiple sections like attack types, shield types or context types and made sure there was one group of abilities that would be the core set you’d need to finish the game as quick as possible (though you won’t see everything this way and would be far from 100% completion).
After that process, we then have to plot out various puzzles for each dungeon that lead to the various collectibles or minibosses we’ve assigned which we dubbed as “SUB” puzzles for collectibles that are more for 100% completion, “SIDE” puzzles to for collectibles that help you get the “SUB” collectibles and the “MAIN” path of puzzles that just get you through the area and advance the story.
Yes. This is the full progression of the game right above. It’s lengthy.
All that was just on documentation though. After that lengthy process, we then moved onto laying it out in design. Ghilcrest’s exterior is nearly complete as many of you may have pieced together from previous screenshots, it just needs a good bit of detailing for that extra polish.
Northern Section of the Overworld, Again.
The Overworld is split up into blocks of areas just to give us a better measurement of scale. Each block is about 3.5 in-game screens in size, which averages to about 4000x4000 sections of area to traverse. That’s actually really expansive than the norm for a game like Cryamore. The blocks also help us divide parts of the world into sections that can fit a more area-based approach with the map (i.e. A Link to the Past) but also having the option to accommodate a more seamless style of world via asynchronous loading.
Along the way we place collectibles in the overworld and think of various obstacles the player must overcome to get them, whether it be using an ability, just exploring the area, fighting a miniboss or a combination of all three.
Rime Rapids Map
Dungeons as mentioned above have a guide we can follow already since we documented puzzles for each one.
The dungeon design process involves us laying out a grid of blocks and then outlining the main path the player must take to reach the end of the dungeon where they’ll fight a boss. We then start placing the puzzles we documented in various sections of the main path and create side-paths along the way that lead to other obstacles and collectibles. Sometimes we may add or subtract a few more obstacles along the way, making sure to always question ourselves whether something is pointlessly difficult or ridiculously easy which can be hard when you have the visible solution in front of you always.
Sometimes we even get confused with our own puzzles, but it is the most satisfying element of game design.
Throughout this all, we also have to be aware of the lore we’ve set up for Cryamore. We can’t have that many manmade obstacles or treasure chests as the humans who settled into Noka Island haven’t been there that long to create such things. What’s more, many of our dungeons are more part of the environment than a built structure like temples or actual “dungeons”.
The limitations definitely make designing a puzzle and the world quite challenging.
On the next part, we’ll give a bit more in-depth look into how we’ve drawn and illustrated the backgrounds and assets and put them in the game, which should be an informational post regarding how we use Unity for our development.