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Hostile Viking Studio Development



First Look into Portas Aurora: Battleline Concept

Posted by , in Portas Aurora: Battleline 19 August 2014 - - - - - - · 815 views


This video highlights a few elements of the game and concept ideas.

Updated the graphics to a Standard resolution

Prototype Version of the Interface
Any feedback is helpful.
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Graphics Now in 720p

Posted by , in Portas Aurora: Battleline 16 August 2014 - - - - - - · 795 views
Portas Aurora, Battleline, CCG and 3 more...
After talking with a few devs in the chat here and talking to other team members, it was decided that the next logical step would be to upgrade the graphics from 720x938 of the image shown in the last posted to a more "standard" resolution of 1280x720.
With the change in display size I understood that the UI would need to be updated to fit within the new space. However, I did not think that the game itself would evolve a bit with a simple change of the display size. The battlefield changed, where there were once 2 rows of 5 columns for units to be deployed there are now only 9 total spaces. Comments I received noted that at first it was confusing on whether or not a player's units could move onto the opponent's side of the field. Therefore, we moved the point at which the two sets of Battlelines came into contact away from each other. The hope is makes possible movement and deploy positions more intuitive to new players.
Additionally, we are working at a feverous pace to have the possibility to open the Demo to a few players to test out this coming Monday.*

*Edit: Due to the introduction of concept art earlier than planned, we have paused production to adjust the current design layout and planed route. Stay tuned for further updates.

Feedback is going to be key to tightening mechanics and grand players the best possible game. If anyone is interested in play testing please drop me a message or a comment.
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Demo Now Visually Shareable

Posted by , in Portas Aurora: Battleline 13 August 2014 - - - - - - · 866 views
Portas Aurora, Battleline, CCG and 4 more...
My last post, check it out, talked about the process leading to the creation of Battleline's Demo. Now 12 days into the Demo's development it has finally arrived at a point where, I believe, it is visually shareable.
The included Screenshot is of a game during the player's side of turn 6. The graphics are ALL placeholders with the white blocks being the target of future art assets. While I could talk about all of the things going on in the displayed image, I believe fellow developers would like to hear about some learning points that came up along the route to this point.

The planning period for the Demo took a full day. We, the team behind the project, have learned that it is often the case that 1 minute of planning saves 10 fold as much time in headaches and lost focus later. One point that came up a lot during the planning was the idea that images even placeholders would gate development. This did become a fact at a few points along the path to the Demo's current state. How and where the stat data for units would be stored effected more than a handful of decisions on how information would need to be handled. We were lucky that there was a cache of 300 cards to draw from for the testing. The graphic problem was a bit worst that "normal" due to the idea that the images used would have dynamic base images that would allow the demo to assemble the unit's image from data within the current game. The first version of the Token, the term we use for the unit on the battlefield, took about 6 hours. That is a lot for something that looks close to the level of MS paint. The key time saver came when we start tying more elements within the game together. A unit's stats could be changed and the image changed, not to another one from a library, but the core image. It also allowed us to play with size and spacing at an accelerated pace.

A second large point that may have cost us a day or even 2 was the decision to try and modify the prototype code of the Demo into the final version. There was a fair amount of back and forth, and in the end some hoped it would allow us to see more results sooner. Sometimes this can be a good idea, especially for teams that have worked on projects of similar types before. However, we have never developed a CCG and some of the crazy pitfalls that come along dealing with how cards that generate or use other cards throw some of the prototype's basic structure into a fire that consumer it.
Currently 95% of the prototype's code has been replaced with updated and tighter fitting solutions.

If the last 12 days had to be done over, I would do a few things different. First I would spend maybe another day planning the timeline between art assets that would act as time gates and have them knocked out ahead of when they would limit development, Second the decision after the prototype was deemed complete to continue used that code base for the production version, I feel was a mistake. Still hindsight being 20/20 I think 12 days is fairly fast for the current state of the Demo, but I will see what the community thinks.
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A Week into Demo Development

Posted by , in Portas Aurora: Battleline 07 August 2014 - - - - - - · 819 views
Portas Aurora, Battleline, Demo and 2 more...
After setting some rough boundaries I drafted a Design Document for the Demo. This brought a fair amount of discussion over whether a different document was required. However, the basic logic of the Demo only covering a faction of the full game's scope and therefore would present some of its own unique challenges won the day. Because of this we are treating the Demo as an independent project.

The second step was to find a setting for the Demo. By setting I mean a language and possibly a platform/engine to create the internal framework. As part of the limitations the number of art assets available to the Demo were virtually none and we are not looking to create them first. (The actual game version has only a hand-full of drawings for board design.) Therefore, the Demo would have to be "playable" using quickly created placeholders.
We have a licensed copy of Unity and after seeing Hearthstone shine on the engine it seemed the perfect idea. However, after a few hours of tinkering it was found that using the basic placeholder object in Unity would not be a workable solution. I am not saying that Unity is bad. I really enjoy working with it and believe the final/full version of the game will be powered by Unity, but the current design listing of the Demo requires it to be created quickly and with few art assets something that slowed down Unity production. If we had most are or at least 50% of the art it would be the perfect solution.
Having just finished a fair number of Java based products just before shifting focus back to game development it was suggested that Java be tested to see if it fit our needs. While being a skilled programmer in Java it is not a favorite language of mine to write in. Still as a team project and the fact it was a valid idea a few hours of testing was spent. Again the same issue of being limited by weak placeholder objects began to slow development. After the results of the Java trail were sent to the group the matter of finding an artist to even begin the project was brought up.
Art is a very key element in a successful game and we have been looking for an artist with the vision and talent in the direction of the game. Still there is a need to move forward and this need finally broke the back and forth over the artist topic. We are mostly a group of people that do web development and it was asked if we could just make the Demo a web app. It would allow the highest percent of us to program and review the project compared to other platforms. In a massive burst of laughter it was decided that this would be the route to take. It did bring up a few question of why this was not thought of first, but I think because we are not full-time game developers we had brushed aside a large portion of the talents we used on a daily basis because of our rookie status.

The third step tends to be the one the most hair is lost over, construction. The full game had been prototyped as web based and we quickly went to the archives to see if there was anything useful. The first few days were a flurry of emails and Ventrilo comments of "Go to my url." The board evolved from a very basic table based layout to a colorful interactive sight. The Design Document was always open with people talking about how best to achieve the set goals or if some of them were a little grand for the current scope. The second pair of days didn't see the pace slow, but there was less enjoyment because there was a data structure issue that had been discovered because of the heavy traffic testing. The game board (Battlefield) had already seen a half dozen alteration and improvement because of testing, but this data structure issue was not going to be a low time investment issue. With hundred of cards in need of being moved to the new system there was a lost of steam.
Design Document saves the day. An early morning meeting over the newest purposed data mapping remained us that the Design Document only called for approx. 90 cards to be in the Demo. Either for the lack of sleep or the early hour someone made the comment that we select the Race with the least amount of cards requiring conversion. The idea was simple and became a fresh western wind into our sails.

For now the project has been divided into two subgroups Battlefield Data Tracking and Card Conversion. Both systems require that the other is function before they can be tested and in a few hours the latest build will be tested, but first I wanted to post this update. Due to the state of flux of the Demo's visuals, I will hold off on posting any images. Creating the Demo will require another week or so to account for all of the changes that are being made to the game and its data structures, but we are are all in good spirits even over some of the more challenging tasks on the list.





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