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About this blog

Welcome to our dev's journal :)

Entries in this blog

Release Date Announcement

Hi gamedevs, 

We are happy to announce the release of Nanotale in early access on the 23rd of October 2019.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IohCH2aCx8 Wishlist the game on Steam Why in Early Access? The initial plan was to release the full game in September 2019 but then, we noticed that if we really wanted to release the game we dreamed of along with our community, it would take a little bit more time. So, we decided to polish the first 35% of the game and put it in your hands to make sure that we are on the right track while finishing Nanotale. 












We give more info about the early access and its content in the following video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2kd_ams2fo&t=4s
The more feedback we get, the better our game will be at release. So, thank you in advance for your support!

Have a wonderful week. 
-VirginRedemption

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

Weekly Recap #special: Back from Gamescom

Hello Fox Riders, 

We're back from Gamescom! 

Gamescom was pure madness. It was exhausting, but we regret nothing! We had the opportunity to make people play the demo of Nanotale. Some of them were returning Fox Riders from Epistory, while other didn't know about our games but both loved it. It was so rewarding. 



We took the picture above with the wonderful people from Onanagro Studio who helped us a lot on the booth and borrowed us their holographic display to showcase some art from Nanotale. Below, a hologram of the Green Jasper. 









At some moment the booth was so crowded that it was hard to manage who's the next player, so one of our Game Designer decided to create a path to follow on the floor and it did work. 


  Closed BETA
Before finishing that update, I'd like to give you some quick news about the Closed BETA. 

We are currently finishing a few stuff to make sure that the part of the game that we want you to test is working well. So, you should expect the Closed BETA to start around mid-September. 

That's it for today's recap! Thank you for reading and for your patience. 

Cheers,
-VirginRedemption

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

Weekly Recap #33 & #34: Game dev fact and new enemy

Hi Guys,
Last week we mainly worked on being ready for Gamescom 2019, and we also continue to produce new concepts and elements of the lore. New Elements and Concepts Talking about new stuff, here's the "Shield" enemy. We needed an enemy with low speed and immuned to basic spell, but that can still be knockback. 



Here are the researches done to find the right look of that new enemy. Game design-wise, we felt like the snail-like enemy was the best pick for that "Shield" enemy we needed in Nanotale. 

This is another concept art showing you the village in the Sunken Caves from a different perspective. 



And here's how it looks like in the game. 

The prologue in Nanotale is a specific part of the forest where you learn how to move and interact with the environment. It's also where the story begins. 

We needed that part to be different from the core of the Ancestral Forest. Here are the new pine trees created for the prologue. 

  Game Evolution Something I like to do is to take screenshots of the same place each time we take a big step in development. Here's the evolution of a specific scene from the level design "blockout" version to the decorated one (without lighting yet). 





  Game dev fact When something is placeholder you'll have to tell it 10 000 times until your team stops asking you if it's the definitive asset. 

Apparently here, the artist who placed that rock wanted to avoid questions 🤣 



Here's the concept art of the element that will replace the placeholder asset above. That rock tells you a story from Nanotale's lore. 



Don't forget to join our discord channel to chat with us! 

Thank you for reading. 
 

Weekly Recap #32: Polishing a bit

First of all, we'd like to thank you for applying to Nanotale's BETA. We can't wait for it to begin. 

Last week, we mostly focused on polishing some animations and part of the game. We even added a close-up when analyzing an element from the lore in Nanotale. Here, Rose is writing about the Green Jasper. 





Quentin designed some platforms/bridges that can be activated by magic to solve puzzles in Nanotale.



Talking about puzzles, this is the last update about sheep or you will start to think that it's a game about sheep  

Sheep change color when eating specific flowers. And this is how it works. 





That's it for today. 

Have a great day! 
 

BETA Testing and Weekly Recap #30 & 31

Hi Indies, 

BETA testing is coming! Apply for a chance to join the closed BETA of Nanotale by answering the following form. 

APPLY HERE[docs.google.com]

Once we are ready, we'll create groups of players for testing and notify them by email. 
  Weekly Recaps
Last week we introduced you a member of the team: Quentin, our 2D/3D Artist. 



Feel like that polishing step on the Ancestral Forest is taking ages! Here's a video of Quentin painting the sheep in ZBrush 🐏 



If you are curious about Quentin's work, you can have a look at his ArtStation[www.artstation.com]. 

Here are the sheep running away from me after I burnt half of the Ancestral Forest in the game. Fair enough. 



The sheep are not just there to populate the plain. These fluffy creatures are part of a puzzle designed by our Level Designer, Fabrice (FabCactus on Discord). So, last week we mainly focus on making sure that everything works fine for the puzzle idea he has. 

Our three kind of sheep are now fully finished 😍 baa 🐏 🐑 🐏 



In that mysterious puzzle, we use flowers to attract sheep.



The gif below shows you something more technical. It's how we easily change the Houdini digital asset of the flowers in Unity3D. 



Here's another gif showing you how we can create and modify another Houdini digital asset in Unity3D. That's a lot of fun and time-saving. 



That's all for today. 

Thank you for reading. 

Cheers,
-VirginRedemption
 

New Gameplay Video

I am so happy to share with you the new teaser video of Nanotale. 
We really hope that you will like it. Don't hesitate to leave your thoughts about it below! 
 

Thank you and have a wonderful day! 

-VirginRedemption
 

Weekly Recap #27: Troglodyte House and video!

Hi guys, Sorry for the waiting. I was on a long weekend :3 Last week, we started to work on other things than rocks for the second biome in Nanotale. That little house is the first step to create a troglodyte village. And here's a new concept art showing you some elements from the Sunken Caves' lore. I kind of love that concept more than the others because it's the first time that our concept artist uses the watercolor effect that we have in 3D on a 2D concept. The following concept shows you some new props that we needed for a special puzzle area located in the Ancestral Forest. Won't tell you more about the puzzle excepted that the area is full of sheep :epiwink: Let's finish that update with a nice accelerated video showing you our 2D artist texturing a Static Enemy. Thank you for reading! Have a great week.
 

Weekly Recap #26: The Sunken Caves in 3D

Hi Fox Riders, 

I hope that you enjoyed your weekend as much as we did. 

Before our long weekend, we started some modeling for our second biome And because it's called the Sunken Caves it will ofc start with rocks!






There are multiple entrances to the Sunken Caves but the main one is located North from the Ancestral Forest, passed the meadow. We are currently working on its look. 






Concepts
While modeling rocks, we are also in quest of the good colors for the Sunken Caves. 



We think we found an interesting color scheme for the dwellers of the Sunken Caves. What do you think?


Texturing
We finished a few textures. Here are the people from the Ancestral Forest. Video coming soon! 




  T-shirts Giveaway
The game being in dev, we can't give you keys of Nanotale. So, to support #loveindies we decided to giveaway t-shirts of the game! Comment with an #indiegame you love for a chance to win! 😍

Find the contest on Twitter
Find the contest on Facebook[www.facebook.com]
BONUS
These inquisitive little creatures follow you around, no matter where you go. Not even distressed by the attacks of the blue predators on these lands. Though no one ever saw one attack a Green Jasper particularly.

Visit the link below to have a closer look at the 3D model of the Green Jasper. 

https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/green-jasper-5ba42f678ecd4c878dc712d783fc644f

Thank you for reading. 

Cheers,
VirginRedemption

Weekly Recap #25: Dwellers from the Sunken Caves

Hi Fox Riders, 

A new week always begins with a short recap. Last week we worked mostly on the new biome, the Sunken Caves. Our 2D artist created a few concepts of the biome but also of the dwellers.

Some asked for a link to her artstation, so here it is: Enjoy[www.artstation.com]

"The Dwellers from the Sunken Caves are mining too much, they are devouring their own world."


  The Sunken Caves
The following concept art show you some elements from the second biome. Some are part of the Lore but others are purely decorative.



Here are some early ideas for the dwellers. They are mostly miners and fishermen. 




  Name that plant
Thanks to all your suggestions, we found the perfect name for that plant.


  Stream on Twitch


We started a streaming routine in English but also in French, with the willing to show you more of the game but also how we create it. 

SCHEDULE

Français - Mercredi 11h30 (11:00 am CEST
English - Wednesday 11 am EDT (5 pm CEST)

Follow us on Twitch[www.twitch.tv] to not miss them.
You can also watch our previous streaming sessions here[www.twitch.tv].
  NEWSLETTER
Some Fox Riders told us that they were missing a lot of our news on Steam due to the huge amount of games they are following. So, I'd like to remind you that we also have a newsletter. You get it less often than a weekly recap (more like 1 every month or two months), but at least it's harder to miss. 

So, if interested, here's the link to subscribe[confirmsubscription.com].
  BONUS
Here's another post showing you how we create our objects from 2D to watercolor 3D. Maybe we should create a video next time we work on the textures? 



And to finish, this won't be in the game but, I wanted to show you what happens when you say to your Game Designer that the fog is not juicy enough! Use your words with caution. 



Thank you for reading! 

Cheers,
VirginRedemption

The Sunken Caves: New biome revealed!

It's time to introduce you the second biome from Nanotale: The Sunken Caves. "Poison is spreading from the edges of the Sunken Caves, but the town feels safe and nurturing."



Last week our concept artist, Amandine, worked on the Sunken Caves; trying to find the right mood/ambiance for this new biome. 



Spring-cleaning! New Screenshots.

Hey guys!  A fresh air of Spring blows on Fishing Cactus. So, we updated Nanotale's Steampage with new banners, screenshots, and gifs of the game. 

Basically, what you see here, is the fire spell used to burn enemies and combined with the "LARGE" shape to melt the ice. 










BONUS And because our animator needed a break he decided to create that video. Better with sound!   https://youtu.be/jIwc1TgMO3Y

That's it! Thank you for reading and following Nanotale! 

Cheers,
VirginRedemption
 

New Screenshots of Nanotale!

Hey guys, We have new screenshots of our game in development showing you the art style. And even if there is still a lot of work to do, things missing here and there, and unfinished textures, we can say that we are quite happy with it. I hope you will enjoy them. More screenshots on our Steam page

Thank you for reading!

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

NPCs, enemies, main character, fox, and art style.

Hello guys, 

We hope that you had a great holiday season and that 2019 will bring a lot of joy. 

Let start the new year with a small recap of what has been revealed so far. 


 
Here's an image showing you concept art of the Poppies and the execution in 3D. 


  The world-wound festers. The people take and take. They have gone too far, Traveller…

This is the Concept Art that inspired us the banners and video teaser of the game. 



Thank you for reading! 

Have a great week. 

-VirginRedemption

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

Nanotale, our new typing game is now in development

NanotaleTeaser_with_sound.mp4 Something is wrong with the heart of magic. Play a young archivist venturing out into a dying world, cataloging its mysteries and its wonders to unearth the truth. Nanotale is the new adventure from the Typing Chronicles franchise and the spiritual successor to the acclaimed Epistory. We are proud to finally be able to announce the development of our new typing game, Nanotale - Typing Chronicles, the spiritual successor to 2016’s acclaimed indie title Epistory - Typing Chronicles. 

Something is wrong with the heart of magic. Play a young archivist venturing out into a dying world, cataloging its mysteries and its wonders to unearth the truth.

Nanotale - Typing Chronicles is an atmospheric typing adventure RPG set in a colorful vibrant world that blooms to life under the words of Greg Buchanan [www.gregbuchanan.co.uk]. Developed by Fishing Cactus Games with the same core team as Epistory - Typing Chronicles, we can’t wait to share the adventure! Wishlist the game NOW   Weekly Updates Today is the opening of our Steam page, and with it, the beginning of us being able to talk about the project. To make sure that communication between players and devs flows perfectly, we will post weekly updates about the game on the following channels:

Nanotale Steampage
Twitter
Facebook [www.facebook.com]
Discord [discord.gg] Your voice is important Many of player participated in our survey last year about those features they loved in Epistory and how they would like to see these features in our next title.
That survey has been used as a solid base when brainstorming about the Nanotale - Typing Chronicles. It helped us to capture the DNA, the essence of Epistory, to create a new game that we hope will please the community. Sometimes decisions have to be taken. Some are harder than others, but we will count on you to continue to enlighten us about what you think of Nanotale - Typing Chronicles. We want you to take part in this incredible new typing adventure with us!

Leave us your thoughts in a comment and don’t hesitate to spread the news all around you! 

Thank you!

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

Loveable programming puzzle game Algo Bot hits Steam on February 14, 2018

Hello Guys,  I am happy to announce the release of Algo Bot on Steam on February 14th, 2018. Steam page for wishlisting 
Twitter
Facebook Algo Bot is a puzzle game which challenges players to control the movements of a lowly maintenance droid aboard the pan-galactic colonization ship Europa. Over 46 levels, players must devise algorithms to carefully control Algo Bot’s path, borrowing concepts from the programming world - including variables and subroutines. In the rich single-player story campaign, Algo Bot meets PAL, a cantankerous and aloof line manager, and Gemini, the cheerfully eccentric shipboard computer. When a routine recycling job goes horribly wrong, Algo Bot and this unlikely band of heroes must work together to save the sleeping colonists on board the Europa. Algo Bot blends basic programming skills with gameplay to make a fun, creative and ultimately satisfying puzzle game.


FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

Algo-Bot Returns

Over a year after the release of Epistory - Typing Chronicles, we are proud to have reached the milestone of an 'Overwhelmingly Positive' User Review score on Steam. This feels like a perfect time to reveal our next original title: Algo-Bot. Algo-Bot is a programming puzzle game taking place on an interstellar colonization ship, crossing the galaxy in search of new grounds to settle for humanity. Once again, we’ve teamed up with Epistory’s writer, Joseph J Clark, to give Algo-Bot a light storyline with a touch of British humor.

The concept of the game dates back a few years when we held a Kickstarter campaign to finance its production. Even though the Kickstarter didn’t reach its target, we promised the enthusiastic community that we would make the game if Fishing Cactus managed to secure a budget for it - and here we are! With more funding secured than our Kickstarter campaign was aiming to raise, we’ve plunged our fingers into the original prototype and dug out the core experience. Out of this, we are building a brand new game with improved story elements, design, graphics and more. The game tells the story of an Algo-Bot unit helping a robotic personal assistant - PAL - navigate the maze-like spaceship. As the player, you will take the role of the operator and use a visual programming language to issue a sequence of commands to Algo-Bot. Will you manage to solve all the puzzles? Thanks for reading. Don't hesitate to talk with us on Discord, Twitter , and Facebook.        

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

Epistory Retrospective - Looking back over the development of Epistory

[font=arial]Once upon a time[/font] Epistory is a typing adventure game, built with Unity3D and released on March 30, 2016. It received very positive reviews - both from critics and players - and sold over 100k copies (including bundles). You can see the game's Steam page here. We recently opened a Discord channel for the company, which you can join using this link: discord.gg. It's been one hell of a ride! In this retrospective article, we'll try to give you a sense of progression from the early prototypes up to the release of the game we all know and love. We'll also talk about the great endeavor a game like this represents, even though Epistory isn't a big game by AAA standards. We'll share some of our successes, failures and missed opportunities.

[font=arial] [/font]
[font=arial]We tried several art styles for the collectible images. First try, not in the final game.[/font]
[font=arial]It was the best of times, it was the worst of times[/font] The most critical thing to do in game development is to identify and remove the risks. You take the riskiest feature, and you try it as fast as possible because you don't want a nasty surprise when it's too late to make changes. With an adventure typing game, we didn't know how the typing mechanic would work out: so we created a playable prototype very early on. Our primary goals were to test a typing mechanic to interact with items, handle character movement (which was tile-based at the time), and the mixture of exploration, puzzles and arena fights. Early game development is the best part because all opportunities are still open and you get to try a lot of interesting things. But it is also the worst part as most of what you try is not as interesting as expected. You experience optimism and doubt at the same time. You can see our first working prototype yourself, but keep in mind that it is really barebone and that no artist was involved (it is made with the Construct 2 engine). After that point, development restarted from scratch, with a different engine (Unity 3D), but with all the experience we gathered from the prototype. Play the prototype [font=arial]There was a girl[/font] [font=arial] When the prototyping phase ended, our next goal was to find a new take on the typing game genre, mostly focused on arcade gameplay for short game sessions. We were aiming for 18 short dungeons instead of the 8 large dungeons and overworld we currently have.[/font] [font=arial] Being a relatively small studio, we had to settle on the amount of money available for this adventure. At the beginning, our budget was around EUR125k. We'll explain later why and how but by the end, we were talking about EUR300k. That's 3 and a half people for a year and a half.[/font]

[font=arial] [/font]
[font=arial] Second attempt at an art style. Also not in the final game.[/font]
[font=arial]And she rode upon the back of a great fox[/font] Since the first story ideas, we tried to link the typing mechanic with the process of writing a book. We started with a muse giving a writer's inspiration by typing words in a fantasy world which represented the writer's mind. As in the final game, at the beginning the world is empty and there is no story, so the project was called The Heroine of no Tale for quite some time. Mildly interesting fact: we got used to the acronym "THONT" and used it for a long time even after we named the game Epistory. Now the nickname is simply "Epi". If you launched the prototype, you'll have noticed that the girl was walking and that there was no fox around. The great three-tailed fox is based on a mythical creature, a Japanese nine-tailed fox, which looked good in a papercraft style. But the real reason for its existence is that we needed to give the girl a mount, so that we could realistically increase movement speed without changing the world scale.

[font=arial] [/font]
[font=arial] We have a paper fox in the studio![/font]
[font=arial]But they were lost[/font] At the start of the development, it was decided that Epistory would serve as an experiment for a new way to manage our projects. Instead of having one project manager serving as an overseer for the whole project, the whole team would be its own manager while one of the Fishing Cactus directors would act as a client/producer. At that time, there were only three developers in the team. One game designer, one programmer and one 3D artist. Each acted as the manager of the other two, responsible for updating the task list, validation of quality standard and so on. Of course, when the project first started we didn't immediately see the implications of that kind of organization. After all, there's so much to do! Creating a list of tasks feels pointless when you don't even have a character moving in the game world. Over time, we organically divided the tasks usually dealt with by a project manager among ourselves. One of us would mostly handle the communication with the externs (localization and audio) while another would mostly deal with the task lists and keep an eye on the schedule and deadlines. In the last few months of development, the three of us would take a few hours to do a full update of the task list and the estimated time left, to make sure we were still on target budget-wise. All in all, we think it worked OK. There's room for improvement, but as a first experiment, it could have been a train wreck! [font=arial]They had always been lost[/font] The first control system, inherited from the prototype, was tile-based and used DFJK to move. We grew tired of the way this worked: it was too slow, too clunky. We quickly changed over to navmesh-based movement, to unleash the player's freedom of movement. This was a lot better: we solved puzzles faster and had a better sense of exploration. But something kept nagging at us. Why did we use DFJK to move instead of WASD like any other game? That's the question we got from everyone who tested the game at that point (and continued to hear even after release!). The answer is that we did not want the game to teach a bad typing behavior, because by playing you'll get used to typing that way. So we wanted to place the control keys on the middle row, where your fingers are supposed to rest on a typical typing position. But having cardinal direction controls aligned on a single row was very confusing. So we began searching for more intuitive controls while maintaining good typing form. After repeated internal playtests of many weird control schemes (like 8 keys to handle 8 directions), we settled on EFJI (plus, after popular demand, we added WASD). This stays close to the default typing position and puts each diagonal direction to the corresponding key (that works more naturally because of our isometric-like view). That binding passed our ultimate "intuitivity" test: running in perfect circles without looking at the keyboard, which means that you can switch naturally between the eight possible directions.
[font=arial] [/font]
[font=arial] Final recommended movement keys[/font]
[font=arial]Until a path appeared[/font] A few months after starting development, we saw more enthusiasm for the project's potential both inside the studio and among players. At first, we didn't know if there would be public demand for a typing game so we were really cautious. After showing the game a bit, we knew that we would be able to make something that players would be interested in. Besides that, the first independent game of Fishing Cactus has to be a critical success for the studio's image. Our confidence was increasing and we decided to commit more resources to the project, considerably increasing its budget. What was supposed to be a small-ish arcade game was now going to feature a deeper story and have a bigger scope overall. The game was already in an advanced state: we had prepared a short demo for the upcoming Gamescom and we had the first hour or so of gameplay ready.

[font=arial] [/font]
[font=arial] We added a meteorite early to test some story ideas. We kept the effect, but the text changed a lot![/font]
We tried doing the story ourselves but it quickly became clear that, a) we were not gifted for that skill and b) we already had a lot of work just creating the game. We applied for pitches from writers for the game with story and structure intentions. We received a lot of answers: some of them were comical, some were a bit disturbing, but one struck us as the perfect match for the game. The idea of a narrator looking for inspiration shifted to a deeper story: something personal, emotional, and introspective - something which can be read on different levels. We use different fonts and voices to give the player a few hints. You can read more about the story without spoilers. With the story in place, we began searching for a voice. We needed someone who was capable of reaching the emotions needed for the story. Strangely enough, we received a lot of samples sounding like a radio commercial. Not bad by itself but so far from what we were looking for. Finally, we found her! Rachael Messer has a lot of experience voicing games and her voice was just right for Epistory. Her voiceover added a powerful dignity to the narration which really helps the story come to life. [font=arial]And so she followed[/font] The next big step was to rework the introduction of the game according to the new story direction and finish the first dungeon. The goal was to bring that first hour of the game to final quality, kind of like a large vertical slice. Usually, a vertical slice (or VSD for vertical slice demo) is an early demo of the game that aims to show how the game could be at its best. It sets the target for the final visual quality and gameplay experience, but only for a small part of the game. Imagine that we take the final game and cut a thin slice of it; that's your vertical slice. With one hour of gameplay at the middle of Epistory's development, we had the same objective as a vertical slice but with a larger chunk of the game. The other objective of polishing that part of the game was to get it ready for an early access release. [font=arial]Was the path leading her?[/font] And finally, that day came. We released Epistory in early access on September the 30th 2015 with the first chapter of the story (two of the eight dungeons). An early access release is like a mini-release: you feel the same joy and relief of leaving your game to the players, though it reaches a smaller audience than a full release. But the game is not finished so you come back the next day as if nothing had happened. Well, actually not, because when you wake up the next day, you have received a lot of feedback for bugs and features. Mostly bugs. That means extra work for us to do - and quickly, because new players are seeing the game while you are working. It can be stressful, but that is valuable feedback we could never hope to get from internal playtests alone. So, thank you to all of you who took the time to write comments and send feedback. That core group of early players also helps the game grow in popularity. And that is the other reason we released in early access: to build a community around the game before the actual launch. We get Steam reviews, shares on social networks, media coverage and word of mouth. When you are an indie and don't have a marketing budget that equals your development cost, it is what makes the difference between a commercial success or failure.

[font=arial] [/font]
[font=arial] Here's the third style for the images - the one that made it into the final game[/font]
[font=arial]Or was she leading it?[/font] Naturally, we developed and added the rest of the game in the order of the story. The initial plan was to release it chapter by chapter throughout the early access, and we did that for the second chapter. But that method was taking us too much time to make temporary versions of the game, and we needed that time to make the game as polished as it could be. Since the updates were not really followed by more sells or visibility, we took the decision to wait and release the rest of the game in one batch. While we are talking about the dungeons we can reveal some small anecdotes for each one. As the first one to be made, Burning Hollow, has been the most reworked dungeon. From a linear beginner level, we restarted from scratch to add hidden treasures and backtracking. Forgotten Forest and Drowning Halls were more straightforward to design: the first one is focused on getting lost in a forest (more than what we could do in the overworld). The second is focused on solving puzzles. Ice Mausoleum has a lot of props which are modified versions of the ones in Burning Hollow as they are basically both underground caverns. One difference is that we added a bit of elevation on this one. For the next half of the game, we were more experienced and we didn't want to make the same thing over and over. So we tried to make the dungeons look different, mostly by making them less flat. Creation City does exactly that: it has 7 stages and from the final fight at the top you can see everything behind. All items are sorted by stage and the stages above you are hidden so they do not block the camera. The more technically challenging was probably the Crystalline Mine because we added a new gameplay system with light switching. Setting all those lights and having the words hidden in the dark was way more complicated than we expected. Shattered Isles' design is inspired by the part in Forgotten Forest where you can see small islands floating under the level. Finally, Lost Desert has regular point of view of the mountain that symbolizes your final goal. The mountain you see there has additional parts that are hidden when you actually reach it. [font=arial]She didn't know. It was just there[/font] For eight years, we developed games for others and we used to keep our games secret until the publisher decided to release it. So, our first question was: when should we make the game public? Having the choice of going public early in development was quite shiny and new and definitely what we wanted. But the real question was: what did the game need? Releasing a typing game as your first product is a big challenge. We knew from the beginning that Epistory was going to be a fairly niche game. Too often categorized as an educational game, we tried to emphasize on the art style and the "RPG - Adventure - Puzzle" side of it and after early feedback from the community, we came up with a tagline: "If Zelda and a keyboard had a baby, it would be Epistory." We didn't like to explain our game solely by comparing it to others, but with such a nebulous concept, it felt like a necessity. Our whole team got involved with public communications, which was definitely an advantage to us. It saved us time and helped present a better image of ourselves. It helped with community management, both during events and when we needed to write articles about development. The idea was to try our best to give a real, honest insight into development to people who followed the project. We will publish an article diving deeper into our communication strategy soon.
[font=arial] [/font]
[font=arial] One of our marketing images.[/font]
[font=arial]All of a sudden, she knew where she was[/font] Throughout early access, we were careful to always be present, active and helpful in the Steam forums. We were (and still are) firm believers in direct communication between players and the development team. It creates a strong community and we even received praise just for being there. It's also great to get to interact with streamers and YouTubers, mostly as a surprise random encounter in the video's comments or the chat. Since we don't have the resources to organize extensive playtests, checking Let's Plays was a major source for bug hunting and player behavior analysis. Our tutorial messages were updated to be clearer after seeing videos with players not fully understanding the fire magic burning effect. Thanks, by the way, to any streams and LPers who gave us this excellent feedback! By February 2016, after releasing two chapters on early access, most of the game was ready. The finishing touches were being added to the last dungeon of the game. The ending sequence and the accompanying video were being finalized. The list of bugs was shrinking day by day as we polished the game, getting it ready for its big day. [font=arial]She was home[/font] Fast forward a few weeks and: Launch Day! The game has been polished until it shines like a mirror. After several months of prototyping, followed by a year and a half of production, we were finally ready to hit the big green LAUNCH button. In the days that followed, we were ecstatic. The players loved the game, the critics loved the game, we loved the game and we were -and still are- proud of our achievement. But this was only the first part of the journey. To this day, one year after that release, Epistory is still being worked on albeit at a slow pace. We can't wait to share our next projects with the community.
[font=arial] [/font]
[font=arial] Anniversary T-shirt.[/font]

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

Major Update

[font=tahoma]After weeks of hard work, we present to you the new and shinier version of Epistory. You spoke and we listened. We understand it would have been better for most of you to receive the update in chunks over the weeks but given the amount of changes it was a lot easier for us to handle one big transition to the new version instead of several small incremental versions. We even had to stop planning for a workshop beta.
Without further ado, here's the changelist: Added/Improved[/font]
[font=tahoma]Mod support.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Profiles (multiple saves) support.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Steam Cloud support.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Distinction between gameplay and story language.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Splash screen only when the game launches.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Removed mouse cursor during gameplay.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Improved arena wave randomness.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Single letter words always get typed, even in the middle of another word.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Several small improvements for the map.[/font]
[font=tahoma](slightly) Improved performance, (massively) reduced spikes.[/font]
[font=tahoma]V-Sync option.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Custom mouse cursor.[/font]

[font=tahoma]Fixed[/font]
[font=tahoma]Several sound errors. Please let us know if you still encounter any problems.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Game not loading on Linux when the OS is not set to English locale.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Several small bugs for the map.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Several small errors in the story texts.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Several keyboard specific patterns.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Music/effects volume preference not always respected.[/font]
[font=tahoma]Entering the "Ice Mausoleum" door without triggering the scene change.[/font]

[font=tahoma]And of course several small improvements/fixes across the board that would be too long to list. As always, we welcome your feedback and bug reports.[/font]


FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

Fonts of Wisdom: Choosing Typefaces for Epistory

[color=#333333] Choosing a font is never easy and for Epistory, it nearly drove me mad. We didn't have to find only one font, but [/color][color=#333333] three. Three fonts that needed to match together, follow constraints and have their own identity. [/color] [color=#333333] We had just a few constraints: [/color]
[color=#333333][font=symbol][size=2]. [/font][/color][color=#333333]To support a wide range of symbols (French, Portuguese, Polish accents, Russian symbols...) [/color]
[color=#333333][font=symbol][size=2]. [/font][/color][color=#333333]To always be easily readable [/color]
[color=#333333][font=symbol][size=2]. [/font][/color][color=#333333]To give an idea or a hint of its purpose [/color] [color=#333333] ...Simple. [/color] [color=#333333] Typing Font[/color]
[color=#333333]The first font we decided to work on was the typable one: the font that will lead players through the game and on which the gameplay relies. The difficulty was to have a font readable on which we could add different kinds of feedback: such as the kind of magic needed, the right magic selected and so on. [/color] [color=#333333] We also wanted to suggest that the font belonged to a book, so we chose a font with serifs. "Optimus princeps", already used for the subtitle in our logo, was our first selection but there were too many missing symbols. [/color][color=#333333]Instead, it became our reference for our future selections. [/color]
[color=#333333] Serifs turned out to be a bad idea. The problem we encountered with those fonts was that they were not easy to read at all. I'll spare you from all the steps we passed through because it will be a long and annoying description of research. Instead, I'd prefer to simply explain why we choose "YanoneKaffesatz". [/color] [color=#333333] At first we added constraints in order to determine with precision our needs: [/color]
[color=#333333][font=symbol][size=2]. [/font][/color][color=#333333]Find a vertical font that allows us to add long words without taking too much space [/color]
[color=#333333][font=symbol][size=2]. [/font][/color][color=#333333]Simple, no serifs, no extravagance to increase the readability [/color]
[color=#333333][font=symbol][size=2]. [/font][/color][color=#333333]Large enough for adding FX (but not too much) [/color] [color=#333333] After that, our decision came naturally. We forget it too often, but sometimes "feeling it" is the most important way. [/color] [color=#333333] Feeling the Font[/color]
[color=#333333]When your brain drives you mad with all its "what if", it's time to turn it off and focus on what the font makes you feel. [/color] [color=#333333] The "YanoneKaffesatz" was, for me, the perfect font for many reasons. The regularity of the letters suits to a "book", to a story, and the roundness feels "womanly". Eech letter is readable, serene... perfect for when half-dozen monsters come to you. [/color]
[color=#333333] For the main story font, which appears drawn on the world, our research didn't last as long as for the first font. We noticed quickly that "Kingthings Petrock" would suit to our needs. Like "Yanone", it was large enough to be readable in the bright grassland as well as in the dark cave, not too fanciful, but it also has the style of an illuminated manuscript, suits the story we wanted to tell. [/color]
[color=#333333] The Secret Font[/color]
[color=#333333]Our last font one keeps a secret... it's a whisper, it's like it isn't really there and as soon as you see it, it's already gone... [/color] [color=#333333] I chose this one only by instinct. I wanted something womanly, something personal, handwritten but not conventional. It had to be attractive... and disturbing as well. When I found "luna" I knew right away that it was the font I was looking for. [/color]
[color=#333333] With Unity, I added some effects to this jarring, mysterious text: a little cloudiness that makes it less material and increases the impression of strangeness. The reasons why I chose it are pretty much spoilers so I won't expand on that subject. [/color] [color=#333333] I spent weeks - maybe months - on these choices, but I've learned a lot. Principally to trust myself. I've done my best on it and sold a part of my soul for the game. [/color] [color=#333333] In the end I hope that you'll enjoy the experience - because that's what really matters. [/color]

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

Epistory is now out on Steam!

Hi Fox Riders! Epistory is finally fully released. Can't wait for you to discover the end of the game. Good luck with hours of game waiting for you. Also, we'd like to thank all of you for the support and love during the early access. Don't hesitate to share our new trailer around you. In the coming weeks, we plan to fix the very few remaining bugs you could find in this version. We are even thinking of adding more languages. But now let's party! Play the game here.

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

Finding the Right Words

[font=arial] The challenge of localizing of a typing game[/font]
[font=arial]In Epistory, typing is the sole interaction the player has with the game. You get to type a lot of words, in fun, varied ways, so we end up with a lot of text content. We don't just use random words, but words that fits with several constraints (of theme and gameplay). That makes the translation work crucial for the experience of the non-english speaking players. [/font]
[font=arial]So let's take a look at the main challenges we had with localizing our text-based content and the solutions we came up with. [/font] [font=arial] The Story's Script[/font]
[font=arial]First of all, the easiest and less interesting one, the story's script. Well, the way the story is made is a very interesting topic (and our writer wrote an article about it). But its localization is just a regular translation. [/font]
[font=arial]In the game, script text is displayed as sentences scattered across in the game world, that you can read as you explore. As a result, the script looks like a list of unrelated sentences. The challenge was to give our translators a sense of how those sentences were linked together to form a whole story. We wrote comments about the context of each sentence and it worked just fine. It was particularly useful to give instructions on what was the most important aspect of the text to translate: was it the literal sense, an underlying meaning, or the style (like when there is an alliteration)? [/font] [font=arial] Words to Type[/font]
[font=arial]Outside of the story script, our other use of text is to display prompt words. We show words alongside "interactive elements" to trigger some kind of interaction - like planting a flower or destroying a rock. Our intention was to give meaning to what you type while avoiding repetition. But we couldn't possibly manually assign a specific word to each element. We also needed to easily control the complexity of the words used, to keep the difficulty balanced. And finally, we had to deal with languages having different word lengths and special characters. [/font]
[font=arial]Gameplay wise, our solution was to give to each kind of element a dictionary from which a word is picked up randomly. The dictionaries have a given theme and word length restrictions. For example, the action of creating flowers is defined as easy, and so its dictionary has words which are flower names under 8 characters. The destruction of a rock is considered harder (thus it gives more points), therefore its dictionary uses scientific names of minerals between 8 and 10 characters. [/font]
[font=arial][/font]


[font=arial]For localization, translators were asked to fill up the dictionaries using the same constraints for every language.[/font] [font=arial] Several Languages in Early Access[/font]
[font=arial]Epistory is reaching the end of a six-month early access period, during which we added story content as well as gameplay features. All that content was available in English, German and French since the first day of early access. Spanish was also added later on. [/font]

[font=arial][/font]

[font=arial][/font]

[font=arial]On the one hand, it was a good thing to make early access available in several languages (at least, that's what our German and French players said). Besides opening the game to more buyers, it allowed us to check the quality of the early access builds thanks to our most dedicated players. For example, without them, we would not have thought about creating a German-Swiss dictionary (which uses "ss" instead of "ss"). One German fan even proposed to proof-read the script directly! [/font]
[font=arial][/font]

[font=arial] On the other hand, that forced us to go through translation process several times as we iterated on the script and level design, which is quite time consuming. The challenge here was to allow an easy integration on our iterative versions. [/font]
[font=arial]After several adaptations, we ended up with a configuration that works (surprisingly) well: the script is in an Excel document that directly exports an XML file, while the dictionaries are in a Google spreadsheet with a homemade script that exports a JSON file. [/font]
[font=arial]The key was to keep a limited number of languages during early access (3 more languages will come at release). But given the amount of work required to do the translation and keep it up to date, I would not recommend to do that for games with heavy text content. It is preferable to stick to English, at least until the source content is sure not to change too much. [/font] [font=arial] Special Characters[/font]
[font=arial]All those beautiful languages have their own eccentricities and colloquialisms, and it is far from obvious to know how they are used when you don't speak that language. What concerned us the most were the special characters (o in French, ss in German, ? in Polish...). We even have a Russian translation, which means cyrillic alphabet. [/font]

[font=arial][/font]

[font=arial][/font]

[font=arial][/font]

[font=arial]Our first approach was to work closely with professional translators in order to have a good understanding of each language. We asked a lot of questions about what special characters are used, how frequently they occur, what keyboard layouts are popular, and so on. [/font]
[font=arial]That information helped us set up the rules for the words that players have to type (the dictionaries). We decided that common special characters are an important enough part of a language to be conserved. But the very rare ones (that exist mostly because of etymological history) and the ones that require more than one keystroke have to be avoided. In short, we wanted to avoid any frustration from players confronted to the most complex words their native language can provide. [/font]

[font=arial][/font]

[font=arial][/font]

[font=arial]The other side of the problem was to display those words with a unique font. We have several fonts depending on where text is used in the game, but we did not want to change the font depending on the language. We choose the simplest solution: which was to meticulously choose the fonts we wanted and add any special characters ourselves. We had to buy a specialised software licence, but finding a good font with all the characters required would have been an almost impossible struggle. [/font] [font=arial] Editable by Players[/font]
[font=arial]Finally, I want to add something that is not a challenge but an opportunity. We are leveraging our heavily text-based content as an advantage: it's easy for anyone to edit and create something by just changing the dictionaries. [/font]
[font=arial]That's why we will find a way to let players edit and share their own dictionaries to be used in the game. We've already met a teacher who wanted to use Epistory to teach foreign languages to his students. So we hope to see a lot of inspired user-created dictionaries, from the funniest jokes to the most serious creations. [/font]
[font=arial]If you want to have fun with word as much as we do, Epistory is currently available in early access and will be released the 30th of March 2016 in 8 beautiful languages. [/font]

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

How extra budget can increase your visual quality... and put you into troubles

[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'] [indent=1]This article shows the difficulty of maintaining Art Direction consistency on a project when its scope and visual quality suddenly increase during production! First, we'll explain the assets creation guidelines we decided at the beginning of the project. Then we'll see how quality problems emerged as the production budget increased, and how we dealt with them! Art constraints for small budget [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]When we started the production of Epistory (codenamed "The heroine of no tale" in those ancient times), the sales expectations were quite low because we thought we were targeting the niche of typing games. We already wanted a unique art direction, made of unfolding environments and paper-crafted items, but the budget constraints made us humble concerning the visual quality of each asset. So we ended up with those production guidelines to create game assets : [/font][/color]
Simple geometry
All assets using the same multi-usage shader
No complicated texture mapping (basic planar UVs)
No unique texture per asset, only generic colored patches gathered in a few textures

[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1] [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]Despite our small budget, all those assets put together created a simple but pretty cool look : [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1] [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]Those constraints made us 3D artists sad but it should have allowed us to make all assets and environments in time for the game release, so we were quite happy with it! But that was before we started communicating on the game... [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]Change of scope [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]The art team was producing the first levels of the game, and we started to spread some images and videos, building the community. At that point we understood that something was happening, youtubers were talking about our game, forums and conventions gave us very positive feedbacks. Our little typing game was becoming pretty popular, people were really loving it! The first round of Early Access conforted the first impression. As thousands of people added "Epistory: Typing Chronicles" into their steam wishlist, we realized that instead of making a funny but small scoped typing game, we could scale things up. We decided to transform it into a unique story driven adventure game, with lots of dungeons, collectibles, a scenario written by a real professional writer, and even give a voice to the narrator. [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]As the deadlines were pushed to 2016, the art team jumped at the chance to put more visual quality into the game! [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]New quality standards [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]We wanted to make the most of this extra production time, and we put more details into the new assets, so we basically took the opposite of what we were doing until now: [/font][/color]
More interesting paper-like shapes for the geometry
More and more complicated shaders
Clean unfolded texture mapping coordinates
Unique textures per asset (or one texture for the same group of assets)
A subtle but efficient vertical gradient (the base of the asset is darker than its top)
With unique texture coordinates, we could paint paper folds, and add details like hand painted highlights on the edges and Ambient Occlusion (darker color at the junction between surfaces)

[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]On those two images it's easy to spot the quality gap. You can notice the polished shapes and the greater work made into the textures, which add a lot of depth and details to the assets : [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1] [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1] [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]The production time was obviously far longer than the old technique, because for EACH game asset, we had to unfold clean texture coordinates, calculate the Ambient Occlusion pass, calculate the vertical gradient, paint the edges highlights and details into the texture,... [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]We also put extra time to the environments creation process by adding an "artist layout pass" to polish each dungeon, and by working more on the lighting setups and effects. And the overall visual impact was far better than before! [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1] [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]The problem was that we quickly found out that the "old" assets looked dull compared to the new ones, but we couldn't afford redesigning all of them... [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]Assets wars [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]With each new asset being prettier than the last, we soon spotted a problem in the consistency of the art direction and assets quality ! [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]There was too much difference between the old "flat" assets and the new "detailed" ones : [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1] [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]Unfortunately the budget was not so big that we could afford redoing all the former game assets to match the final style! [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]That unexpected constraint gave us the idea of showing a progression in the art style through the game, and we implemented a chronological progression into the overall papercraft quality of the adventure. That is to say the first part of the game is made of more basic shapes, and the quality of the papercraft technique evolves to be more and more noticeable as we progress into the game, following the steps of humanity evolution: [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]1- At the beginning, as the world unfolds for the first time, you will see the "basic" objects in the "nature" theme [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1] [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]2- Next, in the first dungeon you will be able to spot some prehistoric assets, made of archaic papercraft assets [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1] [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]3- As you continue your journey through human evolution, papercraft techniques evolves to show ancient civilizations [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1] [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]4- Later, you will travel through complex origami buildings, and much more, but we won't spoil you the pleasure of discovering it in the game! [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1] [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]We managed to add a real meaning to this papercraft evolution, but still we decided to redesign several old assets to match the quality gap. We've done this only for the assets we could see all over the adventure. Moreover, by doing those important assets prettier, they would be easily noticeable at the beginning of the game, where the assets are simpler, and better integrated in later dungeons, where the assets are polished. [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]The combat, exploration and teleporter tiles redone from scratch: [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1] [/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS'][indent=1]The conclusion of this article could be that it's far better to know the scope/budget BEFORE beginning the production process! If the scope suddenly increases, you will have to choose between more content or more quality, but keep in mind that most of the time you will not be able to use a trick like we did, and you will end up redoing all of your assets from scratch! And as artists will always tend to increase quality if you give them extra time, do not forget to keep an eye on them! [/font][/color]

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

Sneak peek of what

We've sent a small update with various bug fixes on Steam. But that's not all we want to talk about. We have a few teasers for you. The biggest change recently has been the recording of the voice over. We prepared a short video to give you a taste of what it sounds like. It still need work to be fully integrated but we are quite happy with the results so far.

[youtube] [/youtube]
We also are roughly half done with the third chapter. We can start showing some part of it, and let you guess what kind of magic you'll discover. Here are two of the new items you'll encounter.


[font=inherit][/font] Another planned feature is to rework the skill progression which is currently lackluster. More skills, which will be more useful will make their debut next year. As a final word, we would like to thank everyone for their vote during the first phase of the Indie Of The Year. We reached the top 100 and we cannot wait to see how far we will go! Feel free to help us and vote for us one last time.


[font=inherit][/font]
Happy Holidays!
The Epistory Team

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

The Story Continues - Chapter Two now available

After fighting an insectile corruption and embracing the power of fire, we left our heroine and her companion at the edge of the Forgotten Forest. Along the treacherous, twisting paths of her adventure, she began to uncover the secret pieces of her story. Now she must fight not to drown under the crushing weight of uncertainty and fight with dignity torestore her inner peace.

Discover new enemies, learn new magic and explore two brand new dungeons full of mystery. Be brave; for there is no turning back on the way to the truth.

After a bug in our save system was found, we cannot guarantee compatibility between the update and the current (Halloween) version. Depending on where you last left the game it will work, or not. Regardless of the state of the save, we recommend a new game because of the work that has been done in the first two dungeons.



Please be aware that this update marks the end of our early bird pricing. Epistory now be fixed at $12.99 due to the major updates that have been done since launching on Early Access.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us on this adventure so far. We hope you will enjoy this new chapter and we can't wait to hear your feedback!

The Fishing Cactus team

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

 

Trick or Treat! Halloween Update

As promised, Epistory - Typing Chronicles is now available on Linux and Mac! If you encounter any bugs please give us a heads up and we'll fix them as soon as possible.

The challengers amongst you will be pleased to find the new "Arena" mode in the main menu. It's a special place where the world will finally recognize the value of your typing skills. We're still working on the leaderboard that should come soon. It's also a bit rough around the edges.

Note that Spanish language has been added to the game. More languages to come during the Early Access.



Here's the patch note for the new version:

New Features
Added: Infinite Battle "Arena" mode, where you'll soon be able to challenge yourself and get your name at the top of the leaderboard.
Added: Linux version
Added: Mac version
Added: Spanish version
And plenty of stuff behind the scene for the upcoming Chapter 2...
Various improvements
Removed magic effect on enemies' last word.
Special characters are displayed when the required magic is locked.
Reworked "Burning Hollow" level design.
Reworked story in "Forgotten Forest".
Bug fix
Fixed: typing the word while it moves result in some letters not colored properly.
Fixed: avatar moving using the last letter of a word typed if the typing mode auto switch is triggered.
Fixed: auto typing mode switch was not happening if an untypeable (fire) word was displayed
Fixed: brambles were reorienting upon hit
And a lot more.
Thanks for reading!

FishingCactus

FishingCactus

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