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About this blog

The official blog for ConnorORT Studios which is currently working on two new titles: a fantasy farming sim featuring Bam the Cat from Towards The Pantheon, and survival horror roguelike Purity Of Intent!

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ConnorORT Studios Blog 004: The Castle of Horror

It’s been a long time since the previous ConnorORT Studios devblog so let’s dive right in! Our plan since the release of Towards The Pantheon has been to work on one light hearted adventure game and a darker survival horror style game. As a result we began development on Bam’s Countryside Adventure, a farming sim with magic, adventure, and fantasy elements starring Bam the cat from Towards The Pantheon, and a survival horror title Purity Of Intent. We realized that the scope of Purity of Intent would be better tackled when treating it as the only game our studio has in development. It became clear to us that we wanted to work on a darker Bam game alongside Bam’s Countryside Adventure and the result has become Bam and the Castle of Horror! Bam and the Castle of Horror also stars Bam the cat, but this is no countryside adventure! Bam receives a mysterious letter from his long lost brother Biggles which claims that he has been trapped in an abandoned castle. Bam can’t be sure whether this is true or not, but he can’t live without at least trying to save his brother and quickly rides his sled down to the castle to investigate. Upon entering the door locks behind him and he discovers that he is in for a much darker and more frightening journey then he could have ever imagined. The game is heavily inspired by classic survival horror games such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill while also not being afraid of exploring new mechanics and creating its own space in the genre. Mixing the cutesy elements of a cat sipping green tea to recover health in a safe room with the terror of him soon after being dragged by a monstrous mad man into a barrel of acid was at first odd, but Leandro and I have enjoyed merging these two seeming conflicting worlds and styles together into something new and unique. We’ve been crunching hard to get a feature complete internal demo of Bam and the Castle of Horror ready for testing. This demo will consist of an arena where Bam fights against gauntlets of enemies, similar to the Mercenaries mini games in recent Resident Evil games. Although the main campaign of Bam and the Castle of Horror is  story and exploration driven we feel it’s very important to focus on the core gameplay mechanics and perfect them first before moving on with level creation and world building. With this ‘arena mode’ demo we will be able to tweak the gameplay elements, enemy AI, and overall feel and atmosphere of the game until it’s just right. Once all the gameplay elements are solidifed, we’ll also know how to best design the levels and campaign around those mechanics. This is something we’ve learned from our work on Towards The Pantheon where we worked on all of the game’s elements simultaneously as opposed to focusing on the core mechanics first. Progress on Bam’s Countryside Adventure has taken a temporary backseat in favor of getting Bam and the Castle of Horror up to speed, although Leandro has been working on various art assets such as crops, shipping bins, character houses, dialog portraits, UI, and much more. We’ve also spent time thinking of ideas to experiment with when it comes to game design, such as the magical abilities and systems Bam will be able to use and how those elements will change his adventure. Since there are plenty of farming sims in the market it is important to brainstorm how to make your own game stand out. We’ve been looking at games such as Golden Sun and Black & White for inspiration and we look forward to exploring some of the gameplay mechanics we have in mind, taking what works and leaving what doesn’t until it is solidified. I’ve also started putting together lore and backstory that fits the mechanics well which will create lots of cohesion. Leandro has been recording footage showing the creation of the pixel art for both games which he will begin editing into speed art videos, similar to the ones he made for Towards The Pantheon. I plan on recording some behind the scenes videos where I document the creation of both games as well as explain their development – such as how the soundtracks are made, how the code is architected, how we manage our tasks and keep in sync with one another, and more. On the music side of things, I’ve been singing and playing live with the Vancouver metal band Edith as well as slowly working on new bits of music. Game development takes priority over my solo music these days (especially since game development includes creating new soundtracks!) but sometime in the future it’ll be very exciting to share some recordings from my new solo project. It was my 28th birthday yesterday and I’m currently on a two week vacation… but I brought my computer and gear with me to work on both of the Bam games every day. We can’t wait to eventually get these games in your hands but we are also committed to working as much as needed and doing whatever it takes to deliver the best games we can. Thanks for reading! Be sure to let us know what you think of our development blogs and share the blog with your friends, we’d really appreciate it! You can follow myself, Leandro and ConnorORT Studios on social media for more frequent updates: Follow ConnorORT Studios on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram,
Follow Connor O.R.T. Linning on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Tumblr, and Youtube.
Follow Leandro Tokarevski on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, and Youtube.

ConnorORT

ConnorORT

 

ConnorORT Studios blog 003: Metal & Monsters

Welcome to the third chapter of the ConnorORT Studios blog - where I talk about the development of my studio's new games Bam's Countryside Adventure and Purity Of Intent, along with some details regarding my new solo metal project! Bam's Countryside Adventure You may have noticed in past blogs that our farming sim starring Bam the cat from Towards The Pantheon didn't have a name - so we spent some time brainstorming throughout March and landed on Bam's Countryside Adventure. We wanted to include Bam's name, as well as a nod to the farming elements of the game (countryside) and the fact that we are exploring new genres and mechanics from the adventure game genre. Leandro and I feel this sums up the laidback and fun atmosphere that we want to capture with the game! I had to take a bit of time away from development throughout March due to some personal issues, but I am now back and actively working. Leandro on the other hand did a lot of fantastic work including character houses, character portraits, environment art, crops, character sprites, and more! Here's a look at Mishima's house:
Those of you who have played Towards The Pantheon know that Mishima is an electropunk, and as such it makes sense for her to be the equivalent of blacksmith in the game. When her shop is open you'll be able to head in to buy and upgrade tools! I added Mishima and Bam's sprites to the picture so you can see the scale of the house, which is made from scavenged pieces of a shipwreck. Here's a look at the character art for Bam's cousin Bippy:

Both Slippy (shown in the previous devblog) and Bippy serve as the comic relief throughout the game, and during special times and events you'll be able to buy random items from them! Each character of the game contributes to the community in some way (by performing services or running shops), as well as special and unique events. Here are a couple of screenshots showing off new artwork for Bam's Countryside Adventure!

Purity Of Intent While Bam's Countryside Adventure is our main focus at the moment, we have been slowly working on the graphical style for the first Purity Of Intent game. After experimenting with a bit of concept art, Leandro has been experimenting and his most recent output is this:

More will be revealed as time goes on but you can see that the style and design is much different than Bam's Countryside Adventure and Towards The Pantheon! We're looking forward to experimenting with some more ideas we have regarding the art style which we will show you in the future. Ghosts Of Garoh Lastly, I've begun work on my first full solo metal project since 2009. Titled Ghosts Of Garoh, the project fuses elements of metal (Thrash, Black, Death) with electronic, industrial, and dark ambient elements. I've been searching for a particular style of metal for a long time and haven't had much luck finding it so I've decided to give it a go myself. I've been doing a lot of experimenting with how to mix the electronic, ambient, and metal elements which has been both interesting and challenging. As a little teaser, you can listen to my latest experiment here. It is very exciting after 10 years to finally feel like I have a concept and direction for a new solo metal project and look forward to sharing more teasers with you in these updates. That's it for this development blog, be sure to let us know what you think so far, and share the blog with your friends as we'd greatly appreciate that! You can follow myself, Leandro and ConnorORT Studios on social media for more frequent updates! You can follow ConnorORT Studios on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram,
You can follow Connor O.R.T. Linning on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Tumblr, Youtube
You can follow Leandro Tokarevski on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Youtube

ConnorORT

ConnorORT

 

ConnorORT Studios blog 002: The Unity Switch

Welcome to the second chapter of the ConnorORT Studios blog - where I talk about the development of my studio's new games! There's a lot of ground to cover for February, so let's dive right in. Bam's Game As noted in the previous blog, one of the games Leandro and I are working on is a farming sim with fantasy/adventure elements starring Bam the cat from Towards The Pantheon. Leandro has been working hard on the character art that will be used during dialog. Here's an example:
As detailed below, we've decided to switch from Unity to GameMaker Studio which means most of my time was spent learning to use Unity and sharpening my C# programming skills. Additional time has been spent thinking about how to further set apart Bam's game from other farming simulators. I've been looking to games from my childhood such as Golden Sun and Black And White for ideas and am starting to come up with some interesting mechanics. At the end of the day though, these mechanics must be implemented and tried to make sure that they are fun! We're also brainstorming ideas for the actual name of Bam's game. We'd like to include Bam's name as possible and/or hint at the farming/fantasy aspects of the gameplay. Names such as Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley tell you that they are going to be comfy farming experiences, so we'd like to find a catchy name that sums up what the game is about. Lastly for Bam's game, two more characters from Towards The Pantheon return! Bam's cousins Slippy and Bippy are along for the adventure, and their goofy antics will help in keeping your farming and exploring lighthearted and fun. Here's a look at the neutral dialog portrait for Slippy. Purity Of Intent The other game we are working on is a dark roguelike with survival horror elements called Purity Of Intent. Leandro began working on some concept art for Purity Of Intent while I have been fleshing out more design document details. While it's still too early to tell you much about Purity Of Intent, here's some concept art to tease you in the meantime! The Engine Switch GameMaker Studio was used to create Towards The Pantheon and although I had experimented with other engines before starting Bam's game and Purity Of Intent, it felt like a no brainer to use that engine again. My familiarity and experience with it meant that I could jump right in and get to work. Unfortunately I began running into issues with the engine and custom scripting language almost right away considering that Bam's game and Purity Of Intent are both much more complex than Towards The Pantheon. GameMaker Studio is fantastic for fast prototyping, small projects, and learning how to make games. Unfortunately the custom scripting language GameMaker Language is missing key features that are common to most programming languages. There are also aspects of GameMaker that seem to encourage poor programming practices such as coupling. This blogpost is not meant to cast GameMaker Studio in a poor light as I will most likely use the engine again for smaller projects and would recommend it to new developers. It has simply become clear to me that the features of Unity, along with the power of a full language such as C#, will be necessary going forward. I also looked at YoYo Games' 2019 roadmap for GameMaker Studio and feel the company is focusing on features and aspects that aren't geared towards my interests and needs. I've been spending much of February learning more about how Unity works and what features it has over GameMaker Studio, as well as brushing up on my C# skills. Fortunately I have a strong background in C++ and Java from my early game development and university days, so switching over to C# feels natural. There's also the fact that I'd like to potentially work on 3D and/or VR games in the future so I've known that a switch to Unity (or Unreal) was inevitable. That's it for this development blog, be sure to let us know what you think so far, and share the blog with your friends as we'd greatly appreciate that! You can follow myself, Leandro and ConnorORT Studios on social media for more frequent updates! You can follow ConnorORT Studios on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram,
You can follow Connor O.R.T. Linning on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Tumblr, Youtube
You can follow Leandro Tokarevski on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Youtube

ConnorORT

ConnorORT

ConnorORT Studios blog 001: First look at Bam's Game

Welcome to the first chapter of the new ConnorORT Studios game development blog! It has been over 8 months since the release of the studio's first full length game Towards The Pantheon and development of two new titles has since begun by myself (Connor O.R.T. Linning) and pixel artist Leandro Tokarevski. The first is a loose sequel to Towards The Pantheon that will star Bam the Cat referred to as Bam's Game until a name is decided upon, and the second is a new IP titled Purity Of Intent. Let's start by looking at Bam's Game! Bam's Game Bam's game will combine elements from farming simulators and fantasy adventure games. Ever since playing Harvest Moon on the Super Nintendo I've wanted to create my own farming sim, however I plan to expand upon the genre by incorporating other elements and exploring new ones. In Bam's game you'll get to farm, interact with villagers, and harness the power of magical spells all the while exploring an exciting and mysterious island! January was spent narrowing down the art style, working on software architecture, and brain storming gameplay mechanics. Leandro and I started by taking Bam's sprite from Towards The Pantheon and iterating on it until we landed on something we liked. From left (the original Towards The Pantheon sprite) to right (the current sprite), you can see that our initial goal was to increase the level of detail. We felt it ended up taking away some of Bam's cuteness, so we ended up scaling back and finding a happy medium with the current sprite. Leandro began working on basic tiles for the four seasons soon afterwards so that we could get a bigger grasp of the overall art direction. We also made note of making sure that objects had proper drop shadows. Some people pointed out after playing Towards The Pantheon that certain objects were missing them which made them appear as if they were floating. If you look at the bottom of Bam and Mishima's sprites, as well as the tree stump, tree, signpost, well, and fence posts, you can see that extra bit of detail which makes for a more cohesive look. We've also spent time discussing how text boxes should look, how big character dialog sprites should be, and other vital information when it comes to making sure the parameters for the artwork are set in stone so that Leandro can do his pixel art magic efficiently and effectively. We've decided to use near full body dialog sprites instead of the small headshots used in Towards The Pantheon, and we are also going to settle on an actual text box style instead of using a standard black box. Purity Of Intent While the design of Bam's game has been relatively straight forward so far, Purity of Intent is an entirely different beast. The interesting thing that Leandro and I have observed is that there are no direct parallels with this game to others that we can make when discussing it. When making Towards The Pantheon I could point directly at other games to compare mechanics, level design, artwork, and more, but with Purity Of Intent that doesn't seem to be the case. I hope this means that the result will be interesting and unique! There will be more to show of the game in the future - but for now I'll tease you by saying that this game will take elements of survival horror and roguelikes into new territories! I have been dreaming about creating this game since I was 8 years old. Almost 20 years later, we're going to make it happen! Choosing Engines Since releasing Towards The Pantheon I've experimented with game engines other than GameMaker Studio 2 to see if they would better suit the studio's needs going forward. While there were elements of Unity, Godot, and Unreal that I enjoyed and appreciated, I've decided to stick with GameMaker Studio 2 for both Bam's Game and Purity Of Intent. My software development skills have improved greatly since working on Towards The Pantheon and I've spent a lot of time learning more about the GameMaker Studio 2 engine to ensure that I don't make some of the same architectural mistakes yet again. Towards The Pantheon was my first big game, and I didn't give myself much time to refactor or plan ahead since there were tight deadlines and a lot to accomplish. The result was that the code base became more and more difficult to work with as time went on. I found a great website about refactoring and code smells which is https://refactoring.guru/. I highly recommend giving it a read! Looking Forward For both Bam's Game and Purity Of Intent we plan to build upon the things we feel we did right, and correct the things we did wrong during the development of Towards The Pantheon. I feel like with Towards The Pantheon we proved to ourselves we can work well together and create a game, and with these new games we want to push ourselves much harder to create great games. If you'd like to read about what I learned while creating Towards The Pantheon, give this blogpost a look! With Towards The Pantheon I was rather stubborn about trying to create the exact game I initially had in mind. The unfortunate result of working that way is that some mechanics of the game simply didn't pan out well. With Bam's Game and Purity Of Intent there is a strong framework for what each game should strive towards, but we are going to be focusing on tightening up the core mechanics and playtesting and releasing internal builds frequently. We're already excited to be working this way, as it allows for the freedom of experimenting and trying exciting new ideas that we might not have otherwise foreseen. I believe this iterative approach will result in games that far surpass our previous work! That's it for our first development blog, be sure to let us know what you think so far, and share the blog with your friends as we'd greatly appreciate that! You can follow myself, Leandro and ConnorORT Studios on social media for more frequent updates! You can follow ConnorORT Studios on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram,
You can follow Connor O.R.T. Linning on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Tumblr, Youtube
You can follow Leandro Tokarevski on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Youtube

ConnorORT

ConnorORT

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