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About this blog

A classic ARPG concept, built upon the legacy of the good-old Diablo 2. Hopefully, one day it will see the daylight!

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Design Spicing up the AI (game mechanics)

Above the usual tropes of having good design, character, specialty and synergy, thought I'd add some [basic] special cases to the mix: Angle of attack: Enemies would be able to come from all 360 degrees, and would not be limited to the ground plane. Player's cone of vision: It would inform the AI where the player is facing, allowing them to have more choices to attack. [This could also lead to changes in player awareness.] Sense of surroundings: Primarily to reduce kiting, but would be useful elsewhere. It would be concentric in design (Close > Mid > Range). Would double as a sensory limit, to call/hear sound cues. [In order to call for reinforcements for example.] Cover/fallback system: Keep ranged units out of harm's way, or get enemies to hide in tall grass to avoid detection. [Or joining up allies in order to survive.] Multiple attack modes: Might have a dagger and a knife, Why not use them? [Maybe both, at the same time? ] Reactive environment: Place traps, loot chests/resources, and take them with them, or to a camp. Player tracking: Either using environmental cues (footsteps in snow), or by player "crumbs" on the floor (if higher level AI). However, these would decay eventually. [Might add aerial tracking/wind direction.] [These also could be used by the player, if ability is available, or would refer to the lesser visual cues.] Different attack tactics: Encirclement, ambush, flank or corner. [Or grab you and try to drag you somewhere else.] Zone/Time awareness: Example: If weak, then would not venture close to an enemy, or would stay more in the shadows. [And come out more during the night; and be more shifty.] [Or would be more active or passive.] Own stamina: YES. Separate from the base aggro-timer. Auto pickup (for player as well): Maybe grab a weapon from the floor or two? [But mostly for the player, to customize their experience; like having auto gold pickup.] More synergy: Mobs would actively seek out tactics, when near each other. [Example: one throws oil on you, the other lights you on fire.] Extra scripted states of behavior: To fill in time between those "cumbersome" moments of having to fight! [Adding more randomness to enemies, by giving them "jobs" to do, like eating, resting, smelling of yellow flowers, etc.] Power sensitivity/Scaling: If player is too low, or too high level, they would either run or be more courageous. [Much like having an XP penalty for doing so.] Reduced predictability: By giving them extra mobility: dash or [trying to] avoid certain attacks, before happening (if smart enough). Whiskers path-finding: To give them more realistic movements. Chance of unpredictability: Enemies might go overdrive, or panic, or grab a random behavior from the pool. [From other monsters, within limits of course.] Intended weaknesses: Afraid of light, or to specific events, etc. Against the elements: Based on their ability to move, and their environment (snow, mud, rain, etc.), their movements would also vary [greatly].

theaaronstory

theaaronstory

Graphics To pixelate, or not to pixelate. That is the question.

Up until recently, I was convinced that using pixel art was the most suitable for this project. Aside from it giving you a unique feel, it also has qualities that a more modern render just cannot compete with: It has that special magic to it, which is really hard to beat. Furthermore, I would avert from using super cartoonish, stylized characters, as they would simply not fit the theme. Or use super grungy art for that matter. [We've seen way too many of them so far.] But I wouldn't want to fall into the trap of becoming just another generic, isometric game on the market. That is why I made this small mock-up, to see the difference and help me decide on which to choose from--sort of. For some reason, I get this notion that I should change my mind, and go with a super modern (high detail) look, and not worry about it too much. Instead, the characters, the scenes, animation and all the other assets should be carefully curated, and only worry about that it stays visually attractive, unique and stays within the limits of the said vision. [Using deeper color palettes, and darker scenes.]

theaaronstory

theaaronstory

Design Power Creep, Gear, Loot and Drops #D&D, and Eccentric Design (game mechanics)

Power Creep Was bit overly hyped about this project yesterday, and was pondering on what else could be implemented, if a prototype was made (which is something that's outside my expertise--unfortunately). One thing stood out, right from the very beginning, was the old phenomena of Power Creep. [The stuff that grows on you, when you solely design a system, based on ever increasing numbers.] Clearly, in a loot based game, it cannot be avoided, right? Well yes and no . . . unless you give it some time and some thought. In fact this has been done many times before: just look at D&D, or similar games. And that is exactly what would happen with EOTH as well. The number crunching would be divided into several parts, making it harder for those pesky-little-numbers to grow out of control. This way, hopefully, your gear would make more sense, and would not become as easily obsolete--as the game progresses. This would also mean that--mostly--only you will level up, giving additional edge to your damage, and so forth . . . Gear, Loot and Drops #D&D This ties into the next thing: having set levels for items. Meaning, a certain type of weapon will have a certain attribute associated to it, regardless you've found it in early game or not. [Based on their material type, craftsmanship and additional modifiers.] Also, this gave me an interesting idea: Mr. Brevik talked about the fact that they wanted to use mob drops in Diablo 2, but was ultimately scrapped in the end. This sounded just like the thing I needed, in order to balance out the lack of "traditional" [excel spreadsheet type of] variables. You'd be able to use the bits-and-bobs that enemies leave behind, for your concoctions. [Potions, magic, enchanting, etc.] Of course, it wouldn't become a gore-fest, more like a curated version of it, combined with similar crafting I've seen in Kingdom Come: Deliverance. [Gathering and making your own ingredients, then combining them in a sort of realistic way.] This would also pave the way for a full blown Alchemy system . . . PS: Would also tinker with different ways to determine an enemy's attributes. Would be fun to experiment, lets say with hit points, if they were based on volume (and area of surface). [As a standard.] Or having the ability to differentiate between the different type of damage. [e.g.: Piercing, bludgeoning, etc.] Eccentric Design Forgot to mention last time that there would be another map feature in EOTH: It would deploy a more Eccentric Design philosophy. Zones, dungeons, and quests would be laid out as see fit, rather than progressively further from your initial starting point. Of course, some locations would be warned ahead of time (by NPCs and such), but others would be kept a secret [Or be gated behind quests.]. Think this non-concentric (non-onion layout) would benefit more in the risk vs. reward department. [Where you'd never know what might be lurking nearby, when exploring, giving you a sense of genuine discovery.]  

theaaronstory

theaaronstory

Design Fast traveling, Vendors and Semi-Open World (game mechanics)

Fast Traveling There's this one thing that has been bothering me lately: the question of waypoints. Specifically the way they're implemented. [Of course one could argue about their right to exist in the first place, but not today.] If not properly used, they have to potential to become cumbersome to operate, and even dismissed entirely (if other options are available, like stamina boosters, teleporting, or other modes of more convenient transportation). That's why I wanted to do something fun with them, by: Letting the player choose where they put them (from a limited amount per chapters), You would be required to collect "key" stones, to operate them, and would vary in quality, which would determine how long the gate would stay open, These stones would be only found in special areas, e.g.: The Valley Of The Unspoken, or in special situations, Each waypoint would represent a unique class in their appearance, rather than being a general circle on the floor, And the big one: Using any kind of teleport in EOTH would mean that you'd have to travel through a dimension, which would ultimately cause you some complications, here-and-there (random encounters, missions, etc.) Vendors On top of having the classic Town at the very beginning, as a base of your operations, smaller settlements, vendors, traveling merchants would be scattered around the map, where you could do your smaller, more crucial business, whilst not having to constantly jump back to town, just to buy a loaf of bread. Semi-Open World Unless gated behind a quest, you'd be free to go wherever you wish (and horribly suffer the consequences). This would allow you a bit more movement of freedom, and would not bind you to go through narrow passages or one-way streets, as well as give you a more satisfying feel of that sweet-sweet exploration. And to make sure you have things to explore, the world would be built around several points of interest.  

theaaronstory

theaaronstory

Design Combat mechanics, Mini-games and Familiars

Combat mechanics This was a bit of a headache, as I really wanted to do something different with the current combat mechanics. Using only the mouse, two or maybe three buttons, is--to put it simply--boring as hell. It requires little to no effort and provides almost zero engagement (especially these days). However, to counter this I could've used all kinds of keyboard wizardry, but I didn't want the player to learn tables upon tables of possible combos; that is a big No bueno for me. Instead, I did what every sensible developer would do: I stayed true to the mouse . . . Except, with a twist: You see there's this concept of doing gestures with your mouse, which I wish to utilize. Different movement/combat options would be available via this route (unless you really wish to stick to those two mouse buttons), and would either be two or three deep in execution [meaning that it would require two or three gestures, before a command would opt in]. This would be, of course, customizable and freely adjustable. And to top it off, would implement the option to record macros, so that you could bind those to your newly found mouse gestures. Mini-games Wish to use some form of mini-games, and puzzles throughout the game, to enhance the experience. That being said, it would not be implemented in mundane tasks, as I want it to remain special enough, to not to wear out the player with the same thing over-and-over. So these events would either be a one time use only, or would be triggered in special occasion (for now, unless I come up with a solution, to trick you into thinking of having a different experience each time you use the same puzzle). Familiars Ah yes! The journey is long, and you shouldn't walk it alone. Period. However, I'm not just talking about those usual human companions. No-no-no! There's much more to explore out there: domesticated animals and magical creatures of all sorts (#TownMusiciansOfBremen perhaps?). Optionally, they all would have a special trait, to ensure their uniqueness; provided those abilities are above the minimally required for combat: Don't want to force the players to choose one familiar over the other (if they favor one), just because they are weaker (unless improperly leveled). [Side note: Might still keep the notion of just "having" pets, Who knows?]

theaaronstory

theaaronstory

Design Decisions, Enemies, Bosses (game mechanics)

The good, the bad and the in between Even though the core gameplay revolves around action, I still wanted to have that feeling of "Your actions affect the world" kind of vibe. Nothing too crazy, but just enough for you to get a kick out of it. But what do I mean by that? Well . . . EOTH has a world that lives on its own (day-night cycles, weather effects, etc.). During your playthrough, you'd often encounter random missions (and main quests), that would be either black, white or gray in nature. This means that whenever you chose an outcome, it would leave a mark on your surroundings: the color palette would change to, let's say, a darker one, and your enemies would get tougher/act more aggressively (because you parted with the devil), and so forth. Of course, min-maxing would have its own devastating and chaotic effect as well. This also means that you've different standings with the locals. As you do missions for them, some might lower their prices, others would cross you, and refuse to help you (if things would get to a certain point). Also there wouldn't be a scenario, where you'd be able to please everyone (again, to limit meta-gaming). Creatures and other beings of sort And this brings us to the other topic I wanted to talk about: the flora and fauna. EOTH would thrive to be a more D&D like experience, when it comes to stuff like this. I really wish to see all kinds of wild animals, races, creatures (may it be living or not), all the good stuff that I think should be included in this game. There's so much more out there in the world, and I wish to show that there's more to it, than having mostly bipedal objects in your game. This also begs for strange behaviors, such as morphing, or whatever magical ability you can think of. There is a whole world out there, wanting to be discovered! Boss fights Last but not least, I wanted to talk about two things: Boss arenas and enticing fights. Would love to see more open areas, especially when crossing the path of a chapter ending boss. No more tight quarters, and claustrophobic fighting pits, I say. Would love to implement a more dynamic approach, where you'd have to interact with your surroundings, and/or your enemy would do the same. My reasoning is simple: Don't want boring fights, and chapter ending battles are supposed to be something special, and should have something more to them.

Design Inventory . . . What inventory? (#management)

No more faff Inventory management is always a chore, and it usually gets worse as the game progresses. For one thing, it always covers up a huge portion of the screen (if not all of it), and pulls you out of the action. Which can be troublesome, when you wish to grab something from the ground, in the middle of a dungeon. You can barely see where the enemy is coming from, and you can get easily confused, thus having to bother closing/reopening the inventory from time-to-time. But that shouldn't be the case, in fact your user experience with the interface should be more fluent and straightforward. It is something that shouldn't be treated as an afterthought. That is why I abolished most of the inventory from the screen, keeping only the player and a small callback section, to quickly find the things you're looking for. Other than that, it would have the option to auto sort/stack items or custom filter based on preset values. But what if you wish to browse them all? Well there would be a separate button for that, which would open up a whole new page, entirely dedicated to your inventory. Lots of space, which would be of course upgradable along your journey. Also, to limit the work of having to find out which gear is the best, the game would automatically show you, either based on the default settings, or by your personal taste.

Isometric Features and whatnots (+life after beating the game)

Figure no.1 Been thinking of having a way to personalize your appearance, if you wish to do so. It would be a semi-traditional crafting system, where you could potentially make an item from scratch (from sourcing the materials/mining, all the way up to making them). The main difference would be the way you made your items: via traditional blacksmithing techniques (rather then drawing it in 3D). Think this would give you some form of creative restriction, but not too much to discourage you from doing so. Also, some steps [whilst making the item] would require some sort of mini-game to complete (aka, determining its quality). That being said, this feature would definitely unlock after completing the game on normal difficulty, or would require some special conditions. Figure no.2 The elephant in the room, Then comes the question of what to do after you beat the game? Well . . . obviously, there would be different levels of difficulties; for one. However, I thought it would be cool, if you could use your champions in a MOBA, rather than forcing a boring clicking frenzy in a traditional PvP scenario. Of course there would be plenty to do (different game modes), with separate/corresponding ranks for each player. And here comes a big one, What if you'd like to play this in a more competitive manner/more hardcore? Well . . . there would be this thing called Survival Mode, where you'd have to look after your character's health and equipment, whilst having unique challenges along the way. Your stats would decline in real-time (even when offline), and it would be up to you to make sure you maintain the balance, in order to keep your champion in mint condition!   Your thoughts and inputs are most welcome!

Isometric Blast from the past II.

Naming the project Did something unusual yesterday, and went through my box of childhood memories, which I haven't done in a long time. You see, ever since I played my first video game, or held my first gamebook (which at least was like twenty something years ago), I always wanted test my abilities and create an rpg game of some sort. Almost forgot that I had this list of ideas/maps/rule books/hand drawn screenshots and levels/bestiaries/etc., and always pretended to be a game designer, and thought that others might want to play my games as well (like when I did a Q-basic game at one point). It may sound silly, but looking back, that was all I did in my free time; despite the fact that there were very limited resources at my disposal. As a token of my appreciation, towards my younger self, I thought to revive an old title I used to call my fantasy ventures: EOTH, which is an acronym for: Evil Of The Hellfire. I've no idea where this name comes from, or what purpose it has, but at the time it sounded quite the metal! From the underworld And while I was searching, I came across an old drawing, that was sketched after a somewhat horrible dream. It was a monster of some kind, that lived in the depths of hell, on its two legs; and towered above the horrid flat lands. It supposed to be a gate, that wandered the underworld, and fed off the souls of the dead. It was so enormous that the poor thought out its shade, whenever it stopped, and piled up on one another; whilst trying to hide from the boiling sunlight. I even remember seeing, how the unfortunate fell down from the skies, and met with this abomination . . . And because I named my Untitled ARPG project, I thought to celebrate it with a new concept art! So I modified the design a bit, and went to town. See for yourself below! It still has two legs, but instead of having just spikes, it has an additional plethora of eyes, and all of them can open up (sort of having a jaw), and a couple of mouth on the top; just to spice things up. It's a bit hard to see, but its legs are also crossed (whilst resting). Guess that's it for today . . .   And let me know what you think!

Isometric A blast from the past

A blast from the past Oh wow, it does feel like 2000 all over again. Or at least from the perspective of said art. The goal was to come up with a quick concept, for the Necromancer, turn it into reality, whilst trying out some different styles. Wanted to stray off from the traditional path a little bit. Wanted something lite, but still impressive, as they can barely stand on their own (#magic). About their appearance Taking the path of a Necromancer's means that a deal has to be struck with the devil. You've to give up most of your earthly life, and transcend into a being that lingers between the living and the dead. The change morphs your body into a shell of its former glory, and drives your mind into madness . . . But it doesn't end here: You've to give up something that is most precious to you. In this case, they gave up their sight (hence they've no real eyes), for their endless quest for glory. And now let's see what they are wearing: Their body is painted, to resemble a skeleton They wear the mask of their demon, the one that they had to fight against Chain shoulder pads, to remind everyone that they carry the sins of the World on their shoulders Bone armor, from the fragments of their enemies Arm bandages, to protect their thin and fragile skin A pouch, next to the heads of their warriors spirit (which they can call out at any time) And trousers and boots, that they stole from a farmer, some time ago. Think that's it for now. This was a fun speed-run, that's for sure! PS.: Let me know what you think!

Isometric Story concept and gameplay wish list

Story concept As a small sidetrack, I thought to come up with the basics of this hypothetical ARPG. It follows as such: The idea was to come up with something familiar, but with a hint of something new. I mean, the goal was to create something solid, not to redefine a whole genre. Gameplay wish list When thinking about the game, it has to implement the same saving principal that Diablo 2 used (waypoints and chapters as points of reference) to be casual-ish: it derives from the game mechanic mentioned above, paired with the fact that the emphasis is on the Action (which translates to a relatively short time-frame, when dealing with quests and objectives) to have good replay value via randomly generated levels, loot and monsters, and well designed/interesting skills/mechanics to be challenging and rewarding, especially for the time you will put into it (but not in the way of holding your hands while you are at it) to show the action, rather then tell it: Meaning that the story--mostly--has to be told via action (in game), rather than tales from deceased people. Although, chatting with NPCs would still give you plenty of lore/info -> this is there to keep you focused on the action to have that Gothic aesthetic, combined with a darker gameplay experience have that exploration aspect to it, where you travel from one location to the other, and face different challenges/monsters along the way to avoid/limit favorable skill trees, aka. metagaming for the most optimal build And above all: It has to be fun and easy to play. Well then, back to sculpting . . .

Isometric Concepts and style

[PSA: moved my blogs to a new project] Been working on the idea of coming up with a hero pose for my hypothetical Necromancer (you can find more info at my twitter account, where I post more often: @theaaronstory). After a sketch or two, I've landed on this design, where I'm hoping to show off the characteristics of said person. And did a quick mock-up of a possible set of armor classes (Light/Medium/Heavy respectively). The second one gives physical attributes to your character The third one also gives additional magic abilities (plus a random chance of something chaotic to happen) [+ it is also animated, and has their own character] Next I'm going to work on the actual model, and further refine it's background (aka. lore), which I'll also share with the next update (or when the sculpting is ready).

Untitled ARPG art test

After yesterday's tests, I thought to do more research, in order to get closer to my desired 2000s art style. However, under closer inspection, I didn't anticipate to find that apart from some technical aspects (mostly), there's not much to it. Also, I've found out more about how Diablo 2 assets were made, which persuaded me to stick with what I have (*cough* can offer). Which lead to some thinking/modeling, and came up with the idea of a hypothetical Necromancer (if there was an ARPG I was working on). So made a completely new head, and came up with some rough ideas of what the character would fully look like (and behave, kind of giving it a unique personality). Here you'll find the first test of that . . . plus re-rendered the good-old Barbarian, in a much more isometric view (looks way better in my opinion). The only trouble is that now I want to make a super-simple, hack&slash game, where you can just zone out and not worry about a damn thing . . .

Untitled ARPG (ISO TEST NO.4)

Did more testing, and managed to get a bit closer to that 2000's vibe. However, it's still not quite what I was hoping for . . . but it's definitely something, I guess.   Meet the Barbarian from D2.

Isometric Untitled ARPG (ISO TEST NO.3)

Since my last experimental project came to a halt, I thought to satisfy my urge to play with some potential game assets (for an ARPG), after making so many pixel art. Think you'll guess right away where I'm going with this . . . This is my third test, where I tried out different things/characters: aka. completely rebuilt it from scratch, and this time I started to toy with a simple animation.    

Adventure Update (Origins&Future)

Thought to share that I just launched the Adventure Update for Twelf Kingdoms! ABOUT THE UPDATE: The update includes: - Story branching and  shortcut (to skip the first part of the game, located under Saved Games)
- Karma System
- Menu/FX improvements This update was a bit of a stretch, but we made it.  It includes the very basics of my branching story-line, where your actions slowly (or rapidly) change the flow of the game, depending on how you play it. This is where the Karma System comes into play: Each action has a ripple effect on the story, and the more you repeat a particular action, the more its effects accumulate.  And eventually reach a point, where it could have severe implications on what you experience . . . ABOUT THE ORIGINS & THE FUTURE: This update was brought to life earlier than wished for, mostly due to reasons outside my reach--unfortunately. Will keep on working it, but the next release might not even arrive . . .  (soon enough) Thought to share where this small game idea came from. Just have a look at the original game concept, I've done a few months ago:   The game was supposed to be more than just a Choose Your Own Adventure game, it supposed to be a single player, role-playing adventure! But of course that was a thing that I could not achieve alone, that is why I decided to start developing this bare-bone game of a concept. Had a ton of fun doing it, despite the fact that on some occasions I almost pulled out all of my hair! But that is game-development in a nutshell. Until then . . . Take care, theaaronstory   You can play the game at my site: https://theaaronstory.itch.io/twelf-kingdoms

Pixel Dev build 23.06.19.

Thought to share my Devlog here as well, in case someone was interested:     Semi-major update:   Been working on mostly behind the scenes (for the update), but also managed to spill out the typewriter effect you see in the video (needs more polishing tho'), alongside with implementing a new side menu (new sound/art/cursor and features). It's purpose is to give you additional information, if you choose so.   Oh and REMOVED that annoying scrollbar on the right!   Take care, theaaronstory
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