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  1. theaaronstory

    First big milestone!

    Thank you, and noted! 🙂
  2. theaaronstory

    First big milestone!

    First weapon of choice: The sword Making this weapon of choice took some thinking for sure. For one, the design significantly changed over time (see the image below, or on my twitter for its dedicated thread), and took several iterations to get to this point, but I'm fairly happy with the results. Of course, I could work on it endlessly, but the project has to go forward; might come back to it at a later point, if needed. Old design (HP): New design (LP): I think many of you fine folks out there will notice that there's something different is going on with the blade. You see, I wanted to make this sword a bit more special than your average butter knife, and thought to add some meaning to its purpose. After all, there is more to it what meets the eye. It was crafted by the finest blacksmith that any soldier could afford; and was forged to honor the gods! The one who wields this fine blade shall carry the gift of its words.
  3. theaaronstory


    A classic ARPG concept, built upon the legacy of older games. In the demo, you'll take up arms as a trained soldier, and fight your way out from a deadly cave. You will face wretched monsters, beings of extraordinaire . . . and above all: lots of mystery, to satisfy your innermost desires! Fast or slow, won't matter really, as you'll play the game however you see fit! Create your own custom combos and shortcuts (even mouse gestures), and explore what lies beyond!
  4. theaaronstory

    Assorted bits

    Playing with sound design I've seen a short game-play footage from a dev the other day, which inspired me to create some quick soundfx for a falling tree. Doing some Foley work is always fun I found; and it's good practice. This was my first attempt: I tried to match their quick ~2 second long attack/destruction animation. Then a day or two later, I gave it another go: Texture baking After my last post, I've chosen the sword to be finalized first, and began to experiment with some baking. The grip was completely redone (as I developed a better workflow), and fiddled around with some super-basic texture wizardry. Although, I'm not sure about the displacement map (at the end of the video), as it feels quite odd and bit broken; plus it was created outside of Blender. I think some more fine-tuning might be optional, before I go ahead and create some proper PBR mats.
  5. theaaronstory

    Rudimentary concepts brought to life

    It's been a while . . . I've spent these last couple of weeks experimenting and slowly building up the foundations (concepts) of a playable character; which would ultimately end up in the demo. It's based on an old Frankish design, with some additional tweaks here and there. Granted, it is really-rough around the edges, but I wanted to see how it all came together; thus left some parts for the imagination (will polish it later, like the straps and the cape, etc.). Initially, when I landed on this design, I decided to cramp as much detail onto this model as I could–just so that it would double as promotional material. That being said, that inadvertently created this intangible struggle of having to create two separate low poly models for said purposes. Suffice to say that the more I worked on this, the more clear it became that it might be a better idea to switch engines all together (to Unreal). But . . . and this is the main source of my conundrum: this would also mean that the project would be thrown back several months; not entirely sure that the delay would justify itself. Whatever might be the case, I'll keep working on this small, linear dungeon crawler ("cave run") and see where this project will go from here . . . Furthermore, I thought to share some close-ups of the model:
  6. theaaronstory

    Slow and steady steps, #Future

    [edited version] Slow and steady steps, #Future Been away from blogging for a while, as I've been constantly experimenting with different engines and solutions (for my non-coder side, that being said learning LUA seems a good way to "get back" into coding, with my first choice), to be able to create a small test game for EOTH. From the plethora of choices I saw and installed (for multi-platform support), I managed to nail it down to two main contestants: one with 2D (Solarus) and one with 3D (Buildbox) support. Obviously, I'm leaning towards the 3D version, as it's much easier to implement when it comes to the art assets, but certain features (it's basically a ready to go RPG) of the other one makes it a really tough choice (or much easier, if I look at their price tag). So for now, instead of worrying all too much, I went on and done some initial tests of making a small Dungeon Crawler (possible test game), where the player starts out at a cave entrance and slowly makes their way into the depths of a mountain; fighting monsters, discovering loots and secrets, etc.; would be the gist of it. Realistic texture test in Blender (sort of PBR, no geometry added) isotest.mp4 Initial sprite test for Solarus It took me some time, but I landed on a design, which I thought would be a nice fit for this small game-of-a-test: a simple warrior, with a basic combat gear to get started with! [To fit the wandering warrior theme.] After the initial blockout, I've started to refine those shapes, right by starting with the head (which is where I'm at the moment). It's nothing fancy, but I'm trying my best to create something that is pleasing to the eye (sort of); whilst having a ton of fun of course! Big shout-out for Blender on this one. Next thing will be the helmet, which will have some interesting ornaments on it. And luckily it will be something that is non-organic in shape–way easier on my basic skills–as I feel much more comfortable doing some hard-surface stuff (like when I modeled the Detector from Aliens. Love those kind of curves!).
  7. theaaronstory

    Concept Quick random doodles

    Exactly what the titles says: Did some random doodling yesterday and today.
  8. theaaronstory

    Concept First boss concept and whatnots

    First boss concept High under the sky, there is a place, that has been long forgotten. Guarded by the hands of faith that will strike down whomever tries to enter their sanctuary. This place marks the entrance of the "First Boss Temple", which will eventually lead to your first major fight. You try to sneak through, but they know where you are. They smash and swing their palms, making it impossible to enter. But you are more determined than this, and you wish to show your power and might. You fight them with all your heart and manage to step inside the sacred temple. Once inside, you follow the trail of candles that never seem to end. Room by room, you venture deeper into the mountain, and hack your way through the grotesque monstrosities that jump at you. Just when you think your journey would never end, you lay your eyes upon a large hall, filled with people who all seem to worship one soul of a peaceful man. This is where it gets interesting. (Phase 1) You walk closer and realize that these monks are long dead; only preserved in their last prayers. As you walk up the aisles, you get this odd feeling of not being right. Not a moment passes by, when the head of the monks opens their eyes and unleashes their horde on you. You immediately jump back and try to evade the attack of these guardian statues. They seem to fall easily, but the more you hunt down, the more stronger they get. Just before the last one falls, all the praying monks reanimate and take up arms. (Phase 2 & 3) While you are fighting for your life, their leader starts to chant. Rocks of all size and shape starts to fall, some hit close and some outright fly at you. But you manage to stay alive, and go after your prey. That is when they stand up and unleash all their wrath. The walls start to collapse, as you battle till death. The weaker they get, the more problems you encounter: the gate behind them slowly starts to open, whilst unleashing beasts from another world. You have no time to ponder about, and only focus on your target ahead. (Phase 4-ish) Finally, you sever their head and they fall to the ground. The gate is fully open now, and your energy is low: There are just way to many to deal with. You try to think of a solution, to close the gate for good. You grab a candle and lit the monks on fire, in order to keep those beasts away from you. Inadvertently, this frees their energy and destroys the gate. You feel tired and proud as you sit down on the cold stone. But as you take a breather, you hear a great rumble, from a distant world . . . Afterthoughts As you can see, this is just the very basics of a possible boss encounter. However, it is not without meaning. These gates hold the key to the world, and by destroying them, the player "unknowingly" creates a chain of events, which they will have to face later on. [Would add that the environment would be more-or-less destructible, and either used to your advantage or against you--as in most of the game. And also The Sacred Monk might throw you around . . .] Also, took some time over the weekend, and spruced up the logo for EOTH. At least it now looks a bit more authentic!
  9. theaaronstory

    Design Aesthetics and some questing

    Aesthetics This entry would be a quick follow-up to my To pixelate, or not to pixelate topic, where I briefly talked about my aesthetics problem of using pixelated art vs. modern HD masterpieces. Strangely enough, yesterday Extra Credits roughly talked about the same thing. Which made me wonder on how and what could be done in order to capture that magic, I so desire to see: A world that astonishes you, but also gives you a sense of wonder and magic. Getting the aesthetics right, both visually and technically, is not an easy task. [Like when you see an AAA title, with poor lighting and even worse--yuck--horrid normal mapping.] But I do believe that there might be a middle road, for having that something that looks fine (modern) and still captures the magic of said pixelated art. For starters, I thought to lay down a base for EOTH, by using The Lord of the Rings as an example: (Mind you, this is the Theatrical version! Highly recommend to watch this one.) Clear and definitive when it comes to defining what is good or bad, cold and hot, etc. High fidelity might take out the need for using your imagination, but with proper aesthetics, it can be reintroduced (combined with cleaver storytelling), even reinforced to an extent. At least that would be my plan to start out with . . . Questing And another short one for questing, How to make them more fun? Tried to trace back on what makes something enjoyable, and came up with two main points to discuss: involvement and reward. The first one is mainly time depended [How much real time the player spends with the characters they're involved for example, and how much do they learn about their background, in order to understand their situation, aka. becoming altruistic in a way*--and not just spam click to get the quest], but often involves more (reward): Like, wouldn't it be more fun, let's say, when you do a fetch quest (classic mmorpg style), and see the results of your labor? (like actually see a short in-game animation, or something, to see what consequences your actions have, when delivering that love letter?). This would not just satisfy your thirst for closer, but also give you a sense of I did something useful and I can see the results of it kind of way. This, combined with other intuitive ways of giving the players tasks, could greatly increase the player's overall experience. [Which is something I thrive for.] * It's important to mention that it has a lot to do with timing (literally and figuratively): When is the quest presented to the player (in town or in battle), are there distractions or pushing factors (e.g.: is this quest for leveling up, or to get that item that I need), does it worth their time (aka. fun enough), etc.
  10. theaaronstory

    Feedback The next step? (Prototyping & funding?)

    The next step? Just some thoughts and worries that I've been having lately: [When a hypothetical scenario is wanting to become reality.] It's one thing that somebody is 100% dedicated to their project, but it's an entirely other matter, when it comes to judge its own market value: aka. viability. [More so to see it from other's perspective.] Not in the traditional sense of "Is an ARPG worth making?", but rather than, Is my take on the genre alluring enough for others to explore? Of course, naturally, this quickly could lead to all sorts of theoretical situations, where one questions their own abilities, and the fact that do they even have the right to come up with such a game; more so that would people play it, or would it be inventive/interesting enough? But the list simply doesn't end there, as there are more obvious factors [Like being a rogue "newcomer" to the industry, as many have/had ideas such as this before--better or worse--which are also wanting to be made, etc.] that are at play. That being said, I still strongly stand by my game, and these thoughts are unlikely to change my mind on the matter. Mainly for two reasons: Been years that I've been wanting to see a real--according to my expectations of course--competitor to Diablo 2, both in scope and production value. [Maybe it's just nostalgia, or I'm getting old . . . Or has something to do with my ASD] I know it's a huge shoe to fill, but seeing some of the--worrying--trends in gaming gives me just enough courage to keep trying. This derives from the first one: Say you're on board with EOTH (STRAW POLL), but know that there are a ton of potholes when it comes to indie gaming--especially in the scope of this one. The budgeting, human resources, knowledge and time are all key variables that are often overlooked (as just having a couple of developers, working full-time costs hundreds of thousands, per month). [Hence there are so many failed attempts of such projects.] That's why I've been thinking more of the scale of a small prototype, which would mainly focus on the core offline experience (with super rudimentary graphics and absolute focus on gameplay). If it can be done with a small team, and enjoyed by others, than I could start thinking of finding ways to further finance the project . . . For that reason, I've been looking into potential ways of funding, but not having a prototype severely limits my options; leaving me with only a limited option of choosing crowdfunding as an alternative path. [Which can be huge minefield--in itself--and I really wish to exclude it if there's zero interest in the game.] I wanted to get this out from my system, so there's that . . .
  11. theaaronstory

    Design It all rests upon . . . the story (#NewLore)

    Technically, I've completely abolished my initial story concept for EOTH. Which ended up being a pressure release, in some regards. [Although, there was a conscious decision behind the way it was laid out: simply, had no time to think about it.] Was not a fan of how flat and similar it was to D2, and how it lacked a unique soul. Plus, all those concepts I've come up with [as of late] pushed me to rethink the situation . . . Overall I'm happy how it turned out, especially that now we have a fairly good reason to chop down all those foul beasts [in our path]. It has a solid base: a motivation [from the character] and a sense of journey/goal that the story revolves around. Mind you, arguably the transformation made the story a bit more sinister! [Which again IMHO reinforces the dark, hack&slash aspect of the game.] Furthermore, I have written a concept script for a possible intro, which you can read here: [It's just a few pages long.] EOTH INTRO CONCEPT And the TL;DR version ***SPOILERS AHEAD***
  12. theaaronstory

    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].
  13. 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.]
  14. 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.]
  15. 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.
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