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Redefining the oldschool 16-bit RPG by fusing pixel art with 3D environments, dynamic lighting, shadows, physics and positional audio.
2,282 backers pledged $185,322 to help bring this project to life.

Team Drama, Combat Engine, 4 Player Local Multiplayer, Delays

Posted by Elysian Shadows Team (Creator)
42 likes

Alrighty, this is going to be a gigantic update. Yes, we have been horrible at updating Kickstarter, and yes, the game will be delayed, but the silence was not due to stagnation. We had another pretty fundamental team shake-up that has left the project understaffed, and those of us remaining have been slaving away every day in a state of silent depression, doing our jobs along with the jobs of those who deserted us, hoping to god we could make the December dead-line, but always knowing in the back of our minds that we were attempting the impossible and sacrificing our health to do so... Despite the fact that these last few months have been some of the hardest months of our lives, we have continued to make significant progress on the game and we will continue to do so into 2016. This update was also delayed due to something really, really, really exciting happening for us and the project that we cannot yet disclose, but expect another update as soon as I get the green light. We are literally itching with anticipation.

TEAM DRAMA 
I never really know what to say when stuff like this happens, but I feel an obligation to be completely transparent with our backers. My father and some of my colleagues think posting intimate team drama is unprofessional, and they would probably be right... Only the majority of our fans are what we would consider friends, and you all know we aren't some big AAA studio with PR reps. We're a bunch of dudes with a dream. You've seen us grow up on YouTube, you've seen us pour our hearts and souls into this project, and we have alwas communicated on a very real, imtimate level with you... I feel like throwing our hands up now and saying we're too "professional" to be sincere and transparent is disrespectful to our fanbase... So I'm fine with being judged as unprofessional.

Tyler Rogers, our gameplay engineer, left us not long after the last Kickstarter udpate. Only he didn't just leave us. He ripped his server out from under us, took Patrick's bed, took monitors, and took routers, without even so much as a minute's heads up to commit code we were currently working on. Normally I don't like to advertise team drama like this, but this was a pretty signficiant setback for us. We lost a significant amount of time and momentum having to redo our setup. This was a pretty large financial setback we hadn't planned on, and now in addition to creating a cross-platform engine and toolkit to compete with Unity2D, I'm also charged with all gameplay programming and scripting.

Setting up the new studio and getting back to work, the same day Tyler quit.
Setting up the new studio and getting back to work, the same day Tyler quit.

I'm sure his rebuttal will be that Patrick and I were "mean" to him towards the end of his days, and he would absolutely be telling the truth. He was the one who once told me that a man should let his work speak for himself. With this in mind, please rewatch the last 6 chapters of Adventures in Game Development. He had a grand total of one scene of progress to show off during this time period, which was only after insisting and begging after he would usually disappear for 2-3 days at a time for every day or two he worked. Between amazing progress on the engine, tools, and graphics, it has been insanely demoralizing for Patrick and I to work ourselves literally to the point of illness and not see any of our hard work come together during this last year into a cohesive gameplay experience... Combine this with the ever-lingering anxiety of knowing 2k people supported your dream and are expecting a game from you, then sure, I could see "mean" being used to describe us urging him to show up for work and threatening him with his job if he didn't... seems legit.

Just one of the many times I caught Patrick napping under his desk.
Just one of the many times I caught Patrick napping under his desk.

Yes, many of you probably think this is my fault for hiring someone incompetent to do such a fundamental task, and honestly, this is something I've beaten myself up over for the last several months since his departure. He wasn't just an "employee" of Elysian Shadows any more than I am. He was my best friend, and this was a dream we shared and fought for together for YEARS. He was just as invested in this project emotionally and financially as any one of us, and this was never about employers and employees--this was a band of brothers. In the end, I'm glad he decided to leave of his own free will, as much as he did it in an exceptionally unprofessional manner, because I don't know if I would have had the resolve to actually kick him off... and just for the record, it was easier for me to redo his work than it was for me to use it. Not a single line of code remains in the project from Tyler, and this has been a clean break.

GAMEPLAY AND COMBAT
It isn't all depression and misery on this front. Tyler leaving was actually one of the best things to ever happen to this team and the game. Yes, it has resulted in setbacks, as we were already overworked, but taking over his job has allowed me to make serious progress and focus exclusively on the combat system and gameplay for the first time, and it has been slowly materializing into something freaking awesome that has remotivated all of us. We've had lots of people stop by the studio and play around with it, fine-tuning every little variable and tweaking gameplay mechanics until they just "felt right." It's slowly evolving into what I think feels like a combination of Super Smash Bros (double-tap dashes, hard-hitting "smash attack" feelings), Secret of Mana, and MegaMan X (Charged magic shots, platforming mechanics).

Family and friends gathered around on Thanksgiving to beta test the new combat engine.
Family and friends gathered around on Thanksgiving to beta test the new combat engine.

There was a significant amount of work put into creating a fully skeletal animation system, allowing us to do very complex animations smoothly. Swords and shields show up on the character and can be sheathed. The player can pick up and throw objects and fireballs, animations can use advanced particle effects, etc. We modified quite a bit of the spine run-time to take advantage of the power of our engine.

Julien's basic skeletal animation. Everything is separate sprites, allowing for maximum versatility.. He can even be beheaded by enemies!
Julien's basic skeletal animation. Everything is separate sprites, allowing for maximum versatility.. He can even be beheaded by enemies!
Movement is all analog-based in every direction. Lightly moving it walks, fully pressing runs.
Movement is all analog-based in every direction. Lightly moving it walks, fully pressing runs.
Weapons may be sheathed or unsheathed for combat and platforming, holding the L trigger causes the player to strafe which is useful for precise aiming in-combat.
Weapons may be sheathed or unsheathed for combat and platforming, holding the L trigger causes the player to strafe which is useful for precise aiming in-combat.

 In addition to walking, running, and strafing, the player can double-tap the analog stick to dash as in Megaman X or Smash brothers. He can also jump, jump dash, pick up, throw, and shatter objects (even hitting enemies) with the rigid body physics engine. All weapons will show up visibly on the player as in Secret of Mana.

Testing player "death" in the engine. This was actually a pretty funny bug where Julien was spawning ontop of an invisible enemy that was one-hit killing him, causing an infinite death loop. Haha.

4 PLAYER LOCAL MULTIPLAYER
I know, I know. The game is already late, how the HELL is the engine developer justifying multiplayer? By not writing shitty code... After the controller API and subsystem was implemented for each platform, we realized it would be easier to control two characters to test combat against each other than it would be to write party-based AI... As we kept going, it just felt "right." So ES is now supporting 4 player co-op, in the same fashion as Secret of Mana, only less annoyingly. Since we have a truly 3D dynamic camera, the world will zoom in and out to keep the action and each player onscreen in the same manner as Super Smash Brothers. Yes, it will also be 4 player local multiplayer on the Sega Dreamcast.

We had a slew of robberies right around our development studio the other day... Didn't stop us.
We had a slew of robberies right around our development studio the other day... Didn't stop us.
 project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound
My girlfriend and I didn't spend much time alone for awhile... Haha.
My girlfriend and I didn't spend much time alone for awhile... Haha.
Concept art for one of the later party members: "Magas.LUA" She is literally a Lua script.
Concept art for one of the later party members: "Magas.LUA" She is literally a Lua script.
Environment for Crystal Mines (before dynamic lights)
Environment for Crystal Mines (before dynamic lights)
Crystal Golem attacking animation.
Crystal Golem attacking animation.
I guess all the animation work killed poor Patrick...
I guess all the animation work killed poor Patrick...
Concept art for a Crystal Cube
Concept art for a Crystal Cube
Crystal Golems running animation.
Crystal Golems running animation.
Animations for an exploding Crystal Golem.
Animations for an exploding Crystal Golem.
Concept and Gameplay Mechanics for the Crystal Ruins
Concept and Gameplay Mechanics for the Crystal Ruins
Just another day at the office!
Just another day at the office!
Politechnica's Insides
Politechnica's Insides
Politechnica's Exteriors (without dynamic lighting yet). Conceptually influenced by Final Fantasy 8's Balamb Garden and SEED academy
Politechnica's Exteriors (without dynamic lighting yet). Conceptually influenced by Final Fantasy 8's Balamb Garden and SEED academy
Art for the festival in the beginning of the game. Highly inspired by Chrono Trigger's Millenial Fair.
Art for the festival in the beginning of the game. Highly inspired by Chrono Trigger's Millenial Fair.

 Working on implementing save crystals within the engine using Patrick's beautiful animations. This is actually how they will behave in-game. Haha, jk. 

 Meticulously fine-tuning Julien's swinging animation in Spine.

Meticulously testing with every controller we could get our hands on... OUYA, Dreamcast, Gamecube, PS3, Xbox 360, etc. The map is actually a little deathmatch area we built to play around in.
Meticulously testing with every controller we could get our hands on... OUYA, Dreamcast, Gamecube, PS3, Xbox 360, etc. The map is actually a little deathmatch area we built to play around in.
Crystal Rats all chilling...
Crystal Rats all chilling...

OUYA FREE THE GAMES FUND
I just wanted to quickly update everyone on this front. You've probably all seen the drama in the indie gaming news regarding Razer's purchase of OUYA and the fate of the Free the Games Fund... Elysian Shadows was the highest FTG'd game, and we had planned on receiving the funding ever since we were Kickstarted. Luckily it does look as though Razer is honoring the deal. We haven't signed anything official yet, so theoretically it could still fall through, but things are looking bright on that front. The only thing we don't know about yet is the fate of the actual OUYA console itself. We aren't sure whether we will be supporting the original hardware or Razer's new hardware under our new obligations. If anybody reading this purchased ES for the original OUYA and really, really doesn't want the game on any other platform, please speak up!

OUYA's Free the Games Fund
OUYA's Free the Games Fund

ADVENTURES IN GAME DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 32
Since the last Kickstarter update, there has been one chapter of Adventures in Game Development released. Its pacing is a little weird, since part of it took place right around the time Tyler left, then we picked the camera back up and continued on with the new setup. You can see us setting servers back up and even see us continuing to code and work on the game as Tyler's stuff was moved out. There is also a lot of great progress on iOS builds and skeletal animation. 

I wanted to apologize just one last time for the silence and lack of updates. I mean no disrespect to the rest of the team, but I am stuck as the PR person in addition to every aspect of programming now just because I am a halfway decent writer, which is more than slightly overwhelming. I will try my best to continue these updates semi-regularly, and I will also be continuing the AiGD series once we have the combat system down. Hopefully in the near future we will be getting a PR rep, so I will never have to do this again. ;)

If anybody has any questions, comments, complaints, or you just want to say you hate us for being late, feel free to post it in the comments below. I will personally be checking the comments every morning for about a week before I open up my IDE and start coding for the day. I am so sorry for the delays, but trust me, in a few years nobody is going to remember that we were late. We will be remembered for having a kick ass game. :)

--Falco Girgis

Adventures in Game Development Chapters 30 & 31

Posted by Elysian Shadows Team (Creator)
15 likes

It has been a long, hard week-and-a-half for us. Those of you who have been following our daily streams may have noticed that we dropped off the face of the earth there for awhile. This was due to the fact we couldn't afford the internet bill for about a week. Before anybody complains or accuses us of blowing all the money on coke and hookers, the opposite is true. We're being so conservative with the money that we live on the bare minimal required for our survival and development, and if we have to make a few unplanned development purchases here-and-there, sometimes we have to reallocate funds from elsewhere... Anyway, we should be right back to our usual streaming schedule next week.

Since the previous update, Adventures in Game Development Chapters 30 and 31 have both been released, giving you around an hour of video content to watch if you're into seeing the behind-the-scenes debauchery and life here at our studio:

Falco's Status Update

  • Autogenerated Stack Trace on Windows Build Exceptions
    I can't believe what a nightmare this was to implement... ESTk exceptions on MacOS and Linux (and now iOS) give pretty little stack backtraces to where we can figure out exactly what went wrong after a crash or exception is encountered. With the majority of our team using Windows and our plans to release ESTk to you guys, it's important for Windows to give similarly good exception reports... Unfortunately unwinding the stack and finding symbol display information is a nightmare to do on Windows with MinGW. In the end, I wound up arriving at the following solution:
    - Create MinGW release build with debug symbols
    - Run build through cv2pdb to convert GCC debug info to a separate Visual Studio .pdb debug file
    - Load debug symbols from .pdb file when unraveling the stack upon encountering an exception 
  • iOS Simulator Build 
    Yep, that's right. There are many good reasons to support the iOS simulator such as debugging when we don't have a device and automated testing. Also believe it or not, the iOS simulator is pretty damn impressive these days (back in my day, it sucked). It actually simulates OpenGL ES 3.0 now, so it can handle all of our fancy shaders accurately. It's faster to build for, debug on, and invoke than the actual device, and when we release ESTk to you guys as a standalone development engine and suite, we promise you will want to be able to test your levels (and games) on the simulator... Well, now you can. It's even x86 assembly optimized just like the desktop builds... because I can.
  • iOS Device Build
    The simulator build was an intermediate step to getting the entire engine running on the actual iOS device. ES is being built as a universal app (meaning it will automatically look and work great on iPod Touches, iPhones, and iPads), and so far (I can't believe it), it honestly looks like an iPhone 6 with OpenGL ES 3.0 can do everything the desktop builds can do with good performance regarding per-fragment dynamic lighting and pixel-perfect shadows. I still have a lot of work to do on that front, but the fact that the performance is so good with no GPU-side tweaking is pretty damn impressive to say the least... Oh, and the CPU-side transforms are assembly optimized to use the ARM NEON instructions, of course.
  • iOS ESTk Integration
    Once both iOS builds were good, I went ahead and integrated them within ESTk. Once selected as platforms from the dropdown menu, pushing "play" will send your current level (and your entire state, including character positions, entity configurations, etc) to the iOS device for seamless playthrough, logging all the same information invoking it directly from XCode would. It's really cool!
  •  iOS Jenkins Automation
    Recently I have seen the light regarding build and testing automation. Both iOS builds are now automated and validated within our internal Jenkins build system for continuous integration. Internally this means iOS builds will always be running the latest and correct builds every time there is a new desktop build of ESTk. This will also be invaluable once you guys start beta testing in the future.
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes
    - Copy+Pasting entities with LightSource components causes implicit sharing of shadow maps
    - Crash while adding sprite texture to SpriteAttrib via ESTk GUI
    - ESTk User Manual and Lua API Documentation not updating in Windows builds
    - Needed AdventureLog Lua wrappers for displaying custom content
    - Random entity serialization/deserialization bugs and issues
    - Deleting saved entity before running crashes ESTk
ESTk Invoke Engine Dropdown
ESTk Invoke Engine Dropdown
Running the current level on the iOS Simulator from ESTk
Running the current level on the iOS Simulator from ESTk
Running the current build on an iOS Device from ESTk
Running the current build on an iOS Device from ESTk
All Jenkins CI Builds are Blue... Falco doesn't have to kill anybody.
All Jenkins CI Builds are Blue... Falco doesn't have to kill anybody.

Tyler's Status Update

  • Prepared the player-character scripts for conversion to the new Spine format. There was a ton of Julien specific code being loaded in both global_init.lua and the current version of the playerCharacter_behav.lua, which posed a problem when testing any party configuration that wasn’t composed of just Julien. All of the Julien specific attributes and configuration now resides in julien_config.lua – a serialized entity table that also handles configuring his non-Spine animation attributes for the time being. Since any entity with the proper character/combat settings can be in the party or set as the party leader, this additional abstraction has been on the to-do list for a min. (It just wasn’t really worth fiddling with until we had all of the Spine component stuff ready and new animations/sprite atlas files ready for testing too)
  • The layout of our assets repository has also been changed up a bit to better reflect the improved logic and code structure since the last update. All found redundant functionality, and dated/unused scripts have been pruned or entirely removed as needed.
  • Several corner case issues and tons of generic bugs found in various GUI widgets and their behaviors were identified and addressed. (This includes the actionbar, itemwheel, and all of their required modules and objects.)
Working on Spell Effects
Working on Spell Effects

Coal's Status Update 

Okay, so here's the deal. Cole is asleep while I (Falco Girgis) am writing this:

Poor dude apparently passed out watching the X-Files... Definitely an influence on ES.
Poor dude apparently passed out watching the X-Files... Definitely an influence on ES.

He's passed out from staying up all night producing and uploading Adventures in Game Development Chapter 31... I'm not going to wake him up just to give me a few bullet points for an update (we need his ass to be useful and we're running low on Ritalin, so better let him get his beauty sleep). He's been working his ass off on audio composition, video production, and learning the ropes of scripting for our engine. You can clearly see all he's been up to in the above videos!

Patrick's Status Update

  • finished loren town + loren forest tilesheet and handling it over to rest of the team 
  • finished loren interiors tilesheet and handling it over  
  • finished plant enemy animations 
  •  started cutting rat enemy into pieces and animating 
  •  experimented a bit with haunted look for loren
Attack animation
Attack animation
Chillin' Animation
Chillin' Animation
Rat Enemy Atlas Segments
Rat Enemy Atlas Segments

This photo is still processing

Check back in a few minutes!

Rooftop Elevation
Improved Structure Versatility
Improved Structure Versatility

Shout-out to "whitepenny" for sending us 4 mystery gift packages of asswipe, Mac-and-Cheese, coffee mugs, and plastic silverware. You're the man! 

Adventures in Game Development Chapter 29 and Weekly Update

Posted by Elysian Shadows Team (Creator)
13 likes

Time for the ol' weekly update! First of all, we're technically late this week. We're still trying to establish our week-to-week schedule here, and it look like since we're releasing Adventures in Game Development sometime on Saturday or Sunday, you should expect these updates towards the beginning of the following week, rather than at the end of the previous week.

It has been nice talking to a whole lot of you on our daily Twitch streams. I feel like we're starting to grow a pretty significant following around the production of Elysian Shadows, which is what we were really hoping for. Even if it's kind of a pain in the ass for us and even sometimes kind of intimidating to have all of our day-to-day work broadcast publicly, none of us can deny that it keeps us productive and on our toes... It's a form of quality assurance that we're proud to embrace. The only problem now is our shitty internet connection causing issues with the stream. We will hopefully be migrating to another ISP fairly soon.

It feels good to be back on YouTube. The fan response to AiGD28 and AiGD29 has been astounding. I'm also glad everyone likes the direction Cole is taking the series in, because I'm sooo sick of being the editor and director of the series. Everything is just flowing better now, and we're back to randomly picking up the camera for fun when interesting things happen, creating the videos organically again. Adventures in Game Development Chapter 29 was released around mid-day on Sunday:

In other exciting news, we've been contacted back by OUYA, who wants to check up on us... We haven't really heard anything from them since their acquisition by Razor, which has kind of scared us. Are we still part of the free-the-games fund? That's 150k up in the air, that we could desperately use for food, caffeine, and adderall here at the studio... I'll keep you guys posted once I know what's going on!

Falco's Status Update: 

  • For the first time EVER, ESTk is now loading and saving every entity component and behavior, and every one of their properties is exposed and accessible through the Selection View GUI. This is pretty monumental, because it means all aspects of Entity creation and manipulation can now be done by the content creators, level designers and artists, rather than having to be scripted through Lua by a scripter. This is drastically going to reduce development time moving forward, and it's going to be insanely useful for prototyping.
  • I added the concept of "hidden levels" to ESTk. A level can be marked as hidden by using an underscore as the first character. Hidden levels will not be displayed within Asset View by default, so Patrick can stop bitching that he's sick of seeing non-production levels in our asset directory. The problem is that we are using these non-production levels as example levels and even for unit tests, so there are plenty of good reasons to keep them around. When we release ESTk, our documentation will even have links to these demo levels that will auto-open when clicked.
  • Shittons of miscellaneous ESTk bug-fixes. Now that the Toolkit is integrated with our Gitlab account and has pretty little widgets and dialogs for submitting bugs, the team has taken aaaaaall the liberties with creating bug tickets... I'm actually hoping to make our Gitlab milestones and bug lists public in the future, so you can see what we're working on in real-time.
    1) Fixed Tile Collidable Decorations in MapView
    2) Play multiple Spine animations simultaneously
    3) Entity Copy+Paste
    4) Cannot select tiles in the bottom row of a map
    5) Fixed annoying-ass Windows 8-exclusive crash
    6) Exposed Spine Skeleton component in Selection View (saving supported also)
Configuring an Entity through the Selection View GUI
Configuring an Entity through the Selection View GUI

It looks kind of bland currently, but custom widgets and the fancy UI aesthetics will be coming soon. Also notice LuaBehavior components are indexed along with all built-in engine components, so you can configure and modify every Lua property of a script dynamically at run-time without writing a single line of code!

Toggle for Displaying Hidden Levels
Toggle for Displaying Hidden Levels

Notice in this test Project, the last two levels with underscores as their first character are indexed when the toggle is enabled. The same is also true for entities whose names begin with underscores. This is useful for hiding entities who aren't visible and whose sole purpose is for script management... Not having any way to separate those GameObjects from physical GameObjects was something that always pissed me off about the Unity engine...

Tyler's Status Update:

  • After working on getting the ‘Actionbar’ implemented, the next goal was to allow the players to assign abilities (spells or skills) or usable items (torches, health potions, etc) to a specific, non-reserved button slot in the UI. The Actionbar’s buttons were designed with the need to represent specific data relating to the use of items and abilities in mind. This means that items that stack will show how many are currently in the inventory, and upon use or consumption this displayed value will update both on the button and in inventory menus. Button assignments that have a requirement to use, such as a MP cost per cast/use, will indicate their state of availability by being darkened (unavailable) or normal (available). Additionally if a button’s assigned action incurs a ‘cooldown’ timer before it can be used again, this timer is displayed on the button, counting down the remaining time until it becomes available again.
  • Previous to the above mentioned Actionbar UI elements being introduced, all items, spells, and abilities were lumped together in a single Lua module and had similar attributes, including the dependency of their functionality on behaviors being attached to entities which in turn had to be added to the current area and kept up with. This implementation obviously didn’t age too well. Going forward items and abilities, including their effects and projectiles, have generic template tables they inherit from based on item or ability types. (For example, a ranged weapon is considered an ‘armament’, which is a type of ‘equipment’, which is simply a dressed up ‘item’.) While these objects can still have a behavior attached to them for special cases, their primary functionality now flows through a Lua proxy behavior. This allows for non-behavior scripts to execute functionality in response to one or more of the 20+ triggers that the Elysian Shadows engine supports.

Cole's Status Update

  • Set up my machine with ES software and audio/video production tools
  • Gaining a more detailed understanding of the ES story and vision, toolkit and its back-end logic, basic Lua fundamentals
  • Production of #AiGD YouTube series (heavy marketing tool) 
  • AiGD Chapter 28 
  • AiGD Chapter 29 
  • AiGD Chapter 30 (currently in progress) 
  • Optimization and consolidation of Social Media posting 
  • Created ES specific accounts (Instead of posting to Falco's personal accounts)
  • Integrated all accounts to post from one place -Automatic posting to all accounts when new YouTube video uploaded 
  • Level design (might as well work on an actual level while I'm learning)
  • Forest Dungeon Room II (currently in progress) 
  • Composition of Forest level tracks (currently in progress)
  • Forest music 
  • Forest Dungeon music 
  • Forest Boss music
Importing Genesis and SNES VSTs and Composing
Importing Genesis and SNES VSTs and Composing
Video Production for AiGD
Video Production for AiGD

Patrick's Status Update

  • making sure the tilesheets and normalmaps for forest are working and not missing anything 
  • bitching at Falco and filling tickets 
  • adding basic boar animations
One of the Forest Areas Patrick has Been Building
One of the Forest Areas Patrick has Been Building
Pissed off Boar Animation... Dunno what his name is yet... I call him Sonic.
Pissed off Boar Animation... Dunno what his name is yet... I call him Sonic.
Multishadows, 3D shadows, lots of work establishing depth and shadows
Multishadows, 3D shadows, lots of work establishing depth and shadows

See you folks on the Twitch stream or next week with AiGD30!

HUGE UPDATE and Adventures in Game Development Chapter 28

Posted by Elysian Shadows Team (Creator)
34 likes

God, I have dreaded making this update for so long... Not because I haven't been slaving away on this game day and night, abusing prescription amphetamines to stay awake and focused, losing sleep and slowly my sanity, but because I just wasn't 100% satisfied with the content we would be posting for the update. My perfectionism coupled with issues internal to our team causing levels to not be as developed as I would have liked them to be is what has caused such a gigantic delay in Kickstarter updates... We have always been 100% transparent with our supporters in the past, constantly posting behind-the-scenes YouTube updates, and posting on social media daily, but suddenly I lost the courage to show the "real" game development once we accepted money from Kickstarter. I didn't want to show anything shy of perfect... But the truth is that sometimes game development is ugly and highly inconsistent. Some weeks you accomplish everything you ever dreamed and more, and some weeks you get stuck and barely finish a thing. It's the nature of engineering and creative work in general, and I swear from here forward to show the true, unadulterated, uncensored, behind-the-scenes progress.

First and foremost, all team issues have been resolved. We let some people go, and we gained some people. Every person who is currently on the team is now living underneath the same roof in our game development studio. We flew our pixel artist out from Poland to live with us for the next 6 months, and my best friend, Cole, flew out from Salt Lake City, Utah to join us as a level designer and video producer for our Youtube series, Adventures in Game Development. We've made more progress in the last week living together than we ever made as a remote team dispersed around the planet trying to communicate on Skype daily.

4 dudes in one cramped lil' room. Welcome to dev paradise.
4 dudes in one cramped lil' room. Welcome to dev paradise.
Buried a 300ft ethernet cable to get the studio and my home on the same LAN... nearly killed us.
Buried a 300ft ethernet cable to get the studio and my home on the same LAN... nearly killed us.

The engine and pixel art have both progressed insane amounts, completely unhindered since the last update. The engine, toolkit, and SDK are easily nearing the point where we could begin allowing our beta backers to begin messing with it and breaking things. We have even laid the infrastructure for implementing bug reporting, feature requests, and issue tracking inside the Toolkit itself for our beta backers. Since the entire team is using ESTk daily for content creation to produce Elysian Shadows itself, a large portion of my time has been spent polishing and adding new features to the Toolkit to aide in their day-to-day tasks.

See, look how robust our software is!
See, look how robust our software is!
Dynamic lighting editor, and an entire full-fledged Lua debugging environment and IDE. Modify any variable in the entire game through Lua at run-time with the SDK.
Dynamic lighting editor, and an entire full-fledged Lua debugging environment and IDE. Modify any variable in the entire game through Lua at run-time with the SDK.
Toggle on and off dynamic lighting, set compatibility mode and screen resolutions for Dreamcast and mobile devices.
Toggle on and off dynamic lighting, set compatibility mode and screen resolutions for Dreamcast and mobile devices.
You think you're done with dynamic lights, then Patrick starts using them with flips and rotations, different plane levels, and different perspectives... This is the "dev-notebook" add-on.
You think you're done with dynamic lights, then Patrick starts using them with flips and rotations, different plane levels, and different perspectives... This is the "dev-notebook" add-on.
Falco GPGPU accelerated the entire physics engine for his masters thesis work. You can now assign GPUs in ESTk for rendering and physics/collision processing.
Falco GPGPU accelerated the entire physics engine for his masters thesis work. You can now assign GPUs in ESTk for rendering and physics/collision processing.
Totally haven't had too much coffee today...
Totally haven't had too much coffee today...
In-Game apology to my girlfriend for working so much and never going to bed with her.
In-Game apology to my girlfriend for working so much and never going to bed with her.
Waterfall in the Loren Forest
Waterfall in the Loren Forest
Town outskirts raw map, no dynamic lighting.
Town outskirts raw map, no dynamic lighting.
Playing with Entities and Waterfall particle effects. It's all 100% in-game.
Playing with Entities and Waterfall particle effects. It's all 100% in-game.
Submitting a bug report will create a ticket for me on our server, automatically attaching all of your debug logs and stack trace... Oh, and ESTk will restart itself and restore the previous state.
Submitting a bug report will create a ticket for me on our server, automatically attaching all of your debug logs and stack trace... Oh, and ESTk will restart itself and restore the previous state.
Mutilating my Dreamcast to be powered on and off by a Beaglebone which will run the new build and execute unit tests every time we change the code on the GitLab server.
Mutilating my Dreamcast to be powered on and off by a Beaglebone which will run the new build and execute unit tests every time we change the code on the GitLab server.

We have complete graphics and tilesheets for MANY biomes for Elysian Shadows, as pixel art has been blazing along. Part of the problem has been the lack of level design progress with these tiles, so poor Patrick hasn't been able to see much feedback from his blood and sweat. Now that he's living with us, he's also taken on the role of level designer along with Cole to pick up the slack that was left in those areas.

Lava biome
Lava biome
Ugly, distorted 3D perspective is gone. Dynamic lighting looks great in dark dungeons.
Ugly, distorted 3D perspective is gone. Dynamic lighting looks great in dark dungeons.
Polytechnica Cathedral (no dynamic lighting yet)
Polytechnica Cathedral (no dynamic lighting yet)
Skeleton-based animation engine implemented... Bosses and lots of polygons
Skeleton-based animation engine implemented... Bosses and lots of polygons



As far as updates go, we have addressed this problem in a variety of ways. In addition to daily social media updates, each one of us will be streaming our daily work on Twitch on Monday-Thursday. Monday will be me (Falco Girgis) working on the engine and toolkit, Tuesday will be Patrick doing pixel art and level design, Wednesday will be Tyler doing Lua scripting and gameplay, and Thursday will be Cole doing level design and probably some video production. We've also rebooted our "Adventures in Game Development" series, and we are hoping to release chapters now every weekend. Along with these weekly video updates will be a Kickstarter update like this one with the video and a summary of the week's progress.

Mobs for the Loren Forest
Mobs for the Loren Forest
Figured out a new way to cast dynamic shadows from flat 2D objects to make them look as through they have depth!
Figured out a new way to cast dynamic shadows from flat 2D objects to make them look as through they have depth!

Here's Adventures in Game Development Chapter 28 from this week:

If any of you have any questions, complaints, concerns, or anything of the sort, you can catch us on Twitch four days a week and voice your opinions. We can walk you through anything or discuss our timelines and agenda with you. We have already done that on Skype with quite a few of you, and I don't think there was any pissed off doubter who left the Skype call not being completely optimistic and excited for the project. We deeply apologize for the lack of Kickstarter updates, and we assure you that things have already changed on our end with regards to this, and the new team will stop at nothing to complete this game.

New Years 2015 Update

Posted by Elysian Shadows Team (Creator)
18 likes

Happy New Years, everyone! 

May all of your game development and indie gaming dreams come true this year! 2015 is going to be a huge year for Elysian Shadows and our friend projects here on Kickstarter.

While we were fairly silent during Q4 of last year, this did not mean we weren't literally working our asses off day and night in our indie dev caves. We decided to take a brief respite from the spotlight to recharge and focus on our product for awhile before reemerging... That time has finally come, and we have all kinds of awesome progress to show you. You're going to be seeing quite a bit more of us this year, especially on YouTube, where we're continuing our "Adventures in Game Development" series, giving you guys a behind-the-scene look at the ongoing development of Elysian Shadows.

Art, Music, and Design 

We decided it was wise to sketch out our entire world, finalize character designs, and solidify the look and feel of our environments to build a cohesive, contiguous world that fits together seamlessly before blindly jumping into pixel art and level design.

We've had our artist (slave) working nonstop on various concepts for each biome, town, NPC, and enemy in the world of Elysian Shadows. This has been the result of many hours of design discussions and video game research to design environments up to the standards of each one of us here on the team.

Here are some miscellaneous concepts from the design document:

Meet professor Rand, your third party member
Meet professor Rand, your third party member
"University Town"
"University Town"
Great Plains looking back at University Town
Great Plains looking back at University Town
Water Temple Architecture (No, it's nothing like Ocarina of Time's)
Water Temple Architecture (No, it's nothing like Ocarina of Time's)
Water Temple Evil Critter
Water Temple Evil Critter
Ancient Ruins Concept #2
Ancient Ruins Concept #2
Forest Shrine Entrance
Forest Shrine Entrance
Volcanic Ruin Zone
Volcanic Ruin Zone
Desert Critters Concept #3
Desert Critters Concept #3
"Horny Chick" (ES Chocobo) Concept
"Horny Chick" (ES Chocobo) Concept

ESTk and Tech Update
 (warning, lots of code and engineering talk!) 

The magic behind the look, feel, and uniqueneess of Elysian Shadows is our Toolkit, ESTk, which was written from the ground-up to create 2D games with advanced lighting effects in full 3D space. We know many of you backed Elysian Shadows for ESTk access, and we're looking forward to providing you with a platform to create your own content within the world of Elysian Shadows on various platforms, including the Sega Dreamcast and OUYA.

As our development has progressed, more and more functionality has been demanded of ESTk from our artists, who wanted to see their sprites being dynamically lit by various light sources at runtime (bastards). We decided to solve this problem of providing an in-game graphical representation of their pixel art by merging ESTk with our engine, and actually making the editor itself fully in-game.

This has opened up endless possibilities to us (and eventually you guys), as you can now play through your levels as you edit them, pick up and drag players, NPCs, and enemies for placement, stop and play through the game and engine on a frame-by-frame basis while investigating and modifying Lua run-time variables for debugging purposes, and even dynamically script the game as you play it! We've essentially built a cross between Unity2D and a Lua Visual Studio environment. Our Lua inspector widgets allow artists and level designers to modify any Lua table or attribute to configure scripts through a user-friendly GUI without ever modifying a line of code!

For those of you who are software engineers, engine developers, or nerds, ESTk will be the topic of Falco's master's thesis, where its architecture will be discussed in full. The thesis will be posted for your reading pleasure upon its completion... Totally legit for some light bedtime reading...

TL;DR: We're coming for you, Game Maker!

All 100% in-game!
All 100% in-game!
Modifying dynamic lights in real-time
Modifying dynamic lights in real-time

Beta Backer Forum Access

While we are not quite to the point where we can start handing out builds of Elysian Shadows, we wanted to go ahead and give our beta backers access to a private development forum where they can weigh in on our design decisions and we can keep them closely updated with our work. For those of you interested, we should probably have Toolkit builds available for beta testing much sooner, if you want to play around with building your own environments. Hell, maybe we'll like them enough to include them in the release! Those of you who backed us for custom items, characters, enemies, and quests can also start topics for your ideas, and we can begin discussing getting your creative visions into the game.

To join the beta forum (beta backers only):
1) Go to http://www.forums.elysianshadows.com
2) Register to create an account
3) Go to the User Control Panel
4) Go to the Usergroups tab
5) Select the "ES Beta Backers" usergroup
6) Select "Join Selected" and push Submit! 

One of us will approve your join request as soon as possible!

Adventures in Game Development and Social Media

As we mentioned before, we will be resurrecting our AiGD series on YouTube, so please subscribe for regular behind-the-scenes video updates!
http://wwww.youtube.com/elysianshadows

We have also decided to begin our own Game Development blogs where we post useful information and rants on anything and everything game development related. Falco's first blog post on "When to Start Promoting Your Indie Game" may be found here: http://elysianshadows.com/updates/when-to-start-promoting-your-indie-game/

We also update other social media pages nearly every day with new content.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elysianshadows
Twitter: https://twitter.com/elysian_shadows
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Elysianshadows
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GyroVorbis
Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/imrooniel
Tumblr: http://falcogirgis.tumblr.com/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/falcogirgis/elysian-shadows-press/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/falcogirgis

Looking forward to seeing a lot more of you guys!

Thanks for reading... NOW BACK TO THE CODE!
Thanks for reading... NOW BACK TO THE CODE!