For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.
For backers at the $30 and higher levels: Library Book Names!
Mages: Almost Initiated
Polar Vortex 2015
Onward to October
As you'll no doubt be aware if you've been following along with our updates, development has been advancing rather well on Mages' Initiation and the game is fast heading down the track to completion! Sure, there's been the fair share of hiccups, hurdles, and illnesses to stumble over along the way, but the overall forward momentum is unstoppable and in this update, we'll document our progress thus far and cast our prognosis for when we expect to launch the beta.
So, come! Gaze into the Sphere of Knowledge. Let the clouds of prophecy roll in and we shall see what the fates have in store.
Name in Library Book - Please Read if You Backed at $20 or More
We wanted to get this out there first-- we ran into a little snafu. Kickstarter lets us survey a tier just once and the only tier we've surveyed to date is the $20 Apprentice tier since these backers were only receiving stickers and no other physical goods.
We've reached the point where we need to collect backers' names for inclusion in the "Book of Backers" in the Mage's Tower library. Please note the following:
- There's a 30 character limit on names. (Due to the formatting of the book, each name can only occupy a single line. This character limit ensures the names will fit.)
- Keep it clean, non-abusive, and avoid any mention of copyrighted terms or trademarks.
- If you don't want your name or pseudonym included in the in-game "Book of Backers", please type OPTOUT in all-caps into the field.
Since we're not ready to receive the other data from the higher tiers (e.g. we don't need your mailing addresses just yet), for the time being we'll be sending a private message to each tier, linking to a Google Form asking for the name you'd like to have displayed in the library book.
If you backed by PayPal, you’ll be receiving an email. Sorry for any confusion!
Progress Since January
We’re pleased to announce that we recently hit a glorious milestone! The art and animation assets for the project are now essentially finished. Every game background and associated animation (e.g. things like rivers, doors opening and closing, smoking fires etc.) has been completed. Our lead artist, JP Selwood, has worked endlessly, detailing over 80 game backgrounds. He has given each screen a consistent artistic style so that the landscapes appear seamless, without any clashes or variation in the style and quality (which is sometimes hard to avoid when multiple artists have worked on adjoining background pieces). We have truly strived to give the valley of Iginor the most verdant landscape we could imagine, remembering the way our imaginations ran wild playing all the classics on account of their brilliant art. We hope you'll enjoy getting lost in this lush, aesthetic world.
Karen also finished the last of the animated in-game character dialog portraits, which is another milestone worth celebrating. We're very pleased with the high quality of her work and it has been a blast seeing Iginor's diverse cast of characters come to life on-screen. Since none of the character voices have yet been recorded, their mouth frames currently just animate in a looping pattern. But we're really looking forward to getting the voices in place and the lip-syncing added, in order to witness the full effect of all those intricate mouth phoneme frames that Karen has painstakingly crafted.
Onto the final artistic front: the character animations. Shane and Jeremy have been knocking down the remaining entries on the animations list for both D'arc and NPC characters. Once a grand and intimidating sight to behold, the list is now dwindling and contains little more than a small handful of entries, which we expect will be finished in a matter of weeks. With 4 player classes and animations for nearly every player action, Mages is a very animation intensive title, and this, in large part is a major factor in what's contributed to the lengthy development time-frame. So to say that we're "elated" to finally see the animations list reach an end is the understatement of a quarter-decade… quite literally!
The music and sound effects are coming into the final stages. Brandon is currently working on polishing the remaining pieces for the game and we're getting them set up as they roll in. Adding sound effects, on the other hand, is a somewhat painstaking task which we usually leave until the very end.
In terms of programming, there are several outstanding areas that we still need to focus on before the game will be in a state fit for beta testing. Jason is getting close to wrapping up programming the Wastelands section of the game. This is a region which had to be put on the back-burner for a long time, for a couple of reasons The first being that the decision to re-include the wastelands as a fully-explorable area was decided upon later, as it was based on meeting our $80K Kickstarter Stretch Goal. And the second being that it's a complex area to script, with chasms, unique landmarks, and other obstacles - we wanted to get the combat system fully functional before implementing the wastelands as a secondary major combat zone (the forest being the first). That, and there were more important scripting priorities that took precedence, such as getting the RPG and Stats system working without flaws.
Simultaneously, Morgan is working through a very long list of combat-related bug-fixes. These tweaks are aimed at bringing stability to the battle system so that it can be fully-integrated into the RPG system. Hooking both of these together is something that still needs to be done, as if you were to test the game in its current state, it would simply play like a straight adventure game with optional combat tacked on that you could ignore. This means you could finish the game without raising any stats and the only mandatory combat encounters you'd face would be the bosses. Obviously, a lot of fine-tuning needs to be done once the combat and RPG systems are interlinked, and the timing of this long list of combat bugs is the largest variable affecting when the beta will be stable enough to release.
Those programming tasks aside, there's a trivial amount of work to be done on the class-based side-quests, one interface GUI still needs to be properly implemented, and a couple of mini-games are in need of fine tuning. That pretty much encompasses all of the remaining programming work.
A Word on Beta Testing
When all is said and done, we're realistically looking at a beta launch of around mid to late August 2015. Bear in mind, however, that this beta will likely be closer to an alpha, as the voices won't be present and there will be a fair few rough edges. Releasing a beta this way is a new process to us, as with all our previous games we've held off on releasing beta versions until the products were in a very polished state, complete with voices, and having been comprehensively alpha tested internally until we couldn't find any more bugs. At that point, we'd turn it over to a small, controlled group of beta testers to scrutinize and report their own findings.
To be honest, we do feel a little 'exposed' at the prospect of releasing such an early build as a beta version to a much larger test group, but we also feel that this will be the right time to let backers at the appropriate tier levels see the game they've backed after the long wait. This new approach also comes with some advantages, in that backers/testers can help us weed out any spelling or grammar anomalies before the time comes to record voice actors. (It's always a bit of a hassle having to get actors back for pick-up sessions if you've already recorded all their lines prior to the beta.)
We're aiming to have the game and all of its systems fully-functional and playable to the end by the end of June, so we can spend adequate time internally alpha testing it for a month or so. We'll keep you posted!
General Progress Report
More than a few people have mentioned that they liked the way we gauged our progress with figures and estimated percentages, so here are the latest numbers for your perusal:
Writing & Design: 99.999999%
Background Artwork & Animations: 99%
Character Animations: 99%
Sound Effects: 45%
Adventure Game Programming: 98%
Combat System Programming: 95%
RPG/Stats/Equipment Programming: 90%
And here are the stats for latest AGS engine assets being used.
AGS Game Engine Assets & Stats
Total sprites: 17847 / 30000
Sprite folders: 799
Total views: 767
Total GUIs: 68
Inventory Items: 300 / 300 (dynamic inventory system, we have over 300 items)
Dialog topics: 393 / 500
Sojourning west to represent Himalaya, Rachel attended her first GDC this past March and was still pretty star struck weeks after heading back east! Unfortunately, we had missed the deadline to have Mage's Initiation featured at the Indie Megabooth or at the expo hall's indie exhibit.
However, GDC is one of those holy grail events where you have everybody from indies working on their first game, who tried not to cringe thinking about their savings, to designers representing billion dollar studios whose booth costs could've paid for ten more games.
While not formally exhibited, it didn't stop Rachel from pulling out her laptop and getting feedback from other developers, especially at the adventure game party. Reception toward Mage's Initiation has overall been extremely positive! People have been loving both the gameplay and aesthetics, the best comment received was that it had something for the players who want to get into a story and game world, and plenty of spells and monsters for the twitchier gamers among us.
"I stayed at this place that based on the trippy decor and colorful, abstract furniture made me feel like I was in an Al Lowe game in 1992. And I had an ice cream taco after looking for places where The Room was filmed. IT RULED." -- Rachel's GDC diaries from her upcoming book
A Green Postcard is a Good Postcard
Nothing makes us happier to announce that we're back in the Greenlight system with another game. Hooray! "Al Emmo's Postcards from Anozira", a casual game spin-off, is currently doing the rounds. We can think of few more joyous occasions than being in Greenlight. So much so, that we want to tell the world about it! Please note that the above statements may be laced with sarcasm. At any rate, please share in our emotions and give the game a "yes" vote, as well, as a favorite and follow, if you can spare the additional clicks.
Infamous Quests: The Trifecta
The guys at Infamous Quests are going for the hat-trick in their latest Kickstarter venture, with no less than 3 new adventure games being funded in the same campaign! Count 'em:
Quest for Infamy: Roehm to Ruin
The Order of the Thorne: The King's Challenge
The Order of the Thorne: The Fortress of Fire
The entire team has a clear passion for adventures and they release great titles, which we can wholeheartedly recommend. Having met their initial goal, they're currently angling to reach their $35K Stretch goal and put all 3 games into development at once. If fantasy RPG/Adventures are up your alley (and we know they are, since you backed Mages!) these are definitely worth your consideration.
Tournament of Might
If you’re into card games at all, check out Tournament of Might. It's War on steroids! There will be a Kickstarter launching for this in a few weeks for new armies to be made.
Visual Design in Action
This campaign will be launching on Tuesday the 28th, if we have any graphic designers and lovers of print books in the house. Ladislav Sutnar's groundbreaking piece, Visual Design in Action, will be reprinted!
Playcrafting Spring Expo 4/29 & Upcoming Classes
Rachel is extremely active with Playcrafting, an NYC game developer collective. Mage's Initiation will be showcased at the spring expo along with 74 other games! If you're in the NYC or metro area and want to hang out with a bunch of cool indies and gamers, play lots of different games, and have free pizza, grab a ticket and stop by Himalaya's booth and say hi! The expo's at Microsoft's Times Square office, adjacent to almost every train.
If you ever wanted to learn AGS, adventure veteran Francisco Gonzalez will be teaching an AGS class May 12. Rachel will also be teaching a new class on June 4, Taxes for Indie Developers. You don't leave until you've learned about at least one oddball tax loophole and laughed until your sides hurt!
That's all Folks
If you backed at the $20 tier or above, remember to fill in your surveys, which you should receive shortly after this update goes live. Next update, we hope to be in a good position to tell you more about the Mage's Initiation beta testing phase!
And as the Sphere of Knowledge's cloudy residue subsides, we invite you to reflect upon the newfound insight you have acquired this day, as we bid you a fond adieu.
Until next time, stay magical!
The Himalaya Team
Greetings, mages, magesses, and familiars! We hope that the Fire Mages have been putting in overtime for you if you’re in the northern hemisphere. Between some major illnesses and housing troubles among team members that transpired over the last few months, this update has been incredibly delayed and we’re sorry about that. However, you’ll be pleased to find out we’re quite on track with the game! Behold:
General Progress Report
There's nothing scientific about these figures. They're our best estimates on where we currently stand in the grand game development scheme. Nevertheless, when one knows that the light at the end of a tunnel is rapidly approaching, one finds it far easier to gauge how close said light really is. So while these figures contain not a shred of scientific analysis (not even from a magical measurement spell) it's safe to say they are accurate guesstimates:
Writing & Design: 99%
Background Artwork & Animations: 95%
Character Animations: 93%
Sound Effects: 15%
Adventure Game Programming: 90%
Combat System Programming: 95%
RPG/Stats/Equipment Programming: 85%
And for the RPG fans who are so hardcore, they need stats about stat-raising game, here are the latest AGS engine assets being used.
AGS Game Engine Assets & Stats
Total sprites: 17203 / 30000
Sprite folders: 789
Total views: 745
Total GUIs: 68
Inventory Items: 300 / 300 (our custom inventory system is dynamic, we have over 300 items)
Dialog topics: 402 / 500
(Yes, some of these figures went backwards from our last update. This is due to us deleting unused assets and/or the streamlining process of refining certain scenes and removing any wordy or clunky sections that didn't work well to convey the story.)
At this rate, we will be aiming for a May or June beta sans voice acting!
January 2015 Summit Meeting in Oz
Early in January 2015, Daniel and Chris met up for the annual Himalaya Studios summer summit meeting (yes, it took place in Australia). We used this opportunity to carefully map out the remaining work to be done on Mage's Initiation, so that we can see it to a (hopefully relatively speedy) conclusion. As is usually the case, much was accomplished during this in-person developer meeting. It was really quite motivating to bounce ideas off each other, and quickly enhance segments of the design and puzzles in real-time. There's this peculiar phenomenon in game development where things tend to get taken care of faster and much more efficiently in real life. Or maybe it's just that sitting in cramped quarters for full 40c degree days, with just a small metal fan shared between two, swarms of flies to keep you company, and the prospect of a walk around the block the only reward for a hard day's work, were motivation enough to get our work done quickly.
The first order of business was to conduct a full playtest of the game from beginning to end. This was fairly entertaining to watch, because Daniel had not actually played any of our internal demos for some months and thus was able to approach this playthrough through the eyes of a "fresh" gamer. So, naturally, he was designated the test pilot for this play-test session. He started a new game as a Fire Mage (since that's our most solid class at the moment) and we were off to the races! This method worked out well, too, because through playing, we quickly located problem areas which needed extra attention and we were able address them as we played. For example, there were times when Daniel got stuck and didn't have any direction on what to do next. He would say "If I were an unaccustomed player and I were playing this part right now, I wouldn't know where to go." Such epiphanies where very, very handy in helping us to decide where we needed to insert new NPC barks, "hint" thought bubbles for D'arc, and sometimes subtle visual, graphical indicators to ensure that the sense of progression never completely faded out on the player experience. At the same time, we didn't want to make it to hand-holdy. So, while you may still need to pause for thought every so often, as you contemplate how to solve a head-scratching puzzle, you'll always have your next goal clearly defined, and won't be stuck wandering around for lack of something to do.
As Daniel discovered issues and areas to improve, Chris was busy addressing them in the AGS engine and cracking out bug-free code. Another painstaking task that Daniel commenced during the summit was going through every… single… line... of dialog in the game, and condensing the text where necessary. Rewriting lines if they no longer fit the context of the scene or the overall game narrative (some of this dialog was written years ago and the game's design has evolved significantly in that time!).
While the dialogue clunkiness was being... declunked, we brainstormed several ideas for spell-casting opportunities using the player's existing "adventure" spells. (Each Mage class gets 5 "adventure quest" spells and 6 "combat" spells, for a grand total of 11 spells per Mage class!) We wanted to put more of these "adventure" spells to use and thought of some alternate puzzle solutions for the varied Mage castes. A few sections of the game were trimmed down and fine-tuned. Some unnecessary art and animation assets (that were yet to be made) were scrapped in the interests of consolidating specific scenes and shortening the production time. We felt particularly good about getting rid of these assets from the pipeline, as they were weighing the project down and didn't really add anything to the story couldn't be told without. The benefit was that important scenes became faster-paced, snappier; like they should be, rather than getting weighed down by overbloated dialog and overreliance on animations. In some cases, clever wording of a character line could give the same impression without the need to visually show a character's action on-screen.
As the playthrough reached the final Act, we redesigned the slightly outdated ending scenes to make them fit into the events of the scene better, and reworked the final adventure puzzle there so that things feel more intuitive and the right emotions are being conveyed.
By the time Daniel departed into the sunset (actually, he left at 4am) and was on his merry way back home, we felt that (aside from creating a monstrous to-do list) we had succeeded in planning exactly what needs to be done in order to transition things smoothly towards alpha testing and eventual beta testing. Make no mistake, there's still PLENTY of work remaining, and our noses will be to the grindstone for the next several months while attempting to complete everything for a prospective mid-year beta launch. Fingers crossed, and we'll keep you posted!
Second Rule of Mage Club: Talk About Fightin'
Since the last update, the Mage's Initiation combat system has transformed from a rather simple affair, with just a handful of opponents and a majority of missing spells, into a spell-casting, battle-blasting, gem-crafting, spectacle. Morgan, our fantastic combat programmer has been devoting much time, of late, toward getting the entire system completed and his hard work is paying off in spades! The battle system is now almost feature complete. All of D'arc's stats are in the process of being hooked in, with the appropriate buffs and debuffs attributed to equipable gems being applied in real-time.
As mentioned above, each Mage class (of which there are four: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water) has 6 different combat spells - each one unique to that class. That equates to a grand total of 24 combat spells in the game! These have all been fully-programmed now, and we're almost ready to start bug-fixing all the known issues pertaining to them. Completing all of the combat spell programming, including the backer-created ones, was a huge milestone and we think you guys will have a lot of fun laying waste to the beasts of Iginor with this magical arsenal.
As of writing this, we have just 3 boss battles left to program. (All the regular enemies are already done) One of these 'bosses' is the backer battles, which we've just started working on, to be programmed in the coming weeks. For their generous pledge, these two lucky fellas not only get to be D'arc's spellcasting test-target during the tutorial, they'll also be endowed with magical gifts and get to duke it out with him mano e mano in real-time.
We're expecting the combat system to finish up soon. Very soon. This will go a long way in moving the project toward beta on schedule. The general RPG/Stats system is still lagging behind a bit, but because the combat system now necessitates its inclusion, it's likely to play catch-up very quickly!
Check Out Mage’s Initiation at These Upcoming Events!
If we have anyone reading in the New York area, please check out Playcrafting’s Winter Expo! Over 50 games will be on display including Mage’s Initiation. There’s free pizza and all kinds of games: what’s not to like?
If you’ll be in New York next week, Rachel will also be at Gamedev Hacker if you want to say hi.
She'll also be representing Himalaya for the first time at GDC 2015 in San Francisco, which we’re extremely psyched about! If you’re going to be there, feel free to stop by and give some feedback on what you’ve seen so far... and tell her where the adventure game party will be at!
RIP Astrid PolloDiablo
We received the sad news that one of our backers lost her battle with cancer recently. She was an integral part of the adventure game community and our hearts go out to her loved ones.
This concludes our broadcasting schedule. Please remember to wipe-off your combat Conductors, unequip your gems, and keep your tunics crinkle-free while you wait for our next action-packed update, which is sure to level-up on even this one!
First Rule of Mage Club: Know Your Spelling
Much time over the past month has been devoted to bug fixes and refinements in the Verb Coin user interface. We have made some adjustments to the way the system functions. Previously, only one of D'arc's spells would appear on the Verb Coin Interface at a time. You can see this functionality if you play the demo we released back when we ran our Kickstarter campaign. We've since changed it so that all of D'arc's spells will appear on the Verb Coin as he learns them (for faster accessibility and also to reduce the number of clicks required to cast spells). In addition, we've also made it so the active inventory item will appear on the Verb Coin as a clickable icon. These probably sound like they should be simple additions, and on the surface they are. But they resulted in a lot of “run-on” issues that then had to be addressed separately, and which took significant time to investigate. Each interface has its own script and those scripts all link into other scripts in various subtle ways, so there can be a sizable amount of cross-checking involved.
Considering that Mage's Initiation will have a choice of three player interfaces, we need to constantly perform extra testing and fine-tuning, like this, to ensure that the interfaces are still behaving as intended.
Anthropological Aspects of Art and Animations
We're on the verge of completing all of the background art and character animations. We have the near-final to-do list in hand, and we *plan* on tying up the vast majority of these loose ends before the new year so that everything art-related will be in place for our January summit meeting. Of course, there will likely be some straggling art assets left over, but getting through the bulk of the remaining workload will make those few things easier to pick off at the end. At that point, we'll also be in a better position to assess precisely where we stand and what else needs to be done before we launch the first alpha testing phase.
A milestone we reached last week was getting all of the sliding panel parallax layered scenes completed for the game's introduction sequence. The end result looks rather effective and works as a nice lead-in to the game. We're working on composing the music for that, and have put in some placeholder voices, pending future voice recordings.
Battles, Beta, and Beyond
The current area that's lagging behind the most is the combat and RPG system. This is chiefly due to the fact that the vast majority of the battle system had to be re-coded when we changed the game's aspect ratio to 16:10. Most of the spells have already been programmed and set up, but there are still a lot of bugs to fix and many of them relate to the way the spell effects are drawn over particular environments (e.g. a spell effect sprite being too wide and getting superimposed on top of background trees in the forest, for example). Morgan just finished scripting one of the Earth Mage's more flashy spells - an effect that's REALLY fun to cast on unsuspecting foes!
We have yet to program in our two backer-created spells (or the two Supreme Archmage backer battles, for that matter), but all the assets of these things exist and we’re just working on finishing up the spell behaviour, bugs, and making combat as smooth as possible so that we’ll have a nice, functional system to import the backer assets into.
The RPG/Stats system relies largely on the battle system, so it cannot be linked until most of the battle system is implemented. The reason for this is because loot drops will tie into the type of stat-boosting gems the player can equip. The combat system, D'arc's spell-power, D'arc's stats, and loot drop-rates all need to weighed against it. The underlying framework for the RPG system is in-place, though, so it will be a fairly trivial matter to converge the two when the battle system is ready.
We still have no solid ideas about when the alpha or beta testing phases will commence. But we're thinking of releasing the first beta without character voices. This way, testers / backers will be able to report dialog and text-related anomalies early on, giving us time to address them before voice recordings begin. With our previous game projects, we've always launched the beta AFTER voices were recorded, and it has always been a pain having to get actors back in for pick-up sessions when text-related issues were discovered, so we'll definitely be reassessing this situation as we move closer to alpha/beta testing.
General Progress Report
We figured that backers would be interested in an estimated progress report for each area of the game. This is, by no means, scientific (or even mathematically calculated). Just some rough guesses, gauging the amount of work finished against what still needs to be done.
- Writing & Design: 97.2 % (Give or take; flexibility for future line rewrites and edits)
- Background Artwork & Animations: 90%
- Character Animations: 85%
- Music: 75%
- Sound Effects: 15%
- Voices: 0%
- Adventure Game Programming: 85%
- Combat System Programming: 60%
- RPG/Stats/Equipment Programming: 50%
And if you're the type to get excited about this sort of thing:
AGS Game Engine Assets & Stats
- Total sprites: 15872 / 30000
- Sprite folders: 709
- Total Animation views: 653
- Total GUIs: 69
- Inventory Items: 300/300 (since our custom inventory system is dynamic, we have over 300 items)
- Characters: 185
- Dialog topics: 421 / 500
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers (20th Anniversary Edition)
Pinkerton Road and Phoenix Online have just released their Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers remake. The game is a loving recreation of the 1993 Jane Jensen classic by Sierra On-Line, brought into the 21st century with HD graphics, new puzzles, and an remastered digital score by original GK composer Robert Holmes. If you’re a Sierra fan, this is definitely worth checking out.
H. P. Lovecraft: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
Dedicated adventure game developer, Agustin Cordes is working on a licensed H. P. Lovecraft game, called “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”. It looks awesome and has the suitably creepy vibe one would expect from a Lovecraft horror game. Agustin is running a new Kickstarter campaign to try and get the project funded, so take a look and give him some support if you feel so inclined.
Well, that's all for now, folks! We have the Himalaya summit meeting approaching in January, and great strides are always made when Daniel and Chris get together to playtest the game. We’re anticipating progress to be made in leaps and bounds over the next summit meeting, so we’ll probably save our next update until then, when we have much more interesting news to report!
Salutations Seers, Sorcerers, and Shamans,
Thanks for tuning-in your crystal balls and Spheres of Observation into the very latest magical transmission that we’re sending out across this esoteric worldwide communication system.
We’ll keep this update rather short and on-point just to fill you in about what’s been happening on Mages. We’ve had a very busy and productive couple of months and have seen a sizeable dent made in the remaining workload. Many different aspects of the game have been worked on and some major milestones have even been completed. Below is a list of areas we’ve been tackling, some of them ongoing and others completed:
Combat System Programming
Morgan, our resident combat programming guru, has been busily tapping and typing away, refining the combat system scripts and performance. For a long time the RPG Stat elements in the game hadn’t been tied to the Combat/Spells system, because two different programmers were working on these systems independently. And while these still aren’t linked together completely, several big strides have been made to facilitating their unification. We’ve set an internal goal for getting it all implemented and are currently working towards that. We’re also preparing to program some of the trickier spells into the game, including some of the backer-sponsored ones!
Cutscene Movies Finished!
One of the bigger milestones we’ve hit in the last month is the completion of all the 2D cutscene movies in Mage’s Initiation. These cutscenes are 2D movie files that play at the end of each game act and assist in seguing the story together from one act to another. There remain some loose ends to tie up, of course, as certain areas cannot be completed at the present time. Character voices, for example. And there are a few visual effects and basic clean-up work that must still be added, but the huge bulk of the work is complete and out of the way, and we’re very happy to finally have this out of the way and checked off the to-do list.
2D Intro Scenes
JP has produced a whole stack of great animations and general background artwork clean-up in recent months. Ever the perfectionist, JP felt that several early backgrounds that were created for the game didn’t match up to the aesthetic he’s set for the rest of the game and didn’t benefit from the additional skillsets he’s since acquired. So he’s been busy touching them up, giving them the old once-over, and creating all the necessary background animations that add life and movement to the valley of Iginor: Rivers, Smoke, Fires, Doors opening and closing, you name it! We’re pleased to say that we are now very, very close to tying up all of the main background work on Mage’s Initiation, with only a few close-ups and inset screens remaining. As we speak, JP is focusing on sketching and coloring all of the 2D stills for the Introduction Vignette that plays at the beginning of the game. After that, there will only really be a few GUIs and miscellaneous graphics needing to be finished. All in all, this portion of the game is now 95% complete, which is very exciting.
Another artistic element that’s fast hurtling down the track to fist-pumping completion is the character portraits. Karen has drawn, coloured, and animated an entire cast of wonderfully detailed characters, and they do so much to liven up the game world! With merely 5 or so portraits remaining, we’ll soon have an all-singing, all-dancing chorus line of NPCs to perform a great song and dance number, celebrating their very own completion.
Lipsyncing ALLLLLL the forthcoming voice audio for each and every one of these characters… now, that’s another matter *gulp*.
Shane has boldly taken on the duty of animating the rest of the character sprites. A daunting list was presented to him, some months back, and the immediate decision was taken to cleft it in twain - just to give the illusion of making it look smaller. However, he soon reached the end of this list and now merely the second half remains to be finished up. 2D character animations have been a significant hurdle for this particular project, so it is with great anticipation that we’re holding out for the last of these to be finished.
Adventure Programming Near the End
Finally, the general programming/scripting is also flowing along quite nicely. Chris has been concentrating on programming only the adventure portions of the game, while Jason’s focus has been centered on the RPG system and fixing GUI bugs and issues. The adventure side of the programming has largely been completed, and Chris is now going back to filling in and fleshing out placeholder areas and puzzles that were not fully realized (or that were previously glossed over to make speedier progress). Programming and scripting always tends to be the one part of a game’s development that continues to drag on long after all the other areas have been completed, and since the RPG and combat still aren’t fully hooked into the adventure, it’s difficult to judge exactly how far along we are. We hope to have everything linked and playable, programming-wise, from beginning to end in basic playable form, by the end of the year. If things go according to plan, this would roughly mark the first alpha build of the game (without voices).
Rachel reports back that VGU Con in Washington DC was really awesome! Lots of cool stuff was showcased and Mage’s Initiation got a signal boost. Hopefully more of the team can get together for it next year and set up a booth. It’d be neat to put some faces to names at VGU Con 2015 and other upcoming conventions!
Bill Tiller proves once again that you can take the man from the pirates, but you can never take the pirate out of the man. His latest Kickstarter endeavor is the luscious-looking, Monkey-Island inspired, point-and-click Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler. Do take a look!
That’s about it for now, we’re happy to have gotten so much more done on the game and things are looking good for a smooth release come Q1 2015. Thanks again for your support and have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend!
The Himalaya Studios Team