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Story, Tactics, and Art. A modern re-imagining of the classic 16-bit RPG.
Story, Tactics, and Art. A modern re-imagining of the classic 16-bit RPG.
2,918 backers pledged $81,458 to help bring this project to life.

Update - 10/12/13

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Hi everyone! 

We're a bit overdue since a lot's been going on, but we've been working hard to get things ready to share with you. To start, I wanted to let Kalen and Aakaash share some insights into our progress on art and sound. 

Art

Over the last few weeks, we've been honing in on the new look for our in-game environments. To start, I created some rough exploration sketches: 

From there, I created a line art of the in-game art style. At this stage, we started looking into how we can add depth and perspective into the game, while adhering to the grid that will be required for player movement and tactical gameplay. 

Since we'll need to create lots of environments, I created a modular texture set to help speed things along: 

From there, I used the textures to fill in our line sample, and we moved on to exploring color and rendering style: 

After a few iterations, here's a sample of the final in-game environmental art style we arrived at: 

(Click for HD)
(Click for HD)

Here's another version, with the movement grid shown: 

- Kalen

Sound

I’m excited to say that now that John and I have finished hashing out the general soundtrack details, composition for Liege has begun in earnest. As mentioned in the earlier sound update, one thing I’m really looking to do with the soundtrack is to use motifs to represent certain characters or emotions. I’ll be bringing these motifs back several times in the various tracks of the score and developing them as the plot itself develops. My goal is not only to add a sense of cohesiveness and continuity to the OST, but also to evoke familiar emotions and themes when a previously introduced motif is used again.

Today, I’d like to share with you Seren’s Theme, a duet for violin and piano: 

The melody you hear in the piece, introduced by the piano and then repeated on the violin, will serve as the motif associated with Seren. This track will likely not be used as is in game, which is why it may sound a bit disconnected at present; instead, I’ll be working the melody into several different pieces to score scenes that center around Seren. For example, in the piece featured in the earlier sound update, “A Quiet Farewell,” you’ll recognize variations of these melodies. 

Many of the games I’ve worked on in the past have been less story-based and thus have required less thematic soundtracks; ambient environmental tracks, rather than more involved melodic pieces, were the norm. In this sense, Liege presents both an opportunity and a challenge. Because the soundtrack calls for strong melodies, composition begins at the piano rather than at the computer. Motifs and melodies have to be memorable enough that the player will recognize it when it reoccurs in a different form later in the game, yet they have to remain flexible enough that I’ll be able to work them into several tracks of varying moods. The process of composing for Liege is certainly quite different than what I’m used to, but if all goes well, it’ll pay off in the completed product.

- Aakaash

Development

As mentioned in previous posts, I've been working on implementing our framework and workflow in our new engine (Unity). For those interested on the technical side of things, I wanted to share a bit about what's going on behind the scenes. 

Going into our Unity port, I had a few key requirements apart from simply porting over existing functionality:

  • Layered 2D environments with 3D character models
  • In-game skeletal animation (for smoother animation and effects like slo-mo)
  • Real-time, dynamic shadows 
  • Efficient workflow that leverages Unity's WYSIWYG editing features 
  • Acceptable performance with the above on our weaker hardware targets (mobile)

Below, you can see how our scene is composed in our editor with the above features in place:

Going from left to right, we have: 

1. A system of cameras that controls the order in which the scene is drawn 

2. Parts of the scene that are normally drawn over characters (i.e. trees) 

3. 3D characters casting real-time shadows, rotated to align with our view (note the model is a placeholder) 

4. Collision bounds, which are automatically generated from a 2D tile map

5. Parts of the scene that are normally drawn behind characters (i.e. the ground)

Here's the game running in our editor (with an older iteration of Kalen's art):

As you can see, our content aligns precisely to form the composite image that's seen in-game. This is very different from how 2D is normally handled, but it opens up lots of interesting graphical possibilities. 

As this update hopefully shows, things are taking some time as we try things and iterate, but the updates will be more regular as we get further along. Thanks as always for your support, and let us know your thoughts below! 

John McHugh, Shimapanda, and 65 more people like this update.

Comments

    1. Creator John Rhee on November 13, 2013

      Hi Michael, thanks for chiming in. The sample shown was from one of the game's brighter areas, but you can expect other parts to match the story's darker tone. We still aim to have the game feel like a 16-bit RPG when played, but I really believe the updated presentation will only add to the final experience. I hope you'll come to agree with our future updates; keep letting us know our thoughts!

    2. Creator Michael Blanchard on November 13, 2013

      I am not one to normally comment on art direction, but I feel I have to voice my opinion on the matter. I, like many commenters apparently, agree that the new art style seems to detract from the charm of the game. It feels a bit more cartoonish, and dare I say WoWesque. When I originally backed it, a large reason was that the art style showcased at the time was a dark, watercolor style that I felt fit the intended tone of the game.

      It also had a throwback to the old 16-bit JRPGs, which again was a large draw. The new style is nice, and props to the art team for the hard work on it. But it definitely detracts from the game's draw, for me at least.

      Please take this negativity with a grain of salt, as I do fully support your guys' work still. Love the music and still interested in the game, but it has definitely been dampened with the changes.

      With love and respect,
      Tyrazial

    3. Creator Sindharta on October 15, 2013

      After reading Edward's comments about dimensions, I noticed that the new art style does introduce a new dimension, for example, the width of the bridge is narrower at the far end, making it look more 3D-ish, while the original art style doesn't have this.

      With this art style, then it means that the size of the character should also be adjusted as he/she is running in the scene, following this perspective thing. This may bring a lot of changes in the overall visual experience.

      I don't have anything against it at the moment though. It's just my 2 cents. Who knows, maybe I'll like it better when I see it running.

    4. Creator Helena on October 14, 2013

      I love the music; Seren's Theme is hauntingly beautiful. While I do like the new art, my only concern is that the bright colours and sharper edges make it look a bit 'cartoonish' compared to the original, which had the feel of a watercolour painting. It seems a bit strange for a game that has, from the sound of it, some fairly dark subject matter. I actually prefer some of the earlier 'WIP' shots to the final version.

    5. Creator Steel on October 14, 2013

      @John I do like the new art, but I think what changed the feel of it is actually more the lighting than anything else, the art certainly does look warmer.

    6. Creator Edward T. on October 14, 2013

      @John
      To be honest, the moment you went with the art style that shows more dimensions, I think it already is impossible generate the same feeling that those straight buildings and flatter art style did in the original design. With this latest update, your game has completely ceased to be a re-imagination of the classic 16-bit style, but instead approached a more modern form of artistic visual. I like this new look better, but I think those hoping for something along the line of the original design might be disappointed.

    7. Creator Sindharta on October 14, 2013

      Awesome, thanks !

    8. Creator John Rhee on October 13, 2013

      Thanks all for the feedback!

      @Joshua J - Yep, we've been setting up our process in a modular way with our timelines in mind. Having Kalen on board definitely helps!

      @Chris - Thanks- as Aakaash mentioned, we'll be trying out different variations and instrumentation in the game.

      @Angela - Thanks for the honest feedback. Our hope was to keep the original feeling intact while improving on the overall execution. Hopefully you'll come to agree as we put out more samples; keep letting us know your thoughts!

      @Sindharta - 1) We're using the Unity 4.3 beta's new native 2D features, which minimizes fill data by automatically generating a mesh based on the image's alpha (rather than using a simple quad).
      2) Sure:
      Sketches: http://www.codagames.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/sketches-hd.jpg
      Unity editor full: http://www.codagames.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/editor-full.jpg

    9. Creator Sindharta on October 13, 2013

      Nice visual, and nice music. Keep it up.

      I have one question and a request.
      - Do you split the images of static objects into small meshes in order to save fill rate ? If you do, how do you do it ?
      - Could you please upload a bigger image of the early sketches and the Unity screenshot ?

    10. Creator Matt Lohkamp on October 13, 2013

      engine and art and sound are all lookin' pretty darn good. keep those updates comin'.

    11. Creator Roq on October 13, 2013

      Great music, reminiscent of Chopin & Debussy

    12. Creator Angela Cheng on October 13, 2013

      Oh, man, I hate to be "that one person," but I liked what it looked like before better. (http://www.codagames.com/liege-art-screens/) You did ask for our thoughts. I'm really sad to lose the old art direction, which was a wonderful balance between the iconic, classic 16-bit JRPG look and a painterly aesthetic. It was the thing that made this game really stand out for me.

    13. Creator Sir Jordi on October 13, 2013

      I love these kind of updates where you can see the artwork process. What a piece of art!
      Thanks for sharing!

    14. Creator Chris Ro on October 13, 2013

      That composition is amazing. Music is definitely a key component for classic style rpgs. Only feedback is that the violin portion sounds too "midi" to me... Other than that, I love the overall style and theme. Nice work, keep it up.

    15. Creator Steel on October 13, 2013

      I saw the top of the page unfinished line art and thought "Ok, interesting..."

      Further down on the 2nd picture and the modular textures, I thought with a nod: "Nice progress"

      Then I saw the final piece of the environment finished and my jaw dropped for a few seconds. Never knew a 2d game could look that good. Keep up the good work.

      Also real-time shadows in this game? Very interesting.....

    16. Creator Joshua Johnson on October 12, 2013

      wow, i was happy with the simply animations you showed in your kickstarter video (was more interested in the story/combat system) but this is some nice eye candy. are you really going to be able to make the whole game look like this with the budget you have? seems like it would cost a lot more

    17. Creator Christopher Moyeno on October 12, 2013

      I was already thrilled with what you've put together, but this really caught me off guard in a great way. I can honestly say I've not been this excited about a game in many many years!

    18. Creator Pogopuschel on October 12, 2013

      Awesome update! The art looks great and the Seren's Theme is really beatiful.
      I am delighted. :-)

    19. Creator Christopher Douglas Tobin on October 12, 2013

      I think you guys are doing a great job! I love the detailed updates. It's great to see the process.

    20. Creator Edward T. on October 12, 2013

      Awesome! I really can't wait to see everything in motion.

    21. Creator twincast: Eternally Tormented Mangy WoOS on October 12, 2013

      Beautiful, guys, simply beautiful; all of it.♥

    22. Creator Joshua Nelson on October 12, 2013

      Gorgeous music, gorgeous artwork, great post. Thank you!

    23. Creator Stephen P. Suelzle on October 12, 2013

      Thanks so much for the update. Everything is looking and sounding so great. I love the style of both your musical score and art work. I can only speak for myself, but take your time and make the game you want to make. I look forward to playing it when it is done. (well, the beta actually :) )

    24. Creator Neo on October 12, 2013

      Just something amazing!

    25. Creator DeathMoJo on October 12, 2013

      Everything looks and sounds great, can't wait to play this one next year!

    26. Creator Andrew Lichtenberg on October 12, 2013

      looking and sounding great!

    27. Creator Ryan Bell on October 12, 2013

      this looks beautiful thanks for the update and the behind the scenes look, i always find these things interesting to look at.

    28. Creator Thomas Harvey on October 12, 2013

      Stuff like this is exactly why I love Kickstarter

    29. Creator Kirk McCulloch on October 12, 2013

      Is it bad that when I saw that first colored art sample I bit my lower lip and said "Oh my god!" to myself? Seriously, it's lookin' great guys.