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Play as scoundrels attempting to escape ever-shifting dungeons in a stylish physics-based Action RPG: PC Mac Linux iOS Android OUYA
Play as scoundrels attempting to escape ever-shifting dungeons in a stylish physics-based Action RPG: for PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, OUYA
Play as scoundrels attempting to escape ever-shifting dungeons in a stylish physics-based Action RPG: for PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, OUYA
4,534 backers pledged $150,745 to help bring this project to life.

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Midsummer Enemies

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Salutations, Delvers, and welcome to the newest update!  

Thank you all again for your support, encouragement, and patience as we continue to make progress on the game. It is a huge morale boost to us when we hear from each of you, and we really enjoy discussing the game’s mechanics and hearing your thoughts. We appreciate each and every virtual high-five, and continue to look forward to your feedback.

For this update, we decided to focus on enemies since they had not been featured in quite a while. Our character designer has been working to create several new designs and refining some previous artwork. And with the addition of the new universal improvements to the bipedal character skeleton, we’re excited to create a few more humanoid characters for the player to combat — especially those that wield weapons and offer a greater tactical challenge. We’ve also been refining the enemy groupings in various levels and habitats in order to provide a unique and challenging balance of tactics in each zone. Below is a selection of some of our most recent artwork.

Beasts

(Above) Mire Wolf and Rupture Boar

In the world of the Delvers, most creatures have descended from several ancient races of celestial beasts. The family trees of the major species have intertwined over time, creating cross-breeds, and resulting in smaller and less powerful creatures — though they are still quite a threat to humans. The oldest living ancestors of the beasts are enormous, and often feature unique (and powerfully magical) characteristics.

Most enemy beasts that the Delvers will encounter in the dungeons of the Drop are mixed-breed mongrels that have been affected by the Spoil Swamps. These seeping bogs alter the beasts born in or near them, causing mutations and introducing features of Murk and Spoil-born beasts into their physiology. This Spoil influence is evidenced by reptilian, amphibious, or aquatic features in otherwise mammalian or avian creatures — such as scales, fins, spines, webbed toes or wings, and poisonous blood or breath. The more chimeric the beast, the more likely its bloodline has been tainted by the influence of the Spoil. Others like the races of boars still carry some of their elemental heritage, and in the case shown above, can unleash thunderous explosive energy.

Gobels

(Above, top left to bottom right) Gobeling, Gobel Brute, Gobel Harrier, Spoil-Sorcerer, and Gobogre

The Gobels represent one of the greatest threats to the world of the Drop, and to the player. They are not exactly intelligent or cunning, but they have an unnerving determination that results from an inability to experience pain or fear. These creatures grow from the remains of humanoid lifeforms in the spoil, multiply incessantly as they are spawned from the bogs, and then grow unchecked as they continue to eat. They have no survival instinct, and when threatened or opposed (or when they are simply hungry), they will attack the unwary in swarms of hodgepodge bodies. They tend to begin life as small round blobs with only eyes and a mouth, and then grow legs, a sensory protrusion that looks like a nose, and other appendages from there.

The larger they grow and the more human or animal flesh they consume, the more they begin to assimilate the properties of other beasts. They do not gain the ability to deduct or learn, but they may begin to exhibit traits through absorbed instinct. Smaller Gobels with arms will begin to use shields, and larger gobels will don armor and wield weapons. Their use of these implements is clumsy, and they will never duel the player like another human, but these traits are unsettling at best, and cause the Gobels to represent an even greater threat. Their connection to the Spoil also allows them to tap into its elemental magic naturally, so a Spoil-Sorcerer Gobel can be quite a threat.

More Coming Soon

 (Enemies above are not final, and may be changed)

We’re planning to work on even more enemies this month, so we’ll be in touch again soon with even more images!

Development Progress

On the technical side of our art efforts, we are attempting to finalize the updates to the characters’ animation skeleton using our animation software, Spine by Esoteric (esotericsoftware.com). This will not only help us to continue animating the remaining characters efficiently, but will also allow us to add further animations to all characters simultaneously. As mentioned above, we also look forward to using a (slightly modified) version of this improved skeleton rig to animate humanoid and bipedal enemies, such as all of the Gobels above. Only the smallest Gobel uses his own simpler, unique skeleton; the rest will be driven by the same framework that will animate the player characters, but with more interesting animations to give them a different posture and style of movement.

On the programming front, our main efforts are still centered around dashing, and differentiating quick evasive dashes from sustained, straight running charges. We’re continuing to work on functions relating to combat, and have been cleaning out some older aspects of the codebase in order to continue implementing new features efficiently. We are also working on an updated (and unified) state list for the player and enemies, which will allow for more unique states when one receives damage.

Previously, any amount of damage was likely to result in knocking the character back and causing them to remain stunned for short period, which was always a fixed amount of time. This led to some frustration during gameplay, since it made the game feel more “old-school,” like the knockback in NES games like Castlevania. Due to our physics system, this knockback still felt somewhat natural, but it could be frustrating when a very small amount of damage resulted in a significant amount of “input loss” and interrupted play just as much as a heavier hit. Therefore we’ve been working toward having more gradations between fully stunned / knocked down and simply clipped by minor damage. We’re taking a page or two from games that handle it well, such as various fighting games and the Dark Souls series. If you have thoughts about our previous implementation in the demo on Humble, please let us know! (Or if you haven’t played the demo, send us an email at ks@pixelscopic.com and we’ll get your key to you!)

As always, we look forward to your feedback on the art, game design, play, and story. Please keep in touch and drop some thoughts in the comments! Thank you for reading!

Update #55

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Greetings, Delvers!

This month's update will be a quick one, since we are neck-deep in a few significant enhancements. We hope to show off the following items in screenshots or videos soon!

Programming Update:

Dashing Mechanics

We've been leveraging the new physics system to develop a more flexible dashing mechanic for characters. Previously (based on the old physics system), the dash was not as snappy as we wanted, and it worked better as an offensive tactic with little defensive benefit. In other words, it was more possible to dash into enemies rather than try to evade them. This was definitely fun, but made combat very repetitive. And if you tried to use the dash to evade in any area other than a wide open space, you would typically be stuck in the dash animation for too long or possibly end up in a pit or spikes.

To improve the dash for both offensive and defensive capabilities, we are actually taking the positive elements of the current dash move, and splitting it into two types of dash.

First, tapping the dash button will result in a very fast, short-ranged dodge that carries you about 1.5 tiles away. It's like faster version of the current dash, but over a shorter distance. While some characters may damage things they dash into, this mechanic will be most useful to get out of the way of enemies and projectiles.

The second type of dash will be performed by holding down the dash button, and will result in a longer running dash with offensive capabilities, allowing you to charge through enemies. It will take a second to "charge up" this dash move, but after a moment the character will start running in the current facing direction — basically like old-school Zelda Pegasus Boots. The mechanic is based on the offensive capabilities of the current dash, but lasts much longer, and the player can control how far they dash by simply holding down the button until they want to stop. This move will also allow the player to traverse long distances even quicker, without the start and stop of the previous dash. But obviously this will come at an expense to your energy meter, so you can't dash (or dodge) forever.

We're very excited about the improvements the new dash(es) will make by expanding combat variety and providing more options for dungeon traversal. We have a few more interesting ideas about what specific classes or equipment may do to enhance the dodge and dash, but we'll show you our prototype of the mechanic first and see what you think!

Art Update:

Characters & Animation

On the creative side, we've been working on the artwork for the remaining characters, including the Elementalist and the Musketeer. Their designs were created a while ago, but we've been working on splitting up their composite parts for animation, and beginning the process of designing their additional angles of rotation (since characters can face up, down, left, right, and diagonals). Since we are a top-down 2D game, we have to paint each direction (or at least the ones that can't be mirrored), and make sure that they appear to "rotate" correctly when the character changes direction, without any strange pops, jitters, or inadvertant changes in proportion.

In the process of setting these up for animation, we've also been making several improvements to the characters' animation skeleton. This will result in some animation improvements not only for the new characters, but for the previously available characters as well. Since the animation software we use (Spine by Esoteric Software: http://esotericsoftware.com) is constantly improving through ongoing development, we will also be able to take advantage of a few of its new features in our animation pipeline. With any luck (and a bit of effort), we hope to significantly speed up the process of animating the remaining characters. We'll also be able to quickly add a few more animation states (such as the new dash mechanics from above), in such a way that the animation can be reused for all characters in more of their "rotation" directions without having to make completely unique animations for each angle. This is a huge improvement over our previous process, where we had to animate each direction by hand, and then often had to manually copy-paste each characters' animations to the next character skeleton! We're very grateful that Esoteric has been making so many improvements to their animation software, because it's helping us to save a ton of time (and maintain a lot more sanity). It's a bit of tough work for right now, but it will pay off exponentially in time-savings to complete the game's animation work.

Closing Scribbles:

Thank you for reading! As always, if you have any questions you can email us at ks@pixelscopic.com.

Explosive Physics-Test Update

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Salutations, Delvers!

Development Updates

With the completion of the revisions to the overarching physics system, we’ve been hard at work ensuring that the possible physics interactions within that system are implemented appropriately. In our last update, we touched on our efforts to polish character movement properties — these include acceleration, traction, stopping friction, and sliding on low-friction surfaces like ice.

As a part of the process, we have been working on propulsion parameters (using force to propel objects). This is the feature that allows bombs to explode and send other objects flying across the room; it also allows the Delvers to have an instantaneous dash ability. When we test mechanics like this, we often tie the mechanic in question to a hotkey, so that our developers can execute the feature at will over and over, without worrying about items or other stats. So we can currently hit a single key that creates an area of extreme force, centered on the Delver.

While he was testing this, our programmer added a feature that caused the inverse — an attracting force like magnetism. In the original implementation of the physics system (before we revised it), we thought this type of attractive force was going to be time-consuming difficult to develop, given the constraints of the system. But with our revisions, this feature was very simple to add — in fact, it more or less came about as a byproduct of the testing and polish process. So instead of spending days or weeks implementing this new feature (and then spending months fixing bugs resulting from it), we now have a stable magnetism feature which was built in an afternoon!

One of the other cool aspects of this feature is that expulsion and attraction can now be applied selectively - so it can affect everything at once, or only one type of entity, such as coins, items, inanimate objects, enemies, or only the player.

We’re sure many of you have wondered why we were taking so long to revise the physics system, especially when it’s hard to see how important physics might be to a roguelike dungeon-crawler. We did not build physics simply as a means to natural movement or combat. The true possibilities of the new physics system lie in the creation of amazing abilities, spells, and effects that leverage the physics system and result in new gameplay possibilities.

To show off this feature, we’ve included a simple video below showing our tests.

Just to let you in on our thought process, here are some examples of how these features might be used. Many of these would not have been possible in the previous physics system!

  • Constantly attract coins toward the player (but not other objects) for easy collection of loot and gold.
  • Magical pillars in rooms (or a gravity spell) that can pull on the player and enemies when active, sucking them toward the center of their force. Magnetic pillars activated by a switch could also be used in puzzles.
  • A wand that can be “charged” (holding down the attack button) to attract and levitate inanimate objects like crates. Then when the spell is unleashed (the button is released), these objects are sent flying across the room to crash into enemies.

Please pardon the visuals! For testing purposes, we typically use rooms with a generic (flat-color) tileset, some animations are disabled, and some debug features are turned on. We also have pits, walls, and particle effects turned off! You may also notice some unintentional clipping, given the amount of force being applied — things get a little crazy! We will be fixing these issues as we continue to test these features.

 

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Last Month’s Survey

Thank you to everyone who participated in our survey last month! The survey itself is now closed, but we had a great response, with even more feedback than we had expected. To those of you who may have missed it, we asked a number of questions to help us pre-balance the game, focusing on elements such as difficulty, length of play, and the balance of player skill necessary for completion. The responses were largely in agreement, and in line with our own targets and the gameplay goals set forth in the campaign — so we were happy to be reassured that we are definitely on track to meet the desires of players. We also wanted to ensure that our efforts toward the completion of the game appropriately (and proportionally) targeted the aspects of the game in which you were most interested (story, equipment, secrets, etc). These responses were also very helpful, and will continue to assist us in refining our schedule and focusing on the areas of the game that will result in the most fun, and the greatest satisfaction of you all — our backers.

Thank you again! And if you missed the survey but would still like for your voice to be heard, you can always send us a private message, or email us at ks@pixelscopic.com  

Thank you for reading!

Survey, Ouya, & Your Feedback!

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Greetings, Delvers!

In addition to February being a shorter month, our progress has been less news-worthy than it was for our previous update. We primarily accomplished additional work on the physics refinement and character movement parameters. As we mentioned last month, the new improvements to the physics system have not only improved performance and eliminate bugs — they have also allowed for much greater control over the design and feel of things like character movement. This has required some re-engineering of our property values, so data like a character’s acceleration, traction, and stopping friction are currently being revised and rebalanced. The Rogue has gotten even tighter movement control, with just a little bit of slide when stopping, while the Sorcerer remains floaty and slippery. But we are also working to improve his handling!

While enhancing the control and movement capabilities, we have also been taking a hard look at our overall game design and features in order to improve our efficiency and re-focus on the most important elements of the game. Our goal is partly an effort to increase our rate of feature-completion, but we are also attempting to accelerate the areas that deserve the most attention: shoring up deficiencies and amplifying areas where the game excels.

SURVEY - We want your feedback!

To this end, we’ve created a short survey to gather feedback about the game’s concept, features, difficulty, and what you most want to see from Delver’s Drop! We encourage all of you to fill it out here:

https://goo.gl/forms/89G6v5nbjkz4I53j1

Our primary concern is always to provide an excellent game that succeeds in the areas promised in our Kickstarter campaign. So part of the survey’s purpose is to re-confirm our backers’ expectations so that we continue toward the game you are hoping Delver’s Drop will become. It may also help us to prioritize features you really want to see sooner than others.

The second goal of the survey is to gain insight into which components of the game most excite each of you, so that we can focus additional attention on what you really want to see. When you backed the project, were you most excited by the Roguelike elements, Zelda inspirations, random loot, or something else in our concept? As with other Action-RPG / Roguelike-like games, there are many layered systems, and everyone prefers certain systems or types of challenge better than others. So we would like your feedback on which features you think will be the most fun, and some general feedback to better understand your gaming preferences - we want to make sure we remain aware of your interests and expectations. Ultimately, your responses will help us balance the game!

So we hope all of you will give us a few minutes of your time and tell us what most excites you about Delver’s Drop, what led you to back the campaign, and what you truly want to see us accomplish! There is also some room within the survey to write additional comments if you have further thoughts.

We will likely follow up with additional surveys after the next build is available, since we know that many of you will have much more specific feedback at that time!

OUYA & Platform Support Update

Several people have asked about our promised Ouya version, and what will become of it now that the Ouya system has been discontinued.

First, let’s recap what we currently plan support, and our immediate goals:  We are still committed to PC/Mac/Linux for the initial release, as promised. After that, iOS will follow, and then Android support. After the Android port is complete, Ouya would have been the next port, since the Ouya is Android-based and would have been an easy conversion.

While it was not initially a part of our campaign, we added Ouya support due to a flood of backer inquiries, and its growing popularity and success at the time. However, looking back, it was likely an error for us to specifically target a single device. All of the other systems/ports (PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android) are platforms with a specific OS — whereas Ouya is a device, though it is based on the Android platform. Devices come and go, but successful platforms tend to remain. In short, we should perhaps have mentioned the likelihood of an Ouya port along with general Android support, or as one possibility out of several potential devices.

Now, since it seems that Ouya is no longer viable, we will consider other options. We will hold off on any further porting decisions until the port development process is ready to begin, so that we do not pick another platform which may be phased out, bought out, DOA, or may generally become a bad fit for our backers / fanbase / market.

After we begin the port to Android, we will likely allow backers to vote on a short list of Android-based devices that are still relevant at that time — such as Amazon FireTV, NVidia Shield, or Razer Forge TV (which might be the successor to Ouya?). The good news is that Android devices are plentiful (and should continue to be for years), and we may be able to support more than one device after that initial port has been completed, depending on the success of the game.

We still cannot speak to any console or handheld ports. Some have asked if we could support a console such as the Switch, Vita, 3DS, etc as a replacement for the Ouya. But unfortunately, any console port would be much more difficult and costly than a port to an Android-based device. We are not saying it will never happen, but any console port possibilities will be entirely dependent upon the financial success of the game, and the interest of our backers and fanbase after release.

We hope this additional information is helpful and satisfactory to all backers! Feel free to let us know if you have any other questions or suggestions. And don’t forget to fill out the survey, which asks some questions about platform support!

Closing Scribbles...

As always, thank you so much for your continued patience and support!

We hope you will drop your thoughts in the comments, or if you have more specific concerns and questions, please reach out through direct message, or via ks@pixelscopic.com

Thank you for reading!

2017 - Gems from January

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Greetings, Delvers. We’re back again for a quick monthly recap of our progress and some interesting tidbits about the world of the Delvers.

Game Update

We’re primarily hard at work on the full upgrade of gameplay code into uniformity with the recently completed engine changes. This involves revising many of our physics values and player stats, such as friction values, acceleration, top speed, and many of the other bits of data that determine how objects and characters move, and how the game feels. The “game feel” of Delver’s Drop is extremely important to us, and we believe that these improvements will be very well received by all concerned.

We had many comments from some of you, from forum users, and convention attendees concerning the “slippery” feel of several of the characters. While the natural-feeling physics of the game is important to us, we have been working to rein in the slip-and-slide nature of character movement (and in other cases, to intentionally retain it). We are doing this while keeping the other positive elements of fluidity and the impression of what we like to call “cartoon realism,” or the internal consistency and impression of realism within our otherwise invented world.

These updates are both improving the flexibility of our system (so that we can make characters feel even more unique), and improving the ability for you and the rest of our player base to mod the game. Previously many of the values were by necessity completely invented “magic numbers” with little to no real-world coherence — e.g. what does a friction setting of 5,000 mean anyway, and why does it feel so similar to 10,000 friction? These values are now much more comprehensible, both to our design team, and some day, to those of you who wish to edit our data files. And simultaneously, we are continuing to tune the feel of the game so that it controls much more responsively than before.

In other news, support for Mac OSX 10.12 Sierra is complete, tested, and fully functional. In the meantime, we’ve discovered some sporadic issues with Windows 10, where the game may randomly fail to load about 10% of the time. So this is next on the list of engine versus operating system fixes.

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Art Update

We’ve also been working on some much-needed improvements (and simplifications) to the weapon system. The goal has been too make them more understandable by players, manageable by our designers, and generally making it possible for us to complete the remaining weapon art that still needs to be done. Weapons will still be randomly dropped and feature randomized stats that change their look. But we are attempting to ensure that our effort in this system has the most payoff for players, while avoiding having to paint a few extra thousand unique-looking weapons that ultimately have very similar stats. Instead, we’re focusing on unique art where there is the most exciting ramifications in terms of play, such as unique damage types or movesets for one particular weapon within a category.

We’ve also been working on some improvements to the randomizable parts and graphical layers of the weapons, so that while the system is simpler, individual weapon types can actually have more unique-looking variants. In the below examples, we’re showing off some of the different layers and color tints that can be applied to weapons to make a single weapon category such as this Broadsword have a large variety of unique instances. The names of the weapons will be much more interesting once these updates are in game, and more layers may be included, such as crests and gemstones.

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Lore Delving

Have you wondered why the Delver’s faces are always in shadow? In our earliest sketches, this was partly inspired by other games (especially Final Fantasy black mages). But our primary motivation for this choice was to hide the characters’ identities so that the player could more easily imagine that these characters could be anyone — and could more easily imagine themselves in the role of that character. Ultimately, I enjoy RPGs that allow me to invest a bit of my own personality and play style into the roles of the playable characters. This often requires either a degree of player customization, or a playable character that is a bit of a blank slate or cipher designed to convey the player’s choices, or both.

The goal of Delver’s Drop was to allow the player to inhabit a fairly alien fantasy world, touched a bit of zaniness, especially in the fact that our main characters are all scoundrels. To make these characters customizable ciphers, while retaining a large degree of whimsy and eccentricity in their designs, we chose to hide their faces, and leave only mysterious glowing eyes. Our hope is that you could imagine that you could be a Delver if you lived in their imagined universe, regardless of your past or your experiences.

In the context of their world, the Delvers hide their faces for a few reasons. One may be obvious — since they are all criminals of one degree or another, and are persecuted (whether justly or not), they must go about in disguise. But this has a greater significance within the Guilds, the sects to which the Delvers belong. When one chooses to become a Delver, they have to leave their old life behind to varying degrees, in order to serve the cause of their Guild. The symbol they all bear to identify this choice is called the Grimcloak — a magical shadow that covers them. The Grimcloak hides their skin, and leaves only their glowing eyes and other faint features visible, as well as lending other supernatural properties. The average observer would identify an individual wearing a Grimcloak as a Delver, but through its magic the Grimcloak shifts and distorts the perceptions of the observer (like a glamour or veil, for those who read fantasy novels). In short, the observer would not be able to describe the Delver’s height, build, gender, hair color, clothing, or any other distinguishing features afterward. This makes it the perfect disguise in pursuit of the Delvers’ often less-than-upright goals.

So why would the city guards not simply round up every Delver that they find, assuming that if one is guilty then they all are? Well, for one, this is no easy task — it may often be simpler and safer for the guards to turn a blind eye, unless they directly observe a crime in progress, or are looking for a dangerous fight. On the other hand, could a guard recognize the same Delver again, if they later seemed to look like any ordinary citizen?

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Closing Scribbles...

Again, thank you so much for your continued patience and support!

We hope you will drop your thoughts in the comments, or if you have more specific concerns and questions, please reach out through direct message, or via email at ks@pixelscopic.com

Thank you for reading!