I hope everyone's 2018 is going well so far. I do apologize for the delay in an update, I meant to have one out by January but got hit by quite a bit of an infection that riddled me a coughing mess with quite some chest pains, along with juggling some other things in life, family member being confined to a hospital among other things. Rob himself has been dealing with stuff but things have gotten better as of late at least.
Still, Rob and I have been busy working on Cryamore despite all that's happened so here's a roundup of all the progress the two of us have made.
We're wrapping up the cleanup of the Northern Caverns dungeon since this will serve as the first hour or so of the game and as we were told, the first few minutes/hours of the game is where you need to put your best foot forward. I've been painstakingly painting each area, creating new environment assets for the dungeon that can be reused elsewhere as per our production pipeline since the team was reduced to Rob and I.
Here's a look at some of the areas for the new Northern Caverns.
It may be called a cavern but that doesn't mean it's just a cave, this may have been a temple of some sort back in the day.
This area will you have you running away from something. Could it be a large boulder? Maybe a flood of water?
A little greenery to break up the dark interiors.!
A long expanse of actual caverns within (approx. 8 screens long).
You'll see in the area above that there are some huts and little cubby holes, this is something I added that works hand in hand with a newly polished mob that I've been working on.
These three are the attack force for tribes of Mifufu found all around Noka Island. One issue Rob and I found with our enemies is that a lot of them seem to only fit certain areas (automatons mostly being around Mekanika, shadow based enemies only around the marsh areas, etc.), I thought if we had monsters with a bit more "intelligence" we could get more mileage out of them, having them set up in not just one area but spread out through multiple places of the island and be a recurring mob that isn't questionable to see everywhere.
As you can see, the three fill the traditional trifecta found in RPGs, attack, defense and support. Alone, each of these should be easy enough to dispose of but if you find yourself faced with two or more, it could prove challenging. The dagger Mifufu is your no-brainer attacker, moves fast, attacks fast. The spear and shield is the tank, its shield can take a few hits before breaking but it can attack from range as well, and to top it off, the support can provide healing to its fellow Mifufu or even cast offensive spells that can increase in variety and power as you encounter these critters the further in the game you get.
With regards to environments, another little addition I’ve made provisions for is ledge reaction and slope sliding.
Whenever Esmy is next to a ledge, she’ll show it by flailing around as she teeters on the edge, no worries though, she won’t fall unless you keep holding the appropriate direction. The animation is also used whenever Esmy slides down a slope that requires Boulder Dash to get through. This helps add a little more character to Esmy along with giving the players another visual cue if they’re next to a ledge that they can jump off of.
Rob and I decided to streamline the way cryam works a bit further by getting rid of the eight types of cryam (one for each element) and just making it one type of drop as it helps lessen the numbers to process and keep track of, and also simplifies things with the cryam allocation for stat building.
I also suggested removing the denominations of cryam (piece, shard, chunk) and just keeping the drops as uniform crystals with values of maybe 5 or 10 each, I always felt that compared to one piece being dropped that's worth 100 upon defeating a monster, it's a bit more satisfying to see an explosion of crystals that total to 100. Don't worry though, we're well aware that an explosion of drops can cause worry that maybe the drops might disappear if you don't collect them fast enough or that collecting them will become a chore as you have to run around to get every single one that flew out, we've long set it so that cryam drops will stay in place for a moment (enough for any steal type enemies to nab a few) before they shoot towards you fast.
During our build tests with backers and our publisher, we’ve gathered that Gazer Prime is either too easy or too difficult depending on its attack set. Backers have fought it with a weak ground pound and a bodyslam that causes smaller Gazers to drop from the ceiling, and that’s about it. It was a pretty weak moveset which was due to its deadliest attack, the eye beam not being included as it was in the midst of toning down since it was deemed too difficult to avoid.
(Sadly Rob couldn't find the video he recorded of the eye beam, though upon writing this I realized I could download the build we sent our publisher that had the eye beam...)
By changing the boss arena a bit and adding this new attack
I feel we could make the boss a bit more challenging but fair and a more intense fight while keeping the certain puzzle element we want to put in play.
UNDER THE HOOD
With the removal of the different cryam element drops, I figured I’d take one more pass at refining the mob list and making sure each monster has their skills laid out along with effects plus where they can appear and whether it’s all day or only at night.
Previously a lot of our monsters were strictly kept within certain dungeons according to their element. While these monsters still have elemental alignments, their dropping cryam with no specific element now at least allows us to reuse mobs in other areas so that an Earth element Trunket can also appear in the Overworld and not just Terrestrial Woods.
DOCUMENTATION: RECIPES & UNLOCKABLES
With optimization of certain gameplay systems, Rob and I had to rework the list of unlockables upgrades as some rewards weren’t applicable anymore. Each townsperson now has a reward to give you which also allows a bit of time to interact with everyone and get to know them more.
The upgrades aren’t necessary to completing the game and we’ve been making it so that you can complete it without any upgrades if you’re skilled enough but getting these does make for an easier time as you get to hold more items, more cryam for stat boosts, ability unlocks or buying things, condenser upgrades so you get to use your abilities more, or even get discounts from shops.
There will be 31 unlockable upgrades all in all.
ENGINE: SHADOW HANDLING
Rob optimized things within the engine ranging from small details to large important chunks. The ground shadow generation per character used to just be uniform and based on Esmy’s shadow size which was odd when you have a large enemy that’s three times Esmy’s size but casts a shadow the same size as her. It’s a tiny detail but it’s important for immersion.
Now with just a single click, Rob can set the shadow to be according to the size the character would be.
Along with that, the shadow now blends with environment shadows too, it used to be the case that Esmy’s and other shadows will still appear over other shadows but that’s not the case anymore.
Rob has also finished converting all pre-existing animations into FSMs and thus cleaning up a lot of old junk. This makes it easier for anyone to rig up a character and its animations to certain functions.
When IDLE ANIMATION is playing, if state changes from IDLE to IN MOTION, switch to MOVE ANIMATION. If IN MOTION state changes to IDLE, return to IDLE ANIMATION.
I'm not even going to explain all these nodes.
Much less these... but you get the idea I hope.
It’s a tool that can be used in anything else down the line and helps non-coders (like me because I can’t find the time to study up on C# and I’m only familiar with a bit of Java and Python) get somewhere with Unity.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Here’s a roundup of the questions and answers from the previous update along with other recent ones from various sources like our Twitter, Discord, and Facebook.
Hiroshi Mishima asked:
Do I have some guarantee that people who wanna play on Easy or Normal aren't gonna miss out on anything? Is Hard (assuming that's how these will work) gonna just be for people who want a challenge or are you hiding things strictly for Hard players?
Our difficulties won't lock you out of content and only serve to provide varying levels of challenge to the player. I myself find I can only go with Easy or Normal mode these days if ever I even get to play a game since I don't have time to dedicate to master a game; Rob on the other hand prefers the best challenge possible so we made sure we have all game content available for both our types.
Besides, I’ve played some games as a kid where you get halfway through at easy or normal mode and then suddenly your game gets cut short because you were supposed to be playing at a harder difficulty to see the rest of the game. That’s just annoying to anyone that spent time getting to that point.
I've probably missed it amongst the various updates but what, exactly, is the actual game screen going to look like? By that, I mean we've seen the backgrounds and the sprites, but the sprites are often shown in big close ups without the game itself being visible. Are these awesome looking animations going to be hard to make out in the actual game?
Regarding game screens, one of the images I posted above where Esmy is examing the mural in the wall of Molten Mountains is how the viewpoint of the game is by default. We can zoom in/out the camera but that's the default zoom it's at (at least for now).
So far from tests Rob and I have tried along with the backers in the tester group, and our publishers testing team, we haven't gotten any complaints about the viewpoint and whether animations, enemy positions and such are hard to see, but if ever we do, we've made provisions for easy adjustment.
WHERE ARE THE LOOT BOXES? I hear that all good games these days must have gambling in them or they ain't worth crap. C'mon guys, get with the times, it's 2017. You can't have a video game without micro-transactions anymore! /s
Rob and I decided we wouldn't be able to pull off loot boxes as we aren't cool enough to roll with the trend. Sorry about that but we can't bless the game with the wonder that is real money microtransaction RNG.
Now an in-game currency gashapon? That’s always been something I want to put in the game just because I personally like throwing spare gil/zeny/gald/credits at a virtual box that’ll spew out a random little figure of no actual purpose but eye candy.
Just gives me more reason to pixel in cute little objects later on for players to collect.
I'm not sure if this has been asked before but what is the time compression ratio between the game and the computer it's played on ....if you have a day-night cycle
Good question shadow! We had to simplify the day-night cycle to just phases of dawn, day, dusk, night. So far we've set each phase to be 15 real world minutes each.
Subject to change though depending on how long or short it feels
will there be any pushing blocks puzzles with possible snark included?
We do have the push/pull mechanic in still so we may work that in as extra puzzles if needed. Personally though, I'd rather Esmy just break stuff than mess with pushing and pulling, haha.
We always want puzzles to be solved with cryamore abilities and there’s an ability to blow stuff around (Propel) so that’s often made the manual push/pull mechanic seem a bit redundant to me but we'll see if we can still put those animations and code to use. Otherwise, part of game dev is also knowing when you have to scrap a bit of code and assets already made.
hey, i am a kickstarter, just wondering where the project was :)
We're still in the process of giving the environments that handpainted finish and pixeling in the animations. Gameplay is also being fine tuned. All in all, we're in the tail end (a lengthy tail end given our current number of workers) of production before the huge wave of playtesting.
Does Esmy have a Halloween costume or will it be DLC? PS: I do not like post-DLC in any of my games.
No DLC for us either. As much as we'd like to have costumes though, that would require pixeling it into every single one of her animations which is no small feat.
What will happen to the PS3/WiiU releases of this game? Will you make it for the PS4 instead or is that gonna cost too much?
PS3 has been changed to PS4.
We only have devkits for the PS4, Xbox One, and Wii-U so those are our targets for consoles.
So when is this getting done?
With a team of two people working on the project, we're doing all we can to get it done, and done right. We'll give a clear date when we’re near gold.
Could you do another Kickstarter or something else to get the funds for the [Switch] devkit? And have any new games coming up or did come up inspired you come up with new ideas for the game?
We'd rather not do another fundraiser for it, YoYo, as we feel it may look bad on us since we’ve already overshot our expected completion time due to the number of unforeseen mishaps along the way. Still if our publisher is interested, they'll help us figure something out.
Here’s a timelapse of the ledge detection wobble animation of Esmy’s that was recorded from when I tried to do a livestream of applying the pixel coat on Cryamore animations.
If it wasn't obvious, this was sped up by quite a lot as the process of pixeling this animation took a few hours. Thankfully this animation only requires one direction.
Along with that, here’s a selection of Rob’s Cryamore break sketches
Sorbet, Bliss, and Deseret strutting some fashion of a more modern era than what their world is used to.
And the trio once more in 60s/Happy Days inspired outfits
Esmy with a load of cryam.
The dynamic duo of Braxton and Esmy!
Here’s a fanart that @TukeArt quickly whipped up after watching me pixel Esmy’s wobble animation and joke around about how she could be on a snowboard and make like Cloud in the snowboarding minigame of Final Fantasy VII.
I'm treating this as the last bulk update before I begin with a new updating scheme that has me posting updates as they come along just like how I handle updates in Discord and Twitter. It may be a bit more sporadic but this should at least assure our backers that rely on the Kickstarter updates that we're alive and working on the game still. I hope everyone will be okay with this change.
Rob and I may do Cryamore-oriented livestreams too from time to time (with our sound team Aivi and surasshu, and our art and design contributors, Joodlez and OverlordJC if and when they’re available). During a couple of my livestreams around November and December last year, viewers that attended were able to hear a number of the game’s music that was since not previewed to the public (Aivi gave us her blessing to preview it). If we plan to have one scheduled I’ll make sure to post a notice on here if people would like to join.
With that said, I’m ending this update here but I do have some stuff in the works for the next update which as per this new update scheme I’m trying out, I’ll be posting as soon as it’s done.
Stay tuned and thanks for everyone’s continued support and faith in our efforts!
- CM Alan (@tenpoundpixel)