Fall season is here despite the weather being very wonky. It's time I round up all the developments so far that Rob and I have made along with questions I've gathered from Facebook, Twitter and the private Cryamore Backer server on Discord.
There's been a whole lot more environment polish that's happened since. Last update I showed what the overworld was starting to look like and since then, I've been rolling out the graphical finish on various spots to help Noka Island achieve the "LUSH" look we've aimed for.
Here's a look at a few choice pieces.
Above is an area of the Terrestrial Woods. I've been emulating the style of our former background artist and expanding our asset library to have more unique pieces to help cobble areas like this together.
Above is an area inside Molten Mountains. I've made sure that each dungeon has a certain look associated to it, some inspired by Cambodian temples, Incan ruins and the like.
Another area inside Molten Mountains. We'll be adding some finishing touches later on of floating embers to help set the mood even more.
Here's a closer look at the mural at the end of the area. You'll want to look out for stuff like these as Esmy can gather some valuable data from them.
These temples connect to the story and I want to at least convey some visual storytelling with its decor and architecture.
Also, since we're at Molten Mountains, here's a start to the polishing of animations for the guardian of the Molten Mountains temple, Eilem Ifreeta.
She does not tolerate infidels.
The overworld has also been getting some love. Here's the new entrance to the Northern Caverns.
Complete with some newly created friendly critters you'll see in your adventures ranging from birds, to rabbits and deer. Please don't try to attack them, don't make Esmy into that kind of person when there are plenty of hostile monsters you can take your frustration out on.
As it is, Rob has implemented an asynchronous loading system in Cryamore. What this means is that chunks of the game will be loaded in and out on the fly as you move through each area, so instead of hitting an invisible collider that then brings up a fade to black before appearing in the next area, Cryamore will now feel more like an open-world game.
We decided we could finally do this after realizing my rework on the world map was made to be near seamless from area to area.
So three areas can now be linked together like so...
Of course there's some seams that need fixing which can easily be done by aligning the proper objects but this should give an idea of how the world of Cryamore will now feel like.
Gameplay and Features
As mentioned, Rob has implemented asynchronous loading but what else has been changed in terms of tweaks and balance to the overall systems?
Originally, monsters dropped cryam of their specific element(s) and each once could be traded in town for a specific value to acquire the town's currency of Ghil. Cryam could also be used to augment your stats, acting as EXP points of different values depending on element, and it's third function was part of the requirements to acquire new abilities where you had to have a set amount of cryam plus the necessary catalysts to get new abilities.
Speaking of abilities, we've made it so Esmy can just synthesize cryam and catalysts herself to obtain her other abilities. There's no need to go back to town and visit the Cryatisium to do so.
The reason for this is it adds an unreasonable amount of backtracking when you're faced with an obstacle and have the catalyst necessary. As much as we'd like to have Cryamore be a lengthy game, we don't want to extend its length artificially like that as that'd just be frustrating.
But then what about the Cryatisium? They were supposed to be who you went to for trading different elements of cryam into Ghil or synthesizing new abilities! Are they now jobless?
Worry not for the Cryatisium is now assigned to give you temporary boosts to your condensers. Heading to Rime Rapids and need a little buff to your fire attacks? Get a day or two worth of added fire damage! Feel like you could use a few more EP points to use more of your high power abilities? Get a buff for that too, and maybe one for boosted EP regen while you're at it.
Just make sure you have the cryam for it.
I'm still in the process of polishing up the interiors of Ghilcrest and the UI necessary for this system but Rob is reworking the Cryamtists functions at this moment.
I'm juggling with all of that the polish for the status ailment effects as well. Before the polish phase, we were just applying a color hue change to the first frame of Esmy's hurt animation but now we can have Esmy fully express her struggle.
Above is what the frozen status will play like. Other status effects you'll run into are stun (like frozen but you can't force yourself out of it), burning, blindness, confusion, and poisoned so expect unique animations for each.
You may have noticed those bushes on the overworld environments above. These bushes act as hazards for everyone. That is, if Esmy walks into them, her movement will be slowed as she makes her way through but this also affects enemies.
You have the option of just running around it or shredding it up with your attacks (maybe even find some cryam or a secret underneath) or use the time it slows an enemy down to get away with something like Boulder Dash or Vanish or maybe prepare a charged up attack. Whatever the case, we feel its addition adds to the environment as it's more breakables and combat variables.
SLEEP (IS FOR THE WEAK)
What you see above is the animation for when Esmy uses her Napbag which is Esmy's default choice of recovering stamina while on the field. Run out of stamina and you'll collapse and be prone to attacks from monsters around you. You can use Energeticolas to give you a quick boost but they can only fill your stamina gauge up to a certain amount, if you want to get more and faster, you'll need proper sleep and that's what the Nap Bag is for.
The lack of this made previous build tests when the Fatigue system was completed and included in but the nap bag was left out quite a chore as we often ran out of stamina and had to wait for Esmy to sleep it off on the ground to only 15% of stamina.
Speaking of testing...
I was able to gather a couple of old builds we had and gave our backers in our Discord channel that were willing to try the game out copies to try out. Here's some choice bugs and suggestions from build 3.8.10 which featured Northern Caverns, the Overworld, Ghilcrest, and Rime Rapids.
Gryphonblade 77: Ability Wheel can end up disappearing after synthesizing catalyst in the Cryatisium
Zzzzzx: Pistols + Combo Launcher (Drive) + Talking to people = Esmy gets stuck
shadowreaper5: Ability can sometimes get stuck. There's still EP that gets drained but the animation and VFX does not play and won't trigger colliders.
Jeffery P: Collision here makes Esmy's model blink
Riftsilver: If you can manage to walk out of bounds, I managed to get through via the tree and (skybox?) at the top of Ghilcrest. It extends (infinitely?) in any direction. I walked for almost a minute straight and it took the same amount of time to get back, you can also navigate to locations you probably shouldn't be.
Justin M: For Esmy's interact/grab/pull phase that gets toggles on and off, having the "grabbing" sprite as her idle whenever grab = true would help in how that feels to operate. It took me a bunch of press > move > press to get used to how that worked since her idle doesnt change if she isnt moving.
Razeruk: Give the player a way to replenish their resource needed to fight a boss.
Build 4.5.25 featured our combat upgrade and a makeshift testbed using the Rime Rapids assets of the time and here's some choice reactions.
SrBilyon H: Occasional issues with control inputs (triggers) on PS4 controller
Zzzzzx: If you wait out the EP regen timer, and then pause the game, the EP will regen while paused
Razeruk: All of the functioning abilities work well and are easy to understand after playing with them. Attacks land more consistently compared to 3.8.10 and combat feels more responsive and visceral.
A lot of the issues pointed out by our tester backers have since been addressed or taken into consideration for fixing or improving later on but besides that, everyone had fun playing the builds even if they were older ones and it gave them a clear idea of the leap that Cryamore has made in combat and gameplay as well as visuals that it's getting now.
I've since contacted our project manager/liaison for access to the rest of the FTP and can hopefully retrieve more of the recent builds, specifically of the three dungeons later in the game.
Also thanks to Zzzzzx and Razeruk for their very thorough testing of the builds. With our consent, Razeruk even conducted an extended testing session with a private group. You guys are awesome!
SPECIAL FEATURETTE: ANIMATIONS
I've been posting the process phases of the animations I do for Cryamore on Discord, Twitter and Facebook but to anyone that hasn't seen them yet, have a look at the process it takes to create animations for the game.
Above are all the directions that had to be done for the fist weapons, the Knuckle Dusters. As you can see, there's multiple phases it has to go through where I start with a sketch dummy animation to get the motion down, followed by cleaning it all up so I can just give them a coat of pixels which starts with applying the linework in pixels, laying out flat colors, shades, highlights, extra parts (like hair or tails) and then any VFX necessary that needs to be baked into the animation (steam jutting out of weapons, dust from stomping, etc.)
With Esmy's sprite size and framecount, she has more than enough to be in a fighting game and that's just for facing sideways. The Knuckle Dusters and some other weapons are just 3 directions (east and west are mirrored to make 4) but other weapons have 5 directions (8 directions, 3 of the 5 are mirrored) and each weapon has secondary attacks, and then you consider some of her abilities require, unique animations as well.
Here's another look at a the process phases of a different animation.
Rob and I try to design smart as much as we can and that's why we can get away with some animations being just a single direction.
Currently, Esmy has the following animations in her library:
Actionfail - 3 directions, 14 frames each
Cast Mid - 5 directions, 7 frames each
Cast Ground - 5 directions, 7 frames each
Cast High - 1 direction, 22 frames
Cast Throw - 5 directions,
Cast Shield - 1 direction, 12 frames
Knockout - 1 direction, 15 frames
Buff - 1 direction, 19 frames
Fatigued Idle - 3 directions, 6 frames each
Fatigued Walk - 3 directions, 10 frames each
Faint - 1 direction, 15 frames
Hit - 3 directions, 7 frames each
Knockdown - 3 directions, 15 frames each
Idle - 5 directions, 10 frames each
Item Get - 1 direction, 6 frames
Napbag - 1 direction, 19 frames
Run - 5 directions, 8 frames each
Run Cast - 5 directions, 8 frames each
Anemospin - 1 direction, 20 frames
Boulderdash - 5 directions, 17 frames each
Rockfist - 3 directions, 15 frames each
Frozen - 1 direction, 25 frames
Vanish - 5 directions, 17 frames each
Weapon Sword A - 3 directions, 8 frames each
Weapon Sword B - 3 direcitons, 8 frames each
Weapon Axe A - 3 directions, 13 frames each
Weapon Axe B - 3 directions, 23 frames each
Weapon Crossbow - 5 directions, 12 frames each
Weapon Dagger A - 3 directions, 8 frames each
Weapon Dagger B - 3 directions, 9 frames each
Weapon Dagger C - 1 direction, 12 frames
Many thanks to assists from great people and friends like Michael Azzi, Zach Robinson, Ian Brock, Keith Erickson and John Crayton who helped with a few of those animations in the library.
That's about 1,281 frames of animation altogether. That's not even including townsfolk, critters, monsters, bosses (some larger than Esmy) and unique VFX animations. It's tough work but we want to make sure the game looks amazing while also playing as good as it looks. We put our all into the work and we hope it shows.
With that said, here's a look back at some of my favorite animations I've done for Esmy.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Here's the questions we've gotten asked so far from various sources:
With the release (and overwhelming success) of Nintendo Switch, have you decided or are you considering a release on Switch now?
We've been asked this many times by a lot of people in various fronts so, I'll answer this first. We've considered releasing on Switch but you have to be aware that before you can release a game on any console, you need to have a devkit first to test your exported build on and make sure it runs correctly because of the different architecture and hardware configurations compared to a PC/Mac which we develop the game on.
We currently still have the Wii-U as our Nintendo platform but we do want to try and get a Switch devkit as it's slowly phasing out the Wii-U and many developers have claimed that porting to the Wii-U is quite difficult compared to the Switch so it'd be a win-win if we do manage to get a devkit. Though keep in mind, you either rent or buy a devkit so it's not free and you also have to apply for it as they don't hand one out to just anyone.
If we manage to get our hands on the Switch devkit, we'll be sure to announce it.
Fredrick R. Davidson asked:
Discord? How and when does one connect with team members on Discord? :o
You can find the link to the Discord server in this update: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/robaato/cryamore-a-true-first-class-take-on-the-action-rpg/posts/1845630
Just search for the word Discord in the page and you should find the link to the invite. Otherwise feel free to DM and if you're a backer, I'll give you the link.
I have one request for cryamore if you guys are willing to do it: implement a speedrun timer that uploads it to a db and checks the times. Any% and 100%
We'll try to implement that if we can, avarisclari. We are curious ourselves after all how quickly one can finish the game.
Given how big the assets and textures are, how large do you think Cryamore will be in terms of install size?
Our SVN folder isn't really that big all things considered. I'd estimate we'd be able to fit into a 4GB DVD if not an 8GB dual layer, tops.
Who is writing cryamore?
Cryamore's overall plot is Rob's brainchild, I help flesh out some lore and we had scenario writing help from our VA director Chris.
Overall though, the final script has to go through a few back and forths between Rob and the publisher to make sure that everything is up to the standard of EFIGS translation (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish) and ESRB ratings (in case you forgot, we're going with Teen).
About releases and "PC" Linux is still worked on?
Yes indeed. We have a Linux port still in our sights and we've got backers that will help us test the Linux ports when ready.
Phosphatide asked: it’s been a while since i’ve caught up on cryadeving and wanted to remind myself: what consoles will the full game be released for?
We're currently set to Playstation 4, Xbox One, and the Wii-U.
Once more, Switch is being considered.
tenpoundpixel hey, can you make bunnies run around esmy while she sleeps ?
I'm animating critters for the overworld but Rob's the one who'll have to rig it all up together in code so that they appear around Esmy while she's sleeping on the field.
Alexander Mills asked:
With only two people working on development of the game, we're doing our best to get it done soon, BUT done well.
You'll have to forgive the lack of a clear release date but we're making sure it releases.
Stephen Wilson Jr. asked:
Man, loving how this game is looking. Hope there is a hard difficult mode. I wasn't a backer, but I'm ready to give you guys my money. Keep up the good work.
Thanks! We're giving it our all with development!
Regarding difficulties, we're including three levels of difficulty for players looking for specific types of challenges while also trying to make sure the challenge is fair and just, and that the player will be aware of what they sign up for when choosing to jump into it.
Ryan Weible asked:
Just a thought, i know her weapon i fist based, but since its the "martial arts" esque weapon, does she have any kicking moves?
We wanted to make the secondary function of the Knuckle Dusters be kick-based moves but felt it wise to just go with a parry for more utility and skill usage, and also to decrease the amount of already heavy animation work.
Sorry, Ryan. Hopefully you'll still enjoy punching the hell out of all monsters in your path and parrying their attacks for even harder hits.
After seeing the design and animation I did for the Napbag, Rob whipped up a promo illustration to go with it and dubbed it the Berrybunsie. You can clearly see how comfy it is to wear and sleep in, even if you're on a grassy field, a fiery volcano, a frozen tundra or an arid desert. Just don't wear it underwater; while it may protect you from fatigue, you won't manage to avoid drowning.
Here's another break sketch that Rob did this time with the bubbly Sorbet and the snooty Deseret. Who is best girl among the two?
Rob also did a style switch-up featuring Esmy in the style of FF7 era Tetsuya Nomura.
She may not be a member of SOLDIER or be infused with Mako but she's got two condensers that act like Master Magic materia.
Finally let's cap things off with another look at creations from our amazing community!
Mellow Marz (@Heartless Hat) Drew Esmy in a Layton-esque proportion and style and we agree, she'd definitely play the role of a bookworm in that universe.
Sarrus (@Malchion) made a heroic looking Esmy with her trusty Butcherknife slung behind her.
Finally here's a low poly 3D model that The Regressor (@the_regressor) created soon after seeing the Napbag animation and illustration
Thanks so much for all your creative works, everyone! Seeing them always brightens our day and keeps us going! ♥
With that said, I hope you all enjoyed the compilation of development so far. Remember that I pepper quick progress updates of WIPs and final products related to Cryamore all over the Discord, Twitter and Facebook!
- CM Alan (@tenpoundpixel)