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Whaddaya get when you blend obsolete Steampunk with Zelda, Secret of Mana, & Megaman? Read more

Chicago, IL Video Games
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Whaddaya get when you blend obsolete Steampunk with Zelda, Secret of Mana, & Megaman?

Chicago, IL Video Games
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Cryamonday #6: Gameplay Refinements! And Stuff!

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Happy Cryamonday, Cryatists! Let's talk about a lil' gameplay iteration tonight. It's a bit text'y:

Deseret, Sorbet, and Kaiser have been recently imported into the current sprite style!
Deseret, Sorbet, and Kaiser have been recently imported into the current sprite style!

We're still gunning it! But last week, we decided to take a breather from game building to refine a bit of the game mechanics. Things were set in stone for about a year now, and wanted to go back and take some fresh eyes on the game design. We don't want to be too long-winded on this update, so we'll just summarize a few key factors:

  • QUESTS AND PROGRESSION We initially had a lot of excess features in the game that contributed to, essentially, filler content in the end. We didn't want to pad the game with mundane quests and side-quests, so we cleaned it up and came up with more diverse and creative scenarios. We aim for the game to be moderately lengthy, but not at the cost of boring content! 
  • ABILITIES As stated last week, we finished up wrapping up the ability changes. We ended up dropping our 81 abilities to 72, as the last set of abilities were redundant copies of another set that we could've primarily combined into one. This may seem like a drawback, but it's a plus as the ability selection is now even more solid than before, and there will definitely be a consistent use for each and every one of them for the duration of the game. We closed the threshold of allowing an ability to collect dust as much as possible. We now also have a general pattern for learning abilities with our ability tech creation system (something we're going to talk about further in detail in the coming weeks), and that also reduced the count of Cryamore Catalysts that you need to acquire in order to learn abilities from 180 to approximately 120 of them. Again, sounds like a drawback in text, but less is definitely more here.
  • STORY We are about to delve into writing core dialogue and events! We are taking time out each week to build the game's story and dialogue. Our aim is to craft the narrative into a somewhat procedural one, where beyond the main plot progression, you learn more about the game's deeper narrative through the events and non-playable characters. We want you to know the primary story once you play through it, but we also want to reward those who have attention to detail interesting tidbits regarding character backgrounds, the lore, and other fun segments.

We want to expound on these bits some more in the coming weeks to come, so be on the lookout on that.

RELEASE DATE So we are closing in on a new estimated release date, and once that is confirmed, we will announce it! 

UPCOMING CONTESTS We are coming up with a cool couple of contests that we think will be pretty fun! More on that later, too!

NEW GAMEPLAY We're dishing out some of these new locales and dungeons in the build, so we will be showcasing more gameplay bits of them as we go along.

That's about it for today! Until next week!

~NostalgiCO Crew

Cryamonday #5: More Minor Developments

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Hey, Cryatists! It’s us again.

The past week had the team busy with ironing out a number of things, hence the missing update last Cryamonday. (Oops!) Here’s a look at a few of the things that took our time...

MORE ON NPCs & SCHEDULES Since the list of NPCs in the game is pretty much finalized, a couple members of the team have been working on the schedules of the various NPCs in the game. How do the schedules work? To those unaware and a reminder, Cryamore has a Day & Night system that works in tandem with the clock displayed on the Info HUD. The clock advances 15 minutes at 30 intervals and after a 24 hour cycle, a new day begins.

Now, the game has 7 days in a weekly cycle and each day, NPCs follow a slightly different routine. Braxton for example chooses to sleep in a little more during the start of the week which is Munday so he won't wake up until 12PM which is when you'll find him in the kitchen of the Barson Manor, probably having a sugary breakfast. If it's any other weekday though? He'll be up earlier so you'll find him having his morning meal at 8AM instead.

It's going to be up to the player to familiarize with each persons schedules though some NPCs like vendors will at least clue you in on when they're out or asleep and when they're available. We feel this system gives the NPCs another degree to their personalities and allows the player to form a better bond of sorts with each one of them and can lead to some surprises as they discover each NPCs habits, be it sleeping, eating or whatever other activities said NPCs may have.

Of course, you’ll have to make sure Esmy herself gets plenty of sleep too.

Speaking of which, we'd like to begin introducing some of the supporting citizens that you'll find in Ghilcrest:

This is Ms. Melita Swanson, secretary to Chief Silvershark of the Ghilcrest Council. She takes care of appointments for Silvershark along with holding classes for the children in Ghilcrest during the day.

ABILITIES When designing, there’s always a need for iteration once we test enough. We found that we had to rework a few of the abilities we had set out as some of them were a bit redundant in function. Certain abilities just didn't seem to provide much benefit in combat or the puzzles they were key to just didn't feel all that solid.

For example, we had two separate types of problems specifically involving crossing cliffs. Both cliff problems required a separate ability to get across them. This proved to be superfluous in the end. We also wanted to make double sure that no contextual ability gets left to collect dust later on in the game, which in itself is just bad design.

We also changed Torchlight, getting rid of the functionality where a light follows Esmy to light things up. It is now Ignite, which serves the express purpose of lighting objects to light areas. However, instead of just remaining a glorified cigar lighter, it can be leveled up into a more purposeful ability to even be used in combat.

Now we've got it all cleaned up and it should ensure a better selection for the players to mull over for quite some time. To provide a little more insight on the abilities, we've got them split into three sections of "Context" abilities which can be used primarily for puzzle-solving and then for combat secondarily, two sections of primary combat abilities, shield abilities and status effect/trap abilities, and a couple of other sections but we'll keep those under wraps for now.

Anyway, as a little bonus, here's a further look at one of the abilities you can learn:

Slow-moed for Cool factor.
Slow-moed for Cool factor.

Rock Fist is an Earth type ability that's purely for combat and allows Esmy to break the defenses of enemies along with dealing damage. Stalagcrabs that some of you may remember from the very old GDC demo have an ability to go into a defensive mode where attacks couldn't hurt them, enemies that do this can be easily brought out of their turtling by Rock Fist and if the ability is upgraded? It'll even add a stun effect. (Though it doesn't actually travel quite a distance such as displayed above.)

If the whole "upgrading" has you curious and you want a bit more clarification on that? Once you've unlocked certain abilities, you can then gather Cryamore of that element and exchange the required amount to upgrade an ability to a maximum of three levels, each level introducing a more powerful form of the ability which can either replace the previous effect or be accessible by charging the ability through all three levels while out in the field. 

SURVEYS We'll be wrapping up a few more surveys to send out soon regarding the Kickstarter backer monster designs (CREEPER'S PLEDGE) and Kickstarter backer quests (MASTER QUESTER'S PLEDGE) so look forward to answering a few questions and exercising your creative noodles. 

C-WARS CROSS PROMOTION Many, many updates back, we put a spotlight on our friends at Onipunks studios and their game C-Wars. We'd like to once again highlight their efforts and an upcoming update from them which features a very familiar face... 

And with that, tonight's Cryamonday update comes to a close. We still have a lot of things to reveal! We'll see you all again on the next one!

~NostalgiCO Crew

Cryamonday #4: Revamping Environments

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Hey Cryatists! 

Very short Cryamonday update today, but we just wanted to show you that the environments are going through some fantastic kinds of metamorphosis:

It's pretty obvious to say that we're out of the placeholder period and into the polished. We have been reworking environments, making them more cohesive and atmospheric, less-ugly, and streamlining the production of them. Since the Overworld and Ghilcrest are the largest areas in the game, we have to build scenes in Photoshop using prepainted props & assets and blend parts & sections together so that it's not jarring, overlapped props on top of each other. We then flatten the scenes and accompanying overlaid textures and toss them in Unity.

The Overworld and Ghilcrest aren't the only areas where we follow this format. Most of the areas where there are consistent encounters with enemies and traversing between to the more set-piece-like areas incorporate this method as well. Building environments in this fashion is not at all a new concept, but it allows for faster and more efficient production. It was tricky figuring this method out in a way where it works and with the visuals we have in store for Cryamore, to pull off. But... we're pulling it off!

We'll talk more on environments later on! Until next Monday!

-NostalgiCO Crew

Cryamonday #3: Feedback, NPCs and More Developments!

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Heya Cryatists! Alan here with tonight's Cryamonday update!

ENVIRONMENTS & MONSTERS

During the past week, Rob and Fred have been optimizing the workflow for environment cleanup and are well on their way to making the rest of the overworld. They've been busy making new environment objects for the Rime Rapids area and are making sure many of these objects can fit with the rest of the other overworld environments to speed up production time for worldbuilding. We'll be revealing more of the new areas as they're created and as we go along our updates to show you more of what you'll be setting foot into in-game.

As you've also seen last update, we're currently filling out the army of monsters that'll populate Noka Island. Here's another monster that our concept artist, JC, came up with...

Bigbugs, a summoner type insect found in the overworld; can spawn needle bugs to swarm you.


As the description states, the Bigbug is a summoner type. Monsters will come with more than just a follow and attack AI. We're working to make it so that there's types that summon or generate other monsters, ones that swarm you if you hit one of its kind, mobs that flee at the sight of you or when they incur enough damage and other support type enemies. Esmy's going to have to be smart about how to tackle certain foes.

NPC'S AND GHOST TOWNS?

We've also received feedback during the last update regarding the amount of NPC's you'll see in Ghilcrest. We mentioned that each NPC will have some purpose, providing a quest of sort or a vital function and this may have caused worry that having nothing but vital NPCs means that there won't be a decent population within Ghilcrest but rest assured, we'll be making the town as lively as possible. Each house you've seen doesn't just hold one person but families and each one of them will be a character of their own ranging from adults, teens to kids.

It won't just be people too, but pets and other critters that will ensure Ghilcrest is as lively as can be.

Given that Ghilcrest is going to be your place to come home to in Noka Island after a long adventure, we want to make the place feel as comfy as possible. So rest assured, there won't be any ghost towns in Cryamore... or will there?

Now, here's Brandon with a little more news on the programming front.

CODER CHAT

Hi folks! Brandon here again. Everyone else is out to get snacks, so while they're not guarding the keyboard I'll update you on what our code team has been up to since we last surfaced.

We discovered a bug with the resolution of the game if you didn't play in a specific aspect ratio, so that's been addressed. The bigger win this week was solving a bug in our "Trigger Index" (can you tell a programmer named it?). I'm sure most games have to come up with some solution for keeping track of how a player has progressed through stories and actions (picked up treasure 43, finished dialog with Red-Haired NPC #4, hasn't killed boss Y yet). The Trigger Index is our solution - grouped collections of on/off states tied to happenings during the game, with a custom tool written into the Unity GUI for level designers to be able to define new entries and toggle them at will. Up until this week, thanks to how Unity handles data updates in-game, we were unintentionally saving out the state of the Index at all times (instead of just when you reach a save point), making testing REALLY tedious as you'd have to pull up the Index and reset everything back to pre-play states. Tedium has been solved, however, so testing can commence at full speed alongside development once more.

Mike is also headlining the work on our localization system, so we'll be able to try and bring the excitement of Cryamore to as many languages as we can find translators for!

...And it sounds like they're coming back, I'd better get back to fixing those bugs in our ability-chaining system. Stick around, stuff just keeps getting better with every check-in!

LOCALIZATION

Thanks for the update, Brandon! As stated, he and Mike are busy optimizing things further for all the steps down the road. The localization system is definitely helpful for when we start on the Japanese translation stretch goal as most of the dialog and other text entries in the game would be stored in an easily editable file that we can just hand over to the assigned translator, and this can apply for any other languages that we may support too.

WRAPPING UP

We'll likely send out another set of surveys soon for the people who got the CREEPER'S PLEDGE ($600), so we can get an idea of the monsters you'd want to see roaming around Noka Island.

Some of the Backer NPCs from the EGOTIST'S PLEDGE ($750) are already being worked on and have their sprite ready for animation as you may have seen a couple of updates back. We're doing our best to make everyone fit within the world of Cryamore and making sure that your NPC looks the part for the job you've chosen.

With all that said, we hope you enjoyed this light Cryamonday update. Again, if you want to hear more or have questions for a specific part of the team (environment, character & monster design, programming, music, animation) in an upcoming update, feel free to leave questions in the comments below and we'll see you all again next week!

- NostalgiCO Crew

Cryamonday #2: Insects. (No, not THOSE Insects.)

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Hi Cryatists! My name is Aivi, and I write the background music for Esmy’s adventures on Noka Island. Our team is hard at work coding the latest build of the game, and we’ve been having quite a pest problem lately! I’ve been informed that we have lots of bugs--BUGS, BUGS, BUGS--so they told me to stand out here and talk while they take care of business.

I have a disdain for all things that crawl (I’m looking at you, 6-month-old baby) so I can only imagine how my team members are bravely firing their cans of insecticide and squashing each arthropodal limb! Even Esmy has been going crazy because of the bug infestation. She’s been pacing around in that cave (boy, does she ever leave that cave?) and won’t stop talking about those huge oil shales.

Hold on, I’ve just been informed that I’ve been talking about the wrong kind of bugs. Oh, wait, programming bugs? O-oops, my bad...

H-here comes Alan! Phew, looks like I’m off the hook. Time for the real update!

"The Real Update"

It's another Cryamonday again, all you Cryatists-in-training out there. Time to look at how things are progressing so far:

STATE OF THE BUILD We're about to wrap up the current build we have so far for that pending thing that we mentioned a couple of weeks ago. As Aivi stated already, there are still quite a few bugs to be worked out as expected for something within a pre-alpha phase, what with the refactoring we underwent quite some time back, lots of things need to be cleaned up so things can work completely as intended. Still, it does offer some amusing moments when you witness these bugs in action as you've noticed... We will be showcasing some of the most amusing ones from time to time as we move forward; we think you'll get a kick (or stomp) out of them as well.

EXPANDING THE BESTIARY We're currently filling out the monster section with concepts and sprites. One of our concept artists, JC, has a few concepts for one of the mechanical baddies, "Lantern Jack" as well as the other two Rouge Piraxans who are under Fité's command in addition to Riot, currently codenamed "Brute" and "Blade":

Lantern Jack, an Alert kind of enemy that will be found in the Mechanical Fortress.
Lantern Jack, an Alert kind of enemy that will be found in the Mechanical Fortress.
"Brute", the Rogue Piraxan right in command with Riot who wields huge Ice Nunchucks.
"Brute", the Rogue Piraxan right in command with Riot who wields huge Ice Nunchucks.
"Blade", the cloaked female Rogue Piraxan who cuts like the Wind with her twin Hand Scythes.
"Blade", the cloaked female Rogue Piraxan who cuts like the Wind with her twin Hand Scythes.

(Note that these are all still concepts and subject to tweaking or change but it should give you more of an idea for the range of baddies that you'll encounter throughout the game.)

WORLDBUILDING As shown on the last update, our newest team member, Fred, is helping Rob by sprucing up some of the environments to look even more "LUSH" as possible, ensuring that the world of Cryamore will look lovely enough to match the beauty of Bliss (we'd like to think she'd agree). Here's a look at that area of Rime Rapids that's being prepared for Noka Island that we teased last week:

The first real "dungeon" in the game, the frosty tropical region known as Rime Rapids.
The first real "dungeon" in the game, the frosty tropical region known as Rime Rapids.

There's still a lot of environments to go and if there's any reason that development for Cryamore takes time, one of them is because of the creation of these assets. The Overworld alone is comprised of approximately 240 map areas and these maps vary in size, that's not counting certain dungeon areas that have their own set of internal map areas.

We aren't using tiles or 3D so a lot of these maps aren't modular, the most we can do is reuse certain objects like rocks, trees or bushes but most everything else has to be drawn and planned carefully to so it not only looks great but flows well and is readable. Along with that there's maneuverability, enemy placement and puzzle design to consider. We're making sure we tackle everything important so that Cryamore can come out a solid adventure all around. Rob and Fred will take care to explain that process a bit in a future update!

That's it for this Cryamonday! Be excited, because we have a lot of exciting things to show and announce very soon!

~NostalgiCO Crew