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Whaddaya get when you blend obsolete Steampunk with Zelda, Secret of Mana, & Megaman?
An Action-RPG focused on exploration, deep puzzles, and a mystical story.
An Action-RPG focused on exploration, deep puzzles, and a mystical story.
5,909 backers pledged $242,309 to help bring this project to life.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS & DEVELOPMENT UPDATE ROUNDUP

Posted by tenpoundpixel
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We’ve gotten a number of questions from our Discord members in the past month and it’s time to share them with everyone along with our answers. See what a handful of our backers have been asking Rob, Aivi, surasshu, and me

Kishou asks the following questions:  

Can you change Esmy's appearance? Like, with armor sprites?  

Sadly, given how Cryamore’s sprites are designed, it’s too taxing to make armor sprites for Esmy as we’d have to make armor sprites for a lot of unique animations, idle, running, hit, ground cast, mid cast, high cast, Vanish animations, Boulder Dash animations, etc. and then multiply that with 3 or 5 directions each. The most we can offer for visual customization are palette swaps.

 Featured above are palettes for default, Braxton, Bliss, “Dewritos”, and Black & Blue

I just want to see Esmy in something revealing like a swimsuit  

Rob can probably arrange that in another artwork. I could sprite Esmy in a swimsuit but I don’t think we have any scenarios written down that feature her in one. Of course, we could always write one in…  

I’m not sure if this is asked before but is there a love interest in mind for Esmy?  

Esmy’s too focused on her work and studying cryamore to notice anyone that may have feelings for her. Right?

There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to clear the game right? Like, surely some spells solve puzzles but there will be proficiency in not just weapon choices but spells in fighting too? 

We’ve done our best to make sure your offensive/defensive ability and weapon loadouts will always be viable so whether you like playing ranged weapons with hard hitting close combat abilities, using mobility enhancing abilities with melee weapons or whatever playstyle tickles your fancy, we’ve spent a lot of time ensuring we got everything balanced and fun enough so there won’t be an absolute god tier and worst tier loadout. 

Phosphatide asks: 

About story flow: with games now searching for the perfect balance between “linear progression” and “open world freedom” to avoid blatant in-game walls preventing the possibility of sequence-breaking exploration or aimless wandering with no sense of urgency… what was your goal for Cryamore? 

Alan: Honestly, I personally wanted full-on freedom to go explore some of the hardest areas of the game and risk the chance of getting wrecked, but we had to corrall things a bit to ensure you stay within the story bounds. Rob being the lead on this has final say on direction. 

Rob: I wanted to instill a sense of survival in the game and make sure that the abilities are a big focal point for both puzzles and combat so we were able to block off certain areas of the world the way Metroidvanias would; give you a hint at what might be ahead, but you’re blocked by something that needs a new ability  

Alan: There’s still freedom to be had but you can only go so far before you either hit a roadblock which needs an ability or sometimes story progression (you need clearance to explore south of the island). 

So yeah, the goal was to give some freedom but not too much and I’m hoping we managed to achieve it with the world design I’ve done and with enough usage of the puzzle solving abilities we’ve made. 

Tomar asks: 

Curiosity here. Do you guys do art asset sharing through your VC system, or do you use something simpler like dropbox/google drive? 

 We’ve mostly used Dropbox all throughout to share asset files.

Above are the four folders we have set for Cryamore. Backgrounds has Rob and me contributing to it. Illustrations has Rob, me, and JC and Juby’s contributions, Inspiration Music has Aivi and surasshu’s work (a lot of unheard of to the public music WIP files) and Sprite-Animations has my work.  

Once something like music, animation or an environment asset is set, Rob or I transfer it to Unity, apply any settings necessary (import and display settings for 2DToolkit, audio settings for Master Audio, etc.) and then upload it to the SVN so the file and all its settings will exist for anyone on the team with a Unity key and access to the Cryamore SVN.  

Do you use freecamp for like kanban/task management stuff?  

When we had more people in our team, we used OpenOffice and then switched to Freedcamp to keep track of tasks and bugs. Now that it’s just Rob and me, and Aivi and surasshu on sound and music, we mostly just keep a personal to-do list.  

Xaelon asks:  

I have no idea if this is possible with how the game is built, but something you could add to promote replay after the base game is completed would be a “randomizer mode” that shuffles various things into different places.  

We could probably apply that to enemy spawns and some cryam deposits but the environment layouts though aren’t as flexible sadly as we don’t use tilesets and the collision bounds of the environments aren’t generated by object due to a lot of irregular organic shapes.  

We definitely have considered implementing a NG+ option though, maybe with levels and certain abilities intact on the next play but with more mobs and other difficulty boosts.  

shadowreaper5 asks:  

Do skills with timers (like the buff to breathe underwater) have a visual representation of the time left?  

To a certain extent, yes. Esmy’s going to have a breath meter over her head while underwater without the Oxy Barrier ability.  

We initially wanted to just have a blue fill over Esmy’s status portrait (which changes to her holding her breath) while underwater but so it’s easier to keep track of, she’ll have a meter above her head when she isn’t using Oxy Barrier underwater.

While we do have spells with durations, some of them won’t have a meter and rely on visual cues: a timed magma mine will blink when it's about to explode, time paradox clones should blink when they're about to fade, and shadow cloak should fade back to full visibility upon ending.  

As it is though, we will mention the duration of spells in their info box at the menu.

Tarquinn2049 asks:  

Ok. This question is a bit on the other end and might make me sound like a jerk due to timing. But does it support 4k? And if so is it by pixel doubling? I can totally play it at 1080p if hardware scaling will ultimately look better.  

Our native resolution is 720p which we’ll be upscaling to 1080p. We won’t be able to provide 4K support as working primarily in 2D where our target resolution is 720p would require us to rework the assets in a larger size so as not to lose crispness of lines and pixels on a larger resolution.

Rob: The game looks freaking good on a 50-70 inch, though haha! I for one can’t wait to playtest a lot on console (devkit).

DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

Unity editor-wise, Rob has been working on optimizing the code further. The sorting order of the game was archaic and clunky, so Rob decided to squish it down to a simpler and more effective form that relies on Sorting Order that Unity didn’t have early on during our development. We instead relied on Z index which required a lot of fiddling around with when setting objects up.

You can see in that test room video that the “Order in Layer” is changing value. Back then it would be the Z in the Position attributes and we’d have to manually set the value beforehand to make sure things appeared behind or in front of objects right.

Rob also implemented full analog movement instead of just the D-pad, this allows for more control, though it’ll need a bit of tweaking as it currently looks like Esmy’s skating along the ground like she’s about to break it down and provide everyone with boosted shields. There’s been polish going on in multiple fronts on the graphical end as animations and environment assets get fixed.

 Above is the fist weapons, we initially were going to go with brass knuckles but decided that it wouldn’t be that noticeable on the sprite unless we made it large but I wanted to make sure you wouldn’t miss the weapons so I designed these gauntlets that shows a bit of the transition from steamtech to cryamtech and also offers a more interesting silhouette while also making a bit more sense as a viable weapon against dangerous monsters.  

The fists primary function work as a mashable combo. One press of the attack button does a jab, two presses in quick succession performs a jab and punch, three does a jab, punch, uppercut combo. It’s quick but it doesn’t have that much range or width in its melee attack range.  

The second function is the parry which allows you to negate any damage if timed right. Rob’s in charge of securing the timing for all these as he’s the one in Unity and more well-versed with the parrying system this was inspired from (Street Fighter 3) so I trust he’ll make sure it’s balanced. We wanted to make the fists fun to use but even better if you master it and hopefully it’ll show.

The crossbow also underwent an animation rework during its polish phase. The old animation was too focused on being realistic that it didn’t look interesting (i.e. it looked too slow) and the crossbow already has it tough in being interesting when up against the pistols. So far everyone feels it looks much snappier now while still keeping to the timing of the old animation.  

What differentiates the crossbow from the pistol is that Esmy can hold her shot and slowly strafe while doing so, only firing when you let go of the attack button. The crossbow also has different types of bolt quivers that you can equip. Currently we’re playing around with piercing properties and stagger/slowing/knockback properties.

We’re also looking into displaying the ammo/bolt count below Esmy everytime she fires so the player can easily keep track of their shots (we’ve been running on infinite ammo all this time just to get a feel of the weapon first before applying a limit).

The rapier’s animations will still need the pixel pass but its roughs are ready. You’ll notice two phases in the rapier animation. 

The basic thrust and the secondary backdash. These are the primary and secondary functions of the weapon. One allows you to dash forward with a piercing strike and another for quick evasion, making the rapier a weapon all about mobility (which could be handy for speedrunning too).  

The Ghilcrest buildings are undergoing their design polish as well. You’ve all seen the Cryatisium and Esmy’s Home and now the Inventorium and the Cafe are joining them in polished goodness.

 

The overworld environments have also been undergoing its rework. More unique object assets have been made and its design is now following the Overworld map that I completed.

 Worry not about the above image. Though we do have Brax (and some other characters) following you at some points in the game, it’s not a dangerous escort mission where you’ll have to struggle to keep your companion alive, the Berribuns were added on the map just for this screenshot (they ignore Brax and only go for Esmy).  

I’ve tried to incorporate hints of the past steamtech throughout areas of Noka Island that the settlers covered, some machines like the one on the screenshot above were retrofitted to use cryam instead of steam (I did receive comments on how the smoke blobs look more like rocks so I’ll probably change it to wispy smoke).  

The HUD has also undergone a visual polish to make it look more bronze plated to go with the early post steampunk-ish feel.  

I’ll be continuously working on more animations and environment asset polish all throughout while Rob cleans up code, works on other background assets or lays said assets out in the Unity editor.  

ART SPOTLIGHT  

Every now and then, Rob (and sometimes I) take a breather and make some art (which will all eventually end up in the artbook) so here’s some of the choice pieces as of late.

 Rob made something that's wallpaper material once he cleans it up in a higher res, it’s an array of Bliss in a custom outfit.

 Another wallpaper-ish piece from Rob with Deseret, Bliss, and Sorbet looking all tough and showing what I’ll just assume to be Ghilcrest gang signs… despite it being a small community.

 Here's a more realistic pin-up style Bliss that Rob also made. 

 Rob also pays tribute to Atlus’ Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series by rendering Esmy in Shigenori Soejima’s style.

 I did the same and tried making a Shigenori Soejima tribute using his soft paint style commonly present in Stella Deus and some Persona art. I chose to represent Team Bliss.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT  

We’ve also got a few new submissions of fanart from the community that we’re proud to share with everyone. We’re grateful to have all your support and enjoy seeing everyone’s renditions of the Cryamore cast.

 @Cliffist pays tribute to the fab queen, Bliss because clearly, she’s supposed to be the star.

 @boss_ruru also decides to rep Team Bliss with this lovely piece of Ms. Barson in one of her many alternate outfits.

 But it’s not all Bliss as MellowMarz aka @HeartlessHat provides a pistol toting pixel-art Esmy.  

I’ll be working on the pixel art and animation featurette next. I had to hold it off since I needed to prep this first.

 It should give an idea of what the update will cover.  

I hope you enjoyed this update and all the news! Thanks for taking time to read through these.  

- CM Alan  

P.S. I also managed to secure one of the previous builds we made and will be preparing a guide to go with it for the backers on Discord.

 

MINI UPDATE: Backer-only Discord Server Questions

Posted by tenpoundpixel
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Thanks for everyone’s comments and support on the previous update! A good number of people have joined the Cryamore Backer Discord server that I started up.

We’ve got about 132 members on there right now and it may grow a bit more once I send out the invite to the Paypal backers as a means to get them caught up with what’s been going on behind the backer-only posts. I just have to mirror the backer-only posts in somewhere like Dropbox for their prolonged perusal and prepare a short list of Q&A in case they have any queries and I’ll send out this draft I’ve done.

With that said, I wanted to make a short update reiterating questions gathered from the Discord channels and sharing some of the things we feel we can have non-backers see since it won’t spoil the game... too much.

FoolishWolf asked:
I guess my first question is if it is possible to give an ETA on the project at this point?

Rob: We want to be finished this year. We're currently in the "Polish" phase where all the moving and working parts are in, it's just a matter of cleaning up presentation, major bugs, and final art.

Alan: There are going to be gameplay polishes too as we go along. The mechanics we've got are now all adjusted to any suggestions we've taken in from our publisher's testing but we'd like to see if during the backer tests, anyone feels it could be improved further.

That's fair. I guess this is just the marketer in me, but is there gifs and videos that maybe you can release for the community for #Indiedevhour and #screenshotsaturday that we share around. Kinda get the hype train going?

Rob: We want to get back into doing more of that, yeah. Now that we're polishing stuff up.

Alan: We'll be sharing stuff as often as we can on Discord which we'll then pool together for the mini updates.

Clay | Terminally Nerdy asked: 
Once the game is in a “playable” preview state, would you all want someone to stream/talk about it? 

We’re absolutely okay with it as this would help reinforce the fact that the game is legit. We’ll make sure to mark which builds are public ready. 

Can you get Atlus to port the Persona series to PC, and will Jack Frost be in the game? 

We sadly don’t have that kind of pull but I personally would like to see the Persona series on PC too. 

Phosphatide asked: 
How close is it to the proposed "40+ tracks" from the Kickstarter?

We’re pretty much within the forty track count already. I’ll share surasshu’s answer here as it’s better to hear it from one of our composers. 

here's a link to a larger version (just adjust the zoom) in case Kickstarter decides to shrink the whole thing to an unreadable point.

fpwong asked: 
What do ppl usually use for programming AI in Unity? UE4 has inbuilt behaviour trees but idk if unity has anything of the sort. 
Alan: We’re not sure about other people using Unity but for us, we’ve been using a mix of C# and FlowCanvas/NodeCanvas to achieve an easily tweakable AI system. It’s the same thing we used to set up our cutscene/dialogue system too, so it’s multipurpose! 
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Rob: This video is horribly outdated; It’s mostly the dialogue on example there and a few older bugs but that shows how the dialogue tree is set up, how it can control objects to walk away from the scene, change sprites and more. 

Brendan (luigimeistersa) asked: 
Hey dev guys. Does Cryamore have any kind of buffs you can apply to Esmy? 

Alan: We sadly don’t have much in way of buff abilities besides things like Oxy Barrier which provide you with a protective bubble and allow you to breathe underwater or other abilities like Time Paradox and Shadow Cloak. You do get a Well Rested buff though from sleeping at the inn though and the buff comes at various tiers.

Can you bind them (abilities) to the row of number keys on PC?

Alan: We're using Rewired for Unity to support keybinding and a variety of controllers (here's a list) so you should be able to rebind controls to any key you wish on a desktop keyboard. 

Rob: Controllers may be more limited for keybinding in comparison, however.

AreYouSmarterThanACheeseGrater asked: 
So, how are you going to work sleeping? Will time advance a set number of hours or will time progress to the next morning/evening? 

Alan: Here’s an excerpt from our design document to easily explain how sleeping works. 

Take note, costs are subject to change but sleeping in specific beds advances time by a set amount and you get better rest in a shorter amount of time from the more expensive rooms at the inn (to be fully rested and free from fatigue for a day in just two hours would be amazing). You do have the option to be cheap and just sleep in your own bed but you use up more time in a day.

Downing energy drinks is a way to stay awake without having to sleep but you can only carry so much and it won't fully restore your fatigue and you'll eventually find yourself sleeping on the ground, helpless against any threats around you.

shadowreaper5 asked: Are you still looking for help? I can't draw or code, but if you need someone to poke every corner for bugs I'm your man

We'll put out a public call for assistants when there's nothing else left but the art polish push, there's a bit of design polish that Rob and I still have to work on here and there but when the backgrounds and pixel tracing are all that's left, we're hoping we get many applicants that're willing to stick through.

As for poking every corner for bugs, I've currently given 13 members on the Backer Discord @tester status. Having them on Discord will help us all communicate as they run the builds. I expect we're going to have a few questions of why the game won't start when loading a save (recurring bug that happened in old builds regarding data from a previous build being kept in the %appdata% folder on Windows systems and conflicting with the new build)

Does your [insert magic equivalent here] regenerate quicker if you sleep in a bed/inn?

Alan: In our aim to nail down the fun factor without sacrificing too much of the original vision, we decided to make EP regenerate automatically. 

You should see it in action in this older stress test video that Rob shared on the Discord server.

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As you can see, the blue meter to the lower left goes down each time Esmy uses a skill. The meter is actually comprised of a number of cells but displays as a meter, the cell count is shown to the right of the meter as EP <number>. Each ability eats a number of cells, i.e. an ability like Ignite Lv1 costs = 1 cell but Shadow Cloak of any level will use = 4 cells. A channeled ability like Boulder Dash will eat up a cell every second.

Cells can be increased by finding certain collectibles in the game.

Rob: You can also see in the video above that even in-editor, the game runs pretty smoothly (60FPS+) with 8 monsters and numerous adds it summons. 

Alan: I've personally tried it on my own PC with a 1GB video card from 7 years ago and it runs fine in-editor and runs even better on a compiled build.

lemon-rev asked:
With your post regarding the update, I can now fully understand why the game looks at is base level, playtime on each of those levels sounds great, but are they leveling, completing quests, just beating up mobs, I am sure each of those other sections that have to be redone for unity as well as the type of content for each one.

Some context is necessary here for the non-backers reading this. During the previous backer update, I mentioned the listed completion times we got for each dungeon when we had testers run through it, here are those numbers...

  • Northern Caverns v1 Build: 20-30 minutes 
  • Rime Rapids v1 Build: 30-40 minutes 
  • Molten Mountain v1 Build: 30-40 minutes 
  • Terrestrial Woods v1 Build: 40-60 minutes  
  • Vale of Gale v1 Build: 40-60 minutes  
  • Sunken Ship v2 Build: 40-120 minutes 
  • Mekanika v2 Build: 40-120 minutes 
  • Phantom Marshes v2 Build: 40-120 minutes 

The v1 builds were before I ran a level design revamp over the layouts so those numbers can go up. All in all though, that's currently around 4.6 hours worth of dungeon crawling (and there's one dungeon unaccounted for still). 

With that bit of context given, to fully answer lemon-rev's question, take note, these are all approximate numbers as there was a guide provided for the publisher testers to consult and these numbers also DO NOT include boss fights, cutscenes or enemy ambushes. There's also the time required to head out into the overworld and look for and access those dungeons so we estimate that we could hit 12 hours at the very least of regular gameplay without completing any sidequests and hopefully 16-18 hours if you try to 100% the whole game.

sky asked:
Is Linux still planned?

Yes! This is also why we're going to have to reach out to our backers for testing assistance as we've only been able to test on PC and Mac so far and do not have much if any Linux testbeds. 

We've had a number of people on the Discord server that I've tagged as willing testers and we look forward to working with them soon!

FURTHER DEVELOPMENT NEWS

Rob has currently been optimizing the code as we've accumulated a lot of bloat over the years from old textures, deprecated code and a horrible folder hierarchy. He's also improving our control scheme as we're both pulling the trigger on making the attack button R2/RT on a controller (Space on keyboards) and with doing so map the abilities to the face buttons on a controller by default for easier setup. The reason we didn't do this from the get-go was concerns about the interact button (usually a face button like O or B) having a dual-role with a combat button which may cause problems in combat if you're facing an enemy while interactive triggers are around you.

The solution we've come up with involves having your face buttons bound to field commands by default (examining, nap bag, etc.) but holding R1/RB (Shift on keyboards) toggles the face buttons to ability hotkeys. This should make for less worries in combat flow. We may change the key assignments depending on how things feel but we at least want to get that adjustment added into how combat works.

Thanks to experiments done in one of the mini-games to be included in Cryamore, Rob has also implemented the limited camera control system we cooked up for the minigame into Cryamore so the player can move the camera around to see ahead. It's helpful if you're using a ranged weapon or if you want to make sure the coast is clear before you bring out the Nap Bag.

Here's a clip of it in action. Sadly you can't see Rob actually press the keys but trust that it controls well.

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The video also shows the in-editor vs. compiled performance. While the in-editor runs fine, the compiled version runs even more smoother as I mentioned awhile back.

Rob's also continuing work on the other character portraits and here's a sketch for one of the children in Ghilcrest, Uni Nauticus.

On my end, I'm wrapping up the last few areas of the Overworld layout. I can't show the whole map like I did in the backer-only update but here's a few of the new additions to it.

We'll look into using the Overworld map I've done as the in-game map as well, with a tweak or so here and there.  

Also here are a couple of monsters that are getting the pixel polish treatment that I never got around to posting here...

 

Gagak can be found in the Phantom Marshes and Berribun below him can be found around the overworld.

Here's a few of the other development video clips we shared on the Discord server.

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Above was an older VFX test for Esmy's Boulder Dash Lv1 skill. The ground crack texture is nice but it does look odd when done near a ledge as the crack texture extends out into what should be air, it's a downside of not having 3D environments. This will be fixed, however, as the angle of the cracks are currently based on the older, "isometric" perspective. The trails also clash with the dust cloud. It's something we're going to have to work on to achieve a look that works.

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Above is an older recording of one of our backer monsters, Hubbler, in action (along with another backer monster, Nictate, idling in the corner). Hubbler proved to be one of the most deadliest mobs we've had in the game but ONLY if there are aggro monsters nearby (can you figure out what's going on?). Do excuse Esmy's sprite shaking though, I've yet to animate and pixel her sprite for this condition and also excuse the greyboxed environments, they're going to be prettied up.

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Also up above is a test of the emote bubbles that Rob cooked up awhile back up to give NPC sprites an extra bit of expression.

And finally here's an older bug that happened.

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Esmy can't stand still as an invisible Chief Silvershark talks to her and Bagel pretends nothing weird is going on... also the camera focus lost control. Thankfully this has been stamped out already.

And to add to all this stuff that our Paypal backers or non-backers may have missed out on from recent backer-only posts, here's a retread on other stuff that aren't too spoilery...

 

Character portraits are getting polished up.

Ghilcrest's buildings are undergoing some visual polish too to further reflect the transition of the people from steam tech to cryam-tech.

 

More of Esmy's weapon attacks are getting the visual polish that they need in the form of pixel art, what you see above is the secondary attack for the Axe and the Daggers.

 

More enemies have been getting their pixel polish too. Topmost is one of our bosses and below him is one of our backer monsters, Black Claw.

FAN SPOTLIGHT

Some of the backers on the Cryamore Discord showed their support for the recent update with some fanart and I wanted to share their awesome works!

Here's an Esmy by Sakurafire, about to channel an ability through her condensers or doing a "we can do it" arm pump, either one works for us!

and here's another awesome looking Esmy looking off into the distance, by doghateburger 

We love seeing fan works and I'll be featuring any more that get sent our way (unless you'd rather we keep it to ourselves)!

Again, the next FEATURE update will be talking about...

Not Bliss per se, but the process of animation and pixel art that goes towards making Cryamore.

Stay tuned!

- CM Alan

P.S. Still in the process of re-acquiring the previous build compiles we've done from the FTP after which I'll gather up the guides for each build so each tester knows the scope of what they're running through. Once it's all set, I'll post it on a Backer-only update and the Discord server.

UPDATE: News, Questions and a Backer-only Discord Server

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Exclusive Inner Look/Status Update: Part 1

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Exclusive Featurette: Working With A Publisher

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