As I said, here's a more full update for everyone with the Backer NPCs and monster designs, a round up of Q and A from the last update and Twitter, plus a community spotlight!
Let's get started~
BACKER NPC DESIGNS
As I previously mentioned, I've been making my rounds with all the backers who got to design NPCs and monsters, and gotten their feedback on the designs I've made...
With that, I present to you: Esmy with our current lineup of backer NPCs.
There's still two people missing from the roster as I've yet to gather their input on designs but so far we've got.
Charlotte, an adventurer from outside Noka Island who managed to get a Cryatist license and wields a prototype revolver-type condenser. She'll be hanging out in the Ghilcrest Tavern during her downtime.
Professor Lupin with his pet owl, Professor Socrates (credit to one of our concept artists, Juby @CutTimeComic for including the owl). They'll be located within the Council Building/Town Hall of Ghilcrest. He'll be working with one of Esmy's friends, Bagel Ameli to decipher the Piraxan Tablets that Esmy brings back, to further learn about the history of Noka Island.
Rei-Lin, a crimson hared woman whose origins are unknown. With her long elf-like ears, she's surely not native to Noka Island. Perhaps she comes from a faraway land? She's found herself in the town of Ghilcrest though and will be helping out the elementalists in the Cryatisium who are tasked with researching the strange crystalline minerals... or cryamore. You can talk to her whenever you want to upgrade your abilities or you want to trade your cryamore for ghil, Ghilcrest's own currency.
Parker Hazelworth, a man from a long family line of steamsmiths who carries on the family legacy despite the world seemingly shifting towards the use of Cryamore. His parents were among the early human settlers within Noka Island. Misfortune has hit his family through the years though but Parker still chooses to carry on with his academic studies and further research on steam tech in hopes of restoring the renown that his family once had. When he's not studying, you can find him helping out as a shopkeep in the Inventorium, taking over after the shift of the other shopkeep, Yoyo.
Omahdon, a strange armadillo in a penguin suit. It suddenly made its way to Ghilcrest and has become a mascot for the Ghilcrest Arcade. Also responds to the name "Dan McNeely" and is often waving about a wooden signboard with the word "MOO" painted on it...
Junkboy, a tiny luchadore that hangs around in the Ghilcrest Arcade. Nobody dares to take off his mask, nobody knows his real name, all everyone knows is... he must lucha.
Rosalind Spike, claiming to be a mageknight from a faraway land called Alabanth. A bit wary about the powers that the cryatists of Ghilcrest wield due to her homeland shunning technology, yet before her are people that wield both a combination of technology and what appears to be magic. She'll often be found in the Ghilcrest Tavern with other adventurers, exchanging stories and gathering information.
Sarah, a mechanic that helps fix the remaining steam-powered contraptions around Ghilcrest but is learning a thing or two about Crya-tech maintenance. She'll be found around town, wherever there's something broken.
Setto Seishi, a man bearing a lot of scars who seems to enjoy a good fight and relying on his fists to get the job done. They say each scar has a tale so he must have some really good stories for each one he has. Whenever he's not busy, he'll be enjoying some drinks at the tavern.
Sultan a.k.a. The Sultan, the town's loud, lively and very animated Cafe chef. Passionate about his food and further honing his craft. You can often find him singing in the kitchen. He may be prone to using hyperbole but he definitely backs it up when it comes to the food he makes and if Esmy brings him the right ingredients, he can whip up a marvelous dish that'll surely whet the appetite of the townsfolk.
Mr. Clark, the town's shady Information Broker, found in the Tavern during his business hours. While it's believed he came in from outside Noka Island, he seems to have eyes and ears everywhere and will give you information for a price. Whether it's helpful or not is part of the surprise. You wouldn't want to get on his bad side though, he's very proficient with his throwing knives.
We've got two characters missing still, and some of the NPCs shown may receive tweaks to their design or info depending on their backers but there you have our current roster of backer NPCs to add to the bustling town of Ghilcrest!
BACKER MONSTER DESIGNS
Now you'll all have to excuse the roughs for these monster designs as we're saving our art polish phase for the tail end of development so as not to waste any more time or resources on cleaning and pixeling animations only to scrap them.
That being said though, I present to you our crop of Backer Monster Designs...
Going from left to right after Esmy, we have...
Hubbler, a space element infused automaton that was used as a remote eye. Meeting its gaze stuns you temporarily. Avoid gazing into the iris and being left dumbfounded by the wonders of the voidspace stored inside its bubble.
Kurononeko, a small upright walking kitten that managed to get a vest with a time controlling mechanism. You're going to want to be careful on this little furball as it can stop time around itself and wail at you, and also escape when it feels too threatened.
Black Claw, an eerie humanoid shadow element monster. It has quite a reach with its arms that can turn into very damaging claws. While it moves slowly, it can retreat into the shadows and become difficult to hit.
Nictate, insectoid monster with a space element alignment. It lays in wait and turns invisible before attacking with its blade-like protrusions.
And here's a little look at their roughs in motion...
Hubbler may not look like it does much but it's deadly when it spots you and you're surrounded by dangerous enemies (I've died multiple times in our internal tests because of it).
Kurononeko seems like a playful cat as long as you don't provoke it. You wouldn't want Esmy getting cat-scratch fever.
I tried to make Black Claw look as eerie as I could based on what the backer described and within the limits of our design (I personally wish I could go all out). This attack should show its long reach with a pretty big hitbox.
Nictate is always just sleeping until you come close, then it wakes up turns invisible before rushing at you with its blades out.
I'll showcase an in-game preview of how some of these guys currently perform later on in a backer-only update.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Will there be a DRM-free option for Cryamore?
Absolutely. We've already been contacted by Humble Games awhile back and they wanted to be one of the online distributors for Cryamore, offering a DRM-free version. We're also going to be submitting Cryamore into GOG for people who prefer their store.
As one of the desktop oriented gamers in the team, I'm well aware of the importance of a DRM-free option so I've long since advocated for this so worry not. If you prefer not to use Steam or want to be able to play Cryamore on the plane, train, a mountain, or anywhere you won't be online? There's going to be an option for you.
How does the project stand financially?
NostalgiCO outright made it a rule not to use what remains of the Kickstarter funds after Kickstarter's cut and several taxes. There's a good chunk of money left so far and it's only ever used purchasing things that directly affect the development of the game such as Unity licenses, Unity asset store tools, payment for our music and sound composers, and payment for part-time assistance of pixel artists/animators and level designers/consultants.
For the most part, we've been working on the game out of pocket as a labor of love and to prove to ourselves if not the world that we can make a game and (hopefully) an enjoyable one.
Majority of the money is put aside for production of physical backer rewards such as printing artbooks, audio CDs and their inlays, the instruction manual and box/case for the Physical Edition, mass production of the figures and shipping fees.
A few backers have asked for refunds due to the long bouts of silence before and I regret to say that we can't offer any just yet, for one thing, issuing a refund would still leave a backer with access to backer-only posts and beta tests, but most of all, we want to save the money for the game's development and production of backer rewards. Upon the game's completion, anyone that still wishes to get a refund can message us and we'll gladly offer you your money back.
Do you have a new projected release date?
Atlus has pushed for us to aim for 2017's first quarter or the second quarter at the latest. We could have rushed the release for this year and just focused on art polish and bug squashing but would have had to cut content and we'd rather ensure we have as much of everything that we wanted in the game. So with this new projected release date, it allows us to further create the content we need and ensure that all features are working as intended.
There's also the marketing standpoint of releasing the game with proper timing, Atlus (and NostalgiCO) want to avoid launching Cryamore when a highly anticipated game is coming out, such as Final Fantasy XV and Atlus' very own Persona 5 (I know I'm waiting for that).
As Shigeru Miyamoto said, "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad."
As the CM, I'll keep you all updated on how things go as best I can from now on so thank you for all your patience and understanding.
Will we get a playable build at all?
I've asked our project lead, Rob (@RobaatoX) about this and he'll be working on setting up a backer-only build that'll allow everyone to test some of the more bug-free features of the game, the new weapons with their new attacks, abilities with varying levels, and of course monsters and maybe some puzzle objects to test those abilities on.
The initial build we wanted to give out that featured some of Rime Rapids was chosen to be put aside as we had to rework a number of areas in the dungeon along with the overworld leading to it since it was found to be too convoluted. We sincerely apologize for not being able to give that build out but we still aim to give everyone a taste of things and come beta testing, we'll surely need all the manpower to help find bugs to squash.
That's it for this round of questions and answers. I'll be sure to answer more in future updates!
ANNOUNCEMENT: OFFICIAL CRYAMORE WIKI
I've also been in contact with Ben R. from Curse who reached out to us to have Curse host the official Cryamore wiki. They've already made one awhile back but this time we've acknowledged that the go-to wiki for Cryamore will be within the Curse/Gamepedia family.
I look forward to the community filling it up with information once the game is done or even during our beta testing period. Monsters, collectibles, NPC locations at certain times, dialog, boss strategies, recommended ability loadouts, there's a lot of info to note down.
I asked our composer Aivi (@waltzforluma) if she had any other music she wanted to feature for the update but she said wanted to keep the rest of the soundtrack a surprise, which I'm sure there'll be plenty of since with all the overworld themes, dungeon themes, boss themes and character themes plus the day and night versions of some of these tracks? There's about 45 tracks since her and our sound designer Surasshu (@surasshu) checked.
Still, there's often someone musically inclined enough to make a cover of one of Aivi's compositions for Cryamore and I'd like to feature David Russell's cover of Divergence, the evening theme for Rime Rapids.
This was made for the Multiplayer III: WAVE videogame charity album,
I'd also like to get back to featuring fanart and for this update, is artwork by Layeyes featuring our trio of Bliss, Braxton and Esmy.
I'll be including community spotlight features with each public update and featuring fanart, music and other stuff made, new and old... and SFW.
Stay tuned for the next backer-only update where I answer the Twitter survey response from one of our voice actresses, Kimlinh Tran, (who voices our dear Bliss Barson along with many other videogame and cartoon characters).
Next topic (which is backer-only) will be: What is it like working alongside a publisher? Pros/cons? I'll be going into a bit more detail regarding why you haven't seen any official word from Atlus yet too.
- CM Alan
- CM Alan
Greetings once more, Cryatists...!
We've been extremely busy (and tired) the past few months, and consequently, we didn't get a chance to throw out an update since February. Apologies again! But we've got plenty lined up for this month, so strap your condensers on and let's get to it! (Needless to say, everything we're showing here is still a work-in-progress!)
New song, by the way. Listen to the daytime version of the Overworld Theme while you read! We uploaded a small preview of this song a long time ago, but here it is, in all its adventuring glory! Get used to it; you'll be in the Overworld a lot!
We reworked Abilities a ton more as it's been determined from multiple internal playtests at Atlus that the fun factor could be amped up with them. There are now a total of 24 base Abilities, and each and every one of them has 3 varying levels, resulting in a total of 72 different functionalities. We wanted a way to streamline this gameplay feature while keeping close to our original count we set out on having. These include making each level a clear and powerful upgrade to the previous level without losing the purpose of the initial level. An example of this would be where Ignite goes from a regular flame geyser burst, to a larger one with knockback, and then a much larger one that covers a wider radius and can hit more enemies; while utilizing its puzzle-based mechanic of lighting things on fire.
With this change, we've done away with most of the clunky-feeling charge mechanics to access level 2 or 3 abilities and make it clear that you're always letting out the full power of your Abilities.
With the change to Abilities, we also had to rework how Esmy's Energy Points are managed. Initially, EP were just going to be replenished by using consumables, and as a result, it gave the gameplay more of a survival aspect. Overall, it was agreed upon that the game felt less like an Action RPG because of being unable to have fun experimenting with your Abilities because of the finite cost.
So we implemented a regeneration format with the EP system; it will now regenerate at a fixed rate. To make things clearer with EP consumption too, we've got rid of the Weapon Meter (we'll explain why below), and converted it to the EP Meter, which displays your EP Count. Each Ability will have a certain cost behavior. As shown above, Boulder Dash will deplete the meter as long as you hold it down and stop when exhausted; on the other hand, Ignite takes 1 EP per smash. Also, Esmy starts off with 4 EP, but the count and rate at which the EP can regenerate can be both leveled up. We won't say exactly how at this moment!
We've had major feedback regarding how Abilities are learned and how it affects the gameplay. Let's explain:
Originally, our levels were structured in a way that kinda forces the player to go all the way to Ghilcrest and talk to a Cryatist to gain a new ability. This would result in not having much of an instant reward factor as we'd like, and it made the game tedious and boring with the unnecessary backtracking and running around associated with that initial direction. The way we managed acquiring new Ability slots and swapping them was also very "ugh": we would have to go back to a Save Point or Ghilcrest each time just to change your Ability loadout.
So we've decided to let loose and let you, the player, be able to learn Abilities anytime you want and have ALL learned Abilities on the bench at all times. Esmy is a resourceful gal, so it makes sense, right?
When you find some new Catalysts, pop open the menu and see if you can make a new Ability, right there in the field, on the spot. Wanna switch from your "ninja" build of, Vanish, Dark Mark, Time Paradox and Chronologic (with Daggers) into a more "range/trap" build of Rock Fist, Ignite, Magma Mine and Shadow Mite (with Crossbow)? You won't have to worry about making that trek to the nearest Save Point (which might have been a number of map spots away) or finding a Nova Shrine to teleport you to Ghilcrest so you can switch your abilities around. Each time you unlock a new Ability, it'll always be with you, easily switched around by bringing up and cycling through the Quick Select Wheels.
But the Cryatists at Ghilcrest won't be useless with this adjustment! Esmy needs them to level up her Abilities, exchange Cryam for Ghil (the game's currency), and give Esmy professional advice when it comes to everything Cryamore. And Braxton will still be around to give Esmy some... "aftermarket" upgrades.
To further add to the depth of combat, Weapons got a bit of an upgrade... It used to be that weapons just had a single form of attack, i.e., the Sword will always do the same wide slash, the Axe will always do the same wind-up 180º swing. Unanimously, everyone found this to be very boring and one-note. So, we're now implementing a secondary AND tertiary function with each weapon. Previously, our worry with balancing was that we didn't want the weapons to overshadow the abilities as Cryamore's combat should have them at the forefront but then we asked ourselves, "why not both?"
The new weapon functions go hand in hand with Abilities but never go as far as to replace them. You won't be running into any instances where you see a dried up log blocking your path and be able to cut it down with the axe, (we gotta apply some game logic here). So you're still gonna want to have those abilities ready, which at least will be easier now that they'll always be ready for equipping.
So, how do these weapon functions work? A basic attack can be performed by pressing the main attack button, so if you're using that Axe? It's the same ol' wide swing attack. Pressing a secondary Attack button, you'll do an overhead smash that can break enemy defenses and deal more damage, AND if you hold the B button after that, you'll rev up the axe blade and perform a few more hits to the enemy like a buzzsaw. However, the secondary attack will have a lot more windup and cooldown, and can leave Esmy vulnerable with it, so it's not suggested to mash or spam it.
But wait, there's more! If you press and hold the A button, you'll be able to charge up and perform another special function. With the Axe, it'll be a 360º swing that'll clear out any enemies around you. (And anyone concerned about the reloading for the pistols, this charge function will now act as the manual reload and gone is the auto-reloading.)
With that said, like we mentioned in the outset, the Weapon Meter we wanted to have so badly is gone and replaced with the EP Meter. It just didn't feel right waiting for 100% strength to attack again, and felt a similar mechanic was better served for the Abilities. Our primary, initial concern was that we wanted to discourage mashing, so in place of that, each weapon attack does have considerable weight to it, as you can't cancel out majority of the attacks, and some have varying windup/cooldown factors. And note that weapon attacks won't always work against certain kinds of enemies.
There's one final bit of icing on this cake. You'll be able to bring ALL unlocked Weapons with you and switch them out as you do with Abilities. New weapons will be available for purchase at the Blacksmith as you progress through the game.
Enemies now have a variety of AI behaviors we can give them. In the past several months, we made use of the NodeCanvas and FlowCanvas asset tools to give us extremely robust control over the AI functions we've created, and it has played an integral role in the game's development; we highly suggest it! We use a combination of Behavior Trees, Finite State Machines, and Visual Scripting to make behaviors and changes very fast to any enemy (or anything else in the game, for that matter). For example, this is the entire FSM graph for the behavior of the Mobster, a large, annoying crab enemy you'll come across in the game:
There hasn't been much incentive to defeat monsters you run across which is another important thing in combat. We implemented the classic "locking rooms until the monsters are cleared" mechanic (and don't worry, it makes sense within the lore of the game), and added more intimidating monsters into our bestiary as our mobs were, for the most part, pint-sized and small:
Now that we have our AI in place, we're back to putting final animations for enemies and implementing them in the game. This is still a very painstaking process, as we hand-draw each animation and then pixel over them frame-by-frame.
We'll also be adding some "random encounters" into the mix where there are spots in certain maps that groups of enemies may ambush you from. Some of these enemies can be quite troublesome as they may have spells that can trap you in a confined zone while ranged enemies pick at you, or create rock walls that block your path until you break them. Over time, monsters will get smarter, deadlier, and their attacks will work in tandem with others.
WORLD, SYSTEM, AND ENVIRONMENTS
We don't wanna show everything we've been cooking up for obvious reasons, but believe us when we say that these areas are turning out fantastic. We're currently adding more detailed assets, to really make each area shine.
We've gotten the groundwork for the Overworld and the "dungeons" set up! A lot of maps still need tweaking for better flow and a few more unique assets will be needed for polish, but there's now a pretty clear view and feel of how big the world of Cryamore will be along with its dungeons. And it's... big.
There are a bunch of environmental obstacles in the game now, which makes certain combat scenarios a bit tougher to manage, like frozen ponds in Rime Rapids, for example.
There's a lot of tweaking needed as we make sure the maps feel right; this includes making sure there's something worthwhile in each area, monster placement is right and adjusting environments to have good screen real estate with the camera.
About that camera, it functions differently now, where it lags slightly behind Esmy to give a more dynamic feel to the camerawork. Along with that, we've set up custom zoom triggers in areas to have the camera come in close or zoom out far for certain key spots in a map.
We also have NPC Following set up now for certain events. Don't worry, there won't be any annoying escort and protect missions in Cryamore. This is more for story-related purposes and the logic is also used for certain abilities and enemies.
The Menu has received a major, final overhaul. It now displays a cleaner, more legible font. The Status panel has been updated with Esmy's current status, equipped Abilities, Esmy's Level Stats, the current Weapon, and how Enervated she is. You've seen a glimpse of the Ability Menu in the outset of this update, as that's where Esmy will be able to Mix and Equip abilities.
Many other parts of the GUI will be getting a final facelift too as some information displayed is now defunct and could be depicted better.
The Ability Quick Select Wheel has a new look and feel to it. You use the analog stick/mouse to select the ability, and left/right to shift across Ability categories. Pressing up and down will take you to the new Weapon and Item Quick Select menus, allowing you to use Items and switch Weapons on the fly, as aforementioned.
Dialog conversations appear differently now, showing two characters at the same time. This makes the conversations appear more interactive and less disconcerting following the expressions, in contrast with how we originally had them.
The outfits from last year's Bliss Contest (and a couple of extra designs) are all pixel'd and in the game! Now Bliss won't have to worry about wearing the same outfit every day!
This is a taste of the Day/Night visuals that players will experience. We've also implemented ambient environmental sound effects and cues on when certain times of day are about to change.
The Cryamore OST is nearly complete! There are just a small handful of songs left to write. There are over 40 tracks, and we've only shared roughly a quarter of that. Aivi (and Surasshu) has been hard at work, and she's currently producing final mixes for it. We're really excited for when it's complete and for all of you to hear the entire soundtrack in-game, as everyone in the dev team can't stop headbangin' to the tunes in there. To get a taste, here are a few songs that we've previously previewed, in their final form. They sound quite different than before:
Additional final credits in the preview soundtrack selection:
- Chris Woo (violin, viola)
- Kristin Naigus (oboe, flute)
- Michael Evans - (cello)
- Marc Papeghin - (french horn, trumpet)
There's so much more we want to share but the update is large enough as is, and we also don't want to spoil too much publicly. We would really like to share more inside development stuff on our devblog, but we can't promise it as we're on a very tight schedule. However, trust that we're working and putting 150% in this game!
See ya' next time!