I have been hard at work on The Meridian Shard and keeping a schedule to stay on track. It does take a lot out of you to stare at a computer screen for 10 - 16 hrs a day, but with a good rest each night and plenty of fruits and veggies, the mind can function well enough as needed. I am focusing solely on the actual game world geography and levels for the next few months, and then I'll move on to sprites, icons, items, character models etc. After that, the focus will shift to the voice-acting, soundfx and music portions of the game. Don't get me wrong here, I firmly believe that the music and sound in any project is an integral part of the grand scheme, but without completed levels to apply them to, you can end up re-doing, or repeating steps that cost time unnecessarily.
In the early promo video that you all watched for kickstarter, you can see that the dungeon area in the intro, where Harry flips a switch and the magic gate with the spirit residing inside of it lights up to show that he can open it and pass through it, is mostly made up of 2D tiles and brick textures. This is fine and all well and good, but since the outdoor areas of the game are made up of more isometric and pseudo-3D terrains, I wanted to create a better cohesive look across the game itself. So, what I've been doing lately is literally sculpting out each and every room and corridor using a 3D block so that the walls and passageways will appear with a little more depth than the flat tiles I was using originally.
Here is an example of a solid block after sculpting:
Here is the same block after adding a basic stone pattern and leveling it to the same view point as in the game:
The original tiled dungeon has more texture as it is game-ready, but as you can see, it's also very flat-looking:
The difference appears minimal, yet it really shows when it's all put together. But Justin, isn't it going to take much longer to sculpt all the sections yourself and then put them together to make each dungeon area, instead of just using repeating tiles and blocks on one map? Yes. It will take far more time and effort. However, it will add to the value of the game, and have the proper continuity in the graphical layout of the world as a whole. I will still keep the look as old-school as possible, as I promised, but some things just have to be improved as I go along.
Moving right along, I have almost finished the 1st level! After Harry meets with his captain and receives his assignment, he will exit 'House Timor of The Veilman Order' via this back exit that leads to The North Steppe Wood (I still have to color in the shingles on the house, apply shading, lights and add some textures to the walls and ground, but it's a good start):
Another thing that I wanted to improve upon is the background for the shops and merchant screens in the game. Before, I just had a black background and a menu, which is fine, but I put the below scene together using an artist model and some 3D items and assets to make a more detailed interior scene for a medicinal magic shop like this:
Below are some early screenshots of the overlaying menu (Keep in mind the items displayed are prototype only and will be recreated using the same graphic style as in the background):
Well, I had better get back to work. Thanks again everyone for tuning-in, and of course for pledging to this awesome little indie game! I will post another update in a few weeks or so with some new screenshots. Until then, I will just be modelling the rooms and 100's of scenes. Take care!