Updates and new game specs

Finally, my downtime spent on adjusting game docs and plot charts will finally pay off! I will soon be ready to code the demo, and art assets will be under way next. In this post, I will outline more details about the game, including a better summary and a final title: Astral Knights GAIDEN! How exciting! I’m usually terrible with titles, but as more of the planning stages were completed, it became easier for something to click in.

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Rough chapter cover sketch that was never used.

 

Last time, I had a basic summary and the general art direction for the game. For the most part, that still remains true, with some adjustments and additions:

  • up to 34 character units available in the game (combination of playable and support)
  • up to 18 playable classes
  • no permadeath (units can be revived)
  • 30 main chapters planned, spanning 3 arcs (books)
  • painterly art style (i.e. Vanillaware) chosen as dominant look, but will feature watercolors instead. Some parts of the game may even adopt a pencil or cell-shaded feel, depending on the scenario.
  • square grid will be utilized

(Keep in mind these specs are for the full version of the game and subject to change. Obviously the demo will have fewer and limited features.)

The largest change compared to my last big post was the game’s summary. I knew I wanted the story to have a comedic edge, but then I also began thinking of the crazy situations and interactions from my past D&D and Pathfinder campaigns as well. How much fun I had participating in them, and how spontaneous everything felt. This game definitely has become a project that does not take itself too seriously, and I hope when the demo is done, players will have as much fun as I did making it!

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First draft of the overworld map. Many names and locations will be scrapped or changed.

Two best friends have finally fulfilled their dream of becoming Royal Knights to the Queen, when suddenly hoards of undead start causing havoc all over the land! It’s now up to charismatic Dorian (who can’t seem to get that “carry-the-one” math concept) and sharp-witted Gwendolyn (who really is the brains behind the party) to get down to the bottom of things. Just their luck, the only help they seem to get are from a variety of colorful and eccentric band of misfits brave (and possibly insane) enough to get the job done. Will this flying circus be taken seriously and become… the ASTRAL KNIGHTS?

I would love to advertise token catchphrases and b.s. marketing lines, like “this game is nothing like you’ve ever played!”, but at this point I’m more like “you know what, I just want to make something that I would like to play, and maybe other people might like to play too”. It puts less stress on myself from setting the bar too high on my expectations for the reception of the game, but still keeps me motivated to really see this project to the end.

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Concept sketches of the main character, Gwendolyn, and her dragon, Bryndis.

As you can see, I started on concept art for the project, using my past art for the characters from a book I wrote in high school. Many have heavy changes, and of course there are newcomers or characters I made after the fact but never got to use in its universe.

I also am up to selecting the musical style for the game’s soundtrack, which was even more of a question mark than the art style. A few friends who have been collaborating with me for ideas have been very helpful in this step, and I also have a few contacts who have done soundtracks for indie games in the past.

I really appreciate the support I got for the visual novel and I apologize that the project has been folded into this one instead. Those who expressed interest are still more than welcome to be on board for this one when the time comes for it. Otherwise, to make things easier I will most likely reach out to those contacts instead. Feel free to inquire anyway!

Thank you and Happy Easter!

Getting out of my rut

Like the humble and chubby groundhog, I too have emerged this February to bring forth exciting updates! Sadly, it took a while to gather enough worthy of posting (them work deadlines!), but finally today I can start announcing some things. I’ve continued to work on my next project (the tactical RPG on Unity2D) during my downtime, cooperative muse permitting. Lately this winter I’ve hit a bit of a coding rut, so I focused more of my dev time to other parts of asset management (like the river of stat spreadsheets I mentioned last time, and of course flowcharting/scripting).

I apologize for the lack of activity here since the last post, but I plan to be a little more active once more assets are created and the coding process finally gets under way. I even plan to do another livestream of my gamedev as well! It was a long while since I did one last and I kind of miss it. It was a great way to connect with fellow indies and followers/supporters alike.

Anyway, flowcharting is going along extremely well, though I’m a little embarrassed to admit I temporarily have abandoned Trelby for Microsoft Word for the sake of simplicity. But I do plan to have a tidier script on Trelby after the one for the demo is finalized. Whatever works, right?

That aside, I also encountered exciting news regarding Unity development available for Nintendo 3DS! This is incredibly far of a stretch, but it would be a fun possibility for this game to be ported to the console, aside from good old PC. I’ll have to look into the numbers. I always wanted to learn how to build for dual screens too. So while no promises (I have enough on my hands!), it would be a fun pursuit no less.

Until next time, stay warm and dry this winter! Spring will be early, don’t worry!

Switching gears (aka Help I’ve Fallen Into Excel Spreadsheets and I Can’t Get Up!)

Now that October is drawing to its exciting close to a busy month, I can sit down and explain some exciting progress going on in between work and play. Earlier last month you may have recalled me mentioning my first convention panel at New York Comic-Con 2015, and the review about it can be seen at my Etsy blog. That aside, I’ve been busy being good friends with Microsoft Excel and typing up numerous spreadsheets (with more on the way! My head hurts from all this math but it will be worth the work!). Why, you ask?

Well, it’s not for my visual novel. Actually, that project has now folded into its sister project, and together the two will finally see their revamped adaptations into video game form! Many, many years ago (11 to be exact), I had a webcomic. It was around characters my friends and I created, doing random stuff, and maybe only had a total readership of 10 fans but it was fun while it lasted. Towards the end we decided to take our fun into fantasy RPG form, and while its novel is a disaster, it was a way for us to develop worlds and characters. Looking back now, it is a guilty read. It’s so bad that it’s good! You may have seen some of my art for it on my deviantArt way back.

As I was working more on the visual novel, things just did not make sense, and as I was fitting pieces back into this other story, the more I wanted to return to this other world and really put some TLC in it. So here we are now, a strategy RPG to be built in Unity2D! Since a ton of past material already was provided in the books, it was only a matter of updating the characters and available classes the player can use, and the rest of the mechanics fell into place. Much of the story is intact, but just some things polished and tightened up. Yes, the game will have an official name soon too! I’m in the process of weeding through possible titles to see what is best (and hasn’t been claimed yet so it will pop up easier on a Google search).

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Concept sketch of the original intro from 2008.

“In the land of Ceres, the kingdom is on the brink of disaster from relentless waves of undead monsters, led by a mysterious man and his group of bandits. A young girl named Gwendolyn steps up as a new commander, driven to take back her country – but she’ll soon learn that not everything is as it seems. Travel the land, encounter a variety of colorful characters and heroes, and discover the secrets of Ceres.”

I’ll have a jazzier description in the future, don’t worry. Gameplay will be similar to Fire Emblem and Chrono Trigger, with RPG roots akin with Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. The mechanics will be simplified so even beginner players in the genre can get into it easily, which will leave room for lots of customizations for your characters. Despite the serious undertones to the story, there will be a lot of humor thrown in too, especially as your party really is just a bunch of misfits trying to do their part. So aside from strategy there is emphasis of teamwork within your crew. (Which any leader knows goes hand-in-hand in any project or mission.)

Development-wise, I aim to have a demo level completed within the next couple of months. I’m still pondering if I do want voiceovers or not, or just have them for the intro sequence. As of art direction, I keep going back to more of a painterly, lineless look, which Vanillaware is famous for (as seen in Odin Sphere, GrimGrimoire). This new project’s look may not be as sharp and glossy, but I want this game to have as much whimsy as the characters in it. Retro pixel art has been done so much that it’s almost become old again, and anything too cell-shaded would be too harsh on the eyes, considering a lot of information will be laid out on the grid. That aside, the artwork will be the same as previously planned.

Despite Odin Sphere nearing almost 10 years old now, thanks to its mechanics, story, and art style, it hasn’t aged a day.

Outside of upcoming game progress, I’ve noticed lately that my blog post on Construct2 vs. Ren’py is getting pageviews again, and now that I’ve worked enough in Corona and Marmalade, I think it’s time I start on my next Developers Cagematch entry on that. I’m happy a lot of people have found the other post so useful! It means a lot to me.

Until then, have a Happy Halloween and brush your teeth after eating all that candy!