This week we’ve added a new, simple mechanic to add more diversity to the main puzzle of the zone we are currently working on. Inspired by the Indiana Jones Movies, specifically where stone doors close slowly, you’ll have to sprint and slide in order to successfully reach the other side.
We are focused on maintaining a smooth learning curve as far as puzzles are concerned, so we’ve increased the complexity of previous puzzles in the game in order to prepare players for the challenge this latest one provides!
*Indiana Jones Music intensifies*
Using our modular dungeon system, we’ve also done some extensive dungeon building tests, however, it still remains to be decided whether we will add randomly generated dungeons or at least different layouts for them in NG+ and beyond!
Custom dungeon example.
We decided to add a new threat to the player – elite soldiers, members of the royal guard, that will surely be a tough challenge to those who dare face them. Here is the concept:
Today we will show you one of the new enemies we added and teased recently, the Mimic Barrel. Even sneakier than the Chomper, it will pounce when you are carelessly looking for some random items inside barrels and crates. It delivers fast attacks and is very agile, which will certainly make killing it your top priority.
The Chomper is also complete, with all the attacks it requires, such as throwing things at the player depending on the zone it spawns in, like mud, sand, etc.
We also tuned the camera a little bit, which now adds a small offset when the player is locked to a target, so he/she can always see the focused enemy.
Oh my God!
The work on the new area is progressing smoothly, we are using the following concept as the main guide for the mood we intend for this location:
Meanwhile, the high-poly model for the new boss is pretty much finished, so the game-ready version will surely be developed during next week!
This week, we’ve got some character art and a few new animations to show you guys. It’s vacation time for the members of the team, but we made sure to schedule everything so that there’s always at least one of us working on the game. This way, the development is never really halted.
As part of our current objective of adding more enemy variety and flexibility to the project, we designed a new creature that will pester the player in any area of the game. Just like the monster that hides in a barrel, which we showed last time, this new enemy is not “chapter specific”, and that allows us to use it freely while building the world.
Hi! Anyone seen my toothpick?
Basically, this little fellow hides beneath the ground with only its leaves sticking out to blend with the surrounding vegetation. Once the player gets close, it will pounce!
Why hello there! ( Jump Across animation )
Take that! ( Sweep Kick animation )
Oops sorry! I was just kid-ding! ( Being Hit by Player animation )
On the animation department, the masked youths are rocking a couple of new moves. While fighting, they react to the player’s actions by chaining attacks or dodges. For example, if their low kick does not connect, a quick dagger slash will follow. As you might have guessed, facing this opponent will prove to be a very different challenge from the ones in previous chapters.
Actually, QA came early during the week, and we’ve been doing some extensive sessions which led us to implement some additional tools and on-screen information for assisting with the playtesting and debugging of the game!
On-screen debugging info.
The new streaming logic we mentioned last week is still being tweaked and optimized, and we’re pretty happy with the results we’re getting!
Streaming chunk visualizer.
A new animation for the masked youths is also nearing completion, as you can watch see below.
Canyon kid evade animation.
We felt the need to add a little more variety to the game’s enemy pool, and we thought it would be cool to have less “area specific” creatures the player could fight with. Most of the ones we have so far are basically bound to the chapters they first appear in, and there’s no way around that because of the lore. So we are coming up with new ideas for creatures that can spawn anywhere throughout the whole adventure. The first one is a monster that inhabits barrels, and it will keep you on your toes anytime you’re about to destroy these wooden containers in hopes of finding random items.
Producing the assets for this enemy also forced us to remake the basic barrel and crate props, for the sake of coherence, especially because the ones we had previously were recycled placeholders.
This week we continued working on the current chapter’s end boss, nearly all of its move-sets are complete, while the AI polish and behavior are currently in the works. This boss has a lot of extra moving parts and we experienced some problems managing several of its animations simultaneously, but we’ve solved this in the end.
A fully functional jetpack!
We also finished populating the environment of this chapter while also adding the logic to support it, now it’s time for testing and to finish balancing! Here are some combat encounter screenshots:
Two’s a company…
…three’s a crowd!
Unity 2017 released an awesome new tool for cinematics, so we’ll have to port our existing ones and create the future ones with it for a more cinematic and professional feeling.
Regarding the next chapter, players will mostly be facing a new threat, the masked youths that dwell in the depths of the Rift! Their visual concept was inspired by a Portuguese tradition, the “caretos”, as well as Princess Mononoke’s battle costume. Their motives for attacking the girl on sight will have to remain a mystery, for now…
This week we’ve discussed some new ideas and concepts for the next chapter of the game. It will take place in the bottom of the canyon, bordering the windmills zone which you might be familiar with.
We already have some concepts of the new characters and a lot of references, so the ideas are getting close to a conclusion.
For the previous chapters, André had already made some blocking, level design and testing. This final zone is currently drafted on paper, so the next devblogs may be focused on its level design and the details we would like to add.
The boss of the previous chapter is nearly done and currently being worked on by our animator. Here’s a small WIP preview of his weapon in action:
Steam weapon shooting animation WIP.
This zone has a steam theme, which is noticeable due to the mechanisms that are clearly inspired by it. The player will be searching for valves to activate and new paths to unlock. Although the steam particles are an early work-in-progress, they have already been implemented to set the mood for this theme.
Interacting with the valve.
Examining the valve.
For the next week part of team will be working on the new characters and level design of the next chapter of the game. Stay tuned if you are into level building!
One of the dynamics of the area we are currently developing is the constant surprise of combat. While walking among the corpses of soldiers who have fallen on this battlefield, the player will never know which might turn out to be a threat. This mechanic has a threshold, so hopefully the player will never feel overwhelmed by the amount of enemies at any given time.
Careful where you step.
This week we have captured some gameplay footage to pinpoint some collision problems, add additional particles and polish some combat behaviors. We tested this approach so that the gameplay wouldn’t be filtered by the usual editing workflow, allowing us to really observe how things are coming together. We also added new stylized particles, but this is an ongoing process and it’s still not ready to be shown.
Art-wise, the creation of the new boss character we’ve mentioned before is progressing nicely. The concept phase is basically over and production has already started. We want the design to remain a surprise for now, but we decided to show a small teaser – the concept of the boss’ weapon. The team is committed to making this battle a pretty epic moment, so the weapon just had to be somewhat over the top!
Boss’ weapon concept.
We’re also doing some water tests like we said some time ago. There’ll be no ocean in this game, but small lakes or big puddles. Paulo (working on Amplify Shader Editor) has been lending the DoL team a hand by doing some ripple effect experiments. These will be used in some specific zones throughout the game.
During this week, we’ve done some tests with stylized water and interactions, like splash particles and spume. Once it is more eye-catching we will show it off. The inspirations for it are Windwaker and the upcoming Rime. In this area and the next area, there will be some small lake zones so a proper, simple and fast water shader is in the works.
We also prepared a “fake interior” for the house we’ve shown in a previous update. In the “central village hub” there will be more similar houses and as the player progresses in the game, people who used to live there will return to their abandoned homes. By then, the player will be able to knock on the doors and talk with the people inside, adding another layer to the story lore.
Always knock on the house doors.
In the new area we are working on, the player can find a great Ancestor ruin, a Water Temple, that shows signs of having been repurposed… Now it functions as a steam powerhouse, but who is harnessing all this energy?
This week we continued the work of replacing old animations with the new ones which add a lot more personality to the game. Walking on quicksand and the visual feedback of that action, for example, was something we needed to improve, in terms of animation and also in shader work. We’re currently working on that, but it isn’t finished yet. In the meantime, we are also doing some experiments with stylized water shaders to use in small lakes or shallow streams, for example.
On a different note, the cutscene system was fine tuned, and now there is an option to skip forward those events.
Knock,Knock, who’s there?
The new areas are developing smoothly, and although there are many assets to create, concepts like the one below help us to establish the mood we’re trying to achieve in advance. In this case, the image depicts the stage of a bloody battle.
Previously, we’ve shown the concept for an armor used by a new kind of enemy the player will be facing. The “game ready” model of this equipment is already finished:
Once again, we are working hard on polishing a lot of aspects of the gameplay and fixing bugs. The camera collision was improved when in small spaces, mounting and unmounting was also tuned and the transitions are much more fluid. Like we’ve shown in the previous post, our animator is replacing all the placeholder animations, and this week it was time to replace the ladder climbing animations.
We are also working on a Lore driven collectible which we are calling “Echoes”. They basically consist of recorded memories of certain characters. As the player finds them throughout the world, these Echoes will be made available in a specific tab within the inventory.
The cursed soldier model is “game-ready”, and this is the version you can see in case the enemy has no armor equipped. Like in the first chapter, we have a dynamic armor placement which makes the enemies feel different in every encounter. This time around we will also add a destroyable armor mechanic – each piece will be destroyed as the player keeps striking.
Cursed soldier In-Game model (No armor).
Here is the concept of the fully armored cursed soldier. This armor set can be looted from the enemies and equipped by the Girl.