This week we had fun awakening this small but aggressive enemy we call Chomper, and it’s already fully prepared to provide some surprise encounters throughout the game!
The Orphan Kid is also finished, sporting plenty of unique animations that meld with its intricate combat style, we will provide some more insight on him in next week’s blog post. We added some additional dungeon modules to the big picture, allowing for some interesting maze situations and secondary challenges for those who wish to explore every nook and cranny!
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!
This week we were working on the animations and logic of the Ancestor undead soldier, making him alive but also balance his attacks with the others small soldiers is something that needs some extra work. This is a slow enemy, but careful with the range of the mace!
We also re-worked the logic behind the dodge when in combat, if you have stamina you can dodge immediately after an attack ( before, we waited for the complete end of the attack animation ). This was a feature much asked 🙂
Regarding the small lakes, we are finalizing the final details, like dynamic and static ripples. There’s a sneak peak below. When it’s ready, we will show it in a dedicated devblog post the workflow used.
Things are coming together nicely in the art department, specially concerning the environments of Chapter 2. Since the terrain meshes and textures have finally been completed using our new workflow, the team was able to focus on polishing each area to make them feel unique. On that topic, here is a sneak peek of one of the core locations of this part of the game. For this interior we are having fun experimenting with water pools and other cool details to enhance its mysterious mood.
This week we continued working on polishing the combat system, this time on the feeling of the combo attacks. We tweaked once again the window between the consecutive attacks that could form a small combo. We also added a slope detection so the player cannot climb to places that he/she is not meant to. In this case, the character will decelerate when the player tries to climb something with a slope greater that 45 degrees.
One thing that was asked of us at PAX East was an option to auto hide the HUD, so the player could have a more immersive experience. This was easily added, although, every time the player gets hit, changes weapon/potion, has low stamina or the current weapon durability is changed it appears again for a few seconds.
Beyond that, it has been quite a grind to populate and wrap up the environments. Getting the mood of each location just right is a big challenge. Here are some shots of the game that showcase what we are going for in a couple of areas, but keep in mind all of this is still very much work in progress.
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.
The artists have been fully focusing on character design and production these past few days. The Ancestor warrior we’ve shown before is pretty much done and will be game-ready as soon as the finishing touches on the textures are complete. Meanwhile, the final boss of this chapter is currently in the concepting phase, and we are confident this character will turn out to be a very fun and challenging obstacle for the player, due to the unusual weaponry that will be used during the fight.
A simple (yet important) prop has also been added to the game – elevators of Ancestor origin. These will be linked to a puzzle that links some areas of this chapter, and will allow the player to access otherwise unreachable places.
Testing the ancestor lift.
Gameplay-wise, the combat polishing is almost on point. We are really committed to making the “undead soldier” enemy feel like a threatening and convincing foe. He’s got some cool moves like the one shown below. The logic behind the “surprise spawn system” is ready to go, so it’s only a matter of time before we show you guys a humongous battlefield filled with bodies and a couple of unexpected encounters.
If you are too close, beware the smashing shields!
In order to make it possible for us to develop interesting environmental puzzles more freely, a simple new feature was added to the Elk. Basically, the player can now command the Elk to stay in a precise location, which will be useful to overcome certain obstacles. After telling the Elk to stay put, it will start following the Girl again if she gets too far.
GET OVER HERE!!!
Meanwhile, another Ancestor Ruin has been placed in the game. This Gate marks the entrance to a very special area in this chapter, but going through it won’t be as straightforward as it might appear.
The high poly model for the Ancestor Warrior is ready, and we’re sure these guys will prove to be quite a challenge. His weapon of choice is very menacing, and we’ll most likely show it in the next update.
High poly Undead Ancestor warrior.
We’ve also added specific idle and running animations that play whenever the Girl is adventuring with lowered stats, something that happens if she gets killed repeatedly. It was our intention to visually convey that the Girl is actually hurt and having more trouble fighting than when she is rested, and we thought a simple message prompt wouldn’t be clear enough. This is meant to work as a reminder of our “stats penalization” mechanic, so players understand why they are taking more damage from enemies and, in turn, dealing less damage to them.
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?
A short devlog this week, ’cause the team is away during Easter. Chapter 2 is going great in terms of art, in the next devblog we will show you some cool screenshots and a glimpse of what the central hub village could look like.
Meanwhile, Andre did a complete revamp of the logic AI system. We were aware of some performance issues that were aggravated with the constant additional complexity growth of the AI. Sometimes, the best way to fix something is to scratch what you have and start again. Obviously a lot of states were recycled, but it’s a different approach in AI handling. In the gif below, using the old AI logic, we could hit an outrageous 25ms time of processing time, now it’s around 1ms. The problem used to happen if the build ran for long periods of time with various AI agents active.
Overcrowded combat – DEBUG MODE not actual gameplay.
This week a lot of small tweaks, balancing and gameplay polishing was done: the stamina behavior was improved (now it takes a while before the stamina is regained after it was completely drained), the parry detection is more efficient, as well as the hit detection on enemies. Changing targets when locked is now more intuitive and the player can choose easily what target they want to attack.
Since it was clear that being immediately expelled from the Elk’s back while near enemies was frustrating for the players, a small change was made in the Elk’s stress behavior so that now the stress simply increases much faster instead, making the experience of riding more manageable.
Direct swap items on the Elk’s inventory is now possible, so there’s no need for the poor design decision of dropping the item and then picking it up again.
In the art department, the work on the new enemy is advancing smoothly. Here is HighPoly model:
Cursed soldier Highpoly.
We are also coming up with a new foe for the Girl to fight with, a big armored Ancestor that will require careful planning in order to be brought down.
Meanwhile, we also continue to replace old animations with fresh ones, such as this: