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Sketchfab to Unity using 2D Toolkit

Hey there! This week we are gonna talk about our interactive dioramas, show how the 3D meshes mix with pixel art. Particularly we are going to talk about how we made them.

A little history

It all started at the time we were about to launch our  Greenlight campaign. We wanted to do something cool, and show little bit more of the game, but we knew that demos hurt sales, so we our first approach was to do some sort of teaser, something were you could feel how the 3D / 2D worked together, without showing too much gameplay. Not long we ended up with a few prototypes.

The first prototype was a sandbox-oriented single level. To test it, we reached out to a few people that had never played Okhlos before. Their response was not very good. They felt that the lack of objectives was very confusing. We iterated a bit more on this, but we always landed in similar places. Another problem was that were quite a lot of mechanics to learn and not that much chance to include a tutorial in a pickup-and-play single-level teaser.

ImagenSandbox

ideally, you could choose different units to test different mob configurations

So we discarded this prototype, and the sandbox approach, and we started exploring some more goal-oriented prototypes.

Not long after that we landed in a Colosseum mode, where the player would have to battle wave upon wave of enemies. This turned out to be pretty enjoyable, but we still had the problem of a lack of some kind of tutorial. We figured out that we couldn’t throw the user into the level without some basic concepts. Finally, we discarded this prototype as well. It was fun but far from perfect. In addition to this, we were concerned that some players may get the idea that the whole game was going to be that way, merely fighting endless waves of enemies.

Also, at that time, we ran into a new problem: Chrome dropped support of Unity’s web plug-in. The teaser had always been aimed to be played in a browser, so this was definitely a setback.

The bright side of this was that, due to the nature of the Colosseum mode, we had the chance to focus more on the combat mechanics. We learned more than one thing doing this and we took them to the main game. Yay us.

ImagenColiseo

This is an editor view of the combat area in the second teaser

So, the clock was ticking and we wanted to do at least something before launching our Greenlight campaign. That’s when we had the idea of using Sketchfab.

 

Why Sketchfab?

We really wanted to show how pixel art and 3D worked together, and there were few options to achieve this (making an .exe was almost out of the question. Nobody downloads tech demos).

Sketchfab, unlike Unity, runs with HTML5 (I think), so we had no browser compatibility problems. Also, you don’t need to install any plugins to view a Sketchfab model in your browser, it’s pretty straightforward. Finally, Sketchfab has Unity support, which was also a plus for us, since we could use everything we already had set up in Unity to build these scenes faster (as opposed to building them from scratch in 3DSMax).

Unity + Sketchfab

In order to do be able to upload a model to Sketchfab from Unity you first have to download the lastest unity package from the Asset Store.

Plugin

We installed the package in Okhlos’ main Unity project. We had a few compatibility problems with some things, but for the most part deactivating things did the trick. The main problem we had, was that we couldn’t make a windows standalone build if we had the package content in the directory. This was particularly annoying, but deleting the Sketchfab folder is literally one key down (and a left arrow key, and an enter). So it’s not so bad.

Once we installed the Sketchfab exporter we found out that, even though some things were cool, others were very annoying:

  • You CAN’T see how the model looks in Sketchfab until it is online.
  • Automatically, every model is made public for any user to browse. As an artist, I hate this.
  • There are lots of little problems with some textures and geometries.
  • If a shader you are using is not supported, your model will look like a Kandinsky.
  • The plugin is pretty basic, and there is almost no support on the web about using Unity + Sketchfab.
  • You have to set an awful amount of things in the Sketchfab web editor because the Unity Settings are not imported (billinear/point, alpha channel, etc).

Clearly, this tool is not designed specifically to export any unity object, and we are stretching what you can do with the platform, so is not like all of this is particularly Sketchfab’s fault.

 

So, how do we start?

Doing a Pixel Art Diorama

Starting is easy. You only have to put the pieces together. I suggest creating a prefab, so as not to lose information (Unity is notorious for not being that trustworthy with the scene information). Once you have the prefab, you have to select it in order to export it (alla “Export Selected” in max), but it will only export things in the scene, not in the project folder.

Seleccionado

I really don’t know the amount of polys Sketchfab supports, and because all our buildings are low poly, we didn’t have any problems with the poly count.

Another thing I recommend, is giving the model some context. In our case, because of the Diorama approach, we put a plinth to push the idea a little bit further. Basically you don’t have to do anything like this, you only have to do something pretty, and preferably not very big, the navigation in the Sketchfab viewer is not fantastic. It is not impossible, but I can’t imagine using the tool as a level navigator (but of course you can do something like that!).

Now that you selected the object, you have to export it with the Sketchfab window. There are not many options here.

ExporterSketchfab

Once uploaded, it will appear in your user models.

Subido

Then, you can edit a few things regarding the materials, annotations, camera, and post effects. All of these are easily tweakeable.

I would’ve loved if this was all you needed to know, but because we use 2D toolkit for the sprites, the process is quite more complex.

2Dtoolkit considerations

Exporting geometry is easy. Technically, the sprites in 2D toolkit are simple geometry as well (planes), but we had to do A LOT of experimentation to get it right.

First of all, as I said before, if Sketchfab doesn’t like your shader, it can turn your model into garbage.

monstrosity

Oh god! Kill him! Kill him!

You have to use (while you export at least) a basic shader. Also, keep in mind that every time you create an atlas in 2dtk, it will create a texture and a material (usually called Atlas0, because of reasons). So, if you have multiple atlases, all with different names, but you kept the default name for the materials and textures(Atlas0), Sketchfab will think that they are all the same material, and you will not be able to change them. A workaround for this is naming each material and texture differently. Don’t worry, this brings no trouble at all to the project, you will still be able to update your atlas and it will keep the new names.

atlas0

You should rename all of these.

Once you do this, you will be able to use multiple atlases for the model, using the same atlases that you are currently using in the project. You’ll need to set the alpha channel of each texture, which is a pain. Also, because of the pixel art nature, you’ll have to set all the textures into Nearest (Point in Unity) (they are usually in Billinear in both). This means that it will do no interpolation in the image, and will show every pixel as is.

settingmaterial

Take a look at the transparency configuration. Also, you should switch it to Point (Nearest)

These are mostly the considerations you have to know using 2DToolkit in Sketchfab. However, if you take a close look at the sprites, you’ll notice some imperfections. We couldn’t find a way to fix this, but because they only show in a few sprites we decided to live with them.

errores

Here, Aristotle had a harsh hair cut. And Plato lost his feet.

So there you have it! You can play with the model settings for cool post effects, lights, etc.

 

 

 

Hope you found this info useful!

 

A little disclaimer, I’m not affiliated to Sketchfab in any way (or to Unity, but that’s more obvious). I just liked the tool, and we had a few questions regarding how we made the dioramas.

 

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Crushing the Olympian gods, one language at a time

As Okhlos enters the last stages of development, we have to do more than finishing all the game’s content, we also have to work on some features that may not be as fun or glamorous, but are important nonetheless. And at the top of that list was something we have been postponing for quite a while. Something that many devs have described as “an unfathomable development nightmare which will haunt us until the end of our lives”[citation needed]. Something called localization.

Most people think that localizing a game is just swapping strings in one language to another. And they are right. That’s all there is to is. So we swapped some strings. It was very easy. We won and now everyone is happy. End of post. Or maybe not. Replacing text is just the start. One of the most important ones, yes, but sadly not the only one and not that simple either.

The good news is that, since we are working with Unity, we didn’t have to start from scratch. What we wanted was very simple, something that takes a spreadsheet, parse it, create a dictionary and display texts based on that dictionary. Making this ourselves wouldn’t take much time but getting an existing solution would save us not only a few hours of  development time but a lot of testing too. So we looked into a couple of localization plugins in the asset store, but soon we found out that NGUI, the UI plugin we had been using all along already a neat little localization system in place.

csv

This is how NGUI’s localization rolls.

NGUI system is nice and simple. It has a parser that reads localization keys from a comma separated file, which means you can use a google spreadsheet to store the texts in different languages. Then, it creates a dictionary that can be linked to any NGUI label or be accessed anywhere via code. Just what we needed!

Soon we started working our first officially supported language: Spanish. As you may know (or figure out by reading the horrendous word crimes we commit when Pablo isn’t around to fix them) English is not our native language, Spanish is. This meant that we could translate every text we had into Spanish with ease. We will still have to check a lot of things to make sure it comes across right in every different Spanish-speaking country (which is not an easy task by any means) but  we can do most of the work ourselves.

So texts got translated, spreadsheets were spread, CSVs were parsed and, lo and behold, we now have translated ingame texts!

What kind of sorcery is this !?

 But, as I said before. This was just the start of the ride. A long journey was ahead, with many an obstacle to face. What were those dangers we encountered, you say? Here is a list conveniently summing them up for you!

  • Really Long Words (we are looking at you, German). Another typical localization problem. A button or a text box may have enough room for any of the words the game uses for a given language, but switch to another one and it is spill-out madness. Being aware of this beforehand, we made all buttons and labels in Okhlos scalable, so if a word gets too long we can easily adjusted them.
  • Character Codes. While you are programming, living inside the dictatorial world of the compiler, it is easy to forget that there are more characters than those in the ASCII code, and many languages. Even the extended ASCII, which adds support for most romance languages, can fall short. So it is always best to use Unicode encoding when dealing with strings. And so we did
  • Fonts. So your game supports UTF encoding, with a potential for thousands of characters. But what good is all that if you can only show them in plain, old and boring Arial font? This is something we have yet to deal with. Okhlos uses mainly a pixelated font called Dalek (insert Doctor Who joke here), which is pretty neat and fits the game’s theme very well, but only supports ASCII characters. So we will have to decide whether to find a new pixelated font that has all the characters we need, or modify the current font to add the necessary characters.
  • Procedurally Generated Texts. Texts that are generated on fly can be next to impossible to translate, and we have a couple of them in the game. However, one of them is the name generator, which generates a unique name for each non-hero unit, and since all those names are in ancient Greek(ish) they don’t need to be translated. The other is the useless skill generator, which during the implementation phase was trimmed down to more of a randomizer than a generator, so all we had to do was translate each item individually and voilà.
  • Graphic Texts. We always knew we had to keep them to a minimum but there are still a few instances in which we use texts that are not rendered dynamically. Because of this, we had to make a custom script (but still using the NGUI system) to replace the images when the language changes. We still need to make a different image per language but since we have so few of them is not really an issue.
  • Lip Syncing.  Most voice effects in the game are just gibberish. And most characters don’t have mouths. So we dodged that bullet.
ImageSign

Begone, vile text , we banish thee!

This is by no means the end of it, we will have to deal with a lot more stuff once we add more languages but for the moment we say ciao!

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Log the change! Change the log! Changelog!

[Previously on The Changelog… Version 0.4.4]   (revision 1914)

Welcome back to the one and only  changelog! Since last time we have traveled the world (a little chunk of it, to Brazil and back), won a number of international awards (one) and eaten many empanadas (around 100 of them) but what about the game? What new and exciting stuff have we been adding to Okhlos? Well, the changelog is here to answer that. Here is what happened …

botonChangelog_050

Lots of new music and sfx

Yup, Gordon has been really busy these last couple of months and has come up with some really amazing tracks for Sparta, Ephesos and Atlantis, plus Boss Battle Music! You can check them out on Bandcamp right now!

The Agora

Imagine a place where anything is possible. Where every dream you ever had comes true. A place of infinite wonder. The Agora is not that place, but exercising your imagination is always a good thing. The Agora is the place where all play sessions after the first one will start. Think about the camp at the gates of the castle in Rogue Legacy or the village in Desktop Dungeons. It will be filled with all kind of special things that we will the unveiling soon. How soon? Soon as in right here in the next paragraph.

The Agora v 0.1

A sneak peek at the Agora

Persistent Heroes

Some Heroes are like diamonds, they are a girl’s best friends. No, wait. It wasn’t that. Some heroes are forever. That’s it. Some heroes may fall but they never truly die, they are the persistent heroes (cooler name pending). They are a new kind of heroes that when once you buy them will always spawn at the Agora, so they can be part of your mob from the very start of every sessions. Think about the blue chests in Lufia’s Ancient Cave. Or think about kittens. It’s always nice to think about kittens.

Philosopher Selection

Plato or Aristotle? Heraclitus or Parmenides? You can settle the millennia-long debate once and for all with our brand new Philosopher Selection Screen. Find new philosopher as you play, and then they will be available to be selected when you start a new session at the Agora!

Building Destruction FX

Taking the destruction of  invaluable buildings to a whole new level. Roque thinks the effects can still be improved but they are awesome as they are nonetheless!

The poor building stood no chance whatsoever

Kaboom!

The Encyclopaedia

The lives of the most eminent heroes, gods and mythological beasts all summed up in one convenient place. As of this version we now have the all mighty encyclopaedia in place! Find monsters, buy heroes, unlock their entries. Gotta catch’em all!

Continue

Because now that we are adding more and more levels, it comes kind of handy.

Mouse is here

I was going to add a nifty gif showing how we now have a custom cursor that fades in when you need it and fades out when you don’t, just like Spelunky does. But gifcam hates me so I will just leave that to your imagination (again).

Extreme Make Over: Ephesos and Atlantis

This could very well be an update on its own, so I won’t spoil much but I’ll tell you they just keep looking better and better.

Boss Battles v 2.0

Boss battles have been an issue for some time. They lacked something… More enemies! We’ve added a small system that spawns enemies throughout the battle based on certain conditions. This not only makes the combat more epic, but it also adds a new level of dept,h as you now have to divide your attention and your resources between the boss and the stream of enemies. It is something that still requires some playtesting and fine tunning but it is already proving to be a nice improvement. Plus, it also solves another problem we had: endless battles. Until now you could hide from the gods and keep on playing with a very small mob for ages, but no more. If you do that now, the horde will eat you alive in no time.

LOTS OF ENEMIES!!!!1!

It won’t be as chaotic as this but, yes, lots of enemies!

Buffing Up the Morale Stat

As you may remember from updates like A Matter of Morale!

Turning the Heroes up to 11

Once again, this is still a work in progress and we may write an update on the subject on the near future so I won’t say much, but let me tell you that some things were done and elevens were reached.

The Sprite Batcher (and other optimization)

Premature optimization is the road to perdition but sometimes you can’t help it (or it is not premature anymore), so we optimized a few things. Among them, the sprite batcher may have been the most important one. Each time you render a material in Unity it issues a draw call to the graphics API. Texture atlases and static batches are the most common way to deal with this, and that is what we have been doing from day one. However, due to the way ingame sprites are handled in Okhlos we couldn’t use the default sprite batcher. We had to take matters into our own hands and we finally did, customizing the hell out of that sprite batcher to suit all of our kinky needs. The result? Less draw calls! So sexy!

More Configuration Settings

The config window is slowly getting filled up. We’ve added a couple of graphic settings, and handful of game settings and the ubiquitous sound settings. There are many more to come but it is already starting to look like a proper config window.

And bug fixes!

Fix one bug, add two more!

 

And thus we reached version  0.5.0. It has been long way since the birth of Okhlos. 2,317 revisions. 456 files. 41,510 lines of code. Countless Monty Python jokes.  But here we are, with lots of stuff still to come but getting closer and closer to beta.

 

But where are the new cities? The new enemies? The new heroes? The new gods?

Well, some of them are already implemented, some others are in the works, but will soon read more about them right here at your favorite dev blog. So stay tuned for future updates!

 

 

 

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Non-game media coverage is amazingly funny

Hey there!

 

As you might already know, a few days ago Okhlos won the Best Gameplay award at the Brazil Independent Games Festival (mandatory weekly braggin). This was huge news for us. We spent almost a week in Brazil, São Paulo, and enjoyed the heck out of the festival. We are working on update about our whole experience there but that is not what I want to talk about today.

 

At around the same time we got back home, local newspapers picked up the news, which is also awesome. As expected, they gave a nationalistic twist to the news. “Argentina Wins Videogame Award”. So far, so good. The thing is that one the news outlets that posted about it is the second largest newspaper in the country, with a print-run in the hundred of thousands and over a million online followers. As you might expect, there were tons of comments everywhere.  We got lots of nice comments and words of encouragement, but, at the same time, some people started trash talking the game. And not just the game itself, but also pixel art and independent games in general.

 

Why the hate? You can argue that internet will always be full of trolls and haters, but on the subject of these comments, our friend @antennariagames said something that made a lot of sense: “[…]I want to emphasize (again) that the comments here are not criticism of the game, it is not about “you always get criticized” (which is true), but it’s about that there are too many people who think they know about videogames because they play them, but they don’t know about the existence of an independent movement, and they don’t know to evaluate it in terms of expression, only in terms of production. An independent game to them is garbage, and when it gains artistic relevance, and even economic relevance, it might seem so absurd to them that they end up banging their heads against the wall because they can’t cope with the idea that this movement exists and it is something real (get out of the tupperware effect)”. 

 

So, we are totally OK if you don’t like our game. We are totally cool if you hate pixel art and don’t even want to try the game. We don’t pretend to exercise a homogenized taste. And we deal with negative comments in the best possible ways. But some of the comments here were so ridiculous that we had to do something. So we took the best ones, and we put Monty Python characters in it.

 

Now, before reading the comments, keep in mind that:

A) We didn’t reply to any of these messages. We let the love flow.

B) This is not about taste or aesthetic choices.

C) The game is not available yet, so none of these people played the game. They only watched our (year old) trailer.

 

That being said, here are the comments’ highlights!

chiste_1

 

Chiste_2

Venture_COL_ScreenShot3

For the young ones, this is a screenshot of a colecovision game. As you can see the comparison is absurd. I don’t use so much magenta. Nor black.

 

chiste_3

 

chiste_4

 

 

chiste_5

 

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Okhlos won best gameplay at Brazil Independent Games Festival

July 03, 2015 – Sao Paulo, Brazil– Coffee Powered Machine is thrilled to announce that its game, Okhlos, was chosen from among 700 hundred competitors from all over the world as the winner of the Best Gameplay Award, at the Brazil Independent Games Festival.

 

Brazil Independent Games Festival (BIG Festival) is the largest one of its kind in Latin America and the third largest in the world, with almost 700 hundred submissions this year from countries from all around the world. Of the games submitted, 50 were chosen to be showcased at the festival. Last night, during a ceremony in Sao Paulo, 9 awards were presented, and out of the 5 finalists in the Best Gameplay Category, Okhlos arose as the winner.

 

The festival’s official site, which should be updated with the winner’s list soon: http://www.bigfestival.com.br/

 

2015-07-03 11.33.18

Melhor means Best in Portuguese!

Earlier this year Okhlos was chosen to be part of the Leftfield Collection and showcased at the EGX Rezzed in London, so this would be the second time the game receives an international honor.

We promise to do a more comprehensive post about this, and our experience in Saõ Paulo in the future, but right now, we wanted to share this awesome news with you guys!

 

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Brazil, here we go!

As some of you may have heard, this week  in  São Paulo, Brazil, the largest indie gaming event of all of South America is taking place:  Brazil Independent Games Festival. This is exciting news for any indie game developer in the region, but we are particularly excited because out of more than almost 700 entries, Okhlos was selected as one of the finalist, and is running for the Best Gameplay category!

 

a1

 

In this category, we are competing against these fine videogames:

 

A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build by Alan Hazelden & Benjamin Davis

 

Klang by Tinimations

 

Big Action Mega Fight! by Double Stallion Games

 

Circa Infinity by Kenny Sun

 

Most of the games haven’t been released yet (just like Okhlos) so we haven’t had the chance to play them yet. We are looking forward to give them a go at the festival. However, based on the trailers alone, you can already say it will be a very tight match!

Once again, thanks to the people of Big Festival for choosing Okhlos as a finalist! Wish us luck!

Brazil, here we go!

 

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Dragon ball Pixel Art tribute, Okhlos style

Hey there! It’s been a while since we did one of these posts! Last time, we did a tribute for the always amazing Discworld series, remembering the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett. Now, it’s time for a Dragon Ball tribute.

Most of us grew up with the show or manga alongside. We enjoyed a lot the wonderful adventure vibe of the first series, and the everlasting, sometimes boring, fights when they run out of scripts. With this humble tribute, I tried to capture the essence of the first part of the manga. That sense of awe and wonder, filled with mysteries and charismatic characters.

Here are two graphics, one in chronological order, and the other grouped by characters variations.

_08FinalAlt

Remember to click to enlarge them!

_08Final

 

So, this is it for this week! We have some great news that we will share with you soon, so stay tuned!

With love, @roketronz

 

 

PS: I’ve been spamming them all week in smaller chunks via Twitter/Facebook. The original sets are these:

_01

_02

_03

_04

_05Torneo

_06

_07

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A Matter of Morale!

Hey gang! How’re you fine folks doing today?

Welcome back to the fantastic, bleeding-edge, always on-time Okhlos dev-blog!
This week we want to talk about two little things: the Mob Mentality Meter and the Morale stat. They’re two elements of the game that you might’ve noticed by this point but that we’ve never really talked about or explained. We’re going to fix that today and tell you a little bit about how we’ve pared them down and combined them to make the game even better!

The Mob Mentality Meter!

You’ve definitely seen this one if you’ve been looking at our screenshots, watching the videos, or tuning in to the Let’s Plays! Also known as the ‘Mob Meter’ or the ‘Mood Meter’, the Mob Mentality Meter is the little bar at the top of the screen that denotes how much energy and furor your mob has:

coolparty

It was a cool pool party for the Cool Mobs at my school!

 

Depending on how many units you pick up, how many enemies you kill, and how much property you destroy, the meter will go up and down throughout play. The game starts you out at ‘Cool Mob’; from there the more chaotic and unruly and big the mob gets, the more the bar fills up, passing through Reckless Mob, Frenetic Mob!, and finally MEGA CHAOTIC MOB!

Originally the idea was that each of these stages would award you a small damage bonus and these would start adding up to make an important difference in the game. We haven’t gotten around to implementing that yet and the idea is still on the table – we’re unsure if it’ll make it in at all – but we do have a very tangible reward in the game for making it all the way MEGA CHAOTIC! :
You get to demolish and tear down buildings and just raze everything to the ground!

destruccion

We may have sunk a few hundred hours into Rampage as children. Can you tell?

Nothing is really quite as satisfying as that, don’t you think?

However – not everything is fun and games and destroying houses! You’ve also got to be careful your mob doesn’t get bored! A mob that hasn’t smashed anything in a while or found new recruits is likely to become a Depressing Mob, and as we all know – depressing mobs are no fun! No one wants to be part of a depressing mob. Units will slowly start leaving your mob if you’ve become Depressing, so you better find something to smash or a new recruit to liven up the place – and you better to do it quick!

 

depressingmob

Sure, misery loves company, but misery also likes going back home to curl up on the couch and binge on Netflix.

 

The Morale Stat
Now, unless you’ve been paying reaaalllllly close attention, you probably don’t know about this one. It’s one of the more obscure and hidden-away stats in the game, and compared to Attack, Defense, and HP, it’s harder to puzzle out what it does for your units.

Morale is the stat that determines how likely your unit is to abandon the mob when things get tough. When a big hulking enemy puts its foot down and tries to intimidate you, Morale is what determines whether a unit flees in terror or sticks it out to fight for you. When you’ve run off to the other side of the map and a unit has lagged behind, Morale determines whether it runs after you to catch up or whether it shrugs its shoulders and finds something easier to do.

(We also have a few hazards that deal with and affect morale… but we’re not quite ready to talk about those yet. Stay tuned in to our devblog for this juicy secret! ;p)

moraleStat

 

The Problem

So, nifty little systems you might say, right?

Right!

However, something was bugging us the other day. We were watching Sparrow’s excellent Let’s Play! of Okhlos’ Sparta level when we noticed something that made us rethink how these two mechanics work and interact together.

Let us explain:

It’s purposefully difficult to raise your Mob Mentality in Sparta – definitely harder than it is in Delphi. That’s part of the challenge of the stage, and Sparrow was struggling with it for a bit. His mob was getting depressed and he struggled to keep the meter up at ‘Cool Mob’.

Searching for a way to keep his people happy and motivated he came across ‘Parmendies’ in the game’s shop – a philosopher unit that raises your Morale by 25%. He made the obvious association: ‘Morale is what raises your Mob Mentality!’

We immediately slapped our foreheads.
1275389857_naked-gun-facepalm

Seeing it play out in front of us, that association makes complete sense! Morale is the word one would use to talk about one’s confidence and zeal in the face of hardship and opposition. If there were a stat that raised the Mob Mentality Meter it should totally be called Morale.

But there isn’t. And it’s not.

So Sparrow paid the hefty price for Parmenides thinking his Mob Mentality would boost up and he would be rid of his pesky problem, and then, well… nothing changed.

This was our fault. Our handy-dandy list will illustrate why:

  • The word ‘morale’ is confusing.
  • The stat isn’t intuitive to understand.
  • It’s used very little.

So, burdened by this great dilemma, we huddled together, talked it over, and put our brains to work on a solution.

The Solution!

Well, it was pretty easy actually. We figured Sparrow was actually kinda right. The Morale stat should totally boost the Mob Mentality Meter.

So now it does.

This not only gets rid of the meddlesome confusion and makes the game more intuitive, but it also adds functionality to a stat that wasn’t really seeing much use. That’s great! With a very simple change we actually improved the game on several fronts and reinforced our game mechanics by consolidating them!
Hurrah! Who ever said this game development thing was hard! 😀
(Just kidding – this stuff is terrifyingly hard and difficult and oh god there’s so much math and nothing is ever really done and we have to test and test and test and it takes ages and aaaaaaaaaah someone please save us! D:)

 

Well, this was our insightful, bleeding-edge, desperate plea for help this week! I hope you’ll join us next week for a bit more fun and misery! Meanwhile, check us out on Facebook and twitter, your likes and follows help us a lot! And please throw @pfque_ , our resident writer, editor, and translator some peanuts for penning this beautiful blog post while we were busy making games! (And not binge watching E3 pressers~ ;D)

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Apollinarian Problems

Hey there!

Another week where we’ve been tirelessly working on Okhlos. We are preparing a few juicy updates about all the new things we are doing, but in the meantime, to avoid radio silence, so we thought that it would be cool to create another diorama to spread the word.

If you like Okhlos dioramas, you can go here! (I’m thinking of making a new page just for these)

Anyway, here it is! Enjoy!

 

See you next week!

Roque

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You sure dont look invincible to me!

Hey gang! How’s your week been?

Ours has been really busy! We’ve been concentrating hard on how best to display information to the player within the game.

As you might or might not have noticed, we don’t really like to pat ourselves on the back here at Coffee Powered Machine, or give ourselves too many compliments. We really try to avoid it.

…But having said that, at the risk of sounding a bit pretentious, we have to admit something:  we are trying to make something pretty new and unique here. Nobody has made a game quite like Okhlos before. Even though you may gather up a lot of people like in Katamari Damacy, or you may control a lot of units like in Pikmin, the similarities end there. Our game is fundamentally different.

As such, we don’t have a lot of examples to follow or existing parameters to use as guides. This has made Okhlos hard to develop. Very hard, actually.

Every new step we take is a step we have to test, gather feedback on, and see how well people understand it.

It’s very much the same process when it comes to displaying info in the game.  It’s easy enough to show a ‘nerf’ status ailment on a character or even a few characters – but it’s very hard to display it over 50+ units without it looking horrible. Sometimes we try to display information as a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game would and that’s hardly ideal. Okhlos isn’t an RTS game, it’s pacing is fast and dynamic where an RTS’ is methodic and plodding.  It’s almost the complete opposite. So we’ve learned to handle each piece of info on a case by case basis, always looking out and checking for a few things.

For example:

  1. It has to be a visible effect – you gotta be able to see it. Can you see it?
  2. You need to know when the info or the effect is still relevant and active and when it’s not.
  3. It can’t block or cover too much of the screen – you need to see where you’re going.
  4. It can’t be a dominant color, that’s too strong.
  5. Etc., etc., etc.
  6. And so on and so forth…

There are a lot of “rules” that have started to emerge from the systems we’ve created and the ways in which they interact. They’ve become our own little mythological monsters and we’ve got to wrestle and defeat them just as the mob would. (Mob pride!)

Take the following for example:

Aegis Shield

The Aegis Shield is an item that gives your mob invulnerability for a certain period of time. (Don’t ask me how long. I honestly don’t know. I’m the artist, the creative visionary over here. Ask Sebastian. He’s the numbers guy.) While the item’s taking effect we somehow have to display invincibility and let the player know intuitively that the item is working. We have to use a color, a graphic effect, or something of the sort, and we also have to show when the item is beginning to wear off.

When we first created the time, Sebastian quickly did some placeholder art and that tided us over for a while, but when I later had to take on the task myself, the first design turned out something like this:

AegisShield

And here is what it looked like when the effect was wearing off:

AegisFinal

As you can see, the effect is very obnoxious and covers up most of your mob, making the units hard to see. It’s definitely less than ideal. The symbols we used weren’t great either. They’re a shield and two plus signs, which aren’t very legible or easy to interpret. They got in the way and just bog things down.

So, in the end, we decided to take look at the classics and actually ended up using the effect Sebastian had originally come up with as a place holder. It just goes to show. You never know just what ideas will stick in development.

This is what it looks like:

shieldNew

 

This is how it looks when it wears off:

shieldNewFinal

The effect I designed was a little clearer about when it was wearing off, but for the most part, Sebastian’s design simply feels better. The one big drawback is… well, that we’re half-tempted to add a ~certain~ little tune to complete the retro vibe and just make it stellar! (Wink wink, nudge nudge, know what I mean? Say no more.)

(Yes, I’m afraid we might just have a very juvenile sense of humor here at Coffee Powered Machine!)

Sebastian was kind enough to make a color editor for me, so I could change around the colors of the invincibility effect without having to venture into the dark depths of hexcode:

ColorDrop

What do you guys think of the effect? Too retro? We’re still pondering it over and are very open to suggestions. Let us know what you think!

And as a last note before we go, a little word of caution – NEVER dismiss a programmer’s placeholder art until you’re ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE you’ve made something better. They might know something you don’t. (As much as one might hate to admit it.)

Catch you guys around next time! Like us on Twitter! Follow us on Facebook! We might not know how to use all this new-fangled social media, but we need your good old-fashioned love!

 

This post was written, poorly and misshapen, by @roketronz, and soundly beaten into shape by @pfque_ .

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