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Put some verbs in your game!

Hey gang!

It’s been a while since we last talked! (Actually… we kinda talked last week.)

Last weekend we had the great honor of showing off Okhlos’ at the EGX Rezzed event in London! Well, actually, we weren’t there personally, but the game was! It was an amazing opportunity for Okhlos and we want to give a big thanks to Dan Da Rocha, Cissy, and Dom for taking care of our little game during its trip to England and for helping us make this happen! It almost felt like we were there ourselves!

We also wanted to thank our Swedish friends at Glitchnap (who were at EGX Rezzed showing off their own game, Sentree) for offering to babysit Okhlos and keep an eye on it. Even though we didn’t up needing their help thanks to Dan, Cissy, and Dom, the gesture itself and the willingness to help meant a lot to us! You guys are amazing!

And one last round of thanks to the EGX Rezzed Leftfield Collection staff for selecting Okhlos and inviting us to show our game at their event! We were very proud to present there and to be surrounded by so many other great games! If you happened to see the game there, please let us know! We’d love to hear your impressions.

Well, our British adventure and all those thanks aside, at the end of the day this is still a Devblog [citation needed] and we have to spend at least a little time talking about the nitty-gritty – the hard and dirty business of game developing. This week we talk about verbs. In particular, all the great new ones we’ve introduce into our game!

(To tell the truth, these verbs have been in the game for quite a while now, but Sebastián made me realize that we’d never actually talked about them here!)

The idea of adding more verbs actually came from Daniel Benmergui. He was trying out our game and playtesting it yet again (poor, poor fella) and he told us that while it was good that we were tweaking and balancing the elements we already had, there still weren’t enough things for the player to do. There weren’t enough verbs!

Daniel began asking us hard questions. What actions should the player be able to perform? Should there be more of them? If so, what should they be? Finding the answers actually took a lot of time and work, but we think we’ve got it right with these new verbs.

Please note that we are  not talking about the current verbs in Okhlos, only the new ones!

Attack!!

This may seem pretty obvious, but there’s actually a catch to this one. We already had an attack action before, but it was linked to moving. When you moved the mob, the mob would automatically attack whatever it ran up against. With this new approach, now the mob can move without attacking and can attack without moving. This creates interesting new scenarios and options that we couldn’t have had before! (Yay for us!)

00_attack

Protect yourself!

The complementary opposite of the previous verb – this verb makes your units block attacks! Defending yourself from an attack makes everyone in the mob all stop at once, which might make them easier targets for a little while, but at least the enemies’ attack will hurt a whole heck of a lot less!

I have to admit, the animations for this one are real cute. :3 You know what wasn’t cute though? Going back through all 100+ units in the game and designing a brand new blocking sprite for each of them! It was torture! D:

01_defend

Disperse!

Disperse! Finally! All the new verbs are cool in their own way, but this one is my favorite. This action makes all the units scatter and spread out. You can use it to escape, to attack several enemies at once (so cool!), and for a couple of other things we’ll explain below:

In previous updates we talked about plagues and poisons. In order to stop them from spreading through your mob and infecting everyone you’ll have to disperse your units until the compromised members heal themselves or die off.

02_disperse

Up until we thought of the disperse action, philosophers were the only units that could recruit more units. Now, however, everyone can! This is actually how the earliest prototypes of Okhlos worked – every unit could recruit more units – but back then it felt a bit too chaotic to us and it seemed that players would have a hard time knowing who they were recruiting. However, we’ve reconsidered our opinion since then and we’ve come to two conclusions:

1. Being able to disperse but still having to grab each unit one-by-one felt pointless and overly complicated.

2. Chaotic is good enough for us!

 

We adapted the negative units to this change in the recruiting mechanic. We’ve nerfed their negative effects now that they’re harder to avoid.

The sense of chaos feels good, it feels right for the game, but we’ll probably have to work a little more on letting the players know what units they’re adding to the mob in the middle of all that mess.

And those are our new verbs! What do you guys think? Please let us know, we’re always happy to hear your feedback!

Thanks again to everyone who helped us with Okhlos’ little trip to London, it was a great formative experience for our growing game!

See you all next time!

This post was written – poorly – by @rokentronz and soundly beaten into proper shape by @pfque_

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50 Shades of Manticore

So we had a couple of days off this week, thanks to Carnival (yes, that’s totally a legitimate and valid reason!) and I took off to spend them in the rural and wilder part of the country. While I was there I started drafting up the first few mini-bosses of the game.

 

We already had the designs for the monsters, but I took on the task of translating them into pixel art, and when you do that they usually change a lot. Drawing and illustrating are very different from creating something through pixel art. They are basically two different languages, and you have to know the strengths and weaknesses of each one if you want to do good work. You also have to realize that things are going to change a lot going from the concept art to the sprite.

I worked on three mini-bosses that will all have very similar mechanics. They are the Manticore, the Sphinx, and the Chimera. Here are the sprites I made for them:

NOTE: Keep in mind, in order to fully enjoy them in all their pixel glory, you should open the images and see them in full size.

The Manticore

updateManticore

As you can see, the body started off looking more like a greyhound’s, so I riffed off of the Nemean Lion to give it more shape and complexion.

The wings were a real pain. I thought I could just use the wings from the Harpy, but I soon realized that the two creatures keep their wings in very different positions when they’re idle and relaxed, so I ended up having to change them a lot. I started with white wings, changed them to black wings, and then somehow ended up with a completely different set of bat-like wings.

(Luckily, I was able to recycle that set of white wings and use it for the Sphinx. Otherwise they would have been a huge waste of time.)

The tail was pretty straight forward, as was the cloth that adorns the Manticore’s body.

As you can see, we took out the horn for the final version, as people would not stop pointing out that it looked phallic. (We are obviously very mature and professional here at CoffeePoweredMachine…) We also changed the face a little and we think it’s a bit more badass now, although maybe it looks a bit like Abraham Lincoln?

 

The Sphinx

 

UpdateSphinx

The Sphinx came together pretty quickly. We had planned from the beginning to use the same body for all three mini-bosses so that we’d only have to make a single running animation for all of them, and as such we just took the body of the Manticore and gave it a palette swap for the Sphinx. We also recycled some of the wings that we had discarded earlier while making the Manticore, so all I really had to work on were the torso, the jewels, and the snake.

The torso was by far the most difficult part here. I had to decide where the torso would emerge from the body, how the arms and shoulders would be angled, and I had to create a lot of other small details that were ignored – or rather, neglected – in the first draft. We used Artemis as a base for the size and proportion of the Sphinx’s torso.

We ended up scrapping the Sphinx’s arms altogether and just made the wings pop out from her shoulders.

I also had to raise the snake-tail a bit more as the wings were covering it up.

Finally, I just threw a lot of jewels on there, because, you know, reasons.

 

The Chimera

UpdateChimera

Similarly to the Sphinx, the Chimera came together pretty quickly, mainly because the body was already done.

I struggled on two points with this creature:

The first was the head. The fire mane is going to take quite some time to animate, and working on fire has always been my kryptonite.

The second thing, as you might be able to tell, was the tail. I wanted to use the same snake as I’d used on the Sphinx, just to save us the time of animating another one, but it looked really boring. My second attempt didn’t come out much better, if you look on the sprite sheet it’s really rather ridiculous – it’s just a regular lion tail with the head of a snake.

In the end I went back and stuck to the original concept, and I ended up with this weird Rockewellian [~obscure art joke] snake-tail.

 

 

Final results

manticoreChimeraSphinx

 

And ta-da! This is how they turned out!

 

 

This post was written in a hurry by @roketronz and then, as always, it was edited and proofread by @pfque_!

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Atlantian Problems Part Quatre, The remnant

We’ve already discussed Atlantis: here, and here, and here! We should stop milking the same old cow, and we promise that this will be the last update about Atlantis for a while (we still haven’t talked about Poseidon, but that’s another subject altogether!). However, there is one thing we have yet to talk about. The Hazards. Those things that sometimes annoy you, sometimes kill you, and other times make something else kill you because you were avoiding the hazards in the first place.

 

The hazards

In the hazards department, Atlantis will have:

Whirlpools

Whirlpools attract nearby units and then, after some swirling, hurl them violently.  We haven’t finished working on this hazard yet, so they might change a lot, because we still have no idea if they are fun or not.

whirlpool

As you can see in the .gif below, we are having some issues with what we like to call z-fighting (boring people calls it Z write order * booooring *). The reason for this is that, as we said in a previous update, the water material is transparent/vertex lit, and the whirlpool material is a custom shader by 2dtk called BlendVertexColor. Evidently, they don’t get along quite well, and when they are moving, they often forget which one is above the other (Oh, you! Silly shaders!).

whirlpool

Anyway, we haven’t solved this yet, but we all trust in Sebastian’s expertise with shaders.

 

Seaweed

The seaweed reduces the units’ speed when they walk through them (which can be soooo annoying).

algasss

We already got a glimpse of this at Delphi, where you had a different kind of difficult terrain hazard – the mud patches – and they proved that they can generate a lot of fun situations!

 

Greek Fire

The legendary Greek Fire was said to burn even on water. We took this, stretched the definition a little bit , and we ended up with a perfect fit for Atlantis. We were then able to put fire hazards literally everywhere in the sunken city and have it completely justified by the setting!

fuegoGriego

One of the little twists that Okhlos’s version of Greek fire has is that even torches are made of it so if destroyed they can transform into a hazard! Touching the fire will, as expected, burn you and your units in a nasty way. So, DON’T touch the big green fire!

 

Well, that’s it for this week, and for Atlantis for a while!  I have no clue what we’ll talk about next week!

 

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Atlantian Problems Part Trois, The Revenge

Hey gang! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

We’ve been super busy here doing a lot of planning for Okhlos and we now have a much clearer road-map for development going forward, including dates and milestones we want to hit. Let’s hope we manage to stick to them!

Our last update – Water in Okhlos – seems to have been pretty popular, and we couldn’t be happier about it. We’d put the update up on Gamasutra as well, apart from up on our website, and it was featured on the front page!

Today, in Atlantean Problems Part Trois, the Revenge we’ll talk about the enemies you’ll encounter in Atlantis. If you’ve missed Part I and II of our ongoing Dev Blog feature on Atlantis, you can catch up on them here and here.

 

The enemies

Being the brilliant and original developers that we are, we decided that our visual theme for Atlantis is – you guessed it – aquatic! The enemies for these levels have thus been redesigned accordingly in order to transmit that watery vibe.

Atlantean Cyclops

atlanteanVsOlympianCyclops

These are the basic melee units for Atlantis. They’re violent and their devastating blows mean a world of hurt for the mob and its leader. (Hint: that’s you!)

We used the original base of the Olympian Cyclops (from earlier on in the game) to design the new Atlantean Cyclops, which made the whole process far easier than it would’ve been otherwise. The club still looks kinda boring though, so we’ll probably end up redesigning that as well.

Atlantean Gigantes

AtlanteanGigantes

These Atlantean giants, while also melee units, will strike with powerful area attacks that will hit the whole mob at once. Gigantes means giant in Greek, and it’s where the word Gigabyte comes from.

Nymphs

nymphsVarias2

The Nymphs are a new unit we designed specifically for Atlantis! As you can see above, they were kinda tricky to design, and we went through quite a few different iterations before we arrived to a version we were truly happy with.

Being forest spirits, Nymphs are usually linked to Aphrodite, and in the game they’ll be making the most of their charm as they run around and convert pedestrians into enemies!

 

NymphCorre_DraftNymphCorre

In the animation above you can see that between our original draft of the Nymph and its final version we’ve added two extra frames. These give a little more air time to her skipping, and make it seem more natural and relaxed.

Mermen

Triton

These Tritons/Mermen shoot water blasts!

As you can see, our first iterations of the mermen were fishier and less humanoid, but the combination of blue and green made it very hard to see them against the background of the stage, so we ditched that design altogether. We haven’t animated the water blasts yet, but they’ll very likely shoot out from the weird staff the Mermen are holding. (And not from their mouths, although the idea is very tempting.)

 

Lamia

Lamnia

Careful – the Lamia will devour pedestrians and will poison units in your mob! You’ll have to be quick about dispersing the mob when that happens, otherwise the poison will spread onto other units and soon the whole mob will be doomed!

Truth be told, we haven’t integrated the Lamia into the game yet, so we don’t really know what to expect from them right now, but between them and the Nymphs, no pedestrian is safe! It might be a good idea to grab them as quick as you possibly can before they’re eaten – or worse – charmed to fight against you!

 

 

So this is it for this week! We hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into the enemies you’ll be encountering in Atlantis. Next week we’ll have Part IV of our Dev Blog feature on Atlantis. It’ll be our last update to focus on this game world, and we’ll be talking about the perils and hazards that inhabit it. We hope to see you then!

As always, this article was proofread and edited by you friendly neighborhood  @pfque_!

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Atlantian Problems part II

 

Happy New Year and welcome back! This is our first update of 2015 and we hope you’ve all had a great start to your year! Here at CoffeePoweredMachine the work never stops, and we’re still chugging away on the Atlantis levels, which we first showed you in our last update.

Back then, when we introduced Atlantis to you, we also talked about its ornaments and it’s foliage, and you guys gave us a lot of great feedback! Thank you very much for all your thoughts, we’re going to keep working hard on those details to make sure it look just right!

Okhlos’ water

The composition of the water in Okhlos is quite simple: it’s a plane.

waterPlane

The water is above the actual ground of the game… duh.

It’s a plane above the actual ground of the level, so the units, buildings, and enemies never interact with it. The ground is the one that posseses all the physics components, so it still handles all the collisions itself. The water is just a mesh child of the ground.

The water has a transpartent/diffuse material, and there isn’t much more to it than that. We don’t reduce the opacity of the texture, we just change it in the materials settings. This gives us much more control, and, since we’re working directly on the final look as we make changes, we can just do it all within Unity instead of having to export out a texture for every tweak we want to make.

matProp

“Agua” in spanish means water :P

As far as water within other objects goes, all the water in streams and containers was made in 2DToolkit, which makes animating it so much easier and gives us far more versatility.

agua

 

As you can see from the picture above, almost all the water streams for the objects are made using sprites. We animate them frame by frame. 2DToolkit has an incredibly useful pipeline for this kind of work. We still need to export the sprites, but we change their sizes, shapes, and orientations very quickly, and we can see the results almost immediately.

barrilbebedero

 

waterFountain2

This fountain has 8 different sprite animations, just to illustrate the versatility of our system.

fuente

The only real problem we had with this approach was that we had to change the material of the water within the objects to differentiate it from the water plane. The water has an Additive Vertex color material, which is why it almost seems to glow.

 

 

The cascading water, as we mentioned before, is a sprite animation, but the ripples are produced using Unity’s particle system.

waterFlow

It’s actually a pretty simple effect, it’s just a looping particle that throws instances every now and then.

Captura de pantalla 2015-01-07 11.07.37

With just a few tweaks we can apply the effect to a character. We just need to change the Emission from Time to Distance, and the simulation space to local.

waterRipplesCharacter

The buildings

The buildings, fortunately, were pretty straight forward to make. We added some moss and a strange glowing pattern that we thought exuded a certain Atlantean look.

buildings

 

We added the obligatory moss, following in a looooong tradition of water levels.

As for the edges of the level, we got rid of those old fashioned mountain bases and we replaced them with water walls that have ancient Atlantean runes! So cool!

water

 

Oops… this update ended up being a little long, didn’t it? We still have at least another update to write about Atlantis, talking about enemies and hazards, but there’s also so many other things we want to talk about! We’re still not quite sure what we’ll focus on for next week, but stay tuned, it’ll definitely be exciting!

See you all next time, and happy new year!

As always, this article was proofread and edited by @pfque_!

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