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Introducing Ephesos [Part 2]

Last week, we started talking about Ephesos, Okhlos’ new world, and we left a few things out. This week, we are gonna solve that.

ENEMIES

We have some new enemies for Ephesos. Mainly the Centaurus and the Forest Giants. Granted, Forest Giant is a silly name, but they are powerful enemies, we promise!

gigante

This is the second Gigante (Giant) we introduce! The first one was the shield bearer. And we still have a few more to show!

The Centaurs, on the other hand, they are a very different enemy.

CentaurA

For starters, Centaurs will search for you, and try to trample you. So, their attacks are continuous and in line.  You’d better try to dodge them, because they will not stop even if they hit a unit.

Another thing that they have, is that they can crash with the buildings, and this hurts them. This was something that came from the early prototypes, and we don’t know if it’s a good fit for the current state of Okhlos (having changed so much since then).

HAZARDS

In the subject of hazards, the new ones in Ephesos are these kind of bear traps. These traps will hurt any unit that walks on top of it.

ArtemisTrap

Also, there is a new variation of the exploding barrel hazard, but they involve only graphical changes.

ARTEMIS

Artemis is Apollo’s sister, so in character design terms, it was pretty easy to develop her.

You can see that she has lots of things reminiscent of Apollo. And we translated some of the yellow elements to green ones, in order to push the nature theme a bit further.

ArtemisApollo

Artemis also has a few special attacks, like filling the stage with traps, and shooting arrows like his brother. It’s very likely that she’ll have a third attack, but we haven’t done it yet.

As for the stage where she is, we are currently using a placeholder, but she’ll definitely have a version of the Temple of Artemis, and a huge open area for the battle. As one of the cool things about her is that she places traps, having terrain covered by buildings, thus not being able to place traps there, can nerf that. As with Ares, this boss is much more enjoyable with an open terrain where you can fight her. Obviously, we can’t just put a blank chunk, we have to decorate it!

ArtemisChunk

Well, that’s pretty much Ephesos. We still have a lot of work to do here, but with all this, you can get a grasp of how it will feel like!

 

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Introducing Ephesos [part 1]

In the huge 0.4.0 version, we added a big feature that we barely mentioned before. That’s Ephesos.

Ephesos is a new world in Okhlos, and the hometown of Artemis. We still need to work a lot in Ephesos, but we could put enough to have a stable version for the IGF.

 

This makes Ephesos our third world! And right now, we are making a few more! We hope to have quite a few more by the end of the year.

 

So, what’s going on with Ephesos?

THE NAME

We decided to start working with Artemis, and we needed a place. We started with Brauron, which was a good fit for Artemis because it held The Sanctuary of Artemis, and also because of the green. We wanted the Artemis’ world to have lots of green. We wanted some kind of city invaded by plants, and Brauron seemed just right. We even started making most of the world’s assets with that name. However, we weren’t 100% convinced that placing the action in Brauron was a good idea, mainly because of the name. It’s not very likely that you’ll associate “Brauron” with something Greek. Brauron seems more like British.

We knew that the name was not perfect, so we kept searching for a better fit. Finally, we found Ephesos, which had everything we wanted.For starters, Ephesos was famed for having The Temple of Artemis. It’s also very green.  Also, it sounds sooo Greek. Anyway, we are extremely happy with the new name. It was a perfect fit, so we gladly went on to change the names of the assets.

Ephesos

Keep in mind that still is a work in progress.

BUILDINGS

So, apart from the stupid amount of trees, Ephesos has simple buildings because it’s a rural area. It doesn’t have too many shops, and there are lots of farms.

Edificio1

Edificio2

Also, we had to put lots of fences, and we started using special transitions. In Delphi and Sparta, the transitions between a level and the next one were almost identical, with just a texture swap. For Ephesos, we started making these new transitions, and it’s very likely that in future  worlds we  will make many more new transitions, and not just  texture swaps.

Also, a new feature in 0.4.0 is that when entering the boss level, the transition will be slightly different, in order to let the player know that he is about to fight a boss.

transicion1 transicion2

FOUNTAINS & ROADS

Another thing we did was adding some grass and foliage to the fountains and statues. That really made them stand out.

fountain

The roads were a pain. Really don’t know why, but it took us some time to get them right (also, we feel that we might be revisiting them in some time).

roads

 

Next week we will continue discussing the new things in Ephesos!

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Road to IGF 2015 [Part IV of V] Effects for the Gods

Hey there!

Just one week to the IGF! And we still have a lot to do!

 

For starters, besides the IGF we have to give a talk at Tecnopolis on Saturday, so that will take some of our time.

Because we have to be there on Friday too, we must have the build almost ready by Thursday. After that day, we decided that we wouldn’t add anything new to the build (so you can imagine how hurried we are).

logo

As I said before, on Saturday 18 we will be giving a talk, so we can’t work on Friday or Saturday. The next Wednesday we will have to  submit it to the IGF, so we have Monday and Tuesday to fix any issues that we may find in Okhlos’ new version.

oradores

All of this is stressing us a lot, but we are glad that it’s almost over!

 

Anyway, as we have so little time, I think it’s a good idea to brag about some new effects we are working on! The game still needs a lot of “Juicy“, so adding fx is a good way to give feedback to the player, letting them have a good idea of what’s happening . We still need to push a little further the audio in that part, but Gordon is working on it.

 

When you have done 3 different gods for Okhlos, you start learning things you will use for the remaining ones:

1.- Be consistent

2.- K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

Following these rules, one thing we decided last week, is that every god will fly. I was finishing Artemis walking loop, when I stumble upon these rules. We already had two flying gods (1), and is much easier to do a flying animation than a walking one (2). So I threw away the ongoing animation, made a new one, added a wind blowing fx below the gods, and voilá! They are flying.

Apollo Flying

There it is! (WIP!)

 

Another thing we changed was the death animation. Ares was the first God I drew, so he had a lot of issues, and I learned a lot since I made him. For Apollo and Artemis I made a much more cool / powerful death animation,  so, following these two simple rules, I changed Ares’ death animation.

aresmuereViejo

This was the old death animation.

 

AresMuerte2

This is the new one.

As you can see, there is a big difference between the animations. The second one is more “epic”.  Also, it’s just a little bit easier to animate. And finally, it’s consistent with the rest of the gods.

 

We learned a lot after working a few gods, and that gave us a better understanding of what we are doing.  The best advice we can give in this matter, is that if you have to make 12 Olympian gods in your game, make 3 or 4 together and that will give you a better idea of what you are up to.

 

Next week, we will be writing the final post of ROAD TO IGF series!

 

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Road to IGF 2015 [Part I of V] The displacement marker

Last year, we wrote about how we almost submitted Okhlos to the IGF. We were about to do it, but we decided to back off because we thought that Okhlos wasn’t in proper shape for something like the IGF.

This year, we are much more confident. Okhlos is far from complete, but in its current state, it has lots of crazy things happening that we think are cool. Also, the visuals are on more solid ground. And that’s without mentioning that the game has changed a lot from those days, when things weren’t procedural, and we didn’t even have a roguelike foundation.

That’s why, this week, we are starting the “ROAD TO IGF” updates. They will all be very brief and straight forward, in order to make the most of our time from now on until the 22nd of October. The final update in this saga will be just two days before the deadline, and that will include a changelog from this version to whatever we have in a month.

Now, for this week:

The Displacement marker

There are certain GUI elements that are crucial in a game. In Okhlos, one of the most important elements is what we call the displacement marker, that little flag that shows you where are you directing your mob.

At first, this was a very difficult concept to explain. People didn’t seem to grasp the idea of moving the mob alongside their character, or using the stick in order to attack.

displacementMarker_Viejo2

Ye olde displacement marker. So long buddy…

So we solved this (at least for now) by changing the graphics according to the context.

mueve

So, if you need to move the mob, your displacement marker will show you where they  will move (approximately). But if you are near an attackable thing, the displacement marker will change. We think this will help tell what’s interactive and what’s not.

ataca

Right now, we drafted some ideas about how it should look, but we aren’t quite sure about which direction should we go. They are very showy, that’s for sure, but when you have 50+ people around, maybe you need showy. We still have to try something more subtle though.

displacement_Contexto

Here, you can see the displacemen marker in context

Also, we prepared an alternative, which is the arrows rotating, and the swords pointing and scaling. Exactly the opposite of the previous one.

Mueve_Alternativo

Here you can see the arrows rotating around the marker.

Ataca_Alternativo

And the swords scaling down

We’ve just arrived at these options, so any comment or feedback about this is super welcome!

Finally, another thing we had to decide is to make the displacement marker a billboard or not. All the units in Okhlos are billboards, which means they always face the camera. Opposed to that, not being billboards means that they will be just stand there, and that they will not rotate according to the camera’s position.

I think, in this case, the best solution is to not use a billboard. This will give the player a better sense of depth, and a better idea of the position of the marker.

comparision

It’s veeery subtle, but it’s there!

 

Anyway, that’s it for this week! We will be working hard in order to have a cool build for the IGF. Wish us luck!

 

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Iterating like a BOSS

I’m a big fan of iteration. I love letting some time pass and then revisiting something. The problem with iterating, is that takes too much time. Sometimes you have to do the same thing two or three times.

In this sense,  ideally you want to do it right the first time. Of course, you can’t plan on doing it right the first time. You can try, but it’s very unlikely that you will have it right at first.

Time is another huge factor. Sometimes, you just want to see your work in game. Seeing things implemented, even when it’s a draft, can help a lot to give you an idea of how it will look and feel in the game. Context is important.

This week, I will show you the difference between the first and second versions of a character. I think that a few of these tips are useful not just in pixel art, but in almost every creative field.

The important part: If you are not extremely happy with your result, do it again!

 

Now, the example:

The last weeks, we’ve been showing you the Shield Bearer, an Ares warrior who takes cover behind a giant shield.

ShieldBearer

This is the original enemy design. If the character is looking forward, the only way to attack him is from behind, and vice versa if he is looking back. He always moves and attacks behind the shield, so you have to sneak from behind. We can start from here.

 

Idle Animation:

shieldBearer_idle1

IDLE – Old Version

 

shieldBearer_idle2

IDLE – New Version

As you can see, the base gesture is not horrible, but it doesn’t suggest action, and the stance is kind of boring because he is just standing there. The new version is much more dynamic. It has the same number of frames, but you can see that he is waiting for action! Also, you can see some shoulder deformation, almost like a hunchback. This was unintentional, but I thought that it added personality, so I left it.

 

Attacking Animation:

shieldBearer_ataca1

ATTACK – Old Version

shieldBearer_ataca2

ATTACK – New Version

The new Attacking Animation preserves the same stance from the new idle animation. This version adds an extra frame, and that gives a little more momentum prior to the attack. Also, I reworked the cape, because the previous one was awful.

 

Running Animation:

shieldBearer_corre1

RUNNING – Old

shieldBearer_corre2

RUNNING – New

This animation also derives from the idle stance.  Like in the other cases, there wasn’t much I could use from the former animation, and I had to redraw a lot.

 

Turn Animation:

shieldBearer_daVuelta1

TURN – Old

shieldBearer_daVuelta2

TURN – New

The turn animation had the same problem as the idle one. It lacked action. Using the idle animation as a base, we could do something much more dynamic. Also, we added a subtle movement in the foots, that helped.

 

Back Animations:

__comparativaAtrasVieja

RUN / ATTACK – Old

__comparativaAtrasNueva

RUN / ATTACK – New

Back animations are a pain. A real pain. They are awful to do. They don’t look good, and that was a perfect excuse to stop doing them for the mob units.

In some enemies, we still have to do it. This was the case of the Shield Bearer. The back animations are as important as the front ones, so we had to add some love to them. Also, with the new animations, it’s much easier to read where he is facing at.

 

Animating these enemies is a completely different task than animating the mob units. I’ve learned a thing or two animating these giants: It really helps drawing some guidelines on top of your character, and not to think so much about reusing every part. You might need to redraw an arm, or the torso for a particular pose, but that will give some life to your animations.

DraftAnimation

 

The little blue cross you see below the character is a small mark I do to know the absolute position the frame must have in the .psd file, since each frame will be automatically exported into .png.

The blue / red thing is to have a better reading of what’s happening. You might need that when you are trying to understand a couple of strokes in a 50px canvas.

 

So that’s pretty much it for this week. It’s a bummer to have to redo some things but, in the end, it’s usually worth it.

 

Also, this week makes the debut of our new comment system with Disqus. Feel free to leave a comment to test it!

 

 

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