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The many versions of Hephaestus


Hi there and welcome back to the best blog ever*!

Among the many things we have working on these last weeks, we made a full review of all the boss battles in Okhlos. We playtested them, took notes and then discussed what was working about them, what wasn’t and what we could do to improve them. It’s a lengthy process but a rewarding one. So we want to show you how we do this. And as a example, we chose to tell you about all the changes that one of those bosses has undergone: Hephaestus.

Remember him? We introduced him back in one of our very first posts about the game, where we showed you the main antagonist in Okhlos, the hateful twelve Olympian gods. Hephaestus is Hera’s son, Aphrodite’s husband, and the god of blacksmiths, artisans, craftsmen, fire and volcanoes. He made all the cool weapons and gadgets the other gods and some heroes would wield, and he even made living machines, like the bronze giant Talos. All in all, a impressive chap. But back to the game.

Hephaestus Version 1.0

By the time of that post about the Olympian gods, we had already sketched out how Hephaestus was going to look and what he was going to do. It was very simple. He would have an area melee attack, which was smashing everyone around him with his hammer, also a ranged attack, throwing a lava boulder, and finally he would summon automatons, because he made them and lots of them lying around.

Ye Olde Hephaestus

Ye Olde Hephaestus

But things couldn’t be so simple. After implementing a first version a playing a bit we found out that the battle against Hephaestus wasn’t as fun as it could be. One problem was that the combat ended up being too static. Asides from the melee attack, which you could block, there was really no reason to move the mob. The best strategy was to swarm the god and keep pounding on him, ignoring any of the enemies he summoned and never getting far enough for him to use his ranged attack. Not that much fun indeed. Hence, a new version of Hephaestus was born.

Hephaestus Version 2.0

So we had a boss battle that was too static, and a god with two thirds of his attacks rendered useless by the most simple of the player’s tactics. What’s the first thing to try if a battle against a boss is to static? Making him move! Right? Hephaestus already did move around the level, slowly, but he moved. So, make him faster? For one part that didn’t fit the theme, Hephaestus was supposed to be a crippled god, strong but not particularly nimble or agile. We even made him with a cane! But asides from that, if we made him faster the player would simply spend more time running around him, which was not particularly fun either.


Concept vs final Pixel Art

The solution we came up then was to set up a safe zone inside his arena, where he would go to summon his automatons. The area would be outside the mob’s reach so he could spend all the time he wanted invoking minion or preparing devastating ranged attacks. A classic villainous move! Leave the battlefield for a while, let your underlings entertain the heroes and then came back for a new round of evilness. Perfect!

Or not. Even though this solution did work, and fixed the main issue while Hephaestus was in his safe area, the rest of the combat still felt pretty much the same. It now had a nice change of pace when Hephaestus went away to summon minions, but we set out to improve it even further. A new version was on the way.

Hephaestus Version 3.0

Around the time we were working on that version of Hephaestus as I was playing Titan Souls, an amazing game, as are all game published by the wonderful folks of Devolver Digital (blatant cross promotion – blatant cross promotion – blatant cross promotion). One of the bosses in Titan Souls is Vinethesis, plant-like creature that sits at the center of the level and spins around its spiked vines around. This boss seemed to have a problem similar to the one we faced with Hephaestus. The optimal way to beat him was to stand still and way for the right moment to shoot. However, the devs had came up with a way to make the player move. Vinethesis summons a cloud of poisonous spores that follows the player, and kills him if he stands still inside it.

The battle against Vinethesis in Titan Souls

The battle against Vinethesis in Titan Souls

It was a great idea! So let’s rip it off I said … err… I mean, let’s pay homage to the great game by implementing this great solution to our problem instead of resorting to other boss fight’s tropes. And so we did. We made a cloud of flames and smoke that slowly moves toward the mob, damaging any person (or animals) that comes in contact with it. If the mob spends too much time swarming around Hephaestus, the cloud will move over him, providing him with the cover he needs to bring some minions or use his ranged attack. Sweet!

And so everything was fine and we retired to an isolated Caribbean beach where we spent the rest of our days sipping cocktails and playing cards with an old fellow named Chachingo, right? Nope, we kept on playtesting Hephaestus battle and came up with a couple of things to improve. A new version was on the way.

Hephaestus Version 4.0

You remember that Hephaestus had a ranged attack, right? Throwing lava boulders at the mob? Well, up until now, Hephaestus wasn’t really able to use it that much, so that attack never got the chance to shine. Once Hephaestus started using it we realized that the attack had some issues of its own. No shining for you.

First there was the problem of where to get those lava boulders. When we planned it we thought that since he was in a volcano level, he could just grab it from anywhere, but digging up some lava from the spot he was standing didn’t really look very well. Neither was a good idea going all the way to lava rivers at the edge of the scenario each time he wanted to make ranged attack. After a few tests we decided to go in a different direction: Hephaestus wouldn’t dig up chunks of lava to throw any more, he would now invoke a meteor shower to rain upon the unsuspecting mob. Same as effective, twice as shiny and godly.

Captura de pantalla 2016-01-20 14.38.50

The other thing we changed in this version was how and when the smoke cloud appeared. At first it was almost an autonomous entity that was there in the level, it spawned when the battle began and stayed there until you defeated Hephaestus. What we did now was integrating into Hephaestus attacks. The cloud has finite lifespan but Hephaestus can summon another one whenever he needs it. Not a huge change but something that makes things more interesting.

And, unless I am forgetting something else (which is entirely possible), those were all the changes that Hephaestus has been through until today.


Is this the end of the story? Probably no. We’ve just started the closed beta and started getting feedback from players so we will probably do a fifth version, perhaps even a sixth version! But we wanted to show you a little about the iterative process of designing the bosses in Okhlos. They have always been one of the biggest challenges in the development of the game so we want to make them as best as possible.

Until next time!


*about the development of a ancient-Greek-mob game

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Generation Logo!

A new year started. We can now talk about Okhlos’ development in terms of years. Many things happened throughout the first year of development, good and bad. While it usually is a good idea to recap the year we found it too cliche, so we did something else and took the time between last update and this to rest.

The result was this update about a topic I usually hate: logos.

Nowadays, designing a logo seems to be about following a series of strict steps. A lot of logos are very similar to each other. Looking at a small sample of logos, we can see the following characteristics.

Some excellent designs came out from following these guidelines. Even Gravity Fleet didn’t escape from them (although that doesn’t make it a good example). But there have also been lots of logos that are very formulaic.

Many of you know my background. I am an illustrator, not a graphic designer, so I have enough of an aesthetic sense to realize when something is wrong but it would be hard for me to find a way to fix it. So I end up fixing it by trial and error, which is both costly and tiring.

We have a mini-rule for a lot of our deicisions regarding Okhlos: doing the opposite of what we did with Gravity Fleet. Taking that into account, I decided to not priorize readability above everything else and focused on making the logo in a pixel art style that went along with the game’s aesthetic, at the same time making it a nice image by itself. I didn’t follow guidelines for design, readability, color contrast nor anything like that, simply an image that says “Okhlos” and that the splash suggested the game’s context.

I started the most obvious way, by making stone letters.

This is the first draft. Perspective, stones with some cracks and the design inside the letters that have a little Greek touch. The romboid-shaped “O” were something that I ended up taking from my research on different fonts.

These are some of the fonts that I researched. From this list I took various characteristics that suggested Greece.

Found the characteristics, I started scribbling different ideas about a more polished logo. With ornaments, styles and other embellishments.

The problem with these approaches was that the letters , although they were made out of stone, didn’t have much weight. Somethign was missing.

I decided to made the letters in 3D, change the font and play around with the camera to make it look like something stupidly huge seen from ground level.

This brought me to this next version, which let me start the pixelation and gave me a clearer vision of what I was working to acomplish.

To make the 3D I ran into a series of problems. Mi idea was to take my strokes from Illustrator to Max and work them there. They were horrible hours of trial and error, checking what could be imported into Max, because almost everything that I exported from Illustrator was rejected by Max. Finally I found a way to save an .ai as a Legacy (Version 8 ) and that solved my problems using Max to extrude the shapes from Illustrator. After that, it was all camera effects.

This is how it looked on Max. The image above shows the first part of the work where I start drawing over the letters, separate them and correct some imperfection, etc.

Once I have this as a base, I started pixelating this but at double the resolution I should, making me waste some hours. Finally, I ended up with the 3 options that I show next. Although none of them are finale, they are close to what we believe could be a good logo/splash for Okhlos, always taking into account the idea that we want it to work more as an image than as a logo.

 I got inspired a bit on Norman Rockwell for the one with the red background, but both Sebastián and Cristian (Panchín, a designer friend that was giving me some tips about the logos) insisted that it suggested Japan way too much. I think it’s one of my favorites, from a completely aesthetic point of view.

This one, after a lot of failed tries that I haven’t posted (from all the stages of design, there are a lot that I think should not be seen by humankind), is the one that had that illustration component that I was looking for. I cleaned up the rocks quite a bit, take off the lines (that in this case makes it more readable) and added a few city things in the background.

Although I think that unfortunately we can’t close the chapter on logos, we are closer to what we are looking for.

Any feedback is welcome! And yes, the name from the update it’s inspired by this song.

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Top 6 bugs of the year (that are kinda funny)

As the end of the year gets near, you know it’s a tradition to start making lists, lots and lots of lists. For some, it’s a way to look back into the year that’s about to end and see what has been accomplished. For others, it is a way to look back at the things they’ve missed and swear that next year will be the year. For others, it’s another chance to remember the good moments that passed, the joys that the year brought. And for others, it is a way to not having to think in a proper update. Of course, this is not our case.

These are bugs that (while they may have been annoying, difficult, easy or anything in between to fix) brought at least a smile to our faces when we saw them, made us look at the rest of the team and go “Hey! Look over here! This damn thing is broken again!”

So first we start with numero seis.

6. This is thriller, thriller mob

Once we found out that the mob would turn to face the wrong side while moving or not turn at all, as we can see here in an extreme case. At the time we had more pressing issues, so fixing this bug was a bit low in the queue and we ended up having a moonwalking mob with us. And someone would always start whistling Thriller while playtesting. That was the worst part, I think.

5. Oedipus summons an otherworldly horror

The horror! THE HORROR! It seems that time travel, cloning people, being the father of your brothers and sister… these kind of things aren’t without consequences for your sanity… and Oedipus knows this very well. At some point, he tried to escape this torment by splicing DNA from the people he cloned to create a vessel for a Great Old One to inhabit so it would wreck havoc on ancient Greece. Or maybe he just created copies of animated sprites that got stuck together at 0,0,0. I still think Oedipus is not to be trusted, but the guys will still use him in the game. Iä! Iä! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

4. Oedipus has gone too far…

This is a last minute addition to this list! It happened this morning, and both Sebastian and I agreed that it deserved this spot.  We were working on being able to replay a level with the same mob when we realized that crossing your own time line leads to unfortunate situations like that one. And Oedipus hadn’t said anything to us. Yet another reason not to trust him.

3. Apollo uses his Rapid Shot Feat

Ouch, that looks like it hurts. A lot. Poor philosopher. Now imagine you are testing, battling Apollo with your mob. Then you pause it for a moment to check some variables and stuff, to check if everything is behaving as expected. Then you go back to the game to move on to the next critical moment aaaaand… this welcomes you. A bunch of arrows shot rapidly by the god Apollo. It’s not fair, is it? Also, notice how they are arrows and not cats? Damn Roque.

2.Perseus goes Garry’s Mod all over Delphi. Or just slithers around. One of those.

Many are Perseus’ exploits, as we all know, but it seems griffons have a funny effect on him. When brave Perseus was attacked by one of the majestic beasts and later rescued by the rest of the mob, he never recovered from the experience. But he gained the ability to phase through buildings and stuff, so there’s that.

1. Hallelujah, it’s raining philosophers!

And this is the top of the list! The best one! The philosophers rain! Why the background is dark grey, you ask? Because this happened among a complicated series of things breaking one after the other, including the level not loading and the action phase getting stuck in “spawn player”. But seriously, I think this picture speaks by itself. So behold the best bug of the year!

And that’s it. There were more bugs, of course, but those were more of the “AAARGH!!!” kind and not memorable at all. I hope this list has made your life 780% percent better (±780).  Enjoy the upcoming holiday, celebrate responsibly and don’t aggravate Santa by throwing rocks at the reindeer.

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Fountains and Events

Another week goes by, another update. This week’s update will be divided into two parts. The first one and the second one.



As I was telling you last week, we have changed Okhlos’ level design paradigm. I am now making chunks, that hold information about how many enemies the chunk will hold, the hazards and the little houses. Making these chunks has become a completely pleasant activity (at least for now). It’s like building dioramas. The bad thing is that it takes time (just like with dioramas).

Click to enlarge

Basically,  between drawing sprites, modeling and making little roads that are consistent within the chunks, I created a new hobby for my self. All I need now is a display that keeps the prefab spinning all day and to put it in a showcase (years of painting miniatures).


Anyway, this lead me to touching up the fountains.  The fountains had been hastily made, with the idea that I would eventually have to touch it up. Besides, putting the fountains alone made them look odd, so I had model some benches taking into consideration the fact that fountains were a meeting spot in ancient times.


First I start with the model.


I take the mesh to Unity. As with all the other textures, I use point as the filter mode, so as to give it the pixel-art-look.

(These are the typical settings we use on the textures so that they can be shown in all their pixel splendor )


Then, I add the animated sprites with 2DTollkit.


Some of you may recognize some of the characters in these fountains. It’s purely coincidental.


The gif’s resolution is not the best but you can see the animation very clearly. Also, some of the gifs are at double speed. Definitely there is some room for improvement on my gif capturing skills.



This week, so as not to lose the habit, we were showing Okhlos at a little event in Argentina. There were very few attendants, but the people who had the chance to test the game were delighted with the mechanics. How the mob moves and destroys everything in its way was something everyone pretty much enjoyed. Based on what Schell says about games having to start as toys, I think we are off to good start. Moving around in the game is fun in itself, without taking into account any of other extra mechanics. While we were there we had the chance to see that some people didn’t quite understand the tutorial, so, besides promoting the game a little bit, which is always welcomed, we managed to use this event as a mini playtesting session.


The second event we “attended” was MicAtlantica. We weren’t technically there, but Okhlos was, to the rejoice of everyone attending the event. MicAtlantica is taking place in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


You can see a list of all the games in the event here. We are delighted to be able to be part of it, even if we are not there physically. Just being one of the ambassadors of the Argentinean’s game industry is quite a merit in itself. So if you are in Spain, go play it and tell us what you think!

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