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The Return of the Changelog – EGX Rezzed Version

It’s that jolly season once again. That magical time, when families gather merrily around the repository  and share amazing tales of commits of old. Yes, it is changelog season again.

If you remember our last changelog we had left off at  Version 0.4.0. There have been four versions since then, leading to version 0.4.4., the version we sent to the EGX Rezzed, but we are going to sum them all up here for dramatic reasons.

The biggest addition in these versions was probably Atlantis, something  you may have guessed from the last series of posts and we won’t repeat here. However, a lot of other things found their way into the game while Atlantis was resurging from the depths, and here they are. Without further ado, we present you the changes from versions 0.4.1 up to 0.4.4. :

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Hero Cages

Once in a while, while you are travelling through the monster-infested streets of Delphi, Ephesos or Athens you may run into a cage made of reinforced bronze. What is inside the cage? A random hero eager to join the mob if you destroy the cage! What are you waiting for? Free Adromeda and let her wreck havoc with the rest of the gang! Let Galen loose and wait for the healing to begin! The power is in your hands!

More Units

Roque has put his mad pixel art skillz to use and now he have new female defenders, warriors and philosophers!

Color Tint

Back in the old days, units in the mob would change their color like chameleons. Then they didn’t. And now they do again. We use the color tints basically for feedback. When a unit is attacked it is painted red for a couple of frames. If it gets infected with the plague (Plague? Which plague? Well, keep reading below and you will find out). And if they leave the mob, they get greyed. It’s an instant feedback and very hard to miss. For the win.

Lifebars

Units have always had a certain amount of hit points. Bad guys would hit them and they would lose hit points until eventually they would die. So they have always had a health stat that could be represented with the ubiquitous health bar. However, we never liked the idea of having to micromanage each unit, so that is why we chose not to show the life bars. You shouldn’t worry that much about individual units, you should care about the mob as a whole. Also, having a health bar per unit would mean that there would be a zillion health bars onscreen, making everything very cluttered. And it was this way until quite recently, when Roque had the idea of showing lifebars of the units but only when their health is below a certain threshold. What this does is give you a very quick feedback of the current health status of the units in the mob. And how cluttered the UI becomes, corresponds to how worried you should be about them. If you see only a life bar or two, they won’t bother you too much, and you wouldn’t have to worry too much either. But if the screens starts getting filled with lifebars, then you are in trouble and should start looking for some healing pronto.

Slow Motion Effect

Because Okhlos is so next gen. Or so 1999. I am not sure. But the certain thing is that now when the leader dies, it will trigger a cinematic slow motion effect that will let you locate the new leader more easily in the middle of the mayhem (and if a leader died, chances are there was lots of mayhem going around).

The Plague

We’got a new hazard, the plague, which damages units and spreads throughout the mob if the units are too close to each other (much like you would be expect from a plague). If we are to be accurate, the plague is not technically a hazard, it is more like a new status for the units, the plagued status, that can be triggered by some hazards (plague infested chunks of meat spread throughout the map, for instance) but also by the attacks of some enemies. The idea of the plague came up while we were testing some changes in the core mechanics, and it eventually grew until becoming a full fledged feature as it is now.

Pathfinding System for the Enemies

– Is there a house between you and I? - said the cyclops - That will no longer stop me from clobbering you. I now have the ability to go around it!

The Phantom Mob

We have a new item! We have been calling it the Phantom Mob item so far, although it has absolutely nothing to do with the Phantom Menace (we solemnly swear that there won’t be any Jars Jars. Well, we swear there most likely won’t be any Jar Jars. Disney has been making very tempting offers…). Back to the item. What it does is create a squad of phantom units that join the mob temporarily. You use it and … BAM! You now have a bunch of spectral guys ready to kick ass for you. At least for while, until they return to the aether from where they came from.

 Lots of new Voice Effects

Yup. You can now listen to the mob roar, cheer, scream and yelp as they go around doing mob things. Gordon made a bunch of them and he keeps on making even more so get ready to listen to the sound of the mob in all its glory!

 And the rest of the changes that do not deserve a separate paragraph (mostly because if they did, this post would end up way too long, much like this title)

  • Units now jump a little when they join the mob (it would seem they are very enthusiastic about the prospect of an becoming part of an angry mob).
  • More juicy on prop and building destruction.
  • Tutorial stage completely revamped.
  • The way to stop Apolo’s special attack has changed (much more intuitive now).
  • The mob now has an onscreen stats showing the accumulated attack power, defense, speed and HP of all the units.
  • Hero presentation FXs.
  • New minimap graphics.
  • The camera now gives you a little more room in the distance in which you move the mob.
  • Enemies now hate props a bit more.
  • The mob no longer has an onscreen stats showing the accumulated attack power, defense, speed and HP of all the units.Artemis has a new special attack.

In addition to this, as always, there was a fair chunk of bug fixes, tweaks and minor additions that we won’t even mention, plus a couple of big changes that deserve a separate update so stay tuned for them!

 

Finally,  do you remember that Okhlos was going to be showcased at the EGX Rezzed, as part of the Leftfield Collection? Well, that is happening right now! So, what are you waiting for? Go, go, go!

EGX Rezzed banner

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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

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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

 

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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

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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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Okhlos Goes to London (Simbolically, we are poor)

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We are thrilled, exhilarated and ecstatic to announce that Okhlos has been selected to be part of the Leftfield Collection 2015, and as such will be at the EGX Rezzed event in London, next month. One of the biggest events in Europe! Handpicked to part of a prestigious collection! Wow! It’s such an honor not only to be part of the collection, but also to do it among such amazing games as the ones chosen this year. You can see the full list here and check for yourself how awesome the games are looking!

As for our part, we are working right now on a exclusive new version that will be playable at the event. It will have tons of new content and we will try to have as polished as possible. We are adding new enemies, new hazards, new hud and even new mechanics we have trying out. We aim to have to best version so far, in order to give everyone at the EGX the chance to experience Okhlos at its best.

So remember, if you are in London from March 12 to 14, go and play Okhlos at the Leftfield Collection!

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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).

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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!

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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