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Today’s changes: changelog added

Greetings, everyone!

After countless hours of hard work (we literally don’t keep track of the working hours), we’ve reached an internal goal version: 0.3.2. And, since this is technically a dev blog, we will take the opportunity to start posting a changelog.  What is  a changelong? Basically it is a record of all the changes that took place from version to version, which is useful to show what we have been working on, and it also to help us keep track of the changes in each version. So, for this and future changelogs, it will go like this:

 

WHAT’S NEW in 0.3.2?

-New GUI

Now the GUI is pixel perfect. It is not finished yet, but is looking much cooler!

-Pause screen improved

The pause screen is a very important part of the game. It helps you keep track of your mob’s units, it shows your heroes and the amount of each kind of unit. So we put some more work into it, moving forward with the major overhaul we started in version 0.3.0.

Also, we updated pretty much every other window of the game. The “game over” screen, for example, now shows you some stats, and the config window is almost fully functional.

-Help window (temporary)

Until now we had been sending a few versions of the game, along with an attached .png that briefly explains how to play. In this version, you can access a little window with the basics of the game by pressing the universal F1 (Thanks @danielben for the idea).

-New destroyed buildings, improved fx

Well, that. The previous destroyed buildings where not cool. After some playthroughs with the new ones, we realized these are not perfect either, but with a little more work, they will end up pretty cool! The particle effects we use to show damage have also been highly improved and they are almost final.

-Difficulty!

Okhlos 0.2 was incredible easy. To be fair, we hadn’t focus on difficulty or adjusting numbers until this version, and we only did it very lightly now, but you can feel that Okhlos is much more challenging than before!

-New units!

Now, the Prophetai summon little minions who have melee attacks. The Hosioi are still here but they are an altogether different unit. We also improved the animations of the Gryphons, and we call them MechaGryphons (technically, I call it that way).

-New Heroes!

We added a few more heroes! Heroes are on of the most fun parts of Okhlos so far, and in the upcoming version we will be adding LOTS of them! Also, we’ve adjusted some of their prices, so that it is now harder to buy many of them at one time.

-Units don’t have backs

Until now, when units moved away from the camera, they showed their backs. We are changing this, so that they always face the camera. Only the units in the mob, mind you, not the enemies, they will still show you their backs (they are that rude). You might think that is not cool to do this, but we think we can take the liberty, and in this way you will have a better reading of your units.

FIXES

-Minor optimizations

By default, the sprite system that we are using keeps animations running all the time, even when the sprites are not being rendered. We have lots of animated sprites throughout the levels, like the grass or the trees, so we were spending precious milliseconds animating hundreds of these that where outside the screen. However, we couldn’t simply set all sprites to stop animating while outside the field of view because we have objects which behavior depends on animation triggers.  For example, the Prophetai only summon their minions when the summon animations reaches a certain frame, that works as a trigger. The solution we came up was adding a new property to animated sprites that lets us set if we want them to continue animating outside of the screen or not.

Asides from this, we set the quality settings of the build to a lower level, with fewer camera effects and lower resolution textures. Thankfully, you can hardly tell the difference.

-Bug fixing?

There are lots of bugs. Totally expected in this stage of the project. Sebastian destroyed his fingers solving lots of bugs, so now you can totally reach the end of the game. Before this bug fixing, it was very usual to not be able to finish a single city. I keep telling him to program without putting bugs, but he does not listen to me.

 

SCREENS

(Click on them for the full pixel art glory)

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Making things the hard way

When you are working on a game, you get really good at it. You play it so many times, and you know each little detail so well, that in ends up posing almost no challenge to you. So when we started beating the game (or at least our small alpha build of the game) pretty much every time we played we didn’t pay much attention to it. It wasn’t until we started showing around the 0.3.0 version, and people started making comments about how easy it was, that we finally realized that Okhlos, at that moment at least,  was less challenging than pissing off Heracles (it’s really easy, he’s got a short fuse), and that we needed to make it harder.

And so we started our quest to make Okhlos the hardest game known to mankind … or at least a little bit harder. It had gotten so easy that we had forgotten what the “you lose” screen looked like. Literally. I thought we still had a drawing of one of the ogres crushing some citizens, but no, Roque had changed it months ago. And not only we had to make the game harder, we didn’t want to add or remove much from the game. We were about to send a new version to a lot of people and it was no time to start changing things that may cause more problems than they could solve, and we didn’t have much time either. So our goal was to make the game harder but only making small changes, preferably by just adjusting values.

What did we end up doing? Here is what:

More Enemies

Firs rule of fight club is … not this one. In fact, it didn’t take that many people to start the fight club. But it certainly got better once more people started joining the fight club so that’s the morale of the story. The more people (or monsters sent by the merciless Apollo) you have to fight against, not only it will be harder but it will be more fun, and this is why this was what we did first.

In Okhlos you encounter a random number of enemies in each level, but that number varies from a minimum value and a maximum value that we set, so by adjusting those values we made sure that the average trip through Delphi would be much more interesting. Also you might remember that one of the enemies you could find in this level were the Prophetai, those charming buggers that would assist the oracle in her duties and also summoned other monster to try to kill the mob. Well, there is a limit to the number of creatures the Prophetai can summon and we increased that limit. We increased it to infinity! Actually, no. Just from two to three. But that really makes a difference. Trust me. You will see.

Tougher Enemies

We now had the levels crawling with countless legions of Apollonian beasts, or at least a few more of them prowling around.  The next step was making them tougher. We didn’t want individual battles to take too long, specially now that that there were more enemies, so we didn’t increase the amount of hit point they have. We did increase how much damage they deal, though. An average citizen used to be able to withstand a couple of attacks from lovable fire-throwing Hosioi, but now only a battle hardened defender or a hero can survive one of their fireballs.

Finishing Moves are Harder to Perform

One of Okhlos’ best kept secrets is that the units can perform finishing moves. It’s a unwilling secret, actually. We would like players to know they can do this but are still having problems showing the players how this works. This may be the subject for an entire new post but the basics of it is that when an enemy is about 50% of its health, a little speech balloon will pop over one of the units attacking the enemy with a button or key in it. If you press that button or key, the unit will proceed to kill enemy right away. What does this has to do with the difficulty of the game? It used to be very easy to get the timing of this. The speech balloons would be displayed for several seconds, so you had plenty of time to finish off the enemies. Now you only have less than a second to do it. You gotta be fast.

Less Warriors

If you look at the screenshots from some of the previous versions you will notice that the mobs are mostly red. This was not because the mob was covered with the blood of its enemies, it was because it was comprised mostly of warriors, Spartan warriors with their red cloaks. Sure, they are cool and deadly, everybody wants warriors in their mob but too many of them was not only killing all the enemies, was killing the fun too. We reduced the number of warriors you find wandering around the level, so that if you want to have a lot of them you are going to have to work. It won’t be so simple now.

Weaker Warriors, Defenders and Philosophers

If you are thinking, “You have already reduced the number  of warriors and now you are making them weaker? Don’t you have any respect for anything!?”, then the answer is yes. If you were thinking something else, then the answer may or may not be yes. But the point is that warriors were dealing too much damage, and defenders were absorbing too much damaging, and philosophers were spreading too much philosophy. All of that was true (except for the philosophers part, they simply had too many hit points, their philosophy spreading ratio is ok). When we first created the warriors and the defenders we intentionally set them extremely high values of attack and defense respectively, so as to differentiate them easily. We always intended to someday adjust those values and that day was now.

More Bureaucrats

What would be of our lives without bureaucracy? Nirvana? A state of pure bliss? We may never know and neither will our poor old Greeks that now have almost twice as many bureaucrats going around the levels, looking for a mob to bureaucratize. We still have to work a little more on the bureaucrats’ behavior but even so, having people in your mob that take up space and, not only do they not attack, but they prevent others from being able to attack or use their special abilities is something very annoying.

Bombs Do Less Damage

This was pretty straightforward. In previous versions using a bomb would pretty much guarantee killing any enemy near it, except for the bosses. Now, using one bomb won’t kill your average enemy but it is still enough make a serious dent in their armors, or skin, or heads. And using two bombs in a row still guarantees a kill (except again, in the case of the bosses).

More Expensive Heroes

There was a time where you could buy a Heracles, two super philosophers, a Spartacus and still have enough change left for a Minos or a Rhadamanthus. Those days are gone. Purchasing a Pheidippides now, will not only cost you an arm and a leg, but lots of arms and lots of legs. Like we always said, heroes are a big part of the game, and having lots of heroes in your mob made a huge difference. The initial costs were particularly low so that we could get and test them easily (I should have made a cheat for that at the moment, but making them super cheap seemed like a faster solution) but now that we were planning on making the game as hard as it should be, it was time for inflation.

Apollo’s Creed

Granted, that title doesn’t make much sense but you can guess what we changed next, Delphi’s favorite obsessive-compulsive-despotic deity, Apollo. The truth is he wasn’t putting much of a fight. It was our fault. We had neglected old Apollo. He was way down, at the end of the level, and whenever we sat down to do some playtesting something else would draw away our attention before reaching him. Thus, he became weak. Laden with bugs and obsolete behaviors, the god of light had become but a shadow of himself. We had to make amends.

First we started by fixing some of the bugs that were crippling him. Then we moved on to cutting down his idle time, so that he would spend more time either moving or stomping the mob and less time waiting to get hit. And speaking of stomping the mob, all of his attacks are now stronger. Specially his arrows. Only a hero may survive a direct impact from one his arrows now, and if they are lucky. Finally we are still working on improving his special attack, the procusterization attack. It’s not ready yet, but it will soon be. And with all these changes now Apollo is back in business. Once again, he is a lean, mean, mob-crushing machine.

Mob Meter Adjustments

You probably know how the mob meter works. You add people to the mob or crush things and it goes up, you do nothing and it goes down. It is very simple but effective. The changes we made were also simple. It is now harder to make the meter go up and it goes down faster. It sounds almost trivial but it is one of the changes I liked the most. It feels very different. There is a sense of urgency now, and that forces you make each move more efficiently. You don’t have time to waste so you have to optimize the mob’s trajectory so that it can make the maximum damage in the least time possible. This change not only made the game harder, it made it more interesting.

 

And that’s about it. I may have forgotten about a thing or two but I think that were all the changes we made to make the game harder. Is it too hard now? Probably. Will we be fiddling with these things again? Definitely. We are still a long way from the final version, we have lots and lots of playtesting ahead, but it was certainly fun playing around with these values and seeing the impact they had on the game. Not only was it fun, but I think this was an exercise that allowed us to gain a better understanding of how the game works and get a better grip of the what goes on when the things have spent all this time working on come together, and we wanted to share this with you.

 

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Race to 0.3

Hey there!

First of all, we are extremely happy for the response and feedback all of you gave us last week. It means the world to us, and the feedback was really useful. For the ones who don’t know what I’m talking about, last week we presented different versions for the Argos Panoptes and the aegis shield. And a lot of you reached us out via web, Twitter, Facebook, TIG and IndieDB. So we are really thankful to all of you! We still don’t know which versions are the winners, but we are gonna ask you your opinions again soon!

And now, for this week update, we are planning the 0.3 version of Okhlos! What does this mean? Here is what we have planned for this version:

 

HUD

We’ve made a HUGE GUI change. We were using a very old version of NGUI, and we decided to update to a newer one. That brought us a lot of headaches and extra work. It really gave us lots of problem. So for this version we are hoping to close the sad chapter of updating from a 1.2x to a 3.4x (trust me on this one: never a good idea).

Besides that, we were using  2x sprites in the hud and windows (we talked about this a few updates ago). Now, the 2x sprites are only for the mob portraits. The rest of the HUD is much smaller and less invasive.

Finally, we were doing a lot of mockups of some old windows.

 

HEROES

In this version, we introduce two new types of heroes: The psychic and the troubadour.

The Psychic basically spawns a force field to prevent projectiles.

This is quite useful against projectile thrower enemies. Not so much against melee enemies, though… Also, they don’t attack: they are too  focused on creating force fields with their minds.

 

The other hero type is a buffer. The troubadour will sing, boosting the stats of nearby units. As the Psychics, they don’t attack. You can’t play the lyre and punch something at the same time!

 

MUSIC

Gordon, the newest addition to the team, started composing the Apollo track, and it is wonderful. We want to do some dynamics things with the music and the mob gauge, but for this version the stage track and maybe some other low priority sound will do.

 

ENEMIES

We finally settled a lot of things regarding the enemies in Okhlos. We have a good number of enemies, and very cool behaviors. Now we have to put them on the stage, animate them, and tweak them.

For this version, we are gonna wrap up the Apollo enemies, which went through a lot of changes.

Apollo needed some changes also. So this version he will be a little bit smarter than before.

 

FX

Finally, we needed to tweak a lot the building’s destruction. We implemented this feature some time ago, but we hadn’t had the chance to try them out. So, for this version, we are aiming to create a a permanency effect by leaving some dust particles for a while after a building is destroyed.

By the way, now destroyed buildings leave these beautiful ruins.

 

So that’s what we have in our hands right now! Luckily, we will have it a week or so. Unfortunately, it will be for internal use and press only :S

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Decisions, decisions…

Hey there!

We are trying something new here … or at least, we haven’t done before.  Here is the thing, we have to make some choices, we have several variants of this item and this enemy, and we can’t decide which ones are the best. So we are hoping that you could help us deciding!

Click in the image for the full size!

 

The first image, shows the Aegis shield. This is a legendary shield that will boost your defense A LOT for a few seconds. The main problem with the original version, was that it looked very much like a coin, and people didn’t get that was a shield, so that’s why we are trying these new ones. As you can see, we have five options to choose from: A, B, C, D and E.

 

Secondly, we have the Argos Panoptes, an enemy from the later stages of the game. This guy’s main feature  is that it has one hundred eyes. And as we as the Hecantochires turned out really cool, and they are like in the same level, we want something as cool for Argos (we haven’t revealed the Hecantochires yet, by the way, we are saving them for later). Also, you can see here that we have six options, all the way from A to F.

 

Well, that’s about it. We would love to receive some feedback from you guys. Which one is your favorite Aegis? The mighty A? The impervious D? Or perhaps the wondrous E? And what about our buddy Argos, which version do you like the most?  Reach us out by any medium available (comments, posts, Twitter, Facebook) and tell us!

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The sound of the mob

We have been on Okhlos for a while now, but there was something which we haven’t even started working on: sound and music.

Neither Roque nor, nor José Luis, nor I are musicians, nor very savvy with a mixing console. We can make the art, the code and maybe even some game ingame jokes but definitely not music. So our plan had always been to eventually get  some who can  (and that would make a good job at that), and until then use place holder sounds and music. I don’t think I need to tell you much about the placeholders if you had a chance to watch our first pseudo trailer (I think there is a special place saved for us in the tartarus for having made people listen to that music for minutes) or some of the let’s plays (go, Kenny G, go!).

We have been pondering over this subject for quite a while, listening to the work on many game musicians trying to find the right one. We also went back to our favorite games, paying attention their soundtrack and the work of their musicians. The quest went on for months, until finally we found the perfect person for the job. One musician to outmusic them all (and in the darkness bind them).

Meet A Shell in the Pit. Meet Gordon MCGladdery.

 

We approached Gordon at first as fans of his work with Tettix on Rogue Legacy, not entirely sure if he would be interested in working on Okhlos. To our upmost delight Gordon played a build of game and loved it, so soon afterwards we started talking about things we could do and about our plans for the game. He is very excited about the project, and we are excited that he is excited , so there is excitement galore!

 

And  as you can see Gordon has some really awesome ideas about the music of the game. Just yesterday he gave us a sneak peek of something he was working on, and it was better than Aquiles’ uppercut.

 

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A mob is as good as the enemy that crushes

Ahoy there!

 

These last weeks we’ve been working hardly (or hardly working) on the enemies of Okhlos.

A lot.

Like, really a lot.

 

One of the most enjoyable things in Okhlos is fighting enemies. Early on, we figured out that one of the cornerstones of the fun and variation in Okhlos is to have enemies with very different mechanics. So we started establishing which mechanics were interesting enough to explore. Besides that, we have to put the mechanics in context, so we have to do a lot of research to determine which enemies will appear, when will they appear, and keep them coherent with the rest of the whole.

 

So we established 21 mechanics that we think are cool. But! Besides that, some of these mechanics can work with each other! So suddenly, we had a lot of new stuff that we didn’t think of! Basically, we have 21 behavior archetypes and a lot of combinations to do. We still don’t know how many enemies Okhlos will have. But I think that we’ll have plenty of interesting challenges.

 

So, besides the behavior, we have the sprite part (my part, the cool part). I’m actually making a lot of tests to see how they look. Trying different palettes and different sizes for the monsters.

 

One of the things I did was remaking some of the old enemies. Here you can see some of the progress.

 

 

As you can see in the image above, the Prophetai and Hosioi have their eyes covered, which makes them darker and gritty, because of Nolan.

The Nemean lion found a stash of steroids.

Also, the Hosioi now share the size of the Prophetai, because the Prophetai now summon a different creature!

 

Here are some enemies.

Here you can see:

-Some ideas for the Posidon’s stage creatures.

-A warrior that protects himself with a shield, and a color variation

-Some satyrs. One of these is based  on this guy.

-Some centaurs. They will focus on the mob and trample them.

 

Finally, I want to finish the post with some unjustified screenshots!

The Calydonian boar

The Nemean Lion

Some Hephaestus’ machine

And the three of them together

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