The Darkness Below: a retro CRPG in the making
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July 5th, 2020, 10:17
Ok, second post after some years but better late than never
I dealt mostly with my terrible UI & i think i managed to bring it to a playable state, since i am not a designer & have tons of other things to work on the game. More to say in the end of post, just check a handful of in-game images first:
Ok, lets describe some things out:
the side on the right has been mainly the subject of my recent time. Since i am not a designer, i spent quite some time searching, assembling & putting things together. My main goal was initially to not make it look funny & amateurish. Making it fit with the big picture & provide one or three of classic RPG functionalities would be enough for me. Work is not complete on that department, but at least i think it looks more blobberish than ever.
Also called companions in the game and they usually work supplementary to the party. They can be quest NPCs (they follow the party until you fullfil their needs or you kicked them out) or mercenaries NPCs, providing a specific set of skills as long they stick to the party, requiring some money in the end. Finally, there will be the masters NPCs, which trains some party members to their next level of expertise and it might actually take a while to do that and so there is a new NPC type for them. You might have noticed the background behind NPCs. Instead of setting a dull black or any abstract background for NPCs, i decided to compute a fitty 2D background, based on the current environment the party currently ventures. Neat! Personally, i think it makes the NPCs look more attached to the environment & therefore more lively & close to the group.
Those horizons have a variable number of parallax layers & they're used whenever the party turns either left or right. They're blending nicely with the rest of pseudo-3D environment, providing the necessary level of depth & atmosphere. Most of horizons have a day/night variation so they can change based on current time of the day. Finally, the style i think it fits quite well with the style of game and current graphic assets in general.
The itemization department went through an overhaul to provide a better experience to the user. Items can now possess base features, for example a Shield provides a static AC, a weapon provides a static damage etc., as well magical features or enchantments, for example an arrow from a Freezing bow (a base item) will cause an additional Cold damage etc. Items can also be magically enchanted by name, providing a fixed set of affections, for example a Ring of Protection will provides AC+ to its wearer, a Cloak +2 of Saint (check pre-last image) will make its wearer immune to Possessed condition etc. Goal is to make items memorable & easier to find out what they're providing by using simple conventions.
The automapping has changed in style and is now more fitty to the game's style. I will try to keep it clean & only providing the necessary information. The maps of the game will all be 24x24 and they will fit on this map, without weird scrolling. Map is rendered in its entirety on the big map & the party is the one that moves on it, in contrast with the minimap (the party stays always in the center). I think it works best this way.
The quests you see in the images are not part of the game's content & they just got entered to show stuff. The logic is to provide the party with some images & text & some choices. These choices may lead to another set of choices, either in current quest or to another quest after 20+ hours in the game. Those quests & the choices you make will be remembered for the rest of the game (they're saved in file). It's not of Baldur's Gate or Mass Effect caliber or other RPGs with massive text but it's better than having no interaction at all. Some quests will require some stat (the highest in the party) to make some options visible. This will increase the optional side quests in the game, which is much desired.
There is a good number of monsters in the game already, although most of them don't have animation yet. This will take some time to be fully able to use them in-game. Monsters will share similar (if not, the very same) statistics with the party, in the way D&D is doing. My goal is to not make a statistic distinction to the things you kill. This will also increase the number of attacks, actions, magic etc. of each creature you deal with, which will, hopefully, require a different strategy. Creating strong evil characters & memorable unique monsters in the way D&D does is the goal.
I've worked the last ~10 days on implementing, both graphically & mechanically, an appropriate world map to the game.
A good thing indeed, because it opens the way for content.
Check the images:
Here's the usual game window, without an opened map (just for comparison)
Here's the newly world map, which shows up when you click the globe symbol below.
In my mind, this will slowly opens diagonally like a scroll, along with the unfolding sound effect.
I decided to remove the other things the dungeon map has, like compass, legend and stuff, to make
way for more world stuff to show & i think it works the best this way.
I will follow the generation style from the excellent world generator of donjon to build the world map.
This is the first step before the actual content addition. Although, the one you see is only for testing.
And here how the dungeon map appears in the game. There's a little change here that doesn't show;
the completion percentage is now merged with title (like in globe map) and be conventionally correct.
This will also allows for more legend to add, later, which will make heavy use of Perception (niches, holes, traps, events etc.)
I have worked mostly on NPC portraits & shaders to fix two (2) important issues of the game, realism & content/quests.
NPC Portraits will unlock the quest department & will spice up the world.
Those NPCs will play the role of skill trainers, as well as hired mercenaries, providing additional boosts and/or moves (probably) or whatever a NPC could offer.
I only had party portraits & decided it was not a good thing to use them as NPC portraits as well.
You can check all the following images for different combinations of male, female & monster NPCs.
Transparency by distance
I also worked on my OpenGL shader, providing model transparency by the distance.
The problem was mostly shown on outdoor areas, where the horizon merges with terrain.
The different ending colors of them caused a very sharp result, not really desirable as made horizon looking really 2D and not really attached to the world.
To understand the change, look those two (2) images; first one doesn't use transparency distance (old), the second one (new) use it:
Ignore the ugly ass low-res spiders
The horizon is simply a parallax 2D set of textures, but they're blending nicely with 3D geometry where the terrain & horizon ends, along with lighting, fog, night etc.
You can see that effect in the following images as well.
Another change was the replacement of compass graphic. You can check my previous posts to compare, but i find it more elegant & more fit for those graphics.
Before creating content, i wanted to complete a good list of NPC portraits & i think i did. There are currently 30 NPC portraits, including male, female & monsters! You can different combinations of all of them, for test purposes. All of them could be your henchmen, trainers or just troubled NPCs asking for help. Some images showing some NPC portraits follows:
Day & Night cycle
Most of the parallax horizons i am using, have two (2) versions of day & night. Based on current time of the day, they're toggling automatically (for example from 20:00 to 06:00 is considered night). When you walk or rest, time is updated appropriately.
Finally, i updated the rulebook that will be used for the game. I added many references in all of its content, explaining to the best of my abilities the current mechanics of the game. This is an ongoing work; expect many changes as the game develops. You can download the current state of rulebook here.
Any comment or three will be appreciated,
the above text includes a number of games updates, packed all together.
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Thessaloniki, Greece
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