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Default Himeko Sutori still in development, lots going on

October 30th, 2016, 22:18
Hey everyone. I realized I hadn't posted an update in a while and I needed to come back and say hi. Thanks everyone for all of your support during the Kickstarter. We hit the $10,000 funding goal and I decided to just go all-in on the full Unreal Engine license with custom installer and editor… and distributing my own editor means that everyone will be able to mod the game however they want.

I was going to update my older posts here, but it looks like all of the links to my pictures are broken and I wouldn't want to spend my thread-necromancy powers on raising a post full of broken links. (The pictures are still at the original location, but it looks like RPGWatch is switching the links from http to https, and my website doesn't have a certificate… Or maybe it's because I'm now hosting a GitLab server on port 443. I don't know. Either way, I may have to see about linking the pictures some other way. Let me try Amazon S3…)

Well, just to update you on what I've been up to, let me recap the last couple of months:

Random character generator with an inconceivably large number of possible characters ready to be placed in the game world:
In that video I also talk about general gamedev concerns and some things that I'm learning about Himeko Sutori's strategy. Surprise finding: You don't always want to mix clerics in with your knights, especially if you're fighting rogues.

A closer look at some of the spritesheets:
The quality on that isn't great. I was still learning to use a few unfamiliar tools. But it does help you see what I've been working on the last few months.

One of the enemies you'll encounter in Himeko Sutori:

This guy hasn't appeared in any videos yet, but I'm looking forward to showing him off further.

And I can't believe I haven't posted this yet. We have this amazing song that Kevin Won composed and recorded for Himeko Sutori:
That was recorded at AIR Studios in London as part of Kevin's final project for his master's degree.

And those are some of the bigger developments of the last few months. Himeko Sutori is still underway and I'm looking forward to delivering it to you in 2017.
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November 26th, 2016, 01:23
Hey everyone, here's the latest update on Himeko Sutori, video up on YouTube now:


The latest additions to the game engine include manual squad placement and automatic equipment optimization. You can also listen to a preview of the latest song added to our soundtrack.

Squad placement:

Equipping your characters:

We've also fixed a lot of bugs and added a lot of content. And hopefully we're on track for release in the first half of next year.
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January 31st, 2017, 18:19
Two videos to catch you up on:

January 2017 video showing off the world map:

And December 2016 video showing off menus and shops:

The world map has come a long way in the last month or so I've been working on it. Here's a test showing off the day/night cycle on a landscape I made in World Machine:

(Hopefully the images will work this time linking straight from my website because I finally added https support, and RPGWatch seems to force embedded images to use https.)

That was a big improvement over the first world map level I tried making:

Granted, that was just a test, but it looked terrible. I was wondering how I should do mountains and thought that the rounded mountains I made in the editor seemed to fit the look of the game better. Then someone at another forum pointed out that the look of the game was "single-developer amateur." And he was right, and I set out to change that.

So I bought a license for World Machine and got to work. And to give the world a sense of scale, I figured it should have a night/day cycle. And so I had to test out materials to simulate the change from night to day.

That lighting change is all built into the shader. I could have used an actual dynamic light, but I think this way is easier and less intense for the GPU.

I also started looking into other games' palettes to see if I could learn something about fixing my own game's colors:

At left is a close-up from Civilization V. At right is a close-up of that awful early Himeko Sutori world map. By taking a close look at my colors, I realized that everything was too bright, saturated, solid, and varied. I needed to bring all those colors down and to the left on the color chart and break up the solid blocks of color. And we ended up with what you see in the video and the time-changing landscape you saw above.

I also had to set up the map for use as a game level by placing a hex grid over it:

And I had to work on my pathfinding algorithm because it was meant for smaller scales and was much more sensitive to changes in height and POV blocks, resulting in some kind of unexpected "shortest" paths:

But with everything fixed, Himeko Sutori is getting very close to a feature-complete engine. I'm think in the next couple of months I should be done with work on the engine and I'll be able to release a simple campaign with a fully functional campaign builder, and I'll let people play with and test the engine while I finish the main campaign.

There's a lot more detail about the development process in the latest Kickstarter update for anyone who's interested.
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May 31st, 2017, 10:04
Alpha test campaign is in the works. You can get a peek at it here:

There you'll get to see a town filled with interactive NPCs:

And these NPCs will be extremely easy to make in the campaign editor you'll be getting.

You'll get a look at some of the new weapon and armor sprites that we've added:

And your custom weapons will be easy to make. Just drop a template down, import the spritesheets you made in Photoshop or recolor some of ours. Fill in the stats, and save it. Then you can add it to any shop, any enemy loadout, any treasure chest, or anywhere else you might run into the weapon.

And you'll see a new battle map:

We still need to bake the lighting and shadows onto that map, but already the narrow branching paths provide some interesting tactical options.

In addition to that, we have new music, new enemies, and overall a really solid start on the test campaign.

When we're satisfied with the alpha test campaign we'll change the name to Beta and release it to Kickstarter backers. After that we may decide it's ready for Steam Early Access or we may work on it some more and then wait to do a full release.

If any of you have any thoughts or suggestions you'd like to share, we'd love to hear it.
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September 30th, 2017, 09:15
That test campaign is still underway. We changed a lot as we've been working on level design. We're going more toward hand-placed features and less procedural and random placement. We still use procedural generation for making things like mountains and hills, but we're placing those mountains by hand.

Here is a test scene demonstrating our new approach.

We made the mountains in World Machine, but instead of generating a direct texture map, we made a splat map that we use to blend other textures together. This way, we can scale the mountains as large or small as we want, and the level of detail remains the same.

And here's a close-up of our water:

With about 350 shader instructions, we simulate some waves, make the water flow downhill, and change to a waterfall when the slope gets steep. We just place this material on a landscape mesh and then sculpt the water landscape exactly as we would sculpt the land landscape.

And here it is on our world map:

We've implemented some tricks to optimize the engine's precise-depth distance so we can have very long views render correctly, from a close-up with a distant background, to a distant overhead strategic camera viewpoint. We also added a dynamic depth-of-field blur effect.

We're adding NPCs:

We're getting better with the gameplay scripting, which will really help us develop the main campaign faster, with more dialog options and more interesting NPC behavior.

And of course we are adding more battle maps:

Those outdoor maps could probably use some more variation, maybe with some god rays illuminating sections, and maybe with some fireflies or falling leaves or more ground cover. Any other ideas?

Now that we have a critical mass of content and functionality, we're able to crank out levels pretty quickly. I think October is finally the month when we can push a playable demo out.
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September 30th, 2017, 09:34
Thank you for the info!
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