Monday, January 28, 2013

Storyline Progression

The demo version of "Lands of Adventure" is getting closer.  Not a day goes by where I don't fix a ton of bugs or continue working on progressing the storyline.  I will admit, though, that the demo version will only allow players to progress their characters to around level 2 (out of 10) and see only part of the overarching story.

Storyline cutscenes are fun.

While the demo will be somewhat limiting, it's my intention that the final game will provide a whole lot for a player to do.  There's still some work to be done, but honestly, things are moving along smoothly.  Maybe all the artwork isn't as perfect as I would like, but I think for the efforts of one guy in his free time, what I've done is quite impressive.

If I had some other folks programming with me or a dedicated artist or two, things would probably be moving a lot faster.  A lot of my time is taken up doing a lot of the portrait art (like in the picture above).  Thankfully, even though I modify some of the combat icon art, it was provided to me by a very talented artist via the Dungeon Craft community.

Screenshots for the sake of screenshots.

I just hope that people like what I'm doing.  So far, only two people (besides me) have seen this program in action.  One is my wife.  The other is a friend from school who happened to see it one night while we were in class.  That's not a lot of people who have been exposed to what the game is going to be like.

I really have only my own judgment, based on my experience with old-school CRPGs in my youth.  I am making the kind of game I would like to play, and that's really all I can do.  I know there have to be others who will like this style of gameplay as well.  Maybe it won't be a big audience, or maybe it will.  Hard to say right now.

Friday, January 11, 2013


When I made my last post, I had decided to change the way that dialogues were done in the game.  I came up with a nifty new screen to handle it all and was pretty proud of myself.  Unfortunately, even though it worked fine, the game didn't feel the same.  It lost some of its old school appeal.

Worse than that, my original intention had been to give the player options to interact with the conversations.  But, someone wisely said to me that if all paths are going to lead to the same place, it's better to just have the conversations rather than give the false illusion of choice.  I agree with that.

So, here's the way it was going to be...

The "New" way is now the "Old" way.

Instead, I went back to the way it was, which was more like the classic "Gold-Box" games of the 80s and early 90s.  And it feels like the right move.  I would rather pay homage to those games anyway, since the point of this project is to capture an old-school feel.

Sure, the artwork is newer, but that's okay.  We all like good artwork.

So, here is what it looks like now that I've reverted it...

The "Old" way is now the "New" way.

Personally, I'm glad I went back to it.  You may not be able to have the kind of interactive conversations you got with later games (like Baldur's Gate), but that's okay.  I find the story easier to read anyway.  When there's something to be said during the game, I want to make sure that the player reads it.

I'd like to hear opinions about it.  So, let me know if you have any.

Unless, I'm the only one reading this blog.  Sometimes it feels that I'm just talking to myself.  I certainly hope when the game is done there will be an audience of people to play it.

I may have mentioned before that I've considered turning this into a Kickstarter project.  I've seen worse projects there, and I could use the funding to hire another programmer and maybe someone who can handle the UI graphics.  Or someone who can turn this into a full 3D project (some Direct X programmer, perhaps).  Anyone have any insight into that?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Artwork and Conversations

Over the last month, I've taken to reworking much of the artwork in the game.  It's not because I was unhappy with the artwork that I had at hand, but rather because I didn't have enough of it.  So, I was forced to find other ways to come up with art.

Replicating the style of artwork I was using wasn't going to be easy.  And I need all the artwork to be similar in theme so that the game has an art style of it's own.  So, I decided upon a new style that provides me with the most flexibility and looks better.  Sadly, it abandons some of the "old-school" look that I originally wanted, but I think that it's okay to update some things.

So, take this picture (which I've shown before) of a woman being held captive by the goblins.  This is what the original screenshot looked like:

The original old-school artwork.

The updated artwork is a little more appealing, but less simple to the eye.  While I loved the simplicity of the original art (and I think the artist is brilliant), there was no way I could easily replicate his style.  So, I had to do something in my own style, which looks like this:

Updated art style.

Now, I'm sure some won't like the new style as much as the old one (and vice-versa), but it is actually easier for me to create pictures that way than attempt to match the way that the artists drew his.  I won't explain why, but anyone who is familiar with Poser 9 and Photoshop should be able to figure it out.  Despite the way some of this art looks, it's not hand painted...but the effect is nice.

Moving away from that, the other major change is that I have gone away from the old-school dialogue and conversations where you read what happens in a box at the bottom of the screen.  Whereas I loved the way that the old Gold-Box games did this (games like "Curse of the Azure Bonds" and "Pool of Radiance"), it didn't leave you a lot of options.

A woman talks at you and doesn't give you any options to respond.

Maybe it's not very old-school (and I may have to stop calling the game that now), but I would rather give a player some choices.  Later games like "Baldur's Gate" gave the player options of how to respond and what to say, sometimes allowing them to unlock information through questions that would have been force-fed to them in the old style.

So, the same encounter with the woman above now looks like this:

It's all about choices.

Whenever the player is engaged in a conversation, the main screen changes to one like this so that they can properly respond and find things out as they wish.  This means that they don't have to read everything if they don't want to.

But, another nice thing about this option is that I now have far more room for text to tell the story.  It is a less clumsy interface for reading the prose, I think.

I would love to hear what you think.  Drop me a comment.