Monday, October 15, 2018

Launch Trailer

It's finally done!  The launch trailer that is.  Take a look!
Watch The Elementalist Launch Trailer on Youtube!

The game is pretty solid at this point too but I'm still trying to add a bit more music variety before the early access release.  I ended up spending more time trying to get the trailer put together than I had initially expected.  Probably because I haven't done any video editing since '92 or so when it still involved actual tapes.  Yikes!

I also ended up spending a lot of cycles trying to dial in the musical sound of the game.  I had been using a really great flexible and free tracker-like tool called SunVox but I ultimately decided to dial the sound all the way back to the original NES era so I switched to a more rudimentary program called FamiTracker.  FamiTracker emulates the original hardware (including the eccentricities) of the original NES 2A03 chip.  It can even output to the same format for playing on the original hardware.  So cool!

I have converted all of the music I had produced for the game to the lo-fi format and I'm happier with the way it sounds.  I feel like it gels better with the pixel art aesthetic of The Elementalist.

FamiTracker doesn't have the easiest or most intuitive interface I have ever used but now that I'm a bit more familiar with the work-flow I am starting to appreciate what it does offer.  There is a surprising amount of possibility given two square channels with 16 discrete volume levels, a triangle channel that can only sort-of change volume with some shenanigans, a noise channel and a sample channel.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the trailer.
Cheers,
Zack

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Spring Cleaning

If you are like me you spent almost the whole day cleaning and organizing your garage so you could get your apocalypse preparedness supplies out of the house where they belong.  So it's no surprise that you are exhausted!  You are probably looking forward to kicking back, drinking a beer, and writing a much delayed blog post...  Let's get to it!

I know it's been a while since I posted an update here but I have still been super busy continuing to mold The Elementalist into the game I want it to be.  Most of my time has been spent with fleshing out the world and filling it in with things to do, people to meet, and enemies to fight.  Creating the game content is definitely the largest chunk of the work but I made it part of my process from early on so it has not seemed too daunting a task.

The core content is essentially complete and I am taking the time now to polish things up. I am currently working on adding more NPCs and more dialog to those that are already present as well as making more secrets to discover and embellishments to the world. I am also playing around with balancing enemies and powers and items to hopefully make it fun however you like to play.

So how much content is there currently?
  •  An over-world map consisting of 420 rooms.
  •  174 homes, caves, ruins, and other hidden locations.
  •  8 dungeons with a total of 300+ rooms.
  •  16 spells (including 4 elemental forms).
  •  18 usable items.
  •  56 unique enemies.
  •  36 interact-able props.
  •  36 pieces of gear to find and equip.
  •  And other numbers of things I didn't count!

But I'm not quite done.  I figure there are still a few more enemies and props to be added as well as some more rooms and maybe even a couple more items. So this isn't the "I'm done" post, but it is the "I'm getting there" one.

My plan right now is to release at least an early access version that includes darn near everything I want to see in the game by the start of September. So I'm going to keep plugging away and looking forward to showing you the "fruits" of this labor in a couple of months.

Cheers,
Zack

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Making The Elementalist, World Building Tool

In the time I have managed to scrounge between work and other life I have been plugging away at creating content for The Elementalist.  I am pretty sure I have bitten off just as much as I could possibly chew but I am excited by the relatively rapid progress I have been making thanks to a couple of updates I added to my content creation tools.  But rather than just typing about it I thought I would put together a short video showing off a little of the tooling I've been working on to help me get this project done.  So without further ado, here's the video on YouTube:  https://youtu.be/SHfahUiFRUk

Hope you enjoy, and thanks for checking it out!
Cheers,
Zack

Monday, May 22, 2017

La Vida Loca

I had forgotten how hectic it is having a newborn in the house and still trying to find time to work full-time and sleep enough to stay alive.  Suffice it to say development for the last couple of months has been pretty limited, but I have managed to pull together a few more improvements to the game play, tools, and the particle engine.

Now when you light the fire in your cabin you get to see the smoke come out the chimney and the fairies trickle glowing fairy dust as they fly if you break their jars!

So I'm not all dead (there's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead; ask Billy Crystal) and the project continues, just a bit slower than before.  As the baby transitions to sleeping more over the coming weeks and months I look forward to digging back in and getting the final content put together for the game. More news to follow.

Peace, Zack

Friday, March 24, 2017

Demo Updates

It has been a crazy month or so since my last post.  My third child came a bit early, just after my last post actually, and pretty much since then I have been scrambling to get enough sleep to be able to spell my own name.  Thankfully we have had a lot of help from a great community of family and friends so I have managed to get a little bit of work done on The Elementalist.

Based on super feedback from some good folks at the Portland Indie Game Squad as well as a friend working down at Blizzard I have refined a few elements of the game play.  Thanks everyone for the detailed thoughts, always greatly appreciated!

Download the updated demo here!

Strafe!

The most noticeable new change is the ability for the wizard to "strafe" while moving in a specific direction.  For example if you are holding down the "right" key and then push the "up" or "down" key you will move diagonally as directed while still facing your original direction.  This should hopefully make the movement seem a little more fluid and reduce some WASD fatigue for those using the keyboard.  This works while dragging around objects as well, which brings us to the second update!

Action!

The action formerly known as "Grab" has been superseded by the more generic "Action" command.  The "Action" command is used to interact with NPCs and some objects (switches, beds, the floppy of saving, etc) as well as to attempt to grab things to move.  This should allow players to interact with NPCs and objects only when you desire, rather than simply when you bump into them.  As part of this change I updated the tutorial to cover the added feature and updated the cabin a little.

Talk!

The final changes were to the dialog system.  First up was to add the ability to immediately exit a dialog with the standard "UI Exit" key or button, which can cut things short if you didn't really mean to start talking again (though this should hopefully happen a lot less now that you have to press the "Action" key to start the dialog in the first place).  Second I added a method for highlighting key words and phrases in the dialog to call out important bits and help those who don't like to read lots of expository text get the gist of the conversation and get going.

Just for fun I colored in a sketch I did the other day while hanging out with my kids.  Here is a bit of concept art for the forthcoming enemy "Witchdoctor"!



Alright, that's all I've got for today.  If you have any other great ideas please let me know!

Cheers,
Zack

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Custom Controller Bindings!

I have finished adding in support for custom controller bindings so even people who are not using an X360 controller on their PC should be able to use their controller to play!

Downlad The Elementalist DEMO

The new UI is accessed from the same location as before but the menu option is now "Controller Config".  If you have a X360 controller connected it should give you the option to use default bindings (to select from one of the 3 default setups as before) or configure custom bindings.  If you don't have an X360 controller plugged in you will go directly to the custom controller bindings menu.

In the custom controller binding menu use your arrow keys or other configured navigation to highlight an empty control element, press ENTER, and then simply enter the desired control on your pad, joystick, or whatever.  Note that this UI does not bind key or mouse events, those can be bound under the keyboard configuration menu.  However it does allow you to use more than one controller as input if you are feeling super creative.  :-)

One thing this does not currently allow is the use of a control button as a "Meta" input (like shift or control on a keyboard) so you do need a controller with a fair number of buttons in order to bind all of the available controls.  This is something I would like to do but it is lower on my list at the moment.

If you have success or troubles with any specific controllers I would be interested to hear it.  I have not been able to test exhaustively but so far I have had relatively good luck aside from the Xbox ONE controller oddly.

Cheers!
Zack

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Elementalist for Linux!

The Elementalist DEMO has been built and lightly tested on Ubuntu 16.04 in both 64bit and 32bit versions!  Get it here:

Download The Elementalist DEMO

As with adapting to any new platform there were a few wrinkles that had to be ironed out but I think my ironing was relatively successful and should improve the other installations in the future.  Linux is definitely the most restrictive operating system to install into and getting the permissions set up in the file system to allow saving the game required a bit of fiddling but the end result seems like a solid cross-platform solution that should hopefully endure.

I also found a number of minor differences in how Ubuntu's window manager works with setting up windows and screen buffers that forced a few minor alterations but I think everything is once again smooth across all platforms.  Phew!

I have not finished building and testing with Fedora, but I have also put a raw zip file here that contains the executable java as well as the content and launchers (.bat file for Windows and bash shell script for the rest of the world).  It should be identical in function to the versions installed by the more full featured installers but it does not include a JRE so you will have to have Java 8 already in your path.  If that sounds like craziness to you stick with the installer.  :-)

If you know you have Java 8 (or don't mind a little DIY to get it) the zip version here should actually work on any platform.  Feeling lucky, punk?  Give it a try!

Let me know how it goes for you!
Cheers,
Zack