I’m Arvind – the guy who programs and designs the A.Typical RPG. A wise man once said to me, “You might want to consider jumping down from a taller building than that.” But that’s not related to what I’m about to discuss. This is a developer diary we’ll be doing in order to persuade you guys to vote for us in the Indie Overlords and Supreme rulers Indie of the year contest.
Firstly, I would like to point out that it would be great if you voted for us in the Indie of the year awards. Click the button below, then click the “Vote” button on the page. Thank you very much.
So while you would do well to see this post as a plug to win these awards, I’m also about to discuss the thing we have been teasing to our followers on twitter (hint hint). In case you didn’t get the hint, it means FOLLOW US.
One of the in-game scenarios features something like hide-and-seek. Imagine this – what is the first thing that comes in your mind when you are sneaking inside a girl’s dormitory, only to gasp in horror as the warden steps into the room? The stakes are high – you can be expelled from college, or be shamed in front of the girl you fancy! What do you think?
If your answer was along the lines of “Hmm, this situation can feature in my game.”, then we think alike.
Here’s a screenshot of the complete disco level. We tried to show you more of the disco and another level, but this guy won’t allow us.
He totally said we can show you more in the next update we’ll be posting before this week ends. The guy is *such* a charmer.
The entire team will be posting in this series. See you very soon!
And last but not the least, I am super duper pleased to announce that Jesse Gunn (StaticKinect Studios is his website) is our new audio designer. Thanks for the lots of applications we received, all of you are so awesome. He’ll be posting some sweet audio bits soon too, keep watching! That’s it from me right now, and to remind you fellows once again –
As promised on the A.Typical RPG twitter feed (which you should follow on http://twitter.com/atypicalrpg – hint hint), here’s the new update. You might also have noticed that we are looking for an audio designer – that is, if you follow us on twitter, obviously – which you should.
Glad that’s sorted. So – the battle system. We haven’t talked about it much recently, have we?
What’s so different, you ask? For starters, there’s the new layout for the battle system. By moving all the non-interactive bits to the top, we managed to create more space for the buttons, as well as avoid confusion for new players. But wait! Before you accuse me of laziness after only changing the layout after all this time, be aware that scripted events also take place inside the battles. For example, here’s this totally unexplained dialog occurring sometime during the battle :
Now that I have refuted accusations of laziness against me, I’m sure a lot of you will be thinking, “So maybe Henri is the source of laziness here.” Before you go any further, allow me to show you a sneak peek of what he has been up to:
Interesting, isn’t it? But we’ll stick to the showbiz rule of “show just enough bits to get people excited, but not too much so you don’t run into trouble with the censor brigade”. Or something like that.
Now here’s an unrelated story related to our hunt for an audio designer:
Arvind was busy preening his hair when Henri’s IM disrupted the quiet silence, like the noise after the quiet before the storm.
“What is this irritating 5 second sound loop you have coded into the game? It sounds like an ogre scratching his toenails against a blackboard the size of Mt. Doom.”, he asked.
“Oh, it’s the Official Soundtrack™ for the game made by me! Isn’t it lovely?”, I replied, after putting on a massive monocle and silk hat.
Pausing a second to ponder calling 911, Henri gently asked me if I had severe brain damage. “Judging by your taste, there might be no coming back.”, he said, gravely shaking his head.
“Well, since you are being such a bad sport about my official soundtrack™ for the game”, I scoffed, pausing to polish my teeth and monocle with my hat. “We’ll hire an expert so you can get the music to your appalling taste.”
And the rest is history.
The A.Typical RPG is looking for an audio designer/musician – a wonderful person who can come up with great music to the game to life! You can apply by emailing Arvind at arvindrajayadav [hat] gmail [ wot] com. Also include details of your previous work.
Just as you were wondering how you managed the whole 50 days without any ramblings about code and memory leaks, here are soldiers Major Update, along with Colonel Feature, to announce what Arvind and Henri have been up to recently.
Here’s Major Update :
And introducing Colonel Feature :
Any similarities to any characters, fictional or otherwise, are purely and totally co-incidental. If you say there are, we’ll just deny it until we believe it is true.
Let’s start with what these two think about some new art Henri has drawn, starting with the icons for inventory, objectives and the map. Take it away, gentlemen!
There are rumors that under certain unknown conditions, these icons glow! How in the world is that possible? Let’s ask Colonel about his opinion :
What is this mysterious looking image? Thankfully, Colonel Feature can explain it to us using his vast experience acquired in the heat of battle :
But this is not all the art Henri has drawn. Check out a part of the hostel, this time free of military presence in the image.
*WARNING – PROGRAMMING INFO DETECTED*
*MAY CAUSE SEVERE CASES OF BOREDOM AND CLUELESSNESS*
As far as the code is concerned, there have been a lot of speed and stability improvements in game. The scripting system is now complete, which allows me to quickly add new events to complete the decision tree of in-game choices. I cannot reveal much more about the decisions you make, but here’s what one of the characters in the game has to say about the progress done in programming (or it may be another in-game event – it’s a secret!) –
*PROGRAMMING INFO ENDS*
Whoa, is that a new design of dialog boxes? Hmm, it looks as if the next update will be sooner than you think. Here’s a final message from the armed forces :
It’s been almost a month since the last update. How time flies, doesn’t it? The reasons for the delay are as follows:
I somehow acquired both Jaundice and Hepatitis-A (Simultaneously! Scientific wonder!), which caused weakness and inability to program, and
The Scripting System.
While it would no doubt be fun to talk about (1), and how I suffered generally, I think an update on how (2) is shaping up would be more useful, and will receive better critical reception. Here’s how I started programming the scripting system:
A few months ago, I came up with a demo (or a “vertical slice”) for the A.Typical combat* system. I posted a few screenshots and details, which a few ModDB users criticized for causing irreparable harm to their eyes, BUT received (some) positive response for its uniqueness. Extending that system to multiple situations, however, proved a bigger challenge than what I thought. Specifically, I found out that my hacky approach to scripting was causing several bugs, glitches and inappropriate NPC behavior. Combining that system with the in-game world was also proving a pain with my earlier mentioned hacky approach, which brings us nicely to the new system.
My thought process in action.
The way the system works is simple: each event has a set of conditions needed to trigger the event, which I’ll refer to as triggers for the event. Basically, a trigger is a logical expression that must be true if the event can occur. Conditions include the player location, events that have happened before, and in some cases the object the player must interact with to trigger the event. I also maintain a huge list of all events that take place in the game, with combat-specific events having their own list. Here’s a (simplified) pictorial representation:
A few features of the system still need implementation (such as making 2 events occur simultaneously, accounting for AI behavior). I hope to get started on those soon enough *grumbles about exams*. I hope to get better soon and give you more news and updates!
* – The general all-purpose system used in a variety of situations referred to as the combat system.
P.S. Oh, and by the way, super-all-round-artist Henri has been busy with real life stuff, so I’m sorry I don’t have much art to show. However, he did come up with this work in progress photo of the world map. More awesome art is forthcoming!
Hey people! It’s Arvind this time with some sweet news to share. Now before you run away in fear of the horrible art I am about to show you, be aware that it is all going to be replaced by our awesome artist, so just see it this once and you’ll never have to see it again. Promise.
Let’s start with one feature that is quite central to the game – The World Map.
Okay, enough screaming in horror at my sheer impudence to show you this horrible picture. But once you get past the art and to the substance, you will notice that the locations on this map all have one thing in common. Come on, guess that common thing while I show you some other pictures of the development process.
Left : How the map icon looks on screen (Henri drew that), and Right : the selection effect that occurs when you select a location on the world map.
So there I am, hard at work implementing new features and toiling away in inhospitable conditions to polish the game to near perfection. For those of you who prefer using the keyboard to the new-fangled mouse and GUI stuff that is surely a fad, I’ve added full keyboard support to all the in-game interfaces. After all, nobody will be using mice after 5 years.
In the next update, we’ll show you the environments that Henri has been toiling on for the past few days. He did make the special map icon that glows when you point at it. Technology!
TECHNICAL STUFF WARNING !!
(Not suitable for the graphics-obsessed or people with allergy to code !)
Is he gone? Good, I don’t like him very much.
A lot of my programming time this past month has been spent optimizing the game engine, as it soon became apparent just how bloated the code had become in some places. Worse, I came upon a nasty memory leak that caused about a 2 MB increase in memory consumption per second. That’s pretty nasty even for a AAA 3d-enabled processor-destroying game, much less for a 2d game like we have here.
So the result was that I dived into all my code, and completely rewrote the parts I thought were poorly written (about 75% of the code), and the result is a leaner, faster game that consumes about half as much memory as previously and runs a lot faster. And best of all – no more memory leaks!
I’m currently programming a whole new level system that will enable me to quickly prototype the game events (story and battles, basically). After that, I plan to get started on the inventory and equipment system.
TECHNICAL STUFF ENDS !!
That’s it from me then, fellas. For any queries, comments, criticism, or maybe if you would like to help out in some manner, don’t hesitate to contact me!
Hello, so Arvind and I are testing a different way of posting news articles. I´ll discuss about the visual department, and he goes into coding and game-design. That way our readers will have more fun stuff to read, rather than just “here´s screenshots, wow at us.”. Eh, I hope at least. So, let´s start then, shall we?
Part 1. Leon´s stuff
Alright so as you might remember from the last news item, I jumped into Arvind´s RPG project to take care of the graphics-design. I´ve wanted to work on indie games AND 2d-graphics for soooo long, and Arvind I know from before, so this seemed like a really good project to jump on. I´ll get plenty of exercise in building a game from thin air (as opposed to modding – customizing something that already exists) and I also get to work on smaller 2d visuals, so this is pure joy for me.
The way we do this is, Arvind has the base build, and I have some sort of a messy build that I test my graphics on, and there I just change the images, paint over them, see what works and what doesn’t, and when there´s something decent enough to show, I upload it on our DropBox folder (its a ftp-like thing for sharing files) and then it goes into the actual build of the game.
Example 1.) So I grab the graphics straight off from the game´s gfx folders, then paint over them in Photoshop. Naturally, its quite a good idea to keep everything in layers, since there´s bound to be some changes after any gameplay testing.
Since I don’t have that much experience in 2d graphics in actual games, I decided to stick to a style that I’m really familiar with. Cartoony and bright. I doubt that many people know this, but I draw´n publish my own comics, so cartoony and lighthearted visuals are way closer to my heart than the grittier and horror-oriented stuff I throw into ModDB.
Example 2.) Damn its hard to align these pictures into the article.. well anyways, this picture here shows you how I design the sprites and the backgrounds. I work A.Typical RPG´s graphics first on paper, in small parts, and then I scan that stuff away and cut and paste together in Photoshop. Keeping the layers intact. I constructed the whole football field and the player character and most of the new buttons purely with this scanned image.
I’ve heard its best to leave the hero´s character sheet for the last, and first design all the other npcs, but I couldn’t resist using the sprite sheet on the hero himself. Atleast we can test the character sheets properly, since the player´s character has to be the most interactive of the bunch. I took the idea out of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, one of my all-time fave games, where Link has purple hair, fitting enough for a epic hero. Whaddaya think? Does this look good, or just stupid?
Example 3.) The purple/green hero! Also, the animation frames. I requested proper animations according to action ´n direction, so right now we´re running at 22 animation frames per character. In the football-match alone, there are 6 characters, so that counts into something like 130 images I gotta draw. But that´s how it goes.. and practice makes perfect.
OK that’s all from me then. Do leave comments on what I´ve done. Nothing´s final right now, so if you have any bright ideas, let us laugh at them hear them! Oh and I´d love to hear any tips anyone has on 2d graphics / hi-res sprite-design..
´till later -Henri
Part 2. Arvind´s stuff
Okay fellas, so that’s our super artist right there. Now, my part of the post focuses more on the gameplay, since I’m glad I don’t have to draw any more sprites (and I’m sure you guys are glad as well).
Let’s start off with how our WORK-IN-PROGRESS playground looks like now :
Big improvement, eh? A lot of my recent work has been behind the scenes – cleaning up code, adding new functionality – but the changes most visible are only a few. One of the most visible changes is :
I received a lot of mixed feedback from the UI elements last time around. A lot of the negative views were based on how the command menu kept changing locations, and often covered the character or the nearby sprites. In order to address those complaints, the command menu now stays at the top right corner of the field – so the action is never obscured in any way.
Also, in order to avoid confusion on exactly which character did the commands refer to, we included a neat little selection box that show you which character currently has focus.
Another important concern while playing the game was to give the players an idea of where they were positioned, and also the resultant position of their moves. This issue was solved by the hastily brilliantly named element, the field grid.
This grid gives you a clear idea of the location of your character, as well as the surrounding characters – and is used in every action where character position(s) are relevant. Here’s what it looks like when selecting where to move a character :
Apart from this, I have coded almost the entire battle system. We hope we can soon move from work-in-progress-rough-unfinished-stuff to some sweet real gameplay footage. What remains is animation and scripting the battle for the most A.Typical football match you have ever seen.
Expect more awesome news from me and Henri pretty soon!
A lot of complaints I have been getting about the game have been about the absolutely revolting level of art design I have subjected you to. Well, all that is about to change, for I am very pleased to announce that the A.Typical RPG has a new artist – Henri !
He has made a few mockups of what the final game will look like once he has purged my art from the galaxy. To demonstrate just how much more awesome the game looks, here’s a comparison :
Disclaimer: The image shown here is a concept image – Henri has told me he will improve the level of detail and quality of the in-game art in the following days. So while this image isn’t exactly final, you can expect the art to be even better.
P.S. You may recognize Henri from the excellent Flesh mod and the promising Visage mod. You can view his deviantart gallery here: Acherontiadomus.deviantart.com
Here’s another of his cryptic sprite designs, which consist of character concepts :
One of the many aims of the A.Typical RPG is to provide a new and fresh RPG experience to it’s players.
The first thing on my mind when designing the battle system was to make a versatile system, that applies to not only combat but also to other scenarios outside of combat. The RPG experience in current video games is often limited by two scenarios :
1. The role-playing part either applying to either interaction or battles ( Borderlands, Diablo etc). 2. Two concurrent role-playing systems, one related to non-violent interaction and another related to combat – with little relation to each other ( Mass Effect, Dragon Age, etc).
The primary aim of this system is to make every part of the game – from conversations to fights – an integrated RPG to the core. The versatility of the system ensures attributes such as the player morale, non-player character opinion and even the style of play can be used as variables in the game, resulting in more realistic depiction of player choices and attributes, rather than the battle/interaction duo of attributes common in current games.
Here’s what the view is like just after the match starts :
Please note that the MS Paint nature of the art is because I am a programmer, and I suck at drawing stuff in general. If I manage to find a good graphic designer, you can expect better quality images. Do see postscript if you are interested.
Anyway, there are a few things to notice :
1. The list of names at the bottom shows the sequence in which the characters will perform actions. The sequence calculation technique has been explained previously in this post.
2. The menu of actions available – this will change depending on the following situations – a. If the character has the ball or not b. The character’s location c. Other friendly or douche character locations
3. If you choose the to Kick the ball, the location is decided in this way :
4. The move menu is location sensitive – to ensure you don’t move off the ground, for one thing. Here’s the menu for a character in the middle of the ground – he can move in any direction.
However, a character on the right edge can not move further down, as seen here :
5. Football is not just pretty passing – if your location is nearby someone who has the ball – you can tackle him to win the ball back – but skilled players can evade the challenge, so it’s not foolproof. It also depends on how well you can tackle, and your physical strength.
Yours truly is making steady progress, and hopes to get a small demo out for you people to play with very soon. For any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!
P.S. If you are an awesome graphic designer (2D art) , or an arty type with impressive Photoshop skills who wants to make sure the ugly sprites go away in order to save humanity from further eye damage, please email me and join the cause to make the most A.Typical RPG humanity has ever seen!
P.P.S. Links to your portfolio or deviantart page (or whatever the cool kids have these days) would be super-awesome.
The battle system of the A.Typical RPG is the area where the innovation will take place.
My pet peeve with traditional turn based system in traditional 2D RPGs is that it doesn’t feel realistic enough. And by realistic, I mean it doesn’t represent what should actually happen in the battle accurately. Suppose a character Arvind is awesomely fast and all powerful and handsome and rich and gets all the ladies and…okay, got a little sidetracked there. And let’s have a character, say Captain Pathetic, who can’t move 10 feet in an hour even if his life depended on it.
If I would expect a battle to take place between the two characters, I would expect Arvind to beat the stuffing out of Capt. Pat over and over till each and every atom of his body has dissipated into oblivion. However, in a turn based system, Arvind will take one turn, then Capt. Pat will take another and so on.
To remove this limitation, allow me to introduce the battle system of the A.Typical RPG. It uses a unique algorithm to generate a sequence of turns instead of offering turns to all characters one by one (boring).
A concept of the system :
I’m interested in feedback about the atypical system.