Soon!

Sorry for the lack of updates on the blog, been very busy trying to tidy up all the scripts, scenes, codes and other things to get out the first demo. It’s roughly 90% done, and the only thing remain is the exp curves, battle balancing and stuff like that. I expect the first demo will roll out in the next 2 days! 

Under then, thank you for reading!

~anDai

Snakes in a game.

It’s time to talk about instance, and we’ll use the recently completed snake nest instance as an example.

This is the base level of the snake cave. The entrance to the cave is on the bottom right. This is the second instance of the game, and the first one that is designed to be actually challenging. There are snakes patrolling the caves and should they spot the player, they will chase the player down. As soon as the player comes in contact with a snake, a battle will ensue. I’ve talked about this before but in an instance, there will be no random encounter through walking. Every encounter is made clear with either enemies on the map or an event.

Once a player starts an instance, they will not be allowed to leave the instance. Should they decide that they want to leave the instance, the instance will result in an automatic fail and you will not be able to enter the same instance again. This system is implemented to provide challenging contents to the players. Traditional 2D RPGs have always allowed players to return to an inn when they are low on health or when things start looking sketchy. In Project Helix, I would like to punish players who are not prepared for the challenge. Players are, of course free to save the game prior to entering an instance. However, should they fail the instance, they will have to start all over again from the save file or continue on without a chance to repeat the quest.

Another feature of instances are rest shrines. This is the mechanics used in Dungeons and Dragons Online and is surprisingly fitting in this environment. The idea is that, through a prolonged instance, player characters will start taking damage and run out of MP. Shrines are able to fully replenish health and mana of your entire party. However, shrines are good for only one use each, so the timing of using the shrine is key. Players will be inclined to save shrines for later use and get as much value as they possibly can from them. This way, it provides a steady way for designers to create the instance and balance it so that it is not too difficult or easy for the player.

Each instance has its own quest log to provide clarity to the player if they get lost or confused inside the instance. The quest log will list primary objectives and optional objectives. Optional objectives are not required for the completion of the quest, but often rewards players for their efforts with experience and/or items, or sometimes even change the plots of later events.

Each instance will have a set of objectives you must complete in order to successfully complete the quest. However, many instances will also offer players choices on how they wish to complete a quest. Fighting a final boss is not always necessary. Sometimes it is possible to talk your way out. Sometimes you are required to have completed some other objectives somewhere else before you have the option to avoid fight. Ultimately, it all comes down to providing players the ability to choose their own destiny. To shape the story that they want to see.

Depending on the choices you make in an instance and the optional objectives you do or do not do, the scenes following the instance will always be different. Take the above picture for example. In this case, Mira had decide to destroy the eggs yet at the same time did not actually commit to doing so. Different choices will lead to different scenes. This is something that Project Helix will constantly strive to achieve.

And that concludes our basic introduction to instances. We will cover more mechanic related topics in the next few days.

Until then, thank you for reading!

~anDai

Mira-nee!!

Today, I would like to talk a little about our Main Heroine, Mira.

Mira shares many traits with the stereotypical sheltered-princess archetypes. She is next to clueless about the outside world, has been taken care of all her life, and  grew up loved by everyone around her. One main difference between Mira and a regular princess is that she kicks ass. Born with an extremely strong affinity to the elemental water as well as being a genius in swordsmanship, not many people can take her on in combat. While this may contributes further to her arrogance, she is ultimately a very good natured girl and will help anyone in Thalassa that needs her help. In short, she may not always say the nicest things but deep down, she always means well.

Designing Mira has been an incredibly interesting experience for myself. In the initial concept, Mira’s character was intended to be a male. However, as the theme of the actual game is based on the main character’s relationship with his/her elder sister, this quickly became impossible. The main character of Project Helix needed to be someone that greatly admires his/her sister, and during the initial test run the male character became extremely difficult to script. Ultimately, it just makes perfect sense to change the main character into a female. The scripting of the male character was awkward to say the least and half the things he would say regarding his sister made him sound like a total wimp, whereas in Mira’s case all the scripts would be, in my opinion, much more suited for the atmosphere that I am trying to capture.

Sprite Courtesy of のんびりまったり

Thanks to のんびりまったり, I was able to obtain 56 different emotions for Mira, 8 of which I’ve shown above. This allows me to convey Mira’s emotion a lot better than a stale image of her and it also allows the players to connect with Mira on a much deeper scale. Words can only go so far without pictures, and this was precisely the kind of facial expressions that I needed for my main character. Many of the other playable characters and important Non-playable characters have around 8 to 16 different emotions, which I find heavily limits how much emotion I can put into their scenes.

Many players, when they first start the game, may feel that Mira is cliched and one dimensional, which is completely fair. She is designed to be that way from the very beginning. However, she will go through many life-altering events and struggles that will actually shape her character. I am a firm believer that in a RPG, the main character should not have too much character in the very beginning. By building Mira’s character throughout the course of the game, the players are able to better connect and understand her.

There are many other things I’d like to discuss about Mira, but I think I’ll just leave it at that for now. The snake dungeon is finally finished, and is fully playable barring any overlooked bugs. I will discuss the dungeon in tomorrow’s post.

Until then, thanks for reading!

~anDai

Kagure forest and Exploration Areas

So today, I’d like to talk about Exploration Areas.

Below is an image of Kagure Forest, the first exploration area that the players will have access to.

As you can see, its a gigantic mess. The wrapping of the edge makes the map a lot more confusing which contributes greatly to the whole “lost in the forest” atmosphere.

Exploration areas are generally large maps that has multiple side objectives for players to explore. Taking Kagure Forest as an example, the players will first enter Kagure forest due to an event. During the duration of the event, the player will be unable to explore other side plots, and will instead be forced to complete the linear plot first. After that plot is completed, the access to the Exploration Area of Kagure Forest is granted. In this particular area, there are instances to enter, events to trigger, locations to discover, and maybe items to obtain as well.

How random encounter works in these Exploration Areas is that when a random encounter is about to spawn, an exclamation mark will appear on top of the player character’s sprite. If the player presses Z, the encounter is skipped completely. This will allow the players who wish to explore the area undisturbed to be able to do just that and at the same time provide other players with a way to grind, if they wish to do so.

Exploration Areas are different than instances in the sense that you may leave whenever you want and return at whichever time you wish. Keep in mind however, that exploration areas will likely not contain any healing shrines like instances do.

The primary design objective of Project Helix has always been to provide players with choices. With the Exploration Area and Instances, players will have a choice on how they wish to proceed with the game. As exploring the area and finding objectives / instances will grant exp as well, it is entirely feasible for some players to just do these sidequests and never have to grind.

The first instance located inside Kagure Forest is 80% complete. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share the concept and some screenshots in the next few days.

Until then, thanks for reading!

~anDai

Project Helix!

Started using WordPress today because recording Vlogs are too time consuming. So the new idea is going to be to use Vlog only once in awhile. In the mean time, I will use WordPress for smaller updates and notices.

Here is the latest Vlog, where I talked about plans for instances among other things.

 

And here is Ismael, the Arabian theme town that I’ve drawn. It is an early prototype version so it’s lacking some serious polish.

Well, that’s it for the first post!

 

~anDai