Developer Update #2
Ah, it’s good to have a new blazing fast laptop and be able to work properly at last. Things have been progressing at a good pace since the last update, so here’s a another general update of what has been done in the wonderful world of DarkDale.
Down the Drain
The screenshots from the first few posts were using stock textures as a mockup of a dungeon environment, to have some visuals to build and test the game code. We can do better than that for the actual game environments of course, and here’s a screenshot of how the work is progressing on the first wallset: the sewers of Mountain Shadow. After all, all decent adventures start in the sewers. Or lead to them.
Every architectural element is built by placing individual high-resolution bricks or stones one by one by hand, and then baked on low resolution geometry. I have to salute here the power of xNormal, which is simply incredible in terms of quality of it’s normal and ambiant occlusion maps renders. It’s impressive that such a tool, which has nearly become industry standard, is free… Then again, between Sculptris, Blender and so many other tools, there’s a lot that can be done today by game developers on a budget. The textures were thus redone in a better quality for the existing items, as you can see in the next screenshot. By the way, as an illustration of the power of good normal and specularity maps, the floor here is only a 2 tris flat plane!
Textures for the game will be available at a resolution of up to 2048 x 2048 on high settings.
Viva la resolution!
Speaking of high resolutions, the entire user interface has been redrawn from the previous mockups to a more definite state in full HD. All GUI elements are now at a 1:1 pixel ratio on 1080p resolutions, and scaled down for other ones. Even on 900p or 720p, the sharper original texture makes a huge difference. Various little details have been fine-tuned to make it more user-friendly. Here’s a screenshot (at 900p), also showcasing the Character attributes panel.
Now I’m sure a glance at this screen can raise many questions on how the different stats and attributes will work… more on that next post. You can however see how the game will feature very detailed descriptions of what’s effecting what. That way, the player can always understand where his bonuses or penalties are coming from, and manage his characters and equipment accordingly.
We weren’t sure about it at first, but finally decided to go for a fully moddable and scriptable skills system. The entire code that was handling champion’s attributes has been rewritten to allow that, and now everything skill-wise can be defined or changed in external lua files, from the name of the skill to what bonuses, perks or talents are obtained at each level. The only restriction (for now) is that it has to fit in one of the 5 skill categories (Melee Weapons, Ranged Weapons, Defense, Survival & Magic) and there can be 6 different skills per category. By the way, the original conception of a “Rogue” skill category has been renamed “Survival” and expanded to include Persuasion, Thieving, Traps, Crafstmanship, Sneaking and Perception skills, all spread out between different classes. More on what each one does later.
Draw me a hero
Making a game working almost solo requires a great deal of polyvalency and varied talents, from modeling to writing to programming to design to music composition… Unfortunately, being a good character artist is not yet on my list of skills (but I should probably invest some skill points in that at the next level up). What to do with portraits, then?
Well, the internet is a fabulous world of resources, and I stumbled upon Hero Machine. As a free character generator, it’s doing good job on its own, and has been serving well the community of hobby gamers for the last few years. Now, the generated portraits are a somewhat basic and not quite personalized enough to cut it in the actual game. But with a little help… The outline was all I needed to get started and further paint/shade the portraits to give them depth and character. Here’s how the process looks like:
The result is pretty decent and of course the more I do, the better these portraits will become. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read, and now, back to work!