Developer Update #4
Taking it easy
Hello readers and followers of the DarkDale dev blog! It’s been a while since the last post, so time for some news on how the game is progressing. If I didn’t write more regularly recently, it’s because I actually took a short break from working on the project in October. Besides it being the busiest month for me otherwise (this game being still financially a side project for now, on which I work for “free”), I felt the need to relax a bit after the intense summer.
I had been working on it 50-60h per week for 4 months straight, development was going at a steady pace, I started getting some attention from games news sites (thanks rpgfrance!), I opened forums, a kickstarter was planned next… and then I realized I had started rushing things. I was trying to add more “features” to get the blog post going and show progress, and skipping ahead in development – “I’ll iron out the details later”. But the details to iron out started accumulating and I realized that burning myself away on overtime and cutting corners was NOT the right way to create the game that I was dreaming of.
Recent launches of “final” or “early access” versions of some other games (that we won’t name here), riddled with bugs, confirmed me in that belief that good things take time. If I really manage to put out a good game, which I really hope, I wish to believe players will follow, no matter when. And the way to do this was to take some time off, and come back to the project with a fresh eye and mind, and then go on developing it one thing at a time, with care, paying attention to details, like I was doing from the beginning. So… here’s what’s been brewing.
Not that GUI again
Yes, the user interface went through another iteration. I had developed the GUI panels for the champion portraits, then inventory, then skills, and character stats, and spells, as I was developing each part of the structure. This process of building elements on top of elements leads generally to results which tend to lack global organization and coherence, but at the same time, I couldn’t just design it all together ahead as I didn’t know exactly from the start what elements I would need and how they would fit together. In any case, I knew I had to redo it at some point, and with that “let’s do things right” philosophy, I bit the bullet and redrew all of it. For such an important thing as the user interface, the more iterations the better – it will probably still change a lot during development and testing.
Champion portrait panels were reorganized with health/stamina/mana bars horizontally instead of vertically, in order to allow larger text for the weapons attack modes/quick spells window, without overleap with the portrait, which is also lightly bigger. Inventory/champion basic stats were split in two distinct panels, to allow eventually modular changes. Character, Skills and Spells panels where all redesigned with a common theme. And all of it is now animated, panels sliding in and out, which gives it a more dynamic feel. Here’s a quick video of the new GUI in action.
As you can notice, I’ve also coded in the basic spells functionality, which is shown here with a healing spell and a fire attack one – these obviously lack sound effects and the visuals still need tweaking, but work. Notice the attention paid to the console feedback, which can intelligently say that the caster “healed herself” when it happens.
This video also allows you to see how the city environment is coming along. I’ve already showns still screens of it before, but walking through it gives a better sense of the environment, of course. Part of the models used are pre-made assets, others were created specifically for DarkDale.
Let’s model some weapons
I originally had a plan of developing the game engine first, building the minimum required assets for testing as it went along, and then develop the content subsequently in order to avoid having to redo things twice if I changed something down the road in the way assets are defined. However, I was really getting tired of seeing the same two sword icons, and if I was to program a store, and test how item lists could be defined and behave, I needed more items. So I started on the process of expanding the weapons iron and steel families. Here’s some screenshots of how axes are coming along, in one or two-handed variants.
Well, first of all, we’ll cotinue with modeling items to get somemore assets in, and then code in the shopping interface. Then, continuing the development of the city and sewers environments, along with some more character models to populate the world. Good thing is, I’ll have a lot more time to put on the game after the holidays, so steady progress will again be the norm.