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My isometric RPG

  • Okay, so I've been putting off posting an actual thread about my game, or even showing it off, for a very long time. I think I now have enough done that I can start posting about it.

    This is an isometric RPG that I've been working on for about 1 and a half years. Of course, a lot of that time was also spent learning 3d, learning C2, and learning about game design. I also took a couple short breaks when I reached sticking points to try some quick prototypes. I still have a long way to go. I need to build the levels and create some more enemies, but most of the gameplay is in place. Since the preview time is already about 45 seconds, I decided to hold off building any more and just focused on gameplay features for a while. Soon, I'll be building out the rest of the game.

    The target platform is PC. I hope to get it on Steam eventually.

    Anyway, here is what I have to show.

    This is just a test area. I plan on building a full castle with at least 3 or 4 levels plus 1 or 2 underground areas. Each room will be small, but I plan on mixing it up with different sizes or layouts for the rooms, different enemy placement, and whatever else when I get to that stage. It'll be sort of an "open world" castle. You can go between rooms as you please or seek alternate paths.

    You can spend skill points at any time. They can also be saved for later. You will need a good amount of skill points to beat some of the enemies in the game. Skill points either improve your abilities with weapons or your overall strength and health. As I get more done, some of this may be modified for game balance purposes, but so far it works pretty well.

    Combat relies on hit rolls. Your attacks are compared to a 1d10 die which rolls 1 through 10. Your skill with a weapon can be from 1 to 10. If your skill is equal or higher the the computer roll, you successfully hit the enemy. I have it started at 3 which hits 30% of the time. It can be increased to 10 to hit 100% of the time. Enemy attacks roll from 1-15 or 1-12 depending on the enemy and roll against your agility. If your agility is equal or higher, they miss.

    Loot will be random. I use functions to determine what loot you get from the containers or whatnot. Whether the enemies will drop something has yet to be decided. Everything you do gives skill points so you can level up. Objects that you can interact with will be highlighted in yellow. This was partially inspired by Deus Ex. I also wanted some randomness since this game was originally meant to be a full rogue-like, but deviated slightly. I am still probably going to feature some rogue-like aspects though such as permadeath.

    I have done a lot of work to make a nice HUD for the game. I think I have redesigned it about a dozen times by now, not to mention small tweaks or experiments. I'm finally happy with it, though of course, I may or may not revise or improve it as time as goes on.

    The goal of the game right now is to collect loot. Since you are a thief character, it seemed like a good goal. I may let the player choose the goal amount or whatnot. It just depends.

    I chose a thief because it had the most varied skills. You can attack at close range, hide in the shadows, set traps, use a bow, pick locks, and whatever else I add before it's done. I didn't want the game to be about straight combat. The enemies do not attack right away. If you get close or do something suspicious, however, they will come after you. I made it this way so you could decide if it's worth attacking a difficult enemy or bypassing him.

    The game is pre-rendered 3d. I use Modo and Zbrush. I also use Photoshop for the HUD. I render everything on different layers. For example the castle floor, back wall, and containers are all on one layer since they are rendered together. The front wall is on a higher layer so it always appears in front of the characters. The characters themselves and any miscellaneous objects will use z-order sorting. Characters are rendered in 8 directions. So, each animation has 8 variations. I explain more about this in the video below.

    I built most everything from scratch. I am using my own character models, my own animation rig, my own levels, icons, portraits, and eventually sound. This has been a solo project.

    Here is a video I made. It lasts about 18 minutes. I explain quite a bit about the game. Please do note that this is a very "casual" recording. So, forgive the occasional "um" or "you know" that sneaked in. I was a bit tired when I recorded it... <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8-)" title="Cool"> (oh and try to watch it at 60fps in Chrome if you can).

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    Anyway, I most likely forgot to mention something, but the game still has plenty of time left before it's done, so I'm sure there will be plenty of updates.

    I'm fairly new to game design, but it seemed like it would be something I would be good at. Technically, I'm an artist. That's why I chose C2. This game is the first one that I am taking to completion. I've been reading books and studying everything I can to make sure I get started off on the right path in game design.

    Update 8/22/15

    New screens. (see page 3 for details)

    Update: 9/3/2015 New video!

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  • It's really fantastic work! It's nice to see other ambitious projects in C2! Your art style looks great and the animations are nice. I'm curious just how many frames your animations use, but it all looks nice! I hope you have a nice way to ease new players into all the detail you have in the game.

    I'll be actively checking out your topic to see what else you get working in the game!

  • C-7 Thanks! I just started learning 3d last summer, though I did have a bit of experience with 2d animations before that. Most of my art was sort of like illustrations, so I had to know how to draw the figure in action poses. I think that helped with learning 3d animation

    Since image memory usage is a huge concern for 2d games, I have to be conservative and mindful to get the most out of it. I spent A LOT of time designing a template in Modo that basically centered the character perfectly so I could use the auto-crop feature in C2. This made importing isometric animations a breeze and allowed me to be efficient with the memory. I set up 8 cameras in Modo, one for each direction. So, when rendering animations, I just go Camera A - render animation, and put it all in one folder, then Camera B, and so on, and then import them go to C2, and I can import all the frames for each animation at once, shift-crop the whole thing at once, and save myself a huge headache over my old ways of doing it.

    The number of frames varies. The biggest one is the attack animations. I set them to 40 frames just to slow things down a bit. I didn't want combat to be so fast that you would not have time to observe and think. I also thought that combat should be fun to look at, so I gave it priority over the other animations.

    Idle animations use less frames. For the bow's idle animation, I even use ping-pong to make it last a little longer while not needing more frames. The dagger idle is a bit fancier, so no ping-pong. They both use 30 frames.

    The walk animations are set to 29 frames (well, 30 if you count frame zero). My main concern was making sure it looped smoothly during the walk cycle.

    A couple of the shorter animations only use 22 or so frames, like the death animation (not shown in the video).

    Anyway, as far as easing new players into it, I am going to use the main text area in the to give some tips. When you mouse over an icon or whatnot, it will give some info on it. Also, the "tips" icon will bring up additional info that players may miss. And as any good game should, I will make sure the first few rooms the players enter will help them get to grips with the game with easy enemies and whatnot.

  • Great work! But I think that in the future it will use a lot of memory. Isometric perspective need a lot of sprites and animations for mobs and Character... More mobs = more animations = more memory usage...

  • Great work! But I think that in the future it will use a lot of memory. Isometric perspective need a lot of sprites and animations for mobs and Character... More mobs = more animations = more memory usage...

    Thanks!

    Yeah, I'm keeping the rooms limited to maybe one enemy. I haven't decided yet. The game will be hard enough just with that. Enemies will not be a pushover in this game, well except for the scrub enemies that are going to be intentionally easy to beat.

    The main character and that enemy have most of their animations done already. Any more at this point would be optional.

    What you see in memory use in those screenshots will be pretty close to what the final game uses. I'm trying to keep it under 200 IMU, but I believe Ashley said in an old post that even 400 IMU is good for PC games, so I have some head room left if I want to make a room with more enemies in it.

  • Good stuff! I like the style you're going with in your modelling, everything pops really well. Pretty ambitious for being the first project you intend to complete, too. I started my current project, Reliquary, this way before switching to pixel art six months into development, so I know how much work it is. I hope you can stick it out, because this is gorgeous.

  • Ahr Ech Thanks! For the first few months of my project, I was going with more of a hand-drawn style. It was either going to be pixel art or more of a stylized hand-drawn look. As I got further into development, I wanted an easier way to create realistic characters and environments. After all, my main inspiration for isometric games came from things like Baldur's Gate II, which was fairly realistic in its overall look. Plus, when I decided to go with fully isometric (as opposed to multi-angle like Golden Axe on the Genesis) I needed an easier way to make things.

    I then made the change to 3d. I now quite enjoy 3d. I feel like I'm actually building things. Plus, I like digital sculpting (like in Zbrush). Animating in 3d is fun too. I'd probably choose to be an animator if I had to pick one job. Of course, I grew up doing drawings and paintings, so part of me also likes to do fantasy art (like the thief portrait). I will be doing a full illustration later on for the title screen and promotional art.

  • Looks nice.. Interested to see how this turns out. I like the classic RPG feeling.

  • Definitely a game I would play. Thanks for sharing your progress!

  • tunepunk Thanks! Yeah, I like older RPGs. I still play Baldur's Gate II enhanced edition on Steam. It's amazing how well the graphics of some of these 15 year old games still hold up. In fact, the only complaint I hear about BG II EE is the somewhat low rez character models, but even they are still decent looking.

    @bclikesyou Thanks! Always good to hear that it's a game people want to play. The more interest I get from people, the more motivation I have to keep going.

  • Looking really good Drew. Love those animations.

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  • GenkiGenga Thanks! I'm happy with the way they have turned out.

    I'd love to be able to spend more time on the animations of course, but I have so many things to do working solo, I can only spend so much time on each part.

    Plus, there's the limitations of image memory. I also need need certain triggers to be on specific frames consistently (such as the attack box for damage spawning during frame 15, or spawning the arrow, or whatnot) in order to keep combat fair for enemies and the player.

    Modo has been pretty good for animations. I don't think it's as good as Maya, but it's half the price, and their update policy is much more forgiving. Once you come to grips with it, it can make very nice animations.

    This is the rig I built after following of couple of very lengthy tutorials. (I adjust the fingers with a channel haul that is not pictured). I turn off textures/materials and smoothing to make it animate more fluidly.

    Soon, I plan to add a few more enemies, but I think for the next step I should create the floor plan for the castle and start building some more rooms. I can get started making my props as well (rubble, various castle objects, columns, anything to place in the rooms to make them less empty feeling).

  • Ha I understand completely the time constraints of working alone (I think what you have is more than acceptable).

    You mentioned long waiting times to preview, out of curiosity, what is the memory use on the layout the demo is on?

  • Ha I understand completely the time constraints of working alone (I think what you have is more than acceptable).

    You mentioned long waiting times to preview, out of curiosity, what is the memory use on the layout the demo is on?

    I have two rooms in the demo. The first room uses 146.33 IMU after export (and about 129.99 "before" export). It always seems to go up after export. The second room is nearly the same, but reuses the same assets.

    The current time to run a preview is about 40 seconds. This is the time from clicking the run button to being able to play. I recently deleted some old junk and did some cleanups, so it's down a bit from the previous 45 second times I used to get.

    Most of my memory is used on the hero and enemy characters. I tested it once by deleting them and running the preview, and it only took about 5 to 10 seconds. I guess after I get the rest of my characters done and add in the level graphics for other rooms, I'm going to be waiting even longer. Oh well, I've got most of the features working already.

    Of course, once I export it to nodewebkit, it only takes about 5 seconds to run.

  • Very Impressive on every single details! And the video's informative too!

    'Portrait with blood' is a cool idea stead of the usual health bar.

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