Friday 27 September 2013

Folk Tale Dev Blog 13

In the middle of September we welcomed two new artists to the team, funded directly by your support in buying the game during Early Access. Both artists have hit the ground running and we are already feeling the increase in momentum. In today's blog I'm able to share some of the new monsters being worked on. We'll save the environment art for a bigger feature in a future blog.

Save/Load System

As game players Save/Load is something we all take for granted and just expect to work. There's nothing glitzy about it. When it works, nobody talks about it. But when it doesn't, all hell breaks loose in the support forums. If you've followed development you'll know it's taking a while to deliver.

This weekend ( 28th September ) we're having a final push. If all goes well, towards the end of the weekend we'll be providing an opt-in release candidate to members of the community wishing to help test load/save. While the 300+ test cases should have caught most bugs, there's probably a few we've missed. It seems prudent with a complex function to provide a release candidate before pushing out the main update to the broader community.

I'll post instructions on how to access the release candidate build in the forum as well as posting the link here once it becomes available.

UPDATE: Instructions for accessing the test build can be found at:

UPDATE: is now available via automatic update for both PC and Mac.

Location Editor / Tower Defense Mini-Game

Work is progressing well on the mini-game ( which for those visiting the blog for the first time will be an incremental release designed to test sandbox siege mechanics ). In the video below you'll see the Trebuchet targeting system in action tied in with the animations.

I get excited watching these progress videos because of the ideas they trigger, for example wouldn't it be great to be in charge of a human castle, slogging it out with a goblin fort on an opposite hill, with a ground battle happening in the grass planes between. Perhaps when we produce more goblin environmental assets we'll improve the mini-game and use it to test larger battle mechanics to see how far we can push things. Before that though the priority will be to produce the kits for the biomes in the Tutorial so that we can migrate the tutorial to sandbox tech asap, as well as the first dungeon kits that will be used in major release 0.4.

Concept Art

While we wait for the outcome of the community poll on your favorite cannon-fodder and boss monsters ( please share your opinion! ) we're developing several to help us define the environments you'll encounter in the world.

For major release 0.4 we'll be working on the subterranean levels beneath The Old Forge found in the Tutorial. The first stage of that dungeon will be the Dwarven City, then the Mines, and into the cave networks that lead down into the darker more demonic levels.

For the caves we're introducing Morlock, a primitive subterranean dweller introduced in H.G.Wells 1895 book Time Machine. The Morlock and their Shadow Warden pets ( working title ) live in the dank and dark recesses of the world. Morlock attack with their razor-sharp claws, and are able to see in the dark ( their glowing eyes and luminescent skin spots will give them away in the shadows ).

We're also developing a couple of character concepts to help visualize the desert environment. As well as nomadic bandits ( coming in a future blog, and a popular mob in the forum questionnaire ) we are creating a race of scorpion-kin; half scorpion half mummified humanoids.

Each biome will also have animals that we are more familiar with. For the desert we have the pack hunting Hyena. Whether players choose to make these pets of the nomadic bandits, or independent hunting packs, will be totally up to you: it's your world design after all.

For the sandbox tower-defense mini-game ( designed to test siege mechanics ) we needed a monster allied to the goblins that could be used to pound on your city walls, as well as serving as a boss on the battlefield. Given the goblins in Folk Tale are most at home in swampland, we've designed a colossus Swamp Beast. It's final height is to be determined, but at this stage we hope it can be 2-3 times the height of a human. It's going to have a large pool of health, and should pose a real challenge when they appear on the battlefield. It will also enable us to test telegraphed special moves, providing you with time to move your troops out of harms way before a power attack lands.

On to buildings, we've revisited several in the tutorial that only had a single tier of advancement designed. We also need to migrate them to the architectural styling we're developing in sandbox.

Art Assets

The Stables concept art has been brought to life in 3D ( also the reason horses are making an appearance ). The Stables fill a variety of purposes, including training mounted Cavalry units, and producing manure used in the crafting of Gunpowder ( requiring the Apothecary building, night water from the Cesspit, and sulfur harvested from volcanic regions ).


Horse Riding uses the same quadruped skeleton we use for the deer featured in the previous blog. It's easy for riding to look bad in games, so we're taking extra care to get it right. We've used a male peasant placeholder until we have the mounted Cavalry unit. Cavalry wield a sword and shield and charge into combat, hacking and slashing at opponents to devastating effect. However, you'll need to choose your targets carefully. Much like goblin cavalry are best defended against with the long polearms of the City Watch, goblins will have their own equivalent unit to counter human cavalry.

Remember our Morlock concept from earlier? We've modeled, textured and animated the cannon-fodder version. Our monster character shader was been extended with emissive texture support so that luminescent eyes and skin markings can glow in the dark. Once we've completed the caves environment these guys should look great hiding in the shadows ready to ambush. We've simulated those conditions by varying the directional lighting level in the video below.

Featured Icon

Rather than post a number of small icons as before, each blog we'll choose one of the icons we've been working on and take a more detailed look at it's role in the game, how it's collected or crafted, and what it can be used for.

That concludes our latest dev blog. Thanks for following and supporting the game throughout development. There's some really great content being worked on, and it's a real pleasure to work with a supportive community that shares our excitement for the game's future. Be sure to pop back in a fortnight's time to see the Swamp Beast brought to life.

Saturday 14 September 2013

Folk Tale Dev Blog 12

Plenty of videos and visuals to share, some team news, and a status update on the imminent Load/Save function that we'll be pushing out soon as part of patch

Save/Load System

Load/Save has taken longer than expected to develop. Were this a shoot-em-up game it'd be fairly easy to write, but with complex relationships between objects and some with animation states that change over time ( wheat, saw benches etc ), that creates a lot of areas where bugs can be introduced, and a lot of scenarios that need testing. Load/Save definitely isn't a feature that we can release half-assed. It needs to be robust or it will result in a lot of support posts in the forums.

In the video above you'll see that we are very close to being finished. There is one minor corner we can cut to get the patch out sooner: to load a game you'll currently have to start the tutorial, and then load a saved game. In time we'll add the option to the main menu screen as you would expect.

Location Editor / Tower Defense Mini-Game

In parallel to Load/Save, we've been progressing the Location Editor by developing the City Walls System. It's the precursor to players being able to quickly plot out where they want Villagers to construct walls in the Sandbox Tower Defense Mini-Game.

We've added edge docking to the UI windows, and new icons for kit pieces. The previous icons were renders of world tiles, and the textures made them visually hard to identify, causing us to pause before choosing the correct tiles ( see the Before and After images in the top right of the image below ).

To help readability ( being able to identify not only shape, but height changes ), we've swapped from renders to illustrations and included additional visual information. Height Guides help identify whether a piece will height-match with other pieces you are working with, or when a slope changes from half-height to full-height.

The thumbs look blocky as currently do the real-world terrain tiles. Given time the real-world tiles will evolve to be smoother, allowing us to recreate much of the look of the Tutorial.  We're considering introducing a quarter-height set of tiles for more gradual inclines. The only issue is that with every set of height tiles ( full, half, quarter ), the number of permutations expands exponentially. Thankfully a lot of tiles can be re-textured for snow/lava/grass/desert/swamp variations, cutting down production time.

Character Customization

Following up on Dev Blog 10 we've made some fantastic progress with character customization. The character system is now capable of customizing appearances in real-time, and transferring over a character's appearance as you train them in different occupations. The time of bald beardless male villagers magically transforming into bearded woodcutter's with a full head of hair are nearing an end.

What's not quite ready for sharing is the incredible work our Animator has done on real-time deformation of head geometry. In a nutshell this brings a huge amount of customization to just a single head. Fat face, thin face, heavy brow, fat/thin/long/short/pig noses, high/low cheek bones, broad/narrow chin. It's all in there, and all part of our Universal Skeleton system meaning we can play any human animation on any human character.  Hopefully I'll be able to share the entire system in a few blogs time once load/save is shipped.

Art Assets: Butchery

I shared the concept art for the Butchery back in Dev Blog 10, and it spurred community debate on whether the meat cleaver wedged into the roof was a step too far. The reasoning behind the styling is that much like the antlers in the Hunting Lodge, the cleaver helps players quickly identify a building's function. Understandably, the illustrative style of the pre-production sketches does make it look very cartoony, but when realized in 3D some of that cartoony feel gets lost. If you've been following the dev blogs, how do you feel now we've finished making a few of the buildings? Please share your thoughts with us over in the Forum.


I've been keenly following the development of the quadruped animations through pure excitement. Back in Dev Blog 11 I shared an early wireframe visual in of the horse. The same skeleton that drives the horse is re-targeted to the deer, which has it's own set of animations. The deer is stalked by the crossbow-wielding Hunter specialist. Here I've simulated a likely scene where the deer becomes alert, starts to flee, and then is hit by the Hunter's bolt.

Inventory Items

Our Concept Artist has taken a breather from pre-production visuals to illustrate more inventory icons. We've got a selection of Witch/Warlock items ( Voodoo Doll, Hex Bag, Crooked Wand ), crafting recipes ( Enchanting, Workshop, Blacksmith, Apothecary ), Fishing ( Fish, Cast Net, Fishing Pole, Salmon Steak ), Natural Resources ( Grapes, Wine, Cotton, Bolt, Straw, Lizard Patty, Steak, Sausages, Manure, Night Water ) and Potions ( Nerve Toxin, Deadly Nightshade as well Small / Medium / Large variations of Goo Potions for the Goo Traps ).

Team News

Thanks to a continued influx of new players, at the start of the month we were able to start the search for two new artists to join the team. After evaluating applications, we're pleased to have Devin join us as an Environment Artist, and Allan as a Character Artist.

Devin will be developing the existing biomes from the tutorial and creating new ones not yet seen. His first task will be to expand the lava area of The Old Forge into an Editor Kit ( required to migrate the Tutorial across to Sandbox Tech ), and then build the lava caverns and Dwarven city found beneath.

Allan will predominantly focus on monsters. We've started a new topic in the forum asking for your favorite cannon-fodder type creatures, and ultimate end-level style bosses. If you have five minutes to spare, we'd really appreciate your input. We'll be collating all the feedback and creating the favorites.