A mini-celebration this week with the release of patch 0.1.7.0 introducing the greatly requested Load/Save function. Judging by the lack of support incidents in the forum, it appears the effort that went into testing was most certainly worth it. This was the first time we released an opt-in test build to the community prior to the main release, with members finding a number of bugs. I'd like to thank those who participated in the test for their efforts. Given it's success, we're going to repeat the practice in the future. Eager community members get their hands on unpolished builds a little sooner and help find bugs we've missed, while players happy to wait for the main updates receive more robust patches. That sounds like a lot of positives with few negatives.
On all other fronts, development continues unabated providing more great content to share. So without further ado, here's a look at what's been keeping the team busy.
Location Editor / Tower Defense Mini-Game
One of the ongoing challenges we face in the tile-based Location Editor is how to achieve a natural look where the tendency is for things to look a little square. With the Art Team iterating on the first set of tiles shared in previous blogs, the programming team took a run at adding smooth roads and paths. Adding road tiles was quickly ruled out, and a decision made to try a spline-based ( curves ) solution.
The results are extremely usable in the Location Editor where player-designers are likely to be highly proficient with a mouse. We now need to look closely at how easy to use it would be for less proficient players, and hope to receive plenty of feedback when the Location Editor Preview is made available in major update 0.2.
In the Tutorial we packed five environments into a single map to provide a taste of what to expect from the wider world. In Sandbox, we have an opportunity to explore each of those environments in much greater detail.
For desert environments, we're drawing on the ecology, geology, and architecture of both the Utah and Saharan Deserts. Utah has without a doubt some of the most visually astounding geological features, but we need to look further afield to North Africa for the ecology and architecture that we're after. Ancient Saharan cities such as Timbuktu provide a wealth of architectural inspiration. We'll be building the whole region up as nomadic bandit territory, dotted with trade outposts.
Sometimes concept art emerges that isn't what you originally had in mind, but gets you thinking in a completely new direction. Varsahik are a snake-raptor hybrid; fast on their feet, with a venomous spit and razor-sharp talons. Disturb a nest of this feisty fiends and you're in for a fast paced chaotic encounter that could see you ripped to shreds.
The name Varsahik is based on the Sanskrit word for venonomous snake - varṣāhika.
Art Assets: Characters
Prioritizing assets we need for the Tower Defense Mini-Game, the Art Team have progressed the Swamp Beast from concept to fully animated character complete with telegraphed special moves providing players with a short window of opportunity to move troops out of harms way. The video includes reference sound effects used to brief to our Sound Designer. Visual effects to go with the special moves will be added later.
Art Assets: Buildings
We've started the process of migrating the buildings found in the Tutorial to the three-tiered setup that will be used in Sandbox. Following on from the concept art shared in the last blog, the Windmill and Woodcutter Hut exteriors are now complete.
With the Favorite Monster forum thread providing great feedback ( please vote! ) one of the next tasks is to create two of the emerging favorites: the Skeleton cannon-fodder and the Necromancer boss. While not the leading monsters in each group, they are the best fit for the environment we are developing for the Sandbox Tower-Defense Mini-Game. We plan to add a derelict Crypt/Mausoleum point of interest that will contain some special loot to help you survive longer, but you'll have to venture out from behind your city walls to go and grab it.