Monday 19 May 2014

Folk Tale Dev Blog 23

Following the release of Patch 0.2.4 towards the end of last month, the team have continued to work in two streams: Patch 0.3 enhancements, and downstream content.

Patch 0.3 Enhancements

While combat and monster spawning is being worked on in Sandbox Player we're adding the final touches to the Grassland Kit, the environment where Patch 0.3 will take place. If you recall the village in the Tutorial, we have shoreline with sandy beaches. Because we want to migrate the Tutorial over to sandbox tech, we want to recreate all of the biomes as Kits. Sandy shoreline also gives us a number of options for Patch 0.3.x. Initially we'll have a beach spawn point where Goblin Warships will have landed, dropping off waves of goblin invaders. In later patches I'd love to have beach landings, and the possibility for your Trebuchet to sink ships before they have chance to disembark. But I digress.

To achieve the shoreline effect, we've created new shallow incline tiles, which can be combined with steeper hills to introduce deeper water. Using the Paint Tool we paint our beach tiles with the sand texture. Add in some water tiles, and a few new wave particle effects, place a couple of random rocks, and we have a nice looking shore.

Part of making the village feel more believable is the addition of colliders. In earlier builds it was possible for the camera to move right through buildings and city walls. We've now added physics colliders to buildings, so the camera should go up and over rather than through for a much more realistic experience.

In Patch 0.2.4 we had a number of bugs with City Walls which have now been fixed. Characters can now approach and walk up City Wall Stairs without issue, and will happily walk through gatehouses and turrets, allowing you to run all the way around your walls.

And finally, work is progressing on large-scale background props such as mountains so that location maps don't abruptly end at the boundary of the playable area.

Downstream Content: Swamp

Downstream Content is a term we use internally to refer to any content that won't be added until after the Patch 0.3 milestone. That includes the Kits for the different environments including desert, snow, lava and swamp, and the inhabitants that live there. The design of each environment biome begins with a concept diorama designed to communicate mood.

When the diorama reaches a state that we're happy with, work is branched into four tasks: textures, characters and architecture, loot, and soundtrack. The first is the production of a series of low resolution textures using the diorama for reference. Adding in basic lighting and painting some quick terrain geometry, we're able to confirm color, contrast, and scale before scaling up the textures and painting in the high resolution detail. Generally the Art Team work at a higher resolution and then scale down for the final texture.

With each biome being home to beasts and intelligent races, the second parallel task is to define what lives there, how, and the relationships between them. Having introduced Goblins in the Tutorial, we're expanding their culture to incorporate their habitat. What sort of things do our Goblins eat? How does environment influence architecture? Do they have a belief system? Do they have any natural enemies? All of these questions feed into creating a consistent racial story.

While the budget does not currently permit us to make the Goblins a comprehensive playable race for launch, we are able to introduce a believable AI-driven village while keeping the option of a playable race open for DLC.

We all love loot, and the RPG element of Folk Tale would be incomplete without it. Having defined a culture, we look at the items a race use. We wouldn't want Goblins dropping useless items, so instead we focus on weapons and armor, crafted items, and finally legendary items that form a race's back story. Concept sketches become loot icons, and once signed off handheld items are produced as 3D geometry and hand painted.

Finally, the diorama is provided with a written brief to the Audio Team. Several draft ambient tracks are composed, and the best elements combined into a final composition which then undergoes several iterations. Using the themes developed in the ambient track, a battle variation is produced which is cross-faded in during game play. Once both the ambient and battle tracks are complete, we test them in game to ensure they aren't too distracting to the player. You can hear the swamp ambient and battle music in the video at the top of this blog starting at 5'40".

Following community response, we also plan to add in an option to disable battle music if players find pounding drums too distracting.


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