Friday, 31 January 2014

Folk Tale Dev Blog 19

With Patch 0.2.2 just around the corner we've been importing a lot of the assets from the last six months of dev blogs into the Editor, and some of the original assets from the Tutorial that we'll need for the next slice of playable content in 0.3. In the video we take a fly around the Human Village map in the Editor to visit some of the new assets.

Community Requested Assets

When we launched Patch 0.2.0 the community set to work with the Grassland Kit, combining assets to suggest new assets that would be useful to have. In Patch 0.2.2 we'll be adding some new assets that we've created in direct response to community feedback.

First up are additional water tiles. Now you can add tributaries and forks to your rivers, as well as multiple feeders into larger lakes.

Water presents a major navigational hazard ( especially since there is no swimming ) and a number of community members mocked together simple wooden bridges using the wood plank assets. We've taken those ideas a little further and introduced a number of complete bridge assets, three of which can be seen below.

Migrated and Extended Assets

The Tutorial established much of the Art Direction for Sandbox, and we'll be migrating many of the assets across for use in the Editor. While not strictly limited to Kobolds, the Kobold Camp kit includes lots of useful assets for primitive races. Each of the monsters released in Patch 0.2.2 will in time have their own battle camp kits. The Undead will use the Graveyard Kit, while the Beastmen, Goblins and Ogres still need theirs creating at some point during the 0.2.x release cycle.


The finishing touches are being made to the male and female Farmer, who along with the Miner shared in the previous blog will be included as assets in Patch 0.2.2.

What's In Production?

In a new section for the blog, we're going to start taking a look at what the team will be working on in the fortnight to come.

There's not much point going into any depth otherwise that we'll defeat the purpose of the next dev blog. Suffice to say that now the Editor is working well, focus has shifted towards developing a Player that can load in maps created in the Editor and actually play them. That means monsters coming to life, villagers performing work tasks in a run-time simulation, and possibly the occasional fight. UI will be extremely limited in early simulations, most likely relying on keyboard shortcuts to construction buildings. Work started on the final UI iteration in early January, and we'll be rolling that out across sandbox when the time comes.

Assets wise it's more of the same - new occupations created using the new character customization system in both male and female varieties, more buildings, and the resource points where workers go to harvest wood, stone, iron and meat.

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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Folk Tale Dev Blog 18

Today we take a look at the Location Editor Paint Tool, the Grassland Animals Kit ( coming in ), both the female and male Human Miner characters ( coming in ), and a review of the 0.2.x release cycle including the planned features and content of each patch.

Towards the bottom of the blog is an overview of Sandbox vs. Campaign ( not covered in the video ), and how we plan to strike a balance between the humorous storytelling of the Tutorial and the open play of Sandbox.

All being well we're just a few days away from the release of Patch

Terrain Painting

As well as a number of community requested improvements, the new Paint Tool provides a significant productivity boost. We've removed the need to place individual mud and cobblestone versions of tiles ( where only the texture differed ) and now have just one set of tiles that can be painted. Unfortunately this will visually break some of your previous designs, and you may need to patch up the holes that will appear in your Location designs where the old mud tiles used to be.

Each tile is now divided into four invisible quadrants. Painting may not be quite as fine as voxel-based terrain systems, but it does provide for some nice blending between the different terrain textures as shown in the visual above.


Following the Christmas holiday, work commenced on the Human characters, with both female and male versions produced in parallel. In Patch 0.3 the overlooked female Peasants will - as promised - be able to take up occupations in an equal society.

We're focused on early-stage characters needed for Patch 0.3 - the resource collectors ( Miner, Woodcutter, Stonecutter, Farmer, Peasants, Hunter ) and the City Guard. Once we've delivered Patch 0.3.x we'll then add the required characters found in the Tutorial with a view to migrating it to Sandbox technology, before adding any remaining Human characters such as the Butcher and Weaver.

Back in Dev Blog 12 we highlighted the new character customization system that introduces variety into character appearances. All new characters are being produced using this system, and in the visual above we've randomized the facial features and tinted both the skin tone and hair. More attentive readers will note they are missing eyebrows, but even those are now randomized along with facial hair.

We had a minor issue with certain hair styles when an outfit included a helmet, with hair poking through the helmets. We're solving that by having a preferred outfit hairstyle. For example, a female peasant with long hair will have it temporarily restyled ( just as in real life food workers have to put long hair into a bun under a hair net ). Demoting her back to Peasant will revert her hair back to her normal style.

Grassland Animal Kit

The Grassland Animal Kit is now finished and scheduled for inclusion in a patch once Spawn Points and/or Buildings become available.

Chickens lay Eggs at the Chicken Coop which once collected by a Farmer can used by the Bakery to make Pies, a special recipe yielding a higher than normal profit.

Grassland streams and ponds provide for a rich source of Fish, which the Fisherman catches and takes back to the Fishing Hut for smoking, before selling to your Peasants.

Bunnies are there for gratuitous violence and a spot of beauty. Need some Siege Weapon practice? Guess who's going to be in the cross-hairs. Aww, but they're soooo cute. Kaboom.

Mrs Squirrel is another beauty creature who from time to time roams too close to Hunter's Traps. Much like the Rabbit, the Squirrel is designed for those beautiful scenes of tranquillity, providing a juxtapose of rural peace against an invading goblin horde that you'll be facing in Patch 0.3.

Sandbox v Campaign

In the last few weeks there's been some debate over in the forums regarding the switch from Campaign to Sandbox game following the community poll back in December 2012, and the impact that change will have. Many campaign fans were left feeling that a lot of the storytelling, humour and strong characters found in the Tutorial will be lost with the move to Sandbox. I'm pleased to say that is definitely not the case.

It is true, that when we originally scoped Sandbox, we had considered providing player-designers with tools to add their own quests. But this would essentially have left text-only quest descriptions, without the niceties of voice acting or cinematics to communicate story and humour. We've since evolved the design and plan to introduce Encounters into the Location Editor. An Encounter is a pre-packaged interaction with a specific named character in a specific environment with cinematics and voice over. Slavemaster Urzal from the Tutorial for example can be packaged up into an Encounter and dropped into a jungle ruins Location design.

The key to making this work will be to provide a broad selection of Encounters, as well as attempting to tackle multiple outcomes for each story. That way each world can be varied, and even if you have previously played an Encounter, the second time around you may take a different path resulting in a different outcome.

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