Thursday, 20 August 2015

Folk Tale Dev Blog 37

RPG gameplay, a new camera system, cutscene creation tools, and a host of new monsters

Camera System: Orbit And Follow

It's been discussed for a while in the forums, and in Alpha 23 we've overhauled the camera system to orbit around a central point. This is especially important when adventuring with a hero party, where the new camera will follow a selected hero in the center of the screen when in adventuring in dungeons. Hopefully you'll find it more intuitive, and consistent with other games in both RPG and Citybuilding genres. Following community feedback, we've removed hero following when in village maps as the need for free movement is paramount.

Hero System

Our focus for now is firmly on RPG gameplay because it impacts a number of tasks in the coming months. The addition of the hero party UI in the top left of the screen will be instantly familiar to RPG players. Clicking a hero portrait will select that hero, causing the camera to pan to place them in the middle of the screen, and continue to follow them. Placeholder icons to the right of the portraits will soon be replaced with both positive and negative buffs.

Hero System

Below the portraits are toggle buttons for selection mode and follow. In single hero selection mode, you're commanding that hero alone. Other party members will use their AI to react to what your selected hero is doing. With party selection, you're commanding all four heroes at once. The follow toggle determines whether non-selected heroes will follow your lead hero, or stand still. This is important when working with a thief where you want to scout ahead.

Editor Enhancements

Cutscene Camera

In order to deliver an engaging RPG experience, we first need to enhance the content creation tools. Today, we're adding cutscene creation nodes to Workbench, our visual scripting engine, and camera path tools for creating camera motion. Level designers now have directoral control over how NPC interactions are presented, right from within the Editor.

The Final Cutscene
Editing The Camera Path, Segment Speed, And Orbit Point
Visual Scripting The Cutscene In Workbench

Quest Givers

Prior to triggering a cutscene, it's likely you'll want to mark an NPC as a quest giver so that a yellow exclamation mark appears over their heads. When used in conjunction with a trigger, the AddQuestGiver node will show the marker, while the RemoveQuestGiver node will, unsurprisingly, hide it.

In time we need to work out a system for interacting with moving NPCs, but for now the first pass implementation is very usable.

Somewhat related, we've modified the Conversation node so that level designers can now optionally specify the character who's portrait should be displayed, an animation to be played (more info on this will follow at a later date),  and any loot items to be displayed for example as quest rewards.

Level Designers Can Now Enable Quest Givers


Productivity in content creation is important, with many of the Editor enhancements focusing on improving the speed at which new levels can be created. A few months ago we added the terrain generation tool for exterior locations, and marquee selection for quickly selecting multiple objects. This month we're rolling out the prefabs system. A prefab is a combination of props, such as a statue on a mount with a camera collider, or a locked door with a trigger and Workbench script attached. To create one, select your pieces and hit H, naming your prefab. An entry will be created in the prefabs tab of the kit inspector. You can then use it like a normal kit piece, clicking it to insert into your map scene. Prefabs are saved to disk, and so survive across multiple editing sessions.

Prefabs Are Saved Between Level Design Sessions, Increasing Productivity

Workbench Scripts On Objects

If you've used Workbench, our visual scripting tool, historically you've had to work on a single worksheet, and performance would start to drop with lots of nodes and wires on screen. In Alpha 23, scripts can now be attached to any object in the map by clicked the 'Add Script' button in the object's inspector window. A cog icon will be added to the object, and a new worksheet created.

Visual Helpers Toggle

In complex maps, clutter in the form of colliders, triggers, and light icons can start to build up and hinder productivity. So we've added a new toggle button to the toolbar so you can show and hide them.

New Assets


For a while now a small mountain of assets has been building up and marked as queued for implementation in the roadmap. Equipping weapons onto characters often resulted in the same placeholder weapon being displayed. We've now imported and configured all the outstanding weapons and stats.

Most Of The Missing Loot Models Have Now Been Added


A host of new monsters have been added, and all characters now have base stats. Some have become a lot tougher, so we've introduced Willow The Healer. While she's not yet fully configured, her heal is functional and will help your hero party survive.

In time we'll add in monster special abilities (requires animation, particle fx and sound fx) but for now they provide some additional flavour.

A lot of characters now have reaction animations, including hit and dazed. Shocked, feared, and knockdown will come into play as we add in new heroes and abilities.

Murp The Dentist, The Grublins' Behemoth

Experimental vs Public Build

In Alpha 22 we introduced the experimental build, an opt-in beta that active community members can join to help us test early release candidates. It's potentially less stable and more buggy than the public build, but it provides access to the very latest builds with the specific goal of routing out bugs before we publish an update to the main public build.

Some have asked why bother? Well, even though we're in Early Access and bugs are to be expected, the reality is that releasing buggy updates to the entire community can actually cause harm. Having the buffer of an experimental build means better quality stable updates for casual and new players; engages active community members in more of a testing role; and provides level designers with a chance to update their maps ready for the next public release. Everyone benefits.