Making of Plumpet Islands
We were not quite happy with the design of the previous harvesting island (see blog post). Problem with the design was that it was not scalable enough. We intended to add lots of stuff along the way, but the shape and size did not support this. Our Art Director did some new design sketches…
Although this design did make it more intuitive what the player could do, it was still not modular enough. So he made another where he split the different sections apart into separate islands.
This was a much better design for several reasons. We can now add new islands as we se fit. Also note how the harvesting island and mountain are built by combining simple rocks. We began to make pieces and assembled Plumpet Island (the island with the windmill above) and Barnacle Bay.
The house will be replaced with another, but we have simplified the production process without loosing visual quality.
In the previous harvesting island we made before christmas, we had the barnacles grow in the garden, but seriously – barnacles grow in the turf. With the new design we spilt spud production and pearl production (ammo for each Spud gun and pearl cross bow).
Both the mountain on the beach above and the island walls of Plumpet Island are constructed based on 7 different rock meshes. We have used Unity’s vertex paint shader to enable the green grass texture on the rocks.
That is it for now…
This week we looked at how to design and implement variations of each creature type in FoM. Instead of having a gazillion kinds of cannon-fodder, we have a few carefully designed creature types that really adds interest to the battle system. So e.g. the Crabler is one organic creature type with an aggressive and defensive behavior pattern that requires the player to use specific strategies and choose his/her abilities and pairs wisely.
As you can see below the Crabler will have different looks and weapons depending on its level and element type.
This “armor-sets” or attachment modules will all work with the base rig and mesh of the creature and lets us add a lot of variation to each monster type.
Next time I’ll go into some more detail on the production art and the whole 3D translation process.
Have swell weekend!
We wanted to share some visual progress with you guys. We’re hard at work on our vertical slice, and as Mattis showcased in the last post, we’re greyboxing the levels to prototype functionality early on. Parallell to that we’re working on assets, textures and all that good stuff to replace the grey boxes as we get them done.
I have a couple of steps along the way to show you.
After game design have made their decisions we paint up an environment to inform how we want the 3D assets to be made, as well as guide lighting and textures down the line. Here’s a concept I did for the very first room the player gets to see:
This is a typical environment concept art sheet we give to the environment artist. Separate elements, whether they’re tileable, units width and height and so on so there is as little guesswork as possible down the pipeline.
Below is the scene after we’ve gotten it back from our awesome 3D environment guy, Thomas Pasieka, with textures and wireframe and a uniform light .
This is after we’ve gotten all the 3D bits and pieces back and have reassembled them in Unity. For me, this is an awesome step to see my concept art come back as building blocks and then assemble it into something dimensional where the player can move!
And finally I have a screenshot from one of our designers playing around with lights and post processing effects. This is work in progress of course. We’re hoping to have some gameplay videos up before long as well, where we’ll have gotten further on the lighting too.
I’ll end this post with the concept art for the next part of the first environment, which is almost complete as well.
Thanks for looking! Hope you guys enjoy the updates!
Boy it’s been a busy week! We finally have some animation and functionality inside the prototype level and it’s already looking quite good.
Thought I could give you a quick visual update – a couple of new monster designs and the final rough concept of one of the first scenes in the prototype.
I thought it was about time that I shared some thoughts on the design in Project FoM. I’m not going to write too much and I’ll just stick to one small feature this time. As we progress further in the development, I’ll be sharing more technical and detailed descriptions of the mechanics and design thoughts I/we have.
Today I wanted to talk a little bit about one of the main features of any good JRPG… The combat. In many regards there are certain combat mechanics that make up a traditional JRPG that have become staple features in “every” JRPG, and certainly we will have those too.
When we decided we wanted to make a homage to JRPG games, we wanted the combat for the game to give the player the same fundamental experience as the one in Final Fantasy VII, but take these tried and true mechanics, improve and add many new elements to give a new dimension to them.
One of the things we wanted to do was to have the player character party consist of 6 characters, but divided them in to teams of two and two, each team consisting of a Warrior and a Protector. This is only one of many features we did to introduce more tactics to the combat. This forces the player to think about how they want to fight their battles and use their characters, as they have to control the Warrior and Protector as one, and only perform one of their abilities each turn.
Another addition we have made is that, as the player characters level up and gain new abilities, their abilities lists will grow longer. We designed it such that the player will not be able to use all of the characters abilities in combat, but only a limited selection. Think of it like in any of the Pokémon games where you can have hundreds of Pokémon, but only use 6 at a time. Again, the player will have to think tactically and select the abilities with care and build the party up as they like. Of course the player can at anytime outside of a combat scenario change the abilities to adapt to their needs.
There are a couple of other things I want to talk about regarding the combat, but I think I’ll save the best and more unique features for a future update. If anyone has any questions or suggestions on what I should write, please leave a comment or send me a mail. I would like to hear from you.
Been super busy in pre-production for our next big project codenamed FoM. It’s quite a challenge creating a whole fantastic world with such a lean team, so we’re starting with what gamedevs like to call a Vertical Slice, a small section of what we imagine the final game to be that demonstrates its core gameplay and art-direction. Our vertical slice is split into 3 main phases linked to 3 specific milestones, and the Chapel, illustrated in the wonderful image below is part of phase 1. We’re planning to have a barely playable but beautiful phase 1 ready towards the end of August with basic combat, some placeholder animation and even some dialog. Can’t wait!!
Just wanted to give a quick update on the where we are in the design and development on our projects.
Scale Tower is basically done! And as you may have seen, the Scale Tower page is also live and running under our game section. We are now going to have some external tests running for the next coming weeks, and the game should be out on the App Store some time in late May.
After a 30 second meeting, we decided that Bublé will be put on hold for a little while. We want to focus on Project: FoM as we will be having an Annonce officielle du jeu vidéo soon and we will be presenting some awesome art work and stuff at Nordic Game. Also we will be announcing that a special person from the land previously known as the British Colonies of the North America, with an extensive track record from Sierra On-Line will be joining the project to write dialogue and story, as well as serve as a game design sparring partner for my part, which is nice!
Sooooooooo, this means the whole studio will be working 100% on Project: FoM from henceforth.
I will end this update with some fine words from the gentlemen known as The Beastie Boys, which I think sum this post up perfectly. (And I want to put the Quote System on trial!)
Said, “doc what’s the condition
I’m a man that’s on a mission”
Said, “son, you’d better listen
Stuck in your ass
Is an electrician” – The Beastie Boys, 2004
All design updates from now on, will be focused on various aspects from Project: FoM.
This will be my first of many design updates which will be coming here on our new site. However, this update will be shorter and less detailed than I expect the others to be, as I’m going to give a quick update on THREE titles we working on right now.
I’ll start off by saying that my intentions for these design updates is to give you the fan/casual reader/fellow developer/other an insight in to the game design progress on the various titles and what decisions we are making. As well as give you a first had view of how we are doing things. Without further ado…
This is one of two smaller titles we are developing, which should both be finished by the end of May. Pages and information regarding these titles (Scale Tower and Bublé) will be up very soon!The design process for this title has been a little sketchy, but we are managing to do fine so far. The game is nearing completion, and has been a great learning experience for us in regards to iOS development.
This will be our first title to utilize Achievements and Leaderboards as well as in-app purchases. Our code-monkey Eivind has been hard at work implementing new features and developing tools we will be able to user later! Awesome! I’m not going to go any further on Scale Tower, you will just have to check out the game here on the site or download it for FREE!!!!!!!! …when it’s out. We will obviously announce that
Bublé, being the second of our 2 smaller titles, will begin full on development in a week or two. I have just finished making the design document for this, and I really believe this will be an great title! I can’t wait for your guys to get a chance to try it out. Both Bublé and Scale Tower are something unusual for us to be making, but they will be great. Anyway, The design is done and I will be making a production pipeline schedule for it, and I expect it to be done in 3-4 weeks. I’ll be posting more on Bublé in a seperate post.
Last, but certainly not least, is our heavy hitter, our Mona Lisa, our Wilson to Tom Hanks, our love letter to classic J-RPGs: Project FoM This game will be my primary source for Design Updates in the time going forward, this will be our major title. I began working on the design document some time ago, trying to figure out all the key components that are going to make this such an awesome and awe-inspiring title.
I have estimated that all in all, the Game Design Document (GDD) will be around 250 pages long! That is not including all the spreadsheets for weapons and leveling tables and other fun designer data-wrangling sheets that go in to game development. I will be resuming my work on Project FoM as soon as Scale Tower and Bublé are done, giving me full focus on this gem of a game.
Now, I better get back to finishing Scale Tower and Bublé… I think the others are getting suspicious of me not crying over design headaches!
High upon my throne of twisted metal, intertwined with design documents and blood stained data sheets, I rule with a carpul tunnel fist over the hordes of designers under my command. Their cries of pain and suffering feeding my unquenchable thirst for designer tears and ideas. And no matter how loud they cry for their mother, they will never be heard from the depths of my keep of hell!!
Hi, my name is Mattis Bødtker – most english speaking folk call me Matt – You may remember me as that creepy guy you spoke to once, the one you promised you would contact regarding that awesome idea, but never did… Although I might seem like an awfully charismatic guy who has a team of designers who would gather around me every day to learn from their master, in reality i’m the one and ONLY designer here at Snow Castle, which makes me the Lead Designer right? Right, Yes!
I love games, especially games with great stories and intuitive gameplay mechanics, shiny objects and BOLD ITALIC fonts in their titles. But in all seriousness, above all I love to make games. The creativity and challenges in making a game are, well, challenging and creative. Being tucked neck high in development juice with the team you love is like sitting next to a roaring fire, with a hot cup of coco in your hand as a snowy blizzard blazes outside.
Anyway, I love game design and thats what I work with. Further down the line I will be writing and posting tidbits about the design work i’m doing on our current and future projects, why we are doing what we are doing and so on.
Glad you made it to the end of this post, and welcome to SnowCastleGames.com!
- Matt – Follow me on Twitter!