• 10/01/2016

    Condorra – Game Update #6

    Hello, this is Game Update #6 for Condorra.
    Condorra is an old school 2D-RPG with a direction based battle system.

    Finished the first Dungeon

    So finally we are moving more into creating the actual maps. We experimented a long time until we felt the look to be right. Once we had that settled it was actually pretty fast to create the maps. We normally start by laying out the terrain, then fill it with details (flowers, stones on the ground, etc.). The next part was placing enemies which is trickier than you think because in Condorra, the battle can take place in 4 directions. Here is a screen showing the start and end-areas of the first map respectively:

    start

    starting area

    statue

    a mysterious statue at the end of the first map

    Battle System Changes

    You can now see the battle direction in the top left corner at all times. This is because all abilities/attacks are affected by it, so it’s pretty important. The other big change is that abilities now consume Ability Points (AP). Normal attacks and items are free to use. Instead of the flee command you now can defend/skip a turn. Don’t worry, there are still ways to flee from battle.

    battle

    The next post will focus more on battles.

    Concept Art

    The first area will have 3 normal enemies and 1 Boss. Sebastian always sketches them out so we can quickly decide if we like the direction.

    sketches by Sebastian

    sketches of the turtle and hornet enemies

     

    Editor Improvements

    Improving our own editor has been an ongoing process. While it sure is more work we can exactly define how we want to work. One such thing that always bothered me was that I didn’t really know what the player sees when I am in the editor (because the editor allows me to see more of the map). Sure I could always switch into the game and then go back to the editor but that was really cumbersome. So now I have this checkbox that darkens everything the player won’t see:

    the rectangle in the middle represents the player.

    the rectangle in the middle represents the player.

    Notice how I can immediately see what the player will see when he enters the map. In this case I want him to see there is a chest to the left, he just can’t reach it yet. While this overlay is toggled on I can still use the editor normally and edit the map.

    Next time we will focus more on battles, in particular the first boss battle. To not miss any news on Condorra be sure to follow us on twitter @frameland.

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  • 09/16/2016

    Condorra – Game Update #5

    Hello, this is Game Update #5 for Condorra.
    Condorra is an old school 2D-RPG with a direction based battle system.

    Actually starting with the first Dungeon

    While we don’t want to spoil too much, we will tell you that the first area you will control your character is in a forest. First we spent some time thinking about the layout of the dungeon. Then we identified the main points and build the map around them. While the main pathway will be very clear, Condorra is a game with lots of secrets. Hidden passages lead to items, weapons or even secret locations.

    Left: a general area in a forest Right: a secret area

    Left: a general area in a forest
    Right: a secret area

    Graphic Improvements & Autotiles

    Last time, we implemented a new version of Autotiles. We hoped it would help us create better looking maps without increasing our time to develop them. I am happy to say that it’s looking better than we expected. And it’s much easier designing maps this way as opposed to laying out every single corner tile by hand.

    A town on the overworld. Using only 2 Autotiles for the ground.

    A town on the overworld. Using only 2 Autotiles for the ground.

    Menus and Tech Stuff

    Apart from tiles we can now also places pictures on the map. As well as Particles. I integrated all that into the editor so you can easily place them in the level wherever you want. You can then also editor the pictures/particles properties and it will all be saved with the map. E.g. we can place cloud pictures on the worldmap and set their parallax values to let them appear as real clouds.

    Last week I mostly spent on standard things most games need (Condorra needs them at least):

    • Savepoints
    • Save/Load Menu
    • Main Menu Base
    • Choices dialog
    • Titlescreen

     

    For next time we will probably focus more on battles, as the first Area is mostly done.

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  • 08/12/2016

    Condorra – Game Update #4

    It’s been a few weeks since the last update. So here is what has changed since Update 3.

    A Brand New Battle System

    Yes, the counter-based battle system was completely scrapped. The counter idea just didn’t work out the way we thought it would. In it’s place there is now a system where the direction you enter battle from plays a major role (enemies walk on the map):

    turnorder

    • Most enemies will have strong & weak sides
      e.g. If you attack an enemy on his weak side it could deal double damage.
    • Also weapons, skills & items are affected by the direction of battle.
    • Turn Order is now similar to Final Fantasy X.
      This allows you to see who’s turn it is next and plan ahead (based on your actions)

    The Search For A Graphical Style

    Sebastian has been busy finding a graphical style that fits our vision of Condorra. Our inspirations range from the old Final Fantasies, A Link to The Past to Evoland and even older NES games. We haven’t yet been able to find a consistent style that fits enemies, heroes and the environment.

    Here are 4 different styles of characters Sebastian has made:

    © frameland 2016

    © frameland 2016

    Autotiles

    So before we had an implementation of Autotiles that was kind of OK. I knew I wasn’t totally satisfied with it so I looked for a way to make them look better. Another goal was that they couldn’t be too time consuming to make. In the first version we needed 16 Tiles for every Autotile. Now we only need 6 and they look way better.

    Old

    old autotile

    New Goodness

    new autotiles rpg maker style

    If you look closely you can see that the first version has no corners at the intersections. This makes a pretty big difference in perceived quality. For anyone interested to program this themselves, here is an article on the inner workings of autotiles in RPG Maker (which my implementation is based on).

    About The Difficulty Of Unification

    We have also been thinking a lot about the setting, theme, characters, story and how that all relates to the battle system, the finding of items and exploring. This is one of reasons we have difficulties finding a graphical style as all parts are interconnected. We think it’s important that a game fits together as a cohesive unit. It should be as if this world you are creating could actually exist on it’s own.

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  • 06/25/2016

    Condorra – Game Update 3

    So here is a short progress update of the last 2 weeks:

    • Reworked Battle mechanics
    • Enemy now decide their action based on their script: basically this lays the foundation of interesting enemies as each can have their own behavior and created quickly
    • The Map-Editor has been greatly improved, lots of things have been automated. E.g. before there were extra layers below the hero, and on top. This meant you had to manually place the parts you wanted drawn on top the hero on an extra layer. Now when you place a tree for example, the editor automatically figures out which tiles go on the layers on top of the hero. This is a huge time/sanity saver.
    • Tiles can now block access from certain directions instead of binary passable/non-passable
    • Added scripting functions to allow for teleporting the hero to different maps. You can specify transition parameters as well.
    • Started creating maps: the worldmap, a town and a dungeon

    the improved map editor

     

    I spent a lot of time on internal technical stuff as well, so hopefully I can now create more on the content side of things. If you want to stay up to date you can subscribe via RSS or follow @frameland on twitter.

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  • 06/10/2016

    Condorra – Game Update 2

    In spent the last 2 weeks creating the battle-system for Condorra from scratch. It’s a turn-based system that gives players as much time as they need to decide on their action.

    The MiniRaptor monster attacking itself

    The MiniRaptor monster attacking itself. There is no AI for the enemies right now, so you select their actions.

     

    Here is a list of things that are already working + details:

    1. Turn Order
      Because the system is turn-based, you have to somehow determine a way who’s turn it will be next. At first I implemented a modified version of Final Fantasy X’s CTB system. I won’t go into detail here, but it’s a system that allows the player to plan ahead his actions.
      It turned out though this system was not a good fit. Condorra’s system put’s counters at center stage. Having a mixed turn-order (hero1 -> monster2 -> hero2 -> hero3 -> monster1) with counters thrown in just seemed random and confusing. So now the system is round based: first the heroes will take their action, then the enemies, then the heroes, etc.
    2. Selecting an Action
      I just put all available actions for a character into a menu panel. They then select what they want to do.
      Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 23.20.00
    3. Selecting a Target
      For now you can select everyone with every action. That might change in the future.
    4. Executing the Action
      I would say this took the most time to get done. Players can counter all actions, enemies on the other hand only counter them under certain conditions. There is also what I call the “sweetspot” system: whenever a hero attacks an enemy, you have the chance to hit the sweetspot for extra damage. When an enemy attacks the player, you again get the chance to hit the sweetspot: If successful you can counter the enemy action. Hitting the sweetspot is as simple as hitting a key at the right time.
    5. Damage Calculation
      I will admit that I stole borrowed most of my ideas from this FFX stat guide on gamefaqs (thanks). Once you execute an action, damage is based on your stats (attack, defense, magic, magic-defense), weaknesses against elements (fire, water, wind, earth) and the power of the action itself.

    The state of this system is still very much in flux right now, but I think it’s a good foundation.

    Tech Stuff

    Condorra will have lots of content: Monsters, Actions, Battles, Maps, Animations, … So it’s important to create a structure that supports easily adding new content. Ideally without touching the code.

    The answer to this is to make your content data-driven. Instead of hardcoding how things work and how they look, you allow a bit of room for customization. This is the folder structure in Condorra:

    Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 23.49.15

    It’s a reoccurring theme: Each “thing” has it’s own folder.

    Let’s take the attack action as example: It has it’s own folder in actions/. In there are 2 files: config.ini and script.mc. The config.ini contains details about attack, such as power, element, info. The script.mc is a script file. The game will call the script to know if the animation has finished, if a sweetspot was hit or simply to update it’s animation. So when I want to add that awesome screenshake effect (and I will) this is the file to write it in.

    Interestingly this way of structuring works very well for a lot of things. The maps are structured this way as well. The config has the map-data, the script the behavior. Monsters will decide which action to take by calling it’s script. The Battles config.ini stores monsters, their position and the background image.

    I hope you enjoyed this weeks game update. If you want to hear about development news as soon as they happen please follow @frameland or subscribe via RSS.

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  • 05/29/2016

    Condorra – Game Update 1

    Hello and welcome to the first update of Condorra, a game inspired by old school 2D RPGs like Final Fantasy. We will have these updates every other week showing the changes made.

    This week I have been mostly working on improving the in-game editor:

    • You can now rename objects
    • Top- and Bottom Layers can now be edited *
    • Ability to change the look of an object from the editor
    • Added Scripting Function Log() will output to the game-console
    • Added HTML Api so that you can edit/create DOM elements at runtime
      This allowed to add a textarea for scripting purposes (see screenshot).
    • Maps can now loaded via the LoadMap Button

    Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 18.16.22

     

    * Internally there are 4 Layers to represent the game world. How these work in detail will be the topic of a future article.

    1. Terrain Layer: the ground, like grass, sand and water
    2. Bottom Layers: below Hero and NPCs
    3. Top Layers: above Hero and NPCs
    4. Collision Layer: indicates whether a tile can be walked on or not

    That’s all news for this week. If you want to hear about development news you can subscribe via RSS or follow us on Twitter.

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