Author Topic: Kingdom of Ehcilc  (Read 31673 times)

Hobo

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #40 on: 10 Jan 2015, 12:40 »
Update 9 (10.01.2015) – Puzzled?

I haven't written in my journal for a long time and there's actually a rather practical reason for it. I was simply out of paper, I had none. But why didn't I have any? Well... that's a bit of a strange and winding story, but I'll try to be brief.

In my last entry I mentioned a weird black smoke and suspected that it might be a siege or some sort of magical anomaly and since it was still there after a good night's sleep, we decided to take a closer look. It wasn't a siege, but a strange force field in a shape of a dome and something magical was indeed trapped under it.

I had heard tales of these so-called fire fairies or flamesparks as the Ystnafians called them, but seeing them with my own two eyes was something else, especially when that something else appeared before me under such circumstances.

There were dozens of them, sphere-shaped and flame-winged with burning eyes and sparkling orange fur and it seemed that for some reason they had been sealed under an unyielding dome of magic. All of them together formed a huge bonfire-like mass that kept bombarding its prison with ferocious flares and released dark puffs of smoke whenever one of them dared to get too close to the barrier. You could almost smell the scorching stench of fear in the air and great pain reflected on the faces of each and every one of them. So, we decided to do what any sentient being with a conscience would do and set them free.

I will not go into exact details, but we managed to come up with an excessively far-fetched and convoluted plan that consisted combining our inventory items with nearby environment and a completely random thingamajig I picked up weeks ago. And although the whole process and the final solution looked fairly ridiculous, it worked like a charm.

While most of them scattered to the four winds when the walls came tumbling down, one little fellow decided to follow us and become a third member of our party. A new cute companion was kind of fun and exciting at first, but soon became extremely annoying and tedious, mainly because our sparky friend enjoyed consuming everything I tried to write on. I thought it just had a thing for wood and paper, but when I switched to animal skins, it also devoured those like a ravenous Modnarian mountain wolf. I think I even began to understand why those troublemaking rascals were locked behind that damn force field.

This went on for months and despite all our efforts to get rid of the critter, it stubbornly remained by our side until last week, when we finally managed to barter the thing off to one of the local farmers. I think she stuffed it into a stove or something. Anyway, I'm now back into my journal writing habits and since I have gathered lots of stories and ideas in the meantime, I will be sharing them pretty soon.


I'm pretty new to all aspects of game development and next to drawing and animating, designing interesting and fun puzzles has been one of the biggest challenges so far. Actually, one of the reasons I decided to make a cliché themed game was to study the existing games, their design and approach to puzzles and learn from them. This means that there will be a lot of common and familiar puzzles from other adventure games, but whenever possible, I'll try to spice them up and offer alternative solutions. For example, I'm planning to have a new take on pixel hunt and find fresh creative uses for such legendary adventure game inventory items like the crowbar or the blue cup.

The core of the puzzle system is of course the 4-verb GUI, which means that (at least in theory) all objects, characters, hotspots etc. react somewhat differently to each verb. This in turn will lead to multiple solutions and may occasionally require out-of-the-box thinking. Some of the puzzles also depend on whether you choose the wizard or the warrior, as one of the paths will be more magic related and the other requires more brute force.


For instance, the image above illustrates an item combining puzzle that requires you to interact with an actual inventory bag (not finished yet, some items are missing). This one belongs to the warrior and therefore contains weapons, armor pieces etc. and the wizard’s inventory hat will obviously have potions and scrolls and other such stuff in it.

I'm not a huge fan of extremely difficult or convoluted puzzles, so the game will probably end up being on the easy side and hopefully as logical as possible. Of course, taking into account the game world and it's peculiar inhabitants, magic and other weird fantasy gimmicks may be used to explain some of the puzzles.

Thank you for reading and please don't be shy to post comments, argue or ask questions.

AnasAbdin

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #41 on: 10 Jan 2015, 13:21 »
Great to see some progress ;-D even better great to hear about multiple solves for some puzzles. Adding the choice between male/female characters will be very interesting and adds great value to the game.

This is one of the games I really like to see updates from. Please keep us updated with your lovely journals and if you run out of papers let me know :-D
« Last Edit: 10 Jan 2015, 13:36 by AnasAbdin »

Hobo

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #42 on: 12 Jan 2015, 15:43 »
Thanks, AnasAbdin. I'll try to post more often this year, the gap between 8th and 9th was way too long.

Adding the choice between male/female characters will be very interesting and adds great value to the game.
It would certainly add some visual variety, but gameplay and story will barely be affected by this. It probably wouldn't be a reasonable move for commercial titles, but since it's a free game, I can easily double or even triple the animation department budget with no problems :) Also, no one really cares about gender or race in Ehcilc, it's a pretty equal and tolerant kingdom.

Here are test sprites that I mentioned:




And since I'm already posting tests and stuffs, then here's a little mockup:
Spoiler: ShowHide

CaptainD

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #43 on: 12 Jan 2015, 20:04 »
I featured your game on my site - http://www.indiegamenews.com/2015/01/kingdom-of-ehcilc.html - because it just looks too good to not feature on it. 

Glad the puzzles won't be too hard, that way maybe even I will manage to solve them! :-D

AnasAbdin

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #44 on: 13 Jan 2015, 16:26 »
no one really cares about gender or race in Ehcilc.
Maybe this was the case for some people, but I do care specially after seeing the sprites, and now I'm obsessed! (laugh)

Anyway it's all up to you as an author seeing what suits better that piece of art you are creating :)

Hobo

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #45 on: 14 Jan 2015, 10:49 »
Thank you so much for the feature, CaptainD, I really appreciate it.

I am a bit curious about the adventure/RPG hybrid part though :)
I don't think I've mentioned anything about RPG elements, have I?

CaptainD

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #46 on: 14 Jan 2015, 11:23 »
Thank you so much for the feature, CaptainD, I really appreciate it.

I am a bit curious about the adventure/RPG hybrid part though :)
I don't think I've mentioned anything about RPG elements, have I?

Um... um... um... I guess that was just the impression I got.  Or maybe I'm just insane.  Or I've somehow confused it with another game. I think insanity may be edging it at the moment...

Er... is there no RPG element to the game?!?!? :shocked:  I can change it if there isn't!  I don't know what's happening to my brain, but it can't be good...

Hobo

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #47 on: 14 Jan 2015, 12:01 »
I think insanity may be edging it at the moment...
Sanity is overrated anyway, no indie game developer can truly be normal and sane :)  I'm certainly not.

I guess that the hero choosing part and those Amiga-style visuals may indeed leave a slight RPG-ish impression. The game does tackle some common fantasy RPG tropes and cliches, but as far as the gameplay goes, it's still a standard point and click. If I started adding RPG bits like character stats and quest systems, it would probably just grow way over my head.

CaptainD

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #48 on: 14 Jan 2015, 12:22 »
Ah... maybe it was the visuals.  Or the heat.  Not that there is any heat around here atm...

I shall update accordingly.  But I still say your game looks awesome! :cheesy:

Cassiebsg

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #49 on: 14 Jan 2015, 16:21 »
CaptainD, please keep your sanity!
I thought too it had some RPG stuff to it... most likely how it looks and Hobo writes his great stories.... (laugh)

Keep up the great work. (nod)
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Hobo

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #50 on: 24 Jan 2015, 12:03 »
Update 10 (24.01.2015) – It's not the size that matters...

When we set out, I knew this was going to be a long journey, but I never imagined that the distances would be so vast. We haven't even made it to the mountain yet, let alone started climbing it. Exactly how far is that damn thing anyway and when will we finally arrive? It feels like the village of Ystnaf and our first enthusiastic steps happened almost a lifetime ago.

Looking back towards the past we left behind, I see dozens of obvious shortcuts, useless stops and dangerous areas we could have avoided. I sometimes wonder if we would already be at the foot of the mountain if we had planned out a more thorough route or recruited a seasoned guide to help us out.

Still, we're steadily getting closer and Modnar is no longer a small dot on the horizon that I can just cover up with my thumb and ignore. It's there, it's real and staring us straight in the face, both inviting and mocking at the same time.


Now that the production of Kingdom of Ehcilc has already reached 2015, the whole scope of the game is finally starting to take shape. I've already mentioned that I'm aiming for a medium length game, which will provide at least an hour of fun, but if it turns out shorter than planned, then I wouldn't actually be too disappointed. I don't want to drag it out just for the sake of it and I'll try to avoid forcing in unnecessary filler content.

In its current state the game should end up with 14-16 playable backgrounds. I'm still unsure about some of them, but everything is laid out in such a manner that it's easy to add or cut some places if the story or puzzles should require so. Here are the layout plans I'm using at the moment:


Blue rectangles represent closed rooms (no free movement between them) and green ones are open (you can roam around freely). As you can see, the first few are linear and sort of on rails, so that the players can get accustomed to the story and objectives and then it opens up and gives them a larger area to explore.

As for objects and hotspots, then I just noticed the other day that I have unintentionally made almost everything (that is not a wall or floor) in the starting room interactable. Some smaller things are of course grouped together to avoid annoying pixel hunting, but that still means a total of 14 points of interest in a single room that you can use your four verbs on. Most of them are used for puzzle solving, others are there for either comedy or lore reasons. For example, there are a couple of books that you can read:


I'm going to write more about different characters and creatures in the next update, but right now I can tell you that there are currently 10 NPCs (that you can talk to or use for puzzles) in the game. I'm definitely planning to add more and just as with objects and hotspots, some characters are vital for the progression of the story, while others offer optional information about the world.

So, all the people with compulsive clicking disorders can breathe easily – there will be a reasonable amount of things to look at and click on. Also, most of these things will have a specific purpose with tailored individual responses and none of that one-for-all generic unhandled event crap.

Thank you for reading and please don't be shy to post comments, argue or ask questions.

Hobo

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #51 on: 24 Mar 2015, 17:10 »
Update 11 (24.03.2015) – Quite a character

While travelling through Ehcilc, I've noticed something strange – there is no evil in this world. There are no good or bad races or burning hatred between different ethnic groups, everyone are considered equal. Of course there's plenty of noble heroes and notorious criminals, but they're all evenly spread out among an incredibly diverse population and even the worst of the villains aren't really that bad, they're not truly malicious.

I grew up in predominantly human community far from the plains and mountains of Ehcilc and bedtime stories of vicious monsters and dark creatures was a pretty common thing. I haven't seen any of that in here. It seems that most Ehcilcians don't even grasp the concept of it, the concept of true evil and overwhelming fear.

Yeah, they fight and picker and get on each others nerves and there's lot's of cultural differences between the races that don't always translate well to others, but it's nothing too serious. Battles are fought in a civilized manner and many of the problems are actually solved with diplomacy and well-argumented discussions. Sometimes it feels like it's a bit too good to be true, though. Like there's something lurking beneath the surface and just waiting to burst out…



There will be a few other human characters in the game besides the heroes, but most of the world is inhabited by weird fantasy creatures, whose appearance is usually thematically stereotypical. Still, despite the looks, many of them have odd Ehcilcian quirks attached to them, which might make them feel a bit off or even backwards.

One of the most popular and well-known mythical beasts is probably the dragon and I've been thinking whether I should add one in the Ehcilc universe. There's actually a spot in the game where it would make sense and where it would fit, but that's not really the problem. While classic dragons can definitely be considered a cliché or a trope, they have also been averted a lot, even in adventure games. For example, there have been tiny dragons, fire fearing dragons, cowardly dragons etc. So, it's been hard to come up with good spin that would make a dragon unique and interesting enough to justify its inclusion in the game. But I have to admit that not all characters are so carefully planned out, some of them just happen randomly.

To save time and make drawing easier, I sometimes copy/paste together various pieces of similar backgrounds (like the cave sections) and then modify them to suit my needs and every now and then the results are unexpected.

 

The first image is a cutout from one of the backgrounds. On the second one you can see it duplicated, mirrored and put together. And with couple of little modifications we have a face of a stone guardian. I didn't originally plan to have a character like this in the game, but since it just kind of happened, then why not?

As mentioned in the previous update, some characters are vital to the story, while others offer optional lore and alternative solutions to puzzles. I'm currently trying to figure out the right balance for it and somehow make it obvious that there are certain characters that you don't have to talk to. This would probably be helpful for those players who don't enjoy long conversations or my style of writing and would rather skip all that.

Among other news, the production of the game was on pause for a while, since I was busy working on a MAGS game in February, but I'm now back at it and it's progressing steadily.

Thank you for reading and please don't be shy to post comments, argue or ask questions.

AnasAbdin

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #52 on: 24 Mar 2015, 19:11 »
The new characters are just amazing. I love Ehcilcian Medusa a lot! Good luck animating her hair (laugh)
Thanks for sharing the story of the birth of the stone guardian, believe it or not, game elements showing this way is more common than you think!
I can't wait to see more progress and of course the final product.

One day you can be sure to quote me on this:

~ Kingdom of Ehcilc will win several AGS awards ~

ThreeOhFour

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #53 on: 25 Mar 2015, 04:06 »
Not much to say except I am super excited to play this. Everything sounds good, everything looks great, keep up the progress! :cheesy:

Mandle

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #54 on: 26 Mar 2015, 14:47 »
Keep going man! The game is looking awesome and your blog is an inspiration to read.

Loved the tale of the stone guardian and that he owes his very existence to the world's creator taking a few shortcuts ...Will his dialogue refer to this in some sly way? ;)

Hobo

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #55 on: 26 Mar 2015, 18:24 »
Thanks guys, for bothering to read and comment.

I love Ehcilcian Medusa a lot! Good luck animating her hair
There are occasional "bad hair" days, but animating small details like this is probably my favorite part in making this game.
Spoiler: ShowHide

Will his dialogue refer to this in some sly way? ;)
Haven't written much dialogue for him yet, but that sounds like a really neat thing to slide in there somewhere (nod)

Hobo

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #56 on: 11 Apr 2015, 18:10 »
Update 12 (11.04.2015) – More pixels! All new and shiny!

Sometimes you've been on the road for so long that it becomes all you know and sometimes you even lose sight of your original goals and destination. I've been talking a lot about reaching the mountain, but in fact that's only half of the journey, we also have to climb it.

On the other hand, this midway point is not that far away anymore and if we maintain the current good pace, we could reach it in a month. According to my maps, there's a small settlement somewhere at the bottom of valley between the steep flanks of the mountain range. I don't think anyone actually lives there, but I've heard that it serves as a meeting and resting place for adventurers and travellers from all over the kingdom. I suppose we can afford to make a longer stop there and maybe replenish our supplies and... but let's not get ahead of ourselves, we have to make it there first and then we'll see what fate has in store for us.



It's been about a year since the development of the game started. I made the AGS Games in Production announcement on April 19th and had been working on the graphics and making initial plans with Atavismus a few weeks before that.

A year might seem like a long time for a medium length low-res adventure game and it probably is, but I haven't really been doing it full-time. I don't work on it every day, sometimes I don't touch it for weeks and on couple occasions (during MAGS for example) the development was on hold for over a month. It's possible that I'll do another MAGS or just a random short game before finishing Ehcilc and I'm fine with it. To be honest, I'm not in that much of a hurry. It's still mainly a learning experience for me, an entertaining hobby that I enjoy when I have the time and will for it.

Since it's been a year, I've also gotten a bit better at pixelling and lately I've been experimenting with a somewhat new and more polished style (the image above). And before anyone asks, then no, I'm not reimagining or redrawing everything. I have actually deliberately left most of the backgrounds in a semi-finished state, because I knew that this whole thing was going to be a long process and I'll be more experienced and skilled in the later stages of the development.



To better suit the new style, I also added extra shading and antialiasing to the characters. In an earlier update I mentioned that the color count for characters was between 10-20. My new approach adds about 5-10 colors, so the change isn't actually that significant. In overall, I feel that all this is a step in the right direction and I hope that potential players will enjoy it too.

Thank you for reading and please don't be shy to post comments, argue or ask questions.

MufasaRKG

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #57 on: 11 Apr 2015, 20:07 »
Your sprite  designs are gorgeous! I seen you been at this for a while. Very inspirational.

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Hobo

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #58 on: 13 Apr 2015, 14:16 »
Your sprite  designs are gorgeous! I seen you been at this for a while. Very inspirational.
Thanks, MufasaRKG. I've spent a fair amount of time on polishing and redesigning them, but I think I've finally reached the point where I'm mostly satisfied with the results. Animating them feels still pretty difficult though.


AnasAbdin

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Re: Kingdom of Ehcilc
« Reply #59 on: 17 Apr 2015, 08:56 »
Animating the sprites is my favorite part :-D