Development Blog 5 - Castle On Wheels
Hello everyone the end of sprint 5 has come so fast for us but there was so much work being done at the same time! As our first full sprint from home there were its own set of challenges but the way we finished within this sprint really made us all excited to show you what we have so far. So Without further ado here are some of the things we have been working on starting from the 2D artists.
We focused this sprint on majority menu art and UI functionality by creating game play UI buttons and as we can see above coloring the main title screen. The concepts within this sprint have slowed because we were moving toward the UI structure and look more.
That said we did have one thing to concept from the last sprint that we were excited to see which was the Ballista siege engine which working from this concept will be very exciting to see be put into the game.
Next are some UI aspects that we were able to get into the game before the recent build. The UI buttons were especially difficult since we needed the context of the buttons to make sense to the player so things like “move units” or “attack” or “defend” were challenging to have make sense in a simple symbol. On top of this were the portraits for the characters that were more difficult to explain than to implement since we wanted a 3D kind of aspect to this. But the version of the UI we have now looks like this.
Menu Buttons in the corner were simplified and the torches were added to separate the sections for the player to separate the buttons with function. The buttons left of the settings pause and level selection page are the unit control buttons. This includes from the top down, “unit move”, “units attack” and “units defend” The two buttons, units defend and attack, are global buttons that affect all units meaning that all units go away from the castle to attack enemies and then all units come to defend the castle’s position.
Having these buttons here is important because in my experience with playing RTS style games the player may not know how to use these without extensive knowledge of playing games similar to it. Therefore having the buttons where the player can see they will at least not be stuck with not seeing how to do anything and in recent feedback, having buttons push experimentation.
The buttons on the left next to the minimap are there for the castle control. Having the castle being able to move and stop from player input as well as activating siege mode as an option gives the player options other than just moving the castle forward. When the activation of siege mode is activated the player is unable to move the castle forward anymore till this has been deactivated and the player gains access to a large cannon that fires on enemy buildings and siege engines.
Moving to 3D modeling, I was extremely happy with the results we received this sprint and the amount of work that was completed. We had a lot of work with regards to texturing and this was very nice to see the addition to our previously texture-less world. Below are some of the finished models we were able to get completed.
These models were very nice to get in and their final textures are looking very nice to add to the games theme and overall feel. The characters beginning to get their textures is the first stage to getting them implemented especially now that they have some of their animations getting put together that you will see below in that section. There were also some models that were finished that did not have textures that we are also very excited for, which I have included below.
These are sort of out of context so allow me to explain. The image on the right is the enemy spawner buildings so to add to the feel of these buildings I had an idea to add a skull to the top of them which you can see on the left image is including a high poly version of the model that will then be broken down into a low poly and placed on the top of the building on the right. I am particularly excited to get this building going since we have just a few more steps before we can remove all of our “placeholder” models.
The above image is the final piece for the horseman character that we need and after we can get this rigged then we can implement the final set of animations for this character.
Next we have Level Design, This has been a battle for the entirety of the project because there have been issues with getting the appropriate mechanics set up. Our Level Designers have definitely done their best to keep up with their tasks. However, with the lack of UI to control the game and the fact that everything for the game has been set up for the first level and has been sort of neglected within the second, third and fourth levels.
The image above I had gone into level 1 and added the mountains and the extension of the water so the player does not see the edge of the game. Of course there is still some more to go on this but for 90 percent of the level you cannot see anything breaking immersion other than some of the models missing from the game.
We have yet to fully implement this onto the rest of the levels since we have been trying to get the primary mechanics into them but with the addition of the extra updates and bug fixes we have been able to get a lot of the things missing from these levels to be more drag and drop for the level designers to be able to quickly and easily place them and test them.
Programming was especially a big topic for discussion having many of our core mechanics finished promptly, and allowed for some minor bug fixing as well. To discuss programming I will need to split it up by section. Firstly we had the AI and the AI behaviors which I will remind you can be difficult to see without the character models in there but don’t worry I will explain them.
This GIF shows the new way we are going to introduce alternate enemies into the game. Having spawners specific to the unit that they spawn means that we are now able to adjust the levels to imagine that the units sort of collaborate together. The small grey box in the bottom of the screen shows the enemies that we originally had, the grunts.
Fast, low health and low damage units that if not dealt with can over run an allied position. The second larger grey cube is the Brute spawner which is the Larger slower AOE damaging unit that only spawns once in a while. The final spawner is the orange one you see above these two aforementioned spawners which are the Slingers which are ranged attackers that are there to attack your units from range while you're busy with the melee enemies up close. The combination of the three is a challenging trio of problems that will require the player think and act quickly to handle these units.
This GIF above shows the AOE attack that the enemy Brute will have when fighting in the game. Since this is a large hulking unit on the battlefield we needed a challenging enemy to face when the level began to increment in difficulty. Notice how one of the units are able to take down up to four of your standard units which means handling these units will take a combination of skill, and units to defeat them.
In the gif above we can see the slingers firing little “pebbles” at the allied units, eventually defeating the troops that were there. The GIF above also was before we were able to balance the amount of units on the field at once so there are many many more than we want to have the player deal with at once.
Next on to the Siege units. I believe I have previously shown you the siege tower but within this sprint we were able to see it in action and now we have the exploding barrels to add as well. This was especially cool when seeing it in action as you will see below. With this concept of the game the siege engines act as a block for the castle, having it need to stop and handle this threat before it moves on to try and defeat something else.
This image also shows a lot of our UI in place as we see the pieces of the game come together as a whole to see the big picture of the game as the player experiences the game with all of the pieces together.
Next before we finish with siege engines we have a new weapon of mass destruction that the Goblins will eventually get at their disposal. The Cannon cart is of my own design and I believe has the goblins written all over it. This is the third Siege engine after the Siege tower and the Ballista which will be definitely one of the most formidable when you fight this one and the first glimpse at its mechanics are below.
The Concept behind this one is there is no organization to the way it fires at allied units. In some cases you can see that the cannon fires multiple projectiles and not all of them hit the target. This sort of overkill is the theme I was going for with this machine and with that in mind we wanted the siege engine to have a very strong feel to it so players were needing to deal with this siege engine and not just let the castle handle it on its own.
Lastly For programming we have some level mechanics which we apparently left off till the last minute since we had originally thought that this was done before. The goblin Slinger towers were a concept that would be in the level to cause extra challenge to the players when going after the enemy on their own ground. They had very simple mechanics which was to fire projectiles at the allies as they walked around when they were within range to act as a defensive position for the allies to try and defeat and for the enemy to use to their advantage.
As I said above this was a very straightforward mechanic that we wish to add further implementation of more projectile points to help the towers be more challenging as the player grows in strength. However, for now the mechanic is perfect and we just need to be able to allow allies to attack the tower to destroy it which we will plan to have the ability to do by the next build as well as potentially have our final version of the Slinger tower model.
I mentioned earlier that with all the stuff we had implemented we had bugs or corrections to current mechanics that were not quite up to standards that the player would want to see. Things like having the castle take damage from the enemy units and having them not go underneath the castle when trying to find the castle and also things like having the units respond better to user input among other things but we were able to crush a lot of the issues out and having a very fun version of the game was a huge relief when all was said and done.
Lastly we had a lot of movement from our Animation side this sprint to the point where we are getting dangerously close to putting them into the game and having live units. Our animator had taught us a very valuable lesson which was that there is a right and a wrong file type for the files Unfortunately we had to learn this from experience which means the work that was completed is now gone and we needed to start from scratch. The incredible news however is that our Animator/ Rigger was able to catch up just about to where he was just before we figured out the issues at hand and this was the results below.
The GIF's above show the new animations for our militia that originally didn’t work with the file type we had but the first two GIF’s show the rigs of all but one of our final characters aside from the horse model that is to go with our character on the top right. Once the horse is completed and the rig is set then we should be able to place the textures on them and we will be ready to apply the animations to them.
Now that we are on the final two sprints we are primarily going to be focusing on getting these animations in, for the programmers as well as feedback the player will need to see. For modeling we will need to finish any level specific models that are preventing the levels from being playable where we are using placeholder models that do not look complete. For the 2D artist team we will be focusing on menu and navigation, this means that we will need menu buttons, backgrounds and extra feedback that the UI would have such as on the upgrade menu or the settings and pause menus. The Level Designers will be finishing up placing all working mechanics into the levels so they can finish up their levels and get to balancing.
Get Castle On Wheels
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