So much dark work!

So another update is finally here.

This one is going to be pretty messy because there’s been a lot of ups and downs going on. Let’s start with the good.

Today is Janna’s birthday! Happy birthday Mrs. Kindred! Thanks to my AWESOME Twitch viewers we were able to buy her a freakin’ Nintendo Switch for her big day and she couldn’t believe it when I handed it to her. If you see her in the Discord please wish her a happy birthday, even if it’s a few weeks late. (She drags it out all month…)

I started work on dressing the new Red Canyon zone in the game. Hoping to have it all finished up and dressed by the end of next week.

Some hanging buildings in the Red Canyon zone.

I also finally got around to modeling the Ember Cat, which still needs some UV, texture and effects work before this little guy is ready to singe your leg hairs off.

Swords ‘n Magic and Stuff was featured by Epic Games as a community spotlight pick the first week of April! That was huge! We saw a ton of new faces in the channel and we have one of our own viewers, an Epic community manager, Kalvothe to thank for it. If you see him in the channel or the Discord be sure to tell him how awesome he is!

Next up, Kindred Games contracted a programmer, DeadlyMidnight who is now taking care of (you’ll like this) all the networking for the game and most of the primary coding work. Midnight has so far been extremely helpful and has really taken a lot of weight off of my shoulders so I can focus on the fun stuff! The game is slowly making it’s way back into a playable state (with networking this time) and we’re hoping to see a new alpha build up and running for weekly testing from our hand picked testing team very soon!

The final good news is that Kindred Games has also officially recruited an art intern who is going to be an awesome asset and hopefully take a lot of great experience and know how away from this project. The intern, Alkainz (from the Twitch channel) will be making his debut this week once he’s been set up with version control and a copy of the game. He’s going to be working on props and building art and helping dress the world.

And the bad news. The game is STILL in a state of dismay. No real progress (at least playable progress) has been made since before the alpha and it’s taking a toll on me and the Twitch channel. It’s very discouraging not seeing any progress in your project and if it weren’t for having a team now there’s a real possibility that I may have put the project into a state of hiatus while I got back my motivation.

Luckily there’s a silver lining and things are starting to look up. Midnight is getting ever so close to finishing up the backend and has begun work on the combat system. So my motivation is slowly returning and I can’t wait to start seeing real gameplay changes again.

We’re rooting for a June/July Early Access release now with full multiplayer support and will update with a more narrowed down date when we get back to a playable version and have an idea of where we’re going next.

Keep in touch on the Discord: https://discord.gg/7PEaXq5

Drop by the Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/kindreddev

Don’t give up hope! Swords ‘n Magic and Stuff will make it to Steam! I promise!

Long past due updates

Life can get crazy when people start getting interested in your game. I wasn’t ready for this, but boy has it been exciting.

A few weeks ago the Alpha 1 was launched as a closed test. Then about 10 minutes later after discovering almost immediately a game breaking bug, Alpha 1.0.1 was launched.

Alpha 1.0.1 was out for nearly 6 hours before I patched and released Alpha 1.0.3, the most stable and bug-free version of Swords ‘n Magic yet. The closed alpha was given to about 2 dozen people for testing. The test went over remarkably well in my opinion.  Many testers spent hours in the game saving up gold to buy houses, seeking out some of the more rare weapons, and some attempting to find their way into areas they weren’t intended to go. (Yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Jawa) Overall the game seems to be a whole lot of fun and has the potential to be something great. And as expected, it was chock full of inventory dupe bugs, duplicate enemy spawning bugs and UI issues. The game also had a lot of complaints about a handful of design decisions. Namely potions, ranged bow combat and the magic system.

After a few days of realizing how big this game could be and how many very dedicated and loyal fans I had I came to the revelation that even though this was going to be my first actual commercial release of a game, it didn’t mean it had to be neglected and half-baked. The game deserves to be played and deserves the development time it needs to be an enjoyable experience for every once of my Twitch viewers who have been so closely following the game.

So an entire system rework began. I created a new test level, stripped out all the art from my character player and started basically completely from scratch. I expected 2 months of work and we’re nearly a month in already. I think I’m still on track, but I’m going to estimate that the new enemies are going to be more work than I bargained for, which might put me over the time frame. And on top of that, this rework is not entertaining. A lot of it is the same stuff my viewers have seen before, which has left me with low Twitch views and donations for the last little while. This part I wasn’t expecting.

With the new rework I’ve realized that bringing on extra help for this game could be worth the energy and pay if done tactfully.  Because of this, I’m working on the trailer for a Kickstarter campaign.  My asking goal is far smaller than the majority of Kickstarters out there. And I’m not relying on stretch goals to carry the development because I don’t want to make massive promises and then abandon the game like we’ve all seen in the past.  So I’m relying on everyone’s love of the game to meet the goal and anything over can go into making the game just that much better, or released that much sooner.

The Kickstarter was planned for release this Friday, but a pushback might occur just to make sure everything’s ready. Being a solo dev has it’s trials and tribulations and delayed releases of things are common.

Now that the rework is finally coming back into an actually playable state, I’ve decided it’s time to start working on getting more viewers into the channel and to start hyping up the game a bit more. With this in mind I’m beginning to set up a better schedule for my streams. I’m now planning to do rework and other programming content during the week and weekends will be art-based game content work. We’re starting with the new Stoneling Canyon area which is a huge cavernous canyon spotted with the houses and shops of a hanging village all hooked together by ladders and rope bridges to create a very interesting vertical level design I think.

Don’t forget to tune in this weekend to see this area come to life!

https://www.twitch.tv/kindreddev

I am now Kindred Games!

Today I filed for a new LLC.  The game was originally planned to release under Everbrave Interactive, which was reflected in my Twitch channel, but due to some possible future complications with other members of the company, I thought it best to launch this under a separate, solely owned entity.

So I’m officially operating under Kindred Games!  Well… I will be… once the paperwork goes though.

This won’t change anything about the game.  I’m still working solo on it as I always have been and will still stream all my development.

What it WILL change is my Twitch URL, which means you might run into some 404 errors over the next couple weeks in case I miss one.  If so, please let me know in the Discord.

The new URL is https://www.twitch.tv/kindreddev

If you haven’t caught a stream yet, please come visit! We have a lot of fun.

Site update and game progress!

I seem to be getting worse and worse about posting here.  But here I am, and I’ve updated the site’s headers to better work with the new direction the site needs to be moving in.  In addition, I’ve added a much-requested media section that shows off some screenshots from the current game world.

I can’t wait to keep filling up that media section with new areas. Stay tuned for more!

 

Also!

Recently on livestream we’ve been working on a new area in the game called Moonberry Farms.  It’s a small, rural farm that grows, you guessed it, Moonberries which is made into Moonbery Tonic and Moonberry Juice, both items which give you some special boosts for the duration of the day.

Moonberry Farms entrance

The farm is also home to what used to be harmless, inanimate scarecrows, but a traveling wizard has since enchanted them to protect the farm against the thieving Orcs, who have been stealing the farm’s goods.

The enchantment backfired and the scarecrows have begun attacking anything they lay their eyes on.  The farmers are scared and need help, but they don’t trust these new adventurers around the land after the wizard goofed so badly.

Could you prove to them that not all adventurers are so inadequate?

A surprisingly unfriendly scarecrow

Necrael The Spiteful

So I know it’s been a bit since I posted an update but we’ve been doing some awesome things live on stream over at https://www.twitch.tv/everbraveart.  Go leave a follow to get notifications next time I go live so you can join in and contribute to the development of the game through feedback and ideas!

So what have we been doing, exactly?  We’ve been designing and implementing the first real boss in the game, Necrael The Spiteful.  His name doesn’t do him justice and the items he can drop are just as awesome as they sound; Necrael’s Soul, Necrael’s Sin and Necrael’s Spite.  I don’t want to spoil what they do right here, but trust me, they’ll be worth doing this boss fight a few times to try to collect the full set.

More info to come! Hope you find your way into the Twitch channel sometime.  Watch Swords ‘n Magic come to life in front of your very eyes! It’s a blast!

New Weapon Drops!

Did a good chunk of weapon designs tonight and got them all in the game.  Nothing really special here other than the Frost Axe, which will be a rare/legendary/epic/whatever item drop.  It’s also currently the most OP weapon in the game for raw power. It might need some adjustments to stop it from looking like a club though.  I’ll look into that tomorrow during the stream.

Don’t forget to join the stream to give feedback and suggestions! Since the game is still so early on, basically any weapon and spell suggestions are going to be accepted and probably made right on the spot. That’s how tonight went anyway.

Follow me on Twitch to get notifications when I go live!

 

Holiday Break is Over

And I’m back to work full time.

I took a little break and took the family to California for my daughter’s birthday.  We had a blast and I gathered a lot of inspiration.  I’m excited to get back to work.  That includes getting back on to a regular stream schedule, which started tonight.

I’ll be working on new content for the game almost exclusively from here on out with only a few major mechanic updates left to fit in (really just menu/save stuff).  So if you want to come and watch/suggest new weapons, spells and monsters being created for the game please feel free to drop into the stream over on Twitch at https://www.twitch.tv/everbraveart/

Hope to have some fun updates soon!

Twitch Streaming

I’ve recently started streaming development of the game.  This is always late at night and is usually at least a few hours, sometimes several and I usually have a specific goal; setting up NPC’s, fixing a bug, making new art/content.  I plan on continuing this effort on a near-daily basis very soon, but being a stay-at-home dad kind of forced me to take a break when my daughter got sick.  And in my opinion, if you don’t catch whatever your kids have, then you’re not doing a very good job caring for them…

So I’m sick now and as such haven’t streamed in a few days.  This weekend also happens to be my daughter’s birthday weekend and we’re going out of town until next Thursday.  That basically means that I’m taking a forced hiatus from the game in general as well as streaming.

But this also means that when I get back I’ll be setting up a better schedule and be posting here and on Twitter, etc. more regularly.  I’m taking this down time off-stream to fix bugs and dial in some mechanics that haven’t always been right on the mark for me.  Some of these included the jump animation, potions, firing arrows and stealth, and of course the often super broken inventory system.

So I’ll be writing a new post shortly about all these updates to the game.

Please check out the stream if you’re interested in giving your input or just watching how certain things are made.

https://www.twitch.tv/everbraveart

Thanks!

Catching Up

Since I started development in early October a whole lot has happened.  I thought I should take some time to do kind of a catch up/update post just to go over the changes that have happened throughout development so far.  Plus I wanted to show off sort of a timeline in photos to demonstrate all the progress I’ve made so far.

So let’s start out with the very first asset I made for the game before I even knew what I was making it for, the base character model.

So I “blocked” out a really basic character to match my core design principle at the time: Stupid Simple Gameplay.

Little did I know that I’d soon go from stupid simple to an open world multiplayer adventure RPG, nearly the exact opposite.

After the character was done I started experimenting with gameplay mechanics to see what I could do.  This meant figuring out if I wanted combat in the game, which is usually my first question when I start a new project.  I started toying with ways to handle combat to decide whether it was a stupid simple mechanic, or if it was going to be overly complex.

Since I’d changed at this point to a 3rd person over the shoulder adventure style camera from the top down point and click gameplay, combat was relatively easy, so I settled on a sphere cast that check if any actors were in the attack zone when the mouse 1 was pressed.  It worked out pretty well and looked great once I’d worked out additive animation blending in Unreal Engine.

Next was the first step down a slippery slope.  I wanted to add a basic inventory system.  For a long time I’ve been really interested in using a micro inventory bar, similar to an MMO or Minecraft, but far more limited.  I thought it’d be easier to work with if I only had one row of inventory and I only allowed them to be selected/deselected with the mouse wheel and shoulder buttons on a gamepad.  This would mean no drag n drop functionality and much simpler to set up.

After probably a day building the basic system, integrating a data table and structure set up, making a couple test weapons, setting up sockets so the character could hold the weapon I finally had a very basic, and very buggy inventory.

You could pick up items with F, scroll between them to change the displayed item in your hand, then drop the item with Q.  But the dupe bugs were unreal.  I magically created about 3 dozen swords to demonstrate the power of bugs:

Next was the second step down that slippery slope.  I decided to add split screen multiplayer.  The basic setup was pretty easy thanks to Unreal.  Really, split screen complications only started to show up later on when the game started filling up with content and of course when I started creating more UI elements.

I ran into a pretty hefty bug where I couldn’t get the inventory hotbars to display separately on each screen.  I ran into a similar issue with healthbars.

But that didn’t stop me. I finally got it set up and then it was time to call in the Mrs. to test with me.  This was when I realized what kind of game this needed to be.

Once testing how simple it was to set up drop in/drop out multiplayer during run time it was pretty easy to blow my project’s scope out of proportion.

Just before starting this project I’d been attempting to play the new Divinity: Original Sin 2 release with some friends.  But, while the multiplayer is fantastic, it really only works if you’re all on a set schedule, as it’s not really possible to just miss a session without major complications.  And if my wife decided to join in later on when she found free time, she’d have to play someone else’s character and really wouldn’t just be able to make her own.  And while this system sounds frustrating, it worked fine for their game.

But my new goal with this project was to create a dynamic drop in/drop out system that let players play with anyone at any time without feeling like someone has been missing out or can’t catch up, or that they’re hindering the first player’s playthrough, or that they’d have to play through the same content over again in their own game.

So the major design had been established and it was time to start working on making it a reality.  So the summoning shrine was born.  Along with some really preliminary placeholder art.  The summoning shrine was a simple way to add immersion to the drop in mechanic.  A player can use the shrines to save their game as well as invite a second player into the world.  At this time it always starts a brand new character, but the tribulations of saving and loading isn’t far off from this point.

You might also notice that I’d added gold to the game and the ability to purchase items which were marked for sale.  This also was a pretty unique mechanic I’m quite proud of.  Instead of making a grid based shop UI, I wanted to keep the purchase mechanic just as simple as looting an item.  So I designed them to work the exact same as a loot drop, but they won’t despawn and they require gold to pick up.  This gives me a lot of interesting gameplay possibilities in the future and the ability to set up shops on the fly anywhere on the map.

With the shop mechanic working relatively well it was time to fix the item pickup/inventory system.  So I spent several hours on that and also build a decent little popup widget UI that shows the item stats.

You’ll also notice that our main character is now sporting an overly flashy red, metallic armor I threw together for some more socket/equipment testing.  This was long before I had any idea how I would handle armor/skins, but I wanted to make sure I could get visual armor working before I got too excited about it.

Also note that standing in the pickup range of two items at a time was the bane of my existence for a very long time during this development.

So the next step, if I remember correctly was just me adding some more content to the game.  This included what, to me, is the most exciting portion of the game; spells.

So here are the first two spells that went in.  Fireblast was originally a very broken, high damage projectile spell with an awful cooldown mechanic.  I knew I needed a way to prevent the player from spamming it indefinitely but also a way to prevent them from dropping the item and picking it back up immediately to cheat the cooldown.  So I just prevented swapping items or changing inventory during the cooldown, which just felt bad.  Finally I just added a magic resource that replenished relatively quickly in order to use it as a cooldown system.

This actually felt very good when it came to adding Magic Scales.  A spell that blocks all projectiles (quite necessary after enemies could use bows) for a short amount of time.  The spell started out with a 6 second duration and it cost 30 magic, but it was quickly buffed to 10 seconds to make it more viable.  I’m certain this will be changed again in the future as now it feels a bit overpowered for melee characters who don’t really need magic at all.

The visuals of this spell have also changed drastically since this.

After the spell/item use system was in a whole lot of content and art work was done.  And you’d think I’d have more screenshots of this portion, but it was actually a lot of dark work because I wanted to surprise everyone with the massive visual progress.

And in the process I broke the inventory, again.

Added some trees and mountains.

And some other pretty details for the environment.

I also created a handful of new characters including a female warrior skin (needs a hair model still) a rogue and an orc.

Since these updates progress has slowed down a bit because I built a website, named the game, designed a logo and spent about a week on a title screen menu, then scrapped it entirely… Ugh.

But I’m back to making progress and this last week I’ve created a world zone for the orc camp, a skeleton race, an entire set of dungeon/cave assets for some indoor areas and some new items.

So these are much better examples of what the game looks like and will probably look like up until release.  I’ll be redoing a good chunk of art to meet this level of quality throughout the game.

The rest of the devlog information will be posted in easier to digest portions as separate posts going forward.  But I wanted to do a big long catch up post for anyone who really wanted more about the game or wanted to see the process.

I hope to see you stick around for the rest of the development!

Swords ‘n Magic and Me

On October 3rd, 2017 I sat down at my desk and decided that I was going to make a video game.

Now, I’d made a lot of video games before.  Small, dumb video games.  Flash games, to be exact.  But I had just graduated from college at 29 and realized that my 10 years of game making really hadn’t got me anywhere.  I had yet to make a dime making games and here I was with a game-focused art degree and nothing but time ahead of me to do something with it.

Initially I thought, “Hey, let’s go apply to some AAA studios in Seattle and start making some money!” but I’m a stay at home dad to a 3 year old and my wife loves her job here in Arizona.  And to be honest, being a slave to the AAA industry sounds like fun, but I know I wouldn’t last more than 5 years.

So I decided that I’d finally put some actual time into doing something I love. If I could put 3+ years into a college degree and graduate at the top of my class, I could put 6 months into a tiny indie game and get $1000 in sales.  Which is my goal, by the way.  And it will remain my goal for the length of this development, regardless of how much I put into the game or how terrible it turns out.

So after two days of working on a top down point and click idea I’d been mulling around with for a few weeks I decided I hate game development.  Luckily, a friend of mine gave me a nice pep talk and a slap across the face and told me “Why don’t you start with something you already know how to do?”

I wasn’t much of a stranger to Unreal Engine, but I really only knew the basics.  So I started again with this mentality.  Only do what I know.  So I set up some animations and built basic character movement mechanics.  I started with no ideas or expectations and within two days I had my grand plans laid out with a poorly designed roadmap of how I was going to accomplish them.  That roadmap mainly consisted of a lot of Google searches and forum questions.  But at least I had some motivation, an idea and most importantly, a plan.

 

The rest is history.