A general update post regarding Arpago’s recent development…
First of all, I started working with a sound designer / composer – Adam, who takes care of the audio part of the game – a complete redesign and a lot of additions had to happen in order to implement that, and so far so good I’d say. We’re working really closely, discussing also other stuff regarding the game, and we’ve put a target to release a demo (no date though!). We will focus on a “vertical slice” of the game – the tutorial and the first hours of the game. It will probably take place on a separate island with limited complexity and relative “safety”. The inspirations for that would be White Orchard zone from Witcher 3, or a little isle you might remember from when you’ve started playing Tibia few years ago 🙂
As the first impression can only be one, interface had to be completely redesigned to look slick and be intuitive. As an image says more than a thousand words, here’s how character details screen in-game looks:
And a gif!
The compact mode, which is visible at the start is the panel present all the time. It consists of your current health (red bar), stamina (green bar), mana (blue bar), character level, and set of main hotkeys (configurable, but default would be numbers 1-5, Q, R, E, F, C). As you probably don’t need more details while you are walking around or fighting, I think this is just right amount of information to keep the screen clean.
The extended mode consists of much more info – right below the hotkey/resources bar which moves to the top, there’s a second set of hotkeys – by pressing a modifier you switch hotkeys to the other set, so you can have more stuff available during combat. On the left from the second set of hotkeys you can see current experience and progress bar.
On the left side you probably recognize the backpack, which doesn’t look much different – but it has a little more functionality. The options available after clicking the item are “smart” – only possible actions show up, so you don’t need to scroll through useless stuff (ex. weapons only have Equip / Set Hotkey / Throw Away; food and potions have Consume / Set Hotkey / Throw Away, etc). It also supports drag and drop, but I’ll talk about it more in one of other paragraphs 🙂
In the center you can see your character and his name, and the camera automatically zooms-in when you open character sheet.
The panel with item details is now located at the right side, and it has a few additions. First of all, the items can now be limited to certain classes (crossbows to ranger, swords to warrior, maces to warrior and battlemage, staves to summoner and battlemage, and so on) – configurable per-item. I don’t want to be too restrictive in that regard, but that will certainly make the balancing a bit easier later on. The highlighted (coloured) icons tell you which of 5 classes can use selected item. Second addition is the description panel – each item will have a description, and I’ll try to make them mostly unique.
Right under the item information there’s Attributes panel – these are you character stats, and most are pretty self-explanatory I guess. But the logic behind them isn’t so let me describe. There are 3 main stats – Strength, Agility, Wisdom. Each class has different importance of each stat – Warrior needs a lot of strength, and a bit of agility; Battlemage needs Int, but makes use of Str; Summoner is an Int class, and so on. Next attribute – Speed grows with your level and Agility, and is influenced by equipped items, active spells and debuffs. Armor relies mainly on equipped gear and buffs – better items might affect negatively your Speed most of the time. Resistances are affected by your current stats, class, items, and level – they were fine-tuned yet for obvious reasons, but Int will be useful for those seeking resistance against elements, Agi would cause stuns to be shorter, and Str should help you resist slowing effects.
Below the character itself, you can see your equipment in use. It has changed not only visually. I’ve decideded that assigning “main weapons” to the right hand and “secondary items” to the left hand would be most beneficial – it saves a lot of time when animating characters, simplifies logic behind the attacks, and makes it easier for user to familiarize himself with interface and controls. All in all, it was removing feature bloat, as it added next to nothing, except unnecessary complexity. Clicking the item here removes it and puts it in the backpack.
At the bottom-left, there’s something entirely new – a Spellbook. I have completely redesigned spell system, as it was hardly intuitive, was difficult to operate, and required you to carry spell scrolls with you all the time, what would result in very low backpack space for most classes. After you loot or buy a spell, it appears as a scroll in your backpack – you can sell it, throw it away, or LEARN the spell. Learning the spell adds it to your Spellbook, as long as your class is eligible and you haven’t learned the spell already. From Spellbook you can assign the spells to hotkeys, and they cannot be removed.
You might have noticed i the video, there are 4 tabs at the bottom of it – also a completely new feature, which I’ll quickly cover:
EQUIPMENT – it’s the screen I just described in great detail above 🙂
TALENT TREE – it’s a very early concept, which we haven’t yet decided on – the current idea is that Str/Agi/Int progression based on successful attacks and spells will be removed, and it will all be integrated into talent tree. It will make balance easier, the characters will be much more unique, specializations will be possible, and I really like decision making after leveling up. We’ve got some mock-ups of talent trees, and as you might have noticed even some early icons, but it’s too early to talk details – we don’t plan on including anything besides very basic version of it in the demo.
AREA MAP – minimap was present in the previous versions, but Area Map is new. It’s a zoomed out version of the minimap, and both of them were heavily modified. The biggest change is “fog of war” feature – at the start, the map is hidden and you need to uncover it by exploring:
QUEST JOURNAL – a list of active and completed quests with details regarding it’s points of interest, current stage, and a short description.
And regarding general control changes – entire UI supports drag’n’drop, mouse controls, gamepad mode and it works flawlessly from what we’ve tested. You can drag items from backpack to hotkey bar, you can swap hotkeys by dragging one hotkey onto another, a little icon of the item appears as your mouse cursor when you are dragging something, you can equip items by dragging them onto the gear panel, the correct gear slot is highlighted whenever you pick up something equippable, you can assign spells to hotkeys by dragging them into a hotkey slot, when you use gamepad and choose “Set Hotkey” option after clicking on an item or a spell, you are moved to hotkey bar and you can assign it just as you would with a mouse, and so on. Here you can see drag’n’drop in action:
Players new to the game will require just a little handholding and short explanation of the controls, so a real tutorial should help with that. It consists of onscreen text tips, control prompts, as well as highlighting important stuff. It opens doors when the player has completed certain actions (ex. walked a bit, equipped a weapon, killed an enemy, looted a chest, etc.). It is visually pleasing, a short video of the first moments in game (you can also see the minimap location and tracked quest in the corner)
The main part of the tutorial shouldn’t take more than 3-4 minutes, and the initial dungeon/cave will take additional 10 minutes tops, after which you’ll have the option to discover what the hell happened to you and why you are here.
Feedback / visual changes
Health bars of the enemy are completely different (well, except the font used), and integrate better with overall aesthetic
Locked doors and unlocking doors have now a nice particle effect, it’s slightly faster and looks satisfying 🙂
I also added first spritesheet-based animation, and it’s the particle effect of bloodsplat. I really like it and I am going to use it more often in future!
Lightmap implementation – due to major performance issues in open areas with a lot of light sources, another solution was required for lighting design. Lightmap is much easier on the performance than full-dynamic shadows (which made my GTX 1060 cry, and it should never happen). Baking light takes damn long, and isn’t as easy to setup, but the effects are much better. On the image below, there are no dynamic lights at all! As Unity allows for “Mixed lighting” mode, the characters and other dynamic objects still cast shadows correctly, but it’s a crazy difference of 200+ shadows on 200+ objects previously compared to 10-20 dynamic shadows on 10-20 objects currently. And it looks better!
I am also updating player character animations right now, and there are over 20 new ones – let me show just one that I think looks cool at that stage 🙂 Stomp ability, which will slow/stun enemies around:
Improved camera work when speaking with an NPC:
I haven’t included any audio samples on purpose – even though I’ve been working with sound designed Adam for over a month already (we are using Unity Collab, which is great and cheap (10€ a month and suits our needs perfectly), he had issues with his PC, and due to a bug in Unity sounds implementation still needs some tweaking. He’s already composed some background pieces (which are awesome), as well as various sounds (doors opening, rat squeaking, on-hits, torch, and many more) – we will show it off whenever we’ve got actual slice of gameplay fully prepared in terms of audio 🙂
We’ve also figured out the best solution for different footstep sounds on different floor types, and it’s already scripted and tested 🙂
New consumables – a broccoli, a carrot, and cheese!
Some new melee weapons – Mace of the Light, Broad Sword, Curved Sword, Savage Axe
Zombie, the making of!
A Goblin! Damn these creatures!
Ghoul, the making of!
So our aim is to complete content for the demo – animations, finishing sound implementation, and mapping is left to do.
Ok, I guess that’s it. The post got longer and longer as I kept writing, I didn’t plan on making it so huge, but I guess it’s OK for 1.5 month of progress.
Thanks for reading!