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Spidi777
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I am Overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:51 am

Hi everyone, I'm Tamás Karsai (Spidi) from Magic Item Tech and during the last two months I've been working on my third game called I am overburdened.

I am overburdened is a small "arcadey" rogue-like with a fun twist to the tried and true classical formula. The player takes the role of an artifact hunter, who has a surprisingly large carrying capacity, embarking on a quest to search through dungeon after dungeon for mystical artifacts and answers, in a world where magic has long been forgotten...

Features:
  • Turn based rogue-like with perma-death.
  • Run focused campaign, playable in short bursts.
  • Huge inventory (20 slots) with a great number of artifacts to find (100+).
  • Carefully crafted RPG system with complex customization possibilities due to the sheer number of inventory slots, but no leveling!
  • Semi-procedurally generated dungeons using hand authored layouts.
  • A funny story, packed with vicious evils, puns and jokes.
  • Hall of fame for remembering your best playthroughs.

Recent screenshots:
Image

Image

I've been writing a blog about my game development journey for a long while now and there is also an accompanying video series if you are interested in the nitty gritty of game making. For this game I wrote 5 entries so far. I've just recently found this retro loving community :) , so I'm planning to post the upcoming entries in full form, but here is a link to the existing ones with a small excerpt.

Begins
"This entry is the first one for the new game I'm working on called "I am overburdened" and the first one when I publish a video log entry too!"

Prototyping
"Lot of progress on the development of "I am overburdened", although not as much as I hoped :| ..."

Monsters and mods
"Been working on wrapping up all the remaining core features, but got a bit sidetracked so I'm going to write a little about level editing too besides monsters"

Loot is forever
"Last week was spent only on "under the hood" stuff. So the agenda is the item system which became really sophisticated"

Nobody make a sound!
"This post is going to be more like a tutorial, than a journal entry. I highly recommend checking out the video version, as it is heavily audio oriented + it contains some recent game-play footage ;) "

Thanks for taking the time to check/read. I'm planning to post the next entry in a day or two.
Stay tuned!
Last edited by Spidi777 on Mon Jun 05, 2017 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Stark
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by Stark Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:13 pm

Looks fun, good luck!
Let strength be granted, so the world might be mended...so the world might be mended.
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Spidi777
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:39 am

Stark wrote:Looks fun, good luck!

Thanks, will try my best :) !



Hello there!

This week I'm going to make multiple videos and blog posts :) ! This first one is about the box-art of the game.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHlTNkQplks

Backstory, requirements

For previous projects I did not spend too much energy on the promotional art. That was obviously a mistake, because usually it is the first thing both the players and the press comes across when checking your game, so it needs to have a good teaser, but it is easy to forget the importance of it and miss allocating time for it...

I planned to make a difference this time, but I significantly underestimated the needed efforts :( . I wanted to capture the plot of the game in an image, suggesting the core mechanic, which is trying to collect a lot of loot and having a huge inventory, but still not being enough. All in all I think I succeeded but it took two tries :) .

First try

My first idea was to focus on the protagonist of the game, who is a tomb raider kind-a guy (the not so morally OK one). Not being a typical hero or warrior, I wanted to present him as a bit of a simpleton and not someone who would kill a bunch of monsters with a single slash, since you won't be able to do that in the game either.

Concepting and direction

I started out with some concept sketches in my notebook, portraying a bandit/pirate figure carrying huge bags...
Image

I continued with flashing out this character with a composition I thought I like:
Image

Image

I wanted to create a pixel art end result, because I dislike box-arts with totally disconnected style from the game (except if it is top-notch quality + it adds to the lore of the game) but from my experiences with Operation KREEP, I knew I'm going to need a s#!tload of image sizes for promotional art (especially true if you plan to sell the game on multiple storefronts). Steam alone requests 5+ marginally different aspect ratios. So I decided to go with vector art as a base, and fix various sized renders instead of manually doing 3 to 4 different setups pixel by pixel.

Inking, results and confession

I use Inkscape for vector art. It is a free and cross-platform vector graphics editor, and has a convenient user interface . Perfect for line-art, icons etc...

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First batch of line-art and shading work was pretty promising, I grown to quite like the character...
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I tried out rendering the character in various sizes and fixing them up in GIMP using color reduction and manual pixel pushing. I still had "hope" at this point :D .
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Then I throw together a "placeholder" pixel art title text.
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The only thing left, was composition, fine-tuning and polish, so putting together an actual art piece which I could use as the promotional material for the game. Here are my attempts:
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Image

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Of course I made close to a dozen of these, to try out various text sizes, backgrounds etc...

I don't know if anyone likes them, but I sure felt like they simply aren't working. I liked the character, I liked the colors, but the image was lacking detail, a good looking title-text, a correct composition and most importantly somehow it was lacking life :| . After days of fiddling on-and-off with it I decided, that no amount of polish is going the fix these problems, so I scraped it and started over!

Second try

I wanted to approach the next trial smarter. So instead of jumping in I looked at a lot of reference pictures and lay down much clearer goals and concepts before jumping into producing the picture.

Reference material

Looking at some images made for other games helped a lot! It made me realize, that I have to focus a lot more on the text first and foremost, and a more clever use of both color and space is required for the image as a whole.

Image

I came up with the following concept afterwards which I really liked:
Image

I followed a similar approach for scalability, using Inkscape to create the outline and work from the renders, manually pixeling the final image:
Image

Final, final, final, final!

Funny thing about the final image is, that it took much less time and effort than my first attempt and I think it turned out to be a good deal better looking :) .

Image

The takeaway is if you feel even a tiny bit stuck, sit back to the drawing board and spend some more time on your concepts, it will probably yield better results !

The upcoming entries will be about the linux and mac ports of my previous game Operation KREEP and the tile graphics of I am overburdened. Here is a little sneak-peek of the last one:
Image

Stay tuned!
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by noiseredux Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:48 am

Dude. I'm really enjoying your updates. There's a few devs out there who I will follow their devlogs because (A) they write interesting things, and (B) I learn stuff. You're succeeding at both A and B right now, so keep it up!

Some feedback/etc:

Yup! That second promo art is wayyyy better.

What language are you programming in - just out of curiosity.

Do you have any plans for an Android port? Being turn based and played in short bursts, seems like a pretty good fit for tablets.
Image
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by Exhuminator Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:06 am

I like the graphics style you're using, and am a fan of roguelikes.

I'm not sure I understand the base gameplay. Are you saying that the goal is to collect as much loot as you can, to fill all those inventory slots, and then escape the dungeon?
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Spidi777
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:12 pm

@noiseredux:
Thanks for the kind words and feedback really appreciate it :) !
To answer your questions:
- I'm using C# and XNA is my development framework of choice. XNA is a bit of an "old hat", but I love it.
- I worked on android apps before, but never released a game for it so far. Not planned currently, but a port is definitely a possibility. As you say it kind of fits well indeed. I guess the answer is an "it may happen" :wink: .

@Exhuminator:
Thanks! Yep, roguelikes are cool, even the modern takes on the genre!

I don't want to spoil the plot yet, but there will a boss character at the very end of the dungeon and you will not be able to escape. The usual "ultimate showdown" at the end of the game :twisted: . The current plan is, that you can't carry more than 20 equipped items, so sooner or later (after a couple of dungeon levels) you may have to decide to leave behind/swap some stuff, maybe many. I'm trying to make that a rather hard decision by making each and every item unique, powerful and influential to your play style.
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by Exhuminator Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:43 pm

Sounds intriguing. I'll keep on an eye on this thread. Good luck!
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Spidi777
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Sun Mar 26, 2017 12:50 pm

Hi there!

Short entry, a bit tutorial-ish, about the tile graphics of the game.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyKaXklaG74

Art direction, ideas

I really liked the style of the open art assets I used for prototyping. Pixel art, huge value differences between the wall and the floor tiles and a little noise to make it a little grimy & wrecked.

Image

Though I liked it's looks and simplicity, I wanted to try some other ideas before settling on anything so I went ahead and made mockups.

False positive

The most interesting and furthest developed one was a tile-set and look with an oblique top-down view effect. I think this looks really good in many games, but sometimes it can get too exaggerated covering too much of the entity sprites.

Image

I came up with this, but I decided to scrap the idea. I liked it sort-of, but making multiple varied sets for the 30 to 60 minute long campaign and fully fleshing them out in this style would require and immense amount of work. I choose the original simple style with a decent amount of variation instead.

Goals, final looks

So I returned to the looks of the prototype. Easily distinguishable wall and floor tiles, noisy and grimy places (it is an old dungeon after all) and good variations (many sets and small randomization within each set too) so it does not become boring during a full play-through. I needed a cool palette. Something murky. While picking colors I naturally deviated towards the looks of a game I always cherished for its atmosphere :) .

Image

Colors were picked carefully for supporting the look of the entity sprites, as they will use a marginally different palette full of contrasting colors instead of saturated ones to make them pop from the terrain (again just like in the prototype).

Here goes some shots about the results:

Image

Image

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I have 10 different tile sets ready which I suspect will provide a good variety :) . With 30-ish level deep dungeons a set change will happen after every 3 levels.

How-to?

For creating a lot of pixel art tiles, like the ones I made, you are going to need a frame so to say. Some rules and patterns how you start pixeling each tile and afterwards patience for experimentation. That is all to it actually. I walk through the creation of one.

I use GIMP, a free and cross-platform image editor, but pixel art can be done just as well in a lot of paint programs (even in paint, but I advise you to choose a better one which supports layers). A graphics tool which can work with tiles or a hot-reload engine feature (because GIMP as an example does not support tile graphics) also helps, since you can check while you are drawing, whether your graphics work well when tiled instantly.

Image

First I usually start with selecting values for the whole set. This is a handy technique for defining an overall lightness/darkness balance for each tile.
Image

Than I "sketch" a simple pattern for a tile using the values, usually with a light-source residing in a North-West direction.
Image

I add a little variation, like cracks, missing bricks, mixing up the pattern etc... Detail like wines or stains can be added after coloring is done but this step alone makes enough differences between tiles.
Image

I know simply selecting the same hue for the given values feels easy, but it makes the outcome look kind-of boring. Try to make colors interesting by selecting at least two different hues and by playing with saturation a little. It will make a huge difference!
Image

Now you have a nice looking tile. The next step is optional. Adding noise was a deliberate style choice in my case. You simply add an extra set of values with only slight changes relative to the originally used ones. Select the noise colors the same way as the "normal" colors. Generate a noise pattern and overlay the noise colors on top of the tile using it as a mask.
Image

A screenshot with the final tiles:
Image

Thanks for reading.
Stay tuned!
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Spidi777
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:05 am

Hello everyone!

Tiny post with lot of pics this time. Last week I worked on the original sprites of the game and progressed steadily. Far from finished with every piece but a huge portion is done!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvERK4xfQn0

Missing pieces

In the last log I showcased the tile graphics, but one final adjustment was missing back then. All the tile-sets shared a single stair sprite which wasn't fitting well, so I made a separate sprite for each one.

Image

Entity sprites

The next stop was entities. I started out with defining clear goals for the looks and creating a palette serving these goals. The idea was to select contrasting, vivid colors to make entities pop from the environment and on contrary to the looks of the dungeons make them lively (browns and yellows are still pretty strong still :D )!

Image
Not yet finalized!

Player

I really liked the design I came up with before for the player character so I reused my concept which was a failed attempt at the box art of the game. Two sprite states exists, since in the planned "story" scenes the player will have his sword in its scabbard.

Image

Chests

The first apparent visual choice here are the light borders. I decided to add a colored one to every interactive entity type, so the player can not miss which tiles poses a threat and which ones provide bonuses. I made four chests with various costs/functions but I'm keeping the last one as a secret for the final version ;) .

Image

Pickups

Pickups come in many flavors. Permanent attribute bonuses (Meat = +Strength, Frying pan = +Armor, Carrot = +Vitality, Coffee = +Speed, Clover = +Luck), gold, potions, random items etc... Here are a few:

Image

Image

Monsters

I settled on a style after a few tries where the monsters are pictured from the same angle as the player. I plan to have around 15-20 unique monsters and a boss, which will provide a good variety for the 30 dungeon levels. They were divided into four groups based on the story when designing the looks: were/giant animals, goblinoids, undead and the allies of the boss. Almost all of them is ready (currently at 16).

Image

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Some screenshots from the current version of the game:

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This week will be spent on completing the missing sprites (e.g.: items, some monsters) and overall visual improvements and polish, so I'm guessing the next entry will be similar. A kind-of "news" is my plans for an alpha demo. Before I complete and release the game I really want to do a open build (which will become the demo later) to gather feedback. I think wrapping this version up sometime next week is perfectly viable, so by the end of this week I'll post a finished plan for this too.

Thanks for reading.
Take care.
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by Exhuminator Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:10 am

You might want to make the colored borders for the sprites optional (in like a settings menu or something). I understand your intent with the colored sprite borders, but some people will find them distracting.

You're doing a great job on the tile art, the backgrounds (floors/walls) really look nice and fit the dungeon aesthetic perfectly.
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