Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Valery has joined your party!

Sorry folks, this last week has seen a whirlwind of activity on our end, both with Hellenica developments and life events. We didn't forget you all, though!

Today I want to announce one fantastic result of this activity, and that is our partnering with a new combat artist! For the longest time, we've been unable to show the gameplay of Hellenica because of our placeholder artwork. I'm already in the process of integrating new art, so soon we can start showing you all more of what we're working on.

So who is the artist? Valery Kim is a pixel artist that found us through the TIGSource forums. She has a unique style and a solid background working on other games in our genre. Here's some of her work:


You can check out her live blog here for more.

Now, for a little Hellenica teaser, here's the test submission that made us choose Valery in the first place:


There's much more to come, stay tuned!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

It takes a Village...

During my first video game release party, five months after I had begun working in the industry, I approached the lead designer of Saints Row 2 to offer him a compliment, "You made a great game." He corrected me, "No, we made a great game." If I still harbored any illusions of a superstar designer driving a game's creation, they were shattered that day.

Even if Kurt and I are the only full-time developers working on Hellenica, we've had the support of a plethora of talented people. And since we've gotten even more help than usual lately, I thought it'd be good to recognize the different people involved and the help they provide.

Within the past week alone...

Numerous friends and family have played through an alpha build of Hellenica and given great feedback with regards to usability and difficulty, and the occasional bug or grammar mistake.

My friend, Topher, also found a particularly rare bug, where a line would be repeated if you took a very specific story path (3 in 58 chance). Additionally, he provided feedback about how our UI reads to his color blindness.

My friend, Bergy, provided Greek culture consultation, discussing the finer points of the Oracle at Delphi, the river Styx, and Athenian politics, as we worked to mold these elements into great conclusions(plural) to our JRPG-styled story.

Our writer, Siobhan, helped edit new bits dialogue we added to improve narrative flow where playtesters were confused.

We worked with YDY on our last set of character portraits.

My brother explained to us why one of our character's muscles were physically impossible, and helped us give feedback for YDY to iterate on.

My friend, Maja, advised us on the mechanics of female poses (also for a character portrait). My girlfriend also allowed herself to be thusly posed as we iterated towards a more reasonable stance.

We conducted a combat artist search and asked a wide array of gamer friends to give us feedback on the final candidates we had selected.

And honorable mention to my mother, who has (before this week) proofread all of Hellenicas 4800+ lines.

Another honorable mention to Daniel Thomas, who the week before last finished up his work on Hellenica’s backgrounds, which drew nothing but praise during our playtest.

Hellenica wouldn’t be where it is without them, and Kurt and I are very grateful.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hellenica Characters: Reworking Diona, Nephele, and Nyx

Now that we've wrapped up most of our character portraits for Hellenica, we had some time to go back and revise some of our earliest characters. We realized that the first pieces we worked on with our previous artists didn't quite match up with the style we established with our current artist. Ack! Who will save us now?!

Oh, I guess our current artist. Probably.

So, we had her do a little touch-up work. Here's a process shot of how our characters were transformed:


Nephele and Nyx were fairly straightforward. We shrunk their heads and eyes down a bit to be closer to the mostly realistic character proportions of our other characters. In Nephele's case, we had to make her nose and mouth a little more well-defined as well.

For Diona, we made similar adjustments to her facial features, but in the end we just weren't happy with the way the pose was working out. During her conversations in game, she looked unbalanced and a bit awkward. So, starting again from the sketch stage we put together something more natural. We already had a great color scheme worked out, so it was a little easier than completely starting from scratch.

And that's that! As on the internet, photoshop can fix any problem. What do you think? We're hopeful that once players get into the game they'll never even know that these three characters were originally done by a different artist!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Seeking an experienced 2D artist!

The time has come again for us to open the gates of the Dragonloft and seek out a talented artist to help bring Hellenica to life. If you're a regular reader here, please help us in the search and share this link with any artists you think might be interested in creating Hellenica with us. For those arriving for the first time from Twitter or other internet tubes, please take a look at our job description to see if you're interested! Take some time to check out the rest of this dev blog too, we've already done a lot of neat work!

(The job post in full..)

Hello! We're the Dragonloft.

We're game developers with AAA experience who are working on our first indie title, which aims to take the endearing JRPG genre and rework it to function in a tighter-paced form.

We've been iterating on the game in some form for just over 2 years, and we're at a point where we'd like to find a dedicated artist to bring our isometric characters and environments to life.

We have a unique Greek Steampunk setting which reimagines the cultures and people of ancient Greece in the wake of an industrial revolution, blending iconic landmarks like the Parthenon and the Colossus of Rhodes with the gears, smoke, and inventiveness of a steampunk world.

We're looking for a dedicated individual that can make our isometric tactics gameplay visually inspiring and delightful. We look to the original Final Fantasy Tactics for style direction (see examples here), but may be open to other ideas if you can convince us of your skill and dedication. We believe that the artist really needs to own the vision to do their best work, so as long as the style serves the gameplay (easily readable, enhances the tactics gameplay) and fits the technology (2D sprites and tile sets), we are somewhat flexible.

The right person should have experience doing environment tile sets, animated 2D character sprites, and animated 2D effect sprites. Some comfort with technical art is required as well, given the focus on character animation and our desire to craft our levels from shared tile sets. Also, let us know if you've used Unity before.

We're looking for someone that can begin working right away, as we're hoping to wrap up development on the project early next year. We're only interested in hiring dedicated contractors for pay, though terms are negotiable depending on your preferences.

If you're interested, please respond with any relevant past work, your usual rates, and your availability.

You can reach me here: kurt@thedragonloft.com

Thank you for your time! We look forward to hearing from you.