Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday Update #6 - Gameplay iteration and a new character reveal

Howdy folks. Aside from some technical difficulties this week, I've been busy designing and iterating gameplay lately, tweaking hero abilities, level layouts, and enemy stats. Once these are all feeling good, I can be confident about moving forward with final combat art assets, and then we can ship this thing!

Now that we're getting closer to the finish line, we finally moved forward with a couple of the remaining character portraits we required. I don't feel too bad spoiling this one, as he shows up very early on in the game.

This is Sisyphus, one of the early big baddies you'll encounter throughout the world of Hellenica.

For the unacquainted, Sisyphus was a dastardly king sentenced to eternal torment by the gods for his deceitful, sometimes disgusting deeds. As punishment, Sisyphus was required to push a boulder up an impossible slope, endlessly stuck in a loop as the boulder always rolled back down before reaching the summit.

In Hellenica, Sisyphus has found a way to finally crest his impossible obstacle thanks to some supernatural assistance. However, his curse is not entirely broken, as he is still eternally burdened with the remains of the boulder.

In typical villain fashion, he has converted the source of his torment into a weapon, which he will happily use to defeat your party if they get in his way. Coupled with some new supernatural powers related to his curiously transformed legs, he is a force to be reckoned with.

The original sketch YDY put together was pretty spot on. The hair and face communicated the frenzied craze that we expected of someone previously mired in eternal, divine torment. His brute strength developed over years of continuous labor was obvious. His supernatural aspects are tricky to talk about in detail here without spoiling the story, but we were shooting for a craggy, ancient forest vibe. I think it works pretty well.

After some tweaks to the chains, we moved on to coloring. The first pass was good, but we felt there wasn't enough contrast between the leather bands and the boulder. Switching over to the green of the cloth also reduced some complexity which we thought helped to tie things together.

Let us know what you think of Sisyphus in the comments!

A Development Tale

This won't be my usual post, but as this is a development blog, it felt relevant to touch on this.

Finding myself in a particularly agreeable mood one evening this week, I surrendered myself to the update Windows had been proffering for weeks. Pleased with my munificence, I skipped off to bed eager to see what treats would await me, nestled under my keyboard.

Imagine my surprise when my poor laptop's screen flickered furiously between full black and the Windows load screen upon first boot, never to reach the login prompt. Surely, safe mode would reveal the culprit? Nope! Stuck in the same, interminable loop.

After some technical voodoo, I was able to wrangle important files onto a separate drive and reinstall Windows. Balance is restored and peace reigns across the land once again.

The importance of this story isn't that Windows' desperately urgent security patches must never be trusted (though my recent moratorium on patches now feels powerfully justified). The takeaway should instead be that if you are working on anything important, you should ALWAYS be backing up your changes to an external repository!

In my experience, similarly unexpected events occur at least once per project, but they're usually harmless with a little daily diligence. This time, file extraction was still possible for me, but had that not been the case, I would have only lost a couple days of work (and my carefully curated gallery of hilarious ungulate gifs).

There are a number of free solutions available to you.

If you're working on any creative work and the incremental changes are important to track, I highly recommend using bitbucket. They provide free, private repositories and support git and mercurial (my personal choice). There are numerous tutorials available for using these technologies.

If you need to store documents or final assets, I've found Google Drive to be a convenient tool. Sharing controls are robust, and if you use gmail, the integration trivializes a number of tasks.

So take control of your destiny friends. Back-up your data regularly!