Happy Hocus Pocus week, everyone! It's been a long-standing tradition in NickyD's family to sit around the ol' devil box each All Hallows' Eve and enjoy the antics of the witch threesome in the movie Hocus Pocus. In honor of that, an alternate title for this post is "AAA Update! Amuck, amuck, amuck–urgh!" Now then, let's get into it, shall we?
There's a whole lot to talk about this week, but we're going to focus on the two things that you can actually see with your eyeballs. First, our new 3D dungeon visual style is taking shape! We have received an asset for use in a "shopping mall" dungeon; it's a clothing display table that will eventually have little clothing things on it, such as striped thigh-highs or other cute anime-esque things. But for now, it's a shiny three-tiered table. Check it out!
You can see we're moving away from realism and crazy polygon counts here. The thick borders around the table can be colored any way we like since we aren't just slapping a Toon shader on everything. In other words, the border is drawn by hand to give us a lot more flexibility in use than one of Unity's standard shaders would afford. You may have spied the potted palm tree plant, which is common in malls as well. We're also planning to use this asset, but we will need to have the border drawn in so that it meshes with the table's visual style. No walls, floors, or ceiling tiles yet. We wanted to nail the style down before putting walls all around the objects. Maybe that's backwards, but hey, we're still learning.
What do you think? Does this style fit the theme and art style of the rest of the game better than what was shown in our announcement trailer?
Update the second! We have been playing around with the animation features in Unity so that our enemies have a little bit of motion to them in battle. We made a video showing off a few proof-of-concepts using existing enemy designs, which you can watch below. It also has the aforementioned art asset, and even a random battle without logic/battle animations/hit point damage display–but hey, it works!
As is mentioned in the video, I [Nick] am not an animator or artist. These are not final, and these are not professional. The main issue with the art used is that it was not designed in layers conducive to animation; I had to go into Photoshop, which isn't my forte, and cut parts of the art up so that they could be added in as separate layers in a sprite sheet. It worked for the most part, but you can see it isn't perfect by any means. Future enemy designs will come in more layers (limbs, accessories) so that more parts can move in different manners.
What do you think? Should the enemies animate in a way similar to this, or remain static? Is this motion too dramatic? Should it be extremely subtle? Even after comparing it against other Japanese-style dungeon crawlers that employ 2D enemies (Demon Gaze, Dungeon Travelers 2), the choice is not clear. The very, very basic animation seen in Demon Gaze is simply a minor transform to their position and scale, so they look like they're…throbbing? Not sure what the goal was, but…yes, they throb. Dungeon Travelers 2, meanwhile, has completely static art in battle. Neither detracts from the gameplay experience, but neither are particularly interesting to look at (besides the gorgeous art itself in both).
In other news, we had a quick interview with Erin Fitzgerald, who is an extremely talented voice actress in the gaming and anime world. You've heard her in the Neptunia series, Persona 4 Golden, Danganronpa, and like a bazillion other things. I'd hate to name drop something I'm not sure on, but those three I'm totally confident about! Check it out if you'd like! It's so awesome that I don't even care about the spelling of my last name (wink).
As for the less visually exciting side of development, we've continued to hone the battle mechanics code and will be moving on to the internal logic soon. That means enemy AI and dialing in on elemental/physical attributes' effects in battle. Our initial thought is to stick to something more accessible but strategically sound, like the "null to – strong against – neutral – weak against" logic from Shin Megami Tensei titles. For now, there's no plan to use the "absorb" aspect. Dungeon crawlers run the gamut on this sort of stuff. Western dungeon crawlers tend to err more on the side of stat-heavy and RNG logic, while Japanese dungeon crawlers keep things a little more compact and accesible in design. For our budget, compact is probably going to win this one. The wrinkle we add to this existing blanket is our Exponential Exploitation system, which we've gone over in different interviews or updates or Kickstarter info, so we won't arglebargle about it here again. Perhaps we will once we have it operational.
It's probably stupid for the developer to say this, but everything has forward progress written all over it and it's all shaping up to be very fun and exciting stuff. At the very least, even at this point, we can surmise that the dungeon crawler genre will not be embarrassed to add Undead Darlings to its fold. Thank you all for reading, and come back next week for another update!