This post will be very heavy on a new guardian for the game, an upcoming content which I hope to release by the end of of July or August. I may split this giant patch into smaller updates since there’s a lot of things to do.
Guardian 2 Dialogues
Guardian 2 was a little more complex to add than I originally planned out to be. And a large part of it was due to how to introduce this guardian to the game as well as organising the flow and dialogues.
I haven’t yet thought about how to design a simple straight forward way to organize the game’s dialogue messages in code – I currently ID them and link them from each dialogue (eg dialogue 228 can lead to 229 or 230) and because everything is written in code it gets very hard for me to visualize which dialogue leads to which. So sometimes, I draw flow charts. The introduction of Guardian 2 has 30 new dialogue panels! Half of which is part of a ‘Quiz’ dialogue which is something new to the game, and am pretty excited.
When getting Guardian 1 in the game, you can pay him 10 gems to ‘bribe’ him. This is good for those who do not want to wait to get him. But for those who want to sacrifice gems, they can get the Guardian 1 for free just by making their characters strong.
For Guardian 2, there is an upfront cost of 20 gems to get him. But you can reduce this cost by doing a very simple test. 🙂 I don’t want to spoil this too much though. It was very fun to write the test actually. But for those people who don’t like tests, they can go ahead and pay 20 gems to skip it. I intended Guardian 2 to be perhaps unlocked in the second run and I may reduce the cost to 15 gems since 20 can be a little high for new players. It’s a one-time cost.
I’ve also added buttons to change your current guardian. On the left, you can see my initial design. Two buttons just for previous and next. The second picture on the right is what the game uses now.
I decided to replace arrows with a picture of the guardian’s head. I think the guardian’s heads look very unique and identifiable – I’ve made their heads have a unique colour so even though I drew their heads with similar structures (so they look like guardians and not too human-like), no two guardians have the same head colour tones. This was something I kept in mind when designing my new guardians, speaking of which…
Designing the new Guardians
NOTE: There won’t actually be new Guardians added to the game. This is made mainly to end the story.
Above were the sketches of what I envisioned the new Guardians to look like. My favourite has got to be the “Guardian of Creation”:
Each guardian has his own colour tone. The guardian of Creation above is clad in purple robes and is holding a sphere like object. There are other smaller circles (spheres) around the character to represent planets, while the giant yellow sphere he’s holding is like a crystal ball that will show the galaxy.
Since the five Guardians revolve around being in space and being these other worldly beings, I took to the stars for inspiration. Here are some of the pictures that inspired me (not all of them are linked to what I wanted):
You can see above where I got the idea to make the guardian hold a ‘crystal ball’ of the universe. I also got my colour scheme when I realized a lot of the images have bluish to purplish hues. 🙂
Oh, just to get in the mood, I listened to this while drawing, looping it on repeat. It’s the soundtrack of one of the best and inspiring documentaries I’ve watched about space. I really love the wonders of space and this kind of things and I think this is what makes drawing the guardians and the Crossworld really, really fun!
I also drew inspiration from the movie, Thor. I enjoyed the Thor world’s visual effect and especially liked the universe / starry space scenes, as well as the Gate Keeper.
I took a look at the Gate Keeper’s costume (picture on the left below), which is really cool, and used it as inspiration for the helmet’s shape of one of my guardians.
Something new to the game will be story cutscenes. I put together a completely new way of delivering the later part of the story. There will be only one cutscene sequence in the game.
Above is a draft of one of the cutscenes that will occur. Everything you see above is unofficial, so is the background – this was just a fast and quickly-animated scene for me to see how this particular shot plays out in the game. I most likely will not animate the sprites of element very much – for the particular scene above, I intended them to be just silhouettes.
I have drawn out a storyboard out for this sequence. (There will be only one story sequence in the game). One sequence comprises of several scenes.
The storyboard has several boxes, where each box is one scene of the sequence, like the animation above. I also refer to ‘scene’ as ‘cutscenes’. Each cutscene can have several states. States are one level below ‘cutscene’, and I use it to fine tune animations and control the triggers to certain events, in addition to using timers to control when stuff happen).
Now onto the programming and integration aspect. To make it easy to script the sequence and have control over the events that occur in a scene, I organise the scenes such that I have an indicator on which cutscene and state I am currently on.
‘currentMessage’ above refers to the accompanying text for the cutscene. For example, in a scene where I have to gradually fade in five guardians one by one,
I can use ‘currentState’ here to control which guardian is currently being faded in and which one to fade in next.
The entire cutscene took me about a week to do.
I spent one day writing out the story script, then drawing out the storyboard as well as some mock up art assets (the black outlines you saw in the animation above).
Then I spent the next few days drawing and creating the official art assets and animations- the characters and such.
While doing so, I also spent an equal amount of time in Unity choreographing the sequence and animations, as well as scripting the events that follow. I also wrote an AnimatedText script to animate the text to appear letter by letter. I added a few functions for myself to make the script re-usable if I do decide to extend this script to use for future games.
I added my own special way to easily add pauses into text, and you can see me type <p=1> in the story messages below:
Adding <p=1> makes the animated text pause for a second, before resuming. This makes it convenient for me to add delays in the dialogue via the message string itself! This is useful in cases where for example, I add a 1 second delay at the end of a long sentence, before displaying the next sentence in the same string. A one second pause is usually enough, but I can do <p=2> or higher to make it pause for longer durations.
Also just for fun, I did a mock of what I felt would be a cool main menu, with a crudely drawn bad shadowy guy of course, since I don’t have the art for him at this point.
As probably mentioned above, story is a really time consuming thing to do. It’s heavy on the art and planning side and can be very exhausting to execute. It was also not that relaxing on the programming aspect since each cutscene has unique effects and you got to code most of them manually most of the time.
Also, here are some icon variations I drew for the new Guardian’s abilities. (Note: They may not be the final icons to appear in-game, I will pick the ones I feel are most appropriate to be the official icons)
Balancing / Changes
I’m always working on other areas of the game even though I am focused on content for Guardian 2 right now. One of the things I wanted to address was the uselessness of the Blacksmith upgrade.
Countless comments are talking about it, here’s one. I didn’t have to look far to find it.
To address this, I intend to make Blacksmith apply its bonuses on ALL equipment/hero upgrades and not just be limited to enhancements to make it worth its high cost at higher levels. The formula will be changed to allow it to allow to in the future, have some way of being able to increase its max level beyond 10. (Currently it is capped at level 5, at a -50% cost reduction).
People also could not purchase expensive gem ugprades, so I made them cost enchanted gems if they are beyond a certain cost. Currently, the only upgrade facing this problem is Blacksmith.
Here’s a look at the old vs new blacksmith upgrade.