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Update 009 - News // Large Enemies // Development RoadMap // And More!
#1
NEWS FROM THE FRONT

THE TECHNICAL SKIRMISH RAGES ON!

Alright boys and girls, let’s be honest. From time to time when your are developing a video game your game engine becomes… how to say this… your nemesis. Luckily for us, so far in the development we’ve usually been able to solve crashes, bugs and game breaking issues within a couple of hours or a day or two at the most.

This time, we’re facing an issue that we’ve been unable to completely eradicate, although hard work and perseverance provided us with some work around for the most part. Without getting into all the technical details, we are facing a bug that makes Unity crash when leaving play mode within the engine. It does not occur every time we leave play mode and we could not, for the life of us, single out a culprit so far.

This problem is not game breaking as it only happens in the Editor while builds run normally. On the other hand, it slows down testing and development without even considering the time we’ve spent testing out solutions that did not really pan out. We checked every forum and website we could think of to no avail. We also contacted Unity to open a ticket. Hopefully we will come up with a solution to this problem in the next weeks, but as I said it is not game breaking either way. It could be something on Unity’s side or a configuration of the main scene of our project, some settings issues… or even a corrupted prefab. More tests and time will tell.

Be assured, we shall prevail!

HOW THE COMPANY IS GOING!

We really rarely speak about the company, but you guys essentially helped us found it when you backed us on Kickstarter so you deserve to know what ManaVoid is up to!

As you all know, ManaVoid Entertainment was a completely new company we founded just before we launched the Kickstarter in October of last… OH MY GOD IT’S BEEN A YEAR! We were extremely happy with the success of our Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight campaigns that allowed us to actually make this game! But, in all honesty, the money we made with Kickstarter wasn’t enough to sustain 3 developers full time for a year, so we had to get creative in order to bring this game to where we wanted it to be!

The Quebec government has a business startup program that helps promising new businesses develop by giving them financial aid up to a year. The success of the Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight campaigns helped us fill in the “promising” part of our new business and we were able to get some additional help from the government to develop the game.

The backlash of that help came in the form of obligatory business courses that two of us (Simon and Frank) had to do, one full day per week, in order to fill the criteria for the financial help to continue. You’d think that 3 Graduate diplomas and 5 PostGrad diplomas between us would be enough, but it wasn’t. -.-

We’re happy to say that Frank and Simon have officially finished their boring business classes which should speed up the development process!

When we looked at our budget a few months back, with the taxes we would have to pay and all that jazz, we realized that we would run out of money in February of 2016, which meant that we would have to release on Steam Early Access no later than that. We also wanted to make sure our backers had the game beforehand so that we could get the necessary feedback to make sure the game was great upon release, so we wanted to put it in your hands in Q4 of 2015.

But, after meeting with our new accountants last week, we learned that, like Jon Snow, we know nothing. We are happy to announce that we are actually going to be okay financially until June of 2016, which allows us a bit of breathing room to polish up the game and add some features that we had in our bucket list!

All of this is simply to say that we are still on pace to reach the milestones we set for ourselves a year ago and now aren’t in a rush to the finish, which means we can actually take the time to develop our features a bit further to make the game that much better. We are still focusing all of our energies into getting you all the game as soon as possible, we are anxious for you all to see what the three of us came up with during this past year.

ADVENTURERS BEWARE - BIGGER FOES ENTER THE FRAY

It’s been a while since we revealed some new character models! Until now, all featured adventurers and enemies were built upon the same ‘’small’’ animation rig, meaning they shared the same global silhouette – but not anymore!

Today, we’re pleased to introduce the Orcs and Gnolls, two of the numerous “Large” meta-races of enemies who will be roaming the lands of Astraeus! Expect many other foes to share this new morphology, and they will generally be stronger and more dangerous than their smaller counterparts.

Small/Large Size Comparison and Base Model Development History

The image below shows 4 distinct characters models to illustrate the difference between Small and Large character models, as well as to detail the evolution of the Large Character Rig from its original concept to the ‘’final’’ silhouette we’ll be using as a base reference to build them from now on! ! Large enemies occupy two vertical spots in the combat grid and are quite strong!

From left to right:
- Small Adventurer Model (Warrior Class, Light Skintone) as reference
- First Large Enemy Concept (Kickstarter, October 2014)
- Second Large Enemy Concept (August 2015)
- New Large Base Rig / Silhouette (October 2015)

[Image: Update-009---Large-Enemies---Separated-LargeRig.png]

While recently making tests with the Large Model inside the Unity Editor, it became apparent that the second version of the rig was missing definition in certain areas. After all, larger visual pieces allow for more details! Furthermore, we wanted the Large silhouette to feel more threatening to the player, and to be frank the second version (Aug 2015) looked more like a baseball mascot than a deadly creature!

Note: Although we refer to this rig as the “Large” one, it DOES NOT mean that these foes will be the biggest ones waiting for you on your many adventures! We still have many enemy types waiting in store, and we keep coming up with new ideas on a weekly basis!

There will be several more races and monster types to come in the next few weeks, we aim to have a nice and varied chunk of them done for when we put the game in your hands very soon!

A first try at the Large Model – The Orcs! *WIP*

Ahhh, Orcs! A classic Fantasy race! These green creatures were Simon’s first draft with the new Large Rig. We thought it’d be nice to show them here, but expect them to change quite a bit before we’re all done with them!

[Image: Update-009---Large-Enemies---Separated-Orcs.png]

The first Complete Large Enemies Race – Gnoll Pack

Gnolls you say? These furry bad-asses will gie you a good idea of what we’re trying to achieve with the new Large Models. Of course, their weapons are still missing, and this particular piece of equipment generally gives A LOT of flair to the model, so further improvements will also be made to them in the next few days!

[Image: Update-009---Large-Enemies---Separated-Gnolls.png]

On Enemy Variety

Just like the Small enemies, Large foes will come in many variations. Each race will feature at least 5 Class-Variations, with each variation further divided in 3 distinct visual ranks (Novice/Veteran/Elite). On top of that, each race will also come in 3 “skin-tone” color variations (also applies to fur/scales…). These three varying elements combine on each enemy model to create at least 135 visual variants per enemy race! Big Grin

[b]WHAT WE'VE ALSO BEEN UP TO[/b]

Chris: “In the past few weeks I’ve been focusing on finishing up some of our features. We now have a Waypoint System that allows you to buy permanent portals in villages, cities and capitals to be used as dispatch points in the realm. There are around 120 nodes on the map right now, the agency’s HQ is at the center of that, meaning that to get to the furthest quests on the map’s sides would take about 7 or 8 nodes (so 7 or 8 turns) which was too long for a single quest to be done. By buying waypoints around the map, we can now reduce that questing time for a party to about 2 or 3 turns, meaning that investing in waypoints around the map will generate more revenue for the agency long term.

I also finished programming the Events System in the game. Every few turns, random events arise that can come to modify your agency’s overall strategy in several ways. As it stands, there are three different types of events that can come up, but there will be many more on the way.
  • Era Changes: The constellations are always aligned in the sign of one of the gods. If an adventurer worships the same god, he will gain stat bonuses during that god’s era. Under the hood, every era comes with a timer, turn by turn that timer goes down and when it reaches zero the next event will automatically be an Era Change, that way there is always a worship bonus for the adventurers that follow that god!
  • Market Fluctuations: I believe Simon gave you a glimpse of the market system in the last update, but I’ll write a few lines in case you missed it! Basically, every item type in the game has a market value and that value can be modified by market fluctuations. Let’s say the potion warehouse explodes, creating a rarity in potions around the realm, expect the potion prices to rise up by about 50%, meaning it’s time to sell! If you need to buy them at that moment in time though, it’ll cost you more. As time goes on, the modifier for every item will tend to normalize back towards it’s usual market value, meaning the market fluctuation will be in effect for several turns before it reverts back to its original value.
  • Traits Obtained: If you don’t know by now, every adventurer has certain personality traits! The traits affect the adventurer’s progression, combat effectiveness, item effectiveness, etc. They can be positive and negative. On some occasions, a random adventurer will encounter an event that will give him a trait. This mechanic allows for a fluctuation value for your adventurers, we want you to ask yourself a few questions before signing an adventurer and also before REsigning an adventurer, so making sure they evolve in positive and negative ways are important to the game. For example, during the night an adventurer dreams of his perfect wedding, with songs and flowers and people all around… His bride comes toward him slowly, the crowd gasps at her grace. Once she approaches the adventurer he lifts her veil and… OH MY GOD IT’S AN ORC! The adventurer wakes up suddenly, sweaty and afraid… He has obtained a new trait: Fear of Orcs.
We are working hard to make the event system feel integrated to what you will be doing in the game. Say you decide to do a quest where you hijack a caravan filled with bombs, the chances of a Bomb Rarity event will drastically increase. Same thing with the Era Changes, say you ransack a temple of Sunna, the chances of the next era being one of that goddess will decrease. We really want the game world to react to your agency’s actions and this is one way for us to do that.

I’ve also been working on the Tutorial System, basically writing up explanations for every mechanic (and there are certainly a bunch of those!) and integrating them into the game through pop-ups and tutorial prompts. It’s a pretty important chunk of the game to try and teach Epic Manager’s systems through actions, words and images without it feeling tedious! I’m going to try and finish all of that up by the end of the week before jumping on some debug/balancing of the first hour of gameplay.”

Frank: “Alright, it’s been some weeks so a lot happened. First, I continued creating animations and particle effects and actually finished creating a functional version of a unique animation for the 32 adventurer skills of the 16 basic classes. Some time was also spent updating and tweaking animations for enemy skills.

More importantly, I implemented a system that now allows adventurers to use items in combat as an action. The systems is connected to the agency’s inventory and all transactions are accounted for while the proper effect takes place. We have a lot of items that can be used inside of combat and it’s very cool to actually have that system in place. Just to give you an idea items can deal damage of a specific type (there’s 5 damage types btw), boost damage output, boost damage resistance, boost initiative, regenerate AP, lower an enemy’s defense or damage output, heal, etc.

On top of that, I added the “Focus” action to the currently available actions in combat. Before I delve into the “Focus” mechanic, a quick wrap up seems in order. Combat is turn based and each combatant (adventurers & enemies) will have the opportunity to play its entire turn each combat round. A round is over when all combatants have taken a turn each basically. During a turn, the combatant starts by receiving the effects of any ongoing effects present, such a regenerating some HP, and then gains some AP. At that point, the active combatant can use any of its available actions for a cost in AP. Actions costing more than the available AP cannot be taken at all while a combatant may choose to make more than one action during its turn if the necessary AP are available. That means each combatant may end its turn at any point to stack up on AP for its next turn, for example. For its very first action each turn a combatant can elect to “Focus” which end its turn without taking further actions. When a combatant use “Focus”, it regenerates 2 extra AP on its next turn.

On the front of the combat system, the next step is to give proper feedback to the player in regards to effects and status. The functionality is pretty much all there and everything is correctly computed, but building a good feedback system in order to make sure that the state of affairs is 100% clear to the player at all times during a fight is just as important. The code to gather all the necessary variables is written, so the next thing to do is show that feedback visually in the game engine.

For the last week or so I’ve taken a step away from the combat system to concentrate on our random encounter system. Actually, the in-game system is very advanced so I wanted to build a matrix in excel to be able to synthesize all types of encounters, outcomes, rewards and such that were given during a campaign. Creating such a matrix takes some time, but it is such a useful design tool it’s clearly worth it. In all honesty, we found that coming up with interesting random encounters with multiple possible choices, hidden information, hidden choices, impacts on multiple levels, and much more posed a particular challenge. It was mostly difficult to have a global vision of what was happening, both for narrative and balancing purposes. So now we have a matrix that allows us to automatically calculate how many encounters give a certain type of reward, faction impact, adventurer traits, hidden choices and all sorts of other useful variables for us as designers. Charts and spreadsheets are a part of game development just as much as writing code and drawing assets… They clearly are a big part of my work on this project at least.

After that I spent about a week trying to create random encounters. At first, it took me a while to get started as Chris is the one that was in charge of most of our narrative design until this point. I think I found my groove now and the ball is rolling again. I’ll be hard at work again this week pumping content and trying to come up with the best short stories, interesting choices, and proper rewards.

For me, one of the downsides of the type of game we are creating is how long it takes to have a global sense of the experience we are creating. Of course, our vision is clear and we know what we want to create as well as why we believe it’s a game worth making. Still, we are now on the verge of being able to have all the pieces come together as our systems are being connected to one another. Building functionality is fine and we are able to measure the progress we made by looking at the systems and content, but what we cannot have is a simple gym like we would have in hand for many, many months now if we were working on a platformer game, for example. That being said, it’s pretty great to look at the near future and know it’s now within reach, just around the corner… sooo close!”

THE NEXT STEPS

In the next few weeks we are essentially looking to have a first hour of gameplay that feels like a polished and balanced experience! We will need to tweak the random encounter algorithm, finish up combat feedback visuals (stunned, bleeding, frozen, sleeping, etc.) and tooltips. Simon has rehauled our consumables inventory visuals for every item to fit into a small square, which feels a lot cleaner and more ergonomic to interact with when speaking with merchants, but we will need to do the same with adventurer Kits and Accessories and link that to the Equipment system.

As it stands we can currently create parties from the adventurer Character Sheet’s “Deployment” tab, but we want to create a party creation panel where you will be able to choose your questing party’s name, standard, color and sigil to better represent your agency on the map!

We are also creating a “Leagues” system which will be integrated to the agency’s progression towards becoming the Epic Manager. Essentially, there would be leagues (bronze, silver, gold, platinum, epic…) and at the end of every year, if your agency gathers enough Fame to make it to the playoffs, there will be a small tournament to determine if you can access the next league. We think this will bring a better competitive feel against the other agencies in the game and it will also serve as a measuring stick for the player to know where he is at compared to the top agencies in his league. This game is all about progression: Gold, Fame, XP, Licenses, Research, Questlines, Reputations… Comparing your progression versus that of other agencies in your league bracket will help you make better decisions for your agency in the long run.

THE ROAD TO EPICNESS - DEVELOPMENT ROADMAP

We think it’s time for us to lay down the near future of Epic Manager’s development. Updates gave hints about different subjects but a more comprehensive model seems in order. So here it is, the Road Map to Epicness! We cover the story so far to make sure everyone knows what’s up with the project and we give you and ourselves milestones for the road ahead.

This timeline will be updated to reflect development progress as time goes by. It will be directly available on the Forums for a quick access to our progress or for newer players who are just finding out about Epic Manager. Enjoy!

[Image: Epic-Manager---Development-Roadmap---v1_01.png]
WRAPPING THINGS UP!

Alright, so there you have it people! News from the office, the development, testimonials, new enemy models and a road map about the road so far and what’s to come. Now that’s a juicy update if I ever saw one! As always, we want to hear from you so don’t be shy to contact us.

FRIENDLY SHOUT-OUT : FAT MASK by PAPER CULT live on Kickstarter!

Hey everyone!

We don't do this very often, but some game developers and personal friends of ours have started their first Kickstarter campaign today!

Their project is called Fat Mask, a local multiplayer puzzle platformer where you match blocks in order to create huge combos and make a bunch of points. You can obviously be a nuisance to other players by throwing powerups in their face or stealing their combos too! It's a really cool mix between fast paced platformer mechanics like in Super Meat Boy and competitive puzzle games such as Dr. Mario. The artstyle and music is also pretty awesome.

[Image: 078e1269dacea7ae5d4c148ca15010cd_origina...ba334a0693]


[Image: bbb0022eb01460d20ba354debd06ac77_origina...59dd88cc83]

[Image: 0c3809e43577354b6095a4dd78df5e40_origina...c032f3bccd]

The game's prototype is quite advanced and when we played here at the studio it was a lot of fun! The 25$ pledge gets you that prototype right when the Kickstarter finishes too!

So if you feel like it, you can go and check out their Kickstarter page here!

Thanks everyone, and stay EPIC!

[Image: Epic-Manager---Kickstarter-Logo---620x465.png]
Simon 'OISIN' Girard
ManaVoid Entertainment
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#2
Awesome, and very long, update! Can't wait to see more!
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#3
(10-15-2015, 09:19 AM)Alex G Wrote: Awesome, and very long, update! Can't wait to see more!

Hey Alex! It's been a while man! 
Thanks for your continued support and encouraging words! 

Best regards from the whole team!
Simon 'OISIN' Girard
ManaVoid Entertainment
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#4
Thank you for the update! I owned a gaming store in central Canada for four years and it was some of the most stress I have ever experienced! Kudos for finding an alternate revenue stream though the provincial government in Quebec. I also greatly appreciate the honesty and transparency of your update.

It's a new world, being funded by the public. You've done a great job keeping us updated. Now that those courses are over, keep your eyes on the prize gentlemen! (and ladies? Not sure). Your game has outstanding ideas and it will do well.
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#5
(10-16-2015, 01:10 AM)chickenhed Wrote: Thank you for the update! I owned a gaming store in central Canada for four years and it was some of the most stress I have ever experienced! Kudos for finding an alternate revenue stream though the provincial government in Quebec. I also greatly appreciate the honesty and transparency of your update.

It's a new world, being funded by the public. You've done a great job keeping us updated. Now that those courses are over, keep your eyes on the prize gentlemen! (and ladies? Not sure). Your game has outstanding ideas and it will do well.

Hello Chickenhed! 
Thanks for your kind words man, it's really nice to get such positive feedback! 

We're really looking forward to reveal more and more in the weeks to come, stay tuned! 
Best regards.
Simon 'OISIN' Girard
ManaVoid Entertainment
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#6
Encore une fois les gars; Bravo et on ne lâche pas, nous sommes tous derrière vous et quand vous aurez besoin de nos feedbacks on va vous les donner!
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#7
Good morning (or afternoon or evening, depending where you are all from!), any news on the early access release dates?
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#8
(11-20-2015, 07:12 PM)Andrew Scott Pace Wrote: Good morning (or afternoon or evening, depending where you are all from!), any news on the early access release dates?

Hey Andrew!
Stay tuned, there's an upcoming update in the works for next friday (Nov. 27th) which will, among other things, address all the Closed Release Details! Big Grin

Short answer though - Soon, very soon! Stay tuned! 
Best regards from the whole Dev Team!
Simon 'OISIN' Girard
ManaVoid Entertainment
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#9
Hi Simon

That's great news thanks. looking forward!

Regards
Andrew
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#10
Great to see the update! Love the GoT ref XD I tend to use that at work a lot...
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#11
Hello ladies and gents, friends and fellow managers-to-be!

Just wanted to drop by and let you know that the next update will be live tomorrow (Sat. Nov. 28th) instead of today! It's already 4PM here (Montreal time) and the day flew by like...well...it flew by! Since writing interesting updates (and preparing the related graphic files) takes a while, i'd rather postpone it for another 24h and do something nice instead of rushing it before signing off for the day.

That being said, you guys (and gals) are always on our mind and we're eager to show you more of the game, so stay tuned!
Wishing you all a very good Friday evening, and see you tomorrow!

Best regards from the whole Dev Team!
Simon 'OISIN' Girard
ManaVoid Entertainment
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#12
Onto Sunday Wink
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#13
(11-29-2015, 09:10 AM)AaronTs Wrote: Onto Sunday Wink

Damn...once again into the time-warp! Big Grin
Had to attend a family reunion today and it ended a lot later than anticipated. 

Rest assured though, my point-form notes are already down. I'll be waking up bright and early tomorrow to post everything up!
Simon 'OISIN' Girard
ManaVoid Entertainment
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