May and June part 2 / 2

On dialogue We’ve added dialogue functionality. Players can now initiate a dialogue and tap through the pages, which will display the current speaker’s name in the upper left corner. An arrow will point down as long as there are more pages. Further, players can be given up to 3 choice options. The player can move a hand to pick their answer. Both answers and regular dialogue bubbles can activate a dynamic reaction script. The dialogue can also be branched.dialogueOptions.png

On bugs We fixed some bugs that emerged from the dialogue bubbles and removed camera effects from the UI.

On modeling we’ve made the 2nd iterations of trees for both worlds. We’ve also made hedges, a tree stump and a red painted bridge and finally a scarecrow for combat practice.

On visuals we’ve also added white and yellow flowers to the grass.

On coding we’ve made trees conceal themselves, if the player walks behind them.

That’s all for now! = )

May and June part 1 / 2

A long time has passed, but we are finally back to blog. The last update was in April and a lot of minor things has happened.

First we’d like to invite you to follow us on Twitter at

twitter.com/sigurdKnarhoi

since Twitter is our main channel.

On writing, we’ve finished a rough plot of the story and main characters. Obviously this is an area that will be iterated on a lot, however it’s nice to have the framework down.

On graphics, we’ve added a fog to the camera, to give a more voluminous feel to world. Further the bloom has been adjusted, to try and catch ‘that game feel’. The fog gave rise to some graphical issues for the code tile decay and the skybox, which we fixed later.removedFogFromBG.png

Speaking of fixes, we fixed a graphical issue with the water puddles in RW and later we also fixed an FPS issue. And on the water front, we’ve also worked on the water in VW in general.

Also we’re currently going with a non anti-aliasing look, to see if that fits the graphics style

On coding, we’ve prototyped physics for a sword practice scarecrow. In other physics news, the gravity now only works on the player, when they are not grounded – plus the player no longer floats above water tiles.

I’ll halt for now – you can read more in the next update.

April update

If we start in the more technical corner – we have fixed some bugs and set up some initial game states and made a simple event system. This will allow our game objects to invoke and subscribe to events, ie. ‘the player has initiated a dialogue’ and react accordingly.

Talking of dialogues, the 1st iteration of dialogues is ready. The player is able to activate dialogues and scroll through the speech bubbles. Dialogues are used to talk to NPCs (non-playable characters) and to investigate your surroundings. To allow the player to know when you can activate a dialogue, a speech bubble icon will appear when the player gets close. There’s three different icons so far: speech-, action- and mail icon.

To celebrate the availability of dialogues, a signpost has been put up outside of the church.

Before I mention a few areas where we are still tinkering, I believe I need to explain more about the game. The game as previously mentioned takes place in two parallel worlds. One we call the Real World (RW) and the other we call the Virtual World (VW). The player will be traveling between the two. If you look at the previous screenshots, the most obvious difference is the grass color.

We have been working on the cliffs in the VW. Jesper Paakjær has also been working on the two main BGMs (background music). We have found the overall mood for the VW and are getting closer to capture the RW mood. We have also played around with the skin shader for characters. Also, the tonemapping has been removed from the camera, in an attempt to find the exactly right expression of colors.

On a more physical level, we have modeled a train. However to allow for the train to travel between screens, we also had to create a shader that allowed us to hide and reveal the train gradually.

And last but not least – we found software to capture gameplay (and another for editing video), so now we can show actual gameplay for the first time. The video shows the train and how it moves out of a screen and the video also gives a glimps of the BGM for the RW.

 

Early spring update

It has been sparse with time for the project and we’ve had to find time here and there. This has naturally forced us to focus on smaller issues. Yet contrary to my expectations, it has actually amounted to quite a few mention worthy pieces.

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Firstly, the textured church almost sneaked its way into the screenshots I posted last time. Instead of the church, two big mushrooms were revealed. I’m particularly happy with how the mushrooms turned out. The church still needs a few more details and a nice little cemetery on the side. Also on graphics, the edges of grassy areas have been patched with edgy grass to make for a more rounded look. And the overall look of the hay field is currently going through its 2nd iteration.

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Talking of iterations, the game’s combat targeting system and player combat movement has seen the light of day, and is now in its 1st iteration. The player is currently able to cycle through targets within range and is able to circle around the target with ease.

Jesper Paakjær provided a first take on music, to try and get an initial bearing on what direction we’re going. It is still too early to share details in that regard, but I am already looking forward to do so!

And finally we can now also pause the game. Yay!

Composing the music

Working hard on the thesis have obviously taken time from the project. However here’s an update I’m excited and happy to be able to share.

Jesper Paakjær, an audio design student at Aarhus university, will be composing the music for SOAP.

He is currently writing his thesis on how interactive sound design can improve the atmosphere in a waiting room. He both plays and composes music, and design sounds for various projects. He’s also studied and worked a lot with music for movies.

Jesper and I met at DADIU (The National Academy of Digital Interactive Entertainment http://www.dadiu.dk) in 2015, where we worked together on three game productions. Hearing Jesper’s sound style, there was no doubt in my mind that it would fit the style that I had envisioned for SOAP. When I approached Jesper however, it was initially for the TOH project, but in the hope that he would agree to work on SOAP afterwards. Putting TOH on the shelf indefinitely, I asked him if he would mind working on SOAP instead, which he agreed to without hesitation.

Music is an area where I humbly admit defeat, but at the same time an area I’d like to prioritize and therefore also an area in which I am thankful to receive help from a professional.

I believe there are four cornerstones to a good game: script, music, writing and graphics. And they should probably each take up an equal quarter (This would for obvious reasons not apply to any kind of game).

Back at SOAP

So as I started working on my thesis I also had the urge to return to this project once more. That meant leaving Tragedy of Horatio on hold for now, but it’s already been worth it. I’ve gotten a lot of work done on SOAP, as usual mostly graphical; I’ve played around with some of Unity’s shaders and I found a nice combination that I’m happy with.

First I created support for my Playstation 2 joypad, so now we can control the main character. I reused the settings from the CW project, which I haven’t worked on for a long time.

Second I fixed a bug in the water reflection shader. Unity complained every time the character moved between screens. It no longer does.

Third I modeled the main character. I originally took inspiration from Lego and Pokémon, but recently I combined the thought with some characters from Zelda Wind Waker and suddenly I had an idea that worked in my mind. I was happy with how it turned out, so I also textured the character.

Fourth back in 2007 I had a course on rigging and animation, I hadn’t done much about it since. So I refreshed my memory by watching a video on Youtube; and rigged and animated the main character. So now we can run around the world and stand idle.

Fifth I fleshed out some more characters on paper and decided to create those as well. I started with the ones reminding the most of the main character, so I could test if it was possible to reuse parts of the main character. All the tests were successful, so I was able to expand on the model and reuse the armature – giving me access to all the animations. This means I can create an animation once and have all the characters share it. Which is pretty awesome when I’m just one guy. So the postman and the conductor was added to the roster of characters, now spanning three members.

Sixth and lastly as mentioned I played around with some of Unity’s shaders. I tried out different toon shader settings and found that a very subtle toon shade fit some objects very well. A good example is the white fence, which looks a lot better with a subtle black outline, revealing much more detail to the player. I added a subtle white outline to characters for the same reason. The main character got a different toon shader than the other characters, mostly because the hair looked much better this way.

One drawback of the toon shader, is that it’s used instead of normalmapping, so I have to choose between the two. So far it hasn’t been a hard choice, but it’s only a matter of time. The buildings and ground usually go with normalmapping instead of toon shading, due to their large surfaces needing details, which the normalmap provides.

Next step is making more characters and animations and also finishing up where I left the project last time; texturing the church.postmanRIgging