Entry #04 - Major update

Date: 17.09.2013

Earlier we told with you about birds of Hindale, other words, flight vessel's of Hind. Are a huge theme, and no time to speaking long about it. But one of the pieces of this theme is very important for us. Queen Gas Monopoly (QGM in future texts) supplies not only stuff for vessels. As you remember is a hover posters, hover gardens, even couple of version of child toys made on the base of QGM standart shell.

Jet-pack. I was sit home and as usually dream about Hind, and born the thought. QGM shells used in many types of devices, even large birds flight on gas. Why I cannot give citizens jet-pack's? Did you know that the work of the gardener is not so safe? High altitude work, aggressive plants... yes they need free milk and more cash revenue for harmful type of work.

Of course integrated limitation of altitude reduces maneuverability and freedom of movement of personal jet pack. The company's policy. But, however, many of citizens used this device to different tasks. Postman's, patrol, personal guard and gardeners not a full list of potential users. We always respect personal privacy and private property... but some people like thieves and treasure hunters are not so tenderly with these things. Also we can remind miners, underwater workers and etc. "Queen Gas" is very important resource in world of Hind. Source of prosperity and... Reason of wars.

Another miracle of Hindale. Two giant trains based on monorails. One of this trains still working. This monster like small town. Living places, bars and etc. Second royal train falling down into the Entrance Abyss near main gates of Hindale. Many people died. It was in last war. When citizens was trying to evacuate families in safe place.

I turned to the history of Hindale of first class not in order to remind us what we was learn in schools extremely bad, but for fact that we have in-game jet-pack's. Jet-pack's used in world by regular citizens (with license) and we can use this too.

Digital painting on this period of my life fully replace my traditional skills. I forget about how it... draw with the real ballpoint pen. Or... maybe, I never know it? (laughing) Who knows? You can see (see bellow) previous version of "flighters". I make this home, to remember what the type of thoughts I must bring on my workbench to rework and to made this well.

But, glory of Hind, even these skills enough to draw of main idea to the future research. Magic is tragic. Well... so... what's next in this news block?

As you can see we walk through the past and repeat the steps of great and legendary old games. A second step of today’s voyage is movement controller of main character. If you read old updates and news on IndieDB you can noticed that this term meets much more other terms. Probably, because this a main bones of each platformer game. Your virtual legs and hands which you use to explore the world.

First iteration of our controller was good but working only with static game screens. Classic theme, where player move from one game screen to the next screen. When I want to test game camera which link to character I come to understanding that soft movement of camera be good only in one case. If I do very soft animations with a lot of frames. In this case, twitches in movement of camera be maximally decreased.

Problem in fact is that camera is very honest girl. And this girl tracing hero like a mirror. And if steps between two frames of animation of hero have too much size (pixels between two frames) this is momentary "reflected" on the camera. Camera repeat actions of hero. She is running for Drake and screaming - do not leave me! When Drake twitches in fear - she twitches too. On the one hand it is so cute, on the other hand - this is looks very cutting eye. Like longest drama. Few dramatic moments and lonliness tears on your face maybe been good, but two or more hours of sobbing... isn't good. You feel is very unconfortable. I think not good for gamer.

Twitches. To walk away from this artifact need to be done soft animation where step between frames no more than two or three pixels (maximal tested count).

Probably be better to make classic way to movements between game screens where hero just move to the next screen of game level and it's all. But... I think that in very important thing as controller, developer (that is, I) must check all variants to find better solution. I need clearly know what I can use, what I cannot use in the game and why, and of course what be better for increase level of immersion.

You can ask, - why in many good arcades hero uses less frame count as here, camera is moving well and all looks good. And I… As a prudent pub owner, should fill for you another one pint of ale, warm after long walks through the dungeons of my brain, and report - Drake is not one of simple arcades where character is not moving actually. In many classic arcades, character plays animation cycle and float around the world. In deep sense he is not moving. Animation play, yes. But hero play this animation on one place. On the center of game screen. Under this sprite moving world. With uniform speed rate.

In case of real cinematic platformer all a bit more complicated. Character is really walking and running. World separated on logical boxes (or even logical tiles) and character move between this tiles. You never see the twitches because step, or jump, or run sequence (or just any sequence) is ending in one specific place (or pixel) of tile. That is why distance between frames when object is moving, must be constant. In the world where all have a strict logic - camera need same way to solve problem of randomly twitches.

For compensate this artifact we develop dynamic camera. Target of camera is one - Drake. But speed and Principe of movement is not constant like speed of character. Camera fly slightly behind the character, and then the moment you stop catching up with him. As a loyal dog who follow you. And I hope, that two thing, - very detailed animation & dynamic camera, - solved our problem.

Note: Drake uses controller which use in world game history only 5 times (maybe little more, but I don't know about it). This starts in 1989th. On the last time this controller was used by Flashback game. As you understand from the age of 1990th gone so many years. 22 years and only 5 good games. Strange, right? I think this happen not because this controller and this genre is not popular, but... because this is hard to create. Too many problems, too many things to need to be done for good picture of the game. Flashback, Prince of Persia I-II, Blackthorne, and Bermuda Syndrome. This is the five games what i told.

In any case I need to test this. Because in game you have not only walking Dea... Drake.

In one comment to Drake I said that lot of concept-art which must serve the stylization of game. You can see that art style of images is very different. For two reasons (+ third, reason, negative perk). First, in different times I feel different.

"Yesterday" I went down on lower level of Hindale. This is very scary place. Because this place is dead. After war many cities been destroyed, population decreased, and survivors unite in different places. That's how born the villages and towns of present days. On the bones of the past.

Hindale in the past is a very large city. But most of all citizen died by the war. Moreover war of mechanists and dwarfes change the bone of Earth. Fractures in the rock, lot of abysses and gas made influence on survival at the bottom part of city. As a result, the majority of citizens moved to the upper levels of town. Some people stay on the "roots". You can meet these people in your adventures. You can imagine why my paintings have a different colors and emotions. When I feel darkness around I really want drawing light, but I can't.

Second reason for drawings art in different art styles mean that I still search the pieces of Style. I do not want repeat existing styles. I want to make it so how I myself feel the Drake and say to yourself after - you did everything right.

And if with the first reason all clear, second reason need more explanations than. Some people can be confused by images. Mislead. I do not want give you wrong hope. In some details Art Style are remind old games of Westwood Studios, in few pieces Flashback. And in full image this is a child of old adventure platformers. This is not child of triple-A games, this game have no 3D, shaders and etc. And if the last cut-scene-shot of Drake, after viewing it, you thought that this Visual Vision game - you'd be wrong. So… previous sketches this is concept, feelings, but not real picture of game.

Difference between concept work and final image of cut-scenes like in Flashback game. Of course not 2013 edition, because this is a fake. Sorry If I offend your feelings, forgive old man which eyes still remembering glory of old adventures. Honestly I want make Flashback like cut-scenes. Because no one developer for years do not do this favor for me. Best way to do this - do it by self. I'll do it - be sure. Don't care. Wait... i remember one guy who did it - Hyper Light Drifter. Love it. Believe in it. And glad to know about success of funding company this team. Sorry that I'm not rich. Too many guys need our help. But i think we can. Always can. Dawn of good old games rise again and again.

Third reason. I work too long in gamedev on non-interesting, and most of all, casual projects. I’m a broken man. If you drink bad and cheep beer many years, forgetting about real taste of real Irish or German beer, and… think that crap what you drink is normal. Bullshit. Your feel of taste is worse than yearlier, you feel world worse than this been before. Maybe I told something like this before. Sorry for repeating. But… drink the good drinks guys! Do not repeat my fate. To return of my taste I need to go in London or in Frankfurt-on-the-Main through the secret pass in the Hind, to drink… to survive… to return old good times.

What important for the sketch? Form. Shape. Before light and colors. You must feel your character, you must be sure that all is good. And for this we create Form. Silhouette if you want.

After checking you can separate Form on Pieces. In my case this is a pants, boots, robe and head. Forget about sabre and hair, forget about palms. Made accent on the base form. Today i work with a pieces of Form. After this, and after tests of this in engine I think about details. Not now, not yet. Now you fully understand why we work with the sketches. How you think my next step?

Maybe you are right, but I want make the color theme. For why? For Color of Form. This can help Drake do not get lost on the backgound. This is not casual game but you must look on your hero. And to see hero. In normal life i can assimilate with the concrete wall. I mean hide on the background of the concrete wall. If I dress gray clothes. For example. Clothes without accents. And probably be better to do this at night. In this case I have a good chances to hide.

In many case no necessary to make details. Main thing - is Form. Silhouette. With the silhouette (shape) you can do many. After this details only increase quality of animation and quality of character. This is steps of jump animation. Only in final variant I'll add hands. But, honestly, for me... now... it's absolutely non important. I just want back. To the Hind. Even if this place now under construction. With hands or without - don't care - most important actions of character at this momen. In this weekend we start integration of new Drake into engine.

But in the game real often is not real, because for few types of games real image is bad art direction. Because very bad readability of symbols. That is why Concrad B. Hart have a light-blue pants, white boots and brown (almost red) jacket. For readability. I need to do something like that. Because i have no full complete game levels and I have no full color themes for Drake game, because now we do just the movent controller and base pieces of game-play.

If I do final Drake frames now - just lost my Time. Because each animation of Drake have a 24 handmade frame. I have no stuff for rotoscoping and I make my "roto" by my eye. You can imagine work with m-m-m... 240 frames? Or better be say 2400 frames, sounds dangerous, yea? I say you real count of frames of base movements when done. If be shortly, - If you change color of jacket you must do lot of fixes (classic frames not instance, If you change color all you can do – change this colors on other frames). I do not use 3D and do not use other program stuff. Is real old-school animation. That is why I need to be sure that color theme is right.

So... in demo you can see Drake without many parts. Because. And I don't know how but I think that this must be closed alfa-controller-test. I do not want frighten my future auditory. I need the old, tough players. Which have nothing to fear, and who saw all things in this life.

Well-known politician of lower levels of Hindale city. "Mayor" Joe. Unite the disparate groups of vagrants and turned them into a formidable force, which may for a few days, block access to the gas mines.

Citizens of Hindale, i know we are small group survivors, especially after last war, but for me important each of your voice and each of your votes. Currently I must tell you very unpleasant news. Maybe unpleasant or maybe not. Limited time makes me to be make hard decision. Currently i work under first demo. And i choose pixel art style to represent you world of Hind.

Previous sample style looks like HD graphics where each piece of world in four times large that we have now. Other words, each sprite on the dawn of this world looks like. I more like HD version, but i know that many of gamers love also old style, which developers used before great war after which we was been captured by 3D, gnomes, casual toy-crafts and army of pink flowers.

Pixel-art more effective in development. More speedy in creation process. I want to know what you think about it. Of course main decisions i take by myself, but also I think about community, about thoughts of community. Becasue... maybe in few things i can be like blindman.

What you like more? HD version with well made level of detalization, or old school pixel-art with zoom mode for playing if you want see things more closer that usually? You can write comments here, also you can make vote in official web-page of Drake, visit Facebook page. Why i always call you on the Facebook? Read the post-scriptum.

Hey! Come On let's play little solo part of "Walk This Way"... and walk away... to meet with you again... Walk This Way... Walk This Way... Walk This Way... Cheers. Para-para-pam-pam-pum... (and he went away with silent singing to herself).

Entry #03 - Common, it's all?

Date: 14.09.2013

Because this is DevBlog - i can put here something like RAW aniamations, concept-art & etc. I don't want to publish this on big net resources because this is a progress screens. But if somebody come to me here - welcome. This is my kitchen. I cook here. I hope you understand that in progress doesn't mean that I stay this content in final game.

Currently i often work with animations. Currently this is my second heart. One heart knocking for my life, second heart knock in tact of steps of Drake. In next few days i planed to make update on the IndieDB with huge article dedicated to animation and explanation why all looks like this animation. But until it's not happen - i just show you how Drake is jumping. And mentioned that Drake have at least four variation of jump, because lenght of holes always different. And in any case Drake "landing animation" depends of lenght of jump. You can land on his stomach, on his hands and pull himself up, fly past off and fall down. And as result we have four animations:

- Jump and run away
- Jump on stomach position, pull up
- Jump on hand and pull up
- Jump and miss opportunity to stuck

Note: Raw-source one of four jumping base animation.

O... I almost forgot. In this weekend I do not sleep and drawing into my notepad (or rather I stole a baby notepad , and probably will paid for it in full volume... in future, when child noticed loss). And develop new game-unit based on ballons of hover (soaring) gas. I'll try scan this in next few hours.

Entry #02 - What we have here?

Date: 11.09.2013

One of the ideas of Drake non-linear movement of the game. Term claimed by Brian Fargo as Reactivity, in my opinion, just old thing and this old thing have old name - living world and non-linear gameplay. This is reming me candy wrapper where you can read something like "legend of tastes is back in new and powerfull wrapper!". Yes. Candy same as yesterday. Taste same as yesterday. Wrapper is new, but this change something in there?
In present day very fashionable invention of new terms. If you have thing known as cheese or cheeseburger you can invent a new term like... cheeseburgerivity! And absolutely non important that you invented another one bicycle. Cheese never changes, cheeseburger never changes too, but in this case Most important that you, with this term, probably, can blow gamers brains. This is a good marketing step, but honestly this is bullshit after release game. Gamer not so stupid like some people can be assumed.

Cheeseburgerivity of Drake - just a possibility move through the level by different ways. And is all. No genious terms and good ad slogans. Many of levels have no non-linear ways. I need it for balanced game. In terms of ballance. But for me interesting make key actions of game, main scenes with opportunity to walk away. I mean if you get to the ambush or if you were in a massive battle between other characters - sometimes you can get away and find another way. This depends only of you.

If you get in the house be sure i prepare not only one door. In few cases you can escape through the window, or through the secret passage. Game of present days too linear for me.

Cheese... oh... damn. Cheers. See ya.

Entry #01 - What we have here?

Date: 09.09.2013

Currently I have a few hours in each day until 12th October is not coming. After this we with Nick continue our work on second iteration of Drake controller. Now, in present time, for me, this is not presentable alfa version of movement controller. And I do not want feel the shame for my deeds. After few tests we make decision to change count of frames and change smoothness of animation cycles.

It's a lot of work. That is why we work with sketch animations. This is enough to us, but not enough for You. For me character without heads and arms is normal - becase i can see final image in my head. Many of potential gamers can say what the *beep* going on here? We do not want hear this.

Also. Why we not publishing first demo? We work under game like game-designers. All structures in world of Hind now is boxes. Just a panels. Because, firstly i do not need Art because i know how i can cook this good, and i do not want that Art disturb me and distracted me from the main goal - game-play.

I paint in my free time sketch of assets of world, think about Style, but most of all i think about game-play.

Drake: The Golden Hind Story