Saturday, April 19, 2014

The stuff that didn't make the cut

So we've mentioned before that we had to cut some content in order to meet our deadlines, I wanted to talk about what was cut and why we decided to cut it.

1. Characters - We were originally aiming for 9 playable characters. The intern and 8 recruitables. We cut this to a total of six characters.

It came down to two things major time consumers. The first is the actual character art. Designing and drawing the characters was a big time sink for Julia. Additionally after the initial design we'd go back and refine.  The second was the technical art and particle effects for the skills. This was actually a huge time sink, and Kiril was the only one on the team who could do it well. At the end of the day we needed Kiril on other things and we proffered refining our other characters and making more set pieces.

2. Procedural Content Generation - Oh boy. This one was a doozy. So we actually decided to cut PCG not based on the difficulty in programming, but rather the difficulty in game design. We were really worried that it would be way too time consuming to tweak our level generator to make levels fun and good. That combined with the short amount of playtime game demo day participants would have led us to hand design our levels instead.

3. Equipment - We wanted equipment for our characters. It would allow players to customize their characters a bit and rare equipment finds would make playthroughs more exciting. Unfortunately this came down to just not having enough dev time. We actually had a system where characters could have equipment that modified their stats implemented. However there were a lot of other things we needed to do. We needed equipment to drop, we needed equipment to be switchable at certain points, and we would ideally also need equipment to be sellable. All of this added up to too much additional work that we simply couldn't justify. The dev time was better spent elsewhere.

4. Currency - We really wanted currency to be a huge resource that the player had to manage. Currency would allow the player to buy experience for characters, equipment, and heal characters. Unfortunately like equipment we just didn't hae the time to implement all the things to make currency feel good. We could have implemented some of the basic stuff, but by the end of Lifelike we were pretty set on having everything in our game look and feel good. If we had implemented currency it would have been pretty sloppy.

So yeah, those are the main things we cut (although there are more). I'm really glad we had a small tema and we could decide quickly what was the highest priority

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Results

Yesterday was Game Demo Day, aka our final presentation for Lifelike.

It went really well. It was pretty amazing seeing some people really enjoy our game. It really made all of this hard work worth it!

One thing that really made us proud was people actually learning and understanding our game well. We had a couple of people play who have never played a strategy RPG like Lifelike. These players were confused at  first, but picked it up pretty quickly. This was immensely rewarding to us as it was one of our biggest concerns coming into GDD.

We ended the day with two first place awards and two second place awards, notably we won best overall game. We felt pretty proud of this.

We've worked a ton over the past three months and it seriously feels so good to be done. We're still figuring out what we're going to be doing with Lifelike, but ultimately we had a great semester.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Livelike: The Live Action Trailer for Lifelike

The real-world consequences of Arcane Badge
So, in thinking about how to create a trailer for our game, I realized that game footage wouldn't be too exiting on its own.

Then I thought about how I also happen to be taking a video class and have access to expensive camera equipment...

Now there's a live action trailer for Lifelike. Called "Livelike".

It's not done yet, but I hope you enjoy the teaser image!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Polish, Polish, Tutorial

We're fully into polish mode for our demo for Game Demo Day at this point. We keep telling ourselves we're content locked, but new things keep sneaking their way in.

It has come to our attention that most people won't immediately know how to play our game upon seeing it (weird, right?), so I've been thinking about what we can do to create a condensed tutorial for our condensed demo.

So, I wrote up a design for a tutorial, but ended up getting way too into it and accidentally made it out of scope (woops). There's little chance that this will be ready for game demo day, but designing it with the demo in mind actually led me to figuring out ways to streamline the tutorial for the eventual full game.

The tutorial essentially only introduces players to the basic controls and game flow, leaving the rest to the players to learn for themselves. It also does a good job of introducing the player to the tone and narrative in the way without getting bogged down in exposition.

Anyway, check out the design doc for the tutorial after the break.

Friday, April 4, 2014


We're gearing up for Game Demo Day and you know what that means!? POLISH.

We're trying to make our game look and feel better while eliminating any bugs we find along the way.

We've done some sweeping changes to make the UI a lot better and to make combat text more readable.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The pipeline for dialog to the game

So we're getting in some semblance of dialog for our next big playtest on Monday.

Robby and I worked together to come up with a system for storing the first type of dialog called comments.

Comments are simple forms of dialog that only involve one character (as opposed to conversations which involve multiple characters).

Comments come in two types. The first are idle comments. Idle comments are going to have a chance to trigger at any time. The second type is triggered comments. Triggered comments have a chance occuring after their trigger condition is met.

Some example trigger conditions are BasicAttackHit and SpellCastRank1.

Now to actual handle this I'm creating an XML reader that will parse through xml documents and store the comments internally. Robby and I spent some time this afternoon coming up with the correct structure and making sure we were both on the same page. Robby will be able to directly edit the xml rather than having to go searching through other files and this will streamline our dialog pipeline.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

(Belated) First Prototype Playtesting Results

Just realized that we never made a post about our very first playtest! We've been pretty ambitious about the stuff we want to include in our game, so everyone's been really focused on working rather than typing up fancy word-posts. That's the excuse we're going with, at least.

Anyway, we had our first playtest a couple weeks ago, and we got a lot of valuable feedback. A lot of it was what we expected, but that was still valuable in reinforcing our internal playtesting. 

Spring Break Crunch!

Contrary to the lack of blog posts recently, we've been working hard toward our next major milestone. Our "Three Floor Demo" is due for testing on March 10th, and we're well on our way to making it happen. 

As we're all a bunch of nerds with no Spring break plans, we're working extra hard this week to meet all our goals for the demo. This, of course, excluded Evan and Julia, as they go to schools that for some reason decide to have their Spring breaks during the actual Spring time (weird, right?). This doesn't mean that they aren't working hard; just that we get to make them feel bad by working extra hours because we have nothing better to do.

Anyway, here are this week's goals for finishing up our next big demo:

Monday, February 24, 2014

So we've got our chosen 9

The 9 playable characters for the games have just been finished skill and stat wise. We've still got a lot of work to do with the art side, but we'll be giving some sneak peaks on some of the characters in future posts.

Stuff like art, their techniques, their combat style, and their back story will be shown.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Daunting Dialogue System, Part 2: Event Dialogue & Idle Dialogue

Time for round two! This continues where the first post left off, discussing the design for the dialogue system in Lifelike.

This second half discusses the two different large categories of dialogue: Event Dialogue and Idle Dialogue.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Daunting Dialogue System, Part 1: Overview & Priority

So, I've finally finished the design document for Lifelike's dialogue system. Funny how a single bullet point ("Integrated, un-intrusive dialogue") can turn into about nine pages of specifications. The design for this definitely turned out to be more complicated than expected. The complexity is mainly caused by the fact that, while our core gameplay is turn-based, the dialogue is real-time.

Because of this, it's possible for dialogue to be triggered while other dialogue is already going on. Find the solution to this problem (and more!) in the first half of the Dialogue System Design Document, after the break.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sprint #3

A little late, but it's here! The moment you've all been waiting for! SPRINT THREEEEEEE!

This week is a little different as we're splitting it up. We're playtesting a prototype on Thursday, so we've organized the week's tasks with that in mind.

Check out this week's goals after the break.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Particles, Tiles, Skills, Art

 Highlights of this week's sprint:

  • Reworked our tile system to incorporate particles effects, so we can get a lot more creative with our tile visuals. Most of the current tile colors and effects will be redone.
  • Implemented the Knuckleduster skill which can knock enemies into an object and take bonus damage.
  • Created a Z-depth system that allows any object, including particle effects, to properly align behind and in front of other objects.
  • The targeting and movement mechanics have had some improvements.
  • Implemented the AI for the enemy "Manager".
  • Improvements to the HUD, right clicking to cancel an attack, or resume movement if you haven't moved.
  • Heroes can now gain experience by killing and assisting on a kill, eventually leveling up.
  • Created a level up particle animation, shown at the start of the video and after defeating the drones.
  • Hit/Miss/Damage formulas have been added to the skills/attacks.
  • Added art that has been completed so far; several office props and two character sprites.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sprint 2

This post is a little late (as our Sprint started on Monday!), but here are the details for this week's sprint goals:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Full Steam Ahead!

We accomplished this week's programming milestone tasks and some extra.

I implemented a basic Skill system, which I then scrapped and redid from scratch.
The new system actually implements Basic Attacks, Skills and Weapon Skills. So not only is everything abstracted from one class, but each "Skill" requires it's own personal script, which can be fully customized to suit our needs.
In other words, I made a skill system that completes the backbone of our combat system as a whole. All that's missing is content, and stat formulas.

Also did a lot of improvements on path finding (turns out it still had a few edge cases - bugs)

Implemented two of the three skills that were designed this week, up to rank 1, adding additional ranks will be trivial.

The first enemy AI for the Drones is complete, they will chase the closest player and attack if possible.

We added camera movement, which also has some smoothing to give it a nice feel.

Added a basic framework for object interation.

Cleaned up a lot of old archaic code and log messages.

And lots of bug fixing!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Desks and Chairs and Coolers oh my!

And now for our regularly scheduled art injection:

This week I made some of the initial art assets for the first boring normal floor! How monotonous can we get?

But what's not monotonous is character concept art!! We have our lovely main character, "The Intern," who turned quite sassy so far. And "The Blogger," who is contemplating the meaning of life with a netbook monitor as a face.

The Intern

The Blogger 

(He's in a strange in between place right now, between sketch and finished, but it's OK we all go through that at some point in our lives...)

Corruption Guidelines

So, as we've mentioned quite a bit, our game focuses around a transition from a realistic setting to a surreal fantasy setting. That's pretty much the extent of the detail we've shared about it, and that's not because we were being secretive... it's because we didn't know.

With nothing more than an ambiguous idea about normal things being slowly replaced by very not normal things, it became clear that we needed more clarity in order to move forward with art and design.

As such, I decided to write up a guidelines document, detailing what we want to do with our weird, eclectic inspirations.

an early corruption comparison sketch

So, here's the doc (after the break):

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Spreadsheet Boogie

So I've been working on some of the underlying stats for Lifelike like creating the character stats and the damage formula.

I've just finished the first iteration of stats for three characters and boy was it a lot of numbers to attempt to balance. I'm sure these numbers will be fluctuating as we progress through development and can really test combat scenarios, but each character has around fifty numbers to actually manage.

I'll be taking a second swing at the damage formula tonight since I wasn't really happy with how it turned out last night, afterwards I've got some item design to do and I'm gonna spend some time helping Kiril with the programming side.

On a side note this is the most I've used Excel/Google Spreadsheets in my life.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Our Initial Design Document

We've finally finished putting together our High-Level Design Document! It's pretty snazzy. Check it out after the break.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Look at Our First Three Skills

Each skill in Lifelike is going to have incredibly high impact on the battle. We're designing these skills to be incredibly useful to the player and good uses will help turn the tide of a battle.

In Lifelike Each skill has three levels, with the higher levels being much more powerful and gaining ridiculous additional effects. 

These first three skills are all attached to characters (some can be attached to items). Typically character skills go hand in hand with the characters stats and growths, to give them a playstyle.

Wanna see 'em? Click "read more"!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


So, in addition to our major milestones, we'll be planning week-long sprints at the beginning of each week. Unlike the milestones, our sprints will be organized by assigning tasks to specific people. After creating the list, we will add all the items to a Trello board, allowing us to keep track of everyone's progress and potential blocks more easily.

Here are this week's sprint goals!

Monday, February 3, 2014


So, we finalized our completed, high-level milestones for the game.

Check 'em out after the break:

Showing Off Various Features

So we've made various improvements to the movement system, including fixing a lot of edger cases.
We also implemented a basic UI that will probably completely change in the near future.
  • Currently it features combat text that floats away after you attack a character.
  • Hero portraits that let you select a hero without clicking on a grid tile.
  • An Action selection menu, appears only after moving at the moment.
Also, we added directional sprite walking animations.
Grid highlighting which shows tiles(blue) that are within the hero's movement range and tiles(red) that are within reach of your weapon.

Also ignore the random numbers.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Designing the Stat System

Designing the stat system

One of the core things we're attempting with Lifelike is a fast, repeatable experience. With that in mind we need to limit ourselves on the number of visible stats to the player and they need to be rather simple in what they do.

So far the current stat system is as follows: (names are not permanent)

HP - Health Points, when these reach zero this character dies.
Attack - Increases damage from physical attacks
Defense -Reduces damage from enemy physical attacks.
Ambition- Increases damage dealt from user’s magic attacks and decreases damage taken from enemy magic attacks.
Perception - Increases chance to hit the enemy, less likely to be noticed by enemies, and farther vision in black outs.
Fortune - Increases chance to dodge and chance to critically hit the enemy.
Synergy - Gives adjacent allies increased damage and damage reduction
Movement Speed - The number of tiles a character can move

We've combined some stats (such as having only one "magic" stat rather than two) and tried to make each stat attractive for different reasons. We'll be closely paying attention to see if this system is too complex and we'll be revisiting this soon.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Turn System Implemented, Tested Out Initial Art Assets

Took the next step today on the movement system, did some code cleanup and restructuring, the player can now select a character to move. Implemented a turn system, where the player can only move his characters when it's his turn.

Also added the art mentioned in the previous post.

Schlumbergera (the christmas cactus)


I started playing around with some ideas for plants today. While these aren't finished assets I thought it would be a good place to start conceptually to get some ideas down. I'm not set on the colors either, though I did think about dismal work lighting, and of course the colors can be played with. One thing with the colors I didn't do here yet is to have them intensify as the object becomes more corrupt. Even though these aren't finished, I'll upload them individually for the programmers to use while they're working! Also you can let me know the best way to upload pictures. Would it be easier to have say, these three images the same size, or all saved snuggly to the content of the picture? I saved these ones so the pot (which doesn't change) is on the same part of the image, tell me if that works!

More to come!


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Narrative Tools

One of the loftiest goals that we have for this game is to create a story that does more than just rest alongside the gameplay. As much as we all love roguelikes and tactical RPGs, their rigidity and the level of abstraction inherent in their mechanics usually forces the narrative into a secondary role.

So, we want to find a way to tie the narrative and the mechanics of our game together in a more meaningful way than we've seen done before in this type of game. 

Being completely overwhelmed by this, I decided to start small. I wrote out all the tools I could think of that our game could have to deliver narrative to the player.

Click "read more" to see the document!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Implementing Movement Mechanics and Sprite Animations.

Today, on the programming side, we started working on some basic movement mechanics, in an isometric grid based environment, as well as some sprite animation.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Idea

One of the first things I like to do when coming up with a new game idea is write up a little outward-facing blurb about it; a sort of "back of the box" thing that explains the core ideas of the game with the expected audience of, well, everyone. I find that trying to write something as if it would be read by people that might become players helps me figure out what's really important about the game. This will almost certainly change quite a bit over time, but here's the very first draft!

The player chooses from a cast of interns working in the basement mailroom, each working themselves to death at a thankless job, desperately trying to get a foothold on the corporate ladder. One of them (the player) receives a mysterious message from the CEO requesting her presence in his office. Confused and anxious, but eager to make a name for herself in the company, the intern must make her way to the CEO’s office--on the 100th floor. And the elevator is broken. And security’s pretty tight, so each floor can only be accessed via the stairs by obtaining a key card from the previous floor. 
As the intern progresses through the disturbingly inconsistent floors, things start to get a little strange... I mean, she expected the bureaucrats, the annoying office gossips, the security guards, and the cut-throat corporate backstabbers, but... wait, did that guy have a sword? why are there creeping vines all over the cubicles on this floor? Did that guy have three eyes? On his chest? Well, I suppose diversity in the workplace is a good thing, right?  
Gotta do whatever it takes to get the dream job.

More to come!