Pick up chickens

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Since any object in the game can be picked up, as long as it as tagged correctly, it was very easy for me to add a cute chicken and have it ride the elephant. Why? Because it was easy! Also, Zelda have a long tradition of carrying around chickens, presumably for much the same reasons as I have just given, so it came pretty natural here. I am also tempted to have some sort of quest down the line, where an NPC ask you to find them a chicken.

But the chicken is also part of something larger. One of the things i really liked about my attempted 2D version of this game, is that it had a lot of small critters frolicking about in the forests: hedgehogs, turtles, snails, butterflies and so on. Little animals like these were simple enough to add in a 2D version, because they where just a few frames of animation, but in 3D they will need concept art, a 3D model, textures, a rig and unique animations. That’s a lot of work for an asset that has no impact on gameplay whatsoever.

So these little animals have a rather low priority in the production, which is a shame, because I really like them. So this chicken is my first attempt to bring cute animals back into the environment.

I also want white peacocks in the Queen’s garden, because that is going to look badass.

Health Tokens and a Vendor

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This is the Health Token Vendor. He is one of the Mekani, a robot people living in a town called Freehaven, and in fact there are several vending machines like this throughout the land.

While adventuring, you will occasionally find a so called Health Token, and these tokens can be exchanged for health upgrades in the form of one extra container, each container containing four health points. The Mekani vendor will charge you four tokens for one upgrade.

Evidently, this system is very similar to Zelda’s heart piece system. It serves the same function, although it differs in one aspect. In Zelda, you receive the health upgrade immediatly upon finding the fourth heart piece, whereas here you have to travel back to a town and exchange the collected pieces.

This, together with a few other resource collecting systems, gives you a reason to head back to town every now and again, which could also be fun since it is in the towns you meet and help npc characters.

This game does have a permanent world, which is to say you can always go back to previous areas, and maybe find new secrets, but it also has a level design layout which is based on chains of levels stringed one after another, like the test chambers in Portal, or the levels in Monument Valley for that matter. It is in the balancing of these two design philosophies that I create the cities and towns, which aren’t technically hubs, since the path never branches off, but are still places worth returning to a few times, and see that they still exist even while you are not looking at them.

You’ve found a key!

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Here’s what I’ve been working on this week: keys and locked doors.

This seems like very basic feature to add to a game like this, which largely consist of puzzles ending with the opening of a new pathway to the next puzzle. But I have waited quite a while before implementing the keys, and the reason for this is that all the components of this feature are also found elsewhere in the game design.

Keys are basically a “Quest Item”, which you can use together with the keyhole, an “Activator”, which in turns activates the door. All of these features are things I have worked on previously, which means that this weeks task was simply one of bringing it all together, and to make 3D models and animations for all the new elements.

What you see in the .gif above is actually the second locked door I created. I made another version before this, but that one just didn’t turn out good enough, and I had to remake it. Here’s what the first version of the door looked like, in case you are curious:

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Watering the flowers

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Here it is: the water ability!

The little elephant can charge his trunk up with water, and then spray it out with great force. This can be used for many things, such as watering plants as shown above, or putting out fires. I also have an idea of some sort of water wheel that can be set spinning, and on at least one occasion I want the elephant to spray water over a sleeping character to wake them up.

As I have mentioned before, you don’t really unlock new abilities as such, but rather use whatever you can find in the environment. So if you want to use water for something, you’ll have to find a nearby water source that you can use.

It’s really subtle in the .gif above, but one of the cooler things about this feature is that the elephants body actually swell up a bit when it is filled with water. The elephant fills up like a balloon, and he looks delightfully chubby when he runs around full of water.

I am also childishly delighted with the nice bubbles!

Why did it have to be Snokes?!

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Snokes: the natural enemy of an Elephant!

Though this is primarily a puzzle game, I am also adding a little bit of combat. This is the Snoke, the very first enemy type. They are rather small, and only takes two hits to go down. They will usually appear in numbers though, and they can be overwhelming when they are many.

snoke

The most fun part of this asset is obviously the animation. As it turns out, snakes have several different ways to locomote. I choose this slithering one, because it is basically a sine curve. In fact, for a while I thought of naming this monster Sin Snake, as a reference to the mathematical function of its movement. So, in preparation for this asset, I actually animated a sine curve in 2D, which I then used as a reference for the 3D animation.

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This Snoke is also one of the features that existed already in my early 2D prototype, which means there was already a fully animated version of as a 2D sprite. That’s always very nice. It’s concept art that moves!

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Treassure Chests

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If the Zelda heritage wasn’t showing enough already, let me submit to you… the treasure chest! Tam-tada-TADAAA!

The chest can hold a variety of things, from quest items to health upgrades, to a simple abundance of Diablo-style loot. They are also frequently the cosy homes to Keys, which are naturally used to unlock doors, and which are incidentally the next feature I am going to get into the game.

Over all, the treasure chest are pretty self explanatory, and I don’t have that much to say about them. I just think they look pretty!

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Talk to people!

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Here’s another nice and versatile feature in the game: Dialogue boxes! The world is filled with various characters, and they all have something to say. Many of them wants help which something, which is great, because as the world’s new Elephant, that’s exactly the sort of thing you are there to do.

I have put effort into making the system as general as possible, and made sure that I store all dialogue data in separate text files, which mean all characters can have the same dialogue handler, and simply import the correct text when the time comes. Because of this I can edit all dialogue separately, and store loads and loads of lines in a neat archive in the game project.

Another nice feature is that the human characters will actually turn their head to look at you when you run past them.

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Welcome to Windhill

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Windhill is a small, rural village in the Knightingale Kingdom, and it’s the first town Yono visits on his journeys. The whole village is entirely powered by wind energy, with various windmills and propellers all over the place. The villagers lead simple lives, generally unaffiliated by various conflicts and political upheaval in the rest of the kingdom. Windhill is populated primarily by Humans, but some Mekani merchants are traveling through, and there is a mysterious Undertaker living there who is definitely not human.

I think of this game world as divided into three broad categories: Town, Overworld and Dungeon. The Overworld consists mainly of forest and tunnels, and can have some enemies and traps and treasures. The Dungeons are similar, but they have their own themes and music, as well as their own respawn points, and they generally have something to do with the overaching story, whereas the Overworld is mostly about transportation.

The Towns, at last, have (almost) no enemies or traps, but are instead populated by friendly npc:s and vendors. This is where you handle your resources, trade in treasures you have found, and also help the townsfolk with small quests that they have.

What I am trying to get across, though, is that these are not thee separate types of gameplay. They are more like themes in the level design, where the towns focus more on dialogs and upgrades, and the Overworld and Dungeons have more monsters and traps.

Buttons and activations

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Though it may not look it, here’s a first example of the most complex and interesting system in the game. We covered the moving box in the last post, but here we see the Moving Platform (an example of an “activateable”) and the Button (an example of an “activator”).

The reason this gets complex is that there are many different types of both activators and activatables, and any of them can be connected to any other. A button can unlock a door, a lever can light a fire, blowing on a pinwheel can spawn a pushable box, lighting a torch can unlock another door and so on and so on.

As of now, in the beginning of the game, I have only worked with one-step-solution puzzles, like the one above. But as more features gets introduced, my ambition is to make these kinds of puzzles bigger and bigger. Two-, three-, and four-step-solutions, and something I really interesting in experimenting with is three-step-solutions where the first step actually blocks the third step, and the second step has to be done to undo the gridlock caused by the first step.

It’s difficult to explain, but The Minish Cap does this gloriously in the Temple of Droplets.

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