Spring Update - 2017

Hey world,

We are still among you :) and work diligently at Aeon of Sands.

We now arrived in the internal Alpha. Horay !!!

Here is a small excerpt of our activities (my activities).

development activities - Aeon of Sands
Unfortunately, writing blogs is not our strength. Last year we almost exclusively posted updates from the game on our social accounts.

If you would like to receive the latest information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

We will bring our new website with trailer and community forum online next month. If you want to be informed, please log on to our mailing list.


We will be looking for users who have registered for a wide range of delicacies ;-).

If you missed our social activities last year, I will summarize them below.

Have fun. TwoBitKid^Florian

Autumn Update - 2016

And that seemed like a quiet spot! Damn birds!

As you can see, we're not very active on socials in this leg of the year: between working on the dungeon crawler's parts of the game and creating a 2.0 site and forum from scratch (more about it soon-ish), we do what we can.

One could argue that, marketing being most important, you're never too late to do it properly.
Personally, I embrace our anti-hero philosophy of non-achieving, and made peace with things I cannot handle at the moment.

So, THANK YOU for keep checking this page and our other online caves and huts, with a frankly encouraging patience, to see if we are getting somewhere :)

One thing we do handle on the development front, though, is bringing Aeon of Sands to the finish line with each day' work!

We aim to have the whole game playable, from start to finish, between the holiday season and early 2017, and after that, polish it  and test it extensively!

And maybe, just maybe, learn how to market it in the meantime, so that we don't end like the guy in the animation here, devoured by large crows, while trying to sustain himself with not-edible mushrooms in the wilderness...

Marco Pedrana, a target for hungry crows in the post-marketing wilderness.

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Aeon of Sands - NPC creation process, updated

This summer I will still be sludging through the opponents creation, trying to get a sense of what misses yet, or is out of place, in the growing and roaring sea of game assets.

Here below, a 3 minutes video in which I illustrate the creation process of a creature, from the puppet sketch to the final frames of animation in game.

As I mention on passing in there, the dirty puppet underlying the animation, and the time it requires to be cleaned out, are a necessity for my keeping together the creature, to be able to give it consistency with all its frames and all the other creatures; this imposed constraint is actually boring to keep with, but effective in avoiding me going away in 100 different directions at the same time.

When I do not care for consistency, but only for expression, I would normally keep the puppet sketch - that encompass my understanding of the object - on one side, as a shorthand note, and do something only slightly related to it on a new page.

What I found is that in game design, that almost never happen, sadly.

As a result, this is the face of my dizzyness, that's amazingly similar to the result of hitting yourself with a magic in game.

Marco Pedrana, graphic slave of Two Bits Kid, artist. I don't really have blue sparkles on my face.

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Fonts: The Quest for Readability

Hello again!

We have now nearly 80% of the game finished and we are relieved to see more and more of the game content becoming safe from major revisions.
Today we tackle a bit of the remaining 20%, that includes checking that the presentation of the content is good enough not to distract you or prevent you from enjoying the game.

She might, but we are still polishing it.

Take for instance the body of text of more than 80.000 words that accounts for the backbone of our game story.
You wouldn't want to crawl through a novel badly formatted, with an unreadable font, no matter how interesting you find the story; in the same way, you wouldn't want to click compulsively through AoS' dialogue, pressing 'Continue' just to skip an eye tiring wall of text.

This kind of revision is something that is scary, yet, there's an exhilarating freedom in savaging in a few hours what you spent weeks to carefully create: the old fonts, the text box, the dialogue paragraphs.

One thing was sure: the old font was not working for us, nor for the ladies and gents who tested the game at demo-events like Talk&Play or Gameover 2015.

Font nightmare

That first font was born from the need to show blocks of text up to about 600 characters, in a fixed text display box of 505x118 px.

This basically means, leaving 1/3 of the box's height for the dialogue choices, we still have 10 lines (an average of 90 uneven characters at 4x8 px size).

At first we thought that would be ok.

We wanted a crisp pixel look with no aliasing, and we still had no decisions for the resizing of the game screen, so the first thing I did was create a bitmap font of that 4x8 px size.
The results? Passably readable at fullscreen, on a 20 inches monitor. A pain at anything less or in windowed mode.

No, no, no, no, no, no...

Back in April, I started to look around for a Creative Commons licensed font that was suitable for commercial projects and that was also good for us. We tested more than 20 promising candidates, ranging still in the 8 to 12 pixels height area.

Some were nice, actually really nice, but very few were actually readable, in discrete quantities.
Of the readable ones, instead, pretty much none captured the feeling of cheap thrills from sci-fi crumpled pulp magazines outta the fifties, that tints the Aeon of Sands world.

At last I decided to go and create one myself, using the great tool provided for free at Fontstruct. If you are an indie developer on a budget or you just love typography, you should take a look!

Monospaced or not? Bitmap or Truetype? 8 or 16 px? So many choices... 

As soon as I started drawing the font, it was apparent that anything below 12 px compromised the readibility of our story, while, on the other hand, only fonts of 8 or 16 px scaled well with our resolution changes in game, so I settled at a 16 px font.

After three iterations, plus a minor revision, the end result is Pantella, our very own font named after the city where the game starts, well readable both in windowed and fullscreen modes.

Pantella. Or not a hole under our feet.

How will it look in the new 'cage' of the user interface that we are implementing to meet the needs of the different monitors resolutions and ratios?

For that you'll have to read the follow-up post of Florian in the next weeks!

Marco Pedrana, font-lover half of Two Bits Kid, artist. I want a vacation.

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