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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Aeon of Sands - watch our first recorded devlog #1

This was our first devlog livestream about our game Aeon of Sands - the trail. We are very happy that the audio and the stream went very well. It's was a bit difficult to setup, because in Italy the internet connections are not that stable ;-), but OBS has a lot of options to finetune the stream. I do recommend this nice piece of software!

If you have still some questions about real time combat, character development, puzzles or story...feel free to send us question by twittergoogle+ or facebook.

Live Game Session Sunday 05 June, 18:00 GMT on Youtube!


We have a surprise announcement to make:

Live Aeon of Sands game session!
Sunday 05 June, 18:00 GMT

We will have a one hour live session on youtube live to play a couple of early levels of the game, and to answer your questions.

Please write us your questions in advance here in the blogpost's comment or by twitter, google+ or facebook.

We will try to answer them all during the live stream!

You're very welcome to join us and to spread the news to your friends!

Stay tuned,

Marco & Florian


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