Monthly Update: May

Hello, and welcome back for our monthly Aeon of Sands update!

They cam from the des... Ahem, rust ants make short work of  Setrani.

What have we done the last weeks, you're probably asking?
We worked mostly on 3 areas: opponents, text presentation, and a new dynamic light system.

In addition to that, a bit of work was done on the games mazes, that are due for a major playthrough next week, when all of us devs will convene for a 72 hours stress test.

This playthrough will mark the start of the last leg of development!


Opponents


A major NPC, Harro, from the concept to the greyscale animation.

Take the example above: that's Harro, a city guard, a soldier of the domed city where the game starts.
He was first imagined, character and purpose, as part of the game story in 2012; then his appearance designed the next year,  you can see it in the left of the image, as his dialogues were written.

Last month he was finally greyscaled in animation, and these days he gets colored and completed.

The animation of the opponents is an ongoing task. The completion of the last ones will take us somewhere around the month of july. With that, all the graphic assets will be finally done!

There's a feeling of exhilarating freedom about it: >90% of the graphics are there, the engine is ready, the A.I. gets finetuned every week, and new mechanics implemented.
Now we can finally construct more complex scenarios, stage more challenging fights and have fun adding puzzles that we talked about for months.


From dialogue in-game illustration to finished animation!

Here above is another one, Calca, a very peculiar nomad ravager: a crazy lady who effortlessly travels the desert by herself, whereas doing that in AoS is a certain death sentence.

She was first introduced in the game dialogues in january 2014, and became a favorite toy of the story, a character getting a life of her own into it, despite the writer's original intention.

In the summer that year she got illustrated into the various scenes she appeared in, like the one in the upper part of the image above, and finally, last week, she got her complete animation in color, with her eyeglasses and bladed giant toothpick.


Text presentation

AoS leans on a large amount of dialogue' text that structure its story. This means that we have to be extra thoughtful in how we present the text to the players. We cannot have walls of words hampering you from actual enjoying the games story.

To achieve this goal, we started to change the dialogue font. This process went through many iterations, into a much more readable one. We passed from a bitmap-font we created 2,5 years ago, to creative commons fonts, ranging from 8 to 16 px.
But really, none of these fonts were both easy to read and with a style that fit with the narration of the game world.


The original font, intended for fullscreen, turned out not really readable.

In the end, we resorted to design our own truetype font, by the name of Pantella, our hero' city; it had to support a consistent display of text, at a size of about 16 px; it was to be modern (AoS is not a fairy tales game), with tall lowercase, and kerning and spacing to tie the narration, while separating words.

We used Fontstruct by Fontshop for the task, that lets you design your own fonts and release them with a Creative Commons license, if you like to.

The new font, aptly called Pantella.
Then we turned to the text formatting.

This is a task that will bleed into polishing the game and will be complete only with the final revision of the game texts, scheduled for the summer.

Lighting system

As you may know, we use a Löve 2D as engine. Therefore lighting, even a fake lighting shader is a bit tricky.
The problem: We have no real 3D engine and therefore we have no 3d model you can throw at the glsl lighting shader.

After some research, a friend of us had the amazing idea. We developed a deferred rendering approach with a precalculated depth pass. Here you see our very new lightning system in action. 

(Please ignore the placeholder Skeletons, they still miss normals and depth values.)

test samples: glsl lighting shader in action


Here is a small sample of an ambient moving lightsource (disabled Adblock or Ghostery to see this tweet).


 

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