Today’s developer diary was written by Esteban Valdez, the founder and studio head at Echo Bridge Pictures. We’ll also be debuting another developer diary early next week, so stay tuned!
Whether it’s pixels or paper, 2D or 3D, there are principals of animation that apply to everything.They’re time tested and they never, never, fail us when we adhere to them.Sadly though, the philosophy behind it all seems to be thrown out the window or completely neglected with a lot of newer productions – especially with games of this manner.
We could, like most artists and studios, dive head first into pixel painting but we really wanted to bring out the best for Legend of the Time Star. That’s why, as Attack Mountain stated earlier, we’ve done everything by hand, frame-by-frame.Pixel painting isn’t much different from painting with traditional or digital mediums.You’re playing with shape, color, values and volumes all in an attempt to capture an idea.Couple that with animation where you are also playing with shape, volume, mass and weight, plus [!] 8-16 paintings to put together and you’ve got quite the workload to paint all at once.
The problem when diving right in to the pool is that you never really gauge how deep it is, or if there’s any water in it all. At Echo Bridge, we look, then leap.Or, as the old production method goes: “General to specific.”
So, in this instance, what we did was get a general look at what needs to be done and broke it down, allowing us to focus on each step and produce the best animation possible.And with characters as detailed as this, it was important that took small steps to really capture as much of the original designs as possible.By doing this, we were able to create very unique animation cycles for each character that really gives the overall world a lot of depth.
The fungal drudger’s walk, for example, required more frames to slow the it down, and the hands move on an independent time chart that really pops out from everything else. It gives its walk a much different feel and look from other creatures in the game.
Once everyone is happy with an animation, we bring it down to the pixel level.Because we’ve worked at a larger resolution, we have a very good understanding of the characters volume, mass, weight, etc., and that helps us make a well-constructed sprite.It may seem time consuming, but the results have been incredibly satisfactory so far.
Everyone seems to be in a hurry to find the latest shortcut, hotkey, or animate button all in an attempt to get a project out the door faster.
But, the longest distance between any two points is a shortcut.
-Esteban Valdez, Echo Bridge Pictures
Want this game to become a reality? We need the support of the gaming community to make Legend of the Time Star happen. Back to our Kickstarter today!
May 14, 2012 at 9:10pm
First prototype footage of Legend of the Time Star, showing off Hyder’s Wood and the Hero’s Quick attack, as well as some basic movement. We’d love to hear what you think!
Welcome to the very first Developer Diary entry for Legend of the Time Star! Today, Time Star’s director will take you through the game’s Forge System and give you more insight on how to upgrade and customize your weapons.
“Again I entered my smithy to work and forge something from the noble material of time past.” -Jean Froissart
Your hero will have quite a lot on his shoulders in Legend of the Time Star; there will be no shortage of evil to eradicate or dungeons to scour. It’s good to know you’ve got The Forge System at your back - temper your steel effectively, and you’ll be ready for anything.
The blacksmith’s Shoppe in each major town in the game contains a Forge, a place where the player can tailor their armor and weapons to meet their current needs. At a Forge, the player can do a wide range of things, from forging (and reforging) their weapons to upgrading them with items they’ve found while adventuring.
Each sword that the player can acquire is split into two pieces, the ‘hilt’ and the ‘blade’. Both pieces control different aspects of the user’s standard attacks:
Hilt controls attack speed, stat bonuses (defensive), and weapon type (1-hand or 2-hand)
Blade controls damage, stat bonuses (offensive), and status effects (such as poison, life absorption, and magic damage types)
A cleaned up page from the director’s sketchbook for the original concept of the Forge System – horrible handwriting and all
Break it Up (or don’t)
Unlike other games where you get a weapon and that’s it – you maybe get to upgrade it a couple of times or something – you don’t have to keep a weapon’s blade and hilt together in Time Star. You can use the Forge to take the blade of one sword and attach it to the hilt of another! If you’ve got a one-hander that has an awesome blade, but you don’t want to wield a one-handed weapon, you can combine it with a two-handed hilt. If you’ve got a massive blade you want to wield in one hand, you can attach the blade to a one-handed hilt and wield it alongside a shield. This allows players to be creative and cater their weapon needs to their current adventure.
The only thing limiting your weapon forging abilities is your coin purse. There’s a small fee each time you forge or reforge a weapon, but other than that, you’re free to customize your weapon as you see fit! There’s no limit to the amount of times you can use the Forge.
Weigh your Options
You won’t always want to split up a sword’s pieces – a lot of weapons will offer some sort of ‘set bonus’ for using their hilt and blade together at the same time. It’s up to you to weigh the weapon’s unique set bonuses against the stats of the weapon forged by you.
You’ll most often receive a sword as a complete weapon, whether it’s from a drop, a chest, or a quest reward. Others, such as the game’s more rare and unique weapons, may be split up, waiting for you to discover and unite both pieces into a fearsome weapon that will send your opponents running for the hills.
Rare and unique weapons will almost always have a set bonus, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them separately! In fact, one of the great things about the Forge System is that it allows you to use parts of weapons without having to have the entire weapon in your possession. That means that if you acquire the blade of a rare sword, you can start using it right away, even if you don’t have the hilt.
Perhaps there’s a sword you’ve put together that you really like, but you’re starting to notice it doesn’t pack the same punch if did a few levels ago. Or maybe suddenly your armor isn’t giving you as much protection against some heavy-hitting opponents. What can you do?
Upgrade them, of course! Using items that drop off of enemies or purchased in shops, you can upgrade and improve your weapons and armor to boost their stats and add special properties!
Let’s use an Iron Sword for an example scenario. Perhaps the Iron Sword’s stats break down like this:
Iron Blade: 20-29 damage per strike, 1.2 attack speed
Iron Hilt: 1-handed; +2 Defense, successful counterattacks do 2% more damage
The Iron Sword was great at level 4, but now that you’re level 9 it’s taking a lot more to chop down your foes. After a fearsome battle with some Iron Skeletons in a dungeon, you obtain 4 iron chunks and a scrap of leather. After returning to town to stock up on items, you head to the Forge to give your Iron Sword a much needed shot in the arm.
To review what you need in order to upgrade, you simply go to the Upgrade Weapon option at the Forge and select the Iron Sword. You’ll get a detailed chart that defines what you’ll need for each upgrade level! Here’s what it looks like for the first level of upgrades:
Iron Blade +1
Requires:2 Iron Chunks, 30 coin
Upgrades: 20-29 damage per strike -> 32-41 damage per strike; 1.2 attack speed -> 1.0 attack speed
Iron Hilt +1
Requires:1 Iron Chunk, 1 Leather Scrap, 30 coin
Upgrades: +2 Defense -> +5 Defense; Successful counterattacks do 2% -> 4% more damage
You don’t have to upgrade both at the same time – you can upgrade just the blade, or just the hilt. If a player wanted to use their crafting materials to upgrade the blade of one sword and the hilt of another, that’s up to them.
As the player increases the level of a weapon’s blade and hilt, the requirements will increase as well. In most cases, the amount of resources the player will need to upgrade an item will double with each level, but this isn’t a be-all, end-all rule.
Armor functions in a similar matter, but has some nuances that we’ll be going into in a future Developer Diary.
Thanks for reading!
This is only the first of many developer diaries that we’ll be doing – we hope that these will get you as excited about the game as we are!
Remember, if you want to support Time Star, you can do so here – we’re 26 days away from the end of our Kickstarter and we have a long ways to go, so spread the word to everyone you know who is looking for that next great retro Action RPG – and, of course, be sure to support the Kickstarter yourself!