Horizon

Arashi proving she's not a silent hero
Arashi proving she's not a silent hero

Actually I like silent heros in RPGs, I know a lot of people think they are a copout and/or boring, but it really helps me get into character without the lead potentially ruining it for me.  I could explain what that means, but I’m falling asleep here and it’s getting hard to think.

The IGF entry date is looming around the corner and it’s not giving me much time to do anything but work my job and come home and work endlessly on my game until I pass out.  Granted it is giving me the motivational boost I sorely needed to finish developing the game engine, and this really will be the final weekend I spend adding features to it, because I took the time to write out every last thing missing from the game instead of “winging it” as I have been… mmm chicken wings.

But enough of the boring stuff, I’m guessing you’re here to find out more about the game and that’s what I’m here to say!  I have added so much just in the last week to the engine it’s not easy to find a place to start, but the most complex addition is what I’ve finished tonight.  Dialog is such a fundamental part of RPGs because – as the “RP” implies – you the player are taking on a role.  So naturally, since RPGs tend to have a lot of dialog, I not only designed a new system for handling it and making it a more interactive process and another extension of the actual game, but also finished the portrait handling to have animated facial features and properly displaying emotions.  Inspired by Ultima VII (surprise!), and taking a bit of the advances made in Ultima VIII and IX and BioWare RPGs, I set up a dialog tree system that has NPCs interacting properly to the player based on various quest flags triggered by adventuring, character statistics, and flags triggered by asking the right questions.  With the animated portraits during conversations, it will keep the dialog interaface much more lively than a standard console RPG.  And a small innovation here that I haven’t seen tried in an RPG  to make conversations a bit more interactive if someone says something, the player isn’t always forced to look through a list of questions to ask afterwards; likewise, you can interrupt most conversations with the X Button and ask away or just speak your mind.

On a side note, dialog and portraits were so rudimentary in the original engine, they were one of the very first things I programmed for the game when I wasn’t as strong with XNA.  It really showed because the code I had to work with to expand and finish this feature was sooooo old and amateurish, I hadn’t quite settled into my groove back then at all. 

Also, on the topic of role-playing, I know a lot of people who only play RPGs on computers that think to properly be a “role-playing” game it should always be a character of your making, similar to how MMOs and many computer RPGs are designed.  While it is commonly how all RPGs are played, I’d like to point out even pen-and-paper RPGs may have gaming sessions with premade roles assigned to the players that the game [master] is asking them to work with to accomplish the scenario – this typically occurs in tournament play (yes, there are pen-and-paper tournament games).  I just wanted to throw that out there for people who think console RPGs aren’t legitimate role-playing games for forcing the player to be a character they may hate.

The main website has broken 3,000 visitors, which for a game that hasn’t even formally been announced I couldn’t ask for much more.  I’ll be sure to post more of the story, the character bios, and other fun information on the site as soon as I am able to.  It may not seem I have all the story and characters worked out since it’s been so long without posting it, but I’m taking the opposite approach to this game than I did the original Shadowdawn project from a decade ago – I don’t want to spoil everything and then the game not be done in a timely matter like my last project.

Thanks again all my visitors, just 16 days left to have the game beta ready…

About Nightfox

A long-time independent game developer that was lucky(?) enough to have grown up with the gaming industry. I am a programmer, a game designer, a concept and pixel artist, a music composer, and a novelist. This has been my dream for as long as I can remember, and I am determined to take advantage of every talent I hope I have to make it happen!

7 thoughts on “Horizon

  1. Thanks Keith! I’m working on the wrapper elements now, how it handles save/load data and the title screen, stuff that is making the game feel a lot more like a real game. Of course it makes it harder to debug because of the slightly extra padding to work through, but that’s why I waited til I was done with most of the game engine!

  2. I’m crossing my fingers for that PSN release, day one download, and I’d also coerce others from forums I go to, to do the same.

  3. I probably shouldn’t say much on the topic yet, but there’s actually a good chance the PSN version isn’t a dream. I’ll have to email you when I know a bit more.

  4. Hey!
    I’m trying to create a game on XNA too, this won’t be my first game but, I will play SDG when it releases :”)

  5. No worries about double posting 🙂

    I haven’t even begun to look into 3D modelling or programming yet, so I can only wish you luck in figuring it out, but if I can help with anything else on XNA feel free to ask 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you like SDG when it’s done 😀

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