Ello ello. It’s that time again~
Today, I’ll be logging all the progress that’s been made since release of the Character Creator. If you have already read the SubscibeStar post which was featured earlier in the week, feel free to skip ahead, as we later discuss my plans for Sandbox development moving forward!
First, a little catch-up, starting with Character Creation. The character creator was released on time April 28th and has since receive several patches improving quality of life and increasing possibilities for creation.
We’re only missing some additional choices, and textures. A stat tally may also be added later as the trait stats get refined in the sandbox. As for what else we could expect to see from character creation (aside from additional choices), after we’ve gone a little more into sandbox development, I will be adding an option to save character creator profiles. This would allow you to save characters you create for subsequent runs, and will be quite handy for myself when it comes to testing.
Sandbox Development Progress
Next up, we have a lot of progress to report on sandbox development. As a quick disclaimer, please note the sandbox environment is not yet accessible in game, as it is very much under development. Tier II Subscribers and up will be receiving early access via the experimental release cycle as early as next week.
Anyhoo, without further ado, the sandbox. I have developed a prototype environment in which to test the core game mechanics. In order to make the map function as intended, I’ve developed systems to manage player movement, entity collision and sprite sorting. This should allow us to create maps with all sorts of configurations and varying elevation levels.
I’ve set up the core game clock, which not only manages the timing of events, but also the world’s day and night cycle. Arkavite being a world of its own, has its very own calendar cycle. 426 days, 13 months. The first 12 of which having 35 days, leaving only 6 for the last month. But every 7 cycles there comes a leap, bringing the 13th month from 6 days to 7. In an attempt to not go too far off the deep end, I think I will be keeping the day length at a familiar 24 hours.
I’ve set up our small test world to cycle through day and night, which should allow me to get a feel for how certain dynamics could shift at different times of the day. I’ve also built a little night light for the player which comes on as the sun sets, and interacts with the environment to cast shadows for added ambiance.
We now have a functional player HUD. It displays your hearts (HP) and your arka (MP). The UI animates between values when you lose or gain HP and MP. I’ve built in a fun initialization sequence for this bit of UI (see below). I think it will be fun to see your progression each time you load up into the world.
In addition to what’s currently appearing on the player HUD, I will probably add status affect icons to convey various status affects. I don’t think I’ll be tacking on more than this, as I wouldn’t want the HUD to become cluttered. The clock may work as an optional HUD element you can toggle on and off, but l’ll leave that for another day.
I have developed an inventory and item framework. You can access your inventory, view your items, filter by item type, see how an item will influence a number of your core stats, and most importantly – use the item.
On the topic of stats, as you may have noticed, there are a number of bars above the item description window. From top to bottom, these bars are visual indicators for your following stats:
- Hunger: This can be thought of as the fullness of your belly. Eating food fills you up and may in future grant a general wellness buff. I have yet to decide whether the player should be stopped from overeating, or if I should add a chance for puking and or exploding if you keep eating without remorse. I think the latter would be rather funny, and could potentially be weaponized if I were to add caustic blood or some other silly sim focused mechanics.
- Hydration: Hydrobro has got you covered. Hydration is how hydrated you are. Staying hydrated will boost AP generation, and being dehydrated will tank it. Running out of hydration for a couple of days won’t kill you immediately, but you will get a progressively worse and worse debuffs until you do kick the bucket.
- Energy: The energy meter shows off the amount of kcal you’re currently processing. You receive energy from food, and some potions. Energy is transformed into ap as foods are digested. If you run out of energy you won’t die, but you will start converting fat into energy and that energy into AP, and if you run out of fat, you will die. On the other hand, if you have an over-abundance of energy, some of that will be converted into fat.
- Lewd Points (LP): This is the fabled horni meter. The most important stat when it comes to performing lewd actions and telling just how lusty you’re getting.
- Action Points (AP): The points you need to take action! Running around, swinging a blade, passively restoring mp and hp. These all consume AP. As previously noted, AP can be restored by gaining energy, and in addition to this, by resting.
That’s it for the core survival stats. As I don’t want the player to have to constantly micromanage food and drink, I will be adding rations and waterskins which can be set to auto-consume. That way, this particular aspect of survival can be restrained until you run out of your main supplies, and are then put in the tough position of deciding what strange things you must dine on in order to survive.
Taking a step back, above the stats bars we have our equip slots and the actor preview window. The equip slots light up in the colour of the currently slotted equipment’s grade. Hovering on a slot will bring up the currently slotted item. I will be adding onto this system by making it so that clicking on a slot will bring you to the slotted items’ location in your inventory.
As for current developments, I’ve just finished building the backbone of a custom scripting framework for Arkavite, which will handle complex items, TFs, events, and console commands. This will interface well with the dialogue system and, in the long run, make the game a lot more moddable. I see it as worth it over hard-coding all the TFs, events and complex items, as there may be hundreds if not thousands down the line.
To thoroughly test this system, we will be creating a number of basic items, starting with some good ol Nyaatsu Taiyaki.
The Future Sandbox Experience
And now we find ourselves looking towards the future. What will be coming next? What has to be done before this sandbox can be considered a presentable proof of concept?
In the immediate future, I would like to start working on combat. To facilitate this, I will be expanding the test map to include a fair sized arena, in which I can spawn different entities and test their behaviour when interacting with the player and moving around obstacles. As the game needs to support a variety of enemies with different attacks and movement patterns, the first set of enemies I seek to create should be as different as can be from one another. The planned roster is as follows:
- Slimes: Can’t go wrong with slimes. Later down the line we’ll have a good variety of slime types, but for now, I just want to create a simple amorphous blob that hops around and lunges towards the player when aggro.
- Hound-like Beast: Something on all fours. A mythical hound-like beast. It should be quick and violent, but also maybe a wee bit cautious. Charging in for a quick bite, and then backing up, waiting for your next move.
- A Golem Or Two: Hulking, lumbering boulders on legs of rock and stone. I may not only produce a golem that tries to smoosh you, but also an alt type capable of firing or throwing projectiles at you. Bonus points if I can get a golem to fling its arm at you.
- Mooks n’ Bandits: Magus and Magus adjacent entities with access to the same kit as the player (i.e. guns and swords). I’ll need to create AI that allows these guys to shoot, wield a blade, and evade incoming fire. Of course, when in play, not all mooks will be dual wielders. Some may only carry a sword, whereas others may only carry guns. I’ll hold off on creating magic mooks for the time being. While that does sound hilariously fun, I’d like to iron out magic on the player side first.
The real great thing about these guys is that I should be able to use the already built player animation pipeline to randomize their appearance. So, spawning a crowd of random mooks that are all a little bit different, shouldn’t be off the table. Other enemy types will need a bit more work when it comes to creating variants. That aside, any progress in this mookish bandito area should aid in future Prologue city developments where I attempt to populate towns and cities with randomly generated NPCs. A scary story for another day…
- BOSS: I need at least one overpowered boss character, and I think I have an idea what, or rather who it could be. I would like to build a boss capable of firing magic blasts, and creating bullet hell. If it all works as god intended, we may just make bullet hell bosses a theme. It would also be nice if this entity could function in any sort of area rather than some strictly put together arena. Colateral damage is always fun.
On the player side, I will need to create attack animations, and build a system for magical attacks and firearms. With the inventory already sorted, it shouldn’t be too difficult to hot-swap weapons and equips.
Items, Drops & Curses
Rather than having our enemies simply poof out of existence, we’re going to need to give them something to drop when they make their departure. Now, I could just go down the lazy route of having them all drop gold coins, but I’d much rather have them drop materials and ingredients which could be used in cooking and crafting. Meat and bone for cooking and other such things for crafting. In the case of more intelligent entities they may drop, trinkets, food, coin and all sorts of other things someone might carry on their person.
On the topic of cooking & crafting, I haven’t totally figured out how I want to go about it. I might follow the route of having one construct and place workbenches on which to craft, cook and perhaps enchant. We’d have different benches specialized for the crafting of different things. This isn’t too high of a priority, so we’ll have to revisit this at a later date.
Items Effects, Curses & Transformatives
As I’ve alluded to earlier, we’ve already begun the process of creating items with special effects (see Nyaatsu Taiyaki). Now, as for how these item effects are triggered and how they will impact gameplay, my thoughts are that there isn’t just one way to go about it. I’m aiming to create a variety of items which showcase the various ways effects can be applied to the player.
- We may have a piece of cursed equipment, that imparts a new bane on equip, but you can still remove the item.
- We may also have it so that when you remove a cursed item, the bane it gave to you gets worse or simply vanishes.
- Furthermore, we can have cursed items that grant you a boon on equip, and a bane on dequip, thus encouraging you to keep the item on at all times.
- I haven’t seen it done before (I’m sure it exists somewhere), but I’d also really like to do some cursed equip clothing sets, which don’t activate their curse or TF until you don the full set. A lil bit of a sneaky sneaky.
There are other ideas I have as well – Equipment that slowly curses and corrupts you over time. Little by little, slowly transforming your body the more you rely on its power. The possibilities are truly endless, so we needn’t limit ourselves to wardrobe malfunctions which can’t be removed.
At the same time, it will also be necessary to implement some “curse breaking” mechanics, as well as “curse detection”. I can see the annoyance in getting spammed with curses if you have no means with which to fight back at them.
With regard to item effects as a whole, you may be wondering, “how is this all going to play out in gameplay”? I’m going to have my cake and eat it too, by merging the style of gameplay I’ve seen in text based TF games, with your more typical RPG. First you’ll consume the item like any other from your inventory, and if there’s an effect, you’ll be presented with a big ol popup dialogue in the middle of your screen detailing what just happened. I am connecting the dialogue system to the item scripting backend so we can have effects trigger events, and events trigger more effects! Bada bing, bada boom. So there may also be cases where you have an item effect trigger an event, which pulls you into a dialogue with options that allow you to make further choices and take action.
There is an additional class of item which I typically refer to TF over time. TF over time items, are those which you use and consume, but don’t immediately make all their effects known. They sometimes trigger effects hours (in-game) after being taken, or trigger a number of effects over the course of a day (in-game). Of course, we can’t have it so you’re blasted every few minutes by a huge wall of dialogue – distracting you from your running around, fighting, seggzing or whatever. That would be far too obtrusive. In order to make everything blend together, effects caused by TF over time will be output to a notification feed, which can be expanded and read through at any time. There may just be an alert sound and notification icon letting you know each time an effect gets triggered, and if you so wish, you can stop to have a look at what just happend. So, it doesn’t break the flow of battle or pull you out of whatever you’re doing.
If the effect happens to be so great that it would warrant further input from the player, or is so balls to the wall crazy it would stop anyone sane person in their tracks, then we would bring up that dialogue, centre screen, so you can have a read through.
For the sake of QOL, I will also add settings to let you make it so TFs over time bring up the dialogue window for every effect (as opposed to only the most important of important).
Additional Survival Aspects
In addition to rations and water skins, I would like to implement rest and sleep mechanics. I believe this would round out the basic survival system nicely. Weather mechanics will also come in time, but they are not priority as far as getting the Sandbox out the door is concerned.
Snow and rain are the first two weather systems we’ll get working, followed by some temperature/climate mechanics. I’m not going to be too crazy about temperature mechanics unless you’re in the extreme of extremes. Maybe some spells should function differently under different weather conditions, but that’s a conversation we can save for much, much later. Heat should make you lose hydration faster, and peeling off some layers should take the edge off a bit. A bikini isn’t appropriate clothing for a blizzard without the right enchantments. Frostbite status and then death. That sort of thing.
To make things a bit more interesting, I’d like to also implement some magical and less than mundane weather effects. Arkavite rain and blizzards, magical storms that bring about wild transformations, extreme cloud cover blotting out the sun, lighting and smiting.
Linked to crafting, I’m imagining there will also be a suite of survival based items. While not necessary for sleep, bedrolls and tents would be rather nice, and could work to offer a boost in protection/sleep quality, especially in harsh terrain or weather conditions.
How do we get better over time? Here’s what I have planned.
We’ll have, passive proficiency gains over time as you utilize a particular field, increasing all skills (of that field) effectiveness over time. Proficiency milestones grant field specific points to unlock new skills or further upgrade old ones. Some skills will utilize points of multiple fields and may even have multiple requisites of different fields, thus requiring progression in multiple areas. A multi-layer diverging and converging skill/ability tree.
I wonder if it will reach FFX or Path of Exile levels of insanity. I can only hope.
If it gets to be too insane, I may try splitting Magic and Tech from Physical/Mental proficiencies. That should simplify the spaghetti into 3 trees. Then we’ll have a fourth and final tree for super special awesome fusion branches, which combine skills across multiple trees.
As for “Classes”, rather than having a fixed class system, I wish to implement a system which figures out your current specializations and evaluates your current class based on that. Then the class will grant a gentle passive bonus based on just how much you’ve decided to specialize in that area.
Additional UI Screens
We’re going to need a quest log, world map, and player description screen. With the inventory included, it should become possible to switch between these screens in a slideshow like manner.
Quest Log – A quest log is standard stuff. Just a thing that says what you have to do, where and when, and say if you’ve done it. Maybe even indicate whether what you’re doing is a main or side quest. I’ll aim to keep the aesthetic in keeping with the current inventory UI as it develops.
World Map – The next screen we need is the world map. Without it, I don’t think anyone would last long given the scale of world I’m shooting for. As for the aesthetics of this map, I’m thinking of having something in a similar vein to the panelling on the main menu screen. A simple top down world map built from a grid of tiles colour coded based on elevation, and terrain features. Something extremely no-nonsense. I’d also like to have it so we can put down map tacks for points of interest.
If I go with this approach, I’ll aim to have more artistic stylized maps in the cities (on notice boards and in guilds), so you can get a more immersive feel for the location and world through the eyes of an occupant. I don’t think I’ll bother with implementing a mini-map unless it becomes necessary.
Player Description – Last but not least, the window that lets you get to know yourself. It will function much like the character description window you saw at character creation, with the option of switching between levels of detail, say if you only wanted a concise and precise rundown on the status of all your customizable bits. You don’t need to know you have “12 unfathomably long dripping dongs”. Just knowing you have 12 is enough.
Lewd business, Romancing & All that comes with it~
Romancing can wait. Throw all that wine and dine shmoozin out the window for a bit. We’re going to need to test out some sexy time stuff. Pregnancy, and all that comes with it. How it impacts your body, stats, player description etc.
What is a certainty is the implementation of out of combat sex. I’m not entirely sure yet whether I will have non-fatal combat defeats lead to lewd scenes. I could see there being certain enemies that would opt for non-lethal force against the player, which could be chained into a lewd scene upon the player’s defeat; however, I’m still not totally sure whether cooming mid-fight should equate to total and utter loss. Maybe AP and exhaustion could play a role. It’s still up in the air. No matter what, that transition from combat to sex will need to be smooth.
As for how we’re going to do the sex, it will be narrative based. A dialogue will show up, gratuitously detailing all the wonderful ways in which you’re getting reamed or doing the reaming. As it is dialogue based, there may be options which allow you to guide the direction of the scene, or checks to attempt nopeing out of certain actions.
Will there be any visuals to go along with the dialogue? Maybe. The dialogue alone should suffice. I don’t want to die from overwork just yet, but I may do some x-ray pixel action windows for insertion, thrusting, cooming, fertilization. Other than that, If it’s a scene featuring a common enough mob or character more central to the story, they probably will get a lewd sprite to go along with the scene, and if it’s a real special scene I might just do a CG. How far we go mostly depends on what resources and remaining sanity I have to work with.
Wrapping It Up
And that’s basically it for core mechanics and priorities. Hopefully I’m not getting ahead of myself, but the next logical step, after all of the above, is to begin work on procedural map generation for the wilderness and dungeons. Once we have a prototype dungeon in our sandbox world, and can generate endless wilderness around the surface map, I can confidently begin working towards the prologue release.
So when will the sandbox arrive? Procedural map generation, weather, and crafting can wait till after the sandbox goes public. I should be able to ship the sandbox alpha with the full public release once most of the above systems we’ve covered are implemented and working to an acceptable degree. Right now, the project is in development grind central, held together with duct tape, hopes and dreams. There isn’t a lot of gameplay to be had just yet, so it wouldn’t feel right to ship to hundreds of people in its current state. As I mentioned earlier, Tier II backers and up will be granted sandbox access from next week via experimental builds as I work to put this whole machine together. So if you like what you see, want to follow the development in a more hands-on manner, all the while helping me keep the lights on and not starve, be sure to check out my SubscibeStar.
Alright. That’s enough shilling for one night.
Expect frequent updates on Discord and SubscribeStar, and the odd Develog here whenever I build up enough stuff to blogpost about. It’s been a long one but a nice one. Thank you everyone for supporting and following the development of this project. If you have any comments or questions, be sure to let me know down below, or wherever really!
Till next time~