Hanako Reawakens Introduction
It has been a long 5 months since we've posted anything new and this was something that we decided to do on purpose. After our first Kickstarter attempt didn't go as planned, we had a hard look at the game, ourselves and assessed every part of the game and came to a consensus, surprisingly easily, on what needed to improve; what needed to go and how to push the game closer to your hands. So each section below highlights major areas of emphasis and improvement based on what we felt needed to improve the most or things that were scheduled to be done anyway.
One of the big takeaways from the Kickstarter and releasing a public demo was that combat didn't "feel" right. It didn't have enough weight and you couldn't really feel the impact of your hits, being hit, etc. So we overhauled three areas, and made new feedback systems to greatly enhance this area of the game.
With these three layers of feedback, combat feels drastically better and still has room to improve. The other sections complement our efforts towards feedback to keep moving us closer to the ideal level. We have full confidence in the mechanics but needed the feedback to follow suit.
Art Style Shift
The scenery in our game has always been fairly well-received and pegged as "beautiful" but we felt it sat in an odd territory of not super stylized, but not super realistic either. As the sole environment artist on the game, I spoke to various mentors and friends who work on very stylized games for advice.
They pretty much unanimously suggested we shift to a more stylized look, offered some techniques and training to help me grow as an artist and just keep pushing things. Many rounds of feedback later we believe we finally hit the ideal look we've been searching for since the beginning of the project. We applied this look to our characters as well and are very happy with the results.
While all of this was going on, the remaining two characters of our game the Naginata Samurai (polearm specialist) and Ninja were completed. This plays specifically into the last section (Animation Quality) of the update, but we really wanted to push these characters to set a new standard for the game and do something different for each.
We hope you all like how they turned out. We were completely against the black-jumpsuit Ninja so we went for a different take that has him looking more like a peasant/farmer trying to blend into the normal fabric of a scene.
We saved this for last because this was the most criticized aspect of our game during both the Greenlight campaign earlier this year, and our Kickstarter. When we took a deeper look at our animation rigs on our older characters we realized how limited they were in terms of body motion and flexibility to create exaggerated poses. After some experimentation we ended up moving our character pipeline from 3ds Max into Maya and have a much more complicated rig for our Naginata and Ninja characters.
This will allow us to make animations at the quality level necessary of a game using UE4. We're super excited to combine much higher quality animations with the feedback systems above to make gameplay just night-and-day better than its been in the history of the game so far.
We will be showing off our progress by releasing a new video at 9PM EST Live on Twitch.tv/hanakogame - Make sure you're there! Tweet questions w/ #HanakoReawakens to be answered live by our lead devs.
Thank you for checking us out, we welcome you with open arms to the Hanako family!