It's certainly been a while since my last update, although not quite a month yet! A far cry indeed from my usual weekly updates so apologies if you've forgotten about TinyKeep due to the lack of constant spam from me. I am more active on the forums, but don't worry if you'd rather stick to this blog for TinyKeep related news, I promise to repost everything here so you guys won't miss a thing.
November has been a busy month for development - and we are making great progress.
James Cobb, our resident composer and music extraordinaire will sadly have to step down from TinyKeep, or at least for the time being. James is currently working full steam on his University degree, and so he is unable to fully commit to the project as originally planned. I am still hopeful that we will be able to resume his services later next year when things are a bit quieter, James will be producing a couple of the more "unique" tracks for the game - but more on that later (it's a secret!).
Until he is ready to lend us his time again, I'd like to introduce a new face to the team. Will Bedford aka. 2-BYTE will be composing the majority of TinyKeep's thematic soundtrack, and so far I am really pleased with the results.
Have a listen for yourself!
While I let the "pre-alpha" Focus Group guys test the most recent build, I decided to start working on the nuts and bolts of the gameplay itself, that is the controls and combat mechanics. I'll revisit and polish the dungeon generation part of the game later on, as I thought I'd better focus on what actually makes the game "fun"!
Here's a walkthrough video showing TinyKeep's basic controls, all up and running with an Xbox360 Controller.
TinyKeep Combat Controls
The next step is to get combat working, and that means getting our little characters to swing heavy swords around...
Failure and bugs aside, this video shows exactly how tightly integrated the combat will be with the underlying physics engine. All weapons have mass, and all combat animations apply velocity and force to the weapon. This means knockback effects and the potential for more dynamic physics based combat and maybe even localized damage. Part of the game is about emergent events, we want the player to be able to knock large items to block incoming enemies and so on.
So another thing that is very important for combat is monsters! After all we do need something living to test our powerful swords against. The way I see it, there are a couple of ways combat could work in a game like this:
1. Very simple hack and slash, button mashing style gameplay. Think Dynasty Warriors or something like Pocket RPG which has a very similar art style to TinyKeep. Lots of action, lots of particle effects, and lots of powerful "super" attacks.
2. Traditional "dungeon crawler" combat mechanics, so point and click, skill cooldowns and the like.
For TinyKeep we definitely wanted to go down a more action oriented route but not in the way that you'd necessarily think. Looking at the "chibi" style characters, one would expect simple mindless controls with lots of colourful particle effects. But we think that given the intelligent behaviours that we have planned, it would make more sense to have equally intelligent combat. We want all of our fights to feel personal, tactile and responsive. And we definitely do not want button mashing. After much deliberation, we ended up going for more twitch based combat, much in the same vein as Skyrim and other similar third person RPGs. Each fight will consist of a quick exchange of slashes and blows, shield blocks and counter attacks.
Here's an early test to show you what I mean.
(Try to ignore the complete lack of environmental awareness, this part of the AI has not yet been implemented as you will notice some mobs will get stuck behind various bits of furniture).
Every fight requires skill, timing and sometimes a little bit of luck. It should feel responsive, tight, and above all fun!
On the other hand though, we don't want to build a complete sword fighting simulator. Combat should still feel easy to learn and be completely accessible. As we keep mentioning repeatedly, TinyKeep is all about intelligent emergent behaviours, so once we add multiple monsters of different types to the mix, the more depth we'll begin to see in the game.
That is something Ben is currently working on. I'm dying to talk to you about the behaviours we have planned for all our different monsters, but I'm afraid Ben will kill me for letting the secret slip this early!
So, until next time!