It's been a while, but it's safe to say the less you hear from me, the more I've been working. Here's another developer's log to update everyone on the state of the game and what I've been working on since the last update.
New Battle Sprites + System Improvements
In the last devlog, I talked about the various changes I was making to the ATB's design. Now, 4 months later, that design has been refined and pulled together with a new interface--and new sprites!
(Click the images to see them full-size)
Visually, a lot has changed, but here's a breakdown of the improvements made, both shown and not shown by the screenshot:
- Battler sprites - Perhaps the most apparent change are the new character sprites, thanks to the accomplished pixel artist Burt. This has always been a goal for Legends of Astravia, but finally seeing it come to fruition is an immense joy. The limited movements are inspired by Golden Sun, and the mantra, less is more. The enemy sprites remain the same, but hopefully if the game gets the funding it needs, a revamp of these will be an option as well.
- Framing - The ATB bar was anchored to the top of the screen and the dark fade at the bottom became a hard black border. The black bars frame the center of the battlefield so the player can really focus on the action when it's happening. The help window, which used to randomly pop up in the center of the screen, is now tucked in the top-left corner.
- Command wheel - The ring menu, which displayed on the battlefield, was hard to follow and didn't animate as nicely. Now it's next to the active character at the bottom of the screen, which was drawing the focus due to the opening window regardless.
- Additional zoom - 2x zoom has been increased to a whopping 3x, making the distance between characters smaller. This helps prevent the eyes from jumping around the screen. The battle camera does have the capacity to zoom out, which may be useful for some later bosses or large mobs...
- New ATB icons - Some hand-drawn character sprites were added to be more consistent with the busts at the bottom of the screen.
- Camera follow / easing - The camera will follow characters as they move around the screen. This effect so far seems to work, though an option will likely be added to help prevent motion sickness in those susceptible.
- Battle cursor - The original cursor, which was a barely-visible fixed arrow and a slightly blinking gem, has been upgraded to a fully animated one that slides to different targets. The old code was significantly optimized in the process as well.
Still, some areas need improvement. The animation timing is still clunky, and some actions are simply too fast. This is something I hope to improve before the demo.
You can only say so much with words, so here's a video showcasing the changes:
Also, Azel has received a pretty cut-in graphic similar to Oliver's, which was posted in the last devlog. Just like the last, the lineart was commissioned by the talented Ryuuen.
Cutscene Preview - Introduction
During this time, the story and dialogue has received some significant improvements. The story is nearly fully outlined at this point, and the opening area of the game was completely restructured to fit the new narrative. Still, with all the updates posted, the story is rarely touched on.
Here is a video of the first exchange in the game, between Oliver and Azel:
The sprites here are due for a makeover as well, in time. The text noise can be toggled, but the sound itself may need to be modified before the demo release.
Additional "Under the Hood" Changes
I'm consistently tweaking, and tweaking, and tweaking... Here's a list of some other things that were done:
- Most of Mordin's maps were compacted to help adjust for pixel movement and overall quality.
- The dungeon's puzzles have been arranged in a sensible way, allowing for a ramp up in difficulty.
- Pixel movement continues to be improved on. Event collision is still not the best, but it's better.
- Various bugfixes were made to the battle system in addition to the improvements listed above.
- UX improvements to some of the menus.
While we're still quite a ways out from a public demo, beta testing will be essential in polishing the game up beforehand. If you are interested in helping test an unrefined version of the game when it becomes available, be sure to join the Discord server!
I have some outstanding colleagues that I have commissioned for some of Legend of Astravia's art, music and writing, but ultimately I am still a solo developer. And, because this project is not my full-time job, progress will continue to be delayed at times. The current goal for the kickstarter is September of this year, and the public demo a little bit before.
Quite frighteningly, among all this is a global pandemic. I am very fortunate to have not been affected financially or personally yet, but I wish everyone else out there remains safe in this trying time. As always, thank you for your support. -Jaiden