For March, a majority of the focus was done on getting the UI polished and closer to a final state. Specifically, the UI for the player menu (inventory, squad selection, formation, equipment, logs, and codex), the starting main menu, and the escape popup are all completed now! Additionally, the AI for the enemies have been modified so that it's easier to define the different classes which will make development in the future much easier!
To make the gameplay interesting, there needs to be a way for there to be different archetypes of enemy AI so that they will react to different situations in a specific way. For example, if a healer is low on health, they should prioritize either healing or running away since they are generally weak. Whereas a low health berserker class would go into full attack mode, in a final last stand. There was a system in place that was able to specify these archetypes but configuring them was not efficient in terms of development time. The new system allows me to be able to set states for certain enemy type based on their health percentage, aggressiveness stat, and the combat map state. This means there's now the flexibility to have an aggressive healer or a cautious berserker!
The Journey Begins
I felt like since the main menu is the first thing that you see, then it needed to be able to set the tone of the game right off the bat! First thing I did was look at other JRPGs and what their main menus looked like to get a reminder and some inspiration. It might be a trope at this point, but I really like the main menu concept where the main cast of characters are on some hill looking out into the distance. Bright Red Skies is a post-apocalyptic JRPG so I also made sure to show a barren wasteland, ruined buildings, and a geared up party.
The player menu contains the most amount of information all in one place. You can look at your inventory, change your squad setup, update the battle formation, modify the equipment being used, look at a log of the events that have occurred, and read through the codex containing game lore! There's a lot to display so a good amount of time was spend making sure that the interactions work as intended. Here's the result:
The equipment screen where you can edit the equipment used by each squad:
The squads menu for modifying the current squad lineup:
The inventory where you can check your items, categorized by type:
The formation menu where you can change initial position each squad will appear on during a battle:
The logs and codex screen, as well as the general overview:
Final UI Stuff
Nothing really special here, but there's now a generic escape menu popup that can let you change the settings or exit the game. Right now, there's only the basic settings that can be changed but in the future, I'd like to have advanced settings like faster battle animation speed and auto dialogue completion.
Behind the scenes
I always like to add this section to give some more insight on the smaller things that are being done, that don't necessarily need their own section. So, here's some of the little things that were done:
- In combat scene, the action bar has clickable icons that are responsive.
- When making a movement command, show a line for the path that the squad will take.
- Fixed movement bug (which was found when showing the line haha)
- When selecting a multi-targeting ability, the camera will zoom to fit all targets in the screen.
So now it's officially April and the goal is to release a very early closed pre-alpha demo at the end of the month! This is mainly to figure out how the game feels like for other people and if the performance is decent. The demo will be missing a fairly large chunk of what will be there in the final release version, but I feel like getting people other than me to play the game can only be a good thing.
The final things that need to be completed for April are:
- Dialogue written
- Putting the scenes together
- Balancing the stats decently
- Music (?)
- Disclaimer when starting and completing the demo
If you want to check out the demo, you can contact me on any of the social media below (Discord is probably the best place to contact me) and I can send you a download link when it becomes available! All testers of the demo will have their name inserted in the final release version of the game. The names will probably be on a memorial statue that list all the testers, but I'm floating the idea of having the very active testers have an NPC named after them!