We started our project in 2014 and casually worked on the foundation of our game over the years. The project was mainly a hobby and a way for us to improve our skills by making something productive. Around this same date one year ago (in 2017), we created our first functional game client! Let's take a look at how far along we've come in that time!
Starting out in 2014, our programmer, Abi, was learning and experimenting with networking code. This particularly important part of the code allows multiple computers to connect to the game server. It allows players to see each other move, chat, and attack in realtime! Meanwhile, our artist, Danno, was creating the base player sprite - a naked male and female character. He also created some basic equipment and hairstyles to start out with, which allows players to customize their appearance and have a unique character.
Our initial goal was seemingly simple: to have a 2D isometric sprite capable of standing, walking, sitting, and chatting. Creating multiplayer online functionality and making good quality pixel art proved to be difficult, resulting in slow development while we increased our knowledge and skills. We created, scrapped, and recreated several test clients, as well as going through several changes to the base sprite's details and walking animation. Throughout the years, we had some success, but we had a lot of desync issues and weird bugs with our clients. In October 2017, we finally achieved our basic goal!
Besides multiplayer functionality and being able to move and chat, we implemented mapping functionality (including floor tiles, floor decor, objects, wall tiles, wall decor, and environments such as barriers) and the basic HUD.
We continued developing the HUD to make the interface a little more presentable. We added the ability to sit in chairs, created more graphical assets to build the world with, and continued working on player customization. At this point, we had to use text commands to change equipment or hairstyles. The male base sprite was also still going through revisions, and the female base sprite is created afterwards using the male as a template, so we didn't have a complete female sprite yet.
Abi coded in map functionality that allows players to 'warp' to a different map if they step on a certain tile. We place these 'warps' in doorways so that the player is taken to a new map when they enter a door. He also continued solidifying the foundation by making the game run smoother with fewer desync issues.
When the server and game client became stable enough, we had some friends connect to the game to see if it could handle more people. Every player had access to the admin's "kick" command, which causes a targeted user to be removed from the game. This command was intended for removing troublemakers from the game or to help a player who couldn't log out properly due to a bug. It was a little chaotic with everyone having this power!
We worked hard to add more basic functionality, including an inventory system, equipment system, title screen, and account creation.
With the inventory implemented, we were able to change equipment in a more user friendly fashion, so we removed the old text commands. We made it so players could equip items by double-clicking it in their inventory, then unequip it by right-clicking the item within their profile (or simply double-click a different item to replace your current equipment).
We were spreading the word about our game a little and had a small community interested in trying it out. We made plans to have a closed test in mid-December, allowing the general public to gain access to our game for the first time! For our audience's amusement, we created two mazes for them to go through. Our game didn't have any sort of combat system or anything else to work with, but being able to create maps and have warp points allowed us to make mazes, at least. In these mazes, the player would literally walk through it with their own character to reach the end. Having over 20 players online, the test was a huge success!
After the excitement of our closed test, we wanted to make the game a little more 'worth playing' by adding more features, more maps, and fixing bugs. We added many things, including a global chat channel (allows players to talk to each other even if they're on different maps), a private messages system, interface upgrades, more equipment, more mapping assets, and a character creation system. Previously, players could create an account and login as a character that has the same name as the account name. With the character creation system, players would login, then choose from 1 of up to 4 created characters! This system also let players choose their hair color, hairstyle, gender, eyes, and mouth without any awkward text commands.
While Abi continued work on the character creation/selection, Danno spent the month working on player attack animations! In order to truly complete the base sprite and be able to create permanent equipment assets, all the attack animations needed to be planned and completed. Attacks/skills weren't ready to be implemented yet, but this was an important part of the game's foundation. We wanted to have a wide variety of attack animations so that combat would look more interesting in the future.
Attack animation sample.
Creating the attack animations was a massive task and actually continued through March, all the way into April. Meanwhile, we implemented a friend list system, allowing you to add other players and conveniently see if they're online. We updated various other graphics, fixed miscellaneous bugs, and began implementing a treasure chest system.
Both the male and female base sprite sheets, complete with attack animations, were finally completed in April! The old equipment from the closed test was only capable of standing, sitting, and walking, so all of it needed to be updated for compatibility with attack animations. Several new hairstyles were added, including the entire "hanging hair" category. Hairstyle customization is comprised of: color, base style, length, and hanging hair, allowing for hundreds of possibilities!
Chest functionality was completed, allowing players to find loot in the world. Signpost functionality was added, as well, allowing players to gain information such as directions or clues by reading signs.
Although there was still much to add to the game, we wanted to release it to the public and let people play freely. In fact, we were wanting to do so since January, but we just kept on adding stuff! We were worried the game might be too bland in such an early state, but we were eager to show the fruits of our labor.
To give players something they hadn't already seen (from our closed test), we made new mapping assets, including a set of tiles to create caves with, a fence, and more details for buildings. We made several new maps, scrapping most of the old ones due to incompatibility with our changes/updates. We hid chests all over the world and had various items spawn in them, giving players the goal of exploring and collecting new loot! On May 12, 2018, we released the game to the public.
Releasing to the public was still only the beginning, though! We continued development throughout May, including plans for monsters, shops, crafting, and changing your hairstyle at a barber shop. We created 1 monster to test with and created the assets for shops, as well as hair changing.
Many important combat features were implemented in June, including basic monster AI, the ability for players to attack monsters, level up, and compete in simple PvP. New maps, new map assets, and new equipment was also added, as usual. Re:Spite v2 was publicly released on June 23, 2018!
Lacking general content, we started working on more equipment, more monsters, and more areas to explore. We implemented the "save point", allowing players to choose a designated respawn point when they die. Monster drops were added, causing monsters to randomly drop items when defeated. Shops were added, as well, allowing players to sell monster drops and buy new equipment. Shops include a pixel art drawing of an NPC, as well as a full portrait drawing. On July 29, 2018, v3 was released to allow players to take part in these economic developments!
To make player interaction a little more fun, we started working on a custom emote system. Through this system, players can choose an eye/mouth combo, save it as a hotkey, then use the hotkey to temporarily change their expression at any time. Players can make a face that's happy, sad, angry, silly, or anywhere in between! Abi mainly worked on bug fixes and performance improvements while Danno worked on creating more NPCs, 1 new monster, and some interface stuff, including an experience progress bar and a crafting interface.
Little did the players know, when Danno finished the base sprite sheet with all attack animations, he didn't completely update all of the old equipment. Over the months, he slowly whittled away at it, finally getting it over with in September. It was time consuming and not exactly glamorous - it was equipment that players already obtained and equipped, so they wouldn't know the difference about the attack animations that weren't in use yet. New equipment and mapping assets were also created, as well as a "Settings" interface. The base sprite also went under some revisions to make the female sprite a little more different compared to the male sprite.
Meanwhile, Abi continued work on implementing the custom emote system, experience bar, hairstylist interface, and performance improvements. Custom profile messages were also implemented, allowing players to write a personal message on their own profile for the world to see!
Abi finished adding the features that were in progress from September. He also implemented music and volume controls! Our musician composed tracks for the game several months ago - at long last, they were added to the game. New equipment was added, including the implementation of "masks", a new equipment layer. The world was expanded with new maps, as well. On October 22, 2018, v4 was released!
One Year Later
And that's where we are after one year of development! From our earlier years of development, we had a simple base sprite, one set of equipment, and enough mapping assets to create a brick house on a grassy outdoor area with trees, water, and bridges. Players could only walk around, sit down, and chat.
Today, we have several maps with different themes; besides grassy fields, we have caves, beaches, and dark forests. Players can freely create their own appearance, kill monsters, level up, collect loot to earn gold, buy/sell items at shops, compete in PvP, read signs, access treasure chests, chat globally or through private messages, add friends and mute foes, and express themselves with custom emotes, all while listening to our original soundtrack! The amount of equipment options and monsters continue to increase in our continuously expanding 2D world.
We still have a lot of work to do to make the game more engaging, but I'd say we've come a long way! special thanks to our community for sticking around and being there every step of the way as our game grows. As a 3 man team of indie developers, it means a lot to us to have everyone's support and feedback.
We hope to see you in-game and in our community, too! Come join in the 2D isometric fun!