Category Archives: AetherFall

A (now canceled) programming project in XNA.

The Death of Minimalism?

I noted last week that, unlike the rest of the game, Another Star‘s soundtrack had very little to do with the theme of “minimalism”. The track count continues to grow, by the way, now standing at 34 tracks with more on the way as I go back over and polish everything. But as the soundtrack balloons, the graphics are quickly getting left behind. The more music that gets added to the game, the more the 256 tile limit sticks out like a sore thumb.

Now I’m wondering if I should just abolish the tile limit altogether. I don’t really want to do this. I’m proud of the fact I fit so muchโ€”an entire game, with a sizable overworld and eleven dungeons, and all the enemies to fill themโ€”into a mere 256 tiles! It’s actually quite amazing the ways I came up with to manipulate tiles to create so many different and distinct locations.

But at the end of the day, does anybody really care if I managed to create a game in just 256 tiles? Does the tile limit actually add anything to the game? I’m highly suspicious that the answer to that question is a resounding “NO”.

Now, I suppose I should clarify a few things. Supposing the tile limit does get dropped, the graphics would still adhere to the 8-bit limitations of systems past, but I’d be able to switch between tile sets (like on actual hardware). Furthermore, most of the major scripting on the game is done so I’m not going to completely rewrite the game. I’d probably add frames for NPCs to face directions other than straight down, but they’d still be rooted in position, and cut scenes would still be pretty static. The maps themselves would be a lot more pretty and nice to look at, though, and enemies would also be bigger and more diverse.

I think I’ll sleep on it before I decide what to do. What are your thoughts?

Fate of AetherFall

Right now AetherFall just isn’t coming together like I want. I may need to take the programming assets from this project and carry them over to another one, then return to AetherFall another time after leaving the concept to sit for awhile and “soak”, sort of like a good wine… or… something…

I’d really like to be able to get a game out by the beginning of next year, and the further I get into AetherFall, the more demanding the game is becoming, even after hacking much of the original concept down to size. I’ll talk more about it when I know something for certain.

Stupidity At Its Best

So I added a function in the code that allows the player to skip scenes by tapping the Y button on the controller. I boot up the game to test this and the intro scene for the first level begins to play. My immediant reaction is “Ah man, I’ve got to sit through this scene again so I can test the button that lets me skip this scene!”


Head-Desk Much?

While plodding along in the production of AetherFall, I’ve been working quite a bit using the game’s internal editor to start piecing together the levels. Instead of wasting my time cobbling an overly complicated GUI together for something the player will never see, I took the easy way out. Fore example, if I’m placing a bit of scenery and want to scale it, I hold down the S key on the keyboard and scroll up on the mouse scrollwheel. In the editor, the scroll wheel does the lion’s share of everything that isn’t simple dragging and dropping.

Only, for some reason, things wouldn’t always work how I wanted them. Continuing on with the scaling example, whenever I’d scroll up it would make scenery smaller instead of larger. “Oh,” I thought to myself, “I put ++ where I wanted –.” (In the C, C++, and C# programming languages these increase and decrease a value by one increment respectively.) So I switched them around and went on my way. Still, I seemed to be making this mistake an awful lot whenever I added new features to the editor. Every time I’d hold the key to alter something, scrolling up would decrease the value while scrolling down would increase it. “Oh bother, I’ve done it again.” And so I would go to fix it each time. But even for me, I seemed to be slipping up an awful lot.

It wasn’t until today, some weeks after getting the first parts of the editor together, that I realized why I was making the same mistake over and over again. Put simply, I wasn’t making a mistake at all, at least not in the code for the editor. After skimming through the code for handling the mouse my true mistake became clear: I’d coded the game to signal scrolling up on the scrollwheel as scrolling down and vice versa. ๐Ÿ™

Yay Me!

Just completed (for the most part) the scripting language for AetherFall. It’s complete with variables and if-then-else blocks and such, which should prove useful for writing the game’s events. I’ve never completed any sort of scripting engine before, so this has been a real eye-opener for me. I now both understand and appreciate programming languages a lot more because of it. XD

Surprisingly, it wasn’t as hard as I was dreading it would be, either. Granted, I still have some things to test/debug/clean-up, but the hardest part was simply working out how everything should flow.

The Blog Smells Funny

Q: Is Swordmaster Odyssey dead?

Heavens no! It will probably be a few more weeks before I get back to it, though. Right now my focus is on getting the initial in-game art for AetherFall together, which is no small feat. Once I get a hold on the style I want, and get into the groove of producing it, things should lighten up quite a bit on that end.

Q: Is Sketchbook Monday dead?

No, I just keep putting it off. ๐Ÿ™

Q: Is My Brother dead?

No, my brother is still alive and well unfortunately, and so is My Brother. However, there likely won’t be any work on it until next year. The project has not been canceled, just delayed in favor of AetherFall.

Q: Is Procyon dead.

Yes. As explained before, the project was axed due to major story problems, made even worse by a horde of technical problems. ๐Ÿ™

AetherFall: Dante

AetherFall's Dante
This is Dante, the character you will be playing as in AetherFall. He is a star gazer that studies the night sky along with the many sages and scholars that live in a small community on the far side of Laurooga. His adventure begins when he is sent across the continent to deliver a message. You control him directly in the field as the other units under your command tag along. Dante can fight to some degree using his knife and baton, but his power and hit points are low, so you want to keep him out of trouble as much as possible.

Still can’t quite capture the charm that the militia unit had. ๐Ÿ™

Inked with pigma micron markers on 12f animation paper. Colored in Photoshop.

AetherFall Skirmisher

AetherFall skirmisher unit
If there’s one enemy you don’t want to have, it’s the Kingdom of Venn and their mercenary skirmishers. Lucky for you, these elite troops only fight for their allies, and it just so happens that Dante is one of them. These guys are much stronger and swifter than the simple militia units, and they can take a real beating without giving up ground to the enemy. But that power comes at a price: they’re far more expensive to call up. Skirmishers will be a solid mainstay of your forces throughout the game.

Not quite as satisfied with how this one turned out compared to the militia art. Redrew the head heaven-only-knows how many times, and it still doesn’t look right to me. The shading just isn’t as sharp either. ๐Ÿ™

Inked on 12f animation paper with pigma microns and colored in Photoshop.

AetherFall Militia

Project Legion has finally gotten a proper name: AetherFall. The first bits of promotional art are also coming together, the first being the militia unit you may have seen in today’s Sketchbook Monday feature.

AetherFall militia unit
These militia are cheap to produce and don’t pack much of a punch compared to their stronger allies, but their spears allow them to attack from a distance, shielded by their tougher companions. Consisting primarily of farmers and laborers, these little guys have put everything they have on the line and are relying on you to protect their homes and villages by securing victory in the campaigns ahead. Don’t let them down!

I actually ended up doing the line art for this little dude twice. The first time I did it in pencil like the in-game graphics–but after scanning it I realized that the line quality just wasn’t consistent enough for use outside of the game (web site, print, advertising, etc). In the end, I went back to my good old Pigma Microns. They don’t “flow” as well on paper as a pencil, unfortunantly, but they do give me a solid, dependable line. Well, most of the time anyway.

Inked on 12f animation paper and colored in Photoshop.

Another Project Legion Screenshot

Game prototype screenshot
Slowly piecing the level editor together. This is probably the most tedious part of this stage of development, but it’s starting to really come together. Now I can start putting together some early art and level designs. Pretty soon I’m going to have to start working on the actual art the will be used in-game. (Most of what’s there now is just temporary.)

You can click on the screenshot to see it at full size.