Exilian Projects => Computer Game Development - The Indie Alley => Topic started by: Aure on May 08, 2019, 06:22:06 PM

Title: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on May 08, 2019, 06:22:06 PM
Roadwarden is an interactive fiction
in which you explore and change a hostile, grim realm.


Everyone knows to stay away from the wilderness. Most people would never risk a lonely journey.

Roadwardens not only accept this struggle, they embrace it. They deliver messages, assist merchants, burn human corpses and, if possible, get rid of beasts and highwaymen.

They live on the road, die young or retire early.

It’s a dangerous job, but a respectable one. And it pays well.


Main Features:
You can find more information as well as the free demo on the game's website! (https://moralanxietystudio.com/)


So, hello again! What do you think? Have you got any idea how can we call this game's genre? : P
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on May 08, 2019, 09:02:05 PM
I think it's an adventure game. It includes aspects like stats (eg your health) and an inventory, so it's not purely what I'd think of as interactive fiction, but it's mainly working through trying to get a defined set of choices toward certain outcomes rather than being primarily stats/inventory driven and open so it's not really an RPG - adventure game seems to fit well IMO :)

And it looks great - looking forward to playing it more at some point :)
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on May 09, 2019, 09:25:27 AM
Thank you, Jubal! Some time ago I joined a cool Facebook community that loves retro adventure games, and I feel like labeling my game as an adventure game could be a bit false and maybe even dishonest. I do believe that there are good reason to bring this genre up, though at the same time, the game distances itself from some adventure tropes... I mean - by definition, even all Visual Novels are adventure games, but I think we can agree that there are significant differences between the expectations of a person who wants to play Quest For Glory and of a person who plays a VN. : )
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on May 09, 2019, 12:04:11 PM
Mm, I don't think I agree: I mean, I guess maybe you could pitch it as an adventure game/visual novel crossover in genre terms?

I think Quest for Glory is at the other end of the spectrum where Adventure Game crosses over into RPG, mainly because it has a functioning combat system; I don't think QfG is a very representative adventure game for that reason, most adventure games don't have that sort of RPG style combat at all. I guess the main difference on the other hand between Roadwarden and, say, King's Quest is the feel of the story (Roadwarden is much more serious) and the input method (CYOA style link options vs parser input). But I think the presence of an inventory and modulation options (the mood/attitude buttons) shifts RW out of what I'd consider a visual novel to be and to be quite a bit closer to what I'd think of as an adventure game.
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on May 11, 2019, 12:48:44 PM
I keep thinking that for Most people, adventure games are usually story-heavy puzzle games with 2D front-view graphics and gameplay involving point & click controls / player's text parsers or other popular solutions. I honestly believe that there are so many games that classify as adventure games and, at the same time, merge themselves with other features (like 3D FPP camera) or touch other genres (RPGs, dungeon crawlers, Visual Novels), that this categorization is filled with dead ends.


I love it when a game slowly moves from place holders to the actual graphics. Here you can see the first part of the game’s map - the large “objects” are icons allowing you to select the area you want to visit. Heavily inspired by Baldur’s Gate. ; )

If you think it can still look better, I’ll be happy to see your feedback!

Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Pentagathus on May 12, 2019, 02:48:56 PM
This looks cool.
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on May 12, 2019, 02:49:47 PM
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on May 12, 2019, 03:03:26 PM
Fair enough, we can agree to disagree on the adventure game thing :)

I really like the new map style, it works very well! Will the areas off-road get filled in at all, or is the final map just going to look like a road network with gaps between?
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on May 12, 2019, 07:39:05 PM
Thank you! I haven't decided yet, but the current idea is that I want to make some "dark spaces" open to a) make it easier to add some new, quest-locked areas and b) make it more clear to read, without surrounding the player with unnecessary information.
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Tusky on May 13, 2019, 04:26:19 AM
Looks good!

I like the graphical style you've gone for, and the sepia colour scheme
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on May 18, 2019, 12:56:30 PM
Hello, hello!

It was a busy week and I think I should start writing devlogs about the game’s development, highlighting new features and the general progress. I’d like to share the first post like this starting next week. : )

The coolest part of this week, however, was working on the new picture for the game. Do you remember my castle-tavern? I wanted to draw its interiors. The first attempt, which displays the exteriors as well, was a failure. It doesn’t allow to show that many details and limits the scope of furniture while also ruining the proportions, even if I’d add buttons allowing to hide and show specific floors.


But the new one feels great to me. For me, it feels cozy. It feels like I can’t help but imagine all the stories that started (or ended) here.


What do you think? Do you like it?
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on May 19, 2019, 10:15:57 PM
I think I feel less negatively than you do about the first attempt, though I agree that I think the second attempt is really good and works well :)

I think the only thing that feels a bit off is some of the proportioning. The beds in particular seem tiny, and the windows seem pretty high in relation to that - I assume they're smallish windows because it's a defensive structure, but then you probably still want them to be accessible and reachable by defenders who might want to shoot out of them.
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on May 20, 2019, 08:12:20 AM
Thank you, Jubal! I personally feel like these windows are not a part of the castle's defenses, unlike the embrasures in the tower behind the main building, but rather as a way to let in some air and sunlight during the warmer days. The tower and the walls are meant to serve as the lines for defenders, but the inn in itself serves mostly as an inn - if the monsters are under the door, it means you already lost and all you can do is lock yourself in and hope they won't be able to get inside. : P If they can get through the walls, they almost surely can get to the ground-floor windows. But if they try to get through the main entrance, at least you have a lot of space to strike them!

Thank you also for pointing out the beds, I still have to decide if I like them or not. : P The one in a separate room is larger... Maybe I could Try to draw the furs on the floor instead, though it would be a bit hard.
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on May 20, 2019, 10:35:59 AM
Maybe it would help to draw a person-size comparison figure as a separate layer in your piece (not to be included in the final thing) and shift it around the building graphic to check the scale of different parts matches up? That's what I'd do.
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on May 25, 2019, 02:06:41 PM
A new feature added - having an option to end the game! : P

Since Roadwarden is going to have a very unusual story structure and is, in some way, an open world game, I expect that not everyone is going to complete it in 100%. So, you’re going to be able to finish the game whenever you want - even in the middle of the tutorial. And if you want, you can always read a summary of your journey (which will get more and more detailed as your playthrough goes on) to let you know how much of a “good” ending you’ve earned up to this point

And yes - these endings are going to be heavily personalized. The one you see in the video, for example, belongs to a PC whose main goal is the wish to help people. Other characters have a bit different endings.

The entire “ending” section is still in an early WIP. It’s going to have additional graphics and maybe even an interface looking more like the game’s prologue, but for now it’s fine as it is. : )


By the way... Have you seen the game’s first devlog? (https://www.indiedb.com/games/roadwarden/news/first-steps-after-the-announcement-roadwarden-devlog)

I was planning to focus on writing the new scenes for Roadwarden, but I decided to change my approach. Since the demo of the game received quite a bit of attention and a lot of helpful feedback (which includes one game-crashing bug), here are the plans for the nearby future:

Monday, May 25th - new devlog focused on the “genre” of the game (why is it an RPG / Visual Novel / text adventure hybrid : P).
Friday, May 31st -  the new demo of the game (with few fixes and some additional features).
Saturday, June 1st -  a video presenting the entire “tutorial” section of the game. For those who’d like to just see a couple of bits without sinking into the entire thing.
Monday, June 3rd - a regular devlog explaining the new features from the demo and some other changes.

After that point, the demo will no longer be updated unless a game-breaking bug will be spotted.
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on May 27, 2019, 09:16:49 PM
Jubal, take a look at what I have here (https://www.indiedb.com/games/roadwarden/news/an-rpg-visual-novel-text-adventure-hybrid-is-a-mouthful-roadwarden-devlog). : P
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on May 27, 2019, 11:20:10 PM
Yes that summarises the issues pretty well I think :)
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on May 28, 2019, 11:55:20 AM
If you have any counterpoints or would like to present a different take, I'd be happy to talk about it. : )
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on June 01, 2019, 12:36:56 PM
The new version of the demo is now available (https://moral-anxiety.itch.io/roadwarden), and not only it has multiple minor and major fixes, but also some bits of additional content.

Unless a large bug will be found, I currently assume that the version 0.3 won’t be updated in the nearby future. And it should be able to fairly portray the gist of what I want Roadwarden to be.

If you haven’t played the demo before, this is the version that I would recommend. However, if you’ve already play it through, you may be interested in checking out the following changelog. A deeper look will be available on Monday, in the new devlog.

The Mac version is now available.
Though it’s not tested very well. If you find any issues, please let me know.

The achievements don’t kill you anymore.
I’m surprised (and relieved) that only one person have encountered this problem. From now on, clicking on the received achievement won’t crash the game.

You can switch the font to a pixel one.
Whenever you want, you can switch between a pixel-artish font (which looks nice) and the regular font (which is easier to read). The regular font is still used by default.

Now you can actually beat the game! (and unlock the worst endings)
A new icon on the map allows you to complete the game, even in the very first morning. The “ending” section doesn’t have illustrations yet, but is altered by the goal that you’ve chosen for your character.

Added new travel descriptions.
If you’re in the Southern Crossroads and move either to the dolmen or the tavern for the first time, you’ll see examples of the new travel descriptions. This tool will also make random encounters much easier to implement.

Added a couple of options to the dolmen.
Parsers in the dolmen respond now to more commands. Also, a small bug involving the secret was fixed.

Rolling back works better with various menus (like map and sleeping).
Using a mouse or keyboard to “roll back” when a map or other complex menu are displayed sometimes created issues. From now on, it will only close the displayed menus, without instantly jumping back.

Pointing at your HP is now more elegant.
It won’t cover the main narration and is generally more responsive.

Fixed some typos and rephrased a couple of things.
Among the major changes - the inventory descriptions are now significantly more polished and the “choices” are more consistent.

And here is the latest devlog (https://www.indiedb.com/games/roadwarden/news/an-rpg-visual-novel-text-adventure-hybrid-is-a-mouthful-roadwarden-devlog), portraying the problems with labeling the game through traditional genres.

Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on June 08, 2019, 12:52:07 PM
Whenever you encounter new NPCs in Roadwarden, you can select one of the 5 attitudes to impact the first impression you're going to make. Attitudes affect the tone of the conversation, what the NPCs think about you and what dialogue choices will be available to you in the future.

A group of bandits surrounds you. Some of them hold swords, others have loaded crossbows. Do you try to ease the tension by being friendly? Do you try to intimidate them? Do you act vulnerably, hoping they spare you?

Do you like what attitudes can you currently choose from? Do you think there should be any more?

Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on June 08, 2019, 11:42:58 PM
I think it's a good set. I guess I feel like maybe an "annoying" one could have its uses, to get a character to chase your or get them to dislike you without actually trying to puff yourself up and scare them - so then you'd have two positive/friendly attitudes (playful and friendly), two neutral to weak attitudes (Distanced and Vulnerable) and two antagonistic attitudes (Intimidating and Taunting/Annoying).
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on June 09, 2019, 06:50:30 PM
Interesting! I saw other suggestions as well, but I think "annoying" would be a bit weird. I would not introduce options such as "I'm annoying so people are chasing me into the forest", and maybe these taunts would work better for me if introduced as dialogue options instead of first-contact attitudes.

Thank you for giving me something to think about, Jubal!
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on June 09, 2019, 09:52:06 PM
Yes, I guess it might be better as a dialogue option, that's a fair point. :)
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Tusky on June 17, 2019, 11:14:36 AM
Maybe evasive? Or perhaps better: coercive. That might be the same as what you were saying about annoying, though. In that trying to trick them is more of a dialogue option.

Perhaps offish? Like be snooty and aloof?
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: bigosaur on June 20, 2019, 08:40:20 AM
I love the color palette and the game looks overall. You have some very nice visuals and it will attract attention from players for sure.
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on June 22, 2019, 12:50:59 PM
Thank you, Bigosaur! I can only hope and try. : P

@Tusky - Thank you as well! I think "offish" was what I had in mind when I decided to write "distanced." It's possible that I should change it.

So, my “break” is over! I’m back into the full-dev mode and it feels great. <3

I’m working on the dialogues for the first tavern. There’s a lot of things to talk about and to do here, and guess what. You don’t even Have to come here, and if you’re aggressive toward the innkeeper, you’ll just get thrown out. Choose your Attitudes wisely!

Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on June 23, 2019, 11:45:58 AM
The innkeeper sounds like a good character :) Good to see more progress!
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on June 29, 2019, 02:43:45 PM
Hi, I'm Aureus and I love dialogues.

But seriously, how much can you do in a single tavern?

And yes, you still are going to be able to beat the game without ever going to this area.

Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on July 07, 2019, 04:26:16 PM
Writing big dialogue trees is definitely a skill - well done!

How've things been going lately? I saw you were at a castle for some convention or other?

Also, Roadwarden got the top spot in the most recent Updates :)
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on July 08, 2019, 06:54:12 AM
Cheers, Jubal! The game is moving slowly, especially since a large chunk of my time was centered around the two 1-hour speeches I've prepared for the convention. I spent days on writing and rewriting them, and I've practiced each one of them at least twenty times... But they went great, it was a large ego-boost to me to see what a positive feedback I've received. <3

Also, a week ago I've written a devlog that gets deeper into how the dialogue writing looks... I'm still rewriting and adding new pieces, but you may be interested in the cogs behind the scenes. https://www.indiedb.com/games/roadwarden/news/writing-dialogues-for-the-clean-spear-tavern-roadwarden-devlog
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on July 08, 2019, 09:23:14 AM
Wow, two hours of speaking time? That's a LOT. I'm used to having to condense everything for my academic conferences into 20 mins, 30 at most (and for political conferences even less). Really cool and good that they went well! :)
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on July 13, 2019, 12:55:57 PM
What a fruitful week this was.

The dialogues for the tavern that I’ve been working on for weeks are now finished. Adding all the conversations for the guards increased the volume by a third, but the more I wrote, the more I was sure it was a good idea. The throw-away NPC now has a lot of personality, and I’ve added a lot of new things which will impact the game even in the later stages.


After finishing with this place, I took some time to draw. Two completely different areas:
1. A ruined village. The Imperial forests are dangerous and unfriendly, forcing the hamlets and villages to grow as slowly, as they can. If humankind affects the nature too much, too fast - the monsters arrive to take back what belongs to them.


2. At the edge of the swamp, a large tree stands for as long as anyone remembers. It has no leaves, yet slowly grows. To stay alive, however, it has to be fed by the locals, who put their offerings on an ancient altar.


Drawing still consumes a lot of time, but what now takes me a day or two, just half a year ago would be literally impossible for me. Or would require two weeks and dozens of redraws. Feels good to grow.
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on July 13, 2019, 07:37:34 PM
It feels odd that the ruined village only has two small breaches in its stockade but most of the buildings inside look collapsed - I'd expect the stockade to decay far more quickly or be more damaged? Though I guess it depends how long you want it to have been abandoned/ruined for...
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on July 13, 2019, 11:01:48 PM
Thank you, Jubal! In my mind the buildings were purposefully destroyed and partially burnt, they weren't just consumed by time.

But it is an interesting thought. How long can a palisade really stand without maintenance. It's wood, after all.
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on July 20, 2019, 02:01:03 PM
I’ve made a huge progress as far as the graphics go. I now have enough material to spend a couple of weeks writing dialogues, encounters and modifying the game’s features. I need to make some large changes, and all of them are going to be great.

Here are some examples of the latest advancements:
1. The druids’ cave, locked behind a metal door. What can be found inside? Is it just a shelter, a prison, a treasure chamber? After all the first things you see when you get nearby, are the garden patches with herbs and veggies. 
And you can see how much your feedback can impact the picture.

2. The shop screen is looking much better now, though it still needs some work. Next stop - adding a separate icon to display the money in player’s possession, replacing parts of the item descriptions.

3. A camp in a destroyed building, a part of the ruined village presented here last week. Iron and steel are rare and valuable resources, no wonder that someone would try to scavenge for them in an old, abandoned settlement.

I don’t have enough time to take care of all the ideas I want to pursue right now, but there’s a good chance that a new version of the demo is going to be available in August, Though maybe not, maybe I should focus on developing all of the core areas that the player can visit and quests they can be a part of.

I would love to know what you think!

(Bonus devlog!) (https://moral-anxiety.itch.io/roadwarden/devlog/90099/banging-my-head-against-a-brick-wall-roadwarden-devlog)
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on July 20, 2019, 08:54:11 PM
Yeah, I think the main thing I'm interested in is how you're going to make the sheer number of possibilities meaningful in this - the choose your own adventure style options interacting with e.g. item availability, and then your whole additional multifaceted mood options system, gives you so many possibilities that you must have a lot of branching decision paths.
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on July 21, 2019, 08:46:11 AM
I definitely have to keep a couple of tricks in play, like the classic "fake" branching (when branches lead to the same point, but in a slightly different way) or "summarized" branching (like when an accessibility of an option is based on a summary of some points that you've gathered up to this point). These tricks have already a long history behind them. But as you may remember, this is kind of what I aim for - I want to cut away balancing battles and detailed visuals and put all of my effort into making the illusion as vivid as I can.

The game's world helps here a lot. Sure, some areas have quests related to other areas, some characters will move around or impact other places... But in general, most people have no idea what happens in other parts of the world. You move around, change your surrounding, but it's completely understandable that when you get to a new village, they have no clue what sort of trail is behind you. It's a very convenient part of my worldbuilding preparations. : P

Let me know if I'm too vague or you would like me to get deeper into some details.
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on August 03, 2019, 08:19:36 AM
It’s difficult to decide what to showcase today, I hope it’s fine if I drop a whole bunch of pics:

Here are some of the latest advancements:
1. The Roadwarden's world is growing! New areas are now also visible on the traveling map.

2. I'm currently writing a detailed scene for the ruined village that I've shared here before. The overall "exploration" system of this area is all set and done, and works completely fine. My later edits will surely change various areas and add some new content, but I'm happy about where this is going.

3. The shop screen is now much easier to comprehend and simply prettier. Thanks to the "Trade" button in the quick menu, you can also open the shop without having to choose a specific dialog option during a conversation.

4. The new section of the journal will now include NPC descriptions and, even more importantly, names. It's a solution born from necessity - I can't expect that everyone is going to remember all the character names and detailed information about them.

5. The dialogue I'm currently working on... Is referencing Scottish accents too cliche for fantasy writing in 2019? : P

And, of course, new rewrites, bug fixes, new content, quests...
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on August 17, 2019, 01:06:54 PM
After over 3 weeks of writing new dialogues, events, items, interactions and one large side quest for Roadwarden, all of this content is finally a part of the actual game.

Here are some of the latest advancements:
1. An example of how combat looks in the game. As well as the “escorting” quests. No grinding for XP, no following a character for 5-10 minutes. A couple of simple clicks, decision making and if you can, you prepare yourself before the encounter happens. Nice and sweat, with an open field for role-playing.

2. Time is going to matter, just as intended. If you postpone the quest for too long, you can still complete it - but it won’t be a happy end for the quest giver. Also, you can express how your character is perceiving this situation.

3. My English improves with practice, and I have in plans taking a huge step back and editing the entire tutorial section. Yikes.

4. IDK, I just really like this NPC. : P So far, I like all of my NPCs. You will be able to recognize which ones I don’t like by measuring how little to do and dialogues they have attached to them.

5. New inventory section! It still requires some improvements, but it’s not too bad!

I’m really getting better at adding the content to the game files - in the beginning, I was spending days fixing broken code and trying to figure out how it should be actually organized. Now? A couple of mistakes, some oversights, a couple of hours and bam, everything works just fine.
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Jubal on August 18, 2019, 11:30:20 PM
It all looks great :)

(Pernickety question, but... aren't birds definitionally bipedal?)
Title: Re: Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]
Post by: Aure on August 19, 2019, 06:39:41 AM
waaaait a sec...