Please note that all screen shots displayed in this blog are works in progress and in no way represent the appearance of the final game. Check out the main site here.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

What a Great Show!

We were very excited a while back to be invited to fly to Sydney Australia and present our game to a huge audience at the GAME On Festival! Naturally, we said yes, packed our bags and flew down!

They weren't really expecting us to make the trip, but hell, we were to excited to have our little indie title invited along to a proper gig like this! When we turned up, we were ushered through the buildings by security while all the attendees waited outside looking very jealous that we were getting in before them and we were shown to our booth. We were lucky enough to have been allocated a booth right at the bottom of the entrance stairwell to the huge room where the indie dev teams were setting up. They must have liked the look of our game!

I (Alex) was there pretty early with Rachel (our lead artist) so we had about an hour to set up. Our booth was outfitted with posters of game art, concept work and screenshots, a large pullup banner (which you might remember us getting printed up a while back) and a giant LCD screen for us to show off our work on. I was ready with my Alienware m17x so that I could crank the game up to its maximum graphics settings and really show people how pretty our game could be!

By that stage the rest of the team had made it there, and I finally got to meet two of our team members in the flesh! Catching up with David "Aussieroth" Doyle in person was quite an experience. You may recognize him as the voice of the celtic warrior hero pack and also the lizardman, but hearing his voice in person was quite awe inspiring! I gave him his branded t-shirt and we awaited the thronging masses!

Then the doors opened and the waves came down! Right away I could tell it was going to be a busy day! It was amazing. Everyone wanted to learn more about Malevolence! We must have played the trailer about 30 times and while no-one was playing the game real-time on the big screen, we had gameplay footage rolling (which was more often than not since I was regularly being asked questions).

While we were playing and talking, we had Rachel and Angus (two of our artists) having a bit of a free-drawing session of some concept work live on the stand while people watched, and it was incredible watching people's amazement and awe as the drawings came to life! Rachel in particular was churning out masterpieces like these:

So everyone was amazed. We also got to meet some other indie game devs who were very friendly and supportive of our project. We wanted to go and check out their games too, but we were just swamped with people! I had to man the stand constantly and let the others take turns going off to eat/drink/etc because as one group of fans left another would arrive! It was great to see. We gave out lots of flyers and promotional magnets for people, which was awesome to see, and hopefully we'll get a few more people tracking the project out of it!

So all around it was an incredible experience. We had been dreading our first convention after reading stories from our idols doing it in the past, but the guys at GAME On and all the people who came to say hi made it a simply wonderful experience for us! We hope that there are many more like it! And soon!

From left to right: David "Aussieroth" Doyle (voice actor), Nyssa "Sarzee" Norton (Lead writer and supplemental artist), Alex "CumQuaT" Norton (Creative Director, Lead Developer and 3D Art Lead), Angus Olsen (Matte Painter and Concept Artist) and Rachel Birchnoff (Lead Content Artist and Designer)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Convention Time!

So tomorrow our team packs up and leaves for Sydney, Australia to attend the GAME On Festival, where we have been invited to present Malevolence! We're very excited about it and looking forward to it greatly. So the next few posts you see from us will be showing you pictures and maybe even some video of us pimping the game!

Until then!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Get Your Read On!

You probably don't realise this, but Malevolence: The Sword of Ahkranox has a rich and detailed back-story and in-game history, and its world will be chock full of books filled with history, poetry, stories and journal entries that flesh this story out for you as you play. It's entirely up to the player wether they read things or not, but doing so will help them understand more about the rich, interesting world that they are in.

Due to this, we've finally knocked out the reading feature!

So now while you're traipsing around in the game, you'll come across all sorts of books to read, filled with all sorts of interesting tidbits. We have three writers on the project and will likely get many many more once the full version swings into gear! But expect to find all sorts of fun little glimpses into the world of Ahkranox when you play the demo at the end of the year!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Early days, but still...

So we're nearly at the completion of the dungeon portion of the game, and, just for fun, we've started playing with linking the procedural engine in with countryside generation. You've seen some early countryside videos before, but they were mostly hand-designed, rather than procedural. Take a look at this short clip:

So this is SUPER early of course. Still no trees or other obstacles and with REALLY dodgy texturing, and also no water bodies or towns yet, but it's a start! This will develop RAPIDLY, so keep an eye on the updates here. What you see in the video there is a roughly 3x3km area of terrain that was designed entirely by the computer. It created those hills and the little valley between them, etc. Our engine manages to create some really natural looking shapes, which we're very happy with.

So yeah, this will look much better quite soon, so keep an eye out!

And just for fun, and to keep you updated, here's a look at the new widescreen interface for those of us who will be playing the game on widescreen or hi-def monitors!

Enjoy that, and we'll be back soon!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Vast World of Ahkranox

So I can't remember if we mentioned it, but the demo of the game is going to now have a much larger countryside exploration portion. The original plan was for quite a small area of countryside to be playable by the user, but now we want to expand that and let people have a real play with the outside world and see what they think. The finished area people will be able to explore will be something around 3x3 kilometers (about 1.8x1.8 miles for the imperials). We've been playing around with the procedural terrain generation for a while, but now we're starting to see it get put into 3D, which is awesome.
It's still super early days, so don't expect much, but here's a quick preview of a 3x3km area of terrain that has been procedurally generated by the engine :D

Things to note with this:
- Yeah, no textures yet
- No details, either (trees, rocks, etc)
- No rivers or valleys yet, just doing height maps for now
- If you're wondering about the high poly count, it's because that screenshot is the land area being seen from about 5km in the air.

To give you an idea of the scale of this. each one of those squares is a grid space for the player to walk on.

Since we're nearly finished with the dungeons, HEAPS more work will be happening on outdoor environments in the coming weeks before demo release!

Talk again soon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Quick one...

Just a quick post to show off the magical weapon that will be hidden somewhere in the demo for people to find! It is called The Blade of the Dokkalfar and was designed by Natalie Jane!

That's the in-game model, by the way :D

In the full version, magical weapons - along with most other things - will be procedurally generated, but in the demo, there will be a limited list of things you can find.

Until next time! Exciting things coming soon, so stay tuned!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Trap Disarming is Done :)

So now when your "near trap" gem lights up, you can start searching the floor and ceiling for traps! If you're lucky enough, you'll find one before it finds you. But even if you do manage to find it, you now have to disable the trap by navigating one of the blue gems from the gold slot to the silver slot. Sometimes you'll be lucky and get a trap that has three gems and rusty pincers, other times you'll be unlucky and only get one gem and some very well-oiled, fast moving pincers. Either way, you only need to get one gem into the silver slot to disarm the trap permanently!

For those who hate minigames, there are in-game items that disarm traps automatically. Not just scrolls, but mechanical aids as well, which are good for several uses :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We totally listen to you guys...

So we've had a bit of noise coming our way about the "snap" movement of the camera when you let go of the free-look button. As you would have seen in previous videos, the camera just sort of snaps back to one of the 90 degree angles. N, S, E or W.

However NOW, the camera will gently glide into those angles, making for a much less jarring interface :)

We also added an (optional) bob animation when you move, just in case you decide you like that sort of thing. Having it enabled also does away with the "on rails" effect that is easy to develop with games like this! Let us know what you think!

P.S. Please ignore the numbers being printed onto the screen. They're for our testing and won't be there in the final game.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Amazing Voices

Hello again!

Now that they're all together in one place, I thought I'd take some time to do up a post celebrating the incredible voice cast that we have on this project. We have been lucky to not only find some wonderful new talent, but have been amazingly fortunate to get on board some internet celebrities from the fan dubbing community! Due to their amazing contributions to the project, Malevolence has grown and evolved into something far deeper and more formed than I could have possibly ever predicted when I started out the project two years ago. Every day I am humbled to be in the presence of so much talent.
Their voices, coupled with the incredibly emotive musical scores of Nicolas Lee and the wonderfully delicious sound effects of Roland Shaw are turning this game into something truly wonderful. So please take the time to listen to and admire these wonderful individuals!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Disarming Traps

So after much thought and consideration, we decided that it wouldn't be fair to make trap disarming based on a skill number. Malevolence is an infinite game, so people will eventually get their skill levels up to ludicrous levels. So instead, we wanted to make it have a more natural feel. And how better to do that than with a challenging mini-game!
Here's a VERY early example of what you'll encounter when you locate and attempt to disarm a mechanical trap in a dungeon:

So basically, the aim will be to successfully move one of the blue gems from one end of the trench to the other, and insert it into the socket WITHOUT the gem getting crushed by one of the pincers in the mechanism. The mechanism will also be linked in with the procedural level generation, so some traps will be easier to disarm than others. The number of gems is also important. You only need to get ONE of the blue gems to the other end of the chute to disarm the trap, but sometimes you will get 2 or 3 chances to do it, whereas other times you'll just get the one. If you fail to disarm the trap, then it is forever locked in an active state and the only way to pass it is to go through it. But then again, you may be lucky and have a scroll or spell to do the job for you...

But yeah, this way, it's based on luck and skill of the player, and not points that can be buffed.

We'll also be coming up with a separate mini-game for picking locks on some doors and chests! The difference of course being that to pick a lock, you need to have lockpicks, but to disarm the trap you just need your wits about you, and a quick mouse-hand!

We'd love to know what you think of this system! Just keep in mind that what you see in the video is a VERY early example of what it will be like. More a proof of concept than anything...

But we think it'd make a swell smartphone game!

Until next time!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Spiky Situations...

So traps are finally working! We decided that killing monsters, finding secrets and looting wasn't enough excitement for dungeons, so we put in traps! When a trap is nearby, your sixth sense will tell you by sounding a chime and lighting up the right-hand crystal down the bottom of the viewport (as you'll see in the video). From that point on, you need to tread very carefully, as traps could be ANYWHERE, and will release the moment you step on their square.

So yeah, kinda cool, hey! Turn the volume up for extra scariness! In the demo there will be 5 different trap types:
  • Spike traps - Plunge down vicious, rusty spikes into the player, taking out a chunk of damage, but then they retract back and the trap is re-set. This trap will go off every time the player steps in that square, unless it is deactivated somehow.
  • Rock slide - Dumps rubble and debris down onto the player, causing a large amount of damage, however, this trap can only go off once. But if it's spotted, the player can attempt to deactivate it before they step into the square.
  • Pit trap - The most deadly of the mechanical traps. This trap drops the player down into a spiked pit, killing them instantly. It can, however, be deactivated if spotted first.
  • Magical Fire trap - This trap is always visible and immolates the area around it with dragon fire when it goes off, and will go off every time it is walked through unless it is deactivated.
  • Magical Gas trap - This trap is always visible and releases poisonous gas into the area around it when it goes off, and will go off every time it is walked through unless it is deactivated.
So how do you spot traps? The player will be able to check the floors and ceilings and do a trap check. If the trap check says that it's safe, you can walk through, however, players with a weak level of skill may see a square as being trap-free when it's actually dangerous! So it is in the player's best interest to train that skill.
Once a trap has been found, the player can attempt to deactivate it. However, just like trap detection, the player may THINK a trap has been deactivated when it actually is still active! So you had better train up!
Of course, there is an easier and surer way to locate and deactivate traps and that is with scrolls of deactivate, which deactivate any traps in a 3x3 area around the player! Alternatively, there are also scrolls of seeing which will highlight traps that are near you. Both of these spells can also be learned and used, however, their effectiveness in that case will be determined by the player's level.

More on this when it's further along!