We're making a video game - Esperia

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We're making a video game - Esperia

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Tue Oct 07, 2014 1:58 pm

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We're making a video game. It's a big project. This is going to be a real learning experience and an interesting ride, for sure. You can follow along with our progress in this thread, and I'd love to hear your input.

Last December, I began working on a new project titled Esperia. I've done some work on it since, inbetween paid and other work, and discussed it with several programmers including Paul Thacker. I think it's time I shared the project here.

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Adelaide. Our heroine. Bright. No-nonsense. An old soul. An unimaginably old soul, perhaps.

Esperia takes place in a dreamworld, with the lead character Adelaide, and later her friends, exploring stages which change as she goes through them. She is discovering, gradually, powers that she has. She fights various monsters.

She has been recruited (after her death) by a mysterious man, Gideon, to fight the Nightmare creatures that have infected dreams everywhere, and replaced hope with fear, leading humanity into a dark age. She must learn to create her own reality and fight back. It turns out that Gideon is himself the Lord of Nightmares, looking for someone to fight against, and restore the balance of the world.

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Gideon. Lord of Nightmares. A man of considerable power looking to restore some balance and sanity to the dream realm, and willing to use Adelaide and her friends as pawns to achieve that.

The first stage starts out as a hazy white void, which reveals itself as a sort of hospital of the mind, which gets more solid and distinct as we go on. Like a white palace. Monsters exist in the shadows, at the edge of reality.

Later, Adelaide is on a college campus (also in a dream world), trying to recruit her friends to join her. She enters dream worlds based on her friends' personalities - such as a rave, a musical number, a savage forest, and a sort of Egyptian area. She's also accompanied by a robot cat named Basil. Throughout she's trying to save a troubled young man named Siddhartha, and find her lost friend Otsana, who died some years before, and who has nearly forgotten how to be human.

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Basil. Robotic companion, assistant, helper.

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Siddhartha. Mentally scarred from years of bullying. Needs rescuing.

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Otsana. Has been dead too long. Living in the shadows, listening to the trees, fighting back against the Nightmares. Adelaide must bring her back to humanity.

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Vikki. Fun-loving party girl who Adelaide will have to save first.

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Cloe. Has a taste for the outdoors, and for exploration. Perhaps she was born to be an adventurer. Perhaps she was born to be something more.

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Dominique. Diva. Entertainer. Extrovert. Seemingly unbreakable, though more easily wounded than she lets on.

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Serafina. Introvert. Fragile. Adelaide will fail her, and watch as she is corrupted. She can't be saved until she can save herself.

A considerable amount of story and dialogue has been written and planned out, and the lead characters designed. Paul Thacker has begun programming demos in Unity, and I wrote out an early dialogue demo in Ren'Py.

Technically this isn't my first video game project, as I started off programming in BASIC as a kid, and did a bunch of small game projects in the early 2000s. But this is certainly my first large-scale game project. I am not a programmer, but for me this is just another form of storytelling.

I had considered doing another year's worth of work on my comic The Chosen Ones, but the script for that piece was originally written back in 2005, and I feel, to an extent, that I've moved on since then. To me, Esperia is a natural continuation. It is a female-driven story, and I'm excited to peel back the layers of it and share it with you.

So, here we go then.
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Re: We're making a video game - Esperia

Postby GeoNine » Tue Oct 07, 2014 7:41 pm

Nice to see this is still happening. Make sure you do plenty of research into making this cause you don't want to get halfway and find out you've made an error in judgment on scale and/or engine (like I have).
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Re: We're making a video game - Esperia

Postby Arnaud » Tue Oct 07, 2014 8:14 pm

Garrett Gilchrist wrote:I started off programming in BASIC as a kid
So did I ! :)
I played a few visual novels and I quite like it (not all of them, of course) so I thought about doing one with Ren Py too. The software is quite easy to use and you can obtain a very professional-looking game. It all depends of the amount of work you put into it of course... But it seems you're heading the right way !
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Re: We're making a video game - Esperia

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:42 pm

Ren'Py is very easy to use, if also very limited. I started out with the idea of making a simple visual novel, but decided to create a full-on game instead. Paul has been working in Unity.

Geoff, you're still welcome to help with this or something else if you want. ;)
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Re: We're making a video game - Esperia

Postby JustinHoskie » Wed Oct 08, 2014 11:28 am

I'm excited. :)
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Re: We're making a video game - Esperia

Postby pauljthacker » Thu Oct 09, 2014 12:51 am

I'm glad to see a little interest already. I hope to make some posts periodically about how the technical side of the game is going. Right now I've got a simple test level and have implemented movement and walking animations with some temporary artwork. This is a learning experience for me as well. I also got my first substantive programming experience with BASIC, including some simple games. But I went on to do a lot in college, eventually getting a Master's of computer science from the University Of Kentucky. This included a lot of graphics and computer animation using OpenGL.

But professionally, my focus shifted away from graphics a bit as I worked several years on scanner image quality. This involved processing 2D images for such effects as sharpening and background removal. But as a big video game fan for most of my life, I've often thought about making a game someday. When I started talking to Garrett I really liked his work and the story he was planning to tell with Esperia, and circumstances lined up such that it seemed like time for me to get serious about learning game development.

Whereas once that would have probably required working at a big company, we've really seen indie games blow up over the last few years. Part of this is the ease of digital distribution through Steam and the like. Another major factor has been the availability of engines like Unity, allowing very small teams to make substantial games. Most Unity functions are available for free, and it can compile builds for numerous different platforms. You can build out levels in a GUI. Plus, it also offers functions for aspects of games like animation and physics that I would previously have had to write a lot of customized code for. It supports C#, JavaScript, and Boo. I've been writing scripts in C#, as it's close to C++ and Java, two languages I've done a lot of work in. It's sometimes been frustrating, as is the case with learning any new technology, but it helps that there are a lot of tutorials on the web, and Lexington's game development group, RunJumpDev, has many experienced users.
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Re: We're making a video game - Esperia

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Thu Oct 09, 2014 1:38 am

I actually got in contact with Paul through my recent Muppet restoration work. He is a member at AtariAge and takes an interest, within the emulation community, in collecting and preserving very rare game systems, including those few 80s experiments that ran off of VHS (and for once I'm not talking about Night Trap). He had collected the seven-tape library of the View-Master Interactive Vision, six of which are Muppet tapes unseen elsewhere. I asked if he could transfer these for restoration and posting to the internet -- and he agreed. (We're actually still working on that.)

We got to talking about things, and he's looked pretty deep into my past creative work. And now we've been working on Esperia ...
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Re: We're making a video game - Esperia

Postby Arnaud » Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:39 am

About Ren Py video games I just saw this :

http://sir-erdgeist.deviantart.com/art/i-tried-2-do-a-ren-py-game-479295499

I haven't tried it yet but the artwork looks fine, very far from the anime stuff usually associated with visual novels. So there's some hope ! :)
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Re: We're making a video game - Esperia

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Sat Nov 15, 2014 9:19 am

http://sta.sh/23xqeed0q9c

So what's going on with Esperia? Well, I've been designing the lead character, Adelaide, from various angles, in preparation to animate her so she's able to walk. Paul Thacker has been programming simple demos with temporary graphics. Adelaide has been battling a villainous and deadly red cube ...
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Re: We're making a video game - Esperia

Postby pauljthacker » Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:25 pm

I've been spending a lot of time lately learning about Unity and implementing various systems for Esperia. I've finally gotten a playable, albeit very early, demo. While the graphics here are temporary, it's a good platform to start prototyping the gameplay mechanics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQG_MYa ... iF0-HgEN8w

At the moment, Adelaide can fight the enemy (the evil red box) by throwing fireballs. She takes damage upon contact with the enemy. Defeat the enemy and you win. Run out of health and you lose. Garrett's had some other ideas like melee attacks and deflecting enemy projectiles which can bounce off of walls and such. I've had ideas like a rechargeable willpower bar to keep you from spamming attacks, fireballs that you can guide after throwing, and the ability to avoid attacks by temporarily fading out of reality. Since this is set in a dream world, there aren't many logical limits on what can be included. I doubt that every idea will be in the final game, but right now there's no need to debate which are best. The next step is implementing the ideas without too much concern for graphical polish so we can see what works and what doesn't.

It will also be important to get feedback from people who aren't working on the game. We haven't discussed too many specifics yet, but if anyone would be interested in some type of beta testing role, please let us know.

How interested are people in the technical aspects of game creation? Using Unity is definitely different from most of my previous programming experience. You can take care of many tasks in the GUI, like laying out the level and building animations from a series of images. Then there's a programming element of attaching scripts (C# in my case) to various game objects to control their behavior.
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