The Devil is in the Details

vigil lights

Before we get into the savory goodness, there was an article written by @Mattpetronzio for Mashable.com yesterday, and I urge everyone to go take a look and help Matt look good for his boss. Not just because he featured us (which is great!) but because he featured a small project of passion and we think that’s cool.

So, today I’m going to talk about a few different topics, and I may meander a bit, but if I were to ask you write an essay to summarize this update (I won’t) the title could be: Game Details. We want to get some of the smaller details out that we have been overlooking and hopefully you’ll be able to finish reading this with a better understanding of what type of game EDGAR is going to be.

Combat

EDGAR will be similar to Cave Story, or other Metroidvanias, in that it will be very combat focused. Platforms and multiple levels will be present, allowing variation in the paths the player can take, but pixel perfect platforming is not the primary game mechanic as it is in a game like Super Meat Boy. Poe will be able to have two weapons equipped at a time and switch back and forth between them easily. It could be a ranged and a melee weapon, or two melee, or two ranged, its really up to the player. Whatever they choose, it should be the proper type for dealing with the Foes ahead.

Foes

Each Foe will have its own attack pattern. The easiest are bats and rats which just sort of hurry towards Poe and attack him up close. There are vagrants who throw beer bottles, which the player can either dodge or smash mid-air, and some tuberculosis victims that cough excessive amounts of blood as a sort of ranged, spray attack. The key to combat is to figure out the pattern and attack style of each Foe and create an appropriate strategy. This isn’t really anything new for sidescrollers, but we felt it was important to note that enemies do not get more difficult because they deal more damage to Poe, but because their attacks get more complex and harder to dodge, and because they require more hits to defeat. The same goes for bosses who have the most complicated patterns and the largest amount of health.

Loot

There are three types of loot in EDGAR: Randomized Stats, Predetermined Stats, and Specialty Items. Loot with randomized stats will be generated uniquely on every playthrough, and can be anything from an axe to a pocketwatch. The rarity of these items will be identified with descriptors  so a “Wool Cap” is of a lower quality than a “Silk Cap” and therefore, a more common item. Predetermined Stats are the items that have been handcrafted by the devs. We may put a fire effect on it, or give it a random chance to refill all of the available Ink. While the stats on these items are not random, their placement will be, so hunting and scavenging will still be required. Last are Specialty Items. These are items given to Poe at set times throughout the story. These items do not need to be equipped, and immediately grant Poe a new or upgraded ability. Wall sliding and double jumping are examples of some game mechanics that will be added to the player’s arsenal as they progress. Players will be able to revisit previous levels with their new ability and reach previously inaccessible areas.

Chapters

Each level in Poe’s quest will appear as another chapter in his journal. Included will be a summary of the plot so far and some drawings of key events. Within the chapters are parts, most often three of them. The parts are the checkpoints for the game. Dying in EDGAR will be slightly more serious than setting the player back just a minute or two, but not so serious that the player will have to re-run through the entire level. Once a chapter is completed the player will be able to open their book and replay the level. This could be to explore the level further, unlock achievements, or simply just generate new loot.

Achievements

Speaking of achievements, we’ve decided to implement an achievement system were calling “accolades”. Just like achievements in other games, accolades are earned for performing random tasks. This does not mean you get an accolade for beating a level or watching a cutscene. Some accolades will be easily unlockable, like one might be “Set 10 hobos on fire” you know, stuff you are going to end up doing anyway, but others may be “Do not touch the ground for one minute”, or something you have to work for. Here’s the best part about the accolade system, are you ready? I think I’ll start a new paragraph for this.

Unlocking accolades will get you in game rewards! About time right? Each achievement you unlock will manifest itself as another accolade in your inventory. Collect enough accolades and you’ll be able to buy items that you can’t buy with coins alone. Casual or slightly less skilled players will be able to get their clumsy little hands on some of the items, but real creativity and skill will be necessary to get the top tiered items.

Puzzles

The last topic (for today) is puzzles. There a few different ways players will have to use their critical thinking skills to succeed. The most prominent ways will be through codes and ciphers. Poe was heavily into cryptography, and we want to carry that throughout the game. Clues and key plot points will be encoded throughout the levels and will require some effort from the player to figure out. This effort will be minimal for those just wanting to push through and get on to the next level (but who would want to do that anyway?) but there will be more layers to be discovered for those who choose to delve deeper. In addition to encryption, there will be other puzzling game mechanics involving switches, pitch black portions, timing, and even multiplayer requirements ala Little Big Planet.

I hope this post has been informative. It’s difficult to get an entire game’s worth of information out to you guys, but we’ll make an effort to get more of the small details out to you all on a daily basis. Of course, if you have any questions about EDGAR don’t hesitate to ask. Honestly, we love hearing from you guys.

Thanks for reading!

- Wrought Iron Games

The Great(est) Exposition

Today we’d like to share some information about one of our levels: The Great Exposition.

Crystal Palace

Imagine the damage one rock could do.

In 1851 the first of the World’s Fairs was held in London. Called “The Great Exposition”, this huge event was held in a newly constructed building – the Crystal Palace. Filling the booths within this greenhouse-like space were musical instruments and steam machines, precious jewels and ornate chandeliers. There were also booths for over a dozen foreign countries, each one doing their best to represent their homeland in the confines of the allocated space. The whole affair was a celebration of progress, innovation, and the entire human race.

This level is near the beginning of the game, and its bright, positive atmosphere serves as a contrast to the dark, Gothic levels that make up the majority of the game. Keeping this in mind, our artist composed the scene with a more washed out palette, one that gives the impression of light streaming through every inch of the tall, glass structure.

A fountain fit for frolicking in.

A fountain fit for frolicking in.

We wont go into too much of the story behind why Poe is at the World’s Fair, or what he is trying to do there, but we will say that we are really excited with where this level is going. Players who take the time to explore every inch of the fairgrounds will be rewarded for doing so, and even just stopping and looking through the numerous details we’ve tucked away throughout all the booths will lead to a more enjoyable experience.

Pixel Pattern Rugs

Pixel Pattern Rugs

We have ambitious plans for the Great Exposition level, and there’s still much to do before it’s complete. We just wanted to share what we have because it was important to show that the levels in EDGAR will be unique and varied. Not all of them will take place at night (though most of them will) and each one will be visually and thematically different. The journey Poe embarks on is as founded in history and emotion as it is in imagination and old-fashioned fun.

We can’t wait for you all to experience it!

- Wrought Iron Games

Fountains and Feedback

We’ve been quite busy this week and so our weekly update is a day late. We hope you can find it in the dark recesses of your heart to forgive us. Feel free to go search for it if you need to. Go dig down deep in there. We’ll wait.

The main thing we’d like to share this week is a quick video showing the water particles we’ve been working on for a beautiful tiered fountain. It was very interesting getting the particles, which are flowing in a 3D space, to interact (and look good) on a single plane, but we think we’ve figured it out. We still want to tweak the way water interacts with Poe, but that will be pretty easy to do. We have a handful of ideas on neat things we can do with water that go above and beyond stately fountains, but this will have to quench your thirst for now.

We also threw together a simple webplayer where people can test out and tweak Poe’s movement physics (found here). There are 3 presets currently in the build, but you can change the values of several different settings to get the movement just how you would like it. When you do find settings you like, please let us know! You can tweet us your preferences, leave them in a comment below, or go to our Feedback Friday post on r/gamedev, and let us know there! However you do it, we’d love to hear what sort of movement EDGAR should have. Like floaty, precision platforming, or simple sidescrolling bliss? Let us know!

- Wrought Iron Games

Audible Caramel Chocolate

Poe at work

Poe at work

This week we’d like to share with everyone one of our original pieces of music for EDGAR. It is the same piece featured in our gameplay trailer, but now you can listen to it without the death rattles of tiny bats sprinkled over it. Our composer, John J. Harvey, has done an excellent job of creating music that is not only dark, brooding, and Gothic, but has undertones of charm and energy. It’s like shoving a piece of caramel chocolate in your ears, though not nearly as messy. He has composed quite a bit more for the game already, but we’re keeping those a little closer to the chest for the time being. For now, enjoy the track below.

While you’re here, we might as well show you our updated inventory screen. Last week we showed off the concept which had the inventory contained within a journal that Poe carries around. We fleshed out the idea, and here you can see what it will look like when filled with loot. The photo on the right page will update to show Poe’s appearance with whatever gear he currently has equipped.

You know it's old because it's in sepia

You know it’s old because it’s in sepia

That’s about all for now, though I will say that we are working on something quite fantastic at the moment. We’re all very excited about it and we know that you will be as well! You’ll just have to pick up a good book to pass the time until then. May we recommend “20,000 Leagues Under the Seas”?

- Wrought Iron Games

Whiskey, Loot, and Other Such Things

Why is a raven like a collection of pixels?

The new year is upon us, and now that all of us are back from our respective vacations, we are doubling down on work with EDGAR. Our goal is to get the game into the next stage (whatever that may turn out to be) by February. So we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us!

We had a slight delay in progress as the Unity plugin we were using became suddenly unstable. This happened a few weeks apart on two separate machines, and we knew that by continuing to use it, we would risk wiping our spritesheets every time we made a change. The plugin was very helpful, and insightful, but was just no longer support by the creator, and so we’ve adopted 2DToolkit. The good news is the scripts were able to carry over for the most part, and all of the art has already been re-added to the game using this plugin.

There are two things I’d like to talk about in this post that I think may be of interest: pickups and inventory.

Go on then, pick them up.

At the moment we have three pickups that will be strewn across the world (shown above). Coins will be gathered for purchasing weapons from NAME REDACTED and can even be used for upgrading some items. They will come in a variety of values including half-pennies, farthings, sovereigns and more. We are playing around with the idea of making a handful of coins spill out occasionally if you take damage (ala Sonic) because there’s nothing like scrambling around like a London vagrant, frantically gathering enough coins to buy another swig of whiskey. Which brings me to the next pickup.

There is a surprising amount of debate surrounding Edgar Allan Poe and alcohol. Many believe that, due to the nature of his death, Poe was an alcoholic, while others believe that he was actually allergic to the stuff altogether. We thought long and hard about whether to include alcohol in the game, eventually deciding to go for it, and here’s why: Whether Poe drank or not is ultimately irrelevant when it comes to telling a Gothic, Poe-esque tale. Many of Poe’s characters drink, and intoxication fits superbly with the surreal content that fills his stories as well as our game. So scattered across the game world will be bottles of whiskey that will replenish varying amounts of Poe’s health on contact.

The last pickup are inkwells. As a writer, ink is to Poe as bullets are to a soldier. They are a form of ammo that is spent on every single attack. Our aim is for this to add a frantic, fast paced feel to the game as players run around, killing baddies and collecting ink. Inkwells will be found throughout the levels to refill some of the bar, but ink will also spill out like blood from defeated Foes. In order to prevent situations where players are fresh out of ink and face a plethora of Foes, Poe will always be able to put away his weapons and get down and dirty with an old fashioned scrapping. While unarmed attacks will be weaker, they do not require ink, and will allow players a means of getting back into the inky flow of things.

Dear diary, today I killed rats and found a gas mask.

The last thing I want to show is our work in progress for the inventory screen. Here you can see our thoughts on how loot will stored and equipped. The loot icons will be stored in the grid on the left page, and there will be an option to filter them by hats, outfits, accessories, special, or all. A mouse over on each of the items will pop up with the items info. Items can be dragged to the equipment spots on the right side and will change the stats below accordingly. The top of the right page will be a Victorian style black and white photograph which will show Poe wearing the currently equipped items.

That’s all for now, but we’d love to hear your thoughts on everything so far. What do you think of the pickups? Does the inventory seem intuitive so far? As always, you can talk with us here or on our twitter @EdgarAllanPwnd.

We Have Not Yet Been Formally Introduced

Hats on Hats on Hats

Hello everyone!

It has been a while since our last update as the holidays have been proving to be quite the distraction for all of us. From work, seeing family, and spending even more time sitting in traffic, we haven’t been able to put as much time into EDGAR as we would like. We also have been working on a lot of organisational stuff that, while crucial to the game, is not very glamorous or fun to read about. All I’ll say on that front is we have been creating a structure so that networking can be built alongside singleplayer instead of tacked on at the end, and have been creating even more space efficient spritesheets which means more LPSI (loot per square inch).

The team behind EDGAR is composed of volunteers from across the globe and up till now have only been referred to as “the development team behind EDGAR”. That wasn’t good enough for us so we decided to come up with a devteam name. So now, everyone’s favorite pixel lootfest starring Edgar Allan Poe is being created by Wrought Iron Games. Fancy, no?

Within Wrought Iron Games we have a producer/designer, a programmer, an artist, a composer, a sound designer, and a web programmer. We think this would be a good time to introduce ourselves one by one to the community.

Producer/Designer

My name is Kyle Reid, or CptSteam, and I’m the producer and designer for EDGAR. I’m a graduate of Cal State University Long Beach (CSULB) and  have been fortunate enough to have done contract work for Walt Disney Imagineering. The multiple roles I’ve had with them over the years have given me valuable experience in creating interactive experiences. Theme parks and video games have a lot of similarities when it comes to interactive storytelling and I’m putting everything I’ve learned into making EDGAR a unique and memorable journey.

My goal for EDGAR is to create a game that appeals to both gamers and readers; blending history, imagination, and good old fashioned hoarding into a scotch-flavored delight for the mind and the senses.

Programmer

My name is Patrick Fires, but you can call me Azreaal. I am the lead (and sole) programmer for EDGAR, and I’m just here to tell you a bit about myself. I’m currently attending school for Game Design and Simulation, with a focus on C# Programming. I’ve been doing basic programming since middle school, just playing around with Python and C, but when I discovered how powerful and straightforward C# was, I knew it would be my favorite language. I do know a bit of Java/Script, C++, and XNA, but EDGAR will be running C# all the way.

I’ve been working with Unity for about a year now and I’m constantly learning that I know nothing of Unity’s true power, discovering more and more each day. While EDGAR will be the first full-length game that I’ve programmed using the Unity game engine, I have made a plethora of other cheap just-for-me games, from text-adventures to 2D tank wars to 3D starship battles. I am truly blessed with this opportunity to learn more about Unity and game programming in general, and I look forward to passing all of my knowledge on to you through EDGAR.

Artist

I am jackjackthejack, or just Jack for short, and I am the lead artist for EDGAR! I am currently studying Design at the University of Otago in New Zealand where I have learned a lot of creative skills that I am now applying to my passion, video game design. I love games such as Sword & Sorcery and Lone Survivor. With their pixel revival art style and their ability to create tonnes of atmosphere through it, these are two games that have definitely influenced my artwork for EDGAR.

Through my artwork, I hope to create a rich and crazy world for the player to get lost in, that is enjoyable and interesting to explore each and every moment.

Composer

Hi, I’m John J. Harvey, and I’m one half half of the audio team behind Edgar. I’m responsible for the musical content in the game, and hope to create an atmosphere of Victorian London, with a modern and often comedic tint. I like long walks on the beach, deep conversation, cheesecake, and my star sign is Sagittarius. You can visit my website at http://www.johnharveymusic.com or my soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/johnharveymusic.

Sound Designer

My name is Dan Pugsley (Captain_Dan) and I am the sound designer for EDGAR. I’m a freelance audio designer / editor and I make sound for pretty much anything – games, commercials, idents, films and corporate stuff! A lot of my time recently has also been spent helping out with sound design for YouTube channels such as TomSka, Eddsworld and Corridor Digital.

Games have always been a huge interest of mine, and working on audio for games seems like a very good way to justify the huge number of hours I’ve spent playing them. I’ve only just started using Unity but I’m looking forward to learning the ins and outs of the audio side of it, and hopefully make EDGAR sound as awesome as it will look!

Web Programmer

Hey everyone, I’m Lucas from Argentina. Most of my experience is on web development, but recently I’ve started getting into game development too, and I plan to start contributing to EDGAR with Unity asap!

In the meantime, I’m preparing a website for EDGAR!

I’m also a Go player and I practice ninjitsu, so watch out ;)

So now that we know each other better, it shouldn’t be awkward if we take this relationship to the next level. A movie, a fancy dinner, maybe a little holding hands. We can take it slow if you like. Whatever you do though, we’d love to hear from you with ideas, comments, concerns, or questions, and you can do so by talking to us on Twitter or on our newly created Subreddit.

That’s all for now! (Unless you want to schedule that date now)

Sincerely, Wrought Iron Games.

In which we Reveal Player 2’s Character

We reached 50 Twitter followers today, and as promised, have revealed the second playable character! This famous author will accompany Poe on his adventure in a co-op fashion. Why, it’s none other than the father of steampunk literature, Jules Verne!

Outnumbered but not overpowered

Co-op for Edgar will be playable both online, with anyone in the globe, or on the same computer, hopefully with someone you know. The game’s difficulty scales when a second player is present, meaning stronger enemies, and a greater number of them.

I’ll light the way, don’t stop SHOOTING!

Having a second player also makes for new game mechanics, like allowing one player to illuminate the path while the other fights, or pulling two switches at the same time to reveal hidden passages. Not only are players able to show off their loot while playing with friends, but they are rewarded with new experiences.

Duels, the ultimate gentlemen’s sport

We would also like to implement a dueling mechanic, where players can challenge each other to a (not so) deadly game, and find out who has the fastest reflexes.

Thanks again to everyone following us on Twitter (@EdgarAllanPwnd) and to everyone who has been spreading the word about our game!

Gameplay Teaser Video

Well, enough of you asked to see some gameplay footage that we decided to actually put the pieces together and show you what we’ve got. So here we are, the first gameplay video from EDGAR.

There are a few things missing from this scene, namely the Health and Ink bars. Health will be lost when Poe takes damage, and Ink will be used as “ammo” for every type of attack. Ink can be found throughout the levels and is also dropped in a gooey mess from defeated Foes.

This is also the first time we’ve released any of the original music for the game, so we hope you enjoy it!

As always, we’d love to hear what you guys have to say, so feel free to do so in the comments below, or on our Twitter, @EdgarAllanPwnd!

‘Tis a Brief Post, Nothing More

They may not have money, but they have feelings

This will be another short update, for we are all working our hardest to be able to show off something soon. Our artist is working on a new environment, a piece of which you can see in the image above. He’s also working on new Foes, animations, and our inventory screen. Our programmer is continuing his work on combat, which had to be redone somewhat as we decided to split Poe’s arms into separate sprites and separate layers. The reason for this is to not only allow the possibility of dual wielding, but to give more natural looking, context sensitive animation to the hand not holding a weapon. New pieces are being written by our composer, and they’re sure to be quite marvelous when finished. Our sound guy is giving the game that extra touch of immersion and making killing bats even that much more satisfying.

That’s all for now, but expect big things soon!

As always, thank you for taking interest in EDGAR!

Bats, Combat, and (even more) Hats

Last week we told you a little bit about the direction we plan on taking EDGAR, even giving you an example of a literary character we will be including: Dracula. I opened up my browser today to discover Google’s Doodle, informing me that today is Bram Stoker’s birthday. In celebration of this, here’s a screen of how Dracula will appear in our game.

Count Pixula

Even though the version of Dracula with the clean-shaven face and the slicked back dark hair is the more recognizable one, we’ve decided, in this instance and in all others, to stay as true to the literature as possible. Not only is this great fan service to our well-read gamers who will pick up on the subtleties, but will serve as our own little shrine to some of our favorite authors.

Gone batty

We’ve also begun putting combat into the game. We only have two basic attacks at the moment, a sword for melee and a pistol for ranged. Now that enemy AI is wrapping up and the bats and rats are actively chasing down Poe, it’s time to give everyone health and allow them to start beating each other up. This is one the last things we need to implement before getting a video out for everyone to see.

Some Digital Hobo Love

We also have Health and Ink bars ready to go. Originally we were planning on having an anatomically correct heart on the screen, but have decided that more traditional bars suit our needs better. Don’t worry, we still have plans to use it in a different manner. Currently the bars are broken up to a beginning sprite, a middle sprite, and an end sprite, meaning we can extend both of them as Poe gets stronger throughout the game.

So what are we working on now? There’s still loads to do with combat, but while our programmer is working on that, our artist is working on a new (less claustrophobic) level that we hope to show you soon, and, as always, hats, helmets, and every other type of accessory you can imagine.

Thanks for checking in on EDGAR’s progress, and as always, let us know what you think!

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