Last time when I posted about “DDnD – Unsung Saviors,” I showed off a compilation video summarizing the first team’s experience going through the first half of the first campaign. I had decided to convey more humor than actual substance, and was hoping to garner some laughs and curiosity from the video. After making that video, I also decided to make 10-12 minute mini-episodes of Team Glorious Hole’s romp through Campaign #1, showcasing more story, mechanics, features, and overall lore compared to the compilation posted previously.
There are only 4 episodes in the above playlist, for the moment, but as soon as I get more time to edit the second half of Campaign #1, I will be adding even more, so keep a look out for new videos in this specific playlist!
Finally, without further ado, I would like to present “DDnD – Unsung Saviors” in action! Not too long ago, I had 5 of my friends and acquaintances choose their specific Buntaien characters, and we all took a 4-hour stint on a Saturday night to play the first half of Campaign #1 – Tutorial. There was a lot of fun to be had, and everything went way more smoothly than I anticipated. By the end of the night, everyone was raving about how much fun they were having, about how much they liked the puzzles and lore, and was clamoring for more.
The video above is an edited compilation I created that helps summarize the first half of the first campaign of “Unsung Saviors,” showcasing Team Glorious Hole’s romp through the RuMa Earthen Temple of Par’n.
Since August of 2016, I have been updating this blog (both consistently and not so much). Today, almost 2 years later, marks my 200th post and I am ecstatic to realize just how much graphic and game design work I have done in the past 2-3 years. For those that have stayed with me through this newest journey of mine, thank you so much for being here and sticking with me! I hope you all stay tuned for even more, because I have only just begun. Anyway, back to the post at hand!
What you see above is the very last feature I had created for the first version of the GM Interface for “DDnD – Unsung Saviors.” Being yet another simple sprite swap, this visual effect has to do with who in the group of 5 Buntaiens will get to be the Team Leader. I thought placing a simple, golden crown on the portrait and Character Medallion of the winning player (based on dice rolls from the team, unless they decide to vote for their Team Lead) would be efficient enough to display their new, important role in the party.
At first, way before I had even decided to make an interactive interface for the game, I was going to have each player move around the maps at their own volition, not having to stay with the rest of the group. As I began to make more rules and eventually got around to the GM Interface mentioned, it seemed less and less likely that players would be able to meander around by themselves, lest the game become confusing and overbearing for both the players and GM involved. So, with that figured out, I decided to think about RPG games, and how their parties are formed and the like. Just like with Final Fantasies or Breath of Fires or whatever, most parties always follow one person, a leader of the team. Already sticking with some traditional RPG rules, I went ahead and decided to make this a feature in the game, as well, to help keep the team together, and to keep the campaign consistent and on track. However, I do plan on allowing players to break off into smaller groups, if not individual ones, for later campaign, when the stories permits it.
By the way, like I mentioned earlier, since this was the last real effect or feature I made for “DDnD,” I will finally be posting actual gameplay videos from the game, itself, here very soon. So be on the lookout for that!
Let’s keep going over the different aspects of the GM Interface I created for “DDnD – Unsung Saviors.” The .gif above showcases each of the 5 different Buntaien’s Soul Charges, and how they change depending on what Soul Charge Level they are. The effect – if you could even call it that – is a minor one, and is just different sprites that overlap one another dependent on the level. With each level, the Soul Charge icon (which I also put inside an emblem – just like with some of the other interface assets) changes and gets bigger, tacking on a number that is the same as the level, itself.
I may have already briefly discussed how Soul Charges work, but I might as well reiterate and elaborate, further. In the original prototype fighting system known as “Buntaien Brawlers,” Soul Charges evolved into being a core system of the battles. Considering the fighting system in “DDnD” is almost exactly like the prototype, Soul Charges here, too, play a very important role in keeping battles engaging, fun, and even unexpected, at times.
For example, during the first campaign, there is a point where the players are made to spar with one other, in a sort of training exercise to introduce them to the fighting mechanics of the game. During this bout, their Soul Charges can’t be used as intricately as they could in “Buntaien Brawlers” (mostly because at this point in the story, their Buntaien characters haven’t developed any actual abilities, except for the basic ones). However, even without their fullest strength, Soul Charges can be very helpful in both offense and defense. Whenever a player incurs any amount of damage, they automatically gain 1 Soul charge point (which by itself, these points are useless). Once a player gains 3 Soul Charges, they achieve their first Soul Charge Level. Each level (out of 3, maximum), can “buff” the player’s attacking and defending powers depending on the level they achieve. Level 1 will allow you to tack on +1 to their die rolls, while Level 2 tacks on +2, and of course, Level 3 tacks on +3. So basically, if you were to attack someone with a D4 and rolled a 4 against the opponent’s 1 (let’s say), that would come out to an attack of 3 points to the enemy. Let’s also say they have a Soul Charge Level of 2, which in this case makes their attack a total of 5 points (the initial 3 plus the extra 2) against their opponent.
Let’s continue to go over more of the assets for the GM interface of “DDnD – Unsung Saviors,” specifically more about the Player Viewer side, and how it can control aspects from the Map Viewer side. As for what you see above, interacting with each character portrait will activate a designated particle effect for each Buntaien. Each one has a different color – the color that specifies their unique powers – but is basically the same effect repeated for each.
The purpose for these particle effects is to signify to each player when a character is in Focus Stance or not (the effect being on means that character is currently in a Focus Stance, while it being off means they are not). For now, during a battle in “DDnD,” players have to take two actions before their turn is over. One of those turns always has to be a move (players can move in any direction around their Character Medallions, unless their area is obfuscated or plainly blocked off), however, they have a variety of options for their other action. For this example, one of those actions could be to place their character in a Focus Stance, which is a great boon to the character.
While a character is in Focus Stance, their attack and defense stats are raised from a D4 die to a D6 die (which basically strengthens their attack and defense by up to 2 points). Typically if a player sees another player in Focus Stance, it is ill advised to attack them, unless their player is also in their own Focus Stance (the simple reason for this is because without being Focused, they can only attack and defend with a D4, compared to the D6 while Focused). The only way to take another player out of this Stance is to inflict damage onto them (but again, that is more difficult and mathematically less likely to happen without also being in a Focus Stance). One sure-fire way of defending against another Focused player is to use a Throw action against them. Throws typically have a very high chance of success and automatically inflicts at least 1 point of damage if successful, so it is, for now, the best technique to use against an attacking – or even defending – Focused player.
Now that we’ve gone over most of the VFXs seen on the Map Viewer side of the GM Interface for “DDnD – Unsung Saviors” in earlier posts, we can start going over what can be seen on the Player Viewer side of things. As simple as it looks above, the indication of whose turn it is in the game (typically while in battle, considering when players are exploring, they typically stay in a group, and move and act organically instead of in a turn-based way) is only dependent on whose portrait is glowing yellow from the background. To achieve this small effect, a GM just needs to click on whichever Character Medallion’s turn it is (which the Medallions will be on the Map Viewer side, as explained before), and the designated portrait will light up! Clicking and dragging away the mouse cursor from each Medallion will also turn off the golden portraits.
This was one of the last effects I created in a desperate attempt to finalize a “perfect” version of the GM Interface the first time through. As we all know, iteration is the mother of greatness, so I want everyone (even the current players, included) to know that I still plan on going back to recreate a lot of effects, graphics, and systems and overhaul them in appropriate and miraculous ways!
For a quick recap, I wanted to post the original Photoshop portraits – that I had previously created for a prototype fighting system known as “Buntaien Brawlers” – one more time, considering I used them in the first version of the GM interface for “DDnD – Unsung Saviors.” The faces that can be seen above are of the 5 Buntaiens – the main characters of the current campaigns – that the players will be choosing from and eventually role-play as. In order from left to right, we have:
Yenen Gaiabeta, the Life/Energy Buntaien of Knowledge
Kaiel Genhold, the Friction/Water Buntaien of Passion
Draegon, the Movement/Wind Buntaien of Understanding
Wajoby, the Gravity/Earth Buntaien of Order
Luka Soar Akanashi, the Combustion/Flame Buntaien of Purpose
I would go more into what Buntaiens are, but I’ll let RuMa say that, itself, in an upcoming video of actual gameplay, with actual players! One last thing before I publish this post, within the GM Interface on the Player Viewer side, are different elements of which a GM can control other aspects of the game. Be on the lookout here soon for more VFX effects, and how they might tie in to the portraits seen above!
I used the same free Shader asset from the Unity Store I had used on the POI and IOI effects – posted about earlier – and went on to create two different textures in Photoshop; one for a fiery effect and the other for a more electric feel. After messing around with the other effects I had made, it wasn’t too difficult to implement these new ones, and I didn’t find myself changing too many options to get the desired effects I was looking for.
Within “DDnD – Unsung Saviors,” certain parts of maps will be covered up by a shape of a similar color to the environment. One should think of the “fog of war” effect used in many video games, however, the way it’s used in this is slightly different. Typically two reasons this “fog of more” (as I would like to call my version) effect would be used when the player’s characters can’t see in the game world. For the fire effect example above, when the players enter Level 5 of RuMa Temple – known as the Sanctus Cathedra – they can barely see their surroundings, everything being blotted out by an old darkness, with only a beam of light above them to help them see. After examining the area and through some experimenting with their environment and Buntaien Powers, players will figure out how to lighten the rest of the room up, revealing new, important sub-areas to explore.
Back on the subject of Buntaien Powers: each of the 5 Buntaiens have a distinct Essence that they can harness with their souls. Like with typical RPG games, the roster of magic being flame, energy, water, earth, and wind – and is the same for “Unsung Saviors” – but this game designates certain physics-based qualities to each (even though that last piece of information is irrelevant for this discussion). With the fire effect, Luka – the flame Buntaien – would have to create a makeshift torch by harnessing her combustion abilities from within the wood, which would set off the Map Reveal (Fire) effect seen above. As for the Map Reveal (Electricity) effect above, using a Buntaien that can harness energy (electricity being a primal form energy can take) might be able to power up certain areas that were inaccessible before.
In the initial stages of working on “DDnD – Unsung Saviors,” I was debating on several way I could convey the game world to the players that would be playing over Discord. This was around the time they had just introduced screensharing and video calling options, so I knew I was going to be able to do more than just post static maps (or artwork of certain areas) into the Discord chat, in hopes of immersing the players in a way that I would have deemed worthy of the source material. That is where the roots of myself wanting to create a GM Interface came into existence, and what you see above is the first version of the RuMa Temple map, the main playing area of Campaign #1 – Tutorial.
The RuMa Temple of Par’N, as envisioned many years before creating this game, has gone through several iterations since “Legends of Saviors'” inception over two decades ago. Originally, the temple was made up of two giant, castle-like spires, built side by side, sticking out of the ocean off the coast of one of the main continent of the planet. RuMa, the entity itself – which was a bit more corporeal at the time – would sit in his throne room at the top of one of the spires, while his students would live and train at the top levels of the adjacent one.
As time went on, while creating more aspects of the original version of the story, a character named Yenen would eventually leave RuMa Temple and create his own castle-like domicile, and even right on the same coast that would be near his former home. Gameplay-wise, Yenen’s Castle would be a hub for players, where they could always come back and rest to regain health, spar with holographic enemies to level up, solve small mysteries within the building, itself, read about lore of Par’N in the library, and eventually build onto the castle to add even more usable rooms.
To make a long story short, I ended up combining both ideas of Yenen’s Castle and RuMa Temple into the newer version of the temple, and was inspired by an actual landmark on American soil (called the Devils Tower), which is a large, laccolithic butte mostly composed of a purple, igneous rock, that also juts out of the ocean (however, with this version, it sticks out at the tip of the northern pole). Considering the only way to enter the actual mountain, itself, is from a secret entryway on its plateaued top, not many have stepped foot on, or even into, the temple. On the inside, where certain monks lived for thousands of years – through many generations and historical eras – they ended up carving out hallways and rooms, to accommodate certain needs and wants that they had. When players enter this area in Campaign #1, some of the overarching mysteries they can optionally solve is who used to live here, why they chose this place to dwell, and where they all might have vanished to after so long of keeping this place sacred and secure.
I could go more into what each level and room above is called and meant for, but I think I will leave that up to the imagination for now, until I am able to post the videos of the game in action, from the very first team that have already tested the first campaign. Keep on the lookout for it soon!
Through the past few years of going to school for game development and working on indie titles by myself and with others, I have learned many facets of the production of video games: creating models using Maya, creating textures using Photoshop, utilizing the Unity engine, understanding gaming design principles in a more technical light, and even some basic programing with C#. However, I rarely ever delved into the world of sprites and VFX elements, but with the recent creation of “DDnD – Unsung Saviors,” I have gained much needed experience with both!
Just like with the other POI (being an IOI – or Item of Interest) I posted here recently, this POI (Point of Interest) is also known as a POI (but named for a Place of Interest). Instead of using a monochrome emblem with a question mark (like with the IOI), I decided to make this one have a sort of colorful flare, and went with gold (a color that tends to jump out to humans, presenting something of worth to most of us). The reason for using an exclamation mark instead of a question mark was to indicate a difference between items that players could collect and use (the latter), versus things that could help move along the story, be interacted with, or otherwise important to the story/game, in general (the former). I also wanted there to be consistency in the look of all POIs (regardless of their sub-genre), so using the same type of emblems and particle effects and creating small changes between them seemed like a viable solution.
Under all golden POIs (which I’m now thinking of renaming to LOIs – for Locations of Interest – to create a clear distinction) will be an important object that can be interacted with by players to further along each campaign or to optionally deepen their experiences in the game. In the example above, once the VFX happens, the initial sprite disappears, revealing a golden and purple-colored structure, known as the Adytum Apex Tower, found in the beginning of Campaign #1. Once unveiled, players can examine this structure, further revealing that it is a puzzle of sorts, one of many they must solve in order to get further into the mountain this tower sits upon. Once the group-based puzzle is solved, players are allowed entry into the RuMa Temple mountain they have sought after. There are many other POIs (or LOIs) in Campaign #1, and all serve as very important game design elements, to help keep a flow to the story and gameplay, and add excitement and interest to the players.