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Author Topic: That which sleeps- Kickstarted!  (Read 178969 times)

KingDinosaurGames

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #30 on: August 11, 2014, 04:39:46 pm »

As far as what can be modified, take a look at the Editor Screenshot that was part of our devlogs.  Everything you see on the menu can be modified in-game, and things like items are embedded under "Enhancements."   The Editor also has a Build mode, where you can drag in images to use as a base and then populate the world with POIs(Points of Interest) and connect them together with roads and other connectors.  We've gone to great lengths to make the game extremely easy to modify.

There are no plans for the adventurer perspective in That Which Sleeps, the decision on what aspect to focus on came early and we couldn't do justice to more than a single perspective.  Still, the idea of having almost a Romance of the Three Kingdoms VII (I think VII had the free officer mode) set in this style of game definitely has appeal and I could foresee it being a later release, but that's very, very far down the road.  You could "fake it" by modding a scenario to have a very long slumbering old one, eliminate the chosen one and lore from the world, and then play as a single agent - but it wouldn't have quite the adventurer feel.
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Xantalos

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #31 on: August 11, 2014, 05:06:16 pm »

...wow.
If you wanted to get me enthralled with this idea, then you succeeded.
I'll be supporting this, I'm thinking.
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nenjin

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #32 on: August 11, 2014, 05:28:11 pm »

I had some immediate reaction to the visuals. One was that, the maps remind me strongly of the Dominions style of home-made player maps. (Who knows, maybe you and map makers have used some of the same resources.) I love the sort of hand-drawn style.

The other is that I find the menus very visually unappealing. Perhaps its the hard black border on it, or the way information seems kind of cramped in its presentation. Perhaps its also the lack of texture in the background of the window itself. I'm guessing it's supposed to invoke memories of trading card games like Magic, which I think it does. It could just be a lot softer/more visually interesting.
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Urist McScoopbeard

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #33 on: August 11, 2014, 05:48:38 pm »

[Hype intensifies]
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nenjin

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #34 on: August 11, 2014, 06:06:43 pm »

Yeah, now that I'm done reading your updates, I'll be backing. Visually the game is a little bland to me right now, but there so much choice and consequence going on, with a theme I love, that it'll get my monies.
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If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the Gods, and the nights will flame with fire.
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Its kinda silly to complain that a friendly NPC isn't a well designed boss fight.
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How will I cheese now assholes?

KingDinosaurGames

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #35 on: August 11, 2014, 06:24:50 pm »

I really welcome criticism of the menus, I developed them myself principally working NGUI (a Unity Asset) and I'm generally not pleased with them either.  However, they all pivot around three components that are sliced and resized, which means I would be able to swap out relatively easily a nice looking theme once we are able to contract with a proper artist. 

The idea was more to aim for the "Board Game" feel for the menus, that is that the principal items that are relevant to you are displayed like VERY striking 'pieces' on the menu, you can't avoid them. 

I think that reskinning the POI, Hero, Agent menus would be sufficient for the game (I would love to hear if you think otherwise about these menus), but we actually have a better way of handling the Events that distributes the choices like you see on the scenario generation segment.  I'm in the middle of making some gameplay videos so I won't be demoing that for awhile but I think it makes the events run a lot smoother, the downside is that it takes up much more map space.
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nenjin

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #36 on: August 11, 2014, 07:18:21 pm »

Well if you can stomach a visual critique, here goes. I judge it based on what I see, appreciating that it's all alpha asset work for the most part. And it's a little obtuse to critique visuals in a mostly text-driven game I know, but I think when you aren't relying so heavily on graphics, what you are relying on has to look pretty nice.

The drabness you speak of in wanting heroes and such to pop definitely shows. The area between POIs and land features is barren. There's a little bit of texture variation going on there, and maybe it has a little more life to it while playing. But from a SS perspective, it almost looks like a grey void. There needs to be a bit more noise there, even if it's just tone shifts.

Over the course of screenshots I've looked at, I've seen the forest features go from looking very sharp at the edges to having a more blended look. I'd say go even further, perhaps diffusing some of that green color around the forests (and other features) so the line between them and the rest of the map isn't so stark.

Really the starkness of the map is what makes everything pop to an uncomfortable degree to my eye.

This clip of a screenshot from moddb is illustrative of what I mean:


The blend between the town and forests are decent, but between the mountains and forest, not so much. I see something that kinda looks like a drop shadow there around the edge of the forest, and stuff like that helps soften the boundaries. I just think you need to go farther with it, and give land features a little more visual creep so it transitions better in the open ground.

Re: Menus

They don't look as cramped as they did at first blush. I think it's the bolded text and the size of screenshots you offered that contributes to them feeling that way. But the heavy black border is definitely too much. Needs an inner, brighter border (like black, gold, black) or the edges of the black border need to be softer. Or you might go with a decorative border (something evil looking, perhaps?) and just use black to edge it out. It almost looks like "true black" to my eyes, which means you could probably back it out a little more into gray so it doesn't create quite as harsh a contrast. Consider adding a drop shadow to the outer edge of the menu too, which would give it a 3d overlay effect, as opposed to just looking like a 2d square over the map. Some of the text also isn't kerned quite right, or at least inconsistently, in some menus.

And, like I said. A little bit of texture to the "Card stock" would go along way toward making those menus feel like they have depth. There's already a bit of shading on the white text portions, which looks like. That same level of thought just needs to be applied to the rest of the menu assets.

You might try to organize a little better too what's flavor text vs. not. Ex:



You've got the title of what it is at the top: solid. You've got the secondary text under the title answering the "Who?": Reasonable. You've got the menu options at the bottom with their costs and descriptions: solid. But that space in the middle with the flavor text seems oddly placed. In a playing card game or a table top game, that'd be where the picture goes. So the text there has a lot of emphasis placed on it. And I assume the "Time for some new blood" text is sort of the lead in to your choice options. But it's kinda crammed in there between the box for the flavor text, and the choices section.

I'm not entirely sure how you could rearrange it, as I get the expected flow based on the layout you have. Can't stick flavor text between the "coup" button and your dialog options. But I feel like some elements of that arrangement there is out of place. What if you took out the white box surrounding the flavor text entirely, and put it in italic font? That way the eye would more easily drift past it to their choices. It's just that section seems to be shouting while saying very little.

The agent/hero menus I think are fine, they just have the issues of the menus in general. But I like the layout of abilities on one pane and gear and sundries on the other "page." Reminds me very much of Arkham Horror characters sheets. It's a little harder to judge those menus not really knowing much about gameplay.

The POI menus seem pretty decent for what they're trying to achieve. Again, having not played it, it's a little harder to say what works vs. doesn't since my brain doesn't know what's important about those menus other than educated guesses. So for example, those little tool widgets on the lower right look oddly placed, but I have no idea what they do.

Here's my TLDR: that salmon coloration on the menus has got to go :P Maybe you were going for something akin to parchment, maybe it's just my monitor's color settings, but it looks pink to me.

At a first glance, based on the color choices and stylization, I'd not have guessed this was a game about playing an evil guy. And the salmon color of the menus kinda contributes to that. Something like a yellow parchment color I think would be more appropriate. Faded yellow/brown/white, like so. You might lose a bit of the "game card stock" look, but I think you'd gain a lot of the "kickass tome" look. In menu-driven games, the content of the menus matters a lot to me because they're the primary thing you're interacting with in game.

All in all I like what I see, it just needs the hard/jagged edges sanded off in a lot of places. Menus are a bit rough and I'd spend a lot of time thinking about how to give them depth without making them hard to read.

Here's an example of what I mean, and sorry for harping on Magic cards but that's what leapt to mind when I saw your menus.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

1. The heavy black border has a rounded edge to contrast against the sharp edge of the actual card graphic. It both softens the boarder a touch and drives attention inward, away from the border. (They also happen to be playing cards so you round them so they don't get beat up as easy.)

2. The title. Nothing special in and of itself, except its relation to the subtitle, which is beneath the "main stage."

3. A nice fake beveled edge. This is part of what I mean about giving things some depth. In this it creates the illusion of 3d, like you're looking into the image through a window. The image part of it isn't relevant to your design, but you can use the tricks to create levels within a menu in visually interesting ways, to give them some tangibility and crunchiness. You've got some of that going with drop shadows on certain portions of the menus, but more could be done.

4. Dat texture. Imagine if this section was one solid color. It'd suck half the life out of the presentation.

5. The subtext. Again, it's part of the visual read. From title to image to subtext to rules to rules to flavor quote.

6. More texture. I'm not actually a fan of this one, but again, leaving stuff that takes up a lot of real-estate one solid undifferentiated color ends up looking bland to me. Some might call it understated, but like I said, if I have to look at a menu primarily as the thing I'm doing in a game, I want it to be a menu I find interesting to look at.

7. The italics clearly indicate what's flavor and what's not. It also occupies a much lower priority in the hierarchy of the visual read.

Your menus play by different rules than playing cards, so not all of this applies in the same way it works here, like where you choose to put flavor text or what it's meant to achieve. But I think the principles are still pretty applicable.

Anyways, thanks for reading and good luck, I look forward to giving you money.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 07:50:14 pm by nenjin »
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If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the Gods, and the nights will flame with fire.
Quote from: Sindain
Its kinda silly to complain that a friendly NPC isn't a well designed boss fight.
Quote from: Eric Blank
How will I cheese now assholes?

KingDinosaurGames

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #37 on: August 11, 2014, 08:13:15 pm »

When one of my first testers got back to me with his feedback his response was "Sometimes I feel like I'm playing Manilla Envelope Simulator", so I think your hatred of the salmon color is well shared! 

This is a fantastic post, and I really appreciate how you broke down the components both in understanding what we were trying to do and also the steps that would probably get us there.  There actually was a very cheap Unity Asset package with "Card" type boundaries, but the problem is that the values that we want to display are so fluid even late in development that we want to really be 100% on what icons, text, and values will be displayed before investing anything in making them final. 

That being said, I'm glad you're ok with the Heroes, Agents and POIs, I find those to be very functional, quick to view, and fairly easy on the eyes.  I will work with that black background, I was thinking of giving it an undulating shape similar to something "oozing" or tentacles... that might work nicer to give it some flavor.

The Bevel is a great idea on how to add depth to the white sections of the menus, I may just go ahead and implement that tomorrow and see how it looks.  Thanks for that!

The image you chose, the Overthrow a Guild action, is DEFINITELY representative of what we want to change and I'm glad you brought it to the spotlight.  A lot of what you brought up, especially with the uncertainty of how to combine the text properly here, is something we've been hitting recently which is why we decided to REDESIGN events entirely.  Like I said prior it's a little early to demo it, but it "blows out" the pieces of the event and superimposes them on the map - doing away with the salmon background and working with the entire screen.  It gives it a more natural cause/effect display and lets us be more descriptive with the text.  It looks a lot nicer, though it could still use a proper artists touch.

About the map, we're on probably the 8th iteration of this map and I think each time we get a little closer to having the features more naturally blend in together.  That mountain/forest boundary there definitely could be improved, but I'm guessing we won't be going through for another overhaul until the demo is imminent.  I like the idea of going a little deeper with the blending on the edges, I can change the layer settings and see that in effect for my next build.

The "stale" nature of the map was a HUGE concern for me early on, I like a living map although still not wanting it to detract from the agents, heroes, and units who should dominate your vision - what doesn't come out from the images is there are a lot of subtle "pulsation" effects on the map that are almost impossible to see unless you focus on them, but it gives the map a more vital feel.  The shields, for example, all pulsate with certain colors slightly based on their status and owners, and darkness spreads from them based on your influence.  In addition, the Military units, garrisoned or otherwise, have banners flying gently in the wind, and birds occasionally dot the screen.  All in all I THINK I accomplished the sort've natural feel I wanted on the map, and I really look forward to our feedback on the upcoming videos.

Again, thanks for this post - it's the type of critical feedback we've been hoping for, understanding of our limited artistic ability at this time but also constructive with straightforward techniques to improve it.

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greatorder

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #38 on: August 11, 2014, 08:20:08 pm »

Nenjin, I misread 'bevelled edge' as 'devilled egg'
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nenjin

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #39 on: August 11, 2014, 08:28:04 pm »

Ain't no shame in that.

KDG, I like the sound of "in situ" placement of notifications. I like the card motif plenty, but sometimes other presentations are worthy breaking from the mold on.

Also, you might consider editting the title to try and describe the game. "Turn-based fantasy dark lord sim" or something of that variety. The title of the game is evocative but I skipped past this one a few times and even posted in it before I sat down to find out what the game was about.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 09:01:33 pm by nenjin »
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If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the Gods, and the nights will flame with fire.
Quote from: Sindain
Its kinda silly to complain that a friendly NPC isn't a well designed boss fight.
Quote from: Eric Blank
How will I cheese now assholes?

Urist McScoopbeard

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #40 on: August 11, 2014, 08:36:24 pm »

In response to a more lively map:

Maybe you should add some map animations? Travelers along the road, ships along trade routes, shifting frontlines during wars, etc. etc.

all reflecting whats going on?

Of course, not that it's really representative of what this game is about, but ill point you toward Distant Worlds 4X, the feeling that you can zoom in on individual ships/fleets/planets and that they go about their daily business no matter what you're doing really adds a lot of depth.
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Zangi

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #41 on: August 12, 2014, 01:29:04 pm »

Watching these Posts
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KingDinosaurGames

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #42 on: August 12, 2014, 06:34:43 pm »

In response to a more lively map:

Maybe you should add some map animations? Travelers along the road, ships along trade routes, shifting frontlines during wars, etc. etc.

all reflecting whats going on?

Of course, not that it's really representative of what this game is about, but ill point you toward Distant Worlds 4X, the feeling that you can zoom in on individual ships/fleets/planets and that they go about their daily business no matter what you're doing really adds a lot of depth.

Ideally, all of this would have been on the table - if we had an artist at the start of the project or the funds to hire one full time we would have planned to have exactly what you describe.  In peaceful time farmer's at the fields, trade flourishing - in times of war little refugees moving across the map.  Unfortunately we're forced to be more abstract with how we show the world, villages can burn, shields radiate darkness and crack as order falls, but moving beyond that has been a challenge given that I don't want to split myself any further from development.

However, we do have a friend (friendship is our only currency right now) who is mocking up a wagon and a ship in 3d which we may just put, tiny, on the map to add just those elements.  It may, or may not, look good and get in the game - we'll have to see.

Hopefully the KS goes well and we can get the GUI freshened up and make this all look clean.
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Cthulhu

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #43 on: August 19, 2014, 03:48:16 am »

Updoot!  Looks like they got a hold of some sort of artist.  Some screenshots of the new Bad Guy Selection interface are fancy and frustratingly tantalizing.

Spoiler: Speculation? (click to show/hide)

I like the gods' names a lot better.  I dunno, just throwing Cthulhu in there seemed a little strange, but all the names are cool now and you can get a sense of how they work and what they do.  So what do we think the little icons are?  Belial probably has Will Over Fate from Azarine in the old pic but herald of the corrupted makes me think he might be the new Zombie God as well too, having some kind of power that raises the dead or corrupts people into monsters.

And then Karth I'm guessing is the wargod.  World in flames sounds like some kind of fire god but he's also the scarred like Orgus and he's got the shortest sleep timer which makes me think he'll probably be a more combat-oriented god, coming into the world early but weaker and conquering more militarily.  That sounds pretty cool, I like Karth.

And then Azlan is Cthulhu and Sysphus I'm not sure about.  The screenshots suggest he's a human who became what he is through something you choose in world creation, like sucking out dying people's last breaths.  Pretty cool but I'm not sure how well it jives with the flavor text at the top about incomprehensible old ones.

I'm pretty hyped, a little disappointed that these GUI updates will delay the videos though D:
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Xantalos

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Re: That which sleeps- in development
« Reply #44 on: August 19, 2014, 03:54:55 am »

If Sysphus does turn out to be a former mortal he'll probably be a man turned into a magical monstrosity of some sort, like Nagash from Warhammer Fantasy.
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