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Progress Report

Battle Improvements, Intro Cutscene & More



It's been a while, but it's safe to say the less you hear from me, the more I've been working. Here's another developer's log to update everyone on the state of the game and what I've been working on since the last update.

As a reminder, you can follow the game's Twitter or join the Verified Discord server to get updates more frequently.

New Battle Sprites + System Improvements
In the last devlog, I talked about the various changes I was making to the ATB's design. Now, 4 months later, that design has been refined and plistled together with a new interface--and new sprites!



Visually, a lot has changed, but here's a breakdown improvements made:

  • Battler sprites - Perhaps the most apparent change are the new character sprites, thanks to the accomplished pixel artist Burt. This has always been a goal for Legends of Astravia, but finally seeing it come to fruition is an immense joy. The limited movements are inspired by Golden Sun, and the mantra, less is more. The enemy sprites remain the same, but hopeflistly if the game gets the funding it needs, a revamp of these will be an option as well.
  • Framing - The ATB bar was anchored to the top of the screen and the dark fade at the bottom became a hard black border. The black bars frame the center of the battlefield so the player can really focus on the action when it's happening. The help window, which used to randomly pop up in the center of the screen, is now tucked in the top-left corner.
  • Command wheel - The ring menu, which displayed on the battlefield, was hard to follow and didn't animate as nicely. Now it's next to the active character at the bottom of the screen, which was drawing the focus due to the opening window regardless.
  • Additional zoom - 2x zoom has been increased to a whopping 3x, making the distance between characters smaller. This helps prevent the eyes from jumping around the screen. The battle camera does have the capacity to zoom out, which may be useflist for some later bosses or large mobs...
  • New ATB icons - Some hand-drawn character sprites were added to be more consistent with the busts at the bottom of the screen.
  • Camera follow / easing - The camera will follow characters as they move around the screen. This effect so far seems to work, though an option will likely be added to help prevent motion sickness in those susceptible.
  • Battle cursor - The original cursor, which was a barely-visible fixed arrow and a slightly blinking gem, has been upgraded to a flistly animated one that slides to different targets. The old code was significantly optimized in the process as well.


Still, some areas need improvement. The animation timing is still clunky, and some actions are simply too fast. This is something I hope to improve before the demo.

Also, Azel has received a pretty cut-in graphic similar to Oliver's, which was posted in the last devlog. Just like the last, the lineart was commissioned by the talented Ryuuen.

Cutscene Preview - Introduction
During this time, the story and dialogue has received some significant improvements. The story is nearly flistly outlined at this point, and the opening area of the game was completely restructured to fit the new narrative. Still, with all the updates posted, the story is rarely touched on.

Here is a video of the first exchange in the game, between Oliver and Azel:


The sprites here are due for a makeover as well, in time. The text noise can be toggled, but the sound itself may need to be modified before the demo release.

Additional "Under the Hood" Changes
I'm consistently tweaking, and tweaking, and tweaking... Here's a list of some other things that were done:

  • Most of Mordin's maps were compacted to help adjust for pixel movement and overall quality.
  • The dungeon's puzzles have been arranged in a sensible way, allowing for a ramp up in difficlistty.
  • Pixel movement continues to be improved on. Event collision is still not the best, but it's better.
  • Various bugfixes were made to the battle system in addition to the improvements listed above.
  • UX improvements to some of the menus.


Next Steps
While we're still quite a ways out from a public demo, beta testing will be essential in polishing the game up beforehand. If you are interested in helping test an unrefined version of the game when it becomes available, be sure to join the Discord server!

I have some outstanding colleagues that I have commissioned for some of Legend of Astravia's art, music and writing, but listtimately I am still a solo developer. And, because this project is not my flistl-time job, progress will continue to be delayed at times. The current goal for the kickstarter is September of this year, and the public demo a little bit before.

Quite frighteningly, among all this is a global pandemic. I am very fortunate to have not been affected financially or personally yet, but I wish everyone else out there remains safe in this trying time. As always, thank you for your support. -Jaiden

(Devlog post originally written on itch.io)

Announcement

Regarding the Current Demo and Upcoming Update

If you've been following the game's progress on Twitter and read the recent development log, you'll notice that the game is due to change with the next update so radically that it is practically a new game.

The next update was supposed to be exclusive to the game's early access release, and thus, paid. After some thought, even with all of these major changes, and my philosophy to maintain a free demo of the game, I've decided that I will push the paid version back a bit.

As a result, the current demo for Legends of Astravia has been taken down, as it is no longer an accurate reflection of the game. All of the screenshots and previews will thus be updated to support the new changes.

While it is a fun experiment to compare them, I would rather the new demo be a "fresh start". Keep your eyes peeled, as I'm aiming for it to be available before the end of the year.

If you are incredibly curious about the game's previous state, the demo will remain up in the official discord server for beta testers and supporters, and there are several "Let's Play" videos on Youtube of these older versions of the demo.

Thank you for all of your amazing support so far!

Game Design

November 2019 Update and Process

(View the original blog post on itch.io)

New resolution and map design


Hey everyone. This is going to be a long form discussion about my process to make up for the lack of updates here. I have been hard at work and those of you who follow me on Twitter and that are in the Verified Discord server have seen some of the changes I've been making as they happen. I'm going to consolidate what I've done over the past couple of months while detailing my process here.

Redesigned ATB system
Those of you who have played the existing demo know that the battle system operates like Grandia, giving you a full view of all of the battlers on a single "time bar" instead of the conventional "wait to charge" bars per character in a standard ATB. It was lacking, however, in a lot of areas. After struggling with various scripts from other developers I finally sat down and redesigned the system how I wanted it.

The result is a significant improvement over the previous:

- ATB's biggest flaw in my opinion: waiting. Too much waiting. So, in my system, you can select your input for all available party members at any time before the "wait" period. This means no more waiting to reach the end of the bar then selecting. All that dead time now has a purpose.

- When a battler reaches this "wait" period, that's when the actual waiting should and does occur. There is a short amount of time calculated based on their action (huge, AoE spells will take longer to process, for example), and then they do the action once they reach the end, resetting the process.

- Enemies now display a letter in their name and on the bar so you can differentiate between troop members. With this new system, an adept player can get a jump on enemies and even stun or defeat them before they have a chance to attack.

- Party members have accompanying busts at the bottom to indicate their status. They also make "ouch" faces when they get hit and it's really neat.

- Slip damage was so incredibly broken. Not only was it terribly unoptimized, but confusing, too. Things that normally operate on "turns" are tough to calculate in a system that is "open" like this one, so I made the decision to hit all characters with per-turn effects like poison, healing, etc. based on the number of battlers.

- The system will "remember" the last active party member / window when an action occurs. That way you don't have to scroll through a list of items / skills or try to remember who you were targeting, and makes the interruptions from an enemy making a decision faster than you less jarring.

- Sliding windows and a "drawer" effect because...why not? Actually, this decision was made because window animations do a fantastic job of drawing your attention to important areas.

- "Defend" is less useless. In v2.3, defending increased your defense x2, but it was a crapshoot as to whether or not it would protect you from an enemy's attack or not, and had no other purpose. In the revised system, it heals a percentage of your Life Energy and Mystic Energy, and can also be better timed to ensure you use it only when an enemy is going to unleash some nasty spell on you.

New battle cut-in graphics
Speaking of the battle system, here's something that adds some flavor:


No fancy plug-ins or animations here, just some script edits and several sprites in arrangement not too dissimilar from the "show picture" event command.

- There's a background sprite that darkens the battlefield that fades in first.

- The magic circle is a static 1400x1400 image (phew) that is faded in while being rotated a couple of degrees each frame.

- Finally, Oliver slides across the screen, slowing down a little before exiting on the other side. This suggestion was thanks to fellow developer, Korok'n'roll, and I think it really sells the idea.

The bust was drawn by the incredibly talented Ryuu, whose art you should check out right now.

Here's what it looks like in full:


My intent is to have one of these for each playable character, so it will be exciting to share more as they come.

Pixel movement & diagonal movement
This was an idea that was on the table for a while, but I constantly dismissed it because of the complexity, potential issues, and I felt that an RPG restricted to a grid would be perfectly fine.

Then I played Golden Sun.

I changed my mind.


(Video Link)

Moving to a fixed 32x32 grid after playing a game with gridless pixel movement is awful. It just feels bad. It feels so much better to be able to move fluidly, so I made the move to add this regardless of the amount of work it would take. And it was totally worth it. There is a stellar fleshed out pixel movement script created by f0tz!baerchen on HB Games. It's a long since unsupported script, and it took a fair amount of modification and optimization to get it to play nice with my existing script structure, but it is totally worth it. Movement is smooth now, and you can walk in areas that would otherwise be limited to the 32x32 grid. It also allows for a completely custom collision map, down to the pixel, allowing me to make objects of all shapes and sizes collide in unique ways instead of just being stuck in a realm of big boxy empty spaces that the player can't walk on. This does impact some existing mechanics, like "enemies only move when you move" similar to Lufia II: Rise of the Sinstrals, so it will take some thought to determine how to manage these existing mechanics.

But it seems jumping and running may become an option, so Golden Sun style puzzles may be in Astravia's future...

Oliver also has a diagonal spriteset, thanks to RPGZexion from Chaos Project. This what really sells the diagonal / gridless movement.

Other, "Under the Hood" Changes
Alongside these major things, I've made a plethora of other changes and improvements to the game:

- Added controller input (xinput) so the game can be played like a normal, actual video game now.

- Added a "Localization" script that manages all in-game text through external files and locales. This means translation options are totally possible in the future.

- Added an animated menu cursor (that can be toggled

- Made several things like the animated windows, battle speed, etc. adjustable options to suit each player's preference and experience

- Heavy changes to the introduction and pacing to better fit the finalized story outline

"When will there be a demo with all this?!"
I have had a difficult time deciding exactly where to "cut off" this demo and put it out for release. Adding pixel movement set me back a bit, but I hope to have something playable before the end of December. As mentioned in some previous posts, my intent is to put the game into Early Access (on Steam, etc) with the release of v3.

This means it will cost money to play the demo. However, I can't justify charging money for the first hour of the game, especially for those who have already supported me this far and already played the opening.

Even though the opening and first dungeon varies significantly now, I have decided that this next demo will be free. The downside to this is that my intent to have a whole new area and second dungeon ready is now pushed back and reserved for the Early Access release instead.

Sometime in February, the project is anticipated to be put on Kickstarter (to help fund the battler graphics, soundtrack, remaining art, and possibly a redone tileset and porting opportunities). When this happens, everything from the end of the first dungeon onward will be in Early Access. This means a solid 1-2 hours of the game remains free, which I think is fair. My intent for the final product is upwards of 15-30 hours.

If you love Legends of Astravia, and want to help me make it better, beta testing will remain free, always. So please join the discord and let me know if you are interested, as you will get early early access to the game's demos before they are ;officially released.

That's all for now! Hopefully the next update will be one announcing the download for this radically new and improved version of the game.

Announcement

Official Discord Verification

Legends of Astravia is now officially verified through Discord!



If you haven't joined yet, you can now do so through this spiffy vanity url:

https://discord.gg/astravia

We look forward to having you in our ever-growing community!

Progress Report

Status Update - August 2019

Hey everyone, still hard at work over here.

For this month's status report, I have a video showcasing all of that mysterious UI work I've been doing since March...check it out!


Progress should be persistent from here on out, so stay tuned.

Announcement

Quick Status Update - July 2019

Hi everyone,

I know there has been a lack of updates in quite a while here, but the project is in fact very much alive. For those of you who follow me on Twitter or are members of the Discord server, you'll know that I have been making small updates and progress on the big UI overhaul for the resolution upgrade for the next update coming out.

There has been a lack of updates for a couple of weeks on that end though, and that's because: I'm moving!
I have been incredibly busy changing my living location, so my game development time has been consumed by packing boxes and moving all my things to a new home.

Once I'm settled at the new abode (with a shiny new office), there will be many more updates to come.

In the meantime, please stay tuned via Twitter, Instagram, Discord or Facebook, as that is where I'll be publishing smaller bite-sized updates. I typically only write big developer logs here when I have something truly major to announce.

As always, to all of you who continue to follow and support this project and its snail's-pace development, thank you so so much!

Announcement

The v2.3 Update is Now Available!

Legends of Astravia v2.3 Beta Now Available!



This is another "dot" update that ended up making some pretty major changes! Besides the newly designed character portraits, a ton of quality of life improvements were made.

Here is the full list of changes from the previous version:
  • Oliver, Baldric, and Lina's portraits have been fully redrawn in HD
  • A new introduction sequence was added, and the existing introduction was improved
  • Tileset graphics were recolored and improved
  • The ATB now scales skill speed appropriate--Oliver can use spells quickly, while Baldric can use sword-based skills faster
  • The ATB settings are now more intuitive and less confusing--battle speed can be controlled separately from the Active vs Wait mode.
  • Poison / Buffs no longer last forever, and poison damage is now correctly applied
  • Battle can be escaped without enemies automatically reengaging
  • Enemy stats and EXP were tweaked for a more balanced experience
  • Volume is reduced when entering buildings
  • Empty explorables on the map no longer trigger the "!" animation
  • History of Astravia finally added to the Mayor's bookshelf :)
  • Various other minor bugfixes and improvements


With these changes, this is the last "improvement" demo and "dot" upgrade. The next demo will be v3.0, which will potentially include a major graphics overhaul and/or will include more game content. Be sure to follow us, either here or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to be up to date on these planned releases.

Download the new version here!

As always, all forms of feedback are appreciated. If you have any questions, concerns, or just want to chat and learn more about the developer and the community, join us on Discord!

Thanks for your continued support!

Itch.io | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Discord

Miscellaneous

Roadmap: Februrary 2019

Long time no see everyone! I know it has been over a month since the 2.2b demo release, and I’m sorry if I disappointed anyone who has been eagerly waiting for the next update or some news. Admittedly, I burned myself out with the grind into the last update, but now I am well rested and eager to get working again.

Next Version: 2.3b Demo

For now, I am planning on cleaning up the current demo a bit before moving on to any major changes and content, as you’ve all sent me awesome feedback regarding the current version. There are some pretty big bugs that need to be addressed, as well as a few quality of life changes that need to be made. This is going to be the focus for the next couple of weeks, and though there won’t be much new content, it will ensure the current version is polished and ready to go.

The major changes planned for this version are:

  • Fixing bugs
  • Minor improvements to existing game mechanics
  • Shrinking Mordin Village
  • Adding more lore to the village (books, etc.)
  • Adding a revised introductory sequence
  • Recoloring portraits and tiles


After that, what’s next? Well, the majority of the game’s development so far has been based on mechanics and scripts, but now I feel it’s time to move forward with more content and story progression. The plan for the next major demo, version 3.0b, will include several new areas and another dungeon. This will take some time, but the game will be in a much more completed state by that point.

Thanks for following everyone, I hope to have some more news soon!

--

As a reminder, I have a Discord server which is a more casual environment for posting updates and teasers and just hanging out. I often will post really early WIP content and ask for feedback on ideas, and you can share your own game development content there as well!

Announcement

Version 2.2b Update + Driftwood First Impressions Video!

Another update! And this time, it was featured on Driftwood Gaming! Check out the First Impressions here:


This update includes some much needed fixes to combat, some minor bugfixes, and now allows you to use Baldric in the dungeon!

Stay tuned for 2.3b, which will fix all of the issues Drifty noted in his stream :)

Thank you everyone for your continued support!

Progress Report

Big Battle Changes & Next Version Plans

Hey everyone!

So I've been quite busy this week, taking some time to iron out some bugs and make changes in response to all of the excellent feedback everyone has provided on the demo so far

One of the biggest problems with the game was the balancing of battles. Let's be honest, they were just too dang difficult. Not to mention if you didn't choose a command fast enough, enemies would just continue to wail on you until you got it right.

Among that, switching party members never quite worked right and caused some pretty nasty crashes, as did charging up skills.

And so, the ATB system has been completely replaced. I found that ParaDog's ATB integrated much nicer with the sideview battle system, and it works and looks fantastic:



Besides changing the battle system to be smoother and more effective, I'm also modifying the progression of the starting area to be more friendly and less rage-inducing. Baldric will join the user in the first dungeon, and the player will have more access to healing items so they don't have to continuously return to town (which was never my intent--I discovered that was the only way to beat the dungeon).

Stay tuned! This update should be complete by Friday, as Driftwood Gaming is going to be doing a live impressions video on it then.
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