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Progress Report

Halloween Update & Spotlight on Zhi Hun

After a long month of getting ready, I'm happy to announce that a complete demo of the first three chapters of Lore is available for download as part of the Release the Dead event! Future updates will likely flesh out some extra details and quests in the chapters (particularly Chapter 3 which, while complete for the purposes of the main storyline, doesn't feel as fully developed within the world as I would like it to eventually be.) While work begins on Chapter 4, I have to announce that I will be pausing development for the month of November while I finish submitting my PhD applications. I am excited to resume working on chapter 4, and I intend to do so as soon as possible in early December, aiming to release a download for the first 4/5ths of the game as early as late December/early January. In the meantime, I look forward to keeping up with people's input about changes they would like seen in the first three chapters and directions they would like the game to go for its last (and most likely longest) two chapters of gameplay. I am also anticipating releasing periodic blogs like this which spotlight characters and how to play them, starting with the godly empath: Zhi Hun.

A list of available skills Zhi Hun can obtain by the end of Chapter 3.
Zhi Hun is a well balanced character who focuses on buffing players and debuffing enemies through his skilled emotional manipulation. I have always wanted to write a character with empathetic magic into a game, and so it was a lot of fun to think about the ways in which this system can be implemented both in terms of story and gameplay. From a gameplay perspective, Zhi Hun diversifies the roster as a character who is focused primarily on manipulating advantages and disadvantages for the players and enemies, rather than dealing damage or healing necessarily. Playing his buffs at particular times can serve to greatly empower specific types of attacks during a difficult battle or disrupt a powerful boss' special attack with a well timed debuff. Given the diversity of options that Zhi Hun can acquire, he can be well played in any context when the player knows what to expect. Spells like Encourage are particularly useful with combinations of characters executing physical attacks that need to land successfully while Peace is most helpful when characters are focusing on dealing magic damage (particularly magic using the "Mind" element) or healing. Other spells such asFear and Sorrow can be similarly well timed to reduce the power of incoming enemy attacks or disrupt the speed at which those attacks are coming. Experimenting with his abilities in combination with other characters and certain enemy types can lead to complete sweeps of areas if played correctly or absolutely disastrous boss runs if used in a non-optimal order.

Zhi Hun learns new spells as he encounters those emotions in game.
As a god who spent millennia as a statue, Zhi Hun's powers are subprime at the beginning of Lore. However, through story and side quests, he may delve deeper into his own emotions and learn new skills. Completing quests and progressing through the story are integral to advancing Zhi Hun's spellpower and unlocking new emotions for him to cast. His journey is inherently more emotional than An Feng's, as he chooses to grapple with his personal demons through exploration of what they mean. His embrace of positive, negative, and neutral emotions alike facilitates his own growth on his path to realization that the life he had with his wife and son is gone forever. While he grapples with questions of love, both by bond with his wife and by blood with his son, Zhi Hun's journey also emphasizes the acceptance of sadness, anger, guilt, fear, and a whole range of emotions. As he learns to embrace these, on behalf of himself or others, he too learns to wield them in battle.

That's all for this week! I hope you enjoy the demo, and I will be back in the coming days (weeks?) to talk some about An Feng and Jun Lin!


Welcome to Lore & Release the Dead Update

Welcome to Lore, a project that began as a 15 minute birthday present for a friend who wanted a video game that emulated the world, story, and magic of Avatar the Last Airbender in a J-RPG form. While that never happened, the 15 minute sample of that birthday present slowly evolved into a full blown endeavor which I am excited to be sharing! This is an introduction to the world of the project and an update on some of the work that has been done for the Release the Dead event, which will culminate in an (almost) complete demo of the first three chapters to be released at the end of the month.

Where we've been

Lore follows a young sorceress, Jun Lin, on her quest to resurrect the gods who created the world from their eternal slumber at the hands of their son, Hei Ling. With the help of An Feng, the creator of the earth, and her husband, Zhi Hun, she aims to restore balance to the world and end Hei Ling's reign of darkness. As they traverse the world to build an ancient weapon which can bring down the dark god, they are faced with the trials of a world on the brink of destruction and a marriage between deities that seems doomed to fail. The first and second chapters focus on the return of An Feng and Zhi Hun to the earth and their slow realization that their power may be insufficient to defeat their son, as he and his chaos triumph over them time and time again.

Each character in Lore has unique skill acquisition that is story based and favors exploration and side story completion. Jun Lin learns spells to command the elements from stones hidden across the land. An Feng has her powerful sword magic restored by helping spirits who once aided her ages ago when she was a powerful goddess. Zhi Hun is an empath who learns to manipulate emotions of his friends and foes by experiencing the emotions himself. For these characters, and others, players will be rewarded by exploring the world and storylines of Lore to the best that they are able.

Boss fights in Lore are similarly inspired by the story and classic J-RPG bosses that emphasize strategy and use of a learning curve. A goal of the project is for these encounters to be fairly challenging and implement new gameplay rules that the player must learn to abide by. For example, one (unnamed) boss inverts the nature of the battle itself with hallucinogenic landscapes that influence which attacks will be powerful or weakened, while another has guaranteed invulnerability that can only be interrupted by specific combinations of moves. These are being continuously tweaked for 1) fine tuning the level of difficulty and 2) fully implementing the new gameplay rules, and so I don't expect them to be finalized in the upcoming demo. Speaking of...

Where we're going

This project had been in hiatus at the end of chapter 2 for a long time, until the Release the Dead event. Picking up in Chapter 3, the story follows a divided party as they continue to search for the pieces to an ancient weapon which can defeat Hei Ling, and introduces new areas of the world: chiefly the city of Tidek which sits in the shadow of Long Di's mountain. The third chapter will add about 1.5-2.5 hours of new gameplay, in addition to: two new characters, several side quests, two boss battles + a third optional boss fight (time permitting on the release of the demo). Most of the third chapter has been added for this event, about doubling the amount of content in the game thus far.

Spoilers for the chapter below!
The new chapter introduces the Seer, Mei, and her husband, Kun Rui. The initially serve as a contrast to the tragic family of An Feng, Zhi Hun, and Hei Ling, however it quickly becomes apparent that not all is as innocent as it would appear, and these two are plagued by darkness (as everyone is). The chapter additionally follows An Feng on her continued descent into madness, driven by her desire to kill her son and the manipulations of the demon Shi Wei.

Hopefully by the end of the month (pending PhD applications permitting), I will be able to upload a demo of the first three chapters. While the chapters are complete in their current form, I would like to aim to flesh out the side stories, boss experiences, and other character/story/world factors before submission.
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