Archive for October, 2017

Shadowhand Dev Diary #27: Lots of new enemies

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

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We’ve been working on two major things since the last update, and a few other things. Here’s the lowdown!

New Enemies

We added enemies into the second half of the game, which was a BIG task. For almost a year we’ve been sitting on the art for the remaining enemies because we knew it was going to take a while and there were a bunch of other things that needed doing more urgently.

Anyway finally they’ve all been edited and plugged into the game!

First Jake uses Photoshop to fixes errors in the source psd files. He check the poses, hands, weapons, outlines, transparency and other stuff. Then he plugs them into a master enemies psd file and scales and positions them to be consistent.

Then those images are exported and loaded into the game and offsets are calculated for enemy strikes on the player and vice versa, and gun smoke particles are added where relevant.

The following enemies were added:
- Soldier with pistol (a variant of a previous enemy)
- Art(hur)
- Gamekeeper (see screenshot above)
- Marsh Man Lance/Percy (2 versions)
- Marsh Woman Gwen
- Marsh Woman Guin
- Merl
- Ostler Joe (2 versions)
- Revenue Boss
- Revenue Man1
- Revenue Man2
- Lady Spry (2 versions)
- Shipwreck Sue
- A secret enemy

Enemies have between 3-5 stances and now there are over 200 enemy images in the game! (see image below)


(click to enlarge)


(click to enlarge)

Enemy Properties

Once the enemy graphics were in the game we made a giant spreadsheet of all of the enemies (see snippet above) in order to assign them properties such as health, defense, stealth, gold, special defenses, gear etc.

However, they all still need to be tested and balanced using the automated AI duelling system, which will be done soon.

New Save System

Another big change was that there’s now a new save system that basically records two different states: the state at the start of the chapter and the state mid-chapter.

This way if players fail a chapter and retry, or quit a chapter, the state can be reset back to the start of the chapter. The mid-chapter state is just the most recent save that gets loaded if the player shuts down the game mid-chapter OR if they retry a hand, perhaps due to losing a duel.

It was weirdly complex and took a long time to get right, and it’s a departure from the way that Regency Solitaire handles chapter/hand progress, but it was needed due to having an inventory system that can change mid-chapter.

Chapter Cards

Now that the enemies are done we were able to finalise the text and character images for the chapter cards (see image for Chapter 10 above)

These look pretty cool and we are pleased with how they turned out. Here’s another one…

Misc stuff

As per usual we did a bunch of other minor stuff including:

- Added a Play/Equip panel before puzzle hands so that players can swap out active/passive abilties.
- Fixed a bug with restarting a hand not rolling back some chapter stats for the current hand.
- Made mirrored throwing knife and rat particle effects for when they are used on the player.
- Added separate x offset for bombs hitting enemies so it doesn’t have to be the same as gun impact x.
- Enter and Space can be used to activate the Retry button on Level End screen if there’s no Next/Loot button.
- Added second blood splat/pow to pitchfork because it has two prongs.
- Made special weapon cards for the Ostler’s various punches.
- Made special weapon card for Whip Lady’s pistol.
- If there are two crates on a level the 2nd one doesn’t fade in! FIXED.
- Set music for all new enemies.
- Edited chapter names and shop message text.

OK that’s it for now. We’ll try and upload a video soon. We are getting there!

Shadowhand Dev Diary #26: Quest to Avalon

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

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The isle of Avalon is the legendary and magical place where King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was forged, and where he retreated, wounded after battle. Many believe that Glastonbury in Somerset is the Avalon of legend: archaeologists have found Dark Ages artefacts and burials here, and 12th century monks dug up what they claimed to be Arthur’s remains, adding weight to the theory.

Glastonbury Tor is a small, steep hill jutting out above the flat and once marshy fenland of the Somerset Levels, its landmark tower visible for miles around is all that remains of a mediaeval church toppled by an earthquake. The entire landscape is steeped in mysterious legends and fascinating archaeology. It is obviously the ideal setting for a quest…

Shadowhand’s Avalon
As part of her story arc, Lady Cornelia Darkmoor, aka Shadowhand, is sent on a mission to gather information from a knowledgeable ostler at the coaching inn on the far side of the marsh.

Willow has been grown and harvested on the Levels for centuries. The willow trees in our image have been pollarded, perhaps by someone like our character, Guin, using a billhook:

These days the Somerset Levels are mostly dry, but winter flooding has always been an issue in this low-lying landscape, which was once underwater. In the late 18th century when Shadowhand passed through, efforts had been made to drain some parts of the Levels. But it is safe to say that much of it would have been damp and boggy, and so hazards for passing travellers include bloodsucking leeches and toxic marsh gas:


Agricultural tools
There’s always been a tradition of people who work the land using their agricultural tools to defend themselves. Gwen is an Avalon character who is using her axes to gather firewood…but she won’t hesitate to use them on her enemies, either!

These characters are part of the second wave of enemies that we are currently adding to the later levels in the game. We’ll show you some more in our next post.

Shadowhand Dev Diary #25: New Levels and particle effects

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

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New Levels

Helen has been editing lots of levels to get them ship-shape for the final game. This means running the automated AI test system to make sure they aren’t too easy or too hard, and it also involves making them look nice and be interesting to play.

After she has a bunch of them ready we review them and pick out the most suitable ones for duels and puzzle hands and then make further edits to add in the new locks types I recently coded, and to add in hidden crates of goodies or goal items.

The screenshot above is from a new level on chapter 6. Notice how there are are groups of blue “dark cards” that you must clear by unlocking the top one with a lantern. It’s a cool new mechanic I came up with at about 2am recently. I was so excited to tell Helen about it but she was asleep, then I couldn’t sleep because I was all hyped :-)


(click to enlarge)

Level Editor

I’ve also made lots of improvements to the built-in level editor so that Helen can manipulate groups of cards easier and in more interesting ways. This has already paid off with some great new layouts.

I love making level editors and would like to make a bunch of levels now instead of coding, but that’s Helen’s job!

Improved Suit Lock Graphics

I added suit locks to the game a while ago (they are like Regal Locks from Regency Solitaire but you unlock them by playing cards of the correct suit instead).

However, when editing levels recently I realised that the inside of the frame needed a shadow to help separate it from the underlying card. I also put a shadow on the lower and right edges of the suit lock so it appears more bulky. These are the kind of little details that help the readability and beauty of a game that I probably shouldn’t be spending time on right now, but I can’t help it.

New Lock Particle Effects

I coded particle effects for the new locks including: gunpowder barrel, goal bars, grave, hedge, and thorns. The screenshot above is what you see when you dig up a grave with a shovel!

Magistrate’s Gavel

I also finished off the code for the Magistrates Gavel which can be used to smash off a selected card and two more random nearby cards. It’s pretty cool.

Misc Stuff

Some mores stuff I got done:
- Coded gunpowder barrel to make face up cards fall off within a certain radius.
- Sent final art list to artists. This is for crate items, large locks, gunpowder barrel, new keys and some other minor bits and bobs.
- Plugged in a grave digging sound from Powerup Audio.
- Tooltips for new keys/locks.
- Edited found item messages.
- Fixed a bug with Branding Iron ability. It didn’t count down the suit lock when changing to a wildcard.
- Added support for crates to not just be on the bottom layer so that they can be mixed in with cards now.

Next up: MOAR LEVELS!