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Himeko Sutori, tactical turn-based JRPG, armies of hundreds of unique characters

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    During the month of May, this is what I worked on:

    Emissive masks on the character sprites

    I wanted to introduce magical weapons and give them some sort of visual indicator that they aren't just regular weapons. The weapons already had a texture for RGB and opacity. Adding a glow mask should have required adding another texture, which I didn't want to do. So instead I messed with how the material interprets the alpha channel, which now serves double duty as both the opacity mask and the emissive mask. The glow itself is very simple: a tiling cloud texture at different scales, one panning up-left and the other panning up-right, multiplied together, used as the alpha for a lerp between two colors.

    Reassembling my sprite material (which is basically a lot of textures layered in different orders depending on camera direction and pawn direction) in order to layer the glow mask properly ended up being a large undertaking. But I think the effect turned out nicely.

    New pumpkinhead character

    An RPG just feels like it needs more enemies than I currently have. These pumpkinhead guys start with the Strawman character class and can unlock the Scarecrow class. They use scythes and sickles, deal high damage, and have low defense. All of their speech consists of lines from the Hollow Men by T. S. Eliot. The poem itself is a little unsettling. Having a scarecrow recite relevant lines from it during combat is even more unsettling.

    New fire and lighting effects

    Himeko Sutori's fire used to consist of flipbooks from a purchased asset pack. I'm replacing most or all instances of those fires with procedural fire, which looks a lot better IMHO. I made a jagged shape with a yellow-orange-red color ramp in After Effects. I multiply that by a panning yellow-black-red noise pattern. And then I pan a different noise pattern and add it to the texture coordinates, and I get a beautiful shimmering, flickering, dancing fire.

    I had been avoiding dynamic lights for a long time due to performance concerns, but eventually I reached a point where I just could not achieve the desired effect without them. I tried out some dynamic lights and realized that in my target hardware requirements, a couple of dynamic lights here and there won't hurt performance.

    And here's a tip that I'd like to share with you. I learned it recently after watching some GDC videos. Ever notice how additive particle materials just look white in a bright setting, and translucent materials don't look bright enough or have dark edges? Here's how you solve that: Use the texture's alpha to blend between (brightness * texture) and ((brightness * texture) + destination). That way, you can have the material glow as much as you want around the edges, but you keep the color in the middle of the material in bright settings. I don't know how many people will read this. Maybe I should make that information a separate post.

    New town

    I've realized that I really prefer the aesthetics of a fixed camera position. Whether fixed to world space, or fixed relative to the pawn, I like the way it looks and I like the simplified level design. So in large open areas like the world map, I'll allow camera movement. And during combat I'll allow camera movement. But just about anywhere else, I think I'm going to keep a fixed camera. The fixed camera works really well in places like this town. This level just wouldn't work with a spinning camera.

    This new town served several purposes for me. It let me try out a new camera mode. It also changes the pacing of the first chapter and gives me a place to introduce crafting stations.

    And of course I had to add crafting materials and recipes, which was really time-consuming, but not as interesting as any of this other stuff.
    Last edited by Nathaniel3W; 05-31-2018, 02:55 AM.
    Check out Himeko Sutori, the upcoming tactical RPG where you control armies of over 100 unique characters.


      Night scenes were really boring to look at. I added rim lighting to all of the outdoor materials, and I think it's a huge improvement. The rim lighting was more complicated than usual because a lot of the materials are triplanar and the detail normal maps tile in world space, and the simulated light vector is in world space, but the macro-scale normal maps are in normal space. So I had to do some extra work to get everything calculated in the right vector space. Also, the color and intensity change with time of day.

      Next, I'm integrating crafting into everything. That means building locations with crafting stations, putting tools and recipes into vendor inventories, and putting crafting materials into the random loot drops.

      Adding more locations, and making sure that the character lighting works everywhere. I still need to tweak a few locations.

      Adding more locations. Note the triplanar projection on the landscape, detail textures on the rocks, and rim lighting on the canyon walls and far corner of the towers.

      And here's the transition to the next area.

      World-spanning epic RPGs sure do require a lot of levels. I think I might be about 25% done.
      Check out Himeko Sutori, the upcoming tactical RPG where you control armies of over 100 unique characters.


        World-spanning epic RPGs sure do require a lot of levels. I think I might be about 25% done.

        Its always better to surpass expectations.
        So, looks-wise its all been worth it dude!

        Love the outdoor environments the most.
        Its where you see this game come alive...
        (Too many games share similar indoors)...


          Man, what I can say, is always, WOW, you are a brilliant developer!!!! This game for me is like the spiritual successor of the original Grandia (old rpg franchise from Sega Saturn) which was a masterpiece on its time, and one of the most epic RPG on the game industry.

          Sincerely, for one-man developer, your work stands out from many other games, including the fact that you are using a kind of "outdated" technology (UE3), and you have done everything almost from scratch.

          Don't worry that you are just 25% done on the game, be sure that whenever you release it, you will succeed man

          By the way, thanks for helping me with my stealth kill script, you ROCK!!!!

          PS: I always save all your screenshots for the delight of my eyes and to serve as inspiration to keep myself motivated on my projects
          Last edited by udkultimate; 06-27-2018, 11:48 AM.


            I was surprised by your rim lighting work.
            Because of the rim lighting work, the details of your game background are much better than before. ^^


              The next area. Need to make some NPCs and more battle maps. But overall, I think this area is shaping up pretty well.

              Check out Himeko Sutori, the upcoming tactical RPG where you control armies of over 100 unique characters.


                You never cease to impress us


                  The latest trailer is up!

                  It's been 9 months since my last trailer. I figured it was time for an update.

                  Didn't get tons of new content done during August, but because of one very dedicated tester, I was able to fix tons of bugs and add a few really nifty features that I hadn't thought of.

                  And maybe I'm getting close to having fixed the bugs? Once those are squashed I'll be able to really focus on new content. And then with more new content, maybe one day I'll actually finish the game.
                  Check out Himeko Sutori, the upcoming tactical RPG where you control armies of over 100 unique characters.


                    I loved this new trailer. Your game is looking very professional my friend!

                    By the way, how do you get the inspiration to create this narrative, because according the dialogs, your game seems to have a very deep narrative, with many characters and their histories.

                    Keep up the good work


                      Thanks udkultimate. For the story, I had kind of a rough idea, but then I came across a guide called Save the Cat! That really helped me with story structure. It helped me identify what the story needed, and then I filled in the details with the ideas I had. If you ever have to get deep into storytelling, I'd suggest taking a look at Save the Cat!
                      Check out Himeko Sutori, the upcoming tactical RPG where you control armies of over 100 unique characters.


                        I tried out a new development philosophy this month. Instead of trying to deliver small, highly polished sections of the game, I tried blocking out a large section of the game with the intention to go back and add more detail later. Here's some of what I did in October.

                        When we last saw our heroes, they were on the other side of this portal.

                        Out of the portal, they must trek through the Shadowlands again.

                        Their immediate destination is South Point Crossing.

                        Through the World Gate at South Point Crossing, you're in a new environment. Here I'm using the same meshes seen elsewhere in the game, but I'm blending between the regular texture and a snow texture based on the dot product with (0,0,1). I also have a tiling specular texture that isn't obvious in this picture.

                        This is the world map, quite a different place from the desert map.

                        Eventually you'll get to the Icy Reach. From here you'll launch your assault on the Scholars of Candle and Sword.

                        And for fun, here's some of the higher-tier equipment I've been working on. It's fun getting into new, more fantastical designs, instead of the plainer, more realistic lower-tier stuff I had been working on before.

                        Check out Himeko Sutori, the upcoming tactical RPG where you control armies of over 100 unique characters.


                          As always man, this is simply FANTASTIC!!!!

                          I trully love your art style!



                            you-re such a good artist
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