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

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.

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.


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

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 :smiley:

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 :smiley:

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.

You never cease to impress us :slight_smile:

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.

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

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 :cool:

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!

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.

As always man, this is simply FANTASTIC!!!

I trully love your art style!


you-re such a good artist

Thanks udkultimate and Neongho. I always love hearing your input.

And now it’s time for my monthly update and screenshot dump.

I added interiors to the buildings in the last city I made.

And here’s the portal to the next area.

Which takes us here…

Our characters are in the Shadowlands once again, and it’s more dangerous than ever.

The next portal you’ll go through is located here:

Welcome to the city of Utakawa, in the Yamatai Islands. Those Japanese-themed meshes were a huge pain to get imported correctly. The roofs were full of tiny gaps and duplicate vertices. And all of the surfaces were mirrored. And the brick bases were at inconsistent scales. I had to do hours and hours of work to make them presentable. And I also chopped up the meshes into smaller chunks to make them more modular. And I implemented pieces from other meshes in the game so that they don’t look entirely different from the European-style towns.

And here is that town on the world map.

I still have lots of work to do, but the game is very slowly reaching completion. I have decided to release the game under Steam Early Access in January 2019. May I owe Epic millions in royalties. :slight_smile:

Man, this is a great idea!!! It is indeed an excelent idea, because your game already seems to have plenty of content for people play and enjoy. You were able to reach a very distinct visual style, mixing 3d environment with 2d sprites exactly like Sega Saturn’s Grandia.

I personally loved how you did blend the characters sprites seamlessly with the 3D Environment, I see they are aflicted by the light aswell.

Good luck boy :smiley:

Thanks udkultimate. I appreciate it. Getting the sprites to work right was a huge challenge. For a long time, the first thing people would say about my game is “The sprites just don’t look right in that world.” But it seems that now everyone is OK with it. A preview on Cliqist noted the “striking visual design” with the sprite/3D mix that hasn’t been seen in a long time.

And thanks for the luck. I’ll need every bit of it because…

Today Himeko Sutori is launching on Steam Early Access.

The game isn’t done yet. There’s still a lot of work to do, actually. But I think the game is ready for people to see it. Anyone who has an interest in strategy RPGs who wants to try Himeko Sutori can do so, and get a solid feel for what the game will be like.

And I’d just like to note for a minute here that my first post about the game was back in 2014: First Peek: Himeko Sutori - Epic Games Forums. I started working on this game over four years ago. That feels like a long time.

Hey bro, congratulations, this is indeed a milestone, getting your game out to people, finnaly, even if it is not finished yet.


Also, I am going to publish the first gameplay trailer of my game about war in palestine, because I have completed the first mission (first map) with everything (animations, custom weapons, mission objectives, cutscenes, boss battle) and this gameplay trailer shows almost 90% of the final game quality and pacing.

I have changed the history from a religious perspective (holy war) to a personal quest for revenge of the game’s protagonist against Israel army for jailing him unjustly and killing his family in an airstrike (i have elaborated a good plot taking inspiration from holywood’s action movies).

I will upload this game to steam and make a closed beta on which I will select some folks from here and elsewhere to test this demo of my game. I plan to release it with 5 full missions, and then update each month one new mission untill finishing the 15 missions of my game’s history.

Stay connected and also let us know whenever you launch Himeko Sutori on steam!


Thanks @udkultimate and good luck on your own game too.

Congratulations on your launch on Steam Early Access. ^^
I hope you will be well paid for things you have worked for a long time.

told to a couple of friends about your game that are into anime and they like it