Hi! Before I expose in detail everything about Izaki I’m going to start by apologizing, in the first place because English is not my main language, so some parts of this text may be a bit hard to understand, and in second place because this is going to be a huge wall of text (I’ll do my best to organize it so that you can easily find whatever you are interested in).
To the point. I want to share with the community what I’ve been working on this past months and, though is not common, (at least from what I’ve seen in other WIP game threads) talk a little about the background of the game world and its characters.
Introduction: What the heck is “Izaki”?
[SPOILER]Izaki is the name of the individual project I’ve been working on this year at college. It is my final degree assignment and consists mainly of creating a video game of the ARPG/Platform genre.
Before starting to work, I made the next self-restriction: to use an asset I have to create it beforehand. This may sound crazy if you are a one-man team (and it is, especially when the size of your project grows), but I wanted to force myself to improve in almost all areas related with game development: modeling, rigging, animating, coding, game and art design, etc. There are always parts of the pipeline you are less familiar with and I wanted to explore them all, even if I had to simplify some of them.
Therefore, I made (and I am still making) all the models, textures, animations, etc. that you can find inside the game. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe that results are always better when you have a team of specialist for each task, but we all know something like that is not always possible and in this case I chose to give myself a challenge. It is really tough sometimes, but I can’t deny I’m learning a lot.
Izaki’s story happens in a magical world called Kalimia and parodies a great variety of topics that made of video games and more specifically of the RPG genre what we all know and love today. Characters are often recreations of standard archetypes used in fiction and there are multiple references to common practices in level design, story script, incongruences and overuse of some topics, etc. It’s not a coincidence that you can find the adjective “Great” <<something>> all over the place. But even if the story always tries to make the player smile, that doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of interesting things to discover. The truth behind Kalimia’s problem and the legend of the four elements might be a really controversial one.
One of Kalimia’s most famous legends transmitted from generation to generation tells how four brave warriors, one of each element (air, earth, fire and water) nobly sacrificed their lives to prevent the end of the world. In Zen, a region located in Kalimia’s center, there is a famous cult of gurus who have preserved this legend since the beginning and assure that everything that tells is true.
It is said that the original Great Guru was the one that put a spell on the four heroes of the legend and gave them the power required to save everyone.
Nowadays, the cult of gurus is no longer what it was in the past, and if it still exists is only due to respect to an ancient tradition. In fact, things went downhill to the point that the only thing that remains of the cult is a strange building where the current Great Guru and his assistant reside. Instead of having lots of followers, now they have lots of financial problems.
From time to time, the Great Guru fakely prophesies the end of the world in order to catch the attention of Kalimia’s population, but people are getting used to just ignore everything he says… However, the abrupt irruption of natural disasters on one of the days announced by the Great Guru made the leaders of the four Great Nations suspect (Zephir of wind, Goroth of earth, Mikra of fire and Clodelia of water). Natural disasters didn’t stop with the pass of time and that alone made the leaders consider that the legend might be more than just a story that is often told to the small children.
Just like that began a strange casting where each region had to select a representative with a high degree of domain over his element… or that was the initial intention, because the part of “nobly sacrifice” of the legend was not a good hook to lure in many candidates. At the end of the day, four heroes were selected anyway. This four heroes traveled to Zen and underwent the ritual of the Great Guru, which end up combining them into one single being. The hero of the legend was born and his/her/its (who knows, science hasn’t gone this far yet, so I’m going to use the masculine out of habit) goal is to travel to another dimension to take over the Great Challenge and restore the elemental balance so that Kalimia returns to its normal state.[/SPOILER]
- Romeo: **Romeo is a young, happy and carefree man who specializes in treasure hunting. He enjoys bothering people who easily lose their patience, so Kiara is one of his favourite targets. Romeo takes great pride in his speed and wind powers and offered himself as a volunteer for the ritual just for the sake of living a new adventure.
- Welter: Welter is… in few words, a really strange guy. Many stories are told about his skill with the sword and his versatility when using attacks of the earth element, but no one has been able to actually verify the rumors. Some people say that he is a hitman, while others declare that he is a millionaire that has the hobby of aimlessly travel across Kalimia. He was the only one of the Goroth candidates that didn’t say “no” when asked to go on the quest. He said nothing. In fact, no one has ever heard a word come out from his mouth.
**- Kiara: **Kiara is an aggressive and hot-blooded girl who proved to be a highly skilled user of the fire element since she was young. In order to take advantage of this trait, she started to work as a bounty hunter and her fighting skills and relentlessness soon became well known in the guild. She tries to make others believe that, for her, the ritual is just another job, but she is proud of being the Mikra representative and hopes to fight skilled opponents and make new friends.
- Vera: Vera is the youngest member of the water priestess of Clodelia. Well-versed in healing arts, she was carefully instructed in the water element since she was born. Before traveling to Zen, she had never put a foot outside of the sisterhood’s facilities. All the information she knows about the outside world comes from books she took from the sisterhood’s library. This lifestyle made Vera is an innocent girl that is easily surprised with things that surround her. Nevertheless, hands up for the Clodelia region, because it was the only one that took the selection process seriously and thought the group of heroes would need a support member. Overall, the ritual was the perfect chance for Vera to explore the world and meet new people.
- The Great Guru: Direct descendant and only representative of the legendary sage family settled in Zen since time immemorial. His clan preserves the legend of the four elements and is supposed to take responsibility once the tragedy arises.
A Great Guru formation involves a complete isolation from society and the intensive and exclusive learning of the sacred language. Even though it may not look like it at first sight, he actually has special powers.
- Sápilin: It is tradition for the Great Guru to have an assistant that helps him with the diplomatic stuff and to communicate with the rest of society. Sápilin is the pedantic and proud man who fulfills this role. He partially understands the sacred language and translates it to the people who visit the Great Guru’s house. It is an extended rumor that he actually comes up with fake translations, but because no one is able to understand the sacred language apart from the Great Guru and him, there is no way to attest this. Despite his looks, he loves technology and has a secret lab in the Guru House where he comes up with strange gadgets. He even manages to stream Izaki’s adventure in the other dimension for people in Kalimia to watch… for a moderate price, of course.
- Instructor: the instructor is a character the hero finds for the first time when visiting the cave of the four elements. He explains him everything related to the Great Challenge and also teaches him how to use the powers of the fusion before sending him to find the four elemental objects to restore the balance of the world. He seems to be a really mysterious old man.
- Izaki: he is the character controlled by the player and the main character of the game. Izaki is the result of the fusion between the four elemental heroes after they underwent the ritual of the Great Guru. Even though they combined into one being, the individual awareness of each one of the four heroes is still present, and they manifest often in what we could call “interior conversations”. However, the four elemental heroes find also another awareness inside the fusion that introduces itself as “Izaki”. As the story progresses, this strange being begins to remember about its origin and its relationship with the world of Kalimia.
In combat, Izaki is a skilled magic swordsman that uses a wooden sword and is able to change between different elements to perform all kinds of attacks.
More information about the world and the characters will be revealed to the player while he advances in the game, usually with the interior conversation feature or through standard dialogue events that fire in key points of the game map.[/SPOILER]
Gameplay wise, Izaki belongs to the ARPG/Platform genre. The player controls a character that wanders around a magical world fighting different types of enemies and solving multiple puzzles in his quest to obtain four elemental items that are supposed to restore Kalimia to its original state. All the hero skills are available from the beginning and survivability depends mainly on the player’s positioning sense and in evading attacks at the correct moments.
The powers of the fusion are really handy
As a fusion, Izaki is overflowing with energy and is able to passively recover his health and mana over time. He also steals both from enemies when he hits them with his sword. Overall, his most redeeming quality is to be able to change his dominant element between the four basic ones that we all know at this point: air, earth, fire and water. Doing that, he also modifies his damage type and resistances, which is important to come ahead in battle. After all, he’ll be one-shotted if he is in a weak elemental form against strong attacks.
He moves at a decent speed and is not restricted by any stamina system. He also has the ability to jump and dodge enemy attacks.
Izaki can use his magical wooden sword to defeat enemies that block the way. He has a standard light hit combo attack that he can constantly use to apply pressure. He also has a charged strike, which he can use to apply damage in bursts or to nullify properties of some enemies, like for example breaking shields and barriers.
While he is in one of the four elemental forms, Izaki can spend mana to release different magic attacks, which can be useful to attack from a distance, disengage from groups of enemies or simply apply damage to enemies that are immune to physical attacks.
The hero of the legend has one special ability that lets him see what others can’t. This doesn’t come without a price though, because while he is using Serene Mind his field of view reduces drastically and he can be taken by surprise by enemies or stage hazards. This skill is essential to figure out some of the puzzles and to find weak points on enemies that otherwise would be invincible.
Just as four people (well, five, maybe) are sharing Izaki’s body in the game, up to four people can also share Izaki’s skills in real life. This won’t be your typical polished coop mode where you can easily work with your partners to make the game more easy… It’s actually the opposite, because dividing the actions of the main character will make things a LOT harder and you’ll die at every moment. If you are up to a challenge it sure can be a good way to test those friendship bonds you are so proud of. If you aren’t, there’s no problem, because it is totally optional and mainly a gimmick to reference the fusion behavior.[/SPOILER]
Izaki mixes plain solid colors with hand painted textures. Originally the toon effect was done in the post process volume, but I finally decided to compile the versatile Arnage toon shader and that’s what I have been using until now (big thanks to that guy. Thread link). The outline is still created using post process, although I’m still not sure about leaving it that way or use backface culling instead.
The screenshots are from a work in progress and things are therefore subject to change. There are a lot of assets that I need to “toonify” and polish, but I think I’ve come to a point where I can at least share it with others to know what they think about the game. Everything’s going to improve, I promise!
That’s all for now! If you have any questions/observations, I’ll be glad to listen and eager to receive feedback. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll be able to share with you some gameplay. The journey has just begun after all.