We have a ton of changes to tell you about for A Dragon Named Coal. Particularly in the realm of progress and our game engine. As both have significantly more powerful.
Game Engine Switch
The engine we had was didn’t have great collaboration tools (which really hinders building out areas or editing existing ones). We played with the idea of making our own custom solution to fix this… but then Unity 2D was released, and it solved all our problems. We also plan on using the Unity 5 plugin (which should be coming out soon), which will keep our game in HTML5.
Overview of improvements
Hand painted art assets
We are no longer limited to using tile sets. That means we can create unique items, backgrounds, environments and more to make exploration a blast and the whole experience feel less blocky. For those of you who love tilesets, don’t worry. We’re still going to use them, just not everywhere.
In the image above you can see a screenshot of what we had before compared to a mock up of what is possible with the revisions. Much more pretty, right?
Full screen support
That’s right, before we had a limited screen area, now it will be taking over your monitor (or however much of your monitor you want it to have). This way you can enjoy all the pixels, and see more of the areas you’re exploring.
We’ve created a modular system for animations that allows more frames and attention to detail. It’s also works like a dream with Unity’s animator tools.
Decision based loading
Areas in the world will visually change based on your decisions now. Sometimes right away, sometimes later. So that by the end your game will not look entirely the same as your friends.
Rapid story-based prototyping environment (wtf does that mean?)
It will now take us minutes instead of hours to implement feedback and revisions. That means all your wonderful feedback for our game can be realized! (and won’t kill us). Everyone wins.
Dynamic Interactive Camera
Not only does this camera follow the player around. It knows when to zoom in or zoom out, and pan to a point in the scene.
We’ve moved over to Unity’s behave AI system which allows us to program the AI in a similar manner to AAA titles.
Multiple weapon types
Built in support for swords, and now battle axes too.
From new areas to shops and dialogue boxes. We’ve revised some things, and built whole new places to explore.
Dialogue boxe have a major re-work. Moving away from the pixelated paper texture and going for something a little more Skyrim-esque UI style. We found this felt more open and connected the conversation to the scene better. We have also brought on an awesome write (Christopher Davis) to help us with fixing up the demo’s story / dialogue. We also now use Chatmapper for all of our dialogue trees with Unity’s Dialogue System plugin.
A local blacksmith! New area to visit and character to talk to. Note that the Blacksmith’s tools will be interacted with in his idle animations.
Early concept of the Seraph town slums. Not the best part of town, but here you’ll find some traders who sell just about anyting. For a price…
The sketchy trader Fink and his little shop. He mostly has broken odds and ends, but there are bound to be some useful things in amongst all that junk.
RPG’s are all about story, and A Dragon named Coal is no exception. After getting roughly 80 different documents organized we had only scratched the surface. We did pretty good for a developer and artist… but we needed help. Enter the professional writer! Whether it’s composing dialogue, or fleshing out quests and plotlines Chris has joined the team to help. With his writerly prowess the first dialogue and quest lines have already improved.
Right now we’re aiming for the end of October to release the demo, although depending on how things go it could be right before Christmas. Might be better said as 2014 Q4.