Author Archive | Rachel Blue

From HTML5 to Unity 2D (and then some)

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.

Animation Overhaul

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.

AI Overhaul

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.

Art Assets

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.


Seraph Town

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…


Finks Shop

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.

Final Notes

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.


Inventory Design

Where does all the cool loot go when you pick it up? Into the inventory of course! The magical bag of holding that has a near infinite capacity. But with so many different items to sort through how do we make sure Coal is organized and equipped to handle the ups and downs of adventuring? The answer is menus. Lots and lots of menus.


Less time rummaging in your backpack = more time adventuring and setting stuff on fire!

While we are still building in more menu’s there are several that we are going to show today. The basic inventory, Shop, and Map.



Once in the inventory you can sort through to particular items, (like quest related, or  ingredients) or look at them all pell mell in their hoarded glory. When you select an item the title and description pop up on the side. This is a chance for players to learn more about the uses, stats, and lore of the items they pick up. Or, in the case of the sample images here, read placeholder lorem ipsum text.

Shop Inventory


Consistency is important, so the shop inventory is very like the main inventory, with the exception of it having prices and numbers (and you can’t buy quest items). Otherwise item information is the same.



The map was a bit of a challenge for consistency. If icon size remained the same you would never be able to see very much of it at a time. This is why we opted for a much smaller icon size, and a simple legend to tell you the important things, like where you are, and where the loot is. (what else are maps for really).


More Menus

There are more menus to come that are still being tweaked and revised. These include a skill tree, quest system, and equipment. More updates to come for A Dragon Named Coal.


Pixel Art House Items

With all the tile sets, character sprites, and UI elements, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. Vanity Items. Everything you need to make a hovel a home, or deck out each room of a castle. After all, it’s the little things that make the game feel complete. So here is a sneak peek for some vanity assets custom made for our game A Dragon Named Coal.

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