Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Brief updates

It's been about a week since I started this blog, so it's time for more info/ updates/ screenshots.

Last time I blogged that I would be covering exploration and NPC conversations in a future post.

This is that post.

Alkahest's isometric world is divided into little floating chunks like this...

The Alchemist's home village, where his adventure begins.

As you progress through the world and learn new potion recipes, your ability to navigate the world improves. (Of course, it's that basic principle behind "metroidvania" style games.)

There are basic "gates" that keep certain areas unavailable. This is evident from the very first puzzle, where the bridge to the other side of town is missing, and you need to use the available ingredients to craft an ice bomb, freeze the river, and cross.

In the first area outside of your village, you come to a crossroads.
Notice in the bottom of this area, a unique mix of floral and fungal ingredients for the plucking.

In the previous post I mentioned the Reinforcement Potion and the Ether Potion... There's the Ironbell and Mandrake we need to make those..

Let's try taking them and going north to Capriel's Tunnel.

There are bad guys in our way! But also lots of rubble between us and them. Rubble is the base environmental object for a number of stone-based transformations.

Like these golems and boulders we've used to separate the alchemist from these enemy soldiers. After all, the alchemist's fashionable vestments wouldn't hold up well to those weapons.

If the golem doesn't take care of them, the alchemist can throw some Ice Bombs and viles of Alkahest at the enemies to finish them off.

Now the path to Capriel's Tunnel is free!

 Sick of looking at grass and trees yet? A new type of environment awaits within...

In the world of Alkahest, tunnels like these connect disparate environments. At the other end of this tunnel, you may find yourself in a Tundra, or a Desert, or perhaps a rich Oasis.

Okay, spoiler alert, it's a Tundra.

On to conversations:

Here's a screenshot from a small, un-released project I made for fun a while back. It's an 8-bit adventure game. "Adventure" in the classical sense, where it's primarily a story and text-based game.

Note the branching dialogue options.

I've ported that system nearly identically into Alkahest.

Obviously, as a one-man team, I can't match the depth and scope of Planescape: Torment or Mass Effect, but those and similar games were big inspirations for the branching dialogue trees. This feature of Alkahest gave me a chance to put my creative writing degree to work.

Stay tuned for some screenshots of branching dialogue in the next post.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for following Alkahest!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Introducing "Alkahest"!

Hi all!

I've been working on this game for quite some time now, so far the only eyes on it have been friends and family, so I'd like to introduce to you all officially, "Alkahest".

My game is slated for release on PC and Mac over the next few months. I can't promise any particular release date since I am at work on Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter pages. Stay tuned for links to those later on.

But I suppose if you've made it this far, you want to see what I'm typing about! Let's start with the titles:

"Alkahest" is a casual role-playing game, drawing influences from many genres, from rogue-likes and tactical RPGs to adventure and puzzle games.

I have spent several months creating the engine in Game Maker: Studio, mastering the scripting language I've been using for fun since I was about 13 years old, when I would use version 6 or 7 to make rudimentary Mario and Zelda clones for my own edification.

So let's talk about gameplay!

I'll focus on exploration and story in a later blogpost, for now, let's look at the basic principles of Alkahest.

Collect ingredients for potions  -> Learn Recipes for potions -> Consume ingredients to use said potions.

Fairly simple, right?

Check out this screenshot of an Alchemist who's already learned every recipe.

See also the experimentation bar in the top left, where you can test new ingredients in different combinations to see if you can learn anything new:

So fine. Some simple crafting. Learning potion recipes. Nothing groundbreaking there.

The most fun aspect of Alkahest, in my opinion, is environmental manipulation.

Manipulating your environment is key.

Take this bush, for example.

Let's say the Alchemist throws a Fire Bomb at said bush. (Note required ingredients written under the potion's name when a potion is equipped on the hotbar)

Hooray! It turned to ashes. Now what sorts of fun things can we do with ashes...?

Let's pick up some ingredients... There's some Mandrake over there...

I know I can use Mandrake on it's own to learn the recipe for an Ether Potion. The stuff of life!

Viola! By bringing the burning ashes of the bush to life with Ether, we've created a dancing flame! These tongues of flame seem to be only partially alive. Let's bring them all the way to life with another Ether Potion!

Now we have created a Fire Golem! Should our alchemist ever need to defend himself, a Fire Golem would surely come in handy.

The alchemist can also do neat things with Stone...

And of course, water...

So far there are thirty usable potions. When several potions are used in conjunction on environmental objects, you can create complex effects.

 Manipulating your environment with alchemy is the method by which the alchemist is able to solve puzzles, take on large groups of dangerous enemies all by his lonesome, and help out characters he meets along his journey.

I'm going for something simple here. I call it an RPG, but this is no Skyrim. Alkahest is a fairly simple game, the foundation of which is casual exploration and experimentation. Light on the act of crafting, and heavier on the effects of what you've crafted.

So how far along is this project?

So far the engine is in place, but the world size is still fairly small. I'd like to be able to create more and more content, but until my planned Kickstarter campaign, I can't afford to work on "Alkahest" full-time.

I am a one-man team, and a game like "Alkahest" is no small task.

My passion for game design comes from RPG's and Adventure games. And any designer will tell you, those are some of the toughest for a first-time game developer to see through.

More about the one man-team:

In addition to programming the game, I have created a solid base of hand-drawn graphical assets, with original character concept art by Breno Girafa (find his awesome work at https://www.behance.net/brenogirafa).

Since Breno finished his original character designs, the concepts behind the gameplay and art-style of "Alkahest" have evolved.  I have since re-traced, re-animated, and altered Breno's characters to fit the slightly simpler style of my environmental art.

For one example of how I used his work, the main character, the Alchemist, as seen in the screenshot above, was originally a pedestrian NPC:

( Breno's original work )

       ( in-game sprite )

As you can see, I've opted for heavier black lines and higher-contrast color schemes, as well as a general simplification of certain aspects of the character design to fit my simple tile-based world.

I have also created the music and sound effects for "Alkahest". Dependent on the success of the aforementioned future Kickstarter, I hope that I will be able to hire out the music production. For that, I have been using a combination of Garageband, a cheap microphone, and my guitar. More on that in the future as well.

OKAY! This is too long.

Expect regular updates to this blog, "Alkahest" followers. Thanks for reading!

- Stephen