August Verdant Skies Update

A huge amount of work has been done on Verdant Skies since our last post. The first programming pass has been finished on the in-game map. As I watch new testers play the game, I find that the map makes a pretty big difference in how they interact with the NPCs. Since they can find the characters more easily, they can get the dialog for each character every day, and they get a lot more of that person’s story.

New Map

When a character is inside a building, their icon appears above the building! The map wasn’t very useful without that feature.

We’ve also been hard at work on content- like cooking! Lizzy has drawn a bunch of amazing cooked food items. We’ll have a special blog post about her artwork soon. Cooking isn’t required if you want to sell your food- it doesn’t really increase the value of most items… but cooked items can be eaten to restore your energy. So if you really want to pack the most into each day, cooking will be an important part of that.

Cooking

One other bit of gameplay that has recently been reworked is the hybridization system. Everything you plant has a genome. You can either choose to ignore this system, or carefully combine crops you’ve grown in order to unlock special traits. We haven’t finished the tutorial that comes along with unlocking the hybridization machine, but it’s in-game:

In this image, the player is inspecting a Bristlegrain seed. It’s genome is represented by the red and green bars at the top of the screen. This is a pretty good seed, as it has traits for extra yield and a faster growth rate. You can see how it’s genome matches the requirements for the two traits shown.

Genetic Traits

You can also browse the list of traits you’ve discovered in any seeds. For example, the regrowth trait will automatically replant a crop after it is harvested. The required genome is shown, so you can attempt to modify plants towards the desired characteristics.

Genetic Traits

New custom housing options!

More code and artwork for the customizable house system has been finished! We’ve got a visual tour of some of the different ways you can decorate your home as you expand it through the different levels.

New House Art


New House Art
Individual doors and windows can be changed, as with the color of the house. Each person living on the planet has a home that matches their individual tastes.


New House Art
We have a huge collection of doors…


New House Art
.. and windows.


New House Art
And Lizzy is working on different roofs that can be swapped in and out.


New House Art

And finally, I wanted to keep the amount of extra windows to a minimum, so you can edit the design of your house as you walk around outside it by using the arrows that pop up near each window, door, or at the base of each building.

Careful observers will notice the new map icon in the bottom of the screen. Details will be revealed in the next blog post!

Verdant Skies Developer Update

Lots has happened since 2DCon! There’s been 38 bug fixes or features added since the show. Another huge thank you to everyone who tested there, provided feedback, and gave us their ideas.

I’d like to highlight a few of the changes we made after 2DCon:


New House Art
Added some of the new style house art that Lizzy made. It looks amazing, and even better- it’s customizable. As developers, we can swap out the doors and windows for different styles, and arrange them differently depending on our needs…. and that means that when it comes to the player’s house, there are lots of decorating options!


You can now cancel something that you are crafting at the workbench. You get back 100% of your materials!
You can now cancel something that you are crafting at the workbench. You get back 100% of your materials!


Blueprint Machine
Buy blueprints with the money that you’ve earned from selling your crops:


Seed Selector
Fix up some problems and inconsistencies with the seed selector. It now has a close button, and your seeds no longer appear in the inventory- only in the seed chest.


Hair
Added some more masculine hair styles:


And a bunch of important fixes:
* Prevent bugs from sleeping multiple times in a row
* Fix missing fishing icon
* Fix bugs with the timer bar on the crafting window.
* Fix Wyatt’s portrait.
* Fix issues with the final quest not completing- add another quest to clarify what the player should be doing.
* Remove that annoying unclickable piece of scrap by Rosie’s house.
* Fix some save/load issues that no one at 2DCon ran into :O

We also added more dialog to Wyatt, the third character you unlock early in the game.

Welcome to the newest team member

We’ve been working hard on getting Verdant Skies ready for 2DCon, but the blog fell behind a little bit. One big reason for that is because we got a new team member!

Check out this cute little guy!
New team member

He’s about 4 weeks old now, but this picture was taken in the first week or so. Things have calmed down and I’ve been back at work on Verdant Skies. There’s been a lot of fixes to all sorts of areas, improving playability and getting things ready for our first public showing.

Change log

If you’re in Minnesota, we’ll be doing some very small scale testing tomorrow at Glitch HQ’s Playtest event.

-Andy

Fishing!

A lot of games in this genre have a fishing system based on waiting for a bobber to move, quickly hitting a key, and then some sort of button mashing to reel in the fish. Most of these mini-games are sorta okay, but they are never too interesting, involve a lot of waiting, and can be pretty inaccessible to people with lower manual dexterity.

Instead, Verdant Skies includes the more exciting: Spear Fishing!

Video available: http://kortham.net/temp/FishingDemoHigh.mp4
A major inspiration for the spear fishing is the hunting system from old Oregon Trail games.

The fishing system isn’t 100% finished yet. The size of the shadow of the fish and how far away it is from shore will play a role in determining what kind of fish you get. I’d also like to dress it up with some trail effects on the thrown spear. Also, the fish count has already been reduced to a more reasonable level since the video was taken.

Fishing

Crafting in Verdant Skies

One of the recent features I’ve been programming has been the crafting system! After a lot of consideration, I came up with a list of features that were important for my vision of how crafting could work:

  • The player can make and place things like workbenches, watering tanks, etc. Making and placing these objects is both a way for the player to advance, and it allows customization and ownership of the world.
  • Crafting can take time, so players have an incentive to plan and prioritize what they are making. If they’re planning on making a lot of something, additional workbenches/ovens/etc will speed the process.
  • Different crafting stations can be used to craft different things.
  • Aid usability by limiting the number of craftable items in a single crafting station. (No huge lists that scroll forever)

So here’s what we’ve got mocked up so far:

Crafting

 

The UI still needs some clearer labeling, but the bottom row is the output, products that have been made. The large item above that is the one that is currently being crafted. The items to the right are the queue of items that are in progress. It flows pretty well when you see it in motion.

 

Crafting

When you mouse over the item you want to craft, it shows a description of the item, and what it takes to make that item.

There are a few things I haven’t figured out yet:

  • Will there be a crafting mini-game? The mini-games in Fantasy Life were great and really well done. The better you did on the mini-game, the higher the quality of the item produced. One thought is that you only need to do the mini-game the first time you craft something. Or you can skip the minigame to craft at the highest quality level you’ve achieved so far.
  • Do crafted items have a meaningful quality level? This goes hand-in-hand with the above question.

New Icons!

We’ve been working on updating our player UI. Check out these new icons Lizzy made!

AllTools

These are just some of the basic tool icons you will see in the game. We plan on having upgrade options as play progresses. Each tool will become more powerful as you upgrade it.


She also made the correspondence icons for when you receive communications.

AllTools


Last but not least, romance indicators! As your fellow inhabitants fall for you, their level of attraction will be tracked with these gorgeous hearts.

 

Thanks for following our progress!

Making the Music of Verdant Skies

The team is trying to establish a coherent mood for Verdant Skies and a big part of that comes from Troy’s music. To begin the project, he established a palette of instruments that coalesced around guitar, drums, bass, and organ. Those aren’t everything, but it has done a nice job to establish the frontier-like elements of the game–an untamed wild, expansive and uncharted.

The trailer needed to invite the audience in and preview the musical style. For that, Troy decided a piano would be fitting. He used the EastWest Steinway virtual instrument treated with Logic’s built-in Space Designer convolution reverb plugin. This lent a grounded yet otherworldly, shimmering sound. He applied a tape delay to the pedal tones as well.


Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 9.55.10 PM

To structure the music, Troy focused on the three main scenes: a woman walking along a lake, a man walking through a swamp on an autumn day, and two friends meeting near a grove of trees. Each offered a glimpse into the possibilities in store with the game, so the musical material needed to build as the world opened up. Troy built clusters of lightly articulated piano chords filled with dissonances that didn’t resolve–we don’t know where the next scene will take us, or what we’ll find on this strange world. As it grows in volume and the range increases, we peer through trees to see evidence of a new colony and the Verdant Skies logo as an F# chord plays in the strings.


Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 9.49.42 PM
The final four notes utilize the main motif of Verdant Skies: an ascending major 7th followed by a perfect fourth a minor 6th above (in this key, F#, E#, C# & F#–and don’t try to tell him it’s an F natural!).

There is lot of exciting audio happening in Verdant Skies, so be sure to check back to hear what Topher Pirkl is doing with sound design and adaptive audio implementation.

Listen to Troy’s track on the teaser trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzj36LILqzY