May 13, 2017

The past 2 weeks have been quite a ride.  The beginning of May marks allergy season.  There’s nothing like waking up at 4am with my eyes crusted together and having to literally pry them apart.  What’s even better is when I was driving to dinner and I ran out of tissues and napkins so I had a dedicated sweatshirt to soak up all my snot as I sneezed up a storm.  Fun times!  But in the midst of all this allergen madness I have been working hard on creating the first video trailer for The Forbidden Arts. 

The idea for the trailer has been simple: to capture the essence of the game within a couple minutes.  I worked with my Cousin Spencer on this video as he’s a talented videographer and director.  All it took was buying him a Nintendo Switch and a little cash.  Good deal, thanks bud.  He helped me map out the storyboard for the trailer and directed it for the most part.  I had a clear vision of what I wanted: to capture the environments, characters, themes and demo...

May 7, 2017

Collectibles are great!  From hoarding in-game currency, to obtaining precious weapons, armor, treasure or artifacts, collectibles can offer players a sense of accomplishment, pride, and achievement.  The Forbidden Arts does not shy away from offering players a chance to collect an assortment of items. 

There are various types of collectibles in the Forbidden Arts.  Some are mere quest items, and others are important artifacts that can be used to unlock unique content, special environments or offer items to increase your power. 

A couple things players will notice is lots of gold scattered throughout the game and the Overworld contains several mysterious towers.  The catch is that these towers are deconstructed, but if you collect enough gold you can rebuild the towers.  Once a tower is rebuilt you can enter it to face a unique challenge that will yield you a great reward.  No spoilers here, but we are very excited about this.  I spent most of the past week working on the...

May 1, 2017

This past week has been quite a ride and it’s been hard to keep up with things.  Being a small studio is quite challenging when developing an ambitious game.  You often find yourself wearing multiple hats to get the job done.  This past week I have been working on developing a narrative with my cousin for a video trailer for The Forbidden Arts, writing and recording the music for the trailer, writing code for the game, managing my artists across sea and providing them with feedback on a daily basis, approving level design and guiding Marcy, and continuing to support our social media sites for the game.  I’ll be moving soon, so I also had to go out and buy loads of new furniture and amid all of this I did manage to find a few moments to myself where I could venture out into Hyrule on my switch and enjoy the Breath of the Wild.  The best advice I can give to anyone wanting to get started in the game industry is to just take everything one step at a time.  You will often find yourself wea...

April 23, 2017

This week I’d like to take a detailed look at the programming behind The Forbidden Arts when it comes to level design and structure.  I always enjoy sharing parts of our development in that I hope other developers can benefit from some of what we do.  Let me start off by explaining why I find this important.  I started writing code in 2011.  I spent my mornings and evenings traveling to/from my day job (doing accounting / clerical stuff) on BART (a local metro in the San Francisco Bay Area).  I realized I wanted to do more with my life and felt like making games could be something I’d really enjoy.  I knew it would be a lot of work to teach myself anything, but I was determined.  On BART I would read programming books every day, back forth, 5 days a week.  The ride took me an hour each way so I got about 2 hours of reading in every day.  After about 6 months of this I started writing code in X-Code, the development environment for Mac OS.  I couldn’t do anything fancy, and my code was...

April 16, 2017

Do you ever wonder what game developers are thinking about when they come up with the concepts for the characters, environments or mechanics?  One thing I’ve heard time and time again throughout my life is “Write what you know.”  This is a saying that doesn’t need to be taken literally, but rather as a generalization.  In my case, The Forbidden Arts is a representation of me.  It’s what I know, what I love and in many ways, what I’ve experienced.

When Shigeru Miaymoto created The Legend of Zelda series, a lot of the world he created was a representation of what he loved as a child, exploring the countryside of Japan.  J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, claims that the absence of any meaningful relationship with her father and the loss of her mother have been two of the most important influences on her writing.

The point is: stick to what you know and love.  When you create something without meaning, more than likely it will feel empty and dull.  When you have...

April 9, 2017

The past 2 days I’ve been working extensively on integrating the abilities for Phoenix, the main character of the The Forbidden Arts.  Phoenix is a pyromancer so it’s only fitting he has several different abilities to manipulate fire.  I thought it would be cool to show what goes on behind the scenes in game development and focus on animation events in relation to one of the abilities of the game called “Rain of Fire.” 

In the Forbidden Arts you have an action button (or key) that is used to trigger whatever the current active ability is.  The “Rain of Fire” ability allows Phoenix to summon a shower of meteors that causes massive damage to any enemies they hit, and can also cause damage to the environment that can be beneficial to the player.  Now let’s get to the fun part: seeing how this ability gets put together.  It’s a combination of a character animation, animation events attached to the specific animation, particle effects and code. 

Above is a screenshot...

April 3, 2017

How the player navigates a game world is very important in game design.  The 90s are long gone, and so are the days of creating expansive game worlds where players must set out on foot with no way of speeding up their travel besides a horse or using a potion to increase run speed.  Open-World games have done a lot right when it comes to traveling within a game’s world.  I’m going to reference two modern masterpieces that really do a great job with traveling and exploration: The Witcher 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  Both games are fantastic and I highly recommend playing them for both entertainment and/or honing your craft of game development, whatever that may be.  Each game focuses heavily on exploration, but I feel one game does a little better of a job than the other: Breath of The Wild.  In both games, once the player discovers a new area, they will then learn what places of interest are available within that area.  In the case of Witcher, discovering road maps, c...

March 26, 2017

In a previous blog, I discussed my thought process of level design. We thought it would be fun to take an in-depth look at what goes into building a scene. This past week I have been documenting the process of creating a scene.  After viewing the 3d environment art our team had created, I was very excited to start working on the scene The Desert of Marzule.  I loved the aesthetics and knew this would be a fun scene to put together.

Each scene is broken up into several parts that we call sections.  By splitting the scene into sections, this allows us a lot more customization for each section, as we tend to focus on one small portion of the scene at a time.  Also, from a performance standpoint: this allows us to limit the amount of 3d assets rendered on screen at any given time.  There is never more than 3 sections visible while playing the game.  This greatly helps to improve performance on some machines.  When building a scene I can deactivate and activate sections to work on whate...

March 21, 2017

The Green Vale is a beautiful forest filled with magical beasts.  Early in development I envisioned this area to be the kingdom of Pyromancy, complete with a large castle and villages.  As the story evolved, the forest did too.  I started to populate it with standard creatures such as bears and wolves, and eventually introduced a stronger fantasy element by adding creatures such as Griffins, Druids, and Dark Elfs.  The Dark Elf race made an important footprint in the scene and magic has become a very important part of the environment.  The Forbidden Arts is not your typical action platformer in that there is a strong focus on story and character development.  With a good story comes quests, and the player will engage with many NPCs in the first few environments, offering social interaction and some very important character development early in the game.  There will be many beasts to tend to in the forest, but the Forbidden Arts isn’t just about fighting, running and jumping from level...

March 14, 2017

In game design, you might start with one idea and then have that idea evolve into something entirely different by the time the game is done.  I think it’s definitely ok to stray away from the path you originally started working on, so long as the end product is better or you’re happier with it.  It’s now been 2 years since I began working on the Forbidden Arts, and things are still evolving/changing.  One key part of the game in which this is true is the story.  As the story continues to evolve, settings and environments continue to change.  

The original opening scene of the game was supposed to be set in a fantasy house.  Originally the main character was going to be a thief and the house setting was going to be a large house within a village.  The house was to act as a tutorial area and was there to introduce the villain of the game as he invades the town with his army of skeletons.  This couldn’t be farther from the way things ended up.  

The house...

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