January 19th, 2014
Hello everyone, hope your new years are off to a great start! It’s been a while since our last update, and we’ve been hard at work on lots of tough areas since then. Here’s the rundown:
Environments are continuing to come together. Since the last update, we created over 150 assets for our towns’ exteriors alone to ensure we have varied environments throughout the game. These assets are created in a modular format so we can create visually distinct structures efficiently:
We ran into lots of challenges getting rotated buildings to work with our grid. These took some time to sort out, but I think we’ve come up with a solution that works. Here are a few samples of our latest environments:
I’ve been continuing to refine our process for creating levels and making lots of improvements to our editing tools. For anyone interested, I’ll try to put together another “how its made” video as soon as I can find some time.
Aakaash’s awesome work on our soundtrack continues. Here’s a sample of his latest!
Apart from streamlining our level editing tools, my development focus in the last two months has been in two areas: cutscenes and combat.
Since the story will play an important part in the game, the ability to quickly generate precisely timed cutscene events directly from gameplay is critical. Before our Unity port, cutscenes needed to be timed and scripted by hand, which was complex and time consuming. This time around, I’ve implemented a visual editing tool which I’m extending to support the many custom events we’ll need. Here’s a shot of what it looks like in action:
Using the timeline (top), I can visually edit complex events with multiple characters acting simultaneously while previewing them in our editor (bottom), all without having to synchronize the actions in code. This will vastly accelerate development in the coming months as we implement the game’s story elements.
My second focus has been on implementing the core aspects of the combat engine. Things are still very early, but over the last few weeks I’ve gotten core features like the combat grid, player input, movement, animation, and basic AI in place. Here’s a quick preview of the combat engine running along with some of the other above mentioned features:
The ability to make real-time adjustments to combat parameters is a huge upgrade, since it’ll allow me to quickly try out new ideas and better balance the game.
So that’s the recap. Things were very much WIP in the last few weeks as we moved past some of the biggest pre-production hurdles I expect we’ll face (hence the delay). Thanks for sticking with us.
Time to go try The Banner Saga. Can’t wait, been waiting all week
November 22nd, 2013
Hi everyone! Busy month, lots going on. Here’s the run-down:
We’ve been Greenlit for Steam! Thank you to all of you who voted for us and helped spread the word! Anyone interested in PC/Mac/Linux copies will be eligible for Steam keys, just be sure to indicate your preference when we send out your surveys.
Since our last update, I moved out to the west coast to be closer to Kalen and Aakaash. Working side by side with Kalen has already made a huge difference as we continue to refine the art direction and set up our asset pipeline to fit our technical constraints. Check our our sweet digs!
With the game’s new style decided, Kalen’s been working on putting together some amazing environment assets. Here are some samples:
The assets are created in a modular format to minimize our memory footprint, and we’ve been spending a lot of time refining our process for constructing levels. Here are a few shots from our editor to give you a sense of how it all works:
Characters & Animation
In addition to environments, we’ve been working on revamping our character models. Here are a few of our new animations running in our updated engine with tricks like real-time lighting, 360 degree movement and animation blending applied:
Aakaash has been creating some awesome music to go along with our new art. For this update, we wanted to share some of the more atmospheric, ambient pieces he’s been working on:
FInally, on the code side, pre-production continues. Here’s a screen of what my workspace is looking like to demonstrate some of what I’ve been focused on:
1) Building customized editing tools in Unity to streamline our workflow
2) Early performance profiling with our new architecture
3) Re-writing core functionality (movement/animation, the tactics engine)
I’ll try to do a walkthrough later on to walk through these in more detail. For now, here’s a little teaser video of in-game footage that shows how our art, sound, and code are all coming together:
To close out, I just wanted to share a few cool projects from friends who’ve supported us in various ways since our start. Check them out!
Stellar Wars - Recently launched RTS/Shooter mash-up for iOS
Battle Worlds: Kronos - Recently launched sci-fi turn based strategy game
Lobodestroyo - 3D Action Platformer Game (funding, < 3 weeks left)
Graywalkers - Post-Apocalyptic Turn-Based RPG (funding, < 1 week left)
Cheers, and until next time!
October 12th, 2013
We’re a bit overdue since a lot’s been going on, but we’ve been working hard to get things ready to share with you. To start, I wanted to let Kalen and Aakaash share some insights into our progress on art and sound.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been honing in on the new look for our in-game environments. To start, I created some rough exploration sketches:
From there, I created a line art of the in-game art style. At this stage, we started looking into how we can add depth and perspective into the game, while adhering to the grid that will be required for player movement and tactical gameplay.
Since we’ll need to create lots of environments, I created a modular texture set to help speed things along:
From there, I used the textures to fill in our line sample, and we moved on to exploring color and rendering style:
After a few iterations, here’s a sample of the final in-game environmental art style we arrived at:
Here’s another version, with the movement grid shown:
I’m excited to say that now that John and I have finished hashing out the general soundtrack details, composition for Liege has begun in earnest. As mentioned in the earlier sound update, one thing I’m really looking to do with the soundtrack is to use motifs to represent certain characters or emotions. I’ll be bringing these motifs back several times in the various tracks of the score and developing them as the plot itself develops. My goal is not only to add a sense of cohesiveness and continuity to the OST, but also to evoke familiar emotions and themes when a previously introduced motif is used again.
Today, I’d like to share with you Seren’s Theme, a duet for violin and piano:
The melody you hear in the piece, introduced by the piano and then repeated on the violin, will serve as the motif associated with Seren. This track will likely not be used as is in game, which is why it may sound a bit disconnected at present; instead, I’ll be working the melody into several different pieces to score scenes that center around Seren. For example, in the piece featured in the earlier sound update, “A Quiet Farewell,” you’ll recognize variations of these melodies.
Many of the games I’ve worked on in the past have been less story-based and thus have required less thematic soundtracks; ambient environmental tracks, rather than more involved melodic pieces, were the norm. In this sense, Liege presents both an opportunity and a challenge. Because the soundtrack calls for strong melodies, composition begins at the piano rather than at the computer. Motifs and melodies have to be memorable enough that the player will recognize it when it reoccurs in a different form later in the game, yet they have to remain flexible enough that I’ll be able to work them into several tracks of varying moods. The process of composing forLiege is certainly quite different than what I’m used to, but if all goes well, it’ll pay off in the completed product.
As mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been working on implementing our framework and workflow in our new engine (Unity). For those interested on the technical side of things, I wanted to share a bit about what’s going on behind the scenes.
Going into our Unity port, I had a few key requirements apart from simply porting over existing functionality:
- Layered 2D environments with 3D character models
- In-game skeletal animation (for smoother animation and effects like slo-mo)
- Real-time, dynamic shadows
- Efficient workflow that leverages Unity’s WYSIWYG editing features
- Acceptable performance with the above on our weaker hardware targets (mobile)
Below, you can see how our scene is composed in our editor with the above features in place:
Going from left to right, we have:
1. A system of cameras that controls the order in which the scene is drawn
2. Parts of the scene that are normally drawn over characters (i.e. trees)
3. 3D characters casting real-time shadows, rotated to align with our view (note the model is a placeholder)
4. Collision bounds, which are automatically generated from a 2D tile map
5. Parts of the scene that are normally drawn behind characters (i.e. the ground)
Here’s the game running in our editor (with an older iteration of Kalen’s art):
As you can see, our content aligns precisely to form the composite image that’s seen in-game. This is very different from how 2D is normally handled, but it opens up lots of interesting graphical possibilities.
As this update hopefully shows, things are taking some time as we try things and iterate, but the updates will be more regular as we get further along. Thanks as always for your support!
August 29th, 2013
So… it’s been a little while. Sorry about that! Here’s a quick recap:
First, our Kickstarter wrapped up with over 2,900 backers and a funding total of $81,458. We hit every one of our stretch goals, including Playstation 4, Vita, and Nintendo WiiU, Art 2.0, and more! Here’s the full list:
How It’s Made: Characters
I put together a little video showing a little bit about our character creation process. Check it out below:
Introducing Kalen (Our Art Guy)
After a long search, we’ve finally found our artist, Kalen Chock! Kalen’s a conceptual designer whose previous clients include Industrial Light and Magic, Autodesk, Ember Lab, and many others. Here are a few of his samples:
We were fortunate to have lots talented artists reach out and express interest in this project, but when I came across Kalen’s work, it immediately stood out as a perfect fit. The first thing I noticed were the vibrant colors, dramatic lighting, and unique, painterly feel, and I personally can’t wait to see him bring these elements into the world of Liege.
We’ve been speaking at length about the game’s new art style and are hoping to have some in-game samples ready for our next update. In the meantime, check out more of his work here, and his Livestream here.
Sound Update – First Song!
With our initial meetings on the sound direction out of the way, work on the score has already begun. Here’s an early sample from Aakaash!
Midway through our campaign, I decided to port our game engine to Unity to support our new target platforms, streamline our production pipeline, and enhance the game’s overall look and feel. Unity is an amazing platform, but it’s fundamentally different from our previous set of tools. At this point I’m past the steepest part of the learning curve, and I’ve been plugging away at reimplementing basics like player controls, event handling, and character animation. The port work will be continuing over the next few months, but with Kalen now handling art and basic due diligence out of the way, this process should start moving much quicker.
Thanks again, and until next time!
July 16th, 2013
Hi guys! Lots of stuff has been going on over the last couple weeks. I’ve been super focused on churning out updates for the Kickstarter and trying to get press for the game, so I haven’t been able to update much here, but here’s the run down:
- We doubled our funding target with over 1000 backers with about two weeks left in the campaign!
- I released an overview of the key figures in the game, as well as some more teasers on the playable cast. Check them out below!
- I shared an early map of the Kingdom. Things are still a bit sparse, but I’ll be filling it in as the locations get finalized later on in the dev cycle.
- I did a Reddit AMA which got over 750 upvotes and over 280 comments in the thread
- We announced a bunch of stretch goals and already hit the first two (“Mounts and Ships”, “Ports and the Sea”)
- Last but not least, we got Sony’s approval to bring the game to Playstation 4 and Vita!
For the next couple weeks, the Kickstarter (and Facebook / Twitter) will be the best places to get the latest on the project. Once the campaign ends though, I’ll be back here updating regularly. Stay tuned!