Devlog 14 - Post-demo concepting

Hello again!

This week’s devlog will be a short one, as we don’t have much to discuss during these final stages of the vertical slice development. At this point we are playtesting the build internally and with close friends to fine tune everything from controls to audio levels, and all I can say for now is that we’re very satisfied with the progress we’ve made and that the experience we’ve created is very close to what we envisioned Zealot to feel and play like, and suffice to say we are very excited to get it out there. For more info about what the vertical slice build entails, please go check out this previous devlog!

But while João and Eric are still busy chipping away at squashing bugs and improving mechanics for the demo, myself and Sam have been brainstorming ideas and concepts for the remaining areas of the game, which go past the scope of the vertical slice, in order for us to have a strong and clear guide as we move forward towards producing the rest of the game’s environments and characters. And while it’s still too early to show you any of that stuff yet, please enjoy this piece of concept art hinting at one of our future updates!

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What purpose could this mechanism possibly serve? Stay tuned to our future updates and devlogs to find out! Have a great week.

Vasco



Devlog 13 - Shortcuts

Hey everyone!

A thin one for this past couple of weeks, we’ve been polishing up the vertical slice featured in the last devlog. A lot of bug fixing going on, but we did implement a couple of new quality of life features, as well as some sound effect improvements.

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The shortcut system is now implemented, allowing a player who dies before reaching a checkpoint to bypass a section of the map, rewarding map exploration. For our first area, these shortcuts are represented by a heavy door in a wall that can only be opened from one side, indicated by a large cross statue on top of it. We’ve also added a shader to sort out player transparency when a wall or tree is blocking the camera, let us know what you think of it.

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BENI.MARU has also been hard at work figuring out SFX timing, either by tweaking animation speed on our side, or by changing the sounds himself. We’ve also added some cool new sounds for the Prayer menu navigation, as well as some rustling for the priest kneeling.

Sam and Vasco have mostly finished up art-wise in regards to the demo, and are now concepting new areas, enemies and bosses. We’re also starting work on the Relic menu and in-game representation of both the forge and reliquary. Expect a more detailed devlog expanding upon those features in the future.


See you,

João




Devlog 12 - Vertical Slice

Hey guys and gals,

Back with another devlog, this time about the demo scene we've been finishing up this last month. The purpose of the demo itself is to showcase the look-and-feel of Zealot, and will be mostly played by media and publisher types. It will also serve as an early form of a feedback build, allowing us to get criticism more easily and transform Zealot into the best game it can become.

While most of you guys won't get a chance to play it right now, we felt like it is only fair to at least talk about what the vertical slice currently entails. For everyone who hasn't been following our #screenshotsaturday Gifs, all we have shown so far is included in the build, so check them out over on our Twitter, Facebook or TIGForum thread!

Early sketch of the level design.

Early sketch of the level design.

The vertical slice level is a more slimmed down and streamlined version of the tutorial zone we’ve talked about in a previous devlog, starting off with the big Orthodox cathedral, where the forgotten altar resides. Following that, there is a woodland type area littered with crosses, remnants of the Orthodox religion thrown together when the settlement was sealed by the Pagans. 

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The next zone is themed around a village setting, filled with props and ruined houses, where the orthodox settlers first settled. The final setting is a graveyard-like area, filled with tombstones and a grim testament to the orthodox oppression in the land of Zealot.

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Gameplay-wise, we have three different enemy types, two different prayer sheets to pray at the altar, one unique relic (the cross) and one weapon type (the mace). We’ve also implemented sound effects for the first time, with BENI.MARU doing the final mastering right about now.

At the end of the demo, for those who can get there, there is a surprise that we will leave undisclosed for now.

That’s pretty much it, as we've said it's a pretty streamlined version of what we want Zealot to be, but we feel like it showcases both the combat and aesthetic of the game in a very satisfactory way.

See you guys!

João





Devlog 11 - The Sound of Zealot

Hello again!

Hope everyone’s been having a great week! We’re back with a new devlog and I’m excited to say that we’re finally going to be addressing the sound and music of Zealot, as well as announcing the composer/sound designer that has been working with us recently to help us shape the soundtrack into something great.

As far as inspirations go, the theme of Orthodox Christianity vs Slavic Paganism was a good base to start, both religions have very distinct and unique musical traditions, and we wanted to showcase both of them in the soundtrack, sometimes on their own, sometimes doing a mix of both.

Early on we were lucky enough to partner with BENI.MARU, who came to us with great ideas of what he envisioned the soundtrack to sound like. We asked him to write a bit about himself:

“At heart, BENI.MARU is a traveler.  He explores worlds - Sanctuary, Lordaeron, Ivalice, and the likes – in a never-ending search for the perfect sound.  His recent ventures have brought him to The Land of ZEALOT, where he would draw from the very roots of Paganism to conjure the sounds and music needed keep the Orthodox encroachment at bay.”

Since then we’ve been working closely in creating the soundscape for Zealot and the results are nothing short of fantastic, BENI.MARU has been doing a great job of accompanying the visuals and themes of the game with music and sounds that really emphasize the action and setting, and I’m thrilled to see everyone’s reaction to the soundtrack.

With this, allow me to show a sample track from the first boss fight we’re working on implementing, take a listen.

If you’re interested in hearing more of BENI.MARU’s work, here’s a link to his SoundCloud, where you can hear more great tracks such as this one.

That pretty much covers it for this week’s update. As usual we are hard at work at finalizing our first internal build, so more updates about that soon! Thanks for reading, and see you in another 2 weeks.

Cheers,

Vasco

Devlog 10 - Resource Management

Hello everyone!

On today’s devlog I’ll be explaining our health and stamina system, with a final note about the overall development of the game.

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Our Health system is inspired by both Diablo-like games and other more unforgiving Souls-like ones. The glass globe represents 25% of the player’s total health, with this same portion being the only percentage of health that can be regened outside of the use of checkpoints, brief stops that will be distributed around the world (more on those in future devlogs). 

As seen in the Gif, when our zealot takes more damage than the orb’s maximum capacity, the orb shatters semi-permanently, only regening after a long period of not being hit or when the player exits a combat encounter. After the shattering, any damage taken will be chipped away from what we call the permanent health bar, a consistent 75% chunk that won’t be refilled commonly. We plan to use this system to avoid messing around with health items too much while also rewarding skilled players by … not dying.

The stamina system is our main way to control usage of everything outside of basic attack combos and charge attacks, which means that rolling and relic usage are the main drains for this resource. Rolling will always take a flat amount of stamina to perform, but different relics will have different resource costs depending on their usability and overall power.

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Above is an image of the evolution of our health bar throughout the development so far, with the main concern being how we could fit Relic/Prayer Sheet icons and an easily understood stamina bar while keeping the in-game UI as minimalist as possible.

As a final note, we are currently eradicating all the nasty bugs and polishing up our first private vertical slice, which means that we are close to once more create new stuff to show you guys, so be on the lookout for that!

Catch you later,

João

Devlog 9 - Hub Area Layout

Hello people!

As we move past implementing basic mechanics and towards starting to build content, we began thinking about the layout and design of the hub area of the game.as well as the various “equipment stations” the player will be able to interact with.

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Excuse the messy sketch, but here you can see the general layout I imagined for the area. With this draft what I’m trying to do is figure out the best arrangement the different stations so that it would be effortless and intuitive for the player to move between them to switch up their loadout. This is all of course subject to change until we get a grasp of how it feels in-engine, some things like the central square with the monuments could probably be a little bigger and wider to make traversal simpler.

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That previous sketch is also helping me visualize the context and scale for each of these stations before I begin their concept art, so with the reliquary for example, since its been sitting outside of the cathedral for assumedly many years it would make sense that it’d show some wear and tear from being exposed to the environment and all of the foliage surrounding it. Another important thing to note is the actual interactivity of these assets, we’re trying to make the UI for these stations diegetic whenever possible, so for the reliquary I made sure that all the relics preserved within were on display for the player to see and equip with ease and without breaking up the gameplay, avoiding “menu-ing” as much as we can.

That’s about it for this week’s write-up, thank you for reading and be sure to check in with us again in our next devlog!

Vasco

Devlog 8 - Pray

Hey everyone!

For this week’s devlog I’ll be talking about our prayer system and show you guys two different specific examples of our praying sheet items!

These sheets are collectable items scattered throughout the world of Zealot. When collected, the player will be able to recite the written prayer when praying at the altar of the ruined Orthodox Cathedral (see devlog 4 for more information), granting the priest passive enhancements. 

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There are three types of prayers, the first ones grant passive modifications that are strictly positive, like a health or damage boost. These are often found incomplete and their effects are expanded when the player collects more versions of the sheet.

Next, are the forbidden prayers, powerful benedictions with trade-offs associated, for example, giving a larger damage boost while also greatly reducing resistance to enemy attacks.

Lastly, we have the pagan prayers, heretic incantations that the player can optionally burn at the Orthodox settlement to increase the overall difficulty of the enemies, angering the old deities. Only for those seeking a challenge, or increased rewards ...

Most of our prayer sheets are inspired by excerpts of real life Orthodox prayers, matching their theme with the effects that it grants to the player in-game. Here are some examples:

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The first prayer sheet is Postnaya Molitva (Lenten Prayer), a prayer referencing one of the most important seasons for Orthodoxy practitioners, the Great Lent. During this period of fasting, the believer’s character is uplifted and strengthened. We interpreted this prayer as a strength increase in-game, increasing the priest’s damage.

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The second sheet is Vremya Nuzhdy (Time of Need), a prayer that practitioners use when asking God’s mercy and help in erasing the believer’s fears and bolstering their courage. In-game, the prayer increases the priest’s vitality, augmenting its defence.

Thanks for reading, and for a final note, with this main feature described, we will start making devlogs based on what we are currently working. In order for those to be detailed enough, we will be changing the schedule of these to a bimonthly cadence starting now. Look forward to the next one!

See you next time,

João

Devlog 7 - Relics

Hello again!

This week we’ve started implementing relics into the game. In this devlog I’m going to be giving you a brief run-down of how they work, as well as showing off the first of these relics, the cross.

Basically, relics are re-usable active items that offer various combat advantages. You can think of them like the alternate weapons from Castlevania games, or how shop items work in A Link Between Worlds.

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Relics require energy to use, represented by that blue-ish bar below the health, energy is also tied to a number of actions such as rolls and alternate attacks, in order to incentivize a more thoughtful style of play and to prevent spamming.

Under that you can see a picture of a cross inside a frame, with another one stacked underneath, this is how relics are represented to let the player knows which one is currently equipped, at the moment we allow for 2 different relics to be equipped at any given time, but we’re considering implementing a way of expanding the maximum number of equippable relics in the future.

To inspect and equip relics, the player will have to make use of a large reliquary that can be found inside of the hub cathedral, there, they will be able to scroll through all of the relics they have collected throughout the land as well as to learn about their effects in combat, all accompanied by some flavour text, of course.

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Moving on to the cross itself then, as you can see in the gif above, this relic when used emits a cross-shaped shockwave in the direction the player is facing, This shockwave serves to push back any oncoming foes that are stricken by it, dealing some minor damage, as well as interrupting their attacks.

This is massively helpful for when the player finds themselves overwhelmed by smaller foes and is in the need of creating some space between themselves and the enemy for evading, or just for focusing on a specific enemy at a time. It will definitely be very handy when facing those quick wax-men grunts that are found in the beginning area of the game, which is coincidentally where you find this relic also.

We are currently working on polishing this mechanic in our build and will likely have something to show off come next saturday, so be on the lookout for that!

Thank you for reading! Until next week.

Vasco