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The Astrad Devjournal
Currently serving: SotS I
Okay, so the always disorganizing time of the holidays have passed us. Didn't make the self-imposed deadline due to various factors (writer's block being the most annoying of them). Here's what's been going on tho:

  • I caught up with Ira of the Mangas. Talked his ear off at a bar.
  • prior to leaving for the holidays, hypno started remixing some of his tunes.
  • Mordred and I have been tiling and I've been mapediting.
  • This last week has been relatively quiet... but what do you expect from the Christian end-of-year holiday blowout week? ;D
  • Also, Needle of the Divine Animation released his ep 3 trailer. If you haven't been following his flash series, check it out

For the last few day's I've been working on something of vital importance. As vecna's progress in his affairs advance, the more this sekrit-thing's creation becomes important. I should be done in a few days, but it is something that will help the Astrad's development immensely, so I don't mind working on it. Here's some tantalizing glamour shots:

Yay. Back to work.

(Also Happy New Year)

Current Music: s3 - Dank Exploration (zathras)

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So, Mordred's been making some stuff. Firstly, he made nicer mountains than my mountains-of-suck:

Then, high off of the pixel-fumes of DP2e (remember kids, make tileart in a well-ventilated area!), he was all like "Yo! What tilesets do you need" and I was all like 'how about a spooooky temple dedicated to this guy (temp link (dead now))?' and he was all like:

And I was all like "...Score." The statue is kinda detailed, and between my tile art and his tile art, I think that the maps are going to be detailed, and the battles and mangas are going to be cartoony. Especially since the battle sprite for that guy loos like this (courtesy of Falthorn):

So anyways, yeah. Also, here's a glimpse at the notebook page dedicated to the zones of Amaxis town:

Remember, there's a little crappy demo linked in the previous post, too!
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Well, it's not what I was hoping to have by now, but it's something. Here's a little demo, largely to show off some graphical goodness:

temporary location(dead now)


  • The mapswitches in the castle are fubar: some sliding will occur. You can talk to things with impunity there.
  • On the overworld, head down and right until you're on the peninsula by the mountains where amaxis is. That's the only other linked map right now.
  • When in Amaxis, do not talk to any doors. ;)
  • ...
  • This is only an art demo, really.

I stopped using v2.6 fully after several hours of v2 code not performing as it should. That's why the menus are disabled (they are highcolor and need v2.6. So they'll remain off until they are recoded.) Also, the portraits are lowcolor versions of highcolor versions of filler art.

At any rate, I worked about 10 hours today finishing amaxis.map and amaxisin.map to the degree they're presently at. Please walk around in Amaxis in the demo... I think it's kinda purdy. Amaxis has 20-ish hours in it total so far. And there's at least one more sweep of tilemaking/laying to go, not to mention all of the entities and scripting. I was discouraged until mordred mentioned that making a good map in a 3d game is months of manhours, instead of just a week.

Apparently the activity has inspired the trackers to wise fwom daw gwaves and compose. In all fairness, Zathras has been perpetually tracking, but Hypno's recently come out of retirement to fix up some old songs. The overworld theme is a revision-in-progress of his original.

Also, gayo's really pulled out the red carpet with the battle system documentation. It's a credit to him that it invokes dreams of coolness just reading the overview and abilities list. However, it's a demerit to me that I've been dragging my feet implementing it. It is rather tedius code in v2 script... but I'll do it. ;)

Also, I'll be meeting with Ira over the holidays to tell him things in person. Hooray for networking. Also, hooray for drinking. ;)

Oh yeah, and today's my birthday. I'm 24 today. Which is almost 25. Which is almost 30. Which is old. I don't want to grow old :(
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Sorry about the information blackout, folks. I've worked 50+ hours this week (14 of them today, and two graveyard shifts!) at the Illustrious South Pod of SUNY Binghamton. This job is simple, but still wears you down... especially at finals. But enough of that.

I have, nonetheless, still been working on SotS-things this week. I'm 14 pages into the plot document, and I've scanned all of Ira's cel art from 1998. Most of it is new to anyone but me, most of it is good, and some of it is awesome.

For those of you who only like to scan, the above two links are full of this post's imagey goodness.

Subtlety is for weak fools.
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I know everyone likes pictures, but I've just been coding of late. So here's some pics:

See the majesty of hand-coding structure-like things in v2? It's mental hell. I was hoping to have a rough mockup of a battle system running by later tonite, but I'm going to hang up my hat for today after 6 hours of this, mainly because to advance I need a little more specification-love from Gayo, and because my head feels like my grey matter has been secretly replaced with cotton.

But for the pic-hungry, here's an image from tatsumi's menu:

Those blue specs in the background are a starfield. Also, that portrait art is very temporary.

And here's a mockup of how the battlefield will be laid out:

Everything should be fairly apparent. The checkerboard delimits 'cells' that an enemy or ally may occupy. Some battle entities may occupy more than one cell laterally. The 'action border' is where PCs jump to if they need to do a location-based effect.

And finally, here's a little mockup of what an active battlefield (the checkerboarded part) will look like at the start of a battle.

The art's by Falthorn, Arturis, Afterglow (MIA from the intarweb), and myself. You can see that the Earth Elemental and the Water elemental take up 2x1 cell areas, while all the other allies and eneies are 1x1 cells in obstruction.

Rock out. Tomorrow: more code and a script for the demo (this will be not posted publically, but instead emailed to the dev team).
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Code: I've started the Battle System. However, while starting it, my questions and requests of gayo have significantly changed about a third of the model, so I will finish up the core 'objects' of the system tonite, verify that they can write out to save files, and do other boring drudgery instead of starting in on battle logic.

Art: I've not assembled any more maps or VSPs since last update. However, Mordred has developed some magnificent mountains for the overworld, and I'll be re-editing those into the vsp and map in short order.

Awesomeness: I tracked down Ira Marcks of original manga fame (see first two posts) and even though he's a for-pay designer, he's offered his services pro bono like the rest of us. This further proves he is awesome, which nobody that's met him can deny.

Also of awesomosity is that needle has offered to do some 3d FMV type shiznat. I had previously written off having any non-cel animated cutscenes, but with this offer I'm rethinking that.

Monday through Wednesday were really light on the development as I was all getting touchy-feely with my new PS2 and FFX. I've craved them for years, and now I own. However, the honeymoon is over and I actually want to work on my own game more than play FFX or WA3 or Kingdom Hearts for now. I'll let Amanda play them so her love of the majestic artform known as Console-Style RPGs can blossom and bloom. ;)

And for anyone not in the know, I'm basically quitting school and working on SotS full-time, for at least a semester. I hope that by doing this, the game will be at full Beta in a few months time. That'd be real cool. ;)

What say ye, gentlemen?
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Started work on the Tower set. Got a good base. Here it is:

This set'll require a lot more situational tiles than normal, due to story elements and puzzles. I'm all ears for any and all puzzle-concepts that anyone'd like to supply.

Mordred suggested adding shadows to the Town set. Here's the improvement:

It rocks, no? Mordred's also helping to make a better mountain pattern for the overworld, which is good because the fuckers are a headache.

There's really not that many more tiles needed for this section of the game. Town building interiors are the only major section left. Hooray.

In other news, I think that after making a short demo (Target date's still Dec. 23.), we'll be pushing for full subsystems (menus/items/battle) and maps up to the 25% mark of the game. Whenever that's hit, we'll release that, and repeat for the 50% mark, the 75% mark, and then the final release.

The initial demo, for reference sake, is about 7% of the plot-manditory game.

Does this strike any of you as a particularly good or bad idea? Sprechen Sie!
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Thanksgiving's schedule was thrown off by my taking Amanda out for a night on the town. So I've spent maybe 8 hours since the last post working on the Aldencian Town tilesets. Here's where we're at right now:

A marked improvement over the previous set from 1998, I dare say. And I think my tilecrafting juju is returning... I was beginning to fear that 18 months of stagnation had lowered my level ;)

After these maps are finished being contructed (est. 4 hours), the last tileset to refurbish is Bastien's Tower, and we're gold for mapart for the target demo.

In other news, Tatsumi has decided to activly join the good fight, and he's started in on redoing the 2000-era menu system. They looked nice as it was, but this redo he says he can do flawlessly.

Also, Gayo is back, and none too soon. I'll be getting to the battle system code as soon as Bastien's Tower has a new tileset (but before constructing it, as I really have no idea what kinda puzzles I'll put in there quite yet).

Rock on. Any questions, ask me in the talkback.
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After an arduous amount of hours on the titanic Overworld map, it's now in a passable state for the demo as I forsee it. All of Aldencia is tiled, through the Ontaran caves. This represents 1/10th the entire mandatory game (ie, not counting the sidequests et al).

Here's some screenshots of the less boring areas:

I'll continue eating away at the massive map (the incredible lion's share is yet to go on that beast!), but it's largely infeasible without some double-good happy features aen has in store. I'll reserve incrementally testing the map for testing aen's ME2 improvements, so I'll always have something to test it with.

Also, I'm taking a cue from Hahn's ancient blackstar maps and adding roads, mainly to give the player direction. This map is quite easy to get lost on. I've not yet decided on how best to represent the roads, so only the screenshot with Bastien's Tower shows them so far.

In other news, I've started the layout for Amaxis city's remapping. gif2map is quite a handy tool: in the past I'd draw a map on paper and then endeavor to keep the map true to the sketch. With gif2map, I can lay down the proportions and spacings of buildings beforehand. No guesswork!

Here's Amaxis's layout. I made the trees hollow to better illustrate the trunk placement and the stuff beneath them:

That's about it for today, seeing as I've been at that Worldmap since 11 PM. Tomorrow I plan on remaking the Aldencian town vsp, and laying down Amaxis.map and Somata.map. If I finish those early, I'll either draw up some mangas, or start in on a refurbish of Bastiern's Tower's map.

Rock out with your cock out,
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I've been working on filling in the worldmap with details now that it's got a rough map hacked out. Aen's been more than helpful in altering Maped2 into a new version with a few more useful tools (like more/higher resolutions, a patterned-tile flood-fill, and making the UI's colors stay approximately the same regardless of palette). However, since I left due to social obligations halfway through debugging today, the current build is less than stable (it crashes if I select above tile index 127 from the tile selector screen.) As such, I've lost about a cumulative half hour tonite, bringing up reminiscences of my very first week with verge (I lost the original alden castle twice...)

Anyways, here's a small token to you, because a picture is worth a thousand words:

You can see here some preliminary grass and tree tiles, but the sea and coast is still using the blocky tiles from the gif2map utility. I expect tilemaking to go quickly as soon as everything settles down app-wise and I can hack some together without fear of losing more work. The only terrain type I'm unsure of is Mountains, as I want a nice repeating pattern that conveys height. And suggestions and references of styles any of ya'll like best wouldn't fall on deaf ears at all. ;)

In other graphical news, here's a side-by-side comparison of a sample of Ira's cels and mine:


(click to enlarginate)

I used a thicker pen than Ira did, and I don't quite have the proper volume to the head, but I hope to get there in the end. I so adore his cartoonery style. I just wish I had access to him for some tips and such... ;)

And finally, here's a completly original cel based on his style (I have about 60 different images of his featuring about 10 characters, which gives a lot of basis on them, and a lot of visual clues for the style... this cel is of a character he never drew, though...)

(click to enact supratransposition)

That's about it for now. Please comment with impunity!
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