The Kristala Dev Blog - Issue #20

Hello, and welcome back to another issue of the Kristala game dev blog! We're really happy you're here with us, especially because we've got a lot of really exciting news and updates to share with you today.


If you're just tuning in, you may not have known that we unveiled a pre-alpha alpha alpha combat build of Kristala at last year's 2019 PlayNYC convention in - you guessed it - New York City! It was our first convention ever, and because of that, it holds a special place in our hearts.


Although this year's convention will be held virtually, we're super stoked to announce that we'll be unveiling a much more comprehensive and detailed playable build at PlayNYC 2020!


The event kicks off August 10th and runs through the 16th (that's an entire week of bashin' on baddies and getting immersed in the fantasy world of Ailur). Admission is free, so be sure to snag your spot today so you can be the first to dive into the magic of Kristala.


Stay tuned at the end of this dev blog to get a peek at all the progress we've made on Kristala in the last 12 months. But first, let's dive into what the dev team has been up to over the course of the last sprint.



3D Asset Design


This sprint, our 3D Asset Designer, Nick, continued working through the long list of models that will detail and decorate the desolate and beautiful, ruined city of Nasahara.


Nasahara - located in Nisargan clan territory and once a sprawling, thriving mecca of Anagativan commerce and community - was laid to waste at the hands of Kotakayan soldiers acting under direct orders from the Mad Kotakayan King, Edam.


Decades later, the city was never repaired and remains abandoned and barren to this day. You can read more about the carnage that ravaged Nasahara by diving into this installment of our biweekly newsletter series, The Sagas of Kristala.


Here's a peek at Nick's most recent work. Though many pieces are aged or charred, there's still a beauty to each one that helps tell the full story of Nasahara.



Over the past few months, our resident 3D architectural modeler, Cass, has been working tirelessly to create several custom forest townhouses and row homes that will populate the city of Nasahara and the small forest villages that dot the outskirts of Nisargan clan lands.


Last issue, we shared the texturing work Cass had started on the forest homes, many of which resemble beautiful log cabins due to the intricate woodwork featured throughout.


Much to Cass's relief (we're sure anyway), he was finally able to finish applying textures to the townhouses over the past few weeks. Take a look!



Now that Cass has completed (and kicked ass at creating) all the townhouses and row homes, he's moving on to another structural piece for the game - one that serves a really important purpose.


This crumbling coliseum will be something you'll need a lot of courage to enter once you find it naturally in the game, but for now, here's a look at Cass's initial modeling work for the piece.


We're anticipating having a lot more of this baby to share with you come next month's installment of the Kristala game dev blog.



Shifting gears to Shelly's realm, we move from structural and environmental elements over to characters, crystals, and beyond.


As our 3D Generalist, Shelly has her hands in a bunch of different aspects and areas of development, lending both her texturing and modeling skills to help fill in various holes and gaps within our 3D elements.


Although we've tasked our newest concept artist and character modeler, Pete, with trying his hand at the textures for our main Anagativan characters (which you can see later on in this issue), Shelly spent the first half of this sprint finishing up her own textures.



With Pete focused on the main characters, Shelly's time was freed up to revise the concepts for our six ancient, sacred clan crystals and recreate them using Nick's initial concepts as a guide.


As a refresher, here's a look at what our six sacred crystals used to look like:




And here's a peek at Shelly's progress thus far on the new Nisargan, Myrtunan, and Tandaran crystals. We can't wait to see what the other three will look like.


Let us know which of the three crystal below is your favorite.



NISARGA CRYSTAL:


The Nisargans value peace and tranquility above all else. Their eminence-based magic allows them to utilize the natural elements of Ailur to aid them in battle. To represent this, the radiant, green Nisargan crystal is covered in exotic vines and foliage.



MYRTUNA CRYSTAL:


As a mysterious clan of necromancers, the Myrtunans are gifted in the art of foresight and knowing. Skilled Myrtunans that have learned to open their third eye can predict potential future events. Their sacred crystal features an eye to represent this special Myrtunan gift.



TANDARA CRYSTAL:


The tundra-dwelling Tandarans wield an eminence-based magic that allows them to freeze and manipulate water for use against enemies. Their sacred crystal features an icy aura encased within a ring of antlers to represent the clan's core values of both strength and loyalty.


To round out this sprint, Shelly finished her work on the loading screen that will be featured in the Nisargan clan levels.


The same glowing orb will be used throughout each of our loading screens, but the color it fills with will change based on which clan you're playing as, or which clan area you're currently journeying through.



It's been awhile since we've unveiled a new character in Kristala...which is why we're super pumped to share the progress our 3D Character Designer, Bianca, has made on the Nisargan forest nymph NPC we've got in the works.


We're still plotting and planning out how these characters will interact with the player in game, but we're super stoked at the progress Bianca's made on the model, especially when compared to the concept art for these ethereal beauties.


Check it out! The concept Bianca's working with is pictured first, and then Bianca's (totally badass) model follows.




Programming


As we near a place where we’re ready to package our build for PlayNYC, Will’s been working hard to tie up any loose ends in Unreal.


To kick off this sprint, Will created a spreadsheet for our internal team to track enemies, their variants, and their stats so we can ensure all are properly set up and functioning as they should.


He also set up a new system built into the base code for our AI to allow us to easily enable or disable targeting an enemy in Blueprints (for things such as hiding enemies or enemies that are temporarily invisible to the player).


Next, Will worked on revising the Kristal Shine spell to prevent its light from disabling when the player character switches the magic staff from her hand, or when she attempts to cast a different spell.


Here's a look at the spell becoming unequipped, and then a look at Will's revisions in action:



After optimizing the Kristal Shine spell, Will rebuilt the game's Loot system to allow enemies to carry multiples of the same item, then modified the Equipment and Inventory systems to allow shields and staves to be treated separately - yet still function together.


Will also implemented the programming that allows players to do things like wield two weapons at once before addressing a few bugs regarding Sprinting, Inventory, and Focus on various menus.


Speaking of sprinting, Will found a better way to balance our sprinting/dodging control that uses the same button. Then, our Producer, Allie, went in and optimized the player character's Jogging and Sprinting movements in the Kristala game build.



Will then moved on to address a series of additional tasks to help us get ready to package the first build of the demo for Play NYC. First, he set up the Heartbeat sounds that are featured at each one of the game's Kristal Checkpoints.


Next, he fixed a bug that was causing certain special attacks to be ignored, then started work on implementing our Myrtunan Shiv weapon and its accompanying special ability.


Though the weapon was brought into Unreal relatively easily, Will captured an interesting bug that was causing our Twigativa enemies to essentially shoot up into the air any time they were struck by the Shiv's special attack.


Talk about OP...



Although unrelated to the Myrtunan Shiv, this strange bug wasn't the only issue Will pinpointed this sprint in regards to the Twigativa enemies.


Interestingly enough, while working on some of his other tasks, Will noticed a really unique phenomenon that occurred anytime a Twiggy enemy was killed. It seems like these branch-like baddies just won't take "die" for an answer.


Or, as the great Jeff Goldblum once said, "Life, uh...finds a way."



Will's last big focus for this sprint was to implement multi-directional quickstep dodging and set it to work when locked on to enemies as well as when not locked on. When he attempted to test the dodging, however, he discovered some issues.


In the clips below, you can see the Dodge issues in action. The first clip shows a lack of forward momentum when the dodge mechanic is engaged. The second clip shows the broken dodge mechanic during combat with a Twigativa enemy.



Luckily, with Producer Allie's assistance, we were able to pinpoint the issue and get it fixed. Check out our game Production section below to see the Dodge functionality performing as intended.


The fact that our multi-directional Dodging is working properly now is actually really great news for you. Why?


Here's a fun fact: dodging will be one of the most important mechanics you'd be wise to master while playing Kristala. Don't say we didn't warn you...



Level Design


You've read a lot about the Nasahara Ruins level in this and other issues of the Kristala game dev blog. The abandoned city was once the site of a great battle that ravaged its streets and decimated its citizens.


As part of Ailur's history, Nasaraha serves a key role in reminding players of the dire consequences of war.


Because of this, Level Designer Joe has been working tirelessly over the past few months to make sure this key level properly represents the aesthetic we're going for - ruined, crumbling buildings; singed houses; abandoned market stands; and blood-splattered items and objects.


Here's a peek at some of Joe's recent work. Stay tuned for much more to come!



As we get closer and closer to packaging our playable build for PlayNYC, studio owner and Lead Level Designer, Tiffany, has been going back through the entirety of our demo level to carefully apply finishing details and items to give it a polished, pristine look.


To amp up the grimy, boggy vibe of the Dalamase level, Tiff spent this sprint adding some cattails and tussocks to our growing repertoire of swamp-like flora. She also made some revisions to the swamp water and placed some algae on its surface.


The additions really make the entire thing pop, if you ask us. What do you think?



After the cattails, tussocks, and algae, Tiff added some insect particles to the Dalamase to make it more lifelike and realistic. She placed a fly particle in our Graveyard area, then added a moth particle to the lampposts featured throughout the demo.


What do you think? Pretty sweet, right?




Concept Art


Last issue, we gave a hearty ACS Games welcome to our newest Concept Artist, Pete, and showed off some of the work he'd done on a very special Kotakayan NPC named Gustav Gondasa.


Gustav is a friendly NPC you'll encounter along your journey through Ailur. In fact, many Kota in Ailur are incredibly friendly and aim to help you toward mastering the six specializations of sacred clan magic during your Proving. You'd be wise to consult them along your journey to becoming a true Rasakan warrior.


Here's a look at Gustav's nearly finished concept. We can't wait to see how our 3D modelers bring this brave little adventurer to life.



In addition to finishing up Gustav, Pete also took over on trying his hand at improving the textures for our Nisargan main character (the only character featured in the Kristala demo; you'll be able to choose to play as any clan you want in the full version of the game) and making them as lifelike and realistic as possible with the absence of hair cards.


Pete used an image of Producer Allie's real-life cat, Binky, as a guide for laying out the new textures in Substance Painter. We really think Pete knocked it out of the park on this one, but we'll let you be the judge of that for yourself.



After nailing the base textures, Pete then went back in and added all the small (but really important) details that truly make our feline-like characters come to life - like eyelids and facial whiskers.



It's hard to tell just how much of an improvement Pete's textures are without seeing the old ones and the new ones side by side. Luckily for you, we've got a couple of gameplay clips that showcase just that.


The first clip shows the old textures on our female Nisargan during gameplay combat, and the second shows Pete's revised textures on the same character as she shows off our new and improved backflip dodge animation.



While Pete tackled the Gustav concept and the textures for our main character, l_aciel created some really badass armor concepts for each of the six clans that will be featured in the full version of Kristala.


We really love how each of the armor sets perfectly fits the individual, unique aesthetic of its corresponding clan. Not only that, but the armor sets also perfectly match with the six clan crests l_aciel previously designed too.


Below is a look at each clan's armor concept next to its complementary clan crest. Based on these concepts, which clan is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.



NISARGA CLAN:


MYRTUNA CLAN:


TANDARA CLAN:


KEOZA CLAN:


SYKOMANA CLAN:


LYUMINA CLAN:



Sound Design


Since joining our team, our resident Composer, Adeel, has become somewhat of a machine when it comes to pumpin' out (incredibly beautiful) tracks to populate Kristala's original soundtrack.


Over time, players will learn to associate various tracks and sounds with specific areas of the game (or particular actions that may be taken).


You can listen to a bunch of Adeel's tracks at our Soundcloud account posted below.




Animation / Rigging / Game Production


It should come as no surprise that Studio Founder and Game Producer, Allie, has been ridiculously hard at work the closer we get to unveiling the V1 alpha build of Kristala at PlayNYC's 2020 virtual convention.


To kick things off, Allie worked on a bunch of new animations to add to our growing repertoire, including our Multidirectional Quickstep Dodge that now - thanks to Allie's troubleshooting efforts - works seamlessly in UE4.


Additionally, Allie worked on the animation for our Base Dagger Special Attack. You can see clips of the Multidirectional Quickstep Dodging and Base Dagger Special Attack animations below.


After tackling some base animations, Allie then spent some time not only setting up the multidirectional and backflip Dodge animations in the game build, but also working with Gameplay Programmer Will on figuring out why the Dodging was broken.


After several hours (and a headache or two), Allie finally got the dodging to work properly again. As previously mentioned, dodging is a super important mechanic in Kristala, so we're incredibly relieved to finally have it working properly again.



Last on the animation front, Allie worked on improving the player character's Jogging and Sprinting in game. Now there's a distinct difference between the two animations in terms of speed - and the character moves much more smoothly overall.



Beyond her typical animation work, Allie also spent some time preparing the Kristala game build for packaging and was able to snag a bunch of stunning shots of the game as we prepare for PlayNYC.


Take a peek at the incredible shots Allie captured. We really can't wait to share Kristala with you and the rest of the world!



The Difference a Year Makes


As we prepare to finally unveil the V1 Alpha build of Kristala's demo at this year's PlayNYC virtual convention, we've been feeling incredibly nostalgic about the last year of game development.


You just saw where we're at with development on Kristala now, but just a year ago, things weren't always so polished and pristine in the game build.


In fact, when we look back on the combat demo we brought to New York City in August 2019 for Play - and compare it to the images and videos you just saw above - we're amazed at the total transformation Kristala has taken in just a short amount of time.


From revamping the entire demo level and the main storyline to completely overhauling the look of our main character (she used to have a full head of hair!), last year's build almost seems somewhat foreign to us now.


In celebration of all the progress we've made, we're taking a walk down memory lane and looking back at where the game was only a mere 12 months ago.


Needless to say, it's amazing the difference a single year makes. Take a look at how drastically different the character, gameplay, and combat were compared to where things are at meow.



Quite the transition, eh?


Although it's nice to look back on our development journey over the past year, we're really happy to have the game at the place it's at now just in time for unveiling at PlayNYC.


Here are some recent gameplay clips backed by a few tracks from our incredible composer, Adeel. Each of these tracks will be featured on the Kristala original soundtrack.




Kristala Merch Alert!



Don't forget! We now have a Kristala merch store!


Make sure you check out our brand new 3"x3" and 5.5"x5.5" custom vinyl stickers and slaps. They're the perfect way to rep Kristala in your everyday life.



Kristala Stream Team Corner


Every week, members of our dev team stream their work LIVE at 9 pm EDT on Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook LIVE.


Check out some of our favorite streams since the last time we met, and be sure to tune in live every evening (except Mondays) to chat with us and watch us do our game dev thang.







Are you enjoying these monthly Kristala development updates? If so, don't be shy...let us know about it!


Register for a site account and leave us a comment, or join our Discord community to chat directly with the members of our dev team and stay up-to-date on all things Kristala. You can also follow our dev journey on social media via the links below.


Until next time, friends...thank you for your continued support, and thanks for stopping by.



-The ACS Games Dev Team





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