Each game developer when start a project think about game and about game-mechanics. On the paper pages spot and erases the features. Spot and erases. We do not need erase and create something because we clearly known what we do.
Before sir Francis Drake became a famous explorer, a pirate and privateer he was young but experienced man. In 23 he with the second ship named Pelican (later named Golden Hind) go to the first big ride. Officialy Pelican was a flagman ship under Drake command at 1957, but... we think isn't true.
We assume that in 1563 Drake made his first voyage to the New World exactly on the board of Pelican. In the same year he was trapped by the Spaniards in the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulúa. He escaped along with cousin, Sir John Hawkins. We also assume that exactly in 1563 when Drake retreat with the Hawkins fleet was happened very strange event.
One morning after escape, Drake and Hawkins and their crew feel the strange feelings of deja-vu. He can't remember past day but just remember that it already was. Immediately after this career of Drake thrived. Drake on board of Pelican was invulnerable. We ask myself - what happens in that day? Why after that Drake do not know defeats? Why even in hard sea battles the little vessel Pelican never been damaged?
Drake: The Golden Hind Story try to give answers.
Genre: Platform arcade with the little RPG elements.
Art and color style: Old games by Westwood Studios
Setting: medeival + a few pieces of steam-punk
Time Period: 1563 AD
Counts of Levels: 7 big levels and 6 cities (or village).
One main quest and at least 12 sub-quests
No slow-motion or bullet time
No rolling time back
No checkpoints (classic save/load system)
No casual modes
You can see we do not claim to genius. We just want to make the arcade in the spirit of old traditions. With the charming hero, the platform world ready for exploration, soft storyline and memorable characters. At this time we do not go on about the casual player (even if we do not reach the progress in financial part of this case). Enough. In the "Drake" you need to play, not watch the game play itself.
It's a just a game - for a specific type of gamer. Absolutely non for a casuals, but and no bloody hardcore. Even if our game be a good for one hundred thousand people - I will know, - the task is completed. The main thing that she really liked.
We must try to do it.
Thanks for watching and reading.
Earlier we told with you about birds of Hindale, other words, flight vessel's of Hind. Are a huge theme, and no time to speaking long about it. But one of the pieces of this theme is very important for us. Queen Gas Monopoly (QGM in future texts) supplies not only stuff for vessels. As you remember is a hover posters, hover gardens, even couple of version of child toys made on the base of QGM standart shell.
Jet-pack. I was sit home and as usually dream about Hind, and born the thought. QGM shells used in many types of devices, even large birds flight on gas. Why I cannot give citizens jet-pack's? Did you know that the work of the gardener is not so safe? High altitude work, aggressive plants... yes they need free milk and more cash revenue for harmful type of work.
Of course integrated limitation of altitude reduces maneuverability and freedom of movement of personal jet pack. The company's policy. But, however, many of citizens used this device to different tasks. Postman's, patrol, personal guard and gardeners not a full list of potential users. We always respect personal privacy and private property... but some people like thieves and treasure hunters are not so tenderly with these things. Also we can remind miners, underwater workers and etc. "Queen Gas" is very important resource in world of Hind. Source of prosperity and... Reason of wars.
Another miracle of Hindale. Two giant trains based on monorails. One of this trains still working. This monster like small town. Living places, bars and etc. Second royal train falling down into the Entrance Abyss near main gates of Hindale. Many people died. It was in last war. When citizens was trying to evacuate families in safe place.
I turned to the history of Hindale of first class not in order to remind us what we was learn in schools extremely bad, but for fact that we have in-game jet-pack's. Jet-pack's used in world by regular citizens (with license) and we can use this too.
Digital painting on this period of my life fully replace my traditional skills. I forget about how it... draw with the real ballpoint pen. Or... maybe, I never know it? (laughing) Who knows? You can see (see bellow) previous version of "flighters". I make this home, to remember what the type of thoughts I must bring on my workbench to rework and to made this well.
But, glory of Hind, even these skills enough to draw of main idea to the future research. Magic is tragic. Well... so... what's next in this news block?
As you can see we walk through the past and repeat the steps of great and legendary old games. A second step of today’s voyage is movement controller of main character. If you read old updates and news on IndieDB you can noticed that this term meets much more other terms. Probably, because this a main bones of each platformer game. Your virtual legs and hands which you use to explore the world.
First iteration of our controller was good but working only with static game screens. Classic theme, where player move from one game screen to the next screen. When I want to test game camera which link to character I come to understanding that soft movement of camera be good only in one case. If I do very soft animations with a lot of frames. In this case, twitches in movement of camera be maximally decreased.
Problem in fact is that camera is very honest girl. And this girl tracing hero like a mirror. And if steps between two frames of animation of hero have too much size (pixels between two frames) this is momentary "reflected" on the camera. Camera repeat actions of hero. She is running for Drake and screaming - do not leave me! When Drake twitches in fear - she twitches too. On the one hand it is so cute, on the other hand - this is looks very cutting eye. Like longest drama. Few dramatic moments and lonliness tears on your face maybe been good, but two or more hours of sobbing... isn't good. You feel is very unconfortable. I think not good for gamer.
Twitches. To walk away from this artifact need to be done soft animation where step between frames no more than two or three pixels (maximal tested count).
Probably be better to make classic way to movements between game screens where hero just move to the next screen of game level and it's all. But... I think that in very important thing as controller, developer (that is, I) must check all variants to find better solution. I need clearly know what I can use, what I cannot use in the game and why, and of course what be better for increase level of immersion.
You can ask, - why in many good arcades hero uses less frame count as here, camera is moving well and all looks good. And I… As a prudent pub owner, should fill for you another one pint of ale, warm after long walks through the dungeons of my brain, and report - Drake is not one of simple arcades where character is not moving actually.
In many classic arcades, character plays animation cycle and float around the world. In deep sense he is not moving. Animation play, yes. But hero play this animation on one place. On the center of game screen. Under this sprite moving world. With uniform speed rate.
In case of real cinematic platformer all a bit more complicated. Character is really walking and running. World separated on logical boxes (or even logical tiles) and character move between this tiles. You never see the twitches because step, or jump, or run sequence (or just any sequence) is ending in one specific place (or pixel) of tile. That is why distance between frames when object is moving, must be constant. In the world where all have a strict logic - camera need same way to solve problem of randomly twitches.
For compensate this artifact we develop dynamic camera. Target of camera is one - Drake. But speed and Principe of movement is not constant like speed of character. Camera fly slightly behind the character, and then the moment you stop catching up with him. As a loyal dog who follow you. And I hope, that two thing, - very detailed animation & dynamic camera, - solved our problem.
Note: Drake uses controller which use in world game history only 5 times (maybe little more, but I don't know about it). This starts in 1989th. On the last time this controller was used by Flashback game. As you understand from the age of 1990th gone so many years. 22 years and only 5 good games. Strange, right? I think this happen not because this controller and this genre is not popular, but... because this is hard to create. Too many problems, too many things to need to be done for good picture of the game. Flashback, Prince of Persia I-II, Blackthorne, and Bermuda Syndrome. This is the five games what i told.
In any case I need to test this. Because in game you have not only walking Dea... Drake.
In one comment to Drake I said that lot of concept-art which must serve the stylization of game. You can see that art style of images is very different. For two reasons (+ third, reason, negative perk). First, in different times I feel different.
"Yesterday" I went down on lower level of Hindale. This is very scary place. Because this place is dead. After war many cities been destroyed, population decreased, and survivors unite in different places. That's how born the villages and towns of present days. On the bones of the past.
Hindale in the past is a very large city. But most of all citizen died by the war. Moreover war of mechanists and dwarfes change the bone of Earth. Fractures in the rock, lot of abysses and gas made influence on survival at the bottom part of city. As a result, the majority of citizens moved to the upper levels of town. Some people stay on the "roots". You can meet these people in your adventures. You can imagine why my paintings have a different colors and emotions. When I feel darkness around I really want drawing light, but I can't.
Second reason for drawings art in different art styles mean that I still search the pieces of Style. I do not want repeat existing styles. I want to make it so how I myself feel the Drake and say to yourself after - you did everything right.
And if with the first reason all clear, second reason need more explanations than. Some people can be confused by images. Mislead. I do not want give you wrong hope. In some details Art Style are remind old games of Westwood Studios, in few pieces Flashback. And in full image this is a child of old adventure platformers. This is not child of triple-A games, this game have no 3D, shaders and etc. And if the last cut-scene-shot of Drake, after viewing it, you thought that this Visual Vision game - you'd be wrong.
So… previous sketches this is concept, feelings, but not real picture of game.
Difference between concept work and final image of cut-scenes like in Flashback game. Of course not 2013 edition, because this is a fake. Sorry If I offend your feelings, forgive old man which eyes still remembering glory of old adventures. Honestly I want make Flashback like cut-scenes. Because no one developer for years do not do this favor for me. Best way to do this - do it by self. I'll do it - be sure. Don't care. Wait... i remember one guy who did it - Hyper Light Drifter. Love it. Believe in it. And glad to know about success of funding company this team. Sorry that I'm not rich. Too many guys need our help. But i think we can. Always can. Dawn of good old games rise again and again.
Third reason. I work too long in gamedev (outsource tasks) and do non-interesting, and most of all, casual game stuff. I’m a broken man. If you drink bad and cheep beer year by year, forget about your feel of good taste. You forget about (ouch.. I forget, of course) good Irish or German beer, and… you (me) think that crap what you drink is normal. Bullshit. You broke your taste. But... this can be healed. Revived. All that need to bad beer poisoned character good Irish pub, or little place somewhere in Frankfurt-on-the-Main (sorry guys, in Hindale I show you all, in the real world i know not so much german cities, how I want). Where we stop? Yes. On the drinking process. For resurection of your taste need a good product.
What the epilogue? Drink the good drinks guys! Play only in good games. Do not repeat my fate. Do not work on bad games. This change you. I'm work free (left gamedev) almost three year, and still do not wake up my brains. Somethimes i feel splash of gloried madness. And this is a good sign. I have chance to reborn.
What important for the sketch? Form. Shape. Before light and colors. You must feel your character, you must be sure that all is good. And for this we create Form. Silhouette if you want.
After checking you can separate Form on Pieces. In my case this is a pants, boots, robe and head. Forget about sabre and hair, forget about palms. Made accent on the base form. Today i work with a pieces of Form. After this, and after tests of this in engine I think about details. Not now, not yet. Now you fully understand why we work with the sketches. How you think my next step?
Maybe you are right, but I want make the color theme. For why? For Color of Form. This can help Drake do not get lost on the backgound. This is not casual game but you must look on your hero. And to see hero. In normal life i can assimilate with the concrete wall. I mean hide on the background of the concrete wall. If I dress gray clothes. For example. Clothes without accents. And probably be better to do this at night. In this case I have a good chances to hide.
In many case no necessary to make details. Main thing - is Form. Silhouette. With the silhouette (shape) you can do many. After this details only increase quality of animation and quality of character. This is steps of jump animation. Only in final variant I'll add hands. But, honestly, for me... now... it's absolutely non important. I just want back. To the Hind. Even if this place now under construction. With hands or without - don't care - most important actions of character at this momen. In this weekend we start integration of new Drake into engine.
But in the game real often is not real, because for few types of games real image is bad art direction. Because very bad readability of symbols. That is why Concrad B. Hart have a light-blue pants, white boots and brown (almost red) jacket. For readability. I need to do something like that. Because i have no full complete game levels and I have no full color themes for Drake game, because now we do just the movent controller and base pieces of game-play.
Simple animation on first eye, but what happen if we remove left tile? One of left tile and increase length of hole? Drake must punch leg, if we remove two tiles change animation on stomach position, and pull up. Three - hang on hands, four - fall down. Our mother-animation will born four childrens. Each action in world have consequences. No way to the thing which work by rule "all freeze - gamer do not do something and nothing happen". Happen.
If I do final Drake frames now - just lost my Time. Because each animation of Drake have a 24 handmade frame. I have no stuff for rotoscoping and I make my "roto" by my eye. You can imagine work with m-m-m... 240 frames? Or better be say 2400 frames, sounds dangerous, yea? I say you real count of frames of base movements when done. If be shortly, - If you change color of jacket you must do lot of fixes (classic frames not instance, If you change color all you can do – change this colors on other frames). I do not use 3D and do not use other program stuff. Is real old-school animation. That is why I need to be sure that color theme is right.
So... in demo you can see Drake without many parts. Because. And I don't know how but I think that this must be closed alfa-controller-test. I do not want frighten my future auditory. I need the old, tough players. Which have nothing to fear, and who saw all things in this life.
Well-known politician of lower levels of Hindale city. "Mayor" Joe. Unite the disparate groups of vagrants and turned them into a formidable force, which may for a few days, block access to the gas mines.
Citizens of Hindale, i know we are small group survivors, especially after last war, but for me important each of your voice and each of your votes. Currently I must tell you very unpleasant news. Maybe unpleasant or maybe not. Limited time makes me to be make hard decision. Currently i work under first demo. And i choose pixel art style to represent you world of Hind.
Previous sample style looks like HD graphics where each piece of world in four times large that we have now. Other words, each sprite on the dawn of this world looks like. I more like HD version, but i know that many of gamers love also old style, which developers used before great war after which we was been captured by 3D, gnomes, casual toy-crafts and army of pink flowers.
Pixel-art more effective in development. More speedy in creation process. I want to know what you think about it. Of course main decisions i take by myself, but also I think about community, about thoughts of community. Becasue... maybe in few things i can be like blindman.
What you like more? (link on the Voting Page). HD version with well made level of detalization, or old school pixel-art with zoom mode for playing if you want see things more closer than usually? Also you can do it on official page of Drake game. Thanks for your time and voting.
We lose one thing... o... find it. This announce of future Drake poster. You can help me with fuel for this poster. Like collector, I collect your likes on Facebook. For me this is good indicator of your interest. If we gain 30 likes i finish the poster (sketch you can see bellow) faster than I planned, because in this case I been know - you want it. This image dedicated to one of many battles for Hindale.
Hey! Come On let's play little solo part of "Walk This Way"... and walk away... to meet with you again... Walk This Way... Walk This Way... Walk This Way... Cheers. Para-para-pam-pam-pum... (and he went away with silent singing to herself).
Almost forget. If you see this - Queen needs you. Join the Navy! Protect your home, defend your childs! Other words, Concept Squadron of GreenLight army need recruits. Of course real battle start next year, but... training camp already work.