Sep 122013
 

This week I’ll talk about the creation of the gui for Legend of Grimrock 2. Let’s get rolling!

From the past experience with graphical user interfaces (GUI) we know that creating a gui that not only looks great but is also effortless and intuitive to use is hard work. For LoG1 we did many, many iterations before settling down with the final design (by scanning older blog posts you can see various incarnations that evolve to the final version). We are pretty happy with the original gui but as always there is still room for improvement. So, we spent a week with Juho furiously working on the gui and this is what we got:

The changes are not just eye-candy, some of them make the gui more usable. For example, you can now cycle through the characters by clicking on the arrows on the left and right side of the portrait. Also, the main statistics, experience, food, health, energy, protection and evasion are always visible on the upper half of the character sheet. With a quick glance you can now see whose character sheet is open regardless which tab is active.

On the visual side, the little drips of brown and green here and there remind of the new outdoor environments. A little feature that we wanted to do for Grimrock 1, but didn’t have enough time, is race and gender specific inventory panel backgrounds. Naturally now that we have moddable races (did I mention this feature already?), mods can define new background images for new races.

Like before the stats tab shows the remaining statistics, such as ability scores and resistances. We improved the layout a bit and grouped left and right hand statistics in their own boxes. As a new feature the percentile chance of scoring critical hits is now displayed in the stats tab.

(For the technically inclined, the gui elements in Grimrock 1 were manually packed in a texture atlas and the coordinates and sizes of every element were painstakingly entered in the code. For the new gui, I coded a simple texture packer that spews out a big texture atlas containing all the bits and pieces and a Lua file with the coordinates. The texture atlas has currently 192 pieces, so needless to say, making new iterations is now a lot less painful than with the old gui system!)

LoG2 will have many new harmful and beneficial conditions that your characters can have. The conditions used to be seen only in the stats tab, but the tab was getting a bit crowded, so the conditions are now indicated on the portrait. This is a very natural place for them, so I don’t know why we didn’t realize this earlier. Anyway, if you have any harmful condition the portrait rectangle turns red and by hovering on the portrait with the mouse you get a detailed list of all active conditions and their effects on the character.

Perhaps even more important than the character sheet is the attacking interface on the lower right corner of the screen (see below). We have also redesigned the attack frames so that the rune panel fits on the screen without hiding the little portrait and health and energy bars. It’s a lot cleaner now, especially with multiple mages. As a side effect the attack buttons are now a little bigger making it easier to hit them in the heat of battle.

Observant readers may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the Skills tab of the character sheet yet. I actually skipped that on purpose, because the skill system has went through a major redesign and I reserve the subject for another blog post! Ha!

There you have it, until next time! …And back to coding! :)

 

One of the central game mechanics in the Legend of Grimrock -series (can we already call it a series?) are puzzles. They’re a very natural pairing for an oldschool dungeon crawler like ours and it provides a nice counterweight for the exploration and combat you’ll be doing.

After we finished Grimrock 1 I thought that we might have squeezed out all the possible grid based puzzles with levers, pits, doors and traps that we could possibly muster. And I felt that way for a long time too but strangely, after wrapping up the release of Dungeon Editor for Grimrock 1 with Petri, I realized there might still be a few puzzle ideas hiding deep somewhere in the back of my head, just waiting to be digged out. Figuratively speaking of course, not literally… :)

Of course, a lot has happened that has fed the puzzle creation process somewhat. The Dungeon Editor makes it a lot easier to prototype and build puzzle ideas and we’ve also come up with some new mechanisms that can be used for entirely new styles of puzzle or combined with the old elements for a fresh take on the older puzzles.

All in all, it’s impossible to predict exactly where the next idea comes from but no matter what their origins are, they’ll end up in the puzzle_ideas.txt in my dropbox. At this moment there’s about 40 unused ideas, many of which are very abstract and probably won’t end up as actual working puzzles, but others are much closer to reality and more ripe for use. Let’s take a look how one of the ideas ended up in the text file and how I took the idea to completion (as seen on the screenshot above) and how it changed along the way.

Here’s the original notes I wrote down about the puzzle: Continue reading »

 

Alright, this has been a long time coming… I’ve worked at AH for about a year now and haven’t written anything to the blog! Naturally I should introduce myself before I start blabbing about other things so the guys threw me some interview type questions and I went on to answer them.

Please introduce yourself!

Hello everyone! My name is Jyri Ullakko and I’m an artist here at Almost Human. I’ve previously worked on games like Trine 2, Shattered Horizon, and on some mobile games back in the day when I was at Fathammer. I’ve also spent a number of years working at Fake graphics creating graphics for advertisements.
Continue reading »

 

Couple of months ago we posted to our blog that we were looking for an artist that could help us create brand new portraits for the LoG2. We received tons of applications, 234 to be precise, and I went through all of them. One artist stood out pretty early on. He had just the right style we were looking for and his communication was great and with reasonable rates, it wasn’t that difficult to select him to do the work. So, without further ado, let me introduce Emile Denis to everybody. -Juho

Several months ago, I heard about The Legend of Grimrock via some websites and several reports on tv. I was immediately intrigued by this game with an old-school and Modern side. After testing it with a friend, I really enjoyed it!

Then, last April, a friend who works in the the video game industry sent me a link saying “hey look!, I saw this and thought you would be interested in it!”: It was an advertisement from Almost Human who was Looking for a freelance portrait artist for the Legend of Grimrock 2!

I didn’t think twice and immediately sent an email with my portfolio, then, after a few days, Juho Salila give me the definitive answer: I am selected! It’s such a pleasure since I love everything related to portraits and characters! I was even happier when Juho gave me as a reference the Baldur’s Gate’s portraits (one of my favorites games)!

So after receiving the brief, I started to work:
At first, I started with the “Human” race, keeping in mind the realistic style and the fantastic atmosphere of the game. By default, when I start an illustration or a concept, I gather a lot of documentation. In this case, since they are characters, I always start to think about the character in question: “What is his class?, is it old or young?, male or female?“, from there I like to imagine an actor or a famous person who could “impersonate” the character, just to get a clearer idea of the portrait. I always try to have at least two references (like two actors, for example) for each character to ensure that the resemblance will not be too flagrant in the end, and sometimes I use some photographic references in black and white or with a special light to give more life and volume to the portrait. From there, I started the first sketches always in black and white, then I set aside my references, I refine the drawing, and once it’s completed, I color them.

When I started working on the “Insectoids” race, the approach was a little more complex: As usual, I gather a lot of references, and then I tried to build portraits with great variety of different insects. Then, I finalized the illustrations by adding some textures and playing with the blending modes of Photoshop to find the scaly and rough effect of certain insects.
I still have a lot of work, and I know this will be truly rewarding and fun!

I would like to thank the whole team for choosing me and I look forward to seeing the final result ;)

-Emile DENIS

Check out more of Emile’s work in his blog Here.





 

Back from the holidays and already busy at work, it is time for another development update! In this update I’ll talk about changes to the item system that ended up having a pretty big effect on the combat mechanics as well. Did I get your attention? Read on! :)

Let’s take a look at a familiar weapon the dagger (see below). As you can see we have changed some of the item statistics to reflect the underlying game mechanics better. In the Grimrock 1 a bigger value was always better, but unfortunately the values were quite abstract. For example, the graphical interface showed an abstract statistic called “attack speed” and the player probably had no way of telling how attack speed was internally translated to a cooldown value. One of the goals of the new system is to make it less opaque, so that’s why instead of abstract “attack power” and “attack speed” statistics, the item tooltip now display a damage range and a cooldown value in seconds.

However, a much bigger improvement is the addition of secondary actions. Many items in Grimrock 2 will have two actions. The first one is the primary action that is most natural for the item and it can be activated quickly with the familiar click on the attack button. For example, the primary action of the dagger is a melee attack, but in Grimrock 2 you can also throw a dagger by holding the attack button down briefly. The buildup time for secondary attacks varies per action, so that simple actions such as throwing can be executed very fast, but more powerful attacks and abilities take considerably longer.

Some secondary attacks can be very powerful. For example, the longsword (see below) can deliver mighty Thrust attacks that have improved damage and much higher accuracy. It can also bypass enemy’s armor to some extend — enemy’s armor value is reduced by 20 points for the duration of attack so it’s much more effective against armored foes. To keep you from spamming special attacks and increase the importance of tactics, the special actions usually have an energy cost and sometimes a limited number of charges. We are also toying with ideas of level and skill requirements for some of the most powerful special attacks.

Talking about charges, the problem with items with charges, is typically that the player saves these items for special combats. Usually this means that these items will actually never be used and just pile up in the inventory. That’s why most items with charges will have another use in Grimrock 2. For example, the Meteor Hammer, a new weapon for Grimrock 2, has a melee attack in addition to its devastating Meteor Storm attack. This way a front line fighter can still use the weapon even after all charges have been used. Also, its much more convenient to shoot a fiery storm of death from an item held in hand than go rummaging through the backpack in the middle of hectic combat.

We are still toying with the secondary attacks and things might still change considerably. We have some pretty interesting abilities planned for new items, and there are other things in the plans as well, for example, to make certain monsters resistant and weak against certain attacks. But the addition of secondary actions has already made a big impact on the feel of the combat. More choices, more tactics. Buildup times of special attacks affect the rhythm and pacing of combat. Combat in Grimrock 2 will be different affair than in Grimrock 1!

 

It is the thirtyeighth day of my journey. The sea has been strangely calm for weeks with nought but a slight breeze and no drops of water from the heavens. The Ratling captain says that this is an ill omen, for in this season rains should be plentiful.

The reports of strange structures on the Island are perplexing to my mind. Surely some of them were made by the natives now long lost to the mists of time. But the tales of seafarers also tell about more recent, grander constructions towering above the trees. The natives and the priestesses long gone, who are building these structures and why?

The seamen believe that the Island is cursed — I say guarded by strong Magicks — since no ship sailing close to the Island has ever returned. Perhaps the ancient statues reported by the few survivors of shipwrecks are there to guards the secrets of the Island until the constructionwork is complete? Perhaps with the careful usage of the Art we are able to dispell the shields and grant us entrance to the Island? Perhaps the King’s endless thrist for knowledge shall be finally quenched? Perhaps.

There are black clouds billowing in the horizon. The storm is rising.

– Alarast the Sage of Royal Library

Hello all! We have been pushing hard on the development of Legend of Grimrock 2 and now we are going to have a brief but sweet summer break. But before we go a recap of what has been happening is in order!

The focus of work recently has been on the building blocks of the game, the monsters, puzzles, and environment assets. After the holiday break we are going to start putting the pieces together and building the (final) game world. (I put “final” in parenthesis because I know we are going to polish and tweak the levels to the very last moment before the game ships.)

With the added musclepower of Jyri and Jyri, we have been able to push an impossibly large amount of 3D models, animations and textures out of the oven in a very short time. For example, we have 16 complete new monsters and more is coming. Combined with the monsters from Grimrock 1 we have something like 40 unique monsters, although many of the old monsters won’t make a come back in the new game. The monsters of Grimrock 2 are also much more complex, many with multiple types of special attacks and unique AI behavior.

On the wallset side, we have seven completely new environments, more than double what we had in Grimrock 1. The amount of model files, material definitions and scripts is getting really tough to handle! :)

On the tech side, we have implemented water rendering and integrated a video player. After carefully evaluating our options we chose to use an open source WebM/VP8 video format. Being open source means that mods can also contain cinematic videos without licensing limitations. This was very important to us. The cinematics can also be played whenever needed, no longer just at the start and end of the game.

That’s it! Have a great summer!

 

Phew, it took quite a while but finally it’s here: the Linux version of Legend of Grimrock is on Steam! This means that Steam now carries all the versions of the game: PC, Mac and Linux.

The standalone Linux version of the game has also now been updated to version 1.3.7 which eliminates a few annoying bugs. Most importantly text input and mouse look troubles have been fixed as well as the issue some users have had where they have been unable to export custom dungeons. You can get the update for the standalone version by redownloading the game from the link that was emailed to you when you purchased the game from Humble Bundle or from our store. If you’ve lost the email with the details, you can get it resent but you can of course also email us as well if you need any assistance.

In other news, the development of Grimrock 2 continues! Monsters have been learning some new maneuvers and we’ve also done some work on how items, especially weapons, work and right now as I’m writing this, the guys sitting on the sofas behind my back are thinking about how to do the intro and other cinematics. We have also selected a good artist for the portrait freelancing gig we posted about a while earlier. And boy, the blog post was really effective: we got 234 applications in our inbox from artists all over the world and I’d like to thank all the applicants. I’m sure Juho, who had to sort through all the mails and portfolios himself, is equally thankful! ;)

 

Welcome to the second official dev update of Legend of Grimrock 2!

For the past weeks we have been progressing at a steady pace towards our goal looming in the horizon, the first playable alpha. I’ll go through some of the major events that have happened in development.

First of all we got a new team member, YAY!! Welcome aboard, Mr. Jyri #2 aka Jykä! Jykä will be working as an animator and will essentially double our animation content creation throughput. Jykä is already working on his first monster while getting accustomed with our content creation pipeline. We are know 6 men strong which is 50% more than when we were working on LoG1.

Jykä is an especially important addition to the team because he’s the only man who knows how to properly use a coffee maker (an important skill e.g. if you have high profile visitors) :-D

Continue reading »

 

Edit 28-5-2013 Thank you for all the portfolio submissions. We have now picked an awesome artist to do new set of portraits. –

Ahoy ye freelancers! Almost Human is looking for talented freelance artist to create new awesome character portraits for the upcoming Legend of Grimrock 2. If you think you got what it takes, send us a link to your portfolio or webpage to:

 

Time flies when you’re working hard on something and, oh man, have we been working hard lately. It’s time for a first proper dev update for Legend of Grimrock 2!

The codebase has been in quite a bad shape after working so furiously on the first game. So I’ve been doing a lot of code refactoring which is a bit unthankful work because I’m rewriting a lot code and on the surface nothing seem to be changing. But still it’s very important and will speed up development in the future tremendously. Almost everything is now component based (except for the Party class which is a bugger to refactor because it’s so tightly connected to many places). Also I have rewritten the save game system, so that it’s easier to add new components that store their state automatically in save games.

I’ve also worked on the AI and as a result some critters are now noticeably harder to deal with. A completely new AI behavior has also been added. You can tell the difference immediately when this new behavior is activated but I don’t want to spoil the fun by revealing all the secrets yet!

The Dungeon Editor has also seen some changes. The inspector is now tree-based and shows the components of the selected entity. The “Paint Wall” tool has been extended quite a bit. It is now possible to paint different types of walls and floors in the same level. Shift-clicking on the map flood fills large areas. The editor also has a zoom feature, so tightly packed levels are easier to deal with.

Meanwhile Antti has been busy designing the levels. We have now about 5-6 playable levels in pre-alpha stage depending on how you count them. The levels have puzzles in them but monsters and extra polish will be added later. Antti has also been prototyping on a cool new puzzle mechanic which will eventually help extend our repertoire of tricky and brainteasing puzzles.

Juho and Olli have been modeling and animating new monsters and we have now eight new nasty critters, including two new spellcasters in development. We are trying to get a wider variety of monsters with different abilities in the game this time. If time permits we would like to implement unique AI behavior for most of them.

Jyri has been working on a new interior wallset and dungeon props. Jyri has also helped Juho and Olli by creating the very first monster that you will encounter in LoG2! Jyri reports that the monster has 3192 polygons, uses three textures, has 17 deformers and fits approximately inside a 3×3 meter cubic block. Can you guess what it is? :-)

So all in all, I’d say we are progressing at a good pace. But there’s still a lot of work left, so better get back to banging the keyboard!

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