Dev Diary #67: Springing Ahead
Updated: May 4, 2022
The Amethyst Casino has grown up a lot over the years.
Howdy, long-time pals and new friends alike! We hope springtime is treating you well!
Spring is a time of renewal. We just reintroduced the game as Freeborn. Tulips are popping up in our gardens. Things are heating up!
While there’s a lot of excitement about what the warm months will bring us, April’s relaunch put us in a reflective mood. The support of longtime followers was a cause to look back at how far we’ve come in the nearly 10 years of development. And there’s no better example than the Amethyst Casino.
You'll first reach the Amethyst Casino on Day 2 of the Freeborn journey.
This is the first big competitive Ekosi venue players arrive at in the game, and it was one of the first, largest levels we built. (We’ve done most of our writing and story development in chronological order, since that just felt natural. That’s normal, right?)
The origins of the Amethyst Casino stretch all the way back to 2015! We introduced it in a dev log titled “Casino Royale,” back in October 2015. At the time, we simply referred to it as “the casino,” or “Casino 1” internally. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot, and completely overhauled this level and many others.
Amethyst Casino seven years ago, before it got its name!
What was wrong with the original?
It was just too large. We kept pouring NPCs, optional dialogue, and optional Ekosi battles in, and it still felt empty.
It didn’t feel like there were discrete, obvious, interesting areas. It was just the casino, and it was quite easy to miss the card shop.
It didn’t have a name, identity, or visual theme – which was even more important on the interior.
And last, but not least, there weren’t nearly enough gemstones.
The original Ekosi card shop next to an obviously struggling grocery store!
So, over several months, we changed all that. We downsized to increase the density of characters/battles. We separated the card shop and got rid of the non-interactive building space. We gave it a name to distinguish it from the casinos later in the game, and started covering the place in purple gems. We do have a soft spot for purple on the Deckpoint team.
In the background of this dialogue scene, you can see the large purple rock formations, and tables/benches filled with NPCs to meet/battle.
And along the way, we switched the camera from a true isometric style to a perspective style that adds a lot more movement to the screen when walking behind waving trees and various architecture. We love how it looks today, and we hope you do too!
Here, in front of the Amethyst Casino, emotions run high between Bertrand and Jamie. (Mark seems pretty unfazed, fortunately.)
But worry not! We aren’t just patting ourselves on the back for past accomplishments. Jesse has stayed busy as ever in our game engine Unity. Here’s what the legend himself has been up to:
Swapping out old Mark portraits
Fixing various bugs discovered when refreshing our suite of promo screenshots
Putting finishing touches on the very last levels in the game
Our handsome new Mark portrait shown off here in the Ekosi interface.
Some of the competitors you'll find in the environment around Amethyst Casino.
As announced in our last devlog, we’re starting to invest more energy in the marketing side, and we were excited to introduce the new name, Freeborn. As part of that launch, we asked in various subreddits and other channels “What’s in a name?” Along the way, we got really great, thoughtful feedback from players on game discovery, tips on genre marketing, and more. If you’re one of those people, you rock. Thank you!
We’re going to stay on our marketing grind, fill out the game’s final areas with NPCs, main questlines, and more. And we’re so glad to have you along for the ride on the Freeborn development journey.
Our new Instagram account! @deckpointstudio
Thanks for reading!