MEGA Dev Diary #52: Working Hard
Tyler here from the Deckpoint Studio team. It’s been a while! The last time I wrote, we were announcing a big change to our art style. Since then, we’ve been working on lots of CONTENT. In this update, I’m happy to provide a preview of what’s cooking.
Caption: Brand new start menu! With many ambient effects and fish! With A D V A N C E D F I S H A I.
Caption: MASSIVE DEVLOG with so many new shiny things! New areas completed: Neropolis Canals, Emerald Casino Exterior, and Emerald Casino Interior. New start menu, new versus screens, new inventory/store UI, new journal UI, updated dialog UI, new songs, small graphics update to many areas, many quality of life improvements, many bugs fixed, etc. etc. More pics down below!
Caption: If you haven't done so already, follow and wishlist Luckless Seven on Steam!
Jesse and the levels
Jesse’s been working feverishly on the level design for Neropolis, a charming and growing coastal city that serves as our second story hub. And our story is about a competitive card game, so one of the most essential levels has to be the casino area!
Neropolis is home to the tentatively-titled Emerald Casino, a shining new architectural accomplishment on the water. The casino, decorated by swaying vines and green gems, is owned by the famously wealthy Don Mint, an Arithian real estate mogul whose sons are participating in the Ekosi tournament. Once we get around to filling this place up with people, you’ll get to meet them! Charming folks, the Mints.
Just recently, Jesse has made some Finishing Touches(TM) to the casino’s interior. On the inside, the casino is a bit more traditional. Separate areas host table games and slot machines, and then a special area is of course reserved to host the Ekosi tournament matches. Oh, and for the most fortunate, there’s another private VIP area.
No level is an island. Well, this one kind of is. But regardless, you’ve got to get there somehow. And to get to the Emerald Casino, you’ll have to navigate through Neropolis’ considerably more rustic canals. This little level is primarily functional, but we think it looks nice and will offer a great space for the story-invested players to get to know the locals. Now we just have to figure out what they’re called… Neropolites? Neropolitans? (Seriously, “Neropolitan” is one letter away from an ice cream flavor. Please send help.)
Caption: New Area Completed: Emerald Casino Interior! The area is divided up into 4 sections: the slot machine area, card tables, Ekosi tournament area, and a fancy VIP section.
Caption: Emerald Casino Exterior! This place has several sections including an Ekosi card shop! The green ivy and trees move with the wind.
Caption: The Emerald Casino Sign is animated and the ivy moves with the wind. Also BIRDS!
Caption: Neropolis Canals: Leads to both the main city hub and to the Emerald Casino.
Caption: The planks of wood and boat float on the water. The plants and trees blow in the wind.
Caption: BEFORE: We received a ton of constructive feedback over on /r/isometric. Huge thank you to everyone for helping!
Caption: AFTER: New restaurant no longer has multi-colored lights. New table and many small details were added.
Jesse and the various UI improvements
That’s right. Jesse’s been so busy, he gets two sections! In addition to the level design progress, Jesse has -- as always -- been keeping an eye out for overall improvements to make to the UI and gameplay loop. Here are some of the substantial changes:
New! Versus Screen: Now, before each Ekosi match, a VS. overlay will appear over the 3D world, posing Mark and his opponent opposite one another. We think it’s a pretty cool way to excite players right before the match, but this feature is very young. If you have any suggestions to make it great, let us know!
New! Start Menu: Okay, so this one is a little bit of level design. And we’ve been down this road before. When designing the Emerald Casino, we thought there was a lot of potential in the observation deck overlooking the water. With a little bit of work, we think it makes an even better home for our intrepid cast of characters to introduce the game!
Updated - Menu UI: Both the Journal (quest) and Inventory/Store interfaces were previously a bit restrictive. We’ve made changes to expand the screen area available for reviewing your quest progress and customizing your deck. Check it out and let us know your thoughts!
Updated - Dialogue UI: Now, you’ll notice a glow behind the character portraits during dialogue. We think this looks nice everywhere, but it’s especially helpful in darker levels.
Updated - Day 4 Krista tracking: if you’ve played through Day 4, you know there’s a lot of ground to cover. And, as fast as Krista is, it can be hard to keep track of her. To help, we’ve added quest markers to the minimap and the overworld -- just in case you get lost in the grass!
Caption: NEW VERSUS SCREENS! The VS. screen is shown right after accepting an Ekosi battle with someone.
Caption: NEW START MENU! Includes a brand new lyrical track "Far Beyond"
Caption: BEFORE: Previous Start Menu.
Caption: The story begins in the start menu.
Caption: The opening gets right into the action!
Caption: BEFORE: The journal menu. It was too small and didn't show enough information at once.
Caption: AFTER: NEW JOURNAL MENU! The new menu can show much more information at once now and list more quests.
Caption: BEFORE: Inventory system. It was too compact.
Caption: AFTER: NEW INVENTORY AND STORE WINDOW! Saves data significantly faster. The cards are much larger and the tooltips more clear.
Caption: New Ekosi merchants have been added and they sell new cards.
Caption: The inventory system and deck builder without the store/merchant window.
Caption: BEFORE BEFORE: Dialog UI had problems in very dark areas.
Caption: BEFORE: A little better but dialog UI had problems in very dark areas.
Caption: AFTER: New backgrounds for all characters. The slight glow behind the characters really helps them pop out and shine.
Caption: A multitude of dialog decisions that affect the outcome of quests and ultimately, the story.
Caption: New "X" Score Icon appears when replenishment cards are no longer available (top right of the screenshot).
Caption: New "Continue" and "Rematch" buttons. They are much easier to see.
Caption: Improved Day 4 Trail adventure experience by adding in destination quest markers. This makes it much easier to journey with Krista.
Brandon and three new tunes -- including a vocal track!
I don’t shine a light enough on what Brandon does behind the scenes. Between just about every update we give, Brandon churns out one or two amazing songs. This time, there have been three! One recent work involved collaborating with recording artist Zefora Alderman on “Far Beyond,” only the second non-instrumental track for the game. We think it’s a great accomplishment. Give “Far Beyond” a listen today!
Caption: Players will first encounter the lyrical track "Far Beyond" in the start menu.
But have no fear. Brandon’s not abandoning the ambient instrumentals. As part of our constant desire to provide a great aural experience, Brandon has recently finished two ambient songs: “Quiet Beginnings,” which will play outside the Amethyst Casino area in Mark’s hometown of Arithia, and “The Unanswered Question,” which will play in Mark’s apartment and the Patrida Hospital. You can give both, and the rest of Brandon’s impressive soundtrack work, a listen on his SoundCloud. Let us know what you think!
Tyler writes dialogue
Since the last update, I’ve also been working away in the background. In tandem with Jesse’s level design work, I’ve been sprucing up and writing new dialogue scenes for Mark and the gang’s arrival in Neropolis. Some minor ones include the casino/tournament check-in and a fisherman’s generous offer to ferry Mark to the coastal city.
Caption: Massive massive dialogue trees with a wide array of choices and outcomes.
What I’ve spent most of my time on, however, takes place on the trail from Patrida to Neropolis. Sensing that the enormous level needed some more stops along the way, Jesse and I decided to introduce a hearty sidequest where Mark can intervene in a contentious situation between a park ranger and some unusual parkgoers. I don’t want to spoil anything, but we think it’s pretty entertaining and intriguing. Until we implement it, you’ll just have to take a look at these pictures.
Caption: So many options/choices.
I’ve also just finished a couple big exchanges between Mark and the Filippelli sisters, Krista and Maria. I’m excited to use these upcoming dialogues as a deep exploration of the sisters’ backgrounds, and I think you will be too! Up next, I’ll be turning my attention to Mark’s adventures in the next stage of the tournament.
Interview with NerdStash
At Ohayocon in January, our team met Shelby Royal, a local writer for The Nerd Stash. Shelby stopped by to discuss development with the team. After, we sent her a copy of the demo and arranged an interview, which was posted back in May. Take a look to learn more about our history with the game! And thanks, Shelby!
Caption: Read the interview here.
Matsuricon: August 2018
Matsuricon is a Columbus, OH Japanese pop-culture convention that just celebrated anime, manga, and video games for its 13th year! In 2017, we participated in their first Indie Gaming showcase, and we were excited to return last month with Luckless Seven in the best shape it's ever been in. For those who attended, thanks for stopping by!
Caption: Luckless Seven booth at Matsuricon! We and other indie developers were with The Indie GDEX showcase.
Caption: Join us on our journey as we develop Luckless Seven! Help shape the game and get access to exclusive content!
Caption: If you haven't done so already, follow and wishlist Luckless Seven on Steam!
If you can tell me what to call citizens of Neropolis, please let me know! I’ll be grateful to have your suggestions. Otherwise, thanks for checking out the update, and let us know your thoughts! Until next time, Tyler Download the demo on Steam or IndieDB.