The Darkness Below: a retro CRPG in the making

vlzvl

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I didn't managed to complete the v1.2 demo yet but given the time is passing by, I decided to show a screenshot or three.
Most of work has been on overhauling the spell system, combat system, town levels & multifloor capability, NPCs and a heck of a lot bug fixing / small addins.
Those areas needed a lot of love and work is still continued.
Especially without a good variety and consistency on town & NPCs graphics, an immersive world couldn't never exists, for my taste anyway.
In addition, content creation is processing well, yet a lot slower now. It seems that stories & world design needs a constant reworking on asset department, with some unfortunate tradeoffs in the way. I expect this to slow down as well though, yet another thing that requires time. Regardless, a significant job that needs to be done!
Fewer screenshots this time but representative one:

screenshot-28-1.jpg


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This is an half-like update, so please excuse the number / variety :)
Hope you like it and leave a comment or three, I will appreciate it.
Thanks!
 
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vlzvl

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Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
37
Location
Thessaloniki, Greece
There's no new version as of yet, but decided to post a nice list of screenshots from recent work, that is mostly shops.
Those shop/vendor mechanics takes a lot of our crpg time and they can really push a game's system to the limits and they need to have enough development so the entire game don't suffer later by mediocre work on this development. Plus, given the game's size, those shops needed to be both variant and flexible enough. New NPCs added, new voice sets were associated with them and most of their services has been implemented already & prototyped. This will tremendously speed up content production.

The whole system is about 80% complete, so I decided to throw a screenshot or three, which may be also be a subject of change, although not major changes. Those screenshots is but a glimpse of the work overall. There's a huge changes.txt file for lots of fixes / addins but this will come later, along with the new version. I am taking my time with this final version to fix as many things as I can before continuing the content's production. Everything is done in favor of gameplay. Enjoy :)

shops / vendors

screenshot-30-1.jpg


screenshot-30-2.jpg


screenshot-30-3.jpg


screenshot-30-5.jpg


new spells

screenshot-30-4.jpg


Short videos

https://youtu.be/DNLiuF705WE

https://youtu.be/lsVLLM-G-kQ

Again, excuse this in-between update.
This version is by far the most difficult and content-wise is the most packed with fixes / addons. Since there wont be any other version after it, except the final release, I am striving to make it fully playable, killing lots of annoying bits here and there.
Hopefully you're liking what you're seeing. Please comment your thoughts.
 
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vlzvl

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Joined
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Messages
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Location
Thessaloniki, Greece
This was probably the longest period between any update, excluding some breaking hiatus some years ago...
I had to fix issues and implement loads of necessary functionality and also revisit lots of stuff here and there to fine tune everything.

In short, I am pretty much satisfied with current technical level of The Darkness Below ; in fact, I have already developed some real D&D inspired content for the game, some screenshots of which you can check in the end of the update. Given this progress, the upcoming "demo" will never come. Instead, I decided to release a smallish version of the game, a "prelude" if you like, which will contain everything you might expect from this game, except for its duration..

Given that the current ETA was to release this before the ending of 2022, I decided to dedicate the remaining time to complete as much content as possible and release this minor version, to serve both as a "big demo", as well as a "small release". There's simply not enough time to produce all of it, test everything, do the planned crowdfunding before 2022, getting greenlights and stuff while working a full demanding job as well. Doing my best is not enough, so I have to take some shortcuts.

Yet at the same time I don't want either to get out of ETA and frustrate even more the game's fans. So, those are my reasons and why I concluded this is the best solution. Regardless, enough of reasoning and theories.

The highlights of this update are numerous (some of these may have appeared in previous updates so bear with me as my changes.txt is huge now), just showing for information before the small release:
  • added: increased maximum spell number to 280, 40 spells per element, 8 spells per expertise per element. Hopefully, the majority of them implemented in the final game.
  • added: ability to cause damage against all targets, instead of only a single target (previously), for some spells (party) and actions (monsters).
  • added: new town textures and multifloor capability, allowing a bigger variety on town levels.
  • added: implemented all shop types, fully tiered (4 levels), with a matching soundtrack per shop, as well their associated owner(s). Buy and sell is implemented, as well as shops dealing with specific item types i.e. weapons only.
  • added: weapon slash effect to all weapons, similar to spell effects, increasing the immersion. Now every attack / action has an animation.
  • added: character generation step by step, adding to previous 'prebuilt characters' mode.
  • added: implemented 'special' and usually more powerful actions to monsters that can be used sparringly by chance. Think of those 'recharge' actions on D&D, which allows the bosses to kick butts more efficiently.
  • added: completed the game's introduction sequence, which shows when the player clicks the 'Start the Game' button from title screen.
  • fixed: entrances and exits to dungeons are now more immersive. Specifically, exits are now showing a part of the "outside" i.e. some forest or similar, in the likes of Lands of Lore.
  • fixed: added active skill checks, along with the passive ones. On active checks, a roll is made and skill expertise bonuses are applied against the challenge expertise difficulty, making the final outputs a lot more random than passive checks.
..and lots more.

Some screenshots or twenty to follow this boring wall of text:

screenshot-31-1.jpg


screenshot-31-2.jpg


screenshot-31-3.jpg


screenshot-31-4.jpg


screenshot-31-5.jpg


screenshot-31-6.jpg


screenshot-31-7.jpg


screenshot-31-8.jpg


screenshot-31-9.jpg


screenshot-31-10.jpg


screenshot-31-11.jpg


NOTE: this is obviously fake, this is just a quick tribute to the best crawler of all time. You wont fight that.. or would you?

screenshot-31-12.jpg


screenshot-31-13.jpg


NOTE: The following shots are directly taken from game's real content !

screenshot-31-14.jpg


screenshot-31-15.jpg


screenshot-31-16.jpg


That's all :)
I will now continue producing stuff so I can deliver as per ETA.
Hopefully you like those shots and will give it a shot when it's released, there's a lot of bloody work on it (nearly completed about ~4000 working hours on it already, give or take)

Please, comment your thoughts as well :)
Thanks!

NOTE: The next major update will probably be after the short release.
 
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Joined
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vlzvl

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Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
37
Location
Thessaloniki, Greece
It seems I am still in the middle of process on completing this, so I wont call it a release yet; but I am close to it.

The game currently has around 6-7 maps / dungeons and content enough to spend some hours in but I still need to nurse a lot of it, fix some bugs as well and finally playtest the hell of it :) But its already a smooth experience, so its a good sign.

I made some breakthroughs though and decided to share one or ten screenshots, along with a pretty exhaustive changes.txt list, in the end of post. Currently, I am working the window mode of game, for everyone looking for some perfect-pixel gaming. At the moment, a windowed mode (running on 800x600, original resolution for game) is supported; although, I am working to support fullscreen borderless mode and also scaled-up windowed resolutions, while respecting aspect ratio, but still in-progress. There's a screenshot of the game running in such a window.

So, enjoy some pics for the moment an bear with me, as I am finalizing this:

screenshot-32-1.jpg


screenshot-32-2.jpg


screenshot-32-3.jpg


screenshot-32-4.jpg


screenshot-32-5.jpg


screenshot-32-6.jpg


screenshot-32-7.jpg


screenshot-32-8.jpg


screenshot-32-9.jpg


screenshot-32-10.jpg


screenshot-32-11.jpg


Links
Also, check this pretty massive changes.txt list (for those read such things)

PATCH v1.2
  • added: characters now get 2 skills from Weapon,Armor or Magic skills and 1 skill from Misc skills when they start randomly (balance).
  • added: dungeon items which are placed on same quad are now sorted by depth in intuitive way i.e. armor above sword, boots above cloth (better look).
  • added: when an item is bound to mouse and the inventory screen is shown, the eligible slot(s) for the bound item are highlighted on character's equipping slots.
  • added: increased maximum spell number to 280, 40 spells per element, 8 spells per expertise per element. Hopefully, the majority of them implemented in the final game.
  • added: 18 initial spells, equally shared between initial casting professions, clerics & wizards.
  • added: new type of spell: directional ray-like, useful for laser-like spells that extends from caster to target for a small duration of time, like D&Ds ray of frost.
  • added: ability to cause damage against all targets, instead of only a single target (previously), for some spells (party) and actions (monsters).
  • added: new town textures and multifloor capability, allowing a bigger variety on town levels.
  • added: new NPCs and portraits, more to be added as the content keeps built.
  • added: different foot walking sound effects per terrain type (hard, grass, snow), increasing the immersion.
  • added: showing different color filters on character portraits having a condition i.e. a poisoned character will show a greenish portrait, along with poison symbol.
  • added: variant sound effects for weapon when they hit/miss, increasing the immersion.
  • added: improved editing in custom tile editor, as the only editing was done directly in XML files. Much required for content production.
  • added: shows a full body, animated NPC in center of an event, if there's a portrait associated with the event, improving the immersion and interaction overall, together with event background (inspired from ROA - Star Trail).
  • added: in events, buttons like 'back' or 'exit' to be differently colored (red), effectively making them distinct to other available options.
  • added: implemented all shop types, fully tiered (4 levels), with a matching soundtrack per shop, as well their associated owner(s). Buy and sell is implemented, as well as shops dealing with specific item types i.e. weapons only.
  • added: three (3) new spells for higher expertise (adept, master & grandmaster) to further develop the shop/vendor feature.
  • added: weapon slash effect to all weapons, similar to spell effects, increasing the immersion.
  • added: magic effect on staff when a spell is prepared
  • added: a lit candle in the 'character generation' page, increasing the immersion.
  • added: removed the old, featureless planes of existence and added 8 inspired ones, with enough lore and purpose in the game. More to come. Check the Rulebook for more details.
  • added: character generation step by step, adding to previous 'prebuilt characters' mode.
  • added: minor improvements in all gui buttons
  • added: all initial shops / vendors, 10 in number, have been fully implemented.
  • added: implemented 'special' and usually more powerful actions to monsters that can be used sparringly by chance. Think of those 'recharge' actions on D&D, which allows the bosses to kick butts more efficiently.
  • added: completed the game's introduction sequence, which shows when the player clicks the 'Start the Game' button from title screen.
  • added: rumor tables have been implemented, on per-area basis. Those rumors are shown as available options on regular buildings, providing information, directions and hooks, in the same way used on pen & paper RPGs.
  • added: fully implemented skill masters, from teaching the skill to advancing to 'Grandmaster' level. Skill masters can be found about anywhere but mostly in civilized regions and their number varies to population.
  • added: fully implemented NPCs to hire. They are usually wander around civilized areas (villages, towns etc.) and provide their services (weapons, spells or skills) for one-time payment and daily wage. They can be dismissed anytime.
  • added: monsters and NPCs are now shown appropriately on map. Monsters are only shown on minimap, based on visibility. This will help when battling numerous monsters. Showing all NPCs will also help when you're in need of one.
  • fixed: bow arrow animation was not shown up, either in battle or not, by both characters and monsters. Now all spell-like animations triggered by item use are shown properly.
  • fixed: spell sound hit effect not working on all spells and when the caster is a monster.
  • fixed: allowing ranged items such as bow/crossbow to throw arrows graphically, even when there are uses left
  • fixed: allowing cure spell to be used on a dead character
  • fixed: revamped floor textures and reduced repetitiveness
  • fixed: crash when the party tried to move beyond normal boundaries of a map. Usually borders on map are covered by obstacles i.e. trees, but this was still a bug.
  • fixed: the system was heavily refactored once again to reduce technical debt and making it more flexible & performant
  • fixed: cursor changes incorrectly when there's a doortown in game window. Now it changes when the cursor hovers the doortown rect.
  • fixed: potions are now fully targetable items i.e. the user may select a character target, other than him. For example, a character can use a 'Potion of Cure Paralysis' on another paralysed character.
  • fixed: implemented a better fps mechanism, which guarantees a stable ~60 fps across all supported systems by game's engine (Jolt3D!).
  • fixed: multiple orientation levers couldn't be placed on same square on tile editor i.e. not possible to place a northern and a southern lever on same wall square.
  • fixed: removed music volume toggling between map and buildings/shops, given compatibility and overall quality degradation over multiple sounds heard. Now a single 'background' audio plays always on full volume, set on options.
  • fixed: greatly improvement of performance, in-game and engine.
  • fixed: clerics are not able to use bows anymore
  • fixed: a nasty crushing bug in combat system
  • fixed: massive improvement to spell system. Now all spell attack types are fully pseudo-3D and not 2D, giving space for bigger sprites and increased immersion.
  • fixed: reach mechanics is now working for all items, weapons, spells and monster actions. A short-reach weapon (i.e. dagger) won't be able to reach a back-row monster; however, a long-reach halberd, a bow or a spell will.
  • fixed: entrances and exits to dungeons are now more immersive. Specifically, exits are now showing a part of the "outside" i.e. some forest or similar, in the likes of Lands of Lore.
  • fixed: added active skill checks, along with the passive ones. On active checks, a roll is made and skill expertise bonuses are applied against the challenge expertise difficulty, making the final outputs a lot more random than passive checks.
Phew, that's it for the moment.
Hopefully, its to your liking.
Please, do post a comment or three on anything about it.

Thanks :)
 
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