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Copper Dreams - Adventures in Design

by Silver, 2016-10-23 21:39:07

Whalenought Studios tell us what they have been up to with Copper Dreams in their latest kickstarter update. There is a lot to digest here with some demonstration videos available at the link.


The big change on movement was switching from RTS navigation to a single character, directional movement. That is to say wherever you are clicking to move on the screen, your centralized character will run toward that. As mentioned, any companions selected follow behind either step-by-step or in a gang. You can still select any various groupings of companions and move them, so you still have full party control, whoever is higher in the top in their list is the character leading.

With this system we've removed pathfinding for normal movement to give players complete control with the means of making movement with precision, without stressing your CPM. This also works with WASD, for those that prefer that style. If you want to be even more precise to plan actions, or play completely in a turn-based mode, we have a real neat update to Tactical Mode (and combat movement) that we'll talk about next.

The movement is similar to anything like Ultima 7 or Diablo: click to move in a direction, except in this case you have numerous party members to switch to and the ability to manually rotate your camera. It's really simple to use, and for an isometric 3D game also lets you get precision without having to also wrangle a camera that's spinning around like a turbine. There is still pathfinding behind the scenes, like enemies engaging you or what characters do to re-path around one another if they intersect during combat, but control is largely left up to the player now.


Art Style & Lighting System

While the art is still in alpha, we've been adjusting it to look better from our higher-up perspective. We didn't have a style in mind for Copper Dreams when we started with it, the ruleset began everything, but we knew we needed it to be 3d early on due to how combat functioned within the environment and how we wanted exploration to work.

We originally had 2d models on the 3d background which was neat but caused a visual ordering nightmare and looked out of place as we added more tangible lighting. We opted for what we knew and had a low texture pixel art style for the models. This is what we had shown during the Kickstarter campaign.

As we put more levels together we were finding the distance of the camera and the low-texture sizes wasn't working well together. Due to the nature of the unfiltered textures, the distance caused jittery effects as the camera moved, which was disorienting and obnoxious. As a result we moved toward a slightly more smoothed out style that wouldn't be a distraction on gameplay. The pixel art style was also hampering design decisions like how intricate models could be or how effects should look with it - it was essentially creating problems with where we were trying to take the art.

Information about


SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Modern
Genre: Tactical RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released