Solace Crafting

Solace Crafting
Redefining the Crafting RPG

Sunday, September 25, 2016

On the shoulders of giants

Minecraft spawned a huge wave of voxel based games, some of which were very poorly received as mere "clones," but it's important to understand that big titles like that change the gaming world permanently. Once a sound idea or a better way of doing something has been proven to work it would be wrong to not take that knowledge into account when designing something new.

Along those lines I have dozens of pages of ideas for improving different systems from many games I've played over the years. I'd love to incorporate all of those system into Solace Crafting with a magic wand, but two of the biggest skills an indie designer must never forget are prioritizing and time management. Understanding how important something is to your game and at what stage it should be implemented is difficult at first. Sometimes realizing that something doesn't fit with your game at all can come after hundreds of hours of trying to force it in.

I am often asked what kind of game Solace Crafting is and I have the long winded genre title: open-world, procedural, crafting based, survival, role-playing game; but those could mean any of a whole array of different sub-genres, and I like instead to point out several of the giant titles whose systems I'm incorporating and expanding on.

1. Diablo 2
The Diablo 2 skill selection trees offered a level of freedom that could both make and break your character. Over the years people built unorthodox characters that proved to work great in different situations. From this freedom the developers gave to players, original content was allowed to grow. I hope to expand on this system heavily in Solace Crafting with a very flexible class system and the ability to master any of a large number of skills, for better or for worse.

2. Rust
My favorite aspect of Rust is their method of player buildings. Their system was the foundation for the current building system in Solace Crafting, though it has been changed in more than a few ways, and still has a lot of implementations on the drawing boards that differ from the path Rust seems to be following. The ability to construct outposts, home bases, and connect everything across distant locations is one of my highest priorities for Solace Crafting.

3. Minecraft
Some of my favorite experiences playing Minecraft are from finding strange landscapes, like jagged mountains and deep caverns. Then of course not only finding them, but building stuff on and around them. Bridges, tunnels, towers, castles, you name it, I built it. The biggest problem for me was always not being able to see far enough away. That was the inspiration for my distance engine which in the latest screenshot I uploaded is showing a 60km range, or 120kmx120km landscape letting players set their eyes on a mountain or desert from very far away rather than just wandering aimlessly to see what shows up. Currently the starter world, Khora, is a rather "normal" fantasy landscape and doesn't have at all as much strangeness as I hope to include in it over time, but rest assured there will be magma.

I reworked a lot of the crafting and code based item generation this week to be much simpler rather than plan for everything I have ever wanted to create all at once. It has been a real challenge for me to keep things simple rather than trying to account for every possible upgrade that could come about over time. This weekend and next week I'll be working on collision detection for the building system, and teleportation between dimension crystals.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

New tools, simplification

So I bought an old house with my wife and that ate up a lot of time/money over the past few months. Still have so much to do with it too, like, ten years worth XD

I worked for a while on a side project with a friend, and it really showed me how finicky I'd been with Solace Crafting. Paying attention to things that don't yet matter, working too hard to perfect tiny details etc. The end result being there are things not yet implemented that are core to the game mechanics. In otherwords, it's not yet playable, and that should really be goal one.

I've also ditched some tools that just really weren't updating in the ways/schedule that I was hoping they would, and have picked up a new tool instead:
I just bought this generator a few days ago, and made this scene this morning in about four hours. Most of that time was just trying to get my distance engine, and RTP to work properly with it, but it more or less works now, so on to more important things. The barely visible mountains on the horizon are 60km out in this picture.

I'm going through and simplifying things, for example I've ditched animations/custom armor for right now. Crafting and building and harvesting and what not work fine, but they're all lacking in a layer or two of content. Mobs are in as well, but they are not yet procedurally leveling up like they need to, and their spawning mechanics are pretty lackluster. Once I get those four systems working at their most basic levels (harvesting, crafting, building, monsters) I will get back to implementing Dimension Crystals (vital for storage and travel), and towers (vital for loot/crafting upgrades).

One those systems are in we'll at least have a fully playable system. Then it's content. And LAST is polish. I've played plenty games with horrible animations/models, because they are FUN. I'd love to have AAA animations and a million custom armor sets, but that's just not realistic at this point and time.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Back on track

I have achieved a lot more than I initially knew I was capable of with my struggle to make Solace Crafting the best crafting game on the market. It's still a long ways from completion, or what I consider completion in my head, though there are already some really fun and unique aspects to the game. A part of me considers it a crime to hoard these new ideas and not put them out in the hands of players, for better or for worse. Another part of me wants to wait until the game is AAA quality, fully staffed, and the best thing since tuna sandwiches, though I realize more and more that is not something I can realistically expect from a solo project.

I also started a new project with a friend several weeks ago we're tentatively calling Insulation. It is much more PvP related than Solace Crafting, and focuses on construction, gathering, and all around hoarding. We'll get a website up for that soon. What I've done with Insulation though is really starting from scratch pulling all of the best things I learned how to do from Solace Crafting and squeezing them into a new shape. The progress I made in very few hours spread out across several weeks was much greater than I had been making with Solace Crafting for quite some time. Precisely because I abandoned the desire to have everything be AAA, super smooth, and worth a million dollars. I hope to bring that mentality into Solace Crafting now as I come back to it and progress, rather than fuss, through the many things left to make it fun before it's pretty. Here in Japan there is a famous saying "Hana yori dango," which means food before flowers. Tweaking sunsets and generation algorithms is a lot of fun, but if the game doesn't have the basic hundred components needed for players to get in and start playing, it's little more than incomplete.

I am currently applying to a large game company I am very excited to hear back from and have been brushing up my skills on all fronts in hopes of securing myself as the best candidate for the position. Amidst that, our new house, and a stray kitten fiasco it's been hard to find time for Solace Crafting and Insulation. The ultimate goal was always to get funded through Kickstarter so that I could work on it full-time, though a job with this company could powerfully snuff that desire as I would love love love to be working for them. With that dream dominating my thoughts I've been able to put Solace Crafting back in its proper place as a side-project, and not something I should be trying to make AAA quality piece by piece. I'm certain this will speed up the development of the still necessary yet incomplete portions of the game, as again, I work towards getting it out to prospective players as soon as possible.

I'm sorry for the lack of updates, and appreciate all the follows and likes I've received on Twitter. Whether I get hired or not, development will continue, so stay tuned!