The Smartest Phone

Posted on Posted on in category Categories Gameplay

In Atropos, your phone is one of your biggest assets. As well as being how you can communicate with your friends, it’s also where you manage your missions, your inventory and even track your health. The phone comes with a large number of apps to aid Agi, and can even be modified by Marid to provide more features.

Please note that any images below are EXTREMELY in progress. We’re only aiming for basic functionality for now, proper art and design will come in the future. Also note that the notification icons on the phone are not implemented at all – that’s what the white squares at the top represent. Finally, in this universe people tend to use their phones a landscape orientation. Definitely an important feature relating to the backstory of the world and totally not an excuse to avoid the fact that otherwise two thirds of the screen would be unused because everyone uses a phone in portrait.

Ether Chat

This is the messaging app. Here, you can talk to your friends, both individually and in groups. From a development standpoint, you can’t exactly “talk” to them like you would a real person – we’re not creating a true AI here – but rather you can ask your friends to hang out in the city centre, join you at the arcade or decide to adventure in the latest dungeon. You can also be part of groups chats, including the formal mission chat and the “Dankest Memez” chat that Yuuki inevitably makes. Friends will also talk to each other without your input, so feel free to lurk in the chats and know what everyone else is doing on particular days.

StuffTrackr

This app is your inventory manager. Here you can check what you have in your inventory, as well as manage equipment like weapons and armour. Finally, this is where you also use items outside of battle such as healing items. Pretty self explanatory.

TurboFit

This is where you track your overall stats. As stated in the pre-alpha battle system post, you don’t gain experience or levels in Atropos. At least, not directly. Instead, you have a number of “fitness attribute” stats that you can improve individually, and your level is then determined by these stats. You can see how far you’re progressing on each stat via the yellow bar directly below them, with a complete bar increasing your stat point by one. Your stats even include a step counter, and since you’re friends all share each other’s data, you can see these stats change in real time.

Secondly is a list of abilities. These act as general global modifiers to your abilities. For example, you could become very proficient in using small melee weapons, granting you a permanent buff to hit rate and damage, or you could learn how to lockpick better and whatnot. All of this will be visible in TurboFit.

Finally you can also track the progression of your powers (not yet implemented). You will eventually be able to see progress trees showing your current powers and progress towards newer ones. This progress will improve mostly by using powers earlier on in the tree, but you will also generally improve all powers too over time. This is something that we will expand upon in a later post.

Cepetopedia

Your portable well of knowledge! Here is where all the information you collect on your journey will end up, including details on locations, characters and groups. This will also store things like notes shared between you and your friends, as well as those found in the environment.

Oh, by the way, “Cepet” is Javanese for ‘Fast’ or ‘Quick’. Definitely no relation to that other online encyclopedia.

Maps

Maps is the default app that’s open while your phone is minimized, acting as a minimap. When fully open, maps provides a…map…of the surrounding area, as well as allowing you to fast travel outside of dungeons. In cases like Manchester, the entire map will already be fully available to you, but in dungeons you’ll need to progressively map out the area by exploring. Maps will also highlight points of interest such as shops, friends and enemies.

Camera and Gallery

Like any good phone, it’s got to have a good camera. You can take pictures of friends and the environment, or use the spooky and totally realistic ‘Third Person’ mode to take pictures from anywhere, perfect for taking press shots to show off a game!… While this feature is a long way off, we plan to add your standard set of options such as Depth of Field, filters and character posing (Not just you, but any nearby friends too). And if we get it working, we’ll also allow you to save pictures of a larger resolution than your screen in case you want to make a billboard of Oleander being disgusted by some pigeons. Finally, pictures taken here can also be used as your phone background should you wish!

TODO (The app)

Your typical to-do app. Here’s where you track all the tasks you have to do, as well as any deadlines such as actually tackling a dungeon, or more benignly meeting up with a friend.

Save and Settings

Save allows you to save your game. Pretty self explanatory. Settings allows you to set your game settings, so that’s also pretty self explanatory too. Settings will include phone settings though, so at least that probably still counts as a sort of in universe app.

Conclusion

No, conclusion isn’t an app. Anyway, here’s a brief look at some of the major features your phone can do. We may eventually add more apps, or otherwise change how they work, but as of writing these are the main apps and their purposes. We’re excited to show you more soon, but we hope this new look into one of Atropos’ core features provides some deeper insight into what the game is going to be like. We’re still very excited to show you more, but given the scope of the game and the fact that we’re just two people working full time, it might take a while before more substantial things are shown.

In any case, that’s all for now!

– Dan & Kadan – Team Atropos

Oleander

Posted on Posted on in category Categories Characters

Closed off and secretive Oleander doesn’t form meaningless attachment, knowing that in the end they’ll just get in her way. Already aware of people with abilities and her own powers, she only has one thing on her mind, taking revenge on the people who took everything from her.

With years devoted to training and hunting she’s managed to close in on the people she’s looking for, to find them just out of reach.

A lone wolf by nature, she’ll form alliances, if it means she ultimately gets what she wants.

Location Concept Art

Posted on Posted on in category Categories Concept Designs, Locations

With our first post of the year being a big one, we didn’t really get a chance to update you on general progress. So before the post begins, a quick update.

Our New Year’s resolution this year is to get our posts out on time, and do some more gosh damn game work. We’ve cleaned the 2018 targets off our whiteboard and it’s time to start afresh with new goals.

Already there’s a lot going on in the background that we’re sure you’ll eventually get to see but isn’t quite ready to be shown. The new version of Unity has offered us some new toys, so we’ve been playing around with fancy super power effects and pretty lighting. We have new in game models that we showed off briefly in our battle system videos, they’re still not final but they’re improving with every iteration. Menus and core game features are taking shape and starting to display all of the information needed to make a game of this scale keep on going. And, of course, we still have 2 new characters to announce. We’ve already teased one in our past posts but we plan to unleash her very soon.

Now, let’s kick off 2019 with something that we can show you, concept art!

This time the focus is on locations. Manchester has been one of our big talking points, but we think we’ve told you enough about the city for now, it’s time to show you other locations that will feature throughout the game. We’ll start with the more mundane.

Plotting and revelations take place tucked away in the corner of a small cafe hidden just off the main street. As you grow your group and take on missions you find a place to meet, the cafe becoming a familiar backdrop for side missions and group discussions.

From humble beginnings (and not so humble in the case of some) the group work their way up to lucrative missions. Despite how much we talk about Manchester, some of the game takes place further afield, overlooking London whilst infiltrating a high end function, as an example.

Even further afield, the locations of Atropos aren’t limited to England, or this plain of existence. Weird and wonderful locations appear throughout, twisting familiar surroundings, or creating new environments.

We wanted to start to show you our process, even though art isn’t our strongest point, it is the easiest to showcase. This is the first time-lapse of hopefully many, but you may notice that a lot of the time lapses start with some progress already made, because Kadan forgets to start the recording software until half an hour into work, if at all (remembering things isn’t a strong point, they’re working on it). Expect more processes for in-game art and models, and more original music to come!

– Kadan & Dan – Team Atropos

The Pre-Alpha Battle System

Posted on Posted on in category Categories Gameplay

Well, that took a bit longer to get out that we planned, but it’s finally here, a demo of some actual GAMEPLAY! That’s right, there is actually a game here. Watch the video to see it in action, and I’ll detail some more parts of it below.

How Battling Works

Battling takes the form of turn based combat. Like all good turn based combat systems, this means each character takes a turn performing an action. At the moment, battles take the form of each character acting in order, but future changes may allow you to mix up the turn order, either strategically or via abilities.

In any case, once a battle starts, it’s time to act. There are four primary actions you can take, which are detailed below.

Weapon Attacks

Weapon attacks are exactly what they say on the tin, you attack with a weapon. Before combat, you can equip three different weapons, a small melee weapon, a large melee weapon and a firearm.

Small melee weapons, probably kept in a pocket, are light and fast to swing, although they often do less damage. This includes things like gloves and knives.

Large melee weapons, likely strapped on your back, are heavy, slow to swing and easy to dodge, but if they hit the target will certainly feel it. These would be things like bats and swords.

Finally you got firearms. These, probably kept in your pocket that doesn’t have a knife, are extremely powerful, but come with a limited ammo capacity. Being in the UK, real firearms are very expensive and very hard to find, although an air rifle could also work in a pinch.

Using weapons consume SP, one of the three meters for each character. Unlike AP, the meter used for powers, SP regenerates over time, even when taking a turn, so you shouldn’t need to worry about this too much. Getting low, though, could mean you being unable to use a weapon, or even performing an attack at all! Some status ailments could sap SP, so still keep an eye on it.

Battle Games

When you attack with a weapon, you’ll start a battle game. This is a very short minigame that allows you to determine your overall damage, as well as hit and crit rates. Win the game for bonuses, lose for a higher chance to miss. For example, Agi’s battle game is a form of Blackjack (Or 21 if you so choose). The aim is simple, with a number of cards, try to get to as close to 21 as possible. The closer you get, the more damage you do, but if you bust, you lose and have a higher chance to miss. In addition, you also win if you get to five cards without breaking 21.

Now, though, leaving your fate to random chance probably isn’t the wisest thing to do in combat. As a result, over time you can acquire cheats for your battle game. This would include things such as stacking the deck in your favour or increasing the chance to draw aces. The effectiveness of cheats and your chances of winning are also bolstered by luck, so be sure to get that as high as possible…somehow.

Finally, some enemies and bosses will also feature they’re own battle games, and they too like to cheat. Handily, you can also acquire anti-cheats that diminish the enemy’s effectiveness, or even rig the game for them to lose!

Power Attacks

These attacks, again as the name says, involve using your super powers to damage the enemy. This consumes the AP bar which, unlike SP, doesn’t regenerate. These powers skip the battle game entirely and tend to be quite powerful. Agi, for example, can throw a small fire ball, or send out a stream of fire that deals continuous damage over the attack duration. While not implemented yet, these powers are also a lot more likely to apply status ailments.

Marid, lacking powers, instead uses his technological powers on the enemies, performing things like using his modified phone’s flashlight to temporarily blind the enemy or hack their phones for info. For now though, everyone considers Marid’s abilities to be pretty similar to actual super powers, so he gets an AP bar too. Mental fatigue is real folks!

Item Usage

You use an item. Not much to explain really. This is probably how you’ll handle healing yourself, as well as restoring AP and SP. There may also be items you can inflict use on the enemy, we’ll have to wait and see.

Tactics

The everything-else-option. Here you can perform tactical actions, like running away! You’ll also be able to inspect the enemies from here, as well as perform potential special actions should they arise.

Character Stats

Unlike more RPGs, there’s no hard defined ‘level’ here, just your five core stats:

  • Strength – Affects defence and the effectiveness of large weapons
  • Agility – Affects dodging and the effectiveness of small weapons
  • Stamina – Affects the SP bar and health
  • Psyche – Affects the AP bar and powers
  • Luck – Affects hit and crit rates, battle games and other things

These values grow by training in them (Except for luck, who knows how that changes), and these values are then used to work out what rough level you appear as. Your level is just a rough guide for progress though – if you focus purely on Agility, don’t expect to be hard hitting too!

There are various activities in Manchester you can do to work on your stats, and battles tend to provide an all round improvement to your stats as well. While it hasn’t been decided yet, there may also be a system where neglected skills may decrease in time too, but we’ll tell you if we decide to take that route.

Winning

Defeat all the enemies or complete a special battle action (if any) to win. Pretty simple really. Afterwords your stats may increase and you might take things from the enemy. After all, you need it more!

Losing

Well, that wasn’t supposed to happen. Perhaps you were underleveled (well, under-stat-ed?), or otherwise made a bad decision. No biggie, unlike some games, we won’t punish you too hard (even if you haven’t saved for a while). Most battles you can retry right there and then, or else return to a recent checkpoint if you want to try a different route or set yourself up differently.

Conclusion

So, finally you get to see some proper elements of gameplay (I admit it, while the pigeons were very cool, they’re not really gameplay). We’d like to hear any feedback of this system, but be aware this is super early and is going to get a lot of refinement over time. We also have plans to show off some more game systems somewhat soon, so keep an eye out!

– Dan and Kadan – Team Atropos

Atroplot

Posted on Posted on in category Categories Story

Hi guys! Sorry for the very delayed post, with Tumblr’s recent decisions -especially the one where they decided to remove custom themes- we’ve been working on an alternative for our main platform. We’ll still post everything over here, but now we also have our own website atroposgame.co.uk! (it’s a work in progress)

With all of the work we’re doing on the website and the game, we want to delay the showcase of the battle system a little longer, so we can iron out some kinks and make it look its best. In the meantime we realised we’ve talked a lot about the setting and the gameplay, but apart from Character announcements, we haven’t talked much about the story of Atropos.

Unfortunately, the story is something that we’re going to be keeping very quiet about. There are a lot of twists and turns along the way that we’re trying our hardest to keep secret from even our closest allies, so it can be experienced first hand. But at its heart, Atropos is a game about fate, and breaking away from expectations. We had our hearts set on a dynamic experience, with the changing of the seasons and the city, and what we have planned for combat and character levelling, so it only made sense for the story to feel the same.

Your choices as the player will affect the outcome of the game and the fates of the characters. As you make decisions the path branches, leading to worlds where allies become enemies or enemies become friends, where you save a city or where your failure could decide the fate of many. In Atropos you may need to go back and try again to get the ending you want.

(The plot diagram on our Atropos wall, with all of the spoilers covered up, of course)

At the moment Atropos is shaping up to have quite a few major endings, with some softer, less final endings thrown in along the way. Even though we have the basic plot down we’ve learnt that it’s far from final and we’re constantly changing things around as we find ways to make the story flow.

This is all we can really say about the plot for the time being, since we really don’t want to give too much away. We’ll let you all know when atroposgame.co.uk is up and running at full capacity. And just in case we get swept away and don’t manage to get another post in before the end of December, we hope you all have a lovely festive season, whether you celebrate anything this time of year or not.

Happy Holidays! – Kadan & Dan – Team Atropos

UI Designs

Posted on Posted on in category Categories Concept Designs

Sorry for the late post this week, we’ve both got birthdays in the last half of November and things got a little sidetracked.

Since we’re starting to show off more of the game, now seems like a good time to start showing off UI designs, which honestly isn’t the most exciting subject, but UI design can sometimes make or break a game. A lot of it is very sketchy, but after all it is concept. We just hope these scribbles might help get our vision for the game across, since some elements of the UI might still look ‘functional’ compared to what we want to achieve.

This is a long one so take a look under the cut.

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Battle UI: The first concept is the initial design, with the second being less fleshed out, but more up to date and a lot closer to what you’ll see when we release our dev update on the battle system very soon.

We mentioned in Q&A 1 that the combat mechanics are based around card games, and we really run with that when it comes to the UI design. Card motifs appear throughout the game, but especially in battles. These aren’t the only designs we’ve had, and they probably won’t be the last.

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Menu: Our videos last week showed off the phone in it’s default form, as the overworld map, but it also takes on the role of the main menu. With apps that lead to all required functions like chatting with friends, game settings and saving. It acts as the central hub for the games menus.

At the moment the phone’s designs are in portrait, but we’ve very recently made the decision to change that to make better use of the space. We just haven’t got around to moving it all just yet.

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Etherchat: A large part of the game will be spent building up friendships and dealing with everyone else’s problems. We wanted the Messaging App to feel close to the dialogue system that we’re going to show off eventually, and a lot of the UI has the distinct rhombus shape (seen in the HUD and battle UI.) We wanted a kind of comic book feel since the game, for the most part, focuses on a group of young adults with superpowers.

That’s all we have for UI at the moment. We’re still fine tuning a lot of things that function, but don’t look their best. Even now a year down the line we’re still making pretty big changes as we learn what works and what doesn’t.

Don’t worry next week will be a lot more exciting as we finally show off some actual core gameplay!

– Kadan & Dan – Team Atropos

Dev Update 1 – First Videos

Posted on Posted on in category Categories Characters, Gameplay, Locations

Today we’ll finally be showing off some in-game videos! We’ve got two to show today, with more planned for the near future (We’ve just got to actually finish some things first).

First up, meet Agi and Marid in game!

And second of all, the most important gameplay feature of all, PIGEONS!

After all, we did promise pigeons! The pigeon was modelled by Kadan (as were Agi and Marid, but they’re not important right now) and remains unrigged and unanimated by Dan. Here’s the very highly detailed reference file Kadan worked off of:

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Look at that beautiful round boy or girl! We’re not ahead on gameplay or anything, we just wanted to make pigeons, and I think that’s quite indicative of our development style…

Oh well!

We’re planning more videos very soon, included a demonstration of our battle system. Hope to see you then!

– Dan & Kadan (But mostly Dan this time) – Team Atropos

Yuuki

Posted on Posted on in category Categories Characters
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Growing up surrounded by the criminal underworld, Yuuki eventually found his way at the upper ranks of a small gang. He’s not the smartest, but when it comes to people he likely knows them better than they know themselves. His talents and experience make him extremely confident in any scenario, often to the detriment of those around him, and sometimes himself.

Recent times have been hard on Yuuki when he’s shoved on yet another job – a standard harassment against someone pushing their way into his gang’s territory. Unfortunately, he quickly realises that they aren’t the second rate thugs he usually deals with.

As his past knocks him on his ass, he’s about to become just another nameless enemy in someone else’s story.

 

One Year Later

Posted on Posted on in category Categories Uncategorized

Today we’re breaking up our bi-weekly schedule, don’t worry, we’ll still be back next week, and with the next character reveal, but this weeks a little bit special.

Tomorrow marks the 1 year anniversary from the beginning of project Atropos!

When Kadan designed some characters and unveiled them this time last year, there was no expectation that anything would happen, until Dan stepped in. Suddenly a Concept Document was being created for a game that was dubbed “Kadan’s Butt game” (for a short while). It was over a month into the project that it gained the title Atropos, a name that would stick around.

We started this blog a couple of months ago to document the project and share it with the world, but when looking back over the past year it can feel like not much has happened development-wise. Admittedly a lot of the work has been background work that we can’t really show off here on the blog. But putting everything into perspective, we’re surprised by what we’ve managed to complete on top of full time jobs!

  • We’ve managed to churn out 200,000 words of Concept, plot and dialogue
  • Multiple conceptual music pieces are underway, including the much loved but halfheartedly named Tense2
  • We’ve made 10 character models, with five of them running around a virtual Manchester, even though they’re still a little confused about how walls work.
  • We have our first dungeon greyboxed, a dialogue system, animations, characters, locations and so much more that we can’t wait to show off!

Our first year has been eventful, it’s shown us the truth of indie game development, staying up late and working through weekends, spending every minute we’re not working on the game wishing that we were working on the game. We didn’t get as far as we hoped at the beginning of the year, but it’s shown us what we’re capable of and where our limits are.

Now that a lot of the groundwork has been laid, we’re ready to really start getting into the tangible parts of development and having more of that fuzzy feeling we get when we hit a milestone and remember that this is a game that we’re making. A lot has changed since the start of the project, and we’re sure there will be more changes as things progress, but now we want to take you along for the ride.

Here’s to Year 2, and whatever it throws our way.

Kadan & Dan – Team Atropos

The First Ingame Screenshots

Posted on Posted on in category Categories Characters, Locations

Alright, we’ve been holding back on showing any actual game stuff for a while, partly because we’re in super early stages, partly because we’re very busy. In fact, because we’re so busy, we can only really show you pictures for now. Don’t worry, we’ll get a first preview video out once we have something more substantial and less horrifyingly buggy. Anyway, here are a couple of early character models and a really blocky city!

Agi

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Here’s a preview of the initial model for the protagonist, Agi! Here you can see that we already have a semi-cel shading style going on, as well as what the characters would look like in-engine. Now there are clear parts where the model can be improved – this is just a first draft after all – but this model helped ground our ideas, and make the whole game actually feel real. She is animated, and has some facial rigging set up (She can blink and scream at things!), but I’m afraid we won’t be showing that off until a little later in the dev cycle. She probably won’t have her shirt sticking through her jacket shoulders then either! Remember, early days!

Marid

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And now for the next member of the team, Marid! Once again, this is a first draft of the model, so expect things to improve massively as time goes on. We created Marid to have a proper companion character to work with, and to aid in the development of the companion system as a whole. Like Agi, he’s animated, although he is lacking facial rigging for the moment – his stare definitely creeps out Kadan! For now, Marid is also filling in the role of a bunch of other characters that we’ll eventually have modelled and ready to show you all!

Manchester – Picadilly Gardens

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Our final image for today is a super early prototype of the open world part of Manchester – specifically the main hub, Picadilly Gardens! Currently, it’s primarily in early blocking out stages, obviously, and there are large parts of Manchester also blocked out that are out of view. We’re aiming to get the basics down in most places, add some functionality, then add all the details to bring it to life. You may also notice the satellite imagery on parts of the ground. We’re using that to ensure that everything is as accurate as possible without resorting to actual real world blueprints (Although we will use real data wherever we can, with some embellishments representing the near future state of Manchester.)

On the technical side of things, since Manchester is a very large area, we are using level streaming techniques and will be building the level in blocks.In fact, one of the blocks on the top right of this image unloaded while I was placing the camera for this shot – go figure. Manchester, having many straight roads, will also be modelled significantly far away from the play area, and you may spot some landmarks that are otherwise outside the playable area. It’s safe to say we have a lot of work ahead of us.

Anyway, that’s all we have to show for now. While we do have a functional battle system and other parts of the game, we’re going to keep that under wraps for a future post (And so we can polish out the REALLY ugly bits). Signing off for now.

– Dan & Kadan – Team Atropos