One Year Later

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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

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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

Q&A 2

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While we still haven’t actually been asked any questions (yet), we figure a good simulated Q&A is a good way to get a lot of info quickly, so for today, here’s Q&A 2!

What is your posting schedule?

Our target is every weekend, we usually hit every two, and we might even forget then. Remember though, combining game dev with real life isn’t all fun and cheery, especially juggling full time jobs as well.

What are you using to make the game?

We’re using Unity, mainly due to Dan’s experience in the C# programming language. Don’t worry though, Dan’s been a programmer for most of his life, and this game definitely won’t look like your usual Unity game affair.

Unity? Why not something like Unreal?

We’ve used and enjoy Unreal. The problem is that we’re not a fan of Blueprints for game logic, and compiling C++ can take a while – especially when we make core engine changes (As Dan is prone to do). In addition, we both have better experience with Unity and the pipelines within, and modern Unity is definitely a whole lot different from Unity 4.

Also, we’re trying to keep Unity store usage to a minimum. Specifically, we will only be using very useful utility tools such as Bolt (Yeah, we know it’s like Blueprint, but it helps with level scripting), UMotion Pro and ProBuilder. All assets will be developed by us, and any you see that aren’t are almost definitely placeholders.

What is the art style going to be like?

We’ll be aiming for a sort of western comic style/semi realistic mix. We’ll use cel shading techniques and stylised characters placed within a somewhat more realistic world. We aim to make great use of colour to help tell the story.

And the music style?

While we’re still up in the air about this, we’ll likely choose something that feels a little Madchester or British. We’re not opposed to some British D&B and other such styles though, and for the most part we’ll aim to combine modern with a little bit of your typical game orchestral when it really matters. In addition, we’ll also aim to feature street music throughout Manchester, adding to the atmosphere. Hopefully we’ll have a couple of songs with lyrics, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Who’s the big bad?

ME!

Wait, no.


Well, that’s all for now. We’re going to keep on developing and hopefully we can show you something a bit more substantial soon!

– Dan & Kadan – Team Atropos

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Manchester

Posted on Posted on in category Categories Concept Designs, Locations

We recently decided to do something that we’ve been putting off for a while and took a trip to Manchester, the primary location of Atropos. The weekend we went was Pride, hence the rainbows, but despite the colourful celebrations we were there on business.

Looking over our photos from the weekend, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to let you guys know a little more about the setting and expand on Manchester and why we chose it.

 

We both have very close connections to Manchester and wanted to inject a little of Northern England into gaming. The game features the City Centre and Northern Quarter heavily, but with the changes that a few years and an alternate reality could bring. With that in mind, the city features not only as a backdrop, but as a part of the story. Iconic and recognisable parts of Manchester can not only be visited by the player in the semi-open world aspect of the game (similar to the Yakuza series, you are able to explore a large portion of the city) but also appear in the combat aspects of the game. However, differing from our influences and more true to life, the odds of getting attacked in the city centre in broad daylight are incredibly slim.

Of course Manchester is a bustling city, and we really want to encapsulate that and make it feel like you’re walking through the centre of a busy city filled with people, and it’s common feathered residents. We want it to adapt with the time of year, with altering weather and varying amounts of sunlight, bringing events such as Pride and the famous Christmas Markets. As the story adapts so will the surroundings, events and decisions may find the city feeling more bleak, or it could bring unexpected encounters with newly found friends. We’re hoping to make the city feel alive.

– Kadan & Dan – Team Atropos

 

Marid

Posted on Posted on in category Categories Characters
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Fresh out of University, Marid moved to Manchester, justifying it through the city’s job prospects. Years later, Marid starts to wonder if maybe he would be better off leaving everything behind.

When he takes one final job in the hope it might change his mind, he discovers that the contact is cute, and it’s stupid to think that something might happen, but maybe this was what he was waiting for.

What he ends up with is a lot more than he bargained for.

Q&A 1

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Today we’ll cover some anticipated questions about the game. This info will (eventually) be collated onto an info page on the site. Let’s get to it!

Where and when does the game take place?

The game primarily takes place in and around Manchester in the north of England, sometime in the near future.

Why Manchester?

Other than a multiplayer level for Grand Theft Auto: London 1961 and a segment in Resistance: Fall of Man, we can’t personally recall any other games that take place within Manchester. We figured London’s enjoyed the limelight long enough (Plus we both have long histories with the city). Now we can give others a proper idea about north England culture (with some added superpowers and conspiracy, of course).

What’s the gameplay like?

The game features two sections, a ‘real life’ section and the ‘dungeon’ section, similar to the Persona series.

In the ‘real life’ section, you are given free roam of parts of Manchester. Here you can hang out with your friends, shop, play at an arcade, complete sidequests and so on.  You are given a set amount of time each day to do these activities – which may be less if you’ve had work that day as well – and each activity takes up a certain chunk of time. Say, shopping in a corner shop will take 15 minutes, while chilling with your friends at the arcade could take a few hours. In addition, the world changes depending on the time of day (and time of year). Expect shops to close as night rolls in, as well as some shops potentially closing down, opening up or otherwise rebranding. We want Manchester to ‘feel’ real, and the location will evolve as time goes on.

In the ‘dungeon’ section of the game, the game takes a more dungeon crawly style. Here, you investigate set locations with the team with the aim of discovering secrets and solving the particular scenario for the dungeon. Here is where you spend your time engaged in combat and actively using superpowers, as well as performing some light puzzle solving. While the real life section has its fair share of story progression, the dungeons will be where some of the deeper revelations occur.

That’s not to say you only get one or the other. Depending on the date, you could decide to spend an hour preparing in town, then go and explore a dungeon. In addition, there is a large persistent ‘dungeon’ that’s always explorable right in the heart of Manchester. This exists thanks to a mysterious event damaging a part of it, and that’s as far as we’re going to divulge…for now…

How does combat work?

Atropos uses a turn based combat system as seen in a number of role playing games. You get to control the entire team (Unless there are guest characters, they will usually act on their own), and the loss of Agi will not mean a full game over – we know how annoying that penalty is.

Before battle, each character will be able to equip three types of weapon simultaneously: a small melee weapon, a large melee weapon and a firearm. The small and large melee weapons act like agility and strength weapons respectively, while the firearm is a limited use massive damage tool. During combat, you will then be able to use any of the the equipped weapons at any time, with some passive buffs applying based on which one you last used. For example, using a large weapon now means you have it equipped, even after attacking. This would increase you’re defence a little, since you now have a sword or something to block with, at a small cost to the ability to dodge.

Using a weapon will trigger a small minigame – for Agi, she gets to play a very quick version of Blackjack. Winning the game (Getting 21 for Agi) will grant you a critical attack, while nearly winning (Scoring 19 or 20) may grant increased damage. Losing the game, on the other hand, will significantly increase the chance of missing an attack. Luckily, you can sway the game to your side by acquiring cheats as the game progresses. In addition, some enemies also have to play by their own game rules (Say a dice game, or roulette). Unfortunately, they too can cheat.

Alternatively, if you’ve got the energy to spare, you can skip the minigame malarky with some good old fashioned superpowers. These deal significantly more damage than normal attacks, but unfortunately cost some energy. Some powers from other members of Agi’s group may also act as buffs or debuffs, or otherwise provide other special effects. You can recover this energy by resting for a night or consuming an item.

There’s more planned for battle systems, such as event bosses and whatnot, but this should cover the basics for now.

Who’s the next character?

No spoilers!

—-

And that’s the end of the list of anticipated questions. We can’t wait to share more in the future!

– Dan & Kadan – Team Atropos

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Agi

Posted on Posted on in category Categories Characters
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Life is completely ordinary for Agi Powell, working two jobs after dropping out of University and trying to juggle modern life as a twenty-something year old. That is, until the fire that takes her grandmother’s life and destroys her home.

Confused and suddenly homeless, Agi is forced to cash in a favour her grandmother has been saving for almost 50 years and move in with a family friend she’s never heard of.

Little does she realise that a series of events have been set in motion that could lead to disastrous consequences.

Introductions

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Atropos is a semi-open world role playing game based within the bustling heart of Manchester, England. Inspired by games such as the Persona series, the Yakuza series and The Wolf Among Us, it follows the story of five young adults and the people they meet along the way as they deal with juggling the realities of life – work, rent, social life, and the manifestation of supernatural abilities.

You take control of Agi Powell, a young woman regaining her life after a change in circumstances, who stumbles into a confusing world intertwined with the supernatural. Gaining esoteric abilities and a group of close friends, she learns to deal with an ever increasing list of threats and dangers, and aims to learn just what the hell is going on. Unfortunately, despite her unnatural skills, she’s still a millennial, and must juggle real life commitments to make sure that the bills are paid on time.

On the 11th of November, 2017, Kadan and Daniel (Us!) started the project in earnest after a brief period of preplanning. While we’re still in the very early stages of development, and it’s going to take us a long time to get to anywhere near a final game, we’re very excited to show everyone the project and include you in our progress. We’ll show you the highs (Things working) and the lows (Things not working, but in hilarious ways), from music and modelling to pathfinding and pigeon physics.

Hi, I’m Kadan! I work on the artsy aspects of Atropos, including the concepts and 3D models. Most of the art that appears in the game and on this page will be produced by yours truly. The plot and dialogue are also mostly my domain, with some considerable help from my partner in the project.

Hey there, I’m Daniel and I’m the main developer for the project. I’ll be providing a lot of the actual gameplay demos and soul destroying (but very funny) bug videos on this page, as well as some music and maybe a bit of landscape art if you’re lucky.

We admit that we’re being a tad ambitious, we hope to bring together past skills and experience to make a game that we can be proud of and that people will love. We’re putting as much effort in to making it feel like a proper studio game – even though there are just the two of us (for now) – but even if we don’t manage to hit the exact goals we want (like full mocap and expensive voice acting), we’ll hopefully end up with something just as fun and complete.

We’ll post more details about the game very soon, so feel free to join us on this adventure! We’re sure there will be many ups and downs, but in the end there should hopefully be a game…unless we get seriously lost somewhere…

– Kadan & Dan – Team Atropos