Tag Archives: feature spotlight

Feature – Crafting and Research


There was never any question that Crea would have a crafting system and from day one I knew what I wanted out of it. The goal was to make discovery a key component and not have players be dependent on a wiki. Since then it has been a matter of how will it work. For a long time I thought I knew exactly how it would; however, after implementing it and facing several design issues I decided to step back and redesign.

Before being able to craft an item you must first learn what materials are needed. This can be done two ways. The simpler but less common way is to acquire a recipe/schematic that reveals all materials needed to craft the item. These recipes will be rare and only found as dungeon or boss loot. The usual route to learning an item’s recipe is through researching.

As we have always planned, researching is done through the Researcher NPC. When you talk to the Researcher you are presented with the simple research dialog.

There is one item slot where you can drop a material in and click “Research”. By doing so you research the capabilities of that material. This is not free though and does consume one of the material. The result is that a single recipe is revealed. However, if the recipe has multiple materials then all must be researched before the entire recipe is available.

The “Materials” button opens a window that shows the progress of each material so you know when you’ve fully researched a material.

Once a item recipe is available you can easily craft it by opening your craft window, selecting the item and clicking “Craft”.



Both the crafting and researching systems are fully implemented in Python and consequently are completely moddable. Since these systems are hundreds of lines long I’ll forgo including them in this post, but they can easily be found and edited with the game. However, the majority of modding regarding these system will be done with creating item recipes.

An item recipe is always defined with the item and can be as simple as the following:

craft = Craft(category='Armor', subcategory='Chest', level=4, experience=30, service='Anvil')
craft.material('mods/base/item/recipes/smelting/copper_ingot.ce', 6)

Recipes can be much more involved with several additional attributes.

craft = Craft(category='Basics', subcategory='Essentials', level=1, experience=15)
# Any number of materials can be listed.
# craft.material('path/to/content.ce, quantity)
craft.material('mods/base/item/materials/wood.ce', 1)
# Recipes can have multiple results based on the quality of the craft.
# result(quantity, quality) - This is a short hand.
# Here the player will receive 4 of this item always since quality is always 0+.
craft.result(4, 0)
# and here the player receives one additional quantity if quality is 50+.
craft.result(5, 50)
# Results can also be created long hand.
# By doing this it is possible to expand on the yielded items and their quantity.
# This result occurs at quality of 100+ and will yield 5 lumber and even another item!
result = CraftResult()
result.quality = 100
result.items.append(InventoryItem("mods/base/item/basics/essential/lumber.ce", 5))
result.items.append(InventoryItem("mods/base/item/basics/essential/super_lumber.ce", 1))
# Sets if a recipe can be learned through research. Defaults to True.
craft.isResearchable = False

Feature – Character Progression


Close to the start of the Kickstarter, I wrote a post on character progression. This was a great thumbnail sketch of what character progression will look like. I have taken the time to flesh things out and clean some things up that I found troublesome with the initial sketch. Now character progression can be broken into two distinct parts – character level and talents.

The character level is strictly used for combat related things. It is used to represent your character’s strength and consequently is utilized in various combat algorithms such as the damage algorithm or for determining the monster levels. Upon leveling your character will gain stats. Also equipment will typically have a character level requirement.

Characters have talents that represent the character’s proficiency in a field. Currently we have four talents planned; Arms, Magic, Gather, and Craft. By performing actions related to the talent your character will occasionally gain TP (Talent Points). For example by crafting items or learning new recipes you may gain TP for your Craft talent or hitting a monster with magic may yield TP for the Magic talent.

After accumulating enough TP your character’s talent will level up. With enough TP you can spend it on purchasing and upgrading skills. Leveling up a talent grants access to new skills and skill upgrades. There will be a mixture of active and passive skills. Active skills are skills that can be added to the toolbar and used as an action such as a magic spell. Passive skills are always affecting the player such as “Defense Up”.

Early version of Talent window


As usual, nearly all aspects of talents can be modified ranging from modifying an existing skill to creating an entirely new talent. Talents are tied to body types (covered in this post) meaning different races can have different talents.

As far as the actual modding goes, here is what the adding the talents to a character body looks like.

body.talents = Talents()

A Talent is simple and is only composed of a name, a “points to next level” list, and a list of skills.

armsTalent = Talent("arms", [100] * 20)

Skills are a little bit more complex. First of all, skills can passive and/or active. A passive skill is always in effect while an active skill must be used. It is possible to have a skill with both elements. Passive skills need to provide two callback functions – “enable” and “disable”.  Active skills need to provide the callback function “use”. All skills should provide a “description” callback function.

def enableStatUp(stat, level, user):
    user.stats.get(stat).adjust(5 * level)

def disableStatUp(stat, level, user):
    user.stats.get(stat).adjust(-5 * level)

def descriptionStatUp(stat, level):
    return "Increases a character's {} by {}.".format(stat, 5 * level)

atkSkill = Skill(name="Attack Up", icon="mods/base/talent/arms/attack_up.png", costs=[100] * 5)
atkSkill.enable = partial("ATK", enableStatUp)
atkSkill.disable = partial("ATK", disableStatUp)
atkSkill.description = partial(descriptionStatUp, "Attack")

defSkill = Skill(name="Defense Up", icon="mods/base/talent/arms/defense_up.png", costs=[100] * 5)
defSkill.enable = partial("DEF", enableStatUp)
defSkill.disable = partial("DEF", disableStatUp)
defSkill.description = partial(descriptionStatUp, "Defense")

The “enable” function is called when the skill is activated. This is when the player first get the skill or when the character is loaded. The sibling function, “disable” is used when the skill needs to be deactivated. This is typically when the character is being saved to disk but it also makes it possible to temporarily disable passive skills with monster abilities. The “description” function is called when we need to display the tooltip for the skill. Having it be a function makes it dynamic so it can be dependent on any variable – such as the level of the skill. The “use” function is not featured here but it is more or less the same as the previous functions. It is called when the skill is being used.

Creating skills and entirely new Talents is definitely some more advanced modding. However, with the complexity comes some awesome power and I am anxious to see what skills players come up with.

Feature – Dynamic Music

Charlie (Robot Science) and me (Jasson) working on Dynamuse


The music in Crea will be dynamically generated. This means you will never hear the exact same track twice. The music is broken down into small sound clips that I am calling “samples”. These samples are played dynamically based off of some parameters such as how much danger you’re in, time of day, and how long the track has been playing.

The thing that turned me onto doing dynamic music was watching Renaud Bédard’s GDC talk Cubes All The Way Down. I had not heard too much about dynamic music in games, but I knew that it would be a perfect fit for a sandbox game. It is so easy to get sucked in for hours and before too long the music becomes very very very repetitive. What do we do when this happens? Mute! I know that’s what I do and it is a shame since video game music is so great. My hopes are that by making the music dynamic it doesn’t get repetitive enough to warrant mutiny…

As I have mentioned before, I made a tool for Charlie that I dubbed “Dynamuse”. Dynamuse is used to define the rules for when samples should play in a track. I will admit that Dynamuse is a little on the complicated side but with that comes much power. I recently got Dynamuse more or less completed and soon we will be hearing its true power.

Version 2 of Dynamuse


Because I’m all about modding and being open, I’m going to make Dynamuse available to everyone. That means that anyone who wants to can modify existing tracks or even create their own. Eventually I will make a tutorial on how to use Dynamuse, but for now here’s a brief overview of how it works.

A Dynamuse track is composed of any number of samples. A sample has a name and music file associated with it and it also contains a list of triggers. A trigger contains a few things but most importantly it contains a list of conditions. There are several types of conditions such as time of day, status of another sample (playing, paused, or stopped). If a trigger has all of its conditions met then it signals the sample to play. And that is about it. Simple, right? (not quite unless you’re a programmer)

Feature – Inventory and Toolbar


The player’s inventory in Crea is handled through bags. A bag is an item which, when equipped, provides additional inventory for the player. Once equipped, a bag can only be unequipped if it is empty. The number of bags a player can equip is increased by leveling up in the gathering proficiency. Bags can also be upgraded to hold more items. Since a bag is an item that means it can be traded to other players or given to new characters.

Bags are for storing items and the toolbar is for using items. The toolbar is only a reference to an item type. Consequently, a dirt block on your toolbar would represent all of the dirt in your bags. When an item is completely consumed the item remains on the toolbar unavailable until you get more.


There are two components specifically for these, InventoryComponent and ToolbarComponent. The InventoryComponent allows you to get access to all of the bags the player currently has equipped as well as check and change the items in each bag. Similarly with the ToolbarComponent you can check and change the item references in each spot.


Feature – Interactive World


As expected in a sandbox game, worlds in Crea can be fully reconstructed. Terrain exists on two tile layers referred to as ground layer and wall layer. The ground is collidable and sits in front of the wall layer which is not collidable. Aside from being able to rebuild the terrain, it is also possible to place and remove entities such as tables and treasure chests.

Unlike tiles which are grid based, entities are free to be placed wherever there is provided support. Item placement has been made as simple and intuitive as possible. When a position is suitable for placing the active item a visual hint is provided, that is a transparent rendering of the item and where it will be placed at. If an item does not quite fit where the mouse is hovered but there is an available nearby space then it will show a hint there.

These items can then be interacted with, such as opening a door or flipping a switch. Interacting with an item is not restricted to right clicking on it though. There are other interactions such as harvesting it with an axe, stepping on a button, using an item or attempting to remove the item’s support. With all of these interactions, the world moves from a static playground to a very much interactive and alive one.


The key to having an interactive world is the modding support. New tiles can be created, there is a placement component that can be added to any item, and an interactive component added to any entity.

Creating a new tile requires the use of the TileComponent. Here is an example with some embedded comments.

name = 'Dirt'
render = Render('mods/base/tile/dirt.png')

#ItemComponent making it possible to collect this tile
item = Item()
item.stack = 999
item.delay = 50

tile = Tile()
#Number of tile variants
tile.variants = 3
#Tile priority used for tile overlapping
tile.priority = 10
#Amount of life the tile has.
tile.durability = 10
#Defines the groups the tile belongs to.
#This is used for tool compatability among other things.
tile.groups = ['soil']
#The layer this tile is placed on - either 'ground' or 'wall'.
tile.layer = "ground"

#This sets up the frames for the tile to make it easy to draw
render.data = standardTile(tile.variants, tile.priority)

As mentioned above, there is a placement component which makes very easy to make items placeable. A item PlacementComponent is composed off a list of possible axes that the item can be placed on.

placement = Placement()
floorAxis = PlacementAxis(AxisType.AXIS_FLOOR, Vector(5, 37))
floorAxis.addSupport(PlacementSupport(SupportType.SUPPORT_TOP, Vector(5, 37)))

The item can be placed on any axis but only one at a time. The types are floor, ceiling, left, right, backwall and wall. The ‘backwall’ is support from the wall layer and ‘wall’ is the combination of left and right. In addition to the axis type, each axis has a range, an area, and a list of supports.

The range of an axis defines where and how much support is needed to place the item down. This is the second parameter for PlacementAxis. Here we have Vector(5, 37), which means to start at pixel 5 on the bottom of the image (since it is floor axis) and go for 37 pixels. This will default to starting at 0 and using the entire axis length (width or height of image). The reason for this feature is to enable items to have a skinny base and only require support for the base and not the entire width of the item, such as a candelabra.

Area for an axis is the game’s physical representation of the item relative to upper left corner of the image. This area is used to reserve space for items in the world. This area defaults to the size of the image.

The last part of an axis is the list of support it can provide. It is defined very similarly to an axis with a support type and a range of where and how much support to provide. The type can be on any one of the four sides; top, bottom, left or right.

Moving onto InteractableComponent, which is much simpler. An InteractableComponent contains a list of interactions and a callable object. Here is an example of the door InteractableComponent.

def interactDoor(args):
    #Toggle between being open and closed
    #We can check which animation is currently being played to know the state
    door = args["entity"]
    if door.animation.isPlaying("closed"):

interactable = Interactable()
interactable.add("interact", interactDoor)

The second to last line adds an interaction, the “interact” which is called when right clicking on an item. As mentioned in the overview there are several interactions built into the engine. Because the interaction is simply a string, it is entirely possible to create new interactions.


Feature – Equipment


All equipment in Crea is randomly generated to some degree. Each piece of equipment is made up of attributes. These attributes can be either positive or negative effects such as stat increase/decrease, increased health regeneration, or vampiric hit. The human race has a large assortment of equipment slots: Head, Body, Hands, Legs, Feet, Ring, and Neck. All but the last two will change your character’s appearance.

The majority of equipment found in Crea will have some constant attributes as well as some random ones. Such as all Copper Greaves will always have a DEF +5 attribute and will randomly be assigned 0-2 of the following attributes: ATK +(1 to 2), MDEF +(2 to 4), and AGI +1. (This is just an example).


All aspects of equipment are completely moddable. Not only can you create new pieces of equipment, it is very possible to create entirely new attributes and even add new equipment slots.

Creating a new piece of equipment is reasonably simple. In addition to creating a normal item entity (Render, Item, Craft components), add an equipment component to an item. An Equipment component has a list of image substitutions and a function (onCreate) called when a new piece of that equipment is created. Inside of the onCreate function is where attributes are added to the equipment component.

equipment = Equipment('chest')
#These are image substitutions similar to what is discussed in Character Customization
equipment.addSub('customizations/shirt_front.png', 'mods/base/item/armor/chest/silver_breastplate/torso.png', Vectorf(2, 0))
equipment.addSub('customizations/sleeve_lower_0.png', 'mods/base/item/armor/chest/silver_breastplate/arm_lower_0.png')
equipment.addSub('customizations/sleeve_upper_0.png', 'mods/base/item/armor/chest/silver_breastplate/arm_upper_0.png')
#... and more substitutions

def createSilverChestplate(component):
    component.addAttribute(ChangeStatAttribute('HP', 5))
    component.addAttribute(ChangeStatAttribute('Attack', 3))

equipment.onCreate = createSilverChestplate

Creating a new type of attribute involves a new python class that implements an interface. Here is an example with a brief description is provided with each method.

class ChangeStatAttribute(object):
    name = "ChangeStat"
    def __init__(self, stat='', value=0):
        self.stat = stat
        self.value = value
        self.changed = 0

    def alignment(self):
        #Called to determine if this is a positive or negative attribute
        return self.value >= 0

    def quality(self):
        #Reports the quality of this attribute. The quality of an equipment piece is the sum of its attributes.
        return self.value * statWeights[self.stat]

    def onEquip(self, args):
        #Called when this attribute is being equipped
        player = args['player']
        stat = player.stats.get(self.stat)
        if stat.hasMax():
            self.changed = stat.adjustMax(self.value)
            self.changed = stat.adjust(self.value)

    def onUnequip(self, args):
        #Called when this attribute is being unequipped
        player = args['player']
        stat = player.stats.get(self.stat)
        if stat.hasMax():
        self.changed = 0

    def save(self, stream):

    def load(self, stream):
        self.stat = stream.loadString()
        self.value = stream.loadInt32()
        self.changed = stream.loadInt32()

When creating a new piece of equipment you must specify which equipment slot the new item is compatible with. In order to create a new equipment slot it only requires adding the slot to the character body script (see Character Customization). After this is done any new equipment can use the new equipment slot.

#Define which gear slots this body supports
#These show up in the character equipment UI in game
body.gear = Gear()
body.gear.slots.append(GearSlot("head", "mods/base/body/hm/gear/head.png"))
body.gear.slots.append(GearSlot("chest", "mods/base/body/hm/gear/chest.png"))
body.gear.slots.append(GearSlot("hand", "mods/base/body/hm/gear/hand.png"))
body.gear.slots.append(GearSlot("leg", "mods/base/body/hm/gear/leg.png"))
body.gear.slots.append(GearSlot("feet", "mods/base/body/hm/gear/feet.png"))


Feature – Crafting


In Crea the majority of items are obtained through crafting them. Crafting is a simple process but in order to craft an item you first must obtain that item’s recipe. There are several means to acquiring recipes: monster loot; treasure chests; quests; and, most importantly, the Researcher NPC.

The Researcher is specifically for discovering new recipes. First you provide the researcher with materials. Upon returning to him after some time, you gain any recipes his research turned up. Upon request the research can provide hints as to what items he may need to discover more recipes.

After obtaining an item recipe, you must obtain the materials needed to craft the item. Additionally, many items will require you to be near “crafting surfaces” such as an anvil or furnace. To make crafter lives easier, materials in nearby containers will be accessible during crafting. This means you can stash all of your ingots in a treasure chest next to your anvil. Then you do not have to move them from the chest to your inventory before crafting.


Creating new items to craft is quite simple. All it requires is to add a craft component to the item. Through this you can specify the item’s category, subcategory, surface requirement (if any), list of materials and quantity required, and the quantity produced.

#Example for Copper Ingot
craft = Craft('Recipes', 'Smelting', 'anvil')
craft.add('mods/base/tile/copper_ore.ce', 3)
craft.quantity = 1

The surface requirement can be left empty to designate that the item can be crafted anywhere. If it is specified, the surface requirement does not refer to a crafting surface item but to a crafting surface service. There is a “Surface” component which enables entities to provide any number of crafting services.

Most items requiring an anvil can be crafted with any anvil; however, some special items may need an upgraded anvil. This upgraded anvil would provide the services needed for both the special items and any other items requiring an anvil. Any item can provide any surface service, so it is entirely possible to create uber surface items. It is of course possible to create entirely new crafting surface services that new items can require.

#Iron Anvil
surface = Surface(["anvil"])
#Uber Anvil
surface = Surface(["anvil", “uber anvil”])


Feature – Character Customization


The character creation provides a great amount of customization. The first and most important choice the player has is choosing the type of body to use. The body type defines the majority of the aspects for the character – appearance, customizations, equipment, stats, and so on. A body type can be “human male”, “human female” or even some completely different race such as a Robot. Body customizations are a part of the rendered body that can be changed such as hair, shirt, pants, shoes, and accessories.

Aside from customizations, a body type also defines which equipment slots the character will have, the base stats for the character, and the proficiencies. Each of these will be expanded upon in their own respective feature posts. With these character aspects being associated to the body type means that entire unique characters can be created. Such as a Robot race that has its own unique pieces of equipment, customizations, stats, and proficiencies.


Every aspect of character customization is moddable: body types, customizations, equipment slots, stats, and proficiencies. I will cover all of this by going over the human male body script, which is quite lengthy. Some explanation is embedded in the code – Look for lines starting with ‘#’.

name = "Human Male"
body = Body('hm')

body.render = ModularRender('mods/base/body/hm/human.scml')

#Character's are rendered with a ModularRender.
#This means that the character is broken up into small sprites
#such as head, arms, hands, torso, legs, clothing, hair and so on.
#Each of these sprites can be replaced with another sprite.
#These mappings below associate a name with a sprite or group of sprites.
#This makes it possible to do things like recolor all body sprites or hide them.

body.render.addMapping('body', 'arm/arm_lower_0.png')
body.render.addMapping('body', 'arm/arm_upper_0.png')
body.render.addMapping('body', 'arm/hand_0.png')
body.render.addMapping('body', 'leg/leg_lower_0.png')
body.render.addMapping('body', 'leg/leg_upper_0.png')
body.render.addMapping('body', 'leg/foot.png')
body.render.addMapping('body', 'head/head.png')

#Lots more mapping removed for brevity...

#Sets the animation render ordering.
body.render.setOrder(['arm_back', '', 'arm_front'])

#Set up the body animations
body.animation = Animation("idle")
body.animation.bind('arm_back', 'run_arm_back', 'run')
body.animation.bind('arm_back', 'walk_arm_back', 'walk')
body.animation.bind('arm_back', 'idle_arm_back', 'idle')
body.animation.bind('arm_back', 'jump_arm_back', 'jump')
body.animation.bind('arm_back', 'fall_arm_back', 'fall')
body.animation.bind('arm_back', 'use_arm_back', 'use')
body.animation.bind('arm_front', 'run_arm_front', 'run')
body.animation.bind('arm_front', 'walk_arm_front', 'walk')
body.animation.bind('arm_front', 'idle_arm_front', 'idle')
body.animation.bind('arm_front', 'jump_arm_front', 'jump')
body.animation.bind('arm_front', 'fall_arm_front', 'fall')
body.animation.bind('arm_front', 'use_arm_front', 'use')
body.animation.setLooping('idle_arm_front', False)
body.animation.setLooping('jump_arm_front', False)
body.animation.setLooping('fall_arm_front', False)
body.animation.setLooping('use_arm_front', False)
body.animation.setLooping('use', False)
body.animation.setLooping("death", False)

#Here we add the customizations this body supports
#These show up in the Character Creation UI when this body is selected
hair = Customization('Hair', True)
hair.isOptional = True

accessory1 = Customization('Accessory 1', True)
accessory1.isOptional = True

accessory2 = Customization('Accessory 2', True)
accessory2.isOptional = True

body.addCustom(Customization('Shirt', True))
body.addCustom(Customization('Pants', True))
body.addCustom(Customization('Shoes', True))

#Import this file and make substitions to body
#body.addSub('torso/torso.png', 'mods/base/body/hf/torso/torso.png')


#Define which gear slots this body supports
#These show up in the character equipment UI in game
body.gear = Gear()
body.gear.slots.append(GearSlot("head", "mods/base/body/hm/gear/head.png"))
body.gear.slots.append(GearSlot("chest", "mods/base/body/hm/gear/chest.png"))
body.gear.slots.append(GearSlot("hand", "mods/base/body/hm/gear/hand.png"))
body.gear.slots.append(GearSlot("leg", "mods/base/body/hm/gear/leg.png"))
body.gear.slots.append(GearSlot("feet", "mods/base/body/hm/gear/feet.png"))

#Define which stats characters with this body get
body.stats = Stats()
body.stats.stats.append(Stat('HP', 'HP', 300, 9999, True, True))
body.stats.stats.append(Stat('AP', 'AP', 100, 9999, True, True))
body.stats.stats.append(Stat('ATK', 'Attack', 100, 999, False, True))
body.stats.stats.append(Stat('DEF', 'Defense', 100, 999, False, True))
body.stats.stats.append(Stat('MATK', 'M Attack', 100, 999, False, True))
body.stats.stats.append(Stat('MDEF', 'M Defense', 100, 999, False, True))
body.stats.stats.append(Stat('AGI', 'Agility', 100, 999, False, True))
body.stats.stats.append(Stat('DEX', 'Dexterity', 100, 999, False, True))

#Define which proficiencies characters with this body get
body.proficiencies = Proficiencies()


We are using Spriter for our character animations. Consequently, in order to create new animations or an entirely new body type then you must use Spriter. You can easily setup new sprite mappings, mentioned above at the top of the code.

A body script, such as the one above, defines the supported customizations; however, the actual customizations are defined elsewhere in their own scripts. Creating new customizations is reasonably straightforward. A customization is a very simple entity. It contains a “Custom” component which takes two parameters. The first is the name of the customization this is for and the second is if it supports recoloring or not. After that a Custom component can define any number of sprite substitutions that take place if this customization is used. Here we change what the top hair looks like and hide the bottom hair since it is unused.

name = "Guy Hair"
custom = Custom("Hair", True)
custom.addSub('head/hair_top.png', 'mods/base/custom/hair/hm_hair.png')

As you can see, creating new hair styles, clothing and any other customizations is very easy!


Feature – Component-based Engine

This feature is fundamental to the game design and consequently all of the features. That is why it is being covered first. The next feature I plan to cover will be much more interesting – promise!


The engine that powers Crea is known as a Component-based engine. For anyone interested in modding Crea, this is a crucial aspect of the game to understand. Everything in Crea is made up of entities, and an entity is a container for holding multiple components. A component is common logic encapsulated.

Lets say we want to represent a table in Crea. We would start with a blank entity, then add a render component and direct it to use the table sprite. Having a render component enables the entity to be rendered – in other words, now the table will show up in the game. Next we add an item component which enables the table to be carried in a character’s inventory. Finally we want to add a craft component, which enables the table to be crafted.


As you can see, an entity is the sum of its contained components. It’s a pretty simple process of using components like building blocks to create something new.
A component-based engine is by nature very modular. There are currently 30 different components and growing. Here are some component examples.
  • Render – Used for rendering the entity
  • Animation – Enables the entity to be animated (requires render component)
  • Item – Treats the entity as an item making it possible to add to inventories
  • Craft – Makes it possible to craft the entity (requires item component)
  • Interactive – There are several ways to interact with an entity. Right click on it to “interact” or “use” it from your toolbar are just two examples.
  • Placement – Enables an item to be placed into the world from inventory (requires item component)
  • Monster – Treats the entity as a monster.

Sometimes, as a modder, you’ll find yourself in need of a component that does not exist – at least not yet! It is entirely possible to create a new type of component. Components have a simple interface and are created in a python script just like the rest of the content.