Tag Archives: game design

Weekly Recap #18

We’re edging closer and closer to the next release and finally beta phase 3! At our current pace it’ll be about two weeks depending on how demanding the bug load is and how much more work multiplayer support is going to be. Multiplayer is so close to working but needs another push.

This entire week was devoted to adding new skills. Kelley and I have made some great progress  and only a few remain. One thing to note is that these new skills are not merely an extension of the existing skills. Much more has been going on!

Cleaned up Talent UI

Cleaned up Talent UI

First of all, we gave all skills an unlock level. Once your talent reaches the skill’s unlock level then that skill becomes available to level up. The primary motivation behind this is to limit the number of options the player has to choose from. I believe it was a little too overwhelming for a player to have to choose between all of the skills up front. Not to mention this was for 4 different talents totaling nearly 40 skills. Now each talent starts with 3-4 skills unlocked at level 1 and more unlock at levels 5, 10 and 15.

There was another major change to the talents. The existing “Magic” talent was split it into two – “Arcane” and “Divine”. Arcane magic focuses on elemental offensive magic and Divine magic focuses on support magic.

Arcane talent has a total of 16 skills at the moment. There are 4 different types of magics and 4 elemental types of each. The spell types are: projectile, enchant melee weapon to do elemental damage, area of effect around the player, and pillar magic. I decided it would be easiest to treat all elemental types equally and that is why each element has a similar magic type.

Casting Freeze

Casting Freeze

Divine talent has 12 skills which consist of healing, positive status effects and a few passives. Just because they are support doesn’t mean there are not game changers! Stoneskin will absorb some damage, making it possible to take harder hits or fall further. Invisible makes you invisible and monsters wont aggro you. Fun stuff!

Casting Invisible

Casting Invisible

The Arms talent has also received many new active skills to keep up with the magics. However, Gather and Craft talents are more or less the same. For now, I’m happy with where they are at.

As you can see, lots of good stuff! This next week I’m wrapping up the remaining skills and moving back onto working on the underground. I’ll also start looking into some bugs that are in 0.6.0 and beginning to prep things for v0.6.1. Most likely, there will also be a v0.6.2 to fix issues in v0.6.1. Then I plan to launch Crea’s greenlight page and the next beta phase.

Rolling over some very low level monsters with Firestorm

Rolling over some very low level monsters with Firestorm

Weekly Recap #2

Here again with a new recap.  I am pleased that we managed to finish most of what we set out to do this week.

I finished upgrading the crafting system to make it possible to provide equipment as an ingredient. While I was at it, I cleaned up the crafting, equipment and talent UI. Both the crafting and talent UI used dropdown menus to select your current category/talent. At first I thought this was a wonderful idea because it is extremely expandable making it mod friendly; however, after time I have realized that this is a pre-optimization and 99% of new items could fit into the existing categories.

Craft Upgrading

Max spent the majority of the week working on monster spawning. Now spawners are permanently placed in the world and, when taken down to 0HP, instead of being destroyed the spawner is temporarily disabled for 15 minutes. We have plans to give the player the power to destroy spawners and have them respawn much more slowly than what we had before. This is one of those things that needs lots and lots of tweaking to get just right.

Disable Spawner


The other big task I worked on this week was adding in water to the world. The simulation was a little broken from months of neglect and once I did get it back up I spent some time smoothing it out. A large chunk of my time was spent on getting the water to be saved with the world and transmitted to clients during multiplayer. I began to incorporate it into gameplay but only got as far as having it affect player movement when I made the decision to wrap up other things so we could release a new early beta build today.

Water (work in progress)

Water (work in progress)

Wrapping things up involves lots of tiny tasks remaining from the larger features such as ensuring that all new items can be obtained one way or another. There is also the task of fixing the bugs that we have created over the last few weeks; fortunately there aren’t too many of those!

Over the next week we are going to be focusing on finishing up several features that need some love.

  • Way Crystals
  • Water
  • Tooltip visual overhaul
  • The “underground” biome, which is being reworked by Max

We will hopefully get to a few smaller things on our list as well but we have lots of planning to do before Max heads back home on Saturday. We have a great momentum and if we can keep it up then the next beta phase is just around the corner.

Equipment Upgrade

Up to this point, we have been very focused on implementing new features and adding in as much new content as possible – quantity over quality. A few weeks ago we started taking a harder look at our existing content and systems. It was then that we made the decision to switch our focus on polishing existing content rather than adding new content.

During one of our design discussions, we began to explore the idea of scrapping the linear equipment progression (iron sword -> copper sword -> silver sword, etc.) in favor of a more original equipment upgrade system. After a few more discussions we had refined the system design and come up with new equipment that is multitudes better than we had before.

The best way to explain is by example. Our swords start with the Wood Club and then progress to a Bronze Cleaver and then a Broadsword. This keeps things simple at the start but once you have the broadsword things start to get interesting.


The next best sword is obtained by upgrading the Broadsword by using it in a recipe to craft a Broadsword+. Going from there, the Broadsword+ can be upgraded to one of four different swords: Rapier, Greatsword, Sylic Blade and Artisan Broadsword. Each of these has a different focuses.

  • Rapier provides attack speed bonus
  • Greatsword provides knockback
  • Sylic Blade does magical damage
  • Artisan Broadsword focuses on raw damage
Upgrading Broadsword+ to a Greatsword

Upgrading Broadsword+ to a Greatsword

Each of these will upgrade to the corresponding “+” version and then can be upgraded to the next tier which have their own unique focuses. For example the Greatsword+ can be upgraded to either the Zweihander which can stun an enemy or the Executioner which does more damage the lower HP the enemy has.

Sketches of the sword progression by Max

Sketches of the sword progression by Max

Attributes carryover when upgrading equipment which makes your choices have a meaningful longterm impact. Such as a Broadsword you found with high Magic Attack bonus could make a good Sylic Blade. We have even talked about allowing the player to choose to reset their weapon to a Broadsword but choose to keep some of the attributes making it possible to create truly unique pieces of equipment – like a very fast Rapier type weapon with knockback.

Using a Greatsword to kill an oil slime

Using a Greatsword to kill an oil slime

Of course, swords are not the only thing that can be upgraded. In addition we currently have bows, helms, chests, and legs armor with upgrade tiers. We will likely add a few more weapon types with upgrade tiers as well. There are other items the player can obtain that do not have upgrade tiers or have smaller upgrade tiers. Gloves will grant bonuses for doing things such as gaining bonus TP (Talent Points). Boots provide movement type bonuses such as movement speed or jump height.

Quick concept art of early tiers of chest armor

Quick concept art of early tiers of chest armor

This is not everything that we have planned for equipment though. We have two other systems for making your equipment even stronger that we plan to implement once we get our first boss in. I know I’m really looking forward to seeing the final equipment – I hope you are too!

NPCs in Crea


lineup1In Crea, there will be several NPCs with whom to interact. This week Kelley started working on some of the NPC art. Above we have the Researcher, Nun, Grafter, Merchant and Cartographer. Here is a brief description of each NPC. Much more information will be posted about each one individually in the future. (Note: NPCs will be introduced in Beta.)

  • The Researcher helps with crafting. Supply him with materials and he will return the favor by providing you with new item recipes.
  • The Nun heals HP and grants buffs.
  • The Grafter enhances your equipment through the use of catalysts and essences.
  • The Merchant sells items.
  • The Cartographer provides you with a map and upgrades for it.


The Quest For Dual Wielding

We have wanted some form of dual wielding since the inception of Crea. The motivation behind this was simple. First and foremost, we wanted the player to be able to use multiple items without changing their active item on the toolbar. We also wanted the toolbar to provide access to more items. We knew what we wanted but how do we get there?

When I think dual wielding I think left click for one item and right click for the other. I think this is how most games do it. There are games that have single click to use both weapons but we need to provide means to individually use the items. This creates some new questions though. Item interaction was right click but what is it now? How do we display which items are assigned to the toolbar?

We considered splitting the toolbar and having 1-5 be for left click and 6-0 be left click. Something else we tried was having items on the toolbar be left or right click. We tried having 20 items on the toolbar. There are many other paths we fumbled down. We commonly ran into two problems. The first was adding dual wielding with only 10 items on the toolbar seemed to add more complexity than it was worth. The other problem was if we wanted 20 items, two items per number, then how do we display the items efficiently? Every way we tried left at least one of us unsatisfied.

We ventured down several paths but none of them felt right. For awhile we even dropped dual wielding, but since we really wanted it we picked it back up. I had pigeonholed myself into thinking we needed dual wielding to happen with both left and right click. I stepped back from that and quickly stumbled upon a working solution.


Current toolbar showing what both the primary and secondary looks like.

Instead of having a single toolbar the player has two toolbar, which we call the “primary” and “secondary”. The primary toolbar is active by default and to get access to the secondary toolbar simply hold down the shift key. There are 10 items on each toolbar with each item assigned to a number key. There is only one number slot active at a time. There is also only one active toolbar at a time. Since only one toolbar is active at a time the solution to our display problem was obvious. We would only display one toolbar at a time. Left click always uses the active item on the active toolbar.

Time for an example! Lets say “3″ is your active item on the primary toolbar. Left click and you use this item. Hold down shift key and now you see your active secondary toolbar. Left click again and you will use the “3″ item on your secondary toolbar.

It took awhile to get there but it was a worthwhile journey. The controls feel right and I think are intuitive. I am looking forward to getting some feedback about this feature from the testers.

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"))