Going 3D (With a Twist)

One thing leads to another.

In the previous post I wrote how I’ve switched from SpriteKit to Unity, and today I’m so very glad I did. Now, my gut instinct is telling me to drop the textual locations navigation and go to a full 3D first-person exploration experience.

How on earth did I come to this?

Those who know me well, know that I am not that interested in making computer games. At least not in the plural; what I always wanted to create is a game, one heavily inspired by the legendary 1993’s RPG, Betrayal at Krondor (BaK).

When the idea to begin working on Call of Saregnar finally popped in my head, I imagined myself alone creating a game that would be much alike BaK, but of course modern, and at the same time – due to me working on the game all alone – cut down considerably. What that entailed was creating nice high resolution UI graphics, accompained by a text-based exploration interface (essentially replacing BaK’s 3D world exploration), and all spiced up by an engaging overhead 2D travel system with detailed camping. It sounded like a great BaK game in my head, except that… it didn’t. What CoS was lacking in my brain, was a true sense of exploration, one you could only get if you had the world in front of you, a world you could reach out, interact with and most of all, see.

I struggled with the idea of somehow taking CoS into the 3rd dimension for a very long time, but I was always hitting walls that indie developers know too well: you can’t do what the big AAA studios do; not alone, and especially not on low budget. What you need to do is find workarounds and make them look good.

That’s when it dawned on me. In the 2D realm, indies often opt for pixel art to compensate for lack of artistic skill or budget, or both. Not all, mind you, some simply love the pixely look, and create gorgeous pieces of art in that style. So, the question was, does anything comparable to pixel art exist in polygonal 3D? I was somehow surprised to find the answer at the very source: the crude BaK’s 3D world from 1993.

I am still working on the exact style I want to achieve in 3D, but I am thinking of the following:

  • I want to simulate a low-resolution screen (probably 320×240) all over the game.
  • I want to go with low poly 3D for the world and large other objects, like buildings
  • use billboards for detailed objects, like trees, bushes, etc.
  • I am not so sure about characters yet…

The goal is to have an old-school looking game, but one which does not look dated. A tough nut to crack for sure, but I’m sure the answer lies in the art direction, and that’s the side I am currently exploring.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

P.S. You may want to check out Neal Hallford‘s blog for his Betrayal at Krondor: Remastered project if you are interested in an ongoing implementation of Betrayal at Krondor in a modern 3D engine.

Be sure to follow ongoing and more detailed development of the game on Patreon.

Neal Hallford at Thorvalla Kickstarter Launch (Update: Project Cancelled)

Check out the video recording of the Thorvalla Kickstarter launch event from Neal Hallford, the designer behind the award-winning Betrayal at Krondor RPG, Dungeon siege and many more. I also participated in the interview, posting questions and having a lot of fun. 🙂

Anyway take a look at the Thorvalla Kickstarter project and be sure to back it! Guido Henkel, the mastermind behind this project also worked on Planetscape:Torment and the Realms of Arkania series of RPGs back in the nineties, so he does have some experience in the field. 😉

Basically we have two very talented game designers and writers working together on a new RPG game. What more can you ask for? Back the project and make Thorvalla a reality!

Update: Sadly, the project has been cancelled.

[EDIT] Betrayal at Krondor Remake?

Neal Hallford, co-author of Betrayal at Krondor is discussing the possibility of remaking BaK if enough buzz is generated. Visit this facebook thread and share!

https://www.facebook.com/nealiios/posts/10150675092943840

[EDIT]

Well, the situation turns out to be more complicated than that. This is an excerpt from *a* mailing list where Mr. Feist replied to a fan asking for the possibility af a BaK remake for its 20th anniversary and the rights involved:

I like Neal and John, but Neal was totally inappropriate with his post; he did that before John contacted me to ask about those rights. Neal has always been a little impulsive.
In any event beyond that there is nothing I can speak about publicly.
Best, R.E.F.

Another Feist’s comment on the rights “sitting in a box someplace in the company formally known as Sierra OnLine”:

Yup. I speak from experience that NO ONE at Activision/Blizzard gives a crap, or even knows about it.

Trust me, just getting my story rights back took years, not because they didn’t want to give them back, but because no one knew what we were talking about.

This leaves me and the many fans out there wondering who’s holding the rights for the game. Is it the now defunct Sierra Online (at the moment owned by Activision) or perhaps R.E.F. himself?

Anyway, time will tell if we are ever going to see a BaK remake or even “Thief of Dreams”, the real sequel to Betrayal at Krondor.

Midkemia Online

Sometimes I wonder how the hell can something that I am completely and totally interested in, slip by and get unnoticed. Well, today while browsing the internets I stumbled across a MMORPG based in Raymond E. Feist’s Midkemian universe. Being a huge fan of Feist’s works and role-playing games in general, I couldn’t help but stare at the discovery. Having really enjoyed his books and played both BaK and RtK games (a gazillion times) I got really eager to jump into this game.

Well this is a text-based RPG, which means all you do is stare at a terminal window reading and typing in commands to interact with the game. At first I was all excited to join the game, but despite the fact that I was eager to give the text-based world a shot, I discovered just how shallow the game really was. The main thing that put me off was the very unmmaginative quests – go fetch that and bring it to me type quests. In short, that was it. I think I’ll be better off reading Feist’s novels.

Betrayal at Krondor Demo Module Available

A demo of the Betrayal at Krondor NWN2 mod is now available.

From the author:

I’m happy to announce that a demo mod of Chapter 1 of “Betrayal at Krondor” is available for play-testing.
Anyone who is interested should let me know and I’ll give the invite for the shared DropBox folder (you must have a DropBox account to do this).

I am inviting serious play-testers to download these files to make sure the game actually works on a computer other than my own. Since this is my first module “release,” I might have forgotten to include some files or something, and I’d like things to be ready to go before posting to the Vault. Mask of the Betrayer is required.

You can find out more on the mod from the official NWN2 module page.

Betrayal at Krondor – Neverwinter Nights 2 Mod

Wow, just wow. Today, while casually browsing the web I found out the user Batmansis64 at the NWN2 Vault is working on a NWN2 mod of my favourite RPG of all time – Betrayal at Krondor. And as you can see, it seems to be coming on very nicely.

Head on to the project’s site by following the link below.

Betrayal at Krondor — Neverwinter Nights 2 Vault.