29
Jun
2015
DevBlog

Gamelab 2015 coverage

by Capt_Eatbones

Ahoy! Here’s your Capt. Eatbones speaking!

What an exciting 2 weeks have passed! Steam Greenlight campaign and Gamelab 2015 have been our only thoughts. While for Greenlight we’ve been in front of our monitors for 7 really dense days, for the Gamelab 2015 we moved, physically, to a wonderful city: Barcelona, Spain.

For those who hasn’t followed us on Twitter & Facebook we want to share with you our experience of the past week. So…let’s begin!

Day 0 – Road to Gamelab 2015

Every travel starts with a harbor, aehm, in this case an airport and a flight (actually, this is mine since Mex flight has not been documented ;P)

Me and Mex arrived the day before, to be sure to be ready for the next day at 8:30 am. Well, the first night hasn’t gone that smooth: we couldn’t plug in the laptop cable since the plug was not compatible! That happened at 11:30 pm so no chance to get a converter anywhere…and next day was going to be a holiday one! Great! & Panic!

Fortunately we succeeded to convert an Italian plug into a Spanish one (not really different except that the Spanish one has no “ground” pin). I suppose that, for us, every first experience pushes Muprhy’s Law to a “whale” new level ;D Here you have Mex, in our hostel room, right after the plug-almost-disaster solved.

Hostel1stNight

Day 1 – Opening & a Really Hot situation

At 8:30 am we entered the Barceló Sants Hotel, on top of Barcelona train station, and applied to get our registration badge. The place is very nice and well organized. I’ve been to the Los Angeles Conference Center and I can say that it was at the same level. The Networking Room was the place where the Indie Hub has been all the time (and us in it), while the conferences took place in other Auditoriums. We got a shared Indie Table so very little space but each one of us had its proper banner right in front.

We met a lot of developers, already in the industry and several starting like us. We had the pleasure to be placed between two great games: The Guest and The Last Door. We made the acquaintance of Team Gotham (The Guest) and The Game Kitchen (The Last Door). While Team Gotham are still dealing with the publisher, they already got quite a successful start with the game on Greenlight. The Guest is a 3D graphic adventure recalling the mood of games like Silent Hill. On the other side, The Game Kitchen already got the attention of the public with the 1st season of The Last Door and at Gamelab they were introducing the 2nd season. Their game is a old-style graphic adventure dealing with a Victorian London and I consider it as a tribute to both Edgar Allan Poe  and H.P. Lovecraft.

Well, with these premises, we started preparing for the big fight since Nantucket was not there to merely watch! Arr!

For this event, we prepared a build of the game to be played and several videos to play in loop. We started with the video loop because there was still few people. When more visitors started to appear, we switched to the fun part: play our game! Easier said than done! After half a hour of play, the game started to slow down a lot. Mex laptop started to overheat and this caused us a serious performance drop, affecting our capabilities of showing correctly the game. In the morning, while we were facing the “Flames of Hell”, there was a speech by Jordan Mechner, widely know for being the creator of the Prince of Persia games and The Last Express:

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In the afternoon we had a thermal shutdown: the upper left corner of the laptop was on fire! We had to keep it shut for a while to let it cool down. We had no choice but to leave before the end of the day to try to buy a laptop refrigerating base. Actually, we had to renounce to the speech of Chris Crawford (but we would have had another chance later on):

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Day 2 – A Fresh New Start

After Day 1 “Hot Conditions” we arrived a little late to the Indie Hub but we did it with new hope and enthusiasm (as you can see from the picture below, we got a new double fan base for the laptop):

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The 1st day had been great, even with the game slowing down. We started to get feedback from developers and gamers attending to the conferences and, of course, from our neighbors indie teams. Showing videos is fine but people wants to get in touch, hands-on on the game. Our game is a slow paced one so we had to guide people while playing, when possible, or showing them us playing while explaining how it works.

The 2nd day started great. More people arrived to our table and now we had no heating problems so the game was running smoothly. We wrote down a lot of feedback and also bugs during these days. We had a meeting with Dan Raigorodsky, leader of another indie team, Electroplasmatic Games. They are a very young team made of people who recently started developing their games.

Almost near to lunch time Mex got a picture with Mr. Goichi Suda, responsible of title like Lollipop Chainsaw and Shadow of the Damned:

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During the afternoon we noticed a slow down in “visits”. We understand why by having a look at the conference program flyer…Two Bigs of the industry were going to start talking. The first one has been Mr. Shinji Mikami, best know for creating the survival horror series Resident Evil, who received the Gamelab 2015 Honor Prize:

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Closing Day 2 there was the 2nd Big of the industry: an interview with Toru Iwatani, creator of the popular game Pac-Man:

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Day 3 – Closing & A Great Experience

The last day of the Gamelab has been really exciting. It has been, perhaps, the day with more people playing our game. The great thing of these events is what can happen during the play. Nantucket is heavily based on events. Now, I know lots of them but I’ve got the chance to discover several I never had seen before and some surprised me a lot, like this one:

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While I was playing and showing the game in the Networking Room (where the Indie Hub was based), Mex was playing to “the little Paparazzi” trying to get picture of VIPs attending to the conferences. I must say that he seems to be quite convincing ;D Thanks to his “paparazzi” skills we got the chance to take a picture with two Very Important People, at least for us!

Mr. Chris Crawford’s book “The Art of Computer Game Design” has been my first game design book and a great one. Actually, I surely seemed like an adolescent young man while trying to tell how important he has been for my career:

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Another great success, in taking pictures, has been meeting in person Mr. Jordan Mechner. I played lots of times the first Prince of Persia on my father’s 286 and envied friends who could play the 2nd on Amiga. Mex loved especially a relatively more recent game, The Last Express:

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Well, the day continued with us meeting with the other Italian team exhibiting in the Indie Hub: Tiny Colossus. The team is made by Ciro Cortinisio and Ennio Pirolo who presented Fatal Error, their most recent production. They’ve been very friendly and, of course, they made us feel a little bit closer to home. We decided to spend our last dinner in Barcelona with them, eating pizza and sharing experiences.

Even though our last moments in Barcelona have been spent with Italians, we left the Gamelab 2015 with a picture of our most recent fellows developers: The Game Kitchen team who have been a very nice companion during our days there. I want to personally thank Matéo, Carlos y Enrique for their availability and kindness (in the picture, in order from the left to the right):

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Day 4 – Leaving With More Enthusiasm Than When Arrived

I personally think that this kind of events are important to be lived. Not only on the “business” side but, perhaps, more on the “personal” side. The mood is great, you get to know new people and, especially, you understand that you’re not the only one who loves what is doing. This is a great lesson for everyone. Also is a great lesson of humility, something everyone has never to forget, even the greatest.

As I started with a picture of a flight, I will leave you with the other one: the way back home. See you soon here with more news about us and, of course, about Nantucket!

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27
Jun
2015
DevBlog

Of GUI and Tooltips

by DanieleBubb

I’m starting a series of articles on the technical side of things, to show what’s the solution taken for common problems in game development, trying to improve them and share it with fellow developers.

Nantucket is made with Unity, it has been awesome so far, after more than a year in development we feel quite comfortable using both the engine and the editor. But there are situations where we preferred to implement the solution ourselves instead of using built-in libraries or getting asset store packages. The whole UI library is an example of this.

Possible UI Solutions

At time of starting the development of it (mid 2014) there was no uGUI, so the only feasible built-in solution was the legacy OnGUI. We scrapped it right away because was not flexible enough to handle overlapping interfaces and different resolutions.

We evaluated the idea to purchase nGUI, but at that time was too expensive for us for what we needed.

We haven’t tested the new uGUI yet, but at this point of development is too much work of refactoring to switch.

So we went for building our solution from the ground up, so we could implement a library that contains only what we needed and is easily extendable.

Collider Manager

Each in-game component that interacts with the player has a Collider2D, in order to be detected by mouse movements.

The Collider Manager provides a series of functions which give information about colliders, their position, and their Z order. It’s used mainly to understand which objects are pointed by the mouse pointer, both GUI components and game objects.

To handle Z order, the Collider Manager has a list of Layers ordered by priority. That’s all we need to handle overlapping user interfaces and detect whether the player is interacting with the map or with the interface.

ColliderManagerLayers

In this picture, there are three Layers ordered from high to low priority: UIClickable, UIBackground, MapCity. Using the Collider Manager, is possible to detect whether the mouse is pointing to the ship slot and show the tooltip, or decide to accept the click on a city and handle cases like: the city is covered by the interface background, if the user clicks where the city is, the Collider Manager understands that the user is clicking on the interface and not on the city.

GUI

The first big choice we had is to implement the whole interface in world space coordinates. This let us design the UIs in the Unity scene together with the other scene objects, and it was great for us, because we had the possibility to see how the UI fit in the screen, and how it’s placed relative to the other objects, even in edit mode, reducing a lot the turnaround times.

But using world space coordinates has its drawbacks:

  1. Aspect ratio is fixed. In case the player uses one different from 16:9, there are black bars on the sides
  2. The interface is designed for FullHD resolutions. For different resolutions there could be a lot of aliasing in text and sprites due to texture filtering

Everything in the GUI is a GUI Component, a simple script that provide functions to change the state (i.e. edit text, change color, change sprite) and it handles mouse events that happen on the component itself.

All the GUI state and behaviours are handled by the GUI Manager, which has 2 main tasks:

  1. Dispatches mouse events like Mouse Over, Click, Drag & Drop to the GUI component
  2. Updates the info to show in each component, but only when needed to avoid performance issues

We use built-in TextMesh components for UI texts, they are good enough for our purposes, but we didn’t find a good solution to avoid aliasing. We might consider using another solution for text in the future.

Tooltips

As you may have seen in some gameplay footage, we use tooltips a lot in Nantucket. We think is the best way to provide the player all the information he needs at the moment, without letting him confused and doing the best to help him to take the right decision.

Every object with a Collider2D component in the scene can be a target for tooltips, all it needs is to have a TooltipComponent attached. The TooltipComponent provides a text to the Tooltip Manager, which in order shows a tooltip with that text when the player moves the mouse over the object.

TooltipObjects

The text content in the tooltip varies a lot in terms of size, and the target object can be in any position in the screen. So we added a database of different versions of Tooltip Objects, which varies in: text lines number, arrow direction, arrow position.

There is a central Tooltip Manager which handles all the tooltip functionality, its main loop is:

  1. Pick an object pointed by the mouse with a Tooltip Component, using the Collider Manager
  2. Wait a delay while the mouse always points to that object
  3. Select a Tooltip Object from the database depending on: Text lines, Component position, Tooltip preferred direction. The tooltip object will be placed just outside of the collider of the target object, so the object won’t be obscured by the tooltip
  4. Show the tooltip
  5. Hide the tooltip when the mouse doesn’t point to that object anymore

TooltipPlacement

The Tooltip Manager makes sure that the tooltip object is always on screen so, for example, if the object is on the far right, the tooltip will go on the left even if the preferred direction is on the other side.

The tooltip object database handles until 6 lines of text for now, but we already have tooltip texts longer than that, so we added a special tooltip objects which is a big flat rectangle that encloses all the text. Before the game ships we may implement a solution to have modular tooltips, in order to handle all the text sizes.

That’s all, I’d like to hear voice in the comments, any feedback or question is welcome.

Daniele

23
Jun
2015
News

Nantucket has been Greenlit!

by picaresque

Thank you! Grazie! Gracias! Merci! Obrigado! Спасибо! Danke!

YOU did it.

7 days, unbelievable! It was definitely faster than expected and this allow us to focus on delivering you the best game we can. Keep following us during the development since “more is coming”.

GreenLIT

22
Jun
2015
News

Nantucket LIVE @ Gamelab 2015

by picaresque

Picaresque Studio will be attending the Gamelab 2015 and we will be showing a pre-alpha version of Nantucket!

We invite everyone attending to visit our desk where we’ll be more than pleased to show you our last creation!

GamelabSocial

(click on the image to access the Gamelab Indie Hub web page)

20
Jun
2015
DevBlog

Ay, Ay, sir! There she blows!

by Mex

Perseus, St. George, Hercules, Jonah, and Vishnoo! there’s a member-roll for you! What club but the whaleman’s can head off like that?

Herman Melville

Ahoy there!

If you missed our news or you didn’t notice the banner on the right, this week we have launched our Greenlight campaign. So, before starting this post, I would like to thank all the people who have already voted for us and encourage the rest of you to leave a big YES on our Greenlight Page: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=458343309 !

GreenlightHeader

Today we are going to get our hands dirty, because it’s time to speak about our combat system. In this first post we are going to speak about hunting (combats against creatures), while next week we will conclude the combat chapter dealing with pirates and indigenous war canoes.

Hunting is a key part of Nantucket, since whale blubber (and oil) will be your most valuable source of income. The game features 9 different sea creatures, each one with its own characteristics and abilities (according to its age), for a total of 38 unique skills to face during your hunts. I can guarantee you few of them will be an easy catch.

CombatWhaleboat

So, you set sail and you finally find a whaling area or migration route. Time to lower your whaleboats. Your ship can have up to 3 whaleboats (according to its size) and each whaleboat has 3 spots to fill with your crew:

  • Rudder: the spot used for defense rolls. Sailors are the best class to use in this spot.
  • Bow: the spot used for attack rolls. Hunters are the best class to use in this spot.
  • Oars: a backup spot that can be used for some passive skill.

Once you have assigned all the crew you think you may need for your next hunt, it’s time to fight. Nantucket’s combat system is turn based. Each turn there is an attack phase and a defense phase and each phase you will be able to assign commands to every whaleboat in the combat area. Some command are always available (Attack and Dodge, for example), while others require to have characters with a specific skill in order to be performed (for example, Fasten and Heal).

Offensive and defensive actions require a roll, using the combat dice of the character placed in the correspondent whaleboat’s spot. So, if you choose to attack a whale, the combat dice of the man in the bow’s spot will be roll: If it beats the whale defensive roll, it’s a hit. In its core, it’s like Risk (tied are win by defense), just with much more variables. There are 3 main elements affecting the results:

  • Skills: skills affect dices behavior and output. For example the “Thinking twice” skill allows you to rolls 2 attack dices, keeping the best result.
  • Conditions cards: represent the combat environmental condition and they can help one side, the other or none of them. For example “Rough waters” gives a -2 to all the whaleboats defensive rolls.
  • Dices evolution: by leveling up, dices’ sides evolve, increasing their values (up to 5 per side) and unlocking special sides like “Evasive maneuver” that, if rolled in defense, represents an automatic success, despite the attacker value and bonuses.

There are also special objects, but they work like Skills, and since they are part of the Quests discussion, I would like to speak about them later.

Finally, if the attacker beats the defender’s value, it deals damage.

The combat system is designed to be quick, and once you’ll get a good grip on the mechanics you are going to experience fast and deadly hunt for loot. You’ll discover soon that the biggest challenge of the combat is a good planning: choosing the right men and developing your captain. Then there is a bit of luck, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”

See you next time to repel a pirate boarding!

Mex

15
Jun
2015
News

Nantucket is on Steam Greenlight!

by picaresque

We promised exciting news and here you have it!

Nantucket on Greenlight

(click on the image to access Steam Greenlight and vote)

13
Jun
2015
DevBlog

O Captain! My Captain! [Part 2]

by Mex

He’s a grand, ungodly, god-like man, Captain Ahab; doesn’t speak much; but, when he does speak, then you may well listen.

Herman Melville

Ahoy there!

Here we are again, sailing forward with fair winds. This week has been particularly busy for all of us and in the next few days you are going to discover why. We are pretty excited, I hope you will be too.

Now, back to where we were last week. In my last post, I’ve introduced you to the character creation in Nantucket and the basic captain’s attributes. Today we are going to speak about all the elements related to the Captain evolving during the game.

CaptainSkills

The first one is quite easy: Prestige. Your prestige represents the respect achieved among sailors, but it’s not a mere trophies showcase. The amount of prestige you have works as a level cap for your crew so, higher is your prestige and stronger will be the crew you can hire. You can gain prestige by hunting whales or completing quests around the world, but you can also lose it by showing yourself weak in front of your men. Be careful, there is a thin edge between bravery and stupidity.

Among the tools at your disposal in this hunt for glory, Skills are probably the most powerful. Regarding the crew, I told you that each class – Sailors, Hunters, Scientists and Craftsmen – can take 3 specializations, each one characterized by 3 specific skills unlocked by leveling up.

The Captain has access to all the skill trees (36 skills), leaving you the freedom to shape him according to your preferences. It’s up to you to decide if you prefer a captain specialized in hunting whales or managing your ship or something in the middle. There are skills for everything: from unlocking new ship technologies to improving your Combat Dices, that are the last element we are going to speak about.

I’m not going to give you too much details about the combat, since it deserves at least a couple of posts itself, but I’ll tell you that you can shape the dices used during the combat by your Captain, according to the strategy you want to take. You will be able to create new sides and unlock special sides, determining if your captain is going to take the whaleboat’s bow or waiting for his men on his ship. Again, customization is the key.

That’s it for today. I’m not sure what my next post will be about, it could be about sailing, combat, ships, grog recipes, the best way to whip a sailor…I’ll think about it.

Keep your eyes on our website or social networks in the next days, I promise you won’t regret it!

Mex

 

6
Jun
2015
DevBlog

O Captain! My Captain! [Part 1]

by Mex

If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.

Thomas Aquinas

Ahoy there!

In my previous post I’ve introduced you to character classes, so the hands at your service. This time I would focus on the boots you are going to wear in Nantucket: the Captain.

Since there are quite a lot of things to say about this topic, I’m going to split it in separate posts. In this first part, I’m going to start from the very beginning of the game: the character creation.

Character Creation

Speaking about character classes, we introduced the four main attributes of the game: Hunting, Sailing, Crafting and Science. Each class (excluding the cabin boys) is characterized by the use of one attribute, developed by leveling up.

On the other hand, the captain can increase all four attributes and it’s up to you to decide if you are going to be a bulky captain screaming at your men from the whaleboat’s bow or a pondering one, wondering about the natural world. During the character creation you will have few points to spend in order to start this process.

The second element introduced in the character creation is Traits, and this is the only time you will be able to pick a trait at your choice. During the game, they are going to appear/disappear according to your actions. This screen will allow to pick a trait from a short list of “positive” traits, each one with a specific effect.

For example, the trait Strong will increase the damage of your character by 10%, and so on.

Captain’s traits are really important, not only for the immediate effect given, but also because they affect your relationship with your crew. Your men will respect you more if you share the same ideas and traits, while they will tend to dislike you if you have an opposite trait.

Here we are now, you just have to pick a name and you are ready to set sail. “Call me Ishmael…” is the opening line of Moby Dick, but maybe you prefer something different.

As you can see, character creation is quite simple and it involves just few choices. During the game you are going to develop your Skills and Combat Dices, as well as gaining Prestige, but it’s all part of the next chapter.

Stay tuned!

Mex

30
May
2015
DevBlog

Looking for strong hands and a drink

by Mex

Is there a priest in this tavern? I want to confess! I’m a fucking sinner! Venal, mortal, carnal, major, minor – however you want to call it, Lord… I’m guilty.

Hunter S. Thompson

Ahoy there!

Last time we had a brief tour around Nantucket, now it’s time to take a closer look to what the town has to offer. The inevitable first stop has to be at the tavern, where you will be able to hire some helpful hands during your adventures.

InGame_Tavern

Nantucket features five different character classes, each one specialized in a different seafaring area.

  • Sailors are valiant explorers who spend their lives at sea. No matter is a majestic vessel, a whaleboat or a simple board, they know how to keep it afloat, come rain or shine.
  • Hunters are men without fear, born to chase their preys. They can stand on a whaleboat’s bow sailing toward danger or face the wickedest pirate without hesitation.
  • Craftsmen are experts artisans, specialized in dealing with all the practical errands of a ship. Their hands are surely the dirtiest and most useful at sea.
  • Scientists are investigators of the natural world. Their curiosity and competence can unlock unknown knowledge about the sea and, above all, save lives on your ship.
  • Cabin boys are inexperienced young helpers. They are maybe the least specialized, but you can address their learning path and make them be the men you want them to be.

Each class (excluding cabin boys) has three different branches that define the character specialization. For example, hunters could have the Harpooner, Man-at-arms or Survivor branch, each one characterized by specific special ability to use during the game. We will speak about abilities in the next weeks, since it’s something that covers a lot of aspects of the game not yet discussed on these pages.

Apart from their working experience and specialization, each character has his own personality, defined by Traits. Character personalities aren’t something to ignore, since they will matter a lot at sea, affecting the relationship with your crew and social dynamics among them.

Finally, time to pay. Actually, not yet. Nantucket uses a waging system similar to the one historically used on whaling ships, based on a Lay system. Each hired character comes with a lay, so a share of the catch of your next travel. Higher is the character experience and higher will be his lay request, lowering yours. Don’t be greedy, you could regret it once facing the charge of a 60 foot whale.

Well, since we are here, time for a drink.

A whiskey for me, bartender!

Mex

16
May
2015
DevBlog

Sweet Home Nantucket

by Mex

Nantucket! Take out your map and look at it. See what a real corner of the world it occupies; how it stands there, away off shore, more lonely than the Eddystone lighthouse.

Herman Melville

Ahoy there!

As anticipated last week, starting with this post I’m going to present you the key features of Nantucket, and there is no better place than Nantucket itself to start this series of articles. Nantucket is not only one of the cities you can visit during your travels across the oceans, but it’s the place where the game starts, so the really first look at the game you will have.

You have survived the Pequod’s disaster and spent sleepless nights thinking about what happened that day, questioning the way fate and God operate, and in the end you’ve decided to stitch up that laceration from where it started. The Pequod is no more docked here, but her shadow is everywhere.

InGame_Harbor

A Newspaper Boy is waving the newest issue of The Sailor’s Post in a corner, just outside the Tavern, where sailors are waiting for a new job drinking away the boredom. Your pockets are full of gold, everything you have saved, but that gold is not going to be there for long time. You will need a ship to chase Moby Dick, and the Shipwright is just there, not far away from the Merchant, where you can find everything you need to set sail.

Welcome back home, Captain.

Next week we are gonna enter the tavern, and I’ll present you crew members and their attributes. Stay tuned!