Summer Holiday 2016

by picaresque

Ahoy mates!

Here at Picaresque Studio we keep working hard for the final goal. However, we feel that we need a little rest to recover our strength for the last push. For this reason, we leave you with a new illustration of our Ishmael doodling with wood, carving out whales while something is watching…


Have a nice summer time and see you in September rested and ready for some juicy (or groggy) news!

The Picaresque Studio Team




UI Combat: Let’s fight!

by Capt_Eatbones

Drink, ye harpooneers! drink and swear, ye men that man the deathful whaleboat’s bow…

This will be the last article about the combat and before we start, I’d like to point out a couple of aspects of Nantucket. As you probably know, one main aspect of the game style is that is made of paper. It’s an experience played onto the Captain’s table, in his cabin and sometime is played in a harbor. Even so, the harbor is an illustration drawn on paper too.
When we thought of a combat style for this game, it came natural to us moving towards something mostly related with a table and a bunch of pieces of paper: a card game.
This combat is not a Trading Card Game. We’ve chosen a card style due to the context of this game: ship, crew, sailing. And, of course, we like playing card games too. Nantucket, per se, is not a card game, but includes a little card game played during the combat. Now, let’s move on with the article main subject.

Today, we are going to have a look at the actual combat phase UI. I want to share with you a first mock-up (this is a frame of an animated one):

CombatAnimMockupCombat 3.0 – Animated Mock-up (Still)

In the picture above you can see a still of the animated mock-up we prepared before starting the implementation. We needed this to define the timings of the overall combat experience. If you have red the previous articles (if you don’t, you can catch up here and here) you already know how the combat has evolved and how the previous Deployment phase works. Once you start the real fight, you have to roll the combat dices of the crew members you have in your whaleboats and decide which command is the best to win against your opponent.

CommandChoiceCombat 3.0 – Dice roll and Command choice

 As you can see, these images are from an early mock-up and the dices faces are not final. The main concept, though, is there: according to the crew members you’ve placed onto the whaleboats you’ll have several dices combinations. Each dice face, when rolled, will unveil a specific command. Once the the dices have been rolled the player can chose which command he/she prefers. When the command needs a target, ad arrow will appear to point the target the player wants.

Let’s have a look at the design of the crew card:

CARDSCombat 3.0 – Crew cards

Above you can have a look at the final version of the cards. I’ll show you each element from the top to the bottom:

  1. Combat states icons: Bleeding, Stunned, Poisoned, Blind and Surrender. These icons will appear according to the combat development. Except for the Surrender state, all the others are inflicted be the opponent. This label will appear and disappear according to the presence of states.
  2. Crew member information: Health, Name, Class and Level. In this case, I chose to use the heart icon to be sure everyone understands the meaning of it. Previously, we used a red/rope health bar but still it was not clear enough.
  3. Crew member picture: this is the same used in the whole game, whenever we access to the information of this man.
  4. Combat dice.
  5. Combat dice switcher.

The hearth of this card is the combat dice. In the above image, you’re looking at the Captain’s card which is special. Since the Captain has all 4 working skills (Hunting, Sailing, Science and Crafting) he will have 4 different combat dices: one per working skill. According to the evolution of the working skill the related combat dice will evolve too. The working skill faces are 3, no more. The remaining 3 faces are used in this way: 2 for specific skills in use and 1 for specific objects in use. This special dice faces will enable special combat commands.

During combat you can use the Dice Switcher to decide which working skill of your avatar you prefer to use. Simple crew members will only have 2 Dice Switchers: the one related to the working skill they are specialized on and a generic one (related to the Cabin Boy half-class).
Before the roll of the dices the player can chose which combat dice to use for the roll. This way, you can chose the best strategy combination to use each turn. Of course, its crucial that you placed the right men during the Deployment phase.

creatureCardsCombat 3.0 – Creature Cards

The Creatures card is a little simpler than the Crew one. First of all, there are 2 different cards: Standard and Special. Above, on the left, you can see the Standard card style while, on the right, you have the Special card style. As you can see, Moby Dick will be a Special card because its class is Legendary (and because it’s Moby Dick, I’d say!). From the left to the right, these are the elements of the Creature card:

  1. Creature type label: here you have the name of the species and the color of the card. The color is important because it lets you know which color will be its attack cards.
  2. Action/Instant card slot: here the creature can play two different type of cards. The effect of these cards is used for the creature itself.
  3. Creature picture: below the Action/Instant slot.
  4. Creature information: Health, special creature’s Name (or the species name instead), Category, Special ability (or the species shape instead) .
  5. Combat states icons: here will appear the same icons used for the Crew card, except for the Surrender.

CombatView_v3MockupCombat 3.0 – Mock-up

Remember that not always defeat the enemy all the enemies will be asked. The Victory conditions card, in the top left, tells the player the requirements to the success. Moreover, in the top right, there is the Random Combat Condition card that will be drawn each turn and will define the combat conditions each time (bonus, malus, etc.).

And what about the Crew VS Crew combat? Here you have it!

CombatCrewView_v3Combat 3.0 – Crew VS Crew mock-up

Here the combat will work the same, the only difference is the there will be less crew member on your side. Moreover, you will be able to see the combat dices of your opponents. The only real difference is in the opponent card: the colored label is placed at the bottom of the card. This way you have a reference to who is attacking who.

Well, I don’t want to spoil too much of this since we will have specific videos about the combat in our “Devs Play” series (watch it here).

Hope you’ve enjoyed like I did in sharing this with you.

Keep tuned and Godspeed, as always, from your Capt_Eatbones!


Follow your winds

by Mex

Voiceless it cries,
Wingless flutters,
Toothless bites,
Mouthless mutters.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Ahoy there!

I hope to find you all well. Here I am with a new feature presentation for our upcoming title Nantucket. Today I’m going to write about something we are currently working: winds.

Nantucket is set in the XIX century, so during the Golden Age of the Age of Sail, where the efficiency of sailing vessels was at its peak and immediately before steamboats started to take their place at sea, forever changing the way of sailing. In fact, steam powered ships were the first ones to make the obvious possible: if I have to go from point A to B, I just have to take a straight course to my destination. This was not the case during the Age of Sail, where you had to take into account winds and their patterns, since most of them blow predominantly from a single general direction.

So, the first things we did was to implement a map of the global winds that you can access by using the winds filter of the Captain’s log. By taking a look at it, you will be able to notice 3 types of areas:

  • Areas with wind patterns: in which you will find some wind for sure, probably blowing in the direction shown or really close to it.
  • Areas with strong wind patterns: similar to the area above, but with strong winds. It’s characteristics of the oceans area under a latitudes of 40 degree.
  • Areas with no patterns: areas of sea in which the wind could blow in any direction and strength.

Winds on Map

How can you understand what’s the wind situation in your current position? Just take a look at your compass rose, it will tell you three things:

  • Wind direction: the direction in which the wind is currently blowing
  • Wind strength: we are currently using 3 different strengths (none, normal, strong).
  • Your sailing direction: so, if you are sailing windward or leeward (against the wind).

The most important element is for sure the wind direction in comparison with the one of your ship. Sailing leeward it’s a really difficult and inefficient way of sailing since it requires a lot of maneuvers to keep moving. It translates in the game in going slower (according to wind strength also really REALLY slow). Going slow means burning resources and money and, if that it’s not enough, I’m sure you will reconsider it the first time a pirate ship will be biting your ship’s stern.

If inside the areas with wind patterns is pretty easy to schedule your course, outside of them you have to keep an eye to your compass rose to avoid unpleasant surprises. The wind there is much more unstable and you could end up struggling for days.

In the next episode of our DevsPlay series coming next week (if you have missed the first four episodes, you can watch them here), we are going to show some gameplay related to the navigation so, if you want to take a look to everything we discussed here on “paper”, keep an eye to our Youtube channel.

That’s it for today. See you soon guys!



UI Iteration #1: Tavern

by Capt_Eatbones

Ahoy, fellow mates!

It’s been a while since our last meeting, the articles about the interface design process of our upcoming game Nantucket. If you missed them, here you have the links:

Well, I’m here again because of what I said in those articles: iterations. Oh yes. Right after the Milan Games Week 2015 (here’s the full coverage) we analyzed the received feedback and a relevant part was related to the UI not being clear enough.
We decided to rework the UI with the goal of make it more readable. The mistake I run into is trying to have an appealing UI, well integrated with the “Paper” theme. Too much integration leads to less readability of the UI elements, being too “camouflaged”.
An example of this are the generic buttons: too many different styles so the user cannot really say when an UI element is a button or not. Following this principle, I started re-designing basic elements such as button, check boxes, etc. up to whole UI panels.

Today’s article is about the first big change: the Tavern UI, used to hire/fire crew members. If you don’t know what’s this UI is about, please, read the previous article Looking for strong hands and a drink.
I’ll start by analyzing the UI that we had, highlighting those aspects responsible of the not-so-good User Experience.


I thought the Tavern panel as a page of a hired crew book, where the captain takes note of the details regarding his/her crew members. At the same time we needed a list of the available crew for hire in the Tavern. The old UI you see above, presents the list of members “For Hire” and “Hired” one on top of the other. The interior layout of each list is the same: on the left, the list of members and, on the right, the details of the current selected character. Being one on top of the other was thought to let the player compare visually the details. The main issues of this layout were the following:

  • Lot of information is displayed in little space.
  • Most of the information is in text form.
  • The right tabs filters are almost invisible to the user.
  • Drag&Drop assignment not clear.
  • Prestige points used too “camouflaged”.

As I stated in previous articles, design ideas don’t come from just one person. Actually, Daniele, our programmer, was who suggested a mock-up with a possible solution for the Tavern layout:


As you can see, we started with a rough concept. Nonetheless it contains all the corrections, at least functionally, we needed:

  • Separated captain panel, on the left, as in the navigation phase. This way, the captain’s panel is always placed in the same screen area, no matter what phase you’re playing.
  • Split into two different panels the lists “For Hire” and “Hired”. The layout remains the same, more or less, but they are visually separated.
  • Added two buttons for Hire/Fire in the middle between the “For Hire” and “Hired” panels.
  • Bigger filters tabs.
  • A popup to be used as help tip for the player.

Even if the main changes are present in the above mock-up, there were still aspects not solved, as the Prestige point/cost. So, after this first suggestion, I worked on a bit more defined mock-up:


As you can see, a step forward has been taken in this second mock-up:

  • Added into the details area the illustration of the selected character. This is something that several people told us would have been better to have in order to visualize the person and not having just a name. It should add a bit of depth.
  • Each of the two panels “For Hire” and “Hired” has its own action button, “HIRE” and “FIRE”, point toward the direction of the change of places. This way we introduced an alternative to the drag&drop assignment/fire. Regarding the drag&drop, we also introduced a changing cursors while on a dragable element of the interface. This decision has been applied everywhere in the game, not just here.
  • Added a Prestige icon for each character label representing the Prestige cost of the person. At the same time, below the “Hired” panel, I added a Prestige Used progress bar, to better visualize the concept. Indeed, the Prestige Used icon and the Prestige Cost icon are quite similar.
  • Moved the Cancel and OK buttons to the bottom right. Most of the people who tried the game where always looking in that area the buttons to close/cancel the action.
  • The filter tabs are not bigger and colorful!

After this second step, I worked on the final version, the one that we now have implemented into the game currently. Here you have it:


As you can see, some more changes occurred. I moved the tabs on top of the “For Hire” panel because placing them too far on the right made them still a bit “invisible”. Moreover, I placed a darker paper sheet on top of which the two “For Hire” and “Hire” panels are laid. This way I can keep the UI a whole panel. Also, you can see the new style for the buttons: since the paper usually has a lighter color, I decided to go for a darker one for the buttons, to make them stand out more.
The last change is about the captain’s panel: the health bar is now a more “common” red bar with the health value on top. I also added a XP bar, at the bottom of the captain’s picture, with the value showing the current amount against the one needed to level up.

We showed this new version to several people and everyone, even those who saw this UI for the first time, stated that it’s quite good. It’s not perfect but, surely, a big step forward.
We are up and running! We want the best experience for the players and for this reason we chose to keep tuning whenever and wherever possible.

Well, for today I’m done. Don’t worry, though: more UI iterations are coming! So, stay tuned and follow our Devs play video series!


The art of Nantucket: which way to go

by Capt_Eatbones

Hello everyone,

this is the first post about the art of Nantucket and, of course, there will be more. Today I want to share with you some information about how we started thinking the artistic style of this game. I know…you haven’t seen anything properly yet but, don’t worry and be patient a little more ;D

First of all, this is our first attempt as indie developers. This has always a big impact when it comes to make decisions regarding what will affect the whole project. That happened especially when we started searching for references of what we’d like our game to be, visually.

Now, we’re Italians and, usually, means that some masterpiece from the past always comes to our minds (oh, my god xD) Here you have some of the references we’ve been chasing:

We wanted to be faithful about the age we’re telling our story. We also wanted to pay a tribute to the Picaresque art styles. And lastly – yes, here we comes – we wanted to pay a tribute to Italian illustrators. We love one in particular. He’s one of the great illustrators we had, who recently passed away: Sergio Toppi. We loved from the first moment his art, the stories, the energy, the contrasts of his techniques. We found in his works what we were looking for: something modern, yet with an old flavor. Here you find some of his works we’ve been so inspired by:

As you can see there’s lot of traditional arts that we considered. This is because we feel a strong bond with them. You got a taste with the Nantucket announcement image. Here you have a couple more images of the art of the game:





Now, in the next posts about the Art of Nantucket, will be focusing more on specific elements of the world we’re going to introduce. So, keep in touch and don’t miss the next “chapter”!

See you soon!