Gravastar Dev Update: It's About Time

We're back with a super big update! A lot of work has been done to the build, and a bunch of awesome stuff has happened since our last big update. Let's get into it!

Gameplay!

It's been a tough few months. We have been working our butts off on this thing, and all that hard work has paid off. We have a pretty solid playable demo of our Battle Engine now, and a great base to build on! We are going to make some more changes and get this thing ready to make available as a public download in the next month or so!

Plans for the next phase of the battle engine:

- New enemy types (flying, armored, magic, etc)
- Skill-based blocking
- Skill-based Chroma input buffs
- AP spent to perform Special Moves
- Positive feedback
- Battle speed refinements
- Nova attacks (think Final Fantasy limit breaks)
- Items


We Won a Thing!

And all on 2 hours of sleep! :D

We were super excited and pleasantly surprised to win the People's Choice Award at iFest 2016! It was our first public demo ever and we didn't really know what to expect. We just wanted people to play it and give us their feedback. Overall, it was an incredibly positive experience, with tons of great playtest feedback from everyone who gave it a try. Huge thanks to everyone who voted for us at iFest, and also to the nice people who put iFest on every year. It is a great way for indie developers to get their game into the hands of the players.  

Live, from Meydenbauer Center!

Live, from Meydenbauer Center!

We also had the awesome opportunity to get into Power of Play 2016 at Meydenbauer Center and get some more player feedback. We took the great feedback from iFest, and made several fixes and changes before Power of Play, and it made a huge difference in how quick the players at PoP picked up our battle mechanics. Thanks to all the good people at PoP for helping us get in last minute. We had a great time!

Shout-outs to the homies that were also in attendance:

Cerebrawl from Zero Dimension

Gurgamoth from Galvanic Games

Starr Mazer DSP from Imagos Softworks

Potions: A Curious Tale from Stumbling Cat

Trundl Buddy from Spite House

And so many other amazing games! The Seattle Indie scene is incredibly vibrant and full of super-cool people. If you aren't out here, you should be.


Message from the Dev

I don't really have much to say that hasn't already been said, but I'll add some 'Tips for harmonious working in Unity'.

  1. Use GameObjects to set values. Rather than setting all your values in the code, expose those values to the Unity Editor so that you can rapidly prototype. When setting up the values for our MP usage and the damage of our attacks, it's much easier to just make a change in the editor and have the value change instantly than it was to stop the game, change a value in code, and start it up again.
     
  2. Repeatable art assets should be the same size. e.g. The chroma icons in our chroma menu. If the art assets are the same size, the code doesn't have to do as much custom configuration to make the art assets work correctly. This allows the code to be more flexible when setting up UI elements.
     
  3. Dealing with Coroutines. Timing is everything in a game. Sometimes code needs to adjust for timing. One problem you can face when starting up a new Coroutine is that there's a slight delay between 'starting' a Coroutine and the Coroutine actually being processed. So calling a Coroutine that starts a Couroutine that starts... well, you get the picture. Each new start will add a small delay, so the more you have, the more you'll be likely to encounter timing issues down the line.

The Overworld

OOOOOH.... AAAAAAAAH.....

We have a bunch of amazing Overworld assets from our partners-in-crime, Golden Skull Studios, and we are ready to start building our Overworld. We hope to have a demo area ready to run around in by September 2016! Stay tuned for more updates on our Overworld development.


BATTLE!

We've got a public demo in the works. so it made total sense to release a badass extended version of our hype Battle Theme composed by Chris Hurn! Battle is love. Battle is life.


That is about it for this update. Stay tuned for more cool stuff, including new Battle Engine features and Overworld progress! Follow us on social media to get updates as they happen!

Join our Party.

Quick Update!

Hello! We've been hard at work on the Gravastar Battle Engine, and just wanted to post a little update! A more robust update with new video and all sorts of goodies will be posted soon!

We're going to be having our first public demo ever at iFest 2016! We want all your feedback, and hope to see you there!


A new update is in the works with new gameplay video, mechanics updates, and some new music by composer Chris Hurn!

Stay tuned!

Gravastar Dev Update: The Long Quiet

Hey everyone! It's been a little while, but we're alive, we've been busy, and we've got a bunch of awesome news and really cool stuff to show you! First off, a little eye candy to get you in the mood for Gravastar:

The President was kidnapped by these monsters. Are you a bad enough Spectre to rescue him?

Here are just a few of the new monsters on Aethera, and they are already looking for a fight.

Next up, we would like to introduce...

The Gravastar Team!

We're happy to announce that we have several new additions to our international team, and boy did we need the help. We are a group of passionate, dedicated, and talented JRPG nerds, working hard to bring a new and unique gameplay experience into your eyes and brains and hearts.


CREATIVE DIRECTION

Professor X | Creative Director

Twitter: @StudioAtma

He created Gravastar almost 2 years ago, and spent a good chunk of that time writing, game designing, and concepting. He is also the Lead Artist and Character Animator.


ENGINEERING

Tony Yang | Lead Software Developer

Twitter: @StudioAtmaDev

Seattle-based but Texas-bred, Tony's come on to take point on the development side of things.

 

TK Lee | Software Development Engineer

Straight outta Korea, TK did his time at DigiPen Institute of Technology and is now doing some great work making Gravastar the game to play.


ART & DESIGN

Willie Phung | 2D Animator

Website: Phung Animation

With years of experience as an animator in the game industry, Willie well be lending his talents to the character animation in Gravastar.

 

Golden Skull Studios | Tile Artistry

Website: Golden Skull Studios

From Germany, Golden Skull Studios has come on-board to create custom, beautiful, hand-painted tilesets for the Overworld of Gravastar.

 

Anthony Thomas | 3D Artist

Website: Treehouse CG

Anthony, a film and game industry 3D modeler and look development artist, is the Gravastar weapons-master, forging our characters' weapons in the 3-dimensional fires of Modo. 

 

Mark Barrett | 2D Artist & Animator

A game industry veteran, Mark brings years of experience and a buttload of talent in Concept Art, Character Animation, and Art Direction to Gravastar.


SOUND & MUSIC

Chris Hurn | Composer

Soundcloud: Chris Hurn Composer

Hailing from Auckland, NZ, Chris is hard at work composing the beautiful score for Gravastar, making sure to hit all of your nostalgia buttons, but with a unique and modern take. 

 

Zeke Fenelon | Sound Designer

Twitter: @outsetini

Making sure that the whooshes whoosh and the plinks plonk, Zeke's giving the game the solid sound it needs to feel just right on the ears.


Message from the Devs

Follow Cam

*** These are works in progress, and not representative of final build. ***
With this new view of the combat, each hit you dish and take just got a lot more personal!

With this new view of the combat, each hit you dish and take just got a lot more personal!

When your characters and the enemies attack, the camera follows the action. We'll be adding more bells, whistles, and character weapons,  but this is a sneak peek of the beginning of something wonderful.

Act List Swooshing

Just look at that slick rearrangement!

Just look at that slick rearrangement!

Now when you make a move that will change the order in which combatants attack, you'll be treated to a nice little swoosh!

These are just a couple of the things that we've worked on since the last update, and we're looking forward to bringing even more of this game to life. We might even have some Chroma stuff available in the near future... ;)


UI Design

Dammit, Marlene.

Acquire the XABY code in the Factory Ruins.

Acquire the XABY code in the Factory Ruins.

We've started layout and design of our in-game UI. As you know, you spend a lot of time in the User Interface in JRPGs. Items, Statuses, Inventories, Options... so many fun things to micromanage!  We are doing our best to make the UI/UX design in Gravastar clear, concise, and fun to navigate. Only 11 more submenus to go! :) 

We've also been implementing and refining the Battle UI for the Chroma system, which you can learn more about in the next update!


Production Art!

Here's some of the new production art we have been creating behind the scenes.

I don't know about you guys, but I feel completely naked without my scarf.

Model sheets are indispensable for animation reference, and each character will get one made. Model sheets are especially helpful in keeping your character features and proportions on-model when working with multiple animators. 

We've also been working on our Overworld sprites, and building our NPC templates. Soon, they will enter the world of ToonBoom, and NPC animation will begin.

I'll just, uh... stand right here, I guess.

Round and round and round.


That about wraps it up for this long-overdue update! Stay tuned for the next update, where you can find out more details about the Chroma magic system,  the Overworld of Gravastar, new animation, and new music by Composer Chris Hurn!

 

Now, witness the power of this fully operational battle station.

As always be sure to follow us on your favorite social media sites to get updates as they happen, and sign up for The Aetheran Alliance Newsletter up on the right.

Thanks for all of your continued support!

Until next time, JRPG fans. 

<3, Studio Atma

Gravastar Dev Progress Update : Here There Be Monsters

Helloooooo!

We are a little late with this update due to vacations and celebrating 'Murica and Freedom with illegal fireworks and BBQ'd meats. We made some awesome progess over the month of June, so strap in! Here we go! 

The Humble Slime

BLARRGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

No JRPG would be complete without the classic slime enemy-type. Slimes, goo's, and flans are all usually monsters you meet early on, to help you get a feel for the battle mechanics without completely destroying your party. Naturally, Gravastar is following in the traditions of those who have lead the way. 

The Gobbly-Goo-a-gobbles-a-you, and the Ectoplasm is oozing with powerful Chroma magic. Both will require different tactics to defeat, so choose your Actions wisely!


Meet the Composer for Gravastar: Chris Hurn

This month we have a special interview with Gravastar composer Chris Hurn! Chris was kind enough to answer a few questions about how he got into composing and give some insight into his process and greatest influences.
 

Chris hurn, Sonic Mage (3.5e Prestige Class)

Tell everyone a little about yourself.

I am from a little place called Auckland, New Zealand! I recently graduated with a degree in Music Composition from The University of Auckland, and have been writing and playing music all my life. When I'm not writing I like watching films, stand up comedy, drinking way too much coffee and thinking about writing music...I also play in a synth-pop band on the side called Lightning On Me.
 

How did you get into composing?

When I was five years old I went and saw the Lion King. I loved the movie, but I liked the music even more. I was totally captivated and I will never forget that day - I was so moved by Hans Zimmer's score. I went home, grabbed my crappy plastic recorder and worked out all the main themes from memory. I knew straight away that I wanted to become a composer. 


How many instruments do you play?

I play the piano and guitar mainly, but I dabble in other instruments (drums/percussion, sax, harmonica, household appliances, etc.). 
I also like to sing!
 

Do you live with an epic orchestra? Because it sounds like you do.

Yes. And they are all my slaves!! 

I wish! For now I'm using virtual instruments, and whilst the quality is definitely getting pretty good in terms of what's available to buy, nothing beats the experience of a real orchestra playing your work.
 

Who do you look up to?

I'm very inspired by my favorite media composers (Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Nobuo Uematsu), but also people who just go out there, don't take themselves too seriously and just get on with it. I like people who follow their passions and take risks. Someone I look up to outside of music is Henry Rollins. He has a very intense energy, and I really like his spoken word shows. It resonates with me. 
 

Who are your top 5 favorite game composers?

1. Nobuo Uematsu
2. Hitoshi Sakimoto
3  Jeremy Soule
4  Jesper Kyd
5. Koji Kondo


What are your top 5 favorite game scores?

1. Final Fantasy VII
2. The Legend of Zelda - A Link to the Past
3. Metal Gear Solid II
4  Pokemon Red/Blue
5. Crash Bandicoot

So hard to choose five scores, but I've picked five that have elements to them I like to try and emulate when I come up with music. For example, the themes of Final Fantasy VII are just so fantastic, but also the variation that Uematsu is able to bring, the instrumentation, the mood, it's just a fantastic piece of work. And Pokemon - the limitations on the Gameboy were intense but here you have these extremely memorable tunes that you can totally hear orchestrated when you play along, I really dig that soundtrack.
 

What's coming up next for Gravastar?

I'm working on the Overworld theme and Battle Victory Fanfare music next. I've had a lot of ideas already about the Overworld music but I'm patiently waiting to see some more imagery and sprites so I can really get a good feel for it. Can't wait -  it's a really great project to be apart of, and I was honored to be approached to be on the team.

Thanks Chris!

You can check out all of the other cool projects that Chris has worked on here:

Personal Website: http://chrishurn.com/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/chrishurncomposer
Lightning On Me: http://lightningonme.com/


Message from the Dev

Hello, again, dear readers! It's been a little bit of a slow month, but we got some stuff ready for your viewership!

Some news from the code-front. We've got animations for Baird ported into the battle system and synced, so now you get the awesome real-time feedback of seeing Baird slice up some enemies! AWESOME!

Also, we've got the menus all prettied up for you, so now you can see what you're selecting as we've envisioned it.

What's coming up?

We're going to be implementing more of the super cool and secret (SEEEECRETS) battle system. Once we get that up and running, we're hoping you'll have to pick up your jaws from the ground.

Also, we've opened up a Twitter account to try to give background from the code side. We'll try to keep it updated with interesting things that we find along the way!

UI, Act lists, and animated sprites!


Animation Integration Progress

TexturePackin' 'n Sprite Sheetin'

Over the last month, we got our test animations into Unity, built our blend trees in Mecanim, and hooked the test moves up to some basic controller input. We are still animating and implementing our test animations as they are completed, fine-tuning and refining before we go into final ink and paint.

Because the main character animation is all hand-drawn, it is easily one of the most time-consuming tasks to tackle in production. Each character has 12 unique moves, as well as all of their other animations like idles, getting hit, casting Chroma, etc. Luckily, we have amazing tools like Toonboom Animate Pro and TexturePacker to help us streamline the cleanup and iteration process.


That about wraps it up for the June Progress Dev Update! Over this next month, we will be fine-tuning our battle flow and implementing more test animations! 

Come with us if you want to live.

As always be sure to follow us on your favorite social media sites to get updates as they happen, and sign up for The Aetheran Alliance Newsletter up on the right.

Thanks for all of your continued support!

Until next time, JRPG fans.