Epistory: It all starts with (good) intentions

April 3rd, 2015 by Sophie Schiaratura

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The beginning

When you start creating a game. When you think you have a great idea to turn into a great game. When that idea has just been tested and when your team thinks it may become that great game you have in mind. There is something you have to do without waiting. You may have already done it during the early design process but the original vision has changed now that you made different rough gameplay tests and added new members to the team. That thing – the title already spoiled it – is defining your intentions.

Whether you call them guidelines, pillars, objectives or mantra, it is the long term vision, the global idea of what you want to do with your project. You should keep it to the essential, as it will serve as a reference to drive the whole production.

Epistory is a keyboard driven game. So that is obviously one of our intentions. But there is another one we have, not so obvious, and which came from its genre. Define the genre was needed to better define the game and communicate about it, and that is exactly why it was a problem.

The Typing Game Problem

Our core feature is the full keyboard control. So I already hear you say that we could just call it a typing game and move on. The problem is that, when I think of a typing game, I have two things in mind – and it’s not just me, a quick google search will give you the same results. First, it is most likely a mini-game or an edu-game. In other words, something I do not plan to play for a long time, or to have fun with. Secondly, I will only type words. No deeper gameplay, no choices. And eventually my computer will remind me that I am not a very good typer!

Do not get me wrong, those games are not all bad – some are even really fun for a while. But they are absolutely not comparable to Epistory: the term typing game gives the wrong idea. In fact, it is probably harder to explain what we try to do with Epistory using this comparison than starting from scratch – but now that we are here, I will try anyway.

How it works - Move screenshot

Playing a game means making choices

What we absolutely want in Epistory is to make it really feel like a game and not just a typing application. For that, we believe that it requires a non-linear experience and meaningful choices. And when I say meaningful choices, I am not talking about a big decision which follows you for the rest of the game – well, not only that – but constant small choices. A few examples in games would be taking the short risky path or the long safer one, exploring the east or the west of the magic forest first, upgrading one skill instead of another… Even positioning your car in the fastest racing game implies constant quick choices. You made them depending on the track, your opponents’ position, your current speed, the ideal trajectory, and so on.

To make those choices meaningful, I try to remember that as a Past – Present – Future rule. The player needs to understand that he has a choice (Present). He has to know what it means from past experiences (Past, in this game but not only). And he has to expect something in the future from his action (Future). If it is not a meaningful choice, the player is not an actor but just obeys the game as there is no other possibility of action.

We made that one of our intentions – even if it is important in every game – to make sure it was applied to Epistory’s design. I am not going to describe Epistory’s gameplay deeper on this article – there are more to come, but we will not fall into the trap of your ordinary typing game.

Main character concept

A keyboard controlled adventure

So Epistory is an exploration / adventure game, and we like to call it like that. It gives the player the opportunity to explore an imaginary world, use magical powers to interact and fight enemies, and upgrade them as he wants.

You should see the typing aspect as an opportunity, not a constraint. Because that is what we did: using a keyboard as the unique game controller to create new gameplay experiences. Not only to type words, and not only to earn points. We like to say that you will type the story – but that is for another article.

Thanks for reading. Don’t hesitate to support us on social networks.

Website coming soon

Weekly update #68

March 25th, 2015 by Sophie Schiaratura

Weekly Update #68 – The game’s shop

Read it on the forum

Hello everybody!

This week I’ll simply do a summary regarding the game’s shop.

pictureShop_455

As you can see on the picture above:

(1) Spotlight: More and more objects are available in shop according to your current level. This category shows the latest items unlocked.
(2) Resources: In this tab you’ll find coins and golden eggs.
(3) Genetics: You can buy here genes pack to use with the Splicing Machine.
(4) Toys: Self-explanatory. Toys mainly relieves Norns’ boredom.
(5) Decoration: A lot of items are present here, which are purely for decoration. Though actually there may be some exceptions.
(6) Ecosystem: You can buy here plant pots (to grow fruit plants) and critters. Naturally occurring flowers, grass patches and insects can’t be bought as they depend of the world.
(7) Others: You can buy here coin machines and nests for your Norns to sleep.
(8) Hide / shows a small description of the concerned item.
(9) Upon buying an object, the game let you place it. However, you can stock objects you don’t want to place immediately. That’s why you can see a “Use” button here: I already have one of these objects in stock.

That’s all for today! Have a nice week

Some previous updates:

Weekly Update #67 – The Splicing Machine Video 

Weekly Update #66 – The Hatchery Machine interface

Weekly Update #65 – Explanation / recap of some game features

Weekly Update #64 – Why is debugging mandatory?

Weekly Update #63: Tweaking and answering questions about the video

Weekly Update #62: Gameplay video (mobile version)

Weekly Update #61: The Twitch Session Official Date

Weekly Update #67

March 10th, 2015 by Sophie Schiaratura

Weekly Update #67 – The Splicing Machine Video

Read it on the forum

Hello everybody,

Sorry about the absence of weekly updates! Here’s one with a short video displaying the Splicing Machine:

As you can see in the video:

  • Each Norn has 8 cosmetic genes, each one impacting the appearance of the Norn. Changing the 1st one will have an impact on the belly, the 2nd one on the pattern the Norn has and so on.
  • There are 12 possible genes
  • There are 4 body types, each gene corresponds to one of them. The body of the Norn is an “average” created from these genes. See for example how the body shape changed when I replaced Bananou’s genes with Feral genes.
  • Two Norns with the same genes will look the same in the Splicing Machine as the preview shows you how the Norn should look with these genes. That’s why Bananou and Brugno seem similar.
  • However, once spliced they can have small differences even with the same genes. If you look carefully, in-game Bananou has 2 white spots on the hips, while Brugno has a white mark on the right arm.
  • The pattern on Norn fur is defined by genes #2 and #3, but the color for these patterns are defined by genes #5 and #6.
  • Time required for splicing depends on the number of genes modified (and the type of these genes).

That’s all! Have a nice week

 

Some previous updates: 

Weekly Update #66 – The Hatchery Machine interface

Weekly Update #65 – Explanation / recap of some game features

Weekly Update #64 – Why is debugging mandatory?

Weekly Update #63: Tweaking and answering questions about the video

Weekly Update #62: Gameplay video (mobile version)

Weekly Update #61: The Twitch Session Official Date

Weekly Update #60: The Science Kit in Colour

Weekly Update #66

February 23rd, 2015 by Sophie Schiaratura

Weekly Update #66 – The Hatchery Machine interface

Read it on the forum

Hello everybody,

This week I’ll present you a small summary regarding the Hatchery Machine interface:

Creatures_Online_Hatchery_interface_455

When opening the Hatchery machine, you’ll see 2 different sections:
- The “My Eggs” section, which contains your eggs
- The “Eggs Store” section, which allows you to obtain new eggs

From the “My Eggs” section, you can see your eggs and hatch them if you want to (1). You can also see the 8 appearance genes of this egg by clicking on (2), allowing you to have an idea of how the Norn may look without hatching it. If your game is linked to a Facebook account, you can also send this egg to a friend (3).

You have a limited number of egg slots, but you can buy some more using coins or Golden eggs (4).

Click on (5) on the “Eggs Store” section to see which appearance genes each egg can contain (6). Eggs can be bought with energy, which refills automatically with time.

That’s all! Have a nice week!

 

 

Some previous updates: 

Weekly Update #65 – Explanation / recap of some game features

Weekly Update #64 – Why is debugging mandatory?

Weekly Update #63: Tweaking and answering questions about the video

Weekly Update #62: Gameplay video (mobile version)

Weekly Update #61: The Twitch Session Official Date

Weekly Update #60: The Science Kit in Colour

Weekly Update #59: Twitch news and debugging

Weekly Update #65

February 16th, 2015 by Sophie Schiaratura

Weekly Update #65 – Explanation / recap of some game features

Read it on the forum

Hello everybody,

Unfortunately it becomes harder and hard to find something to say in the weekly update without saying “debugging” and “fixes”. So, from now on, it will mostly consist in some explanation / recap of some game features.

So, let’s start with an overview of the world monitor:

 

worldMonitor_2_455

 

1/ Tap on a world to select it. When selected, the small description as well as the Norns displayed in [2] will be updated. Tap again to go to this world (you can also use the “Go to region” button). Worlds are unlocked through progression.

2/ All the Norns present in the selected world. The maximum number of Norns depends of the world.

3/ The magnifying glass button opens the menu [4]. You can also see an icon representing the current need of the Norn. If the Norn has no important need, nothing is displayed. In case of high hunger or high pain, the icon is displayed in red and a “!” is displayed on the world’s picture.

4/ “Go to Norn” will lead you to the world the Norn is in, “Teleport Norn” will teleport it in the current world.

That’s all! Have a nice week!

 

Some previous updates: 

Weekly Update #64 – Why is debugging mandatory?

Weekly Update #63: Tweaking and answering questions about the video

Weekly Update #62: Gameplay video (mobile version)

Weekly Update #61: The Twitch Session Official Date

Weekly Update #60: The Science Kit in Colour

Weekly Update #59: Twitch news and debugging

Weekly Update #58: The Mini-Norn bug

Weekly Update #64

February 2nd, 2015 by Sophie Schiaratura

Weekly Update #64 – Why is debugging mandatory?

Read it on the forum

Hello everybody,

Concerning the main advancements of last week:
- We fixed a bug with the “rubber band” (the line you can draw from a Norn to an object on mobile device to give orders more easily) which was not displayed
- We also fixed some compilation errors (Unicode related)

…and that’s all. Sorry to have only some debugging information to share with you once again, but debugging is mandatory (unless you would like to have this kind of Norns).

Have a nice week!

underwater455

Most plants can’t be grown underwater, but some of them can.

 

Some previous updates: 

Weekly Update #63: Tweaking and answering questions about the video

Weekly Update #62: Gameplay video (mobile version)

Weekly Update #61: The Twitch Session Official Date

Weekly Update #60: The Science Kit in Colour

Weekly Update #59: Twitch news and debugging

Weekly Update #58: The Mini-Norn bug

Weekly Update #57: Special abilities and XP

Weekly update #63

January 20th, 2015 by Sophie Schiaratura

Weekly update #63 – Tweaking and answering questions about the video

Read it on the forum

Hello everybody,

This week, we added possibility to switch worlds by tapping on the teleporters. Before that, the only way to change the current world was by using the world monitor (the interface allowing you to see your worlds and in which world each of your Norn is).

C4teleporter455

We also tweaked the volume of some sound effects. Some were quite piercing.

By the way, I would like to answer to these two questions / concerns I have encountered regarding the latest video:
- There are different Norns voices, one of them being much like the old classic Norns voices. Simply, none of the Norns in the video had it. It depends of the Norn.
- If you don’t collect coins / XP by yourself, they will be automatically collected after some seconds, you actually don’t need to collect them one by one.

That’s all! I wish you a nice week.

 

Some previous updates: 

Weekly Update #62: Gameplay video (mobile version)

Weekly Update #61: The Twitch Session Official Date

Weekly Update #60: The Science Kit in Colour

Weekly Update #59: Twitch news and debugging

Weekly Update #58: The Mini-Norn bug

Weekly Update #57: Special abilities and XP

Weekly Update #56: The Localization

Creatures Online Update #62

January 13th, 2015 by Sophie Schiaratura

Weekly Update #62: Gameplay video (mobile version)

Read it on the forum

Hello everybody, and happy New Year! :)

COyoutube455

Nothing too juicy to share with you this week, as we are not working on really interesting things, but rather on debugging and stabilizing the mobile version.
However, for those who missed the Twitch session before the Christmas holidays, we recorded a gameplay video (nothing new for those who watched the Twitch session though, it is a similar gameplay).

We wish you a nice week :)

Watch it on Youtube

 

Some previous updates:

Weekly Update #61: The Twitch Session Official Date

Weekly Update #60: The Science Kit in Colour

Weekly Update #59: Twitch news and debugging

Weekly Update #58: The Mini-Norn bug

Weekly Update #57: Special abilities and XP

Weekly Update #56: The Localization

Weekly Update #54 – 55: Let’s have a Mojito to celebrate!

Creatures Online Update #61

December 9th, 2014 by Sophie Schiaratura

Weekly Update #61: The Twitch Session Official Date

Read it on the forum

Hello everybody,

This week we continued working on the game, mostly on technical fixes. Some in-game animations, triggered when Norn do specific actions (watering a plant, playing with a toy…) were broken and the issue was more important than we thought (we had to fix the system handling animations, and not animations themselves).

Most importantly, the date for the Twitch session is finally set! Sorry about the delay… It will take place December, Thursday 11th at 8PM CET. For information, Central European Time corresponds to GMT+1:00.

Have a nice week and see you Thursday on Twitch!

w61picture_455

  

Some previous updates:

Weekly Update #60: The Science Kit in Colour

Weekly Update #59: Twitch news and debugging

Weekly Update #58: The Mini-Norn bug

Weekly Update #57: Special abilities and XP

Weekly Update #56: The Localization

Weekly Update #54 – 55: Let’s have a Mojito to celebrate!

Weekly Update #53: The Altar Machine

The Hour of Code

December 4th, 2014 by Sophie Schiaratura

From the 8th to the 14th of December it is the Computer Science Education Week that will take place all around the world. The event will specially focus on the Hour of Code. The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event.

This year Belgium’s ready to take part of it with the collaboration of companies such as the Microsoft Innovation Center, The Mundaneum, UMons (University of Mons), Fishing Cactus and more…

 

hourofcodebe_mailing_header_algo455

 

You want to participate? It’s easy! Go to http://hourofcode.com/us/fr and join millions people!

You are in Belgium and want to host the event? Contact us via Facebook or our Website.

 

 

Don’t forget to like and share the Facebook page of the Hour of Code in Belgium: https://www.facebook.com/hourofcode.be

Spread the word! 

#CodeRules !

#HourOfCode