Estheria: A Realm Divided (WIP) (Character Creator Demo Updated @ 12,667 words!)

Hi Nicolas.

Like other titles built on ChoiceScript, combat would be woven through text. The scrapping of the JRPG system seems highly necessary for the proper development of the title to continue, as unfortunately, not every idea on paper works in execution.

1 Like

I can easily believe that Choicescript and turn-based team combat systems work extremely poorly together. (Ditto for inventory systems beyond the super-simple.) I don’t think anyone would tell you to keep trying to use this particular screwdriver to hammer in nails. :slight_smile: Go for the narrative meat.

9 Likes

Evening, everyone!

It’s official: I have severed the combat code from the game. Much of the word count increase for the update was under the combat system, equipment, etc. Update 1 will still remain a full-throated update with a vast rework of the original Character Creator Demo, but will be half the original planned size as a result.

However, I’ve made some fun decisions. Spells remain, including abilities. I am working out how the XP curve will tie itself to questing and other pieces of content, but I thought it’d be quite fun to keep unique options open for how you approach certain situations.

I’ve got some content to finalize for the overhaul, and a new traits system to still implement… Once that’s done, Update 1 should be ready to fire on all cylinders.

Thanks for the support.

12 Likes

Uniting The Realm - 08/18/2023

Howdy, Heroes!

Time for another weekly update.

This week, we’re delving into my cancellation of the combat system.


Combat... Terminated.

It wasn’t an easy decision.

When building out the combat code, equipment code, and I was contending against quite a few obstacles and hazards. These varied from design issues (rectifiable), implementation issues (rectifiable), and ChoiceScript Issues (something I couldn’t rectify).

Combat worked. To give an idea…

  • The system generated the initial turn order and used a cyclical incrementing function to determine who was up next. Code dynamically generated player statistics based upon that functionality.
  • Enemies had initial AI, something I had to hard-code. It was difficult but possible. Expanding it would’ve been trickier in the future, but I don’t think it would’ve been impossible. The upside was I had direct control over every encounter’s difficulty beyond merely balancing purposes as I created the AI by hand. It used a variety of checks to determine who it would attack, what abilities (that I gave that enemy) it would use, and what its stats were when determining if that specific attack was worth it. Was a royal PITA to implement… but it worked.
  • You had multiple functions. Basic attacks, spells, abilities, and item access. These created a core gameplay loop with incremental progression throughout the leveling process.
  • Every time damage was calculated, the system determined if enemies died. If they did, the system created an update loop that removed them from target selection and ran a separate check to determine if every enemy was dead. If so, combat terminated and triggered the victory script, calculated an initial pass at loot tables, dolled out XP, and continued the sequence.

Furthermore, I had fully playable Combat Tutorials for each of the three classes. They were deployed on the Private Testing Build (Dev). So the question could become where everything went wrong.

The answer is - the party system. See, the turn order worked with everyone, yes. But it was realistically the most straightforward system to implement. Combat in isolation also worked, if you were the only one in the party.

Once I began expanding the equipment code to multiple party members, I ran into a slew of roadblocks. Dynamically appending code to cover every party member’s unique variables was a royal PITA and required copy-pasting code blocks due to the way I had to implement inventory. This caused files to balloon out of control quite rapidly. Secondly, it became a strewn mess to connect to the primary combat sequences.

Couple this together with the significant implementation headaches I had ahead of me, that every time I patched an issue, two more popped up, and that balancing as the lone developer would’ve been a headache on its own - and I realized how detrimental maintaining the system was becoming to the project. 80% of the development on Update 1 had gone to these systems, which caused a multi-month delay in producing Update 1. It required extensive documentation, creating keyword tags to ctrl-f (find) my way down the document as it grew, and much more.

By the time I coupled together the poll… I had pretty much made the decision to sever it. However, I don’t like to make decisions this major (given that everyone had been patiently waiting) without providing a proper explanation as to why. While I know I’m not required to, I’d like to apologize to those who were excited and waited patiently. In a perfect world, I’d have been able to produce the system to my specifications.

As I’ve learned quite well in game development by now, not every idea that hits the paper dolls itself out in execution.


What Takes its Place?

Combat will still exist… in narrative format.

I’m going to create unique, multifaceted combat sequences that are baked into the narrative of each encounter. Each will take time to craft, as they’ll offer multiple routes of progression based on levels, stats, classes, etc. Smaller encounters will take far less time to craft, while larger set-pieces will forge a more blockbuster kind-of style. Nonetheless, expect plenty of narrative meat.

Second, I’ve got plenty whipped up. Here’s what’s left on the dev cycle for Update 1, as I know I promised much and gutting the combat system will take away from it.

  • Implementation of the new Trait System (think Fallout, Wasteland, DnD, etc.!)
  • Completion of overhauled content for the Prologue. Because I ripped away the Arena, I chose to make amendments and provide some fun narrative meat to picking each race.
  • Some final pieces of polish.
  • Act 1 Teaser for the Shadow Elves.
  • Official Prophecy of the Game.
  • A few other bits and bobs left to implement.

Once those’re done, we’ll call it a day. I’ll do some QA passes, and drop Update 1 into the wild. Separately, I’ve begun some side work again for Update 2, mainly to ensure it aligns with where I’ve placed Update 1 on the narrative spectrum.

To give an idea of where we’re at. This is the only teaser I’ll provide of direct content nestled within the Prologue beyond the first-page teaser I’ve provided. Let’s do a bit of a before and after, shall we? (As a note: the before contains the entirety of content that a single race selection preview provided, meanwhile there is much more narrative meat and several more pages of content left out of the Update 1 teaser.) (Second Note: Update 1 is still undergoing editing, so bear with me!)

The Humans (Update 0.4)

The Grey (Humans - Update 1)

It’s an ongoing process, but we’re getting there. I know some may wonder why I’ve chosen to drop a small teaser for each update, there’s tons of new content, so these merely offer a glance at what’s coming. Separately, this also provides a show of goodwill that development is ongoing and not stalled out.

Lastly, I provided a glimpse at the new Discord and Social Media logo for A Realm Divided last week. It’s my pleasure to unveil the new and final standalone logo for the title, moving forward. Given the darker and more formal tones the game and story will take on, I’ve opted for a logo that reflects that. Despite that, I haven’t forgotten that we’re in a fantasy world, after all. I hope you enjoy it. :slight_smile:

The phenomenal artist behind this is known as Talia. While I’m unsure if it would run afoul of forum rules (so I’m omitting her links from this post, but will put them on my Discord), you may DM me should you wish to inquire about her services. She’s quite reasonable and excellent when it comes to feedback and the creative process. It’s been a delight to work with her and I can’t wait to do so in the future.

This update was pretty big, so I’ll skip next week’s. I’ll see you all properly again on September 1st for State of the Realm.

~Zach

19 Likes

Back for a quick post of sorts with a poll at the end because this is heavily in development.

I’m currently developing the trait system and looking into a ‘realignment’ of sorts, with each main statistic having tiers.

An example would be strength:

  • Tier 1 - Pipsqueak (1-2 Points) - Carry Weight +25 lbs, +1 to Strength Checks, +25 HP.
  • Tier 2 - Weakling (3-4 Points) - Carry Weight +50 lbs, +2 to Strength Checks, +50 HP.
  • Tier 3 - Pushover (5-6 Points) - Carry Weight +75 lbs, +3 to Strength Checks, +75 HP, 1 Strength Special Action per major Checkpoint. (NOTE: Workshopping this)
  • Tier 4 - Lifter (7-9 Points) - Carry Weight +110 lbs, +4 to Strength Checks, +100 HP, 1 Strength Special Action per major Checkpoint.
  • Tier 5 - Taut & Tense (10-12 Points) - Carry Weight +110 lbs, +5 to Strength Checks, +125 HP, 2 Strength Special Actions per major Checkpoint, Choice of 1 Strength-Based Unique Ability.
  • So on so forth, ect.

To clarify, you hold the bonus of the tier you’re on. It’s not that you gain +50 lbs of Carry Weight at tier 2 on top of the +25 you had from tier 1. I would ensure that I clarify that in the game specifically so players aren’t confused.

It would gradually evolve and stylize to still provide unique builds, despite having scrapped my original combat system. It’s a mish-mash of a few games I’ve grown up and loved, with my own twists.

However, I want to see based on the example how others feel about it, as I myself am not confident in its design yet.

POLL: How do you feel about the proposed realignment for main statistics and their bonuses against a traditional pen and paper system?

  • I’m quite a fan!
  • I’m not sure, truthfully.
  • I think another system would work better.
  • I think Pen & Paper would work better.
0 voters

Thanks, everyone!

6 Likes

Hey, everyone!

Stopping by for a quick poll today. I’m looking into formalizing fonts and getting the remainder of proper structure for UI (within my means) together. I personally adore the new logo and the font it accompanies, but I’d love to hear thoughts from you.

The logo will be attached below, the polls underneath it after.

POLL: How do you feel about the new logo?

  • I love it!
  • I’m mixed.
  • I’m not a fan.
0 voters

Separately, how do you feel about the font in particular? Same style of poll.

  • I love it!
  • I’m mixed.
  • I’m not a fan.
0 voters

Thanks, everyone!

7 Likes

Howdy, Heroes!

Stopping by for some feedback. I’m currently working to upgrade my narrative capabilities in regards to combat for second person. I’ve got a snippet of a scene from Update 1 here, and wanted to know how you all felt about it. NOTE: This is unedited as of this time.

Dropping a small poll, thank you a ton!

Teaser Within

POLL: How do you feel about the above teaser?

  • I think it’s fantastic!
  • I like it.
  • I’m not very fond of it.
  • I hate it.
0 voters

Thanks, as always.
~Zach

2 Likes

State of the Realm - September 2023 - Rebirth

Hello, Heroes!

It’s that time again for a State of the Realm monthly update - a tad early. I have some events to attend to in the coming days, so I won’t get it out then if I delay.

Update 1 is heavily under development. Given that I cut plenty of content by removing combat, I’ve instead chosen to make several key prologue upgrades. This includes the Trait System, a large-scale overhaul to picking individual races, and more.

Today, we’re going to delve into a bit of where we’re at, what’s left to go, and a bit of a recap since I cut Combat.

Let’s delve in, shall we?


Update 1 at a Glance

I lost quite a bit of the word count and general size of Update 1 when Combat was removed. As a result, I’ve taken time to provide much more in the prologue, as I don’t wish to revisit the section should I not have to. In turn, this is the planned content of Update 1: Rebirth -

  • Experience the Prologue of Estheria: A Realm Divided. Enter the Interdimensional Rift as a spirit cast back through an ancient ritual, where your very answers will work to revive your essence from the aetherstream. In what form will you take? That’s up to you.
  • Choose from one of five races, each with their own unique starting point. Update 1 unleashes an overhauled racial selection, providing a unique mini-story representing a section of the race chosen. Each mini-story will vary from 2,000 to 5,000 words of content.
  • Choose your class. Become a Warrior, a Ranger, or a Witch/Warlock. During Class Selection, you’ll be given a brief overview of the class and potentials at your fingertips. Unique choices will open up throughout your adventure utilizing the inclusion of Class-Based Dialogue.
  • Begin your journey with your first level. Beginning at level 1, you’ll be given 2 points to upgrade your main attributes, while also gaining the opportunity to pick two starting traits, from a list of over twenty.
  • Customize your Hero. Utilize a variety of choices to build upon your appearance ranging from hairstyles to colors to scars and tattoos.
  • Choose your background. Pre-built backgrounds provide unique choices in certain circumstances. Perhaps you’re a craftsworker who might fashion a tool to get out of an otherwise sticky situation, otherwise, you might be a merchant who swindles down a local shopkeep for a better deal. The choice is yours.
  • Experience a unique personality test, built through a variety of scenarios - each complete with their own narrative. Will you be the petty thief who preys on the weak? A cold-blooded killer? Or perhaps heading towards the light?
  • Choose your Mythic Companion - whom will join later in your adventures.
  • Gain a gift from the Keeper of the Rift, based upon your prior answers.
  • Encounter the Prophecy of Adylisa, providing a unique riddle for foreshadowing of the adventures to come.
  • A small teaser of Update 2: The Shadowed Veil has been added. Witness the first glimpse of the journey as one of the Shadow Elves.
  • The Inventory System has been added to the game.
  • The Mechanics Glossary has been added to the game. This provides a high level description of each mechanic, as well as content held within each. For Update 1, you’ll be able to view each trait from the main list.
  • An overhaul to patch notes, provided through a tailored section that can be accessed from the Compendium (Stats) at any time.
  • The Lore Journal has been introduced, combining the Known Characters, Kingdoms, and Locations sections. Additionally, the existing content kept within has been upgraded in style and quality, and the Locations section has gained the Interdimensional Rift as an option.
  • The Story Recap section has been introduced, experience a recap of key story beats as you travel through your adventures - should you need to take a brief hiatus.

It’s quite a bit, which is why the Update isn’t out yet. In truth, this Update could easily push A Realm Divided’s non-code word count well over 40 to 50,000.


What's Left?

There’s still a good bit, as part of the upgrade from the loss of Combat.

  • Three of the five Racial Mini-Stories remain.
  • Class Selection overview is under development but unfinished. (40% done).
  • The Prophecy of Adylisa.
  • Some of the upgrades left for the Lore Journal, though the system itself has been condensed and implemented. (55% done).
  • The Story Recap section is 50% finished, currently working on the rest of it.

However, we’re making tons of progress. While there are quite a few traits, here’s a sneak peek at some you’ll have access to.

Traits Inside!
  • Agile: An olympian bronze medal champion. - Your Dexterity stat is permanently increased by 2 points.
  • Brick Wall: Hit me baby, one more time. - Your Constitution Stat is permanently increased by 2 points.
  • Devout: A touch crazy and a bit crazily out of touch. - Religious Faction reputation gain increased by 25% per positive action. The impact of negative actions is decreased by 50%.
  • Experienced: Get your mind out of the gutter. - Experience earned is increased by 25%
  • Hopeless Romantic: Like a mid-life crisis, but lonelier. - Approval for liked actions increased by 50%, and disapproval for disliked actions decreased by 50%.
  • Masochist: Some have a taste for the whip. - Taking damage temporarily provides a boost to combat related skill-checks.
  • Roid Rage: Destroying your kidneys, one needle at a time. - Every third potion drunk triggers Roid Rage - providing +50 HP, +2 Strength, and special Roid actions during the next major combat sequence.
  • Sinner: Earning the ire of parents everywhere. - Gain Sin (Negative) Karma faster, and unlock unique Sin interactions.
  • Swindler: Their family might starve this week, but at least you won’t. Priorities, right? - 20% Reduction in the cost of goods at shoppes & merchants.
  • Well-Known: Your funeral will look like a Taylor Swift concert. Packed. - General Reputation gain increased by 25%.

As you can see, each system will be pretty packed. I’ve got plenty in the oven, and plenty in the content roadmap/pipeline.


Finale

I’m not confident that I can get all of this done in September alone, but I’m working on it. At the end of the day, I learned a valuable lesson. I built a system the engine wasn’t really meant for. It consumed quite a bit of time, and I lost at the end. However, I learned so much in terms of what I can do with ChoiceScript and how best to implement certain systems that it overall improved the quality of the project.

While the original Update 0.5 wasn’t planned to be anything full-throated, Update 1 will be. You can consider the Prologue to be quite a significant chunk of content, and much more immersive than the original Character Creator Demo was.

Now that I have a full vision in place for the project, development has accelerated. I’m eager to get Update 1 out in the wild, and look forward to each of you enjoying it.

Anyways, til next time Heroes.
~Zach

17 Likes

The character creation has been very well done. Even without the combat system , many different branching paths itself make this a very ambitious project. All the best to the author on writing the story. Cant wait to see what you have in store for us.

10 Likes

Howdy, Heroes!

Eventually, the Estheria WorldAnvil will open, serving as a Master Wiki that details the content of everything kept within the Realm of Harmony.

With the Custom CSS fully completed and operational, I will occasionally provide teasers from the ongoing work. Please note, this work is largely unedited and does not reflect an ongoing timeline cleanup effort. Any words marked in bold or italics are being tagged for later hyperlink previews, a feature of WorldAnvil that allows you to hover over those words and see snippets of the documents they contain - or sub-boxes of lore.

Enjoy.

Maldium #1

Maldium #2

17 Likes

Howdy, Heroes!

Dropping by today with some converted lore that’s being worked on in the Master-Wiki. Development of Update 1 continues apace, after a small break tending to IRL.

Enjoy!

The Grand Declaration of Harmony, #1

The Grand Declaration of Harmony, #2

The Grand Declaration of Harmony, #3

The Grand Declaration of Harmony, #4

9 Likes

Howdy, Heroes!

I’m posting my final teaser of overhauled content in Update 1.

When choosing a race, you can go back to the choices. I’ve chosen to overhaul that text as well, providing lavish detail and compare/contrast moments. It’s a large chunk, roughly 500 words on its own.

Enjoy!

Before

After

How do you feel about the upgrade?

  • I love it!
  • I really like it!
  • It’s okay.
  • I’m not too fond of it.
  • I hate it.
0 voters

Have a great Tuesday!
~Zach

7 Likes

I don’t personally like it. In the first one, it comes across as your memories of who you are coming back. But in the second one, with how the keeper describes each one, it feels like he’s asking you which one you want to be. And in the meta sense, you are. But in the story, you don’t actually have a choice in the matter

Hey Anna!

That’s a fair point. Through the conversation, the goal is to elicit memories that return the form. I’ll probably tweak the dialogue as it’s unedited to indicate shards of the soul over explicit choices. Hence the orbs. Each holds a shard of the soul tied to a specific race, with the intent being to settle upon a single one.

1 Like

Uniting the Realm - Mid-Month Edition - September 2023

Hello, Heroes!

Given I’ve missed a few weekly updates, I wanted to catch up on the status of Update 1.

I began a new job this month after two years at my prior company. As I’ve taken an expanded role and moved from second to first shift, I’ve had to several adjustments in my lifestyle. Further, my new role will be much more involved and hands-on than the prior one. This leaves less optimal time for development. I’m going to talk a good bit about where that leaves us below.

Let’s delve in, shall we?


Status Update

There’s been quite a lot that’s happened in my life, to say the least. I’ve moved my best friend of 12 years to my State at the beginning of the month, started a new job last week in a higher-level position, swapped shifts from years of second shifting to first, returned to having only weekends off which meant adjusting appointment schedules to accommodate, and more.

It’s been a doozy.

During that time, I’ve taken a short hiatus to work a little bit on a side project, while also realigning some other muted parts of Estheria. These are more under the hood than over it, but nonetheless keep the oiled machine running. Speaking bluntly, I’ve made maybe only another 2,000 words in actual progress on the Update’s content, but the full production schedule should resume today.


Update 1 is quite large in size, with many moving parts as you all know. During my work on the Update, I’ve focused on a general upgrade in narrative style, the introduction of both new content and retooled existing content, and a major goal to finish the prologue, once and for all. Unless I have to, I’ve no plans to revisit it throughout development. Consider it a polished experience.

This has taken quite a bit of time, as the writing is quite extensive. Each ‘Mini-Story’ through race selection has multiple moving choices and parts and tells its own glimpse of a tale. Despite being brief, my hope is to show how I’ll approach handling the contrast between intense, action-packed set-pieces and more low-key segments meant to breach gaps and serve as a breather.

Separately, I’ve tackled my codebase. When I began work on the project, I was still relatively new to ChoiceScript and most of my experience previously had been on the design and narrative side instead of programming. While ChoiceScript isn’t intensive by any means, I made plenty of mistakes in variable naming, over-extending, and more.

As such, I’ve spent a good bit of time the last few weeks cutting away filler code, severing any pieces left over from Combat that I might’ve missed, and retooling a bit of what’s left so it will function better with more advanced systems such as Crafting/Gathering, Questing, dynamic branching, and more.

There’s some other Quality-of-Life changes I want to get out of the way, but other than that I’d say Update 1 is coming along into a pretty stead form at this point. Enough that I’m getting closer to comfort on the release date.


Wrap-Up

Now that I’m back on track, my goal is to keep you appraise of the continuing development on Update 1. Once the Update is released, I’ll dive headfirst into Update 2’s full-throated development, which will largely consist of direct content. There are some systems to implement properly still, but they shouldn’t be like Combat where it both took ages and then ended up not working in the first place.

Once again, thanks everyone for the support. I’ll have something more to show soon.

Til next time Heroes.
~Zach

10 Likes