Author Topic: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG  (Read 4439 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Cherno

  • MechWarrior
  • **
  • Posts: 267
  • l33tp0intz: +24/-23
I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« on: February 10, 2014, 07:32:53 PM »
Might as well post this here ;)

As the title says, I've been working on a small (actually rather ambitious) project using Unity3D. The premise is as follows:

The interface and mechanics are basically copied directly from Jagged Alliance 2 which to me is still the grand champion of turn-based tactical combat. It is set in the Cthulhu Mythos in 1920s "Lovecraft County", and the first major milestone is to have the player have an investigator and a few party members and engage evil cultists, fishmen, zombies and whatnot in small combat-centric scenarios, possibly linked to a campaign of 3-5 encounters. More or less a videogame version of My Strange Aeons tabletop project.

Later on, I might put in more roleplaying stuff like dialogues, NPC interaction, etc.

The interface including inventory management is done, you can control your characters and combat mode works, too (the game, as in JA2, is real-time until you see the enemy or vice versa). Currently, I'm implementing basic AI behavior.

I am no professional modeller and especially can't do organic models like humanoids very good, The weapon models you can see below are blocky and mostly consists of noisy textures slapped on different parts of the model. However, in the game the characters will be ca. 1 inch high on screen, as befits an isometric game, so you don't really see any detail anyway. The only character model I have made so far is a white boxer shorts-clad male figure, enough for testing purposes but not good enough for showing, the animations are crap as well because I wanted to focus on coding.

I don't visit any gaming communities regularly outside of the miniature wargaming realm, and I don't play online games much so it's a struggle to present a project like this especially since there's not much to show and nothing to play at all (so far).

Anyway, comments, ideas, criticism and such are more than welcome and if you are interested and have any applicable skills or know someone who does, feel free to drop me a line here or via eMail: chernoskill@gmx.net
Note that the game doesn't have Skyrim-quality graphics (since everything is rather small on screen, you can get away with a lot less fidelity in polygon count and texture resolution), but it aims for a realistic look, nothing cartoony or cutesly like Eldritch or Minecraft (or WoW).

Here are some icons and renders of weapons and other stuff that's already useable in the game.

Some inventory icons:





item renders:






Lastly, a crypt I made for my cemetery sample scene. I actually like how it looks even though I just slapped on some basic stone and concrete textures. In the game, you can open the door (if you have the key) and enter it.



Offline Defender

  • Creative Director
  • Project Director
  • Living Legend
  • *
  • Posts: 3794
  • l33tp0intz: +65535/-65535
  • CHAOTIC NEUTRAL
    • Patrick Salerno's Porfolio
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2014, 07:56:16 PM »
Sounds neat.

My only critiques from the art side, is even though you may not see much detail from the isometric angle, you should still make proper use of spec/normal maps. I'm not sure if the models just don't have any, or whether it's just bad lighting, but even if you avoid normal maps (bump), make sure your models have a specular map that matches the base diffuse texture otherwise everything will look extremely flat. In turn, if everything looks flat, you'd almost be better doing it 2D. Spec is very important for basic lighting information to be distributed across the model's surface, and you could make due with low-rez normal or bump maps as well for the illusion of depth.

You could definitely keep the low-poly theme for stylization purposes, but the most important thing is consistency. Even if you become a better artist or hire better ones in the future, you set a precedent with the art style from the get-go. You don't want some models looking lower-quality than others which may look higher quality later so set your documentation for asset creation in advance with the requirements laid out for future staff to reference. Main things to note in such a document would be polycount of assets (whether character/weapon/background), texture resolution and required maps.

The main thing to worry about when making a game, especially one with a broad scope, is documentation and organization. It's a bit of a hurdle, but will save you countless headaches in the future.
"A Goal without Vision is a Hallucination"


"An open mind is like a fortress with its gates unbarred and unguarded."

Offline Cherno

  • MechWarrior
  • **
  • Posts: 267
  • l33tp0intz: +24/-23
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2014, 08:07:01 PM »
Thank you for your suggestion. I agree with what you say about normal maps, I have started looking into them a week or two ago, the results can be spectacular but it is certainly a lot of work. So far, none of my models have one, I only ever did one for a test model and couldn't get it 100% right but so I abandoned it for the meantime to concentrate on other things.

When I wrote that I "worked" on a game I rather meant that I do it in my freetime, so I guess there ain't gonna be anything like "staff" but maybe I get lucky and find someone that has aas much fun creating things and seeing them in a game as me  8)

So far I've been keeping noes and ideas about the game in a scrapbook ;)

Offline Defender

  • Creative Director
  • Project Director
  • Living Legend
  • *
  • Posts: 3794
  • l33tp0intz: +65535/-65535
  • CHAOTIC NEUTRAL
    • Patrick Salerno's Porfolio
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2014, 08:34:03 PM »
You can use different programs to quickly generate normal maps to make it a bit easier.

I recommend downloading XNormal for example. It's free. It has tools in there to generate normals from a high poly mesh, height maps, and some other tools. There's also programs which can generate a normal from a diffuse map if you don't have a high-poly available. I'd recommend just making a high poly sculpt of all your models (doesn't have to be much, just enough to generate a normal) and use that map on your low polys. This will dramatically increase the quality of low-poly models with very little effort. Bring it in, subdivide it a couple times to smooth the surface, add a few details (dings/dents/scratches/whatever) optionally, bake and apply.
"A Goal without Vision is a Hallucination"


"An open mind is like a fortress with its gates unbarred and unguarded."

Offline Cherno

  • MechWarrior
  • **
  • Posts: 267
  • l33tp0intz: +24/-23
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2014, 01:43:04 AM »
I spent the last two days giving the A.I. code an overhaul, the enemies won't win the Nobel price but they can seek out the investigators and take cover, and even reload their weapons if they have spare mags ;)
The rest of this evening was spent encountering new bugs and getting rid of Old Ones (pun etc.)

Tomorrow (actually today) I'll probably try and finally get a proper cultist model started, with realistic animations instead of the puppetry movements I have right now.

Offline Xarg Talasko

  • Living Legend
  • *******
  • Posts: 2960
  • l33tp0intz: +159/-6
  • KANE LIVES!
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2014, 08:45:15 AM »
The images of the pistol and Tommy? gun reminded me a lot of Call of Cthulhu - Dark Corners of The Earth.. a game I love so very much, even though one of the missions is nigh on unbeatable in Win7 if you don't already know how to beat it. Another Lovecraftian game I've been playing lately is The Consuming Shadow, a sidescrolling game made by Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation fame, it has some neat ideas as well. There's also supposed to be a Lovecraftian mod for Crysis called The Worry of Newport, (Triptych is also supposed to be Lovecraftian, also a Crysis mod) which I need to check out at some point. Would love to see your game in action when there's something to be shown off
« Last Edit: February 13, 2014, 08:59:19 AM by Xarg Talasko »


Thief gameplay + Doom3 engine = The Dark Mod

Offline CGB [Ancient Demise]

  • Apprentice Dev
  • Lance Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 382
  • l33tp0intz: +57/-0
  • Clan Ghost Bear
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2014, 08:31:36 PM »
Mmmmm much love for Lovecraftian lore. Ive played DCotE And have Elder Signs on my phone.
In DCotE, is that mission you're talking about the one on the boat, Xarg? Something wouldn't render for me so I had to skip past it but otherwise that game was really fun.
I need to look into The Consuming Shadow and that crysis mod and now I have Cherno's project to look forward to!

 "Most discipline is hidden discipline, designed not to liberate but to limit. Do not ask 'Why.' Be cautious with 'How.' 'Why' leads inexorably to paradox. 'How' traps you in a universe of cause and effect. Both deny the infinite."
---The Apocrypha of Arrakis; Frank Herbert, Heretics of Dune

Offline Cherno

  • MechWarrior
  • **
  • Posts: 267
  • l33tp0intz: +24/-23
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2014, 02:38:45 AM »
I liked Dark Corners of the Earth too for the way it presented Lovecraft's Innsmouth of decay and depravity. The gameplay was so-so and yes, I also had that graphic bug on the boat mission where the cultists on the beach are invisible. The fight against the Flying Polyps is one of my favourite boss fights in a videogame, their design is awesome and how they appear out of nowhere in those huge caverns... scary! The Shoggoth is cool as well with all those pseudopods, it's certainly different than how I would have envisioned it, which is a more blob or amoebae type thing with a body that is formless but also can move instead of just sitting still most of the time.

The three-dimensional fog of war seems to be impossible to do right so I'll just make a simple fog plane instead. I will also start implementing throwing items, especially sticks of dynamite :)

Offline Xarg Talasko

  • Living Legend
  • *******
  • Posts: 2960
  • l33tp0intz: +159/-6
  • KANE LIVES!
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2014, 03:39:14 PM »
Yup the mission on the boat, I have no idea why it broke but it did, every workaround I've seen for it involves just skipping that part, which is unfortunate. The part that doesn't render is 4 or 5 cultists on the cliff-side with blue glowing staves that you use the cannon to shoot, they're spaced relatively uniformly so it is possible to do that section even without them showing, just takes more guess work.


Thief gameplay + Doom3 engine = The Dark Mod

Offline Cherno

  • MechWarrior
  • **
  • Posts: 267
  • l33tp0intz: +24/-23
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2014, 01:32:48 AM »
Today, I almost finished my dynamite stick weapon than can be thrown and deals area damage, and a nice particle effect explosion with sounds is added too of course.

Here is a small GIF I made, you can see the stick flying into view and exploding, in the game you would also hear the fuse being lip with a zippo, the fuse burning, and the loud explosion noise. I recorded the video for the GIF straight from Unity3D, that means I started recording and then just started the game , selected my character, picked up the dynamite, and threw it to this location :)



Here are also two sccreenshots that show an alternative graphics style, one that was influenced by the minimalist, pixelated look of the great flash game "Don't Turn Back" by Kongregate: http://www.kongregate.com/games/terrycavanagh/dont-look-back

Edit: The game is only hosted by Kongregate, the creator is Terry Cavanagh: http://terrycavanaghgames.com/dontlookback/

As you can see, no textures have been used for this small cemetery sample scene, all surfaces are of one color and most things are very low-poly. I am mainly considering creating more things in that style because it will allow me to make characters that have a quality like in the old Alone In The Dark games, and get away with it because everything else also looks like it was made in 1992! :D

This one is standard isometric perspective with orthogonal view:



Perspective view:



It is currently possible to change between both modes as well as change to an overhead view and turning the camera in 45 degrees angles, so looking behind walls etc. is no problem.

The black void around the cemetery and the gnarled trees and wrought iron fence were inspired by the SNES Shadowrun game which also had a Cemetery location full of ghouls.

Offline Bloodycrow

  • Star Colonel
  • ****
  • Posts: 1283
  • l33tp0intz: +134/-24
  • "Living Lurker"
    • Planetary League Site
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2014, 05:37:02 AM »
Here are also two sccreenshots that show an alternative graphics style, one that was influenced by the minimalist, pixelated look of the great flash game "Don't Turn Back" by Kongregate: http://www.kongregate.com/games/terrycavanagh/dont-look-back

Sorry to butt in with a correction, but actually is done by Terry Cavanagh, same guy who done VVVVVV, Super Hexagon and quite a load of other great little gems (Don't Look Back was his first game in flash!). Kongregate just hosts the game, and has stupid awards linked into it. You can also find it here: http://terrycavanaghgames.com/dontlookback/

But I like what you're doing here! I almost thought the gif was from Diablo at first - that's not a negative comment, as I love the gritter look and color palette. I also like the explosion effect and lighting a lot. May I suggest perhaps the dynamite doing a little more once it hits the ground? At the moment it just sorta plops there, I think a little roll or even a swivel would be a nice touch.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 05:50:51 AM by Bloodycrow »


Offline Bloodycrow

  • Star Colonel
  • ****
  • Posts: 1283
  • l33tp0intz: +134/-24
  • "Living Lurker"
    • Planetary League Site
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2014, 05:41:23 AM »
-pressed quote instead of edit, this post can be ignored/removed-


Offline Cherno

  • MechWarrior
  • **
  • Posts: 267
  • l33tp0intz: +24/-23
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2014, 11:48:30 AM »
The reduced color palette are due to the GIF quality reduction, in the gme it looks far better ;)


Offline Cherno

  • MechWarrior
  • **
  • Posts: 267
  • l33tp0intz: +24/-23
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2014, 03:03:22 AM »
I'm currently struggling with character models again, I can't get the shoulder joints to look right when animating the arms, and the hips are messed up as well. If anyone has any good tutorials for low-poly rigging or even a rigged low-poly sample character, you know where to find me ;)

Offline Askis

  • Living Legend
  • *******
  • Posts: 2181
  • l33tp0intz: +55/-5
Re: I'm working on a Lovecraftian isometric turn-based 3D RPG
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2014, 09:58:26 AM »
I'm currently struggling with character models again, I can't get the shoulder joints to look right when animating the arms, and the hips are messed up as well. If anyone has any good tutorials for low-poly rigging or even a rigged low-poly sample character, you know where to find me ;)

If it's just the rigging, 3ds Max has pre-rigged Bipeds that should be alright for your use.
If it's a skinning problem and if the models are seriously low-poly, you can just tesselate them up a bit, then re-skin them.