Sunday, May 15, 2016

Weekend Vampires: Back in Development!

It's been almost a year since my last post so I have some serious catching up to do.
First, let me explain the fact that I abandoned the development of Bloodhunt in 2015 when my other indie games were consuming all my spare time. I had to choose between my video games and my board games and it's a hard decision to make. Now, after a year of indie board game design (yay!), I've decided to go back into development and invest my weekends (two nights each week) to develop a spiritual successor of Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines in the form of a 2D retro pixel demake. 

So this is the first change: time-boxed development.
The second change is the target platform. Bloodhunt is now being developed mainly for mobile devices. Since I'm using Unity I'm sure I'll end up making a PC/Mac/web port in the near future, but right now the main focus of development is iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Why is that? Maybe it's not such a good idea to launch a 2D retro pixel demake of a story-intensive RPG in the mobile market. However, I enjoy playing my indie RPG in my smartphone and I'm sure other people will enjoy it too. Somehow it feels more retro when you tap the pixels on the screen instead of just clicking your mouse through the game in a full size screen. It's hard to explain but anyways I enjoy the restrictions of mobile game development so that's a good reason too.

Here's a quick screenshot of the first proof of concept of Bloodhunt in my Android phone. Most of the art is reused from old prototypes and art the game (I have lots of folders loaded up with pixels from the old times). So I just have to set up the Asylum level, with some subtle lighting and animations. On top of that I displayed the UI layout with two vampire characters and some dice icons for the main actions of the game: fight, bite, search and use blood. Please don't mind the HP and BP stats, it's just a proof of concept. Gameplay is just a mini-game about gaining more humans than your opponent. It's pretty cluncky so I just dropped the mini-game idea after the first prototype.

After the first technical tests, I started working on the dialog system, which is one of the main aspects of a good old story-driven RPG. The dialog system now supports both phrases and sprite animations (like the beheading example below, in the screenshots section). There's a cool "tap to continue" effect when the character is done talking. Also notice that the portrait animation stops talking when the typewriter effect ends displaying the dialog phrase.

Here's a couple of GIFs displaying the dialog system in motion. I've used the text of the original Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines intro sequence for demonstration purposes. It would be great to add the original Bloodlines voiceover but I'm sure I'll get into legal trouble with Paradox or Activision. So let's keep it simple for now.

Prince LaCroix displaying his excellent verbosity in retro pixelart.

The mysterious Sheriff of LA beheading your pixel sire 
(whoops I have just realized I forgot to put the main character on the scene). 

After these two nights of development I think the game is looking nice and dialogs are flowing like in the old times of NES and 8-bit RPGs. Maybe I have to work a bit more on the character portraits. Prince Lacroix looks odd and shares little resamblance with the original (I tried my best, I swear). Talking animations are too repetitive also. But I'll get into that in another weekend.

Please, feel free to share your love and hate towards Bloodhunt in the comments section.
PS: I know my pixel version of Prince LaCroix looks horrible. 
PSS: Wait until I show you my pixel version of Nines Rodriguez. That's even more horrible.


  1. Vamos Ema! vuelve a ello! Me sorprende la decisión del cambio a mobile. Es inteligente, peor no se como puede funcionar una aventura de este tipo. Por ejemplo, The Last Door, a mi parecer, tiene mejor funcionamiento en sobremesa que enmobile. También es verdad que nació para ser un click&Point de ordenador.

    Espero ver más entradicas y cositas por aquí! Te seguiré espiando desde las sombras!

    1. Hey Andrés! Lo del móvil es cuestión de preferencia personal. Me gusta cómo se juegan los píxeles en la pantallaca del teléfono (es más retro que en el PC). Otra cosa es cómo se adapte la jugabilidad, que en mi caso pues me las ingeniaré para que no se note mucho que también es una aventura point & click xD
      Na, en serio. Gracias por espiar desde las sombras ;)
      Un abrazo!