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ExaStar Development Journal #7 – ExaStar takes form

12 May 2018


After so many journals where I’ve essentially repeated that I can “stop worrying so much about the game’s internals”, I can pretty much do just that now!

What’s new?

Battles become more finalized

In the last journal, I sort of teased some information on how battles would work with the removal of the rhythm attack system. Well, here’s some information straight from the development notes (since I’m too lazy to rewrite everything)!

Attacks

  • As before, this is dependent on the weapon that is equipped on the character
  • Attack strength ratio is still controlled by the charm that is equipped
  • NEW: Accuracy of a weapon adds to the charm’s high-pool ratio
  • NEW: Accuracy is no longer counted on a scale of 20 – now 100 instead

Cards

  • Cards can be obtained by either using a turn to formulate one of the first 3 tiers, or using the 100% SP meter to make a card of the last 2
  • Cards can affect basically every aspect of the battle – accuracy, health, timer, SP/EXP gained, etc.
  • Members carry separate card decks
  • Each member can initially carry up to 4 cards, but can increase this to 8 through level upgrades
  • A card’s effects only apply to the current battle
  • 4 main tiers of cards:
    • I. “Curse” cards which can only be discarded by using them (or using SP) (25%, 0% chance SP)
    • II. Neutral cards that have a benefit as well as a matching drawback (50%, 0% chance SP)
    • III. Cards that can help the player with no drawback (25%, 25% chance SP)
    • IV. Rare cards that give a huge benefit (0%, 75% chance SP)
  • The entire deck can be reshuffled by using the SP meter, however this will not yield any Tier 4 cards
  • The deck can be completely cleared out using the SP meter, useful for getting rid of many Tier 1 cards at once
  • Additionally, the SP meter can be used to swap out decks with another party member
  • Card amplification: if the player has 2 of the same card, then the player can opt to merge the cards into one, doubled-up card

Battle timer

  • Each of the player’s turns are timed, adding pressure to decisions
  • Default time limit is 30 seconds
  • If no choice is made before the timer is depleted, then the character will just pass for that turn
  • The timer’s limit can be increased or decreased via cards for the specific battle

It all seems a bit daunting and confusing from all of this text, but don’t worry – it should be pretty straightforward once it gets shown and explained inside the game.

I additionally started redesigning Grapefruit’s UI a tiny bit by removing the top dialog area and merging it with the new Deck area. The Deck area of the UI also holds new descriptions for each of the menus and actions of the battle system. It’s a bit rough right now, but take a look:

Early card system implementation in ExaStar

As you can see, even the Card and Deck portions of Grapefruit are already implemented! …sorta.

Scene design becomes much easier

There were originally certain scene-related objects (such as scene transition boundaries, dialog regions, etc.) which could originally only be created by using the scene’s respective code. This proved to be a bit cumbersome, so I eventually created actors that would create these objects automatically using Stencyl’s in-scene actor behavior editor in order to make designing scenes a bit easier than before.

Did someone say SETTINGS??

There’s some more changes to how the game can be configured! The latest addition is a special lil’ file called exaConfig.ini, which lives in the root of the game’s data directory. Essentially, this file lets you change a ton of extra intricate settings that I normally would not have enough time to implement into the in-game settings screen, such as things like how the zoom shader should function, if characters should visibly talk or not, how the game should load assets, etc.

Simplified storyline

I can already imagine the disappointed looks this point will bring, but fear not: this is for the better. This mainly only affects the intro and prologue of the game, too, so no worries. Essentially, I had to strip away a lot of filler content/confusing storyline points from the beginning of the game in order to make it a bit easier to understand and get into. This also has the advantage of making the whole premise of the game a bit more explainable than the old one. I don’t exactly have any content from this storyline in the game just yet, aside from a reworked intro screen that will replace the “pre-prologue” part of the game.


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