Author Archives: Patrick Fox

Postmortem: A Knight’s Quest

Facing the Dragons of Questionable Time Management Skills

Facing the Dragons of Questionable Time Management Skills

Trying to make this game was a learning experience to be sure. Going in, I had a very tenuous grasp of code from a crash course I’d taken before deciding not to join the robotics club, a semester of general art in high school, and a hobby of arguing with strangers on the internet about how games should be made. I was sure to try and place as conservative an estimate on how far I would get in making the game as I possibly could, and yet, I still fell short. Despite that, though, last night, when I finally had combat working well enough that I could attack an enemy and it died when its health reached 0, I could’ve cried with joy.

The game certainly changed a lot from how I had originally planned it out. Honestly, in its first iteration entirely contained to my head, it was more of a visual novel than anything else, so it would have had to change, but still, it’s remarkable even then. I had originally envisioned the game to be a series of days, where each day would comprise you selecting various activities to do, such as drinking, praying, or spending time with specific characters, and at the end of each day a battle would occur against the evil king’s forces, where you would fight alongside an ally you would have to protect. Now, how much of that didn’t come to be due to it being a poor idea and how much of that didn’t come to be because it was significantly beyond my ability to actually put into the game is up for debate, regardless, the game doesn’t resemble that in the slightest.

The model it’s now settled on would just have one long and drawn out battle, with brief respites for attempts at comfort by Red and the nun while the other rebels fought led by the General. The General as a character was changed rather dramatically in design as well, his look from Roman to something more knightly and his personality to something less unintentionally abrasive towards the hero.


The General Now

Actually, that brings up another interesting change which occurred that I hadn’t even realized until now. I had shifted away from conversations affecting Levi’s blood entirely. The only way to gain blood would be to kill the enemy soldiers and the only way to decrease it would be to physically remove the blood from Levi i.e. by having the nun wash his hands. This change really affects the general most pronouncedly, since he’s no longer going to actively harm the player by conversation, and is instead the one who gives Levi the respite necessary to speak with the nun and be cleaned.

Still, even now I’m trying to figure out better ways to have built the game and more interesting ways it could have communicated what I wanted it to. The roles of the Nun and Red were something I wasn’t too happy with at the end, and I think I could have made them both more interesting. I think that it would have actually made more sense for Red to be more in favor of Levi fighting against the evil king while the nun would have been more cautious and reluctant to force their problems onto some poor guy who just fell through a portal and landed in front of them. That would have allowed for a cleaner transition to the nun helping Levi handle fighting, and would have let Red be less of an antagonistic character at the start.

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The Outside of the Church

Something that surprised me was how much easier it was to make the second scene after I had done the first. Due to some very lackluster time management skills, I was quite pressed for time when I finally settled down to make this scene, but I was able to do it with relatively little issue. Admittedly, there are quite a few things I would improve on in the scene if I were to go back to it, but it is certainly serviceable, and I received some compliments on it from my class. I did notice that people really wanted to go into the little houses in the back whenever they play tested the game, however, so now I know that when I include doors people will try to go into them.

Speaking of play testing, some interesting trends appeared in that. While there was some variation in how people responded to my first level, with some trying to run around between the pews, others talking to the nun immediately and then running into the sword which they couldn’t pick up, and still others who accidentally ran into Red, most people didn’t finish any of the conversation which I had put into the game. Each character had around three in any given scene, but frequently people would leave after only one or two. Some people even went through the second scene without talking to the general at all. That may have been an issue with the second scene, however, since the barricade on the right-hand side was being used as the barrier, and touching it loaded the battle scene after it. That seemed to catch a lot of people by surprise when they played my game, so I’ve learned a bit of a lesson there as well on the importance of making it clear what will and won’t lead to the next area.

I’m finally finishing up combat now. I still need to give the enemies the ability to attack the hero, and the selection circle doesn’t actually disappear until the enemy dies, which means on subsequent turns, when the hero selects an enemy for the second time, an additional selection circle is spawned. So there’s still more left for me to wrangle with, but I’m impressed at how far I’ve come since I started the year and balked at the idea of having multiple conversations going in one scene. And I’m looking forwards to what games I can make in the future as I gain a greater mastery (or any mastery at all, really) over Unity.

A Knight’s Quest: Event as Narrative


Inside the Church

A Knight’s Quest’s story is based around complicating the usual heroic narrative of an RPG. The hero arrives in a strange world and is given a sword and a goal: save the church from the evil king. In order to do this he’s supposed to kill his way through an army of mooks, level up, and eventually engage in an epic boss battle to vanquish evil from the kingdom and live happily ever after. The Hero, Levi, starts the game wanting to be this sort of stereotypical RPG hero, and so his entrance into this world is exactly what he should want. Previously I had planned for the complications to arise when he first met an enemy, but I’ve since begun implementing them as early as the church where he first arrives.

The woman in blue on the left side of the church is the nun from my paper game, but the woman in red on the right side is new. As of now, the two of them are creating conflict for the player before he’s even left the church. The nun immediately greets Levi as a sort of phrophesied hero, the answer to her prayers, and is the one who gives him the sword and tells him about the evil king whose forces are bearing down on the church as they speak. The woman in red, who doesn’t have a name yet and so will just be referred to as “Red” from here on out, takes a much different approach. She is convinced that if the rebels peacefully surrender, the evil king will spare their lives. Levi presents a danger to this plan for her, since the rebels will rally around this would-be hero and fight instead of surrendering, thus eliminating any possibility of mercy for them. As a result of this, she urges him not to take up the sword and to instead calm down and wait in the church until the rebels surrender so that mercy can be granted to them.

This sort of conflict is interesting to me, given that it seems like it would fit perfectly within a less radical game. Having a character opposing the hero’s decision to fight can serve to empower the player as they feel that they are already making their own decisions within the world and defying a cautious worrywart in their search for adventure. That being said, however, conflict still exists here, and it isn’t until the Nun helps convince Red to step aside that the player can leave this level with the sword to fight the enemies.


The Altar and its bowl

At the moment I’m trying to put something else new into the game. As Levi kills more enemies, I want it to be physically reflected on him, so I’m planning on adding blood left over from the enemies he’s killed to his sprite. This gives the player a very clear visual feedback on how much blood they have at the moment. The other thing this does is let me make it clear when it’s being reduced, by having that literally wash the blood off of his body. The nun will be the chief character in that role, as she will be using water to try and remove the blood from Levi’s body. In order to set this up early, I want to have her direct Levi to the bowl of water on the altar after he falls through the portal. It will help clear his mind after the disorienting passage through dimensions and time, and set up the water as having a mentally cleansing effect which the nun will be associated with. In order to do this, I’m working on putting a hitbox on top of the bowl which will trigger an animation of Levi splashing some of the water on his face, but that is proving more difficult than I expected. Apparently rotating a character’s head anything other than ninety degrees isn’t supported by Piskel, so I have to do it manually, and I must say it is significantly more difficult than I would have guessed.


The Sword

The other hitbox I’m trying to add is one on this sword. It will be placed on the altar on the other side of the bowl, as shown in the first image of this post. One of the first things the nun will say to Levi after he’s regained his footing is that he should pick up the sword and go fight the evil king’s henchmen. Naturally, after she says this, people will want to pick up the sword, which is why a hitbox that triggers an animation of Levi picking up the sword would be of a great deal of use when he collides with it. This hitbox is interesting, because it will also need to change his sprite to have the sword on it, and his sprite will need to remain that way for the rest of the time he has the sword equipped, this means the hitbox needs to change that somehow. In all honesty, I have yet to figure out how exactly to make that happen. While I know how to have the hitbox change his animations to something else (I tested that by having one turn him blue) I haven’t figured out how to make that carry between scenes. It has occurred to me recently that I could just make it so the player is unable to leave this scene unless they have the sword and then change him in all of the other scenes so that he has the sword normally.

This sort of thing does raise an issue with my plans to increase the amount of blood on him, however. I think it is unavoidable that I will need to have some carry over of effects on Levi between scenes, unless I want to overload every scene transition with “if” statements to send him to different scenes based on the state he is in when he leaves.

Radical Game Design: A Knight’s Quest


Levi Devaux; Not Quite the Knight in Question

My Game, A Knight’s Quest, is not actually about a knight. Instead, it is about a young man, pictured above, who wants to be a knight, and finds himself thrust into a situation which demands him to do so. One evening, as he’s practicing with a training sword, a portal appears before him, seeming to offer adventure beyond its seductive glow. He steps through, and falls into a medieval church where a group of plucky rebels have been pinned down by an evil king. The rebels, in response to this stranger’s sudden and inexplicable appearance at their time of need, decide Levi is a hero and ask him to help them fight back. Naturally, Levi jumps at the opportunity to play the hero, and agrees.


The Portal

Things don’t turn out quite how Levi imagined, however. Not because he is unable to perform those heroic actions, of course, he is actually the chosen one, and his capability in combat reflects that. What throws a wrench in things is that he has to kill them. Levi’s first encounter with the enemy is punctuated with their blood splashing out from their wounds and covering his hands. Levi, a sensible and modern young man, does what any of us would do in response: he starts flipping out. The rest of the game follows Levi as he attempts to cope with the brutality he must inflict in order to be the “hero” he wants to be.

Levi is a character of mine I have used in a few places before. He comes from a sort of homebrew Dungeons and Dragons style game I play online with some friends, where he has a similar struggle, and has been used in a few different campaigns there, as well as a story I wrote for one of my other classes. So, when I had to come up with a concept for my game, Levi seemed like a natural choice to use.


My Paper Game’s first area

The paper game went relatively well, I think. I had a bar at the bottom, the purple thing in the picture above, which represented the player’s “Blood” so to speak. The encounters within my paper game would raise or lower it depending on what happened within them. There were three encounters to begin with, one with each of the three npcs.


From Right to Left: “The General” “The Kidney Bean Person” “The Nun” and “Levi” (I haven’t come up with names for anyone else yet)

Levi starts off at the far right of the church area, so the person playing talked to the bean person first, which is just as well since I’d planned on using him to introduce the blood bar. He told the player that they had to be careful of getting too much blood, or else they would be unable to continue fighting. After the Bean person, the player went to speak with the Nun, who offered to pray with the player. Upon doing so, the bar decreased representing the comfort which the nun provided him helping Levi cope with the blood he had spilled. The player then exited the church room through the door in the upper left to enter the War Room.


The War Room

In here they went over and spoke to the general, who congratulated Levi on his victory yesterday against the enemy troops, and praised him for his martial prowess. The praise forced Levi to remember the fighting and the people he had killed, resulting in his blood bar increasing. After this, the player left the war room and went to speak with the nun again, hoping to decrease the bar, but found that she couldn’t decrease it any more. I was out of content at that point, so the game ended there. I was rather pleased that I had been able to so quickly establish that blood was bad and they should want to decrease it, while also linking the nun with its decrease and the general with its increase. However, there were some complaints. People didn’t like the general just suddenly increasing their blood, so I think that it not being clear he would do that before he did it was a mistake. Also, at the time, I had assigned numerical values to the blood, and the Nun decreased it by the same amount the general increased it, so overall there was no net change which occurred, which also was cause for some complaint.


Playing in the War Room

There was a particularly valuable piece of feedback I received from this. My classmates noted that the blood bar was sort of boring and wondered if there was another way I could convey the increase in Levi’s blood. I had been considering other ways to show this myself, though in addition to the bar, rather than instead of it, so I mentioned those ideas to my classmates. My ideas were to have the sky change based on the level of the player’s blood. When you first kill an enemy, a great red gash would appear on the sky, as though the blood you had just spilled had splattered over the sun itself. As more would be killed, more blood would cover the sky until eventually, it would begin to literally rain blood. My classmates seemed to quite like this idea and recommended I drop the bar entirely in favor of the sky blood, which I have decided to do.

At the time of the Paper Game, my build is not far along at all. I have completed the sprite work for Levi, including his walk cycle and idles, and have made it so that he is capable of movement. I have also done up the wall and floor of the church’s inside, however that is all. I still have yet to give the nun and the general their own sprites or move on further to even think of introducing the other concepts I want in my game, such as the changing blood bar.