The Empty Inn and Untold Story – Similarities

Hello everyone!

As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, we’ve announced a new game, The Empty Inn!

The Empty Inn is a 2D, horror-adventure game with 8-bit, NES-style, pixel art. If you haven’t already, you can check out the trailer below:

You can also pre-order The Empty Inn below:

This means that when the game releases (within the next two weeks), you’ll get access to it straight away!

Anyway, pre-orders aside, I mainly wanted to talk about the similarities between The Empty Inn and Untold Story and how they share more than just an art-style. But before I go any further, I just want to highlight that Untold Story is still in development. The Empty Inn is a side story, something for players to get excited for Untold Story.

Let’s start with how The Empty Inn came about:

Whilst developing interior art assets for Untold Story, I had an idea based on the interior pixel art I was creating. The idea was to create a game set inside an empty inn with the player exploring it and discovering its treasures. The game would also have horror elements to it (what’s more spooky than an empty inn?), and would require the player to manage their light resource whilst solving puzzles and exploring the inn.

After producing a quick prototype, I came to the conclusion that the game would be fun and that if I used some art assets from Untold Story I could create it fairly quickly and release it. I thought it’d be am interesting game to release before Untold Story and would get players hyped for the game.

The development of The Empty Inn wasn’t just driven by creative curiosities though.

I wanted to release something small and polished before Untold Story so that I could generate a bit more revenue (using the money I made from The Empty Inn to support Untold Story and any other games I create), as well as help get the Candlelight Studios brand out and into the open. Any money generated from The Empty Inn will be a huge help and will contribute to increasing the quality of my future games (for example I could use the money to get a dedicated sound track for Untold Story!)

The Empty Inn doesn’t just share art assets with Untold Story, the game uses a lot of Untold Story’s code, as well as sharing a lot of the game’s design and story philosophies. In fact, developing The Empty Inn has taught me a lot of lessons which will be applied to Untold Story’s development. This will make Untold Story even more awesome!

I hope this clarifies some things. Sorry this is a bit short! I’ll be making more blog posts about The Empty Inn over the next couple of days, going more in-depth about the game, so stay tuned!

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The Empty Inn – New Game Announcement

Today we are proud to announce… The Empty Inn (the game which we teased last week)!

You can watch a trailer below:

The Empty Inn is a 2D, horror game with 8-bit, NES-style, pixel art and puzzle-exploration gameplay, similar to many of the adventure games of the era. Utilising an interesting light mechanic, the player is required to solve puzzles and explore the area, ensuring that they can keep their light on whilst doing so.

The Empty Inn is very similar in style to another one of Candlelight Studio’s games: Untold Story. This is because the game was made using the same engine and shares a lot of the code. You can read more about the similarities here!

The Empty Inn will be launching very soon (within the next two weeks!) for Windows! You can pre-order the game below:

I can’t wait for everyone to play it!

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Environments of Untold Story

Hello everyone!

Let me start off by saying, it’s been a very busy two weeks! Lots of interesting things have been happening and I would be lying if I said that it didn’t have an impact on Untold Story’s development. Thankfully for the past couple of days everything has normalised and now I can return back to the usual blogging and development schedule! Because of the short break away from development this dev-log will be a bit shorter than usual, but I’ve still got some cool things to show off!

This week’s development blog is about Untold Story’s environments, and how we’ve stayed relatively close to NES limitations yet utilised modern techniques to create a look which is familiar whilst incredibly refreshing!

First off, just to reiterate, Untold Story’s graphics are limited to NES-style in terms of tile size (8×8) and both colour palette (roughly 55 colours). In order to keep the game’s graphics as close as possible to NES RPGs, we’ve also got a slight limit on the amount of detail the environments can have. The problem with these limitations is that it can lead to quite flat-looking graphics, and make the world appear slightly dull. Naturally that’s to be expected, given our choice to use NES-style graphics, however there are two things we’ve done in order to make the graphics more pleasing.

  • Populate the world with more furniture/objects
More objects in the environment make the world feel inhabitated

More objects in the environment make the world feel inhabited

The NES had limitations on how many different types of tiles the console could show. Thankfully, in these modern days, we don’t have such a limit! So we’ve popularised the world with a variety of different tiles. This makes the world a bit more interesting and exciting, as it means there are there are plenty of things to look at and examine.

We haven’t gone too overboard though, as we still want to retain some of the openness, and emptiness, of the worlds of NES RPGs.

  • Lighting
Untold Story's world feels alive!

Untold Story’s world feels alive!

Whilst we haven’t gone too crazy and created a dedicated, specialist, lighting system for Untold Story, we have come up with some solutions to imitate lighting and add warmth to the world. One such solution is to create light points, areas of the world which have a light shining on them, by using a semi-transparent sprite to light up the world. We’ve found that once we’ve added the lighting, it becomes incredibly hard to take it away, as it makes the world feel alive.

We’ve also animated some of the lighting, as you can see below:

Dynamic lighting?!

Dynamic lighting??

This makes the world feel more alive and lived in!

We’re hoping that the environments of Untold Story will retain their retro, 8bit, feel whilst also feeling alive and modern!

Unfortunately I’ve got to leave it there for today! We’re hoping that we can be a bit more active next week, so stay tuned and remember to follow us on twitter @Candlight_S!

Thanks for reading!

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No Untold Story dev-log on the 26th February! Instead there will be one on 5th March!

Hey guys!

Just a quick note to say: yes, I know that I didn’t post a devlog about Untold Story on the 26th February! Things got very crazy around here last week and I wanted to make sure that our next devlog was completely perfect before showing it off!

So now the next devlog post will be on the 5th March! We’ll be showing off some cool stuff in this devlog, so stay tuned!

Thanks for your patience!

Josh

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The Battle System of Untold Story

It’s finally time to unveil the battle system for Untold Story!

The following is what the battle system will look like in the final game, but do expect a few small changes as we get more user-feedback during our testing.

Battle system basics

When designing the battle system for Untold Story I was wary of keeping it within the same style of NES RPGs, whilst also ensuring that it came across as modern, easy-to-understand and (perhaps most importantly) entertaining.

That’s how I came up with the battle system know as: Active Battle Points or ABP for short.

So how does it work?

The player controls four characters, and uses those characters to fight a maximum of four enemies. Each of the player’s characters has a circle around them, which charges over time. When a character’s circle reaches full, they gain one battle-point. Characters can gain a maximum of four battle-points after which they’ll stop gaining battle-points. When you do an action you’ll consume all of your current battle-points, at which stage you’ll start gaining battle-points again.

Four characters, four enemies, four battle-points.

So, how do you fight enemies? Each character is bound to a button (for the keyboard it’s Q,W,E,R), with each button controlling one of the characters. For example, want to get Adrasteia to attack? Then simply press the Q key. Want Blanc to attack? Press the E key. Pressing the button that corresponds to each character is the only action you can do in battle. But there are a few caveats.

Adrasteia using one battle-point to do an attack

Adrasteia using one battle-point to do an attack

Remember those battle-points I was talking about? Well, each character will do a different action based on how many battle-points they have. If Adrasteia only has one battle-point then she will do a basic attack. If she has four battle-points, then she will do an attack which will not only deal considerable damage, but also steal some of the enemy’s life.

Do you wait for your characters to get more battle-points so you can do more powerful attacks, or do you keep hammering away at your enemies with basic attacks which only cost one-battle point? The key to Untold Story’s battle system is patience and timing.

Blanc using three battle-points to do a more powerful attack.

Blanc using three battle-points to do a more powerful attack.

For example, if there is one enemy left but your allies are all on low health then do you wait until Sophia has two battle-points so that she can heal all of her allies, or just get her to attack (and hopefully kill) the last enemy with one battle-point?

Lots of tactical decisions involved!

There’s also one last mechanic. At a later point in the game, players will have access to summons. Each attack you do on an enemy will slowly build up the summon bar. Once the summon bar is fill, another character (in the image below its Bakchos) will jump into the fray and launch a devastating attack against all of the enemies.

Bakchos being summoned into battle!

Bakchos being summoned into battle!

Pretty cool, right?

Timing is key in Untold Story, getting everything to come together can lead to quick battles. You do need to be careful though, because if you slip up then you’re going to get knocked about a lot because the enemies hit very hard.

That’s it for today’s basic look at Untold Story’s battle system! We’re hoping to get a trailer for the battle system together soon which we hope will give you a clearer picture of how battles function in Untold Story!

For now, I hope you enjoy the above GIFs!

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A quick look at the 8-bit pixel art of Untold Story

Untold Story’s 8-bit graphics is one of the game’s more defining features, and is something that deserves to be talked about in a more technical capacity than today’s blog post. For today I just wanted to take a quick look at some of the thoughts, ideas and inspirations that went into Untold Story’s 8-bit art style.

Technically not technical

There are a few indie games that have adopted the 8-bit style (big shout out to Shovel Knight), and have really tried to create the feel of the style from a both an aesthetic and technical perspective.

Untold Story does things a bit differently in this regard. Instead of trying to reproduce the technical side of 8bit graphics and NES game development, Untold Story uses modern technology to recreate the art-style without the NES technical limitations.

Why?

Because a lot of NES RPGs, whilst revolutionary and wonderful, were still very much constrained by the technology of the NES which lead to a less than ideal gameplay experience for the player. For example, menus were rendered in certain, complicated, ways and the game’s UI (user-interface) was lackluster. Also there’s a reason why the original Final Fantasy’s battle system is slow, and that’s due to NES technology. That and the lack of evolution in the genre at the time of the game’s creation.

Game design has come a LONG way since the 1980s, as well as technology, and I feel that it’s important that games that are made during this time make use of the advances to create a more enjoyable experience for the player, even if they’re “retro”-style games.

With this in mind Untold Story attempts to replicate the beauty of 8bit, without being bogged down by old technology. In fact, I’ve gone to great lengths to try to insure that I keep the style of Untold Story as authentic as possible whilst keeping the game playable and user friendly.

Different sprites for different types

The original NES Final Fantasy games used two different types of characters, one for exploring the map, and another large sprite which was used during battle. This meant that each character had two sets of animations (which lead to a lot more extra work!); however it was a great way of getting around NES’s technical limitations and giving the player a clearer view during battles.

 

Sophia when she's on the map.

Sophia when she’s on the map.

Sophia casting a spell in battle

Larger Sophia sprite when she’s in battle.

We decided to replicate that in Untold Story, producing two sets of sprites for each of the characters, creating a more “retro” feel in the game.

The original Final Fantasy could only use a select amount of tiles sprites to populate areas. Untold Story does the same, only using a limited amount tiles to populate the space. This recreates the slightly lonely feeling of the original RPGs, and makes the game feel “retro”. In order to make sure Untold Story doesn’t feel too empty though, given that the game uses maps in a different way to the original Final Fantasy, Untold Story does use a few more tiles than the original Final Fantasy to ensure that the game’s world doesn’t feel too limited or empty.

Because we're not trying to recreate NES technology, we can use a few more tiles.

Because we’re not trying to recreate NES technology, we can use a few more tiles.

Not being linked to the technology of the NES, also allows us to do things such as in-depth tutorials, as well as making the UI way more user-friendly. I mean let’s face it; the old NES-games weren’t that user-friendly with players being required to read a manual in order to have even the simplest idea of what to do in a game.

Even though the UI has been changed and worked on considerably to make it user-friendly, we’ve insured that it still has a simplistic look and remains true to the 8-bit, NES era.

There’s a lot more to Untold Story’s art style and use of 8bit art than this, such as how 8bit art is used in the battle system as well as the towns, however I thought it would be better to cover these in individual blog posts.

For now I just wanted to provide a brief summary and overview of how Untold Story is using 8-bit graphics to create an experience that feels similar, and yet different, making it appear more modern yet respectful to the NES art style.

That’s it for this week! We’ll be back next week with some more Untold Story news (and, hopefully a new trailer) as well as a new dev-log on Thursday! In the meantime, be sure to follow us on twitter!

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Exploring the story and characters of Untold Story (no spoilers!)

The story is one of the most important parts of Untold Story. Whilst the game is only a few hours long, its story aims to be epic and stay with you long after you’ve finished playing. As I explained in my previous blog post (click here to read), the way the story is told is closer to that of storytelling in Playstation-era RPGs, than it is of NES RPGs. This means that there is more of a focus on character-based storytelling, instead of telling a story through the world and its inhabitants like in most NES RPGs.

General overview of the story

In Untold Story you play as Adrasteia, a Knight of Abila, during an attack on the Kingdom of Decelea. I can’t quite go into the reasons why, you’ll have to play Untold Story for that, but it’s for a just-cause… maybe.

There are two Abila armies invading Decelea. The first is lead by Lord Kyriakos, with the second being lead by Adrasteia. Unfortunately when Adrasteia arrives she discovers that Lord Kyriakos is in need of assistance, so she sends her army to go and aid him. Lord Kyriakos’ army, whilst merely a distraction, needs to survive long enough for Adrasteia to complete her main mission.

For you see, Adrasteia has been tasked with making her way to Decelea’s laboratory and then destroying the contents of whatever is inside. The purpose of the attack is to get to the laboratory, if Adrasteia can’t do that then the invasion (and subsequent consequences of it) will have been all for naut.

The majority of the game takes place during the invasion of Decelea, with Adrasteia exploring large portions of the town (including the poverty-stricken part). She also meets some interesting characters along the way.

Whilst the player’s battle-party will only consist of four party members (Adrasteia, Blanc, Marcus and Sophia), as you progress through Untold Story you’ll get access to a few more characters who will join you in battle and during your adventure.

For now, let’s look at the main party of characters and some of the more interesting non-player characters:

Adrasteia

Adrasteia in battle

Adrasteia in battle

Adrasteia is a battle-hardened warrior. Having been trained by the previous King of Abila (King Erbos), and participated in many battle, she knows her way around a sword.

Adrasteia is strong, proud and yet extremely kind hearted. She is the definition of the word “Knight”. Despite her attempts to remain somewhat impartial to Albia’s upper-class, she has some interesting relationships with certain characters…

Blanc and Marcus

Blanc in battle

Blanc in battle

Marcus in battle

Marcus in battle

Blanc is one of Adrasteia’s most loyal warriors, having fought alongside her for a long time. He is kind, and sees the good in everyone. Marcus on the other hand is brash and constantly demands action. Whilst he fights with honour (honour is a reoccurring theme in Untold Story), his active nature and longing for a good fight can sometimes make him come across as a bit of brute.

Blanc fights with a bow and arrow, whilst Marcus fights with daggers.

Sophia

Sophia casting a spell in battle

Sophia casting a spell in battle

Sophia, a young magic-user who specialises in healing magic, is a bit of a mystery. She’s quiet, loyal and is Adrasteia’s personal mage, following her wherever she may go. She never questions her orders, and is someone who just wants to “get the job done”.

Her weapon of choice is the staff, and whilst she specialises in healing your party, she can also do quite a bit of damage.

Other characters

King Basileus

The current King of Abila. Whilst his father was proud and powerful, partaking in many battles and leading his nation to victory, Basileus is not. He is weak, not just physically but also mentally, and lacks confidence. Whilst he is a good King at heart, he’s easy to control and manipulate, which hurts not just the one’s he loves but also the Kingdom of Abila.

Bakchos and Elpida

These two are some of my favourite characters in Untold Story.

Bakchos is a pirate who roams the sky with Elpida at his side. Bakchos and Elpida have frequently bumped into Adrasteia, and the characters appear to have some sort of rivalry going on. Bakchos is smart, sly and level headed, whilst Elpida is quiet, sharp-thinking and loyal. You’ve never meet a better pair of lovers… if that’s what they are.

Leo on the field!

Leo on the field!

There are more characters in Untold Story, such as the young scout Leo, however that’s it for the time being.

Before I go, I’ll just leave you with this little nugget of information:

Untold Story exists within a vast world with much history. Abila and Decelea are merely two, very small, Kingdoms in this huge world and the impact of Abila’s invasion of Decelea will be felt for many years to come.

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05/02 – No new dev-log today! (Sorry!)

Unfortunately there will not be a new dev-log today as originally promised.

We did intend to show off Untold Story’s battle system today however our plans had be scrapped due to game bugs and emergency fixes that have stopped us from getting the battle system to a state where we feel confident showing it off.

The battle system is really close to being presentable though (I promise!) and as much as we really wanted to show it off, we thought it would be best to hold back and wait until it’s perfect.

I know, I know, I promised a dev-log every Thursday and on the first Thursday I failed to deliver, so to make up for it we’ll be posting a dev-log this coming Tuesday, as well as a dev-log on Thursday!

We’re aiming to have a press-preview build next week, and we’re on track to do so (apart from the battle system bugs/last minute changes…) so we’ll have plenty to show off for the next few dev-logs!

Thanks for your patience everyone! We can’t wait to show you more of Untold Story!

 

 

 

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