Happy 2017!

Firstly, Thank you for your continued support of Damsel! 

2016 had a lot of highlights for Damsel and Screwtape Studios. In February, we launched our Greenlight campaign and after only 18 days we successfully made it throughBased on that exposure, we were given the opportunity to travel to Boston to show off the game at PAX East. Thus was our first international showing , and was a great excuse to jump into development with gusto.  

PAX was fantastic! Damsel had a great position in the PAX Rising booth, and with thousands of people passing by, and we barely had a moment where we weren't showing off the game. Watching people play your game is exhilarating, and we came back to the studio ready to apply all of the amazing feedback we received from players, media, and other developers.  

At PAX East we also held an impromptu Speed Running Competition. Don't worry we haven't forgot you our winner will still get a steam key when we release.

 

Since April the game has come a long way, with the tireless efforts of Anthony and the team. 

April 2016

April 2016

December 2016

December 2016

The more people who played the game, and the more feedback we received, the more the game took shape.  Our ldvdld design and core mechanics proved attractive to players who liked to speed run, but our visual style was drawing in a much larger number of players. This meant honing the scoring system, player and enemy movement and objectives to find the balance for everyone who wants to play the game.

In November, Australian game developers flock to Melbourne for Melbourne International Game Week. Damsel would be showing for four days at two different events in the week. Firstly, we showed off Damsel as a part of the Made With Unity Showcase at Unite '16, then at the end of the week we had an amazing time presenting Damsel again at PAX Melbourne.  

PAX was again fantastic. Damsel was coming together! Not only was the booth nearly always full but when contacting press before the show we actually had interviews lined up before the weekend started! And as always the feedback from players was invaluable! 

Since November Anthony has been continually honing the gameplay and adding feedback and scoring.  

We have come so far, and can't wait to show you more before our release in 2017. 

We are Still alive!

Wow, so apparently it has been almost 4 months since the last time we  blogged. So what have we been doing? 

PAX East was an amazing experience and opportunity for us to show off Damsel for the first time. PAX Australia has become a large convention, but nothing prepared us for the sheer number of people who came through the doors each day.  

 

The PAX Rising space was amazing! We had an amazing group of games around us and all of the other developers were awesome. We were on the edge of the area which meant we got a lot of random foot traffic! Nothing felt better than watching people play Damsel, except maybe meeting Erika Ishii from Back to School on Geek and Sundry or being interviewed by Rami Ismail on the Amazon Twitch Stream.

We are really glad we had a third person help us with the showing of the game, our composer Dan came over to Boston with us. Even while drinking 10 bottles of water a day my voice was completely gone by day three (when you're next to the ULOL competition stage you don't have a choice about yelling). 

The other connections that were made at PAX have led us to the point we are at now. We are pushing back the release of Damsel because of a chance we have been giving to raise more money to complete the game at our high standards. We will have more updates on this very soon.  

So where is Damsel at? There has been a lot of work done on the  Well here is a great video of a level from a recent build:  

 

 

Preparing for PAX East

A few weeks ago Screwtape studios received an email asking us to bring Damsel to Boston to show it in the Pax Rising area of PAX EAST. We may not have been timing for us to stop development for a small amount of time to fly across the world, but when you're asked to go to PAX EAST you go!

We have been bug fixing, design balancing,mech ordering, travel planning and two days we will be flying out from Brisbane, Australia to head to one of the biggest Gaming Conventions in the world.

 

Damsel is not a complete game yet, it is well over 50% complete, so what part do you show. The Arcade style of Damsel means our levels are used over for various missions as the game progresses.  Instead of having Mission progress in the build we take to PAX we have a number of our levels available and each level has two of the missions available. We decided this because of the amount of time we are hoping to have each player at the booth for.

Enjoy these screenshots and videos and come and see us at the PAX Rising Booth if you will be there. If not keep an eye out for our After PAX Post!

 

 

Damsel Art update

 

The Art team have been working of making each level feel more emmersive, here's a great comparison of the first level of the game:

 

Old version of Back Alley- USA

Old version of Back Alley- USA

Brand new version of Back Alley USA

Brand new version of Back Alley USA

We Look forward to showing off more soon.

 

 

 

GX Australia, Sydney 27-28 Feb 2016

So on the 26th Anthony and Megan flew down to Sydney, to be a part of the first Australian GX convention, and to show Damsel for the first time to the public.

It was an amazing two days of showing, people were wonderfully responsive to the game. 

The highlights for us were meeting Jodan Raskopoulos from Insert-coin and Axis of Awesome and Tim Cain the creator of Fallout came over to play and look at our game!!! 

The Lowlights? It didn't go for long enough, I didn't get to see any of the amazing panels and I didn't get to play anywhere near as many games as I wanted to! 

So all in all, you will definitely be seeing us at GX again Next Year!!!


Steam Greenlight

Damsel has been Greenlit!

 

We took 18 days to go through Steam Greenlight! We had so much amazing feedback from interested players and all your votes got us to #16 at the highest and Greenlit at #21.

Thank you again to everyone that voted! Your support has been amazing and we are excited to keep you updated on the Progress and Release of Damsel.

Dev Update February

 

It's been awhile! Screwtape Studios has been fervently developing new levels, animating our final enemies and new mission items and adding new levels and level art. On top of development we have been preparing ourselves for our Greenlight Campaign (lots of marketing materials created) and finally showing Damsel for the first time at the end of February.

Updates

Levels and Missions

Damsels Missions system has been completed. Our fantastic designer has been creating our unique locations and missions that take Damsel around the world, collecting intelligence to help find captured humans and destroy as many vampires as you can.

Level Select Screen

Level Select Screen

New locations will appear once you have completed the last mission.

 

Missions

Find Intel - As a secret agent there is nothing more important than finding new intel. It unlocks new missions and locations.

Save Hostages - The Vampires have been taking hostages, you may not know why to begin with but they need saving

Destroy Coffins - You need to destroy the vampire threat, the easiest way, is to get them while they sleep!

Eliminate Enemies - Not all Vampires are asleep sometimes they are awake and kicking. Find them and take them out.

Timed Missions - You need to remember the locations you visit

Our level locations include

  • Rooftops
  • Warehouses
  • Back alleys
  • And underground Slums

And finally we are getting ready to Start our Greenlight Campaign. Our artists have been moved to marketing assets (lucky them). We have been creating a new trailer and creating other assets for the page. We have made a great Greenlight Trailer and will be releasing it with our campaign. We will post again when we have launched our Greenlight campaign.

So what next? More Mission and Levels, finalise animations and art and adding the upgrade system. Oh and getting ready to show for the first time on the 27th February at GX in Sydney.

Meg

Happy New Year! development update

Happy New Year everyone!

Firstly we'd like to welcome everyone back from their holiday break and thank you for the continued support and interest in Screwtape Studios and Damsel.

2016 holds a lot for the team, in February we show Damsel for the first time at GX in Sydney. This i the events first year in Australia and we're happy to be sponsoring the event too! Just over to the website and book your tickets for the most inclusive gaming event in Australia http://www.gxaustralia.com/ . We plan to also hold our Kickstarter and Greenlight campaigns over this time as well, so keep an eye out for our social media posts about both of these events. The big aim is also to make it over to PAX East in March (this of course depends on costs).  

We started off the year in a great place after prototyping and solidifying the game design and with our art teams working well ahead of schedule last year.

A mockup of the Rooftops Scenes  

A mockup of the Rooftops Scenes

 

And here is a mockup of the internal area.  

And here is a mockup of the internal area.

 

We have new enemy types in the game and here are concepts for our Bone Throwing Grunt enemy.


Finally we'd like to introduce our Big Boss the murderous Madam Moroi!

Concepts for our Boss Madam Moroi  

Concepts for our Boss Madam Moroi

 

Moroi before and after transition states  

Moroi before and after transition states

 

Well that's all for now! Keep coming back and we will keep you updated on Damsel!

Meg

Squash and Stretch in Puppet 2D

A while ago I found a cheap method of getting squash and stretch working using the Puppet 2D plugin (what we’re using to build puppet rigs in Unity). I did my initial experiments using Damsel’s shotgun; have a look at the results.

Damsel's gun if it were a 1940's Looney Tune prop.

Damsel's gun if it were a 1940's Looney Tune prop.

Here’s what I did to get there. After creating a mesh for the object you’ll need at least 2 bones (I have a third here to anchor the shotgun handle) that aren’t chained together. This is important because we want to be able to move them independently and stretch the mesh out. Attach Parent Controls to them and tick “Scale” in the inspector. Have them parented to something else so that you can move or rotate the whole object.

The way you skin these two bones to the mesh is fairly crucial to getting good looking deformation. Try scaling/moving the Parent controls to their extremes and manually edit the vertex weights so that they look right at these poses. I find that giving the outer vertices more resistance (less bone influence) helps give the deformation more believable mass. You’ll get a better sense of bulging and stretching this way.  


In order to make the rig squash and stretch all you have to do is scale the controls up when you bring them closer together, or scale them down when they’re further apart. You don’t have to scale them uniformly either; vertical and horizontal scaling both work well.

I hope this was helpful to anyone out there using Puppet 2D. The plugin might include squash and stretch support in the future, but this method will probably give you a bit more control over how it looks. 

Painting the oven, staring at the grime

Hi there.

Another brief art asset/process post. Part of the art process is making the world around Damsel feel lived in. Giving areas Damsel traverses through thematic purpose and just a dash of realism for the player to relate to. So today I painted a big ol' oven.

For this painting I started with just the basic shapes, working from a tiny thumbnail in my sketchbook barely visible to the human eye.

Moving on to add a little detail to the shapes with a bit of shading and some lighting. Breaking up the painting into three pieces: Base (front) Fire pit (Back) and the Vent above.

Sprinkling in more detail with some highlighting, adding a few little items like the vent frame metal straps and the oven pit spikes. As well as the fire pit under the oven, adding heat the colours.

Then really digging in and push those pixels around. Nothing fancy, just grinding that tablet pen and abusing the undo button. Spending hours with my head in an oven observing the grime and grit. Applying it, sharpening the details and adding the heat glow.

Once the base pieces are done, throw some kitchen props in there to make it look busy and used. Ready to sit quietly in the background in Damsel's world

Level Designer Bio

 

Hi there! I’m Gareth, and I’m the level designer for Damsel. I’ve known Meg since high school and worked with her at my first job in the industry, as a quality assurance tester at Pandemic Studios. Since then, I’ve worked at N3V Games (previously Auran Games) on their Trainz Simulator line of games for PC, as well as most of their mobile games, such as the Dead On Arrival series. I’ve also created a bunch of terrible game jam games and will have surely created more by the time Damsel comes out.

It’s hard to pick a favorite game, but a rough group of them would be Metal Gear Solid, Civilisation, Heroes of Might and Magic 3, Tetris and The Secret of Monkey Island. I love to play anything though, the weirder and more esoteric the better.

On Damsel, I place platforms and other bits of geometry in Unity to make up the levels, but I also do a few other things on the side as well, like mechanic design and narrative. I also organise the weekly games competition, which you’ll probably see on here soon enough.

 

Why we can't have nice things

Hi there, today I'm going to take you through the process of painting 'vandalised' background statues. With a lot of time on their hands and no one really in the mortal world to answer to. Vampires are jerks!

Kicking off with the rough sketch, quickly laying out the shapes.

Draw in clean linework to make sense of the mess of scribbles.

Blob in basic colour, light and shade. Trying to move quickly not paying too much attention to paint it in accurately and using the clean later as my blueprint.

Then render, a LOT of colour picking, undo and redo. Using a hard edge brush colour mixing as I go. Then at the end something legible emerges from the mess.

The statues are done, then just have at it like a jerkus with too much time on their hands. Painting damages into the statues and making variants.

Now the statues get placed in scene and they seem happily at home and just another part of vampire squatter décor.

Animator Bio

Hi, I’m Nick, the animator for Damsel. I first got into animation at 13 years old, creating animation for shorts and games on Newgrounds. My favourite games are combat action games like Dark Souls, Monster Hunter and Bayonetta. I love games that you can endlessly replay and still feel like you’re learning. Games like Wario Ware, Super Mario Galaxy and Metal Slug are also a great influence.

My role on Damsel is pretty simple. Just animate all the characters! I’m doing the animation in Unity using the Puppet2D plugin. 

Creating Background Art Assets

Here's a brief rundown on how I make the background art assets for Damsel. I've chosen one of the statue set pieces because it has more detail than some of the other basic props, as well as a good mix of different textures.

Most props start with a quick sketch to get the basic shape and silhouette. The drawing is pretty loose at this stage which works especially well for things like the robes as it gives a good flow to the fabric.

The sketch is then cleaned up with some simple line work. This will be covered up later so not much effort is put into the fine details. The arch and wings have been dawn on one side and then flipped and copied to the other side to make sure the statue is symmetrical where it needs to be.

The line work is then filled with some basic colours. This is done on a grey background as it keeps the colours neutral, you instinctively colour things too light on a white background or too dark on a black background. The greys of the statue have a warm tint to match the rest of the level. I made the inside of the wings a bit darker so that the silhouette of the woman reads better.

I then add some basic shading with a soft brush. This is done with a layer set to multiply. The aim here is to define the light source.

The basic shading is then painted over with a hard edge brush. This is where everything it cleaned up and polished. I tried to make the stone of the statue look blocky by not having a lot of smooth shading. The bronze areas have more highlights to make them look metallic.

I then get rid of the line work and add some red secondary lighting. This will help it blend in with the rest of the scene as it makes it look like it is being affected by the other objects.

Development Update #1

Good morning! (Or afternoon :D)

It's been 3 weeks since my last update in which I explained where we were at and what our next sprint looked like. Our Artists Have been working on concepts for Act 2. This area draws Damsel through Slums of urban China that are being used to hide a network of blood farms. Damsel works her way from the rooftops to the underground labs.

 

Anthony and Gareth have spent the last 3 weeks working on refining the Combat mechanics and enemies. Gareths' new Level Design has a great feel and we hope you like it.

 

Nick has been working on new frames for the new enemy attacks that have been designed.

Thanks for reading and following along with our development.

Meg

Making modular castle towers.

Instead of painting variants of a castle tower, making modular assets can spread the usability of the art and also allow the designer to repurpose pieces later on.

Starting with the sketch process, drawing out the elements and keeping the layers separate layers so that you can move the assets around and tweak them. Making sure everything fits together and is proportional.

Then adding some basic colours and further defining the details with highlights. Getting rid of the sketchy lines and adding lighting. Then sharpen the details and add darker shadows. Clean up and separate the assets.

Then you have a handful of pieces ready to make towers.

Animation Process

So in the previous animation blog post I described the process of setting up a 2D rig, but didn’t go into detail about the most important part; animating the rig! So here I’m going to write about how I approach animation in general on this project.

Step 1 Find the extremes

Before I start actually animating the character, I’ll usually add the key poses to the timeline and test how extreme I can make them. Even though I’ve already designed the rig with certain poses in mind, sometimes I’m able to produce happy accidents by exploring the limits of the rig. I also use this time to make sure the poses having clear compositional staging.

Having extreme and opposing poses is important if you’re trying to make your animations impactful. It adds contrast and clarity to actions, making them memorable and easily understood.

Step 2 Design your arcs

The animation I do in between poses always has arcs of some nature. Sometimes they’re obvious like in a sweeping sword swing, and sometimes they’re subtle like the bounce in an idle animation. If there’s an extreme difference between your key poses, then you’ll likely need to link them with an arc of some sort. Notice the arcs in Ryu's dragon punch. A small arc during the wind up, and a large one for the swing. 

"Shoryuken!"

"Shoryuken!"

 

In addition to making actions more natural looking, arcs also help to make animations more readable. This is because arcs infer their motion, allowing your eyes to track and understand the path of motion even at high speeds. As long as you see movement at the start and end of an arc, you’re left with the impression of the whole arc.

 

"Hi!"

"Hi!"

Note that the red dotted line indicates the gap in the arc, but your eye will make the connection regardless.

Step 3 Adjust the Timing

When thinking about the timing of an animation, I consider what information needs to be conveyed to the viewer. Animation at a constant speed doesn’t give the viewer anything to focus on and will be harder to read. Contrast proves again to be an effective method of highlighting, so my timing lingers heavily on the key poses. This essentially segments the animation into distinct moments, which makes the overall action easier to read and digest. Timing with extreme contrast suits puppet animation well, as the quick transitions help make the swapping of  pieces appear seamless.

Step 4. Add follow-through animation.  

If you picture a bunny with long ears stopping suddenly, those ears are going to swing forward as it stops. When Road Runner stops on a dime he wobbles like a springboard. That's follow-through. When the animation between poses is extremely brief, follow-through becomes an essential way to express what the viewer barely saw.

 

 

The bunny moves from the left to the right in 0 frames, but it doesn’t look like he teleported. That’s because 3 examples of follow-through are present. 1) The ears lag behind and continue forward. 2) His head wobbles in place as he stops suddenly. And 3) Carrot crumbs trail behind him (and his mouth is full). Okay, that last example is probably a bit creative but I think it qualifies.

That’s all for now as I’m still learning. Though I’ll likely discover even more ways to approach animation during the course of development. Thanks for reading! 

Sprinting through Damsel

Hello, 

Megan here, your friendly neighborhood Producer. We here at Screwtape Studios have been working on Damsel, our first PC game, for about 9 months. During the Production we have been running 2 week sprints. We have kept our sprints short to be able to divert attention if needed when we reach the end of a sprint. Our latest sprint is a great example of agility. Because we are able to determine potential deficits quickly, we have changed directions for this sprint. 

This sprint we will stop level creation and hone combat mechanics. What looks and sounds great on paper and in our minds can need massaging once the components are in. 

Our Designer Gareth and Programmer/Creative Director Anthony are working together in sandbox levels to massage the mechanics as quickly as possible. As a Producer this is where the two sides of my head fight. We want the best and most creative game possible but, as most game development has a time/budget that needs to be  stuck to, we have given our self deadlines for the creativity. This two week sprint is our deadline for making all the mechanics we have work together. But once we pass the deadline mechanics may get the chop :) 

Dave and David our great art team are continuing with our current environments and next week will begin working on the next level. Come back to see what our next level will look like! 

Nick our animator is continuing to rig and animate our second enemy.

We will all keep posting about the direction of the game and post another video soon! 

Thanks for following Damsel and questions are always welcome.

 

 

Meg