Hello from the art department

Hi, my name is David Thor one of the 2D artist working on Damsel and a portion of the conglomerate art department known as, the Dave(s). More on that to come.

Now that the curtains have been pulled back to shed light on Damsel's game production, I guess it's time I put my pants back on and be hospitable.

In posts to come we would like to share with you our intimate secrets, our art production, our process, our feelings and our tears.

If you like seeing the drawing of things keep an eye on our devblog, as we use dark magic to bring the world of Damsel to two dimensional reality.

Thank you

Moroi Cellars Boasting the largest collection of vintage A+ wines.  

Moroi Cellars

Boasting the largest collection of vintage A+ wines.  

The longest journey starts with the first scene.

With my introductions out of the way, I thought today I might show a little more of the first scene. You’ve probably seen it in motion in the first video, but now you can see it all at once.

A developer's eye view of the first scene.

A developer's eye view of the first scene.

This scene is essentially our tutorial level. In a future post, I'll talk a little bit more about how the individual elements attempt to subtly coax the player into using the basic mechanics, but today I just want to touch a little on the overall goal of this scene.

Essentially: I want to teach the player to move right and upwards. The critical path in this scene specifically dictates this, and the concept gets repeated in the following scenes. The intention is that we can teach the player to consider movement in that direction as progress so in later levels, when the architecture gets more complex, they have an in-built compass that gives them a rough feel for where to go.

The secondary intention is that we can then use that feel against them to hide secrets and alternate paths. You can see a rough implementation of this concept in the pre-alpha video with the backtracking secret. It becomes much more prevalent in the following scenes. You'll see what I mean eventually. 

Anyway, tune in next time when I'll do a rough breakdown of each of the other tutorial aspects from this scene. Probably.


Hi! I’m Gareth, level designer on Damsel. Normally, I’d be talking a little about a section of the game I’m working on, but today I thought maybe I’d explain a little bit about what we’re aiming to make.

I, like a few other members of Screwtape Studios, didn’t have a videogame console during the 8 and 16-bit eras (not until the Gameboy came along at least). I got my start in videogames playing shareware (and let’s be honest, pirated) games on my Dad’s PC. While friends were playing Mario and Castlevania, I was zapping Vorticons in Commander Keen and grilling zombies in Halloween Harry.

Commander Keen 6 - Aliens ate my babysitter

Commander Keen 6 - Aliens ate my babysitter

Damsel is our love letter to those PC shooty platformers. Steam is packed with plethora of modern games taking their cues from big console platformers like Metroid and Sonic, but we wanted to show some of those PC classics, like the OG Duke Nukem and Prince of Persia, some love. We wanted to make a game that focused more on exploration and secrets and puzzles than manic action and twitch reactions. We wanted to take all those things that made that era of PC platforming great, and update them for a modern era.

Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia

So, that’s what we’re doing. You’ve probably seen the pre-alpha video we’ve released by now, some eagle-eyed viewers might have even picked up some references that harken back to some of those classic games. My goal is more of that: Larger levels that are crammed full of mysterious secrets.  You might have also caught a hint at how we’re going to include some of those higher-level secrets. Maybe there will also be some hints in the devblog posts? Maybe… There’s even a hint hidden in this post? Keep reading to find out!

Introduction to Animation in Damsel

Hi, my name is Nick and I'm in charge of animation for the game. This post is going to describe the tools we're using and our general approach to producing animation for Damsel. 

It was decided early on that we would use puppet style animation for the characters rather than hand drawn animation. The advantages of puppet animation were too great. It meant we could reuse rigs to have one animation shared by various characters. And it also let us easily customize or edit the look of both the character art and the animation itself. 

Puppet isn't without it's limitations however. Unlike 3D or hand drawn animation, you can't easily communicate foreshortening. Puppet uses a collection of static images that all exist on the same plane, so if you want something to appear to have depth, you have to redraw it at a different angle. It's my job to work within these limitations and have the animation be the best it possibly can be. 

The process of creating an animation in this way comes with a fair amount of individual steps. Here I'll describe them in order and mention the sorts of things that are considered at each stage. 

1. Concept the animation.
After having an action and it's purpose described to me by the game designer, I start exploring potential ways to communicate it as an animation. The purpose of this stage is to solidify any aspects of an idea that are unclear and make sure that they work practically with the planned game mechanic. Most of my work here is producing quick sketches of key poses, so that the final animation appears clear and easily understood by the player. 

2. Create the pieces.
Once I have a better idea of what the final animation will look like, I start creating the individual pieces that make up the character. This stage is much more involved that it appears. The character pieces need to be designed with puppet animation in mind, so you need to pay careful attention to the characters joints, as every piece will be pivoting from a certain point. Pieces that require more extreme movement need to look right at any angle, and also need to be designed to seamlessly connect with other pieces while they do. A technique I use is to include cuffs or bands near joints so that the seams are covered during movement.  Designing the characters with thinner limbs also helps to make seams less obvious. 

At the end of this stage I have something looking like this:

A little bit morbid, yeah.

A little bit morbid, yeah.

3. Rig the character. 
Next I place all the pieces I created into the game engine. I create flat 3D meshes for the pieces so that they can deform and appear more like flesh around the joints. I compile them all together and then create the rig, which acts like a virtual skeleton that controls and the pieces and allows them to be articulated into various poses. At this point it becomes clear why this technique is called Puppet animation. 

Gepetto at work.

Gepetto at work.

4. Animate it! 
The moment of truth. Once you start animating the character, it becomes clear whether or not your design and pre-planning has worked. Since there's a lot going on during this stage I'll go more in depth about the animation process in a later blog post.

Thanks for reading! 

Announcing Damsel... and a devblog.

Hi there! My name is Anthony and I'm the Creative Director and Lead Programmer at Screwtape Studios. We're a small team that's been making mobile games for a couple of years now, and while that's been fun (and sometimes horiffic), it's not really why we got into game development. We got into game dev because we think one of the most awesome things in life is sitting in front of a screen with a controller (or keyboard and mouse) and jumping into another world for a little while. Actually, we think it's even more awesome to actually MAKE that world and let other people jump in.

So, with that in mind, I'd like to introduce you to our new world - It's a platformer by the name of Damsel, and we're super proud to finally let everyone take a look. Here's a brief description of the game, in the form of some super polished marketing copy:

As an elite member of The Organisation, agent Damsel has been tasked with keeping humanity safe from the ceatures that lurk in the shadows, the monsters that prey on the weak and vulnerable, those who would take away our life (and blood) given the chance. She is stealthy, silent, and deadly, and she works alone. There is no backup, no rescue, and The Organisation will deny she even exists if things don't go to plan.

Help Damsel unravel a conspiracy that will take her across the globe, from the blood farms of rural China, to the top secret New Yorks labs of The Corporation, where ancient evil and modern science have joined to create grotesque abominations and unimaginable threats.

Damsel is a 2D platformer with a richly detailed, atmospheric world, with a focus on fast moving, but stealthy gameplay. Like a ninja, Damsel jumps into action without being seen and strikes at evil before it even knows she's there. When her stake isn't enough, she packs a shotgun, capable of shooting crystalised ultraviolet light - straight into the heart. Guns are noisy though, and there is always another monster hiding right around the corner.

Developed in Brisbane, Australia, Damsel is the debut PC / Console title by Screwtape Studios. Screwtape aims to give players a deep experience that goes beyond the normal trappings of an indie platformer. Incredibly aware of the culture that games and players find themselves in at the moment, Screwtape hopes to add to the conversation using the language they speak most eloquently, and show that no matter who you are, with the right preparation and tools, everyone has the ability to defeat their demons.

That's a lot of words, here's a video of some early gameplay.

We've been quietly working away on the game for the past 6 months or so and we thought it was about time we pulled back the curtain and let everyone in - that's why we've started this dev blog. We want everyone to have a behind the scenes look at what goes into making an indie game; the good, the bad and, the awesome. Where we can, we want to tell you how and why we did things the way we did, as well as get your feedback on how we can make the best game possible.

We've asked all the staff at the studio to contribute to this blog, so when we write about something, it'll come from the person that's actually doing it and not some marketing person or community manager. Over the next couple of weeks, we'll introduce everyone and let you know a little about us, who we are, and where we're from.

Until then, here's a peek at some really early sketches of our hero, Damsel. We'll tell you more about her very soon. Stay tuned!