I thought you might be interested to hear about Tavern Talk which is our messaging system for Ilkor: Dark Rising. We've been working hard on this part of the game and it is now basically finished.
You might wonder what a messaging system is. Well it's the way players, gamemasters and characters will be able to communicate amongst one another. We won't be revealing anyone's email address, but rather you'll be able to send private message to individual characters and even groups of characters or you are able to post messages in the rooms that you have permission to enter.
Technically, we've used PhpBB3 which is a forum application (open source) and have skinned it to blend in with the game and spent the last few months modifying and customizing it's functionality. We've named the forum Tavern Talk and it will be hosted as a sub-website of Ilkor. Tavern Talk isn't available yet, but it will be eventually available on http://tavern.ilkor.com.
Tavern Talk will be a private forum. It won't be available to the public. You will gain access to Tavern Talk when you signup and create your character to play Ilkor: Dark Rising.
We've fully integrated Tavern Talk with the game, so you'll be able to gain access to Tavern Talk directly from Ilkor after logging in. The same password will be used.
Tavern Talk has been designed and configured so that your only have access to the rooms that you are allowed to. For example, if you are a Fighter, you'll have access to the Fighter's Guild. Only fighters will have access to this room and you'll be able to post messages amongst guild members.
Below I'll included a handful of screenshots. Hopefully they are pretty self describing and you like what you see.
And that really it for the moment. There is much more to Tavern Talk, but hopefully this gives you some idea of what you can expect.
Cheers for now.
We're sad to inform you that we have had to delay the beta launch. Hopefully you won't be too disappointed and that you understand that most indie games are done in spare time and therefore delays are inevitable.
This itself is by no means justification, and while we had every intention of making the original deadline of the 2nd June, it has been obvious for a little while now that we are not going to be ready. The team had a meeting with regards to where we are with the game and have decided that we are not willing to compromise the quality nor integrity of the gaming experience just to meet a particular deadline.
As Scott (one of the GMs) said, "you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Heck, look how long it took Blizzard to just release Diablo 3!".
The design and development is simply very time-consuming and we have slipped up on a number of fronts which I won't go into detail right now. I think over the coming weeks we'll try to communicate our development roadmap a little clearer and give you guys some feedback on how we are tracking.
The newly revised launch date is now 9th Feb 2013!! Seems like a long way off, but we feel this is now much more achievable. We might even be early Our forecast shows that we should be ready towards the latter part of this year (4 to 5 months time), but felt the launch immediately before or after Christmas would have less of an impact.
...And now some good news
If you want a sneak preview of the Character Creation (the official signup process) you can do so by going to: http://alpha.ilkor.com
Although the Character Creation process is now developed, there are a few known aspects that are still not complete:
- Character Portraits (hand drawn illustrations by Simon that appear in the centre of the dail)
- Character Avatars (again, we are waiting on Simon. Currently we only have 'some' of the facial parts for male and female humans & male dwarves)
- Content / Copy for items like Settlements & Feats.
Please go and check it out and give it a good test, supplying us with plenty of feedback. Undoubtedly there are small snags and fine tuning to be addressed. Performance might be a little slow as we are hosting alpha on a 'development' server.
You are welcome to go through the 'Character Creation' process as many times as you want. You character won't be saved, remember this is just for testing purposes only.
And Finally...A Knowledge Quest
In the coming days we'll also be announcing the first 'Knowledge Quest' that you will be invited to take part in. You'll learn more about this in a separate announcement to this.
Here's the first screenshot of the Character Creation page. It is still far from finished in terms of the information, content and detail that you see, however you can get a pretty good idea of what we are trying to achieve.
This screen is reached from completing the signup information on the homepage (email, race, class, gender).
The panel on the left is used to change various aspects of your character. The changes are immediately reflected on the underlying canvas below. There is still alot of information that still needs to be added to the canvas, but the actual panel functionality is almost fully developed now.
The 3 text boxes at the bottom of the panel is used to enter your password, password repeat and gatekey. The gatekey gets emailed to you upon reaching this page.
The avatar to the top right of the canvas is dynamically created based on a combination of email, race and gender. Later on in the game you'll be able to customize your avatar.
You can see from the menu on the panel that you are able to configure your character in areas such as gender, race, class, name [family | House | Clan | Folkname], Starting Settlement, Class Feat and Minor and Major Racial Feats. Each of these animated sub panels that slide out to the right give you additional information where you can make the change.
In a few weeks, we hope to release an alpha version of this character creation process so you will be able to play around and experience it for yourself.
This is just a very quick news update from the developments taking place at Ilkor: Dark Rising.
I'm very pleased to introduce our new Gamemaster; Mike Collins. Mike has just joined the Gamemaster team, swelling its ranks to three! Not a huge number I agree, but we're extremely grateful for the help that each of every Gamemaster brings to the game. The three of us will be working closely over the next 6 months as we start to pull the game together.
There is much work to be done, but together I think we're really going to be producing a solid game, rich is background & history. Scott has already made a good start, the quality of the wiki is test to this. If you haven't yet visited the Gazetteer of Arcadia, then I really think you should!
Mike is busy devising his 'Avatar'. Once this has been done we'll get Simon to draw a portrait and reveal everything on the wiki.
Anyway, welcome aboard Mike. We are extremely pleased to have you on the team.
We've alot happening right now on all fronts. I'll get straight on with it.
Game Engine: Work started on this about a month ago. Obviously we still have a long way to go, but we already have a bare bones service that processes the turn, advances the turn and phase number, seasons and years. Over the next few weeks we will be integrating into this cycle the introduction of players. The engine persists its data straight to MongoDB.
Registration Process: Development here has slowed down a little due to our move from using SQL to Mongo for our database requirements. So there is little to report, but we'll be re-starting this in a few days time.
New Content: With the website now 95% optimized we are really focusing on pushing new content to the live website on a regular basis. Our aim is to have something new on the website every two weeks. New content will be mostly added to the 'Features' section of the homepage for a little while. This is being achieved by serving up the content in our specially skinned 'scroll popups'!! Go to ilkor.com and see for yourself, we are revealing more and more about the game features and details.
Map: Jon, our fab cartographer is still working hard on completing our world and regional maps. We hope to get the final finished maps very soon now, hopefully before the end of October. You can then expect to see a number of sneak previews of the finished maps!
Avatars: Simon, our amazing Artist will be delivering the first batch of avatar 'facial parts' (head, shoulders, eyes, nose, hair, mouth). He has dealt with a male human for starters. We need this so we can then test our our avatar generating code. If it all works out as planned Simon will then have a few amount of work to do over the next few months coming up with the facial parts for all the other 7 possibilities. Personally I'm really excited about this and will certainly be blogging about the Avatars in far more detail soon.
Database Migration: As mentioned last time, we are busy migrated across from MS-SQL to MongDB. The process is good and we hope to have everything in place by the end of October...hopefully!
And thats about it for now..
I thought an article around our idea of Character Avatars would be quite interesting. It does give away some of our design secrets, but what the heck, I don't believe what we are planning on doing is totally unique, but our approach and implementation might be a little special .
Avatars appear to be everywhere on the web nowadays, especially on forums, social media websites and of course games.
In Ilkor, each Player Character will be represented by an avatar. An avatar will be a portrait drawing, basically a 'head and shoulders' drawing that will be used to represent your character. The avatar will be used throughout the game in a number of ways, during encounters, on forums (once we've sorted out the integration), ranking lists, etc.
Each avatar will be drawn by Simon Le Tranter and for the better part will be unique (read on further to see what I mean). Ilkor will be capable of hosting 10's of thousands of players (hopefully more!!) so for Simon to produce individual avatars is not realistic. Instead, each portrait will be made up of a number of facial features. For the sake of this article lets settle of just 5:
- Head & Shoulders
Each facial feature will be drawn separately on a transparent background, called a layer. Each layer gets placed on top of one another in a pre-subscribed order; head and shoulders, mouth, nose, eyes and then finally the hair. Once this has taken place, the finished portrait is produced. It will look something like this:
The example above has been drawn by Simon and gives you a real idea of the type of style and high quality you can expect when playing Ilkor.
Your avatar will get automatically assigned to you when you join the game. At that point the avatar portrait will get randomly created using three important pieces of information:
- Your Email Address
- Character Race (human, elf, dwarf, halfling)
- Character Gender
We are using a very similar process and implementation that has been used at Monster ID. If you have time, go and check out their website. They go into some technical detail on how they produce unique monsters:
MonsterID is a method to generate a unique monster image based upon a certain identifier (IP address, email address, whatever). It can be used to automatically provide personal avatar images in blog comments or other community services.
Ilkor only has 4 playable races. Taking gender into consideration, there are just 8 possible combinations or groups.
Simon will drawn a number of facial features per group. Lets take the Male Human group as an example. If Simon comes up with 5 different sets of each facial feature we'd have a total combination of 3,125 unique male human avatars (5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 = 3,125). If we had 10 sets, we'd have 100,000 unique avatars. If we produced this for all 8 gender / race combos we'd have 800,000 unique avatars. Hopefully you can see the basic maths behind this. From a max of 400 unique facial features, Simon would be able to give us almost 1 million avatars.
Remember a player will begin the game with an avatar that has been created uniquely from the player's email address. The player will not have the option at the beginning to change his avatar, but later on in the game he will be able to alter it's appearance. The player will never be able to upload his own avatar, it will always be created from Simon's artwork. This is important to us, as we want to ensure Ilkor remains at a high standard.
Well that's about all I've got to share with you this time around. Before I go, here is one more avatar example. Enjoy, and hope you are looking forward to what is coming your way from Ilkor: Dark Rising.
I've just got time for a quick post before I get stuck into finishing off coding the registration section. We're about 5 weeks away from launching the ilkor.com splashpage. Scarily stuff as we've still so much to do! However the dev team really is putting in alot of effort and we're producing some top quality work, on all fronts, design, development and artwork.
Up until now I haven't really spoken too much about the homepage and specifically around the great artwork coming from Simon Lee Tranter. Simon has been extremely help in coming up with much of our website design, logos, artwork, site navigation and layout.
We started designing the homepage about a month ago. We had some ideas of what we wanted and gave this to Simon. He's come up with a number of concepts and have eventually settled on a specific style that we all feel works the best for how we such to present Ilkor. Simon has just concluded a number of concept iterations of the main illustration that will appear on the homepage. I have actually been giving him such a hard time over this and he just keeps on delivering quality revisions. Today we finally settled on a concept and now Simon is getting to work on drawing the finished piece. We've decided that he is to draw a much larger illustration than we intend on placing on the homepage. Instead we've already identified a portion of this drawing that we wish to zoom in on, crop and present. We have plans for the full-size illustrations further down the line.
Since we are only 5 weeks away from launch I'd rather not give too much away other than to explain the theme of the game has been depicted in the illustration. It is centred around Ilkor, the Goddess of Darkness rather than to 'show off' the rich feature set the game will be offering.
Further than this we're going to be giving a whole host of information on the cool game features. We'll talk a little about the different races, the classes, the level system, fame points, leveling up, the turn system, etc. We'll also show and explain a little about the maps and something that we hope will be extra special. It is your character's avatar. We have devised a way to produce a 'head and shoulders' avatar that depicts your character. It is completely automated and will be unique to you as a player. The avatar won't be like the normal avatars out there that look like clipart or popart, the portrait will be designed by Simon in such a way that through the use of code we'll produce a unique portrait based on three things, your email address, character race and gender. To start off, you won't be able to alter your avatar, so you are kinda stuck with it, but they will be a really cool drawing and they will be unique. Later on we will be supplying a way for players to then go ahead and customise their avatar. They won't be allowed to upload their own pictures, but instead will go through a wizard to pick various facial features all drawn and supplied by Simon. We're actually very excited about this.
So that will be it really. So this is what we are going live with. It's not much and therefore we are calling it a splashpage. Once we are ready to launch the beta playtest we'll modify the homepage to allow players to register proper and also login and get stuck into the game.
OK, enough rambling, I best get down to some coding.