Hart of the Forest – Post-jam Preview

Posted by (twitter: @stellardoordev)
May 9th, 2016 7:44 pm

LD35 might officially be over within the hour, but our 2nd Door Studio team is excited to carry on the project with our continued development of our game, Hart of the Forest.  From the beginning, we knew that our project was probably a bigger idea than the fast time limit of the Ludum Dare would allow, but the last three weeks have given us the chance to keep going, bringing our original jam submission to something that’s starting to feel much closer to the game we have in mind.  We’d love to share that with you now, to celebrate the end of the review period!

To jump right into the good part, please feel free to try our latest post-jam build at the link below:

Hart of the Forest – Post-Jam Preview Build (WebGL, early alpha test!)

Or, if you want to see the original, here’s our Original Ludum Dare Page

Controls:

  • W, A, S, D (or Arrow Keys): Move
  • Mouse Move: Rotate, move camera
  • 1, 2, 3: Shapeshift forms (Druid, Stag, Bear)
  • Z: Change Camera Angle (Overhead / Third-person)

Before diving in, here are a few screenshots, to help paint the picture:

The idea behind our game (and our implementation in the jam edition) started fairly small, and has grown into something we hope is much larger and more cohesive, in terms of both the gameplay and the story/experience.

For starters, we’ve moved away from the strictly top-down view, offering both an over-the-shoulder third person camera (with more traditional adventure/RPG game controls), and an overhead camera that will make it easier to see your surroundings (when, say, escorting villagers or the like).  This opened up a range of new visual dimensions to explore, including:

  • New terrain, with regions like hills and valleys, a river, a lake, and denser/sparser stretches of forest
  • Light and shadow effects both tree shadows, dynamic leaf shadows, and rolling cloud shadows
  • Water effects including the flowing river, waterfalls, and bridges
  • Pathways that wind through the forest, which will become the roads that both villagers and enemies follow

Put simply, this let the whole forest start to feel more like a real place, and, hopefully, someplace you could get to know by exploring it.  We picture a forest teeming with life, plants, animals, spirits and people, all good and bad alike.  (And therefore tasking you, as its protector, try to do the best you can to protect this place as things begin to play out.)

We’ve also been playing with a number of new features, many of which are implemented already (though not necessarily in this build, as we test), including:

New Abilities and Features

  • Spells, in the Druid form (including our first test spell, which locates lost villagers and sends out a glowing beacon trail, to help you find them)
  • Combat abilities as the Druid (you can test what will be our archery system by holding down left-click — pretend this is fully implemented)
  • Spirit Vision (a Good/Evil Detection system), in the Hart form (letting you detect good villagers from corrupted ones, and helping you spot enemies in the woods)
  • Combat abilities as the Bear (including charges, roars, and swipes)
  • A minimap (sadly omitted for now, as we decide how much this helps or hurts the feeling of immersion in the game)
  • Enemy abilities (including a particularly wicked Area of Effect spell by the new enemy spellcaster, which targets groups of your villagers as they follow you!)
  • Dynamic pathfinding, based on Unity’s NavMesh system, and a custom waypoint system, letting friends and enemies follow roads to their destinations.

We also have a range of new visual updates in the worlds, including an overhaul of our Druid hero (with all this new movement and action, it was time for him to get a bit younger and stronger…!), and some new enemies to face, including the new sort of “anti-Druid,” the “beast-man” berserker enemy.  See those two below:

The game certainly still has a long way to go, but we’ve been so glad to work on this while the reviews were still coming in for the rough prototype of the jam version, and we can’t thank you all enough for the kind words of encouragement!  They have kept us inspired, even through the frustration of posting an incomplete game at the end of the jam!

The concept, as we see it now, will be a kind of single-player open world game set in this one large, high-detailed forest map, where individual “levels” are comprised of objectives including (you guessed it) saving villagers, repelling enemies, and also new things such as saving or defeating good and evil forest spirits, collecting needed components throughout the forest, building up your sanctuary by bringing it new people and materials, and completing quests for the various inhabitants of the forest.

The end result is a hybrid game that we think will be a new and interesting mix of familiar ideas, and one that we’re really looking forward to playing, ourselves.

We would love to hear your feedback, and to offer you the glimpse of the work we’ve put in so far over these last three weeks, in the form of our current nightly build — link below:

Hart of the Forest – Post-Jam Preview Build (WebGL, early alpha test!)

Or, for these last few minutes, see our Original Ludum Dare Page, if you want to leave a last-minute review!  (Thanks!)

Thank you all, hugely, again for the feedback and support, and keep the suggestions coming!  It’s been an honor, everyone — and we hope to see you all in the future!

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