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Avilon Alpha 0.3 alias "Reborn": New Year's revolution!!!

Publish Date: 26 Jan 2015 20:14:13 GMT

This year we promise to work way harder on Avilon so you guys can play as soon as possible!
Up to this point, we wanted to finish the World Editor first. Afterwards, we would have created some landscapes and utilized the tools and functions which will be used in the final version of Avilon. The downside to this approach was that everything depended on the World Editor and ultimately delayed everything a lot. Like. A LOT.
Therefore, we reorganized the whole project!

So this is how it goes from now on:
First, we will create a simple landscape, 3D models, animations, effects, etc. without the World Editor and add some of the most important and fun parts (like playing over the internet and MAGIC!!!) of Avilon. And that's actually it. For the first playable release, that is.
From then on, we will gradually add more functions and content. This way everybody can play way earlier and give feedback.

More will follow soon.

~ MJacred

Massive Games Week – Part 2

Publish Date: 26 Aug 2014 20:11:41 GMT
Last Edit: 26 Jan 2015 20:12:56 GMT

Day Two (Monday)
After starting the day with a beautiful sunrise, we went to get our badges and visit the GDC.

sunrise image

We spent the day listening to lots of interesting & fun presentations. Ranging from developers talking about their experiences to inspirational game design ideas.

image of one of the rooms at GDC

In between the presentations there was a lot to see on the expo floor. There were several companies present, like Unity, Roccat, Deep Silver FISHLABS and Microsoft.
Some of the most notable things was that a lot of companies seem to hire at the moment. Until recently there were jobs for trainees only.

The day ended with me having trouble to buy a tram ticket, because the ticket machine takes coins only. Thankfully, a nice GDC attendee was able to help me out.

Day Three (Tuesday)
With our IGS pass, we were only able to listen to one presentation or visit the Amazon Developers Day. Because neither was of much interest to us, we used the time to continue where we left off on Sunday.

The highlight of the day was the opportunity to try out the Virtualizer by Cyberith. In combination with the Oculus Rift it was quite the experience. This was our first time using a virtual reality headset, by the way.
The demo game was kind of a horror game. Oliver got all tensed up.
At first, I had somewhat trouble with walking. Overall, it takes a few minutes to grasp the controls of the Virtualizer, but it is definitely a powerful tool to gain new gameplay experiences.
I also ended up walking tending to the right wall, because everything looked a bit twisted. I guess I put the Oculus Rift on wrongly.




On the way back to the hotel, we got soaked wet by the heavy rain.
Next up: Gamescom!

Day Four (Wednesday)
The heavy rain from the day before caused Oliver's shoes to squeak. Thus, it was easier to find him, when we got separated at the Gamescom.

The first day was for trade visitors only. Therefore, it was pretty empty and we got to try out a lot of games without having to wait forever.
One of the games we tried out, was the beta of Destiny. We died almost instantly in a team match. Over and over again... At least we got ourselves some free T-shirts. So we got that going for us, which is nice.

We also visited Project Spark. Since last year, it build up really well. It's a shame though, that it only runs on Windows and Xbox.

image of Benjamin playing Project Spark

Later, we first played Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and afterwards for Wii U. And I almost won, but lost in a Sudden Death match.

image of Benjamin playing Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Day Five to Eight
The following days at the Gamescom were really cramped. That's why we used the time to play Hyrule Warriors, some retro games and looked at various stores. Oliver also met up with Xander112 and roamed the halls.

In those days, we took a good look at the Indie MEGABOOTH as well. Personally, I'm happy that independent game developers gain a stronger presence at the Gamescom. There are some really nice gems among indie games.

After some shopping on Saturday (new shoes for Oliver) we left Cologne on Sunday morning.

Until next year, when we will visit the GDC Europe and the Gamescom again!

Massive Games Week

Publish Date: 10 Aug 2014 21:55:53 GMT
Last Edit: 26 Jan 2015 20:19:58 GMT

Starting tomorrow, we, Oliver and Benjamin, are going to visit the GDC. Afterwards we are going to attend the Gamescom.

Day One:
This morning, we started our journey with a good cup of coffee. Our elixir of life. Thus, we were ready to discuss various aspects of Avilon.

But first, some coffee!

PICTURE OF A CUP OF COFFEE

Afterwards, we went by train to Cologne. And it happened again! Last year, when we visited the Gamescom, we were also overlooked by the ticket collector, even though we were almost waving at them with our train tickets. I suspect, that Oliver has an invisibility cloak or something like that...
Furthermore, the train was shaking a lot, so it got a little difficult for me to take notes about Avilon. Oliver, however, was completely fine with typing on his laptop...
Luckily, we arrived without any delay at our hotel in Cologne. We were greeted with a heartfelt welcome.

PICTURE OF RAINY COLOGNE

After we left our luggage at the hotel, we went for something to eat to replenish our energy for the following Avilon session.

PICTURE OF OUR HOTEL ROOM

-------------------
Today, we mainly discussed various aspects of Avilon and did get some programming done for the planned new Website Design and implementation of the Avilon Dialogue System.

Avilon Dialogue System

Publish Date: 27 Jul 2014 07:57:05 GMT
Last Edit: 9 Aug 2014 16:14:10 GMT

Non-player characters, also known as NPCs. Everybody knows them. At least you think you know them...
So far, NPCs have often not really been part of the gameplay. Except for providing quests, selling and buying items.
In Avilon, it will be different. The player will be able to interact more intensively with the NPC. They shall live their own life, organise themselves, found gangs and many more.
In short: NPCs will be a fundamental, independent as well as ever-changing element of Avilon.

As a first step, Benjamin is developing the Avilon Dialogue System. The main purpose of this system is to give NPCs a personality and feelings. They will be used when chatting with a player.
Every conversation with an NPC will cause the NPC to change. Because of this constant change, the very same topic of conversation can take different paths when you talk to them at another time.
To give this system more dynamic, the relationship between player and NPC will also affect the conversation.
Currently, Benjamin is developing an editor for this system called Seca. With the help of this editor one can define topics. Furthermore, one can design the profile (personality & feelings) for each NPC.


That way, we want to create an all-new experience for each player.


Brace yourselves, Seca is coming!


--------
The project is currently in alpha. But we present you the first screenshots:

1. PICTURE OF SECA

2. PICTURE OF SECA

3. PICTURE OF SECA

4. PICTURE OF SECA

The Rift and the inside of a Sphere

Publish Date: 12 May 2014 16:27:57 GMT

In General


In five of the eight Spheres, the character can open a Rift to another Sphere. This involves the Fire, Water, Wind and Nature Spheres as well as Avilon.
To open a Rift, one has to voice an order in the language of the Ja'Ir. The character can decide the form of the Rift by using e.g. a sword as a medium. The size, though, depends on the skills, such as the current concentration and experience of the character. If the character is not skilled enough, he might not even be able to open a Rift at all.
Therefore, if the character tries to cross his limits, he will lose control of the Rift. Then, a last, gigantic wave of elements will pour in form of energy into his body, until the Rift closes itself.
The excessive energy will burst out of his body and will leave the character at the mercy of his own energy.
In order to close a Rift correctly, one has to give an order in the language of the Ja'Ir once again.

The Sphere Walk


When a Rift to another Sphere opens, the character can decide to take in the gushing elements in form of energy, or to enter the Sphere.
Inside of the four main Spheres Fire, Water, Wind and Nature are neither a sky, nor a ground. There are only wafts of mist, thunderbolts and element streams. It's like floating in the ocean, but in a Sphere one can move with ones thoughts alone.
The deeper the higher the concentration of elements. If the character dives too deep, he will be poisoned by the high concentration. In the worst case, he will die.
Upon entering one of the four Spheres, the Sphere will shake briefly. The longer the character resides in one of those Spheres, the more stress will be put on his mind and body. When the stress exceeds his limits, he will die.
In order to close a Sphere, one has to open another Rift. But if the Rift opens e.g. inside a mountain or underground, then the character cannot pass. Only after opening a proper Rift, he may leave the Sphere.

Death in a Sphere


If one dies in a Sphere, the body will be immobilized. Henceforth, the player has to use his spirit body to move. He does not have much time, though. If he does not find a creature of the current Sphere to make a deal with quickly, bad things will happen. His body
has to return to Avilon.
Only then will his spirit body be transferred to the Astral Sphere.

Energy System

Publish Date: 3 May 2014 10:15:02 GMT
Last Edit: 3 May 2014 10:40:24 GMT

Introduction


The Energy System defines, among other things, the way to cast magic in Avilon. To actually cast magic, one has to use the elements in form of energy.
There are four basic elements: Fire, Water, Nature and Wind. When they clash, different effects emerge.
For example: Water will extinguish Fire, provided there is enough Water. Else, the Water will evaporate and turn into mist.
In addition to the four basic ones, there are two more elements: Light and Shadow. They are not quite the same as the other four, though. They cannot be used unless certain requirements are met: To use Light/Shadow, one has to sign a pact with a certain god/demon.
That makes already six elements. But wait, there is more!
There is a seventh element: Astral.

FIGURE OF MAGIC SYSTEM

Spheres


The four basic elements Fire, Water, Nature and Wind are not the same as the water in the sea, the fire of a camp fire, the nature in the woods and the wind in the sky. Those elements actually exist in other dimensions. Also referred to as “Spheres”.
Thus, one has to visit those Spheres. Avilon itself is also a Sphere, but does not provide the necessary elements. There are a total of six Spheres which are accessible to the inhabitants of Avilon:
* Avilon
* The Fire Sphere, a place where flames burn constantly.
* The Water Sphere, where waves and vortexes rage.
* The Nature Sphere, full of life, earth and greenery.
* The Wind Sphere, where gusts and tornados wreak havoc.
* The Astral Sphere. This one is a bit special. It is also known as “The Spirit World”. While a character exists in Avilon, a counterpart also exists in the Astral Sphere. If the spirit takes damage, the real body will receive the same damage. This does not work the other way around, though.
When the character dies, he will automatically shift to the Astral Sphere.

To reach from one Sphere to another, one has to open a Rift. Only those knowledgeable in magic are able to open a Rift.
Furthermore, depending on where the Rift is created, the concentration of elements is higher or lower. For example: If the user opens a Rift to the Nature Sphere amidst a forrest, the elements of type Nature are found in a higher concentration than in a desert.

Casting Magic


To open a Rift, one has to phrase an order in the language of the Ja'Ir. Afterwards one has to take in the necessary elements in form of energy. There is a limit to how much energy one can uphold, though. That's why the character can use crystals to store energy.
As soon as there is enough energy, the caster has to phrase another order to define what he wants to do with the concentrated energy. The stronger the spell, the longer it takes to cast it.
And as the spell becomes more complex, the character will become fond of runes.

Following DevBlog entries will deal with these topics:
* The Rune System
* The Astral Sphere/Spirit World
* The Rift

Avilon - How it all started

Publish Date: 19 Feb 2014 18:23:51 GMT
Last Edit: 23 Mar 2014 13:44:32 GMT

It was a boring afternoon after school. On the way to the train station, two young students had a plan: World Domination. After that failed, they decided to create a world of their own to conquer.
The first ideas consisted of a 2D view from the top, similar to classics like Diablo and Diablo II. After some consideration we decided to switch to a 3D view.
Since then, we had plenty of ideas, especially the class system was defined early on. At the same time we were on the look out for a suitable game engine. But that was not as easy as we thought: Either the engines were too expensive or just not what we were looking for. For some time we worked with Unity but then switched to the jMonkeyEngine 3.0 since it is open source and gives us more leeway in our development. Some 3D-models were made using a student version of Cinema4D. Together with the switch of the game engine we also switched from Cinema4D to Blender. About a year before this restructuring, Benjamin entered the team. Before that there were only two creators – Julian and Oliver.

In hindsight, we have made a lot of progress with the class system, the energy and rune system as well as with the story, which has been rewritten more than three times in the first two years. The first drafts of the beginning continent have been improved since then and are to be revised completely in the near future.


A summary of where we stand now:
Avilon is, like most (M)MORPGs, set in medieval times. But that's certainly not all! The genres
fantasy and steampunk are equally important to us and will find their way into Avilon. Apart from this, we want Avilon and the game logic to be authentic and plausible. Thus, there will be no equipment like dragon wings or rabbit ears. Let's be serious. If a boss of a criminal organization would see you trying to be part of his organization with rabbit ears equipped... He would kill you without even blinking.
As mentioned before, the story changed many times. The following is a short summary of the original story:

Three gods created Avilon. They created everything, beginning with the deepest valleys and ending with the highest mountains.
But peace didn't last long. Sinister creatures started to look at this new land. Their eyes were filled with desire and greed. To protect the holy land, those three gods created the Army of Light.
Phosphoros, one of the gods and brother of Voresh'alon, led the army as the chief. They fought side by side against the adverse forces. The war raged the land for many years... and as the fight came to a close, winning it seemed impossible. Thus, Phosphoros' son sacrificed himself in the final battle to create a chance to banish the enemy to the underworld forever.
Phosphoros, though, never got over the loss of his son. He blamed his brother Voresh'alon for his death and couldn't stand to be near him. So he headed off. For many years he roamed the world aimlessly, until he finally left the world for good. That's what everybody thought. 300 years later he came back to Avilon. But he wasn't the same. He changed... Phosphoros was thirsting for revenge on his brother. He was thirsting for blood. And he wasn't alone. He came together with those sinister creatures he once fought to ravage and paint the holy land blood red. Another war raged the land. In a final, gigantic battle Voresh'alon was able to subdue his brother. But in the process, his body was destroyed.
Since then, black portals started to appear in Avilon, which allowed the very same sinister creatures, to return once more to Avilon. Like a black shadow they began to swallow everything.


When we were still working with Unity, we developed a first prototype. Thanks to Unity this was done pretty fast. Here are some screenshots:
Menu Version 1:
Menu Version 1
Menu Version 2:
Menu Version 2
Test world Part 1:
Test world Part 1
Test world Part 2:
Test world Part 2
Equipment:
Equipment
Test of game controls Part 1:
Test of game controls Part 1
Test of game controls Part 2:
Test of game controls Part 2

While developing, we noticed that making a dynamic level editor is not that easy with Unity. It became very elaborate and never really produced the desired results. Furthermore, the free version of Unity denied us important functions like shadow rendering and source code management. Because of these and other reasons, we decided to switch to a different game engine. As mentioned before, we decided to use the jMonkeyEngine 3.0. It is open source, cross-platform, is in active development and gives us full control over what we do.


What is the current status?:
* We have a brand-new story, many main events which will give the players the agony of choice. And there will be plenty more of this stuff.
* The concepts of the character classes are already set. In one of the following DevBlog entries there will be more information on this topic.
* Many new ideas to improve the gaming experience and to give the game more depth.
* The concept for the energy system (magic and stuff) is completely defined – at least on a piece of paper.
* Oliver is currently working on a world editor, which will allow us to give shape to Avilon.
* Benjamin is currently working on SECA, an editor to create dialogs between the player and NPC.
* A new emblem!
Avilon Emblem
More will follow!