In 2017, a lot of changes in my life happened. I finished my studies and started a full time job in Western Germany, including a big move (and an additional small move beforehand) and getting used to the new environment. These circumstances slowed down the development but I started to enjoy gamedev even more as a way to relax and rest myself after exhausting work. 2017 can be defined as the year I worked mostly on the concept and assets of new locations and improved the battle system.
In the beginning of 2017, I decided to wrap my head around the scope of the game. My first approach for Santria was to make a road trip/globe trotter-like pacing with travelling through different continents with various cultural influences. Since my goal is to finish Santria before retirement, I decided to cut the scope and focus the game on one region, the Western States, inspired by the West Coast of the United States of America. One advantage of this approach is to be able to flesh out the region more and getting a more lively and connected game world. The world map below shows the relevant locations you can travel to after unlocking them. The hot-air balloon marks a special location which changes daily and allows you to do small side quests.
The different exclamation marks were already showing the quest concept of Santria. Yellow marks are the main quests, pushing you through the main story of the game. The green marks are social quest chains associated to certain characters, helping you to know them better and starting a relationship eventually. The blue marks are daily quests with random objectives, helping to get some variation into the questing.
In the end of 2017, I had the feeling that half of the locations were finished and I was quite happy about the progress. But then I realized that all the interior map have to be designed and pixelated too…
In this section I want to introduce and explain some of the locations I had designed in 2017. The first location is Animal Village. One of my favorite games of all time is Link’s Awakening, and the quirky and mystical Animal Village was very inspiring for me and I enjoyed to hang out there. This kind of vibe is something I wanted to recreate with this location and give it the usual Santria twist. For example, the poles and stone work is iconic for Link’s Awakening’s Animal Village, If you ask me.
One building of Animal Village I really enjoyed working on is the Golden Acorn Dojo. Big thanks to BDraw, who helped me a lot with the lighting of the golden squirrels. The squirrel master is helping you to train new combat skills and improve them a lot. I got really crazy while designing the buildings for the village, because the silly premise of this place allows you to test quirky designs without feeling too odd about it.
No anime without beach episode, right? The same is valid for Santria and the origin of the Seaside Resort, where you can enjoy the beach, drink some cocktails and witness a shady detective working on a big case involving the hotel tycoon.
Sometimes I like to work on other mockups, not specifically for an in-game location but more about exploring the possibilities of the art style and what kind of assets for certain settings are working. Here, you can see the mockup of a space station I worked on after playing through PREY (awesome game and art direction!) and after Sabbi shared a robot sprite with me which was part of her homework. Every sprite needs a comfy home, right? I wanted not to design a cold modern space station but something more retro futuristic, 70s-like.
Ravenheim was the last big location I worked on in 2017, in the calm time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to be precise. Santria is a modern times RPG, a setting not so well represented in JRPGs, which tend to be High Fantasy or Science Fiction in most cases. Nevertheless I had always the desire to work on a game with a more gritty dark fantasy setting and some spooky castle vibes. Ravenheim is my way to satisfy this desire in Santria, including vampires, zombies and coffee-drinking ghosts.
Distracted by a small contest
From time to time the German RPG Maker community rpg-atelier.net is hosting a screenshot contest, setting a theme for which you have to make a well-designed mockup of the in-game screenshot. The theme for the contest in August 2017 was ocean, and I decided to work on some assets that I can use later for some underwater episodes at the Seaside Resort.
The battle system evolves…
In 2017, the tactical turn-based battle system was tackled further and more complex quick time events for more powerful skills were introduced. I wanted to lighten up the static nature of turn-based combat to make battles more interesting and fun. Zooey is a game and music nerd and enjoys her SanGirl handheld a lot, carrying it around everywhere. She can use the device to empower her special attacks even more, comboing through a little rhythm game. The same applies for Tarquin’s healing skill, using a mysterious hedron. The hedron has to be charged with powerful cosmic energy and this tough-to-handle process is symbolized by the corresponding quick time event.
Besides the battle system, I have worked on the in-game menus like this one for the character status. It is interesting to see how the layout changes with more experience and development time, and I am curious how you will feel about the further iterations. For now, here a screen capture from 2017.
Santria will feature at least five very distinct dungeons with a lot of puzzles and surprising encounters. I worked on some concept mockups for two dungeons I have in mind, one is an ancient temple and another is a mysterious cave in the swamps. My goal is to give the player an epic, almost intimidating vibe of these places. A certain mystical touch of the unknown is also important to catch the player’s interest and to awaken the urge to explore the secrets of the place.
I am a statistics nerd and like to track some numbers to see progress and to derive something from it. I started to track my follower number on twitter and will post it after every retrospect in the future, showing how my reach is increasing over the years.
Phew, this was 2017 after all! Again I am surprised by myself, how much stuff was done. The scope of the location and some concepts were put together and the tactical turn-based battle system was fleshed out. I hope you enjoyed your read as much as I enjoyed the writing!
See you next time!