Hi and welcome to the Santria Retrospect for the year 2020! It marks the fifth year of development (yikes!) and some new milestones were reached worth spotlighting here!
This year Samantha and I focused on getting showcase demos for Santria and Moonshell Island ready for our booth at the Sask Expo 2020 convention scheduled for May. Unfortunately, COVID-19 messed with our reunion and participation in the Expo. Finding the Good in the Bad, our plan to get both demos ready by May turned out to be an over-estimation and we gladly used the extra time to get it done properly.
Santria’s Teaser Demo was finished in July 2020 and Moonshell Island’s Teaser Demo was finished in November 2020, both without SFX and Music at this point and available exclusively to our Patreon supporters. We plan to release public demos sometime in 2021, including more polished content and available audio design.
This retrospect is focusing on Santria’s development during the first half of 2020 before I switched full time to developing the Moonshell Island Demo.
New Character Portraits!
The year started with a portrait of Kali, a new character in development. Kali is a genius engineering apprentice and will help our heroes with a lot of crazy devices and inventions. Samantha nailed the design!
Shortly before the demo release in July, Samantha was able to give Stanton an appropriate portrait too! Please also enjoy the new juicy pine tree sprites as an extra polish for the intro cutscene! Things are shaping up!
Input and Save Menu
I spent my February in menu hell again and was able to implement an input system for the second party member and – more importantly – a proper save and load system. I am happy how it turned out in the fourth iteration, haha. The save file overview summarizes the amount of unlocked party members with their experience level, story chapter, the in-game date, total playtime, amount of hedrons collected (four in total) and completion in percentage.
Our Sask Expo plans were the perfect opportunity to work on some much needed promotion art for the Cheekynauts games. I had an 80s cinema poster in mind, showcasing the baddies of the game in the background of the protagonists. Samantha did an incredible job with designing the below banner art. I love every detail of it, the personality of each character is really oozing out and is giving you an idea of what to expect.
You noticed the pine tree silhouettes in the background? I didn’t want to let the opportunity pass to use them also in the title screen to juice it up! Dat dithering! <3
Schotti is an old Hack ‘n’ Slash and MMORPG gamer. Because of that, looting items from defeated baddies and unsecured treasure chests is his guilty pleasure. He loves when the rarity/quality of an item is color-coded to give him immediate excitement during the looting process without comparing it that much with his current gear.
I implemented this idea into Santria and showcased a first iteration on Twitter. Some replies pointed out that the color-coding may be very unfriendly to color-blind folks. Since accessibility is an important point for me, I extended the system with an additional star-rating and I am amazed how much this improves the overall experience and feeling for item quality. Take a glimpse in the below GIF!
Unlimited Reworks! Fate?
With every piece of pixel art you will improve; you can’t do anything about it. This is a blessing since getting better is somehow desired but it is also a curse because your first sprites will age poorly. From time to time I embrace this situation and rework some old sprites from 2016 to match them to the current quality and aim for a more cohesive experience. The next pictures will showcase some improvements in this department, with the supermarket and cinema plaza as biggest construction site this year. I focused on these buildings as they are showcased in the teaser demo intro in a bird’s flight over Pine Falls.
The most time-consuming part to finish the teaser demo was to make the grid- and turn-based battle system work as intended. I had to combine the existing cutscene system with the battle system in a modular way to allow tutorials and similar shenanigans. This was challenging since the cutscene system itself was not fully functional at this point, so I fought on two fronts. In the end, after some weeks, it turned out as intended and I was happy to delete it from my to-do list. In the same breath, the battle summary screen was also finalized. Enjoy the below GIFs to get a feeling of the tutorial battle at the end of the teaser demo!
The last polish for the teaser demo was to straighten up the protagonist’s computer by adding some last missing functionalities. One thing I really wanted is the ability to draw pictures in the in-game drawing app and be able to save it on the computer for future use. Cool? Cool! Samantha contributed also a small cameo in the save directory for all extensive explorers!
As usual, I use this section to present the follower development for my Twitter account to show you how regular postings result in a slow but steady increase! Feel motivated!
This was the Santria retrospect for the year 2020. Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it. After a short winter break, I’ve started again to work on the public Santria demo. I’ve gathered the feedback so far and implement the school interior and some other quests to extend the playtime a bit. Music and SFX will also be a thing, including the systems required to control them in-game. Looking forward to 2021!
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Happy New Years, I wish the best for you and your projects!