Winter Park is very hot – May Update

Last update I said I was moving, and yeah, it happened, I thought it was going to take 2 weeks for me to get everything done and make a post about it, but it actually took me (more than) the whole month!

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Guess where I’m at

Now I’m living in Winter Park, Florida, about 10 miles from Orlando. The thing is that I am here to take a Masters in Game Design at Full Sail.

My classes had already started actually and I’m really liking the classes and how the school itself works, I believe the students get plenty of opportunities to really work on projects and get a ton of experience!

Anyway, I don’t want this post to be boring talking about all the moving process, buying things, assembling things, getting used to the new place (FLORIDA IS SO HOT!!!), buying a bike and all that juicy stuff. The important is thing that I’m here. I’m back at updates, I’m studying Game Design formally and I’m having plenty of opportunities to improve on it, I’m confident that in a year I will finally be able to join a company in the game industry.

What about the games?!

I was working on a Roguelike for Mobile and I talked about it a lot on the last update, but, honestly I got bored with it and I’m not motivated to keep working on it, so I’m taking a break.

I will start working on a platformer project that I want to finish in around 3 months (hopefully).

This new game is going to be called Midnight Journey – and it is a platformer with explorarion elements (kinda think of it as a Metroidvania without combat), there are going to have rooms that changes and you will have to explore a tower collecting pieces of information/story to find out why are you there and what happened.

I know it may sound a little bit weird but I want to try something very experimental. Hopefully I will have a good amount of it on the next month!

Midnight Journey should be release by 21st August.

Thanks for reading this quick update that was also typed very quickly!

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We need to talk about GDC (mid-month update)

Going to GDC is a hell of experience, but due to the amount of work GILP Studio put on their game for GDC, they took a break for the whole week, so I also had to. Not that this is a bad thing, going to a conference and being exposed to so much new stuff makes your brain produce a lot of dopamine for that time so you kinda feel “down” the days after. The point here is I took a break for a week and I’m writing this post to assimilate everything that happened these two weeks.

Game Developer’s Conference 2019

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I arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday, 11am after two long and tiresome São Paulo – Toronto, Toronto – San Francisco flights. GDC was happening already, but my pass didn’t allow me to do much on Tuesday, so I went there just to see how it was, take my badge, get to know the surroundings, etc… I got early to the AirBnb and crashed on bed.

Indie Games at GDC

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It’s always interesting to see the Indie Games on these kind of events, I didn’t know a lot of them, but I could spot Return of the Obra Dinn and Minit (picture), but also Wandersong (aaand Drawdog), but there were plenty of other interesting games that I, unfortunately, didn’t have enough time to go through.

I had the opportunity to exchange a few words with Lucas Pope (Papers, Please and Return of the Obra Dinn) and Noel Berry (Celeste) – I like chatting with people so I can see what kind of mindset led them to their work. Lucas Pope, for example, has an approach of using limitations, on Paper, Please you can only interact with the ambient through a Booth and only by analyzing, accepting or denying people entrance to your country. On Return of the Obra Dinn, the only way to get information on story events is by a dead character, and also the huge visual limitation, as the whole game is 1 bit.

With Noel Berry I had more of a technical conversation about different technologies, all in all, I could see he liked rolling his own stuff using XNA(or FNA or MonoGame), which is interesting and totally different from what people are doing nowadays. But it is interesting as it gives more control to the developer and the game overall is lighter, as there isn’t too much engine stuff there.

Unity at GDC

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When I arrived into the Unity Booth at GDC, I felt extremely… comfortable?

I’ve been using Unity back-and-forth (having pauses to try using C++ and GameMaker) for about 4 years now and watching almost all of their public presentations, keynotes I happened to like the engine as well as the company behind it.

At the Unity Booth I got a free shirt (yay!) and took a deep look on their Adaptive Performance demo (which runs with Megacity), their new High Definition Render Pipeline demo and a demo with lots of the new 2D tools they are working on or improving.

There was also a Mobile section with a game really similar to Clash Royale (I think the name was Unity Roylale) that used pretty much all of the new Unity stuff into a mobile game, it was said the project will be going public in a few months (you heard here first).

There was also a showcase of their new Multiplayer architecture (which is a Unity + Google thing), it was on Unity Royale but it was also on Google’s Booth. Awkward Story. I saw it first on Google Booth and got really interested so I spent like 10 minutes talking with the person there (I think her name was Karen) and at some point I asked with which version this feature would come out and… proceeded to explain the release system Unity does. I have no idea why I started doing that as I’m not the kind of person that explains stuff out of nowhere. While doing that my brain just went like “Dude, you are talking with someone that WORKS at Unity Technologies”, so I just cut the explanation really short and simplified, said sorry and asked if it was correct. Apparently she didn’t care much and explained how the release was going to be.

But when I remember I did that I still feel like facepalming myself to death.

We need to talk about Unreal and Epic Games

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Free Beer

Unreal Engine won, hands down, my award for “Best Booth” and everyone’s else too probably. Before GDC even begin people were like: “Epic Games won billions with Fortnite, they are going to throw money away at GDC”. And, oh boy, they were correct: Free beer, cookies, soda, t-shirts, bottles, socks, huuuuge booth and they also gave money to some of their games have their own t-shirts.

I’ve never extensively used Unreal Engine before but being there made me want to (unfortunately, I probably won’t) and I could play a little bit of two amazing games: Morphies Law and Kine.

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But besides these indie games, not much attracted me on Unreal’s Booth because I’m not an user, which was just expected. Free bear, soda and cookies were great though, thanks Epic Games, keep it going!

On the last day of GDC, rumor were that they were giving extra t-shirts (it was said that it was one per person, so I got one on the first day) so I went there and was like “Hey… I would like a M or L please” and the woman working there came back with 4 t-shirts, and I was like… “Okay…. Thanks!”

At the end I ended up with the image on the right where I got 8 t-shirts from Fortnite, Unreal Engine and games made on Unreal.

Areia

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Of course I can’t forget to talk about Areia.

Areia is the game GILP Studio (the studio I’m working on) is currently developing, although I’m not actively working on it, it was a huge GDC for them!

From what I could see, Areia’s got a lot of attention on the GDC Play section, which features games from smaller studios, studios that usually don’t even have enough budget to attend GDC by themselves. Which is great since they are working for Publishers and funding to keep working on the game.

And also it is because of Areia and GILP Studio I could be at GDC and meet a lot of awesome people from Guildhall and RIT! At one point I was playing Mowin’ & Throwin’, a 4 player party game, with Marcelo (the Designer on GILP) against two of the developers of the game, which also studied at Guildhall with Marcelo.

Cool! Check Mowin’ & Throwin’, it’s a really good game!

San Francisco

San Francisco is great I want to live there. That’s the takeaway from the city. I could go to Chipotle (something I love from the bottom of my heart, please come to Brazil!) and try different Korean restaurants. At one night we went to an Indian Restaurant with some people from RIT (where the programmer from GILP Studio did his Master’s), and damn it was great.

On the other day we went to a Korean Restaurant, on Chinatown, for a lunch with people from Guildhall (where the Designer from GILP Studio did his Master’s) and there I was, when I realized two of them worked on Ark and we discussed a lot of points around the development of Ark and somehow the conversation ended up in Politics.

The takeaway.

Although not much happened, it had an impact on me and I took one week to think about life in general, and here are my conclusions.

  1. I decided to focus on using Unity engine. Recently, I’ve been looking into Godot, GameMaker, C++ engines and MonoGame thinking on a path I could go in the future in case something happened with Unity. But I decided to focus on Unity and take the risk of it going into a bad path, worst case scenario, I just have to learn a new tool, which wouldn’t take that much time.
  2. I gave some thought on the limitation’s approach I talked about and I will try to use it more on my design approach.
  3. I realized, for once and for all, that Brazil is not a good place to be in case you want to be a game developer. I already knew that and I’m on my away of getting something to go abroad, but, there’s always the thought of “Maybe things could go well here”, but this time, I really think things can’t go well here.

 

The Next Week

When I take a “break” I like coming up with prototypes and programming things just out of curiosity. So I programmed my own platformer controller in Unity from scratch, which was nice because I could get the base class (which handles movement) working with 284 lines, way less than I expected.

The Player Controller currently has 199 lines and I have a character moving around, jumping and wall jumping satisfactorily.

Here is the story of how I started my Fifth Platformer back to back! This is actually a prototype for something I might work later this year.

And the reason I created this prototype is I wanted to test a new way to set gravity and control better the jumping.

Here’s my variables.

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This is the best platformer controller I’ve programmed and, as you can see, the key is defining gravity as a function of jump height and time! (Don’t tell Isaac Newton).

Anyway, this was just a random mid month update post talking about GDC, so I wouldn’t have to approach these topics on the Monthly Update.

Hope y’all have a great day!

GDC Hype – March Update

Another month went by and let’s start talking about what happened and what is happening… I’m kind of in a hurry (It’s 2:17am right now and I have to be on the airport 8am, so…) and I will try to be faster and funnier, but I always say that!

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Upside Down

Last update I talked more about my Internship and what I was doing, after a lot of tools and systems programming, I finally was able to port the game to iOS, yay! Right? Well, no. Setting the game on iTunes Connect was kind of a pain but I eventually managed to do it and launch to Beta, I was able to test it on an iPhone and on an iPad, yay! Right?

Well, no. For some reason the In App Purchase prices wasn’t showing and I just couldn’t figure out why. After researching I found out the answer was on my face all along. On iTunes Connect there was a big message like “YOU NEED TO UPDATE YOUR CONTRACT! OR ELSE YOU CAN’T SELL GAMES OR HAVE IN APP PURCHASES” – this made me feel dumb.

So, after updating all the dependencies, creating an achievements system and going through all the trouble of resizing screenshots, I have to… wait… until bureaucracy happen. Oh well.

So we had a talk there basically about what we (the interns) would like to focus on and do, we decided to focus on our project related to University (Freshman’s Quest) and think something else after GDC. And after a little bit of thought, I realized what I would like to focus on and I’ll try work on at least one of them on the internship. I would like to focus on (i) Learning Entity Component System (ECS), (ii) Definitively get into music composition for games (I just bought a MIDI Controller that comes with Ableton Live, yay! Right? Well, yes!) and (iii) just make games.

 


 

 

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Freshman’s Quest

So last month I announced (finally!) this project I’ve been working on for some time, this month development just kept going, what I have to do right now is mainly assist designers and artists on getting their work done, as a big part of the programming is done (I did the character controller, menus and dialogue system).

(Spoiler Alert) As I’m going to GDC, we talked with our partners at GILP and they recommended us to at least have a build or something to talk about our game, so we put up a weird build for Android devices, put it on a tablet they had and connected an Xbox One controller to the tablet. That’s how are going to showcase our game at GDC.

But showcasing this game is not my main purpose there, I will just ask someone to play if the opportunity come as I’m talking with them. My purpose there is mainly getting my feet wet and maybe meeting people that I can contact for a job after my Masters (this might be another spoiler)

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weird build in a tablet
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We also made some business cards, that’s mine!

I will just leave up with a gif from this game on Twitter!


 

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Mobile Roguelike

I actually managed to put a lot of work on this game, but I don’t know if it’s enough for me to talk more about it here because I mainly have to work on the progression and room design here. You can play an early build here.

Here’s a quick bullet list of some things that I added:

  • Refactored the Level Generation System into its own thing.
  • A lot of code reorganization and optimization
  • Create a Hazard, which is a tile that deals damage when active.
  • Divided all my Actors into DynamicActors and StaticActors (more code reorganization, but this time on the Turn Based System).
  • Create a nice Camera Shake effect (I should create a post on my tech blog about this one)
  • Added music and SFX (that I got from Crypt of the Necrodancer)
  • Added User Interface and the options to Start and Pause the Game.
  • Added Particle instantiation on the dynamic actors and items.
  • The Level Generation System now, when generating prefabs, can have chances or each possible prefab to generate on a tile, having tiles that will spawn more often on the same color.
  • Added Falling Ground (disappears after activated) and Ice Ground (force the actor the repeat the last turn’s movement).
  • Finally created the Mobile Input (and it feels good!)
  • Added feedback texts (text pops up for damage and rewards).

Woof. That’s a lot of stuff, but none of it really matters without a good progression and room design, so I’m planning to work on that for this next month and put on a Beta release on Play Store.

Next month I will also have to worry with art, aesthetics and music.

The Customizable Dungeon Generator

I said that one of my goals was to create an asset this year and I said that I made the level generation system on Mobile Roguelike its own thing, right? So, yeah, ‘its own thing’ means that it works like an asset on my project.

I published the Customizable Dungeon Generator about a week ago and I had astonishing 0 sells! The worst thing is that I have no idea on how to promote it and whether the approach to assets is just publishing and waiting for the store to do its job.

I linked the asset store page with google analytics, I had a total of 60 active users (29 from Japan) and an average Session Duration of … (dramatic pause) 3 seconds!

I know that this asset solves a very specific problem but I think it’s a valuable and well done solution, I have to research on how to go about promoting and improving it!


GDC

So… I’m going to GDC this year, and that’s nice. The studio where I’m an intern consists of 4 people and they have a partnership with the Brazilian Government where they get 8 tickets, I asked and they accepted to give one to me and the other intern!

“The one who asks, eventually gets to Rome.” – Badly translated Portuguese proverb saying that people who “has mouth” (i.e. is not afraid of asking/speaking) gets to Rome, I have no idea why this proverb exists around Rome. But the idea suits here.

Not having to pay those $350 makes it easier as sharing rooms makes the trip more accessible.

I want to be there mainly to talk to people, see how it’s like, maybe talk to developers that I enjoyed their games?! I heart the creators of Celeste are going to be there, that would cool. Vlambeer, Thomas Brush, Butterscotch Shenanigans, all of those I’m interested in exchanging words. And also all the industry people, like people from Blizzard and Naughty Dog maybe where I can ask for a job as a joke that is not really a joke. People from Unity, Nintendo, etc…

I just realized I’m paying to go to another country to talk to people. That’s… weird? and interesting. Anyway, there it is!


I typed a lot again and won’t have time to proofread and correct everything, so sorry if anything is rushed or with some mistakes! Se y’all next month where I will talk about how GDC was and about the Masters thing, which should change how this blog goes.

Thanks for reading!

Happy 2019! (2018 Review #finishit)

Another year is nearing its end, for some reason I decided to review all my 2018 posts in this blog, trying to do a review of my year in gamedev and also talk about my plans in 2019.

I noticed some things.

2018 Posts Review

  • 2017’s Last Monthly Update: “I can’t help but to work on 2 or 3 projects at the same time and for some reason I like doing it” – THIS DIDN’T CHANGE AT ALL.
  • “2018” post: “This year I want to focus (focus should be the biggest priority, given my historic lack of it) on three projects: Pizza Clicker, The Ace Programmer and Midnight Journey.” – Well.;

    • The Ace Programmer: Never talked about it again, wrote the first chapter and dropped it (it is something that returns to my head sometimes)
    • Midnight Journey: THIS IS ON MY MIND EVERYDAY! It was an Action RPG, I turned it into a Metroidvania and now I’m thinking on how to turn it into a Platformer (or Metroidvania without combat)
    • Pizza Clicker: Well, I released it, but on Mobile, not on web as originally intended.
  • Still on 2018 post: “My Biggest Goal: The Biggest goal of 2018 is to set something free and feel how it is” About that… (Will be talking about that down below);
  • A Dollar, Please: Stablished the goal of earning at least $1 with gamedev in 2018, well, it didn’t go so well;
  • Moving Forward: Discovered the joy of cutting down features on games.
  • Almost July: Got back to Unity after months into GameMaker Studio 2.

Gamedev Awards of 2018

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Games I simply pretended didn’t exist anymore:

  1. The Ace Programmer
  2. Midnight Journey
  3. Ghost Game

Games I started in 2018 and suddenly pretended they didn’t exist anymore:

  1. Match 3 Roguelike

“Not sure if this was the right thing” Awards

  1. Earned my Computer Science Bachelor’s Degree
  2. Quit my Internship to develop games full time and to apply to Masters programs.
  3. Spend a lot of my savings going abroad and buying a Nintendo Switch and actually 2018 was probably the year I played videogames the most since my childhood.

And the award everyone was waiting for!

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#FinishIt Awards

  1. Newton’s Laws of Roguelike
  2. Zombies on the Basement
  3. Tetris Clone
  4. Space Journey
  5. Pizza Clicker
  6. Secludere
  7. Journey to the Light
  8. happily(never)AFTER

OBS: ordered by finished date, each one my games are like babies for me, I can’t establish a hierarchy implying one is better than another.

Today was the day I realized I finished 8 game projects this year, being worked on a lot more than that. If someone told me January 1st I would have done this, I wouldn’t believe. It was 5 Game Jams (Newton’s Laws of Roguelike, Zombies on the Basement, Secludere, Journey to the Light and happily(never)AFTER), one learning project (Tetris Clone) that had the purpose of helping me in a job interview but I got rejected before sending it to them! That’s Life! And, finally, two published games on Play Store (Space Journey and Pizza Clicker).

The interesting thing about Game Jams is that they show your progress in your face, my last three were platformers and the improvement from one to another is amazing. Also, game jam entries can be turned into full games, it is something that still goes through my mind for Journey to the Light and now, happily(never)AFTER.

That’s pretty much my 2018 summarized.

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I’m opening this session here because happily(never)AFTER is a game I finished today, for the Weekly Game Jam 76 and I never talked about it on this blog before (obviously).Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 12.00.08 AM.png

The theme was ‘Afterlife’ and my entry is a 1 bit platformer! !!! CLICK HERE TO PLAY IT !!! Probably it is the game I’m most proud of at the moment.

That’s about it because I will be talking more about it on the next update.

What about 2019?

For 2019 I will set some simple goals and I won’t really get much into detail right now because I will have another whole year to talk about everything that is happening and that I’m doing.

2019 Goals:

  1. Release 1 Mobile Game
  2. Release 1 Desktop Game
  3. Release 1 Asset on Asset Store
  4. Start my Master’s (I’m optimistic it will work out!)

Quick 2019 Roadmap: If everything works out according to what was planned (it never does) – this is what I plan to release in 2019:

  1. Pizza Clicker New Year’s Upgrade (Update/Android) (January/2019)
  2. Project Mobile Dreams (Mobile Game/Android) (January/2019)
  3. Idle Game Framework (Asset/Unity Asset Store) (January/2019)
  4. Freshman’s Quest (PC Game, Platformer) (March/2019) – This is the game I’m working with a group from University.
  5. Roguelike Level Framework (Asset/Unity Asset Store) (March/2019)
  6. Dreamlands (PC Game, Roguelike) (May/2019)

If everything works out perfectly, May 2019 is when I would start my Master’s, so that is why I only planned until this month.

So that’s it for my 2018 review and my goals for 2019 on game development! Hope you have a wonderful end of 2018 and an even better 2019!

Next update will be on January 15th, following the regular schedule.

Monthly Update #5 – Life! and also Oh No! Not Again!

Well, I said I was going to do it around June 15th, but I wanted to write it now so I can talk about some important decisions I made today and what will happen from now on.

First of all: I’m really really busy for the rest of this month (that’s the reason of “Life!” at the tittle), I couldn’t work on games in my free time as much as I wanted to. I will try to work on it at least 25 minutes everyday and from 2 to 4 hours on weekends. Doing that I can also show that developing games is possible in a tight schedule, it will be a cool experience.

Midnight Journey

I was thinking on it, art, aesthetic, design document and those things. One thing led to another and I ended up calculating how many frames I would have to draw for each character and how much time it would take, the picture below is my results.

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I think that 10 minutes by frame is a fair ammount of time

As you can see, if I have my main character (Ethan) and only one boss, I would take around 60 hours just to do the art. Being able to work not even 10 hours weekly would make it a long long long road to finish this game.

Sounds like you are quitting Midnight Journey! No, I am not. It happened that once again I started a game out of my scope (that’s why “Oh No! Not Again!” on the tittle).

I had 2 objectives for Midnight Journey:

  1. Fully develop a game all by myself: design, programming, art, sound, marketing, etc…
  2. Develop a game that I would love to play and that would reflect who I am.

But it seems that they are two conflicting objectives, in fact, developing games I would love to play (by that I mean games that fits in my favourite styles and genres) would demand a lot of time and a big team. Not realizing it until now was my biggest mistake and the reason why I have 1 or 2 complete games on more than 3 years of game development.

What will I do now? Pretty Simple. I will write a Game Design Document for Midnight Journey, A BIG AND DETAILED GAME DESIGN DOCUMENT. The perfect blueprint of what I want it to be. With the GDD in hands I will have two options:

  1. Simplify it so it can fit my schedules. This way Midnight Journey wouldn’t fully accomplish the second objective anymore.
  2. Buy Assets/Hire Freelances. This way Midnight Journey wouldn’t accomplish the first objective anymore (and it would cost money, that sucks!)

What is more valuable? For me, Designing and Developing a game that I would love to play and that would reflect who I am is way more important. But anyway, I will finish the Game Design Document so I can make this decision.

BUT!

I won’t be only writing Game Design Documents! I will revisit old ideas and start developing them, specially really really simple mobile games that can be developed under 4 or 5 hours of work. Maybe one of them can be a game where I do everything and then I accomplish that first objective. I will also revisit some not so simple ideas (but more simple than Midnight Journey) and build some demos with cheap or free assets.

EXTRA: I’m actually thinking on developing a simple mobile game each month. I would choose a theme and maybe some restrictions and just try to play with the ideas and try to come up with a game. (Suggestions are welcome!)

P.S.: Probably you are thinking: “But you did nothing the whole month!” – And that’s not true! I did this cool snake game in javascript, which I do not guarantee to be free of bugs.

Next Update: Hmm… It will be sometime around 6th and 15th of July.

Midnight Journey

I’ve been working on it on my free time and things are starting to go forward, I have some time until May 5th, I did this gif and it gets a little bit of the essence of how this “Demo” will be:

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Wish me Luck. I will post a monthly update on May 5th or 6th.

Assets for Midnight Journey

As I said before, I have to hurry to do some things for my game Midnight Journey (the one I was calling zelda souls). I’m just going to post here what I have to do in programming, art and sound.

Programming:

Mechanics to Implement:

  • Dodging in Combat
  • Charge Attack
  • Getting experience when diyng
  • Save Points
  • User Interface that can show information on the tutorial
  • Boss Fight
  • Transition from not fighting to in battle (When not in battle the character will not yield the sword, when in battle he will get it)

Music Composition:

  • Main Menu Music link
  • Dream Music – As the game starts inside a dream, I want to have a very calm and dreamy music for the game to start progressing. This one will play even on the first combats
  • Battle/Boss Music – This one will play on the tutorial’s boss, and has to be fast and give the sensation that you are going through something hard.

Pixel Art

This is will be the biggest list…

  • Main Character lying down and getting up
  • A Main Menu Screen, a MIDNIGHT JOURNEY write, with some styling, New Game and Options also in Pixel Art.
  • Main Character without sword (idle, run, attack, dodging, healing, getting the sword)
  • Main Character with sword (idle, run, fast attack, charge attack, dodging, healing, guarding and putting away the sword)
  • Grass and path (gray stones) tiles
  • A Statue with a removable sword
  • Enemy (idle, run, attack) – I want to be some kind of werewolf
  • The Boss (idle, run, attack, charge attack) – I want to be a person but with some werewolf resemblance.
  • Temple tiles
  • Main Character laying Down in his beedroom and opening his eyes.

I think that’s all I need to do… Let’s see how things goes!