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If you are an artist interested in working on this project, please feel free to email me. I am looking for a pixel artist as well as a 2D character designer for portraits.

Some of the images used as placeholder art are copyrighted by their respective owner, Square Enix. These resources include custom sprites by the artists at http://ffhacktics.com/. Other resources seen are either created by myself or are credited to their respective owners on the Credits page.

If you see any media on this website that is not attributed properly is please let me know and I will fix it immediately.

Dusk Tactics, source code, media and information on this website are all copyright ©2014-2020 Louis Agoglia unless otherwise noted.

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Dusk Tactics

With the upcoming alpha testing I have created a forum and bug tracker. You can access the Dusk Tactics Forum by clicking the link or by navigating to the forum via the menu.

If you want in on the alpha testing, please make an account on the forum as I will be using that along with the bug tracker to conduct testing. If you're familiar with MantisBT or phpBB and want to help, I will need community leaders so let me know via the forum.

-Lou

Also, I will be moving some of the older news posts off of this page and into the forum for archiving. The main page of this site is way too long…

If you are interested in helping with this project we are still looking for artists. If you are an artist looking for work or someone able to help out in other ways please feel free to Contact Me

September 21st 2019

I want to take a minute to go into some gameplay decisions that I will explain further on the forum. I added a new resource called SP. When a unit performs an action, they will usually earn XP and JP.

The XP is experience which is tied to the unit and eventually leads to a Level Up while the JP is a sort of “Job Experience” which is tied to each specific Job and eventually leads to a Rank Up for that specific Job. (By the way I plan to go into the well known abuses with a system that awards points for any action, i.e. punching allies to level up)

SP comes into play whenever a unit earns JP. Whatever JP is earned, that same amount is added to their SP (the actual amount is still TBD). Now SP is not tied to any one Job, all SP earned goes to the unit who can then spend it on anything they want.

This resource, SP, is used to “purchase” new Jobs as well as the Abilities and Passives associated with those Jobs. If you're a fan of the genre you might be concerned about being able to buy all the jobs and skills without changing jobs once, however most skills and passives will require Jobs to be a certain Rank, and you can only Rank Up Jobs by playing as them. All of this is subject to change and I value any and all input, but for now this system will be used in the open alpha so that I can functionally test different Abilities, Passives, and Job combinations.

Go to the forum to read more!

September 17th 2019

I am a bit ahead of schedule (however I am the one who makes the schedule, so take that for what it's worth) with the UI development. I now have a working, albeit slightly ugly, interface for unit management. This includes managing all of your units individually. You can preview, learn, change Jobs. You can change all equipment (except Accessories as they are not implemented). You can manage Abilities, as in learn new ones based on learned Jobs, change which abilities are active and more. The last part of this is for Passives, and it's pretty much going to be exactly the same as Ability for functional purposes.

None of this UI is set in stone, in fact quite the opposite. I needed some functionality for the upcoming alpha testing, so we can actually see what works and what doesn't. Then I can go back with a real artist and really make everything look nice.

Speaking of the Alpha Testing, I originally planned to have an initial closed alpha test toward the end of 2019. That's currently on schedule with the latest being Q1 2020. To aid with this I have setup a Bug Tracker and a Forum. The forum is currently up and while there's not much there, it's where I'll be conducting much of the testing process. If you want to help with the project, especially with the alpha test, please register on the forum. I really appreciate any and all support as the next few months are going to get very busy.

July 11th 2019

Automated tests of the basic combat system have begun! This is something done before we move on to closed alpha to make sure all of the obvious bugs are found. Right now, as it is, the game is functional, as in you can play against an AI, albeit a terrible AI, but an AI nonetheless. The automated tests are running as many as two teams of 10 units, one of each basic Job, on a 20 x 20 map (Thats 20 AI Units on a 20 x 20 map). The healers heal, the defenders defend (sometimes attack), attackers, both ranged and melee seek out their target to the best of their abilities. It's a very basic, but very rewarding event given the long road it took to get here.

Since I am currently running and developing on a laptop there is slowdown, almost all of it is due to my setup which will hopefully change. Currently I cannot keep a solid 60FPS with more than 20 units on the map, a solid 30FPS is the goal for now, but again this is limited by my laptop.

The Latest Changes

Since I got the combat system in it's infant stage, some pillars are in place. First, attacks CAN miss, however due to early testing I swapped the hit/miss system for a more engaging hit/graze/miss with blocking to come. Your unit has an accuracy rating, let's say at level 5 it's 75%. This used to mean 25% of your attacks would miss, however this value is now scaled so that at 50% accuracy, you have a 90% chance to AT LEAST make contact. This is what we call a Graze. It's a much weaker attack, and it's TBD whether or not the XP/JP will be reduced as well, but currently it is much better than having tons of misses. Your chance to miss in general is less than 10%, but it can happen. I want every units turn to count, and to have constant misses is pretty demoralizing and sort of disengaging. With Grazes, you can still do damage, this will come in handy when we go beyond basic attacks and start dealing with status effects. That Poison Jab that keeps grazing your opponent will actually have a chance to poison them whereas constant misses gets nothing done.

June 10th 2019

I wanted to write an entry about the workflow process in creating the game's scenes and levels. The tools used, whether downloaded or created, and the process itself might be helpful to someone creating their own game.

For every scene, you want to define what it is you are trying to communicate to the player. There's always a core element behind the scene, which may have various smaller elements included with the intent of providing information as well as comic relief and worldbuilding. If there's one thing I know, it's games, specifically RPGs and even more specifically SRPGs, or Tactical RPGs. Television also helps when it comes to story telling. Many shows, especially the sci-fi shows of the 90s, did a really amazing job of detailing characters, moving along the plot at a steady pace, and creating a world and story you cared about. I could write all day about this, but the point is, you need to gather your ideas together and get organized, which is where the software comes in.

Storyboard

Something I've never really done before is storyboarding. It's a process used in many different forms of media that is often a precursor to writing out a screenplay or script. Shows like Adventure Time, from what I have read, have taken to creating their episodes directly from the storyboards, which is a bit unusual. However, this created, in my opinion, a much more cohesive story that delivered on every plot point it was trying to convey. The story knew where it was going and every place visited was well thought out and engaging.

I use OpenOffice for everything word processor related. It's 100% free, and constantly updated with new features and bugfixes. I always have OpenOffice Calc open as spreadsheets are a MUST for anyone working in gaming, or theorycrafting. Recently, though, I checked out some of the other offerings in the software suite, namely OpenOffice Draw. I created a template that's a bit larger than the larger sized index cards and split it up into boxes as seen above.

Once made, this becomes an easy template to reproduce and lay out, as seen on the left. It gives you a nice basis for the scene, a directory for your ideas and direction so to speak.

A quick rundown of my particular template shows some information such as the scene id, title, location, a summary of what happens or what is meant to be conveyed, and an empty bottom box for comments or notes. The left side is a screenshot of the scene that I like to use to sort of center my thoughts on where this takes place, who is involved, etc. It can be very helpful when writing dialog or editing a scene, to look back at this and re-focus on the main reason why you are telling this part of the story.

Screenplay

I don't consider myself a writer in any sense of the word, but you need to become one in order to create a story for your game. From what I've read, there's not that large of a gap between movie, television, and video game screenplays in terms of what you are doing: dialog, exposition, scene setting.

I've been using an app called Trelby which is perfect for me, it's free, intuitive, and bare bones. It sticks to the basics and lets you write. Something I notice myself doing is writing way more than I need, especially for dialog. I often have to go back three or four times and trim it down. Gamers for the most part don't want to read an essay, you have to be clever about information delivery. I find it to be sort of an art to see how much information you can sneak into a character's dialog without it sounding weird. One of my favorite writers, Joseph Heller, was a master at detailing scenarios and dialog that could go from hilarious to heartwrenching with the flip of a page. The more dialog I write, the more it tends to become absurdist comic relief which is not good if I actually want to get information across. You can't have a story filled entirely with comic relief, or can you?

However, a game isn't a book, well at least mine isn't. Depending on the medium and graphical style, you may be limited when it comes to displaying character action, emotion, and scene setting. It's easy enough to write “…Ender looks into the nearby fire, fixated on it's shadowy dance…” to give an image of someone who is perhaps deep in thought. With my art style all that amounts to is a 2D sprite turning and facing a prop candle, so things like emotion bubbles and animations based on classic tropes found in anime (sweat drop, anger mark) really help to fill in the gaps. During scenes I will play out in my head what a person might be doing while delivering a line or getting information from another character. People don't just stand still and face one another for the duration of a conversation.

Another point of interest for me is giving certain characters speech patterns or specific vocabulary. People tend to use certain words for a reason and this ties into their personality and backstory. Sometimes it's as simple as adding some slang or giving a character a drawl, other times it might be very subtle over the course of the entire story, seeing a specific word being used will remind you of this character and their previous engagements. I'm not a huge fan of catch phrases, so we tread carefully here. Aw hell, I love catch phrases, but it's really easy to overdo it. When used correctly it can be pretty entertaining, but for me it's a very fine line. In the end it's entirely up to you.

Art Editing

I am not an artist in the least, but almost 30 years of being attached to a computer has allowed me access to digital editing software that you just sort of learn over time. Paint.NET is my current app of choice, however I used to be very fond of PaintshopPro, specifically when Jasc was publishing it. With plugins, thought, Paint.NET is comparable and on top of that it is completely free. This mention is a bit outside the theme here, but I use the software so often in combination with the aforementioned programs that it deserves it's own mention.

Other

This has already been much longer than I intended, so I will cover the software I made myself in another post. The main idea here is to point fellow creators towards tools that I have found useful. I do have an honorable mention and that is of course a thesaurus. Google has nearly everything built in nowadays, a dictionary, calculator, thesaurus, etc, but I still find myself with multiple tables of thesaurus.com open.

I honestly hope this helps even one person, I know most of these are pretty much common knowledge for many, but spreading the word never hurts. The best part about these programs, is that they cost a grand total of $0.00! A game's budget is always a large concern, so save money where you can!

May 3rd 2019

I am happy to announce that the Scene Editor is nearing it's completion. It will never truely be done, as I will always add new features to it, but as it is now, I can create any part of the game.

I have begun writing and storyboarding some scenes and outlining the direction for the upcoming alpha release. It will include multiple scenes, to display the capabilities of the engine as well as to introduce some of our characters. It will also include a playable part, which will be very important for testing the mechanics of the engine.

Above is a gif showing part of a scene. It takes place in an underground cavern and shows a bit of back and forth between some of the antagonists of our story. Please note, that the character sprites are still placeholders. These are sprites from Final Fantasy Tactics and/or custom sprites from the FFHacktics community. I specifically chose sprites that resembled my idea for the actual characters they represent.

The effect seen is one of many effects I was able to gather/edit/make with the program Effekseer which is an awesome particle effect editor that allows you to export a spritesheet. The effect above is a water sphere combined with some lighting behind it.

This is another part from the same scene. It shows one of the antagonists teleporting into the cavern much to the surprise of the other. Something I have been using a lot, to help tell the story, are emotion bubbles. The “!” and “…” are just a few of the emotions I made to help give more feeling to the scene. These emotion bubbles would not have been possible without the amazing work done by Game Dev Alliance on OGA. They created some great animations that I worked off of to create the effects you see above.

The teleport effect was an interesting combination between two effects. I wanted your standard teleport “swish”, but I also wanted something more sinister, so the dark purple lightening worked perfect. Combine this with some timing and “acting” and you have yourself a scene!

March 21st 2019

A lot of progress has been made as I continue to create the Scene Editor which will allow me to visually create scenes and stages for the game to be saved as JSON files. The files will be stored in the game data for the engine to use. Being able to see your characters moving around and talking while actively editing them is a big help and it has increased workflow already.

Due to limited graphical resources in terms of sprites, I came across an unusual scene. I needed to test out the sitting sprite I had made and I wanted to make sure it worked from all angles. This resulted in the main character, Alton, sitting at a table with multiple copies of himself which I found somewhat interesting. I decided to make a little comic out of it, which may help to give insight to the characters of this world and their relationships way before I am able to do that with the game.

I can't think of a more appropriate name than Instruction Manual so here's the first two pages, click to view the full comic.

Click to view full comic


Click to view full comic



I'll upload them whenever I make more, to this gallery. It also contains information about any resources used in the image. Aside from the text box in the lower left hand corner, everything else is straight from the Scene Editor and as you can see some lighting has been added so it's actually starting to look like a game!

February 10th 2019

There is a big update for this month: we now have an artist, Petr(Simulyatum)! He's an experienced artist who has an amazing portfolio of high fantasy portraits as well as epic european battlefield scenes. We started with character art such as 2D portraits, an area he excels at, and he came up with some amazing art for the two main characters, Alton Alstair and Emma Slate. To top it off, he is also doing the sprite art for the game and it is looking amazing!

For the first time I am able to run the game using original content which is a big deal, and as you can see to the left (if you're on a phone, you might not see it…) we have a new icon image of Alton and Emma standing under a tree. These sprites are the official Dusk Tactics sprites made by Petr, in their first incarnation, and looking amazing.

Style was a big part of the discussion. For the sprites, we decided to go with the an anime inspired look, with slightly enlarged heads to convey emotion and expressions. It's similar to what you'd see in Disgaea. The portraits are inspired by Tactics Ogre and are done in a more realistic fashion. While these are still being worked on, so far we have four main characters outlined and two completed.

I'll be adding more pictures to the gallery as well as some gifs featuring weapon animations. This is all early in the process, but we're on a good track to have a playable demo before the year is out, if not sooner.

January 2nd 2019

Happy New Year! I knew this would be a long term project but I honestly hoped I'd be a bit further by the end of the decade.

A lot has happened since the last update. We are now on a new web server, updated to newer versions of Debian, PHP, and DokuWiki giving us access to some newer features. The site had been changed around a bit, we now have a gallery which will feature both screenshots and game art.

Work continues on the game as I finish the engine and move onto what I am calling the Scenario Editor, which will be the backbone for making the game's story as well as playable scenes.

November 19th 2018

Progress on the game is coming along nicely however I am having some trouble with the website server so over the next few months I will be migrating to a brand new server. Most of the changes will happen in the background but the site should have some newer features and load faster.

With this expect more updates as we get closer to an Alpha testing release.

July 12th 2018

A lot of work as been done and there are tons of new features. The World Map is now more easy to navigate and looks much better. The entire control system has been fixed to include the main control style (controllers) with support for keyboard and mouse as secondary. All this means is that the entire flow of gameplay can be easily navigated with a controller, which I would like to be the main control setting.

The World Map UI looks better and shows more information now, too! Country names will appear with Location names on a panel in the top center of the map.

Behind the scenes, a lot of older resources and unused code was removed to not only reduce the size of the game, but to also clean it up. Removed about 200MB of unused resources.

June 9th 2018

I am continuing to progress at a very good rate and there is a lot of new things to show, so I will spend the next few days updating the site with the current project status. I am also ahead of my timeline for the closed alpha which should be available by Q3 2018. This will be a very rough playthrough of the first five chapters (or scenarios) with some alterations so the demo can feel more like an enclosed game in and of itself.

May 24th 2018

The project is coming along nicely, however there is very little evidence of this on the website so I am trying to update more often.

I have implemented a plethora of systems in the engine and have begun shaping the background story for the game. A lot has changed since the hiatus. The original idea of an Android/PC release has been scrapped to focus on a PC release (Windows 10, Linux, Mac). This is due in part to some changes with Android and their support of older development kits that I originally used. These are no longer supported and Android has released it's own SDK that is required to use for testing, compiling, signing etc. It's still Java, but some things aren't supported, so it won't be too big of a deal to go back later and do a port if need be, but right now I just want to get something playable out.

This enabled me to use larger assets with the greater screen size. I am currently focusing on 720P (1080P) at 60 FPS, however I don't give much stock to these numbers when it comes to the genre. The graphics must be good, the story must be great and the gameplay must be excellent. So I will continue with that hierarchy of goals.

As I continue to add to the engine, I am able to add more and more features in the game. To go into more detail, gameplay will be very much like classic SRPGs. You will control an ever growing amount of units using the World Map interface to move across the World from location to location as the story takes you across multiple continents. The basic loop being Story → Battle → World Map → Unit Management, Exploration, Recruitment, Merchants, Free Battles, and when you're ready you can move onto the next battle. The world map will feature nodes that represent Towns, Forts, Forests, etc. These locations will be visited using the path system that unlocks as you progress through the story. Please see the new Systems section to check out further details on not only the World Map system, but the Guild Hall system, Combat, Unit Stats, and other features of gameplay.

January 4th 2018

I'm happy to announce that I now have the proper time and resources to give this project a solid attempt. I will be working on this project, finishing the engine and developing the game itself over the course of the year. I am currently a one man team, so the timeline is pretty open ended, but I intend to aim for a playable demo by Winter 2018.
The goal will be a playable tactics game that features nearly everything that will be in the final game in it's most early stages. This will act as both a proof of concept as well as a jumping off point for debugging. More importantly, I need to focus on creating a fun experience that captures the essence of SRPGs as I know them.

Earlier posts have been moved to the archive here. You can also find them on the forum here.


About Dusk Tactics

Dusk Tactics*1) is a strategy role playing game being developed in Java. It is being developed for mobile devices with Android being the goal. It will also be released for PC/Mac/Linux. As to when it will be released, I am trying for a fully playable beta ready by the end of 2013 (?! so naive…haha) with possible alpha testing beginning before that.

As it's very early on there is little to say about the gameplay other than it will play similar to games such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre with some major differences in how you build your army and manage your units. There will be more of a focus on the class system and character customization. Battles will be very dynamic as you experiment with fielding certain character classes together in an effort to destroy your opponent.

Click to see full screenshot with GUI

Dusk Tactics is a project to develop a turn based strategy game much like Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Disgaea for both Android devices (TBD) as well as PC/Mac/Linux (Main Focus). It is an entire engine and game coded in Java that currently uses the LibGDX library for it's excellent OpenGL support through LWJGL.

This site is basically a development notebook as I continue working this project as outlined above. Currently I am working on this alone and it's been more than a year, but counting time spent working on it, it's about 6-7 months time. It's hard to gauge how far along the game is, but it's definitely less than 50% complete.

The focus currently is still on the underlying engine, as I am creating it from scratch with the help of libgdx to allow the use of OpenGL and Android deployment. As I create the engine I am building the game itself in the form of ideas, notes, and some aesthetics such as the placeholder graphics and interface.

Archive

In an effort to raise money for the development of this project I have began selling my collection of Video Games and accessories, they can be found at my eBay store: Game Deli

This above has since been put on hold until I have more time.

Also if you need any kind of website hosting, especially if you need SSH access or want to set up a game server you have to check out ChunkHost Beta Test

It's the server I have been using since 2011 and it's been great, also if you sign up using that link I get a break on the server fees, so it can be a great help. Anyway, back to the project…

Social Media

Want to help spread the word? I had this crazy idea to help you do that!

Simply click the above buttons to share this project on your favorite social media site! It's amazing nobody has thought to do this before!

Seriously though, any help in spreading the word is hugely appreciated!

1)
Name subject to change
start.txt · Last modified: 2019/11/01 22:19 by lou