Torchlight modding.

23 07 2014

I have suffered from Internet withdrawal. That is because most of my favourite games require uninterrupted Internet connection in order to function. Some blame the requirement on pirate protection, but I still find it absurd in a single player campaign (I’m looking at you, Diablo 3)! Because of that, I began looking for alternatives (or more likely, pure clones).

The games Torchlight and Torchlight 2 were released before the great Emperor Diablo 3, to compensate the eternal wait fans of the Diablo-series suffered. And it was an instant hit, both Torchlight and it’s sequel.

I am a massive lore nerd, so I refuse to play a sequel until I have finished the first. I also found out that Torchlight can be modded quite extensively. Like adding completely new classes. Maybe I should make a steampunk robot class. Clearly fantasy games need more robot characters. 😀

Plate mail bikini lol

Zealot from Torchlight

Apparently a group of fans fell in love with a female monster in the game that they extracted her game model and made her both as a playable character with 2 classes and her queen available as a pet (an insanely powerful one which is recommended on a hard difficulty). I present to you, the Zealot mods, made by the fans!

I guess Internet cant resist pretty cat girls in plate bikinis. Thankfully the Vindicator is less chain mail bikini but she still sports bare midriff in her gear. And also hats.

So if you play the first Torchlight , you can download the mods I use here.
[CLASS] Spiritist
[CLASS] Vindicator
[PET] Queen Hatshepsut

I discovered some bugs within some of these mods, mostly cosmetic, but fixable.

These fixes with the folder adresses apply to the PC retail version of Torchlight.
If you have steam version, well, your mods folder is probably somewhere else.

But the rest of the fixes apply.

<PC retail begins>

  1. Type %appdata% in the adress field
  2. Then go to \Roaming\Runic Games\Torchlight\Mods

There you have your mods folder.

</PC retail ends>

Spiritist Fix 1: The gear with missing pants

For the sake of dignity, I made a new texture file because one Spiritist armour had no panties.

  1. Go into \Mods\[CLASS]Spiritist v1.0\
  2. Then go to the subfolders \media\wardrobe\Spiritist\
  3. Find the Vanq_Gun_Chest.png file. Whenever my Spiritist wears it, she runs around like Donald Duck; bottomless.I have repaired it in Photoshop by plastering some quick pants on.
  4. Overwrite the file Vanq_Gun_Chest.png with this one.
    Right-click this image to save image as or save link as and replace it.
  5. Vanq_Gun_Chest

FIX 1 DONE!

Spiritist Fix 2: The missing spell Icons

And there is a mispelling in the code that doesn’t display two of her skills, Spirit Heal and Spirit Identify. So let’s fix it.
Code is quite picky. It makes the difference between big letters and small letters.

  1. You are still inside \Mods\[CLASS]Spiritist v1.0\
  2. Go into the sub folder Skills\Spiritist\
  3. Find the spell folders Spirit Heal and Spirit Identity
  4. Open the spiritidentify.dat and spiritheal.dat in the notepad app.
    (Or open up in SciTE. See download link below)

spiritidentify.dat

Find:

<STRING>SKILL_ICON:skill_spiritidentify
<STRING>SKILL_ICON_INACTIVE:skill_spiritidentify_gray

Replace it with:

<STRING>SKILL_ICON:skill_SpiritIdentify
<STRING>SKILL_ICON_INACTIVE:skill_SpiritIdentify_gray

 

spiritheal.dat

Find:

<STRING>SKILL_ICON:skill_spiritheal
<STRING>SKILL_ICON_INACTIVE:skill_spiritheal_gray

Replace it with:

<STRING>SKILL_ICON:skill_SpiritHeal
<STRING>SKILL_ICON_INACTIVE:skill_SpiritHeal_gray

See, just the big letters change. 😀

FIX 2 DONE!

Spiritist Fix 3: The missing Vindicator Class

This is only a temporary fix to my problem, but it helps me at least pick the vindicator class and the yellow demon pet that follows with the mod.

The problem is that the Vindicator doesn’t show up on the character creation screen.

      1. Go into the \Mods\ folder (or if you are already there, stay put!)
      2. Find and open up mods.dat in notepad (or SciTE).
      3. Find the strings where the vindicator class and spiritist class are.
        Check the adress field. (In SciTE, press ctrl+F to enable word finder.)

My version looked partly like this.

[MOD]
<STRING>DIRECTORY:C:/USERS/CECILIA/APPDATA/ROAMING/RUNIC GAMES/TORCHLIGHT/MODS/[CLASS]SPIRITIST V1.0/
<INTEGER>PRIORITY:2
<BOOL>COMPRESSED:true
[/MOD]

[MOD]
<STRING>DIRECTORY:C:/USERS/CECILIA/APPDATA/ROAMING/RUNIC GAMES/TORCHLIGHT/MODS/[CLASS]VINDICATOR/
<INTEGER>PRIORITY:3
<BOOL>COMPRESSED:true
[/MOD]

The problem seem to start that the Spiritist class is loaded in the game before the Vindicator and thus doesn’t show up. So I change some numbers.

[MOD]
<STRING>DIRECTORY:C:/USERS/CECILIA/APPDATA/ROAMING/RUNIC GAMES/TORCHLIGHT/MODS/[CLASS]SPIRITIST V1.0/
<INTEGER>PRIORITY:3
<BOOL>COMPRESSED:true
[/MOD]

[MOD]
<STRING>DIRECTORY:C:/USERS/CECILIA/APPDATA/ROAMING/RUNIC GAMES/TORCHLIGHT/MODS/[CLASS]VINDICATOR/
<INTEGER>PRIORITY:2
<BOOL>COMPRESSED:true
[/MOD]

The ol’ switcheroo complete. I’m so clever! Now the Vindicator is loaded before the Spiritist. Problem solved, right?

Why yes, I can create a character with the class and choose my demon for all of them. Vindicator is looking nice!

But my existing Spiritists encounter a graphic bug; Hair gone, helmets glued to the face and shoulders on the back like a turtle shell, and no visible gear on.
Gah, she looks ugly! Broken even.

So groaning in defeat, I open up the mods.dat again and change back the priority list so the Spiritist loads before Vindicator.

[MOD]
<STRING>DIRECTORY:C:/USERS/CECILIA/APPDATA/ROAMING/RUNIC GAMES/TORCHLIGHT/MODS/[CLASS]SPIRITIST V1.0/
<INTEGER>PRIORITY:2
<BOOL>COMPRESSED:true
[/MOD]

[MOD]
<STRING>DIRECTORY:C:/USERS/CECILIA/APPDATA/ROAMING/RUNIC GAMES/TORCHLIGHT/MODS/[CLASS]VINDICATOR/
<INTEGER>PRIORITY:3
<BOOL>COMPRESSED:true
[/MOD]

The Spiritist is back to normal, I get to keep my Vindicator intact with her demon, and all the others get to keep their demons too.

But I have to repeat the steps If I want to create a new Vindicator. But fortunately it doesn’t hinder the glorious gameplay!

FIX 3 (maybe) DONE!

Tools used:

  • Photoshop CS5
  • SciTE

Today’s free software:

SciTE

Category: Coding
This is what I basically replaced notepad with and
code my websites. It is a code editor that colours
each word (adapts after the code language type)
which makes it easy to navigate in blocks of text.





Rovio Game JAM aftermath

11 05 2014

So, what was the jam all about? Rovio, the angry birds lads and lasses together with Swedish Game Awards arranged a game jam between the 9th and 10th May. A bunch of us sat in KTH in several small rooms and for 12 hours we had to construct a fun, innovative and professional game based on a theme: Equality. And so we began to work!

I have SLEPT so much after the jam. I was awake more than 12 hours, that’s for sure. I was completely drunk of the lack of sleep. My cognitive functions may not be as sharp, but it does marvels to creativity and monotonous tasks are easy peasy for me. I find a rythm and work flow and it turns into music.

So at the first hour we 2, the Thomas fellow and I began 1 hour concepting and brainstorming. We had several ideas; some wild, some silly, which we narrowed down to two favorites.  Then the elimination process exterminated the one who was technically impossible due to our limitations of the jam (the biggest crook were time!). I’m still curious how a game about an army of ants feeding birds would turn out. I’ll write a short design doc about it later.

Gameplay

On to the jam. The theme were Equality and we wanted to do a terraforming planet sim! You distribute heat (or life force, that was the working title) among planets to gain balance aka all planets become lush earths. The idea was that the life force was limited and has to be evenly distributed between planets. If you have excess life force, toss it out into space! But how much should you toss? Experiment!Steam

The planets where layered atop each other and faded into each other when players cooled planets off and transferred heat. It even gave out a “pssh” and some steam!

It looks so nice ingame!  😀

Art

I drew stuff. Or pixelated it! That is rather ambitious since pixel art is famous for being time consuming. You place each pixel by hand. That is the core of pixel art.

Planet

The planets got the golden treatment. When it came to space and background… well black fill and dotty stars, done!

Lava-planetWater-planetPerfect-planet

I limited the animations to 8 frames. The lava and water planet got a subtle flow, just to show how liquid it is while the perfect planet “earth” got this “shiiiing” when it was at a perfect state. If you miss it, you’ll have to start over again and balance life force.

Logo

Spark of Life

Art & Game Design: Cecilia Bexander
Programming & Game Design: Thomas Hertz Orre
In Spark of life the godlike player shares the planets’ heat to other worlds in order to create life and thus bring balance to the universe. Spark of Life is a soothing space-puzzle for handheld devices with full touch support.
So, 12 hours long jam, filled with free chips, energy drinks and pixels. And this is what we produced. It’s meditative, beautiful and true to the theme. One of the top 3 games produced during the jam, yeah!
  • For the android!
  • Only 2,26 mb!
  • 3 Levels!
  • 3 seconds music!
  • Easy to learn, hard to master!

SparkofLife-01 SparkofLife-02 SparkofLife-03

I used Pyxel Edit, for real, for a first time. They did warn us about using unknown tools to work with. Hahaha #YOLO GERONIMO! RAH RAH FIGHT DA POWAH!

Jokes aside. It was risky, yes, but it showed similar functions to Photoshop, so I experienced the transition nothing else but smooth.

Tools used:

  • Multimedia Fusion
  • Pyxel Edit
  • Bosca Ceoil
  • Bfxr

(The day after the jam, I installed the game on all of my family’s android tablets and smartphones. Assimilation complete!)

Today’s free software:

Pyxel Edit

Category: Graphics
Great full blown pixel and tile builder.
You can still access the free beta and use it well.
But the paid version include animation features.





Game Idea: Swan Simulator

1 05 2014
Swan-ani

Swan Sim test made by me. Swim it, sister!

Play as a swan, only on OUYA.

Happy 1st May everyone. I’m writing down another game idea. If it’s documented, it’ll get one step closer to existing.

So during my walk near the local bird lake I sometimes see swans courting each other during the spring (and toads, by the gods, the toads) and this year was no exception. The honks were echoing across the forest where I walked.

I thought how cool it would be to have some sort of The Sims, animal style, where you have to live your life and have kids. I had already figured out a nifty art style I wanted to try out. The art would be simplified, meaning almost no shading, colorful and the whole game would take place in a well visited park pond.

Game Info:

  • Genre: Simulator, Sandbox
  • Graphics: Simplistic 2D pixel graphics.
  • Engine: — not decided yet —

Since it is aimed to be a sandbox, there is no real end goal of the game. The player is equipped with typical swan skills and everything in the world is interactive. Try court a trash can or eat a frog (swans are herbivores).

Graphics

Prince of Persia (1989)

The graphic inspirations are from the first Prince of Persia. The graphics are extremely simplified based on the current power of the hardware at the time, but got famous for it’s realistic rotoscoped animations. So despite it’s simpleness, the game felt real thanks to the fluid animations.

I imagine, to make things entertaining, most of the animation would be on the goofy side. Even if the proportions and sounds would be realistic, slapstick comedy is easier to make if you make a game with little to no dialogue. The animations in Swan Simulator will be fluid and partly rotoscoped.

This game project will be a good way for me to practice animations so it’s probably most likley the game will be fully animated before I begin program it (or find a programmer).

Fun Fact: I am not  a programmer. 😛

OUYA

I chose OUYA because that is what I originally bought one for; to make and playtest my own games on it. It’s an android hardware, easy to use and consoles need more cool sims. And OUYA is completely open for weird game ideas.

Content

As a swan you must get hatched, survive childhood, find love and then survive some more. The player controls one swan. The game will feature events based on both real life and fairy tales although gameplay will try to be true to real swan behavior and life with funny expectations.

Swan skills:

  • Swim/Walk:
    The default way of moving.
  • Eat:
    Dip your head and eat whatever greens you may find. You can try eat living creatures.
  • Dive:
    Dive underwater. The swan tail remains bobbing  at the surface. Baby swans can get fully submerged.
  • Honk/sing:
    Honk long enough and you will definitely get attention.
  • Dance/court:
    This is how you charm other swans. You can try court anything, really.
  • Attack:
    The player possess a powerful beak and strong wings. Beat and pick them baddies.
  • Fly:
    Landing and lifting is kinda dtricky for a swan since it is such a heavy bird. If the pond is crowded, the player can accidentally hit others in the way.

The life of a swan is rather dangerous in different life stages, especially as a small chick, but the park pond can provide a haven for the player Swan, and this is there where most of the game will take place. But the pond is filled with other kind of life forms; pike, ducks and HUMANS!

Swan life stages:

  • Egg:
    Float around in your nest. The nest is steerable so the player can begin explore the pond.
    Dangers: Stay away from the hot sun spots and egg thieves.
  • Chick:
    Stick to your mom, get all the bread before your siblings and avoid predators. You are more mobile to go as you please at your own risk.
    Dangers: Pike, sea gulls, cats, human brats, fox.
  • Teen:
    Eat more to grow. Humans will find you ugly. You can court and fly, but rather unsuccessfully. Train to level up!
    This stage teaches the player more about adult swan life. Unlocks all adult “skills”, but has an enormous fail rate.
    Dangers: Other swans, crazy humans, unleashed dogs, fox, winter.
  • Adult:
    Breed and be fabulous! You can still level up your skills.
    Dangers: Crazy humans, witches, winter.

Courting

Since swans doesn’t have a visual sexual dimorphism (male and females look alike), gender is no issue in this game. As long you are an adult swan, you can mate. A swan have to be 4-7 years to be able to breed, but can get a monogamous partner at 20 months (the teen swan’s second summer).

Court actions:

  • Dance for the mate.
  • Gift it stuff.
  • Defend it.
  • Chase off/battle rivals.

The dance is a mini rythm game where the player has to keep up with the potential mate. The more difficult the challenge, the better genes for the offspring.

But games can’t be 100% true to to reality or it will quickly be dull. So to add some extra spice the player swan can cheat on his/her mate! Try to sneak in an extra love affair without your mate finding out. Or if you’re really good and charming, you can have a swan harem.

When the player get eggs, each egg and chick is an “extra life” if the player swan happen to die. The player have to take care of the offspring and chick will be steered by Artificial Intelligence.

Special scenarios

Sketch of humans in the simplified graphics.

The whole game is set around a pond which has seasons. Since swans are migratory, the player have to learn to fly to survive the winter or learn to be completely dependent on the goodwill of humans. Most of special scenarios are human influenced, especially the fairy tale inspired events. Even the animal life surrounding the pond can be humans put under a curse.

The player can court all seasons since teen stage, but the highest success rate is during the spring.

Seasons:

  • Spring:
    Mating season. This is where the egg stage is occurring.
  • Summer:
    Baby stage if you were an egg during the spring. Plenty of food.
  • Autumn:
    Learn to fly before the winter falls. If you were a baby, you are now a teen.
  • Winter:
    Food is scarce. Remain still too long and you get frozen into the ice.

Random pond events can include:

Court the cursed swan princess/prince
A witch/wizard has cursed some royalty near your pond and taken refuge there. These swans carry a small crown and turn human during the night to dance ballet. These swans are harder to court, since they are former humans but can be courted all year round. They are really bad at being swans so the player can take them under their wing and teach them of the swan ways by doing stuff in their line of sight, gift them things (food) and defend them from danger. Hilarity ensues if someone managed to break the curse after you have successfully courted the cursed swan. She/he is still so besmitten/grateful of your kindness/love that she/he brings you to the royal palace!  Your kids will be swan/human hybrids if the curse is broken. 

Level unlock: Royal garden pond, Royal court.

Getting kidnapped by a well-meaning but crazy lady

Based on a real life swedish event, where a lady during the winter caught and kept 12 swans inside her small apartment. A crazy lady thinks the swan player is suffering the winter cold and “saves” it and brings it to it’s filthy apartment. There is no water, little food and filled with dirty swans. The player can try to create a suitable home by flooding the apartment and wreck enough stuff. The swan player can also wreck and cause enough ruckus until the swan alert the neighbors, accidentally calls the police or drives the lady even madder.

Level unlock: Crazy lady’s filthy apartment.

Crazy guy jumps into your pond

Also based on a real event, a guy suddenly jumps in a pond and break the neck of a swan. In the game, he either want to steal your bread or break your neck. Defend yourself!

Tools used:

  • Photoshop CS5

Today’s free software:

PENCIL

Category: Animation
If you dream of making Disney movies or cartoons
PENCIL is the open source animation software for you.

 





Rovio Game Jam. I got in!

30 04 2014
Angry birds doodle

Thank you, fan-character-I-made-up–specifically-for-this-blog-post!

Great success! I’m gonna participate in this: Rovio Game Jam in Stockholm, Sweden.

Limited spots of 30 and we got in. Woot!

Got fancy new cards printed and prepared so I can hand them out. I hope to meet new people and play their games.

Rovio is the Finnish based studio who made the all too famous Angry Birds.

Today’s free software:

GIMP

Category: Graphics
The Open Source equivalent to Photoshop.
You can even make .gif animations
And it support pens.





BOLLPLANK – Learning Construct 2

27 04 2014

… or how a simple game is a total lie.

I learned early in my game development career that if you want to make computer games, learn programming (or find a programmer friend who will completely submit to your will). Otherwise, you’ll just have a very snazzy game design doc. I really wanted to try to code my own full game because the freedom of building as I please was too alluring. But first, I had to begin construct my secret lab. Game designers are almost like mad scientists, warping the laws of nature (in digital format).

I struck gold when checking the local flea market, a real whiteboard! Much smaller than the classroom mammoth variant  I was used to (okay, it was tiny), but tiny fits perfectly in my small office corner. After finding a non-permanent marker, I could just doodle to my heart’s content and the photograph the result for archival purpose.

Train wreck of thoughts

Now, for learning purpose, my practice game had to be a s simple as possible for me to make. I wanted my target group to be someone who enjoys interactivity, so I thought about my 4-year old nephew who enjoys his fathers iPad. He loves to check out the image gallery and just scroll the next image after next like it would start spinning any moment.

So observing him I drew to the conclusion that the game should have the basic human communication in mind: poking. One of the reasons today’s tablets and smart phones turned into such a hit was that the point and drag interface was that simple to use and thus anyone could quickly adapt to it, even my technophobe mother. Cast out were the command lines (that is still reserved to the tech nerds) and dragged in to every home were the point and touch.

Balls everywhere

So my game should be a playground of touching. Poke at something and it will react, like making a ball bounce. One of the first animation lessons many learn is about making a ball bounce. The ball bounce is a great way to fake gravity and make the experience believable. The game should totally have bouncing balls, like a ball pit! Kids love ball pits!

So I present: BOLLPLANK (work title).

The rules:

  • The player drop new balls into the pit from the “roof”.
  • Bouncing against other balls renews the ball’s hit point and level up in a certain colour.
    • lvl 0: Red
    • lvl 1: Yellow
    • lvl 2: Blue … etc
  • The bouncing balls can only touch the walls once. At the second bounce, red balls dies. Other balls loses a colour.
Bollplank - game plan.

Bollplank – game plan.

So here, players can try to get as many ball colors as possible while trying to keep the ball pit alive. Ironically, wall bouncing hurts the ball and remove any red balls from play.

Other limitations include the amount of balls you can add to the pit and how often. I added an XP bar if people don’t want the sandbox mode. Other game goals could be “Get 3 green balls”, “Fill the bar in 30 seconds” or any simple modes.

Then to the interactive part. I got Construct 2, an open source game maker software, very nifty, who illustrates programming in dialogue trees and drag and drop interface. Still, every application faces it’s learning curve, and I was too caught up in my future game’s special features which threatened to overwhelm me when I tried to implement them in my game early on. So I analyzed the core of my game.

First, get the ball to bounce. Then make it interactive.

Constructing in Construct 2

Working in construct 2

Working in construct 2

I checked some reference games of similar gameplay (also made in Construct 2 and Construct Classic). Construct 2 has many built in behaviors; like a bouncing ball behavior and bullet behavior. Now the bouncing ball behavior sounded kinda dull if it stopped bouncing after a while. I wanted the atmosphere to be more intense, so I fell in love with the bullet behavior. Speed remained constant and would have to make players alert on where their balls landed instead of focus their attention to the floor area.

Ingame shot of the alpha.

I am a master Photoshop craftsman so I have infinite graphics to practice with. MOAR BALLS (and thus, moar balles were added).

Yep, I got a real game. It’s still far from done, but Construct 2 is really good at showing results instantly so being able to playtest the game was definitely motivating.
Yeah, you totally get score when you bounce stuff. Walls are minus, balls are plus. It’s really real.

I have the XP bar, the score, ball death, ball changes color and this green aim bar to show where the ball lands. The tiny balls was the beginning of a Legend of Zelda hit point system, where the active hit-point beats like a tiny heart and that the hit-points shrinks and disappear one by one.

Implemented features:
  • Drop ball from the roof, green aim appears.
  • XP bar; get’s filled when balls touch each other. Decreases when hitting wall.
  • Health points. Beats like a heart.
  • Ball change colors when bouncing at each other. Red >Yellow > Blue
  • Red balls dies when hitting walls and floor.
  • Added bouncy and death sounds.
Bugs:

I am currently fighting with lining them up in my graphic interface and removing them when a ball is dropped into play.

  • XP bar doesn’t end game when filled.
  • No limit on how many balls can be into play.
  • One red ball refuse to die!
  • Health bar is not working at all.
Future features:
  • Ported to tablet.
  • More colors.
  • Infinitive jumping. No decrease!

It’s really a work in progress! Remember to play-test with others!

Tools used:

  • Construct 2
  • Photoshop CS5
  • sfxr

 

Today’s free software:

CONSTRUCT 2

Category: Game Maker
Useful for non-programmer types (like me).
Easiest game maker so far.





Getting increasingly annoyed…

24 04 2014

… over why most of the recruitment companies doesn’t have games or game development as a category.

I can look for job as a mime (real category) but not as a game artist. Are games still the invisible industry for these people? So when I add myself under IT/computers, I get job offers only as programmers. And the “culture” sections are inssuficent, listed either cartoonist, actor och prop maker, stuff that work with analouge tools and not with my digital stuff. I can’t find game art or game design work because of these incorrect categories.

I work on computers, designing software and GUI for them so I work in a high tech enviroment. My mistake (no matter how correct the info is) is that I listed my education that were about computers. That doesn’t make me a programmer. Still the automatic mailing list think these jobs are tailor made for me and keep sending me these “junior end developer”. Thanks to them , I have learned that “game developer” to them are “programmer”.

Programmer, programmer, programmer… an endlest chant that echoes in my mail box.

I’ll keep on looking for opportunities.

Today’s free software:

TWINE

Category: Game Design
Make your own dialogue tree!
Useful for new game designers.





I write too much…

24 04 2014

.. and post so little. 

I have so many posts waiting in the draft section, and they are growing into articles. I’ve discovered that unlike Twitter and Facebook, this have no word limit, muahaha! That may be the after effects of recently leaving the academic world with their multiple drafts and different versions waiting for proofreading. And oh my, how the pages grew during those periods of paper-writing. I seem to be obsessed with thinking before speaking, even more so with the writtren word (thank you, edit button and ctrl+z).

Currently 10 posts are waiting in line. I’m writing, reducing content, planning for images and then add more content. What are these posts about? Why, games of course! My games! Before they were just ideas hidden in the head, but I intend to use this blog in order to kickstart the road to their realization and actual production. This is an excellent way to refer to actual documentation (original, do not steal). As soon as they have been written down (and added mockup screenshots) they no longer are my own thoughts, but real for other eyes to see! And writing ideas down is a great way to organize and change irregularities (that in the lucid mind made perfect sense).

You know how it is, voicing a strangely alluring thought out loud… it kinda loses it’s brilliance…

Man, I just wanted to know how babby was formed-

XKCD: Listen to Yourself