Emerald Woods – with Graphics! [v0.2.0]

A new version of Emerald Woods is available! we are inaugurating its graphics mode, hoping this will allow a lot more players to enjoy an adventure of lonely discovery in the woods! You can play online for free, or download the game (both graphics and character versions) at the itch.io page.

We have a lot of plans for Emerald Woods, but I figured it would be good to have this version out before we dive into the final leg of development for NovaMundi. We are in the process of preparing a roadmap with our many ideas and future features for the game.

Following is a detailed journey through the changes bundled in this version.

Visuals

Of course, the most significant change for this version was the addition of a completely new UI using tiled graphics. I ported the latest developments of JSRL as a foundation, but much additional work was required, as Emerald is already a beast compared to the sample JSRL roguelike, and its UI is much more complex (with the toolbox in the HUD, and the window for the recipes).

But that’s not all! we are even ideating a completely original tileset taking inspiration from the likes of Unreal World, Dwarf Fortress, KeeperRL, the Gameboy Zelda titles, and more. I’ve been working with fellow artist Mapedorr (who did the graphics for 404 Rhythm not Found, as well as a big secret Slashware project we’ll disclose in the following months). We did a couple of iterations, landing on what you see below as a general style; however, down the road we realized it will be SOME time until we are able to integrate it and make it complete enough because of the content of the world, its procedural nature and how you can build/destroy it freely.

It has been quite a complex process, just to determine what we should aim for. Everything is easier with a characters-based display because you rely completely on the imagination of the player, so you are exempted from having to decide on a visual style and you can target a broad range of players (that is, IF they get over the no-graphics barrier). But of course, we want to be able to reach more people, and then you have to choose. Some of the previous ideas leaned a bit more into a classic jRPG / Pokemon look, which I think may still work.

In any case, implementing this is not doable right now so we’re keeping that front open for the future. For now, I settled on using a 1-bit tileset and coloring the sprites based on their in-world color (same as used in the characters display).

I initially used Kenney’s 1-bit tileset (inherited from JSRL), but then found it a bit too “comic” proportions for my vision of the game; I dug Denzi’s diary and found something closer to what I wanted (I have this magic connection with Denzi for some reason).

In any case, in the process of choosing between them, I added support for multiple tilesets. This will facilitate future modding work (but still need some work to have a lot of data external to the game bundle so that people can more easily have fun with that).

After settling with Denzi’s tileset, I selected and created the graphics for all the current animals, and filled many other gaps (an advantage of using such simplified tileset is a programmer can still do that)

Design

SlashwareKnight-010, “Stoltverd”, has been working on the design front in preparation for future development iterations; this has included expanding the list of craftable items, and along with that the materials that you can find in the world and how you harvest them with tools you can improve.

We have also been designing new areas of the world that players will optionally be able to explore to uncover a story, and improvements in the pet system so you can teach them tricks and have them follow you around just for company or to perform some useful duties

Exploration

For some time I’ve been debating how to add some aids for the players not to get lost (since I discovered, painfully, that players (modern players?) don’t really enjoy that). The obvious answer is an automatic minimap, but before going into that I’m experimenting with some less direct aids. This version includes “waypoints”, you can use the O key to cycle thru them, and there’s an indication in the HUD on what direction they are. Still experimenting to see how well this works.

Discovery Journal

Another big late change included in the version was the first version of the “Discovery Journal” or Field Notes, as they are called inside the game; we are now keeping track of the animals you have captured or the crops you have harvested. This is just a first effort at giving players a sense of progression in case they want to embark on the task of discovering the world.

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