Forsaken Castle

Created by Duck Block Games

Forsaken Castle is a 16-bit style, action exploration platformer, about a paladin and her fight against evil. Produced by Duck Block Games.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

March 2020 Update (Part 2)
3 days ago – Wed, Apr 01, 2020 at 02:17:50 AM

Hello Everyone!

Getting this in under the wire, but I was determined to get this update out!

We hope everyone is doing well and staying safe during this coronavirus outbreak that’s echoing around the world. We’ve got a few things going for this update so I’m going to get right to it!

First off, Clint’s working on building out tilesets for the various zones of the castle and building some of those sections of the castle out as he goes along. He’s also working on some new monsters as well. He’ll have some of that to show for our upcoming post in April.

Power Dash, Air Dash, and Dash Changes

That’s a whole lot of dash in that title, but let me break it down.

I currently have prototypes of the Power Dash and Air Dash abilities pretty much finished with only light parameter modifications needed to tweak speed, duration, add additional FX and such remaining. Air Dash will have horizontal and vertical variants.

Some work had to go into untangling the original dash code because dashing will be the default run speed going forward. This opens up the dash button to be repurposed for the addition of a roll dodge mechanic. Once unlocked, the power dash will automatically engage after running in a consistent direction for a set ramp-up time. We feel these changes add a bit of a baseline snappiness to the gameplay before the player has the chance to unlock other movement enhancing abilities. We’re still feeling these changes out, so let us know what you think in the comments.

Destructible Tiles

This one had been on my mind since we first launched on Kickstarter and it never made it in time during my 36 hour pre-launch crunch. Working out the ledge grabbing and crawling mechanics had won out in priority at the time unfortunately.

Here's an early test for tile collision I was performing.

I had to gain a bit of a deeper understanding of the tile system we’re using and it was worth every bit of it as additional features will be added later. The first bit was just getting accurate collision detection, then destroying the tiles. It seems simple, but the problem comes when some tiles should regenerate when you leave and re-enter a room. Without trying to create a bunch of overhead, we expanded our room controller logic that keeps track of things such as enemy projectiles and other things that need to be reset/restored when entering or exiting a room to include tracking any changed tiles as well.

These tiles can also differentiate between player weapon collisions and when the player is power dashing.

I wanted to have that wonderful moment where you break open a wall to get that amazingly well preserved piece of wall chicken and now you’ll be able to have it! It’ll be in the next build update as soon as a few other things are finished. I’ll let everyone figure out where to find it on their own. ;)

Updates to Ledge Grabbing and Crawl Spaces

As noted previously, ledge grabbing and crawl spaces were hastily added right before the launch of the Kickstarter. It worked, but was clumsy and required a lot of manual setup and additional objects to be placed at design time. If something gets missed, you either have a ledge you can’t climb or a crawl space you can’t get into. It’s like hitting those annoying invisible walls that yell “you can’t do that”, when clearly you should be able to.

Editor View

Here you can see the climbable ledges as red dots and the green collision rectangle at the bottom is a trigger area to tell the player controller that you can crawl there. This is pretty cumbersome to roll out. So I upgraded the character collision detection to be able to procedurally detect when the player is in a situation where they can climb a ledge and navigate a crawl space. While this can potentially lend itself to unpredictable player behavior finding some strange way to exploit the system or as some people now like to call it “emergent gameplay”, it also means no more manual setup required for these spaces!

Naturally, this broke down in a few edge case scenarios where I couldn’t drop down a hole properly from within a crawl space and would uncontrollably rubberband backwards for some odd reason. Things like this helped flush out issues with the raycast collision controller I was working with. It would apply impulse to the player movement and continue to check the remaining raycasts along the players side to see if it needed to stop based on new collision info.

This also revealed uneven collision reporting from the player as only one or two of the 5 rays that the player shoots out in front of them would report a collision, even if they were snuggly up against a wall. This was fixed by sweeping the collision rays up into an array first before applying any movement to the player. Now the player can much more accurately report raycasts around it’s head and other areas as it falls towards a potential ledge or approaches a crawl space. I’ll be keeping an eye out for any other unique issues that may arise as testing goes on.

Music Update

Things have been great on the music front as Zack steamrolls through the music for the game. It’s been quite a while since we released some more music, so take a listen to this!

But we’re not stopping there. One heavy hitting track that I think we’ll hold back on fully releasing until after launch features a really awesome guitar solo by Anthony Morgan that you can preview here:

Let us know what you think!

The gears are getting back to full steam, so please look forward to more posts coming soon!

As always, thank you everyone for your amazing patience and support!

Sincerely,

Lance & Clint Trahan // Duck Block Games

March 2020 Update (Part 1)
29 days ago – Thu, Mar 05, 2020 at 11:23:54 PM

Hello Everyone!

This will be the first of two posts that will come out in March. This post will be a summary of what’s been going on these last few months, with the next one being more development focused. So with that, let’s get started!

As everyone may recall, the last update was back on July 25th of last year. This was actually about 9 days before my wedding. So needless to say, things were quite busy. I’m glad we were able to get a decent update released with some interesting new features shown at that time, because what came next was both joyful and devastating at the same time for myself and our family.

On August 17th, 2019, the day before my wife and I returned from our honeymoon, our mother passed away. My family thought it best to wait until we returned to be told about it. It was hard for my wife and I to hear the words from my brother as soon as we left airport security. We collapsed into some seats nearby and the rest is history. Months later, I’m having to fight back tears as I write this.

My brother has handled all of these changes with amazing steadfastness as he’s always been the stoic sort. During all of this, he has done a great job transitioning to working full-time for King Crow Studios, as he tackles some interesting game development work for them. It’s helped him expand his knowledge of project design, management, and reawaken his programming skills.

For me, these last few months have been a blur. As I actively learn how to be a good husband and now learn how to be responsible for not just myself, but others who now depend on me; I’m learning how to move forward without a woman that has meant the world to me since birth. But as sad as I felt, it pales to what our father and sister have felt as they had lived beside her on a daily basis. I always want them to know they are loved and that they can always come to us if they need anything.

When we first started development on Forsaken Castle, our mother was so excited for us. She would go around telling everyone she met, family or otherwise, that her boys were working on making their own game. Our parents were one of the first to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign and have always supported us in everything we set ourselves to. We are so incredibly blessed to have such loving and caring parents and we never want to take that for granted. I’m so grateful that our family was able to come along with us to San Antonio for PAX South 2018. She got to see all the people come by our booth to check out the game and had such a great time.

Our biggest fan

These last few months have been rough. Going through the holidays without our mother for the first time; Her not being there for my sister’s or my recent birthday to celebrate with us; Her not being there for my father’s birthday this weekend, or my brother’s two weeks later. It’s rough, but we will get through it. We will continue to move forward with her memory in our hearts.

We are ever thankful for everyone’s patience and support. We know this project is taking a long time to complete, but understand that we are only two people. But also understand that we are two exceptionally strong willed and stubborn people that always finish what we start and we want it done right. Forsaken Castle will be completed, no matter what.

We never take anyone’s support for granted. Our mother’s or anyone else's. That faith in us will be repaid in full, because that’s how it should be. That’s how it must be.

Ever Grateful,

Lance & Clint Trahan  // Duck Block Games

P.S. - Over the last few weeks leading up to PAX South 2020, I had been developing and refining some features at a brisk pace. Details about those developments will be coming out in the next post, but for anyone that wants a sneak peek, I had posted some short video clips of those developments on my Twitter account as it was being worked on. I’ll likely be doing more of these “micro updates” in the future as I work on stuff, as it is relatively quick for me to post.

You can see these posts by following either the Duck Block Games Twitter at ( https://twitter.com/DuckBlockGames ) or my personal Twitter at ( https://twitter.com/LanceTrahan ).

July 2019 Update
8 months ago – Thu, Jul 25, 2019 at 10:56:29 PM

Hello Everyone!

We hope everyone had a great Independence Day earlier this month and stayed safe if fireworks were involved! As for us, we’ve spent the time settling into our new places and making some headway with a few features being added to the game.

Things We Are Working On

First up is a wall climbing mechanic that will allow Lily to be more mobile in a lot of nice ways.

I have one visual glitch to fix and an adjustment to make to how our raycasting hit detection works in order to make using it feel just right. Barring any additional tweaks, once those two things are worked out that feature will be finished.

Next up is one of Lily’s secondary weapon skills using a chakram type cross shaped weapon we’re currently calling the Battle Cross.

If anyone is familiar with the old Ninja Gaiden “Windmill Shuriken” ability, you’ll be right at home with using this weapon. To get the most out of it, you’ll need to ensure that the cross does not make contact with you after it is thrown, as it will continue to boomerang back to you for a limited amount of time. If used effectively, it can deal quite a bit of repeat damage for a one time mana expenditure before its energy is expended.

We have some movement and possibly some balance tweaks to make to this weapon still, but it’s very nearly finished.

Finally, here is one of the monsters that is nearing completion.

This monster will simply hop about, but you may find it difficult to avoid or even attack as it will be sporting some pretty thickly armored legs, so you’ll have to get a little creative if you want to quickly get past it.

In addition to the above items, we’re also working on a few of the castle areas to present. Of those, the Dungeon area is the furthest along and we’ll be showing some of that off soon.

Progress Meters and Comments

I made a recent comment on the main Kickstarter comment thread that we are working on adding a sort of “progress meter” image to each update post to give a bit more clarity as to how far along development of certain areas of the game are. We weren’t able to make it in time for this post, but look for it in the next post as we spend some extra time ensuring our goals are properly defined so that the progress reported can be as accurate as possible.

Speaking about the Kickstarter comment thread, I spent some time addressing a number of comments by various backers. Many were positive and we’re incredibly thankful for their support, but naturally some were negative because of how protracted development of the game has been thus far. I take everyone’s comments seriously, regardless of the level of support a backer may have given, so I want to address everyone as evenly as possible.

My goal with the last update post wasn’t to “whine” or make “life happens” excuses. The intent was to be open and transparent with things going on in both my life and my brother’s life that was actively impacting our ability to quickly affect progress with development. I could’ve just thrown up a blank wall saying “stuff is going on”, but I decided to be transparent and convey that a huge life event (marriage), something that takes tons of planning and execution under the best of circumstances, was in progress and will be concluded within the next few weeks.

I do not regret sharing that information. Many were understanding and supportive, some not so much, but that’s alright. Without getting anymore long winded about it, I’ll sum things up.

The game will be completed and is not in any way in danger of being left unfinished. Our life circumstances are starting to stabilize and we are working hard to improve our development process so we can speed development along even faster. At the same time, we’re also working on getting consistent and more accurate progress updates out to everyone.

We look forward to the day that we can release a game that everyone here will be able to fully enjoy and recommend to others and we thank everyone for the patience and support everyone has given us!

Sincerely,

Lance & Clint Trahan

Duck Block Games

Update - May 2019
11 months ago – Sun, May 12, 2019 at 01:27:40 AM


Hello Everyone!

Lance here! First, we want to apologize for missing the last two scheduled updates. We’re still getting stuck in this cycle of wanting content for update posts instead of just letting people know how things are going. We pushed back the March post to finish some stuff to show in April and before we knew it May was here. Pardon me while I clear the air on a few things.

What’s Been Happening

A bit of life has been happening to us. Last year, I started dating a wonderful lady that I’ve been good friends with for almost 10 years and before we knew it, we were getting married! As to why it took us 10 years to realize it, it’s complicated and one of those great mysteries of life. In any case, we both couldn’t be happier to have truly found each other.

So after PAX, I’ve been a bit caught up in the wedding planning shuffle as well as helping my fiance where I can. I’ve also been actively working towards buying a house for us to live in once we’re married, so that’s consumed some of my time. Put that on top of my normal 40 hour/week job and it’s been a bit difficult to squeeze in some dev time, but that’s going to improve soon with some focused planning that has been lacking.

Also because of these changes, Clint is moving out at the end of June to another apartment with a longtime friend of ours. Because he’s been exclusively working on the game full-time and expenses have been running through me, once he moves, those expenses will be taken up by him as I’ll have a pretty decent house note to cover, so he’s taken on some part-time Unity work to generate a basic level of income going forward.

We don’t want to make excuses, but life happens, and things are changing somewhat, but we’re going to push forward the best we can. Since our last update we have been working on a few areas but the content isn’t quite ready to show yet.

Clint worked on some of the character designs but feels they need more work before being posted. He’s been taking in the feedback from the last posted character updates and he wants to get the changes spot-on. We have also been working on story elements that are supposed to appear early in the game such as the intro cut-scene and dialogue moments in the Lich boss room, but those aren’t quite finished yet. Recently, Clint had also spent some time working on marketing material to approach some publishers/investors through a connection at GDC, but after looking at some offers, we decided it would be best to continue working on our own for now.

Since I do web development work for my day job, I’ve managed to squirrel away some time at work to learn more about Node.js so I can create a bot or implement an open source Node.js bot for an official Duck Block Games Discord server in the semi-near future. We’ll have a place for backers to chat about development of Forsaken Castle or any other types of game development/Unity talk. People will also be able to send us bugs or just check in with us on how development is going. I’ll post an announcement about that once it materializes.

Moving Forward

Our original plan was to finish our first milestone, which would contain all the content for roughly the first 30 or so minutes of the game and bring it to 100% before working on the rest of the content. This plan will change slightly as Clint has been getting bogged down with some of the pixel art needed which is keeping us working on the same initial area for too long. So we will be putting work on the story and character elements aside for now and focus on building out the rest of the castle and finishing the core gameplay mechanics. Our composer has also had life happen to him in the form of a new baby last year, so final progress on the soundtrack has been a bit slowed, but only about 5 tracks are remaining with 15 tracks being completed or are otherwise at a near final state.

As for the timeline, depending on how the next few months go, we’re looking into what we’ll need to release on Steam Early Access. Obviously we can’t do it unless we’re putting our best foot forward, which means we have a lot to get done, so we’re going to keep rolling on. For now, thank you all for your patience and understanding.

Sincerely,

Lance & Clint Trahan

Duck Block Games

February 2019 Update
about 1 year ago – Fri, Feb 15, 2019 at 12:19:35 AM


Hello Everyone!

First off, we apologize for the lack of updates over the holidays. We had a lot going on, but have been making steady progress on the game and now have a new demo build available as well! We now return you to our regular monthly update schedule.

Alpha Demo v1.4

Available on Steam, GameJolt, Itch.io, and IndieDB

Some may notice that we’ve dropped the “Pre” from the “Pre-Alpha” designation as it was well overdue. Each day we are getting closer to making the demo (and by extension the first real 30-45 minutes of play) closer to what will be delivered in the final release. From there, we will be rapidly moving into content expansion once the remaining systems are put in place.

For those who want to skip straight to the demo, you can find it available on the following sites:

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/640010/Forsaken_Castle/

GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/foresaken-castle/347477

Itch.io: https://duckblockgames.itch.io/forsaken-castle-demo

IndieDB: https://www.indiedb.com/games/forsaken-castle/downloads

There are a number of fixes and changes in the new release which we will go into below.

But first...

PAX South 2019

We had another great showing at PAX South! We had many people enjoy playing the demo, received some great feedback, and luckily this year neither of us was sick. Similar to last year, our booth setup went smooth and we always had people stopping by to check out the game at all times while the expo hall was open. A notable improvement this year was our location being right next to the PAX Rising booth space. We met players both new and old from previous PAX events, a number of backers, as well as other developers and exhibitors that came by to check us out.



One of the biggest changes from last year that people liked was the lighting...

Lighting Effects

From the beginning we wanted Forsaken Castle to have a 16-bit era feeling with pixel art but not to be completely constrained by the tech from that time. For example, we’ve always used particle effects for things like the flying skulls, spells, or hit effects. In an early prototype we experimented with dynamic lighting but ran into some technical issues, but recently we tried again and we are really happy with the results.





The quality of these images may not do it justice, but it makes a huge difference to the feeling of the environments during gameplay. However, we understand that this newest change may not be everyone’s cup of tea, so we will be adding an option to disable the lighting effects in a future update.

Here's a comparison shot for additional reference.



Many of the new UI updates are in place, such as the Inventory, Map/Mini-Map, and Health/Mana/Sub-Weapon/Boss Health HUDs but a few like the Journal that was highlighted in our August post along with some Menu and Settings screens still has some functionality implementations to be finalized before it’s fully ready to be included.

We didn’t want to regress functionality by removing the control remapping feature just because of the UI update, so we left it in place with it just overlayed with the new backing window UI that will soon house the redesigned menu.

This list may be a bit oversimplified, but as things currently stand, here are our immediate next steps for achieving the finalized demo:

  • Add story sequence that will start at the beginning of a new game.
  • Finish UI and Menu changes                                        
    • Sub-weapon circle selection
    • Journal display with notes/item inclusion functionality
    • Add Meryl shop window
  • Add a dialogue sequence with Evelyn and her company just before Lich encounter
  • Finish Lich encounter with the addition of new attack sequences
  • Add Vincent’s brief encounter after fighting the Lich 
  • Add Meryl Encounter                                        
    • Add Meryl character sprite and dialogue illustration
    • Add relevant sections of the castle and any new monsters that may appear between the current end of the demo and Meryl

Day by day we’re working to make this game a reality and it’s with your patience and support that we are able to do that. It truly means the world to us, so thank you very much! 

Sincerely,

Lance & Clint Trahan

Duck Block Games