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:
January 2021 Update
17 days ago
– Thu, Jan 07, 2021 at 01:54:36 PM
This is Clint, we hope you all enjoyed the holidays! It's been too long since our last update post and we apologize for that.
I think it goes without saying that 2020 was quite a terrible year in many ways. Things have been going slow on our end but that’s starting to change. Since around November I’ve been more motivated than ever to get this done, so here’s some things I’ve been working on more recently.
The Night Keep
As Lily ascends the castle, across the Haunted Gallery, through the Dark Cathedral, she’ll find a place that is visually more elegant and sinister than the rest of the castle. Once a vampire stronghold, now filled with powerful undead and demons, this place is called The Night Keep.
Near the very top of the keep, you’ll find a familiar looking throne room.
I’ve wanted to work on this room for a long time, if only for the nostalgia factor, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I should design it. I think once the stained glass window was done the rest of it came together so all it needed was lots of red and purple for that vampire feel. I hope you all like it, here are some progress screenshots of it being made.
We also want this area of the castle to be one of the most difficult in the game, filled with deadly traps and tougher monsters. Here is a preview of a Mini-Boss you’ll encounter in the area called a Dread Guard.
The animations are still being worked on but it should be a fun and challenging fight. We’re also working on finishing the rest of Lily’s abilities so this area will be a good place to test how the game feels when everything is unlocked.
We really appreciate everyone being patient and supportive through all of this. We’re determined to get this done and hope to have much more to show very soon.
Lance & Clint Trahan // Duck Block Games
June 2020 Update
7 months ago
– Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 09:32:07 PM
It’s been a bit since we last posted an update, but we have been making a lot of changes behind the scenes during that time updating the project, fixing bugs, and making some changes that will help us with developing the various areas in the castle and will give us a better guide to ensuring some consistency between those areas. Starting with:
New Castle Area
Most of Clint’s attention lately has been focused on creating the pixel art for an area we have tentatively called the “Upper Castle”. It is a contrast between the castle area seen in the demo which we currently refer to as the “Lower Castle”, which is more basic in style/decor and connects to the Abandoned Mine area below the castle.
We’ve always just called it “Upper Castle” until we think of a better name for it. There are some tiles still needed for building more complex rooms but this hallway scene shows generally how this area will look.
Last update I mentioned the prototype for the Air Dash was coming along. It looks so much better than my very basic implementation where the player just “zipped” across the screen. What a difference the effects and the new sprite for Lily makes.
According to Clint, the particle effect is not quite finished, but it is pretty close.
The gears are getting back to full steam, so please look forward to more posts coming soon and let us know what you think!
Once again, thank you to everyone for your amazing patience and support!
Lance & Clint Trahan // Duck Block Games
March 2020 Update (Part 2)
10 months ago
– Wed, Apr 01, 2020 at 02:17:50 AM
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.
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.
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.
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!
Lance & Clint Trahan // Duck Block Games
March 2020 Update (Part 1)
11 months ago
– Thu, Mar 05, 2020 at 11:23:54 PM
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.
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.
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.
July 2019 Update
over 1 year ago
– Thu, Jul 25, 2019 at 10:56:29 PM
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!