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:

Update - May 2019
2 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
5 months 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 

Monthly Update - October 2018
9 months ago – Thu, Nov 01, 2018 at 01:05:54 AM

Hello Everyone!

This is going to be a short update today, but we want to check in and let everyone know how things are going.

First, we’re still working hard on the Alpha 1 demo, implementing new features and squashing some old and some new bugs. We wanted to release the demo in time for Halloween, but alas, it’s not quite ready for it to go out yet.

Part of the reason for the delay is that we have been spending a bit more time with our family this month after our mother was diagnosed with a recurrence of her cancer near the end of September. She just recently went through her first round of treatment and is doing well.

We’re working hard to get the demo update out as soon as possible, so please look forward to it!

Until then, enjoy this adorable Halloween Lily!

Trick or Treat!
Trick or Treat!

Thank you all again for your patience and support! It means so much to both of us!

Sincerely,

Lance & Clint Trahan
Duck Block Games

Monthly Update - September 2018
10 months ago – Tue, Sep 25, 2018 at 10:53:04 PM

Hello Everyone!

Time certainly flies when you have your head down in development. This month felt like it just flew by in no time! Here’s what we’ve been working on.

Engine Upgrades

Lance here! If engine upgrades and lots of text isn’t your thing, head on down to the next section to see some sweet art!

Since the launch of our Kickstarter we have been building the game on Unity 5.6.4. This was the last version before Unity moved to their Unity 2017/2018 naming convention. In general, it’s not advisable to change or otherwise upgrade your engine unless some fix or feature is made available that you absolutely need. About a week ago I decided to upgrade the engine to Unity 2018.2. While there was no particular fix or feature that brought on this change, I felt it was worth spending some time to entertain the possibility of updating the engine.

Thankfully the update wasn’t too harsh on the project. I was able to eliminate build errors in the first day. There were a number of warnings that have since been cut down significantly and don’t otherwise affect gameplay. The only semi time consuming issue was that our TextMesh Pro text boxes in our core scene had lost their script references and needed to be remade. Currently, I’m almost done addressing a few quirks in the weather system and then things will be back to 100%.

Even if this engine update wasn’t driven by a specific need, this process did still have two side benefits:

1. Keeping the engine up-to-date helps keep us in step with on-going API support such as Steamworks and for additional support for eventual console porting. As an example, Unity’s documentation for 5.6.4 has already been archived and has been difficult to reference at times because many links are outdated or otherwise broken.

2. It also gave me a chance to take a good look at where points of failure were lurking and to clean out things that were no longer used or needed. Because of this, I decided to reverse our usage of a third-party UI package that was unnecessarily complex and bulky to work with. Going back to my previous custom UI system was pretty simple and only needed a few minor adjustments to accomplish what we already have.

Ultimately, the upgrade to Unity 2018.2 has been a net positive and will allow us to gain access to new improvements and fixes made in the engine and make it easier to maintain the project by not letting the engine fall too far behind.

Character Updates

Clint here! With all of the under-the-hood changes to things like scene management, UI, levels, monsters and the engine itself, it was long since time to nail down some character designs. I have a few more characters to finish, but for now, these two are the most important.

 

Early on, we had some pretty rough ideas, but when making original characters it’s important to have some character sheets made so we can lock things in and so we can consistently apply their design going forward. Now that we have a clear design for each of them, the next step is to ‘pixelize’ their appearance in the game. Here is a comparison from our original pre-alpha when Lily first shows up to the castle at the start of the game.

Some pretty big differences
Some pretty big differences

 
Scaling down the illustrations does help a little, but it produces some artifacts that still need to be cleaned up after. The changes will also give the characters a much needed increase in screen real estate. Doing this will make it easier to implement different poses and facial expressions along with adding some extra refinement to their details. The dialogue box has now also reached its final design to go along with the other upcoming UI updates.

Now you may have wondered, who is Evelyn?

Quite the drastic change indeed
Quite the drastic change indeed


Evelyn
is a dark elf sorceress that Lily meets in the castle before fighting the Lich. She has been a part of the game since the beginning, but her design was really rushed and for a long time she didn’t even have a name. We hope everyone likes the new designs and look forward to the rest of the characters showing up in the near future.

We’re working hard to get all of these updates pulled together for a new demo release that will be coming very soon. Once these touches are in place, we’ll be able to move forward with building the rest of the castle and its content.

Once again, thank you so much for your support and patience as we continue our momentum into October and consequently, our favorite time of year. Bring on the cooler weather!

Sincerely,

Lance & Clint Trahan
Duck Block Games

Monthly Update - August 2018
11 months ago – Wed, Aug 29, 2018 at 08:30:16 PM

Hello Everyone!

Apologies for the late update this month, but things have been pretty busy. Here’s an update into what’s been happening.

Changes Under the Hood

Besides integrating the new Blight monster and Lich, we’ve been hard at work on the core systems that connect all areas of the game. Many bugs found since our last demo update have been fixed or are close to being addressed. We’ve implemented a new workflow for managing each content area within their own scene and seamlessly loading between them. This change in scene management required a massive overhaul to the current save system, which has also been fully implemented and will now have the save points being used going forward. We’ve also started construction on the Test Wing of the castle that will be accessed by a super secret button combination, pursue at your own risk. ;)

User Interface Changes

While we were working on the save system, we felt it was a good opportunity for us to clean up and redesign the UI beyond its initial prototype state. First, are the changes to the Health/Mana bar as they are now represented by icons instead of a meter.

The math still works the same, but we feel this change will give a better representation of Lily growing in strength as she finds more items. The effect will feel less cheap to us than simply extending a bar. You will initially start with 3 hearts and 2 mana (with each then being cut into 4 sub sections) and it will expand from there. For now, the mana will still regenerate over time, but will be scaled appropriately. Though we are also looking into ways to balance forgoing regeneration and make mana more accessible in other ways, but we definitely need more time before we reach a final decision on it.

Next are the changes to the pause menu.

You may be surprised, but mushrooms are quite useful.
You may be surprised, but mushrooms are quite useful.

The old menu was thrown together very quickly, so we were happy to finally give it some much needed love. Just as before, our goal is a menu similar to other adventure games that focus on key items, upgrades, and abilities.

Next we have our new Journal and updated Map.

Maps! Now with 700% more color!
Maps! Now with 700% more color!

During Lily’s adventure through the castle she will find several books and notes that give some insight into the world she lives in, as well as clues about current events in the castle. This is also where Backers from our Lorekeeper tier and above will have some of their own lore added to the world. There will also be a Quest Log to record events that have happened and a Bestiary of all the monsters encountered in the castle.

As always, we greatly appreciate everyone’s patience and support! We hope to have all these changes and more completed soon so we can roll out the new 1.4 version of the demo.

Sincerely,

Lance & Clint Trahan
Duck Block Games