"Stoic" -- prototype video, now playable

edited in Projects
There is now a crude, playable build that I showed off at this week's MGSA meetup! (March)
Use wisely, graciously, and with the utmost hope that it doesn't break on you because I keep wrecking stuff while fiddling with other stuff.


(First Video)

(Extended video with voiceover explanation)

So over at QCF we're trying to get regular jamming, side projects and whatnot going as a more formal part of the office schedule. Similar to what Free Lives does, but with fewer genitals / explosions and a little more blood.

Something that I've recently been using Jam Time to polish up is a re-re-re-rework of a general idea called FienDASH that you may have seen me post prototypes of from time to time (like the one here: http://www.makegamessa.com/discussion/1159/turn-based-slashy-monster-prototype ).

We wanna start posting the results of these sessions more broadly (generate attention, convince our detractors we aren't dead, set up a culture of transparency and community interest projects, etc). That said, posting a video publically is a different kettle of fish to posting for fellow developers, so it's coming here first. Hooray!

And yeah, I think this is the first time I've ever posted a game video without an accompanying game download. I feel slightly weird. But hey, wanna tell me how this makes you feel? Share your emotions!
Thanked by 2Karuji Elyaradine


  • Put the normal (not shortened) YouTube URL as text in the post (iirc).

    Also, that is really cool! I want to play that asap! :P
    Thanked by 1Nandrew
  • Umm. Wow. That looks amazing :D. I really want to give it a play!

    One thing though about the video - they planning phase is very confusing to watch and understand until you see the final product. You might want to clear it up a little/ make it clearer what's happening :).

    Or you could just leave it like it is and have people's minds explode when they see the final product :D.
    Thanked by 1Nandrew
  • Nandrew said:
    Similar to what Free Lives does, but with fewer genitals / explosions and a little more blood.
    "More blood", that sounds like a challenge.
    Thanked by 2Bensonance tbulford
  • That looks extremely awesome.
  • Reminds me of Frozen Synapse and Might Tactical Shooter (A time segmented shmup)
  • a little more blood.
    That's cute!

    random thoughts:
    I want to play this. Where is the camera shake? Also I think the general action can be sped up with little time slowdowns whenever an enemy is hit. You do it in some places and it works great, but I think it can be on every impact. Hard to give more feedback without having played it, but the idea still seems like it has tons of promise, moreso now that i has some graphics to go with it.
  • That looks awesome! I really still have no idea how the planning pans out to the final battle (do you see into the future?), but it certainly looks cool! :D
  • This is all excellent. I'm making a revised video with a voiceover (just trying to get it sounding tidy) and slower / more explanation on the planning phase (those segments of the video are literally sped up 3x atm so there's plenty of room for that).

    I may tweak a playable version some time within the next week. If that's done, I'll post it here for the people who want to try it out. The game is very functional but is extremely difficult to use without a little UI revision.

    @raithza And regarding camera shake ... you've reminded me that I actually have functionality built in for that. It's hanging out in my code and not doin' anything so I'll attach it to a tasteful event or two. :)
  • edited
    Looks dandy! :)

    If you guys like turn-based fighting games, I recommend checking out Toribash: http://www.toribash.com/

    Here's some over-achiever showing off moves:

    Thanked by 1Nandrew
  • Part of FienDASH / Stoic's design vision is to work like a more accessible Toribash.
  • Looks really good especially for touch devices. Planning phase did leave me a little bewildered.
  • Toribash is SO hard @_@
  • I love that you guys are dedicating office hours to prototyping, that is awesome! I agree that the planning phase is confusing, but that slowing it down (especially to give more time to read – or voice over) would help a lot. The battle scene is epic, love the music and the slow downs. Nice work, looking forward to playing it!
  • Thank you all for the feedback!

    I went back and edited the video. It's similar to the one up top, but now comes with a slightly extended voiceover explaining the gameplay.

    Thanked by 2Bensonance Merrik
  • Who's doing the talking?
  • That's @Nandrew himself :)
  • @Nandrew The new video is excellent. The voiceover works well.

    I know you want to keep this only for MGSA now, but please let me know when I can write about this - I think people will go crazy over this -_-. (Or can I write about it now? :D)
  • "Donno if we're doing anything yet" needs to change to "playable demo coming soon".
    Thanked by 2Nandrew Bensonance
  • @Bensonance We'll be publicising the video some time tomorrow. I'll leave a note in this thread when that happens :)
    Thanked by 1Bensonance
  • Right, we're public ;)
    Thanked by 1Bensonance
  • edited

    An aesthetic effect that I'm quite proud-ish of is the gradual fade of normal environmental colours to a scheme I'm fond of calling "bloody sepia". Basically, I desaturate and / or red-tinge different categories of the environment in different ways. The intensity of this reddish greyout depends on the intensity of your killing spree and shifts somewhat gradually as the game session intensifies.

    Two things to take note of:
    1. Weapons have been given their own visual language since this screenshot. They now stand out slightly more as a visual group.
    2. Motion is actually a lot clearer than the still pictures I've tried to take would suggest. Chaos only becomes overwhelming at the worst points of a violence streak, and I hope to pat that out.
  • edited
    @Nandrew This is very unique and intriguing. @Fengol Indeed, Its like Frozen Synapse meets Tarantino. A horrific ballet. *Me eagerly awaits next update*
  • nice. love the replay mode.
  • I watched this and thought of stoic's sequel... the 3d version!
    Thanked by 2Nandrew francoisvn
  • I wish for that so hard it hurts. After talking more with peeps last night I'm strongly considering a 3D rebuild.

    On another note, I've posted the build from last night's meetup here and at the top of the thread. Presented as-is. Beware. There's not much to "learn", per se, you'll get all the basic controls of the game by just putzing around with a mouse.

  • Really cool. In the final product, I definitely want a way to be able to save fights and replay my favourite ones whenever I want.

    At first the game was crashing with an error ("FATAL ERROR in Vertex Shader compilation"). I had to download and install the DirectX End-User Runtime (I could have sworn I did it a few months ago as well), and then it all worked.

    Also, at first I assumed enemies were just spawning randomly, but I'm not sure if I reached the end of the game after beating a guy with a spear that takes 3 hits to kill..
  • edited
    @AlphaSheep yup, I was that lazy. Didn't actually, uh, build an end to the game (actually, just that the definition of the "end" changed so frequently and rapidly that I didn't code in the final one properly :P ).

    There is currently a way to save and load replays locked in code but severed from players. I am unable to remove a distressing trend for these replays to break more frequently for some reason (I say "more" frequently because you'll notice occasional bunked feedback on regular playbacks). I didn't want to raise false hopes, so I'd rather limit playtime until I've improved the game a bit more.

    In short: if you had a good time playing it but didn't play for that long, no worries. I've got a few incentives waiting in the wings but I do just need first impressions feedback atm.
  • Pacifism runs are pretty cool! see how long you can survive without killing any enemies (unless you are forced to)
  • I really like the idea of being a pacifist Stoic player.
  • Finally gave this a go, was super confused in the beginning but understood the controls eventually. I'm not sure how much "control" I have over the flow of the movements, but I can see that they're subtly different in terms of the direction of the momentum, but more often than not it's a case of visualising all outcomes and pick the one that hurts the least and going with it.

    I feel like I want a "parry" move - but I'm guessing the right offensive move equals parrying? It kinda feels like it but again, it seems guessworky.

    The secondary weapons are a really nice touch. Love that. Hadn't got to use the spear, which is kinda disappointing :P

    Pacifism run sounds like fun, but then all the enemies will end up chasing you, right?
  • or you could be the kind assassin type, incapacitating the interim enemies and only killing your target or when it is utterly vital... might be a cool challenge mode or something... maybe like 2x hits to incapacitate with fists/non piercing weapons or you have to get really close without a weapon to do a vulcan nerve pinch or thematically styled equivalent

    <idea dump>
    <donno if these are good ideas>

    Otherwise, for the record, I'm a big fan of wanting more control over what each attack type does. They all feel very similar except the backstep and thrust (and even the thrust felt like a swing because of the momentum carrying you, maybe that's the point, but then it shouldn't be called thrust, maybe something like extend... which doesn't sound as exciting so I'll stop with this train of thought now...). Maybe have the 180 slash that only moderately affects the turning momentum and a 720 spin where the player does a massive momentum injecting whirling spin.

    I also would like more control points, so like 12 instead of 6. I understand 6 were locked down originally since the game had full 360 degree control but then people would go pixel hunting for the exact right spot, but 6 feels too limiting.

    I'm also would like to have a additional dodge move which flings you in a desired direction (even against the momentum) to escape tight situations (also smoke bomb, maybe). It would make for close exciting escapes and a cooler vid in the end (I think)

    I've said many times, the control points that will result in death should be high-lit, since in tight situations I end up just looking for that one attack-type/control point combo that won't result in death, which is more tedious rather than "planning my next coldly focused/stoic tactical move"

    I didn't say it, but someone mentioned cutting down the amount of time per turn and making an object pickup a turn rather than automatic. I would certainly like object pickups to be manual somehow... maybe. I might just be playing with the pickup mechanic counter to the desired vision, but I never really noticed them, they were always a "oh, cool I have a <item> now, *use*"

    </donno if these are good ideas>
    </idea dump>
  • oh, this was my first post here, for the record: friggin' love the game!!
  • Really enjoying this, although I must confess that I seldom use any secondary weapon other than the sword (shooting somebody in the face doesn't seem quite as badass as stab 2 people in opposite directions at the same time).
    I am unable to remove a distressing trend for these replays to break more frequently
    I dunno if this is what you meant but a couple times I've seen replays turn out not at all the same way that the actual playthrough did (dying far sooner). Floating point arithmetic for the win? =/
  • I'm concerned that I'm not catching some deeper problem related to rounding problems or random seed values changing over sessions or something, yeah. It creates minute differences which are generally all it takes to change a major outcome.

    Will probably stop thinking about technical problems with the GM build soon ... Unity do-over feels more and more certain.

    I'll use the reset to make one last system adjustment based on the commentary here. I think I've got a nice bit o' idea :P
  • Nandrew said:
    I'll use the reset to make one last system adjustment based on the commentary here. I think I've got a nice bit o' idea :P
    I hope your Idea is to make it in 3D, because that's what this needs to be.
  • I gave it a go and I'm really enjoying it. Must've spent an hour or two in it already just trying to get my run to be that tiny bit cooler.

    I'm not sure what 3D will add to it as I really love the top down look. It makes the floaty player feel like he is performing a feat of technical footwork without it being explicitly shown.

    I don't like that the enemies are knocked back by sword blows. With the amount of blood coming out of them, it would be nicer to feel like I'm slicing my way through, rather than bashing them around.

    I'm not sure if it's intentional or not, but the player bounces off the enemies and the walls quite violently. It makes for an interesting strategy against the last enemy - to bounce off him every time you hit him - it gives you a ton of backwards momentum to avoid his spear and hit him again.
  • Thaum said:
    I'm not sure what 3D will add to it...
    Scene Depth. Nuanced lighting. Skinned animations! Dynamic camera cinematic license. Ragdoll! Specular lighting on the swords and armor and shit! etc. etc.

    Thanked by 2Chippit Pomb
  • 3D? More like 3DD. THIS! IS! STOIIIIIIIIIIIC! :D

    Seriously it'll be amazing in 3D, though the moves will be even less distinguishable in 3D space - or less understandable. I can understand it in 2D space that things go towards or away, or more to the left or right, wider arc, tighter stab, etc, but 3D...

    It's like my mind just refused to work going from starcraft to homeworld :P

    But damn it'll LOOK amazing.
  • edited
    I wanted a Parry or a block ability depending on my wielding makeup, I think variable time-steps for different abilities would be awesome, shorter for daggers longer for a broadsword. I fell in love as soon as I picked up a crossbow, the badass feeling definitely came upon me at that point, but I am a sucker for anything arrows. I had trouble killing that dude that has his shield and sword facing forward, he's hardy as shit, he's pulling some Sparta tactics.
    I find BUILD (27 Mar '14) fun to play.
  • Regarding the second weapon, the slash from the second sword is invaluable early on, and the crossbow is awesome, once you get used to using it. I found the shield a waste at times, because it's basically down to luck whether or not it's facing in a direction that makes it useful. The charge attack was basically useless, since it's only real purpose is to move the shield to the front, and 9 times out of 10, charging means running into a sword and dying. I'd rather have some sort of block ability that comes with the shield.
  • The 3D shift probably wouldn't encourage me to start building the game's mechanics in three dimensions (high/low sword swipes or whatever). It'll already add enough challenge/complexity that I'll HAVE to pare down to make the transition a good thing instead of a needless weight.

    The main trouble at this point, which is the delicate balancing act I've tried pulling so far, is getting the right level of fudge versus flow vs realism. Moving to 3D is exciting AND intimidating because I'll lose some valuable fudge points. More camera angles and 3D models offer a lot of opportunity while also opening the game up to additional scrutiny.

    Things like Thaum mentions -- the abstraction of the footwork, etc -- will be lost, and will have to be replaced by either rigid / explicit systems or I'll need to make a conscious decision to abstract / handwave that stuff. Not gonna be easy.

    Still gonna be attempted, though.
  • Hey I dunno how it happened, but I made a run to the end and killed the spear guy (barely this time) and hit playback... And somehow the playback wasn't the same as the run I had. I died with 2 hits and thought I was dancing like a moron.

    Guess that's the inconsistency when re-simulating with data creeping in.
  • edited
    Um. I kind of have my doubts as to whether you're actually going to go this direction, but I felt like sculpting rocks tonight.


    [ Diffuse ] [ Specular ] [ Normal ]

    You'll need more than that to get them looking nice (e.g. some lights and/or a reflection cube) though, and I have a feeling you'd be better off with more of a hand-painted look, but whatever! XD If you do decide on something like this, let me know. (I want to get rid of that long rock in there, because it makes the tiling kind of obvious. Otherwise I've been keen to go back to doing hand-painted-looking stuff again too, so I'll try something like that later this week maybe, depending on how quickly I fight off this flu.)
    Thanked by 2Nandrew Fengol
  • Really love this game guys!! I can't stop playing it ! xD
  • I am in love. Just put that in a packet to go. Give me your account details. It's phenomenal. Is there anywhere I can get more info. I really want to share this.
  • This thread is basically it for the time being. It's a very early proto.
  • Well I for one have now been playing it for over an hour and I might still be doing so for a while. Please keep us updated. One question: How does the game decide where to place the movement markers? Besides for the enemy ones naturally.
  • It just puts six equidistant targets around the player and removes those that are too close to other markers or screen edges. If you want maximum movement flexibility, you'll try stay in the centre of the screen.
  • Great tip. Thanks
  • If I may. Some ideas. Seeing as we now have the entire office playing it. Dale suggested a throw command. So as you come out of a spin or stab you can release the weapon. Patrick's idea was a larger arena, like a Colosseum. Then I suggested maybe 4 characters to control. They could feed off each other as well. Doing shield bashes together to bounce away. That's our office's brain storming. It may help. It may not. I thought I would put it out there. We all less than 3 this.
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