Tristan and Isolde

08 Mar in nano, programming, videogames, VNs

Every March is NaNoRenO month, where VN-making people (by which I mean Lemmasoft forum denizens) attempt - in the mould of NaNoWriMo - to create a whole VN from beginning to end in a month. It's a really good event for a lot of people, especially those who haven't yet made and released a game of their own. Firstly, it gives you that happy hit of satisfaction for having actually completed and released something; secondly, it gives you an idea of how much work is actually required to complete a whole VN. Hint: it's actually quite a bit.

Since NaNo has such tight calendar restrictions, nobody's expecting highly-polished super-professional-commercial-quality games out of it. It's impressive just to finish something in a month, especially if it's your first try, so there's no reason to worry about being able to do something 'good enough' - it's ideal for beginners who are wondering what the fuss is all about.

Now, since I love a good challenge at times, I've taken part in this for a few years now, and each time tried to do something a little different. One year a few friends and I finished a 2d-shooter/VN hybrid, a couple of years back I did some multi-part animations before Ren'Py grew ATL to make that kind of thing easy, and last year I put together the prototype for what turned into my Ren'Py RPG-battle engine. That means that I'll have been working on the battle engine one way or another for about a year, now, and what better way to mark this milestone than to release a proper game that uses it?

Tristan and IseultTristan and Iseult

So, my plan is to finish Tristan and Iseult for NaNo. Primarily I'm doing this as an extension of my battle-engine work, so the goals are, in order:

  1. Create a demo game for the battle engine, demonstrating customisability and some best-practices.
  2. Identify any bits of the engine which are either unfinished or need corners rounding, so as to make it easier to make games with.
  3. Make a fun game with a half-decent story

So, you know, battle-programming comes first, story comes second. Not to say that the story is expected to be totally irrelevant, just that it's not the primary focus of my work.

The story of Tristan and Iseult (whichever way you spell her name) is one of the older legends of the UK, and oft considered to be a prototype for similar, later stories. The short version is that Tristan is a warrior working for a British king (back when the 'British' were all Celts) and fighting the Irish Gaels; Tristan falls for Isolde(/Iseult/Isotta/etc.), but she's both Irish and also betrothed/married to his boss, King Mark. The story goes about fifteen different ways from there - in some of them, Tristan ends up marrying a completely different Iseult, in some they both die, in some one of them dies, in some of them everyone lives happily ever after in France or something. So, you know - potential NaNo spoilers conveniently averted by the vagaries of history!

The battle part of the game is inspired - as you can probably tell from the shot above - by Advance Wars; half of me would like to introduce some other, differentiating mechanics, but the other half would prefer to just get a solid game finished for NaNo, and AW is already a solid game!

I actually planned to do this game as an entry into TIGSource's 'Assemblee' competition, and as such all the sprites are sourced from the first half of that. I'm staying within the spirit of NaNo as best as I can, in the circumstances - the only work from before the start of March that I'm using is stuff which was available to anyone to use for similar projects if they wished. For reference, here is my original mockup from the TIGSource compo:

TandI MockupMockup


Can't wait to play Tristan and Isolde, I look forward to it. 15 different paths huh? Sounds exciting. Hope you have lots of fun making it.

Sorry, the 15 was an off-the-cuff guess at how many different versions of the legend exist depending on where you read it - and in some versions certain characters have a completely different personality to other versions, so I doubt they'd all fit into the same VN anyway!

I'm not personally a huge fan of large ending counts, so it's pretty unlikely that this project will go that many different ways!

Finally, glad to hear from you!

With the release of Tristan and Isolde, would that mean the included battle engine scripts are finally in Beta?

That's the hope, yeah! I'm using the game as a bit of a shakedown to make sure there's nothing major missing from the engine (I already found one thing - pathfinding AI!), and once I've made any changes required to support this game, I'll probably try and merge any appropriate bits of it back into the battle-engine project and mark it as beta 1.

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