Tristan and Iseult - Week 3

20 Mar in nano, programming, videogames, VNs

Tristan and IseultTristan and Iseult

Tristan and Iseult is starting to look a little more like a VN, since not only have I actually written pretty much all of the first part (of four - hey, Each Uisge only took two weeks...!) but also Ren has graciously agreed to do some sprites for me - the above pair (Tristan and Iseult, surprisingly) are a couple of her sketches.

(On that note, I should also thank Daniel Bristow-Bailey for the battlefield tilesets, and Oddball and Oryx from the TIGSource forums for the unit graphics - these guys originally submitted their work to TIGSource's 'Assemblee' contest a year or so ago and then made their graphics available for game-makers to use afterwards.)

What else have I done? Well, I tried to start off with a little bit of a tutorial on how the battles work. I've pretty much settled on the priority-based system now, so of course that needs to be explained to the player. Here Kahedin, Tristan's friend and mentor, is telling the player through Tristan what's what with the battle system...

Kahedin explains it allKahedin explains it all

I've tried to spread the new-concepts out over a few battles, but I don't have time within the scope of NaNo to do a proper step-by-step introductory guide, so I'll probably be limited to Kahedin's pre-battle interjections.

This next image illustrates quite nicely two of the more-important features the last week's work has brought:


Firstly, and most importantly, the enemy now randomly insults you when you hurt him and/or kill his mates. Your guys yell back periodically, so it's all OK. Also, there's a little shield telling you which faction a particular unit is from - since the people of Tristan's time didn't exactly wear neat uniforms to battle all the time, it could be a little difficult to tell who was on which side some of the time, especially with units like cavalry where it wasn't possible to fit more than a couple of pixels of identifying beard in to tell the two sides apart.

I was a little worried that the faction shield might clutter the units too much, especially alongside the priority disc on one side and the unit-strength number on the other. I don't think it looks too bad, though, in the end.


This is looking friggin' awesome for a nano project ! I'm really eager to play it. Kudos to Ren for the beautiful and poetic style of Tristant and Iseult. I can't even imagine how complex it was to program the sprite interjections, is it with the " notify " system ? ( Sorry, forgot what's the name of the pop-up thingy in Ren'py ). Anyway, looks great.

The interjections were actually pretty easy - it's not using notify (I don't recall if that ever made it into Ren'Py, even?), but just showing a regular displayable widget Window which has the speech-bubble style (it's mostly just a frame with a speech-bubble graphic) and an appropriate positioning.

It's shown with an ATL transform which fades it out to 0-alpha after a few seconds, and since the battle engine periodically wipes the screen of Displayables and re-draws everything anyway, there's no pressing need to do more than that.

^__^ I guess freaking out is the whole point of the NaNo month and it helps to know that I'm not the only one. But it's not just the end of March scaring me, but this overwhelming fear that I'll never finish my project and if I do, happen to finish theirs the worry that no one will like it. It something that's been ruling my life for a while now, and I hope that by completing the NaNoReno month I can gain some confidence in myself and start to finish what I start instead ending up with tons of unfinished goals and projects.

Tristan and Iseult is a wonderful example of what I may be able to make someday if I try hard enough (and learn a whole mess of programming >__>). I never thought that making the battle structure would have been something that you finished long ago and was currently testing. Balancing out gameplay does take a considerable amount of time and can probably take as long as making the game itself sometimes. I hope you got plenty of beta testers to help. I just know Tristan and Iseult is going to be fun!

It seems to me that NaNo is useful for two reasons - firstly because it gives you a deadline to work to, which helps a lot of people, and secondly because it's such a short deadline, nobody really has amazingly high expectations out of a NaNo game. So feel the pressure to finish, but don't worry too much! I know it sounds cheesy, but you'll automatically qualify for respect and admiration just for finishing (and to be honest, it's pretty admirable to even try), it's a tough thing to create a whole game in a month.

One thing that I find helps me get on with things and be productive is to create a very rough skeleton of my game first, with really quick character sketches and very little detail - literally do the bare minimum to get from one end of the game to the other. Once I have that skeleton in place, I can go back and flesh out bits of it over and over until you're either completely happy with your finished game or you run out of time. (And honestly, nobody's ever completely happy with their game, so it's going to be the latter!)

For an example, near the beginning of this project I spent literally about twenty minutes for nine really rough placeholder sprites just to have something to show on-screen, and wrote scenes like "The Irish attack, and Tristan and his friend Kahedin show up and see them off." Now I've gone back over it twice, that's been expanded out to 40-odd lines of dialogue and a battle... and I'll quite possibly go back to it again before March is out and edit it some more. It's not an approach that'll work for everyone, but I find it helps me focus on a scene when I already have the brief description for it written out and I can already play through it from the scene before to the scene after.

Good luck!

Thank you for the encouragement. I think your method of started your game might better for me. All I got now is a bunch of sketches, half lined work, and my story in word document. Realistically, I know I'm heading slowly making a game, but it doesn't 'feel' like I'm making a game when I got nothing programmed and nothing that I can see working right now.

My next project will try this approach, because I'm really more of a show-don't-tell girl and if I don't see it, I start to lose hope that it will get done.

Thank you for the advice. ^__^ Now I'm going to get out of your hair and let you do what you do best. Can't wait to play your game!

Wow. It looks great so far. The new artwork looks good and I like the new graphics you got for the soldiers and I like the houses. You even got just the right text to go with the game. I'm so jealous!

How many battles do you think will be in the game by the end of March? Is progress going smoothly? It's almost close to the end of March and I'm starting to freak out a bit that my project won't get finished.

Freaking out about your project not being finished on time is the whole point of NaNo! Seriously, I've been doing it for a week already. ;-)

As to artwork, I've been lucky - I've only done a few bits and pieces of it myself, most of it I've taken from the assets donated by participants in TIGSource's Assemblee contest and the rest is being done for me by Ren; it's a game I've wanted to make for a while, and all the Assemblee graphics really just fell into place!

My current plot-and-structure plan is for 18 battles in total - three or four of which are really just tutorial introductions to the system, and thus don't need to be 'balanced' as such... and we'll see in about a week and a half how many of the others actually make it into the game! Actually inserting the battles isn't difficult, I can knock up a preliminary map and assign troops in twenty minutes or so... but balancing them so they're challenging and not impossible and still fun could potentially take months on its own!

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