Twilight's Call

Developed in collaboration with fellow Ottawa game dev Kyle Johnson as Green Hat Games. 

Twilight's CallI is a turn-based RPG inspired by the likes of Fire Emblem and Okage: Shadow King. Developed over the course of Summer 2018, Twilight's Call was meant to serve as a way for Kyle and I to prepare and discipline ourselves for our third and final year of Game Development. This included testing our ability to meet deadlines, follow game design best practices, and collaborate in an effective manner, all while building a game from the ground up without the guidance one would find in a classroom. After 4 months of development, we set aside Twilight's Call to focus on our college capstone project, Fallen Night, happy with what we were able to achieve.

 

After graduating from Game Development, we decided to return to Twilight's Call to see what we could do with it given our newfound skills, a "remaster" as we jokingly called it. This is the result.

Programming by Kyle Johnson.

Art by me.

First Build - Summer 2018

While we were happy with what we had at the end of Summer, it had more to do with the fact that we actually got something done and less with the actual result of the project. Simply put, the first iteration of Twilight's Call was quite primitive.

 

To keep our scope small, we decided to follow the simple game format of Overworld->Battle Sequence. Players could move from node to node on a linear map, and initiate battles upon entering said nodes. They would then be transported to a different scene where a turn-based battle would occur, with players having the option to cast different spells against enemies or defend their attacks, much like a regular JRPG. If a battle was won, the player would be transported back to the map to pursue another battle. This was our general gameplay loop.

In regards to art, assets were equally as limited. Having trouble settling on an art style, we opted to use a highly saturated watercolour aesthetic for all of our character and environmental models. Only a single playable character was modelled, a generic knight, who remained in a perpetual t-pose as he wasn't rigged, skinned or animated. This also applied to our enemies, of which there were only 2, a slime monster and the game's antagonist, Red Eyes. Battle arenas took place in a forest environment with nondescript forest assets like rocks and trees that didn't quite manage to make the arena feel full. UI elements were next to nonexistent, with either extremely basic elements whipped up in Photoshop or just Unity's default elements. 

As a whole, Twilight's Call v1 was a visually unimpressive, 5 minute game that perhaps had the foundation of something good, but didn't really offer anything to sink your teeth into. Looking back on it now this dev cycle was merely setting the groundwork for what was to come.

First Milestone - Summer 2019

Upon returning to Twilight's Call, because the little bit of gameplay we did have was substantial we decided to make overhauling all of the game's visuals our first priority, starting completely fresh. The first changes that were made were the character models. We got rid of our generic knight, instead replacing him with 4 unique party members that were both rigged, skinned and animated (walks and idles only for this milestone). On top of that, we scrapped our slimes and Red Eyes in favour of a set of crusader knights with varying degrees of crystallization, as it tied into the plot and helped to create a unified set of antagonists for our game. Each knight was also animated, with each version having their own walks and idles depending on how crystallized they were.

With new character designs out of the way, we then tried to settle on a new texture style that would be applied to these models and any subsequent finished assets. Inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, we chose to utilize cel-shading, with models having relatively basic textures accentuated by lighting. Most textures would either be comprised of solid colours or basic designs as to not clash with the colourful simple aesthetic.

After that we got to work on revamping the actual gameplay of Twilight's Call. We didn't find the basic Final Fantasy-style turn base format to be all that engaging given how straightforward our combat system was, so we modified it heavily. Doing away with the static arenas, we added tactical strategy elements to our combat, having players fight enemies on a grid-based map. To achieve this we created a custom level editor that creates grids of varying sizes comprised of nodes. Each node can be used to place/remove land allowing for easily modifiable terrain, or place props wherever for set dressing. 

Lastly, we made several additions to our actual combat mechanics. Now that the player can move along the map however they choose, we introduced 4 different ability types (attack, defense, heal and domain) with their own elemental types, cost and range, placing an emphasis on player positioning. To accommodate these changes we finally updated our UI, with a proper heads-up display, menu items, and designs for the player's ability cards. 

What's Next

Going forward we have much planned for Twilight's Call. Weapons and attack animation sets will be made for each character, along with fine tuning any skinning/rigging inconsistencies. More prop models will be created to allow for even more variation with our level editor, on top of an already planned crystal-themed biome. Our overworld scene will be completely redone from the ground up to better fit the current game's aesthetics. UI elements will continue to be improved upon and polished, along with new designs for previously nonexistent windows such as the title screen and options menu. Visual polish related to post-processing and particle effects will also be added to enhance our consistently built-upon visuals as development moves along. We look forward to sharing it with you when the time comes!