Towards The Pantheon Devlog #10: Pixel art videos and a look at our main characters

It’s time for Towards The Pantheon’s 10th devlog! You can find previous ones at http://www.connorlinning.com/ttp.

This devlog is going to be split into two parts; the first part is about our progress this week, and the second part contains some more info on our main characters.

Our pixel artist Leandro has begun making videos where he shows the (sped up) process of creating pixel art for the game! We plan to release one every week or so, and each video will also contain Towards The Pantheon soundtrack demos as well as some of my original music prior to starting development of the game. This first video shows off his work on Towards The Pantheon’s logo! This week he has also completed more tiles that will be used in areas we have yet to reveal.

On the scripting side of things, I’ve gotten quite a bit done. Items can now be used in battles, a battle escape mechanic has been added, you can buy and sell items at shops, and I’m currently working on saving and loading your game. Last devlog I said that I will most likely begin working on levels and the actual game by the start of November, but if this pace continues I may start before then. I haven’t run into any serious obstacles yet, although at one point I wrote some terrible code that made my framerate drop to 30. I quickly fixed it and have it running well above my goal of 60. After that incident I spent some time refactoring and now my code is more efficient and even easier to work with than before.

I haven’t made any new soundtrack demos this week (as I’m pausing most soundtrack work until I have a handful of finished levels) but I did get to release the main theme I made for a homebrew Dreamcast game called SLAVE. Check it out on Youtube!

ttpwallpaper1Since most of my recent work has been relatively uninteresting to talk about in devlogs, I figured I would share some more information about our main characters Freyja, Bam, Mishima, and Phenez.

bammers2Bam the cat is based off my real life cat Bam. Bam is known around our house for being silly and goofy which caries over to him being the comedic character of the game. Bam is a law student who is tired of studying and wants to go on an adventure just like I did when I began coming up with Towards The Pantheon during my final year of university. His adventure involves saving his and other civilizations while my adventure turned out to be creating Bam’s adventure! I want the player to instantly know the type of character Bam is the moment he or she steps into Bam’s house. The way of doing that is through both the music and visuals, so check out my current soundtrack demo of Bam’s house on Soundcloud! I’m going to be buying my real cat Bam a green scarf for either Halloween or Yule so that he can cosplay as himself. Instead of a standard HP/MP system found in many RPGs, each character has a unique system in Towards The Pantheon. Bam has Health Points (HP) and Energy Points (EP).

Freyja follows the trope of an RPG protagonist being mute, but part of her backstory is that she’s a warrior without confidence. She is praised by her friends and family for her skills but she hasn’t found that confidence within herself, which is the cause of her silence. Her opportunity to prove her skills to herself comes when she is called to journey towards the pantheon. She is the first character you control in the game, and is the most traditional RPG character as far as battle system and gameplay mechanics go. Freyja has Health Points (HP) and Stamina Points (SP). The norse godess Freyja (from which the name is taken) coincidentally had a chariot pulled by two cats, and cats are one of the many races in Towards The Pantheon. Since the game is heavily based around my personal life and interests, there is often a lot of purposeful as well as coincidental overlap in the game.

pantheoncharactersPhenez and part of his backstory are based on a friend of mine who committed suicide a year and a half ago. This summer I was listening to the audio book of The Hobbit while driving at work. I had never asked my friend why he had named one of his music projects Eikenskaden (which means Oakenshield), and when the character Thorin Oakenshield was introduced I immediately wanted to ask if The Hobbit was an inspiration. The next second I remembered that I am not able to ask him. Dealing with the passing of someone who I admired as a musician for many years and later got the opportunity to befriend and make music with has been very difficult. I started wondering what it would be like if we were somehow able to contact those who had committed suicide since the act leaves so many unanswered questions. This was a big part of what would become Towards The Pantheon’s fourth race; a tribe of ‘ghosts’ who had committed suicide but still exist as they have some form of unfinished business in the world. The full backstory of Phenez is fictional and not based around my friend’s life, but the general theme of the character is. When I had yet to meet my friend, I thought of him as a musical legend since very little was known about him or his personal life. After I became his friend I got to know the man himself. Now that he is gone, him and his music are almost mythical to me. The character of Phenez is my way of dealing with the loss of a friend. This tribute to him is my way of saying thanks, something I wish I had said more often while he was here. Phenez has Health Points (HP) and Necro Points (NP).

pic28The character of Mishima was initially inspired by concern over the well being of another friend. Eventually I found overlap between that and some social/political issues as well as some of my views on society and people, and that formed the basis of the character.

Having mentioned that, Towards The Pantheon is not an overtly political game. Some of it is inspired by world history and political/philosophical issues, but I have never liked games or music that push any political agendas. I prefer to leave any questions or themes open ended, so that the player decides for his or herself what the answers are or what meanings can be found (if any). For example Silent Hill 2 can be enjoyed on the surface level as a horror game, but if you look further into its themes of love and violence you can enjoy it in a completely different way. I want Towards The Pantheon to be enjoyable as a game in and of itself for those who want a good RPG while also have a lot of depth and content for those who like to dig deeper.

Mishima is half human and half machine. Parts of her society believe humans to be inferior and that it is an insult to technological innovation for her not to replace her organic heart with a computer chip. Her name comes from the Japanese author Yukio Mishima who wrote ‘Confessions of a mask’. Some of the themes of that book, along with the title and the fact that Yukio Mishima committed suicide in 1970 influenced various aspects of both Mishima and Phenez. Mishima has Central Processing Unit Points (CPU) and Graphics Processing Unit Points (GPU).

Bam has come inside for the night and he wants to play, so that means this is the end of this week’s update! In future devlogs I may write more about the game and my influences and inspirations. If you like these devlogs, please follow the project on social media and help spread the word!

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