Towards The Pantheon Devlog #11: Autumn, Level Design, and some of our influences!

It’s time for Towards The Pantheon’s 11th devlog! You can find previous ones at http://www.connorlinning.com/ttp.

We’ve made a lot of progress this week and things are getting even more exciting! Our pixel artist Leandro released a new Youtube speed art video showing his creation of our initial main character portraits.

This week he has been hard at work on more character portraits, as well as tiles and sprites that we needed to fully begin level design since we’re now past the initially scripting stage and are building levels. We currently have a placeholder title screen and intro sequence and are creating levels starting from the beginning of the game. This means that all the elements of the game we have been working on since the start of the summer are finally coming together, and after enough levels are created the team will begin playtesting demo builds. Here’s a gif of the placeholder title screen I put together in 2 minutes – don’t worry, the final result will look much nicer!

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Since it is now autumn, we thought it would be appropriate to reveal a new area of the game with a screenshot featuring Phenez and Bam:

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We’ve also uploaded two new soundtrack demos ‘Homesick’ and ‘Horror Sound Design Test 1’. The ‘Horror Sound Design Test 1’ track is completely improvised and shows my experimentation with unconventional production techniques trying to create unique sounds for the horror chapter of the game.

Some people have asked about the tools we have been using to create the game. For pixel art, Leandro has been using GraphicsGale. The engine we are using is GameMaker: Studio, and for audio I use a mix of FL Studio and Sonar X2. My favorite VSTs include Rob Papen’s Blue-II, reFX’s Nexus, Spectrasonic’s Omnisphere, Linplug’s Albino, Image-Line’s Morphine and many more. I also use live guitar, bass, vocal, and drum recordings, along with my KORG Karma and Roland JV-2080 synths.

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I thought for the second half of this devlog I’d talk a bit about Towards The Pantheon’s influences.

The Silent Hill series springs to mind immediately – I can still remember listening to the Silent Hill 2 soundtrack for the first time and deciding that I must become a soundtrack composer and game developer. One of my favorite things about those games is that they are often more than just horror games. Silent Hill 2 can be enjoyed on the surface as a great horror title but underneath that is a great love story that explores themes that game developers often shy away from. With Towards The Pantheon, I want people to be able to enjoy the game as a great RPG on the surface, but also be able to look deeper and think about the various themes and questions that have inspired the storyline, lore, and character backstories.

Paper Mario 64 has been a huge influence on Towards The Pantheon in various aspects. The game broke away from many RPG cliches such as the earth/wind/fire/water elements being the basis of the combat system, having potions as standard items, and each party member had unique battle and overworld abilities. Similarly, Towards The Pantheon does not have the earth/wind/fire/water element system, does not use potions as standard items, and each party member has unique battle and overworld abilities. Instead of potions, I included Green Tea as a healing item and our teammate Nicolas suggested adding Coffee based on one of our in-jokes. My memories of playing Paper Mario 64 are also what influenced me to make Towards The Pantheon instead of making another survival horror game. Of course, one chapter of Towards The Pantheon is heavily inspired by survival horror games.

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In my previous devlog I mentioned author Yukio Mishima as an influence for our characters Mishima and Phenez. His work, along with the works other authors such as Osamu Dazai and books like Stephen King’s The Shining are what led me to make Towards The Pantheon a personal game instead of a standard RPG. This made me think of including the Fire Emblem style dialog system where you can listen in on character discussions and gain stat boosts. This allows me to explore the characters more in depth than classic RPGs and create as much character development as I can. As far as movies go, The Shining, The Divide, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo have been big inspirations for the horror chapter of the game. Anime and manga are also a big influence. I’m trying to catch up on reading Attack On Titan as Leandro is dying to talk about what has happened in the manga past the end of the anime’s first season!

At the end of the day, I am trying not to be overly influenced by other games when it comes to Towards The Pantheon. Instead of looking to other RPGs for ideas, I am trying to look at other media and the personal lives of our teammates for inspiration. I hope this will result in a more unique game for you to enjoy!

That’s it for this week’s devlog. If you enjoyed it, please share it around and follow the project on social media! We just made a new Instagram account for the game so be sure to follow us there!

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