I hope everyone had a great holiday season and New Year. Hopefully you got everything you wanted done last year and made way for the new and exciting things that this year will bring (like the end of the world!)
I received Skyrim on Christmas and I will admit, I did not get as sucked in as I thought I would. There will be a few spoilers ahead, so tread carefully if you have not yet played. I spent Christmas and most of the following day playing it, but after that it sort of went out of my system. I dabbled with it off and on since, getting myself up to level 22 with full legendary dragon plate and such, but I don't find myself as enthralled to it as I was to Fallout 3 (the reason I bought an X-Box 360 originally). The game is entertaining and fun, no doubt about it, and visually impressive. But all that is a veneer for fetch quests and kill 10 bears quests. The music is of fantastic quality, but often inappropriately placed. Having a full orchestra going with choire vocals chiming in, bringing the whole scene to a climactic high is wonderful... but not when I am buying potions. And the really sad, morose town theme when I am fighting a dragon is a bit awkward as well. I am beginning to hate dungeons because they all look -exactly- the same with the exact same textures and for the most part the same draugrs, bandits, and spiders. The single most epic thing that has happened was a mistake when I killed an imperial noble on the road (I hate those guys) and when I went to Whiterun, the guards all started to attack me, but half the town came to my aid and there was a giant fight. I ultimately reloaded it to a point where I did not kill the noble, but still, that was my best moment thus far.
I just want to make mention of something that irks me with modern games. The quest hud. How is it my character magically knows the location to every single mythical and ancient relic just by having someone tell him to go and find it? Granted, in a 3-dimensional world as large as Skyrim's, you need something to orient you, but pretty much all of the mystery and exploration is moot when you have an exact path laid out for you for every. single. quest. objective. It makes it so that I don't pay attention -at all- to the quest story or NPCs and just bounce from one arrow to the next until I finish the quest. Bah, I say. But that's just me.
Anyway, moving on to Aleph!
So I got some new software which I am loving. I am altering the character/monster art for a couple of reasons: 1.) to make characters/monsters stand out more from the background, and 2.) to give characters/monsters a more sort of retro look from the early 90's. I've added a faint black outline to the characters which makes them standout more and give them the sort of retro look, and I replaced their old shadows with simpler ones that come from the game palette itself instead of the software program used to make the characters. The old shadows were multi-colored and purplish and did not really jive. I like the look and feel of the characters now, and I won't need to redo everything, just modify what I have. Plus, now characters/monsters are more consistent art-wise with items and objects, making everything gel together better.
Though, I -did- redo the main characters. Nothing wrong with the old ones, but the new ones look more heroic in my mind:
The female version of the main character still needs a bit of work as far as the isometric directions go (notably the down-right one) but otherwise I think they look pretty spiffy. Here's a few more examples:
I also whipped up a boat which I thought came out pretty nice. I had to make it smaller than 1:1 scale because if I kept it at that ratio it would have been too big to control properly and caused all sorts of issues, so I scaled it down. As of right now, the boat is the only item not 1:1 scale.
The old main characters will be used for another purpose after I modify them. I am also going to be redoing some of the Kickstarter rewards to make them a bit more badass and epic.
I've finished pretty much all of the monster spawners, so once I place them monsters will start popping up as necessary. There's a couple of new monsters I added but need to finish up their art, including some pretty badass bosses. I began working out loot tables for treasure chests and other containers as well, and will be setting up the bank system soon (this allows you to access a certain inventory from any town that has a bank, making it so you dont need to travel back to your housing area for extra gear or storage). I've added the end fight to the game and have been working backwards, so today or tomorrow I will have the full 'main quest' finished and playable. I incorporated a Kickstarter item into this... having said item will give you an extra option at the end of the game, allowing you to choose a different ending.
Mr. Rao made a new and extremely kickass and epic version of the main theme which I will use for the opening main menu. It actually reminds me of Skyrim's in the sense that it makes me want to grab a battle axe and start rocking some dragon faces.
Once I have the main quest all set in place, I am going to add in more NPCs, items, quests, and such and just gradually fill up the big ol' world I spent forever laying out.
If you haven't submitted your Kickstarter reward idea yet (there are only a small handful who haven't) then now would be the time to get it in.
Thank you all and I hope your new year is starting out as nice as mine!