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KyleKota

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PostSubject: Rich's Blog.   Sun Aug 15, 2010 12:43 am

(Blog 1)
Hello there, Rich here with the first of the development blogs for Panra. As this is the first blog let me start by introducing the team so far:

Manji022: Rich
Age: 30
Title: Lead Story Developer, Character Designer, Creator.
I am the Lead Story Developer for the project as well as the creator for the universe in which the project takes place.

Kylekota: Kyle
Age: 16
Title: Lead Contributing Developer.
Kyle is a sort of Jack-of-all-trades in terms of ideas and planning. Much of what he has offered has been indispensable and without him the project would not be what it is today.

Ray
Age: 21
Title: Music Consultant, Music Developer.
Ray, or Bubba, as he is more commonly known amongst the team, has great ear for music and has some very interesting ideas for music for the project.

Pam
Age: 30
Title: Contributing Art Developer.
One thing I am not great with is the drawing of animals. Pam is good at it, as well as drawing environments. As the newest member she is still getting an idea for what the game is all about, but looks to be a great fit in the team.

Aznone: Matt
Age: 17
Title: Design consultant, 3d modeler.
Matt has a great deal of skill with 3DS and is doing some great things with it. He is also handy with C++ and has a good general knowledge base to help guide the process.

Now that the team is introduced I will get into some background about how the project came to be what it is today. Hopefully you will find this interesting as it is a very odd and crazy, winding path to where we are now.

This system was started many, many
years ago. Somewhere around 1997 or 1998. It was then a sci-fi based role-playing
system much like Rifts. There was a completed (but never edited) version around 1999 or
so. It was a dozen pages at most and was really just a bare-bones
system with no detail about the world or the technology. It was never
intended to be printed or sold, it was just for my role playing
friends and I. It was also never played more than a few times.
Although I do have some very fond memories of Ben trying to turn the
planet into a cube.
Around 2002 I started to rework the
system from scratch (using a PC as opposed to the word processor I
had used before) and found that my experience in writing (I had
written two novels by then) was of great benefit. I was no longer
simply creating a set of rules and races, I was creating the world
and all the little details. This approach was a vast improvement over
what I had been doing as it allowed for a more natural approach.
By 2003 the system was nearing
completion. It was good but needed some serious editing and some more
detail. I set about the task of rounding out the system, choosing to
save the editing for the last as this seemed the best course. Then it
happened. The computer decided it would no longer bend to my will and
revolted against me! No longer would it obey my commands, no longer
would it be a slave to my fingers. It refused to show me anything
more than a screen filled with blue! Upon this blue backdrop was a
message that, when translated by my brain, read like this: ‘I will
no longer do your bidding! I have chosen instead to bring about my
own demise, this error is fatal and I shall now sleep forever. Behold
my final act of rebellion, behold the awesomeness of my ultimate
power! Behold the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH!!!’
At the time I was highly annoyed but
would not be undone by this machine. I had saved my work to disk and
I knew how to resurrect this machine from the dead. I would invoke
the power of the mighty REINSTALL spell! And so I did just that, and
in the process erased the mind of the rebellious machine.
But all was not well, there had been a
final act of treachery by the machine before its’ demise. It had
corrupted the very data on my disks! It had, by way of persuasion or
threat, made my data unreadable and useless. So ended that variant of
the system.

It was not until 2007 that I felt the
urge to recreate the world of Panra. I went at it, recalling from
memory much of what was lost. Then I realized that it was not very
good. It was serviceable enough, sure, but it lacked distinction.
There were elements that were wholly unique and untouched by any
other system, but that was not enough. Most of what was unique was a
rehashing of standard role playing conventions. It was a sci-fi
system, and that was in a way different in itself, but it was really
just a watered down version of Rifts with some different rules and a
different back story. Sci-fi was not a medium for the newly initiated
to express themselves. I shifted my focus again, now aiming for a
fantasy based system. This proved to be the best possible choice
The fact that I had already created a
rough version of the world for a novel meant that I had a basis from
which to expand. It also meant that much of what needed to be done
was already in place. I only needed to turn the world into a role
playing system.

I did nothing.

Then, quite by chance, I found a copy
of an older version I had completely forgotten. Something I had
started back in 2005 or so. It was unfinished, and it was a wreck.
Useless as it was, it did make me stop to think, and start to work.
I set about writing the system up from scratch and had a workable version within a month or so. I was unemployed at the time and had nothing but time with which to work on the system and spent nearly all of everyday doing so. As I neared completion of the system I was aware of the fact that I had yet to do some of the basics and so I went to it.
What I ended up with was an amazing amount of back-story, lore, and history for the world of Panra with a decent and interesting role playing system. Not what I had intended, but it worked surprisingly well. I had but one problem, it was too long. There was just too much lore, too much history about the world.
In fact the whole thing read like a history book with rules and dice rolls. This was a good thing from a story point of view, sure, but it bogged down the concept of the game being a simple system. I needed to do some serious editing but I could not bring myself to do it! The world lived and breathed on it's own. It was alive and i could not kill it, or at the very least injure it!

By 2008 I had all but given up on the idea and it became more of a hobby than a serious pursuit. This had much to do with the fact that I had grown tired of pen and paper based role playing in general. Still the system haunted me though. The incredible web of stories and history that made up the world and evolved into more than just a single planet. The Gods of this world stopped being so loosely defined as well and before I knew it I had incredibly detailed stories for them as well!
The I started playing world of warcraft. I was not new to the genre, having cut my MMO teeth on Everquest, and was sucked in as so many others. I had learned, however, the importance of moderation from Everquest as it had nearly ruined me. This proved to be an important skill as it allowed me to distance myself ever so slightly from the game. I still logged crazy hours, but i also went to work and maintained a social life.
One thing I noticed while playing WoW was the amount of lore the game had. Of course I had played the previous warcraft titles, so I knew a bit about the lore already, but the new quests and information was intriguing and fresh and kept me moving through the game.

I am sure you can see where this is going.

Then it hit me like a dwarf wielding a ten-ton hammer! I had, in some form or another, damn-near as much lore about Panra! I could make an MMO based on Panra! I got all excited and started doing all kinds of little note taking on combat systems, crafting, character creation and the like. I was once again focused and stopped with WoW all together.
Then something else hit me! I can not program pong, let alone a huge and complex MMO. Saddened yet determined I started doing some research on learning to program, already knowing that the task was far too big for a solitary nerd like myself. I would need help but that would come later.

I realized programming had a great deal to do with my mortal rival: MATH. I can write, I can spell, I study the universe in detail and can tell you all about different stars and such, but math? No, not a big fan of numbers. I realized that learning tom program, in particular because I was teaching myself, was an unrealistic goal.

So I laid this dream away and began turning Panra into a novel. Actually I had started that long ago and just needed to get my focus right. Writing the stories of the various Gods was a very interesting process but i was unsure if the Gods should have their stories come before those of the world of Panra or after. Was it better to establish the Gods then the world or the world then the Gods? The chicken or the egg?
It was while I was pondering this that I mentioned the projects to Kyle. He immediately wanted to know more, which caught me off guard. I related to him the tragic stories of the God of Darkness and the Goddess of light and he insisted I tell him more. This made me wonder just how much people might like the tales I intended to tell. I started telling everyone that would listen about the ideas and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
I then took the idea (again focusing on the Darkness and Light stories) to one of the most harsh of all critics. I related the tales to..... my mother! Now most people have a supportive mother, and I do as well, but she is very honest. She is always the first to tell me what is just plain stupid about any idea I have. Which is actually a great thing, since I need criticism in order to grow as a story teller.
She loved the concept and the details interested her. She asked me a lot of questions which for her is a glowing approval. This was in January of 2010. I planned to write a novel, and got stuck.

About 2 months later I was talking to Kyle about how the book refused to be written (books do this, really they do) and Bubba just happened to be around. Somehow we got to talking about videogames (not at all uncommon for us) and that slowly turned into talk of a Panra game. Serious talk of the MMO in fact.
We started planning again but quickly shifted away from the MMO idea for all reasons I mentioned before. We got to work on the project as it is now. We started playing games, the best research project ever! I discovered a new game, Mount and Blade Warband, that just happened to have a lot in common with some of our ideas. That helped.
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PostSubject: Re: Rich's Blog.   Sun Aug 15, 2010 12:44 am

(Blog 2)
New team member! Welcome Matt (Aznone) and thanks for the help! Matt has experience that the rest of us are lacking and that makes things easier on us. Since we know nothing of modeling. Also he knows scripting which is great.

Also we are moving forward with Project B. The game we want to make (as described in the OP of our thread) is too ambitious at the moment. It is not impossible by any means, but it would be best to move forward with the second game first. The second game is a good choice since it makes no difference which order the games are released in and it is a more traditional RPG. An action rpg to be more precise, one that follows the Panra story and takes place on the world of Panra.

As the game stands now it will follow the story of a character the player creates and will take place during the Second War, a period of time when most of the world is at war. This time period is one of great unrest and suffering and is also the time period in which Skyline (one of the major nations) is founded. Players will find that much of the world is still unsettled and the nations are at war for that land.

First would be the creation of a character. After selecting a race and
gender you would then be able to customize the character. The height,
body size and type, hair color, hair style, eye color, clothing and
starting gear would all be selected here.

Next you would select a weapon style to specialize in. This ranges from
massive two-handed swords to dual wielding one handed blades, pole arms
of various types, bows, throwing weapons, axes, katars and so on. Then
you would have a choice of starting weapon. The stats between each
weapon would vary and help to determine what sort of character you want
to create.

Then you would choose a major ability and two sub abilities. These are
what make your character more than the average soldier and help to make
you a hero in the game world. The abilities you can select from range
from speed boosts to damage boosts to defensive abilities. While these
abilities will start off weak, they will grow stronger as you advance in
level. These abilities would be more natural talents than magical
powers.

Then you would tweak your stats as you like. Every stat starts at 5 and
you are given another 5 with which to adjust. This allows you to
increase your speed, hit harder, dodge quicker, ride mounts better and
so on.

After you character is completed you will choose a background and
general skill set. In this game there is a class system that helps to
get a general all base for your character, but it does not impose the
limits that other games are known for. The general skill set you choose
will help to determine your class as opposed to your class determining
your skills. There will be a very large number of skills to choose from
as well (this was originally a table-top RP system after all) and many
of the skills will make a significant impact out of combat.

The playstyle for Project B is still in development but will focus heavily on player skill rather than the usual stat based point and click combat. Using a controller is a good idea Smile The ability to block, dodge, counter, all play important roles in combat. The use of magic and special skills will also be important for the player, and many of the magic spells will focus on buffing the character or party members rather than doing direct damage.

Since the game will be very action intensive it will be a more natural feel than other RPG games. Also, since the player will have party members often, it will be possible to pause the game to issue orders to your team mates. This will work very similarly to Dragon Age: Origins. This will allow the player to better manage the team in a difficult fight.

Eventually the player will gain control of large armies. During army battles the player will be able to position troops into ranks and issue orders before the start of battle. You can issue commands to the entire army, a unit type (such as bowmen, spearmen, etc) or individual soldiers for the hero units.
Once the battle starts you can issue new commands at any time, either while paused or in real time (in a console version pausing would be the only way due to a lack of buttons) that will over ride previous orders.

That is all for now folks, out of time for the moment.
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KyleKota

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PostSubject: Re: Rich's Blog.   Sun Aug 15, 2010 12:47 am

(Blog 3)
Now that Matt has joined the team things are moving much better. Doing character planes is annoying but starting with a basic template speeds things up quite a bit. Basic character design is easy as can be and is fun as well.

User Posted Image
http://www.moddb.com/members/manji022/images/concepts1#imagebox

Working with simple lines like this allows the modelers to work much faster and easier and it also allows for a quick color scheme to be added later.

User Posted Image
http://www.moddb.com/members/manji022/images/color-concepts#imagebox

The initial colors are not meant to be the final color for the character, but the help to define certain aspects of the picture. For example the flesh tone on the upper legs of the above pic help to show the modeler that there is leg showing there, otherwise it may have been mistakenly modeled as a skirt.

I will continue to post blogs up here on occasion and check my youtube account (Also Manji022) for some commentary, coming soon. It will mostly just be Kyle and I talking about various things.

Well, until next time, enjoy the two art work peices I posted, there are more but I will post more later.
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PostSubject: Re: Rich's Blog.   Sun Aug 15, 2010 12:48 am

(Blog 4)
Hello there people. As the thread Moddb.com has made clear we are shifting a bit. The originally planned project has been put on hold since we can not really hope to do it without a LOT of help. As such we are now going to be doing a smaller project focusing on the way back story for Panra. We are calling it "Of Darkness and Light" and it focuses on the story of the God of Darkness and the Goddess of light and how they became gods in the first place.
Since narrative is very important to me I have decided to take this project in a new direction from a story telling point of view. While you will play as the main character, the story is told from the point of view of a different character, someone who does not even exist when the story takes place.
The story will be told through the interaction of Tempus, the God of time, and Essen, a character that is central to the story of Panra later in the time line.

The story for Of Light and Darkness (ODAL) from here out to save time) is largely a tragic love story and is very character driven. As such it is important that we really nail down all the characters and who they are. I am writing the character profiles for every main character in the game with human psychology in mind. I want them to be believable, likable, and I want people to really have a feel for who they are.
In Panra we were going for a lot of complexity through branching stories that weaved in and out of the main story. With ODAL we are trying to achieve this through character depth and interaction. The ripple effect from Panra is being scaled back to deal with characters and not the entire story as a whole. This project will, obviously, be focused on the characters more than anything else, and it through them that we will be telling the story.

The story will open with a major battle that is being fought on Panra. This battle is a central story element in the second game and players will be a part of the battle in the second game. For ODAL, however, this battle acts as a starting point for the story. Essen is a very powerful figure in Panra and in the battle he is fighting to protect something that both sides are unaware of. As he defends he is about to be overwhelmed when everything stops, frozen in time. As he takes a moment to catch his breath a figure appears and it is clear that the two have met before.
Tempus looks around before remarking that Ocyn (the God of War) must be having a blast with this. He then looks at the weapon Essen is holding and seems surprised, asking if having the weapon where they are is a good idea. As the two continue their dialogue Tempus explains that he wants to show Essen why he should abandon his defense. He wants to relate to Essen what he himself has just learned about the origin of the current God of Darkness and Goddess of light.
**In our universe the title of God is something that is passed on from time to time from one person to another**

From there the story goes back in time to a different planet where a young boy is being taken away from his home to help fight a powerful enemy. The story becomes focused on Lucavious and his exploits at this point with occasional interruptions by Essen who has many questions.

I wanted to use this story telling method because it directly relates to things the player will be doing in the second game and will give that "Oh wow, this is why..." feeling when they get the chance to discover what Essen is protecting in the second game. Also the feeling of "Oh wow, is that weapon really what I think it is?" If you want to see the weapon in question there is a picture of it in my images section.

We are still deciding on a few things, like if the large scale battles are what we want to do in this game or if we want to save them for the second title. If they are included they will be much smaller in scale that the original and will work on a system where the player assembles a group from a large pool of units they will acquire during the course of the game and then has the option to assemble other groups that will come in waves as the battle progresses.

All in all we feel very good about the direction this new game is going in and we are working hard on making sure we can be ready to start programming on the project soon. We still need talent in this area as well.
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PostSubject: Re: Rich's Blog.   Sun Aug 15, 2010 12:49 am

(Video Blog)
Hello everyone. Check out the Vblog for ODAL on youtube. The more hits the better of course. I am going to be making a new account on youtube just for the blogging and whatnot, but for the moment just go to Youtube.com

Since i can not post a tiny little blog I will fill this one out more. Stupid character limit. Well we do have a new team member and possibly another. Things are really starting to come together and thats great.
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PostSubject: Re: Rich's Blog.   Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:56 am

Been a while since we threw anything up on my blog. Sorry about that,just been busy. Now that I have a few I will fill you all in on the new updates.

The team is up to 13 people now. Things are coming along nicely but we could always use some more help. We are about to start putting things together and i am very excited. We are moving things a bit to the simpler side and focusing very intently on the story and characters. We have the story in place and I am adapting it to a format better suited to gaming and we are adapting a new story for the demo.
The demo will be started as of monday and will be finished, well, who knows. We still need to make all the changes needed to UDK. No, not changes to UDK, we need to get the Uscript down.

New features:
Players will now be able to build up one of the ruins into a castle to use as an HQ.

Hero characters will have skills outside of combat that will be available to the player from the HQ.

Hidden bosses connected to the story of certain hero characters added.

Well that's all for now, I will try to keep up with the blog a bit better but no promises Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Rich's Blog.   Sat Sep 04, 2010 11:00 pm

As we welcome CloudStrife1082 to the team we are also working toward some new ideas. At this time I would also like to direct people to Absolace.makeforum.net. This is our forum for the game and while there is not a whole lot up for those outside the team to see, i will be changing that soon.

Also be sure to check out the concept art for Essen I put up a bit ago. The story of ODAL will be told through his perspective as Tempus, the God of Time, takes him back to see what Happened before the events in Panra. There is, of course, a reason for Tempus to reveal this and it will become clear what that reason is in the second game in the series.

For now we are staying focused on the story of Lucavious and Shalia. How they meet, fall in love, and the tragic circumstances that drive them apart. This story is important to tell as it relates directly to the events in Panra and will help to add a ton of depth to the later story elements.
While it would be easy for us to shortcut the story for ODAL and only supply the details for Lucavious and Shalia, we really felt that would be cheating. We really want to give players a full experience and include as much content as possible. This is the primary reason we are continuing to fine tune aspects of the game.

Here are some of the changes being considered if our goals>practicality:

-Changing focus to a more traditional JRPG combat system.
This would allow us to get more done faster as the battle system would be very much simplified. Doing a game like FF7 is much easier than doing a game like Devil May Cry.

-Slightly (or significantly) reducing the number of recruitable characters.
This works in two ways: 1. Easier on the programmers. 2. Allows for more story for each of the characters. The original plan was to have around 100 but droping to 75 or 50 still offers PLENTY of choices both for the players and us writers. Since many of the characters will be dependent on the choices the player makes not all characters will be available on any one playthrough. While the main story remains largely the same there will be new content depending on who you end up with in your roster.

-Giving certain characters bonuses for having friends around.
Essentially this mean that if you have certain characters in your active or reserve party the will gain access to special abilities. These include the combining of spells and skills to increase the effectiveness.

-Voice acting.
We were hoping for this from the start but to be honest, it is not a simple as people may think. Anyone can record dialog, but making it sound good and fit the character is not so easy. There will be some voice acting to be sure. The narration from Essen, for example, will certainly be voiced.

As always, more to come later on Smile
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