We attempted something new: we wrote a love lettre, one that might have been sent by a sorcerer/sorceress to their lover at the time of the rise to power of the Empire.
We deliberately smoothed all gender markers (this is especially significant in the French version), so as to allow any kind of couple to be identified as the lovers.
It's been one year to the day since the Empire has settled on our peaceful island. One year to the day that this absurd decree prevents us from exchanging our gentle magic. I am reduced to writing these words to you on this archaic paper that I try to impregnate with some loving runes.
Where are you, my sweet, have you taken refuge in Oasis like old Baba? When she was still here, the stone garden was lighting up the city with its unforgettable glow. Do you remember the long hours we spent together, lying in the grass, contemplating the myriad hues it reflected on the city? Today, nobody dares to lend their hopes to the rocks, all fear the technopriests who scour the island, and who do not hesitate to beat any child daring enough to trace the slightest glyph. I don't understand how we got to this. Some quarrels between our circles existed, but to come to such extremes is deplorable. I miss your warm melancholy, my love, it would help me through these difficult times. I cherish the memory of our times spent together dreaming the world, nestled in your bubble of reverie, and the nights when we admired the sky constellated with our magic.
I have drawn my best glyph of trust and let my letter fly away in the wind, I am sure it will reach you. I'm still at the stone garden, where we last saw each other. Give me a sign and no matter how dangerous the road, I'll try the journey.
I kiss you my sweet, I have the intimate conviction that we will meet again soon.
An here's the French version (much more romantic, of course):
Un an jour pour jour que l’Empire s’est installé sur notre île paisible. Un an jour pour jour que ce décret absurde nous empêche d’échanger nos douces magies. Mon seul recours pour t’écrire ces mots est cet archaïque papier que j’essaye d'imprégner de quelque runes attendrissantes.
Où te trouves-tu mon ange, as-tu cherché refuge à Oasis comme la vieille Baba ? Lorsqu’elle était encore là, le jardin de pierre berçait la ville de son inoubliable lueur. Te souviens-tu des longues heures passées ensemble, lorsque nous nous allongions dans l’herbe et contemplions les myriades de reflets qu’il renvoyait sur la ville ? Aujourd'hui, personne n’ose prêter ses espoirs aux rocs, tous craignent les technoprêtres qui ratissent les alentours et qui n’hésitent pas à rosser l’enfant traçant le moindre glyphe. Je ne comprends pas comment notre monde a pu basculer ainsi. Certaines querelles entre nos cercles existaient, mais en arriver à de telles extrémités est déplorable. Ta chaude mélancolie me manque mon amour, elle m’aiderait à supporter ces temps difficiles. Je chéris le souvenir de nos temps passés ensemble à rêver le monde, quand on se lovait dans ta bulle de songes, et des nuits où l’on admirait le ciel se consteller de nos magies.
J’ai tracé mes meilleurs symboles de confiance et laissé ma lettre s’envoler au vent, j’ai la conviction qu’elle te parviendra. Je suis toujours au jardin de pierre, là où nous étions lors de nos adieux. Adresse-moi un signe et aussi périlleuse soit la route, je tenterai le voyage.
Je t’embrasse mon trésor, j’ai l’intime conviction que nous nous reverrons bientôt.
We have worked on a short bit of lore: the subservience.
The subservience is an important part of the game. It is a ritual aiming at extracting the magical essence of a witch, and it kills her in the process. The imperial Cult of the Light uses it both as a terror weapon and a propaganda tool. Here's an extract from one of their sacred texts, Privileges and Sacraments, in the Liber Clarus.
The subservience - The ultimate Sacrament
The most powerful will be able to receive the greatest of sacraments
and will become an integral part of the Light.
You whom feelings overwhelm,
offer your burden,
deliver yourself from your earthly links
and become the standard bearer of the Light.
No emotion can equal the ecstasy of subservience
and light will give it to you a hundred times.
Enter the eternal room,
feel the sweet rays filling your mind
and the embrace of the sacred yoke cherish you for eternity.
One mystery remains: what are they doing that for? Why not just kill them? You will be able to discover that in one of the narrative arcs ;)
Ok. Remember how we were struggling with our UI? After 2 weeks of research, we still couldn't find the right one, all were bad in a way.
So the sound designer goes "Shall we remove the UI?"
The others go: WWWWHHAT!!!!!
But bear with us.
It is a bold thought. One we had at the very beginning of the project but quickly discarded as impossible and unplayable. But now Albert+Zoé might be ready for it...
The most striking consequence is that although all of Zoé's spells already have a specific rhythm, now you would need to memorize them. And cast them by playing the rhythm to the beat. That's unusual and pretty scary. The only reference we know of for this is Patapon, were you give orders to your patapons through rhythms ; but in Patapon there's only one rhythm (4 notes of equal length), cast using different keys. In Albert+Zoé you have only one key, but multiple rhythms. It reminds also of fighting games, were combos need particular timings between button presses. So memorizing rhythmical sequences is not completely foreign to video games. And you don't have to be a musician or even good at rhythm to be able to play them, anybody can. I mean we can all tap our foot to a beat or clap our hands.
And actually, it does make total sense. It serves our purposes perfectly: it enables the player as a creator of music within the space of the game. It gives him tactical freedom during fights. The same principle could be used for Albert, who could make combos or different attacks depending on the rhythm you play. Also, cross-character combos! We lacked both of these in our previous design, and that was a bit vexing as Zoé's complex gameplay flattered her and kept Albert a bit to much in the shadows.
From a coding standpoint, it's fine, it's pretty much the same and we mocked up a prototype in a matter of hours. From a musical production standpoint, it actually makes things easier and more fun as the player has a greater part in producing the music through the fight. From a gameplay perspective, it's awesome and unique, and being all artsy and sh*t, of course we love it.
So yeah, we pretty much had a revelation with this idea. And will definitely be going for it.
The only downside is that, although we were counting on wrapping up the demo for the 8th May (nobody remembers why tho), now that we've demolished the gameplay, it's not happening ¯_(ツ)_/¯ so we apologize, but we will have to postone this release.
We hope that everyone who's been on board with us until now will stay with us despite this change. But we figured: if there a drastic changes like this to make, it's now or never :)
Here are two little ideas for the new UI of the new gameplay.
Welp, there's been a litlle freakout within the team \o/
We realised recently that our layout was separating the action from the information (the rhythm marbles), and was preventing everyone from seeing the bosses' and protagonists' animations. Which was sad. So we went looking for new layouts. Some of the propositions stemmed from a very simple propositon: ditching the vertical layout for an horizontal one, on both mobile and desktop (only desktop had horizontal so far). That started a big mockup fight, everyone was condemning or asserting the horizontal layout.
And I watched ._.
Highlights the road and progress of Albert and Zoé along the story
Highlights the boss during fights
Dialogues reflect text messaging apps on handheld devices
Space for pretty backgrounds
Comfortable on handheld devices
Enough space for your big clumsy thumbs on handheld devices
More space for marble lanes
Also concept of Forges was made. It matches track 31 and it's one of the locations in the game, an important mining town... But more on it another time ;)
Finally, a sneak preview of the ambience track for the dark and mysterious Cairnvagh island...
Albert+Zoé just took one a giant step /o/ So we went to the Japan Touch Haru a bit timidly, not expecting anything but maybe misunderstanding from everyone, like "What the f is this game?". But we quickly realised things were not going as we had imagined. We actually got the warmest welcome, got great feedback and a lot of people who tried the demo instantly liked it! It was a big suprise for us and warmed our heart. We went home tired but with a smile ear to ear and a tear in the eye.
We also won the Pitch Your Game contest, which in return allowed us to get in touch with some important people, who are going to help us!
We are currently processing all the feedback we got at the event, and we'll make the demo publicly available when evey comment we got will be integrated.
Now here's the demo video we had playing on a loop during the event.