World Map, Procedural Generation, and Postcard Art!

Originally posted as a public Kickstarter update

The Hunt is definitely on!

Xin took some time to re-envision the world map, looking at old maps and using the lore we’ve been working on to get the right flavor. So this is the new design for the fabric print available to Weaver and Super Collector backers, a lovely illustration of one Moon Hunters world:

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Of course, this is only one configuration out of effectively infinite possibilities. The Wolf Clan village will always be in the jungle, for example, but landmarks (such as Tyrant’s End) are random selections from a wide possible variety, and the world grows naturally, randomly, different every time.

So perhaps it’s fitting that Mike worked a bunch on the procedural level generation, too! Each “adventure area” (or you can call it a Danger Zone, I don’t mind) is made up of level “chunks”, which can involve an assortment of pre-built enemy spawns, special events, dungeon entrances, etc. In the editor screenshot below, the player spawn is in the upper left, with the purple dot on the right being the goal and how to leave/’complete’ the area.

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Some levels will be much more open and exploratory than this — others will be even more tight and focused. We’re also in the midst of building our Chunk Editor tool, which will let me build dozens (or hundreds! thousands! okay probably not millions) of possible chunks as puzzle pieces to build the levels.

Also, Xin recently finished the art that will adorn the Pen Pal (and Super Collector) postcards, which we’ll be ordering from the print shop in the next week or two and sending out soon after. It’s a concept for the atmosphere, culture, and wildlife in the riverland that is the home of the Celestin nomad tribe, which you all unlocked as our first stretch goal!

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Each tribe calls the Moon Goddess by different names, and the Celestin prefer “Queen-in-Exile” or “Dark Lady”, invoking her for various reasons but especially when they feel in need of calm, rational thinking, and/or forgiveness.

You can also see a possible new design for a familiar animal, a cleverly camouflaged amphibian — perhaps this is what they call a Riverchild? The Celestin say that the souls of men who meet an early death sometimes return as pale, sickly-white Riverchildren, haunting the mothers and lovers that outlive them. I wasn’t sure what a Riverchild looked like before, but perhaps this is it…

Next Time?

If you have a friend who wants to pre-order, point them to our game site, and then encourage them to find us on some kind of social media or other. Otherwise, it’ll be hard for them to hear about when the game’s ready to release, or start beta testing, or when our development livestreams start up again!

For the next while, we’ll be working on our Tribe Management and growth systems, and online networking, so maybe more information on that would be in order..?

Until then, by the light of the Moon,

Tanya & the Kitfox tribe

Moon Hunters Art Process

Xin’s been painting for a live audience every Friday afternoon from 3-5 EST, and for those of you who can’t make it, we thought we’d share the steps in his process!

First, he gets some kind of direction. For the example below, we knew we needed more art direction for our landscape development. The previous landscape he concepted was quite bright, and themed along bone and blood, in a relatively clear hilly area.

In the dark Moon Hunters universe, bone and blood are aligned with the Moon-worshipping player characters. So, the other end of the scale would be a densely wooded area where the villainous Sun cultists might have set up a lair.

With the overall idea in mind (dark, dense, Sun), he looks through our mood board, surfs some Google references, and thumbnails in monochrome to get the overall composition, doing this 4 to 6 times before picking the one he’ll go forward with. This takes about fifteen minutes to half an hour in total. He doesn’t need to explain to anyone else what the vision is — this is just for his own reference.

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This is where the live-stream started. He dropped the opacity down and draws on top. He took roughly an hour to “ink” it (since the Moon Hunters styling is heavy inked lines), and another hour to splash in some basic colors.

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After the livestream ended, he took another four hours or so to clean it up, polish it, and layer in more details and color. As you can see, in this one he took a bit of extra time to re-work the central architecture, keeping the ‘sunburst’ motif but making the construction more elegant.

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The next step? Translating this into a scene in the game… join us Friday for another glimpse into the Moon Hunters universe!

Livestream Today: Concept Art Live!

Today Xin will be live-streaming painting a watercolor concept for Moon Hunters, from sketch to semi-finished, from 3pm to 5pm EST today (Friday June 27th).

We’ll probably be making a habit of it, so mark your calendars! We’re likely to continue streaming art for the time being, but maybe we’ll veer off into other parts of game development as the game marches towards release.

A couple of days ago as a test, Xin brought this Marrow Temple sketch:

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up to this:

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And this time, he says the piece will be ‘darker’. Tune in to find out what he means!

Also, note that if you were subscribed to the Moon Hunters newsletter, you would have already received a notice in your inbox about this! Join if you want more timely information. 🙂

Traits and Myths

Note: If you subscribed to the newsletter, you would have already received this update and more in your inbox! Subscribe for the most up-to-date news!

Although the combat and exploration and art style of Moon Hunters have gotten a lot of attention and praise, we wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the unique glue that holds it all together: building your own mythology.

We’ve spent some time thinking about the best way to empower players to grow their own mythologies in a procedurally generated ancient world. We’ve been spending about the last eight months thinking about it! And finally, we decided to look at it through the lens of heroism and pantheons.

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When you think of the myths and legends that you love, whether it’s about Odin or Ishtar, it’s because these figures had strong personalities. We hinted that characters’ personality traits would be a huge factor in their adventures, and hinted that you might be born under a certain sign that influences your virtues and flaws.

What we didn’t realise until recently is how important it is that those traits change and evolve as your character grows, takes action, and gains a reputation.

So although each character starts out with a particular disposition (perhaps sunny, perhaps stormy), it’s really how they handle situations that changes how the world perceives them, and what kind of stories are told about them.

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We’re looking at having different factions and villages genuinely respond to different kinds of heroes differently. In the above example, it looks like Zana’s personal magnetism generally wins her friends and admirers — but due to mischief in the past, at least one tribe believes she is something of a deceptive villain! Maybe she should have been more honest in the past… but then again, children tend to love Trickster heroes…

Moon Hunters Update: the Dustfolk and the High Tribes

If you’ve already subscribed to the newsletter, you’ve probably already seen all of this! But for the rest of you…

Xin and I have been working on defining the different people and cultures of the Moon Hunters world, starting with the mountains, deserts, and forests.

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The Dustfolk

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The desert tribes are some of the friendliest, relying heavily on Blood magics to detect water beneath the surface, digging incredibly deep wells as needed. Even the smallest children of the tribe can usually recite basic Blood prayers, giving the desert folk a reputation for quick healing and practical wisdom.

Desert priestesses speak of an ancient thirst that draws all of humanity down into the cavernous flesh of the earth, safe from the evil sun. However, two storytellers rarely agree on what happens down there, for those that answer the call and indulge their thirst.

Here’s an assortment of villagers drawn from a few different tribes, side-by-side for comparison with the heroes. The differences can be rather subtle, but you can learn the style and customs of each tribe after spending more time with them.

The High Tribes

The people of the wind-chapped mountains are hunters, not farmers, as there’s neither enough fertile soil nor sunlight to sustain most vegetables. Even in mid-summer, the evil Sun is a distant, pearly figure, not so much brighter than the Moon. Of all environments, the peaks may be the most similar in night and day, seemingly trapped in a constant dusk.

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(The beetle in the gif probably isn’t native to that climate, but it sure does look happy about its travels! We’re not sure whether it’s dancing to impress its reflection or it’s just trying to keep warm. Either way, dance, beetle, dance!)

Most tribes prefer to build in wood, mud, or grass, but the High Tribes legends say they moved to a higher elevation to test their strength and self-discipline. They revel in the challenging permanence of stone and metal, with artisans excelling in Bronze magics and careful stonework. As a result, the finest jewelry, metal blades, and architectural advances tend to come from the mountain folk. In addition to hunting for meat and skins, they supplement their supplies with trading.

The High Tribes’ most profitable export is in weaponry. The Spellblade wields weapons forged by High Tribes on the jagged peaks of the Zaragos Mountains, where winds ceaselessly dig ore out of the very stone. After many years of hermetic study, training, and meditation, a Spellblade fuses his or her own will into the very metal, until the blade can anticipate its master’s whims.

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(Note for the detail-oriented: it’s not a scabbard, the wrappings hold together multiple layers of leather.)

Unfortunately, looking down on the world from their elevated viewpoint, the High Tribes tell themselves that they are closest to the Moon and most deserving of Her power. Most of its leadership are arrogant, possessing very little respect for those with more compassion. There are always exceptions, of course, particularly among merchants and rebellious youth, but the High Tribe culture is dominated by a sense of prideful superiority, valuing strength, purity, and loyalty over other, “lesser” virtues.

Crowdfunding?

A few people have asked whether we’ll crowdfund using the Square Enix Collective, but the honest answer is that we don’t know! Maybe! We haven’t decided yet what the best course of action is. For now, we’re keeping our heads down and working on the game.

At this point, we’re hoping to be ready for crowdfunding in July or August. We want to make sure we put our best foot forward and offer as much gameplay footage as possible. In the meantime, we’re glad to have you along for the journey!

Moon Hunters: Druid Character Concepts

If you’ve been reading our newsletter, you’ll know that Xin has been painting up a storm, taking references from every which way to inform our ancient world.

Moon Hunters is set in an age when gods walked the earth, when the tribes of mortals were still finding their purpose in the world, and defining what it meant to be human. The spirit of every creature and object is fresh and alive, newly captured by the hands of its creators.

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With this vivacity in mind, we enlisted the help of the amazing G.P. Lackey, a talented artist you may recognise from such excellent games as Fez, Skipping Stones, Death Road to Canada, Fallen City, Frobisher Says, and others. Xin and G.P. have really been pushing the pixels to bring even more personality to the characters. Here’s how the Druid has evolved:

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As a master of Wild magics, the Druid can speak in tongues older than apes and war. Druids are only partially human after becoming attuned to the green of leaf and red of tooth. Some prefer to run in packs or herds, delighting in the company of others and entertaining friends with tales of what happens in the light of the full Moon. Others prefer the quiet companionship of trees and flora, shunning other humans as noisy, impatient animals, rushing around too quickly to absorb the wisdom that comes from roots sunk down deep into the soil.

Ancient myth tells us that when the Sun tried to slay the Moon and take Her power the first time, the earth and everything on it were formed from the flesh of the goddess’s body, and the rivers from Her blood. Druids are grateful to the Moon for Her sacrifice, so that all creatures may live and grow from Her gift.

Moon Hunters will allow you to customise your character in color palette and head. Here’s an example alternate color that G.P.’s been working on:

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Gameplay-wise, we’re thinking the Druid can help the party explore by persuading stubborn brambles and beasts to step out of the way. We’re toying with a few different ideas for the Druid — does the Druid summon Wild creatures to help in battle, or transform into different creatures? Or both? We’re honestly not sure yet, but we’ll let you know when the prototype is ready to show.

And a few character customisation head concepts from Xin are below. Some are funny, others inscrutable. We’re hoping to keep the ‘weird’ tone, when they’re translated into pixel art.

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Feel free to comment in the forums if you want to pressure Xin and G.P. to turn concepts and characters into wallpapers, or suggest a particular creature/character design.

Character Creation, Monsters, and More!

Hey Moon Hunters!

We’re in our last week on the Square Enix Collective feedback round. We’ve been working on the art and design for Moon Hunters and I thought I’d share a few bits and pieces with you. Most of this was already sent to our newsletter last week, so be sure to join it if you haven’t yet!

First, we can show you a glimpse of a landmark we’re developing.

In Moon Hunters, we want to make things that not only look cool, but also have a reason, even if it’s not immediately obvious. The world is relatively new, with civilisations still rising and figuring out what laws and technology really mean for societies. So the temple of the Crimson Eye, for example, is a site of worship that sprang up in recent years, yet is sealed off from casual visitors. The reason, and method of access, can be found elsewhere in the world…

TempleCrimsonEye

Of course, the Temple is only one of dozens of landmarks, not to mention the dangerous monster territories your personal version of the world. Building up your hero’s mythology will depend greatly on your exploration strategy – are you the type to run amok over the continent, or do you prefer to ensure the safety of an area before you move on?

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Meanwhile, Xin is sketching up a storm, working out different enemies and allies you might find on your journeys. Here’s a few of the wilder denizens of the Moon Hunters world, who may not take kindly to uppity players invading their territory. At least, not without the proper rituals being observed!

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Also, we’ve gotten so many questions about classes and personalities, we thought we’d share our designs for the character creation, to help illustrate what we’re aiming for. Each of the character classes plays quite differently, and you can mix and match your class, personality archetype, and color palettes. The Occultist, for example, is a fast yet fragile character that can slip in and out of attack range, and summon a shadow blade in an emergency. Still, it’s up to you whether her personality is more of an intellectual genius or a soft-hearted priestess.

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That’s all for now! Make sure to sign up for the newsletter for more information on Moon Hunters and how you can help make this game a reality!

Moon Hunters Feedback, Clouded

We took all of the comments from the Moon Hunters Square Enix Collective project page and made a word cloud with them, to find out what people most cared about, for better or for worse. Some of it was semi-obvious — graphics and art, for example… but some might surprise you!

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We excluded the words “game” and “really”, but everything else is there! We’re really happy with the reaction so far.

I think it’s clear that the aesthetic we’ve chosen resonates with some people but puts others off. And that’s okay! We’re not interested in making a middling game for everyone — we’re interested in making a best-game-ever for one slice of gamers. So we’ll just have to accept that our taste is different from others’.. as long as SOME people out there love what we’re doing, that’s ideal. Pixel art isn’t for everyone, but neither is poutine.

We’re still collecting all feedback, suggestions, and ideas, so do leave comments anywhere and everywhere and we’ll be sure to consider them seriously. And if you haven’t signed up for the Moon Hunters newsletter yet, make sure to do so soon, or you might miss hearing the first bit of a song being composed for the game…

Announcing Moon Hunters!

Kitfox Games is proud to announce our second project, which has been simmering for a little while in secret:

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Moon Hunters is an open-world adventure for 1-4 players, solving ancient mysteries and building mythologies. Explore a hand-painted pixel art world that’s randomly generated yet rich with crafting, non-linear stories, and arcane lore.

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Features

  • An open, procedurally generated world: Over a hundred different locations and landmarks each have their own potential to help or hinder adventurers.
  • Exploration is key: Every landmark and territory may contain a Myth, which is essential in growing your world and your character.
  • Non-linear story: The mythology of your character and world is determined by your actions, and the world reacts to you differently based on the mythology you build. How will you react when you find a villager has lied to you? Temperamental heroes may be tempted to kill them in revenge, while more charismatic heroes use guile to extract the truth. Or do you try to ferret out other possible traitors? If you have trained in the powers of Dark Magic, the traitor may have a secret to share…
  • Myth-based crafting: Find, collect, and combine rare resources in different ways to create items, learn spells, and summon creatures.
  • Day and night cycle: Monsters and villagers behave differently and rituals have different results depending on the time of day.
  • Pick-up-and-play action: A quick, tight feel inspired by Legend of Zelda lets players set their own pace. A majority of the time in Moon Hunters is spent fighting monsters and claiming magical treasures, so it’s important that combat feels responsive and intuitive.
  • Character progression: Unlock new powers, creatures, items, and myths as you explore the world.
  • Gamer-family friendly: Accessible controls, short play sessions, and co-operative gameplay allow families to play together easily.


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You can sign up for the Moon Hunters specific newsletter by checking the website: http://www.moonhuntersgame.com or just clicking here.

The project was chosen to join the pilot program of the Square Enix Collective! If you head over there, you can read all about the concept and show your support by upvoting us!

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Any press inquiries or random suggestions, comments, and questions can be either commented there… or send an email anytime to tanya@kitfoxgames.com.