2012/08/11


Community Spotlight: Polymorphable

[Polymorphable is the first released total-conversion mod/game for Flare. Here’s a plug and some great background info from its creators. -Clint]

Polymorphable screenshot

On the eve of her 16th birthday, Polymorphable’s protagonist, Daphne, unwittingly unleashes an ancient evil on her town. It is therefore her responsibility to make things right, and discover a little about herself, her parents, and her village along the way. The primary game mechanic is centered around the FLARE transform power – as she progresses through the game, Daphne acquires four transformational talismans, to turn her into a bat, snake, ghost, and the powerful Juggernaut. Each has it’s own special abilities, to fly, pass through fire, spit acid, or strike down a screen full of enemies, and is necessary to progress through the dungeons. The dungeons currently include a cavern, a volcano, a haunted castle, and a snowy peak (it’s amazing how much geography there can be around one single village!). In total, there’s probably about an hour worth of gameplay here right now, but the modularity of FLARE make it easy to expand that content, and plans are already being hatched for it. Maybe in a couple of years we’ll have content to last for twenty hours!

Polymorphable (full name Laurelia’s Polymorphable Citizens) is a coming-of-age adventure game designed for the Liberated Pixel Cup contest. The mechanics take from the FLARE engine, the level design is inspired by the first Zelda, and the narrative genre derives from SNES JRPGs like Dragon Quest and Secret of Mana – a young girl, just coming into arbitrarily-defined adulthood, discovers she has a destiny to fulfill.

Along the way, making/modding this game, I’ve had a chance to really get a feel for the FLARE engine – I came in after the 0.15 release on the Ubuntu app store, and then made a small mod with a few npcs, a couple quests, and some modded enemies. After asking some rookie questions, and receiving some great answers, I felt a little more comfortable with the engine. When Thane Brimhall asked me to work on Polymorphable for the LPC with him, I jumped at the chance.

And man, I obsessed over that for a month. Nothing really brings the power of the FLARE engine to light like trying to design a whole new game from the ground up – and whenever I see more features being added in FLARE, I start trying to think of the new possibilities they unlock. It’s also exposed a lot of the ways that FLARE can be improved for modders, which has probably generated a ton of work for Clint and the FLARE dev team. I think that the best advice I can give modders is to try and insert as much as you can into every aspect of your own mods – it’s the best way to learn how to leverage all that the engine can do! I think it also offers me a chance to give (hopefully) constructive feedback to the FLARE team as to what works, doesn’t work, and could be added to enrich the engine. I know several features got fast-tracked or added by two amazing FLARE devs, Justin Jacobs and Igor Paliychuk, so that we would be able to make the game we wanted.

Overall, I cannot thank FLARE enough for making something so flexible and powerful!

written by Matthew Krohn

I’ve been quite interested in the LPC ever since it was announced, and since I’m a long time fan and dev of Flare, it seemed natural to want to figure out a way to use the game engine I was comfortable with. Most of the work I did on Polymorphable actually happened before the coding portion of the event started. Key components I worked on included creation of the new UI widgets and adding orthogonal tile support to Flare’s map renderer (and fixing associated bugs).

Once the coding portion rolled around, we were armed with new art and a shiny new map orientation. I created the first tileset and built out Laurelia, the city Daphne lives in. But after that, real life came into play, and I was pretty much out for the rest of the month. I was really impressed with the amazing efforts surrounding the project! Matthew Krohn, Justin Jacobs and Igor Paliychuk really picked up the ball I dropped and cranked out a great game.

Naturally, with only a month of work put into it, there’s a few places that are rough around the edges, but I’m amazed that a good story-driven game can be produced in such a short amount of time. We plan on enhancing Polymorphable over the coming months and years to make it into a polished (and longer) game.

The real amazing thing behind Polymorphable and the Flare engine that deserves recognition is the flexibility that it grants game-makers. At first glance it’s unlikely that players would ever realize that Flare and Polymorphable run on (99.9%) the same code base. Hopefully, this will open the floodgates for many more Flare-based games in the years to come.

written by Thane Brimhall

2012/08/10

Community Spotlight: Stefan Beller

Stefan’s a major contributor to the Tiled map editor and helped us early on with the Flare exporter. He’s taken that Tiled expertise into Flare, where he’s optimized the main map rendering routines by orders of magnitude. Here’s more about Stefan!

1. Where are you from and what do you do?

I am from North Rhine-Westphalia/Germany and currently I am studying computational engineering master degree. During my studies I learned to like and love free/libre software.

2. What’s your dream game?

I really like games having a good atmosphere such as Gothic 2.
Also I like hack and slay such as Diablo 2. The one thing which kept
me at playing D2 was the fact that you never knew if you had the best
items.
Hint: See current discussion about flare items/loot

The same applies to Gothic 2, you always found out another way to handle some quest, sometimes you could see it was unintended by design 😉

3. What drives you to contribute to Flare?

The graphics and art.
Flare is very promising specially at the art, so I can try to help out
at other requirements to be done to make it a great game.
So as of now I did not contribute new features, but rather fixed bugs and rewrote subsystems for speed.

4. Any advice for people who are interested in making games?

  • Start small.
  • Don’t loose motivation even when you’re stuck at a hard problem, but rather
  • Discuss with others. Better yet:
  • Join existing projects/communities.

5. Are you involved in any other interesting projects?

Originally I started contributing to The Mana World, which is
a MMORPG, but I don’t like playing quests made by myself on maps
made by myself. So I switched to the supportive projects in the background, such as the Tiled map editor, which is also used by flare developers. That’s how I actually got in contact with flare iirc.

2012/08/09

Community Spotlight: Justin Jacobs

Justin has been an incredibly valuable contributor for Flare — he’s been a major driving force keeping the pace up on the project. His code quality is impeccable — I read his pull requests diffs not looking for errors, but to admire his work. Honestly.

1. Where are you from and what do you do?

I’m from central Massachusetts, USA. I’m currently unemployed, but
my last job was in IT.

[Seriously? Someone hire this guy. –Clint]

2. What’s your dream game?

That’s a tough question. There’s so many great games that I’d love
to see more of. If I had to narrow it down, it’d be a tossup between:
a side-scrolling Metroid on the same level as Super Metroid; a
top-down Zelda on the same level as Link to the Past; or revive
Westwood from the dead and make Nox 2.

3. What drives you to contribute to Flare?

I love video games, but I also use Linux. Unfortunately, those two
things have always been a bit like oil and water. In my search for
games to play on my system, Flare stood out to me. Not only was the
gameplay fun, but the presentation as a whole felt of a high quality.
My will to contribute to Flare is driven by my desire to see an
already promising looking game get that final bit of polish. Plus,
just contributing to a free software project is a big self-esteem
boost.

4. Any advice for people who are interested in making games?

I’m probably repeating what many others have said, but start
small. Games are very complex, and can require knowledge in a lot of
different areas. If you can manage to get a simple game together (even
a Pong clone will do), you’ll have a good idea of what it takes to
create a game. Find a small open-source game you like and dig around.
See why other programmers do things the way they do. If you feel very
ambitious, try to fix something that might be wrong with the game. My
initial contributions to Flare were small. But as I got more
comfortable with the code, I was able to contribute bigger and better
things.

5. Are you involved in any other interesting projects?

I spend most of my time on Flare, but occasionally I’ll work on
some stuff of my own, all of which I host on my Github.

2012/08/02

Game Schedule

When will we be able to see a new Flare The Game?

We’re very close to having all engine features in place — just a few more months and it’ll be “feature complete”. Then the engine enters Beta stage where we’ll fix bugs, make more things configurable, add lots more error messages/checks, etc. Some of the remaining engine-level features. We should have these features done before the end of the year:

  • Buff/debuff renderables handling
  • Passive powers
  • Configurable damage types
  • Loot table restructure
  • Cutscene support

We’re in planning stages right now for the final game. I’m working on art for some new game features (traps, teleporters, etc) and we’re going to create test maps that demonstrate how all these features work. Armed with those tools, we’ll start creating final maps and quests probably next month (September 2012).

The new engine features for v0.17 are basically done now. That went way faster than expected (thanks especially to dorkster and igorko!). So I haven’t figured out the new time line yet. I’m pondering September 1st for a v0.17 release. And we should start seeing final content shortly after that.

2012/07/31


Configurable Menus

The Flare crew has been working hard on making all the menus configurable. Now it’s much easier to change the layout of any of the menus or add a completely different art style.

Also we’re working on two new UI mods. one is called “default”, shown here. It is a bare-bones mod that serves as a good clean slate for total conversions. Also it’s always enabled; so if you disable all mods, you can still get back into the config menu to turn mods back on.

Default mod with plain UI art

The second mod is named “320×240” and pushes the UI scale down to that minimum size. This mod serves as a starting point for people who want to port Flare to devices with small displays (below 640×480 in size). We’re creating an equivalent game data mod that makes the base tile size 32×16 and scales all the art down 50%. These mods combined should help Flare reach all sorts of devices. We’re still working out kinks with this mod but it’s helping us find hardcoded or incorrect values in various menus.

320x240 UI mod

2012/07/23

Interface Modding

I’m back from vacation! I didn’t have reliable internet access last week, so if I’ve missed an important email please resend. Thanks.

Over the last week the crew has been working at making Flare’s menus highly configurable. We’re working to make the entire interface reskinnable. We’re working on the ability to change the menu art, rearrange or hide elements, and move the menu positions on screen.

We’re taking a solid first attempt at it, but in the future we’ll be refactoring even more code to allow detailed customizations. I want modders to be able to change icon sizes, create more equipment slots, and create full power trees all from config files.

Flare The Game

If you’re a player (and not a modder), the real fun stuff is coming soon. I’m working on some new art assets to fill out the existing core set. Some things I’m putting together now:

  • Trap art (spikes, spinning blades, darts, fire, etc)
  • Teleporter art (waypoints to get to town and back)
  • Improved map transitions (e.g. stairs and doors in the Dungeon tile set instead of the blue planes)
  • New weapons, armors, shields

2012/07/13

Community Spotlight: Justin Nichol

Before Double Fine opened the Kickstarter floodgates on the game dev world, Justin Nichol ran a successful campaign for creating Fantasy Portraits for Flare. Since then he’s contributed excellent concept art and model textures.

1. Where are you from and what do you do?

I’m from Southern California. I’m an aspiring entertainment designer and
illustrator. I’m also a free culture advocate, game designer, community
organizer, amateur coder and fitness buff.

2. What is the first video game you remember playing?

It sounds cliche, but I think the first time I ever played a video game
was when my mom brought up home a Nintendo with a copy of the original
Mario Bros.

3. What drives you to contribute to Flare?

I love fantasy, I love gaming, I love free culture/software and I want to
help create a participatory entertainment culture. Beyond that, Clint is a
stand up guy who really cares about the quality of what he makes, and
listens to his contributors and community.

4. Any advice for people who are interested in making games?

I can only really say what I know about concept design, which is to banish
the idea that you need talent at a thing to do it well. It’s cliche, but
practice is many times more important than talent, and if you stay humble
and work you will get better consistently.

5. Are you involved in any other interesting projects?

I am the founder of a tabletop games collective called Black Flag Games,
we’re currently publishing a boardgame called To The Barricades,
co-developing a mech combat card game called Subversiva, and a great
narrativist story game with social commentary called Kinfolk. I’ve also
contributed to Battle for Wesnoth and PARPG.

2012/07/11


Community Spotlight: Igor Paliychuk

Igor has done a lot of work with the Configuration menu in Flare. Beyond that, he’s added a really interesting feature that we plan to showcase more in future versions: the hero can transform into any enemy and gain use of their powers. Imagine transforming into a Fire Antlion to gain massive fire resist, or a Wyvern to be able to fly over water and pits. Here’s more about Igor!

1. Where are you from and what do you do?

My name is Igor Paliychuk, I’m from Ivano-Frankivs’k, Ukraine. I’m working as system administrator, my hobby is Software localization (into Ukrainian/Russian) and a little user mode coding.

2. What’s your favorite game or genre of games?

I like 3D actionRPG games with good scenario line. For me classics of the genre are games from Gothic series, Two Worlds, Fable: The lost Chapters. Games like these can fully move you to another reality, and graphics here doesn’t stand at first place.(Even now IMHO Gothic I/II are good games.)

3. What drives you to contribute to Flare?

Well, I’m for free software, and I’m for free 3D actionRPG games, though developing such games is very time-consuming. But 3D isometric game as Flare can became also as impressive as fully 3D, as i said graphics quality doesn’t stand here on first place. Even now we have some closed source fully 3D games, that look like isometric(Diablo3, Torchlight). I don’t get why developers write 3D models and don’t use them fully, showing only part of them. So that’s why I’m contributing into Flare: we can make awesome game, that can stand near current closed source actionRPG games.

4. Any advice for people who are interested in making games?

Just do something you like. That’s the main idea! And share it with people.

5. Are you involved in any other interesting projects?

Mainly in localization. E.g. Battle for Wesnoth, Hedgewars, Summoning Wars, VDrift, HolySpirit, ReactOS, Lazarus IDE, KVirc and other usefull software. You can check full list here.

Flare’s new site layout

I tweaked the site layout a bit. It coincides with our shifting focus in Flare’s development — moving from a mere dev blog to a site all about Flare The Game. Hope you like!

The main feature of this new design is to prominently display a Flare “trailer” and download links from the front page. Right now I’m embedding GameBoom‘s v0.16 video. But I’d really like a short (maybe 1 minute?) trailer type video for that space instead. It doesn’t have to be very flashy (especially not yet, before much of the game’s plot is nailed down). It’s something I might create later when I have time, but if someone does a great fan trailer I’d post that instead.

Ubuntu, openSUSE, archlinux, FreeBSD

Finally you’ll notice the new set set of links (pictured above) under the main download buttons. These are Flare builds/repos maintained by third parties. If you maintain Flare on another OS/platform/device and want it listed here, please email me with the info!

Quiet week coming — vacation

I’ll be out of town from July 14-22. This blog may go quiet during that time. The first real break after a release is so nice — I get to refocus and brainstorm about game ideas for the future.

GitHub activity might slow down too. But, if you’re interested in helping Flare grow as an engine during this time, I highly recommend you check out polymorphable, an LPC entry by pennomi (Thane Brimhall). Every new game made with Flare makes the engine that much more flexible, robust, and proven!

2012/07/10

Community Spotlight: Brandon Morris

If any particular song in Flare is bringing you back to the good old days of dark/gothic dungeon crawl goodness, you’re probably hearing the handiwork of composer Brandon Morris. Here’s his spotlight!

1. Where are you from and what do you do?

I was born in Naples,Florida USA. I have been in the Dallas area for about 8-9 years now. I am studying Audio Engineering and Commercial music. Throughout Highscool I was a big music guy and took a lot of AP classes in theory but when college came, I began to get into sound design and audio engineering.

2. What is the first video game you remember playing?

First game for me was Probably Wolfenstein on floppy disk. But I didn’t become severely obsessed with music in video games until Warcraft : Orcs and Humans and Warcraft II: Tides of darkness.

3. What drives you to contribute to Flare?

Since I didn’t hop on Flare till after there was a nice array of content. I saw how it was doing the Isometric art style that I always loved in old blizzard games. Matt Uelmen was also a very high appreciated composer in my eyes. So I wanted to live my little dream with this game. Not to mention Clint is actual fun to work with. Which is highly appreciated in the Open source/Free Libre community.

4. Any advice for people who are interested in making games?

This might sound cliche but, make games because you love it. On top of that, Take work where you can find it. Regardless if the game is not really your style. If you have the ability to help out, help out.

5. Are you involved in any other interesting projects?

Not at the moment. Majority of the time I just help out where I can on Music Forums, Unity Forums, and sites like OGA. Been looking for projects recently.

New Address: flarerpg.org!

Flare has finally moved to a dedicated domain. All of the old links should work (301 permanent redirect) but it’s a good idea to update: https://flarerpg.org

The blog is also sporting a new comment system powered by Disqus. I’ll be adding more features to the site soon, in addition to changing the layout of the starting page.