Children of Liberty – State of the Game, 2017 (Part 1)
Greetings, Patriots! Wow it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to say that. Danny here for this first post in a two-part update on Children of Liberty progress. As you are hopefully aware, we haven’t given up on Children of Liberty. Slow and steady wins the race.
My primary focuses have been on the Creative and Business side of things, with a healthy dose of level building and some marketing. The team has gone in and overhauled every line of code, every pixel of art, and every note of music. There is a lot to go over, so we’ll start with one of the most exciting developments from this year.
Northeastern Co-Op Partnership Established
In January of this year, we were contacted by Northeastern University to become a part of their prestigious Co-Op program! This meant that we help teach Northeastern Students the ins and outs of game development, while they put those skills to practice on Lantana projects. In other words, we got to do what we do AND bring on an incredibly talented group of students over the Summer semester. Andrew, Annie, Carter, Devin, and Lexie were all major contributors to Children of Liberty’s art and programming between May and September.
Of course we can’t talk about 2017 without also mentioning Kim, who recently graduated from Lesley University. Kim contributed some major new works to the game, including some great new concept art for the kids!
We will be adding new additions to the team once again come Winter Semester. For now, we’ve been letting the dust settle from Summer, getting all the new content exported properly for Unity.
We would also like to extend our thanks to Cortney and Allise, two talented SCAD alumni who were with us for a short time.
Art and Animation Updates
What is there to say about our asset library other than it is staggering. Throughout the year, Christine and Bridget not only added perfectly-executed new angles of previously created animations (need those fronts and backs, obviously), but also created new characters and special effects for the game. Now many of our old, side-angle animations have frame-by-frame equivalents from the Front and Back as well! As always, each animation is hand-drawn, and Christine and Bridget have done a fantastic job matching up to the art style established by Ricky and Mike.
Along with the character and environmental animations, we also have a handful of new particle effects, along with custom-built template particle generators for specific situations, such as explosions, rain, smoke, etc. We’re then able to quickly replace the default sprite with any effect animation for an almost infinite number of particle effects for any given situation! Using the templates, we can create new particle effects in just a few minutes.
For the art, we spent the year focusing on the one area of the game’s art we felt needed the most attention: repetition. In case you hadn’t noticed, we’d been using that one brick texture a LOT. We discovered, after much research, that what we needed were three kinds of brick: waterstruck, hard-burned, and orante; in various bonding patterns, to create a real sense of variety in our brick textures. The results absolutely liven up the world. We’ve done the same with wood textures as well, though not in as specific a fashion as brick.
Of course we also grew our sprite library, adding more background objects like various foods, dishes, plants, furniture, coins, hooks, bottles, tins, plants, bells, candle holders, weapons… you name it, we drew it. We want to fill this world with stuff from 18th Century America, and make the whole game feel lived-in.
Obviously the world of Children of Liberty would not look as good as it does without to help of our level builder, Sean. Sean was instrumental in helping to overhaul our art import process, as well as build out levels and cutscene areas, and we wish him the best of luck on his further adventures.
2017 would not have been the productive year it was artistically without the help of Lexie, Annie, and Devin from Northeastern’s Co-Op Program. Thank you all so much, it was a joy having you all on board!
For music, Hannah finished scoring the entire soundtrack, and now it’s a matter of bringing the current versions into the game and determining the best approach for final recordings. We thought we would offer you all a fun Christmas treat, so here’s a preview of just a few of the tracks Hannah has both composed AND performed for the game.
For voiceover, we added a new member to the sound team, Steven, a SCAD student. Steven has been going through, cleaning up, and equalizing all the remaining VO and it is going smoothly. All the VO should be trimmed and cleaned up by the end of January, with only a few pickups to do in 2018.
Lantana continues its tradition of mentorship development in 2018 with several new additions: from Northeastern’s Co-Op program, Suraj and Ria are joining us on programming, and Samantha and Ilayda are joining us on art. From SCAD, Madison joined a little while ago on art, and as mentioned, Steven came on board to help with sound and VO. Brian continues his project, tech, and programming management duties, as well as taking over on lead game design. I’m now focusing more heavily on creative direction, level building, and business development.
Restarting Social Media
Now that we’re ramping things up for the upcoming Winter Semester, we’re beginning an overhaul of our Social Media channels and our marketing strategy as a whole. We have always been supporters of streamers and Let’s Players, and we will be focusing most heavily on the content creation community going forward (if you’d like to stream our games, get in touch!). We’ve brought back Screenshot Saturday on Twitter and Instagram to show off some of the incredible new work that’s gone into the game’s art. Using our Showcase functionality, we’ll be bringing more gifs of upcoming levels and even particularly impressive assets. We will also be introducing some new channels in 2018, with new ways for you to be a part of the Lantana Community, so make sure to follow us everywhere @lantanagames! You can find links at the bottom of the website.
The goal for the Blog is to keep our Programming, Level Building, and Game Design Google Sheets up to date for everyone to see, and write a quarterly blog post summarizing progress. In between posts, the best place to keep track of progress is on the Sheets and on Social Media. You’ll be made aware of new Blog posts on our social media profiles, as well as in the Lantana Ledger.
Stay tuned soon for Brian’s updates on programming, level building, and design! For now, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Thank you for your continued support and thank you for playing.