Impact of the Ark Myth on Society

Impact of the Ark Myth on Society

How does the Ark Fantastic relate to the Animal Kingdom? Why is it central to their society and our game? Well, the entire caste system of the Animal Kingdom is derived from the ancient Ark myth. Let’s briefly go over it again:

In the past, there was a flood and an ark housed all the animals whose ancestors are alive today. The journey to stay alive on the ark during the flood was perilous, but possible due to the guidance of the lions.

The other noble cats ruled over wings of the ark, the steward animals kept peace aboard the ark, the commoners were the hardworking animals who kept the ark afloat, and the vermin were the no-good scoundrels who didn’t do anything right. Once the flood subsided, the ark reached land and animals spilled forth and formed what is now known as the Animal Kingdom.

That’s the long-short of it. There are many scholastic debates in modern ark-lore, for example – what was the world like before the flood? Did the lions build the ark or did the world begin with the flood and all the animals on it?

If the world didn’t begin with the flood, then how did it begin?

The orthodox view is that the ark myth is also the creation myth and that the flood was the beginning of time, a primordial eternal sea of nothingness with an ark with all the animals being the only point of life. There are others with opposing beliefs – that the world is eternal, and it had no start, nor will it have an end.

They hold that the Animal Kingdom existed before the flood as well, and the flood was just a moment in history that happened, and perhaps another flood will happen again, or many.

Leaving scholastics aside, what does it all mean in the context of society? Well, the story is seen as both a historical truth and as an allegory of which species are good at what in society – lions are excellent rulers, other cats are great as administrators, the species belonging to the steward caste are great at overseeing the commoners, and commoners are good workers, while vermin are good for nothing.

The caste and the hierarchy

There have always been dissidents to this idea of course – animals who believe the myth is fake and/or that animals should follow a different hierarchy or none at all. During the course of known history, there were many uprisings and revolts, but none succeeded in breaking the unified and strong Animal Kingdom and its lionese rule. The belief in the caste system is so engrained in the populace for countless generations that it is difficult for animals to imagine a different hierarchy.

Now, if the myth were to be put in question, what would happen? This happened a few times in history – when the southern continent was discovered, it confused the scholars at first. Didn’t all the animals from the ark later embark and form the Animal Kingdom? Where did these animals come from? Are some animals found here not mentioned in the ark myth?

The problem with these questions is that it is difficult to answer them without having the original ark myth to compare. The original ark myth was of course lost in translation from the forgotten ancient lionese language of 2000 years ago, but the modern translations were also prone to historical inaccuracies.

For example, it makes sense that animals that haven’t been seen or heard from for centuries would not appear in modern ark myth. That would explain no mention of monkeys or alligators from the southern continent in the modern translations of the ark myth. The modern ark scholars point to older non-translated texts in ancient lionese which hold many more species names in the ark manifest than are in the current translation.

Big moment of disbelief

Another big moment of disbelief in the ark myth happened when king Michaël’s finding of the ancient Ark landing site was proved to be a forgery by scam artists. This put a stain on ark-seekers that persists to this day. However, it is not easy to sway the opinion held by so many for so long. Not by evidence, anyway.

What has started to happen recently is that certain factions have started to question the myth in order to back up their political and philosophical ideologies. Some say that the ark is a fake story to keep the hierarchy in place, a helpful tool that helped the lions to “divide and conquer” the rest of the animals.

This is not said out loud and certainly not printed on paper, but the sentiment grows stronger, especially amongst reformists seeking a democratic rule of the Kingdom and revolutionaries seeking to bring about anarchy.

The problem, however, is that none of these have so far provided a compelling counter-narrative. If not with the flood, how did the world start? Why is the Kingdom the way it is, and what is the natural order of things anyway, if such a thing exists?

The status quo?

In the end, perhaps it will be shown that these minute and deep questions do not matter much. Not for a faction whose leader can boast of great charisma and rallying skill, nor for a faction composed of castes tired of being trodden down.

Or maybe most animals will see that the status quo of this enlightened monarchy is not so bad, and fear of unknown change is greater than the allure of hazy promises.

But perhaps, in a chaotic social situation the Kingdom has found itself in, just perhaps, a single scholar could tip the scales ever slightly in one’s favor, and change the course of history? That’s what the game is essentially about.

So we went to GodotCon 2020 and it was awesome

So we went to GodotCon 2020 and it was awesome

Yes, it was that magical time of the year when everyone’s happy and gathered around to share merry thoughts and fun stories. We are of course talking about GodotCon 2020!

Gamechuck was there, too, in the form of the two of our awesome employees; Piet Bronders and Karlo Koscal, and both are programmers.

We have sat down with Karlo when he got back home to ask him about their trip fantastic (get it, get it) to GodotCon and the experience he remembers.

So Karlo, tell us, why in the world did we attend GodotCon?

Well, glad you asked! We have attended GodotCon Brussels 2020 to meet with other users of Godot, exchange contacts, showcase projects, and get people to know about Gamechuck. Also to hang out with coworker Piet and see a bit of the city since this was my first plane trip outside Croatia ever!

Meet Karlo, our celebrity Gamechuck programmer.

What was happening on the GodotCon?

GodotCon lasted for two days (Monday and Tuesday), from 9:00 to 18:00. I’d say there were roughly 100 total attendants, including the organizers. More details of the event can be found here and here.

Some attendants did several talks, with various topics about Godot (shader magic, Vulkan implementation, educational talks, …). After the talks, everyone could showcase their projects. Most of the Godot core developers were there as well, including Juan Linietsky, the lead developer, who did a talk about progress on his Vulkan renderer implementation in Godot.

Watch Gamechuck’s part of the presentation in the video below:

Attendants also got some free Godot merchandise like Godot-shaped stickers, sew-in patches, and pins. They were also selling Godot t-shirts for a fair price.

At the end of each day, core devs didn’t hesitate to continue hanging out with attendants and grab a few drinks or go to a restaurant.

It’s worth mentioning that 2 days before the event (Saturday and Sunday) there was FOSDEM conference held in Brussels as well, and Godot had its stand there, mostly answering people’s questions and handing out merchandise.

What kind of projects were showcased during the GodotCon?

Mostly projects that people do in their spare time, as a hobby. There was a wide variety of things people do in Godot: Katamari Damacy clone, casual games like block breakers, and there was also a mobile app made in Godot which can communicate with homemade thermostat and control heating in a room.

Piet showcased Subsonic, our game for Global Game Jam 2020 (that was held 2 days right before GodotCon (we were both very sleepy!)). The next day I showcased 12 Traps of Christmas, my game for Godot Wild Jam #4.

Did some of the showcased projects there catch your attention?

Crafty County, a casual 3D game made by Tim Krief. I love the aesthetics, smoothness, and overall gameplay.

I was also surprised by Zylann’s voxel module. He showed a large world with complex terrain, and also a Minecraft-like world, and the framerate was quite good. It shows that Godot really is a capable engine and can parry with current engine giants like Unity and Unreal.

Did we get some shout-outs from someone during the GodotCon? (I mean, of course, we did)

Yes! Matejs Balodis from Rocknight Studios did a talk on Vertical Slice. He said they were inspired by how Gamechuck uses the concept in their game Trip the Ark Fantastic. Vertical Slice is similar to the prototype, but every component of the game has to behave like it would in the final game. More on vertical slice can be found here.

He was also interested in other Gamechuck projects, especially interactive comics. We introduced him to our Discord server.

Was Piet super handsome during his presentation?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Were there some new technologies and features announced for Godot?

Oh definitely! Here are some highlights for you:

  • Vulkan renderer implementation (coming to Godot 4.0).
  • Escoria, a Point & Click adventure game framework, made by Julian Murgia.
  • voxel module by Zylann.

Was there anything particularly cool that caught your attention?

GodotCon was held at Ludus Academie, a school for game development in Brussels. In the hallways, there are large display cases with a lot of figures from video games like Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, Metroid, Pokemon, etc. Each room is marked with some video game character protagonist. It was fun to navigate and admire the school, and a good location choice to host a game development conference.

Side note, it made me wish that Croatia invested more in game development education.

Gamechuck gang attending Global Game Jam in Novska, Croatia

There are gamedev education courses by PISMO in Novska and Machina in Zagreb, and there’s a gamedev school opening up in Zagreb soon so hopefully it will continue to grow.

Got some nice pics from GodotCon and Bruxelles? 🙂

You even ask!

Anything else you’d like to mention?

Attending the conference was a great experience. Meeting other Godot users and sharing and discussing our projects was interesting and fun. Seeing people make all these cool games motivates you to work even harder.

Ah yes, this random pic, too. Context: after a few glasses of that awesome Belgian beer, Laurent, Piet, and I decided to joke around on Godot Wild Jam Discord server (nothing harsh, we promise). At some point, we announced that we “killed” Piet, and Laurent drew a coffin so we can all pay respects to him, including the now-dead Piet himself. There was an “F” on the coffin, so we pressed F to pay respects.

Most of the talks were on point and very educational (I learned a bit more shader magic!). Hopefully, Piet and I will prepare a kickass talk for next GodotCon later this year in Poznan, Polska. And hopefully, the attendance then will be the same or higher.

Godot is a fast-rising FOSS game engine and very soon it will become a great competitor to current industry standards. I’m glad to be part of the community that helps shape the engine for the future.

Here’s to a soon-to-be best game engine: Godot. 🙂

Fantastic Game Jammin’

Fantastic Game Jammin’

It’s a busy week behind Gamechuck as we go forward in the Trip the Ark Fantastic production. But before we give you a sneak peek of what’s coming for our game, we are really excited to show you what we’ve been up to!

Gamechuck on Global Game Jam

Our team has participated in a 48-hour long Global Game Jam on two locations simultaneously!

Having fun at Global Game Jams in Novska and Rijeka.

Objavljuje GamechuckPetak, 31. siječnja 2020.

Our 6-manned team in Novska produced Subsonic; a rather cool 3D first-person video game made in Godot engine where you’re the sole shiphand of a submarine powered by musical instruments. It’s your job to keep them in tune and bring music to the ocean’s depths.

You can download the game on Itch.io for Windows and Linux.

The second game we’ve made during GGJ was made with GameMaker engine thanks to Vanja, Serena, Guglielmo and Gianluca. In Cat-ASTRO-phy! you play as a “purrfect” feline astronaut who is on a quest of becoming the furrst cat on the moon.

The 48 hour long Global Game Jam is complete! The challenge was to make a game on the topic of "repair". We went in two…

Objavljuje GamechuckNedjelja, 2. veljače 2020.

Grab the game here for Windows and Linux.

Want to learn more? Check our Godot programmer Piet who showcased our Global Game Jam project on GodotCon 2020 (7:23:00 mark)!

The code is available on GitLab for free, as well.

The Burrows

Pride, the capital city of the Kingdom

“Sometimes I think, Charles, what’s the point of living underground if you can’t put your head under a rock and ignore the jibber-jabber from the Capital?”

The Burrows

The burrows is where we start the game. Here in this quaint little mining town, our protagonist (Charles, the hedgehog scholar) has his lab.

This is an early map we’ve made to showcase where the first part of the first act takes place, close to the capital city Pride:

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/619813040224862208/635585119746523196/Map2.jpg
We’ve made this map using the cool freeware program Inkarnate which is really cool if you are running DnD campaigns or just need to make some cool reference maps for your upcoming RPG masterpiece (like us)

It’s in the introverts goldilocks zone: far enough from the capital to be left alone by pesky colleagues but close enough so he can get his hands on all the latest scientific equipment on a whim.

Most rabbits in the burrows work as miners and live in the residential area below during the workweek. The rooms are very humble and simple but Charles’ has built a large lab for himself here:

The smith of the Burrows is Quince, a downtrodden lizard belonging to the vermin caste, the lowest caste in the Kingdom. He replaced the former rabbit smithy who got ill due to the poisonous fumes eroding from the metalwork. This is where the player first has a chance to explore the societal differences in the various castes of the Kingdom.

A short way away from Quince we have Orville’s mansion. Orville is a badger who is the foreman of the mine. As part of the highest caste in the Burrows, he is in charge of the entire mining operation, and de facto owns the whole underground site. He finds himself constantly competing with other mines and digsites and trying to stay afloat but the industrial landscape is changing fast and it’s hard for his little mine to keep up.

Thus, the Burrows serves as an introductory place to start the voyage into the world of Trip the Ark Fantastic. Here the player learns of the caste system, the way things are in the world and how characters react to it.

Since the Ark myth is central to the story of the game, its underlying hierarchy is important to understand as early as possible.

Learn more about Trip the Ark Fantastic

There is a lot more to be learned about the world of Ark Fantastic, and much more is coming in the future.

Make sure to join our Discord, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to our newsletter!

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Leonard

King Leonard the Wise

In the past few weeks, we spoke of many kings. There was Vincent, the beloved Explorer king. Before him, there was Valent, the scholar king tutored by master Dabrovit. Before Valent, there was Michaël, the king obsessed with the ark. Leonard, on the other hand, had no ambition towards exploration nor science nor mythology.

Known in the Kingdom as Leo the Wise, he focused on Making Things Work. In his reign, all parts of the Kingdom were developed and connected. Leo oversaw the implementation of intricate systems of sharing goods and information across the Kingdom.

He funded the bastions of modern civilisation such as the Elephant Transportation Company and the royal newspapers. The printing press was brought to every major city of the Kingdom, and, after the steam engine was built.

A debated law regarded scholars in Leonard’s time – they were funded by the Crown only if they could show that their work would improve and modernise the industry. This led to less interest in historical and mythological discussions and ultimately gave rise to the steam engine, which would soon reshape the economy of the Kingdom.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Leonard_FINAL-1080x1080.png
King Leonard the Wise

Due to his father’s early demise, Leo was very young when he ascended to the throne, and also a king of unusually old age when he died. His great deeds and accomplishments cast a large shadow on his two sons – Leopold and Lav, of whose reigns we will speak in later posts.

Until then, be sure to check out our Discord or wherever lore-junkies hang out these days!

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Vincent

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Vincent

In this blog post, we talk about probably the strangest of the recent kings, Vincent the Explorer. As the only son of Valent, the king who found the southern continent, he was less interested in ruling than in the vast unexplored reaches of the newfound land.

Nevertheless, denizens of the Animal Kingdom adored him, and his exploits were the talk of tales all over the Kingdom. He oversaw much of the Kingdom’s exploration and mapping. Indeed, most of the maps in his expeditions are in use to this day. Many feel that his early demise in the southern jungles was the end of an era.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Vincent_FINAL-1142x1080.png
Vincent the Explorer

While still a prince, Vincent grew up with tales of strange animals and cultures in the southern continent – monkeys and crocodiles, mysterious jungles and wild rivers…

Some say his father financed the first colony in the south, Valencia, mostly to please his son. And indeed it was but it was King Vincent who made it into the huge town it is today. He was so enamoured with the colony, he spent more time ruling from there than from the capital, Blackbark.

He died relatively young, contracting a strange disease while leading an expedition into the heartlands of the colony. His most enduring legacy is his deathwish. On his deathbed, he decreed that his castle be remodeled into the central hub for exploration in the colony. Thus Vincent’s Keep becomes the Explorer’s Guild, a crown funded organisation tasked with exploring and mapping this new continent.

Does worldbuilding interest you? Do you love discussing royal bloodlines of fictional kings? In that case, be sure to check out our Discord! We’re also active on Facebook, Twitter and many other places! Till the next lore blogpost, Long Live the King(s)!

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Michaël

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Michaël the Zealous

It’s hard enough figuring out the politics of the Animal Kingdom. Even though, we decided to clue you in on a bit of history as well. So in January we are going to go through the rulers of the Animal Kingdom one by one.

The lions ruled the Animal Kingdom for millennia, but the elder line of kings has been mostly lost to history. The past few centuries, though, are very clear. This is due to several factors:

  • the influence of Dabrovit, a scholar who worked at the court of King Michaël
  • the relative peace and prosperity that ensued after King Marius
  • the invention of the printing press which helped preserve historical manuscripts

So we will start with King Michaël, the first king of whom most information is known without doubt. Like all kings, scholars posthumously gave him an epithet defining his rule – King Michaël the Zealous.

 A portrait of King Michaël the Zealous
A portrait of King Michaël

The King Who Found the Ark!

Michaël inherited the kingdom in great unrest from his father Marius. However, Michaël actually spent less time dealing with the unruly nobles and more time obsessed over the ark myth. At the time, a young scholar beaver named Dabrovit has popularised the scholar’s method in the Kingdom. The scholar’s method (similar to the scientific method in our world) is a methodical way of approaching the Kingdom’s mysteries. Inspired by Dabrovit’s method, Michaël funded many scholars and explorers and tasked them to find the mythic Ark Fantastic.

Eventually, after many failed attempts, one scholar returned with good news. He found a wreckage on an island shore southwest of Pride, with evidence suggesting it is the Ark Fantastic. Along with its great historic significance, this had a surprising effect on quieting the kingdoms unrest. Many historians believe this discovery was what ushered in centuries of peace in the Kingdom.

If you want to stay informed, be sure to visit our Facebook, Twitter or Discord.

Our plans for Ark Fantastic in 2020

Our plans for Ark Fantastic in 2020

In many aspects 2019 was crucial for us – we decided on all the main story beats, finally found and gathered the entire team which (crossing our fingers) won’t change for the rest of the game’s development, secured funding and started working on the project, even releasing a teaser trailer and going public with the project. It’s been great, a lot of good feedback and even some early fans on our Discord.

As we enter the roaring 20s, we prepare ourselves for the coming year and our plans for it.

Drafting the entire game in 2020

On a productional perspective, 2020 should see us finish drafting the entire game (sounds ambitious but since we’re working on this full time, it’s doable). 

We should be done prototyping most of the mechanics (dialogues, languages, science, research, reporting, exploration, day and night cycles, etc), and that would leave 2021 for making sure they work seamlessly together and that our hunches were correct. Once this is done, our plan is to produce a demo that showcases how it all works, and then keep tweaking it until release in 2022.

Finding the perfect character animation frames per second

The story and dialogues should be completely drafted in 2020 for all the (three) acts of the game and should leave 2021 for revising and tweaking the script where needed, adding fluff and so on. We have finished the draft of the Burrows, Scurries and started on the largest city in the Kingdom – Pride, but we still have a lot more to go. Ideally, we will start on the Colony (Act II) sometime in the summer, and Act III mid-autumn. 

Artistically, we are slowly creating characters, locations, and UI for the game, trying to wrap our heads around the idea of musical leitmotifs for various themes, characters, and locations and have it all work in tandem with the story, which is proving to be a very difficult job, but we hope to have some kind of musical prototype of how this works by spring.

Finding the publisher

On an organisational perspective, we’d like to find a publisher with a deep understanding of what we’re trying to do here (on a thematic, narrative, artistic and gameplay level), as well as better understand where our potential player-base resides (since what we’re doing isn’t a clear cut genre, this has been difficult to pinpoint so far).  We will keep producing content for this blog since it greatly helps us organise our thoughts and, naturally, keep a steady momentum and maintain a dialogue between our three avid fans who read this and us.

Since many have clamored to see more gameplay in our trailer, we will try to produce a “gameplay trailer” as soon as possible, maybe even some time in the summer if we’re lucky. Some things, like the reporting mechanic, are going to be extremely difficult to craft and hone, but until we capture that fine line between fun game-like reporting and actual dull reporting, we will just use the examples we know must work.

More trailers and gameplay

We will also start going to game events in Europe and showcasing our trailer(s) and gather feedback on them. Most probably we will not go westward to the Americas, so expect us in the major European capitals such as Vienna, London, and Berlin, as well as all over our immediate neighbourhood in cities such as Ljubljana, Dubrovnik, and Belgrade.

Our other projects

On a final note, the year 2020 will be interesting for our studio from a different perspective as well – we will release the interactive comic books and retro games we developed in 2019. They might not be as huge of an undertaking as Trip the Ark Fantastic (all of these interactive comics are short 20-30 minute experiences), but if you’re here because you’re fans of interactive story-telling, these games are something you might be interested in as well.

Hopefully, some of you reading this will stick around till next year and we’ll see how well we managed!

Open source game appreciation month: Krita

Hi, I’m Serena, the character artist for Trip the Ark Fantastic.

This week for open source game appreciation month I’d like to write a bit about the tool we use for making the art of our game – Krita. It’s an open source program for painting which can be used in various ways – from portraits to comics to game art. It’s compatible with most graphics tablets and is easy to set up.

Image result for krita logo"

Prior to this project, I haven’t really worked with Krita, and learning it was really no problem. The interface is very easy to learn – which makes it great for beginner artists and animators but also those already working in the industry, since it uses similar UI features as other professional tools.

Krita deliberately focuses on digital art, so it does not have a varied palette of photography tools as PS for example, but it’s for the best – it gives artists what they need most without cluttering the software with unnecessary features – just a professional tool for digital art. 

Personally, I’m in love with the right click pop-up palette which makes my workflow faster and easier and the brush customization option which is really simple to understand even without any knowledge in the area.

Here you can see an early speed paint of an art piece I made in Krita, the portrait of king Leonard the Wise, father of King Lav:

The music is an early draft of the royalist theme made by our composer Fenton Hutson and the portrait frame is part of the UI made by Maksimilijan Gečević.

It’s impressive what independent developers can put together. By building this program and contributing to its code, those developers are giving an opportunity for everyone (regardless of any political or economical constraints) to learn digital art using a full version of professional software – for free.

If you have the opportunity to support Krita, it’s basically the right thing to do, making the whole medium of digital art way more accessible, as well as supporting independent developers who can truly use every penny to make this software better.

Also worth mentioning is that we’re not only end users but also proud sponsors of the Krita Foundation. Are you an aspiring artist? Try it out, it’s free!

Open source game appreciation month: Godot Game Engine

This week for open source game appreciation month we would like to pay some tribute to our game engine of choice: Godot Game engine!

When comparing Godot to other solutions on the market, one is quick to notice that it is a relatively new engine (first released in 2014) that hasn’t seen any big game releases yet (although it did for example port Deponia to PS4 and iOS). As a result, choosing Godot as our main engine might seem like a daring decision and it is one that has thus seen some critique from others in the game industry. The things that made us fall in love with Godot go hand in hand with benefits that are deeply intertwined with the essence of FOSS (Free and open-source software).

The most logical one of these FOSS-related benefits is of course that any missing feature or, inevitable, bug present in the engine can either be requested from the community or even be implemented/fixed by yours truly. Avoiding any of the abhorrent ticket systems that plague the proprietary game engine landscape (and most proprietary software in general). During development of “Trip the Ark Fantastic” we make full use of these advantages and hope to help Godot grow alongside our project.

As this is but a simple post there is but place for a single one of Godot’s features that we would like put in the spotlight: Tool scripts! Explained in a layman’s fashion, these are scripts that can run inside of the editor without having to run the actual game, facilitating debugging and development tremendously.

An unfinished tech demo of Charles’ home in the burrows as found inside the Godot Editor, updated live with the help of a tool script.

Another, equally important reason for us, is that we actually really like working in Godot as it is, in our opinion, one of the more intuitive engines to prototype and work with that is out there. Godot supplies a wide arrangement of tools such as a mature animation system, fully native 2D support, a python-like custom scripting API, a node and scene system unlike anything found in other game engines and lots of other features that make the engine a joy to work in. But don’t take our word for it, try it out for yourself!