New Day – New Coder

New Day – New Coder

Since last month, we have a new coder on our team! It’s Krunoslav Gregorec, who has years of experience in several Croatian gamedev companies, including on his own hobby projects (such as Orc Dentist!).

Orc Dentist, Kruno’s hobby project

He isn’t a senior in Godot but has learned many engines during his career (including making his own engine at some point!)

He is currently learning the ropes and making some tutorial projects, and then he’ll move on to working in our shared codebase on Git.

Here’s a few questions we asked him:

Why did you decide to join Gamechuck?

Well, I loved your titles (even though I personally don’t play that kind of games) primarily because they show a lot of creativity from you guys, and an attitude, “We do what we want!”.

It shows you’re driven with a creative and artistic spirit. Additionally, Gamechuck is the only company in Croatia with this level of worker rights and everything around that.


What are your top 3 games ever?

I would definitely put Final Fantasy up there as the first. I literally named my daughter after the character from one of the Final Fantasy titles hahaha. It’s “Aeris”.

The other two? Horizon: Zero Dawn and Half-Life franchise.


What do you do in your free time?

I don’t have free time, I have kids hahaha. Jokes aside, I’m mostly watching YouTube and similar services for coding topics, e-sport, quantum physics and similar scientific topics. I’m also driving a bike, and one of my biggest wishes is downhill. I often find myself exploring interesting stuff in nature around Zagreb.

I also play guitar, and I even started teaching my kid to play the violin. In the past, I used to do handwork with wood or similar material.


How did you spend the quarantine time?

If you mean the lockdown period, well, at home usually coding stuff. When we were bored with everything, we’d take our kids to the nearest lake and have a picnic, somewhere with no people around, of course.


What do you think about the Godot engine and why is it the best game engine in the universe?

Well, I don’t have a complete picture about Godot since I’ve been using it for a short time, but what I definitely dig about it – it’s so lightweight! The whole engine can fit on a floppy disc haha!

Also, some things around the workflow are a lot better than in e.g. Unity. Those damned collision matrices. Although, it’s lacking in the scripting editor. Inability to natively open the project in Visual Studio, and that everything works like you’re using C# is slightly frustrating. Not being able to re-arrange the docking window is also a bit weird. But, the rest of it is pretty damn good.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years? In this situation around the world is very difficult to predict where the hell will I be in a year!


How about in 55 years?

Oh, this is definitely much easier to predict! I’ll probably be dead hahaha!


Follow our progress on this development blog, on our Twitter, Facebook and Insta!

Naming places for our fantasy game

Naming places for our fantasy game

How to name things in fantasy is always a tough one. On the one hand, you don’t want to sound too mundane, and on the other, crazy hyphenated and apostrophated names like Gi’zzor the Terrible and Duke Belerofont are done to death. Tolkien did it in a nice way – as a linguist, he made up entire languages and then emulgated the names for things he needed from these languages. For example, Gandalf means elf-friend in elvish, but humans call him Mithrandir, meaning Grey Pilgrim, and his original name is Olorin, which translates to “dreamer” in the Quenya tongue.

Naming places
Our version of Gandalf??? No, but almost.

However, we’re not Tolkien, and also we’re leaning heavily on not inventing languages but just treating the game as translated from the animal languages to modern English for the player. So when they use a latinised word like Superb!, we don’t imply that there was a Latin language that the Animals spoke, it’s just our translation of their animal word for this language.

On the other hand, personal names and city names need some thought. Our idea was to make the locations correspond to the group nouns for the animals that live there. For example:

– A group of lions is called a Pride of Lions, so the city of lions is called Pride

– A group of squirrels is a Scurries of Squirrels, so the city of squirrels is called Scurries.

Naming places
Does this look like The Scurries or what?

The same with Flocks, Skulks, Packs et cetera. Most of these cities are not going to be accessible to the player in the game as they are far away and not related to the plot, but we’d like the name itself to explain the city. So, for example, when you hear of the count Urlich von Packs, you should immediately summon forth an image of a wolf nobleman, as Packs is a group name for wolves.

We use group names for other things as well, because they fit so well in the context of the animal kingdom. For example, in the case of the Scurries, their elected “mayor” is called The Dreymaster, because another group noun for squirrels is “a drey of squirrels”, so a ruler of squirrels could be called a dreymaster.

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/619813078636429322/707978360051073134/ograda_copy.jpg
The noun for a group of tigers is – Streak of Tigers, so… Welcome to the Streaks!

Of course not all cities are called by these group names. There are cities whose names bear historical significance in the game, such as Valencia, the colonial city built by King Valent.

We believe such things will resonate well with the players. What do you think – let us know in the comments below, or on our Facebook, Twitter, and Discord!

Everything about the hamlet of Scurries

Everything about the hamlet of Scurries

Hello again, dear readers! After a few weeks of summer holidaying, we’ve decided to go back on track and continue the tradition of bombarding you with blogposts every Tuesday and Thursday, starting with this expansive Ark Lore Tuesday about the town of Scurries.

Scurries is a small trading town that was built on the crossroads of many important routes – to the east, there is the road to Pride (once the summer palace of kings, now the capital of the Kingdom), to the west it leads to the mining town of Burrows, and to the north the road leads to Flocks (a famous wool factory made of course by the sheep themselves).

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/619813078636429322/701917769662201958/Screen_Shot_2020-04-20_at_23.53.46.png
From left to right: The Dreyhouse, the waterfall, the school

There are different types of buildings in the Scurries – those by squirrels and birds are mostly on treetops, but those of other animals are mostly built on the ground from either fallen trees or built. The biggest and most luxorious house in the Scurries is of course the Dreyhouse, where the current dreymaster resides with his family.

The Dreymaster is something like the mayor and judge of Scurries, he is elected once every five years and has the administrative power over what will be done in the Scurries, such as repairing bridges or fixing water-pumps, as well as presiding over grievance cases.

This system is an anomaly in the Kingdom, and there is a historical mystery of when this system came to be, and why isn’t it more aligned with the caste system as in the rest of the Kingdom – with a noble family from the Steward caste presiding over administration. It was a point of great interest to young Coriolanus as he studied the bureauology of the Kingdom. The common explanation for this is that the Scurries, as a small very dynamic market-town with animals moving in and out continuously, never had the capacity to impose a noble or a heavy tax system. If this were done, the traveling merchants from Flocks and Burrows would just move elsewhere down the road.

However, as time went on, the marketplace expanded and is now a real bustling town with a newspaper printing press, and even one of Lav‘s public schools of the Kingdom.

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/619813078636429322/709280200944386188/Screen_Shot_2020-05-10_at_23.26.23.png
Most of the animals of the Scurries such as the squirrels and birds live on treetops but there are some buildings on the ground as well, mostly for land animals situated in the Scurries.

The western-most part of the Scurries, which is closest to the Flocks-road and the northern pass which leads to the northern lands, is where the Scurries Inn is located.

This inn is also a place where royals of the north come to stay the night if they were caught by nightfall on their long trip to Pride, so it’s probably the most elegant and rich building in the Scurries.

Now the tough question. What will the entrance to the Inn say? And – in which language?

If you liked the city, tune in on Thursday to read all about how we decided to go about naming the various toponyms of the Kingdom – Scurries, Dreymaster, Flocks, Pride, et cetera.

Learning Languages with Hyeronimous the Owl

Has Tuesday come and gone already? Where’s the Ark blog tuesday, you ask?! Well, during these hot and humid summer months we do tend to get a bit lazy, but have no fear, ark lore is here! This time, we’re talking about the (second?) most important bird in the game: Hyeronimous the Owl!

Hyeronimous explaining some languages to Charles

As you might know, our game will feature a very cool mechanic involving learning animal languages!

A language’s difficulty is decided by following factors:
1. How close (in taxonomic terms) the language is to another language that the player has already mastered. I.e. Learning the Rat language becomes extremely easy when the Squirrel language has already been mastered. While learning the language of the Birds is very difficult and requires a much bigger effort.
2. Ease of exposure to the language, some animals might not speak in their native tongue when you are listening nor might they be inclined to teach you.

To learn a brand-new language, the player has to visit the owl, Hieronymus, an expert in different languages that will help to get you started for a modest fee.

In general, and regardless of the player’s previous linguistic skills, there are 3 different important parts involved in learning languages:

Vocabulary / Exposure

Hieronymus explains to you certain key words that are the basis for the entire language that you want to learn. So for example, one of the keywords of the Squirrel language words is ‘acorn’. In-game this would correspond to a distinct squeaking sound that is easily noticeable. To get yourself acquainted with these keywords, Hieronymus sends you off to listen in on conversations to hear the word ‘acorn’ used in all of its versions. A possible conversation between a customer and a shopkeeper selling some acorns, which just
sounds like squeaking to the player:

Shopkeeper: You-buy-what?
(= What do you want to buy?)

Customer: I-buy-1-“acorn”-please.
(= I want to buy one acorn)

Shopkeeper: I-give-1-“acorn”. You-give-10-“acorns”.
(= Here is one acorn. That will be 10 coins)

Customer: I-give-10-“acorns”.
(= Here are 10 coins.)

Shopkeeper: I-thank.
(= Thank you)

Customer: I-give-many-“acorns” –to-you!
(= Best of luck to you! This is a typical Squirrel goodbye)

Shopkeeper: I-give-many-“acorns” –to-you!
(= Best of luck to you! This is a typical Squirrel goodbye)

You witness this conversation and write down the relevant animal runes (which are common to all animals) in your journal. All instances of the rune corresponding to the word “acorn” will be underlined and the matching circumstance. E.g. the customer used the word “acorn” when giving the money to the shopkeeper, which might mean that money is also called “acorn” in the Squirrel language! Also, the verb ‘to buy’ is repeated twice in previous example and the player might deduce the rune’s meaning from this.

When you have found enough usages of “acorn” (and other keywords) in their natural
environments, you’re ready to go back to Hieronymus and take the syntax exam.

Syntax / Exam

After being exposed enough to the language’s keywords you can go back to Hieronymus and he explains you the syntax involved in the language. An example of possible rules:

– Verb goes at the end of the sentence.

– Subjects all go to the beginning of the sentence.

– If there are two objects they should be right before / after the verb.

– You can’t use the same rune more than two times in a row.

– Each sentence must start and end with a special rune in this language

(and so on)

After learning the correct syntax rules, you can do a mini-game in which Hieronymus tests your mastery of the syntax of the language using the animal runes. This mini-game is a random conversation you have with Hieronymus that involves a given task. (Ex.: Order some acorns from me in the market!). Hieronymus will talk to you in the Squirrel language and you’ll have to give the correct combination of runes that obeys the language’s syntax and vocabulary.

After successfully completing this mini-game, you now know the basics of the language and can talk to squirrels in their native language.

Morphology / Experience

When questioning suspects and witnesses, you aren’t able to discuss more advanced topics such as science due to the language barrier. After each conversation you get a more firm understanding of language’s intricacies and the relevant chapter in your journal grows with additional syntax rules and translations.
If, after acquiring enough experience, you wish to completely master a certain language, you can try your hand at the morphology exam, which involves a more difficult mini-game with Hieronymus and uses more advanced syntax rules.

After succeeding this exam, you can now fully understand and discuss scientific topics in the, now mastered, language.

All these steps can be significantly shortened when you already know a taxonomically close language. (I.e. Rat and Squirrel are both rodents, so their languages are quite similar) The result is that much less exposure is required to the language’s peculiarities before taking the syntax and morphology exams.

That’s the general idea of how we want you to learn languages in the game. What do you think about it? Let us know on our Discord server, or anywhere else!

Art in Our Art III: The Last Interview

This is the third and final in a series of art talks with our painters. As you might have read, our game will feature paintings from acclaimed Croatian young artists. For example, when you enter Orville’s mansion, he has pictures hanging on his walls, from some of our finest fine artists (pun very much intended) as seen here:

Orville’s mansion features artwork from some of the best young Croatian painters – Tara Beata Racz and Luka Kusevic.

Today we interview Tara Beata Racz, whose pictures grace many of the Burrows interior, including the Badger portrait in Orville’s office:

Pomposity.

Tara Beata Racz holds a masters degree in painting on the Academy of Art in Zagreb in 2019 in the class of Ksenija Turčić, as well as a masters in psychology from 2016. During her studies, she received two Dean awards from the University of Zagreb and exhibited on many galleries including the Zagreb Biennale of Painting in 2019. She also finished a two-year program of Clinical Expressive Art Therapy, which combines her two interests – psychology and painting. Here follows an interview with Tara, who does paintings for many different interiors of the Animal Kingdom (and beyond it).

Bol je katkad lakše naslikati nego izreći: Mlada psihologinja i slikarica  objasnila nam je kako funkcionira terapija umjetnošću - tportal
Picture of Tara in her element, found somewhere on the world wide web.

How did you decide which animal portraits to paint and which style to paint them in?

I am currently exploring animal themes in my work so this task was an opportunity to expand on it. However, I decided to try a different style, inspired by the works of Franz Mark and Wassily Kandinsky. I wanted to combine the figurative visages of animals with the abstract shapes and symbols. Special importance and prominance in my paintings is given to strong use of colors and powerful expressive gestures. The choice of style for each animal depends on the symbolism of each animal. For example, I have decided to paint foxes because they are one of my favourite animals; they are the protagonists in many folk tales and fables, and they are described as quick, cunning, ingenious, shrewd, and excedingly intelligent animals.

Philippe, is that you?

What do you think about combining the modern (video game) and the old (painting)?

I find it interesting when artists combine a classic traditional medium such as painting, sculpting or graphics with modern expression or new technologies. Many of such interesting examples could be seen last year on the Device Art festival with the theme “Machines Are Not Alone”.

On the other hand, video games are a medium in itself with its own set of rules and aesthetics. It is genuine art to create a good video game. I especially enjoy good concept arts and character designs, or when the aesthetics of the game is based on a painting aesthetic, for example Okami which was inspired by the works of Katsuhika Hokusai or Ori and the Blind Forest which was inspired by Hayao Miyazaki, or Ico which was inspired by Giorgio de Chirico…

The Bates family is a relatively wealthy family in the Burrows, so they could afford this big piece.

What is your general interest in art and painting?

Some of my favourite paintes are Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Franz Mark, Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard and Henri Matisse. Even though their expressions vary, they are connected by their relationship to color. I am interested in the psychological effects of colors and their symbolism. I am also exploring how different color contrasts can be used to express certain emotions and moods. I believe art and painting can have, beside the aesthetic, also a therapeutic function. I love the whole creative process of painting as well, because through it I can surface certain subconscious conflicts and express what is unexpressable through words.

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/598181987252961282/749554853872795688/IMG-20200317-WA0004.jpg
More foxes!

What else is there to be done in this project, in your opinion?
I find the idea of characters in the game nurturing culture and art fascinating. I also believe it is commendable that the company supports young artists and works with them to create paintings for use inside the game. I would be especially happy if the game space would expand to other continents with animals who have different cultures, such as the southern colony where there is the Monkey Civilisation. Their artistic expression could be very different from what we saw till now. It would be interesting to envision how their paintings would look, and I already have some ideas, and am waiting for the chance to realise them.

And what else are you doing? Where can everyone see your work?

I am planning two solo exhibitions in early December. The first will be in the Zlati Ajngel gallery in Varaždin. There I will exhibit my Transanimalia cycle where I showcase various fantastical animal creaters, who are transformed under the influence of their surroundings and this transformation reflects their inner and outer metamorphoses and mutations.

Raznolikost generacija i poetika - vizkultura.hr
Tara on the Zagreb Biennale of Painting in 2019, picture from somewhere on the internet.

Painting animals today is a way to give them a voice because, as we live in civilisation, we forget about the wild, we are often unaware and indifferent to the fact that species are dying out. Did you know that among all the mammals on Earth, only 4% are still wild animals? Besides this, by painting animals, I can explore the animal in man as well as the human in the animal, questioning my own identity in the world around me and inside me.

The second exhibition will be in the Kaj Gallery in Zagreb. For this, I am preparing a series of nudes made from motor oil on jute fiber. This series is about the dark nature of human psyche known under the jungian concept of the shadow archetype. In this period of crisis, pandemic and quarantene, many changes are happening that affect the human mood and behaviour. We have never participated in such a global experiment that forced us to physical isolation, closing in appartments, stopping of many activities, introspection… In these circumstances we turn more toward ourselves, submerge within ourselves and meet our own shadow. Still, this is a chance to bring our shadowy places to the light.

It will be great to see these ideas in reality in December. Thank you for the interview!

Also, if you wish to follow Tara, she has an Instagram account. So do we!

Famous Buildings of Pride: The Hermitage

This most important building in the art-world of the Animal Kingdom is the hermitage of Pride. It is the gallery house where newest art exhibitions are shown, as well as the theater and opera house where the hottest hippest plays are shown to the royal and noble clique.

Today we’ll dive into its interior, as we have some sketches and we love showing off our sketches and you love checking them out!

One of the most important buildings in the art-world of the Animal Kingdom, the hermitage of Pride.
This is NOT the hermitage but we seem to have lost the hermitage exterior sketch. Will replace later.

As you can see in the picture below, the main foyer of the Hermitage consists of a hallway leading either to the gallery exhibition on the left, or upstairs to the theater balcony:

One of the most important buildings in the art-world of the Animal Kingdom, the hermitage of Pride.

Next up is the gallery of various paintings (and sometimes even statues) for the enjoyment of the Pride populace. The theater dressing room can be accessed from the small room underneath the staircase of the gallery, as well as more balcony rooms upstairs:

The dressing room is where the actors prepare for the plays, and rehearse, and then head out to the theater stage to be seen by their fans in the audience:

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/619813078636429322/698892419952935024/dressing_room.jpg

This building is the center of the “culture life” in Pride, and one can often see important animals there, such as the tiger duke Nicholas or even the King himself!

That’s just one of the many buildings you’ll get to visit in Pride, and explore, once the game is up-and-running. Hopefully, you enjoyed the sketches and can’t wait for the full game, just like us!

Let us know what you thought about our article which talks about the most famous buildings in Pride; right in the comments below, or via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Art in our Art 2: The Return of the Artist!

This is the second in a series of art talks with our painters. As you might have read, our game will feature paintings from acclaimed Croatian young artists. For example, when you enter Orville’s mansion, he has pictures hanging on his walls, from some of our finest fine artists (pun very much intended) as seen here:

Orville’s mansion features artwork from some of the best young Croatian painters – Tara Beata Racz and Luka Kusevic.

Today we interview Luka Kusevic, the painter behind the pictures you see in Badger Orville’s hallway in the gif above. Luka was born in 1993 in Zagreb where he finished the School of Applied Arts and after that the Academy of Fine Arts in the class of prof. Zoltan Novak. His work was exhibited in the Gallery of Matica Hrvatska (Matrix Croatica) as well as the 5th Biennale of Painting in HDLU last year, and may more.

5th Biennale of Painting – Luka showcasing his works

So, Luka, what attracts you to art?

The reason why I paint is because I am Fascinated by how dead matter (in this case – color) can produce something alive – a visual sensation. The contemplation done over a particular picture or other work can awaken unexpected horizons which throws a man out of his ordinary everyday life.

How about games, do you think they can also be art?

I’d agree with an older painter colleague that today’s view of art needs redefining because practically every witch doctor shaman today can proclaim themselves an artist. Art in general has lost the power of transcending its own pitiful “ego” – in other words, the ability to change the perception of a man from his sluggish viewpoint.

As for games, I think they transcend art – because the virtual perception of the video-game mixes with the everyday perceptions we bring ourselves. Games could be the future of the cyborg-man but it is clear that total assimilation into virtuality will not be attained, due to the arrogant way we treat our lives and bioms.

So how did you go about making the paintings for our game? What do you think of the game aesthetics in general?

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/619813078636429322/695699068369764382/unknown.png
The Scurries impression by Luka

The biggest challenge was to translate my current ductus (or: my style of painting) to fit the form of a squirrel, beaver, and so on. What fascinated me with the Ark characters was their lucidity, the intelligence of dialogues. As for the visuals, everything is clear. The animals have the ability to create and move in spacetime – this is a world of the surreal, of fantasy… Visual elements should therefore be more dispersed. Not abstract, but definitely more fleeting. Man should be in a constant state of feeling that things are continually changing. If I were creating visuals for the entire game, I’d play with the light of the vegetation, the structures (mills and fortresses), I’d create visuals of bugs and bats to complicate things further. It is, for me, too simple – easy. I would personally take hints from the aesthetics of Monet or Rousseau.

Dabrovit impression by Luka

And for the last question – what are you doing aside from this?

I’m working on a series of large format paintings where I’m continuing to develop landscapes as a mental space. I want pictures to burn the inside of the man who watches them. So they extinguish themselves i let go to the sensation. Not neccessarily enjoy but at least for a moment to jump out of their own skin.

Charles’ father Herbert

And currently where can we experience your art?

Currently, I’m exhibiting on a group exhibition “U ljetnom kodu” (In the Summer Code) in the Kranjčar Gallery in Zagreb.

Great! Everyone from Zagreb – feel free to check it out!

Exploring the wastelands of the Animal Kingdom

Exploring the wastelands of the Animal Kingdom

Even though the environments we publish on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are often beautiful, lush, and “friendly”, some of those can be considered rather unhabitable and hostile.

We are talking about the wastelands Charles will explore in Trip the Ark Fantastic. As you may have seen in the “Mysteries of the Southern Continent”, Charles looks like he is embarking on an adventure through the jungle with his friends.

Looks pretty neat, right?

Well, this part of the game will require some navigation skills, as you’re going in an uncharted territory which is literally uncharted. There won’t be any maps guiding you to go up or down, right or left. You’re on your own.

The wastelands are a dangerous place. They used to be a lush forest, but have turned into a scorching desert in the last 1000 years. Charles, being a hedgehog, can’t survive in this blazing heat, but we’ll leave this part of the game to you, the player.

There is an interesting lore background for the wastelands.

Over 3000 years ago, the lions tried to usurp the hierarchy and failed which resulted in the usurper family being banished north over the mountains – which is considered a death sentence.

The so-called snowy wastelands. If you end-up there, well, good luck with that.

The usurper’s son Antimocles the Red was the father of Alexander the First who founded the Animal Kingdom. The split (and the harsher climate) made the lion’s rule weaker and in the following millenia they eroded from a powerful force that ruled over everyone in the southern territories to just a lion tribe in the caverns ruling over themselves with Nerva as Emperor.

After a couple of generations in the southern continent they decided to leave because they saw they could not prosper in the monkey civilisation which was thriving and they went over the land bridge to the northern continent and started subjugating the primitive cultures of smaller animals (rodents, birds et cetera).

After a few generations, they had built the Animal Kingdom that spanned the entire continent, subjugating also the great cats. Some animals were still very resistant because they weren’t used to living under the centralised rule and so after many generations, one lion family had invented the Ark myth after a failed bloody rebellion by other animals.

Following the change of the ruling branch, the myth was thought to be true even by the ruling lion family, and the way it was fabricated was lost to history.

By that time, the land bridge to the southern continent had already collapsed after centuries of diminishing because of the rising sea levels. The ice melted, which led to warming in temperature.

The warming in temperature made the barren wasteland Charles will have to pass.

What do you think, with Charles being a hedgehog, how can he pass through the wastelands? Let us know right in the comments below, or on our Facebook, Twitter, Insta, and Discord!

Gamechuck at Indie Arena Booth!

Gamechuck at Indie Arena Booth!

Even though there aren’t any physical conferences lately due to issues, there is going to be one this year! It’s even going to have booths – virtual booths! And Gamechuck has a virtual booth on it:

Here’s a sneak peak of one part of the booth with a large (plasma?) tv and arcade showcasing our upcoming title Speed Limit.

It’s the Indie Arena Booth, and you can see the Gamechuck page on IAB here for our game Speed Limit, but to take a virtual walk on the booth itself, you’ll have to wait for 27th of August when the event starts!

In case you didn’t know, IAB is an interactive digital place with a festival flair where independent game developers showcase their games. They attended multiple conventions in 2019, including gamescom and MAG Erfurt. Their mission is giving the best opportunities to reach an audience and publishers for indie devs (like us).

Here’s a trailer for the IAB, :

Great trailer full of great games!

Hope to “see” you there! Till then, jump on our Discord for some virtual hanging out as well!

Modelling the “Scientific Method” for our RPG

Modelling the “Scientific Method” for our RPG

We think of our game as an RPG but with no combat. So is everything a fetch quest? Or is it just a cleverly disguised point-and-click adventure? Hopefully, neither. We’ve developed a gameplay mechanic that we haven’t really seen developed elsewhere (at least not to this extent) and we think it’s one of the biggest innovations in our game… It is the “Reporting mechanic” or the “Scientific method mechanic” (however you want to call it). It consists of getting clues from various sources (dialogues with animals, books from libraries, evidence from locations et cetera), and then combining them in a way that forms a coherent argument. These clues+conclusions are sent as reports and published in the Kingdom’s newspapers and then reviewed by your peers for, hopefully, some scholarly reputation.

This mechanic fits well with the themes of our game which focus heavily on the science landscape of the Animal Kingdom and also the factions you can support in the brewing civil war and their worldviews.

So how does it work?

You collect clues as mentioned above and then choose which to include in your report. If certain clues are strung together, certain conclusions will pop out (or not), to be added in the report as well (or not), as seen here in this textual mock-up:

Charles trying to solve the Burrows Epidemic – the report itself is in the upper left, the possible conclusions are in the lower left, and all the clues he found are on the right

There are many but not infinitely many conclusions, so some clue combinations are just dead ends (for example combining the eating habbits of the rabbits with the history of King Vincent is not going to yield any conclusion). However, not all the conclusions are equally valid – some will give you a lot of scientific (or factional) reputation, and some will make you infamous. For example, citing from a source deemed disreputable by the academic community (a known fraud, for example) will get you negative scientific reputation, but using it to bolster a democratic worldview will nevertheless get you some reputation among that faction (and negative reputation from other factions). This will all be done behind the scenes and slowly over time so as to discourage players from treating the game as a score system, which breaks immersion and isn’t really the point (whether your reputation is high or low isn’t that big of an issue in terms of questing. It just changes certain options and the way people of certain factions or backgrounds treat you).

The sources also depend on the style of gameplay you prefer – do you often take the words of local animals (dialogue-heavy) or do you do your research by standing on the shoulders of giants (library-heavy with a lot of sifting through clues) or maybe you are more of a sherlockian detective diving deep in the case with evidence and using scientific equipment wherever you can (photograph, microscope, et cetera)?

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/646000092385378304/733682458473791588/2m.jpg
Anyway, we received word that the UI was a bit too block-of-texty, so we decided to add a visual UI right besides the textual one, seen in this mockup here with icons instead of texts. Notice the tab “Textual | Visual” to switch between the two.

While the game is mostly agnostic to the “reality” of your research, and you can write your own conclusions on whether a certain king was historically great or terrible, sometimes the game does actually have the “right” solution (e.g. in the Burrows epidemic – something actually does cure the rabbits, and something else doesn’t). However, sometimes completely different paths can lead to similar conclusions (do the rabbits need to use activated charcoal due to the fact that they have gastric stasis, or because they got sick from using the new carbide lamps?), and both can’t be correct, but you’re going to publish and cure some rabbits anyway so – whatever! Just make sure you don’t conclude that they need to drink cyanide, that would be bad.

In terms of gameplay, an important thing to note is the “peer review” system. As mentioned above, there are ways to gain and lose reputation by publishing your reports and solving quests – the reports are published in the Kingdom’s papers and then there are other scholars who review your report and write short texts about you, which you can read in the next issue of the paper. These are combined from a pre-set large base of possible sentences and are a combination of flavor and hints to the player on what he did wrong according to these peers (as you can always re-publish with new evidence). An example would be a report on wildly coloured funghi in the colony where you write about how they are much more colourful than the ones in Kingdom Proper, but don’t really add photos to prove it so it’s just your word they have to trust. Also, let us say that you’ve been leaning heavily towards a monarchist stance in your historical reports so the more monarchy-inclined scholars will be more inclined to keep your back . Then perhaps you’d have this situation in the papers:

“Joccobano Rabbitese writes: This royalist drivel calls itself science? There aren’t even any photos! The masks are finally off and we see what is behind the hedge!”

“Greguri Claw writes: Charles did a splendid piece. The whole thing is spot on. Of course the son of Herbert never disappoints! I only wish there were more photos.”

Or, alternatively, with less important reports, we just give the player a summary as thus:
“The consensus reads: Charles has some solid points, but the lack of evidence is jarring. Also, it would benefit his scholarly writing if he didn’t meander so much.”

Of course this is mostly still a discussion on paper. However the prototyping (and later testing) of these ideas in the digital world is going slowly but surely, as can be seen by this picture here, using Godot Engine:

Godot Engine comes with nodes such as GraphEdit and GraphNode which are really useful for complex graph-based UI so it’s making our lives easier.

As you can see, the clues will be separated into tabs (there won’t be a Red Herring Tab, don’t worry), and thus easily searchable not only by source (book, person, location) but also by theme (medical, chemistry, timeline, et cetera – depending on the quest in question).

We hope this mechanic will be interesting to play and figure out, and we have a hunch that the best moments will come from outside-the-box thinking such as using clues from some old quest to help nail down a crucial conclusion in a later seemingly unrelated quest.

So let us know what you think of where we are right now in terms of gameplay UI and the reporting mechanic in general!