Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Leopold

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: Leopold the Tyrant

Leonard’s son Leopold started off his reign as a direct continuation of his father’s footsteps as King. However, his main preoccupation soon had to shift to stability and centralisation of power in the Kingdom.

The steam engine changed much of the industrial landscape of the Kingdom… This, along with the vast resources coming from the newly discovered colony, all gave rise to new powers. Not all of these new powers were satisfied with their newfound wealth, and some wished to secure even more power.

Add the proliferation of the press, and you have a Kingdom filled with various ideas. These ideas, when left unchecked, could unravel the Kingdom itself. This is perhaps what Leopold feared most- the undoing of his predecessor’s life’s work.

And so, for fear of being usurped, and to secure his hold on the Kingdom, Leopold tightened his grip. He slowly transformed the royal newspapers into a mouthpiece of the monarchy. In his later years, he also funded a secret spy network that operated throughout the Kingdom.

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Leopold the Tyrant

But as more animals saw their wealth and health diminish in newly-found harsh industrial conditions, resentment rose. Combined with Leopold’s non-diplomatic approach to many of the Kingdom’s issues, his end seemed nigh. He was finally deposed in a rebellion led by his younger brother, prince Lav. A small consolation, at least.

The reign of Leopold, “The Tyrant King”, was over 30 years ago, but the Kingdom still resonates from the consequences of his reign. Be sure to tune in for our next blogpost and read about the current king – Lav!

Until then – follow us on Discord and other social media!

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.

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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 Valent

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Valent the Scholar

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Valent the Scholar

As we wrote about Michaël the Zealous in our previous lore article about the Kings of the Animal Kingdom, today we are continuing the saga with King Valent the Scholar who cherished the science and exploration during his ruling.

Prince Laurent was oft ill and short-lived, and so he died before he could succeed to the throne. His son, Valent, took on the Kings mantle at a very young age, and was thus the longest-ruling king in historical memory, being known as The Scholar King.

King Valent the Scholar
King Valent the Scholar

Even as a child, King Valent was tutored by Master Dabrovit, and fell in love with science and exploration from an early age. He funded many great expeditions to all sides of the Kingdom during his long reign and remade the kingdom in the image of science.

He funded academies in every regional capital, and built the largest library in Blackbark, holding copies of every book found in the Kingdom.

His biggest legacy, however, is finding the southern continent, a huge unexplored region whose location across the sea was lost in history.

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

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.

Ark Lore Tuesday: The Lynx Rebellion

Ark Lore Tuesday

The Lynx Rebellion

In today’s Ark Lore Tuesday (check out our other Ark Lore articles) we want to talk about the Lynx Rebellion. This is an event that took place hundreds of years before the game takes place and therefore does not feature in the game (bar a few history books and fireside tavern songs). However, the event is one of the bedrocks of the current social order of the Kingdom and has shaped the Kingdom into what it is today.

The relative autonomy

While the Animal Kingdom is a monarchy ruled by lions, the other noble families still have a degree of control over their own territories. This relative autonomy came about hundreds of years ago as the aftermath of the Lynx Rebellion. This rebellion started after a series of imposed regulations and levies in the Kingdom by the lion king Red.

The lynxes pushed back on this, declaring complete autonomy from the crown and thus a long struggle ensued, sometimes called The Third Northern War. In the beginning, King Red believed the rebellion will be squashed soon and gave it no thought, but similar rebellions were soon beginning to spark in other regions of the Kingdom as well. That’s why Red decided to send his son Nathaniel to help the royalist soldiers squash the rebellion.

Healing a broken paw

As the story goes, Nathaniels carriage broke down near the battlefield so he never made it there. He stayed at a northern village nearby for the next few days, healing his broken paw. When he healed, the battle was already over and the lynxes had won yet again.

Instead of regrouping and continuing the fight, Nataniel decided to solve the problem in a different way. He rushed back to Blackbark and, having learned much about the northern problems in his brief stay in the northern village, he told his father about their problems and how the policies and regulations imposed by the crown are hurting them.

A new system was born

Advised by his son and heir, King Red started a series of reforms, which his son finished, which transformed the unitary nature of the Kingdom into a more decentralized structure.

Thus a new system was born – in which the local royal cats have more autonomy over regional issues and established permanent embassies in Blackbark for each noble family where their envoys can discuss grievances over issues pertaining to the entire Kingdom.

These Embassies have since moved to the new capital Pride but serve the same function since they were introduced – to coordinate and adjust the kingdom rules to the specifics of each region.

Nathaniels wise decision to use diplomacy and lenience instead of war is hailed by historians as a very intelligent, compassionate and prudent move by the lions, and the wisdom and wits of lions in this situation is one of the many legends immortalised in folk songs and sung throughout the Kingdom by royalists.

However, those who oppose the crown believe that this peace was a squandered opportunity for ending the lion’s rule.

Bonus content: How Snowy Wasteland came to be

A sketch
Work in progress
Final scene
Animated scene

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!

New Year in the Animal Kingdom

The Animal Kingdom counts years from the day of the Ark Fantastic marooning on land. This is an event that signalled the end of a great flood and of course holds a big significance in their society and mythology.

The years before the flood are lost to everyone and unmentioned even in the oldest tales, but in art and literature it is usually portrayed and referred to as an idyllic heaven-like state where animals lived in harmony as there was no conflict and everyone knew their place. The game begins in 1883AA (After Ark), which is 1883 years after the flood subsided and the animals founded the Animal Kingdom they live in today.

You can read more about the day of the New Year in the Animal Kingdom in our blogpost about the Day of the Bells here!

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!

The Day of Bells

While the counting of years and the year of the Ark myth is firmly established, the exact date when the Ark was found is based on pure speculation, and therefore the date of the new year is calculated purely based on ceremonial reasons.

Usually, it is the birth-date of the current king, but there are a few instances in recent history when this wasn’t so – during King Michaël, the date of the New Year was set to the discovery of Ark Island (corresponding to our mid-June), and the current New Year coincides with Pride’s Day of Bells.

This day marks the beginning of the Lav rebellion, and is a holiday festivity across the Kingdom, in celebration of Lav’s victory over tyranny and oppression. It corresponds to our own late September.

There are no Santas or Christmas decorations in the Animal Kingdom, however, there is one tradition held for over three decades now – the Day of Bells is celebrated at noon by ringing all the bells in the entire Kingdom, which you will be able to experience yourself in the game (be careful about the volume on your earphones though!)

The Day of the Bells refers to the start of the rebellion when Leopold’s emissary arrived at Pride. Usually, when royalty is at the door, the gate bells ring three times (and twice if it’s nobility, and once if it’s a non-noble delegation). When the bells end their ringing, the gates open. But the beller at Pride knew that something was wrong, that Leopold must have heard of Lav’s quiet plot to overthrow him, and that opening the gate would probably lead to his imprisonment. So he rang once, twice, thrice… And just kept ringing, so the doors never open.

The royal delegation had not expected such a defiance, and, faced with a closed gate, turned back for Blackbark, while Pride armoured up for war. This day is thus considered the start of Lav’s Rebellion, and the beginning of the end of Leopold’s tyranny.

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!