Thyria Devlog 01: One year in / by Raymond Schlitter

 Screen from a very early build of Thyria: Hunt For Kroohx, 9/22/15

Screen from a very early build of Thyria: Hunt For Kroohx, 9/22/15

Hello

Welcome to the very first Thyria devlog. My name is Raymond Schlitter, and I'm the art half of the Thyria team. This blog will give me a chance to go into more detail on art, game design, and features. Since this is the first devlog I'm going to tell the basic story of our development history and games.   

The Start

As you may have guessed from the subtitle, we've been developing Thyria for one year already. Early September 2015 would mark the exact starting point. We developed privately for nearly 7 months before going public on social media. We wanted the project solidified into a substantial product we felt confident we could make a reality before barking all over the internet about it. While it didn't take us long to acquire such confidence, we were having so much fun developing that 7 months went by before taking it upon ourselves to share our darlings of creation with the world. 

Now, we've been sharing bite-sized pieces of Thyria on major social sites for about 6 months and while our community is still small, we are growing steady and I'm grateful for every single fan. Thanks, guys! We hope these devlogs not only inform, but also strengthen the Thyria community and make you all feel like a part of the development process.   

We wanted the project solidified into a substantial product we felt confident we could make a reality before barking all over the internet about it.
 Raymond Schlitter and Markus Jost, depicted respectively. 

Raymond Schlitter and Markus Jost, depicted respectively. 

The People

I already mentioned myself as the art guy. Really, I'm a graphic designer with a love for video games and a bad addiction to pixel art since March 2015. I grew up in rural Kansas, and while I also spent several years living in the shadow of Tokyo, my spirit was tugged back to the heartland. Now, gamedeving out of western Kansas. Anyone else out here?... Hello...

Needless to say there isn't much of a gamedev community around here. Not that I'm aware of anyway. So you can imagine my elation when I met professional programmer, Markus Jost. Surely not a local fella, Markus hails from Switzerland. He apparently noticed my "pixel dailies" on twitter and reached out to me about collaborating on a platformer. While our homelands have stark geographic contrast we quickly found our gaming spirit and design philosophies were very well aligned. And so the team was formed and we got right to work. Thanks to technologies like video conference and online issue tracking sites we've been able to stay in close contact while working remotely. Although we are independent developers with other responsibilities outside of gamedev, we are impassioned to commit nearly every free hour to the project so progress remains steady. It's pretty much a full-time job without the pay. The dream is to make it a full-time job with the pay. Either way, we can't stop doing what we love. 

As only two guys we initially planned a dinky game that could be made in a matter of months. But after only a couple weeks we had a really cool fully animated character running around detailed environments. After a month we were playing around with advanced mechanics like portals and time manipulation. After two months the character and ambience was apparent in the world building aspects. It was at this time we realized the great potential of the game and settled in for the long haul to make something special, not just another platformer.  

It was at this time we realized the great potential of the game and settled in for the long haul to make something special, not just another platformer.

The Games

Two_Games.png

You may now be wondering, just what the hell is the game? Well, there are actually two games in the pipeline now. Let me explain them both. First of all, "Thyria," is the name of the fictional galaxy that both games take place in. This galaxy is full of countless inhabited planets. Many intelligent life forms have attained space travel technology and weave an ever-growing symbiotic web of alien life. While many more uncharted planets are surely inhabited by isolated species. It's in this fictional galaxy we've let our imaginations run free in the form of two games already.

You may now be wondering, just what the hell is the game? Well, there are actually two games in the pipeline now.

Thyria: Hunt for Kroohx

Thyria: Hunt for Krooxh is an action-rpg platformer. This is the main project we first set out to create. In addition to side-scrolling action levels and towns, there will also be top-down explorative sequences much in the vein of Zelda 2 for NES. You control an aspiring bounty hunter named Taroc, who quickly finds himself in great peril when he accepts the king's request to hunt down Kroohx, the most dangerous criminal in the galaxy. As you progress in the game not only will you find new items and weapons, you will also level up common attributes like strength and defense. You start the game on an earth-like planet, but you will soon acquire a space ship and travel to 5 distinct planets in all. Each planet has it's own huge interactive overworld you can explore on foot; full of towns, levels, and secret areas. 

Our target is to release on as many platforms as possible starting with steam. The game is being developed in unity so anything is possible. We originally wanted to release in the spring of 2017, but I'm just going to apologize ahead of time and tell you it's going to be delayed. We'll reevaluate a new launch window in the future. 

It's quite ambitious for a team of two, but we've made good progress in the first year of development. First, we iterated and iterated on Taroc's skill set and arsenal until we found the perfect mix of mechanics. Then we iterated and iterated until we came up with the most effective UI to make it all function together. Then we dove more deeply into level design and content creation. We've created loads of content; towns, random battles, actions stages, and a huge interactive overworld. But we still have a lot of work ahead of us. And that's where the second game comes into play. 

You start the game on an earth-like planet, but you will soon acquire a space ship and travel to 5 distinct planets in all. Each planet has it’s own huge interactive overworld you can explore on foot; full of towns, levels, and secret areas.

another game?

By this summer we started realizing the development cycle would be much longer and exhausting than we originally predicted and we began to reevaluate the project. What we've established is so solid that abandoning the project would be heartbreaking. However, the commitment yet needed presents great sacrifice and risk on our part. This dilemma loomed as we pressed on into the summer months. 

At some point around mid summer I somewhat jokingly suggested we make a little shmup game just to get something out there and energize our project. I figured it would be silly to start a new game when you're far from finishing the first one, but Markus was seriously considering the idea. After giving it more thought we got the idea to create a spin off game that takes place in Thyria, and ties into the story of the main game in a cool way. Not only could we maybe make a few bucks to support further development of Thyria: Hunt for Kroohx, but it would also be promoting it. 

We decided a shmup would be the perfect genre, because of the ease of development, and it would allow us to showcase lots of cool ship designs and aliens. But basically shmups are undeniable fun. 

After giving it more thought we got the idea to create a spin off game that takes place in Thyria, and ties into the story of the main game in a cool way.

Thyrian Defenders

Thyrian Defenders is a vertical scrolling shooter starring space pilot Taz, and his rag tag alien friends. These friends will even come fight at your side in battle with the sidekick feature. Collectible gold parts allow you to purchase and upgrade 8 different modules on your advanced starfighter, the Titan. Travel across the galaxy and get immersed in 10 distinct action stages, each with an engaging boss battle at the end. Specific mission goals, 4 difficulty modes, and tons of upgrades maximize the replay value. 

We've been developing this one in earnest since the beginning of August and progress has been steady. All the core mechanics, regular enemies, items, UI and upgrades system are implemented and working great. The first level is complete and feels rock solid. Producing the remaining planned levels and bosses is going to be a ton of fun. Tedious hours of testing, balancing, and bug fixing will be less so. 

Thyrian Defenders will be released on mobile for free. I'm going to say Q1 of 2017 for the release. Maybe sooner, but will make an announcement when the window becomes more clear. As someone who grew up playing consoles, the free to play model and the mobile market in general have an air of taint about them. But free to play seems to be the norm on mobile now, and I've played enough quality games that implement it right to develop faith. Depending on the success of the mobile version we would like to also make a steam version soon after.  

Producing the remaining planned levels and bosses is going to be a ton of fun. Tedious hours of testing, balancing, and bug fixing will be less so.

BYE BYE

What, you're still here? That turned out longer than expected, but I did summarize a whole year of development and two games in one post. In future posts I plan on focusing on specific features and keeping things shorter. I can't promise now, but I would like to at least try for monthly posts. As I mentioned before, these devlogs are to share with the community. If you have any questions, requests, suggestions, or just want to say hi, please drop a line. Like and share if you care. Thanks for stopping by :)