Here's more detailed information:
Epitaph: The Twilight Children
( a 2-D MMORPG based on .Hack)
Well, as some of you know, a team and I are currently working on a 2-D sprite-based MMORPG called Epitaph: The Twilight Children (or ETTC for short) that is grounded on the hit gaming series of .Hack and ‘The World’. The project is in it’s earliest stages, though production has been going steadily and smoothly. Here I will discuss some features of Epitaph, as well as keep this thread updated so you guys can see the progress we make as the game comes to be released.
For the most updated information, and a way to join the team easily, or just to be a part of the forum members, join the official forum here: http://z15.invisionfree.com/Epitaph_TTC
1. What exactly is Epitaph: The Twilight Children?
Epitaph is a 2-D sprite based MMORPG surrounding the basis of the .Hack series, and of ‘The World’. While many features from both the original .Hack games and G.U. will be present, new features will also be added to enrich the gaming experience. Players will be able to interact with one another as well as gain member addresses, fight battles, level up and gain exp, and participate in lots of other activities.
2. Who is the development team?
I, Cubia, am the head project and forum manager/admin, and head spriter for the game. The Prophet is the musick composer and head over the sound department to develop the tunes and sfx you will hear in-game. Laughingman is in charge of developing the graphics and effects for the weapons the players will collect and use in battle. Robin is a graphic artist and will be developing production arts, newsletter layouts, and face graphics for the forum and the actual game world. Jigoku, Blaze Shadow, and Theshadow19 will aid in event development and planning. With a base knowledge of some programming and development engines, I’ll take over the scripting as well until we get more scriptwriters for the game. We have others here that are helping to develop Epitaph that I have not listed, but all will be acknowledged in a short, more compact list I’ll be adding later. Epitaph could always use more helping hands, so if you’re interested in joining the team, just say the word.
3. What will the players look like in-game?
The best way of knowing this is for me to give a small image example.
This is the basic style of player design for the game. As of now, there are 3 sizes (each size pertaining to different classes I.e. twin blades will have small sized avatars) and 5 skin colour choices (pale, fair, tan, dark, and blue). The players will have a variety of choices to customize their avatars from face and body tattoos to accessories to hair and clothing. The other elements will be discussed further down.
4. How customizable will avatars be?
So far we have a number of categories that players can use to their content upon creating a avatar. The first category will to be to choose classes and a base will be decided upon depending what class a player chooses. Male and female variety are there for every class. The player can choose between a set number of skin tones, and then add eye type and colour, hair type and colour, face marking and body marking types and colours, clothing types/designs/and colours, and accessory types /designs and colours. A semi-customizable (graphics wise) beginners weapon can be chosen to further add uniqueness to character avatars. So the possibilities are near limitless as we keep expanding our component tack-on database. The sprites will have tack-on components, much like Endless Online and other sprite-based MMORPGs.
5. What are face graphics?
Another unique thing we have come up with for Epitaph is the addition of an anime-styled face graphic to represent your avatar character. As a player chooses components, the face graphic will be changed accordingly so that the sprite looks like the face graphic shown. The face graphics will not be sprite based, but will be more detailed and customizable. A player will get to choose face type and angle (yes, we’ll have it so that your character’s face can be viewed in varying angles so you can see which angle suits your character best!). The skin tone, eyes, hair, face markings, and/or hats/face accessories that you put on the sprite will show up in the face graphic. Furthermore, players can then add noses, mouths, make-up, facial hair, and more to make them look even more unique. The face graphic will be present at the bottom of a player’s screen next to their name, HP/SP stats, and remaining EXP bar. When you add players to your team, their face graphics will show up as well along with their information. Overall, this will look much like the original .Hack’s stat bars at the bottom of the screen.
6. What will the environments look like in-game?
Again the best way to show you this is through an image example. We’re planning on having highly-detailed ‘still picture’ type graphics, much like Star Ocean: The Second Story’s in-town/dungeon screens. Click the links below for examples.
One feature we may incorporate is a 3-D scrolling effect, where objects and players close to you look normal sized whereas those further away will get smaller. This is will only be available in set locations, such as the arena, where those on the opposite side of the audience stands you sit on will appear small, but those seated around you will be your size. Other places will have multiple still pictures making them up.
Dungeon and field graphics will also be high in detail and will look much like ‘still pictures’ instead of same-old-same-old tilesets (like RPG maker xp defaults).
7. What about battles?
This is still being decided upon, but we’re thinking about incorporating a mixture between Star Ocean’s full active view system with .Hack-styled battle commands and events. The battlefield will look 3-D due to scroll effects, so the battle will take place on a 3-D looking backdrop (no top-down view thank god!). Spells and special attacks will/can be accessed via menu, but in real-time, and these can also be set to hot buttons for those who like the easy way out. Items will have to be used via menu or hot key as well. There will be parameters around the battlefield so it is enclosed within a separate screen ‘much like Star Ocean’, but you will have a bit more freedom, including camera rotation and such to really get a good angle on your enemy. Battles will also have 8-Directional walking, to provide a clearer view of all action.
8. Will there be Root Towns?
Yes, all Root Towns will exist, plus more.
9. And dungeon and field types?
We’ve handpicked most of the ones we like from the .Hack and G.U. games and will place them into Epitaph, but there will be more variety now as well. The field and dungeon goals present in G.U. will also be in Epitaph, but in a different variety. For a more in-depth look at dungeons and fields, you’ll have to go to our forum.
10. Will towns allow for 8-directional walking?
Yes, the whole game will be in 8-directional mode, where characters can be turned to front, back, and side views, but also have isometric views. The walking will constitute of arrow keys (no annoying clicking the mouse constantly to walk!), the four directions, and then coupled keys for isometric view/diagonal walking (I.e Press up arrow to walk up, press both up and right arrows to walk north-east). More directional views = more action, a realistic effect, better animation, better gameplay!
11. When you say the game will be fully-animated, what do you mean?
Epitaph will be a fully animated game. Hardly anything will ever sit stationary (that’s boring for your eyes anyway!). When a character idles, they’ll have an idle animation, so they constantly look alive and moving. Components like hair and clothes will be animated upon movement, and maybe even blinking eyes will be present. Background ‘still-pictures’ will have some animations as well, like nice flowing water, birds, moving clouds, etc. Not to mention some NPC’s roaming around and speaking out! So the game will never look completely still, so in this case, we call it a fully-animated gaming experience.
12. Will the enemy characters from the .Hack games be in Epitaph?
Some of them will, so you’ll see some of your personal favorites. However, a new breed of baddies will roam the fields and prowl the deepest dungeons! Keep your eyes peeled for rare monsters, and event monsters that will only appear once in a blue moon, or maybe once- period! The Wave 8 Phases and Cubia (especially Cubia <3!) will appear as event monsters sometime after the game is released. There are many surprising battles in store.
13. Grunties seem to play a somewhat persistent role in .Hack, so will they be in Epitaph?
By all means yes! And what’s more, they’ll play an even more important role in Epitaph than in any .Hack game. Grunties will be raised, bred, battled, raced, and traded with, plus more! In fact, we’re assembling a whole team to work solely on Grunty events and systems because it is a separate part of Epitaph that some people will play this game for alone! We have a detailed post in our forums about Grunties and events/activities surrounding them, so if you’re interested in any aspect about Grunties and their presence in Epitaph, it’s best to look there.
14. What other special features will Epitaph have?
Much! Admins and game mods will host one-time events (think the One Sin from the .Hack series) in which players will achieve special rare items and get to participate in incredible activities. Active members of the forum will receive informative newsletters that may also come with rare artworks (desktop themes, etc.) and musick and such, as well as codes they can use to gain special items, outfits, events, even gold and exp! Guilds can be created and customized, arena events will be held as well as the crowning of the ‘Guardian’, weddings, scavenger hunts, puzzles, and other sorts of special components will make up the wonderful world of ETTC. We’ll also use the ‘member address’ function, keyword creation, and quest shop events that you see in the .Hack and G.U. games. So overall, a very satisfying amount of features for players of all types.
15. You mentioned a musick score. Epitaph will have it’s own soundtrack?
Yes! The Prophet and I, as well as a team of others, are working on a ton of MIDI tracks (may be revamped into MP3s or such on a better program) that will be specifically for ETTC. The musick is a mixture of styles, taking some elements from .Hack and one of our favourite online games Endless Online, as well as elements from Star Ocean’s scores. Overall, a unique sound…it’s gotten a very varying base of listeners, some of which like it and some of which don’t much. It’s an acquired taste, I guess! Either way, an in-game musick on/off option will be available for those who can’t get down with the mixes, or for those who dislike musick period.
16. Will the Data Drain technique be available in-game?
We are unsure as of this moment. If we do decide to incorporate this, only a select person or number of persons will be allowed to have this (maybe after the completion of a special event?).
17. When will ETTC be available for play?
Not for awhile. We’d like to get much of the events and things working and tested before we release it to the public. If you’re interested in being a tester, you may pm me or post on our forums or here and I’ll give a copy of the demo to you when it is released.
18. Will ETTC be free to play?
Yes, as we can’t make profit on a game that is based on another series.
19. How can I join the team?
Want to join? GREAT! Start by accessing the forums and creating an account, then going over to the application thread to fill out an application sheet. It’s as simple as that. If you just want to help out a little without the obligation of joining the forum, send me a message via MSN (firstname.lastname@example.org) or email me at email@example.com. Only members who help create the game via joining the forum will get in-game benefits.
That’s about all of the really basic information we have on ETTC. If you need to know anything further, check out the forum (it’s all open to guests as well), and join it if you can for special benefits. Also, if you have any questions regarding any aspect of ETTC, just ask them here and I’ll be sure to answer as soon as possible.