Helvetii Dev Blog #1

Good evening/Morning good people !

I decided to dust off this old blog and portfolio (don’t wander too far, you’l l see a LOT of old stuff…I’ll probably have to update the rest of all that as well soon !) to write the first out of hopefully many devblogs for my current projects.

And if you’ve been following me on twitter (which this is where you probably come from since i’ll link this there later), you’re probably aware of what I’ve been working since the end of summer 2016. I have been posting since pretty regular updates (except for end of december as I had to ..you know…attend festivities. Also because I had to work on side stuff). But now with the current switch to the final engine, I thought it would be a good time to formally introduce myself and my project, “Helvetii” to all ya’ll.

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Divico, main character of Helvetii

 

SO ! First off, hi everyone ! My name is Kevin Péclet, as you probably kinda guessed already from this website. I’m from Switzerland, and have been doing art stuff for about 10 years, and gamedev stuff for about 5. I have been working on several small things, my biggest project to day is the still-in-development game  Starfallen, as well as the smaller but equally as fulfilling Splash Blast Panic. Both projects have been incredibly fulfilling and taught me a lot about game development through the years. I also participated in a bunch of game jams (finished my 5th global game jam just yesterday) and also just draw random stuff from big nerd fantasy stuff to weebtrash like the garbage human being I am.

However, for a while I have been yearning to accomplish a project of my own vollition and who would come from my own inspirations. Like probably everyone who is into game dev, I sit on a lot of projects in my mind from horror to RPGs and more casual, fun stuff. But of all of them, the one that spurred me on into action is this action game, now called Helvetii, about Helvetian/Gaulish mythology.

Now I won’t go into the fine details and tech specifics of what Helvetii is just yet (I’m saving this for future dev blogs) but to give you a broad image: It was born of both my love of 2d action games, especially the kinds done by Vanillaware (Dragon’s Crown, Muramasa Rebirth and recently the great remaster of Odin Sphere), but also a will to explore a specific setting and mythology I think is still pretty absent from popular culture in general.

Years ago, in fact at one of the first swiss-french dev meeting we had when the dev scene started to grow around here, we jokingly talked about what type of “Swiss inspired” game we could make. The suggestion was mostly to make a point of our usually not-so-exportable-culture. Orson Welles in Citizen Kane said ” In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” An exageration of course, but still not that far from the truth. Even most of us natives don’t bring up our own mythology and culture that much. Most of what comes to mind are cows, edelweisses, cheese with holes and an unhealthy sense of superiority to all our respective language-neighbours.

However, the idea kinda stuck with me, and I got more into it and thought back to what is technically not “Swiss” history but gaulish. The Helvetians, a tribal group of gaulish warriors who once tread the lands before us, way before the grütli.  The interesting thing to me is that there isn’t much that we know or associate with in our modern culture about the Helvetii tribes.  There are few stories and fewer notable characters and in our history classes, the roman era is usually quickly glazed over before the teacher eagerly presses on to the actual creation of what is Switzerland today, which is more teutonic in heritage than Gaulish if you look at its core (until the western cantons started to join at least).

Even moreso, gaulish and celtic mythology as a whole is not incredibly present in the video game landscape. For all our love for nordic, japanese, general medieval or even slavic culture in our artform, the Gauls are seldom remembered. Henceforth, my itty brain starts to work. I also take the time to set foot again in libraries and ask my old economics teacher for books about pre-roman helvetian mythology and the game starts forming in my mind.

That was about…3 years ago.

 

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First sketches of Divico, back in 2013. Way scrawnier back then than he is now

You can guess it took me a while to actually get ready to tackle such a project which I thought was important to me. Work finally started around august 2016 while I was at Gamescom presenting Splash Blast Panic. Since then, work has been going steadily and I even have a small prototype made on Clickteam fusion as to just give me a cleared idea of the direction I wanted to go in. You probably saw several updates of this on twitter, and you can even check some of it on my youtube channel right here.

Today, I now have a programmer at my side and have moved on to Unity and production in earnest has started (while I really love Clickteam fusion, and all my love to the team and I have high hopes for 3.0, I needed a more advanced engine). With this, let me detail what are the plans for this year when it comes to Helvetii, starting with the immediate future.

MOVING TO THE NEW ENGINE AND BUILDING THE TEAM

The whole game is now being made in Unity which was a good middle ground in terms of tech and accessibility for a 2D game, considering I work with the incredibly talented Nils Ole Timm from Starfallen who I shall introduce in a next blog very soon. While the code has to be made from scratch as none of the work from CTF is usable, the art is already there for the most part for a functional game, which means it should take a short time to actually have the game running on its new legs, with improvements. This will also allow me to devote more time on the art and design, which are more of my domains than coding.  Coding aside, I am also getting in talks for music, sound and possibly marketing in the future, with already some leads. I know it’s usually an annoying part for most indie devs but I wish to be prepared this time around.

I am still hesitating to release the prototype of the CTF project (as really it’s a visual showcase more than anything else). But if people are really interested in the future, it would be fun to just release it as is in all its jankyness just for an early look. At least, I would like to share it with some of the Clickteam community, also to show what is possible with what some people would call a weak engine.

I am not gonna give an exact estimate of when we’ll be able to see Helvetii again in a playable state, but hopefully end of winter or early spring is easily a possibility (don’t forget we are doing this with no money and on our free time).

Which leads us to

PREPARING FOR THE SUMMER CONVENTION SUPER SLAM

The semi-short term plan is to have Helvetii ready FAST.  At least in a playable demo state with all the core elements of gameplay ready.

If my previous projects in game dev taught me anything, it’s that taking too long can absolutely kill your endurance and interest in your own work . Making games is not necessarily hard most of the time as it is time and mind consuming, even when it is your favourite pet project ever. Hence why the prototype was also made before moving into actual productions: to already have assets and a design ready to go before getting into it, allowing us to work faster.

All in all, this mindset should allow the game to be already in a good playable state by the time big conventions like Gamescom, Pax West and TGS bring their heads up. Hopefully I get to show it there ! But most of all, I am excited to share this universe which I hope to make unique in its own way.

Anyway, I know this is kinda unrelatable to most people, but finally, let’s talk about

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A scene from the Clickteam Fusion prototype

FUTURE BLOGS AND CONTENT SHOWCASE

The immediate work is gonna focus on bringing in more assets like enemies, backgrounds, and finalizing everything for the core gameplay. But there’s also gonna be quite a bit of research on mythology and lore which I already have been doing for some time now.  Interestingly enough, there is a lot of overlap between gaulish, celtic and even indian (as in, from india) culture. So I will start introducing those starting with the next blog, as well as an introduction of my partner in crime Nils Ole Timm ! I will also quickly start detailing the gameplay mechanics of this action game.What I can say right now, is that it’ll be an “Action Roguelite game” (and for those sighing at roguelite, WAIT WAIT DON’T GO YET PLEASE IT’S GONNA BE GREAT, THE GREATEST)

Expect me to write two of these blogs of month (not always this long tho cuz I’m a lazy cupcake sometimes) However, expect a faster pace for the first ones as there is a lot of ground to cover with what’s already been done. And I do take feedback through my twitter constantly so if you have any particular interest about the game, let me now !

As for tonight, that’ll be all from me and I hope you enjoyed my ramblings, and my occasional spelling mistakes. This type of communication is all new to me, and I hope we’ll all enjoy this ride together as I try, first and foremost, to make a game that will inspire ya’ll and make you have fun, as well as discover some new things from a small dev in a small, boring country that makes coockoo clocks

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