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Offline Dracula9

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Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« on: January 01, 2022, 09:27:42 PM »
+9
Hello, all!

There are a million and one things I could tell you about what led to this, but I'd rather keep things succinct and to the point.

In brief, the primary thing as is already fairly known that's been holding up development progress on Umbra has been art production; Plot is and has always been the primary and mostly-singular artist for all graphics -- a job that's absolutely massive and ridiculous considering how much work that scope actually entails. While there have been a handful of other artists floating around able to achieve the style and detail quality always envisioned for Umbra, the simple fact is that many of them are/were already involved in other projects and asking more of them on top of that would be rude. Not to mention, the workloads involved are such that any reasonable artist would charge or at least expect some manner of commission for, and with Umbra being entirely fan-created something remotely resembling an actual budget has never been a luxury we've been able to afford or even seriously approach (considering all the copyright law tiptoeing we've already had to do with a lot of things).

But, as life is unpredictable and oft-times unfair, Plot's personal situations have not been the best in recent years, and as a freelance artist by trade what time he has been able to do pixelwork has obviously been of the variety that gets him paid -- because things like bills and eating exist and of course take priority over all else, least of all a spare-time fangame.

But this project, the story of 1999 he's spent years building and wanting to tell, is of course still important to him and myself and everyone else involved. However, with his situations being what they are, the always-existing possibility of Umbra not being finished or able to be released grew larger and larger. And it's never been an option to do something like reuse a bunch of existing CV assets or simply outsource the graphical work en masse, because neither allow for cohesive and unified visual direction.

So I proposed an idea that initially began as a bit of a goof, but as I decided to play around more and more and got quite a lot of things working well very quickly the idea took off and got a life of its own; what about a scaled-back telling of the story in the same style and vein as the Curse of the Moon titles? With simpler visual direction, storytelling requirements, programming needs, etc., it would become possible to still get the story out there (albeit slimmed down) with a significantly lighter load on everyone's backs, most of all Plot's. Downsizing the project, or at least creating a more production-friendly variation of it, allows him to be able to contribute to it with a lighter burden to shoulder. In this way, it allows work to be done more easily, and give the Umbra version of the 1999 story a larger chance of existing, without sacrificing quality or cutting too many corners. And with the significantly simpler art direction, it's far easier for myself and potentially others to produce graphics that can all be cohesive rather than trying to match Plot's all-too-unique and incredibly detailed personal style.

I also want to stress that this project is not us saying we're abandoning the mainline Umbra project. If it ever comes to that, it will be stated directly and plainly.

So here we are! Presenting now for everyone, Seal of the Eclipse!



Designed after the spirit of the CotM titles, with no effort to disguise the inspirations and homages, this project aims to present the Umbra team's vision of 1999 in a more traditional-CV light.

With a (comparatively) reduced emphasis on exploration, backtracking, and puzzle-solving, the focus for this has become rather akin to how CotM1&2 and CV3 and DoS handled things -- pushing the formula of standard platforming to accommodate multiple player characters who all have different strengths and weaknesses. Obviously this is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, but with its goals being smaller in scope it allows more intense exploration of how to get those key elements just right, and polish them to a shine wherever possible.



Art direction isn't the only thing affected and made less burdensome by the decision to try a project that's a bit smaller -- programming has been made substantially easier for me (while I have fewer things to have to do compared to something SOTN-like, those fewer things have to be hammered down darn tight, and that forces me to become better and more efficient at coding), and even such things as script/dialogue writing and music (which I already have like 90-something% finished) have been far easier to wrangle. As an example, I've put a small handful of the earlygame tracks -- read: tracks that don't spoil major things before the engine's even hit playtesting phase -- together in a video which I'll link below:



You've all heard most of our song and dance by this point via what we've come to call "main" Umbra, so I'll wrap this spiel up and save y'all some time. I don't want to prematurely say too much and give away the farm, but I also want to be upfront and transparent about where development on everything is.

Main Umbra as I'm sure everyone knows by now has been at an absolute standstill for quite some time with no signs of moving anytime soon.

Seal of the Eclipse has, in undisguised and blunt terms, made more progress in a year than main Umbra had in several. Currently it's at a lull, but not for lack of planning or severe nonproduction of resources -- it's a hobby project above all else and time just isn't as abundant as we'd like, on account of the world being absolutely insane to live in right now. But the engine is fairly solid, adding things and editing it is much more streamlined than main Umbra's as it lacks 4+ years of outdated bloatcode and obsolete assets tangling itself up, and what few bugs I've found aren't gamebreaking and several of them seem to be a result of a Win10 update actually affecting how GMS itself processes and compiles its runner and therefore its loading ticks, and working around that is much more tedious than correcting a mistake I wrote myself in codespeak that's identifiably mine. So all in all, it's a much easier time all-around to create things and get them in-engine and moving about the scenery than main Umbra ever was.


The main crew, and their corresponding vampires.

I originally wanted this to be shorter, and I still prattled on -- trying to describe a mountain as a molehill isn't easy -- so I'll end for now with some gameplay footage (bear in mind, some things aren't perfect yet so don't be alarmed if a bug or borked behavior shows up) and some other minor goodies.

I'm really looking forward to the prospect of being able to show off updates even just a little more regularly than we've been used to in the past.



(And here are a few things I wanted to showcase as I'm quite proud of them, but couldn't exactly do so under typical gameplay footage circumstances since ingame situations for these either don't exist as they're shown below or are pseudorandom in their occurrence frequency)

(click to show/hide)
(click to show/hide)



Thanks for reading, all!
« Last Edit: January 01, 2022, 09:36:43 PM by Dracula9 »


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Offline Gunlord

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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2022, 09:58:04 PM »
0
Oh man, this is really really cool! I wish you the best of luck with this, it's super impressive for a fan project!

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Offline X

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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2022, 10:09:32 PM »
0
Good to see you back  :)

I actually like that title you got going here; Seal of the Eclipse. To me it sounds much better then Umbra of Sorrow. It literally speaks of what the game is about (like traditional CV titles of the past) and doesn't come off as odd or forced, like it has to be a trilogy or something. I've always felt that the sorrow titles were of Soma and his stories, nothing before him.

The sprite art looks fantastic. Going Curse of the Moon style really works out well here. And I'm also diggin' the 8-bit character art too. I can also agree that doing a watered-down version in order to get this thing going once more is a good idea as well. And from where I'm standing it's not a bad thing either.
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Offline Foffy

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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2022, 01:05:04 AM »
0
REALLY like the CotM 8-bit approach here. Do hope we still see Umbra one day, but this looks good too!

I have a question as to how one should consider this project overall. Is this merely an 8-bit attempt at Umbra, or something like Curse of the Moon and its relationship to Bloodstained, where a lot of its premise and ideas come from the "bigger" project but still being its own distinct take on concepts?
« Last Edit: January 02, 2022, 02:42:01 AM by Foffy »

Offline theplottwist

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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2022, 04:52:19 AM »
+3
This boy is looking great. Dracula9's call was the right move and this is likely the greatest chance Umbra's vision might get realized in game form. This dude is the friend for life everyone should have.

It's also the first time our pixel art can coexist without conflict even if I'm handling that part less than D9 is.

I have a question as to how one should consider this project overall. Is this merely an 8-bit attempt at Umbra, or something like Curse of the Moon and its relationship to Bloodstained, where a lot of its premise and ideas come from the "bigger" project but still being its own distinct take on concepts?

It's definitelly a more CotM like approach. SotE is drawing from the main ideas on Umbra, but D9 took these ideas and drew a different path through them that is very Classicvania-like. Obviously I am asked about how a few things should play out, but having D9 listen to the entire project's ideas over and over and probably be the other person to know them inside out by this point, I'd be a fool not to agree.

Also, Chernabogue and Aensland praise. The songs you're hearing in there are also theirs, put through Dracula9's dark magic.

---------------

Also.... It just occurred to me this is THE debut of Lenora Belnades' final design. I hoarded it like a dragon and wound up never revealing. Well, this deserves it!

(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: January 02, 2022, 10:38:24 PM by theplottwist »
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Offline Chernabogue

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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2022, 05:59:03 AM »
+1
Immense GGs to my boy D9, the amount of work here is phenomenal and the game looks AMAZING so far!

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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2022, 06:26:36 AM »
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Greetings. Looks like there's gonna be lots of goodness post-2022. I can see your project has potential, keep up your excellent work!
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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2022, 07:03:53 AM »
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I think I'm in love.
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Offline OldSchoolArikado

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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2022, 09:20:04 AM »
+1
Hello there. I'm the owner of Castlevania Latino. My team and myself are amazed with the announcement of your new project, and we desire to create an informative video, promoting Seal Of The Eclipse, for the spanish communities.

There are no inconveniences by using the footage you provided in both YouTube and Castlevania Dungeon, correct?.

Thank you.

Offline Dongled

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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2022, 10:42:11 AM »
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This looks absolutely INCREDIBLE. I really hope this doesn't get shut down. One of the artists was in my discord and shared the link. VERY impressed. Followed the twitter. Looking forward to seeing this blossom into something that (hopefully) gets released!

Offline The Puritan

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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2022, 04:42:01 PM »
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There are lots of things I thought I'd wake up to with the New Year, but a COTM-style adaptation of Umbra's story was so not one of them. I haven't been this hype since Lecarde Chronicles 2!

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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2022, 05:58:15 PM »
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Well Holy shit, I didn't know Umbra was taking a new form and being released so soon. I am very excited by the trailer.

Offline Gunlord

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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2022, 12:23:52 AM »
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Hello there. I'm the owner of Castlevania Latino. My team and myself are amazed with the announcement of your new project, and we desire to create an informative video, promoting Seal Of The Eclipse, for the spanish communities.

There are no inconveniences by using the footage you provided in both YouTube and Castlevania Dungeon, correct?.

Thank you.

It *should* be fine but I sent Drac9 and ThePlotTwist a notification on Discord pointing them to your question just to be 100% sure, they should get back to you soon ITT :)

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Offline Bloo

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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2022, 08:17:24 AM »
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This looks huge, and it looks like there's been a serious and organized effort to finish it. Can't wait. This'll be the one.

Make sure it's getting posted on twitter :)
bloo

Offline zangetsu468

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Re: Castlevania: Seal of the Eclipse
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2022, 11:49:46 PM »
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This looks fucking amazing. Well done.
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            v                           l      ^               ^       ^
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RE=Richter Ending