Tenebrae: Twilight Of The Gods
Riding Crust, The Golem as Troglobytes Break For The Holidays. Prototype Phase Concludes
20th December, 2016
Troglobytes Games concludes the second year of its upcoming PC/Xbox One ARPG, Tenebrae -- Twilight of the Gods' development with the comprehensive, action-packed debut of Crust, the Golem.
First introduced during the final seconds of Tenebrae's April 2016 Teaser, a Golem in Tenebrae's world was hinted to be neither friend nor foe, reacting instead on the basis of player actions towards them.
This key characteristic of theirs, Troglobytes had briefly stated at the time, could be exploited by players to benefit their advancement through the game; Golem Riding, the game's latest video of progress finally lays bare the mechanics behind this concept.
Crusts are Golem-like creatures that will be encountered throughout the expanse of Tenebrae's multi-chapter narrative.
Usually found guarding important rooms/passages, they are tied to the concept of Tenebrae's Natures -- supernatural forces that constitute an integral part of its game-play, influence enemies, weapons, shields, skills, protagonists, and that players must either master or conquer.
'A Crust will usually be bound to one of these "forces" and its attacks will reflect this along with its visual design,' explains Lead Programmer Luciano Iurino.
'It is usually harmless unless the player or an enemy takes action against it. Once it does lose its cool however, players would best run away since going against it head-on can be devastating.'
Rightfully, Golem Riding illustrates one such Crust lying relatively inactive until prodded by an overwhelmed player; the protagonist them jumps over the specimen, driving it against enemies and other populace.
'A Crust's only weak point lies at the base of its skull, ' continues Iurino. 'So you have to jump over its shoulders, plant your sword there and take control of it.
'As it attempts to throw off the player, the Crust loses vital energy (depicted by the bar at the bottom of the screen). Every time it hits a wall or a big obstacle, its vital energy goes down further until it reaches the zero mark, disintegrates and dies.'
While this is only way of making use of the Golem, Iurino further alludes to features such as Crust Summons that the rest of the team are currently working on. More on that in due time.
For now, the implementation of the above rudimentary Golem mechanics along with the smarter AI, refactored combat, the next iteration of Tenebrae's in-house dungeon generator Vania and various other game-play aspects from earlier this year mean that the ARPG is to soon move out of its current prototype phase.
'Now that we have all the basic mechanics in place in the prototype, everything will continue to be improved.' Iurino surmises.
'It might be a while before we show something totally "new" in terms of game-play but graphically, our artists will be shifting focus towards better character design, animations, environments and more during the first quarter of 2017.'
The team also intends to make several release relevant announcement during the same time frame. 'For now, we want to thank all our friends and supporters. It's been a crazy year!' they write.
'We've truly gathered precious feedback from players and developers alike.'
Troglobytes Games will resume work on Tenebrae -- Twilight of the Gods in the new year. Till then, make use of the intervening time to catch up with just how far the game has come over the past year by scrolling right on this slider!
Attached are renders and concepts pertinent to Crust.
Responsive Combat, Smarter AI & Dimmersoul
13th December, 2016
'Both the combat system and AI have been totally rewritten from scratch. We think we have reached the goal we had set soon after the indie game events we attended last summer.'
A significant portion of Tenebrae's focus since the delay of its public demo release, has been on refactoring its combat & AI design.
Player feedback gathered at various events earlier this year coupled with the developers' own dissatisfaction, had led Troglobytes Games to an extended, meticulous study of older generation Metroidvania titles.
'We had to take those mechanics and implement them into our own gameplay and rules,' explains Lead Programmer Luciano Iurino, stating that combat on Tenebrae is now a lot more responsive that it has ever been.
'The result is quite what we were looking for, though it can certainly be improved some more; and it will over the following months of development.'
Complementing this sharpened sense of combat is smarter enemy AI; enemies now come in three distinct categories of Beasts, Soldiers and Ranged.
Where Beasts charge at players regardless of reasoning, Soldiers hunt in packs; methodically organising themselves in groups and utilising a variety of defensive abilities (parry, dodge & counter-hits) under player attack.
All while Shamans, Mages & Archers hurl an onslaught of Ranged attacks from a distance. This of course is in contrast to prior, less capable enemy behaviour that would have them attacking players devoid of logic or any significant challenge, hanging around motionless otherwise.
Samples of the smarter, refined enemy AI are now showcased in Tenebrae's December Update trailer; Undead soldiers are seen parrying and dodging player attacks while Shamans cast timed spells, inflicting major damage upon protagonists still within the spell area when the time is through.
'One can also see how despite players keeping their own shields up to parry enemies attacks, doing so will not always result in a parried attack,' Iurino points out.
'In fact, if you are surrounded by 2-3 enemies and they all attack you at the same time, chances are that you'll be knocked down.
Also being unveiled alongside are two new character concepts; the first being that of the Bat, a type of Beast developed by artist Florent Desailly that will often arrive with its own set of special/poisonous attacks.
Desailly is one of Troglobytes' newest constituents, having joined the team's art department only last month. 'He seems to immediately understand the style we are after,' state the core team. 'We're sure he will produce some great characters in the next months!'
This is followed by a preview of Sergio Cosmai's Dimmersoul, a creature whose role within Tenebrae's dungeons is being kept under wraps for now. Cosmai is known to have previously devised the game's motion-comic intro.
Also attached are GIF's demonstrative of enemy Parry and player Dodge behaviour.
Missed the enemy art blowout from earlier this month? Scroll right on this slider!
All New Artists, Enemy Assets & The Golem
1st December, 2016
The art & animation departments of Troglobytes Games have welcomed three new hands on deck to aid in the progress of its upcoming PC/Xbox One ARPG, Tenebrae -- Twilight of the Gods.
Dhaval Soni (Grand Theft Auto V, Sin City - A Dame To Kill For), Antonio Appio (Prior Troglobytes associate, having collaborated with core team members Luciano Iurino & Luca Eberhart under a different banner between 2003-2005) and Florent Desailly will now be seen contributing to the game's animations, two-dimensional and three-dimensional art respectively.
'We're really happy to have the chance to be working with Antonio again, as well as with an animator of Dhaval's calibre and work record.' states the core team.
'We're also pleased to be giving emerging artists such as Florent Desailly the chance to work on a project of our scope and vision; we think it will be a great experience for both sides and this is sure to be seen in our progress over the forthcoming months.'
Already making full use of the above talent, the weeks since the unveiling of Tenebrae's Dungeon Generator Vania in October have been art intensive, with the team working to generate and populate the Metroidvania tale with various assets per the minute.
A vast majority of these have been ghoulish enemy concepts; adaptations of rats, bats and eight-legged specimens that will all be encountered within the first act of the game.
Also seen amid the assortment of their correspondingly attached 2D/3D sketches from the artists' drawing board, is yet another elemental Golem concept.
First introduced during the final seconds of Tenebrae's April 2016 Teaser, a Golem is neither friend nor foe, reacting instead on the basis of player actions towards them.
This key characteristic of theirs, Troglobytes had hinted at the time, could be exploited by players to benefit their advancement through the game; a more elaborate demonstration of this is now being prepared for fans and followers to take in soon.
'Think a new, spectacular way to take out enemies!' quips Lead developer Luciano Iurino. In the meantime, one might let their imagination run wild by means of the dual Golem concepts seen attached herewith.
Missed the unveiling of Vania in October? Scroll right on this slider!
Introducing Vania, Tenebrae's Procedural Dungeon Generator
26th October, 2016
Troglobytes Games have announced that the next iteration of their in-house, procedural dungeon creation engine that is formative of Tenebrae's Metroidvania experience is now fully functional.
Called Vania, the engine not only serves as a successor to Daedalus -- a random Maze & Dungeon generator plugin for Unity3D, that the team had previously developed under the moniker of ArtskillZ -- but also overcomes several of its pitfalls.
While Daedalus' Unreal Engine port was initially used to develop Tenebrae's environments, it was revealed earlier this year that the plugin's tile-based nature was preventing the team from achieving visually stunning level design.
The development of an all-new dungeon generator -- alongside Daedalus co-creator Michele Pirovano -- to circumvent the issue was further hinted at at the time.
'Yes, we're talking about the same 'engine' we were referring to back in February,' clarifies Tenebrae's Lead Developer Luciano Iurino. 'The new iteration though is game-specific, it's been written 'ad hoc' for Tenebrae to support its gameplay needs. '
For one, Vania intelligently handles the development of lock/key systems and the generation of rooms fundamental to player progress by itself.
'If the designer decides that the player must acquire the Double Jump skill to progress within a level, Vania will place a room where the player can find such skill,' the team elaborates.
'It will further generate a guaranteed, subsequent room where this skill will be put to the test before you can go on and complete the level successfully.'
Additionally, features such as Filters and Variation Sets/Groups also play a significant role in ensuring seamless visual design; environments such as Castles may now be automatically generated, with Vania placing tower-like rooms in the higher zones of maps, while spreading dungeons, cellars and sewers in the lower parts.
This is of course supplemented by the intricate and complex design of dungeon rooms themselves, each of which generates doors, loot, enemies and other populace according to player status and RPG values.
Attached are images of Vania's hieght based Filters in action; purple areas represent tower-like rooms, while light-blue regions correspond to dungeons.
While the new engine iteration was admittedly well-within development during the course of the game's various event appearances this year, it is now being prepared for full-fledged testing.
The public unveiling of Vania is Troglobytes' first demonstration of progress, since previously announcing the indefinite delay of Tenebrae's public demo launch in favour of quality.
Also being worked upon at this time is the game's AI and combat mechanics, the latter of which has involved the extensive study of older generation Metroidvania titles on the team's part.
'Here at Troglobytes, we have plenty of old gaming consoles and even an old arcade cabinet,' divulges Iurino.
'We've been firing up older games, altering their speed to better study actions, animations and their relationship with the controls, frame by frame. We've decided to focus on a couple of specific titles, the most useful being an old Castlevania game which kind of drifts away from the standards of its legacy mostly because of its combat mechanics. '
'We think it's the perfect title to draw inspiration from, so we've started working from there. We've kept what we think is interesting, and changed what we've felt is 'wrong' or, in some cases, 'outdated' for a modern game scenario. '
Stay tuned for illustrations of the refactored AI and Combat in action over the forthcoming weeks.
For prior happenings, scroll right on this slider!
Public Demo Release Delayed as Developers Attempt Return to Metroidvania Roots
3rd October, 2016
Two mega-screens with the Tenebrae logo and footage set on loop, while numerous developers helped play-test the upcoming ARPG's latest build -- is how Troglobytes members Luca Eberhart (3D Artist) and Giuseppe Lagonigro (Programmer) may best recall Game Over, Milan.
The duo had taken to the underground Italian gaming festival from the 24th to the 25th of last month with numerous fixes and additions to various game-play minutiae, hoping to gather crucial public feedback before delving into yet another development cycle preceding Tenebrae's public demo release.
With them now having attended a total of three events over the span of two months (The Global Top Round Conference, Germany in August & Modena Nerd, Italy in September) though, the experience of it all has had a much deeper impact on the game's current development strategy.
'After showcasing Tenebrae in its intermediate form at three different events and having the Higher Eclectic Network play-test it for a month now, it has become quite clear that the current build does not show off our vision in all its potential,' the team has concluded.
Tenebrae has been one to garner continuous praise for its graphical polish ever since transitioning from 2.5D to 3D earlier this year. Yet admittedly even while showing off core mechanics in progress, its builds have far from truly demonstrated the team's envisioned twist on the Metroidvania genre.
'We need to work harder to implement several key features that make up the meat of Tenebrae's experience,' they continue.
'Some of these features are those that make a great Metroidvania experience: backtracking, re-playability, a robust lock/key system, etc. Then there's those such as a fully polished combat system; we believe we are on the right path but the Vertical Slice is certainly lacking in these areas.'
Consequently, the game's Vertical Slice that was originally intended for an end-of-September release has now been pushed back indefinitely in favour of quality.
'Tenebrae's demo will be out only when it's done,' the team now surmises.
'Existing testers will be able to play the next builds though, and who knows, we might be attending several other events in the future, so we'll keep looking for precious feedback during the next months.'
Through it all, the game will indeed continue to evolve publicly; as the developers address its shortcomings by revisiting inspirations, implementations of various new features and mechanics will be shown off on a periodic basis as per usual.
The search for publisher investment meanwhile will proceed regardless of the demo's delayed public release. While Tenebrae continues to be self-funded up until this point, Troglobytes had first addressed the game's need for monetary support post their return from the Global Top Round Conference in August.
'Going with a publisher is only one of the possibilities,' they write, hinting that while labels continue to be approached, strategies such as crowdfunding are also being considered.
'Such an ambitious project needs financial backup to see the light of day, but we'll try to stay true to our indie nature as much as possible. We'll see what the future brings!'
Images from the team's Game Over, Milan appearance are attached herewith.
Be sure to leave the team with your feedback and look out for progress updates from Tenebrae in the forthcoming weeks. For prior happenings, scroll right on this slider!
A Few Secrets & a Mini-Boss To Be Revealed at Game Over, Milan
22nd September, 2016
'Modena Nerd was a good experience; we did manage to attain a bit of feedback that's helped us reconsider a couple game-play features.'
'The true consequences of this however will be apparent only in future builds of Tenebrae; For now, we're hoping for a better round of feedback, play-testing and networking at Game Over, Milan.
While Troglobytes Games might have missed out on the Modena Indie Award at the Modena Nerd expo this weekend past, their upcoming PC/Xbox One ARPG Tenebrae did certainly go on to win an honorary mention by the event's panel of judges amid a field of nearly 30 odd Italian game developers.
Commended for its graphical quality and even cited as promising by visiting members of the press therein, Tenebrae's currently playable build has since undergone a series of updates influenced by player response.
For one, its outdoor level has now been shortened. While the current build lets players explore portions of both the game's outdoor and dungeon environments, the former is meant to constitute Tenebrae's tutorial that will be present only in its upcoming demo and the final game.
'Since the actual tutorial is still missing from the build we showed off at Modena Nerd, there were a lot of empty zones that players seemed to be quickly bored of,' confessed Lead Programmer Luciano Iurino.
On the other hand, there also existed the case of players not exploring the build's contorted dungeon design, its secret passages and hidden rooms in their entirety.
This has now been addressed by having the game world subtly coax players towards its secrets via implementations such as camera triggers that tend to focus on hidden ladders and ledges, considerably more evident designs for interactive objects and so forth.
'Let's not forget though that Tenebrae's core lies in dungeon crawling and exploration,' Iurino warns. 'So people will still have to search for secrets; for now, we've made it easier to come across passages and corridors that all players and beta-testers seemed to have missed.'
Both issues were further compounded by the fact that the Modena Nerd build never had any established conclusion; players could effectively keep playing endlessly without any significant challenge.
A mini-boss now fills that gap, although still reliant on the game's standard AI that will eventually be replaced by a more advanced rendition in its upcoming demo.
In addition, not just treasure chests but destructible items now spawn loot evenly throughout the build, improved quality settings allow for smoother gameplay on older systems, while easier controls and added fixes make for a more evenly toned experience.
The tweaked and improved build will now be exhibited at Game Over, Milan from the 24th-25th this weekend; an underground festival held at the Leoncavallo spa in Via Watteau, 7 Milan, Game Over is an annual celebration of Italy's indie game development scene over numerous workshops, professional seminars and networking opportunities.
Just as at Modena Nerd, Troglobytes will be be seen hoping to gather layered combat related public opinion more than anything -- particularly in relation to the issue of using in-game shields that was elaborated upon last week.
Feedback gathered from both event appearances and the ongoing closed beta test will then be used in furthering & assessing development of Tenebrae's fully playable Vertical Slice, which currently happens to be scheduled for a tentative end-of-September release.
Images demonstrating camera triggers, game-play hints, loot from destructible items and the mini-boss in action are attached herewith.
What's the issue with in-game shields you ask? Scroll right on this slider!
Troglobytes Looks to Gather Feedback on Tenebrae's Combat Mechanics at Modena Nerd 2016
15th September, 2016
This weekend, the 17th-18th of September will commence 2016's rendition of Modena Nerd, a two-day celebration of Italian Video Games, Comics, YouTubers, Cosplay & all things nerd-culture at the ModenaFiere Exhibition Centre in Modena, Italy.
Present at the same will be the development team of Tenebrae -- Twilight of The Gods, marking their first public event appearance since that of the Global Top Round Accelerator Program's Conference in Cologne, Germany last month.
Amid tournaments and stations dedicated to classics of modern and retro gaming at Modena, Troglobytes will be seen setting up desk at the Indie Showcase Area therein showing off the latest build of their upcoming PC/Xbox One Metroidvania ARPG.
Sunday, the 18th of September will further see the game contend against nearly 30 other Italian developers for the Modena Nerd Indie Award. As the team reveal though, the event will bear much more significance to Tenebrae's ongoing development than generating attention or hype.
Set to be comprised of all those game-play features that were illustrated in last week's September Update Video, the build that is to be shown off at the event is majorly the same as that which has been undergoing closed testing within the Higher Eclectic Network.
'Most of the feedback gathered so far has been geared towards AI and combat,' the team evaluates.'Refactoring the AI is something we're already working on; We have clear in our minds what's wrong with it and how it should behave.'
'However we're planning to address combat only after a lot more feedback is gathered from the closed test, Modena Nerd and GameOver Milano thereafter combined.'
The team's biggest woe in context of the same is currently pertinent to dodging and use of the in-game character's shield by players; admittedly inspired by the likes of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate after trying a variety of approaches, Tenebrae currently prevents one from rotating a character/dodging attacks when parrying.
'It may work well under some circumstances but with Tenebrae being fully-3D, attacks tend to come in from all directions which can be problematic.', Troglobytes state while affirming that player feedback towards the same has been largely divided.
'This is but a portion of the design decisions we need to make, since combat is all our game is about. We want it to be very smooth and easy; We may go over different iterations and stop only once we feel we've found the right solution.
'This is why we're hoping feedback from both of our upcoming event appearances prove to be helpful in this regard. '
Among additions not currently present in the current closed-beta build yet that will be seen at Modena are graphical improvements, a quality settings slider that lets one scale visuals as per their system performance and RPG values for weapons that dictate the magnitude each inflicts over the enemy.
One's first look at the new-AI shall only arrive with the team's GameOver Milano appearance on the 24th-25th of this month, which even then might only be partially complete. The Tutorial level and scene meanwhile will be ready in time for Tenebrae's publicly playable Vertical Slice.
This Vertical Slice is currently scheduled for an as of yet tentative end-of-September release. Meanwhile one may choose to stay tuned to its progress by signing up for E-mail updates via this page's side-bar, or leave the team with their feedback in the comments below.
Missed the September Update break-down last week? Scroll right on this slider!
September Update | Healing Shrines, FX & Health Regeneration
4th September, 2016
Before moving on to refactoring Tenebrae's AI and combat mechanics in anticipation of its demo release later this month, Troglobytes unveil a comprehensive enlistment of features that have made it into their ARPG since its Global Top Round appearance in Germany.
The most noteworthy of these, illustrated by means of the above September Update video, are character health-centric; Healing shrines and their health replenishing properties make their first appearance in-game.
While most of Tenebrae's assets go through the process of being designed in 2D concept form before being rendered in 3D, the Shrines were conjured impromptu; 4-5 hours worth of sculpting, retopology, texturing and importing the model into the game engine led to a design that draws inspiration from Gothic Art.
And even so, there's much more to their styling than meets the eye; while Shrines are rendered inactive after a single use, each comes fitted with three inconspicuous slots on either side with one big slot at the top.
Players will not only be allowed to harvest the mortal remains of certain enemies they ravage, but will also be able to use them in the side-slots as a sort of offering to the Gods. Doing so 'reactivates' a Shrine after its consumption.
'The big central slot is a whole different story,' the developers elaborate. 'If you collect the skull of a particularly strong enemy (Mini-Boss?), you should be able to sacrifice it on a shrine to generate unique weapons, amulets etc. that are not spawned by treasure chests'
'Though it won't be an easy task because it will also depend on how one kills the Mini-Boss, their Luck based RPG stat and so forth.This will be the only way to get those kind of weapons/amulets in the game.'
The team also addresses the prayer-like stance that Varg The Barbarian adopts at each of these shrines, stating that while it might seem strange to some -- it fully demonstrates the twisted relation between Tenebrae's characters and the Gods of its lore.
In the very context of Health, the video also demonstrates Auto-Regeneration; players will be granted a main HP bar at the top-left corner of the HUD along with a thinner HP Regeneration bar below it. Troglobytes explain --
'Whenever one is hit and their HP goes down, the HP Regeneration bar is triggered to refill the main HP bar one point at a time. The frequency of this refilling will depend on RPG stats, equipped items such as specific amulets and so on.'
'It may sound too easy for the player, but trust us it won't be! Also, there will be some areas where the regeneration won't work and some particular enemies will have the ability to block your regeneration.'
The rest of the Update is populated by less major yet equally crucial additions -- Climbing up and down ledges with associated dust/particle FX is now a feature, along with the ability to move the overhead camera while in the process.
Weapon trail FX are further supplemented by color coded damage values that crop up every time an enemy is struck by the blade, however the effect these damage values have has been omitted from the video due to a bug the team is currently addressing.
In the actual game itself, each enemy will arrive with a small bar and an icon resembling its own face -- indicating health points and other battle-worthy information that will deplete in accordance with the color-coded damage values.
While color-coded silhouettes now allow for player and NPC tracking through walls that might crop up in the way of the camera, viewers are granted another look at the loot/inventory system that was first unveiled in the game's August Teaser.
Next up on Tenebrae's docket apart from its AI redesign is a complete implementation of its Tutorial level. 'We have all the material ready for the tutorial scene, but we'll leave it as one of the last things to do; we're still designing the kind of behaviours each enemy will have. ' the dev-log reads.
'We have designed a couple of basic enemies but there are a lot of ideas to test and implement!
Tenebrae: Twilight of The Gods' Vertical Slice is scheduled for an as of yet tentative end-of-September release. Meanwhile one may choose to stay tuned to its progress by signing up for E-mail updates via this page's side-bar, or leave the team with their feedback in the comments below.
Germany, a Potential Demo Delay & a Positive Future Regardless
24th August, 2016
Being among the 15 games that had qualified for the 2016 conference of the Global Top Round Accelerator Program turned out to be insufficient in garnering Tenebrae a place among the program's top 10 at Cologne, Germany last week.
Having presented the latest playable build of the upcoming Metroidvania ARPG to a diverse audience of developers and enthusiasts over a two day period, Troglobytes now review their experience therein as both strange and enlightening.
'Honestly, we felt our game was a bit out of place there', they recall. 'There were a lot of great, colorful mobile games and even a couple of very interesting VR projects; Tenebrae (and at least one other which we really liked a lot) was not at home within the event. '
'It did gain a lot of interest however. Quite a few stopped by and played the build; we received both praise and a lot of useful feedback from players and other developers.'
The team further went onto attend marketing seminars and interact with fellow developers before concluding that it was a fruitful event regardless.
Additionally while the rest of its representatives departed for Italy soon after, Designer Saverio Caporusso managed to make it to the floors of Gamescom for but a brief meet and greet with a couple of interested publishers.
Irrespective of the bump in the road though, the Vertical Slice continues to be Troglobytes' primary investment of energy. Said to feature improved combat, exploration, outdoor environments, advanced AI and more, while the Slice was originally slated to be released by the end of September, a delay now seems highly likely.
'And that's because of two main reasons -- First, we absolutely want to implement all the ideas, feedback and suggestions we received,'Troglobytes elaborates before hinting at a potential rewrite of the game's Unreal Engine 4 based enemy AI to suit its needs.
'Plus there are a couple of major features that didn't make it into the GTR build; we think it's important to have those into the Slice as well.'
Qualifying for the Accelerator Program's subsequent stages would have guaranteed financial support at the very least. Now though, the team might have to prioritise freelance contracts for a while which in turn would be responsible for funding the game's progress.
Of course besides helping further its base of prospective players, Tenebrae's Vertical Slice will also aim to attract publisher based financial backing. Aware that this is an avenue that might not necessarily pan out, a crowdfunding campaign continues to be in the team's books as a potential future course of action.
'For now though the Vertical Slice is our focus', they write in conclusion. 'We've received a lot of interest towards our project in the last few months and are very positive about it. We're pretty sure that sooner or later we should be making an official statement in relation to the same!'
Attached are a multitude of screenshots from Tenebrae's latest build as shown off at the GTR Conference.
August 2016 Teaser | GTR 2016 Conference Shots
15th August, 2016
With the 2016 conference of the Global Top Round Accelerator Program afoot, Troglobytes builds upon the spectacle of Tenebrae's April 2016 Teaser by means of an all new game-play preview.
This August Gameplay Teaser serves to highlight all major features associated with the very same build of the game that is being shown off at the conference in Cologne, Germany over the course of today and tomorrow.
These include one's first look at Tenebrae's outdoor environment, improved combat and control mechanics which according to the team have undergone a rewrite over the past couple of months in favour of quality.
The outdoor environment depicted on the other hand is one wherein Tenebrae’s tutorial ensues, which notably will be making its debut in the game’s Vertical Slice that is due for a September release this year.
The Teaser finally concludes with a look at Troglobytes' implementation of Diablo-styled treasure chests & loot system, that function by scattering collectable items for players to walk over and pick-up every time a chest is opened. This is of course accompanied by Tenebrae's newly designed inventory management interface.
Up to 15 game developers will be pitching their creations at the Conference alongside Troglobytes from 12 P.M GMT later today, the top 10 of which will progress into the program's six-month Acceleration period wherein game development and launch support is provided.
The top five graduates of this tenure will further receive investment and marketing support through the months of March-June, 2017.
While preliminary photographs from the ongoing event lie attached herewith, stay tuned to learn more of Tenebrae's reception and performance at the same by signing up for E-mail updates/press-releases via this page's sidebar.
Greater Forces | Opening Cinematic
6th August, 2016
After keeping nearly every elaboration of the game's narrative under wraps since its inception, Troglobytes Games finally lift the lid on what is Tenebrae: Twilight of The Gods' opening cinematic.
Titled 'Greater Forces', the motion-comic styled cinematic finds itself opening to Denny Schneidemesser's composed theme and a quote by German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, before narrator Phillip Sacramento takes charge.
A backdrop is finally set for the game's two anti-heroes, Varg and Mist, as Sacramento alludes to the duo being part of a band of warriors that spends their time pillaging and looting villages across a distant land.
'Something rather mysterious takes place when an unknown village is invaded,' explains Lead Programmer Luciano Iurino, 'before our two primary characters take off with the loot.'
The video then cuts to the pair making camp, before they're attacked by beasts that roam the land to subsequently -- the team reveals -- make way for Tenebrae's tutorial. This tutorial will be part of the game's vertical slice that is due for a September release.
Interestingly the video also features a cameo by Canadian actress Ellen Dubin (Skyrim, Elder Scrolls Online, Fallout 4, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: Uprising), who voices Mist -- the female rogue.
Dubin had notably answered video editor Gage Allen's casting call for voice actresses at the time of the trailer's development; the male barbarian Varg meanwhile stands voiced by Carson Beck.
The last fans and followers had seen of the game's central plot was, quite curiously, in form of the Eus De Biasi written script that was put on exhibit on Tenebrae's Square Enix Collective page.
The team had later explained this decision of theirs as not wanting to spoil crucial aspects of the plot. 'We decided to share the prologue’s script with the players to let them have an insight of our creative process and a little taste of what’s to come,' they had stated during an interview with Higher Eclectic Ground early this year.
'We thought the best way to accomplish this was having them read part of the script itself instead of describing it with our words.'
Troglobytes will now be seen preparing for departure to Cologne, Germany -- wherein they will be pitching Tenebrae at the 2016 conference of the Global Top Round Accelerator Program on the 15-16th of August, as announced last week.
Leave them your luck and thoughts on the cinematic in the comments section below, and do feel free to sign-up for exclusive E-mail updates via the sidebar herein.
Mist - Character Introduction
29th May, 2016
Last seen and introduced by means of a lowly concept art piece on the game's blog back in September last year, Tenebrae's female lead now attains a full 3D render.
Christened Mist, the playable character will effectively function as the Metroidvania tale's Ranged character -- making use of bows, magic and overall agility in combating enemies from a distance. Her concept art is also seen attached with this update.
'We feel that the name best describes her as she's set to be a very foggy character', explains Troglobytes' Lead Programmer Luciano Iurino in allusion to the fact that Mist will be the subject of twists, turns and straight out suspense within the game's narrative.
While on the subject, Iurino also reveals that the other playable character -- The Barbarian, also seen within this update -- has finally been granted a name. 'Varg, it's Nordic for Wolf. That of the Wolf will be a significant symbol throughout Tenebrae.'
The team had previously polled visitors to their Square Enix Campaign last year to pick from 'Hagen', 'Gunnar', 'Magnus', 'Tharos' and 'Raenar' as appropriate names for the Barbarian.
'We decided to go with a different, more meaningful name for the male character', states the Italian. 'Tenebrae's story deals with the darkest corners of human nature; We have no heroes.'
Be sure to lend your thoughts on the characters in the comments below.
Tenebrae - Twilight of the Gods: April 2016 Teaser
8th May, 2016
Encompassing the multitude of additions it's undergone since we last heard from Tenebrae: Twilight of the Gods, the game's April 2016 gameplay showcase is here.
Illustrated for the first time since the team announcing the shift of gameplay from 2.5D to full 3D in the interview with us back in February, is Tenebrae's all new combat system. As the Barbarian hacks n' slashes his way through the underworld, players are also given a glimpse of a few more enemy inclusions.
These include the undead that were first previewed in the 11th February update, wolves and finally a rock giant that the team have deemed one of the game's many elemental 'golems'.
These golems, explains Troglobytes, are neither good nor evil but instead behave in response to the reaction of players towards them. Apparently, one might even be able to make 'use' of their abilities to benefit their advancement through the game.
'The AI at this stage is a very basic one', explains Lead Programmer Iurino. 'We're working on implementing a more complex AI for different enemies. ' Also noticeable are an even greater use of visual effects which the team states are for now, but pre-made.
'They will be totally removed and made ad-hoc for the game', states Iurino. More importantly, he also addresses the behaviour of the camera that stops following the playable character past a certain point towards the rear, distant end of a level/area;
'This is still a work in progress, but we like how it's working despite certain people not feeling the same way as us,' he confides. 'Some have even gone so far as to regard Tenebrae as some sort of Dark Souls replica -- it's not, our camera will be quite distant from the action.'
'As opposed to Dark Souls and similar games, Tenebrae throws at you a much larger group of enemies -- you need to see them coming or you will die. Hence the wide, restrictive camera.'
He ends by stating that the following months are to be devoted to the development of the game's RPG system along with that of the combat itself. To top it all, Saverio Caporusso was also present at Microsoft's TecHeroes Loves Gamedev Tour in Bari earlier this month, where the Designer spoke both Game Design and Tenebrae. Images from the event lie attached herewith.
First Gameplay Level | 3D Design Preview
18th March, 2016
A snippet of Tenebrae: Twilight of the Gods' first gameplay level taking shape.
Serving as the entrance to the Metroidvania's dungeons in the first act, players will effectively find themselves starting in this particular room after the introductory and a few other sequences, which the team are keeping hush-hush, are out of the way.
The room's design is a significant departure from the earlier dungeon designs that were shown off in the game's early stages, given the developers' recent decision to shift to from 2.5D to 3D mechanics, as announced via an interview with us a few weeks back.
For those who missed it, read 'Tenebrae Talk: Norse, Dungeons & 3D Metroidvania' linked to the 'View More' section below.
Editor's Special | Tenebrae Talk: Norse, Dungeons & 3D Metroidvania
28th February, 2016
When they debuted on the Community with Tenebrae: Twilight Of The Gods back in November last year, Troglobytes Games were a few weeks away from a 28 day long, Square Enix Collective campaign. The results of that campaign though, are still up in the air.
Regardless, the team has pushed on -- having announced an Xbox one release earlier this year & now, via a revealing interview with us, disclosing how they are indeed bringing their own flavour to the Metroidvania genre.
Levels, Enemies & Gameplay Changes
11th February, 2016
With the confirmation of Tenebrae: Twilight Of The Gods' Xbox One release now in the bag, developers Troglobytes Games are making rather radical changes.
The team sends in a preview of the first of many new levels being added into the game. Not ordinary levels created to simply expand the game's duration, mind you, but levels that are set to use an all new game play pattern.
The team hints that they've been making drastic changes to the game's procedural generation -- an aspect that has often been looked at with scepticism by Metroidvania fans -- resulting in it's game play style being tweaked as a result as well.
While the changes to the procedural generation are to make it more Metroidvania oriented, the game play changes are to bring about a feature not often used within the genre -- the team hints!
More news as it comes. Meanwhile, newly created enemy models send in their greeting from the image attached herein.
Xbox One Release Confirmed
29th January, 2016
You heard it right; Members Troglobytes Games may have gone dark for a while post their upcoming 2.5D, procedurally generated Metroidvania epic's Square Enix Collective stint, but here they are with all the explanation why.
Prepare your controllers! They're coming to Xbox One.
Wolves | Square Enix Collective End
14th December, 2015
Here come the last few hours for you to vote Yay or Nay on whether you'd like to see Tenebrae: Twilight Of The Gods come to life.
To do so, simply head down to the game's Square Enix Collective page linked to the 'View More' section below, where 89% of the SE ommunity has already upvoted the game.
Post the campaign's end tonight, publishers Square Enix will determine if the game has received a sufficient amount of support and has the potential to carry on with development.
If so, Tenebrae will then be supported by them through a round of crowd-funding on Indiegogo & Kickstarter!
For now, here's a work-in-progress rendering of one of the primary enemies encountered within the game - the wolves.
Dungeon Stone Material
11th December, 2015
This here is one of the many, finely detailed, stone materials that Troglobytes Games will be using within Tenebrae's dungeons. Lovely isn't it?
Only four days remain for gamers to cast their votes on Tenebrae's future on Square Enix Collective- a service similar to Steam Greenlight wherein players determine if a game is worth playing or not.
Having received 89% 'Yes' votes, the next few weeks will entail Square Enix determining if Tenebrae does indeed have potential - before deciding to support it through crowd-funding and promotion as well.
To cast your vote and convince them either way, simply head on to to the Campaign's page linked to the 'View More' section below.
Random Maze/Dungeon Generation
6th December, 2015
Did you know - that no two players will experience Troglobytes Games's 2.5D adventure epic 'Tenebrae: Twilight Of The Gods' in the same way?
Achieved of course, through the use of the Daedalus random maze/dungeon generator Unity add-on developed by ArtskillZ - an association of freelance 3D/2D artists and game developers co-founded by Troglobytes' 3D Programmer Luciano Iurino .
This means that levels, enemies, chests, environments and more will unravel randomly as the player progresses through the game. It is important to note however that while generation itself is random, each of the levels and their elements are hand-crafted by the team themselves, ensuring that the game doesn't feel 'automated'.
What's more, players will even be able to back-track to previous levels to conquer previously unreachable areas.
Less than 10 days remain for you to lend your feedback to the team's Square Enix Collective campaign; Feel free to do so via the 'View More' section linked below.
Steam Greenlight Page Now Open
3rd December, 2015
Troglobytes Games's procedurally generated, 2.5D Metroidvania adventure Tenebrae' Twilight Of The Gods is now on Steam Greenlight.
No, oh no, they aren't having the Steam community determine their game's future just yet - but instead are simply looking to build a community of potential customers. Every vote you do cast on the platform, simply provides the developers with your opinion of the game; the page now lies linked to the 'View More' section of this update.
However, those who are looking to play this epic adventure on their PC's, Xbox and PlayStation's can head down to its Square Enix Collective page at - collective.square-enix.com/projects/197/tenebrae-twilight-of-the-gods
The game has been 90% upvoted by the Square Enix community and has only two weeks of campaigning left - before it proceeds to a possible round of crowd-funding on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Barbarian | Name Poll
27th November, 2015
For all intents and purposes, the Barbarian that was first seen in action within the game's teaser on the 15th of November, remains as of yet unchristened. This is where you come in.
On the game's Square Enix Collective page, Troglobytes is currently running a poll to have you decide which of 'Hagen', 'Gunnar', 'Magnus', 'Tharos' and 'Raenar' is an apt name for the character.
To send in your vote or have them to can all the above names for something better, head down to the team's Collective page linked within the 'View More' section linked below.
Dungeon Concept Reworked
22nd November, 2015
Not surprisingly, 90% of its viewers on Square Enix Collective have approved of Troglobytes Games's 2.5D, procedurally generated Role-playing game 'Tenebrae: Twilight Of The Gods'
Don't believe us? Check it out for yourself here & throw them your support/feedback while at it via the 'View More' section linked below.
In barely 9 days since the launch of its Square Enix collective campaign - feedback towards the game has been immense.
One of the suggestions made by the game's loyal followers however, has been to flesh out the game's environments in greater detail.
And detail is what has been added. Shortly after gathering feedback, the team's Environmental Artist Sergio Cosmal retreated to his drawing board to rework some of the game's dungeons' original concept art. The result, is what you see in the two images here.
Tenebrae - OST Peek | Danny Schneidemesser
22nd November, 2015
Have you taken a gander at Tenebrae on the Square Enix Collective program yet?
The program, not unlike Steam Greenlight, lets players have a say on the independent games they wish to see on the big screen. To show your support or provide feedback otherwise, visit their campaign via the 'View More' section linked below.
Meanwhile, the developers brings us part of the game's OST, described as 'dark, brooding, but kind of epic'. Composed by German indie game music composer Denny Schneidemesser, this particular track is one that'll greet your ears in Tenebrae's very first playable dungeon area.
Square Enix Collective Campaign Is Now Live!
16th November, 2016
Shortly after we debuted the Tenebrae teaser last night, the game was approved for the Square Enix Collective program; A program by Square Enix that allows you to shape your favourite games through a procedure of voting and commenting.
For a period of 28 days, members of the Square Enix community will now be called upon to shed feedback/votes pertaining to whether they'd like to see the Metroidvania game make it to the big screen.
At the end of that period, the publishers will then move to usher the developers to a crowd-funding campaign -- through will it will offer support depending on the team's willingness and community feedback.
To mark its commencement then, here's concept art showing off three of the game's primary low-level enemies -- the Ghoul, Orc and Vermin -- who will be seeing shedding blood in-game as each of us travel through a unique, procedurally generated experience.
Be sure you now pay a visit to the game's Square Enix Collective page and provide the team with your feedback and/or votes using the 'View More' section linked below.
Gameplay Teaser 2015 | Square Enix Collective Campaign Coming Soon
15th November, 2015
Tenebrae's first gameplay teaser is here, bringing with it your first look at the game's Barbarian as he courses through the game's procedurally generated, Metroidvania dungeons.
As of now, the team is currently gearing up for Square Enix Collective, a Steam Greenlight like program wherein gamers indirectly help publishers Square Enix ascertain which of a select group of games are worth supporting till eventual release.
Learn more about the Collective program and how your feedback towards Tenebrae's future will count -- via the 'View More' section linked below.
4th November, 2015
Enter a mythical underworld with Troglobytes Games' 'Tenebrae – Twilight of the Gods'; A story-driven, fast-paced 2.5D Action/Adventure Platformer RPG set within the Metroidvania genre, infused with fresh twists of it’s own brought about by the use of procedurally generated content.
Placing a huge emphasis on a large, intricate world, all of which is procedurally generated based on pre-made hand-crafted rooms, the game lets players take control of two warriors tasked with combating Tenebrae's demonic legions using a combination of melee & magic.
While Higher Eclectic Ground will now be documenting the progress of all the above and more, be sure you follow up on the intricacies of the game's underworld via its Space herein.
Powered by the technology of Unreal Engine 4, Tenebrae – Twilight of the Gods is a modern, fast-paced adventure of the Metroidvania genre currently in development for PC/Xbox One.
Its goal is to create a story-driven Action RPG – Metroidvania blend, which pays homage to various retro classics that have come to be inspired by the Metroid and Castlevania series of old.
Deriving its name from a Latin word that instantly synonymises itself with darkness and the shadows of night, Tenebrae’s characters may be seen as complex incarnations of vengeance and the undying thirst for power.
Through the wounds inflicted by their evil, Tenebrae’s layered, motion-comic narrated storyline unveils to players the darkest corners of the human nature. This darkness is also physically perceived — through both the underworld that the game unravels, and through the duality of two distinctly playable characters, each offering unique gameplay experiences and complementary points of view.
The Underworld of Tenebrae is procedurally generated through Troglobytes Games’ in-house technology, Vania.
With dungeons forming the core Tenebrae’s experience, their populating rooms have been meticulously handcrafted and interspersed with traps, secrets, hidden treasures and challenges.
Vania then automatically creates fully explorable maps out of these, as is with classic Metroidvania, giving players a unique and personal gaming experience.
As one ventures through it all in full 3D, camera movements pay clear homage to classic side-scrolling Beat ’em Ups. Inbuilt triggers allow for their interactive panning/zooming, drawing attention to the underworld’s many secrets while never deviating from immediate action.
Treasures, weapons, skills and powers meanwhile are generated by a Diablo-style loot system, which at all times takes into account character progression and abilities. The working of this progression and ability setup, which spans RPG values such as HP, Mana and Skills, is handled and recovered through an innovative gameplay formula that has been created ‘ad hoc’ to serve as a variation of the traditional Action RPG genre.
Given Tenebrae’s Metroidvania roots however, its emphasis continues to lie in two primary characteristics of the genre — Backtracking and Re-Playability. The random scattering of key gameplay elements across Dungeons invites players to revisit previously inaccessible areas, each of which serve to provide them with exclusive challenges based on acquired skills and abilities.
This is supplemented by the dramatic shift in nature that the Barbarian and the Rogue, Tenebrae’s two playable characters of individual Skill Sets and RPG stats, undergo through each of the narrative’s four acts.
These shifts will enable their transition from mere mortals to god-like beings, progressively altering player experience in the process.
Concurrently, combat also exudes its own layer of dynamism; the Barbarian’s close-range melee, along with the Rogue’s use of ranged weapons and magic is heavily influenced by their skills and statistics at all times.
This especially comes into play in confrontations against Tenebrae’s domain of enemy AI that includes the standard undead, complex creatures, mini-bosses and Act-specific behemoths.
Tenebrae was originally conceived to be a 2.5D rogue-like implementation of Daedalus, Troglobytes’ random dungeon generator, in 2015.
While the original prototype’s core features of backtracking, replayability, camera behaviour and procedural generation have persisted, Tenebrae’s game-play concept has undergone several modifications in the past year to allow for a more dynamic, interesting adventure centred on combat and exploration.
In October 2015, the original prototype was approved for stage one of the Square Enix Collective campaign; despite the campaign’s nonfulfillment however, it was the experience and public feedback attained during its course that helped effect most of the radical changes to concept thereafter.
The majority of these changes were then implemented during a period of intense development in the early months of 2016, the most noteworthy being the transition of character movement, combat and level exploration from 2.5D to full 3D.
Daedalus was further rewritten to allow for more Metroidvania-like features during this period, before Trologobytes’ affiliation to Microsoft’s ID@Xbox program and Tenebrae’s resultant Xbox One release was made official by April, 2016.
As development progressed through summer of the same year, focus gradually shifted towards a preliminary implementation of Tenebrae’s narrative. This led to the debut of the game’s Cinematic Trailer in July, which served to set the upcoming adventure’s premise via its first motion-comic style video.
By August, Troglobytes was invited to the 2016 conference of the Global Top Round Accelerator Program at Cologne, Germany alongside nineteen other international game developers.
The conference’s purpose was to pick ten finalists that would transition into the actual program; while Tenebrae failed to make it among these, the experience at Cologne marked the game’s first international event appearance.
Attendances at Italian gaming festivals Modena Nerd and Game Over, Milano followed in the month of September, wherein a playable version of Tenebrae’s current build was shown off amid positive reception from both casual gamers and developers. With all gathered feedback evaluated and implemented towards a refined, publicly playable vertical slice, the game concluded its prototype phase in December, 2016.
With the onset of 2017 however, team decided to alter its production focus due to a lack of sufficient funds. ‘Our vision for Tenebrae is too large to sustain on the limited amount of resources we have been thriving on,’ states Luciano Iurino, Lead Developer at Troglobytes.
‘Despite our best efforts and numerous prospects, we found ourselves unable to secure for the game a suitable financial partner/investor/publisher.’ As a result, although Tenebrae continues production at a slower pace, the team’s focus has currently shifted towards completing smaller, more feasible projects.
One such venture is Troglobytes’ second IP in-development, HyperParasite. A top-down, rogue-lite shoot ‘em up at its core, HyperParasite is being prepared for a 2018 launch on PC and consoles.
About Troglobytes Games
Troglobytes is a small independent video-game development studio based in sunny Southern Italy, founded by both veterans and young talents.
As every developer should, it loves both playing and making video games, going so far as to maintain an original arcade gaming cabinet at its HQ to returns to for repeated inspiration.
Its mission is to create innovative, high-quality games across a variety of platforms using the latest in technology, while focusing on storytelling and aesthetics.
Additionally, the team’s members are known to frequently take on freelance contracts and outsourced projects within the industry; from game design to 2D/3D artwork & animation, a complete roster of the titles they’ve contributed to so far can be seen on the studio’s website.
Besides being a certified Playstation® developer, the studio is also a part of Microsoft’s ID@Xbox Program. Its core members comprise of:
Nicola Loglisci (Scripting)
Saverio Caporusso (Game Designer)
On Higher Eclectic Ground
Sean Braganza assisted with various aspects of Tenebrae: Twilight of The Gods’ community management and press/public relations between November, 2015 and December, 2017.
This involved —
- Proofreading/editing Tenebrae’s Square Enix Collective campaign pitch and helping promote the same via social media in 2015.
- Establishing and maintaining relationships with various gaming news websites, while progressively encouraging coverage of Tenebrae’s development and public appearances.
- Successfully coordinating a closed beta test of Tenebrae’s Q1-Q2 2016 build.
- Creating and editing textual content for the English version of a publisher pitch document in 2016.
- Managing Tenebrae’s list of e-mail subscribers, ensuring all development updates are delivered in a timely fashion.
- Providing Troglobytes Games with weekly strategy tips/suggestions to bolster Tenebrae’s social media presence, engagement and activity.
- Providing Troglobytes Games with quality assurance feedback pertinent to Tenebrae’s various preliminary builds, while also participating in key decision making pertinent to the game’s public persona and growth.
- Constructing written development updates, issuing press releases of the same and generating social media blurbs, with the intention of growing Tenebrae’s audience on a monthly basis.
These updates, blurbs and press releases are logged by Sean Braganza, in the Updates section at the head of this page and the Recent Press Releases tab of the sidebar. All press coverage that has resulted from the same meanwhile, is seen embedded under the What’s been Said About Tenebrae: Twilight of The Gods tab.
For information on HyperParasite, Troglobytes’ second project to which also Sean is now contributing in a similar capacity, visit its profile here on Higher Eclectic Ground.