Those Who Hunt Tsukumogami

In answer to a popular request, today we’ll walk you over the basic gameplay in 99 Spirits. We’re calling it a Puzzle RPG, but what does that mean exactly?

Read on to find out! (Note: all images are still very much a work in progress.)

The combat in 99 Spirits revolves around a puzzle mechanic wherein you work out the true identity of the enemy Tsukumogami, ordinary objects that, as per the Japanese legend, have come alive on their 100th birthday.

At the beginning of each battle, you face an enemy shrouded in an impenetrable mist which signifies the concealment of their true nature, and no attacks performed on them can cause lasting damage. All you can do is simply exchange blows with them until they run away. The battle itself is kind of turn based, you have a set number of strikes every ‘turn’ – or ‘clash’ as we call them, and you either defend or attack as long as they last – but the enemy can interrupt you with their own attack, and with good reflexes you can parry that and counterattack.

99 Spirits - Combat 01

Now, when you obtain the Gokon sword, you gain two new abilities in the form of the gems you can see at the bottom:

99 Spirits - Combat 02

You fill the two gems by attacking and defending, respectively. Once the first gem’s gauge fills up from your attacks, it allows you to read a part of the essence of the enemy Tsukumogami.
These hints come in the form of either a keyword related to the item in question, or part of the name of the actual artifact:

99 Spirits - Combat 03
99 Spirits - Combat 04

Once you have gathered enough hints for that ’eureka’ moment when it all clicks, you can use the sword’s second gem to make a guess at the item that is the essence of the Tsukumogami you are fighting.

99 Spirits - Combat 05
Activating the gem brings up a new menu, where you enter your guess:
99 Spirits - Combat 06
99 Spirits - Combat 07

And if it’s correct…

99 Spirits - Combat 08

The enemy’s true form is revealed!

Each Tsukumogami is unique from their hand-drawn artwork to their fingerprint-like combat hints, so an experienced spirit-hunter might be able to identify a familiar prey from a single hint. Based on early testing sessions with family, I can already tell this part can also be great fun with friends trying to outdo each other to puzzle out the correct answer as fast as possible.

99 Spirits - Combat 09

From this point you can unleash all of your skills to vanquish the enemy.

99 Spirits - Combat 10

If all goes well, you’ll defeat the Tsukumogami and continue your journey.

99 Spirits - Combat 11

A keen reader might’ve picked up on there being more than two gems in the sword, but that’s a story for another day.

The game has nearly 100 different Tsukumogami with dozens of different skills to conquer, and you can eventually capture them to learn their skills, making the battles increasingly more complex and tons of fun.

In closing, don’t forget to support 99 Spirits in the Indie Dev Grant voting at http://bundle-in-a-box.com/!

Spirit Hunt Progress #1

Here’s a status update for those wondering just how the 99 Spirits localization is progressing.

Our current status is as follows:

  • The game’s graphics are edited.
  • System scripts are edited. I’d say their contents equal about 10% of the game’s total script, and were infinitely more work to translate.
  • Work on tutorials has begun.

Well, that was a short post. But it just means all is well in the world of 99 Spirits – at least, if you can overlook the rampant monsters laying waste to the capital.

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Meanwhile, we’ve added a new character – or in this case, characters – in the 99 Spirits character gallery again! This time it’s Tony’s favorite character. In case you haven’t checked the character pages yet, we also prepared a little slideshow to show what you’re missing out on.

 

In other news, http://www.gamersgate.com/indiefort-bundle” is still going strong. There is still three weeks to go until our appearance in the bundle, but since the first week’s bundle is closing up soon, here is a list of the titles in the second bundle. Don’t miss the chance to grab the games so cheap.

Week 2:
Caster (STEAM)
Hegemony Gold: Wars of Ancient Greece (STEAM)
Strategic War in Europe (Greenlight)
Zombies (Greenlight)

Know Your Aspects

And now for something completely different.

In these post release days where we are finally receiving some much appreciated feedback from the players, I would like to talk to you regarding something that we’ve received questions about and noticed on some of YouTube videos and screenshots of the game.

The Aspect Ratio

War of the Human Tanks uses a 4:3 aspect ratio, which means it is not widescreen (16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio). In order to play it or any other games you have that use a 4:3 aspect ratio without getting horribly stretched in Full Screen Mode, you need to enable a simple setting in your graphic card’s options. Why this setting is turned off by default ever remains a mystery.

But first let’s look at what I’m talking about. First screenshot is how our game is supposed to look and second is how it turns out without enabling the correct setting.

WotHT Screenshot with correct 4:3 aspect ratio

WotHT Screenshot with correct 4:3 aspect ratio

WotHT Screenshot with wrong stretched result

WotHT Screenshot with incorrect aspect ratio

Enabling a simple option will save you from suffering this horrible stretching. I have an NVIDIA card, so I’ll describe how to do this for NVIDIA cards. If you have something else, the process should be mostly similar.

First, right click on an empty space on your desktop and choose NVIDIA Control Panel to open the settings window. You can alternatively open this window by typing NVIDIA on the Search Bar after pressing the Windows key. With current drivers it will look like this:

NVIDIA settings for aspect ratio

NVIDIA settings for aspect ratio

On this window, navigate to the shown tab. Display > Adjust desktop size and position > Scaling.

If you see that “Full-screen” is checked like this: then you are going to see all games that are not wide-screen stretched, apart from a few that compensate against that problem.

What you need to do to fix this is to pick the choice above it, “Aspect ratio”. Also do not forget to set Perform scaling on: GPU. Other settings on this screen don’t matter.

When you follow these instructions, there will be no change to your widescreen applications. Non-widescreen applications, however, will now display in their correct proportions.

War Report #1

The scenario translation for War of the Human Tanks is proceeding at a great speed ever since we concluded our work on the game’s rather extensive battle logic. 7 of the game’s 13 chapters have now passed through editing. While initially preparing the hand drawn maps was being delayed by the script translation since we wanted them to reflect the battlefields as accurately as possible, the maps have now trouble keeping up. This doesn’t affect our release schedule, since there are a lot of other steps to go through even after translation is complete.

We wouldn’t want anyone to get bored while waiting, so we opened up three more sections of the War of the Humans homepage and updated the screenshot gallery. By browsing the System Tab and its sub pages you can learn about many aspects of our game and how to play it. These pages double as the game’s online manual. Have fun checking them out.

As a special thanks for the thousands of people who watched our first teaser trailer this week, here is a clear sketch from one of the scenes in War of the Human Tanks:

Hand drawn maps

While showcasing War of the Human Tanks to our friends in the early stages of the project, a common and more or less universal feedback we got was that the battle backgrounds (which you can see in various screenshots we have online at the moment) look too abstract. My friend Serkan Sanver who works as a game designer, made a specific suggestion to make the backgrounds display the terrain shape instead to make them more approachable.


I discussed this idea with the team, and we all shared the same general opinion that having maps in the background would be a good improvement. What this could mean in practice was a matter for more debate and dozens of experiments in different styles. When we brought the option up with Yakiniku Banzai, the original developers, they gave the change the green light. The funny thing is, it turns out they already had the same idea and had employed a similar feature in their latest title, Recycle Princess, which is still in production.

Eventually we decided to follow the same general style Yakiniku Banzai had turned to, albeit with a somewhat more modern touch since Recycle Princess is set in a fantasy setting.

I asked Yulay Devlet, a talented art designer friend of mine who also designed our cute logo, to take on the task and he accepted the challenge. After bouncing a lot of drafts we were able to reach a consensus on the style and details, and a complete version of our first map was created. Here you can see it being used in the first battle of the game, Ookawahara Battery Recapture.

Human Tanks English logo

War of the Human Tanks Japanese Logo

Above is the original Japanese logo for War of the Human Tanks. As you can see the ‘series’ name is emphasized heavily in the proportions.

I prepared many alternative versions and our team picked their favorite from amongst those. That one went over many, many changes over the course of several days, and finally came out as the version you can see below.

I hope you like the design as much as we do.

War of the Human Tanks English Logo

This is naturally just one handpicked detail I wanted to share with everyone. This particular image is important because you will be seeing it everywhere.

The progress overall has been rapid with each team member exploring different aspects of the game. Stay tuned!