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Topics - lirmont

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Tethical / Tethical Channel Trailer
« on: April 13, 2014, 11:44:07 PM »
Channel Trailer

Switch to high-definition to see how it looked on my screen.



First, I want to thank everybody who's contributed sprites to this website over the years; this video would have been a lot harder without you. In many ways, this is a culmination of my own efforts, too. While, yes, they've been used to super-impose Twitter into an sRPG context, at least that can be done in a straightforward manner now. Earlier in the development of this engine, we were suggesting that you just replace whatever character you want with a special symbol. That means you might have typed "A" for the Twitter logo to show up. Now, you can just type an appropriate Unicode symbol, like the "Bird" (U+1F426; 128038) in "Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs" (U+1F300 - U+1F5FF). You can also properly comply with Twitter's somewhat meticulous guidelines for using their logo, too. That would have been a nightmare before when one font took a whole day to make! Now, the Unicode Font Tool can spit out huge fonts with a variety of colors and variants without too much effort from a user.

And the styles available might even turn out really good-looking, too!

And, for that rare occasion where I decided to actually paint on a sprite:

Thanks for watching!

Tethical / Name Entry State, Multi-Language Support
« on: March 05, 2014, 12:41:08 PM »

7 colors. 3 variants. 968,730 embedded images. 2.1 gigs of exported fonts from ~15MB of descriptions + base images (managed by the Font Tool). Also, support for modern Arabic. You literally have no excuse not to support other languages if you can afford or arrange for someone to translate your stuff.

Longer video (~30min): here

Tethical / A Concept-Driven Approach to Lore
« on: February 06, 2014, 07:55:27 AM »
Concept-Driven Lore Quick Look

Please use the larger player to view the video in its intended detail (480p). So, here's a demonstration of how Tethical can help you integrate a backstory (and other art) into something that's a more interactive experience for an end-user. On the backend, the engine reads in a formatted list of sections and entries. Those things have concepts associated with them, and the engine takes care of putting all of that together, meaning you don't have to manually indicate where some phrase should be highlighted. You would just use the phrase in the story, and the engine knows to highlight it (or prepare to highlight it). This feature will be used to help curate the demo (explaining some of the history around this project).

Tethical / Recoloring In-Game (video)
« on: January 20, 2014, 05:36:07 AM »
Recoloring in Action

An early look at recoloring in-game. There are programming-related issues that need to be resolved as to the speed of what this is doing (note: no speed issues on the color replacement in the Sprite Remixer and should be no issues here later). I'll change the output resolution of the game window for future videos to avoid that terrible minification.

Tethical / [UTILITY] Win32 Sprite Remixer (preview)
« on: December 22, 2013, 01:50:52 AM »
As I explained over in the proposal thread, this is a utility that lets you mix and match a lot of the information related to sprites. Everyone will get a chance to play around with it during the relaunch of the Tethical kickstarter, but I wanted to show off some of the features that made it into the program. In this post, I discuss using it as a no-nonsense way to replace colors.


The Base Image (for reference)

This is the standard FFT chocobo sprite (minus the parts I didn't bother to include in the format document, like the portrait).

End Points & Intersections Mode

A color replacement method where the program calculates and exposes where color ramps end and where those color ramps intersect. This mode gives the most control (without forcing you to micromanage all the colors).

End Points Mode

A color replacement mode where just the end points of color ramps are exposed by the program. This essentially lets the user set dark and light values, and the program figures out the middle values.

Intersections Mode

A color replacement mode where only the intersections of color ramps are exposed. This mode lets the user set a minimal number of colors in order to recolor the sprite. It's not suitable for every image, and it relies heavily on perception-corrected hue shifts.

A black chocobo accomplished with 3 reference colors.


Understanding the Underlying Color Technology

When the program loads an image, first it removes all the parts that aren't requested by the user. Then it iterates over the image's pixels, storing unique colors. In other words, if the user is only concerned with the arms of a sprite, the program is only going to consider the colors that the arms use (as opposed to, say, the portrait). That's important, because the program can mix and match other sprites (in effect, remixing them). This color-specific example doesn't do that, but hopefully you get the idea.

From Unique Colors to Color Relationships

Step one is to get all the unique colors in a given part of the image, but just having all the colors in the sub-image isn't enough to simplify anything. Imagine if the program presented you with all 16 unique colors of a sprite. You'd have to set all of them, just as though you were doing it in a graphics editing program. I mean, imagine if the sprite had 160 unique colors or 1600 unique colors. So, to simplify that, the program goes about figuring out how the unique colors are related. Once it's got the colors laid out into color ramps, then we have a lot of interesting information at our disposal. Obviously, it's an easy thought to set out to replace the two colors at the edge of any given color ramp. That's the end points color replacement method.

End Points and the Codominant Pair Color Relationship

If we consider two colors in a pair, how are they related? In the codominant pair, it treats both ends of the color ramp as significant. In other words, we walk directly from the starting color to the ending color over a perceptual color space, and the program lets you set those two colors separately. Because both of the colors are significant, there's no extra information needed to make color choices.

Intersections and the Major-Minor Pair Color Relationship

Where intersections are concerned, if one intersection goes to another intersection, the relationship is a codominant relationship (where the colors at each intersection are significant). If the intersection goes towards an end point, the relationship is a major-minor relationship, where the change in hue and lightness are used in tandem to morph the significant color at each step (creating a new color at each point until you have a replacement for all the insignificant colors contained in the ramp). Effectively, you get a perceptually correct hue shift (based on the original colors).

Filling in the Gaps with Minor-Minor Pair Color Relationships

When two insignificant colors wind up next to each other in a color replacement method, they are put into a minor minor pair. It's exactly like the codominant pair relationship, but it happens after all the other more important pairs are set (and its values are set implicitly by other things in the color map).

Putting it all Together

So, behind the scenes, the program does a lot of complicated color analysis. However, that's exactly where you want the work to be done. Because it does all that analysis, you can set a couple of colors (check out the charcoal chocobo) and get a pretty good result in the intersections mode (with effectively no knowledge of color). You can also get a very controlled result with the "End Points & Intersections" mode. It requires a bit more knowledge of colors, but you can use the suggested color lightness (in association with the color select dialog) to gauge what might be an acceptable color (re: you can pick a color at random and set the lightness to the right range).

Tethical / [MAP] Swelling's Hearth
« on: December 11, 2013, 04:53:07 AM »

Still-frames: 001 and 002.


A map to go with Lijj's awesome Bomb Lord portrait.

Tentatively, the plan for the map in the field test is as follows:
  • The rock holding back the lava flow gets destroyed in the process of a story event.
  • Player's party obtains Drained Organite object.
  • The lava spreads to the circular area.
  • The boss's sprite (not finished yet) appears in the circular lava pit (and cannot leave).
  • The boss begins summoning bomb thralls to attack the player's party.
  • The AI for the bomb thralls attempts to move to a player controlled unit and explode.
  • However, the compression of power required by the explosion takes time. During that time, the player's units can coordinate to knock the time bomb into the area above the circular lava pit. Each successful attack slightly dislodges the ceiling above the circular lava pit.
  • When the player has done this enough times, the game will drop a large rock onto the Bomb Lord, and the Drained Organite will absorb the essence, transforming into Glowing Organite. Light rays will spill in from the empty space above the hole in the ceiling.

Tethical / Passage Card Game Playable Demo/Tutorial
« on: December 04, 2013, 12:06:10 PM »

Play it on the web (~110MB): embedded demo.

Download a desktop edition: versions.


Why, yes, this is made with Tethical's engine. Some of the things Passage happens to share in common with sRPGs in general are: (1) maps (the field), (2) units (the cards), (3) menus (hidden beneath cards), (4) concept of equipping, (5) concept of tactical movement, (6) player phase/enemy phase battle flow, (7) per-unit skills, (8) hp bar, and (9) damage counters.

Anyway, this is the first playable demo I've released, so there will be issues. Kindly report them here, and bear in mind that I've only got a Windows machine to test this stuff on. Though the underlying engine is supposed to properly target Windows, Linux, and Mac, the Mac installer section made a zip file of all things, so I'm concerned.

Thanks in advance for checking this out.

Tethical / There is a Bomb in this thread.
« on: October 21, 2013, 11:52:25 PM »
Bomb in Something Like FFT Cutscene Shader

Side Views: 002 and 003


So, the final thing I wanted to accomplish in some downtime was tackling the render path that FFT: WotL did. This is surely a far cry from that, but I thought you guys might want to see it anyway. This version covers going from the first two shades of the toon shading into the secondary textures (the line art) in the 3rd shade of the toon shader (so it works with any model). It also covers the toon outline. I didn't particularly like what they did with the random shadow texture every couple of video frames, but this does do one (note that the shadow of the bomb has a much larger scale texture) so it can feed in more than one across frames like that (or you can stick with just one). Anyway, it's done in Blender (2.68a), and I sourced a lot of material from the internet to get it to this point. The bomb model, however, is something I made (it's showed up around this forum before, if you care to look).

Tethical / Character Generator Proposal
« on: October 11, 2013, 04:37:25 AM »
So, one of the things that came up in the survey (and I don't know who to credit with the idea because it's anonymous) is the lack of a character generator (re: RPGMaker has a character generator). Now, I'm not partial to the name "Character Generator", and the strictness of the RPGMaker one that comes with the free version I played with is super-restrictive. I'm also not one for making solutions to one-off problems (i.e. making one type of character over and over).

Anyway, my thought was this: what if I write something that describes the sprite formats I already have? In other words, what if I write a program that can tag certain frames (the pieces of the sprite) as arms, legs, heads, etc? And what if it could load a lot of different sprites in that same format and tag those sprites (as male, female, etc)? Then, it could use the sprites as an input, let you pick the parts you want, and output what's known in this community as a "frakensprite". Furthermore, I already have enough code related to colors from the sprite animation program that I could allow those things to be recolored pretty reliably (with very little knowledge of color theory).

This program might become part of the second award tier, followed by the sprite animation tool, followed by the control panel.

Tethical / FE-derived Battle System
« on: October 10, 2013, 02:16:17 AM »

The technique for the 3d map proxy is the same one I used for Mobius' map.

Map tileset: Hyptosis,
Character sprites: Antifarea,


Long story short, one of the suggestions that came up was to have a working demo beforehand (rather than working towards one as a goal). So, here's what will become the basis for a demonstration derived from early Fire Emblem games. It will be the first of four different systems to exist in a combined demo.

Currently, I have the map, the characters, and a story for it. The story and characters will ideally carry over across the four different battle system styles (with teleportation as a central theme to support the drastic change in battle systems).


Layout mockup for battle system.


Early Look

Tethical / Plan for Difficulty and Story "Battles"
« on: October 01, 2013, 11:06:39 PM »
So, quick recap. Kickstarter is going on, and I've been taking the month as downtime to do some of the things that are more game-related than engine-related. This is just the next thing in that process that I wanted to accomplish over that 30-day period.

For a long time now, I've wanted to pursue removing the "kill everything" goal from its prevalence (or its in-vogue use) in story events in these types of games. Now, I have no problem with that goal as it relates strictly to battle; getting out alive may necessitate it; clearing out savage monsters may require it; protecting a target may make it a tempting option (for expediency). My problem comes in when games apply it to non-battle scenarios (i.e. situations without appropriate context).

Now, how can the current system realistically be adjusted to avoid over-dependence on kill-everything tactics? For one, provide the player the opportunity to actually plan their own encounters; this process can go easily between the encounter transition and the formation screen. This process can even inform the formation screen's behavior. Secondly, provide a different set of goals. Lastly, plan for failure.

So, what would such a system be called? Anything related to battle seems to presuppose kill-everything tactics. Calling it any variation of "plan" seemed tedious. I settled on "Rendezvous" (in part because of the word's use in the franchise). Here's the mock-up of what the rendezvous system would look like:

A Flattened Top-Down View of the Map

A Flattened Side-View of the Map

How does difficulty factor into that? If you have a really good tactic, such as someone online finding a sure-fire win for a given scenario, that would effectively defeat the system. As an example of that, imagine if you're given access to a winning tactic to place your ranged units on the high ground at the start of a battle versus a host of short-range melee units. There's probably no real challenge in that.

What can be done about that? For one, limit the player to simple tactics if they choose a simple difficulty. Tactics are broken down by potential company counts; this simulates complexity of maneuvers. Simple tactics require a maximum of one company. This relates directly to practically all battles in FFT. Yes, there may be some distance between the units of a company, but they're all still in the same sphere of influence to begin with, with nothing really differentiating their position. This also doesn't prevent the alternative goals from being pursued.

What happens if you increase the difficulty? You have access to more complex tactics; higher difficulties result in more complicated (and potentially more useful) tactical approaches. This happens at the cost of having to deal with much stronger enemies. AI units can be made to appear to plan to handle whatever general observable company size you have. In other words, if you roamed around with 50+ characters at a time for the past 10 battles and took 3 companies into battle each time, you can expect your enemy will have heard of this and heavily fortified their positions if they knew you were antagonistic to them. Because you aren't required to kill everything to win, this is still a balanced situation. However, you might fail several times (at a cost to unit morale and currency, since you'd probably have to pay non-fanatical units to listen to your orders).

So, what are some of the side effects of this system? Most notably, the planning for failure hopefully keeps unwanted casualties on your side to a bare minimum (something probably important for perfectionists) without forcing you to do so if you don't want to (pick an emergency exit tactic that doesn't care about your unit's lives). Secondly, it can support a system where your choices actually reflect your alignment. In other words, if your character is good, it doesn't have to be good in name or just be "on the side of right" or the unassailable protagonist. If your character is evil, it's also not just in name. Decapitate your enemy's leaders, take prisoners, trick your enemy's soldiers into thinking you're surrendering -- then attack them; you're a bad character, and you ought to be given the opportunity to be that (and suffer the consequences of good units disbanding, having to resort to black markets because no legitimate business will sell you weapons after you get a reputation, etc).

Anyway, that's the plan. The basic tactic would be called "Brute Force" with a company size of 1; higher difficulties would get access to a "Brute Force with Reinforcements" tactic (potentially no company size limit depending how far up the difficulty curve you go). The per-company unit counts expand in that area (if you have 3 companies, you'll pick 3 sizes). Exit strategies offer the ability to trap monsters, take prisoners, plunder captured units, search the map for treasure (limited by skilled units available in unit list), and many other things (like specific limitations for airship and boat combat). Emergency exit strategies are for retreating. Commencing advances to the formation screen state. The map I used for this mock-up is the "Inside of Riovanes Castle" map you can find here:

I have a list of planned tactics, exit strategies, and emergency exit strategies if anyone's interested in seeing those.

Tethical / Camera-Locked Map Proof of Concept
« on: September 27, 2013, 01:37:31 PM »
A short foreword, this is a map created by Mobius for one of his projects. The texture for this map is special because it only exists properly in one view (re: the camera's view).

Front View (3d render at a different size than the source image)

Other views: left, back, right.


UV Map (Texture Coordination)


Anyway, long story short, if your map texture is isometric, it's a trivial process to make a 3d model to act as a proxy over your drawing. This becomes the map, and that map is usable just like any other map (except you should lock the camera's view by ignoring the key presses for rotate map and changing eye level).

This took me about 3 hours to finish, and this was the first time I'd ever tried to do something like this. The core concept is unwrapping the map (automatically) by projecting coordinates from the camera's view. Set up your camera, use the texture as a background image, make the map proxy over it. Unwrap the map. Add a material that uses the texture on the UV map. You're done.

Tethical / Tethical-Jot5 Event Brainstorm
« on: September 18, 2013, 02:00:12 PM »
So, I'm doing the scene from when Dante fights off demons in the intro of the Jot5 patch. Now, if you haven't seen the original, you can watch a version of it here (~6:35):

Here's the new stuff I have to play with:


So, now is your chance to chime in if you want to. Have something cool that could be added in? Mention it here! Practically everything can be changed. For instance, if you think some effect would be more appropriate in dark red, I can do that! Let everybody know in this thread.

Tethical / [EFFECT] Compress
« on: September 17, 2013, 11:33:08 AM »

One of the effects from a Jot5 event (in preparation for a demo event in the Tethical engine at Elric's request). This is simplified from the FFT version because there's something in the actual effect that's not on the sprite sheet (probably geometry, and the lines weren't on the sheet either; also geometry). That covers all the damage-related effects, so I can start putting this event together now. Though I have several other new things that I actually want to do (red-eyed bats flying out of the pit on the map, animated wall torches, Jolting -> Otherworldly -> Terrifying! -> Famicide!! damage-to-text progression).

Tethical / [EFFECT] Stab Up
« on: September 15, 2013, 03:14:28 AM »
Stab Up

One of the effects from a Jot5 event (in preparation for a demo event in the Tethical engine at Elric's request). This is simplified from the FFT version because trying to tackle the amount of particle effects in this particular effect manually will not turn out well. One left to go at this point before I can actually start on the event.

Tethical / [EFFECT] Wing Attack
« on: September 15, 2013, 12:14:32 AM »
Wing Attack

One of the effects from a Jot5 event (in preparation for a demo event in the Tethical engine at Elric's request). Two left to go at this point before I can actually start on the event.

Tethical / [MAP] Castle Vergilius
« on: September 12, 2013, 10:04:24 AM »
Castle Vergilius

A replacement map to go with the effects! Now that the water of the previous map is an endless fall, perhaps a flurry of bats will show up to the event?

Tethical / [EFFECT] Space Storage Back
« on: September 11, 2013, 09:35:30 AM »
Space Storage Back

One of the effects from a Jot5 event (in preparation for a demo event in the Tethical engine at Elric's request).

Tethical / [EFFECT] Cat Scratch
« on: September 11, 2013, 09:34:31 AM »
Cat Scratch

One of the effects from a Jot5 event (in preparation for a demo event in the Tethical engine at Elric's request).

Tethical / "Tethical, an sRPG Engine" Kickstarter is Live! (Ended now.)
« on: September 07, 2013, 01:13:29 AM »
The kickstarter is live! Here's the link:

Once again, thanks to everyone that helped get it this far.


The kickstarter got accepted! I plan to launch it Monday (09/09/2013) at 6:00AM (EDT)!

Thanks to everybody who helped provide feedback in the other thread and helped make this happen. Click the spoiler for a sneak peek.

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