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    Bricabrac
  Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:49 pm
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WEBSITE - TWITTER - GAMEJOLT

Genre: rpg with no combat and too many words | Platforms: PC/Mac

NOW ON KICKSTARTER!


In narrative RPG Selling Sunlight, you're a masked merchant traveling in a fantasy world that doesn't move anymore.
One side of the planet boils, costantly facing the sun; the other is a frozen desert. The only habitable zone is a thin line of perpetual dawn, an orangish place full of fire spirits, wailing sun-priests, withering plant people, spiders and bees.
If you want to make a profit, you'll have to wander. Discover new wonders and cultures, make friends, bargain goods and swap tall tales with other travelers.
In this world that stands still, where will you run from your past?

___________________


FEATURES

Recall
Who are you? A sinner, that's for sure. But what about the person behind the mask?
Where you once a librarian with golden hair as shiny as the Sun you adored? A black-skinned matriarch, believing only in the power of Science? Or did you came from stranger lands, and prayed to even stranger gods?
Tell me everything about your reckless life choices. Will you continue to defy the Sun now, or will you try to regain Its favour?

Wander
Explore the Line of Dawn, home of seven cities and countless wonders.
Dance under the giant mirrors of the Red Temple, eat fishes that are also books in the Cyan port; or visit the Violet Army, living in giant carcasses of frozen war-beasts.
Plan your journey carefully, balance the load of your cart, and beware: sudden encounters and discoveries can always interrupt your journey.

Befriend
During your journey you'll meet nomads, musicians, botanists, scholars, missionaries and many others - each one with their own agenda.
Barter goods and news with fellow travelers, and journey together to fight loneliness. Keep in touch with letters, and celebrate every new encounter with a drink.
Not having a face is not an excuse for being antisocial.

Bargain
You know what's the good part about having a mask? Lying comes off a lot more easily.
Scrutinize other merchants and change your attitude accordingly. Offer goods, precious information, or brazenly seduce your opponent to obtain a nice discount. Import and export goods from far regions to maximize your profits.

___________________


ART
The game will be completely hand-drawn and painted with watercolours.
Have some screenshots and concept art (click on the pitifully thiny thumbnails please):










___________________


TEAM
Cosebelle (Italian for Nice Things) is an all-female team of ex-students from the International School of Comics. It's composed by:
- A character artist
- A background artist
- A writer/programmer

Plus various freelancers/helpers.
Our main inspirations include Spice and Wolf, the Rune Factory series, Sunless Sea and Ursula Le Guin's works.


Last edited by Bricabrac on Fri Sep 22, 2017 2:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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    Fayte
  Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:49 am
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surprised this doesn't have any comments yet. although there isn't much said about plot or story this seems to be a very unique idea you guys have going on here. what exactly does it play like? no combat and too many words to me sounds like a visual novel which isn't my cup of tea, but there's a lid for every pot. right? I love the background art and character portraits but I'm not a fan of the in-game look of the characters; it reminds me of The Emperor's New Groove. It just doesn't match to me. Anyway, don't give up on this because I'd love to see where you guys take it. :thumb:


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    Necrile
  Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:12 pm
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I might be in the minority here along with Fayte, but the character sprites really contrast to the backgrounds (which are absolutely gorgeous by the way). Any particular reason why the style for those sprites was chosen?


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    Bricabrac
  Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:51 am
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Quote:
what exactly does it play like? no combat and too many words to me sounds like a visual novel which isn't my cup of tea, but there's a lid for every pot.
It plays very much like a traditional rpg: there is a world map you can travel with your cart, you have an inventory to manage, cities to visit and characters to befriend, just no combat. There's a bartering minigame that will be as strategic as monster fighting though, I hope!
Will share more screens about the world map and the bartering system as soon as we will make them all pretty.

Quote:
I love the background art and character portraits but I'm not a fan of the in-game look of the characters; it reminds me of The Emperor's New Groove. It just doesn't match to me.

I might be in the minority here along with Fayte, but the character sprites really contrast to the backgrounds (which are absolutely gorgeous by the way). Any particular reason why the style for those sprites was chosen?
You're not the only ones who said this, and your perplexities have been noted!
Frankly, we're not fans of the current style either - it also proved to be very difficult to animate. We're currently experimenting with different artstyles, and will probably go with something less painterly and more clear. Will keep you updated :3


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    Necrile
  Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:22 pm
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This makes me really glad to hear. I am not even sure you really need the sprites if you have the bust portraits to indicate who is speaking?

Also, it seems from the description that there is going to be a science vs. religion dialogue in the game which I am very interested in. I know that's not really constructive criticism or anything, but I just figured I'd let you know.


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    Bricabrac
  Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:29 am
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An interview with Failbetter Games

A month ago, I was sent to the far North to learn to speak like a True Englishwoman and make better games. The Failbetter Games folks - makers of Fallen London and Sunless Sea - decided to pick me up as part of their incubation program.
This interview to the whole team was originally posted on the Failbetter Games Blog:


How did Selling Sunlight come about?

Giada (writer): I was working in a marketing agency, where I was spending most of my time playing Fallen London during office hours and farming games at home, to heal my soul.

I was lifeless. I was bored.

Sometimes you work on an idea carefully, and sometimes influences just brew subconsciously in your head and then explode. At some point I just knew I had to make exactly THIS GAME – then I had a job no more, and so I started making it, because why not. Friends got curious, someone started asking “can I draw the little cute icons for the items?” and a team was formed. Accidentally.


Where does the name Selling Sunlight come from?

Giada: We made a big list of word related to our game’s main themes, which are:

    Traveling vs. standing still
    Buying and selling
    The sunset
    Bees


Then we just meshed the words together until something nice-sounding came out. Not very fascinating, I know.

Chiara (background artist): I remember we were torn between this title and Sunlight Seller, but Selling Sunlight just rings better.


Tell me a bit about the player character in Selling Sunlight.

Giada: Your character did something BAD, and as a result has been forced to lose their identity and wear a mask.

We want players to truly immerse themselves in this world, but this would have required countless customization options. By having a faceless character, everyone can decide what’s behind the mask! This also makes you no ordinary merchant, but a MYSTERIOUS RASCAL. Non-player characters will also have a reason to be curious about you, making interactions more natural.


The world in Selling Sunlight is stuck – the planet itself used to turn, but no longer does. What kind of design and story opportunities does this offer you?

Giada: The planet stopped turning only 300 years ago, so people are still getting accustomed to the changes. Different communities now share a very tight habitable space, and they sort of tolerate each other, but old grudges are still very much alive. There’s also a religious crisis ongoing, because the Sun was once considered a God.
Someone believes that the Earth fell in love with the Sun, and now can’t stop looking at him. Others just think that the Sun is trying to burn everyone.

Chiara: Besides the storytelling options, a still world has an undeniably charming atmosphere: everything is suspended between darkness and light, nothing is clearly defined and everything is mysterious. Exactly like our stories and our characters.


What inspired the watercolour art style?

Anita (character designer): We decided to do what we’re best at: traditional drawing. The whole project is based on the feeling we could make an awesome product without fancy materials or shiny graphics. Of all the choices we had, watercolours happened to perfectly fit the mood we wanted for the game, as well as being our first choice in traditional colouring.

Chiara: I admit watercolors aren’t my favourite medium, but as Anita said they perfectly fit our game’s atmosphere. Background after background, I’m starting to appreciate their versatility. Trying to get the lighting just right in every picture is proving to be especially difficult and exciting.


You’ve chosen a combatless experience in this game – what inspired that choice?
Anita: The game we wanted to make had to be relaxing, yet challenging. Also, it seems like fighting is almost your only choice when it comes to RPGs: we’re so used to get out of every uncomfortable situation by drawing a sword! How about something different, once in a while?



Don't forget to follow us on Twitter (@sellingsunlight) for more regular updates!


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    Fayte
  Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:25 pm
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This is a nice little interview here. A pleasant read, for sure. How long have you guys been working on the project?


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    Bricabrac
  Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:11 pm
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Fayte wrote:
This is a nice little interview here. A pleasant read, for sure. How long have you guys been working on the project?
Almost one year, but between work and other assorted shenanigans development was never continuous :sad: I feel like we barely starting putting the pieces together! Now that I'm able to devote more time to the project, things will surely be smoother.

______________________________
Devlog #6: Moving forward. Standing still.


"...the end."
"That's it? That story had no moral, what was the point?"
"Stories don't need a moral to have meaning."
"Ah, there it is."

@ASmallFiction
- - -

Works of fiction need to have a meaning. This is especially true for a game like Selling Sunlight, which doesn't have a strong overarching plot but lots of small intersecting storylines. Having a central theme helps with keeping the tone consistent, making the narrative more coherent and compelling.
Finding your game's theme means answering the most difficult question:
what is the game exactly about?

“BEES EVERYWHERE” is usually a good answer when in doubt, but this proved not to be the case.
Regrettably.


When Selling Sunlight was still "unnamed merchant simulator RPG" I tought our main theme was "the value of things".
How much is a man's life worth? How much are you willing to sacrifice for business?

Image
It was a pretty dark theme, now that I think of it.
(© Recettear: an Item Shop's Tale)


Working on the main storylines, I realized the game we were making wasn't really about money: we were using bartering as a way to connect with people - as an excuse for befriending other merchants and getting dragged into their personal storylines.
The main character is an outcast, forced to a life of never-ending wanderings. But by traveling, they can touch the lives of those who usually stand still, bringing a new point of view to people in need of a change.
Because in a word that stands still, you will have to move forward.
This is our new main theme.

Image
Speaking of our main character, their race is one of the main things you can personalize. Here we're experimenting with skin tones.
Do you feel they're diverse/representative enough? We'd like to hear your opinion!
(And yes, you can be a plant! Of course you can be a plant.)


Until next time, may the Sun shine on your path.
Hope you won't get burned.


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    Fayte
  Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:32 pm
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This is awesome. I've gotta say -- I'm really enjoying following this thread! It seems like you have this project well thought out (or at least your're taking your time with getting it thought out) and I am very much waiting to see and follow this project to the end. For the love of all things creative... DO NOT ABANDON THIS!


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    Bricabrac
  Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:37 pm
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Quote:
DO NOT ABANDON THIS!
Never :P

Devlog #2: New friends!


Hello!
During the last two months of development we have consolidated our team, saying goodbye to some occasional helpers and welcoming two paid freelancers that will be capable of giving more time and energy to the project. They are both incredible artists and have been working wonders! Let me introduce them to you.

ART
Lucy Kyriakidou (http://www.lucydoesart.co.uk/) is the artist now in charge of our character sprites. She somehow managed to translate our ramblings about elegance and Art Nouveau into this:

Image
First sketches for the sprites.


She can also make people move. Pure wizardry, I tell you.

Image
Strut like a merchant.


Since her sprites are more wiry than our temporary assets, we decided to slightly enlarge all our backgrounds to avoid shrinking her art.
Combining everything together, we got this - and we’re all damn happy with the result.

Image
We hope you’ll like it as well.
Let us know!


MUSIC
We knew we needed a composer well-accustomed to strangeness for this game, and a name immediately sprang to mind: Devin Dilbert, composer of award-winning indie game Glitchhikers. We believe he’s very good, but judge by yourself: you can listen to his tracks - and buy them - on his Bandcamp page.

Image
Glitchhikers is a game about driving during the night whilst trying to stay awake.
It’s good, it’s free and you can play it on Itch.


You’ll be able to hear one of Devin’s new tracks in the trailer we’re putting together! We’ll show it to you soon. Until then, may the Sun shine on your Path.


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    Xhukari
  Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:15 am
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Oh wow this looks amazing! Great stuff. The art style is awesome. :-)


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    Bricabrac
  Tue Jul 04, 2017 4:09 pm
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Xhukari wrote:
Oh wow this looks amazing! Great stuff. The art style is awesome. :-)

Thank you!

Also, we now finally have a trailer. Click me.
(Why can't I embed videooos.)


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    Xhukari
  Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:57 am
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Oh that trailer has me so hype! :O


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    tropical8878
  Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:35 pm
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Location: Shandel City, Texas
Cool concept with the planet not spinning and all. I would love to see where you all go with this idea.
The pre-rendered artwork is also gorgeous. Don't give up on this.

_________________
Full game and Demo at:
https://tropical8878.itch.io/the-cruxis-sword

Contact me at:
startropics8878@gmail.com


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    Bricabrac
  Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:51 pm
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Quote:
Oh that trailer has me so hype! :O
I'm glad you liked it! Making a trailer is so difficult ;_; and my puny laptop was burning. Never again.

Quote:
Don't give up on this.
Absolutely not :dead:
And now, some news:

Devlog #3: oh, the places you'll go!


Chiara, our background artist, has finished painting the world map.
It's almost taller than her.

Image
We're not joking.


In Selling Sunlight you're not an adventurer, but a merchant: exploration is not focused on discovering new places, but on deepening your knowledge of the routes you spend your life traversing.

Image
Final result. Look at the cute cart Lucy made for us!


Some of the random events that happens while you travel are about discovering new locations, like a lake, a cave full of crystals or a small village. By putting a mark on the map, you will be able to revisit that place, slowly filling your usual travel routes with interesting spots only you know about.


Scanning the word map was also a good occasion to finish a dreadful task we’ve been putting off for too long: post-processing all the other backgrounds.
All our backgrounds are drawn on individual pieces of paper, so transforming them into actual maps you can walk on requires a fair bit of Photoshop wizardry.
First we make the collision maps, which are pictures that tell our engine where the characters can walk. To make one, we simply need to paint all the impassable areas red.

Image
You shall not pass on the red stuff.


Then we cut all the elements you can walk behind, like columns, tables etc. and save them in a separate level.
By mixing those three layers together (base layer, collision map, overlay level) we get a playable map you can explore.


Last but not least, a small news: we'll be showing our game during the Milan Games Week this September! If you're in Italy, come say hi!
We're also in process to applying for other conventions like EGX and AdventureX. Fingers crossed!


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    Xhukari
  Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:44 pm
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That is so awesome.
What strange dimensions that paper is xD
That post-processing gif reminds me of early Resident Evils.
Loving the work, keep us updated! :-)


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    Xilef
  Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:18 pm
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Bricabrac wrote:
Scanning the word map was also a good occasion to finish a dreadful task we’ve been putting off for too long: post-processing all the other backgrounds.
All our backgrounds are drawn on individual pieces of paper, so transforming them into actual maps you can walk on requires a fair bit of Photoshop wizardry.
First we make the collision maps, which are pictures that tell our engine where the characters can walk. To make one, we simply need to paint all the impassable areas red.

http://sellingsunlight.com/Devlogs/devlog8b.gif
You shall not pass on the red stuff.


Then we cut all the elements you can walk behind, like columns, tables etc. and save them in a separate level.
By mixing those three layers together (base layer, collision map, overlay level) we get a playable map you can explore.

Are you going to handle the case of perspective on the map? Image based (or even screen-space polygons) collisions aren't very nice and don't offer much for perspective - I speak out of experience from attempting to create a game with this style.
Games from the PS1 era that used static background layers used a 3D mesh for collision, it makes good work-flow too of scrubbing up a collision map to walk around, then handing off the rendered camera angle to an artist for drawing atop. It moves the dependency of level creation away from the art generation, but will require print-outs of the geometry for hand-drawn maps.

This shot of FF7 in the QGears engine shows what's going on: livejournal.com/crazy_otaku/1138305/16213/600.jpg

Doing it this way, rather than image based, not only gives you infinitely accurate collision (not based on image resolution) but opens up more options with how you display objects in the world; blob shadows with perspective become possible and sprite scaling will be far more accurate (although if you keep an oblique perspective then sprite scaling won't be a concern at all).

There's a good chance you know all this already and have decided to forgo this option for production reasons, but there definitely are problems with image-based collision that you won't know about until you encounter them - which can be very annoying if you've developed absolutely everything to be image-based.


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    Bricabrac
  Fri Aug 18, 2017 11:41 am
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Xhukari wrote:
That is so awesome.
What strange dimensions that paper is xD
Just 3-4 A3 papers taped together!

Xilef wrote:
Are you going to handle the case of perspective on the map? Image based (or even screen-space polygons) collisions aren't very nice and don't offer much for perspective - I speak out of experience from attempting to create a game with this style.
Games from the PS1 era that used static background layers used a 3D mesh for collision, it makes good work-flow too of scrubbing up a collision map to walk around, then handing off the rendered camera angle to an artist for drawing atop. It moves the dependency of level creation away from the art generation, but will require print-outs of the geometry for hand-drawn maps.

This shot of FF7 in the QGears engine shows what's going on: livejournal.com/crazy_otaku/1138305/16213/600.jpg

Doing it this way, rather than image based, not only gives you infinitely accurate collision (not based on image resolution) but opens up more options with how you display objects in the world; blob shadows with perspective become possible and sprite scaling will be far more accurate (although if you keep an oblique perspective then sprite scaling won't be a concern at all).

There's a good chance you know all this already and have decided to forgo this option for production reasons, but there definitely are problems with image-based collision that you won't know about until you encounter them - which can be very annoying if you've developed absolutely everything to be image-based.
Lot of interesting advice, thanks!
Since we're using Rpgmaker MV to develop this, the only way to properly handle collisions in-engine was to use image-based collision maps. As you said, it's not ideal, but it's enough for our game: Selling Sunlight is mostly about chatting with people, and the backgrounds are there mostly to provide a sense of atmosphere. As for perspective, we use a script to scale the sprites depending on their position of the map. Again, there are better ways to do this, but since the sprites are flat-colored they don't get muddled too much. Overall, considered what the engine is usually used for, we're very satisfied with the results!

Oh also, a small thing:

WE'RE KICKSTARTING THIS SEPTEMBER!


Hello, radiant and luminous people! We’re here to announce you a big scary exciting news: we’ll launch a Kickstarter campaign for Selling Sunlight in a month! The 19th September, to be precise.

Selling Sunlight started as an one-girl diversion from a boring office job, but the scale of the project has grown as more talented people have become involved. Our Kickstarter goal would allow us to focus full-time on the game, and release it to you even sooner. It would also help us to fairly pay more awesome people to help us make the game extra pretty, strange and cheerfully gloomy.

We’re still working on the various rewards, and that’s why we need YOU: take this survey! Tell us stuff! It won’t take more than 5 minutes of your time, we swear. Help us give you something nice in exchange for your support.

We’re now squashing the last bugs of our shiny demo, which we’ll release to you all before the Kickstarter. We’ve getting so much stuff done lately!
Look at all the things we did in those past three months (click on the screens to enlarge):

Image

Image


- Increased base resolution and resized all the assets accordingly. Prettiness got increased by 75%!

- Shiny new UI.

- Started working with Lucy, a talented freelancer who’s now taking care of all our character sprites.

Image

Image


- Replaced ugly standard assets with our hand-painted world map.

Image

Image


- The bartering interface now finally makes sense.

- You can now finally buy stuff! (No selling at the moment, though. That’s very hard to program.)

Expect a link for the demo in 2-3 weeks, along with an early peek at our Kickstarter page.
Until then, may the Sun shine on your path.


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    Xhukari
  Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:32 pm
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The comparison of the map screen is insane. I went from "I'll pass" when I saw the generic sprites, to much interest with the hand-painted one!
I have filled out the survey. :-)
May I ask why selling items is very hard to program? I'm not familiar with RPGMaker or how scripting in it works.
Thanks for the updates, I am excitedly following this! :-D


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    Bricabrac
  Fri Sep 22, 2017 2:51 pm
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Quote:
May I ask why selling items is very hard to program? I'm not familiar with RPGMaker or how scripting in it works.
Just joking! Little changes, it's just that I still haven't found the time to program item selling yet.

Oh, btw, WE'RE ON KICKSTARTER NOW PLEASE BACK US.


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