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Creatures

Hey, guys! Long time no talk. I think I mentioned waaaaay back when that we wanted to do some development posts. But things have been so busy around Bit Blot way that it’s hard to find the time to do one justice. But! Finding myself fairly caught up on my artwork duties right now (not for long), I thought I’d take a break to talk about one of the more important and interesting aspects of the game… namely, CREATURES.

One of our original goals for the game was to create a really lively world for Naija to interact with. This is, at its heart, a game about two things: Naija, our lonely protagonist, and her story, and also the world of Aquaria. For as much effort as we’ve put into developing Naija as a character and giving her a real voice (played, of course, by the talented Jenna Sharpe), we’ve put the same amount of work into developing Aquaria - to make Naija seem real, the world she inhabits has to feel real. And creatures, of course, play a large role in that. At every turn, there has to be something swimming, crawling, bobbing, darting, or hopping!

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Our inspiration for creatures comes from a lot of places, but first and foremost we look to Mamma Nature. I spend a lot of time looking at ocean pictures online to develop ideas for creatures. One place I definitely check out is our “Weird Underwater Creatures Über Thread,” which is very much living up to its name! Great job, guys! The other place that I like to go is this site, Divebums, which has the most amazing underwater photo gallery I’ve ever seen. That little globe crab you see on the right is based on a photo that I found on that site. (As an aside, please note that in the game screenshot Naija is looking right at the crab. During the game, she will tilt her head to look at things that interest her. But more on that later, perhaps!)

This is, of course, a fantasy game, so there’s no reason why we can’t mix things up a little. The globe crab is a creature that isn’t too different from its real-life counterpart (although you may find some larger-than-life variation in your travels!). The sea dragon, on the other hand, takes on some qualities of its namesake. Whereas actual sea dragons are quite small and very timid, the dragons of Aquaria behave more like actual dragons, blowing “fire” angrily at anything that gets in their way!

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There are a few interesting things about that screenshot that you may notice. One is that Naija is fleeing the sea dragon on a seahorse. Whereas the dragon fits the typical idea of “video game enemy” by attacking you on sight, many of the creatures in Aquaria are neutral or friendly towards her, and Naija will have different ways of interacting with all of them. Seahorses you can ride if you understand how. The other thing you may notice about the screenshot is that Naija is dragging a large rock behind her, which she can use to attack the sea dragon with, or defend herself from its fiery attack. How she’s managing to do that is a subject that’s worth its own post, though. ;)

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Another thing you can see in that screen is another projectile (a pink and spikey one) coming right at her - this is something fired from another animal off screen. The seahorse will end up taking the hit, but still… you can see that the kelp forests are as dangerous as they are beautiful. And filled with all manner of strange beasties, too!

Beasties like… the maul. The maul lives in the kelp forest with the sea dragon and is a great example of a creature that doesn’t have a real life counterpart (as far as I know). It came about because I wanted to create a monster that had smaller monsters swarming around it. It’ll chase you passively, but its his tiny kin that are the real danger - if you get too close, they’ll dive at you to take small bites. I can’t say much about his visual design… I just started painting with the idea that I wanted it to look quite alien, with a secondary condition that it must have a big bright thing coming out of its head (to keep its little friends in line).

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The seahorse and sea dragon are critters that serve important gameplay purposes. The seahorse acts as a friendly steed, and the dragon, a dangerous predator. One helps, and one hurts. But in order to make Aquaria seem like a natural world, it’s important that we have animals that are just living.

One such animal is the krill. Krill in Aquaria are tiny shrimp that actually die of “old age.” That is, they’ll always go belly up after a certain amount of time. However, before they go, they’ll try to cling to the side of a rock and lay eggs, bringing a new generation of krill into the world. (Hm, I wonder what would happen if they laid an egg on the rock that Naija was dragging around in the previous screen?) Left unchecked, krill can multiply quite quickly, but fortunately, they have a few natural predators. Naija, of course, can also decimate their population in a multitude of different ways.

Early on in development I said, with some seriousness, that I wanted to represent in Aquaria, every type of underwater creature that anyone could think of. This is impossible, of course, but we’re going to try and get as close as we can! As you can see, there are already lots of different ways in which you will be able to interact with the fauna of Aquaria, and ways in which they will interact with you, each other, and the environment. And as we make our way through the final stages of development, we’ll be adding even more.

The purpose of this post, of course, is to give you a taste without spoiling the show. I hope it was entertaining for you. You’ll have to play the game to see the best stuff, though!

Who knows what kinds of things you can find in the deep waters of Aquaria…?

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62 Responses to “Creatures”

  1. qxlb3r Says:

    Man, I can’t wait anymore…

  2. Ezlo Says:

    Man, if this is the quality of stuff you create, keep working! I don’t mind waiting an extra year if you end up adding every different type of fish that ever existed into the game, that would be worth the wait.

  3. Edwards Says:

    Having read your description of the krill, I am suddenly tempted to take up krill farming, including attempts to populate previously-barren areas using moving rocks. If that sort of thing is actually possible with the creatures in this game, I predict that the game will have quite a lot of replay value, even ignoring the map editor.

    Question:
    To what extent are creatures active off-screen? Do they keep moving around no matter where you are? Do they freeze once you get a few screens away? Do they ever reset to the original map layout?

  4. Cobar Says:

    Hot damn! The krill seem to be a prime example of a real, living world you guys are creating.

  5. Gesso Says:

    Amazing. The only way to describe what you guys are doing. I’m surely happy for that development post finally coming along too. You seem like you’re doing a great job on creating that sense of “life” within the game, a whole ecossystem. It would be definetely cool if you could help krill to get to new areas and, with some work, populate the whole world map with the pesky critters. Even if it was just so you could then go in a killing rampage. Which would only make it cooler.

  6. D3stiny_Sm4sher Says:

    Nice work, guys, great as ever!
    Totally looking forward to it even more.
    The creatures look great, combining real nature with fantasy.
    The way that you have those dark areas with small lights emanating from fish is awesome, it will surely make for some creepy and isolated moments.

  7. zamzx zik Says:

    Frickin’ awesome.

  8. Chris Says:

    you have less than a month before i start flipping out, im not waiting anymore!

  9. Gio The Confused Says:

    Your game is shaping up very well. Keep on making dem weird creatures. The weirder the better! That reminds me, i should search the net for some weird creatures for you to use.

  10. ShigMan Says:

    Wow, you are making amazing progress on this game, and i only hope my PC is up to running this fine piece of gaming goodness when it comes out!!! I want more!!! Is there ever gonna be a demo, ya know just a taste to get us drooling for more? I will definitely buy this when it comes out, (remembers Ecco the Dolphin on Genesis) yeah good times :)

  11. Chris Says:

    im not touching the demo, nothing, but the finished product.

  12. Joseph Says:

    HOLY CRAP that looks friggen awesome! I want to play this game! It’s like metroid+ecco+Idon’tknowwhat! This seriously looks like a million bucks!

  13. ryan Says:

    you are SUCH a tease. it’s unreal how horny you are making me for this game.

  14. Czechman Says:

    Release it as soon as you can.I can not wait for it or at least release demo.I got dreams about Aquaria, I can´t wait to play it.Because this game will be really fucking good - the best game I have ever seen.

  15. Alex Says:

    I have been watching this game for some time and you have not disappointed me yet. I can’t wait to play this. I’m already totally immersed.

  16. shinygerbil Says:

    This just keeps getting better and better. As someone else has said, I might hold off on the demo and get ready to immerse myself in the full game straight away. Don’t want to dilute the experience!

  17. MedO Says:

    IIRC, they plan to release a demo that is outside of the story of the main game, so that it won’t spoil too much for people who play the main game afterwards. I’m sure there are more examples for this, but right now the only one I can think of is Half-Life:Uplink.

  18. vitNewB Says:

    I’m LOVING this dev post. Makes me want to pre-order 3 copies…and the squishy key chain. :o

  19. SBKT Says:

    I haven’t even played it and am going into withdrawal!

    Wait, Squishy keychain? Woah.

  20. Stefan Says:

    Can you estimate what the specs for the game will be. I would like to know if it would work good on my computer, if at all. My computer is growing older every day. That long-nosed Chimera pup on that sweet thread definitely deserves to be in the game, as well as all those sweet looking crabs. Crabiculous!

  21. JSW Says:

    The bit about the krill got me thinking: do the creatures in this game need to eat? If you carry a krill to an area without predators will it end up wiping out the food supply? Do creatures change their behaviour depending on how well-fed they are? That could make for some interesting dynamics, although it might be a bit too complex to implement.

  22. Pete Says:

    Release it already! :)

  23. Derek Says:

    Hey, guys! Glad you liked the post. :)

    JSW: Aquaria is not really geared toward life-simulation, so no, there is no need for enemies to eat, although they will change their behavior depending. With the tools provided with the game you could create something like you described, though!

  24. SBKT Says:

    Derek, if you’re correct, then I could Create something like a n E.V.O. Search for Eden(An old but FUN SNES game) inside of Aquaria in a contained environment?

    If the mod tools are varied and whaatnot enough, I’d be doing stupid stuff with the tools like making a seahorse betting track or something, personally. XD. Go, seabiscuit!

    If I do that, I’d be sure to give it back too, if you wanted.

  25. Gesso Says:

    SBKT: You played that game too!? It rocked! I made a post about it in the “Games We’ve Loved” topic, did you see it?

  26. Bartimaeus Says:

    When? When? Whenwhenwhenwhenwhenwhenwhenwhenwhen?

  27. Heulin Says:

    Salut à l’équipe Bit Blot! Et bravo pour le travail que vous avez déja acomplis! Je doit vous dire que j’ai bien hate de gouter a la fraicheur que semble propser votre jeux. Bon courage pour la suite de votre travail ! Et merci de nous proposer ce que beaucoup de joueur attendent : un jeux ayant une grande coherance sans pour autant être d’une puissance graphique sans égale!

  28. Chris Says:

    Allow me to translate Heulin;

    Good day to the team Bit Blot! And cheer for the work that you have déja acomplis! I must say you that I have well hate of gouter has the fraicheur that seems propser your games. Good courage for the continuation of your work! And thank you for to propose us this that a lot of players await: a games having a big coherance without for as much to be of a graphic power without equals!

  29. Danopian Says:

    Sweeeeeeeeeeet.

    Thanks for taking your time, folks!

  30. Bartimaeus Says:

    By the way: E.V.O. is pretty good. Best way to defeat the first boss is to let him charge at you, and dodge so he hits the wall– then bite him. Repeat.

  31. SBKT Says:

    To do that, Bartimaeus, you need the Angler’s horn, which is relatively cheap. I wish I took the mermaid path when I got to that Chapter, though, myself.

  32. Stefan Says:

    So if you pick three games to best describe Aquaria, what would it be. Also, what about the computer requirements?

    Oh, and can you add - if you haven’t already - some Sea Urchins that float around and have to be avoided so you don’t get pricked by their poison? And maybe make it that if you are skilled enough, you can crack them open without getting poisoned to get food or health?

  33. Redemption Says:

    Would you believe that the first time I played E.V.O, I didn’t know you could evolve until after the first boss?

    Honest to God, I remember thinking this is the hardest game ever since it took me 20 minutes and about 300 hits before defeating the shark.

  34. Gesso Says:

    Redemption, I would never imagine it was possible to do such thing. I always evolved the crap out of my animal before the bosses. A shame I took the human path my first time around… but I thought the story would make more sense that way. On my second time trough the game, I stayed a mammal though. Great times.

  35. Hiro Says:

    Man, those are the coolest graphics ever! o.O I wish I could be that good!!

    Congratulations guys, this game will be a must-have when it gets released.

  36. Alec Says:

    Ah, I posted there a couple weeks ago, but… seemed like nobody was interesting in fixing it. Ended up writing my own OpenAL thing. :)

  37. xbfb Says:

    Have you considered bringing this to Xbox Live Arcade?? Please do it!

  38. SBKT Says:

    Yeah, now that I bought a 360 myself, that would be sweet, but they’d need to pay a lot to get that XNA studio crap. I went and checked and it’s like 400 dollars.

    Also, a comment on Steam because of the forum…

    My computer can’t run that T_T

  39. Bartimaeus Says:

    When will the game come out? When? When? Whenwhenwhenwhenwhenwhenwhenwhenwhen?

  40. EGM92 Says:

    SBKT

    Just because someone buys an XNA dev kit doesn’t mean they’ll be able to get their game into XBLA. There’s a long and costly approval process that MS makes you go through. Then there’s size restrictions, less than 256mb isn’t a lot if Aquaria turns out to be a large game.

  41. SBKT Says:

    Tell it to Xfbf, not me, buddy. I only told what I knew, because I wouldn’t know where/don’t feel like looking anywhere else for any other info. That’s like calling me a cripple even though it was a clown at the circus who was hit by a truck you meant it to.

  42. EGM92 Says:

    SBKT relax, I wasn’t attacking you or anything I was just letting you know that it wasn’t as simple as buying a XNA kit.

    If anything this game should come out to the PSN, Sony seems to be giving indie devs a lot of help bringing their stuff over at a very minimal costs, and there is no size restrictions on files. Take a look at Everyday Shooter which Sony actually approached the single developer and gave him a hand bringing it over to PSN. Derek/Alec maybe you guys should contact Sony about your game, broadening your potential userbase could mean great things for Aquaria and future games :D

  43. SBKT Says:

    If they figure out a way to get it on all systems that’d be great too, though, Multi-platform games rarely end up being that good. Taking F.E.A.R. as an example here.

    Yeah, I thought you were insulting me, EGM, but you were filling it in. A different wording, maybe?

  44. Stefan Says:

    Well, Nintendo has WiiWare. I’d love to see how this would play on the Wii, and with WiiWare, I think it sounds possible. Nintendo’s promised the Wii would be a good way to get independent games, and I think WiiWare is what they meant by being able to get some.

    Oh, about the specs of the game. Do you have an estimate of how much memory, ram, or video card stuff I’ll need? My computer isn’t the greatest anymore, but I’m confident it can play it.

  45. Sylverone Says:

    If possible, that picture at the bottom of the post - with the angler fish - (and perhaps the comment right above it) should be made into a promotional picture for the game.

    The game is looking really nice! What you said about the krill reminds me of life simulations and such. I’m getting ideas for games now, which really shows how stimulating the ideas you’re putting into this game are. The more I learn about this game, the more excited I am.

  46. MedO Says:

    Yeah, I also thought I want a background image, all black with just the angler fish in one corner, or maybe some faintly glowing biolucent plants nearby or something. I would have done it myself, but the resolution of the fish image is not that good and I’d like to have it a bit larger, otherwise it won’t be noticed at all on my crowded desktop ;)

  47. PHeMoX Says:

    Wow! That looks like pretty high-res ingame art! Way to go!

  48. Joseph Says:

    Ahh I want mooooooooooorrrrreee :O

  49. Czechman Says:

    This is only my suggestion for Alec/Derek - he could write another article - similar to this one, which gives us a description of behaviour and physical appearance of various creatures that we can find in Aquaria world. I was thinking if you could give us some more detailed characterization of Naija - like info about her height, age etc. - and then tell us her story, something about her abilities etc……..

    What do you think about it?

  50. MedO Says:

    We-ell, since discovering the story of Naija and also her abilities seems to be one of the main points of the game, I rather wouldn’t know too much about her when I start.

    But another blog post would definitely be nice. There is more current information in the forum, but many people only look at the front page for real news, and it’s a month now since this bit was posted.

  51. Czechman Says:

    NO no.They don´t have to show as Naija´s story or abilities (main things of story) but they can post something about her.At least they can tell us how they were able to think out Naija - I mean what was their inspiration or how they have been enlightened by Muse.Or maybe just her physical proportions(appearance).Maybe it is already here somewhere in forum but how wants to find it.And as you said a lot of people takes only the front page as a real news and information.I´m just very wondering about Naija so I want know something more before the game will be released.
    BTW:How the stage of development looks like?

    I hope you will understand what I wanted to say(I have writen it in hurry so I didn´t make heavy head with grammar and also I am just pupil from Czech republic with poor knowledges of english).[And one more thing please don´t look at me like on fool from some asshole of world with poor english and locution.]

  52. Redemption Says:

    I understand that a lot of hard work is going into the game right now to bring it out faster, like everyone wants, but can we have some more regular updates?

    Perhaps not even Aquaria related, just something to let us know you’re both alive :P

  53. SBKT Says:

    Yeah, I agree. I think they probably ARE dead. Probably stayed up for so long without eating or sleeping to work on it they died at their keyboards.

  54. Adam Says:

    Heh, Ive been keeping Freshwater/marine fish for a while now, its looking pretty brillo! :) Any mantis shrimp in the game? They’re pretty evil marine creatures if you ask me.

  55. Rico Dagg Says:

    Best wishes; from all of us.

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