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Submitted by Travis Baldree, posted on March 02, 2005

Image Description, by Travis Baldree

Fate is an action-rpg I have been working on that incorporates some of the highly randomized 'bite-sized' play of classic games like Telengard and Hack with the streamlined UI and improvements of Diablo and other more recent RPGs.

Unlike Diablo, it is fully 3D from an isometric perspective, and allows you to 'look around' walls.

The entire gameworld is randomly generated, except for the town, which was prebuilt and lit in 3dsMax.

Quests, items, and dungeon geometry are all randomly created based upon a root number seed which is different for each game created. Each level type has a template, which defines rules for the generation of the level itself (deadendedness, sparseness, room size ranges, pit ranges, etc. ) and prop placement ( torches, tables, boxes, chests, etc. ). Templates are distributed randomly throughout the depth of the dungeon.

Pathfinding is a modified A*, and the passability map is generated based upon a collision pass, so that it works on any arbitrary geometry set.

Difficulty automatically scales based upon depth, so you can in theory, play forever, continually going deeper and deeper, while monsters automatically 'level up' to meet the challenge.

Monsters can wield and wear the same items you can, which keeps them from feeling too cookie cutter - they can also have unique and superunique items, the same spells you can cast, etc.

I wanted to make an action RPG that I could sit down and play for 15 minutes at a time, and then come back to a week later without having to pick up any threads - but I still wanted it to have the depth of bigger, retail-store RPGs. The random generation allows me to build and test a vast quantity of content, and as long as I keep on top of the rules system, I can make a big game with a lot less time. Quests are randomly generated as well, to give the game some 'focus' - although they are obviously not character driven quests.

Development started in October of 2004, and I should be shipping in roughly 2 months. Overall development time will have been about 5 months total, not counting QA.

I use projective texture shadowing for all objects and creatures in the game, combined with a 'glow' pass for illuminated objects that is factored into the shadow pass. Characters are skinned or tweened, depending upon the demands of their monster type, and can have arbitrary attachments and particles/glow systems.

Other gameplay features include a pet ( cat or dog ) that fights with you and has its own inventory, and can take your loot back to town. The pet can be transformed into more powerful monsters for varying durations by feeding it fish that you can catch in fishing holes.

This uses a save-anywhere system, so you can come back and start playing right where you left off. If you die, Fate approaches you and provides you with 3 choices to resurrect your character...

This is probably going to sell for 19.95 online as a downloadable game

The website is at if you'd like to check it out...

Travis Baldree

Image of the Day Gallery


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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.

March 02, 2005, 12:33 AM

It seems like you conquered the hardest nut to crack: actually getting pretty art!

Did you make the art yourself? If so, you're a very lucky man!


March 02, 2005, 12:41 AM

I built the tilesets for the dungeons and many of the dungeon props, and am responsible for art direction -

However, the credit for most of the artwork ( the characters, UI ) goes to several individuals I work with. We also contracted out to have some of the monsters modeled by Liquid Development, and they did an awesome job.


March 02, 2005, 02:14 AM

What language did you use and did you use DX, OpenGL or any other API for rendering?

Also, 5 months is pretty impressive for a game like this.
Did you have a finished or half finished engine to work with from the start as well?



March 02, 2005, 02:36 AM

Looks great, from a developers point of view I love the randomized gameplay approach. Plus, looking at the concept in general (rpg elements, suitable for casual gaming, high replay value), and the fresh colors in particular (oh, and you have a cute furry pet :D), I think you got yourself a game that will appeal to the female gamers as well. I think your game concept works well with your online-sales marketing strategy (or the other way around).

What will the minimum specs be? Would it work on an old 500mhz machine with a gf1? I would certainly concider buying it to see if my girlfriend likes it.

Danny Chapman

March 02, 2005, 02:44 AM

It does look really good.

There's a problem with your website though, in particular with the gallery page. On IE the thumbnails don't load until you view the full size image, and you can't see the numbers until you move the mouse over them. With Mozilla Firefox the thumbnail appears in the wrong place, and the home/movie/gallery buttons don't work...


March 02, 2005, 03:18 AM

Yeah, I had the same problem with the website. The gallery got me very confused until I realised the buttons were missing :)


March 02, 2005, 10:21 AM

This game is looking VERY nice! great job! I'll be watching your site.


March 02, 2005, 10:48 AM

To answer some of the questions -

The game is built in C++. I'm using DX 8.1.
Everything is fixed-function - no shaders. The aim is to support as many configurations/cards as humanly possible, which I think is pretty important for an online distributed game.

Min spec is a 16MB video card and a 600mhz machine. A 500 mhz with a GF1 should work - it just might not run at a desirable speed.

The basic DX framework I used was from the project I built prior, although I had to incorporate several new components (skinned animation with motion blending, mergable templatized models, projective shadows). I figure that if I incorporate the time it took me to build the underlying framework, I'd be looking at a total dev time of 7.5 months, or somewhere thereabouts.

I've reported those web errors to our webmaster, and she should be fixing them shortly - thanks!



March 02, 2005, 11:47 AM

Your game looks awesome. An incredible achievement for 5 months!

What's your relationship with WildTangent? I saw this at the bottom:

2005 WildTangent, Inc. All rights reserved.
Powered by: WildTangent, Inc.


Adam Labbe

March 02, 2005, 12:17 PM

Wow, great idea for a game. Looks like it will do very well in the casual gamer market.

I'm curious though, you mention that the town was built in 3dsmax. The shadows and textures for the ground seem to be very high res. The shadows also are also quite soft, ruling out stencil shadowing. Are your shadows being rendered in max and merged into a lightmap using max's render to texture feature?
Also, how are you pulling off that amount of resolution for the terrain? It doesnt look like the old method of blending in a detail texture. The blending from road to grass looks spectacular.

Excellent work, kudos and all that.



March 02, 2005, 01:15 PM

To answer Morgan - I work at Wildtangent in the internal game studios. However, this project wasn't developed with Wildtangent's Webdriver technology, but is straight C++ and DX, my own little skunkworks.

Labbe - Yes, I use the render-to-texture feature of 3dsmax to generate 5 different 512x512 shadow maps for the town thyat are rendered with a multiply2x operation, so that they illuminate as well, to give everything a kind of fairytale glow. 2nd layer vertex coords are exported as part of the scene, pretty standard stuff. Vertex colors are used as well for further color detail. The borders between the road/grass are actually border textures on margin geometry. Difficult to explain, but a really simple and old technique that renders good results if you have good artists :)

thanks for the nice words! :)


March 02, 2005, 10:15 PM

Wow! This looks really nice! I think I'll be buying a copy when it's out! I like the idea of a game that you can just jump right into whenever you feel like a bit of a hack and slash, but that still has some depth to it.


Stephan Kaiser

March 03, 2005, 05:01 AM

I like the streamlined design and the simplicity. Looks like a perfect game for even the wage slave I am.

Looking forward to buying me a copy as soon as it's possible :)


March 03, 2005, 07:19 AM

As the town is created with the 3DS Max it might have been easier to make look good than the automatically generated levels. I don't know if some of the screenshots were from the generated levels or were all taken from the max-modelled data? How do the generated levels compare to the town scene as fas as the visuals are considered? Do you generate light/shadowmaps for them runtime or? and how did you do the water? There wasn't any movies yet on the page so hard to see how it looks like animated but in the still pics it looks cute :)

Would be nice if you could provide some details.



March 03, 2005, 12:13 PM

juhnu - the screenshot on the bottom is from a generated level, and any on the site that do not show green grass are as well :)

A pregenerated shadowmap is not used on the generated levels - rather, a 'torch' effect is used, with radiant projected shadows cast from all objects, which gives things a cool effect. It is a very different effect from what you see in town, where shadows are cast orthographically, but it fits in nicely. There is also a realtime line-of-sight effect that occurs in dungeons, so corridors are constantly revealing/fading away as you pass them. It all has a very dynamic feel, as opposed to the static lighting of the town.

The water is done as a 2-pass - one layer is an additive shifting base texture with alpha. The second pass is a tiling water AVI with multiply2x. These are rendered on water geometry that undulates for a nifty effect.

Water in town is slightly different. It uses the same blends, but does not undulate. However it has 'waves' that lap at the shore. These are done with a set of polys that ring the water, and shift an additive wave texture in toward the shore. The outer verts of the polys are black, and so the additive waves are faded the nearer to the water body they are. It works really well, and is very cheap.

Hopefully the movies will go up in the next couple of days and you can see what I mean.



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