Kanji Adventure


#1

Now that the initial release is out of the bag, I would like to share what we intend to do in the not so distant future in regards to battle system and talk about how the idea for the game came into fruition.

The idea

I have first thought about creating a game in December 2015, when I was studying abroad in Japan. Each week we would receive kanji characters that we had to learn on multiple sheets of paper, an experience which turned out to be pretty boring and at the same time not very effective. I have had prior experience with applications for spaced repetition such as Memrise and Anki and while they were terrific for vocabulary learning, I struggled with using them for learning kanji for various reasons.

Dissatisfied with current offerings I sat down one evening and created a very simple web application that tests the user. Then I had an epiphany - wouldn’t it be cool to make this into what is arguably the most engrossing media format known to man - a video game? I knew that if I were to do this I wouldn’t be satisfied with a simple gameplay mechanic or gamification element, I wanted something that feels like a traditional video game and would attract as broad an audience as possible, including more hardcore brethen, while at the same time not alienating casual players.

I have searched for a perfect game genre to incorporate the learning mechanic into and I believe I found it - a turn-based RPG that draws inspiration from games such as Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Tactics or Dofus. I have spent better part of 2016 coming up with design decisions and looking up books on game design (and yes, I know that choosing the RPG genre for your first title is an awful decision :smiley: ) and started 2017 by creating the battle prototype that you can download below. I shouldn’t forget to name my comrade in arms who is good at stuff that I am terrible at - namely non-trivial graphical design - David, a friend from high school who I am tremendously grateful to be working alongside with. Thanks, Dave!

Short roadmap

  • Better Animations - the current animations are, for the most part, placeholders and have been designed to be implemented as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, creating animations in isometric perspective has proven to be pretty time-consuming for Dave, so we weren’t able to include them with our initial build.
  • Challenges - the player will be given an objective to solve during the battle in exchange for virtual currency, loot, etc., further down the road we intend to integrate this system into overworld quests
  • Obstacles - these will limit where the player can cast spells as well as add visual flair to the game
  • Battle Tutorial - the current tutorial system is fairly basic, therefore we intend to create a series of dialogs

Long-term goals

  • A full living world - I want the overworld to be sufficiently large and to include quests that will lead the player throughout the experience and keep him/her motivated, it is of paramount importance to keep player’s motivation high and in the best case scenario to keep him playing every day as to reap the educational benefits
  • Adaptive learning system - I believe that the back-end for our learning system should be as strong as the game mechanics themselves. The finished product will utilise a modified Leitner system which will introduce statistical bias to kanji depending on correctness of player’s answers. Tough kanji will show up more frequently in queries.

Here is the initial build

Hope you will enjoy playing the builds as much as we have enjoyed making them. Stay tuned! :slight_smile:


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#2

It sounds like a great way to learn a new language! I haven’t heard of Dofus but Fire Emblem and FF Tactics are truly genre defining games to draw inspiration from!


#3

Here is the new idle animation


#4

Looks pretty awesome! I’m very interested in learning the Japanese language, and since Fire Emblem and FFTactics are among my favourite series, I’m definitely looking forward to this game. Gonna download the initial build and play it tonight!


#5

With exams being a thing of the past, I have been able to resume work on our game. We have decided to change the UI a bit (farewell symmetry) in order to fit more spells when they become available and a turn order display (not visible just yet). Speaking of spells, they now each have a mana cost. The player is able to use multiple spells during their turn.

In addition to the blue mana meter, I have also added a collapsible challenge overview. We currently have about 10 challenges in the pipeline and intend to give the player 1-2 during each battle.


#6

Time for an update! As you can see from the screenshot, we’ve made some progress on our tile assets and animations.

Most of the changes however took place under the hood. I have been doing quite a lot of refactoring, so code quality is much better now and allows for easy addition of new challenges and spells (which have up until this point been hardcoded). The game now remembers how well you do on each individual kanji character and thus gives the player kanji that they are worse at. Along with a couple bug fixes, we have changed the way the camera operates - it is now much smoother than it was in the January prototype.

Next week I will be starting work on overworld/out-of-battle experience, I cannot wait to share more progress!

Tomi


#7

Looks great! Keep up the good work and continue to share updates with us!


#8

Presenting - hot from compiler - a new way to deal with rabbits that are unfortunate enough to sit in one straight line.

Fiery Shot™ - get yours today!


#9

This week we have been busy coming up with concepts for KA’s out-of-battle interface, which will include things like inventory, kanji encyclopaedia, quest log and more. We have also begun phasing out the temporary (and rather bland) design elements in favour of something a little more unified and professional looking. Here is a sneak preview of the new battle panel. Enjoy!


#10

Another month, another update. We have finished the battle portion of the game and are now super busy implementing the whole out-of-battle bit. Over the past weeks we have been working on dynamic tile rendering, enemy mob generating procedures, communication between the battle and exploration portions of the game and of course, our first in-game location - the Rabbit Island. We have plenty of stuff to cover over the next couple weeks, stay tuned!

P.S. if you are interested in processes involving both game design and technical stuff behind the game, feel free to check out the thesis I am working on at https://github.com/Tomires/thesis (will be WIP for another two weeks)


#11

Introducing items

There have been some strange development on the Rabbit Island. Over the past week, its occupants started dropping fruit, flowers and even jewelry!

Each item falls into one of the following three categories:

Equipment - these items modify various battle conditions, such as damage given, number of action and movement points and more. All items introduce one positive and one negative effect, so use them carefully!

Consumables - potions, fruit and more… use these items in battle to replenish health

Resources - these items do not possess any special abilities, but they can be used in quests or sold for profit


#12

Embark on a quest

The first seven quests are now part of the game. We have tried to make them as diverse as possible by introducing the following objectives:

  • kill a number of enemies
  • obtain a specified number of items
  • find objects scattered around the map
  • collect a number of kanji tablets (levels)
  • talk to another NPC
  • clear a number of battle challenges

The last week also saw introduction of vendors, redesigned exploration UI, and completion of the tutorial. Public build, the first since our battle prototype all the way back in January, will be dropping later this week!


#13

Try it yourself!

The day has finally come. You can now download the exploration demo of Kanji Adventure and see the game in its current state for yourself.

After launching the game, press the “New game” button and an interactive tutorial will begin. As with the January build, you can refer to a cheatsheet located in the readme.md file should you struggle with hiragana.

Have fun with the build!


#14

OK to share this link?


#15

Yup, go ahead :slight_smile:


#16

Teh interwebz

We’ve got a website now! Nothing major, just a little landing page I have put together in an afternoon.

https://kanjiadventure.github.io/

(mobile version coming up soon… enough :smiley: )


#17

Nice! It looks great!

Are you considering an HTML5 version as well as the native desktop versions?


#18

It would be very cool to use HTML5 as an option for a “taster version” that we have planned, which will include exclusive content (areas, quests) and its main purpose (besides giving the player a way to try out the game mechanics) is to teach the player hiragana.

As for the main product, we intend to use a traditional expansion-based business model with no further DLCs/IAPs and I am not sure how well it would work with a web version. Plus the assets for the desktop version are quite large and as a result I wasn’t able to run the HTML5 build of the game. :frowning:


#19

Web versions may be good marketing. Sounds like could end up being expensive to host too. You could make alternative mini versions of the game too with as few assets as possible. Or other apps as free HTML5 versions. Such as simple flash cards or memory association games.


#20

Minigames sound fun, I will try to think of something. :slight_smile:

However the taster version I have mentioned is inevitable as we can’t presume people are already familiar with hiragana, which is the basic requirement to play the base game (and subsequent expansions). I do not want to resort to using latin characters in transcription of kanji as some of the non-gaming apps do (usually as an option), because it just feels wrong :smiley: