The Negative, Devlog #1: An Overview of the Game

Today marks the start of a weekly (or sometimes bi-weekly) series of development updates for The Negative! Each post will give you an in-depth look at a certain feature associated with the game. In today’s post, we’ll discuss the general flow of the game (that is, a brief overview of how the game is played), and also reveal a unique game mechanic called “Positivity”.

Please note that any visuals shared in these posts are simply meant to serve as proofs of concept. A lot of the game’s art isn’t finalized, and we’re still using a lot of placeholders. In particular, the tileset we’re using to show off today’s features is a placeholder and probably won’t make it into the final game.

General Gameplay

Players will start their journey in an environment modeled after the concept of “Depression”. This environment takes place in a giant set of ruins that have been long ago abandoned, and consumed by snow and ice. Many of the objects and quests in this environment are related to snowfall (yes, The Negative has dynamic weather effects), and some objects can be used to manipulate the severity of the snow. Each environment has a “gimmick” similar to this one. The goal is for each environment to cause players to play the game in different ways.

The Negative features dynamic weather effects, such as snow, rain, wind, and even ashfall.

Players must seek out towns (which are also procedurally generated) to complete a series of quests related to Depression, ultimately culminating to a major boss fight. In total, the player will travel through all seven of the branches of negativity as discussed in my last post: depression, rage, guilt, jealousy, pessimism, anxiety, and grief. The game’s story concludes with one final boss fight.

Each environment also contains several “sub-environments” that players can enter. You might stumble upon a cave or an abandoned tower that you can explore. At the end of this sub-environment will be a powerful enemy that you can kill, rewarding you with a large treasure chest. These sub-environments are generally optional, although some main story quests and side-quests might require you to defeat a boss contained within. Be warned: these areas tend to be much more challenging than anything you’ll find outside!

In order to give players the feeling of an open world, you might encounter dynamic quests during your travels. Maybe an NPC is being harassed by a pack of enemies, or a totem is being channeled by a powerful foe to empower enemies in the area. These quests are entirely optional but are intended to make the world feel more alive.

One of the many different types of treasure chests you’ll encounter during your travels. This is a rare one, and probably contains something powerful!

After you visit a world for the first time, you can visit it again any time you want – it’s permanent. This means that the more you play the game, the larger your world will become. At any point in time, you can go back and visit the same NPCs and explore the same dungeons that you’ve encountered before. There are also a few items you can use to manipulate these worlds after you’ve conquered them.

After completing the main story quests, you can progress to the post-game content, which will be discussed in greater detail in a later blog post.

Battles

Later on, I’ll dedicate at least one full blog post to discussing battles, but I’ll also give you a brief overview of them right now.

During your travels, you’ll come across a wide array of enemies. Some will chase you, while others will flee when they see you, depending on the monsters’ behavior. Others will simply patrol an area, stay in place, or ignore you altogether. Some are fast, some are slow. Enemies can be caught in traps to hinder their movement. They are even affected by the weather – they’ll move more slowly when it’s snowing, and won’t be able to see you as easily when it’s foggy. When you make contact with an enemy, a battle will begin.

Enemies take the form of “The Negative” in the overworld. When you touch them, a battle begins, and the enemy monsters contained within The Negative are revealed.

Battles are turn-based, and you can use up to four of the monsters you capture to fight for you. Monsters can attack, defend, use a skill, use an item, or move to a different area on the battlefield. After you defeat the enemies, your monsters will gain some experience points, and your character will gain the game’s currency: Zeal.

Zeal and Positivity

Zeal is used for just about everything. It is used to buy items, craft items, enhance your equipment, fuse your monsters into new ones, and much more. But Zeal’s most important use is to level up your character. Unlike your monsters, who gain experience points after each battle, your character can only level up by spending Zeal. In addition, your monsters’ levels cannot exceed that of your character. Of course, your monsters can continue to earn experience points even while your character’s level is inhibiting their growth, so the experience points your monsters gain will never go to waste.

The amount of Zeal your character has also affects its level of “Positivity”. In The Negative, your character emits a small amount of light all around it, and you can’t see very well outside of that light radius. Enemies can ambush you very easily, and it’s more difficult to see useful objects such as treasure chests and ore nodes when your light radius is short. You can expand this light radius by holding more Zeal. This means that players will sometimes need to make difficult decisions about which items to buy, when to level up, and when to explore the world. Should you buy that health potion to ensure your survival, or hold on to your Zeal so you can see farther into the distance? Some items can only be seen when your character is 100% “Positive”, which causes the light around your character to become golden.

Your character’s light radius grows as you gain more Zeal, allowing you to see farther into the distance, and sometimes even reveal hidden secrets.

If your party is wiped out, you’ll drop all your Zeal on the ground. You’ll have one opportunity to find and retrieve it, but if you die again before retrieving your lost Zeal, it’s gone forever. That’s what I meant in my last post when I mentioned that The Negative feels a lot like taking one step forward and two steps back. Your character’s Positivity is cyclical, and will come and go countless times as you progress through the game. You’ll be forced to make difficult decisions and will sometimes suffer unavoidable hardships as you’re forced to sacrifice one boon for another.

When you use Zeal to buy items or level up your character, your light radius also decreases. In that way, positivity and negativity are cyclical.


I hope you enjoyed our first devlog for The Negative! See you soon.

Announcing Our New Game, “The Negative”!

 

I am pleased to announce Thylacine Studios’ next game: The Negative!

 

A mockup image containing a few objects and NPCs you might find during your travels.

 

The Negative is an evocative RPG with a dark, gritty, and gothic undertone. Players take the role of a nameless plague doctor as they wander across an infinite, procedurally generated open world in an attempt to conquer an evil force known as The Negative. Along the way, players must capture and employ the skills of enemy monsters to fight for them.

 

Battles are turn-based. You can take up to 4 monsters with you to fight your enemies.

 

Thematically, The Negative is all about conveying emotion; not only through its storytelling methods, but also in the environments and enemies themselves. I’ve broken down the concept of negativity into 7 main categories: depression, rage, jealousy, pessimism, guilt, anxiety, and grief. Almost every aspect of the game relates to one of these emotions in some way – there are 7 different environments to explore (and re-explore), each of which is modeled after one of these seven emotions. This means that, with a few exceptions, we won’t be using any generic environment types you might find in other games, such as a “fire world” or “forest area”.

 

You can move your monsters around the battlefield to gain various advantages and exploit your enemies’ weaknesses.

 

The Negative definitely isn’t a happy game, and it’s unapologetic in the way it casts players into a lonely, desolate world where all hope feels lost. In most cases, players will often find their efforts feeling like they’re taking an allegorical “one step forward, two steps back”. In that way, it feels a lot like real life. Happiness is cyclical, and The Negative honors that fact in every way it can.

 

This is the inventory screen. You can heal your monsters, resurrect them, and much more here.

 

I have plenty more information to share with you, but it’ll have to wait. Check back next week to learn more about The Negative! I’ll leave you with a small FAQ.

Q. When will The Negative be released?
A. It’s too soon to tell. I have probably 70% of the game coded already, but there’s a lot more work to be done, especially in the art/music department. My best guess is an early 2018 beta release on Steam Early Access. While we’re waiting, I’ll possibly release at least one smaller game to sate your appetite.

Q. What platforms will The Negative be released on?
A. Definitely Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and Playstation 4. I’d also like to release this game on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, but it’s too soon to tell if we can make this happen. If any other major platforms enter the market between now and the end of The Negative’s development cycle, I’ll gladly consider those as well.

Q. What about Playstation Vita?
A. I’m developing The Negative using GameMaker Studio 2, which no longer supports Playstation Vita, so there’s no way this is going to happen. Sorry!

Q. How much will it cost?
A. Right now, I’m thinking $19.99 USD is a fair price, but that’s not final. The mobile (Android/iOS) version will likely use a different payment model.

Q. What are the controls like?
A. The game supports keyboards, gamepads, and mice. You can play the entire game with just your mouse, which actually works really well!

Q. Will there be any post-release content? Expansions? Sequels?
A. Yes, probably. If it happens, this content will be delivered and priced in a way that no other game has done so before. I’m excited to experiment with my own payment model, but it’s too soon to announce any specifics on that!

Q. Does The Negative have multiplayer?
A. No, there are no plans to add multiplayer content for now. There might be some online-only events, but nothing like trading or PvP battling.

Q. How does The Negative compare to Siralim?
A. It’s completely different in almost every way. You still capture monsters and fight with them, but everything else is completely different.