First Impressions about the Pre Alpha and have a good Summer Holidays!
This post comes in the middle of the hottest month of the year and just before the beginning of a little period of vacation for the whole devteam.
Last days were really intense: as you surely know, on July, we released the Pre-alpha version of Leap of Champions on Itch.io and we spent the days counting the downloads. Man, it’s incredible how much of you guys popped into our page! Seeing this community growing it’s incredible and the number of the download encourage and motivate us to do better. We released the first patch a few days ago and we are working to release the second one.
If you are dev and you are reading this post, you surely can understand the thrill that gives play your game with people you don’t know and maybe lives a thousand mailes away. Leap of Champions players are not easy nuts to crack even for the devs. As we experienced during the 1st Leap of Champions Online Event.
On the dark side of the Moon there are still lot of issues we are working on. The main one is the community dimension. Leap of Champions’ is still quite small for a multiplayer game, but you can really help us growing it inviting your fps-loving friends and family and joining our Discord server to meet other players. Don’t forget to use the Invite friends button when you enter the game!
Talking about the future: Steam Early Access release is approaching with a lot of new feature, but we will tell you more when we’ll come back.
We wish you a great summer, Champions! See you in September!
P.S. In between a swim and another, you can find us in the Crystal War Arena, ready for the fight!
LEAP OF CHAMPIONS LANDS ON ITCH.IO
It's been a while we don't share our activities with you. In the last update we made the big announcement: Leap of Champions has got the green light by the Steam community. After we passed, we knew that we would have had to face an intense period of work to reach the Steam Early Access stage. In view of this important step, we designed a roadmap and we aimed, first of all, at releasing, as promised, the Pre-Alpha.
The time is finally here. Now you can now download Leap of Champions on Itch.io!
Pre-Alpha means a not fully completed game. Leap of Champions will start small, both in terms of content and community. There are bugs, the contents are limited and the game is not fully optimized. We think that the game is already really enjoyable, but not everything is fully representative of our final version. What is done now is a beginning that will evolve thanks your feedback and your constructive criticism. We will continue to improve it and to add new contents while it's open to the public. We want the game works perfectly in all its aspects when it lands on Steam Early Access.
In the next months, we will work mainly on adding maps, on character and armors customization and on some other features to enrich Leap of Champions gameplay. Bug fixing will be the most important activity together with weapon balancing and the improving of the quality of the gameplay. Be sure to sign up for our mailing list to be notified when new releases are announced.
Speaking about the “state of the game”, the one just spent was a really intense month for the entire development team. Absolute novelties include the addition of Capture the Flag and a new geography for the Crystal War Arena where new platforms was added to enlarge the fight field and to make the environment more various.
Another important improvement comes from players suggestions: body-to-body collisions with opponents are now possible and you can use it as last chance to win a fight in the arena.
Our graphics team worked on the production of new customization contents, finished the work on the punk armor and upgraded the UI to make it more interesting and user friendly without betraying the ideal of simplicity and cleanness we had in mind.
For the Pre-Alpha we have chosen the “name your price” formula. A growing and paying player base, will help us to understand if the game is at a point where it’s worth paying because we believe that players can choose fairly if a game is worth to pay or not. The next months will also inform us when the game is ready for the Steam larger audience and will help us to understand which the perfect price and monetization streams will be.
The dimension of the player base is a common issue for all arena FPS games, so, finally, the main goal of this launch is to grow our community. Leap of Champions’ will be small at first. This means there will not always be people online playing 24/7, but with your help, we can overcome this obstacle. Using our social pages and the forums, you can organize play sessions and thanks to you, we can find the most crowded play times and tell new players when they can expect there to be more activity until the community will be big enough.
It’s been a long road getting here. There’s still a long ways to go, but it’s really exciting getting to finally release this to the public. Thank you for reading all this article and for supporting us in the past months.
Now we can't wait for you to turn on the lights in the arena. Download Leap of Champions, have fun and let us know what you think about the game!
Leap of Champions has been finally accepted to be on Steam!
Just a quick update to say that we received an email from the Steam Store yesterday to say that Leap of Champions has been Greenlit! We want to extend a thank you to each and every one of you who voted and helped us spread the word about the campaign. Getting greenlit before Steam Direct means so much for us.
Of course, we will keep continue working on Leap of Champions. We have a lot of work to do yet to make it be the game we want it to be and we will continue to update you with development news and announcements.
You can still continue asking questions and sending us suggestions, we will be glad to listen to them. This milestone will give us an insane amount of motivation and energy!
In the meantime, follow us and like our Facebook and Twitter.
Pre-Alpha Test and automatic regeneration
Our latest news was about Crystal War Arena graphics improvement and about getting ready the Ritual to release as soon as possible the pre-alpha version of Leap of Champions.
What we needed, before going on, was to test again the game with people who didn’t ever played with our game to understand if the changes we made would have modified the gameplay and, mainly, if the players would have liked the game.
To do that, there was no better way than gather friends and fans together and set up a testing party. In this post we will talk about this amazing experience.
Despite we had arranged the meeting for a Saturday morning, we had a large participation. We want to thank again all the friends who joined us and the amazing Netvana staff who has been really kind with us. If you will ever come in Rome and you will want to play video games somewhere, you should go there.
With our pleasure, we saw that all the gamers liked the Crystal War Arena new look, so as they liked the Ritual in its first “public appearance”. Every time we see people playing our game, it’s a beautiful emotion for us and now we can’t really wait to let you all see Leap of Champions.
Besides the compliments, the test highlighted some problems we are solving and which helped us to decide a road map of priorities.
We found some bugs in the animations, we still have to fix the lights and the post processing effects and, finally, we have to perfect the balance of the weapons, mainly the Whashout, and the crosshairs sensitivity.
Speaking of fights, during the testing session, we have reopened the discussion on the automatic regeneration. We have noticed that the players are divided on this theme. Some of them suggested to come back to the tradition of arena FPS also in the management of health and to replace automatic regeneration with health packs.
The main motivation, for a gamer, is definitely subjective, but beyond personal tastes. a key strategic point such as health can completely change the way a game feels and is played. We was intrigued by this debate so we tried to create a poll on socials and forums to enlarge the discussion.
The majority of people opted for the health pack and we decided to listen to them because, as we said lot of times, we are developing a game for the gamers. We agreed that to be forced to find health packs on the map forces the player to better plan their assaults and to worry about the possibility to miss the health pack in the moment of the need and find the better place in the map where to hide. Furthermore, changing the regeneration system allow us to give more relevance to mid-range and medium damage weapons and rises the average difficulty of the game encouraging a more strategic approach because the player has to own its mistakes.
Still, we did not want to change too much the core of our game. We designed a fast-paced game to let people play hard so we tried to graduate from an automatic health regeneration system to a more static health pack system implementing a semi-automatic health regeneration system.
This week the programming team will work on this and, together with the art team, on the optimization of the models, in order to reduce the number of the draw calls.
Lot of design and programming work, but, don’t worry, the art team doesn’t have left us without an eye candy. What do you think about this new skin concept?
Don’t forget to vote us on Steam Greenlight!
Kickstarter and Greenlight campaigns, graphical improvements and Ritual first look
As many of you know, on April 26th we have launched our Kickstarter campaign, but, today, at mid of the campaign, we have to say that is not going as well as we expected.
For us, this campaign was a big leap of faith and we had had to keep this in mind in every step. With Leap of Champions we chose to face a big risk: to promote our very first PC game without having the possibility to give people any further testimony of what we can do except for the game itself. At the very end of this journey, we will surely write a postmortem to write down what we have learned and how we can do better for our next games, but, today, we want just say that to work with the eyes of the public on you it’s really stimulating and to express how grateful we are to all who have and will give us a chance and have and will take part on our project.
We really believe in our game and we can’t wait to know that somewhere, maybe really far from Italy, someone is playing with it. From today on we will continue to give you insights into what the team is up to and how we're progressing to let you know how Leap of Champions improves and grows.
In the last weeks the programming team has added some other details to the Crystal War Arena and has worked on the implementation of some of the suggestions you guys gave us like a way to make the character more visible on the background and on the setting up of the tutorial part of the game. Ritual all versus all was completed and we are in testing phase before releasing the Pre-Alpha access to the game.
The art team has been focusing on the Urban Chaos Arena. Lot of the things that you dislike in the first two teaser trailers, has been reviewed and completely redesigned. Many models have been also re-optimized to augment the frame rate.
The quality of the textures and the lights effects have been improved and now it’s time to cobble all the elements together. The team has also worked on other weapons skins and armors.
Like this one
Finally, we'd really appreciate any help you guys can do to spread the word about our Steam Greenligh campaign. We are trying to climbing the top of the chart to finally see our game on Steam market.
These are our first game and our first campaign. Let’s grow them together!
Running towards Kickstarter: exhibitions, Thunderclap and improvements
Welcome back to our monthly update! This March was one for the books. We joined two amazing exhibitions Let’s Play and Codemotion Rome and we finally presented Leap of Champions to the public.
Guys, you arena FPS fans and indie game lovers are beautiful and we can’t express how grateful we are for all of your support! Meeting our people was great and we also had the chance to meet dozens of other indie developer who are working on innovative and promising games.
The community feedbacks to Leap of Champions was so amazing that we chose to release earlier than we thought Leap of Champions demo, so we are running fast to offer you the best game experience is possible. The programming team is assembling the Crystal War Arena and fine tuning the cross hairs movements and the balancing of the weapons. The art team is focused on the enhancing of the lights and the visuals of Urban Chaos Arena using a new AAA shader and on the fining of textures and materials to improve the work done till today.
For an indie team, Leap of Champions is an exciting and ambitious project, but your support heartens us and give us the sprint we need. In the near future we will start also a Kickstarter campaign, and we are shooting for our first gameplay trailer. People reactions to the first two teasers was encouraging and when it wasn’t gave us the right motivation to do better. Don’t forget we are creating a game for you, so keep giving us your advices.
Stay tuned to be sure to know when and where you can touch with your own hand our game and feel free to ask us anything you want through our social pages.
If you haven’t done yet, be sure to share our project and our Thunderclap campaign with the people in your life who you know may be interested in it as well.
Thanks again for your continued support.
All the best,
Federica e Alberto
User interface: immersive and functionality in Leap of Champions
User Interface (UI) scenario in is an evolving one: innovation is possible and often necessary in a digital world in constant expansion where we talk about software, applications but also about everyday objects. Just think of the advent of virtual reality (VR) and of the consolidation of augmented reality (AR) where the user's movements become the connection tool between reality and fiction, virtually eliminating the screen curtain and controller (mouse, joypad, buttons etc.). This aspect only brings with it infinite possibilities of innovation and equally numerous challenges. In the world of video games, UI and HUD (heads-up display, namely the total of information that is constantly visible on the screen during the game), are subject to the same kind of "pressure".
Players become day after day the most attentive and demanding, in search of more fluid and immersive gaming experience. This particular aspect should be a major focus of the work of a developer: the user interface is the junction point between the reality and the game world, becoming, not only a communication tool, but a real narrative element. The UI can, in fact, tells the player who is the character he is playing, what is his role, what scares him, who threatens him or who/what can help him in his adventure. The UI becomes a "prosthesis" capable of immerse the user into an imaginary world despite he is physically unable to move in it.
In this short article I will go therefore to analyze some examples of success in the video games scenario and how I put some of these principles in the realization of Leap of Champions interface.
Before going into some practical example, we should deepen some of the technical terms related to the classification of the elements of an UI. The user interfaces in a video game may, in fact, be different types: Diegetic, Non-Diegetic, Spatial and Meta.
The Diegetic interface is included in the game world, such as holographic elements that player and character can display at the same time.
The Non-Diegetic, on the contrary, is positioned outside of the game world, is only visible to the player and is represented, for example, by mini maps, ammo, life bars and anything else is applied on the game screen.
Are part of a Spatial interface those elements which are physically present in the 3D game space, but which does not actually belong to that world. The save points you can remember from any video game you have ever player or the outline of the characters in Left 4 Dead can be included into this classification.
Finally, Meta consists of game inputs, existent in the game world, which can communicate a situation to the player. The character can see and/or hear the same input the player does. A good example of meta representations are the blood splatters on the screen which indicate the damages the character receives.
The video game history teaches us that have multiple approaches are licit: numerous games have gone in one direction than another, and many of them have experienced a mixed approach. In recent times several video games allow a high in-game HUD customization - children of MMORPG and World Of Warcraft model - to open up to the multitude of players preferences. Keeping in mind this peculiarity, we will consider the default UI of some video games, analyzing them briefly.
Horizon Zero Dawn – A mix reflecting the nature of the game
The latest Guerrilla Games work is the most recent example of a mixed approach.
The most important elements in the HUD, like life, the information on the weapon equipped and on the objectives to accomplish are external to the game world (Non-Diegetic), although in line with the style of the setting and, above all, of the character. The traits of the elements, in fact, are similar to draws on stone, perfectly communicate the human nature of the protagonist and its origins, in contrast with the technology she has to face. Interface elements are, as we said in the first lines, a constantly present narrative element.
The modern diegetic aspects, in fact, fit into the dual soul of this title. Holographic screens informing the player of enemy's weaknesses are one of the possible examples. These elements, mixed with the focus mode that allows the player to learn about the resources around him (diegetic-spatial elements), guarantee a considerable control of the situation and place the user in a context characterized by a strong technological component. However this kind of mixed approach risks to be not always easy to understand: the presence of so many elements on the screen can cause the opposite effect and confuse the player. Expertly, for those who feel “choked”, the game allows to customize the entire interface hiding some elements.
Final Fantasy XIV – Performance above all
MMORPs are the perfect example of the triumph of Non-Diegetic interfaces: many 2D elements, completely alien to the game world, communicate to the player the information needed in a very functional way. Players of this type of video game need, indeed, to have the maximum control over the situation, often fast-paced and requiring high reactivity and ability. They are, therefore, willing to give up a little of immersive in favor of a practical and direct reading, because competitiveness and desire to outclass the enemy and/or the opponent is their main goal (the so-called "player motivation"). In this regard, all HUD elements have to be easy to understand and have to explain through the use of icons full procedures in the less space is possible. Create these minimal icons is an extremely complicated process, but it is necessary for the success of a functional interface. Final Fantasy XIV, as well as many titles of this genre, provide maximum interface customization, but it has to take into account that is unlikely there will be elements that the player can hide due their high importance.
In these contexts, the immersive of the game must necessarily be supported by strong sound and visual components and by a strong characterization of the environment and the characters.
Dead Space – The triumph of immersive
Dead Space (Electronic Arts, 2008) remains one of the best examples of successful Diegetic interface thanks to a series of remarkable tricks. Each HUD element is an integral part of the game and of the protagonist persona: the life of the character is directly visible on his spacesuit which casts every menu in holographic way.
Although this is not actually a major innovation (the UI itself is very classical, simply transformed to become a projection), it turns out to be really practical and it functions very well in its attempt to empathize with the player in a Sci-Fi environment through the continuous use of screens and technology. However, not all information is easy to read if projected as holograms, so the developers have had to introduce a different navigation system - a projection on the ground - to help the player to orientate himself and to reach his target. This aspect, combined with the large amount of work that requires to create a similar interface, can be considered the major difficulty that the developers may had encountered implementing this Diegetic UI.
Leap of Champions – Less is more
The mentioned games are only a few of the examples that I could list exploring this topic, but they can certainly help to clarify the principles I have talked about at the beginning of this article.
In the realization of the interface for our Arena-FPS, Leap of Champions, we opted for a mixed approach due to the features of our title. We have seen that the amount of information to communicate to the player were not numerous and this has allowed us to move freely in the positioning of the elements within the game HUD.
The fastness of the gameplay, forces players to move, run and jump to chase the opponents. This aspect, in particular, allowed us to eliminate the presence of the mini map and to give more space and importance to the choice of the weapon (drop down menus) that represent one of the main characteristics in Leap of Champions.
As we find ourselves in a technological environment and our character wears a helmet, we decided to make the HUD part of the Champion's armor, with the aim of making the player empathize as much as possible with him and give him quickly and intuitively all the needed information. It is the user himself who put the suit and enter inside the Arena.
Fundamental part of our interface is also the sound that accompanies the player throughout all the highlights of the game thanks to the punctual comments of the speaker.
"Digital" and "Simple" are the keywords for the Leap of Champions menu. We have worked to simulate the navigation on an electronic device, such as a PC or a tablet, so the player can customize the character, buy in the shop and form his party, all in an almost sterile environment.
The Leap of Champions IU, clear and minimalist, stands in sharp contrast with the bright colors of the maps and the dark of the Champion’s battlesuit in order to turn the UI into a narrative element and to communicate in which world the game is set: a cold and distant scenery, clean and free of excesses and emotions, where the Champion is called to interpret the only one who is still capable to unleash the primal human instinct.
Source: Wikipedia, M.Andrews, Gamasutra, "Beyond the HUD" - DICE Studio
Welcome to Leap of Champions
In January 2015, two guys were starting to collect skilled people around their dream and LEAF games & software was founded. In early 2016, we joined the Global Game Jam (GGJ), the world's largest game jam event, taking place, in 2016, in Rome. During the 48 hour development cycle, we developed the first Leap of Champions, a multiplayer first-person shooter video game, inspired by classic 90's FPS game.
In the very first version of Leap of champions, the players spawn in the arena bearing a weapon consisting of an assault rifle and a rocket launcher. The arena was made up of four floating structures, reachable through the use of thrusters.
The GGJ theme, that year, was “Ritual”, so in the first storyline, the Champions clashed in an arena and they needed the blood of their opponents to activate the Altar of the Champion and begin a ritual to earn their freedom. We spent a lot of hard work on the project and, at the end of the jam, we fell in love so hard with the game, that we choose to develop it.
Developing the game, we choose to change a bit the mood, With only a few new releases in over half a decade, the entire genre didn't exactly prosper since then. So we came up with the vision to add our own footprint to the Arena-FPS genre stressing the importance of the matchmaking.
We aimed to the best quality a PC game could have without suffering of a lot of lags. Here you can se the evolution of the environment, from the second version we have presented at Romics, to the draft of the final map.
The core development of Leap of Champions is pretty much finished and we're now working on adding more maps, fine-tuning the movement, adding some more features and finalizing the weapons.
Visit Leap of Champion on Facebook and give us a "Like" if you believe in our game.