Many of my ideas started with some rough sketches on paper. Check here for added scans from time to time.
January 2014 Updates:
Early Building Sketches, Resource Collection
This is one of the very first layouts I did when trying to figure out how resource collection could be done on the NES. In Warcraft 2, a favorite of mine, peons go back and forth from the mine and forest, but on the NES, the number of sprites going back and forth would have to be reduced. Another limitation was how I could show a sort of animation for the resource collector with graphics that are not very detailed. After these considerations, I decided that I would use a number value at the resource. Just having numbers was not too exciting though, and as I coded and developed the game further, I added in 'walkers.' If a worker is sent to a resource, a walker will come out of the castle, and walk to the resource. Similarly, walkers will go from the castle to a building, or from buildings back to the castle, etc. It was very exciting when walkers were implemented into the game, and gave it new life (even though they didn't take the correct route initially). Also, I had planned on resource collection giving random bonuses (i.e. the forest would occasionally give a food bonus), but this idea was scrapped.
Layout for Castle View and World View
In the game, there are two views are called Castle View (more zoomed in, where you build), and World View (zoomed out, where you explore the territory). In the upper left, is an unorganized layout where resources are randomly laid out. I wanted to add in some randomness to the game, so that I could enjoy it too, and not know what to expect when starting up a new game. I decided though, that the player's building locations have to be a little restricted, because of the way the NES's background graphics work. In the game, the player can decide where buildings will be constructed, but it's in a grid pattern. The upper right sketch shows my earliest ideas for how to add fog of war, where a cloud covers the overworld (World View), and as the player explores, the cloud is lifted. This fog of war can be seen in action in my Trailer #2 video.
December 2013 Updates:
These are early building sketches, and thoughts about the resources in the game. NES graphics are tile based (8x8 pixels for a tile). When an NES game displays a number or letter, usually the number or letter is the size of one tile. On the left side of the page, there’s a grid of empty squares. If I wanted to display 2 numbers on the screen in the hundreds, I’d need 3 tiles wide by 2 tiles tall, as shown in that empty grid. The sketch was giving me a feel of how much room it would take up when displayed on the screen. Water is one of the resources in the game. My first thought of water collection was going to use a water mill with a river, but in order to simplify things, I went with a well.
Here are the first sketches of other buildings that were planned, and have made it into the game. Notice all the small squares with icons in them. Initially, the game was going to have small icons appear whenever a building was selected. So, a player would select a building, then move the mini-cursor to the desired icon. This part was even coded, and can be seen in the first trailer video on youtube. But I learned that the small icons are a bit tough to read on a TV using actual NES hardware. I reworked the game, so that building selection pretty much went away. When the cursor moves to a building, such as a Wizard School, the A button will not enter a sub-selection at that building, but rather it will simply train a new Wizard.