Project Status #1

Hey friends! Going to try and make this part of a series of updates to keep myself motivated. Here’s what I’ve been working on:

Sprites

battler1

I’ve got some new spritwork to show off. Using the Time Fantasy templates provided by FinalBossBlues, I’ve been slowing working toward the goal of fully animated combat sprites for each character. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m confident that the work will become much easier as I gain some measure of skill.

capture

My next goal is to push finish my first sheet of sprites for Fionn, our protagonist. If each day of sitting at my desk meant that I finished 4-8 frames, I would absolutely count that as a success!

He’s turning out great so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing him come to life.

Tinkering with Javascript

I’m not the most accomplished programmer, but (with a lot of help from the exceptionally friendly RPG Maker community) I’ve managed to make a few adjustments to the engine that is making the project really progress.

One of the bigger issues I’ve had with the newest iteration of RPG Maker was the 3 frame limit on battle sprites. However, as you saw in the picture above, you’ll notice that I have 4 frames for each pose instead. That one extra frame really adds a dynamic element to the poses, and having that flexibility has been infinitely helpful now that the 3 frame cieling has been shattered.

Skills and Combat

The first Paper Mario game has been heralded as one of my favorite games of all time, and I’m looking to emulate a lot of what made it such a revered title in my collection, specifically two of it’s core features: Action Commands, and the Badge System.

Action Commands

actioncommands
Action Commands make your Super Jump even more SUPER!

If you aren’t familiar with Paper Mario, or any of the games in the Super Mario RPG series (Superstar Saga, Super Mario RPG), Action Commands are timed button presses that amplify a move’s effects. This sort of thing later evolved into what you might know as Quick Time Events, which are other context-sensitive actions that are usually prompted in game by some event.

However, since QTE’s are typically used in cutscenes, they often prevent players from moving forward if they are failed.

In combat however, using Action Commands to augment your abilities, you don’t necessarily fail if you mess up – instead, you just don’t receive the bonus effect of your ability. This opens up a lot of opportunities to have the player interact in what is normally a boring turn-based battle.

The Badge System

The other feature that I’d like to borrow from the series is the Badge System. Another way to describe it is a way to Equip Abilities.

paper-mario-badges-5cf32The badges each represent an active or passive ability that Mario can use in battle, ranging from more powerful attacks to refunding his ability resources or adding extra health.

This presents a measure of customization for the player to make the character unique, increase the challenge of the fights, or to find solutions for difficult enemies.

Looking Forward

So right now, the short term goals are to finish up Fionn, brainstorm more abilities to use, and finish mapping out the world the game will take place in.

Hope to see you again next update!

 

Starting Over

Hey guys, it’s been a while.

A few months ago my hard drive crashed, causing all productivity to come to a halt. Even after replacing it, it’s been pretty difficult to start again on the project. Now that I’ve lost my job though, I’ve got a bit more free time, so here’s a quick update on what I’m working on.

Sprites

game-test

running

Spend a few hours working on my weakest skill, animating. I’m still learning, and I’m generally a pretty bad spriter, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s turned out so far. Looking forward, he still needs cleaned up a bit, and I need to smooth out the upwards facing animation. Overall though, I like having an animated dash/sprint. After cleanup, I’ll be looking to create a basic jump sprite for dungeon puzzles, or jumping down hills (like in Pokemon).

Portraits

fionnfiona

Working on some portrait work for the main character, Fionn/Fiona. You’ll be able to choose between Fionn or Fiona at the start of the game. We have child portraits for the prologue too – more on that later.

It’s nice seeing some work done. I’m looking into ways I can back everything up in the cloud, syncing with my project/asset folder, but I haven’t quite figured out how to do that with OneDrive.

Hopefully I’ll have a couple maps drawn out in the coming weeks, as well as the rest of the portraits for the supporting cast.

Spriting

Updates!

frontwalksidewalk1

I took a small break from the UI to put together sprites for the main character! He still needs a few touch-ups, but overall I really like how he turned out.

Giving him a cloak is going to make animating cool actions for him in combat a massive pain, but the overall effect will be worth it. There’s a pretty substantial “heroic” factor that comes with a flowing cloak billowing behind you, yeah?

Battling monsters with a clean UI

Hello again! It’s been a while since my last update.

I took a bit of a break from working on the game to re-think a few things from a workflow standpoint, and it really allowed me to dig deep into some design decisions, and more importantly, some design philosophy that I’ve come to consider. I want to simplify as much as I can.

battletest

This is a mock-up of my combat UI. The idea here is to use simple menus to give the player feedback on everything that’s going on in combat without over-doing it through a million icons and walls of text.

The top portion of the screen would consist of dialogue from each character on their turn, describing their abilities, their combat state, and whatever information currently highlighted, as well as flavor text depending on the enemy.

On the right is a simple menu, showing your available actions.

The bottom is a plain menu with resource bars. Originally I was going to have the sprite of whichever characters turn it was displayed in that little box on the left side of the menu, but I may scrap that for something else, or just move everything over entirely. I really like the idea, but it seems redundant when you have a character portrait in the top menu.

Additionally, I’d like to have the background scrolling. I might make a GIF of that at some point once I manage to animate the battle sprites.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Mapping, design, and organization

Alright! Things are starting to look up.

I’ve been really impressed with the Time Fantasy tiles. They’re flexible and easy to edit, and I feel like I’ll be able to create some interesting environments with them. Here’s a test piece that I put together in GIMP (took about half an hour, with no prior planning phase):

test

I’m definitely more interested in created smaller, more intimate maps in the game I think.

Struggling With Organization

I’m finding that I’m having many of the same issues with this project that I do with work.

  • I’m incredibly worried about efficiency.
  • I spend copious amounts of time mulling over how to efficiently tackle tasks.
  • I fail to execute because I’m overwhelmed .
  • Nothing gets done, two hours go by because I try to do multiple things at once.
  • I panic, rather than pushing through one task at a time, which is more helpful in the long run.

With the game, there are certainly things that I prefer to be doing over others, but I need to work on prioritizing tasks to make each successive task easier, so that I don’t have to backtrack.

That’s all for now. I’ll be doing more work over the weekend, so stay tuned for another update.

Progress, and the difficulty of time

It’s been a while since I’ve had an update, and there hasn’t been a whole hell of a lot happening.

For starters, I’m shifting focus away from a few worldbuilding ideas. For a while I was playing with a very sci-fi heavy plot, but after several revisions, I found myself incredibly frustrated with the concept. There left a lot of room for interpreting character motivations as sort of fleeting or incoherent or just downright lacking, and I want to avoid some of the cheeseball drama that comes with narratives like the Star Ocean franchise.

I’ve also decided on switching up the art assets. I purchased the license for Time Fantasy assets, and I find the look to be much more flexible to work with. The template is easy to use, and frankly more fun to make poses and animations for.

step

So we’ll see how things come together. After the re-write I’ll be posting some character and story summaries, as well as a few test maps with the new assets once the project comes together a bit more.

That’s all easier said than done, of course. I’ve sort of limited myself to a few hours here and there to work on this project, and so the best I can do is find ways to be as efficient as possible when I do. Thankfully, I don’t have any deadlines to meet or anything like that, but it’s been hard to avoid the cyclical “try a dozen things and none of them work and you wasted like 10 hours of work on nothing.”

I keep telling myself that once I have all the base assets I need, the rest should fall into place, yeah?

The Beginning

The Beginning

I suppose there isn’t too much to say for now. This is a game that’s sort of been in the back of my mind for a few years now, and in light of a few recent events, I’ve finally found some time and energy to get to work on it. I’ll be posting semi-regular updates here in addition to any other writing endeavors that may pop up.

The project is still in its budding stages right now – an utter mess of terrible scripts, half-digested ideas, modified artwork, and scavenged pieces of music to somehow tie it all together. The next few updates will likely be focused on narrative elements of the game (in hopes that it keeps me on track).

Be back soon!