The forty-third interview on TBPL Off the Shelf went live today! This time I interviewed author and artist Duncan Weller about why he switched to English from Fine Arts, his favourite mediums to work with, and how he chooses his projects. You can find the interview here!
I should have written this post a few weeks ago, but I had to put Memories aside for a bit. I’ve thought about it long and hard, but I still don’t know how the game is supposed to end. So on the advice of my brother, I’m putting it aside to work on some other things for a bit. Hopefully with a bit of distance I’ll be able to figure out where the story is supposed to go.
I honestly feel a bit like a failure. I was really hoping to have the game done by now. But that’s not how it’s going, so time to focus on something else!
Life is pretty busy right now (when is it not?) but over the weekend I pulled out a short story I’ve been wanting to edit for quite awhile. The story was written as part of my NaNoWriMo blob. I originally wrote the story for a friend after his dog passed away, but I never felt right giving it to him (and let’s be honest: it was a super rough first draft that was crap – I wouldn’t want anyone to see it until it’s rewritten and edited). I came up with some editing ideas for the story last March, but never got around to implementing them until today. Even if the story doesn’t stay the way it currently is, I’ve added 300 words (it was originally about 600 words and is now over 900), and it is shaping up a bit (it’s definitely stronger than it was!)
I had a pretty fun couple of hours working on it. First I brought a notebook outside with me (it was a beautiful day!) and started writing. But after a page and a bit, I ended up grabbing my laptop and bringing that outside because I needed to be able to move some things around and expand on other things a bit. I took a break to go for a walk, then worked on it a bit more. I’m thinking tomorrow I’m going to print it out so I can do another editing pass on it (I prefer to edit on paper, at least for the first while – it’s satisfying to mark things I need to change up with pen!)
Just a super quick note – I got the final memory functioning in Memories tonight! I had a couple of weird snags getting it working (and the dialogue is super clunky). But everything seems to be functioning! 🙂
I also found a fantastic piano song that was available to license under the Creative Commons; that song is going to be the song that plays during the game’s menu screen, as well as during the actual memory events.
So the next task is to figure out how the game is going to end. And unfortunately I have no idea. And neither do my characters!
But that is a problem for another day!
I actually managed to get a lot done while working on Memories over the last few days. And the title of this post is quite literal: I managed to get two new memories working within the game, bringing the total functioning ones up to 3 out of 4! I had a bit of trouble figuring out what would trigger one of the memories, but after a few hours of thought (and playing with my cat), I came up with something that works (at least for now). My next two priorities:
- Get the final memory functioning.
- Figure out how the game is going to end (I don’t want a big climactic battle because this game isn’t dealing with battles, so I have to find a satisfying other way to end it).
Once those two things are in place, I’ll need to fix up the dialogue and most likely clean up the game in general. To that end, I’ll need to get a few friends to play test it once the basics of the game are all built and working.
I was also thinking about making it so you can choose how to respond to NPCs in different ways depending on what memories you have remembered, possibly using branching dialogue (similar to what I did in Tears of the King but without a loop), with different options triggered by different switches. I’ve actually put the basic switches that would enable this in place within the game; I will just need to go back and have them trigger things. But that’s a problem for after I have the final memory and ending of the game in place.
So after my paper prototyping adventures last night, I felt like I was ready to actually work on a few of the important cut scenes in Memories. The only one I have somewhat built is the one I showed you in my post about tinting the screen (and that literally has “blah blah blah” as most of the dialogue). I didn’t feel like writing the cut scenes in RPG Maker right now because I wanted a bit more flexibility for editing. So first I thought to try using Chat Mapper, but that wasn’t a great fit when I started (I was thinking about the mechanics of how the program worked more than actually writing). I had the same problem with Twine. And then I remembered: I have Final Draft! Why not write the cut scenes with that?
Sure, it took a few minutes to remember how the program worked (it has literally been YEARS since I last used it), but that was no big deal; I was back up and writing in no time!
I forgot how easy it is to read a script for dialogue. Final Draft has been the perfect tool for my current needs because I don’t have to think about formatting, I can just focus on writing the words right now (and I can very easily edit whatever I write). I managed to get a couple of key scenes written before making dinner (and quickly edited one after dinner). Once I am happy with the text, I’ll be able to copy and paste it into RPG Maker. 🙂
Ugh, it’s been almost a month and I feel like I haven’t done anything. That’s not true (I’ve been doing a lot of reading, which has been great), but I haven’t done any writing or work on Memories. So that ended up one of my big plans for this long weekend – make some sort of progress on Memories. (I was tempted to sit down and write a short story or something, but decided in the end that I really need to finish this game first).
So I made a paper prototype of most of the game so far, and started trying to think things through a bit.
This has been great. I made little tokens out of paper with the characters, whether or not they have a heart, and what their job title is. I also made paper tokens of the keys you’ll need, and the memory triggers. This way I can move everything around super easily, which has allowed me to change my mind as to who will be in what room (and who will have the keys you need). Thanks to this, I’ve actually managed to properly think through some of the problems I’ve been having for the last few weeks regarding the second and third memories, which means I can get back to building the game! 🙂
I wasn’t prototyping the narrative, but sitting down and making this prototype reminded me of a GDC talk I attended about paper prototyping for your narrative design project. I know my friends and I were disappointed with the talk itself (he spent too much time on terms we were all familiar with; it was just starting to get into the good stuff when he ran out of time and had to hurry through the stuff we were more interested in), but if you’re interested in it, I found the talk on Youtube.
Oh yeah, I’m also renaming the wizard. For some reason, I didn’t realize his name started with an “E” when I named him. One of the families has an “E” as the first letter of their names, and I didn’t want it to be confusing. So he’s now going to be Godric. I think that’s appropriate – it means “power of god” plus “”power, rule.” Definitely appropriate for this wizard! 😉