Tag Archives: dialogue

Designing Hostile Takeover’s Pearl

The final character in Hostile Takeover is Martin Ryker’s assistant, Pearl.


Pearl designed by Shaun Ellithorpe

Pearl was an interesting character to develop.  She started off as a joke in the very early stages of our planning on Friday night.  Originally named June (she was renamed at the request of one of the volunteers running the venue here in Thunder Bay), she was going to be a character who gave you random hilarious side quests. We talked about a filing mini-game, where you had to file things for her because being a ninja isn’t your day job.  Or while you’re hacking into Claudius Capital’s servers, you would need to find someone in the company who would be a good match for Pearl’s daughter or granddaughter.  Of course none of these ideas made it into the game (we only got the very first level into the game, and that doesn’t even have all the basic functionality we wanted in it).

While the mini-game idea was out, I wanted to keep Pearl in the game in some form.  We also ran into the problem of communicating the level objectives to the player (while the other three levels didn’t make it in, most of them all had slightly different objectives for you to accomplish before you could open the elevator and progress upwards).  Having her helping Ryker break into Claudius Capital gave an easy way to both have some story and to communicate objectives to the player.

I had a fun time writing her dialogue (only a little bit of which made it into the game).  I knew she was going to be a bit older from the get-go, so I spent a bunch of time on Saturday reading over Golden Girls quotes to get an idea for her voice.  She has a bit of a playful air to her dialogue, which is at odds with Ryker’s more stoic and short dialogue.  I also went through and removed words like “okay” and “intel” in favour of things like “great,” or “details.”  The result is that she sounds like a genuine regular person rather than a professional intelligence officer, which is exactly what I was going for.

A slight snag happened while trying to figure out why your assistant would help you break into another company to frame them.  I hit on the idea that she was an ex-Claudius Capital employee.  I thought that she was fired by the CEO and replaced by a younger woman, hence her own desire for revenge against the company.

When we were later thinking about the setup of the game (and how Ryker really isn’t the “good guy,” we thought it was a bit ludicrous that he had an assistant.  We talked about changing Pearl into his aunt, but by that point it was too late because the story screens were already added into the game calling her his assistant.  And with being down to the wire on our 48 hours, we had no time to change it. And so she remains his assistant.



Filed under Characters, Game Development, Game Jam, Hostile Takeover, Writing

Designing Hostile Takeover’s Martin Ryker

During the NGDC, we knew we were making a guy who was a “trader by day, ninja by night.”  But it was up to me to flesh this guy out.  So the first thing I did was come up with his name.

Martin Ryker

Martin Ryker designed by Shaun Ellithorpe

To come up with his name, I went looking for names that meant things like “swift,” thinking he’s supposed to be a ninja.  I settled on Ryker, which means “fast” or “strider,” and Martin, which is derived from Martis, which is rooted in Mars, the god of war.  I thought it was a fitting name because Martin is waging his own war against Claudius Capital.

Once I had his name, I had to start thinking about Martin’s backstory.  For this, I mainly started asking myself questions like “what’s his job?” “How did he end up working at his company?” “What company does he work at?” “Why is he framing the other company for insider trading?”

Working through these questions, I named the two companies (which is also how Michael Claudius from Claudius Capital came into being).  I also had to figure out why Martin was a trader rather than a ninja (the whole team agreed that being a ninja would be the first choice here).  It was a little before we were packing up at the library on Friday night that I solidified his backstory: the other company had bankrupt him, and he was looking for revenge.

Since the NGDC was only 48 hours (and everyone lost a few hours due to technical difficulties), I was extremely grateful that I managed to have Martin’s backstory figured out all within the first night.

So on Saturday I worked on his dialogue a bit.  While I had his backstory, I had a bit of a hard time nailing a voice for him.  In the end I tried to go for more of the more “strong silent type” of character within the game. I kept his dialogue short and snappy (you can see a few lines at the beginning of the demo, when his assistant Pearl is telling him what to do – he has very short replies).

I later had to write dialogue for the trailer.  Since Martin is the one talking through the entire thing, I had a harder time keeping with the whole “strong silent type.”  Overall I thought his dialogue was alright.  If/when Hostile Takeover is made into a longer game, I’ll take another stab at nailing his voice down.

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Filed under Characters, Game Development, Game Jam, Hostile Takeover, Writing

I Survived the 2018 NGDC!

Well, I survived the 2018 Northern Game Design Challenge (NGDC)!

As I mentioned, my team decided we were building a platformer.  We were hoping we’d get something like “cyborg ninja” (which was one of the six possible themes we were able to work with), but the NGDC community voted on “the stock market” for us.  So we made a platformer based on the stock market.

One of my team members made the quip that our main character was a “trader by day, ninja by night.”  And so Hostile Takeover was born!

hostile takeover start screen

In Hostile Takeover, you play the ninja Martin Ryker who lost all his money and has been working as a stock trader.  He gets the chance to get even with Claudius Capital, the company that bankrupt him, when he hears they are being audited tomorrow for suspected insider trading.  Martin Ryker decides to sneak into Claudius Capital to plant evidence of insider trading, insuring the company will go down!

I was responsible for creating the character backstories for the game.  I also wrote the dialogue/cinematic stuff at the beginning of the game, designed the levels (I designed four in total), and found a lot of the sound effects used in the game.  Oh, and I created the Twitter account @ClaudiusCapital for the game’s villain, Michael Claudius the 3rd.  Claudius’ tweets were used to justify some of the things in what became our game’s demo (we managed to get only the first level working, and a lot of the mechanics/graphics are missing).

Here’s the video we created for the end of the NGDC.  Shaun, one of my team, put it together including the trailer.  I’m the one who played through the game for the demo part at the end of the video.

If you want to play through the game, head to hostiletakeover.ninja.  Everything we made so far is there, including links to the video and Claudius’ Twitter account.  The rest of the team wants to finish the game, so I’ll post more updates as progress continues.  🙂

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Working on Cut Scene Dialogue

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!

cut scene written with Final Draft

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. 🙂

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Filed under Game Development, Memories, RPG, Script, Tools, Writing

More Tears Development

I didn’t post about it at the time, but I did a lot more development on Tears of the King last night.  I ended up building the caverns below the mine.  There are two caverns you walk through, which lead you to a much smaller lava cave.  There you find one of the ingredients you need, which causes a boss fight (still slimes!).  I stayed up way too late building all of this, but I’m super happy with how it all turned out, especially the lava cave:

Lava Cavern

Today I haven’t done as much, but I did manage to get some looped branching dialogue into the game, which was pretty exciting.  I added some really simple branching dialogue yesterday after my friend played through what I had at that point.  A priest in the starting village asks you if you want to know more; my friend did, but there was no option and no other dialogue.  So I put a little something in place for now.  So today I decided to put some NPCs in Storm Point (that’s one of the towns).  When I got to the church there, I put in a bit more extensive branching dialogue (there were three choices instead of just two).  But when I tested it I discovered the dialogue would end automatically after you read through one branch.  That really didn’t work in this case, so I had to play around with Loops.  Using a Loop means you can go back to the choices after you play through the dialogue options.  Here was what I ended up with (just playing through one branch):

Here’s how you make this happen:

  1. On your event page, first choose a Loop (it’s under Flow Control).
  2. Next, choose Show Choices (under Message).  You’ll get to make a few choices (the default ones are Yes and No).   Put your dialogue in place as you normally would  (under Message, Show Text, then choose a picture and write some dialogue).
  3. Finally, on the choice that will end the dialogue, put a Branch End into it (that’s also under Flow Control).

Here’s a simplified version of what your event page should look like:

How to make looped branching dialogue

When I was trying to make this work, I started with writing the choices, then tried to make a loop happen afterwards.  If that’s the case, you can just cut the whole choice and paste it into a loop.  Don’t forget to put the Branch End in or else the dialogue will never be able to end!

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Filed under Game Development, RPG, Tears of the King, Tools