Tag Archives: game design

Memories is Done!!!!

of pieces and memories cover photo

My photo altered with BeFunky. 🙂

Of Pieces and Memories (the official name of the game I’ve been referring to as Memories) is now available on itch.io!

I’ve been playtesting it all week.  By about Thursday I noticed that I was getting really fiddly with the game (I’d make a change, play through one more time, then change it back).  That was the point that I knew I was pretty much done, that this game is the best I can make it right now.  Since most of the playtesting this week was devoted solely to checking all the dialogue options, I had a little more playtesting to do after I reached that point, but by Friday I was done.

From there, I had the unexpected problem of developing a page for the game on itch.io.  I’ve never released a game on the platform before, and so hadn’t really thought about this part of the release.  The biggest problem was that the page needed a cover picture and I had no idea what to use.  I considered using the title page of the game, but that has art I got from the RPG Maker store (which I wasn’t sure if I could use as a cover picture).  In the end, I decided to use one of my photos, which I altered using BeFunky to make it a bit more cartoonish-looking (and to add the game’s title).  A bunch of purple flowers play a role in the game, so I thought this photo was fitting. 🙂

Now that it’s done, I’m going to take the weekend off to celebrate (I’m opening a special wine I’ve been saving).  I also won’t be posting a #WriteTuesday post this week; instead I’m going to write a postmortem for Of Pieces of Memories, which will look at what went right and what went wrong as I developed the game. 🙂

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A New Name for Edric

Edric/Godric sprite and face graphic

Edric/Godric

About a month ago, I noticed that my wizard character, Edric, had a name that started with an “e” like two of my other characters (Eireen and Ena).  When I originally came up with the names for everyone, I tried to have all the people who were related to each other share a first letter (so, as mentioned, Eireen and Ena are related, while Alea, Adalyn, and Albert, etc).  So I’m not quite sure how I messed this up originally and made Edric’s name start with an “e” too.  When I discovered this back in April, I spent some time trying to come up with new names, either for Eireen and Ena, or for Edric.  Unfortunately nothing seemed to fit (and all of their names have been set in my head for so long) so I resigned myself to that mix-up.

And then I discovered that I HAD renamed Edric some time ago.  I still have the map I’ve called “test room” with all the characters standing around in it (it’s the map I used to take the picture of all the Memories characters). And if you talk to Edric, his dialogue said “I was Edric but now my name is Godric.”

😲

I checked out the meanings of both “Edric” and “Godric” on Behind the Name (I love that site for helping me find names for characters).  “Edric” means “wealth, fortune” and “ruler” while “Godric” means “God’s ruler” (the “ric” in both names means “ruler”).  From that alone, “Godric” seemed like the better name for the character, since he is a wizard who has power over the fortunes of humans, while also an admired or influential person (two of the definitions provided by Oxford).  So I went into Memories and officially changed his name within the game to Godric.  Thinking of him as Godric does feel weird though since he’s been Edric for so long, but I know I’ll get used to it.

(While looking back through this blog’s archives for the game, I actually found when I renamed him.  But I guess that information never made it into my paper notes, and I didn’t correct the picture with all the characters’ names, so when I started working on the game again, he just became Edric).

Other than the name difficulties, EdricGodric has been one of the easiest characters out of the whole game to find a voice for.  Like Alexis, Alea, Albert, and Wulfric, Godric is one of the pre-made RPG Maker VX Ace characters.  And from the moment I looked at his portrait, I just knew what he would sound like.  Yes, I have made some changes to his dialogue here and there (especially when certain words and phrases end up claimed by other characters), but I’ve always been able to find a way for him to say things that sounds authentically “him” (lol, at least I hope I have!)  Which is a really good thing, since he’s the antagonist, and his voice really matters! 🙂

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Goodbye Alexis :(

Last night, while I was working on Memories, I came to the realization that the character Alexis wasn’t needed.

Alexis sprite and face graphic

Alexis

Alexis was the daughter of Albert (the butler), and Adalyn (or Lyn, the housekeeper), as well as the sister of Alea (the cook).  I used one of the pre-made characters within RPG Maker for her (as well as Albert and Alea; Lyn was made using RPG Maker VX Ace’s character generator).  Her character was created when I was trying to round out the number of servants within the house, and at the time it made sense for her to be related to the servant family.

But when I was really thinking about Memories yesterday (and specifically what character from the servants should be in the final cutscene), I realized that there’s no real reason for Alexis to be in the game at all.  She served as someone that you brought an item to partway through the game, but that was all she actually did; that function could very easily go to someone else, and probably should, as the other characters do far more for the story.  I was sad about this; I had just figured out her character and how she would speak over the last few days (and I liked her – she  was upbeat and friendly).  But she had to go in service to the overall story and game.

Removing her actually helped me with another character too (her mother, Lyn), who just disappears through most the game. I always assumed Lyn was offscreen in one of the areas you unlock later, which works but seems kind of weak.  Having Lyn take over for Alexis makes her far more present within the game.

Thankfully removing Alexis from Memories was relatively easy.  All I had to do was change up a few bits of dialogue, and a spot where Lyn appeared in the kitchen, which ended up easier than I expected (I just used Alea for that part instead, which also strengthens the cook’s role within the game). And done!  That further cemented that removing Alexis from the game was the right thing to do; the other characters (and the game itself) are now stronger as a result.

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#WriteTuesday – Memories Feedback Acquired!

My friend playtested Memories over the weekend!  Overall he liked it (he called it a “nice, heartful story”). 🙂  He found a few mechanical things I needed to fix, like how locked doors would open, display the text “the door is locked” then close (he helped me fix that!) and how the ending was a bit weird because after the credits it said “Game Over;” together we figured out that you could send the game back to the Title instead of using the Game Over command, so I’ve implemented that instead.

He also said he really liked how you get more and more dialogue options with NPCs as you unlock more emotions, so I’m super glad I got some of that implemented before he playtested!

So since then, I’ve been working on implementing more of those dialogue choices.  I think I’ve got pretty much everything in place now (there are still a few places where there isn’t a dialogue choice, but I don’t really think they’re needed).

Over the weekend I also noticed a problem with my naming scheme for all the characters.  Here are their names again:

Picture of Memories NPCs with names

When I designed this, I tried to have people who were related to each other have names with the same starting letter.  I thought I did a good job of this, but I just noticed that the wizard name (Edric) starts with an E, just like my mother daughter combo of Eireen and Ena! 😦  Unfortunately, these names are kind of ingrained in my head now; I took a look last night and couldn’t find anything else that worked for any of them.  So in the end I decided to leave them as is.  Whoops!

So now that the dialogue choices are all in place, I need to actually go back and make sure the dialogue works for each character (and that each character actually has their own voice).  Once that’s done, I think Memories just needs a better name then it’s pretty much finished! 😲

So how’s your week been?  🙂

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#WriteTuesday – Beginning Edits on Memories

writing subtext cover

Seriously, this book is fantastic! I really recommend it. 🙂

Over the weekend I finally read the book Writing Subtext: What Lies Beneath by Dr. Linda Seger.  I’ve had the book for years but never got around to reading it (lol, such is the story of my life).  But now seemed like a great time to read it – I was hoping it might help me improve the dialogue within Memories.  Writing Subtext ended up a really great read – even as I was reading it I had all kinds of ideas for what I could do.  Unfortunately now comes the hard part: actually implementing all of those changes into the game.  I’ll hopefully be going over all the dialogue during the next bit to clean things up and start layering in some subtext to the story. 🙂

On top of that, I decided I’m going to implement something I considered a few years ago when I first started working on Memories: I’m going to add some branching dialogue options as you unlock more memories (and the corresponding emotions).  So once you’ve unlocked the second emotion, you’ll now have two dialogue options with NPCs, rather than just the one I originally came up with.  I started implementing this yesterday and got quite a bit changed already.  So I uploaded the new game files for my playtesting friend.  I haven’t heard back from him yet, so this is perfect; hopefully he hasn’t started playtesting yet and will be able to try the newer version instead!

So how’s your week been?  🙂

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#WriteTuesday – Reflecting

Wow, where did the week go?  And also, where did June go?  I can’t believe it’s July already next week!

June has not been a great month for me and the goals I’ve been setting for myself.  Yes, I’ve gotten a few of them accomplished (I was actually really proud of myself – I got my email back under control!)  But I haven’t done any edits on the Make Your Way story.  I also haven’t sat down yet to take a look at how my goals for the remainder of the year will change thanks to that big project I’m taking on this fall.

I was thinking about it a bit today, and it almost feels like I’m focussing on the wrong things right now.  I’ve been working so much on Sustainably North over the last while, that everything else has sort of taken a back seat, even though finishing some of the games I’ve had on the go for the last few years (!!!) is just as important (if not more so?) With that in mind, I really need to reevaluate my priorities for the coming months.

That’s all I’ve really got for today.  I wish I had a bit more, but right now it’s kind of just a time for reflection and planning.

How about you?  How are things going? 🙂

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#WriteMonday – Happy Labour Day!

It’s #WriteMonday, it’s the end of the summer, and I thought that now would be a good time to reflect on those goals I set for 2018.  To date, the only goal I accomplished from my short list was to read 25 novel-length books. That leaves me with four months left and two goals to go.  I think what I’m going to have to do is set a goal for each month (which will also leave me with an extra month either for a goal that needs a bit more time, or to work on something else).  For September, I think I’m going to finish the short story I was working on in June.  I’d like to get that story out of the way since all it needs now is some edits.  Depending on how long that takes, I may also do a bit of work on Memories (which I think is going to be the RPG Maker game I try to finish this year).

So with that in mind, I spend a couple of hours yesterday writing down everything I could think of about an idea I’ve had for a few weeks now.  I love this idea and would really like to work on it.  But first I need to finish some of my other projects that are on the go before I plot it out (and learn how to write for a whole new medium, which this project will require).

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Designing Hostile Takeover’s Pearl

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

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.

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Designing Hostile Takeover’s Michael Claudius the 3rd

Michael Claudius the 3rd was an interesting character to develop.  I knew while designing Martin Ryker that Claudius was the villain Ryker wanted to take down.  The problem was that Ryker himself isn’t exactly the “good guy” of this story.  I knew he was pretentious (he makes sure everyone knows he’s from old money with the whole “the 3rd”), but that was about it.  Then on Saturday, Shaun showed me this picture he’d created:

Michael Claudius the 3rd

Michael Claudius the 3rd designed by Shaun Ellithorpe

Yeah, that definitely doesn’t look like a good guy.

I wanted Claudius to have the first name “Michael” because it is supposed to mean “Who is like God?”  I took that literally in the sense that he is very full of himself.  His last name changed a few times, starting out as Costas, or Costel, changing to Constantine, and finally settling with Claudius.  The three previous names all mean “constant” or “steadfast;” I was initially thinking of using “constant” in the slogan for his company.  But somewhere along the way his name changed to Claudius (I believe that was at Shaun’s suggestion, but I can’t remember now).

Claudius Capital was an interesting thing to name as well (and I can’t take final credit for it – that was Shaun’s suggestion as well).  I had to look up investment companies to see how they are named first.  A lot of companies have a form of “invest,” “trading,” or “brokers” in their names.  So I was going to name his company “<his name> Investments.”  But then Shaun suggested Claudius Capital, which has a nice ring to it.

claudius capital banner

Claudius Capital banner designed by Shaun Ellithorpe

I didn’t worry too much about Claudius until Sunday, when we decided to make a trailer for the game, and later the Twitter page (we came up with the Claudius Capital slogan while making his Twitter page – I’m still not sure who in their right mind would actually invest with his company with that slogan!)  As I mentioned the other day, we used his Twitter account to justify some design decisions/lack of functionality for the demo.  I didn’t pay too much attention to voice, other than letting him make ridiculous and over the top pronouncements using hashtags.  He also has no dialogue, so I didn’t have to worry at all about his voice in the game.

All in all, Claudius was a fantastic collaboration.  He wouldn’t be who he is today without the help of my team (esp Shaun)!

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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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