Tag Archives: game design

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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NGDC Starts in Less Than 24 Hours!

This is it – the last day before my first game jam starts!

I’m both excited and nervous.  The game jam hasn’t worked the way I thought it would, hence the nervousness.  I thought we’d be able to go to the venue, meet everyone and make teams.  But this one needed you in teams before the start of the jam.  So I ended up joining a team that was one person short.  I’m excited to meet them all for the first time tomorrow and make a game!

Today we have to decide on genre. It sounds like the rest of the team is preparing to make a platformer, which works for me. I love platformers and have always wanted to make one, so this will be great.

Wish me luck! 🙂

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Soccrpg

As promised yesterday, here’s some info on my third RPG Maker game I’m working on: Soccrpg! Soccrpg started when I went for lunch with a couple of friends.  One of them complained that there was no soccer game made like an old-school RPG.  I have no idea what is out there (the other friend started listing games that combine RPGs with sports), but I started thinking to myself that I could make one.  And so Soccrpg was born.

This is literally what I have made so far:

soccrpg game field

It’s a soccer field with the positions in place.  The opposing team chases you when you have the ball and you’re in their zones on the field; your team just stands around and will talk to you if you interact with them.

In some ways, this was a stupid project to start.  I don’t really know much about soccer, so I’ve had to research like everything.  So bear that in mind when I eventually finish it (my friend really wants me to make it playable for others) – I will probably get things wrong!

So with that caveat, Soccrpg has also been a great learning experience because this is my first time heavily changing things in the database.  Because this isn’t remotely a traditional fantasy RPG, I’ve had to redefine terms and rename things.  For example, I decided that the only weapon will be “cleats;” currently the database lists all the default weaponry as a type of cleat.

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Hello 2018!

Happy New Year everyone!  It’s that time of year again – time to look at the goals I set for myself last year and set new goals for this year.  Last year, my goals were:

  1. Read 40 novels.  Success!  I read forty novels, a bunch of graphic novels, and a bunch of comics!  2017 was a great year for reading!
  2. Write four polished short stories.  Yeeeah….partial success I guess?  I did write one.  But that was it.  I did start on a second one, but I discovered that Imezza isn’t in as good shape as I thought; I got a bit bogged down in worldbuilding, and the story ended up really blah as a result.
  3. Work on Tears of the King. This was nice and vague.  I worked on it a bit this year (it’s no where near being finished).  So partial success?  I don’t know if I built another third, but I did make some progress.

I apparently also set a fourth goal, which I managed to forget about (it was to spend an hour a week on writing).  😦

2017 saw me start two new RPG Maker Games (oops): Memories and a second one I haven’t actually talked about on here yet (oops, I’ll have to remedy that).  It also saw me working on a freelance project which I’m still unable to talk about, which was very exciting.  It also saw me slowly and unexpectedly move away from my second job.  So for 2018, I’m going to work on freelancing a little more than I have.

So with that in mind, here are the goals I’m going to set for 2018:

  1. Read 25 novels.  Well, novel-length books.  I know that the 40 novels from last year was my only really successful goal, but I need to back that off.  I found that 40 novels was a lot of pressure while I’m trying to accomplish other things.  I also found myself shying away from any books longer than around 300 pages, so making this goal less should help me tackle some of the longer books I’ve had for years and have ignored.
  2. Write two polished short stories.  I wrote one, so this year I will aim for two.
  3. Finish a bloody RPG! Like I said, I currently have THREE RPG Maker games on the go.  So this year, I want to get SOMETHING finished!  lol I also have to not start another RPG Maker game until I get something finished!

A couple of final notes for the upcoming year:

  • next weekend I’m going to be participating in my first ever game jam!  I’m really excited for it!  I’ll have to blog more about it. 🙂
  • I am not going to make a goal for “so much time writing” this year.  Instead, I’ve currently got one guaranteed afternoon off from work, so I’m going to try to use that time for working on things, be they writing or researching (although it’s also a time I use for other things like vet appointments, because I know it’s a time I don’t work).  Depending on how the year goes, this can change, so I’ll have to be flexible with it.

So that’s it.  Hopefully 2018 will be a good and creative year, giving me the flexibility to work on different things (and actually get some stuff finished!)

So what about you? Have you set any goals for the upcoming year? 🙂

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Memories Currently on the Backburner

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!)

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Final Memory Working!

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!

Now what

This is literally the last conversation currently in the game!

But that is a problem for another day!

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More Memories!

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:

  1. Get the final memory functioning.
  2. 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.

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Paper Prototyping Memories

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.

my paper prototype of Memories

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!  😉

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Meet the Memories NPCs

I have created and named the NPCs you will encounter in Memories. Here they are:

Picture of Memories NPCs

 

I don’t know for sure at this time that these will be all of the characters in the game (plus Briana).  But these are the ones I think I’ll be needing. I decided on the design of most of them over the last week, but I didn’t name everyone until last night (with the exception of Bella and Briana); it was rapidly becoming very tough to write dialogue without names.

I always try to give my characters unique names so there’s no confusion as to who is who.  I tried to choose names with an Irish or English  origin, in the hopes that the names will sound similar (and tie the characters together geographically).  But in this case I also decided to give people from the same families names that start with the same letter.  I think the names are, for the most part, different enough; I just hope that this won’t confuse anyone who plays the game!

Ten of these characters were created with RPG Maker VX Ace’s built in Character Generator.  The other five were chosen from the characters that come with the software.  You may actually recognize Wulfric from Tears of the King; I chose the same model for the Tears woodcutter (seen in the video in my Jan 2 2016 post).

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Event Stuck on Another Event!

I was working on another cut scene and I had the weirdest thing happen: one of my events got stuck trying to move through a second event. I ended up making a video explaining the whole thing:

If you don’t feel like watching the video and would rather read about what was happening, basically the guy on the left was getting stuck on the guy on the right.

map with events, butler event circled

The event/guy on the right happens first and then is over.  That event becomes invisible, and I made sure it’s marked as being under the player.  I assumed that a second event would be able to walk over it, too.  But that’s not the case.  Luckily it’s super easy to fix this problem.  When I made the event/guy on the left’s move route, I had to make sure “through” was turned to “on.”

Event editing with move route open - through on is circled

Make sure you turn “through” on and not “transparent” on.  I made that mistake once while messing with the settings to make the video and he (obviously) disappeared!

Like I said, it’s super easy.  Kind of like getting the screen to go back to normal after a tint…(hint – use tint screen, not tint picture!)

Oh, one important note: you have to turn “through” on for every move route on a different page of an event.  I turned it on for this guy when he walks from the left to the right, but didn’t turn it on for when he walks right to left; the first time worked fine, but then he got stuck on the event the second time! Also, make sure you turn through on at the beginning of the move route; it won’t really help you if it’s at the end of the list of commands.

You probably noticed that this video is a lot more involved than the previous ones I’ve made regarding RPG Maker VX Ace (it has voice over, multiple video clips, and some pictures!) Because I knew I wanted to show several videos together (specifically the guy getting stuck on the event, and then the guy being able to walk through it), I ended up buying myself Movavi Video Editor.  I was playing around with the trial version, and decided that it was well worth buying, especially since I keep making blog posts with videos about RPG Maker VX Ace tips.  I also just turned my last post where I talked about screen tinting into a video because I wanted to play with Movavi’s highlighting effects.  You can check it out here:

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