Q:I'm kinda in a bind regarding my game's setting. Not necessarily with the whole process of coming up with various ideas, since I'm leaning towards having simplistic area names and what not, but the general aspects of making it all seem consistent. You got any tips on how to pull this off and/or how do you manage to go about it in Ruins of Rydos?
When it comes to world building and keeping things consistent, I take some time to sit down and take notes. If you feel inspired with a torrent of ideas then open up a notebook and jot down whatever pops into your head, connecting the dots afterwards.
However, in the spirit of getting things done in a convenient time frame, simply keep in mind the areas that you will actually use in the game. The player will only know what you tell them so worrying over the little details will only end up stressing you out and wasting time. The beauty of working on video games is that if you keep the details brief, you can edit the world in future installments based on how your players view the world and think it works.
For Ruins of Rydos, the entire world was something I spent years putting together and planning. It was off and on, something that started as a story I wrote in high school with a small fishing island that slowly became a large multi-continent world. How much will you see in Ruins of Rydos? Just one small section, but in future games who knows!
While making your game the only areas that matter are the ones that the player will actually spend time in. You can briefly mention other areas and hint towards them, yet make sure that they are brief. If you put in too many details the player might feel overwhelmed or even worse, bored.
As for consistency, just take a look at the world around you. If your world is similar to Earth, keep in mind how geography works in our world and how humanity has left their mark. Have a large castle town in the middle of a swamp? How do they deal with the soft terrain, the humidity, the constant swarming of insects and vermin? Ask yourself these details and answer the questions that pop into your head. You don’t need to beat the player over the head with these details, but keeping them in mind for yourself will show through your work and it will tell the story in a subtle fashion that the player can enjoy.
Simply put: list the areas the player will visit and ask yourself questions about how these locations operate. Then ask yourself how these locations relate to each other (transportation and the like). When in doubt, always rely on the KISS theory: Keep It Simple Stupid.
Thanks for the question, I hope this helps. As always, have fun and good luck on your game!
Featured Article on RPG Maker Web and Progress Reports.
I wrote an article about Game Design and Planning that was featured on the RPG Maker Web blog which you can find here. So far the reactions have been positive and I’m happy to see my writing being posted on a site that isn’t mine! Haha.
In other news, Ruins of Rydos has been progressing. I’ve been working on the nuts and bolts of it, damage formulas, items, skills, etc. so nothing yet to really show off visually. So I’ve decided that starting next weekend I’m going to work on weekly progress reports to share what I’ve done on RoR. As always, feel free to share your input!
Q:You may not recognize me, but I did post something on RoR's comment section in RMN, as well as a few posts on the finalbossblues website. Anyway, since your game's combat system is going to be highly traditional, I wanted to know what you're stance is in regards to having a dedicated "Defend" command in the system itself.
Well, it will “appear” traditional, but I plan on tweaking battles so they have some modern tactics involved. As far as having “Defend”, I’d like to be able to incorporate things like having powerful enemies telegraph strong attacks (Persona, Ni No Kuni, Final Fantasy etc.) and the player is recommended to defend to reduce the damage of that incoming attack.
In short, Defend has its uses when the player can justify giving up a turn to be offensive.
Retro Reflection - Standing Still vs. Animated in Place.
The game I’m working on is meant to fit within the NES’ limitations (at least graphically). I wish to do this for two reasons: 1) it’s reasonable with my pixel art abilities (which are novice level, in my opinion) and 2) I want to see how far I can push those limitations without breaking them. In order to do so, I’ve followed guides such as this as well as study old NES games (at least their screenshots) in order to figure out how developers back in the day pulled off what they did.
Today while working on art for NPCs in the base camp I completed one NPC’s 4 directional poses and then thought to myself, “Do I really need to work on the stepping animations for this character?”
By stepping animation I mean the extra 2 frames that show the character stepping forward with their right or left legs respectively. In older games such as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, the NPCs only had 2 frames of animation: Left foot forward and right foot forward. This would look awkward if the characters stood completely still with just one foot stepped forward and the opposite arm lifted high. Since there wasn’t a middle “idle” pose I get the impression that they had the characters walking in place to prevent that awkward look of standing on one leg.
Was that the only reason? Possibly not, as they could be doing so to keep the screen looking busy and alive. Which is why I haven’t just closed this sprite sheet and moved on to the next. This character, and others like it will stand in one static location for the duration of the game. Should I have them walk in place to make them look active? Should I have them stand still so it isn’t awkward when you talk to them?
Would look fairly awkward for these women to be in that pose all day long.
Consistency is what must be considered at this point. If the NPCs walk in place, then the player themselves would also have to do so (and they did in the examples I provided). For storytelling purposes it would look equally awkward for them to all walk in place and then become still when the player talked to them (or a cutscene occured).
So there doesn’t seem to be any right or wrong way to go with this. While the main reason seems to be that they only decided to draw two frames of animation, the bonus of the screen looking busy and alive becomes the major thing to consider when going with the “walking in place option”.
Ultimately it seems to be an aesthetic choice. One that doesn’t really seem to matter in the long run. If you have any thoughts on which method is better or anything about the methods themselves, please let me know!
Podcast - So this is what I’ve been doing the past few weeks.
So a couple buds of mine in the RPG Maker Community and I have started a weekly podcast about Game Development in general and how it can be applied to RPG Maker games. It’s a fun thing to do, and although we’re still working some bugs out, it’s pretty fun to work with.
Feel free to check it out at either links below:
Check ‘em out and let me know what you think!
Ruins of Rydos - Game Making Drive Day 4
Well we’re 4 days in to the Game Making Drive and still going strong. I had skipped Day 3 for this blog as yesterday’s contribution wasn’t very significant. I had finished one of the skill animations and decided to mess around with them in-game a bit only to find they were too big! Seems my experiment to try them at 4x4 so they looked more prominent in battle backfired on me.
So, today I redrew the skill animations I had worked on over the past few days making them a bit smaller (using the 2x2 pixel ratio instead of the experimental 4x4) I also tweaked the appearance of the animations a bit to make them look better. One of these days I’ll have to get my hands on some video recording software and cut a trailer to show these in action.
Tomorrow will be a party day, so for the most part I’ll be working a bit on some new animations and making a dent in the list of animations I need for my skills. (Not too long of a list, thankfully). Hopefully by Monday or Tuesday I’ll be done with the animations and I can get to working on the new and improved intro.
Ruins of Rydos - Game Making Drive Day 2
Welcome folks to DAY 2! Today I cover what I’ve done with my allotted game development time: more attack animations!
Today I started the day with a simple goal: Make it so the player’s weapons have 8-bit animations that have proper sound effects and look nice when they are played in-game. This is an identical goal to yesterday, and I made sure to achieve that same level of quality. I started off with making an animation for the spear/hammer weapons and then a slashing animation for the swords and whips used by the party. Now, one might ask yourself, why would those pairs’ animations match at all? Well, the animations themselves are simple, and it’s the sound effects that really make each weapon unique from the other.
I’ve toyed around with it a bit and it’s actually working pretty well. Of course when you folks see this in the next demo, feel free to let me know how I can improve it. :)
Aside from working on these animations all I’ve really done today is record an awesome podcast with Kilim and Despain. http://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?/topic/5778-podcast-1-world-immersion/
For tomorrow I shall be once again working on more animations. This time, I will be working on animations for each skill used by players and enemies in the game. How many will I complete? How awesome will they look? Will I discover a really cool shortcut? Stay tuned to find out!
Ruins of Rydos - Game Making Drive Day 1
Well folks, Archeia Nessiah had the wonderful idea of having folks in the RPG Maker community to participate in daily updates of their progress on their projects for a month. We’re supposed to work on our projects for a set time (of any length) per day to make considerable progress and then report on that progress. So, here I go with Day 1 of the Game Making Drive for Ruins of Rydos!
Today I worked on something I had been putting off for a while: 8-Bit Attack Animations! I had already made a few yesterday and came across a slight problem, the animations were transparent when used! So my first order of business for today was to rectify that problem. All I had to do was go into the Animation Tab in the database and select the animation I was working on. From there I selected the “Cell Blending…” option and chose “Blending -> Normal” for all frames of the animation. This may be elementary for some RM folks but as I had personally not messed with animations, this was a great discovery! Needless to say, my attack animations at this point remained opaque when used in-game.
This was the solution to all of my worries!
Next on my list, was to make more animations! I plan on creating 8-bit animations for each skill used in Ruins of Rydos (in an attempt to avoid using any RTP at all). I managed to make a claw, bite, and striking animation with three unique frames for the former, and two unique frames for the last. This took more time than I would have liked, but I did get it done! I then proceeded to implement these animations along with some adequate sound effects (SNES level if not NES/Famicom level) to help add to the “impact” of these attacks.
Like I said before, I wasn’t very familiar with animations, so dealing with these was definitely a learning experience for me. It was fun to figure out how many frames to use for each piece of animation to get the look I wanted, as well as which frame to trigger things like a flash on the enemy sprite. I also made sure that the sound effects I used lined up well with the animation. Once all of that was said and done, my enemies now had unique animations for their basic attacks. Enemies that appeared to be fond of biting now appeared to do so, enemies with claws got an animation, and everything else got a simple striking animation. Plus, the striking animation doubles for unarmed party members!
I may have said this before, but I find it amazing how something as simple as an animation that only lasts for a few seconds (even if the player sees it ad nauseum in battles) can take up so much time to create and implement. Despite the brief showing of each animation, the feeling of satisfaction is definitely great.
Ruins of Rydos - Pixel Art Evolution
Hello folks, today I’m going to discuss what I’ve been working on for the past 24 hours! While destroying bugs and getting things polished for the next demo, I was chatting with some folks and getting a tad bored. What I wanted to do was liven up the face sets and make them more symbolic of the way the characters were currently in my head and in the game. Plus I wanted an excuse to improve my skills at pixel art! The topic we were discussing was just that and the wonderful Archeia Nessiah of the RPG Maker Web community offered me not only some great tips on improving, but also a quick sketch for me to work off of. (She makes art look insanely easy, I swear).
So the above picture is what I originally had made for the two main characters the player can choose from, Gerald and Brenda! They’re fairly decent if I do say so, and they get the job done. But they COULD be better!
Add Archeia’s magical art talent for a base… (Plus notice how terrible I was doing trying to redraw on my own >,>)
And voila! Improved facesets! I’m super happy with how these turned out and I can’t thank Archeia enough (as well as a few other folks of the RMWeb community) for their input and help. I’ve got a long way to go as far as pixel art is concerned, but I’ve also come a long way thanks to the help of my friends. Sappy, I’m sure, but it’s the truth and I’m very proud of my progress. Let me know what you think!
My roommate took a look at the facesets and offered his advice. Here’s how it turned out:
RPG Maker and Me.
Hello folks, today I shall discuss the program I am using to make Ruins of Rydos: RPG Maker VX Ace. I first got into RPG Maker back in the early 2000s with the fan translated version of RPG Maker 95. After classes I’d use it to create small adventures for my friends and I to play through and enjoy. Over the years I migrated to 2000, 2k3, and then XP, VX, and finally VX Ace. Through the constantly evolving power of these makers, I’ve been able to put together the ideas in my head and develop my abilities as a developer and storyteller.
RPG Maker means many things to me, but above all else it signifies potential! The tool itself is quite simple, but depending on what you do with it you can create a grand adventure or a small tale. Some might criticize it as being TOO easy, and is inherently bad because of this. I staunchly disagree. Like a pen and a pad of paper, anyone can write, but not all can create something immensely entertaining. The potential is there, it is up to the user to reach that potential.
As the above shot shows, through the power of RPG Maker I’ve been able to create something that is my own. Using this powerful program, I am be able to make a game that is my own and share it with others so they can feel the enjoyment I have felt from playing games others have made.
If you’re also interested in making RPGs, there’s no better place to start than here.