Simple RPG Update and What Comes Next

3659920144_7601dbafc2Now that I am back from my very brief but very eventful trip to Seattle and have spent a couple of days trying to get over jetlag (I say trying because I am currently writing this at 5am! YAY for messed up sleeping patterns!) it is time to get back to the business of attempting to make games!

Despite the hectic-ness and craziness of the trip I managed to get a fair bit of thinking and mental mapping done for the Simple RPG and a couple of other things I have in the pipe-line. The Simple RPG should hopefully only take a couple more weeks to finish then release for testing and feedback so yay! In the meantime I will be hopefully uploading one or two more videos about the game. One of a section in the latter half of the game and the other about me making the game and how I am currently using RPG Maker VX Ace. The second video will also have links to the various sites, videos, pdfs and tutorials I have been using to get to grips with the program because I am such a nice guy and I feel like sharing it with you!

Continue reading

Simple RPG Battle Preview

One last quick video before I shoot off to the states for a break!

In this video I show off the battle system for my simple RPG and in turn one of the boss battles that will be featured in the game. I also talk about the game in general and my learning process with RPG Maker VX Ace.

UPDATE:

During the video I mention wanting to change the look of the battle system to make it more….appealing visually. Well this morning I’ve been doing some searching around and I have found the perfect script for the changes I wanted to make to the look of the battle system.

I am now using the brilliant Ace Battle System by Yanfly

So it has gone from looking like this:

Old Battle Screen

 

To this:

New Battle SystemCharacter pictures, more effects and damage indicators. All able to tweak and change at my whims. PERFECT! It also means I have checked off the add extra scripts to the game box of my check list for the game. The processing of the turns and the displaying of battle information is still a tad to fast for my tastes but hopefully I should be able to edit Yanfly’s script to slow things down a bit.

Apart from that battling works the same way as it did before it just looks a hell of a lot better!

Simple RPG Intro Video

Just to show that I am making progress teaching myself how to use RPG Maker VX Ace here is a video of the intro for short game I am making as part of the learning process. I’ve been working on it solidly for the past week and I’m starting to put it all together. The latest complete section is this short opening that gets the ball rolling.

Like I said it is meant to be a short and simple RPG, so the story isn’t up to much!

…..and neither are the characters……

Still I am loving it and it is great to be working on an actual game with actual development tools.

I’ll be putting up more videos soon and eventually releasing the full game for download. So keep your eyes peeled!

Continue reading

A Change of Plans…..again

Crossing out Plan A and writing Plan B on a blackboard.

So the “small” choose your own adventure idea I have been working on has turned into a big unwieldily mess of a thing. I did not anticipate the amount of time and thought that would go into even putting together a small prototype version of the concept. It is one of those ideas that you get more and more frustrated with the longer you work on it. So for now I am placing it on the back burner to put some distance between me and it. (I refer to it as a living thing now because I hate so!) Hopefully a few weeks or months not thinking about it will allow me to come back to it with a fresh perspective. In the meantime I am thinking of putting together a more traditional choose your own adventure book with a few added embellishments to make it interesting. It is squarely an idea that is floating around in the cloud at the moment but we will see.

So what am I to do now?

  • The Adventure Game idea has been pushed back because the idea has grown considerably (it is something I keep adding stuff to regularly)
  • FTDiesALot is slowly growing but that is more of a hobby than work at this point.
  • Other things like The Comic Book Reader  and my gaming efforts on Twitch are slowly growing in popularity too
  • Looking for a job is also still on the agenda as I keep sending out email after email and CVs to pretty much any developer that will take a look at them. A tad soul destroying with the lack of replies but it is one of those things I have to keep moving otherwise I am not going to find work anytime soon!

So what about a game design project to keep things moving for pretty much everything I do?

Well…..

Continue reading

Game Design Presentation – Project Superman Pitch

This is the first presentation I did for my Honours Project in my final year of University. It is a short Pitch Presentation for my Superman game idea. So while it is not as in depth as my other presentations it covers the reasoning behind the game, the key areas of interest and key mechanics.

Project Superman is one of my favourite pieces of work because I had a blast putting it together and trying to make Superman work in a video game setting. I like to think I solved some of the problems but I will leave final judgement up to you!

I will also be eventually turning the other documents and presentations made for this particular game design into videos in the near future!

As ever you can see the full portfolio entry by heading here! (There is a lot more to this particular game design and the project as a whole trust me!)

A small-ish game idea

ting!

My newer more relaxed approach to dealing with this place is working for me I think. I am no longer chained to having to think of something to write week in week out freeing me up to look for a job and work on my own game designs. All my usual gaming stuff is now on YouTube via FTDiesALot and this place has gone back to being about game design and in particular my designs. If you miss my regular writing then check out my comic book blog that is frequently updated!

The adventure game is still on track, I just haven’t done any updates because I am still in the planning it out on paper stage. Also my current plan is to sit down and teach myself Unity to make the game with but before I do that I want to do something else. To stretch my legs a bit.

A different take on the choose your own adventure genre.

Continue reading

Adventure Game Update: Pitching, Prototypes and Rip-O-Matics

It has been a very long time since I have done an update on the adventure game. Admittedly I played a part in falling behind on its progress but I am more than going to make up for it this month. I’ve decided to implement a mini deadline to help get things back on track and help define the game a lot more than previously. I’m setting the end of this month as the deadline for getting the pitching part for the game design sorted and presentable. Not just for my own purposes and this site but as a possible entry into the PlayStation Mobile Prototype funding opportunity that I linked to a little while ago. If I miss the final submission date I simply miss it and aim to get it finished as soon as possible but if I get done and in a state I am happy with I will submit it and see how things go. I’ve got nothing to loose really and I might even get some feedback on the design which would be appreciated.

The question now though is, what am I going to include in my pitch for the game?

Continue reading

New Beginnings

So here we are. A bright and shiny new site ready and willing for me to do whatever I want with it! I’m no longer held down by the limits imposed on me by the old site and I have a lot of plans to utilise the new found freedom this site brings. I can go in any direction I want. The world of blogging is once again open to me! Also my life is back to semi-normality so I can finally get back to my regularly scheduled posts. Huzza!

So without further ado here’s this week’s schedule:

  • Monday: Adventure Game Update (it has been far to long!)
  • Wednesday: Link Storm (I haven’t done one of these in ages!)
  • Friday: Friday Post (either my long awaited write up on Catherine or a post about Gamer culture and how it is perceived. I haven’t decided yet)

I’m also going to try and throw at least one or two new episodes of my God of War Ghost of Sparta Let’s Play which I am really getting into making. I’m also toying around with recording a couple more things with my Game Capture HD this week if I have time. We will see how things go.

In other news you may have noticed a couple of links appear to the right of the site. One if you know me or have followed me around online for a bit will be familiar, The Nerd Is The Word (which due to reasons outside of my control is currently down/not working as it should) is back and I’m trying to add more regular posts to that particular tumblr. The other The Play Vault is not so familiar. The Play Vault is a small gaming site that I’ve joined as a writer. I will be publishing one or two posts there a week and depending on how things go, getting involved with the site’s community and other writers.

You can see my first post for The Play Vault by heading here.

I’ve joined The Play Vault for multiple reasons, the main ones being:

  • It is something to keep me occupied while I’m looking for full time work.
  • It gets me started on a possible side job/career as a games journalist (don’t worry! Game design is still my main focus and dream!)
  • It can add to and help with my game design skills
  • I get to talk about games!

So from time to time do not be surprised if I link to articles from there.

So yeah that’s it for now expect new posts and content heading you way later on today and this week!

Adventure Game Update: Coming Up With An Idea That Works

So I announced that I was going to start work on a game and then I’ve said nothing since and it has been over a month! Apart from the wedding stuff and my life generally be all over the place at the moment there is a reason why I haven’t posted anything until now: I went back to the drawing board.

I got around two thirds of the way through working out the concept for an adventure game set in and around a boarding school and in particular drawing from my experience as a student at Stonyhurst College to come up with the story for the game and its gameplay. It was a good idea but I think because I was drawing heavily from my own life I got a bit too ambitious with it. It quickly turned from a small adventure game into an indie epic. So rather than dumbing down I decided to shelve the work I have done on that idea so far and save it for later on when I am better equipped to realise that idea to its full potential. The idea for this project after all was to make an adventure game that would aid towards improving my game design skills in a relatively short timeframe.

So I spent a good couple of week bouncing around ideas in my head and a few on paper but I have finally come up with something that fits what I am trying to do perfectly.

The idea came from my love for older Japanese anime. You see I have a complicated relationship with anime. I used to love it. Like more than comic books love it (if you know me that is a big deal!). So before I go into the basics of the game idea it is time for a little history lesson.

I discovered anime in my early teens at 13-14 by way of Dragonball Z as most people my age in the UK did. It was on Cartoon Network and it was awesome. Eventually I wanted more than DBZ and the UK TV networks obliged by providing a surprisingly broad mix of styles and genres. Fox Kids (remember that channel?) had Escaflowne and Technoman (god I used to love Technoman!) and the Sci-Fi Channel back when it was still spelt correctly used to show anime movies and mini series late at night once or twice a week so I started setting up my VCR to record them and then watch them over the weekend. The films and mini-series on Sci-Fi blew my mind. Through them I saw some horrifically violent animation and sexual content well beyond my years (blame The Legend of the Overfiend!) I was also exposed to greats like Akira and Ghost in the Shell. Eventually my brother also wanting more found a guy through ebay who was selling CDs full of dubbed and subbed anime (this was before we had broadband so downloading anything was time intensive and expensive on a 56k modem!) so he bought a load. And by that I mean a metric shit tonne of anime. From retro classics to the contemporary hits of the time. I spent the next year or so watching the majority of these anime CDs.

While doing this my tastes in anime developed and solidified into what they are today. I was fond of the more stylish anime that harkend back to past animes or those past animes that inspired these modern twists. I did enjoy a lot of more modern stuff too like Naruto, Bleach and such but eventually they just got to long in the tooth for me to follow anymore. My favourites like I said were rooted firmly in the past. Lots of 60s-80s animation and design or shows that had a sense of style and “coolness” to them. Stuff like Cowboy Bebop which wears its inspirations on its sleeve proudly.

Cowboy Bebop is one of those shows that you watch that changes your outlook and tastes in  everything. It oozed cool effortlessly and pretty much ruined anime for me because few could match up to it in my view. The Cowboy Bebop creator’s follow-up anime, Samurai Champloo, comes close though. So with contemporary anime ruined for me I turned back to the past even more and watch a lot of older animes eventually though that well dried up and I stopped watching anime altogether apart from one or two movies or series every year or so. Even then they have to be highly recommended and suitable to my niche tastes within the medium.

So while I was coming up with ideas for my adventure game I turned to things that I love outside of games. One of the first things I turned to was Mad Men which as everyone knows is the current best TV show ever made. While the idea of an adventure game set in the world of advertising in the early 60s is appealing I starting thinking about stuff from the 60s and the decades either side of it that I could draw from. You had pulp adventure stories, cowboys & aliens. Loads of stuff going on in post-war popculture. All stuff that has been fed down to us today. I started thinking about how crazy the early James Bond films were and why they are still considered cool. They were these huge grand adventures. The bread and butter of things like Uncharted that see Drake and co. globe trotting and quiping to the end credits.

So I decided I wanted to do something set in the mid to late 50s or early 60s. I think the 50s will do best because it will give me distance from things like Mad Men and it hasn’t really been explored in games before and I can still fit a lot of that 60s style in there without red flags popping up saying it doesn’t belong. More importantly I can entrench the game in post-war history and play off that fact that the world was in recovery mode and everything to a certain extent was up for grabs. I couldn’t do spys though because they have been done to death, but I wanted the gadgets and cool factor spys can bring. I couldn’t do the brilliant idea of an archeologist or treasure hunter because those ideas seem really familiar for some reason (*wink* *wink*) but I wanted a reason to send my characters globe trotting and traveling to dangerous and exotic locations.

It was then I remembered all of many hours of anime watching in my teens and in particular one of the main influences on Cowboy Bebop, Lupin The 3rd. Lupin is one of my all time favourite animes and I found it because of my love for Cowboy Bebop. It follows the escapades of a master thief as he globe trotts with his companions and generally getting into trouble. It is just the kind of thing I was looking for! You can read more about Lupin here. The idea then basically leaped out of my head fully formed: A serialised adventure game that riffs on classic James Bond and spy stories but focusing on a thief and his adventures just like Lupin! As for the art style I want to go for something along the sharp angular lines of 50s and 60s animation, go have a play around with Mad Men Yourself and you’ll get the gist of the style I am talking about.

So that’s it. That’s my basic idea: An adventure game about a thief in the 1950s/60s.

While I’m coming up with my main gameplay ideas and the pitch for the game as it were I will be watching a lot of original Lupin The 3rd and its new series The Woman Called Fujiko Mine to get myself re-acquainted with the style and trappings of the format along with a healthy dose of classic Bond and 50s/60s history and popculture.

It’s going to be colourful and cool!

Planning For The Future: or what I am going to do while looking for a job

I’m at that strange point in my career where I haven’t really started yet but I am ready to get going. By this I mean I am in a phase of transition, from Game Design Student to Game Designer.

I have finished all my work for University and it has been moderated. I am eagerly waiting for the 22nd June when I get my results and I find out my final grade for my degree. After that I have graduation in July and then I am done with academic life (for a few years at least). In the meantime I have my degree show running for two weeks (yes you read that correctly) between the 15th to the 30th of this very month. Things kickoff tomorrow night with the opening evening which should be interesting. While all this is going on I am going to be doing a couple of things:

  1. Looking for work a lot more actively than I have been. The job hunt has been in fits and starts but I am using the degree show as a focal point to get my shit together, hence all the portfolio stuff being added to the site and to really kick the hunt for work into high gear. 
  2. Getting stuff sorted for my wedding in September. Yes, I met a girl a few years ago, she liked me and wanted to look after me and my particular brand of crazy – FOREVER! (Score!) 
  3. Make a game.

I am planning on making an actual living and breathing game. There are multiple reasons for this which I will now present to you in list format:

  1. Well I am a game designer, so why not?
  2. I am a game designer, so I need to make a game to “officially” become a game designer
  3. It will show prospective employers I mean business and that I can get stuff done (this will be a game that will be finished and released!)
  4. Everyone I talk to says I should do it not just for a career boost but for my own personal satisfaction
  5. I have been toying around with the idea for a few month and I’m now ready to jump head first into it
  6. I really should have done this 2-3 years ago

So this will not be a design document and prototype or a little demo to show the concept of the game off to people. This will be an actual full game, albeit a small and short full game. I am not aiming on making something that will reinvent the wheel. I just want to make a game that people can play and enjoy. I want to make a game that I can work on in the background while I am hunting down a job and dealing with all my other life stuff. I want to make a game based on something I have always wanted to make in various forms over the years. I want to stretch my legs a bit and design something I haven’t touched upon yet but have always wanted to. I want to wipe the dust off my script/story writing cap. I want to make an adventure game!

So what brought all of this about?

Well I have spent a couple of days exploring the internet and following link after link and journeying deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. Looking at various things to do with game design in the run up to my degree show and for my own personal development. I came across a couple of things.

The first was this really informative piece on how to be an indie developer in the UK from the guys at Mode7. It breaks down the indie dev process into bite-sized chunks and gives a lot of great advice in the process. It also links to several other articles and blog posts such as this post from Derek about Finishing a Game which galvanised me into action. I have also come across a few useful game makers/engines and tools in the past few weeks that really make me want to do this (more on these in a bit). The time is right and it will stop me getting lazy while I am on jobseekers and looking for work. 

So here is my short term plan for the project:

  • Use the degree show to bounce around the game concept with my fellow students
  • Maybe rope one or two of them into working on the game, for free (the free bit is the most important part!) but this can wait until further down the line if needs be
  • Ask my old writing buddy if he wants to get involved (more on this if he says yes!)
  • Put together a pitch document
  • Experiment with the tools, engines and game makers I have stumbled upon
  • Start putting the game together in a basic form
  • Once a rough version of the game is up and running get an artist to make it look pretty! 
  • Test, test, test!
  • Experience crushing depression that the game is broken and rubbish
  • Tweak the game and tighten things up
  • Test, test, test!
  • Release!
  • Sip cocktails on a beach while praise and accolades are showered upon me

All this while being completely open about the design and development of the game with readers of this little website I run.

So that’s the plan for now and I am really going to push to stick to this and finish the game wether it is a broken mess or not. I will finish and release this game. I want to get this done and dusted within a year if not sooner. If it goes beyond a year to make and release then I haven’t stuck to my original goals. Ideally I am looking at six to eight months. Keeping it to a tight schedule will hopefully stop the game from getting to bloated with ideas and content. The only things that I will allow to increase the development time is me finding work at a developer. When that happens I will adjust the dev time accordingly to fit with me working on the game in my free time in the evening and on the weekend.

So keep an eye out! I will be posting more about the game in the next couple of weeks!