Tag Archives: Games

The appreciation that comes with small moments of progress

Sometimes you get stuck on things. In my case, this week it was stuck dealing with an issue in one of the final scenes in my game not functioning the way I thought it would as I originally pieced it all together. It took a lot of trial and error and testing, but I finally got it figured out, and now the scene that was previously broken is functioning as I originally had intended for it to.

Even though I can’t really say I got very much “done” this week, I’m grateful I was able to take something moderately complex that was “broken” and get it functioning properly again. It was a relief in a sense, knowing it is now working properly. Even amidst my feelings of frustration for a perceived lack of overall productivity, there was still a sense of gratitude for making this sort of “little progress” on an unexpected hurdle.

My Patreon Page is Live!

You can check it out here! https://www.patreon.com/jayrayhawk

This is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile now, but I wasn’t really sure how to go about it.

Most of the time I see folks who are artists, or doing the kinds of things where they are able to produce a lot of tangible content frequently (videos or music etc.), who are using Patreon to its best effect. I believe those are the sorts of things that it fits best in general.

As an indie game developer and self-publishing indie author solo act, it took some extra consideration on how exactly I could put one together and still give people something worth subscribing for, without necessarily having to devote a huge amount of time into creating additional content beyond what I’m already working on just to appease the expectations of patrons.

I felt like whatever I did with Patreon rewards, it needed to be as a natural extension or result of what I already am producing for the most part, rather than adding a bunch of extra stuff to my workload. That was the challenge that I faced in trying to think of a way to provide rewards to folks who were generous enough to help support me financially.

But after awhile of considering what I could do and what I had to offer others in this regard, I did manage to come up with enough ideas to launch a Patreon page of my own starting today, which you can check out here: https://www.patreon.com/jayrayhawk

For now I have settled on two tiers with content that I believe I will be able to add fairly regularly, at least a couple times a month. My goal is an average of one post or update a week, with a minimum I’ve set myself for at least one update a month. This is my first time trying something like this, so I kept my commitments to it on the low side, that way I don’t get in over my head early on and end up feeling overwhelmed by it.

We’ll see how it goes though! I appreciate everyone who takes the time out of their day to check it out, and spreading the word about it would really help me out!

Updated Game Info: New Release Window, Non-violent Design Philosophy

After the better part of a year, I’ve updated the page on my site regarding my game in development Death? Preposterous! with new information and images.

There is a new target release window for the game, and additional insight into some of my design philosophies and goals that I have had throughout the creation and development process.

I plan to update the page even further after the game has released as well, so you can look forward to that.

You can check it out here: https://jayrayhawk.com/games/death-preposterous/

New Banner Images

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been active here, but that’s because my focus has been on working more on Death? Preposterous! until I can complete it.

In the meantime, I have taken a number of screenshots of the game, and I’ve updated the banner images you see at the top of my site using these new images.

They’ll randomly be chosen from the pool of 30 images as you navigate this website, but you can check them all out below in this post too.

For those of you following along with my twitter account or my facebook page, you’ll notice that I’ve also updated to a new image there as well.

 

My Recent Game Development Progress

As I mentioned in the previous post, and as followers have no doubt noticed, it has been quite awhile since I’ve last posted anything of substance here.

During this time period I have still been working on my indie RPG Maker game “Death? Preposterous!”, but the progress hasn’t been totally steady over the past 4 months. There was a good solid stretch of time for about 2 months where I was in a really bad productivity/life slump that started back in February and ran through most of April as well.

This was a long stretch of time where I was unable to motivate myself to do much of anything, even the things I normally would enjoy working on, like my game project, I felt pretty lackluster overall and was unable to make much progress.

However in the past few weeks that feeling has finally subsided and I have begun working on it in earnest again. There is no such thing as “making up for lost time” really, but I also realize now how much longer it is taking to bring the ideas from my mind into reality in the game itself. Everything takes an excessively longer period of time to implement than I imagine it will. It’s simple to think of an idea, but takes much more time and effort to actually bring it into existence.

For example, recently I have been adding wildlife into the game to help the maps feel less empty and barren. I feel like it has been an excellent addition to the game and helps bring the game world to life. I originally thought this would be a simple thing to do that I could have finished in a few days at worst, and it has taken me weeks instead of days, and I am still not quite done adding wildlife to all of the maps.

Many setbacks like these, unrealistic visions of the ideas in my head vs. the actual time and effort required to implement them the way I imagined them, end up taking the scope of the project and throwing it out the window.

Two things I have definitely learned from this experience making this game off, and mostly on, over the past 9 months are:

  1. An RPG is too much time consuming work for a single person to complete in any sort of reasonable amount of time on their own, and
  2. I am apparently not a person who is going to be able to accurately estimate when a project will be “done” ahead of time… not even remotely close. I was terrible at it in the office job I held for 7 years before I quit that and started this (risky? insane? wonderful?) period of self-employment, and I’m terrible at guessing how long it’ll take even when I’m in full control of the project as is the case with creating this RPG Maker game.

So… I’m not even going to try and guess anymore “when it will be done” because I’ve learned I cannot imagine anything close to the realistic truth of it, as far as how long something will actually take to complete. Even when I grossly over-estimate in my head to “be sure I’ll make it by then”, even that ends up being not enough time to meet the reality of it all.

All that said… I am at a point in the development where I know I’m getting close to the end (relatively speaking) of the project, and what I originally envisioned for the game is not impossibly distant anymore. In other words the game is far enough along at this point that it is feeling like an actual game now. Things are coming together, and it’s no longer just a bunch of random bits and pieces shoved together but rather feeling like a cohesive whole “thing”….or at least like it’s getting there.

In other words it’s far enough along at this point that I am going to continue to see it through until it is finished, even if that takes a lot longer than I thought it would (it always seems to) to reach that point, I’m going to reach it.

It’s exciting knowing that I’ve made it far enough to where it is really starting to come together and be a real thing. I can definitely see the “light at the end of the tunnel” as the saying goes….it’s still a ways off, so don’t get too excited, but it no longer feels like I’m just bumbling about in the darkness. There really is an end to it all and I can see it off in the distance at this point.

So if you were to ask me today, when will the game finally be out? I don’t know and I’m tired of pretending like I have a reasonable idea when the real answer is “It’s done when it’s finished and I’m satisfied with it.” Maybe this summer? Maybe in the fall? Maybe later than I can imagine? Regardless of the time it does end up taking me to finish though, I am confident that there is enough of a game here now that I will see it through to completion in any case. It wants to be born into this world and I’m doing my best within my limited means to create it. Just finishing it and getting it out to the world is my goal at this point, and I feel that will be accomplishment enough.

As a final thought for this post, you may have noticed that the banner images on my site redesign are different than they used to be. Did you notice they also change from time to time? They all feature recent screenshots from some of the maps and characters in Death? Preposterous! and I thought it would be a nice idea to show you the full versions of those screenshots here in this post, since you can only get so much of an idea from a banner sized image.

You can click on the images below to see them in their larger original sizes. Please keep in mind that these are technically still screenshots of a game currently in development and do not necessarily represent the final version of the game… though to be honest they are pretty far along and at this point I don’t imagine there will be too many other changes to how these areas look other than perhaps a few cosmetic tweaks or additions, so this should be a pretty solid look at these areas.

I will have some more updates in the future (at some point) with more details about the game’s story and characters and features etc., and the storefront page on itch.io is slowly coming together too. I’ll probably share that with everyone when I get it looking a bit better finalized, and fill it with more information about the game as well, so you can look forward to that at some undetermined point in the future. In the meanwhile I’m getting back to work on finishing up the parts of the game I still need to do. However long that takes is however long that takes, but hopefully not too terribly much longer now. We’ll see how it goes. Just keep moving forward. Progress is progress yes?

Developments #02: Death? Preposterous!

I believe it is of a paramount importance to attempt to create an experience for players that offers something unique, or at least uncommon.

Many would argue that everything has been done already regardless of your medium or genre at this point, and I will acknowledge that it becomes difficult to create something completely new.

However, even if you are creating something that has “already been done before” by many others, I believe it is important to look for ways you can do things differently, something about your creation that makes it stand out from the crowd in a way that is not seen very often. Aspire to have something that “makes it your own” in the sense that it is at least a little bit innovative.

Sometimes that can be a simple thing. Taking a look at game development in particular (though this concept applies to any sort of creative field) for example you might have a unique and custom battle system in your Role Playing Game. Sometimes it can be the art style that is unique. It doesn’t necessarily mean that everything about the entire experience needs to be original for something to be considered interesting or unique. In fact, some familiarity can be beneficial too.

One way that I am endeavoring to bring uniqueness to the experience in my indie RPG Death? Preposterous! is by making dialog with NPCs a bit more robust than you usually find. (For those who don’t know, NPC is short for Non-Player Characters, meaning characters that the player isn’t in control of.)

If you look at the way the average Role Playing Game tends to handle NPC dialog, you’ll find that most characters will have one or two things to say to the player, at which point if they try to speak with them further, they’ll just repeat themselves.

Often what will happen in a game is the player will talk to a few NPCs in the game, and maybe they’ll go around and talk to all of them in a given area once or twice. Many times though the many NPCs will go ignored, especially if the player already has a good idea of where to go and what to do next. This is because when NPCs are used generically and without creativity, they simply exist as  guides for the player to progress that, once conditions have been fulfilled, often times NPCs no longer hold any value to the player.

This creates very static and uninteresting NPC characters for the most part. Sure you might have a few memorable ones here and there if their lines are interesting enough and filled with enough personality, but that’s rarely the case.

Expecting the player to interact and engage with NPC characters that don’t add much to the experience is like expecting someone to re-read an operations manual when they are already well versed in operating a device.

The other thing you don’t see too often with NPCs is movement. NPC characters are almost always just hanging out in the same place, saying the same things, their sole purpose in life seems to be waiting around for the player to come find them so they can deliver their one or two lines and then fade away from relevance and memory.

For my game I have attempted to find ways to make NPCs a bit more interesting to engage with than the typical fare. Instead of just saying one or two things, they have a larger pool of dialog to select from at random, giving some variety to the conversations the player will get to engage with even from the unessential NPC characters. There will still be some characters that have more scripted dialog that are central to the story, but even these I endeavor to have that dialog change as the events in the game progress and unfold, giving them a bit more dynamic substance and expression.

Screenshot from 2017-11-21 10-50-59

And the other point I touched on was quite simple, a lack of movement. In Death? Preposterous! there will be times where you will meet the same NPC but in different areas, and there are also times where they will not always appear in areas where you have seen them previously. This is a very small thing, but it has a pretty important impact. What it does is this allows the NPCs a sense of purpose and makes it feel like they are living their lives in this place they inhabit. It adds an element of realism to the experience and makes these characters a bit more believable . They aren’t always going to be standing right in the town square saying the same two things they said 10 hours of game play time ago, long after the events they are talking about have been resolved.

It’s my belief that it is important to make these characters you encounter feel a bit more like actual people, and these are a few of the ways that I hope to give the player some sense of that. While eventually they will still succumb to the inevitable repetition in dialog, it will be more unpredictable in that sense. Between the deeper pool of dialog possibilities, and changes in conversations that reflect events as they transpire, my hope is that this should prove to make my game feel a little different than what you see in your average, generic, uninspired RPG.

Developments #01: Death? Preposterous!

Recently I have been working on getting the intro sequences in my upcoming game, Death? Preposterous! implemented in a rudimentary form.

As usual with things in active development, nothing presented here is 100% finalized so don’t be surprised if the look and feel changes between these development progress posts and release time.

With that out of the way, feast your eyes on one of the more prominent features of the introduction in the following image.

Screenshot from 2017-11-14 18-25-39

This particular piece of dialog is showing part of the protagonist’s inner thoughts during this part of the scene. A lot of times I feel like indie RPG Maker games rely heavily on the visuals to progress though and describe the events and scenes in the game. You will see characters vocalize quite a bit, even exchange banter with each other from time to time in some games.

However, in my opinion I feel like one area where they are commonly lacking a bit is getting inside a character’s head using internal dialog. You see it far more commonly in the visual novel genre of games than you do in RPG Maker games, and I believe that focus on internal thoughts and dialog  is also part of what helps books be commonly considered “better” than their movie or TV show counterparts a lot of the time.

Because you get to go inside the characters’ heads more, you get to understand their thought processes better, or at the very least you can get a better idea of why they performed some of their actions or reactions, and their motivations driving them forward. Sometimes you can express that in action sequences, but I feel like action scenes are not always best to rely upon solely. I think a mix of both internal dialog and external actions works well.

Below you can see a later part of this same scene where character dialog is being spoken aloud rather than thought. It’s these little kinds of touches that I have been fleshing out in the intro sequence, and will also be working on in the main dialog where it makes sense to include as well.

Screenshot from 2017-11-14 18-27-58

By the way, you might have noticed, or perhaps been curious about, that crazy glowing fence in the screenshots above. Well, I’ll just say it will be somewhat important to the proceedings during the game, so you can look forward to finding out what its significance is, and what it might entail during the adventure.