Tag Archives: indie

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.

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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.

Death? Preposterous! Reveal

Have you ever wondered what happens when we die? What if we have it all wrong? What if there is no death, but only more life? What if there is no hell, only a heaven, even for those who did questionable or cruel deeds during their life?

These are some of the questions and ideas that I was determined to create and explore in game form. My game currently in development Death? Preposterous! takes a look at these sorts of ideas from a story and also a gameplay perspective.

I’ll be posting updates here periodically throughout the remainder of development, so you can follow along with progress updates by subscribing to my blog on this site or following me on Twitter or my Facebook page.

For now, click on through to the Death? Preposterous! page on my site for more info about the game including additional development screenshots, and a bit more on my vision for the title, aspirations, and a loose estimate for a release timeframe.

Steam Direct Pricing and Launch Date Details Announced Today

Valve made some important new blog posts for game developers over the past few weeks, with perhaps the most noteworthy one appearing today on their Steam news blog.

There was much debate over the past few months when Valve first announced they were changing the previous game submission system called Steam Greenlight, to a new system they are calling Steam Direct. The main question on my mind was how much the fee was going to be to submit a game to Steam.

Under the old Steam Greenlight system, there was a one-time $100 USD fee per account, and from there you could submit as many games as you had made. The main difficulty with Greenlight however was that a game relied on getting a sufficient number of positive votes from users who engaged with the Greenlight voting system before it was allowed a shot at appearing on Steam.

What that sometimes meant was that your game you submitted could be stuck waiting for user votes that never came along. Greenlight “limbo” if you will. Also a few less-than-scrupulous developers had reportedly been abusing the system to get their game on Steam, even if it did not reflect what the actual Greenlight community had an interest in playing.

Now under the new Steam Direct, Valve said that the voting system from Greenlight was being done away with, and like its name suggests, developers are able to pay a fee to get their game on the Steam platform directly. However the fee is no longer going to be account based, but rather submission based per game.

When they originally announced this earlier in the year, Valve said they were considering fees anywhere from $100 to $5000 per game submission. Steam Direct was thus a cause for much discussion, especially debating a reasonable fee to be charging developers for each game they submitted to the platform.

Today Valve announced that they will be charging the minimum fee that they were originally looking at: $100 per game submission.

As an aspiring indie game developer myself, and I’m sure I can speak for a lot of other indie developers out there too, this news comes as a welcome relief. Had the price been set too high, it would have meant that smaller groups or single person dev teams might not have been able to afford to get their game on the Steam platform. Since they decided to go with the lowest fee of $100 per game, this makes it more accessible to more developers. That’s great news for developers on a budget, and in my opinion this is in Valve’s best interest to do too. It makes it so they don’t drive away or shut out any potential developers from bringing their games to Steam.

The Steam Direct service will be launching on June 13th.