Monday, March 17, 2014

I seem to go through phases where in order to re-energize myself to work on JtW, I go off on another idea in my attempt to actually finish something as a confidence booster. Which is all well and good....until I don't finish and am right back where I started. Nothing. All the greatest ideas and stories are nothing without implementation.

In my naive optimism, I stand to create yet another small/short adventure. "Aren't you just procrastinating again, bard?" Perhaps, but I am hopeful that this one will be done in a week. To force myself on this, I shall keep a blog of my progress to see if that'll make a difference. I want to do game development for a living some day. Kind of hard to do that if I never finish what I start lol Let the experiment begin.

I started making the game Saturday night. The gist is as follows:

A boy named William is new to the small village and makes friends with an adventurous girl named Kayla. While exploring the western forest, which is against the rules of the village, Kayla is taken by the vines of a plant monster. The villagers can't find her and feeling responsible for what happened, William breaks the rules again and searches the forest to rescue his friend. With the help of Michael, a young priest in training, and Lauren, a reclusive witch girl, William will hunt down the monster that kidnapped his friend and hopefully rescue her before it's too late.

Now, I've tried my best to keep it simple. I'm not going to use facesets or anything fancy at this time because I feel that the more picky I am the longer this project is going to take. If I finish and still have time, then I might but I want to focus on the gameplay and actually have something people can play. Kind of important in a video game, don't you think? In the spirit of keeping it simple I have decided to only have 4 skills available for each character. They are children so I tried to keep them appropriate:

-Throw rock, Big damage, chance to miss, unless stunned then it's 100% hit
-Hit with stick, chance to hit twice
-Kick, If target is frozen, kick to kill instantly; otherwise, single target damage with a chance to stun. Think kick to shins.
-Cover, When covering, your defense goes up. Something about your sense of justice ;)

-Not-so-girly punch, Does more damage if stunned
-Not-so-girly kick, High chance of stun, does good damage
-Hit with stick, less damage per hit than Will; two hits normally, three if she has a temper
-Temper, raises attack, allows for Not-so-girly Punch or Kick, lasts three turns

Healing Light (takes a turn to recharge the light) heals hp and cleanses status effects
Smiting Light (takes a turn to recharge the light)
Focus (takes a turn, then next turn allows you to heal or smite all enemies or allies x1.5/2.0)
Stick of Light (If the light is within you, it'll do damage + holy damage. If not, then just normal damage which isn't that much; if focused you deal more holy damage and don't lose the light just the focus next turn)

Note: "The light" is a status buff that will be returned at the beginning of the next turn after he uses something that gets rid of it. While he doesn't have the light, he is weak and susceptible to damage. As long as he has the light he has a health regen that counters his weakness. He will have no mana. Everything is done via the light status.

-Icy Touch (Chance to freeze, small damage) Cheapest mana cost, slimes are the most susceptible to freeze, single target
-Tiny Flame (Chance to burn, small damage) Next cheapest mana cost, the final boss is pretty susceptible to this. Burn stops his powerful attacks and the regen of his minions, single target
-Rock Barrage (Throws several rocks; straight damage dealing, same as throw rock though with the miss chance) medium cost, random targets
-Wind Sphere (Chance to blow them away/kill no xp, if doesn't blow away it does moderate damage.) most expensive hits all enemies, blow away doesn't work on final boss but it does on his minions.

Battle System notes:
-There is no standard attack, only skills.
-You can defend and it will give you a bit of health
-There is no cost for skills, except for Michael's Light which is explained in his section
-Lauren's magic is up in the air at the moment. Consistency tells me to not let her have cost either but I might give her 100 mana and simply have a significant mana regen similar to Michael's health regen.
-No items or equipment, for simplicity sake
-Heal to full after battle


Slimes, Highly susceptible to Frozen status; decent amount of life;
1. Tackle, single target moderate damage
2. Mitosis, create two slimes each with half the hp of the original slime but the same stats otherwise.

1. Knaw, jumps a target and chews on them for 1-2 turns during which the target can't move; the rat while doing this can only knaw so they won't knaw and then tiny bite or knaw two at once.
2. Tiny bite, single target moderate damage

Giant Bees: Weak against rocks; added once Michael joins up
1. A poison sting, poison target + moderate damage
2. Multiple hit attack, single target 1-3 hits

Bats, Weak against light; in the cave leading up to the boss fight
1. Vampire bite, moderate damage that heals the user for that amount
2. Ultrasonic (bit of damage with a chance of stun)

Final Battle:
2 x Giant Bees + Flower monster,
1. Spiked vines, Hits 2-3 randomly, good amount of damage each
2. Wrap, like knaw but will disengage with burning the flower monster, single target
3. Pollen, Hazy status which is like being blind, chance all targets
4. Nasty Nectar, Stunned & Poisoned status, single target moderate damage

Note: As long as the flower monster is in play, at the end of turn the Giant Bees will heal to full by sucking it's nectar. The Flower Monster will have a good amount of life & can do a lot of damage/status effects to the party; however, if you set it on fire it will cry out in pain 50% of the time while it's burning and the nectar will not flow for the giant bees making them easy pickings. Every 2-3 turns after both bees are downed more bees will come to replace them.


You have the village, the western forest, the northern forest to Lauren's hut, and the cave where the monster is. I have attached a VERY basic idea with circles that represent maps. The circle with the V is the village. You'll notice colored lines connecting the circles, they simply represent who is with William when he originally travels those areas. Pink for Kayla, Yellow for Michael, and Red for Lauren. The pink X is where Kayla is kidnapped. The red circle is the cave with the plant monster but isn't available until you get Lauren's help to find the hidden cave(inaccessible even if you stumble upon it because you need her fire magic to open the path). The yellow X is where Michael leaves you because being near the witch is kind of against his religion. Ultimately, the whole team will come together in the cave for the fight against the plant monster.

Thoughts? Critiques? Suggestions? Feel free to comment below :) 

Monday, September 30, 2013


Gotta say, I've had a bit of writer's block these days. I guess that's not really accurate. It's more like worker's block. Some people call it being 'burnt out'. So I took about a week break and have been slowly getting back into it. These are the moments that matter most. Working on the game even if I don't really feel up to it. I've started reading manga, watching anime, and I'm set to go play some pathfinder/DnD tonight at a comic bookstore. I have to get my spark back and these things usually help me find that inspiration that sends me out to work on my game into the wee hours of the morning.

Right now I'm working on this mine scene where the team is facing an Ogre. The timing on some of the movements is off and it's hard to WANT to fix it. I mean, I WANT to, but my brain says "how about we just go to sleep? No? Then what about catching up on a tv show? Wanna play pokemon on your cell phone?" and the list goes on and on lol I feel like if I can get past this scene though, it'll all start coming back. I've just been working on it and the next one which is a bar scene for a few weeks now...trying to nail down the dialogue. Changing up events and actions of npcs, adding and taking away npcs, changing up the animations that go into these scenes, timing everything perfectly, adding sound effects and emotes where they need to be, etc etc.

So, here is me setting a reasonable goal for myself. By this time next week, I will be done with version 0.1 of the demo. I will not say that the balance is going to be all that great...but I will give you SOMETHING. I must give you something. So there you have it. I will get you that demo if it kills me. Til next week. May all your dice rolls be higher than 15 :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Setting Goals and Following Through

Hello readers, it's that time again. Last week I talked about how to stay focused on your project. This week, is about *looks at the title* setting goals and following through. What I do is two fold when it comes to setting goals:

1. I break down the game into sections. Point A to Point B, Point B to Point C, etc etc. When it comes to making rpgs most people are so concerned about having all this extra content, side quests, different ways to do things, and that's all fine n' dandy but if you don't really have a plan or goal a lot of times these side quests and extra content either don't really fit with the story or you get too overwhelmed because you feel like you aren't really getting anywhere in your game development. Example, in Goshiki I was so worried about having every npc or object that the player came in contact with have something to say or increase the character's power some how. My whole "inspiration system". Which was nice, but when you think about it all that extra stuff should have been polish left for after I had finished the critical path. The Critical Path is the main story line or obvious path that the player will take. I've learned that if you want to get anywhere in development, develop the Critical Path first. That way when you play your game you actually have visual progress. "yeah, you can play til the half way point of the game." vs "yeah, you can play for like twenty to thirty seconds and that's about it...but man doesn't it look nice?" or "yeah, you can play but you can't leave the first town or get anywhere in the storyline... but man, doesn't it have tons of extra content everywhere?" some people would argue that having polish before moving on is the way to go and if you can stay completely focused on your game while developing like that be my guest, but the biggest problem with that is when you decide a little later down the line that you need to change things for the story to make sense...some of the polished extra content that you spent hours and hours on might have to get the boot because they simply don't make sense with the new changes. That sort of thing can be discouraging and could make you leave your game on the back burner because you feel like you aren't getting anywhere. It's so important to feel good about what you are doing and always feel like you are moving forward. Those are the games that end up being finished instead of residing in development hell.

2. Next step is to write it all out. After creating every map that I need for the game I start to place the characters all over the place and build the different scenes/events. Start with the introduction first and just continue with that momentum. Tell your whole story. "But mister, what about all the cool animations, effects, movement, artwork, music, sound effects, and everything else that needs to happen?" That stuff is the cherry on top, particularly artwork and music. If it bothers you too much just use placeholders. Artwork and music are powerful means to making your game significantly better but the core to it all is the story and the gameplay, everything else comes later. What I do is type up each characters' and npcs' textbox, add pop up balloons (you know, teardrop...exclamation point...hash tag for angry, etc), and then when some crazy movement or animation is supposed to happen I will write it out as a comment or note to be added in later. This way you've written down everything that you've seen in your head on "paper" and you can just come back to it later to make it look the way you want. Once you run through the entire story, read it over and over and over again. Read it out loud to make sure it sounds right and has a good flow to it. Have someone else read it too. Make the necessary changes, trust me you will do this several times, and then when you feel that everything is good to go with the story...start filling in the blanks. I usually take em one map or scene at a time at that point. When you finish a map it feels like you are checking it off a list and getting that much closer to finishing your game.

The moral of this whole article is this, set small goals for yourself with larger goals in mind. What I've been saying about breaking down the game into sections is setting the larger goals. For example, in Journey to Westshire, I have the game divided into six sections. The beginning to the half way point in the game, which can be done three different ways thus three different sections here, and the half way point to the end of the game, which can also be done three different ways thus three more sections here. Then you break it down into individual scenes which is the small goals. For example, the beginning scene where they face off with a giant ogre or the bar scene after that where they get their next job.

Game making can be overwhelming and intimidating. It takes a long time to finish anything of substance, especially if you are by yourself, working a full time job, and happen to have a girlfriend that wants to go out some times and watch movies/tv shows together :) Having things written out already and being able to have the small victories helps people feel that they are getting somewhere. Little by little the game is getting done and all the while you feel good about it. It's just a lot easier to follow through this way and it's not so overwhelming.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment, critique, or blow me to pieces below. If you have something that you'd like me to go over or give my take on go ahead and drop me a line. Hopefully next week I'll have a demo for you all ;) Have a great week and may all your dice rolls be greater than 15!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Staying focused

Here's a good topic to talk about. I struggle with it all the time. I'm the creative type that writes things down and then moves on to the next idea going back later to maybe go off on the idea. These ideas build and build and before you know it I have a whole new game idea that I want to try out! Then I remember that I already have a game that I'm working on...I've been working on it for 8 months now...I've put money into designing resources for it...and I've written out a complete script with large amounts of notes fixing different storyline/gameplay issues or giving better details about them...and yet when I sit down to work on the game there are times when I can't bring myself to because I can't seem to focus or get excited like I did in the beginning or up until now.

Sound like you? Been there, ALOT. But that mentality doesn't get anything done, it just has a lot of ideas. What helps me focus when I'm feeling like that? I'll give you three things:

1. Pride. Pride in excess is one of the seven deadly sins, but in this case it's a good thing. You need to have pride in yourself and your work. To all you other would-be designers out there reading this, have enough pride in your game to not let yourself down. Maybe you've worked really hard. Days upon days, weeks upon weeks, jotting down notes on your cell phone or notepads, drinking gallons of coffee/espressos from starbucks while using their wifi to listen to music/check your facebook while working on your game, blogging about it, reading game dev threads to the end and books cover to cover, sifting through scripts or working out your own to fit the gameplay mechanics you've designed, and the list goes on. Game making is hard, anyone who tells you different is lying or selling something. But it's fun. And when you are done it feels like you've reached that light at the end of the tunnel! You step back and say "#$@%, i'm good." We all have our reasons for making games but in the end we all want to stand with pride along side our peers and call ourselves game designers. Before that can happen, before we can realize our dreams of starting a game studio or building a portfolio impressive enough to get noticed/hired by a game studio, we have to finish. Don't let yourself down, you've come too far to stop now. It is not a waste a time, trust me.

2. I spent money on this. I don't know about you, but I've spent a bit of money on the resources for my game and will continue to do so. Why? So that I can walk away from my game saying "Wow, isn't she sexy." ;) That and I plan on selling it commercially. Original artwork and audio is kind of a given. Will I make my investment back? Who knows? Probably not, but the experience was more than worth it. The point though, is that I've invested not only my time but also my hard earned money into this project. If I backed out of it now, I would not only be letting myself down but also my wallet. All the coffee/espressos/five hour energy drinks I've bought to make this game happen. All the expensive resources I purchased exclusive rights to. All the game development theory books I've bought and read. If I'm not going to finish the game, what was the point in all that? That money could have gone to something else. It didn't though, it went to making this game happen. So, make it happen otherwise you're just wasting your money.

3. You owe it to the people you've shared the idea with and are rooting for you. I have family and friends that tell me that they believe that I can do this. I can make my dreams come true and this is the first step in that direction. Having people like that in your life to make you accountable is important, especially if you are the creative-write-it-down-go-to-the-next-one type like me. Not only do you want to not let yourself down, touch back on that pride thing, but you don't want to let the people who believe in you down either. Personal experience: I have an ex-gf that told me when breaking up with me that I will never finish anything, I talk and talk and talk but I never do. She believed that, as I was then, I'd never accomplish my dreams. Harsh? Yes, but I needed to hear that. Not only do I have a burning passion to prove to myself that she was wrong about me but now I have this sense of accountability to anyone else I talk about my game with. They may not say it to my face like she did, but if I drop this project to pick up yet another idea I'm sure they will think it and hesitate to believe in me in the future. You don't want that.

In conclusion, stop talking about it or putting it off and do it. Don't give up just because you've lost the excitement you had in the beginning. The idea you had is solid and you owe it to yourself, those who support you, and possibly your wallet to finish what you started. I'll talk next time about setting goals and following through. Thanks for reading. Leave your comments and questions in the section below :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

San Japan and my week of dev

So I went to San Antonio for the San Japan anime convention which oddly had a game development workshop. I was far too curious so I decided to check it out and found that the speaker(who was late) was actually about as qualified as I was...Ok, she had TWO associates degrees to my ONE but who's counting really? haha....and three years of experience....anyway, the workshop turned into a Q&A about how to get into the industry and/or connect to people that are. LinkedIn was supposedly the biggest way to do it, other than hitting up game developer conferences like GDC, IGF, PAX, E3, etc... Networking is the name of the game. I guess I'll have to get my LinkedIn account gameafied(not a word, I know)! My pathetic LinkedIn account currently only has stuff about my IT career in it. Yes, I replace mouses and plug computers back into the wall for people. I am looking to perhaps work on getting into the programming field for my "by day" career though. Thinking about picking up C# because it would be useful for me as a programmer AND a game developer. I did go to college for programming so I guess it would make sense right? lol

Enough about all that, you are all probably wondering what I've been up to this past week and some change, right? Well, I've revamped the introduction to have a more natural flow to it. Last one felt a bit forced and when you thought hard about it....and I didn't make much sense. I also opened up the map to allow for more exploration. My game is no longer linear! Instead of a straight path through the forest, the player can now go through three completely different paths or mix n match if you happen to be one of those completist types. I think it makes the game more fun and the choices make up for me taking away the permadeath life force feature...yes, I hate to break it to you all this way but the more I thought about it the more I realized that having permadeath in a story-driven game like this one would really kill it, even if it sounds cool/different. If a character were to give their life for the group, which sounds AWESOME and was the whole idea behind the Life Force system, for them to actually die in the story would set a somber tone. It would no longer be the journey/adventure that I want it to be. I feel like the characters left alive would change completely and become these little balls of anger/vengeance which for some would be completely against their character. Don't get me wrong, my game still has mature/serious tones in it. These characters are human after all. I owe it to you guys to have a good story. If I feel that the gameplay would ruin the story or vice versa something has to be done. Something else I picked up at the workshop at San Japan is a feature freeze which I will now be implementing. So not more crazy changes from left field on this game lol I'm also doing an Intro-Freeze! This will keep me from going back and changing my intro for the umpteenth time. It's good, it flows well, it's practical, no need to change it anymore. Something else I learned that defends this type of thinking is that if you ever want to get anything done you need to know when to walk away and say it's good let's go to the next thing other wise you will be constantly polishing your diamonds without ever showing them to the rest of the world. They call that 'development hell'. It's a vicious cycle and I know of it QUITE well *cough* Goshiki *cough*. Never have I heard of a game changing so completely and so many times as my attempt at a first title. I worked on that game for about a year and all I had was an intro and a few paths that connected together. All because I couldn't decide the best way to do the introduction, how I wanted the characters to be, what the challenges would be, the boss battles, everything kept changing over and over and over and I was getting no where until I realized that the game itself wasn't interesting at all and ended up dropping it. Was the time wasted? Not really, it taught me alot about development. Setting goals, staying motivated, and most importantly knowing when to walk away. Some day when I've gotten a few more titles out, I MAY go back and finish Goshiki. Maybe through it on mobile since it'll be short. Who knows. For now, I'll just reference the characters. Be sure to keep an eye out for a 'certain bandit leader' in Journey ;) That's all for now. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for next week's post where I will talk about something else game development related....maybe.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Working hard and a new title screen!

So, it's been a bit since I've last posted here. Been going through some personal changes like getting a new job and finding a woman that semi-tolerates my nerdiness lol Doesn't excuse me from my work here though, so I'd like to apologize first and then tell you that I HAVE been working this whole time ;) I also commissioned my good friend, Michael Tran (a.k.a. emptydesigns) to help out with making a title screen for Journey to Westshire. Some might remember him from my much earlier posts where I had commissioned him to make concept art for several characters of a different game. Would you believe that he is also awesome at background shots? BEHOLD!

Isn't that a sexy shot?
I've decided that over time I'm going to get Michael Tran and possibly another artist if the rest isn't in his skillset to rev up the artwork in Journey to Westshire. For the time being though, the demo will have placeholders and be released as such. I am also commissioning music from a freelancer but we haven't finalized things just yet...he gasped at my track list lol what can I say? I believe that music really makes a scene have that "oomph" and if done right, like I feel this guy can, my game will be that much more awesome than it already is ;)

Now to what you've been waiting for. When is the demo coming out, Mr. Bard? Umm, I'm going to take a tune from Blizzard Entertainment and say "it'll be done when it's done =D". Why is it taking so long? Because I'm not happy with it yet. Here is a pitfall that I think a lot of indie developers fall into, myself included. Development Hell. This is that special place in your life when your cool idea is coming into shape and form, then you look over it for the thousandth time and realize that the scene you designed that took you two months sucks and you need to scrap it if you don't want to get laugh/booed at by the vicious trolls of the internet! The flip side of that mentality is that sometimes we don't finish what we start because it gets old, the ideas dry up, and no matter what you do the game still seems horrible....RIP Goshiki....anyway, I'm not anywhere near there yet and I will continue to push hard and make Journey to Westshire the experience and adventure that I want you all to take part in and enjoy. Should I have a productive weekend, not sure because I am going to San Antonio for the San Japan convention =D, I will post up some more screenshots and dev stories Monday. Thanks for the patience, I promise I won't make you wait for too much longer.

Friday, June 28, 2013


It's Friday and I'm doing a blog post three days early? Don't mind if I do!

So I had my first and second playthrough attempts this past attempts I mean that the game crashed towards the end due to unforeseen bugs, sigh. Bugs are funny. You go through everything one time and figure you have discovered all the bugs, you make a list, go down that list and fix each one, then go through everything again and this time find even MORE bugs than you did the first time, haha. There is nothing like thinking you fixed everything and then when you walk up a river and one of your characters is across the river already walking in place....

"What the-??" *silence* "Another venti white mocha, please..."

"Umm, I can't finish the scene with you standing there..."
Well, I have a pretty long list to get back to. Anyone have some raid?...Yea, it's a bad joke. Sorry =P