The Return of Talking Time

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Old 12-25-2016, 07:36 PM
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Hello ladies and germs, I've been working on an RPG Maker project for the last month or so with the occasional spare hour, and I spent a bunch of time this weekend knocking out the the rest of the mechanical framework and roughing in the first chunk of playable content (which is a FF1 pastiche just to ease myself into the project).



This demo at the end of this post has probably an hour's worth of content, assuming you don't make a beeline for the first boss and (probably not) die horribly. Combat balance is rough, but present, and each job's underpinnings are there along with the weapon upgrade system. That represents about 90% of the game's mechanics right there, and took me about twenty hours or so to put together. Basically what's left is content creation and adding skills/misc. bits of equipment/etc, and that will probably take me a while since mapping isn't exactly my strong suit.



What's there should provide a bit of fun and some insight into where I intend to take this project.

But, in short: Choose your own 4-man party from 6 classes; each fills a specialized niche, but an easy rule of thumb is that the red classes are the simplest, blue middle road, and purple most complex. Each color set has one primarily-damage-dealing class and one more utility focused class, but pretty much any combination of classes should be playable. There's a few bits of optional content and flavor text floating about in the demo, though you might have to explore a bit to find it all.

Changelog:
12/28/2016 [non-release]
1/1/2017 [release]

Known Issues:
  • North Gate segment not set up properly for coming in from the wrong direction--it'll work, but I haven't put in the exception handling for it yet.


Downloads:
Demo 0.2a - 1/1/17
0.23 Hotfix - Essential

Development Concepts, Methodologies, and Production:
Basic Principles

Last edited by Mightyblue; 01-03-2017 at 10:24 PM.
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  #2  
Old 12-25-2016, 08:57 PM
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I MAED GAEM CRASH ON FIRST LOAD SCREEN

I R BEST GAEM TESTER
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  #3  
Old 12-25-2016, 09:12 PM
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Hooray for RPGMaker not including important game files when I click on "Remove unused files" when putting the export together! Working on getting a fixed upload together now, will edit the OP.
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Old 12-26-2016, 08:50 AM
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Yeah, that's pretty typical for RM's automated systems. I tend to just manually move RTP files over instead when I use them, but I haven't played around enough with MV to know how it's packaging works out. I think it does a lot more bundling of resources then previous versions did.
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  #5  
Old 12-26-2016, 09:33 AM
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I'm going to start keeping a .txt file with the art/music assets I use just so I can cut the fat myself. Which is a pain, but it'll also cut the filesize in half, so...
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  #6  
Old 12-26-2016, 02:24 PM
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I beat the demo and given you my impressions over Skype. Just wanted to post in here for others and that I find the battle system intriguing.

I can see how party synergy is gonna be a big deal and making battles tactical.

Dat BRD favouritism tho. :P
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  #7  
Old 12-27-2016, 06:53 AM
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You should defang those vampires in the dungeon past the forest a little. Especially since they seem to be bugged and give no rewards when defeated. Not to mention it's almost impossible to run from them.

The game is shaping up to be pretty decent, but even vampires aside, could stand to be a little more beginner friendly. It's very easy to screw yourself over by making terrible budgeting decisions (like I did) and spending all of your money on improving your equipment, which at this stage of the game has completely negligible effects and won't help your survivability one bit. After you realize that your squishy spellcasters start with no spells and you don't have enough money left to buy the skillbooks, your fate is sealed. Grinding for money isn't really an option, since with no spells, a single enemy encounter will likely kill half your party and barely yield enough money for a single inn stay. The relatively easy encounters in the forest don't respawn, so those are not an option.

I managed to get out of this predicament by selling the solitary fenix down I got from a treasure chest (and being lucky that healers and wizards share the same skillbook), but the early game should probably give the player a little more leeway for making mistakes. Unless you are going for Etrian Odyssey level difficulty!

What few hints there are of a larger plot seem intriguing. I liked the concept of your party being a bunch of homunculi created with some sort of shady and as of yet unknown purpose.

Oh and



There is a spot in the world map where you can get a glimpse of the VOID BETWEEN DIMENSIONS. Dunno if it's intentional, but it looks pretty ugly.
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  #8  
Old 12-27-2016, 07:04 AM
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Yeah, the vampires having no rewards was a bug Gaer noted and I fixed in the dev version yesterday. The world map (for this world anyway) isn't finished yet, so that's why that looks like that.

RE: combat balance, the skills you have/use are going to be the make or break for this game. There's only a very few abilities unlocked through plot/etc, the rest you'll have to buy/find. I've gotten around to adding the old man's skill explanation, and now skill shops will have a bookcase describing the skills/spells in the books for sale at that shop. It is supposed to be a bit more difficult than your average JRPG following the story, and the optional content will be quite a bit harder.
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Old 12-28-2016, 11:30 AM
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12/28/16 Update:

It's slow at work, so might as well type up a quick summary of what I've done in the last few days:

Additions:
  • Added a new active ability for Animists to replace the current first book skill Firebane Aura; Earth Blessing. This applies a party-wide 10% HP regen for five turns, and addresses a balance issue for parties that aren't running an Arcanist.*
  • Skill Shop Old Guy now explains skills in brief, and skill shops will now have a book explaining the various skills contained in the books sold in that store.
  • Developed the next chunk of the overworld.
  • Templated out the next round of skills and armor upgrades for the upcoming second town.

Changes
  • Spell/Skill damage formulas have been altered; original versions used a fixed base damage added into magic/physical attack and defense calculations, the new versions now use a multiple of actor level in place of the fixed base. This is to allow better scaling, and to properly niche out successive spell tiers for Thaumaturge (later tiers, far more powerful but trades speed and MP efficiency, will tie into later THM/other class abilities for further synergy).
  • Spiritual Force ("Spirit") abilities have been implemented in game--these are unlocked after clearing the Culverin Shrine.* These abilities are slot-less, and only require SF points to use.
  • All passive abilities are now denoted as such with green text in descriptions and/or where relevant. System/script limitations prevent me from changing the color of the skill names themselves, so this is the best workaround I can think of at the moment.
  • The Animist spell Firebane Aura has been removed from the first Animist/Bard skill book, current plan is to reintroduce it in the second town's A/B book.*
  • Bard's AGI score has been reduced 10% to bring it closer in line with other classes offensive abilities. This is mostly to partially offset the outsized effect of the 20% AGI boost from Swiftfoot Song.
  • Fixed the Bloodfiends not rewarding any XP or Gold.
  • Fixed Procurer's Precision Strike always returning 0 damage (formula error).
  • Organized/Sorted some Database entries, particularly for skills, for better internal organization.*
  • Changed the Stun chance (and gave it an icon for visibility) to 100% for Myrmidon's Heavy Blow.

*Added a wisp "Patchwork" NPC to Skill Shops to allow carryforward demo saves to have access to skill changes/additions without starting over. NPC does take into account skill books in inventory and plot flags for things like SF ability acquisition.
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  #10  
Old 12-28-2016, 11:35 AM
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You also changed the Myrmidon's Heavy Blow skill to 100% stun on hit, up from 60%.
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  #11  
Old 12-28-2016, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaer View Post
You also changed the Myrmidon's Heavy Blow skill to 100% stun on hit, up from 60%.
Ah, right, knew I was forgetting something.
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  #12  
Old 12-29-2016, 02:41 PM
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Another slow day at work means:

Development Concepts, Methodologies, and Production I: Basic Principles

I originally approached this project as a means of knocking off the creative rust in several aspects; while I do write here and there (one day Iíll finish this novel), most of my creative brain juices are caught up in spit balling and world-building, tumbling puzzle pieces together until something clicks and sticks in my brain. So I picked up a concept Iíd mentally scribbled down for a small story set in an isolated chunk of a shared setting Iíd been conceptualizing and creating story/game outlines for quite a while and started hashing out what I wanted to do mechanically.

I wanted to keep the RPG end of the gameplay simple, and the plot concise but layered; My outline for this game has three separate main plot threads that all resolve by game end + prospective post game content, and an additional number of individual character and side-plot threads that start and resolve throughout, with a few nods to the wider setting in case I do keep going after this.

This meant for the combat portion it was going to have to be a vanilla turn-based system, since properly balancing and testing out an ATB/CTB system wasnít going to be in the cards due to the actual meat of the battle system I had planned. In my mind, there are basically three main roads of battle complexity to any RPG; character-driven progression (where new stats/skills/etc earned on levels are most important), equipment-driven progression (as prior, only through gear), and skill-driven progression. Most modern RPGs feature a blend of priorities regarding those categories, but the most entertaining ones are those that focus less on increasing numbers than increasing potential combat solutions. Everyone likes seeing numbers grow up, but what about putting together a byzantine collection of skills that completely changes how fights progress and the game plays? In order to properly engage with the player, a game needs more than bigger numbers and shinier swords, or so I thought.

My train of thinking immediately turned to skill synergies and tactical layers; the former are fairly obvious, but the latter is what separates a humdrum DQ-clone from something that catches your attention and makes you want to replay it every now and again (hopefully in combination with the story). Understanding and employing things like elemental advantages and weapons types is just the very topmost layer of tactics in most any RPG fight, but what about properly creating openings for exploiting skill synergies and for creating interactions between enemies and the party beyond the occasional debuff and damage-swapping? One of the core problems I had with what passes for my game design doc for this was over-generalizing each classí niche in the game. The red & blue classes are fairly obvious analogs for their FF1 counterparts, but my original draft had the deeper tactical level interactions spread too thinly between all six classes and it wasnít working out in my head. So I dropped what had been my Red Mage and Black Belt analogs, and created the Animist and Bard classes. There are still echoes of the old versions there; the tone and tenor of the Animist class lore and skills is very Red Mage, and where early Black Belt was a fairly powerful single-target physical class that could keep getting stronger with minimal/no gear investment on the playerís part.

The real change was focusing most of the deeper tactical interactions onto the new purple classes (as red mixed with blue creates purple, further visually symbolizing their hybrid natures). While Animist and Bard are decently strong at the top tactical level of the game, their skills and general setup frees the game from the basic Sturdy Frontliner/Squishy Melee Fighter/Healer/Back-line Caster dynamic that is pervasive to RPGs of any structure, to an extent. Having a Bard or Animist in the party changes certain assumptions and tactical interactions in ways that subbing in one of the other classes donít. Their general design and skills are meant to allow the player to interact with the deeper tactical levels, and to allow otherwise unorthodox combat approaches and party structures. The game is designed to be cleared with the ur-standard party for both main and side-content, but the purple classes may allow you to do the harder optional items earlier than Iím balancing for, or at least thatís my hope.

The skill equip system also plays a large part into that, as that is designed to force the player to make choices from the options available to them. Scrolling through a massive list of skills in-battle is boring and drags you out of the experience, and I wanted to reward the player for doing more than just jamming random things at a boss until you figured out what itís weak to. Part of that also relies on subtly hinting to the players what might work and not work as well, with things like chatting up the adventurer NPCs in the bar or paying attention to the dungeon theme and design and then planning your skill loadout properly once you hit that pre-boss room save point. That sort of thing is what Iím aiming for in order to spur player engagement with the game along with the story.
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Old 01-01-2017, 09:00 PM
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1/1/17 Update:

Happy New Year's! Demo 0.2a is now out.

Additions:
  • Created rest of first world map (though the third continent is only roughed in and cannot be landed on)
  • Added second town, dungeon, and battlefield. Also added first optional dungeon accessible after earning the ship.
  • To go with new town, new equipment, blacksmithing level, and skill books are available.

Changes:
  • Way, way too many backend stat and balance changes. All classes' AGI curves have been redone to deal with Bard attacks and other related issues.
  • Thaumaturges are a current casualty of the new level-based damage formulas for most of their spells, though their current situation does fit neatly within the quadratic wizard paradigm. On the fence whether early weakness offsetting later face wrecking is going to stay.
  • Some flavor text and NPC position shuffling depending on plot switches has been implemented.
  • Adjusted enemy stats slightly to coincide with player-end balance changes, will probably be further ones depending on feedback.
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  #14  
Old 01-01-2017, 09:11 PM
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Ahahaha, I left my test NPC to force the boss fight I was developing for the optional dungeon on the world map (near that dungeon).

This fix will remove that NPC. Just unzip it into your game directory if you want, or you can ignore the blue wisp sitting there.

E: Gaer also figured out that I trimmed a necessary music file, because I R smrt.

Toss this into the BGM folder to fix.

Last edited by Mightyblue; 01-01-2017 at 10:09 PM.
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  #15  
Old 01-01-2017, 10:21 PM
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I R BEST GAEM BREAKER
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  #16  
Old 01-01-2017, 10:42 PM
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Yeah, I have to redo how I set up the world transfer events for the first town, since I layered the forced meeting king transfer into them and semi-borked them. If you're having problems actually saving, go in and out of the castle or any of the field/dungeon areas and it should reset. I'll do another hotfix patch tomorrow to bundle all the issues together.
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Old 01-02-2017, 12:12 PM
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Okay, 0.22a hotfix --includes save fix, missing music file, and the .21 fixes.
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  #18  
Old 01-02-2017, 11:40 PM
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After replaying the game from the beginning (and insisting I get it working on my linux machine, because I am a nerd), the balance is much better than before.

And, of course, I managed to find scripting errors and tile shenaniganry! I'm sure MB will be updating the thread soon with the corrections he gave me directly. They won't really affect anything other than the "bonus" area for now.



The optional dungeon might have been short, but the encounters there had some teeth to them. If you use the Animist spell of "Storm's Fury" you will wreck faces, but it comes at a high MP cost. I might suggest you raise it some more, because that shit is sick. 30 MP perhaps? Twice as much MP as the healing spell.

The boss though was great. Things were laid out in a fashion that if you have played RPGs before you had an idea of what was going on and it would nudge you into making the correct battle decisions. If you didn't, you'd learn quickly (without getting instantly murdered) that there was a better way.

I am looking forward to slightly more meaty dungeons but I know the last one was just a bonus area. The other dungeons I've done are apt for this early in the game.

My other suggestion/question is if you're going to make use of FF-style Tents? It would have been beneficial in a couple places so I wouldn't have to had felt the urge to return to town, and instead spent a consumable.


In other words:

WHAR CONTENT

GIB GAER CONTENT TO BREAK
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Old 01-03-2017, 10:24 PM
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Hotfix 0.23a - This gets the prior fixes, the missing battleback, and some more fixes so that you can actually finish the optional dungeon.
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  #20  
Old 01-04-2017, 01:46 AM
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so uh

how do you equip skills

i put a skill on my bard, but now it's saying malsong/soulsong (whatever those are) is at 1/0 and it won't let me exit the skill equip menu without taking the skill back off

EDIT: okay, so a 'relic' i found in primer pass gave me an extra skill slot and allowed me to equip one malsong and one soulsong, but now i've still got the empty slot, and the other characters are still skill-less???

Last edited by aturtledoesbite; 01-04-2017 at 02:35 AM.
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  #21  
Old 01-04-2017, 07:14 AM
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I'll have to take a look at it when I get home in case I accidentally broke something while fixing something else, but every character except bards/animists has four skill slots with 4 of their tier skill slots. Bards and animists have two skill slots, and one tier slot for each of their two tiers (offense/defense).
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