Change. It happens to the best of us, it happens to the worst of us. Sometimes you can avoid it, sometimes you set it about, and sometimes you spend two, maybe three weeks dealing with the oh so bright idea you had while rotting out what you laughingly call a brain. It just happens. That’s all.
This post is the continued story of the Paradigm Shift I had with my game, Goblinstomper! Before we enter that particular tale of madness (and in many ways it is about madness) I’d like to put forth a few personal terms to ease the process.
The above is a game Map. To be precise (and in my own terminology) this is one Screen. If the Player’s character was in the center of it, this would be everything the Player would see.
Each Screen consists of 221 Tiles (the grey boxes around all the drawings). The Screen itself is 17 Tiles by 13. A Map can consist of multiple Screens (full or in part), but will never have fewer than one.
I know. Dull stuff. Let’s move on to the fun. Or at least personally embarrassing.
A little while ago I had money, a shocking occurrence that I really should have marked on the calendar and celebrated it anniversary every time it came around. Instead of maybe saving it for a rainy day I spent it on video games. After getting the games I really wanted, I had a little bit left over, which I used to pick up a few more cheap-jack games.
Thus The Chosen RPG entered my life.
I picked it up because it was cheap, because it had well drawn and pretty Anime girls in it, and it was an RPGMaker game. RPGMaker VX or VX Ace, I think.
In short, I did it on whim. Just like how I pick my movies.
You’d think at some point I’d learn better. But noooo. Not me.
I had all the evidence to the contrary before me, but as God as my witness, I thought the girls would be fully dressed at some point in the game. Instead, they parade through out in the near nude from the moment you meet them forward. Even in the arctic regions, their nether regions remain almost exposed.
This is one of the few good things I can say about The Chosen RPG. Or The Chosen. Or Chosen. Or however it wants to be called.
The other good point is that it feels like one of the countless RPGs Brother Eric and I rented as kids. Fun enough to play but not fun enough to keep from wonder what else I could have gotten for my 49¢.
Outside of that… oh, the litany of faults I could give for this game. As with all too many films, I’ve played worse. I’m sure. And if I stop to think about it a sec, maybe I could list several. Or maybe even one
But that’s beside the point
While playing Chosen, I noticed that in the perpetrator of this game set up quite a few of the dungeon maps as small as possible. As in a single Screen. It was here that the Paragim Shift began, as it occurred to me I could reduce the Goblinstomper! dungeon maps.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It reduces the number of Events I would be dealing. It makes setting up cut scenes a little easier. It might even remove the possibility of lag.
Call it the Single Screen Format. What could possible go wrong?
So I’m maybe within two maps of finishing the Mysterious Elven Forest of Elven Mystery (an example of which is above.) I have a sort of uber map that gives me an overview of the whole area, so that when you move from one Map to the next it all feels connected. I’m feeling really good about what I have.
Note that the entrances and exits are clearly marked with two trees, so the player knows right where to go. Decent map making there. Another lesson from Chosen well learned, as you don’t always know where to go there (and the exits change depending on where you are, too. But in bitterness I’m digressing.)
These are good Maps and I’m satisfied with them. Until this all too familiar little voice whispers in my head: Single corridor.
One of the big complaints about Final Fantasy 13 (a game I haven’t played) is that its just running your characters down one more or less straight corridor after the next. This is also a fault of The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, a game I have played. It’s not a lot of fun.
It is, if you look back over the finished map, a wee problem Goblinstomper! was having too.
So hey, Troll Cullen was right for a change. Score one for him.
I go back and rework the maps. Expanding on them. Spread the trees out so that while there were paths to go down it looked less like a walled garden path and more like a forest:
As you can see, there’s a new path on this particular map that can be explored. It connects to the map above (note the twin trees) and adding a treasure box or the like would encourage exploration. It gives the whole area a depth it needed.
I really liked the Single Screen Format.
Really. Liked it.
So I get all the Forest maps done. I rework the guard posts on either end of the path to match up. I’m ready to go. Even have a SUPER FUN idea to work on next.
Only I decide to look at the castle exterior map first.
See, in the process of fixing the Mysterious Forest, I decided to reworked the castle more in line to what I had done with the forest. Less like a wall, et cetera and so forth.
Simple task. Only when I opened up the castle map that prick little voice whispers: Why is the castle map–
“No,” I said to Troll Cullen. “Shut up.”
But, Troll Voice continued, bastard that it is, isn’t it odd how you let the player move two Screen lengths on the castle map, and only one in the forest?
“ARGH! I told you to shut up.”
Still, it was a relatively easy task merging maps. So I did it over a weekend. Each map flowed right into the next, and each were two Screens in size. Sometimes in width, sometimes in height, but hey! Details. Am I right or am I right?
Call the whole thing the Two Screen Format.
Anyway, I was so proud of what I had accomplished that I went about and completed a SUPER FUN project. I was so excited! Thought about other avenues I could explore.
And when I was considering that, I happened to check on one of my town maps:
Say, Cullen, that oh so smug voice whispered. You seeing what I’m seeing?
Sure. Better than six Screens. Because of course it is.
You can guess the inner monologue that went on from there.
I think I went a little mad at that revelation. I tried condensing the town map into the Two Screen Format, but you wouldn’t believe the problems. What worked with the forest didn’t work at all with the village. Made the place feel too cramped. Plus guiding the Player to a couple of well placed exits made sense with a dungeon. When dealing with a town… Not so much.
Though Troll Cullen got a kick out of me trying.
My solution was abandoning the Two Screen Format. I went to what has to be called a Four Screen Format. It worked great for reworking the village (in fact, I think its an improvement), and it gave me plenty of space to work with in regards to the Mysterious Elven Forest. It even add some ground there, which was good, as Troll Cullen has been going after me for months about how dinky the original one was.
Troll Cullen can be such a prick.
This enlargement of the map lead to further ideas on presentation, but I’ve yakked enough on this subject for one post. Nor will I post another map for your perusal.
Instead, in a Welltun Cares Presents first, I have cobbled together a short film covering the evolution of the Mysterious Elven Forest. It covers the first map I made (call it the Dark Park), the first altered version (therein named the Green Grove), the Two Screen Format (given the better name the Wider Woods), and finally the current version (labeled, aptly enough, Mysterious Forest.) It’s just a quick walk through with no exploration and only the place holder in… er… place. I believe, though, you’ll see a vast improvement over all, and that my time, while a wee bit overlong, has not been poorly spent.
You might notice a lack of representation for the Single Screen Format. To make that particular walk through would take one metric tonne of Event work on something I’m never going to use.
I might be mad, but I’m not crazy.
Oh, the music. That’s a portion of the William Tell Overture. So that you get something out of the experience.
Next time we talk on the matter, it’ll be about how the Paradigm Shift changed the Goblinstomper! story. And nothing about maps.
Not. One. Word.
Shut up, Troll Cullen!