Potential Monster for GoblinStomper! (II)

One of the things I like most about drawing digitally is how easy it is to change things. Pen and pencil you have to white out or erase, and that starts making a mess on the page. With digital one click and its gone.

All of this is to say I’m staying the course right now – finishing the picture as originally drawn.  Once I have it as a base, then I’ll see what needs changed and how much.

Of course, this is taking too long. I need to up my game. But I’m still getting used to balancing a Working life with a Creative one.

 

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Wilbur, the Goblins, and the GoblinStomper!

Okay.  I have begun work on the opening half of The Green Elf (I), our introduction to the wondrous Nilbog.  I have the Positive Route finished, and the Negative Route finished up to the Big Fight (for the record, Wizard has another Chicken Attack at the border of the forest and Hero extracts him from the situation.) With this particular cut scene the two routes join into a more or less straight line (though I’m mentally leaving the option open for more routes at later places).

That was the easy part.  The hard part was (and still is) the second part.

I’ve dreaded doing this second part for two reasons.  The first of which being the big guy below.

gs-development-039

At the start, he was just a Boss.  A character that the Player fights and forgets.  Only I made a mistake.

I gave him a name.

It was a jokey one–I mean, Wilbur? For the Pig looking guy?–but that was enough.  Soon enough, he started becoming a part of the plot.  A character in his own right, participating with Nilbog.

gs-development-054

Which was fine.

Right up until I committed to have my characters have expressions to emphasis certain moments in the course of the game.

PC Expressions (Hero 1)

If they have a face, they should have at the very least two expressions.  Probably more.

The problem?  Wilbur’s portrait isn’t that of a player character.  He’s a monster.  As such he only had the one expression which came with RPG Maker MV:

monster faces

Small digression to vent: Look at that skeleton character.  Like the rest on this list, it comes with its own set of walking sprites which copies the look.

Which is fine, if you like this look.  Me, it seems more than a little bit… limited.  Which means if I want to have skeletons in this game, I’m going to have to do more mod work.  Which is fine, except it’s more work.  If you can dig it.

(Another digression, if I can be excused: I’ve already done a fair sized chunk of the work modding out a “proper” Skeleton character.  That doesn’t mean I’m any less bitter about having to do it in the first place.)

Anyways, Wilbur needed some expressions made for him.  Thus I spent most of this week working on expressions for Wilbur.  Below are the results (last one on the list is a duplicate; i may change it to something more interesting in future.)

Wilbur

So for the most part Wilbur is in the bag.  He’s ready for his first big moment, which is speaking to his troops (well, Nilbog’s troops, but you know what I mean.)  About six or seven Goblins.

Trouble was, there’s only one set of walking sprites for the Goblins.  That would be the sprite for Wilbur.

Fortunately, I’ve already bought a program for modding out (and creating) sprite figures.  So I worked my little magic and came up with this set of sprites:

Goblins

Not too shabby, eh?  And I’m going to use them in one fashion or another in the game.

Just not in the cut scene in question.

See, All I did to make all the colorful Goblins was change the hue.  Call it a palette swap, which it kind of is.

This palette swap change not only the Goblins’ skin tones, but that of their clothes as well.  As I wanted them to have a sort of unified look, this meant either a.) coloring over the “wrong” colors with the “right” ones or b.) cut-and-paste the “right” costume via copying the original sprite and erasing everything except the clothes.

As this struck me as a lot of work, I chose option c.)  Meaning I made a whole new set of characters.

Which might have been even more work than what I was trying to avoid.

And now that I think of it, all I had to do was recolor one clothing layer, make duplicates of that layer instead of working on each individual frame for each sprite.

Huh.

Ah, whatever.  It’s done now.  And, frankly, I think it’s an improvement over the first attempt:

Goblins (MEFEM)

You might notice a couple of full sprite hue changes/pallet swaps here too.  I feel this is more in the acceptable difference range than the earlier attempt.  In any case, if I change my mind, it’ll be easier to do three sprites than eight.

Anyway, all that needs doing is getting all these sprites as Events in the game, get them into position, and write up the cut scene.  Shouldn’t take too long to do that and get the bugs out.

We advance!  Slowly.  But forward.

The Grand Opening of GoblinStomper!

Okay, after some heartbreak and no little effort, I finally have the first two cut scenes, Grand Opening and First Fight done and a video up for viewing.  It is below and is more or less self explanatory.  The two scenes currently come back to back at the very start of the game and I have no current plans to change this.  Also, there’s a small bit of “bonus footage” at the end I’ve added for comparison at a later date.

More comments below the video for the curious:

And here are the further notes:

  • wizardYou might have noticed some odd distortion on the marching guards in the Throne Room and with Wizard himself.  This is neither RPG Maker’s fault nor XBox (how I captured the video).  Instead, it happened during the transfer to YouTube No clue why or how to fix it.  I am… displeased.
  • My original intent was to have one long movie like cut of Act One, hitting all the Cut Scenes at once.  This would have delayed things a bit, as making these things work takes time.  So the plan is installments as I go, with a massive “film” once every cut scene in the Act is completed.
  • heroA benefit of doing things this way is showing the “routes” through the game.  Currently this amounts to whether or not our Hero Hero gets a companion from the get go or not.  This “route” ties up with the next Cut Scene: The Green Elf.  I don’t know how many “routes” will appear during the course of the game–this one wasn’t exactly planned in advance–but it’s nice to give the Player a feeling of control, if only a small one.
  • Speaking of control:  You might notice that there are four choices, but I’ve only mentioned two routes.  While the positive answers all go to the Positive Play-through and the negative ones the Negative Play-through, that doesn’t mean the choices don’t matter.  There’s are hidden “meters” keeping track of the various choices the Player makes that will add up over time, leading to new “routes” (probably somewhere in Act Three or Four).  Right now there are six meters going with the potential of more being added.  Because I’m crazy like that.
  • While we’re on that subject:  Each of the positives will lead to a different (small) set of dialogue.  When I make the “Master Movie Play-through” it will be the “Positive Route.”  Also, there will be no changing of the names, for reasons that will become clear on the viewing.
  • Speaking of noticing: You might have noticed that, with the exception of the names, at no point does the Player have control over anything Hero says.  There is a reason for this.
  • On the combat:  That’s just a bare basic showing.  When we get further along into the game making, I hope to strength it a trifle.  Right now it’s just what the game gave me, with an altered game image for the chicken and two newly made attacks for the monster (only one is shown here.)

nilbogI think that covers everything. On to the next part, where we are (re)introduced to our next… er… hero: the divine Nilbog.  Been looking forward to her.

Except for the little fact that her introduction involves a crowd scene, and I’ve never done one of those before…

Oops?

A Map is Never Finished Until I SAY IT’S FINISHED

Last time we talked about Goblinstomper! I gave a list of Cut Scenes I planned to work on next.  I’ve finished the very first one (Grand Opening) and after finishing replacing and documenting the Castle’s Events (don’t ask) I intend to move on to the next one, First Fight.  I’d like to show off what I’ve done, but as the two are connected (one starts after the other ends) I’m holding off for now.

However, I want to show some progress has been made.  Thus let’s look at a map:

Gs Development 085

This is the town of Genrist, located outside Castle Genrist.  I’ve mentioned the town before in these ramblings.  Specifically, that I took its map and moved it to a new locale.

Then, maybe a few days after that, I redrew the whole thing.

Why?

Two of the three games GoblinStomper! is inspired by/making fun of start at a castle with a town right near by.  Besides, I was on a redrawing kick anyways, what with the whole Four Screen format (it’s defined towards the end of the essay).

I liked this a great deal when I’d finished, but, as these things happen, when I looked at it again today I found it… dull.

So I made alterations.

Gs Development 086

As you can see, the basics stayed the same.  I made the place a little more hilly to make it more visibly interesting.  I might do some tile moding in the future, but for now I’m done done doneski.  Took twenty, maybe twenty five minutes to fix it up.

This marks the last of the major work on the Four Screen format maps for Act One.  Everything else should be in tip top shape and ready for duty.  Next time we speak on the game I hope for a couple of cut scenes to show off.  And maybe first fight…

Where Stands the GoblinStomper?

Knowing him, probably on someone else’s feet, wondering what was all the carping about.

But that’s neither here nor there.

We have hit the end of Act One Phase One.  This means I have a “game” that can be played to the finish.  Almost.  Kind of.  I skimped the end and need to draw two more maps, but that involves switch puzzles and I’m tired of switch puzzles.

What happens next is Act One Phase Two.  This involves a whole slew of other work I don’t wanna do but has to be done in order to make this the game I want it to be.  It doesn’t have to be the best game ever made out of RPG Maker, just as better than the worst.  Preferably much better.

Let’s cover just a few of the things I’m doing right now:

Gs Development 084

  • Modifying tiles

I’ve mentioned modifying tiles in another post.  Basicaclly, RPG Maker has a nice range of tile that come this close to being everything a game designer needs.  To the point that when it misses, it’s frustrating.

Oh so frustrating.

With the image on the left, we have our first castle as it originally appears.  On the right is the new freshness.  Players can now enter and leave the castle grounds and it has a little more depth to the proceedings.  A bit more solidness.

Spent several hours working to get this right, and it’s still not perfect (there’s some jagged edges on the right side of the gateway and no doubt some on the left side as well.)  Still, it’ll do for now.  I’ll touch it up another time.

PC Expressions (Hero 1)

  • Modifying faces

We mentioned in passing using RPG Maker’s Character Generator as a means to add life to the game, and in Act One Phase Two I’m starting the long, painful slog towards making expressive faces for every possible bit of dialogue.  Or, rather, all the potential expressions in this particular Act.  Above is the first set for our Hero Hero, covering most every look he’s bound to give his fellow actors.

I don’t have to do this for every speaking in the game  Thank God.  Just all the main characters, a lot of the people they talk to, a few they don’t talk to, and so on and so forth.

Lotsa work, in other words.

As with the tiles, RPG Maker doesn’t quite do all my work for me.  This I have to add/modify the art I’ve been given.  The images on the lower left are an example of this, with me trying to ape the original style.  The lower left corner only has the eyebrows done, and frankly looks decent.  It’s partner isn’t quite as good (eyebrows, eyes, and mouth are mine) but I believe it’s a near thing.

My hope, my dream, my inner most fantasy, is to be able to alter what RPG Maker has given me and not draw have to draw my own stuff.  That much extra work makes my palms itch.  Especially the thought of drawing clothing.  I hate drawing clothing.

GS My Art 000If it turns out I have to to do this job right, then by God I’m going to do it.  I just hope it doesn’t.  To the right is a practice run at Hero’s walking sprite.  Original on the left, mine on the right, as if your own eyes couldn’t tell you that.  It ain’t good, folks, but first steps rarely are.

  • Cut Scenes

I’m also writing and “programming” the various cut scenes that tell the game’s story.  Some has already been written, one has been done and doesn’t need touching up.

I plan to do these in order, so to keep us all on the same page as where I am in the work, here’s a title list of the cut scenes I know I need at this point:

  • Grand Opening (written but needs rewriting)
  • First Fight
  • The Green Elf
  • Against the Green Elf (written but needs rewriting)
  • Finding a Boat/True Love’s Course 1
  • Leaf Joins the Party (written but needs rewriting)
  • On the Beach
  • Homecoming (multiple parts here)
  • Gaps in Knowledge (Done and programmed, with minor mechanical work to keep it running smooth.)
  • The Thief of Purple
  • The Plotters Plot/True Love’s Course 2
  • Leaf Leaves
  • A Hero’s Got Places to Be
  • The Deed is Done

Wow, that’s a lot more than I thought.

Anyways, “programming” the scenes aside, this is my favorite part of the proceedings.  Especially when it works.  Always nice when it works.

  • Other Stuff

In addition to this, I’ve got to populate towns, staff stores, do more maps for the areas that weren’t need for Act One Phase One but are important to the game, as well as figure out what the new non playing characters that I’m making will do and say.  You can see why I’m breaking it up into Phases; the work involved for this part looks endless as is, without considering the whole.

It’s taken about a half year to get this far.  Hopefully I can pick up some speed now that the puzzles have been tabled (for now.)

When Act One Phase Two ends, we’ll start Phase Three, which involves laying out the mechanics behind the basic game.  Creating items and weapons the Player’s can use, spells and attacks that can be performed, and foes to fight.  Not nearly as fun as the previous Phases, but hopefully with some charms.

Good God, I’m Going to Have Another Barren Month in the Post Archives, Aren’t I?

I’m gonna try, try, try to give another update on Goblinstomper! sometime this week.  Big plans, half written already but I’ve more work to do so I can officially close one door and move on to the next problem.

Also happening this week is I’ve start writing another review.  Nothing too interesting, just an old school slasher type called The Slayer.  From there I hope to hit some of the older reviews I haven’t actually reformatted and repost.  Apparently there’s more than one.

Erk.

Anyways, not kidnapped by space aliens (though not from lack of trying).  just busy.

Goblinstomper Against the Paradigm Shift! – Episode One: The Phantom Menace of Maps

heroFirst things first:  We aren’t getting to the thirtieth installment of the Development Diary series.  I’m stuck on “celebrating” the thirty milestone, which means doing unnecessary work rather than important stuff.  Which means I don’t talk about the game on the site.  As I want to talk about the game on the site, that’s a problem

So.  No more in the Development Diary series.  Or, at least, no more with that in the title.

Problem solved, block removed.

Second things second: While April wasn’t astoundingly productive in terms of Goblinstomper! production, major changes did happen in turns of how I thought about the game.  Changes that have fundamentally altered how I’m proceeding with the game.

A paradigm shift, if you will.

The next few posts will cover a few of them so we’re all on the same page as to where the game stands.   Today we start with the small stuff.  The stuff that happened before the paradigm shift, but what ultimately fed into the change.

gs-development-023

We’ve talked about this, but let’s refresh our memories.  Above is a portion of the First Act World Map, the area the player will initially explore in the game.  The course goes from the Castle on the upper left to the port town on the lower right.  In-between the two is a forest dungeon the player must navigate to get from one point to another.

Now what we haven’t covered is that little town in the forest.  This is Genrist, and as it stands, it has absolutely no function in the plot.  I have a map made out for it, but it needed peopled, the people needed scripting, treasures needed placing, and so on and so forth.

Loads of work, in other words.

Let’s expand our field of vision here a moment:

gs-development-003

Notice at the upper right portion of the continent.  There we have another town, called Hilrid.  This one, while not vital to the plot, has a better function than Genrist.  At least Genrist as conceived.  This town the player no doubt will go to restock on equipment, heal up, and so on.

While the same could be said for Genrist, it felt more important.  Despite the fact Hilrid had no map at all.

Now the weight of this project is always on me.  First Act has a ton of writing to do, a ton of maps, a ton of game mechanics, potentially a ton of art on my part to do and it’s the First Act!  Simplification of the process would help in that regard.

Pardon me while I laugh maniacally at that.  We’ll cover why the mirth in the next post.

The net result was the complete and utter destruction of Genrist.  No town, no work.  The map I had could be repurposed for Hilrid.  Easy peasy.

In fact, it felt pretty damn good.  I’ve mentioned the pleasure of ridding yourself of characters (Mein Gott!  Ten years ago!)  This was the same delight, only more so.  A whole town!  Gone!  What a relief!

Yeah.  Well,  We’ll get back to that later.

Roughly around that time I became unsatisfied with the Mysterious Forest of Elven Mystery map.gs-development-035

It’s the tile set.  While the trunk portion is okay, the leafy section on top looks off to me.  Too much black.  On this, you get the area down to a single tile, it looks flat-out wrong.  It’s limiting in too many ways.

This, I should point out, isn’t the first time this has happened.  The original Genrist map was made out of the same tileset and I had the same problem.  For it I came up with a solution: I removed the trunk and leafy tiles and replaced them with tree tiles.

This is the results:

Gs Development 079

A vast improvement, don’t you think?  A little bright for a “Mysterious Forest”, but I could fiddle with the lighting if I wanted.  (Or, and the thought come to me now, have someone comment on how bright it is, too… hmm…)

Anyways, it worked.  No doubt it would have been just fine, had the paradigm shift not happened.

But again that’s next post.

One other thing I did, unrelated to that ominous, ominous paradigm shift, was I worked on putting my own art into the game.  It’s not something I’m looking forward to, because if I can’t mimic the RPGMaker art convincingly I’m going to have to redo all the art, from characters to the tilesets themselves.  More work, more work, and more work.

That’s problems for another day, though.  Here are some initial idea sketches.  Ideas I’m playing with.  They don’t match the game’s style, but that’s not the point yet:

Gs Development 080

I also did base faces for the Character Generator, in case I get frisky.

But as I said, things moved slow for me and Goblinstomper!.  There was progress, but not a lot.

Then the paradigm shift happened.  It’s like the glory days of February all over again.

What happened to cause this?

I bought a video game.

More next post.

EDITED TO ADD:  Oops!  Forgot to add the dire threat.  Here it is:

Twelve, or Mein Gott! My Blog’s Almost a Teenager!

Every year when we reach this particular milestone there’s a wee bit of a shock for me.  “I’m still doing this?  The blog’s still going?”  Yes and yes, I say.  I really believe it has helped, it continues to help, and will keep on helping me improve my craft.  So long as it serves this purpose (and I keep enjoying writing for it) Welltun Cares Presents will continue.

As I don’t have much more to say on the matter, let’s discuss future events.  Or at least events I intend to have happen in the future:

  • I need to get back on the “post a day” wagon.  Or, failing that, a post here one day, work on a post for Welltun Cares Reviews the next.  The whole “one more hour” on Minecraft has gotta stop.
  • Complicating things a wee bit, I discovered that not only is there two Camp NaNoWriMos this year, one of them is being held in April.  Next month.  Now the Camps tend to be a wee bit looser than the regular NaNo, in that it can be “anything” written at “any length”, rather than one 50,000 word novel (thing).  I’m thinking of writing a series of sword and sorcery tales.  Might form the basis of a novel for the big NaNo in December.
  • Moving on to more complicated projects, I’m still stalling over the next Goblinstomper! Development update.  Part of the problem is that I want more expressive faces for what I’m doing than what the native Character Generator can give me (specifically, but not limited to, the eyebrows).  Which means I’m going to have to draw what I need myself, color it, and install it where it needs to go in the program.  I’ve already printed out an enlargement of our favorite red-headed Goblinstomper in extra-large format to get this task done.  Hopefully I can mimic RPG Maker’s style well enough to suit me.  Otherwise I might have to break down and make completely new parts for the whole generator (something I’ve considered doing anyways, but would rather not.)
  • Finally, RPG Maker MV has had an update, which includes a tutorial program that walks users through the creation of a game.  I’m giving serious thoughts to doing just that for the rest of this week.  While it’s doubtful anything new will be learned by doing this–I’ve been fiddling with RPG Maker VX Ace and MV for sometime now, after all–it’s better to take the chance of time being wasted over missing potential options and shortcuts.  Frankly I’m rather fond of Goblinstomper! and its crew.   I want it to be about the best it can be, and this could help, if only a little.

All that said, twelve years of sense and nonsense have come and gone.  The foolish young(ish) man who started this blog is long since departed and replaced by a hopefully wiser old(ish) soul.  Here’s to another year, a better year, full of success, excitement, and beautiful women eager to hang out with men with the initials C.M.M.W.

I will accept two out of three coming to pass from the previous statement.

Goblinstomper! Development Diary (XXIX) – All the Maps, Where We Stand, Where We’re Headed

All the Maps Save the One I Thought I’d Be Working On

So, in a week where nothing went quite as planned, is it a surprised that my work on the game didn’t pan out the same, either?

Let me explain.

Five days ago, RPG Maker Web tweeted the following:

I took one look at that image and the first words out of my mouth was, “No way.”

The second was, “I said no.”

The third was, “GOD DAMN IT!”

I fought for three days, then yesterday caved the rest of the way:

gs-development-077 gs-development-078

The first image is how the map look when I started.  The second is the way I’m toying with doing the maps.  It looks like I have more space, but there are issues here and there that need addressing.  I might break down and see if there’s a tutorial on the matter.

Assuming I go that route, mind.  It’s going to be more work… But I kind of like it.  It has design possibilities.

Where We Stand

While I haven’t hit the milestone I’d hoped for today, I figure I might as well talk about what comes next.

hero

Once I “finish” this section of the game (have everything playable from our Hero Hero (so wonderful redundant) setting out from the castle up to his… um… celebrated return) I have at least two more village maps to port over from the earlier game.  I then have two addition maps to draw, one a town, one an expansion on the Mysterious Elven Forest of Mystery.  All the necessary Events need to be added and check to see if they work.

This done, I need to break down and start working on spells, special attacks, weapons and items, monsters, and the characters themselves.  To do this, I need to read up on the basic mechanics of RPG Maker’s game, and that…  That’s going to hurt.  We’ll moan about that another time.

After doing those two things comes the fun phase: the Writing Phase.  I’m expanding on the various less than boss dialogue, filling out some ideas here and there, and so on.  This includes various dialogue for all the townsfolk present and accounted for (though I may hold off on at least one village for the time being).  A part of this has already been done.

After the Writing Phase ends, I have to put in all that text into the game, test it out, the works.  I might even set up battles to test those out (though I might hold that off until closer to the end, when I’ve finished everything else.)  Whatever I do, when I finish all that, it’ll be the end of the First Act.  I’m thinking about two more Acts after that.  Maybe three…  not quite sure.  No more than that, though.

A hell of a lot of work.  This whole project is probably too ambitious for one man to work on, in fact.  But it’s been fun so far.

Where We’re Heading

All of this is nice and all.  Sounds like I might actually have my act together.  However there’s one small, small area I’m not exactly certain about.  That’s the story beyond the First Act.

Here’s where I am, at least in my head.wizard

Hero and his companions succeed in claiming the Mac Griffin (whatever that is.)  After returning the borrowed row-boat and its tag-along back where they belong, he and his new best friend (not really) Wizard head back to the castle, where no doubt a grand ta-do awaits their return.  Or at least a hardy handshake and an “At-a-boy!”val

At the castle, Hero spots a certain purple haired woman.  Though she doesn’t see him, her presence makes Hero uncomfortable.  He excuses himself and heads off to points unknown, promising to return in time to see the King.  Needless to say, the time comes and he’s nowhere to be found.  Wizard has to see the King (whom he’s never met) all on his lonesome.

He heads to the throne room, where he discovers that the local government has had a major shift in power.  To be more precise, someone’s dead.  Murdered.  And guess who gets the blame.

There’s more, but that’s where I start to look a little nuts.  More so than usual.

See, I like the idea of having a random element to the game.  I don’t know if I’m ever making another one after this one, so I want the most replay ability I can put in.  Thus I’m thinking that the victim might be

  • The Chancellor
  • The King
  • Or the previously unmentioned Queen

I think I can do this branching with minimum extra work.  I’m also thinking about making the murderer a random choice, too.

Whoever dies, Wizard finds himself charged with murder and thrown in the dungeon.  After a day or so he’s visited by the Chancellor.  Unless he’s dead, then it’s the Queen.  Whoever it is, it’s revealed that an Ancient Evil is on the rise and the murder is just one sign of it.  In order to deal with it, three sacred artifacts must be found.  The Mac Griffin has a connection to these things (and Wizard does make a comment on how similar this is to what he’s just been through).  In any case, while he’s out doing this, all efforts would be made to find the real killer.

Wizard has no choice but to accept the offer.  However, there’s one sticking point: He can’t just be freed.  Too many questions would be asked.  Instead, he has to escape the dungeon on his own.

I’ve got a few more ideas on future plot, but this post grows long and I might need post boosting in future.  To tease it a little, Hero isn’t who he claims to be (no shock I know) and the actual truth is further signs that I’m too ambition.  Or nuts.  Or both.

Next time I post on Goblinstomper! it’s will be a little comic of sort, “celebrating” the thirtieth post in this series.  If all thinks go according to plans (and surely that will start soon, right?) I’ll have that done as well as a little more to talk about next week.

So far so good…