Game: Cope Island by zDS

Summary: A strangely moving experience, Cope Island is a well-executed adventure that challenges RPG Maker conventional wisdom.

cope1

2014 IGMC Winner – Best RPG (3rd Place)!

This game proves you can do a lot with a little. Of all the IGMC winners, the one that raised the most eyebrows among active members of the RPG Maker community was Cope Island. The screenshots showed very basic maps with a lot of empty space and even the default font and windowskin! In a world where all games must be judged by their visuals, how could this possibly win? Because it was a game contest, not an art contest. After playing it, it’s clear that this little gem earned its place by treating the judges to a great concept and a fantastic battle system.

The game is moodier than you would expect from a game made entirely from default assets. You’re forced to name your character, which personalizes the story immediately. As you wander around the strange island and talk with unusually nice NPCs who are eerily determined to make you comfortable, the mysterious mood of the whole place is tangible. Probably the most important contributor to this atmosphere is the beautiful ambient music, composed by the game’s creator. Honestly, most of the game is ambiance. The story is intentionally simple – the protagonist finds himself on Cope Island and wanders around, training for a battle against his inner demon.

cope2 Okay, but if anyone offers me Kool-Aid, I’m not taking it.

By the time you get to the surreal scene before the final boss fight, the game becomes oddly moving. With that in mind, the very end is something of a disappointment. If I had one complaint about this game, it’s that some NPCs lead you to believe that little choices you make (such as breaking down doors or walking around them) could have an impact down the road but that didn’t seem to be the case. Given that the game is clearly trying to be a personal experience for the player, not having more detailed consequences for your actions feels like a missed opportunity. As with all these IGMC entries, however, we’ve got to take the month-long time period of the contest into consideration.

The battle system appears simple at first glance but once you get past the first few fights, it becomes increasingly clear how much thought and effort went into it. You can either attack with your fists or with a weapon. To restore your HP, you can either go with the weaker bare-handed attack or “standby” for a turn. Seems basic, but before long your character will be able to perform two, and later three, actions each turn. This leads to increasingly sophisticated strategy during the fights and it’s a great deal of fun.

cope3

I do NOT remember this being one of the 12 steps.

The player must collect three trinkets to proceed to the final boss. While you can do this any order you like, one NPC warns you that there is “no easy path.” This is because the enemies level up with you. You’ll be grateful for the three actions per turn once you get near the end, although I should say that the game is pretty well balanced and using sound strategy will also get you a victory. Your reward is not money but “score,” which is tallied throughout  and can unlock a few goodies during the game. All in all, Cope Island is a good example of a developer being aware of time restraints and focusing exclusively on what he could do well. I especially recommend this one to users new to RPG Maker. You can learn a great deal.

So who played this game? How was your final score? How did you feel about the strange experience your avatar had on Cope Island? Tell us in the comments!

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sci-fi-tiles-left

We have a ton of new resource packs come out recently, and several of them have a single unifying theme: Science Fiction.

For a chance to win all our new Sci fi Goodies in one go, let’s pitch a game.

Game pitches are useful for trying to sell your game to a potential publisher, but they are also useful for another reason: they can help you remember to focus on what is important about your game. You can’t go on and on, you have to distill your game down to its essence and what makes it special and worth paying attention to.

So here is the idea: Come up with a Sci Fi/Sci Fantasy game idea. It doesn’t have to be one you are actually working on, or will ever work on. It could be theoretical to the point of taking advantage of huge AAA type budgets. Now write a 800 or less word pitch for that game. What is the game about? What makes it special? How will the player interact with it?

Make it interesting, Make our judges WANT your game to exist.

Here are the rules:

  1. Your entry must be emailed to community@rpgmakerweb.com by 1PM on December 1st GMT.
  2. Your entry should be written only. This is a contest to get you to focus on the core ideas of a game, not to make awesome looking images.
  3. Your entry can be submitted as a Adobe PDF file, Microsoft Word file, or any open word document format. If you have questions, ask in the comments below.
  4. Your entry must be less than 800 words. If it goes over slightly, it is OK, but anything egregious will be disqualified. You need to focus on just what is important and interesting.
  5. Your entry must be Sci-Fi or Science Fantasy in theme.

We will select 3 winners. The prizes will be as follows:

Tips:

  • Don’t spend the entire 800 words talking about one thing. Make sure to diversify your talking points.
  • Make sure to tell us the basics of how the game will play.
  • Focus on why the player should care. What are the strengths of your game, and why will those be strengths.
  • Remember you are pitching to someone who knows nothing about your concept. Make sure to lay the groundwork.
  • For this exercise, don’t worry about pitching a game you could actually make. Just stay within the bounds of current technology and we are fine.

Have any questions about the contest? Ask us in the comments below.

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Review: A Bird Story

in Games

Game: A Bird Story by Kan Gao (“Reives”)

Summary: This ambitious interactive story is worth the journey.

bird1  The last “bird story” I told was when someone cut me off on the highway.

Newcomers to RPG Maker may not know this, but Kan Gao (aka Reives) of Freebird Games is one of the community’s biggest success stories. Members of previous RM forums likely remember his early projects like Quintessence, which demonstrated his skill for projects with a heavily cinematic atmosphere. In 2011, To The Moon became one of the earliest, and still one of the most successful, RPG Maker games to go commercial. His long-awaited follow up, A Bird Story, is much shorter but possibly even more ambitious. It tells a (sometimes) interactive story totally without dialogue. Speaking from experience, doing that in RPG Maker can be very challenging.

However, this approach plays to Gao’s strengths as a developer. The lighting, screen tone and spriting are all executed with exacting precision, and the participation of Jordan “Euphony” Baer means the sprite movements are top notch, which is essential for a wordless story. Just about every sprite movement is accompanied by a little whooshing sound effect, a good example of how much care has been put into the details. The lack of text doesn’t prove to be any sort of handicap to A Bird Story and most of the emotion is driven home by the phenomenal music, which Gao composed himself.

bird2

Honey badger don’t care. “Whoa, watch out!” says that bird!

This is not the direct sequel that To The Moon’s most avid fans have been waiting for (although I’d advise those people to watch the scene after the credits). It starts out like an RPG Maker version of The 400 Blows, depicting a lonely child who spends his days being either ignored or pushed around by other people. One day, he rescues a bird and takes it home, leading to increasingly surreal adventures. However, neither he nor the bird can escape the realities of life forever.

There are brief moments of interaction here, mostly walking from one place to another or performing actions with certain buttons in a way that reminded me of the work of Quantic Dream (Heavy Rain). These sections aren’t always great for the pacing, however. With the slow movement of the character and the often lingering pauses, the game can feel a bit languid, particularly in the early scenes where a gloomy sepia filter covers everything. But it’s worth sticking with the story for the high points, including a breathtaking sequence where the boy and the bird fly over a variety of landscapes on a giant paper plane. The ending scene is also exceptionally well done – moving without being too corny or grandiose.

bird4

Okay, which National Park is this and how do I get there?

I may wind up in the minority, but I actually think this is my favorite Freebird Games release. It feels more personal than To The Moon and more consistent in tone (except for the “Benny Hill” bit, that was totally out of the blue). I’d recommend this to all RPG Maker users as an example of the engine’s potential for non-game storytelling and visual power. Our hometown boy done good.

Has anyone played this game? What did you think of its dialogue-less execution? Are you excited for the To The Moon sequel? Tell us in the comments!

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Battler Art Step by Step: Greed

in Resources

greed – skeletal demon bedecked in jewelry and wealth, cracked crown, large bracelets

greed-concepts

Sketches

greed_draw

Drawing

greed-tone

Tones with oils – bit of red, yellow, and burnt umber; thinned with mineral spirits

greed_colors

Colors on Overlay and Hard light layers in Photoshop

greed_final

Final overpaint on a new layer and effects layer added

Get the files here: http://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?/topic/33827-bi-weekly-battler-greed/

1 comment

Game: Daemon Detective: Gaiden by Yal

Summary: Daemon Detective is a great platformer crying out for controller support.

2gwhugi.jpg

2014 IGMC Winner – Best Non-RPG (1st Place!)

Anyone with fond memories of classic NES platformers will feel some intense déjà vu with Daemon Detective, a highly polished and fun retro experience that justifiably impressed the IGMC judges. The debt the game owes to those old gems (particularly Super Mario Bros.) is obvious and it’s amazing just how well the game’s art captures that 8-bit aesthetic. The fact that it was made in a month is even more surprising.

Like Mario without a mushroom, your character is quite vulnerable when you begin a level in this game. You can jump on a few enemies, but move through the areas too hastily and you’ll be in trouble after one hit. There are two power-ups you can find, one that gives you fireballs and another that gives a Simon Belmont-esque whip. Even with these powers and with infinite lives (phew!) you’ll still need to tread carefully. With all this in mind, the boss battles are shockingly different from the rest of the game. Your character assumes a “Henshin form” and flies through the air, blasting energy at the demonic enemy you’re up against. It’s a big surprise, but a welcome one – these boss fights are absolutely outstanding.

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It never fails. You’re trying to walk home from the museum and there’s a minotaur in the way.

The story is complete nonsense – something about paranormal investigators pursuing demonic art thieves through various dimensions – but you can get away with that in a game like this. The more compelling story is going to be the player’s fight against the increasingly difficult levels. The first few stages are no problem, but this baby starts to get tough around the second world. I’ll take this opportunity to point out the only major problem I have with Daemonit desperately needs controller support.

There are several options in the main menu for keyboard configurations, but it’s hard to imagine any of them helping much in the really tough spots. The games that inspired this used a controller and this one needs it too. It makes sense that the creators couldn’t make this happen within the time limit, and of course there are programs out there like JoyToKey that can take care of this for you, but I hope official controller support is added at some point.

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Thanks, NSA, now everyone thinks they can do it!

Given the enduring popularity of games that conjure up that retro experience, Daemon could have a big future if the creators stick with it. For now, anyone who wants to take a trip down memory lane owes it to themselves to check it out. What did you all think? How was your experience with the keyboard controls? Which character do you think has the best abilities? Tell us in the comments!

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This time I took a slightly different approach, meshing a bit of comic influence with my usual textured rendering style.

First the description of Wrath from our internal documents gave me what I was looking for in my concepts: ” red, bulked out, classic demon, angry axe!”  Pretty easy for me!

wrath-concepts

So I just scribbled out a bunch of things in my sketchbook until I found something I liked and bounced it off of a few people.  After that I headed into the drawing.

wrath-battler_draw

So I took a few bits from each of my concepts and kind of amalgamated them together.  I ended up having to darken/thicken that outer edge line as I didn’t end up making it as emphasized as I wanted it to be.  For this I used 2B lead on smooth bristol.

wrath-battler_ground

I have a nice scan of some canvas brushed with burnt umber that I like to use as a ground.  On the computer, changing it to grayscale lets it work better with photoshop’s layer styles; at least in my experience.

wrath-battler-tone

I’ve added an overlay of a color I liked for a background and then highlighted a few spots on it with white.  This is kind of my roadmap of where I want colors and values to go.

wrath-battler_midtones

Here I’ve blocked in my colors semi-transparently, I can still see some of the texture and value shifts on the layers beneath.

wrath-battler_lightsdarks

Getting a bit more opaque I start layering in some lights and darks on top of my blocked in colors on a new layer.  All of these still exist beneath the line-art in photoshop.

wrath-battler_final

On top of my line art I make a new layer and paint opaquely onto that, fleshing out all of the little details I had hinted at in previous layers and solidifying the value structure of the character.  After I put a bunch of paint down, I make a new hard-light layer and do some light effects on it.  Then I’m done!

Download the final battler here

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Mythos: The Beginning

It’s October which as we all know is the best time of the year for spooky, scary video games to come out! That is why we’re happy to announce the Steam release of Mythos: The Beginning, the newest title from Dark Gaia Studios, developers of Legionwood 2: Rise of the Eternal’s Realm!

Mythos The Beginning

Mythos: The Beginning is a survival horror role playing game inspired by Gothic Horror monster movies of the 1930s like Frankenstein and The Corpse Vanishes. Set in London in 1934, Mythos allows you to create your own paranormal investigator from scratch and guide them through a frightening exploration of the infamous Harborough Asylum. Three young university students have vanished while attempting to conduct a scientific survey of this dreaded place, and it’s up to you to find them! Throughout the night you’ll discover that Harborough Asylum’s reputation is more than an urban legend, and you’ll have to fight for your life against demons, zombies and otherworldly Lovecraftian foes.

Mythos The Beginning

Mythos features include: 

  • Blends traditional survival horror and RPG gameplay.
  • Old-school pen and paper style role playing, complete with dialogue trees.
  • Create your character from scratch and then role play them!
  • Use non-combat skills like Persuade and Occult Lore to discover new clues!
  • A Terrifying Gothic Horror storyline that pays homage to the classics of the 1930s.
  • Fully voice acted dialogue and an atmospheric soundtrack.

Make sure to turn off the lights, put on your headphones and check out the official Mythos game trailer below:

Click here to go straight to the Steam store page. The game is 15% off up to Halloween! Make sure to check out the “Getting Started” guide too for additional info on how to play the game.

Only the most dedicated players will be able to complete the game on Purist mode and see all 4 endings! Good luck!

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BY COMIPO STAFF

Hello everyone!

We’re very excited to share the release of Comipo V 2.3, and we want to go over some of these new features and content in a little more detail. First of all, we’ve added a lot of additional content that only the Japanese version had before, including: 44 3D items, 49 BG pictures, 8 Expression Comic Marks, and 19 Item Images. There are 5 awesome new poses, and an enhanced UI which enables widening of the Asset List and Layer List tabs, allows window color customization from preferences, and switches the Preset/User drop down list to a more user-friendly button. Here are a couple of screenshots of these new features in action!

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2We are also very excited about the ability to modify the head size.This feature will provide users with more freedom in manipulating their characters and storylines to fit their vision. The head size changer is on a slider in the change pose window.

3Another big improvement is the enhanced 3D import feature.It is now possible to import models that were too big for the previous version, as well as being able to import more models. (2000 models on 64bit machines, 300-400 models on 32bit machines). There is also a button that posts your work directly to Twitter.

Finally, there are various enhancements that make the program run better, such as being able to manage the additional character data in tools. This feature allows you to load only the model sets you are using into memory , which can increase the loading speeds of Comipo. There is also better performance when editing the text layer, including a change color and filter option, as well as the addition of centering in numerical settings and an additional troubleshooting tool in Preferences/Etc. which should help address some of the problems people have had with grids overlaying their work. Here are some more screenshots of the new features.

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5We’re very excited about this update and hope you are too! We are continuing to make improvements and updates, so please feel free to voice suggestions you have to improve the software, or any problems you have encountered with the new update so that we can get them fixed as soon as possible.

Thanks!

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by: Volrath

Game: Antagonist by Nivlac

Summary: Antagonist is a fast-paced romp filled with fantastic art, which may have come at the expense of some overall polish.

12014 IGMC Winner – Best RPG (1st Place)!

Let’s be honest – an RPG Maker game poking fun at the clichés of classic RPGs is hardly breaking new ground these days. However, Antagonist is a distinctive twist on this concept, blending its parody of games with an amusing satire of contemporary filmmaking as well.

The lead character is an up and coming actor named D’Vil, who is psyched to have landed the role of end boss for the latest feature from Evil Productions, which films cutscenes to include in RPGs. However, a dangerous shoot on top of a volcano goes awry and D’Vil and Ralph, the actor playing the hero, separated from the crew. The problem is that Ralph is still determined to vanquish D’Vil for the good of the world even though the cameras are gone. Forming an uncomfortable alliance, the two begin to learn the truth about what’s going on.

This guy cares about acting much more than his namesake.

This guy cares about acting much more than his namesake.

Of course, the plot isn’t the only unique thing about Antagonist. The most striking feature of the game is that the player never sets foot on a traditional map – the entire game is depicted through wonderful backgrounds, character illustrations and battlers.  The game has a large cast and a lot of locations, all of which are beautifully rendered. With no exploration involved, the game is a fast-paced experience that keeps your attention.

I have huge respect for the amount of work that went into this art, especially when only a month of time was allotted for contest entries. While playing the game, however, I began to wonder if the game’s overall polish suffered as a result. During my playthrough, I encountered a handful of typos and instances of text being cut off, I learned a skill I wasn’t supposed to learn, and the final attack, used solely for purposes of the story, supposedly “failed” according to the battle interface, although the ensuing cutscene obviously said otherwise. None of this is game breaking, or even any sort of inconvenience, but I was surprised to see it in a game that placed so high.

I haven't seen a showbiz mishap like this since the Spider-Man musical...

I haven’t seen a showbiz mishap like this since the Spider-Man musical…

Battles have some element of strategy involved, mostly in regard to which spells you choose to learn. It’s rarely challenging, but the striking backdrops and colorful opponents make it a good deal of fun. Most adversaries are direct parodies of other RPG characters. Personally, I thought “Chefiroth” had most of the best lines.

There are a lot of battles to fight in Antagonist, but it still felt like it was over quickly. That’s a good sign that the fun factor is pretty high on this one. That and the unique presentation are more than enough of a reason to recommend it. What did you think of this game? What was your favorite character design? Are you fine with the lack of exploration when the art is this good? Tell us in the comments!

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Hello everyone, I am going to walk you through a bit of my process today on creating Battlers(although really, it is my process for everything!).

So usually the way these things start out is with a rough idea, a name, or a design brief.  For this guy, I just was trying to think of a cool big bad at first, then it kind of morphed into what it is now along the way.

boneknight_conceptthumbs

So first I sat down and just started fiddling with shapes in the Alchemy program.  Eventually I came upon what you see in the lower left: a big beefy armored baddie with a big sword.  I pulled that into photoshop and started doing some explorations and thumbnails.  Thinking about the character looking menacing in the RPGmaker battlescape led me to the majority of my poses, and likely the one I decided to flesh out in the end.

boneknight_values2

Now that I had my thumbnail I took that and enlarged it in my canvas to its final size and I started roughing out the value structure and texture on the character.  This is done with a couple of brushes, but primarily just one, set to varying degrees of opacity.  I knew I wanted the flesh of this beast to be properly rugged, something like rough, ancient bone mixed with armor.  Initially the design of the head and chest was slightly different, but I changed it to how you see it now to increase readability.  After bringing it properly up to a good range of values, I started messing with some colors.

boneknight_midtonescolor

This is where the ‘Flame’ part of the name really started to take shape.  I knew I wanted a hot core in the chest to really pop the values there, but I hadn’t necessarily decided I wanted it to be fire.  Once I started laying in the flames though, there was no turning back!  The surface colors I was thinking a charred bone, so they ended up pretty warm in color temperature at this phase; kind of a yellow ochre and ruddy brown.  Colors here are applied with a single brush, varying opacity, on a multiply layer above the value layer.  Once I was happy with how the colors were working with the value structure, I merged all of my layers into a new one to start painting.

boneknight_paint

On here I started out with the dodge tool and some high value colors to define my highlights.  Thinking about the specular properties of my surfaces, I wanted to keep the highlights pretty tight and hot, as that is how I imagined the bone armor would look.  This phase was done with the same brush as the other phases, but with generally higher opacity.  I started with the highlights and kind of worked my way out from there in terms of painting the character.  After a lot of painting, I was pretty happy with how he looked.

boneknight_fx

On top of my paint layer, I added a hard light layer to add some effects onto.  I really wanted that flame to be popping out and knocking back the values around it to appear as if it was glowing.  This was simply done with an airbrush on the hard light layer.

boneknight_final

For the final I merged all of my layers once again and ran a sharpen filter over the whole thing, which gives it a nice finished look.  From this I will remove the white background, size it appropriately for RPGmaker, and save it out as a .png!

Download the battlers for RPG Maker use here:

Guardian of Void

Green Guardian

Guardian of Flame

Enjoy!

 

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