I’ve spent the last 30 minutes staring at this blinking vertical line in the editor. Why? Because I was waiting for the perfect opening paragraph to this article to show up in my head. And it never did. And it never will. Oh, I think this paragraph is pretty good. But it lacks a bit of punch, it lacks that perfect engaging joke, that hook that no one can resist.

And since I'm writing an article and not music, I can't just steal Pachelbel's Canon

And since I’m writing an article and not music, I can’t just steal Pachelbel’s Canon

But its good. Its not perfect, and I could probably revise it a few more dozen times, and it would be closer to perfect, but it would never really get there. It would always be slightly flawed. And that is OK!

Everything is flawed, and sometimes, we get so caught up in fixing every single little flaw that we never get finished. And really, no matter how good your game is, no one is going to care if it isn’t even playable.

We hear people say it a lot “I’m a perfectionist”, and yes, its always good to strive to do better, but when it becomes pathological rather than hard work it isn’t an asset, its a handicap. It causes slow work and stress. And if someone else points out a mistake you missed, it can lead to anger and self-loathing.

Perfectionism, in moderation, is good. But you have to be able to break the cycle. I remember one pixel artist in the RPG Maker Community, an amazingly good artist, and I watched him scrap and redo the same grass tile 4 times. It was good the first time. And yes, it was slightly better the second time. But at some point the amount of time he was putting in to that tile was taking away from him ever finishing the tile set as a whole.

And I have my own experience with perfectionism. When I first started working for Degica and writing the blog, I used to obsess over trying to write every article perfectly. I edited each one for a crazy amount of time. I tried to make sure every topic I wrote on was perfect and relevant to something going on.

Granted, back then, it was easier to find a topic I hadn't already discussed.

Granted, back then, it was easier to find a topic I hadn’t already discussed.

But then, I realized: I have to do 2-3 of these every week, on top of my other work. There aren’t 2-3 perfect topics every week. I don’t have the time to edit each one to perfection. I have to, sometimes, go with good enough.

And do you know what constantly, rigidly achieving good enough over the years has done: My good enough is better than my “perfect” used to be. This article, while I know its flawed, and I could edit it for hours and hours to make it better, is better than those articles that I wrote when I first started. Because I was building up experience. Experience on how to write on many different subjects efficiently and with my own voice.

Things I write have started to just flow. I still do some editing, mostly to catch some grammar and spelling mistakes, and catch the occasional sentence where I just used way too many words to convey a small amount of information (yes, this sentence is meta), but I no longer obsess.

That obsession is behind me, and the more I distance myself from it, the better the things I create become. Redoing the same article, the same map, the same tile, the same bit of dialogue, over and over again doesn’t build skill. It just builds frustration, and when you hit the point of diminishing returns, not even much improvement on the piece you are working on.

And you can do the same things with your games. Stop obsessing over perfect. Get things out there. Be good enough. Finish. Build your skill. Eventually, your good enough will be someone else’s amazing.

Do you or someone else you know struggle with perfectionism? Did you ever see it as a detriment? What are you going to do about it? Join us in the comments section below.

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LivingTownBanner

So now, I’ve gotten to another point where I have to plan to go any further ahead. The next plan is to incorporate seasons and different routines based on what time of year it is.

Which is where I ran into a problem. Arglebar is a farmer. I, despite having grown up in a rural area surrounded by farms (I once joked if you saw a barn, a cow, and a fence, you had seen the entire county), have NO IDEA how farming actually works.

I assume you harvest in Fall, because that was when we had the Harvest Festivals when I was a kid where I could buy those throwy popper things that you shouldn’t throw at your friends (which I then threw at my friends). But really, I had no idea.

Dance, dance for the popper God.

Dance, dance for the popper God.

And this will happen the more you try to emulate anything in games. You will run into SOMETHING that you don’t understand, or know anything about. I mean, I pride myself on knowing a lot of different things. I know a lot of European and American history (and a decent amount of Chinese and Japanese history), I studied electronics in school and am good at math, I know how to build houses from the ground up, and I know enough about social media to do the job I do now. But farming? Never done it, never was interested in it really. I haven’t even managed to get through a Harvest Moon game.

I'm pretty sure that one of our Resource Pack artists is currently shaking her head at my terrible taste in games.

I’m pretty sure that one of our Resource Pack artists who makes a really cool farming tileset is currently shaking her head at my terrible taste in games.

Luckily, we have the internet. And the internet knows EVERYTHING. Or well, close to everything. It knows enough about things that if you read several sites, you may not then get things disastrously wrong.

Anyway, I started on the Wikipedia article on “Growing Season“. And then I realized… this is more complicated than I thought. I think we will ignore that different plants need to be planted at different times. I don’t think we need that level of granularity to the simulation. And I’ll use the North America section, as it has a temperate four season system, which is what I wanted to use for the game.

But what do people do in each season. I googled “Farming Seasons” and found two articles that I read to get an idea of what goes on during each season. (and now they are going to be super confused as to why they are getting link ins from a game engine website…) They both talk about similar things, and while not all farms have the same things, it seems safer just to use their experiences rather than go off on my own and make a mistake monumentally larger than the small mistakes I can make imitating their experiences.

Basically, what I can gather from those gives me the following sort of “plan” for Arglebar. First things I’m going to need to add to the map:

  • Cows
  • Storage
  • Cow Shelters

And his routine will change as follows:

  • Summer: Weeding and looking after calves
  • Fall: Harvesting
  • Winter: Feeding cows, birthing calves
  • Spring: Planting.

This gives me a better idea of what I will need to accomplish next time.

Have you ever had to research how something was done for one of your games? Maybe you looked at stuff on smithing for a crafting system? Or bits of history to help in the immersion of your setting? Or even some science to add some plausibility to a scifi game? Join the conversation in the comments below.

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Battler Art – Shayde

in Resources

I’d been bouncing around the idea for Shayde for a while, the first time she appeared was during the bounty hunter arc, and at that time looked substantially different in some of my sketches.  Felix, the bumbling bounty hunter, ended up winning, so Shayde got shelved for a while.  This latest poll she came back quite strong.

For this art I had Shayde already drawn up for a different project, so it wasn’t too difficult to pull in that line art and clean it up.

shayde_d1

She went a bit more ninja than bounty hunter, but I figured both of those worked together pretty well.

shayde_c1

For colors I wanted her extras to be nice and bold.  Also, her hair 😉

shayde_c2

Lasso tool and my hard light shader brush achieved most of the final coloring scheme.

shayde_f1

Did a bit of overpainting and colored lines, and she is done!

shayde_p1

Bonus: here is a new sketch of Felix on the same page.  I thought I would make him SLIGHTLY more normal instead of just absurdly over the top (in the wrong way).

Go vote on their next adventure and bounty target!

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For this monster I had something to go off of already.  Gluttony, the giant demon toad, was fairly good for some ideation.
gluttony_p1

So obviously, mouths were going to be a big part of this design.  After noodling around in my sketchbook for a few minutes I had a pretty good idea, so I grabbed a piece of bristol and went to the drawing.

gluttony-undead_d1

I decided he looked sufficiently gross and then pulled him into the computer for some colors.

gluttony-undead_flat1

I tried to pull out some similar colors to Gluttony, but my technique on this guy was a little different so obviously it wouldn’t be exactly the same.  After I was happy with the first round of flats, I went on to the second round.

gluttony-undead_c1

With the second round of flats I started pulling out my details and figuring out the broad lighting and texture of the character.  I imagine his skin being quite wet and gross.

gluttony-undead_f1

And here is the final with a bit of overpainting on the eyes, teeth, and a few other spots.

Go download it and vote in the next poll here!

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LivingTownBanner

So now, Arglebar joyfully goes through his daily routine of doing the same things every day, day after day, working in his fields, eating his breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and sleeping.

So let’s add a little bit of change into his life. What if he could get sick? Every morning, the game will check if he is sick. If he is sick, he will remain in bed until he either gets better, he dies, or the player gets him some medicine.

But first, a bit of tidying up from last time:

else

To prove again that no matter how long you’ve used RPG Maker, you will still learn new things. It was pointed out to me that while functionally what I did was identically, its a whole lot cleaner if you untick this box on the conditional branches if you don’t plan on using the Else. How I missed this for all these years, I will never know.

So now, on to possibly killing our poor farmer!

The first thing I want to do is add 3 more numbers to Arglebar’s Routine. Before, we ended on 11, now we can add to 14:

  • 12: Sick
  • 13: Medicine Applied, Resting
  • 14: Dead

I also need Medicine. I quickly make the Medicine in the items tab first.

medicine

Then make a way to get Medicine. I decide that I’ll just make a plant (a red flower) you pick it from, and it will only give you medicine if you don’t already have one in your inventory.

pick

A pretty simple event.

Now. On to Arglebar. I want to set the conditional pages for his new routine numbers first. Then build it into the conditional branch for the control event.

Let’s start with 12. When he is sick. Since it will only check and apply sickness first thing in the morning, we don’t need any move routes in the routine, once he is sick, he will stay put in his bed. All we need for this one is a conditional branch to allow the player to give him medicine, and if he doesn’t have medicine give him a quick hint about where to get some.

When you give Arglebar Medicine, it should move him to routine 13 “Medicine Applied, Resting”

12

On to condition 13, This one is simple. Because all you need is a message saying he is resting and will get better. Nothing else is needed.

And then, to condition 14. This is only slightly more than the last. Change the graphic to a tombstone, and give it a nice bit of text to express the meaninglessness of his death.

Good job hero.

Good job hero.

The first thing I’m going to do is cancel out Arglebar’s ENTIRE Routine if he is dead, sick or resting. To do this, I’ll make a Conditional Branch of “If Arglebar’s Routine < 12″ and put all the existing routines inside it.

Now, we need to create the part of the branch that will allow him to become sick and die!

To do this, I, OUTSIDE the conditional branch to see if he is dead (though technically you could do it inside as well), checking at 5am every day. Inside that, it checks his routine variable. If it is less than 12, it puts a random number into a new variable I have called “random” between 1 and 10. If its 10, it changes his Routine to 12, making him sick.

Next if his Routine is 12, it does the same, it makes the random number, and if its 10, it moves his location to his grave spot, and changes him to Routine 14. Dead. If it randomly generates a 1-3 he gets better, his routine is set to 0.

After that, if his Routine is 13, you had given him medicine, he gets reset to routine 0, so his normal day will start.

Routinecheck

The only concerns here are: How will this affect adding more people? My conditional branches for time checking are already getting crowded with 1, and having it skipped if outside a certain number is meaning each character will need a different set of conditional branches. Can I cut this down somehow? I’ll have to think on it. For now, I have a functional routine for Arglebar getting randomly sick/better/dying, and the player can save him as he wishes.

Do you see any problems in the future? What would you do differently? What do you think should be the next thing I add?

Get the latest build here.

 

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Welcome to the Golden Week Sale! Click on the banners below to see 8 packs at deeply slashed prices!

Also be sure to use the coupon code: golden15 for 15% off EVERYTHING IN THE STORE!

dark-hero-character-packDark Hero Character Pack – $9.99!

 evil-castle-tiles-productEvil Castle Tiles – $4.99!

tarot-battlers-productTarot Card Monster Battler Pack – $9.99!

product-monsters-legacy-1Monsters Legacy I – $19.99

nightmares-productNightmares Music – $17.99!

the-agency-productThe Agency – $9.99!

soundscapes-underworld-productSoundscapes: Underworld – $4.99!

magnificent-quest-music-pack-productMagnificent Quest – $14.99!

With more being added daily! So what packs would you like added! Tell us below!

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Battler Art – Whiptail Blade Scorpion

in Resources

This monster was pretty self explanatory, I knew it was going to be a scorpion and have some sort of crazy tail.  A few quick sketches and I was off.

whiptail_d1

 

I approached my color a bit differently this time, as I’ve been doing some comics of late.  For my flats, it was pretty simple.

whiptail_c1

My layer on top of this one was a bit more interesting.  Using the lasso and a custom Hard Light brush, I went to work on the highlights.

whiptail_c2

After laying those out, I moved onto coloring a bit of my line-art and some effects.

whiptail_f1

And that’s it!

Head over to the forums to vote and download the battler!

http://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?/topic/39385-bi-weekly-battler-whiptail-blade-scorpion/

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LivingTownBanner

In the last Living Town article, I was building the moving parts of his routine. Now its time to tie it into the time system of the clock.

All of this will be accomplished with a single parallel processing event using a whole bunch of conditional branches.

The first thing to remember, is that the clock system does NOT store our variables the same way it displays them. The clock system runs 4 blocks of 6 “hours” rather than 2 of 12. So we need to translate our times into the times it uses:

  • 6am: Minute: 0, Hour: 0, Time of Day: 1
  • 7am: Minute: 0, Hour: 1, Time of Day: 1
  • 12pm: Minute: 0, Hour 0, Time of Day: 2
  • 12:30pm: Minute: 30, Hour 0, Time of Day: 2
  • 7pm: Minute: 0, Hour 1, Time of Day: 3
  • 8pm: Minute: 0, Hour 2, Time of Day: 3
  • 10pm: Minute: 0, Hour 4, Time of Day: 3

With nesting, its best to start with the things that change the least, then work down to things that change the most. So we will first build 3 conditional branches for the Times of Day. Since it happens in sequence, I’m not going to put them in the else portion, just put them back to back.

1

After that, build the conditional branches for the hours needed inside those, and the minutes inside those. You can also put a wait 60 frames at the end, as this only needs to be checked once every second (as that is how often the minute changes).

When you are done, with that, the conditional branch should look something like this:

2

Now all that is left in the event is to put in some changing of variables to tell Arglebar what to do at these times, and change it to parallel process.

So the question now: Does it all work. Time to test! This should take about half an hour of following him around and making sure he gets to the right places at the right times. So get yourself some lunch or something to eat while you shadow him. I’m going to make a sandwich.

Ok, now let’s see what he does!

… And I had had a period in a script instead of a >. Good job me. Let’s fix that first. And, NOW let’s see what he does!

… And I had accidentally turned the stools to impassable. Good job me. Let’s fix that. And, NOW let’s see what he does!

3

… And I had somehow put a unnecessary return in every script call. Good job me. Let’s fix that. And, NOW let’s see what he does!

… And I had used regular script calls instead of move route script calls like I was supposed to. Good job me. Let’s fix that. And, NOW let’s see what he does!

… And I had made the set move routes target the player instead of the Arglebar. Good job me. Let’s fix that. And, NOW let’s see what he does!

… And I had forgot that events do weird things when you try to move them on top of each other. Good job me. Let’s fix that. And, NOW let’s see what he does!

… And I had somehow ended up with the vegetable fields as impassable. Good job me. Let’s fix that. And, NOW let’s see what he does!

… It works. I don’t even. I don’t have words. I will go cry now.

Ok, now that the cry is out of the way, there is one issue, it bugs out if you are standing in the way when it tries to make a move route. I’ll have to look into that one, but for the moment… it all works. We have him set in a routine!

What would be your next step? Do you have any ideas of how this could have been done more efficiency? Join us in the comments section below.

Current Build: Download Here

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For the first time, RPG Maker 2003 has been given an official English translation and release! The classic, acclaimed engine that gave many community members their first taste of game-making has been updated and improved for its commercial debut in the Western world. Although the engine has taken over a decade to be released here officially, it was no secret that it made its way through the internet to users who otherwise would never have gotten a chance to check it out.

Many years and several engines later, many of those fans still hold it close to their hearts. Those “oldbies” will be delighted by this newest version of 2k3, an extensive project overseen by RM veterans Archeia Nessiah and Cherry. This 2k3 will work without incident on the newest versions of Windows and has dozens and dozens of new additions and fixes that aim to bring out its full potential. 

We asked the members of rpgmaker.net (RMN), a community where RM2k3 is still held in very high esteem, to articulate why the engine continues to be so appealing. Here are some of their comments.

 “It was an era of exploration and innovation. A time when people pushed past the boundaries of what they thought could be done and experimented, sharing their knowledge with their fellow creators. A time of expression and thought, when mapping wasn’t all that a game should aspire for, when graphical consistency didn’t matter so much, when you made custom menus just to prove you could. It was a time of discoveries; an era of moving ever-forward with design and forging rules and ideals that we now take for granted.” – Liberty

“Rm2k3 is just so comfortable, nostalgic, and – if you’re good enough and patient enough at it – can make so much more than just your plain’ ol’, typical RPG Maker games, like puzzle games and overhead action games.” – Addit

“I like the side-view, ATB-based battle system reminiscent of Final Fantasy VI.” – AubreyTheBard

“I love the graphics. I like the rough, unpolished, Super Nintendo look they have. It looks like it could have been on the SNES console.” – pianotm

“2K/3 just feels a bit more retro, for the retro lover in me, plus a person can learn a lot just from the events without having to resort to scripts. What y ou can learn to do yourself through events can easily be carried over from one maker to the next.” – amerk

“I think if you’re fully aware of the engine and how much time it actually takes to develop a project, you can more fully appreciate a developer’s creativity within the limitations.” – Blindmind

“If you can, I recommend hooking up a PC to an old CRT television, finding a gamepad, and playing an RM2k3 game. IT’S LIKE TRAVELING BACK IN TIME.” – kentona

You heard the man! Travel back in time and check out the new and improved RPG Maker 2003!

9 comments

So its 4:33 AM on a Saturday morning while I’m writing this, and by the time it goes up, I’ll be on vacation. Not like actual vacation. I’ll probably just sit at home in my pajamas (like I don’t wear pajamas every day anyway) watching Daredevil on Netflix again, eating leftover pizza and playing board games.

Now, I love my job. Its amazing. I get to talk about video game design and just in general a program I like. For a living. Also, I get to try to hype up one of the cutest games ever when I’m taking a break from the RPG Maker stuff.


And when you gaze long into the cute the cute also gazes into you.

But no matter how much I love something, like say, you love working on your game, if I do it enough and do it hard enough, then I started burning out. It messes with my head. My quality drops. The same amount of time starts producing less work. There are even times that the burnout started affecting me even when I wasn’t working. I would be a hollow husk reloading the same 3 websites over and over because I literally could not enjoy anything knowing what I had left to do around the corner.

And for someone with a creative mind (which I like to think I am), there is nothing worse than feeling like you are doing nothing productive in your spare time. Not even getting to the next level in a game. At least that is getting somewhere in something. Just the occasional laughter from some screen on imgur to keep me warm.

But how do we avoid this? How do we balance things so that we can get everything done we want to get done, but we don’t turn into hollow husks that don’t even enjoy life, just push through day to day. I’ve come up with a few methods, and hopefully, they will help you out, too.

Avoid Procrastination Loops

The biggest problem with burnout is that loop of procrastination where I am avoiding work, but I lie to myself and say that I’m only taking a ten minute break, so I don’t want to do anything long, so instead I go on imgur and then spend an hour on there then loop back around and loop to every site and then nothing. Nothing accomplished.

This is the site that doesn't end, it goes on and on my friend. Some people, starting surfing it without knowing it what it was, and they'll continue surfing it forever just because this is the site that doesn't end...

This is the site that doesn’t end, it goes on and on my friend. Some people, starting surfing it without knowing it what it was, and they’ll continue surfing it forever just because this is the site that doesn’t end…

And I feel no better. I would have been better either COMPLETELY putting my work aside for a moment to truly recharge, or actually just doing the work. I’m not saying never go on imgur, I love looking at cute cats as much as the next guy, but keep it to when you really aren’t doing anything. Using it to avoid work just makes you feel worse.

Plan Your Time

Find a part of your schedule, and set it aside to do no work on anything. 2 hours a day. You don’t work on work work. You don’t work on your game. You just do something for fun that ISN’T creating something. Read a book. Read a comic. Turn on Netflix. Play a video game. Play a board game. Do something that RECHARGES your creative energies, not something that drains it.

We love game making, but it can be a strain on your brain as much as going to a job. Sometimes even more. No one has ever strained their brain stocking Cheerios (strained their back, maybe, not their brain). Give your brain some time to recover every day. Depending on your circumstances. 1-2 hours may seem small, or it may seem impossible, but you will be amazed at how much it helps.

Make Small Goals

Sometimes, burnout just comes because it never feels like you are getting anywhere. Don’t make your goals too big. Make them bite sized. Its like leveling in a game. If the levels are too far apart, the player starts to feel like it drags. Put your goals close together and you feel like you are making it somewhere.

Sometimes, when I’m going for a jog, Making it to the end of the block seems impossible (Guys, I’m terribly out of shape, working from home is destroying me). So I pick a spot as far as I can see. And that is my end goal.

That furthest tree in the distance. Ok I know that isn't that far, I'm REALLY out of shape here.

That furthest tree in the distance. Ok I know that isn’t that far, I’m REALLY out of shape here.

But I don’t think of that as the goal. I look halfway between where I am, and where I am going, and that is my new goal. And when I get there, I pick a new spot, halfway between where I am, and that end goal I saw before. And again. And again. And finally, my goals get only a few steps apart, and I break through, and I’m there. And I need a shower badly and a giant glass of ice water.

But I’ve done it. And pacing my goals where the more tired I got, the closer they were to each other helped me push myself further.

Just Take Some Time Off

Sometimes though, no matter what you do with all the rest, it just all adds up. You’ve hit the end of your rope, and there is only one thing left to do. Take a week, and don’t touch what is burning you out at all. Don’t think about it. Don’t look at it.

Do like I’m doing right now and sleep in and watch movies and don’t give a single crap about any of the things that have piled up. Plan out something to do instead. I’m going to build a table. Or try to build a table. I haven’t done woodworking in so long, this might turn out terribly.

So I worked super hard to get enough articles done to take the week off. Found people to handle the social media for me, and told my boss I needed the week to recharge. And here I am. Well, not really. I’m not here at all. I’m at home sleeping maybe.

With my stuffed Grunty. He is name Mr. Wumples and he is wonderful.

With my stuffed Grunty. He is name Mr. Wumples and he is wonderful.

Be nice to Rob while he takes care of the Facebook and Twitter. He needs the break too I’m sure. And hopefully a couple of our other team members get their breaks as well, like our Resource Manager, who I know is neck deep in work all the time getting packs out for you guys, and one of our other team members who is working on a TOP SECRET PROJECT I know you guys are going to be interested in that has been giving her the worst migraines, but hopefully its almost finished (you may actually be hearing about this one before I even get back!) and she can take a break, too.

So, I’ll see you all next Sunday, refreshed and ready to tackle the world of RPG Maker. Be sure to join Rob in the comments below discussing, well whatever. Burnout or something I guess. Not my business this time, I’m out of here.

Peace

-Nick Palmer

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