Battler Art – Maneater

in Resources

So a big thanks to TherainED for giving me an initial idea for this monster.  Here is his initial post with the idea.

Obviously I took it in a “slightly” different direction… maybe a bit more monster-y than the image he linked, heh.


A quick sketchbook sketch to get an idea of what I was thinking.


Loose, quick line drawing in photoshop.


Some quick shading and tones.


Here is where I really started getting in there and getting some textures and really fleshing out the surfaces.


First color pass with some hard light and overlay layers.


Final layer with some extra sharpening and some more details fleshed out on a top opaque layer.

After this character we will be moving to a new format that includes a few battlers and some battlebacks, which I am currently calling a BattlePACK.

The new poll will decide the direction for this first BattlePACK, so go vote!

Also, you can download the image files to use the Maneater in RPG Maker

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how to start

It’s been over 300 days since I last worked on a project. I don’t mean I haven’t touched a game in that time. I’ve made edits to my commercial project and done a lot of work marketing my games. But it’s been that long since I focused for an extended time on one creative endeavor.

This was for the most part intentional. I had accrued a lot of debt in the last few years and wanted to focus on my client work which actually paid. The rest of the time was focused on my health and well-being. Without good health there cannot be extended focus, which is necessary for developing a good game.

Now that I’m in an acceptable financial and health situation, I’m ready to get back to work. I have no shortage of ideas at the moment, but I find it difficult to commit to one. I’m not the only one who been on a hiatus. I know many of my developer friends who have been on creative leave so to speak.

In my typical fashion when presented with a problem, I did some reading on the subject. I like to pull from as many different sources as possible, whether they be blog articles, books or podcasts. Below are what I believe to be important aspects to starting a game or any new creative project.

[click to continue…]


I love RPGs. Video game RPGs, Tabletop RPGs, just roleplaying games in general are a huge hobby of mine.

But, what IS a roleplaying game. Many people have different opinions. And I have mine. Mine are obviously the RIGHT opinions though, so let’s get started. Let’s start first with some ideas of what RPGs aren’t:

RPGs are games where you play a role! Its right in the title!

UUUUGH. Just ugh. You hear this one every once in a while. Its usually put forth by someone trying to tell me that the Legend of Zelda series is an RPG.

I'll give you Zelda II, but the rest of the series, just no.

I’ll give you Zelda II, but the rest of the series, just no.

This argument is beyond stupid. The idea that any game in which you play a role is a RPG means that every game, barring a few abstract games like Tetris, are RPGs. I play the role of Master Chief! I play the role of Mario! Its just a dumb idea. Any definition of RPG that encompasses 99% of all video games, obviously CAN’T be the proper definition of RPG.

Any game where you upgrade your character is an RPG!

OK. At least this is a little closer. It gets towards the right track, but its still waaaay too broad. There are many genres that have had upgrades almost since the beginning, the biggest of which is the Action Adventure genre! In which we have yet another appearance of the Legend of Zelda Game series, which people still insist are RPGs.


If that was the case Metroid would also be an RPG. Resident Evil is an RPG series. Tomb Raider is an RPG series.

I'd actually argue that RE4 is much closer to being an RPG than Zelda ever was.

I’d actually argue that RE4 is much closer to being an RPG than Zelda ever was.

Tons of game genres either already had upgrading as part of their MO, like the Adventure genre in general, or borrow some mechanics from other genres to do it now. That doesn’t make it an RPG.

Any game where you can make choices that affect the story is an RPG!

This one is usually thrown around by Western RPG fans, as a way to invalidate Japanese RPGs, which tend to be more linear.

They like to claim that without the choices to affect the story, they aren’t roleplaying, and therefore, aren’t playing a roleplaying game. Which, I can see their point, but they are missing the reason the genre is called what it is called, which I’ll get to in a minute.

But even ignoring the history of the term, they are again, opening the genre up to games that are clearly not in the genre, most obviously the Visual Novel genre.

The visual novel genre is well known for multiple branching endings, even more so than the RPG genre, so how can that be the defining feature of RPGs?

So what is an RPG?

I’m tempted to say that I’ll know it when I see it, but that is a cop out. The truth is, that the term RPG isn’t really what it sounds like it is. It comes from the history of the term. The history of the term with video games didn’t come from Roleplaying, it came from EMULATING TABLETOP RPG MECHANICS.

We owe it all to these.

We owe it all to these.

It came from emulating the stats and growth and focus on that. Saying that it is based on roleplaying is just wrong. You can have roleplaying in a video game RPG, but that isn’t the defining feature. The defining feature is a focus on character power via stats and some form of growth/leveling. Not just that it features it at all, because tons of games do that now, and some genres have always had it in minor amounts, but that that is the FOCUS of the gameplay.

The focus of the gameplay in Persona is in fusing new, stronger Personas with better stats, better skills, and better defenses. The focus of the gameplay in Borderlands is finding better gear and leveling to spend skill points to pump out better stats that pump out better bullets. The focus of the gameplay of Pokemon is breeding, catching, and RAISING monsters to have better stats to beat up other monsters stats.

This isn’t to disparage any game that I claim is not an RPG. The Zelda series is solid. Resident Evil 4 is amazing! Its about the fact that if someone loved Zelda, I wouldn’t say “oh, well you should play Final Fantasy, its the same genre”. Because it isn’t. Now, they might like both. I tend to at least enjoy both, but that just isn’t a guarantee. They are vastly different styles.

What do you think makes an RPG an RPG? Join us in the comments below.


Battler Art – Sloth

in Resources

I did quite a few sketches for Sloth before I started on the final drawing.  I tried to draw some inspiration by looking up some other art that was made for Sloth demons, although most of those biblical illustrations weren’t terribly helpful.  I ended up going back to the Pygmy art I had done, and kind of combining the mask with this giant demon slug thing.


So here it is taped to my board.  After doing the line drawing I used some acrylic ink to get some of the tones, and then some straight from the tube white to get some highlights.  After this I had planned to oil paint it, but that turned into a disaster, so it was a good thing I took a few good photos!


So I got it into the computer and did some more tonal work, really defining the form before I started in with any color.


Using an overlay and hard light layer, I got some color onto the form, I fiddled around with this step for a while getting the look I wanted and experimenting with layer styles.


Here I have the majority of the digital painting done on a new normal layer on top of everything.  If I ended up doing more, I would probably get back in there on the skin and make it look more wet and gross.


And here is the final with some additional effects, rendering, and edge lighting.

Additionally in my post I did a quick narrative illustration


Of Sloth bursting through into the material world from a summoning circle.  This is done a bit differently from most of my battlers, as is probably evident.

I started with a quick line drawing, then filled the canvas with a midtone grey.  From there I fiddled around with some gradients for a tonal scheme, then posterized it to give myself some rough values.  After that it was a matter of putting the proper tones in the proper places, then roughing everything up with some custom brushes and a super screened back cave image to give some of the side walls and ground a bit of extra texture.  I enjoy doing these for the story, and if I have time I will probably continue; maybe next time I’ll have a more proper step by step for this as well!

Go post a suggestion for the next battler!

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The Indie Game Maker Contest is in full swing, the Humble Game Making Bundle is chugging along, its very very early in the morning, and finally, I have a chance to breathe a bit before judging starts.

(Seriously, if you haven’t checked out the Bundle yet: WHAT ARE YOU DOING CHECK THAT OUT)

So, while the clock ticks ever closer to “Oh, God, Why”, I thought I’d share a little bit of advice on making games. Now, I’m not an expert on making games. I’ve not managed to finish one since becoming an adult, and the ones I made before that should not be mentioned.

But, I do play a lot of games. I’ve seen a lot of friends make games. And I’ve noticed a single pattern with the ones I find the most engaging: They have a reason to exist.

So what is your games raison d’être?

And I don’t mean that in the artsy way, though it can be an artsy thing, I just mean it in a “What does this game do that 80 other games don’t already do? What is it that makes this game INTERESTING?”

This can be a mechanic that the entire game is built around, like the Nemesis System from Shadow of Mordor.

Yes, I know I mention certain games a lot... games with a strong reason for existing STICK with you.

Yes, I know I mention certain games a lot… games with a strong reason for existing STICK with you.

Do you have a mechanic that you can build your game around? Perhaps a unique mechanism in the battle system? Or in character customization? Or maybe you’ve found a way to integrate to genres that generally don’t go together, like Persona 3/4 did with Visual Novels/RPGs.

Unique or at least new twists on old mechanics are a great reason for someone to play your game. When I see a game that does something I hadn’t thought of, or something that just I haven’t seen, it intrigues me. It draws me in. You still want to execute well of course, but having something unique to do will draw people in, and keep them there longer than something that is well executed but routine of the same quality.

It could be something in the story.

Yet, again time to bring up a game I talk about a lot, but with Nier, I have never, ever seen a game re-contextualize EVERYTHING the player did all game. It was interesting. It was novel. You get to the end and learn that nothing was what you thought it was. And even with me telling you this, I would make a big bet that if you played it now, you STILL wouldn’t know what was coming if it was your first time playing. It made it infinitely more engrossing than just saving the world.

It could even be an art or music style. A game like last year’s IGMC entry Little Briar Rose drew me in specifically because the stained glass art style was intriguing.


Even if you haven’t played it, doesn’t that make you want to? A new sound, a new look, something you haven’t seen in a game before. Just like a mechanic, or a story element that is strongly unique, a uniquely STYLED game can go a long way.

So, what does your game do? Why does it exist? Why should someone play your game over any other? Tell us in the comments below.


By Celianna


Have you ever made any autotiles? What troubles did you have? Do you have any tricks that help you? Join the discussion in the comments section below.

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Battler Art – Leaper

in Resources

Before starting on our one for today, I’d like to say hi to all of the IGMC competitors out there! Do you want to use these biweekly battlers in your games? Well you can. Make sure to check out the step by steps for the whole line.

I apparently had a really good idea for kind of what I wanted this to look like before I even sat down, because I literally sat down with a large piece of watercolor paper and just started sketching.  After a little while, I had my drawing.


I also drew a quick character on the left, which is one of my own characters, because I wanted to try out these wash pencils and ink, which is what all the shading you see is from.  Once  I got to here though, I wanted to see how it looked in photoshop.


Some additional tones.  I flooded the image with a mid gray, then toned each element, then went ahead with some shading.


Here are my initial colors, which are made up of mostly overlays and hard light layers.  After those were in place I got to painting on an opaque normal layer.


and here are the results!  I really like those wash pencils and ink washes!  After I got this all done, I also plan on giving some oils over it a shot.

Go check out the current storyline here, and make sure you leave a suggestion for an upcoming battler!

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By Celianna


Have you ever had problems with making tiles seamless? What other easy tile making tricks do you want to learn? Join us in the comments section below.


In our everyday lives, we all face deadlines. Work deadlines, school deadlines, tax deadlines. Everything seems to have a point that we have to be finished with it.

I've been officially an adult for 14 years now, and it still takes me forever to figure these things out.

I’ve been officially an adult for 14 years now, and it still takes me forever to figure these things out.

In general, with hobby and indie game dev, with the exception of making games for contests, deadlines are a thing that aren’t really forced on you from the outside world. But deadlines are important. Yes, there are the strong few who can plug along on a game consistently for months without any deadlines, but they are like unicorns.

For the rest of us, we need deadlines, and without the outside world to impose them on us, we need to impose them on ourselves. So how should we organize our deadlines?

Start with a Plan

Write down everything you need to get through with to get your game done. Organize it in the order it needs to get done. Now write the dates you think you should get done with each of them.

Now ignore that. Assume you are an idiot, and everything will take about twice as long. Now write the dates down spread out to twice as long. The general idea, 1 hour of gameplay on average will take you 100 hours of work. Of course, the first hour of the game, with getting all your systems down, is going to take longer, and the later hours will take slightly less time as you have most of your framework in place, but on average, this will be pretty accurate.

You will also forget things you need to do, so adding in that extra time in your original plan is good to slide those in. And finally, you need to be able to rest. Outside of crunch time for a contest, you shouldn’t be working on your game 24/7. Your brain doesn’t work optimally when you aren’t sleeping or even taking breaks.

Now that you have a plan, how do you use it?

Don’t Procrastinate

When you look at a deadline, don’t think “well, I can work on that tomorrow, I don’t have a deadline until next week”. Don’t be the guy writing an article about deadlines at 5:40AM the day it needs to be finished and oh, man, the evil daystar will soon raise and burn my eyes, and please have pity on me.

Meh, I can get this article done later, I mean, I have like, 8 whole hours before I need to post it...

Meh, I can get this article done later, I mean, I have like, 8 whole hours before I need to post it…

… I mean, uh. Yeah, don’t procrastinate. Try to make progress towards your deadlines every day. Or nearly every day. One day off a week is sometimes necessary for recharging, but if you start taking multiple days, you need to rethink your schedule.

Missed Deadlines are a Time to Think

If you ever miss a deadline, it is not the time to bash yourself. It is the time to identify why you missed the deadline. Don’t make excuses. Be honest with yourself.

Was it just an unrealistic goal? Did you not realize how much work a part of your game was? How do you need to adjust the rest of your schedule with what you have now learned?

Did other things in your life interfere? You had to pick up extra shifts at your real job? Had a baby? An Illness? You want to not use these as excuses, but they can be reasons. If you use them as excuses, you will use them all the time.

Was it because you were lazy? How are you going to fix that? Its not the time to be angry with yourself, its the time to fix it.

Met deadlines are a Time to Celebrate

Every met deadline is a new opportunity to congratulate yourself. Don’t go overboard, you don’t need a swollen head, but maybe take a day off (but only one!), maybe you should go out to get a dinner that isn’t warmed in a microwave, maybe you need to go watch that new movie that came out.

But remember, once you are done with your celebration, there is an new deadline to meet around the corner.

Do you set deadlines for yourself on your projects? How do you interact with them? When you miss them are you angry? When you make them do you celebrate? Do you find they do any good? Join us in the comments section below.


By Celianna


Now that you see how easy it is to do painted wood tiles, What kind of tiles and do you want to learn to make?