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.
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 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 twoarticles 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:
And his routine will change as follows:
Summer: Weeding and looking after calves
Winter: Feeding cows, birthing calves
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.
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.
She went a bit more ninja than bounty hunter, but I figured both of those worked together pretty well.
For colors I wanted her extras to be nice and bold. Also, her hair 😉
Lasso tool and my hard light shader brush achieved most of the final coloring scheme.
Did a bit of overpainting and colored lines, and she is done!
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).
For this monster I had something to go off of already. Gluttony, the giant demon toad, was fairly good for some ideation.
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.
I decided he looked sufficiently gross and then pulled him into the computer for some colors.
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.
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.
And here is the final with a bit of overpainting on the eyes, teeth, and a few other spots.
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:
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:
13: Medicine Applied, Resting
I also need Medicine. I quickly make the Medicine in the items tab first.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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?
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.
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:
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!
… 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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
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.
So a little over a month ago, I wrote a pretty excellent piece on taking criticism. But what if you are on the other side? You’ve just played an RPG Maker game someone posted on our forums, another fansite, or maybe made by a friend.
Let’s assume you want to help. If you don’t… well, I don’t care. Feedback given directly to devs on a site like this isn’t really to inform people playing the game (it can have that side benefit), but to help the devs make a better game. So if you don’t want to help the dev, this post really isn’t for you.
And remember, we have a whole subforum of games you can give feedback on. That is like so many more than so many. Help a dev out today!
Anyway, you’ve played through the game and it has its ups and downs. It has some glaring flaws, and you want to tell the creator about it. So how do you go about doing it.
Before anything, you should always remember to be polite. Polite doesn’t mean sugarcoating. You don’t have to be NICE, you just can’t be insulting. Being polite is really a small thing. Just remember: Always address the flaws in the game, not the designer. Its okay to call a design flawed, or to say a single mechanic is overpowered, or say something doesn’t make sense, but you should NEVER say there is something wrong with the DESIGNER. With that out of the way, let’s get started.
Collect your Thoughts
When writing your criticism, the first step is somewhat similar to responding to criticism: Take the time to think about it. Don’t go in half cocked with vague feelings.
Break down the game into pieces. Every game is about how the pieces fit together, but its hard to address the pieces as a whole. Think about the problems you had, and try to identify the pieces that didn’t fit.
Did the gameplay and theme not integrate well? Which part do you think was the issue? Was the gameplay the part that was solid, but the theme fit badly, or was the theme right, but the gameplay weird for it?
Try to identify as many specific pieces as you can that have flaws, and identify whether the piece itself is flawed, or if it is flawed in connection with other pieces.
This game has three flaws in it… that is like. so many… Ok, no, the joke is dead.
So you have specific pieces, but you need to be even MORE specific than that. Pick individual mechanics are parts of the games, like a single skill, a single plot point, etc. that shows what you mean. For instance, say that we are going on the “gameplay and theme does not integrate well” part. I could say something like:
The plot point where I have to sacrifice a large number of troops to achieve a trivial goal to continue is counter to the overall theme of the game, which seems to be about being a commander who takes care of his men.
When writing criticism, make sure everything you are criticizing gives the designer knowledge of what to fix. The designer needs to be able to take your comments and KNOW what needs work. Just saying “this game sux” isn’t actionable. What can the designer do to fix that?
When talking about a flaw, always consider giving a possible solution to the flaw. If you see a mechanic that feels wonky, throw out a possible solution while criticizing it. Hobby game dev is a lot more freeform than a big company. He doesn’t have a team of people to throw out an idea that he hasn’t thought of yet. You can be that guy.
If something in the game is spot on, MAKE SURE TO TELL THEM! That little bit of encouragement goes a long way to keeping the designer from wallowing in despair. You don’t have to hunt for something, I don’t particularly follow the “poo sandwich” approach to criticism, in which you HAVE to start and end with something good, but if there is something good, make sure to say it.
On the other hand, if the game is just bad through and through… well, uh… I guess you can say you appreciate the effort. But you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to sugar coat. Just remember don’t be insulting.
Do you have any tricks to giving criticism? Do you review games often? Join the discussion in the comments below.