I’m going to be honest and say the inspiration for this basically came from me running away terrified from the hordes of pygmy enemies in Diablo 2, they were super evil.  After a couple quick sketches and ideas, I moved into the main drawing; I had a pretty solid idea to begin with.


For my paper this time I used a Strathmore Toned Tan; I’ve been pretty happy working with it lately.  I scanned it in and then started in with some color.


I just did some quick flats with the lasso tool and the paint bucket on a multiply layer.


This was a couple layers of hard and soft light, to kind of feel out the lighting scheme I had put in place.  Once that was all on, I made a final top layer and started painting a bit more opaquely.


A bit of overpainting later and he is done!

Go vote in the next poll here : http://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?/topic/41479-bi-weekly-battler-witchdoctor-pygmy/


As Felix and Shayde’s quest took them to new lands, I felt it important to loosely define where they were; at least to some degree.


Given King Gilgamesh’s tribe of Flesh Eaters, I thought it appropriate to work in some grisly human trophies/castoffs.


Got into it with some ink


Laid down some quick color washes to get an idea of what I wanted


Finished it off in photoshop

Go vote in the poll for the upcoming battler set in the Azurian Tropics!


So, as I’ve talked about before, I am a big fan of games in general, not just video games, and take inspiration from various types of games. Video games, Tabletop RPGs, Board Games, you name it, I probably have played it at some point (Even LARPs, Never Again. Never Again), and it inspires the way I look at things, and even the things I write about.

Which is what got me to thinking about Feature Creep. I was done with work for the day, and decided to sit down with the rulebook to one of my newer board games called Mage Knight. Or should I say rulebooks. The game is sprawling. it has a reference book and a walkthrough book just to teach you the game. There are so many rules its taken me several days to try to get it into my head. I’ve watched videos on how to play, I’ve read both books. I’m just now starting to wrap my head around it.

OK, where did that reference card that told me how Keeps work go.

OK, where did that reference card that told me how Keeps work go.

Mage Knight suffers from feature creep. It just feels like every feature the designer wanted in the game, made it in the game. And video games, especially hobby games, seem to suffer from this a lot.

Do you really NEED 4 crafting systems? Eight different ways to customize your characters? Fifty characters to choose from? Completely unique mechanics for each of the different ways you can customize each of your fifty characters to etc. etc. etc.

How many ways do you need to play the same game?

But this got me to thinking, because I was STILL super excited about playing Mage Knight, even though it was super super heavy. Is it possible that Feature Creep isn’t inherently bad?

I think, the answer, really, is no. Uncontrolled Feature Creep is bad. Feature Creep without THINKING about your features are bad. Some games, and honestly the board game Mage Knight seems to be one of them (and I don’t just say that because I think Vlaada Chvátil is one of the most flawless board game designers of all time), are masterful designs that just happens to have eight tons of rules and exceptions. This doesn’t make it bad, but what it does do is make it less accessible.

And not all games need to be easily accessible. There are plenty of niche genres, and cult favorite games that are really really hard to get into. I remember trying to play some of the Total War games that came after Medieval and before Shogun 2, and man, they had gotten more and more complex until Shogun 2 streamlined it back down. And I couldn’t play them. But a lot of people really loved them.

Personally, I still waffle between Shogun 2 or Medieval as my favorite in the series.

Personally, I still waffle between Shogun 2 or Medieval as my favorite in the series.

Streamlined doesn’t always equal the best, but it generally does mean that you will be able to please the largest audience. But what if you don’t want the largest audience? What if you are looking at a specific niche audience who will love super complex systems?

You still need to be careful of feature creep!

Three things can make an added feature bad even for gamers are into the most complex of systems.

The first, is unintuitive mechanics. If the feature you add to a game doesn’t make sense, clashes with another feature that exists (why do I need to use this crafting system to make swords, but an entirely different one to make axes?), or that work the opposite of what it seems like it should (cutting a hole in this armor makes the defense go up!) then most people will probably be turned off by the feature.

The second, is just adding features that don’t appeal to the niche audience you are going for. There isn’t a monolithic “complex games lover” demographic. There are gamers that like complex strategy games. There are gamers who like complex RPGs, there are gamers that like complex etc. etc. etc. Make sure that you are hitting the RIGHT complex features.

Just because someone likes Eve doesn't mean they will also like a super complex romance system in your RPG.

Just because someone likes Eve doesn’t mean they will also like a super complex romance system in your RPG.

And the third: Unnecessary features. Complexity for complexities sake does nothing. There is no use for a complex system that adds nothing to the game.

Every time you add a system, ask yourself “Who is this for, what does it do in the game, and how does it fit into the whole?” Asking these questions, you can still hit that niche audience that loves complex games, without just adding stupid levels of stuff everyone will hate.


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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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.


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.


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).

Go vote on their next adventure and bounty target!


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.

Go download it and vote in the next poll here!



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:

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

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.

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?

Get the latest build here.



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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.



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.


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.


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


And that’s it!

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