degicaheader_date

PAX East is just around the corner, and I’m sure a lot of you are thinking about the day that YOU will be the ones exhibiting a game, rather than just attending, a show like this.

So, what should you expect when you get out there? Well, we aren’t an indie dev presenting one single game, but we thought it could be fun to tell you a little bit about what it takes to put a booth together like ours.

To do that, I’ll be doing short interviews with three of our staff members who will be working at the booth. First will be Hirei, who is our convention organizer. Second will be Mark, our lead producer. And finally will be myself, our social media master.

Let’s get started.

So, PAX East is just around the corner. How does that make you feel?

Hirei: I’m actually very excited for the show but also a little worried by how much we still have to do in terms of prep work! This is probably one of my first game conventions I’ve gotten to organize a booth for so there’s always something new to learn…or stress out over. It’s a little bit different from other types of conventions such as anime cons or even game/tabletop cons.

Overall, I can’t wait to see our games being demo’d and enjoyed by fans both new and old on the showfloor. We’ve come so far from our tiny little Indie Megabooth in years previous ~

It warms my heart. <3

Mark: Coming hot off of GDC, I feel much more prepared for PAX East than I did prior. That said, PAX East is a much different beast. First off, we’ll be on the Boston Convention Center show floor instead of the relatively quiet 3rd floor West Hall of the Moscone Center. Second, instead of one game, there will be over a dozen titles running at once. Thirdly, there will be WAY more people funneling through. For a person who hates multitasking, it’s basically my worst nightmare!

If there is one thing I learned from GDC though it’s that I’m much more resilient and adaptable than I initially thought. PAX East will be both a learning and growing experience for me, and I’m excited about that. I’m also excited to show off many of these titles to the public for the first time!

Mark snapping a picture of the OneShot Dev showing off at GDC.

Mark took this picture of the OneShot Dev showing off at GDC.

Nick: Excited, nervous, happy, stressed. Its really a huge mix of an emotional bundle. There is still plenty of work left to do, but we have plenty of work behind us as well. It’s all the fun of going to a really cool Convention on a subject matter that you love, but combined with the highest pressure work deadlines that don’t literally involve someone dying if you fail.

But mostly, just proud. This just shows how far we’ve come since I came on with the company… 5 years ago I think? Our only game related software at the time I was brought on was RPG Maker. Now, I look at the team we’ve assembled, and the games we’ve put out, and it’s simply amazing. Mindblowing really. And to get to talk about that for a whole weekend? Who wouldn’t love that?

What is your job for the show? What does that mean? What have you been working on?

Hirei: My title unofficially is Convention Operations Manager, which is pretty much a term for someone who oversees or produces pretty much 50-90% of the planning that goes into the convention event. In this case though, I actually have been handling most of Degica’s North American convention appearances since last year’s Anime Expo 2015.

I handle everything from initial contact with the venue to secure boothspace to equipment rentals and print materials handling. I have a HUGE list of things I’ve done but I’d rather not bore (or possibly intimidate) anyone who is looking to display their games at conventions such as these.

The bulk of my work is done pre-show but I have to stay vigilant during the show in case any issues arise during in-booth events or other normal convention occurrences.

Either way, I am going to let Nick and Mark do most of the talking since I’m probably going to be too busy drawing away for the live demos. Speaking of which, Mark and Nick have both been very helpful with assisting me in terms of getting game information together / planning assists / social media. I’m really thankful to have assistance in working on such a large endeavor.

Mark: As lead producer, my job is to manage all the titles we’ll be showcasing. I’ve been working with Hirei on promotional material for all the games. This includes game flyers, info stands, and merch. I’ve also been working with Nick on coordinating announcements and social media coverage. He handles most of that stuff like a champ but I’m there whenever he needs more info or is missing an asset. I’m also in charge of the press outreach and scheduling appointments for press to come by and demo our titles.

On the show floor, I’ll actively be showcasing several of our titles, but short of cloning myself, there is no way I’ll be able to demo them all. Fortunately, we have staff members and volunteers that will also be working the booths. I have to make sure they have all the game information and talking points to knowledgeably discuss the titles with both press and attendees.

Nick: I’m our social media guy, plus I’m in charge of all our emails. That generally means anything you see about the show before the show either went through me, or was crafted by me directly, like the post you are reading right now. I also have a secret project going, but since it’s a secret, I can’t very well tell you about it, can I?

Admittedly, this means my pre-con work is actually probably the lightest of us three, so I try to give as much feedback and suggestions as I can on every decision that I can. We are looking at new things every day. Giveaway organization, competition organization, art for promotional items, art for the booth itself, getting equipment, deciding on which games to show.. The amount of stuff I see every day that I can have an opinion on is staggering.

At the actual show though, I’ll have a lot more to do. On top of the normal duties of talking to anyone and everyone who comes up asking about something, or is just showing interest, I also have my work cut out for me in getting interesting photos and information from the show to everyone who follows us on social media.

In the course of doing all this, what do you think is the biggest challenge?

Hirei: Deadlines. From my experience with working with all sorts conventions, deadlines are the number 1 killer. There are so many to keep track of along with tasks that need to be micro-managed in order to make sure that things go smoothly. Almost everything has a hard and concrete deadline that you need to be very wary of.

Late on that payment? Late fee for you or possibly no booth space or rental for equipment! Oh no, I forgot that it takes 3 days to produce these print items!? Then no print items for you during the show because it will arrive the day after the event ends.

Your deadlines will heavily influence your stress levels, your budget (hello rush shipping and production!), and ultimately on how smoothly your convention event runs. …Thankfully I can say that I’m not too bothered by deadlines since as an artist I’m very much used to deadlines being a part of my daily life.

I would say stress is also something to be very wary of especially for individuals who are new to event management. There’s a lot you have to get familiar with and quick and it can be overwhelming. And budget is a no brainer: Cons in general are expensive to exhibit at if you go to ones such as PAX East. But as a general rule of thumb, expect to pay for everything at premium or inflated prices.

Mark: Managing so many titles! At GDC, I had only one title I had to promote. Now I have over a dozen! It involves compiling tons of resources and delegating tasks between several people. Managing all that is enough to make your head spin! When it gets overwhelming, I like to walk away from my computer and go outside, meditate or make a fresh cup of tea. It’s important to take breaks and clear your head so you can make the right decisions instead of the quick ones.

Nick: I think it’s really two things. One is just not letting the stress get to you. Its really easy to have it crash down on you and spend a whole day not getting anything done. And that just makes it worse, cause now you have the stress of having one less day to work with. You have to just be able to work through it. Though I think Hirei is a bit more skilled at that than me. If I had all the paperwork to do that she did, I would have just cried until some time after PAX East was over and we would have had a pretty awful booth. (I kid you not, Hirei is a blessing to work with on this. She is invincible and it keeps me going.)

The second is all the work you can’t even help with. For instance, I’m not an artist. Seeing all the work that other people have in front of them, like making a bunch of art, that there is no way I can help with, I stress about them finishing, even though I KNOW how capable they are. I’ve never been that good with things outside of my control.

Anyway, to add something I directly worked on that I can talk about: Writing the same info four times for announcements was challenging. I wrote the blog and email for both Degica Games and RPGMakerWeb. The duplication without it all just looking exactly the same was a bit tricky. You’ll find yourself having to repeat yourself, sometimes so many times it becomes routine. You have to avoid falling into the rut of sounding bored with it. And once you hit the con itself? You’ll probably find yourself repeating the same things over and over all weekend. Make sure to keep up your enthusiasm!

Out of everything you are doing, what is the bright point that you find the most fun?

Hirei: I think the first WOW moment I had was when I finished putting together the 3D mockup with our booth with full art panels and everything.

It’s a very big booth compared to what Degica is used to and yet we have such amazing artwork adorning the walls! Not only can you find franchise artwork but also some great work by Michael.Galefire and I. He is one of our in-house artists who does battlepacks like the Sci-Fi one. It was very moving to see sort of an interactive overview of all the games we’ve worked on. We can’t wait to show the boothspace off!

Not going to lie I’m also very excited to make a certain well known hero come to life for a certain something that you will probably see in the booth.

Mark: I enjoy designing the promo materials for the games. Most of my job is replying to emails and chat messages and managing tasks across several projects so it’s a nice break to sit down and do something creative.

Nick: Seeing all the artwork! Hirei and Michael have been making some super amazing art in setting up for the show. Our booth is going to LOOK fantastic. The mockups I’ve seen have been crazy awesome. I can’t wait to take pictures of the real thing so that everyone can see it.

An example of some of the art done for the convention, our Stamp Rally card, with art by Michael.

An example of some of the art done for the convention, our Stamp Rally card, with art by Michael.

One other thing that has been super fun is my secret project. But once again, I can’t talk about that yet.

If you were able to start the whole show planning over again, what is the one thing you think you would want to handle differently?

Hirei: Plan earlier! I always feel like no matter what there’s always things we could do a lot better whenever I finish staffing for a convention. “Wish we could’ve done this or that, but we didn’t have enough time!” Deadlines are brutal and they will always make you cut out some details that you wished you had time for.

Mark: Locking down the list of titles. As we planned which titles to showcase at PAX East, new ones kept getting piled on. It made it more difficult to plan what materials would be needed for the booth. For future shows, I’d like to get those details hammered down earlier.

Nick: Start planning the day after I was born? Getting ready for a show like this is a super amount of fun. It’s like a dream, really. I mean, I’ve been making games as a hobby for about 2 decades now (started with QBASIC when I was 10 or 11), and I never dreamed I would ever get to be part of something like this. But it’s also so much work and I don’t even have the heaviest load. Whatever amount of time you think you will need, double it. Probably triple it.

It’s just like when you are working on a game. Whatever you think is the amount of work you will need to get it finished, you probably are forgetting some detail that will need to be worked out. And unlike your game, which you can put off if you don’t feel you are done, the show date won’t move for you.

What would be your advice for someone who wants to work on something like this one day?

Hirei: If you want to be involved as a dev at a convention or be an event planner, take time to plan out every detail and also get familiar with how conventions work. Being an exhibitor vs. an attendee is worlds different than what you might expect. Marketing yourself efficiently not only through words but also how you showcase your demo(s) and company are important skills to master.

If you plan on showcasing your game solo, be prepared to do everything from graphic design work to marketing during pre-con period. It helps a lot to have a small team with individuals who are efficient at their job so you can split the work.

Keep in mind that different conventions have different rules/regulations so read the Exhibitor’s Manual or Handbook carefully. It’s usually a textbook PDF but worth to look over.

As a game dev in general, just go for it. There’s nothing more exhilarating than achieving your dreams and doing what you love! I look forward to one day playing your games and seeing your demos on the showfloor!

Where Hirei shows off she can draw and me and Mark can't.

Where Hirei shows off she can draw and Mark and I can’t.

Mark: Conventions are hard; especially for us introverts. GDC was the hardest thing I ever did in my life. Standing around and interacting with people 8 hours a day for 5 days, repeating the same talking points over and over, was absolutely brutal.

But a lot of those interactions were amazing and I made a lot of great connections. Also nothing can beat the insights from watching people play your game in person. For anyone who is promoting a title, it’s a must!

Nick: Chase it. If you told me as a teenager I would be doing what I’m doing today, I would have literally laughed at you. When I was writing down what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was all practical jobs. Math Teacher being the highest on my list. I had another list that was my “yeah, right” list that included the things I’d REALLY love to have been. A writer. A game developer. Just anything in the game industry. I always thought those would be pipe dreams.

But it happened. It happened and now I’m not even sure how I’d go back to anything else. Be proactive about your dreams. Just because they seem farfetched doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. Yeah, you might never reach it, but you never know where you’ll end up if you try.

Its been nice to get a chance to talk about our jobs some. Have any questions? Just want to chat? Join us in the comments section below! And to everyone going to PAX East: See you on the show floor!

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Our devs have been hard at work, and its almost time for an update for RPG Maker MV, upgrading from 1.1.0 to 1.2.0. This will include several fixes, and several new features, all detailed below!

We estimate that it will be sometime around late next week.

We would like to remind everyone to make sure to do the following steps before updating to ensure that when the update happens, your changes won’t be overwritten:

– Make a backup of your project.
– Make a backup of your Generator folder if you edited it.

The following things are the incoming features, changes and fixes for 1.2.0

New Features

  • Implemented Dark Theme
  • Implemented Map Grid Options
  • Implemented Refresh Button for Plugin Manager.
  • Implemented Map zooming with CTRL + Scroll Wheel
  • Implemented Resource Manager DLC Button (Steam Only)
  • Implemented editor DPI Scaling on Windows
  • Implemented Batch Selection in resource manager including Batch file deletion and batch file importing.

Changed

  • The top left tile in the “B” tileset is changed to always be a “Star” passability. This is to ensure collisions work right.

Fixed

  • Fixed Editor Tooltips appearing on the wrong monitor when using a multiple monitor setup.
  • Fixed a bug with animations that caused it to hide the target wrong.
  • Fixed a bug with memory leaks in the tiling sprite.
  • Fixed an issue with copying and pasting on IME keyboards.
  • Picture Rotation Event Command is now be able to rotate pictures counterclockwise using negative values.
  • Fixed a bug in resource manager that made it so files would not be overwritten if you imported a file with the same name.

Previews

Click for larger view.

Grid Optios

RefreshDLC

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I’ve been working on a “super secret project” the last few days. This experience after not having used the editor for a while has reminded me of one thing: Sometimes, I’m dumb.

So, instead of wallowing in it, I’ve decided to share my dumbness, so that maybe, one of you will be spared from making the same dumb mistakes. That or you can laugh at me. One or the other.

1. Movement and Sound Effects.

Ok, so, say you want a sound effect to be associated with a certain movement. Like, for instance what I was doing was having a damage sound effect associated with a jump move route for the player.

So what you don’t want to do, is place it AFTER the movement. Because of the wait for completion, the sound effect won’t play until after the action is done.

PlaySE

And now, I’m sure you’re telling yourself. Yeah, but, why don’t you just put the Play SE IN the Movement Route.

Well, first… Hm… No… I got no answer. I’m dumb. You got me. So, going forward:

2. Remember that Movement Routes can do all kinds of cool things.

Who needs parallel processes when you can use custom move routes for a lot of things.

You can turn switches on and off, play sound effects, put in waits… you can even do a script call if you need to do something really interesting.

moveroutes

In the above, I controlled a timed set of switches, included playing the sound effects, all from a custom move route, rather than using the events actual contents.

3. When moving events or the player, always remember Through.

You know what happens if you make an event that tells the player or another event to move through something it can’t move through. Well if you didn’t click “skip if cannot move” then your game is going nowhere fast if you don’t turn on through.

through

Through lets the move route ignore barriers. Very useful in many cases, such as the above event which opened a secret passage. The event switched places with the event that slid out of the way, turning into the transfer event, while the other event just sat pretty being a visual of the piece of wall that moved. Which leads to another problem:

4. Just like Erase Event, moved events go back when you reload a map.

So I had my cool secret passage, but when I came back out… the wall was back in place and now my passage event is in the wrong place.

-PICTURE REDACED, NO INFO ON MY SUPER SECRET PROJECT!-

The wall was back where it originally was put, and because it had switched places before, the event that WAS slid under it to turn into the transfer was just hanging out there in the wrong place, too. I solved this by adding another page to the events that made the original transfer event become the wall and the wall become the transfer event after the first time you went through it, but I’m sure there are many other solutions to this problem. And finally, one last problem, this one somewhat unrelated:

5. When using the Color Codes for Text. It starts with ZERO.

So, you go to set up a huge puzzle that all has to do with color coded words and phrases and you are going good and have it all coded in and then suddenly. You notice. Your colors have betrayed you. Why is this?

Start counting at ZERO, not 1.

Window

Seriously. I was so angry with myself. I mean, I just had to go through and subtract 1 from a bunch of numbers but uuuugh. So in the above: White is 0, blue is 1, red is 2, green is 3, etc. etc. Don’t fall into the same trap and spend 5 minutes fixing your mistakes.

So what mistakes do you make over and over? Or maybe you’ve done some of the same things I have? Tell me your stories in the comments below!

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Hey, everyone. Any of you guys heading out to Boston this month for PAX East? Because guess who else will be.

That’s right, RPG Maker. As part of our Degica Games booth, promoting RPG Maker, as well the growing collection of amazing games we’ve published, such as RPG Maker games like Hero & Daughter+, or cool Japanese titles like Deathsmiles and Pharaoh Rebirth+.

We’ll even be showing off our upcoming RPG Maker gem Oneshot!

You can also win prizes in various giveaways and competitions, both at the booth and online to win some stellar prizes! If you come by the booth, be sure to check in with our front board and friendly staff to learn how to participate. And for everyone, at the Convention or not, be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter all during the weekend for even more opportunities.

You can also see live art done by Michael Rookard, the artist behind our Sci-Fi Battler Pack, and the upcoming Crimson Towers pack, and Hirei, our event coordinator and in house artist, buy cool Degica Games merchandise, and try out a few games that have yet to be released

When you get to the Con, you can find us at Booth 3224, Click Ralph Below to see us on the map!

booth1

The RPG Maker Web team, and Ralph will be waiting to say Hi to everyone, so make sure to come by!

 

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Monday, I discussed the first part of the creation process I went through to come up with a setting. And now, its time to figure out where that went, and see if my experience can help you glean a few more insight into making your own settings.

So I’ve created two major characters. I’ve got the basis for the one big event that drives the setting. Let’s see where it goes from here.

Its always OK to Change Direction

… At this point I realized an issue. I wanted to use him as a hero. I didn’t want to explore him as a villain, I didn’t want to have him succumb to his issues, I wanted to explore him overcoming those issues to stand side by side with Hobo Warrior to defeat the thing that destroyed their home. I mean, if I’m making an RPG out of this, I can’t very well have just one hero, that doesn’t work very well unless you are going Action RPG, and I’m not as interested in that.

As an aside, this is another of my laws. Touchfuzzy’s Law of Medium Acknowledgement: Always be cognizant of the limitations and requirements of the medium you are creating for.

I needed to change direction. And when you are still in the planning stages, YOU NEED TO LEAVE YOURSELF FREE TO DO THIS. The only time anything is set in stone is when you’ve released it to the public as a finished product. (And even then, not really. I mean, you can always recontextualize things that happened.)

Or if you are DC, you can just have Superboy punch reality.

Or if you are DC, you can just have Superboy punch reality.

For instance, what if Hobo Warrior only THOUGHT that Doubting Magus had betrayed him? What if he was mistaken? So I decided the best action was to get Doubting Magus out of the country before it fell somehow. He couldn’t be there to defend himself to Hobo Warrior, so all Hobo Warrior saw was the Magi betraying him and his people. And Doubting Magus was part of that.

What if his sister was the one who got him banished? What if she was the true villain, and out of love for her brother, she got him removed from the realm before she unleashed literal hell?

This change in direction opened up a whole lot of new avenues for me. And this will happen to you, too. Always be willing to explore all the options, just write down a huge pile of ideas and think about the consequences of each. Sometimes you’ll stumble on something like this, that adds more depth. Sometimes an idea will just be stupid. Sometimes it is just half an idea that you need to weld to another idea before it makes sense.

Going With Your Interests

So now, let’s look at the sister. Now dubbed Diabolical Sis. She obviously isn’t 100% bad if she removed her brother from the line of fire before bringing through the demons. So why did she do it? This is another question that setting creation can use a lot: Why?

Why would history go a certain way? Why would society progress in this direction? Why would a culture have these beliefs? How explains the way something happens, but why, why explans the reason it happens.

She was a powerful Magus, rising in power and prestige. Would she do it for power? It just didn’t make sense. She already had more power than almost anyone else. And I wasn’t interesting in exploring the power corrupts angle. But what if she knew something we didn’t? What if there was some, yet unknown threat, one that she felt was SO dangerous, the only recourse was to ally with demons.

I’ll admit at this point that I’m very fond of “for the greater good” antagonists, and that is a major reason fro this decision. But you should be doing the same in your own setting: Find ideas and character archetypes and themes that YOU enjoy. Sometimes the right decision for your setting isn’t what fits ‘perfectly’, but what you as the creator enjoy the idea of. Your enthusiasm will come out, and that ‘heart’ is more important than a perfectly logical piece to the puzzle.

hmmm... now if a mecha could somehow make it in there. (Sometimes you have to make sure your interests FIT the story though)

hmmm… now if a mecha could somehow make it in there. (Sometimes you have to make sure your interests FIT the story though)

Our Seed Grows a… Spiderweb? (This metaphor is getting strained)

Another aspect of making this decision about the history of my world: It gave me another setting detail: There has to be some greater threat. What is it? Where does it come from?

This is something that you should see is a pattern throughout these articles: Every decision leads to more and more questions. Every time you find an answer, your world, and the story it contains, continues to grow outwards like a Spiderweb, each thread supporting and strengthening the ones around it.

And this goes on and on. I’m not going to take it step by step any more, but you can probably see how each step happened by reading through the changes.

I eventually made it into a space fantasy setting, taking place across an entire solar system (this is partially inspired (read: stolen) by reading Warhammer 40k novels at the time, and partially to answer the question of why the demons don’t overrun the entire planet: They pretty much did, but they are blockaded in space). I decided all matter of “tech” exists but its all magic. Magic spaceships and magic guns that shoot magic bolts and magic space habitats and etc. etc. etc.

Magic! That's Heresy!

Magic! That’s Heresy!

Then created “spellshield” a type of material that naturally absorbs magic based on the wearers will, making there be a reason that swords and spears and such were still used (I hate that most games don’t explain why people would use swords in a setting that has rocket launchers and machine guns). As an added bonus this adds some extra fun for mechanics for a game. Melee is more dangerous to you, but does direct damage, magic has to eat through a barrier first, but keeps you safer. (there is that law of medium acknowledgement again)

Then decided on explaining the Magi and demons by creating two ancient races, one that humans descended from that are the source of the Magi’s power, and the other the “demons” sealed by humanity’s forebearers by shifting the demons’ entire planet a bit to the left on the planar scale.

Then decided to include Elves and Dwarves to round out things. Well, Space Elves and Space Dwarves. The Dwarves are from a mountainous Ice Planet with deep volcanic caverns. The Space Elves are an extrasolar race, arriving on giant sleeper ships that became sprawling forest habitats in space, having fled their own homeworld after being attacked by dangerous threat…

But no Space Hippo Men.

But no Space Hippo Men.

And that leads to another lesson: Sometimes, when you are working on some other part of your setting entirely, you come up with the answer you’d asked yourself days before. I now had the danger that Diabolical Sis had foretold. The thing that had chased the Elves away was not so keen on letting them escape. And now, just as my story begins, their scouts are just beginning to arrive.

And that leads to my final wrap up: Ask How. Ask Why. Ask the questions your players would ask. By focusing on these questions, you create the setting you NEED for the story you are writing. I can’t stress this enough: The only part of the setting that is important is the part that supports your story and in the case of a video game, what supports the gameplay.

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Every game needs a setting. Well, I suppose that isn’t true, Tetris doesn’t exactly have a setting, so if you are making some sort of abstract puzzle game then you can ignore this article.

Though this is a great visual representation of most settings I create. (Happy settings just aren't in me)

Though this is a great visual representation of most settings I create. (Happy settings just aren’t in me)

But if you are making any other kind of game, a setting is needed. And with an RPG, a setting is usually doubly as important.

I could write an article with a thousand ideas on methods to make a setting that is intriguing and unique, but I think sometimes we lose ourselves in talking in generalizations. So instead, I’m going to discuss a specific setting I’ve made, and walk through the steps of how it was created. Instead of just telling you “this is a method that works”, I’m going to show you the connections I made in my own head, and hope that you can divine some use out of it.

But first, a word on setting and story: To me, these two are intertwined. The setting serves the story, and the story serves the setting. You can’t separate the two. Because of this, you will notice that not only am I creating the setting, I am creating the story as well. Now, not the whole story. But the setup for the story. The characters and the history that make the story happen.

The history that is important to a setting will ALWAYS be the history that makes the story happen. The rest can be INTERESTING, but it is not always important.

The Seed

I’ve found the best way to develop a setting is to start with what I call the Seed. The Seed is that little bit of something that everything else will be built around. It can be an image. It can be a theme you want to discuss during the game. It can be pretty much anything.

No, Patrick. Mayonnaise is not a setting seed.

No, Patrick. Mayonnaise is not a setting seed.

In this case, it was a character concept. Only two words: Hobo Warrior. It had stuck in my head, this image of a warrior with ragged clothing, beaten but well taken care of armor and sword. Instead of the “mysterious wandering warrior” stereotype you normally get, calm, collected, “so coooool”, I pictured a character who was hard, with clear issues that prevent him from being part of normal society. But still supremely skilled.

I imagined him wandering from place to place, surviving off the land, and fighting some form of enemy that has a personal meaning to him, not because he is trying to save the world, but because of a personal trauma.

I feel this works solidly as a Seed because it is a unique hook. I mean, don’t you want to explore the life and times of Hobo Warrior already? A good seed is like this. It will hook in readers just from hearing about it alone.

Growing the Seed

Now, with this seed in place, it needs a world to inhabit. So, I come to the question I ask myself all the time when creating a setting: How?

We need not just a world that this character can be part of, we need a world that would PRODUCE him. How did he get this trauma? How did the enemies he hunts come about? You would of course, need different how questions with a different seed, but the idea is similar: How did “the seed” come to be? Or How will “the seed” be ? in the case of a theme

I decide to build this around two things, loss and personal betrayal. To build the most loss, I decide that he started at a high  point in his youth, some form of high ranking nobility, not in line to take control of his house, but instead a young knight, trained to protect his kingdom.

So at this point, his house has to fall. But why stop there, when we can have his whole kingdom fall? Everything he ever cared about taken away from him. What if a portal into some form of “demon” realm was opened that enveloped the entire kingdom? Not just destroying his people, but even the land itself being warped into a dark reflection of what he once loved.

This is what I will call the Touchfuzzy Law of Infinite Angst: If you are going to create a character who angsts, that we are supposed to like, at least give them something traumatizing enough to be worth angsting about.

And I don't care what you say, being mind controlled into giving a psychopath a weapon capable of destroying the entire world is a good reason to Angst. Fight me.

And I don’t care what you say, being mind controlled into giving a psychopath a weapon capable of destroying the entire world is a good reason to Angst. Fight me.

As for why demons? Honestly, I don’t really know. Sometimes you just have to throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks. And sometimes “cliche” is simpler, especially in the early planning stages. I can always change it later into something more unique if I want to, and for the moment the cliche fills the need. But at the moment, I’m not sure I even want to. Demons are horrifying. Destructive. Everything I need to do to my main character is there.

Stealing From Others

So now I need to ask again: HOW? How did this happen? So at the time when I was working on this setting, I was also watching the first few episodes of The Shannara Chronicles. Somewhere in its vascillating between being something halfway decent and being a mess of teen fiction, I got to thinking about the Druids from the Shannara setting.

I rather like the Druids, I’m a huge fan of the books (which while, not high literature, are certainly entertaining), and the idea of super powerful wizard/monk/historians struck me as interesting. And the idea of an order like that turning to “evil” as they did in the history of the Shannara books was appealing.

So… why not steal it? I mean, yes, you should never just rip off an existing setting wholesale. But individual bits and pieces? There isn’t a creative person alive who hasn’t done a bit of that (and I’ll certainly do some more before this setting is done). Steal the bits and pieces you need and combine them like Lego into new and interesting arrangements.

Just to be clear. I'm stealing from THESE. Not that ridiculously teeny MTV show. I have some standards.

Just to be clear. I’m stealing from THESE. Not that ridiculously teeny MTV show. I have some standards.

So an order of super powerful wizard types who go rogue. Since I wanted a personal betrayal involved in my main characters trauma, I believe we need to establish some kind of relationship between him and this order.

What if his Kingdom is really run by this order? What if the nobility exists mostly as a form of figureheads and bodyguards for these wizards? Somewhere along this idea my hobo warrior goes from just high up nobility to one of the younger princes of the realm. I figure with the real power laying with the magical order, who I refer to as Magi (singular Magus) at this point, I might as well move him up into the position where he will have had a lot of interactions with them.

Stealing From Yourself

So at this point, I had the bare bones of a fantasy setting. Realm destroyed by demons brought through by a powerful magical order going evil, with the hero of our setting being the prince, stripped of everything he had wandering the land to fight them. But I hadn’t made his pain PERSONAL yet. That was an early goal I set out to do.

So I needed another character, a character he could perceive as having betrayed him, someone he used to be close to.

While writing up this part, I had also been looking at a few of my older, abandoned stories. One of them was the beginnings of a sci-fi novel that featured a highly talented member of a psionic order many believed destined for greatness, who suffered suffered from extreme self-doubt. He developed a personality of “If I never try hard, all my failures are a result of my not caring, rather than that I couldn’t really do it.”

IE: I swear this was not a self insert. I mean. Really. I don't have psionic powers.

IE: I swear this was not a self insert. I mean. Really. I don’t have psionic powers.

Well, I certainly wasn’t using him in that story, it had sat there for years filed away in the back of my brain untouched, but the character itself was something I felt would be interesting to explore, so why not import him directly in.

Rather than a psionic, he was now a Magus. I decided to give him a sister, equally talented, who he always felt he could not live up to. She rose to the upper echelons of the Magi, he hovered in place, never taking things as seriously in fear that it would backfire and show everyone what a fraud his “talent” really was.

I developed a relationship between him and the young prince who would become Hobo Warrior. They were close. Not close enough for him to open up about his doubts, as he would never do that with anyone, but the closest relationship that either of them had.

So now that I have Hobo Warrior and Doubting Magus. Two characters set in a kingdom that has gone horribly horribly wrong. Most of my setting work so far has been to establish the story so far: AND THAT IS GOOD. I can never stress this enough times. Your setting serves the story. Your setting serves the story. Your setting SERVES THE STORY. You can include as much detail as you want, but the important bits to figure out are what makes your story click. All the rest is just details. Wednesday, I’m going to come back to give you part 2, where I’ll delve even deeper into more thievery, more cliches, more asking questions, and hopefully, a few more methods you can use in your setting creation.

So did you learn anything interesting? Have your own little tips, or maybe even stories about how you came up with bits of your setting? Share them in the comments section below.

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by: Lunarea

You’ve found yourself right at the finish line, but before you hit “submit” on your masterpiece, take a moment and go through some finishing touches.

Find a brand new player

Home-at-last

Whether you’ve tested your game a million times or had a plethora of friends and family helping, nothing replaces the kind of feedback you get from a first-time player. And here’s why – there are errors and inconsistencies that you simply don’t notice because you’ve gone through them so many times that you already know what to expect and what to do next.

Having a completely new player go through your game once is the best way to check for persistent or subtle errors. It’s also a simple indicator of how some of your players might react to your game – and a nice boost to your esteem if they fall madly in love with it.

Check your credits

Thanks-friend

Go through your credit list one more time and double-check that you got everyone’s details correctly. It’s way too easy to flip some letters around or miss a name – and that could lead to an unhappy artist/scripter or even a big copyright mess.

There are websites and blogs out there that have large collections of material from a variety of sources. While it sounds very convenient to just pick and choose resources from there, such places don’t always keep up to date with the original artists’ terms or updates. Always be sure that you’re going to the source directly by sending the original artist a message or by carefully looking through the EULA/TOS included in their resource pack(s).

Give yourself some time off

Sleepy-time

Lastly, make sure that you’ve finished your work with a lot time to spare. Not only does this give you a chance for some well-deserved rest, but it’s your just-in-case buffer. We’ve had quite a few cases of individuals who missed a big event deadline by a hair because of unexpected technical issues – internet went out locally, their host was down and the judges couldn’t download the project or they found a major game-breaking bug right after they submitted their game. And nothing is more frustrating than seeing yourself disqualified over something you had no control over.

Having that time off is good even when there’s no deadline in sight. You get to enjoy that satisfied feeling of completing something, before you have to tackle feedback from your players (whether that’s constructive criticism or high praise).

And that concludes our short game tips series! Have we missed anything? Let us know below!

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UPDATE30

RPG Maker MV has just had a major update, and we’ve decided to add on to that excellent news, with even more excellent news.

The first step in making excellent news even better is to put RPG Maker MV on Sale on Steam this week for 30% off! This is the lowest RPG Maker MV has ever been sold for! If you don’t already have it, this is the time to pick it up.

MVsale

 

But we aren’t done delivering the good news. We’ve also decided to launch an awesome giveaway, where we are giving away 10 Limited Edition RPG Maker Poster Prints signed by RPG Maker creator Yoji Ojima himself, as well as a number of other prizes.

And of course, the news that started it all: The V1.1 Update for RPG Maker MV! This update really levels up the program, with new features, improved features, new generator parts, more plugins, and a host of bugfixes. You can read about all the changes our hard work has produced here! And this is just the beginning. We are already working on even MORE improvements for the future!

Don’t miss out on this great deal on the new and improved RPG Maker MV! Pick it up today!

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By: Lunarea

We’ve chatted about writing and mapping for short games, and now it’s time to tackle atmosphere. Why is atmosphere important? Atmosphere is that subtle touch that makes the final boss map feel more dangerous, or the nostalgic cutscene feel more sad. By combining theme, sounds and visuals, you can take your game’s presentation to the next level.

Tower-of-evil

Sound

Finding just the right song can make or break your scene. A cheesy fast-paced BGM will make your romantic scene feel like it ought to come with its own laugh track. Yet a slow waltz that accompanies your characters dancing just might make the player smile. You want the right kind of music for the right kind of scene. So, open up your music library and start listening.

Small playlist? No problem! No matter what the situation, you can count on finding something in our store’s music packs. We’ve got an ever-growing variety of themes, moods and beats – and we continue to produce and publish more. You’ll also want to check out our Resource-sharing forum area to find even more talented musicians who love to share their work.

But there are also a few other ways you can use sound…

Sound effects can bring an extra layer of depth to your game. Quiet sound of footsteps makes a haunted house feel more petrifying, while chirping of birds makes the forest seem friendly. With some clever eventing, you can make the sounds feel random (make use of those “wait” commands, people!) or rhythmical.

Also, consider how the absence of sound will affect your game’s flow. A suddenly quiet area in the horror game will put the player on edge (jump scare time!), while a completely quiet graveyard will appear more somber.

Be creative in your use of sound and don’t be afraid to refer to movies or TV shows for inspiration.

Memory

Color

Color can be a powerful vehicle for putting your theme and atmosphere to the front. A flashback feels more nostalgic if it’s in black and white or sporting that vintage sepia tone. A map looks more depressing and desolate if it’s painted in monotone grays. And that evil serial killer is even more psychotic when dressed like a clown…

One simple way to add color is to play around with Screen Tint. Aside from helping show the passage of time, a subtle tint can help you add a little warmth to a cozy map or a sickly hue to the poisonous swamp. Remember that subtlety is key, as you don’t want to mask away important details with a tint that’s too strong.

If you want to take color a step further, you can look into its psychological properties. Nick wrote a great article on the way Persona uses color and how color is tied to the overall themes the game is exploring. This effect is very subtle, and not something that a player might notice as they play. However, it might stick with them and give you an edge against your competition.

Villain-Lair

Contrast

I’ve touched briefly on contrast in sound and color, but you can take it a step further and work it into your dialogue and characterization as well as the atmosphere in general.

For example, a cheerful and perky character will be more memorable and noticeable if they’re set in a gloomy environment. By seemingly being at odds with the atmosphere, they will draw the player’s attention. They might even make the player uneasy, which is perfect for those horror games…

You can also use contrast to match your atmosphere to your game’s flow. The map could, for example, get darker and darker as the player approaches the final dungeons. Or the map could become obscured and narrow while the music becomes more tense. Starting with a subtle atmosphere that turns into something heavy, you can make your short game evoke emotion that the player will remember (and hopefully appreciate!).

And there you have it! A few rambling thoughts on atmosphere. Do you have any tips and tricks for evoking just the right feeling? Chime in below!

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So the other day, I was scrolling down through Facebook, (as you do, when half your job involves scrolling down through Facebook), and I saw a really neat video that was put up by Vox.

If you don’t have time to watch the video, here is the breakdown: Push door has a pull handle. Everyone gets it wrong. Why do they get it wrong? Because its dumb design.

The name is coined after Don Norman, cognitive scientist and usability engineer, who wrote the book The Design of Everyday Things. The whole point of the book is that we should design things so they are easily “readable” for our brains, so that we use them properly without thinking about them.

As he says in the video: “The ideal door, is one that as I walk up to it and walk through it, I’m not even aware that I had opened and shut it.” The idea is people centered design. Things should work the way that our minds instinctively think they should work, and once we internalize how they work, they should stay consistently be that way in reality.

And while this is clearly useful in real life, and has applications for some world changing ideas, this got me to thinking about how IMPORTANT this is to video games as well. We need player centered design. We need designs that communicate the right thing to the players, so that they instinctively do the thing you intended.

For a quick example, a recent game that I played, in its main town, used water that the player could walk through. Now, the water didn’t block anything off, it had bridges and stuff. But during the first few hours of the game, I wasted a bunch of time following the paths to the bridges and stuff before realizing I could walk through the shallow water.

Now: What would have happened had they done the same thing in a dungeon. Imagine the scenario outlined by the quickly, and poorly (both design wise and just aesthetically), made map below.

map1

Imagine that the player comes in from the northeast entrance. He can walk on the water section, but HE doesn’t know that. Where does he go? 99% of games use water, even shallow water, as a barrier. How does he know your game is any different? He doesn’t see anything useful, maybe there was something he was supposed to do further back that he missed. And then he wanders your map forevermore, leaves a bad review cause the game is stupid, and you cry into your pillow at night. (Ok, that was just me. it was because he said my mapping was ugly.)

But how can you fix this. How could you redirect your player to attempting to walk on the water? What if the water went all the way up to the stairs? Like below.

map2

Its still mapped atrociously, I know, but look at how those stairs draw the player into walking down into the water. This is a much more clear communication of what your map does. Now, you would still need to test this with playtesters, we may be wrong, it may be just as bad, but its certainly a step in the right direction in THINKING about usability.

You’ve thought about how most games use those tiles, and you are trying to guide your player into knowing that you aren’t using them the same way. Its important information. The next thing is that you then HAVE to stay consistent. You can’t train a player that something works one way, then pull a switcharoo on them. If that water is walkable, it needs to stay walkable the whole game.

As an example, if you don’t have a single bookshelf in the first half of the game have any interaction, don’t suddenly throw in one shelf that has something important on it! Why would they know to check shelves? You have trained them to ignore them as just decorations. If you wanted to put something on a bookshelf, pepper usable bookshelves throughout the game early, even if they just tell some lore, or occasionally give you a minor item, it trains them to LOOK at the bookshelves. Then when you put in that important item, they know: Bookshelf = interact.

There are tons of other ways that player-centric design enters games. How puzzles are created. Bigger stats = better stats. Green = Good, Red = Bad. Can you think of any bad player-centric design in games? Something you were baffled by? How do you incorporate player-centric design into your games? Join us in the comments section below.

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