For the last bi-weekly battler post, I really wanted something cool.  I really wanted to emphasize the brutish nature of the Flesh Eater tribe from the Azurian tropics.  So I started with some rough sketches and a good idea in mind.

king-gilgamesh_concept

I had some key words written down, and I felt this pose hit most of them pretty well.  From here I went to actually drawing the character.

king-gilgamesh_t1

After roughing in some lines and values, I started to drop in some colors.

king-gilgamesh_c1

Once I got to this point, I made a new layer of everything underneath and started painting directly on top of it.

king-gilgamesh_f1

Obviously that is quite a big jump!  I also redesigned the mask slightly, I was thinking about making him corrupted by Sloth, but then the story didn’t quite turn out that way.

You can go download him here! http://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?/topic/43762-bi-weekly-battler-king-gilgamesh/

I hope to see you back for the blog post series about the first BattlePACK, the Skyforge!

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By: Alicia Palmer

Coming up with unique and interesting cultures to populate any fictional word is hard. You want something more than Generic Vaguely Middle Ages European Fantasy World #532908 but let’s face it, coming up with a whole new civilization from scratch is tough. You’re no Tolkien, spending time between class lectures frittering away at the genealogies and grammar structure of kind of sort of racist fantasy races. You don’t have time to come up with new languages and family trees and histories, you just want to make a game!

Well fear not, intrepid yet also-focused-on-getting-this-stupid-game-to-just-work-already developer! You too can follow in the fine European tradition of Stealing Interesting Things From Other Cultures! And today we’re going to talk about how to get started doing that. Don’t worry, it’s a lot more interesting than you think.

Oh, England. Even your national dish is stolen.

Oh, England. Even your national dish is stolen.

Religion, history, language, architecture, food, all of these are resources you can draw inspiration from when building your own worlds, things you can use to make your world stand out and be different, be unique. It’s important to catch the attention of your potential audience, and while you can’t necessarily put Non-Generic Fantasy Culture! in your features list, it’s something that will show up in your art, in your character design, even the names of your characters. While I will never call Europe boring, the Western European Fantasy is done pretty well to death.

Since you’re drawing from actual, real world cultures, you must, must, must remember to respect them. One of the best ways to do this is to Do Your Research. You know that frustration you feel when a TV show or movie gets a very important thing wrong about something you love, or worse, presents a group you belong to in an insulting manner? Make sure you don’t do that to someone else. Yes, this is just a game, but that’s not an excuse.

Oh, oh, no. Why. Why would you do this?

Not Pictured: Respect

Figure out where the potential pitfalls are, and then make sure to step around them as carefully as possible. If you know someone that’s from the culture you want to borrow (and you probably do, the internet is a vast place with lots of different kinds of people) talk to them, ask them questions, find out what they recommend for sources.

Once you start looking for things in history and other cultures, sometimes the plots will seem to write themselves. There are epic plots and tales everywhere, from mythology to history, Journey to the West, Norse sagas, folk tales, mythology, you can take inspiration from literally anywhere. Follow it as loosely or tightly as you want, whatever works best for your story, especially with mythology and fairy tales, don’t be afraid to think of new ways to look at old stories.

You might even find some interesting weird stories like Thor crossdressing. (Source: Happle Tea by Scott Maynard)

You might even find some interesting weird stories like Thor crossdressing. (Source: Happle Tea by Scott Maynard)

Don’t be afraid to mix and match, but also ask yourself why this group has this sort of culture. A culture doesn’t just burst fully formed from the head of Zeus, it develops based on the area of the world that the people who are a part of that culture come from, their needs, what they see, and how they experience the world around them. A culture located far away from the water isn’t going to have seafood as part of their traditional diet, or have a sea-faring tradition, just like a culture from an extremely cold part of your world isn’t going to run around in loincloths and do a lot of farming.

Go digging, learn something new, find something fascinating and then bring it back to use in your game. Give it some new flavor that it might not have had before, something that will make it stand out. Even if it doesn’t make it into this particular game, you’ve hopefully learned something you didn’t know before that you can use for a future project. Reality is often stranger than fiction, so use that to your advantage.

And always. Always, remember to respect the culture you are borrowing from.

Do you use any real world cultural or historical inspiration in your game? Have some advice for people looking to do the same? Join us in the comments section below.

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Battler Art – Maneater

in Resources

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

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

maneater_s1

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

maneater_d1

Loose, quick line drawing in photoshop.

maneater_t1

Some quick shading and tones.

maneater_t2

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

maneater_c1

First color pass with some hard light and overlay layers.

maneater_f1

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

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

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

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

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how to start

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

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

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

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

[click to continue…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any game where you upgrade your character is an RPG!

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

Repeat after me: UPGRADES ALONE DO NOT MAKE ZELDA AN RPG.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what is an RPG?

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

We owe it all to these.

We owe it all to these.

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

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

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

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

32 comments

Battler Art – Sloth

in Resources

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

sloth-tone

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

sloth-tone2

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

sloth-p1

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

sloth-p2

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

sloth-f1

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

Additionally in my post I did a quick narrative illustration

slothsummoning

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

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

Go post a suggestion for the next battler!

http://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?/topic/42600-bi-weekly-battler-seven-sins-sloth/

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

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

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

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

So what is your games raison d’être?

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

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

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

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

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

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

It could be something in the story.

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

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

1404003399_773462127screen4

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

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

2 comments

By Celianna

easy_tile_making_-__3_autotiles

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

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Battler Art – Leaper

in Resources

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

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

boneape_d0

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

boneape_d2

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

boneape_c1

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

leaperandbamf

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

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

http://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?/topic/41992-bi-weekly-battler-leaper/

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By Celianna

easy_tile_making_-__2_seamless_tiles

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

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