Ice beast, ice warrior, guardian.  These were some of the descriptors bouncing around in my head when I started doing some concepts for this enemy.  Initial sketches landed pretty much where I expected


After loosely defining what I had in mind I jumped into drawing.  This is done on 11×17 bristol


My main shapes are established here and I have a pretty good idea of the direction I am heading.  I switch over to my fancy mechanical pencil and get down to the real drawing


So now it is scanned into the computer and I’ve cleaned it up a little; mostly just levels and erasing a few stray lines.  I’ve had a good idea for the color scheme since the beginning so I lay in some flat midtones.


Cool blues turned out to be a good base.  I laid those in and colorized some of my lines as well.  From here it was down to rendering the final!


I worked into my blues with white highlights quite a lot and then added a bunch of cool icy smoke.  Pretty happy with the way this guy turned out!  I also did a quick color overlay as well to make a variant.


I’ve also recorded a video of some of my render process, check it out here:

You can download this enemy battler and vote in the poll for the next one here!

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Summary: While it has a steep learning curve, Last Word is a very enjoyable game with fantastic twists on RPG conventions.


2014 IGMC Winner – Best RPG (2nd Place – also received Celebrity Judge’s Choice Award!)

Calvin: When a person pauses in mid-sentence to choose a word, that’s a perfect time to jump in and change the subject! It’s like an interception in football. You grab the other guy’s idea and run the other way with it! The more sentences you complete, the higher your score. The idea is to block the other guy’s thoughts and express your own! That’s how you win!

Hobbes: Conversations aren’t contests!

Calvin: Okay, a point for you but I’m still ahead.

-Calvin and Hobbes

Conversations are contests in Last Word, a clever and well-executed game where you battle opponents not with weapons but with logic and reason. You play as Whitty Gawhip, one of several guests to a mysterious gathering hosted by the enigmatic Professor Chatters. Not long after everyone arrives, Chatters reveals that nobody will leave until he completes a strange experiment – one that could give him an unstoppable power of persuasion. To foil his plot, Whitty needs to pry information about the upper-crust guests and argue her way to freedom.


When someone busts out a scoff, you know it’s gotten real.

Characters are all color-coded, which is not only an ingenious way to lessen the art needs for a project that had to be completed in a month, but also ends up having plot implications. The color of each character represents their allegiance to Game of Thrones style houses. The whole thing can sometimes feel very abstract, but it can also feel grounded if you’ve been to a stuffy gathering like this where people seem to be jockeying for superiority under the guise of small talk.

The structure of the game is a series of information-gathering objectives leading up to a climactic debate with one of the guests. You pick the topic you want to talk about and when you find the right person, the topic levels up and allows you to proceed further. It can feel a little obtuse at the beginning when you have no clue what’s going on but once you’re more familiar with the NPCs, you have a better idea of where to get the information you want. If you get bored of idle chatter, you can always “grind” by engaging the guests in “discourse.”


When I get through with you, your GRANDCHILDREN are gonna be speechless!

Speaking of the battles, there’s a steep learning curve. There is a tutorial early on, but honestly it felt like way too much information at once. The best way to figure out the system was just practice. Thankfully, there are no game overs and you even gain some experience and money from the arguments that you lose. It’s hard to summarize just how this works, but it more or less revolves around the strategic use of disruptive and submissive statements to build up power before damaging your enemy with aggressive commentary. Once you are in the zone, it’s fun and satisfying, especially if you’re able to raise some money to afford some excellent character upgrades that turn the debates further in your favor. It also helps that the interface looks great, with everything clearly marked.

I should note that the game crashed for me during the final boss fight. I suspect this was a freak incident, since if the judges had hit this bug, the game wouldn’t have made it very far in the competition. Last Word certainly deserves the acclaim its earned, check it out for a creative and challenging take on RPG mechanics.

Has anyone else played this one? What did you think of its complex battle system? Are there other possible ways to translate the back and forth of debate into game mechanics? Tell us in the comments!


sci-fi-tiles-leftWe’ve had about a week now to look them over, and we’ve finally come to a decision.

But first, we would like to thank everyone who participated in our contest. It is always fun to have these contests go off perfectly, and without your effort, that would be impossible.

And now on to the winners. At this time, only the names of the entries, and a short description of why they caught our eye. If you would like a name attached to your entry as a winner, please contact me so that I know what name you are comfortable appearing on our blog.

And on to the winners:’

1st Place:  Wheels and the Leg Girl

The main thing about this entry is that it managed to convey exactly what kind of game it would be if I sat down and played it. The person even managed to include a short puzzle example in their 800 words. Even the plot description was paired down to a basic premise combined with: This is what the player does in the game, and this is why. Overall, I felt this one gave me more of an idea of what kind of game it was setting out to be, and I feel that was the goal of the contest.

2nd Place: Nova Galactica: Ode of Carinae

This one really focused on building around the gameplay idea. It had several of the same upsides as Wheels in description, though I think it was a bit vaguer in some areas and it made it difficult for me to picture the game that I would be playing. It also had a good one paragraph overview at the beginning, something several of the others lacked, and a clear sense of organization in the way it approached description.

3rd Place: Epiphenomenon: Dawn of a New Era

Solid organization, lots of detail in very little space. The gameplay description was a bit light, though the elaboration later helped. I think it might have been broken up weird with the story section between the gameplay and abilities sections. Overall though, still a very solid entry.

All three of these were good enough that I could have picked any of them to win. I had to look hard to nitpick between these three and come to a conclusion, so don’t take it too hard if I criticized a portion. You can email me again at to claim your prizes. Congratulations, and thank you everyone for participating!


So for this character I had a pretty good idea in mind of how I wanted it to look, I just had to work out the details.  After a few concepts I set to drawing it.


Since I knew this would be a character with 2 variations, I drew in as many elements as I could from both characters so I could split it up in photoshop.


Here is the first pass of color in photoshop, I laid down the colors I wanted and some minor values.



And here I’ve gone in and done some surface rendering and further pushed the values.  After this step I went through the process of getting all my .png’s saved out for use in-game!

Download it here!


Today, I’m going to show you how to create an Anchor Teleport Spell. What does that mean? Basically, its a spell that teleports you to a specific place, but when you leave that place it takes you directly back to where you were.

To illustrate this concept, we are going to have our Default Sage Hero Noah learn a spell allowing him to teleport to his sanctuary in a small pocket dimension. When he leaves this dimension, we want him to come right back to where he started.

Techniques we will learn in this tutorial:

  1. Storing Game Data as variables.
  2. Making a Skill call a Common Event.
  3. Transferring a Player using stored Variables.

The first thing we will do is create the skill.

Teleport1The Skill itself is relatively simple. All you need to do is create a skill that has the effect of Common Event (on the Other tab in Effects). Common Events are basically events that are not tied to a map, found in the Database. The Common Event (select an unused one, and we will fill it in in the next section) will be what memorizes the player’s location and transfers them to the Sanctuary map. Also make sure you have the Occasion set to Only from the Menu. You don’t want Noah to be creating portals in the middle of battle!

Scope should be set to None, as it doesn’t require a target. You can set the cost as you like, but I left it at zero for my demonstration.

Now, on to the Common Event Tab!

CommonEventTo have the game memorize the players location, we will need to use the Control Variables command three times, using three different variables to store the Player’s X, Player’s Y, and the Current MapID.

To do this, use the “Set” Operation to put the Game Data into the selected Variable. The Player Map Y and Player Map X is under the Character selection. The MapID is under the Other radial button. By storing this information in variables, we can call it back again at a later time, specifically in this case, to take the player back to where he started.

Once you’ve done all three Control Variables commands, its just a quick simple transfer player to send them to the Sanctuary. Do this the way you would any other transfer player command, just select the space on the sanctuary map you want the player to go.

So how are we going to get back? Let’s create a transfer player event to the entrance of the Sanctuary. It should look something like this:

DesignateWithVariablesInstead of using the Direct Designation, select Designation with variables. This will let us use the information we stored earlier to transfer the player. Select the three variables you saved in the common event, and it will send your player right back to where he started. It really is as simple as that.

From here, you can fancy it up a bit. Maybe add some sound effects. Or even a door appearing for him to walk through. You could even use another Game Data Control Variables and a conditional branch to have the spell send the player back if he casts it while in the other dimension. Can you figure out how this would work?

There are a lot of other applications for these techniques. Can you think of any? Have any questions about the tutorial? Join us in the comments section below.


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Account Mu Review

in Games

Account Mu is one of those IGMC 2014 contest games that was easy to overlook. The contest page has no media and the description simply says “It’s a puzzle game”. Pretentious? A little. I think showing some screenshots would have actually benefited the game as it has a cool minimalist style.

The first puzzle section. Puzzle room 1 and 2 are required to progress but 3 is optional.

The first puzzle section. Puzzle room 1 and 2 are required to progress but 3 is optional.

But it’s pretty clear from the start Account Mu doesn’t have big story ambitions. You play as a shadow boy (Limbo anyone?) who needs to clear puzzle rooms to progress. There is no opening text or tutorials. You simple progress up to a room that has a switch labeled (1) that switches off a box labeled [1]. The next room adds a (2) switch and a [2] box. After that, switches will bring you into puzzles rooms. It’s all very clearly labeled and intuitive. Elegant even.

In terms of mechanics, you generally have to either walk over a switch to clear an obstacle or push an object onto a switch. You have your crates [X] and your sliding circles (X). Sliding a circle into a diagonal wall will move the circle perpendicular to the wall. There are also teleport puzzles later on. Objets in the game have one behavior which means it’s the puzzle rooms themselves that become more difficult.

One of the early sliding switch puzzles. These get much more complicated.

One of the early sliding switch puzzles. These get much more complicated.

As you progress, you can also collect pills by solving the more difficult rooms in each section. These pills don’t offer any feedback other than that they disappear after you collect them. Other than the haunting piano melody that plays in the background there is no sound in the entire game. With the stark white backgrounds and vector lines there is very little to distract you from solving the puzzles.

There is not too much more to say about this short, puzzle game. It does have an ending that can only be accessed by completing all the puzzles rooms and collecting all the pills. The ending makes it seem like the game might be metaphorical but you’ll mostly be playing it for the satisfaction of completing the puzzles. Later levels require thinking out your actions before-hand. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself hitting the reset switch. Some puzzles can be solve through trial-and-error but they’re well designed enough that a careful player will solve it without multiple attempts.

One of the teleport room puzzles. The arrows indicate the direction and are relative to where you'll teleport to.

One of the teleport room puzzles. The arrows indicate the direction and are relative to where you’ll teleport to.

If you like logic puzzles check this game out. It’s brief (30-40 minutes) but should give you nice dopamine hits when you solve some of the later challenges.

If you rather just watch my playthrough of the game, you can find the videos below:


Note: I did hit a bug later on where a hallway took me to an unfinished room and there was no way to get back. You can see this in the youtube video so beware! Make sure to save.

You can also download the game HERE and make sure to leave some feedback for developer CashmereCat at his RMW thread

UPDATE: I wanted to note that CashmereCat has released a new version of the game since this review was written.

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Summary: Oh! Ko! is a goofy, charming game with fantastic art that ends far too soon.


2014 IGMC Winner (Best Non-RPG – 2nd Place)!

There’s a lot to be said for a game that’s truly distinctive. With a massive library of games available to us that’s far beyond anything in the history of the medium, trying to keep track of everything is an intimidating challenge. So we choose the ones that catch our attention in some way – maybe we read a review of it, maybe the art is instantly appealing, maybe it placed in a major contest.

Even without the contest, however, Oh! Ko! is a game that grabs you right away. Right from the title screen, where a little creature in a dress with a trapezoid head and antenna stands under a tree. It’s charming and gives you an immediate idea of the game’s tone. The whole game is depicted in this childlike style and the results are enchanting. It looks like a kid drew all the backgrounds in a few minutes, but it’s obvious that much more work went into it.


The robot doesn’t get hung up on details.

The story begins with Ko coming downstairs for her breakfast one morning. She meets a robot and finds that her toast is talking to her. This pushy piece of breakfast informs her that an adventure is waiting out in the back garden. There’s a lot of non-sequitur and meta humor in this adventure, like a less crude version of something you might see on “Adult Swim.” The jokey dialogue might irritate some players, but the game builds to a surprisingly moving ending.

The puzzles in Oh! Ko! revolve around using items and using logic to determine your next course of action. Adventure games can get obtuse pretty easily, but this one executes its simple but difficult mechanic very well. While there is very little hand-holding, the solutions never seem obscure and thinking carefully about Ko’s surroundings always got me through.


Watch your language!

If I have any problem with the game, it’s that it’s just too short, even by the standards of these IGMC entries. You can easily finish it in one sitting. As with all the entries, you have to take into account the short time frame for the contest, but I find myself very intrigued by what this one might look like if it were longer. Some powerful themes come into view briefly at the end – with a longer narrative to flush them out, this game could rise to great heights.

So what did you guys think? Did you like the unique art style? What do you imagine a longer version of it might be like? Tell us in the comments!



Game: Cope Island by zDS

Summary: A strangely moving experience, Cope Island is a well-executed adventure that challenges RPG Maker conventional wisdom.


2014 IGMC Winner – Best RPG (3rd Place)!

This game proves you can do a lot with a little. Of all the IGMC winners, the one that raised the most eyebrows among active members of the RPG Maker community was Cope Island. The screenshots showed very basic maps with a lot of empty space and even the default font and windowskin! In a world where all games must be judged by their visuals, how could this possibly win? Because it was a game contest, not an art contest. After playing it, it’s clear that this little gem earned its place by treating the judges to a great concept and a fantastic battle system.

The game is moodier than you would expect from a game made entirely from default assets. You’re forced to name your character, which personalizes the story immediately. As you wander around the strange island and talk with unusually nice NPCs who are eerily determined to make you comfortable, the mysterious mood of the whole place is tangible. Probably the most important contributor to this atmosphere is the beautiful ambient music, composed by the game’s creator. Honestly, most of the game is ambiance. The story is intentionally simple – the protagonist finds himself on Cope Island and wanders around, training for a battle against his inner demon.

cope2 Okay, but if anyone offers me Kool-Aid, I’m not taking it.

By the time you get to the surreal scene before the final boss fight, the game becomes oddly moving. With that in mind, the very end is something of a disappointment. If I had one complaint about this game, it’s that some NPCs lead you to believe that little choices you make (such as breaking down doors or walking around them) could have an impact down the road but that didn’t seem to be the case. Given that the game is clearly trying to be a personal experience for the player, not having more detailed consequences for your actions feels like a missed opportunity. As with all these IGMC entries, however, we’ve got to take the month-long time period of the contest into consideration.

The battle system appears simple at first glance but once you get past the first few fights, it becomes increasingly clear how much thought and effort went into it. You can either attack with your fists or with a weapon. To restore your HP, you can either go with the weaker bare-handed attack or “standby” for a turn. Seems basic, but before long your character will be able to perform two, and later three, actions each turn. This leads to increasingly sophisticated strategy during the fights and it’s a great deal of fun.


I do NOT remember this being one of the 12 steps.

The player must collect three trinkets to proceed to the final boss. While you can do this any order you like, one NPC warns you that there is “no easy path.” This is because the enemies level up with you. You’ll be grateful for the three actions per turn once you get near the end, although I should say that the game is pretty well balanced and using sound strategy will also get you a victory. Your reward is not money but “score,” which is tallied throughout  and can unlock a few goodies during the game. All in all, Cope Island is a good example of a developer being aware of time restraints and focusing exclusively on what he could do well. I especially recommend this one to users new to RPG Maker. You can learn a great deal.

So who played this game? How was your final score? How did you feel about the strange experience your avatar had on Cope Island? Tell us in the comments!

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We have a ton of new resource packs come out recently, and several of them have a single unifying theme: Science Fiction.

For a chance to win all our new Sci fi Goodies in one go, let’s pitch a game.

Game pitches are useful for trying to sell your game to a potential publisher, but they are also useful for another reason: they can help you remember to focus on what is important about your game. You can’t go on and on, you have to distill your game down to its essence and what makes it special and worth paying attention to.

So here is the idea: Come up with a Sci Fi/Sci Fantasy game idea. It doesn’t have to be one you are actually working on, or will ever work on. It could be theoretical to the point of taking advantage of huge AAA type budgets. Now write a 800 or less word pitch for that game. What is the game about? What makes it special? How will the player interact with it?

Make it interesting, Make our judges WANT your game to exist.

Here are the rules:

  1. Your entry must be emailed to by 1PM on December 1st GMT.
  2. Your entry should be written only. This is a contest to get you to focus on the core ideas of a game, not to make awesome looking images.
  3. Your entry can be submitted as a Adobe PDF file, Microsoft Word file, or any open word document format. If you have questions, ask in the comments below.
  4. Your entry must be less than 800 words. If it goes over slightly, it is OK, but anything egregious will be disqualified. You need to focus on just what is important and interesting.
  5. Your entry must be Sci-Fi or Science Fantasy in theme.

We will select 3 winners. The prizes will be as follows:


  • Don’t spend the entire 800 words talking about one thing. Make sure to diversify your talking points.
  • Make sure to tell us the basics of how the game will play.
  • Focus on why the player should care. What are the strengths of your game, and why will those be strengths.
  • Remember you are pitching to someone who knows nothing about your concept. Make sure to lay the groundwork.
  • For this exercise, don’t worry about pitching a game you could actually make. Just stay within the bounds of current technology and we are fine.

Have any questions about the contest? Ask us in the comments below.


Review: A Bird Story

in Games

Game: A Bird Story by Kan Gao (“Reives”)

Summary: This ambitious interactive story is worth the journey.

bird1  The last “bird story” I told was when someone cut me off on the highway.

Newcomers to RPG Maker may not know this, but Kan Gao (aka Reives) of Freebird Games is one of the community’s biggest success stories. Members of previous RM forums likely remember his early projects like Quintessence, which demonstrated his skill for projects with a heavily cinematic atmosphere. In 2011, To The Moon became one of the earliest, and still one of the most successful, RPG Maker games to go commercial. His long-awaited follow up, A Bird Story, is much shorter but possibly even more ambitious. It tells a (sometimes) interactive story totally without dialogue. Speaking from experience, doing that in RPG Maker can be very challenging.

However, this approach plays to Gao’s strengths as a developer. The lighting, screen tone and spriting are all executed with exacting precision, and the participation of Jordan “Euphony” Baer means the sprite movements are top notch, which is essential for a wordless story. Just about every sprite movement is accompanied by a little whooshing sound effect, a good example of how much care has been put into the details. The lack of text doesn’t prove to be any sort of handicap to A Bird Story and most of the emotion is driven home by the phenomenal music, which Gao composed himself.


Honey badger don’t care. “Whoa, watch out!” says that bird!

This is not the direct sequel that To The Moon’s most avid fans have been waiting for (although I’d advise those people to watch the scene after the credits). It starts out like an RPG Maker version of The 400 Blows, depicting a lonely child who spends his days being either ignored or pushed around by other people. One day, he rescues a bird and takes it home, leading to increasingly surreal adventures. However, neither he nor the bird can escape the realities of life forever.

There are brief moments of interaction here, mostly walking from one place to another or performing actions with certain buttons in a way that reminded me of the work of Quantic Dream (Heavy Rain). These sections aren’t always great for the pacing, however. With the slow movement of the character and the often lingering pauses, the game can feel a bit languid, particularly in the early scenes where a gloomy sepia filter covers everything. But it’s worth sticking with the story for the high points, including a breathtaking sequence where the boy and the bird fly over a variety of landscapes on a giant paper plane. The ending scene is also exceptionally well done – moving without being too corny or grandiose.


Okay, which National Park is this and how do I get there?

I may wind up in the minority, but I actually think this is my favorite Freebird Games release. It feels more personal than To The Moon and more consistent in tone (except for the “Benny Hill” bit, that was totally out of the blue). I’d recommend this to all RPG Maker users as an example of the engine’s potential for non-game storytelling and visual power. Our hometown boy done good.

Has anyone played this game? What did you think of its dialogue-less execution? Are you excited for the To The Moon sequel? Tell us in the comments!