Monthly Archives: October 2015

Dreamblazers Update: Week of October 26, 2015

Another New Enemy Approaches!

Dreamblazers - Ogre Animation Triple Size

Would you like to mess with an Ogre? This dude’s pretty buff. Actually, make that massively buff! Comparing the ogre with other imposing enemy sprites we’ve seen so far…

…the ogre has the greatest power and the greatest durability out of all of them, with only the Grisly Bear being within 25% of the immediate threat level of an Ogre. But that’s no big deal, you might think. All you have to do is blast an ogre with magic, right? Wrong! Ogres are at least twice as resistant to magic as any enemy currently on the Art Assets page!

They may not be the biggest creatures around in terms of physical dimensions, but ogres are up at the top of the charts for “ordinary” monsters that you really don’t want to mess with—and if their raw might isn’t enough, wait until you experience their combat techniques.

Do they have any weakness? Hmm… maybe you’ll have to discover that for yourself in the future.

Delayed Update

Speaking of ogres, the reason this week’s update is a couple days late is because an “ogre” also known as the tax man started bearing down on me for two years ago, which is another round of unexpected and time-consuming fun. A group that I was working with (not working for) at the time had a software malfunction that sent out an incorrect report of the financial transactions between us.

That company was rather poor with documentation and has since gone out of business, so I’ve been figuring out how to prove that I reported all transactions that year correctly (and yes, based on bank statements alone I absolutely did get it correct).

I’m sure that’s horrifically boring and meaningless to all of you, though, so let me bring this back on topic…

Kickstarter Timeline

Considering everything that’s happened these past couple months—house emergencies that were narrowly averted, house emergencies that weren’t averted, family members suddenly needing some money, paying for and preparing for family-related travel in December (and I’ll probably lose 8-10-ish days on that, by the way), and now this tax situation that will hopefully be averted—I’ve come to realize that it was probably too optimistic to assume that I could delay and delay and delay heading off to Kickstarter until I finally got into the exact situation I wanted so I could get a perfect storm of a launch.

So my new goal is to launch on Kickstarter in February or March 2016. No matter where I’m at by then—will I have a playable demo or not, a composer, sound effects, UI skins, or anything else I’m missing—at some point I just have to bite the bullet.

I’d guess that I’ve put in $22,000-ish (I haven’t crunched those numbers for a while) which is enormous when it’s only one person paying out—and I’m not involved in any relationships, by the way, so when I say one person I really mean one person. The bottom line is that the more I think about this…

…the more I think the answer was and has always been “pride”—and I don’t mean the good kind of it. Even if I can’t put out a 2-hour-long fully-featured demo (and I’d still like to), would that be a huge shame or fault on my part that I couldn’t pull it off by myself? Is it really as unacceptable as I’ve made it out to be in my mind? Maybe I could be faulted for too much ambition; that’s a perfectly legitimate criticism that I’d hear out. But I’ve finally reached a point that it seems fine to ask for money after putting in as much of my own money—and my time, and stress, and fixing bugs, and opportunity cost of not making money, and everything else.

Besides, the worst-case scenario is that I fail on Kickstarter and come back with more experience.

So… whether the result is glorious or blows up in my face, I’d rather know that one way or another than continue on with as much uncertainty as I’ve been living with.

Early 2016 is go time.

Dreamblazers Update: Week of October 19, 2015

This one’s a bit late, partly because I was running on limited sleep for the last few days, but mostly because I don’t have all that much to talk about…

For reasons that are 100% my fault, I don’t have any new pixel art to share this week and not much else that’s new jumps out as especially worth talking about. (Well, at least nothing about Dreamblazers itself; I’ll talk about what’s going on with my life right now at the bottom of the post.)

So first I wanted to share a blurb of dialogue! This was based on the tweet from a couple weeks ago and I wanted to expand upon it. This is just for fun and is an immaterial side conversation that you can fully skip over in the game, so don’t read anything into it related to the main story. :P Plus I realized while putting it together that there’s still a certain face for Jig that I’m missing and is needed to complete this conversation. Jig vs. Jelia Dialogue Sample Portraits

Now that we’ve had our fun, let’s talk some more financial hullabaloo if you’re up for it (and if not, bail out now).

Like I said a few weeks back, I recently took on part time work. When this opportunity was first offered, they anticipated wanting me around anywhere from 15-25 hours per week. And that held up for a while! Rather than calling it part time work, though, contract work is probably the more accurate term I should have used. You see, things have slowed down over the past ten days or so, to a point that last week they effectively didn’t need me at all. Work has picked back up this week, but my point is that it’s unpredictable how many hours they’ll need me at any given time.

So the bottom line is I’m back to money concerns. Exactly how concerning are they? Well, there’s a 0% chance that I’ll give up on funding continued monster pixel art, but there’s a, uh—let’s just say not at all a 0% chance that I might have to release a rougher initial demo than I had hoped.

Of course, Flora’s art and Becca’s art and Alex’s art and Liz’s art is all just perfect, so for the reader it might look like we’re doing fantastic. But remember what we don’t have: GUI elements like menu skins and item icons and so forth (thus why the above dialogue isn’t done in a long sequence of in-game screenshots), visual effects like magic and sword slashes, music, and sound effects.

“But isn’t that what Kickstarter is for?”
Well… kind of. It’s not what I was hoping for.

Obviously I love the idea of crowdfunding and I’ve supported 150 other projects, so if anyone could permissibly show up with a demo where everything that’s actually in the game looks amazing and everything that’s not in the game seems like the craziest omission ever, it’s probably me. People have showed up with a lot less, frankly, and I’ve been there for them.

I’ve honestly asked myself recently if I should sell my house. Unless the value has fallen in the past three and a half years, it would be a windfall of something like $30,000-ish after taxes, though obviously that huge short term gain would come with the enormous lost opportunity of—ya know—an entire house.

I—I don’t think that selling it is the correct answer. I think that going for crowdfunding with an admittedly rougher-than-expected demo is. But in all honesty, I don’t like that, so it’s been demoralizing. Still, I suppose I have to do what I have to do…

Dreamblazers Update: Week of October 12, 2015

[insert ~5000 words of rabid gushing about the latest My Little Pony episode and watching it about as many times as the rest of episodes in this season combined in the two and a half days it’s been out]

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s enjoy some pixel art!

Dreamblazers - Centaur Warrior AnimationDreamblazers - Grisly Bear Animation

These are a Centaur Warrior and a Grisly Bear! And while I wish I could take credit for the name of the latter, no, a friend actually gave me that one; my original name for it was pretty boring. ;P Oh, and I also can’t take credit for the flawless MLP segue into a half-horse sprite, which was coincidence—I’ve actually been disappointed with the large majority of the current season, so I didn’t expect to get hit with my new series favorite out of nowhere.

Anyway, Grisly Bears are just raw powerhouses and there’s not too much to say about them, though I hope you dig the color scheme that I asked for and Liz implemented! They’re pretty free to roam many lands, so you’ll see them decently often.

As for the Centaur Warrior, she’s the second fully intelligent “enemy” species I’ve shown off and her body is a bit better suited to complex battle techniques than the first set of sprites—the slimes!—so all I’m going to say is expect some interesting AI from her and working in harmony with her battle companions. :D She won’t be the last of them either: four more ladies of battle are getting sprites before Liz and I wrap up everything we need to do for the sake of the initial demo.

I’ll end with something I haven’t mentioned before: any character, not just playable ones, get stat bonuses from wearing appropriate fashions. And oh, look, the Centaur Warrior’s clothes seem pretty coordinated! She might qualify for bonuses involving, say, staying in touch with nature. Bonuses like, say, the ones Celty gets from her outfit.

But maybe you should watch out when you have to battle foes—or even friends—who put even more thought into their outfits than the forest-dwelling Centaur Warrior…

Dreamblazers Update: Week of October 5, 2015

The Storm is Over (probably)

Like I expected a few weeks ago, I think the big-bills-out-of-nowhere have been resolved and I’ve managed to cover everything, though I’m not totally sure yet since a couple things are up in the air as I type this. I also still don’t know the itinerary for the family event in late December, so no idea what costs are going into that.

That said, ah… some other family expenses came up in this interim and we’ve been going super fast with new pixel art (and I wouldn’t have that changed either way), so I actually can’t say that I’ve gotten back over the savings threshold that I’m looking for—which means continued extra hours at my normal work. Nonetheless, even though I still have more to do, at least I can say that I think the “storm” has passed.

So in celebration of that, and also because it’s my birthday tomorrow, and also because it’s raining as I type this—and I love the rain (and you had better believe that it’s not even once going to be used as a “the sky is crying” storytelling device in Dreamblazers)—here’s a much bigger post than the past few weeks!

Art Assets Page

First of all, the new art assets page is up. :D I have still more to add to it, like the character designs, area intro boxes, and overworld screenshots, but I took some time to do the page justice and recompile all the dialogue portraits to group them by character instead of lumping everything into one gigantic collage.

From now on, this one page will be the go-to source where you can see basically every non-spoilery art asset for Dreamblazers. =) So no need to scroll through dozens of blog posts to figure out where Cool Thing X and Awesome Thing Y were originally posted.

Pixel Art

Behold some mighty Vivavines!

Dreamblazers - Vivavines A Animation

What’s that, you say? “After stuff like a gargantuan sea slug and an elemental griffin and a super colorful bird, how am I supposed to be excited about a sprawling mass of vines?”
Oh, pshaw. The Vivavines are possibly the most exciting enemy I’ve shown off yet. Let’s go over why!

Reason #1
Like Harpilures before them, Vivavines are ubiquitous enemies that you’ll encounter just about everywhere. Yes, that’s right: the nuisance enemies aren’t bats here in Dreamblazers! That alone should thrill you, but it gets better. :D

Reason #2
“Couldn’t anyone who encounters Vivavines easily run away since they’re plants?” No. No, they couldn’t. Vivavines are more lively than your average plant and can “walk” wherever they feel like on land.

Reason #3
Vivavines are an enemy type ripe with flavor and worldbuilding. Until now, all the monster sprites have been naturally-occurring, naturally-abundant creatures. Vivavines, however, are vines that sprang to life by overabsorbing magic from the world’s mana flow. Five hundred years ago they existed only as extremely rare phenomena, but after that time the Empire instituted the Shield Our Surface (S.O.S.) initiative to layer healing and barriers on the planet itself. (I’ve hinted at this before!)

When you have a world full of people developing planet buster and galaxy buster magic, it’s the kind of thing that has to exist to explain why the planet hasn’t been blown up!* (But that’s not why the S.O.S initiative was created from in-universe reasoning. Teaser! :P) …but the initiative did come with this drawback. With more magic flooding the world, Vivavines popped up all over the place due to readily-available mana sources.

Reason #4
While Vivavines aren’t the only enemy capable of a certain game mechanic that I’ve wanted to discuss in detail, they’re the best opportunity yet! Along with Greatwolves, Griffinaires, Archweavers, Felossuses, and even our own party member Telia Evenway, Vivavines are one of many living things capable of using the capture mechanic. This mechanic involves a fighter pinning, trapping, wrapping, or otherwise capturing a target, preventing them from taking their next turn and setting up for a unique followup attack.

Dreamblazers - Vivavines A Animation Dreamblazers - Archweaver Animation Dreamblazers - Felossus Animation Dreamblazers - Greatwolf Animation Dreamblazers - Griffinaire Animation

Watch out for when they Trap Wrap, Pounce, or Seize!

Different moves have varying baseline capture rates, but their chance of success is also based on a combination of Speed and Power for both the user and target. I’ll give some examples with the current formulas, assuming everyone is level 20 and has their default outfits…

  • Vivavines using Trap Wrap (default 100% capture) have a 78% chance to capture Leaf (fast and strong) but a 114% chance to capture Tango (medium speed and weak).
  • An Archweaver using Pounce (default 40%) has a 27% chance to pin Celty (super fast and super strong) but a 44% chance to pin Evelyn (very fast and medium strength).
  • (However, Celty and Evelyn are skilled at dodging attacks, so factoring in the chances that an Archweaver even hits them in the first place, the real odds of them getting pinned are 4% and 29%.)
  • Over on our side, Telia using Diving Crush (default 30%) has a 33% chance to pin an Archweaver (fast and super strong) and a 55% chance to pin Vivavines (medium speed and medium strength).

These are very specific numbers, but just remember the general rule: stronger and faster fighters have an easier time capturing; weaker and slower fighters have a more difficult time avoiding capture.

All of this ties into my last point…

Reason #5

Enemy sprite variations!

Dreamblazers - Vivavines A Animation Dreamblazers - Vivavines B Animation

Just like in my favorite source of inspiration, Pokémon, some sprites will come with variations. Usually these variations will be purely for eye candy, but sometimes it’s more. In the case of Vivavines, their stats and AI patterns change as well. The bigger vines have superior HP, Speed, Power, Magic Power, and Skill while the smaller ones have superior Magic Defense, Evasion, Spirit, and Energy. This leads to some differences in how they use their moves:

  • Binding Vines – Support magic that reduces Skill, Speed, and Evasion. The small vines use this more often because their lower Speed and Power means they need to weaken prey before wrapping it.
  • Double Whip – A physical attack that smacks an opponent twice. The large vines use this more often because of their greater Power.
  • Earthen Shield – Support magic that boosts Defense. The small vines use this more often to protect their lower HP.
  • Energy Siphon – A special technique that drains HP and Burst Energy but can only be used on captured prey. Small Vivavines usually use this when they can, but large Vivavines virtually always use it.
  • Needle Storm – Offensive magic that throws needles at everything. Despite being weaker, only the small vines use this move since they recharge their magic more quickly.
  • Spiky Vines – Offensive magic that does damage and slightly reduces Speed. The large vines use this much more often than the smaller ones.
  • Trap Wrap – A capture technique with very low damage but very high capture rate. Both types of Vivavines use this very often, but the large ones are even more devoted with it.

But what are the large vines? Just more mature plants that have been around longer? Well, sometimes that’s the answer, but there’s more to it. For one thing, Vivavines—like every other species—can only absorb so much magic before they overload. For a species like elves, a severe case of manaburn means uncontrollably discharging energy until normal magic balance is restored… but for elves, normal magic balance still leaves a perfectly complete being. For Vivavines, “normal” magic balance is returning all the way to being ordinary vines. That’s why the smaller ones recharge more quickly and have higher Magic Defense; the large vines are on borrowed time.

Other than that, though, some species like dryads and sylphs are capable of fighting alongside Vivavines. They can accelerate their growth or even create them outright, so the size isn’t always a matter of age, but also battle strategy.


(No pun intended. :P)

So how about that? The Vivavines may not look like much, but they’ve given me more to talk about than every previous enemy combined. One way or another, I’m aiming for nonstop intrigue.