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Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of July 27, 2015

I guess one downside to having a bonus post, especially on a Friday, is that I don’t have much to update on Monday. :P Mostly just plugging away at maps and waiting on some art in the whopping one (work)day since I last updated. Once I have real finalized monster art to put in the game, testing battles using 2D sprites will become the next big project, so that will be a more exciting time.

One other thing: now that we’re up to five different people working on the Dreamblazers project, within the next couple weeks I’m aiming to put up a Team page with mini-bios of each person. =)

And I think that’ll actually do it for today. Short update this week, yes, but to be honest I probably need to cut back on these things anyway; with my time split now between making a game and my normal job, it’s a bit tougher to put up substantive weekly posts than it used to be for multiple reasons.

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of April 27, 2015

Have I ever done an all-in-one overview of what Dreamblazers is in a single easy-to-access post? Nope! But that’s up now over on the brand new Dreamblazers page. It took a while to create, but this was a necessary step for what’s coming this week: bringing on more pixel artists! This will be the foundation I use for explaining the game to people from now on, whether it’s on here, on IndieDB, on Steam Greenlight, bringing on pixel artists, bringing on a composer, or anything else in the future.

And… this is also take 2 on doing bonus posts later in the week. For sure there’s going to be a “help wanted” page directed at prospective pixel artists, but we’ll also see if I can get up one of the multiple map layout posts that I’ve been meaning to do. The final pre-Kickstarter tileset is underway, by the way, so that increases the odds no doubt.

Other than that… fairly little to report this week. Check out the pitch page and let me know your thoughts! :D

(Note: Comments need to be approved before they’ll show up.)

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of March 16, 2015

I wavered on whether or not to post this week; it was a bit of downtime with a midweek crisis, so I can legitimately say I don’t have anything interesting to show for Dreamblazers this time. I’m also at an awkward place where, because I’m mostly plugging away at story elements, progress feels a lot less tangible to me as a gamer and I also can’t say much about it publicly without giving spoilers.

Still, I’ve been posting these consistently for over a year, so I might as well keep up the tradition!

Financial stuff:

My tenant moved out, so that’s going to eat into my savings to the tune of another $700 per month until I get a new one—and this isn’t even what I was alluding to last week when saying that I’d been thinking about a time crunch. This doesn’t pose any real threat, so no worries there, but maybe tax season will bring me some good news on the financial front.

Game stuff:

Just for fun, let me go ahead and toss out more trivia this week! Since not all of the characters will be getting face portraits until after a successful Kickstarter campaign, I can say a little about them. While my Celty predates the Celty Sturluson from Durarara and isn’t even remotely related to her, some of my characters are tributes.

My Minori, Minori Tsukimiya, was initially conceived as a tribute to Minori Kushieda from Toradora!, an eccentric genki girl athlete. After finally starting to watch My Little Pony I wound up concluding that Minori Kushieda and Pinkie Pie are pretty much the same character living in different universes and sets of physics, so I also incorporated some of those elements into my Minori’s character. At one point I was going to have my Minori’s stage name be Pink Kamen—a takeoff of Tuxedo Kamen from Sailor Moon that also visually looks like “Pinkamena,” Pinkie’s full name, she’d come out in a pink tuxedo and top hat to perform at the coliseum.

And speaking of things that are pink, Star is based on Kirby: a cutesy character in pink who can adapt to any type of fighting and changes outfits when she changes styles.

And speaking of Kirby, my mascot Jelly’s coloring is based on Pitch from Kirby’s Dream Land 3!

Miscellaneous stuff:

MLP season 5 starts in a little over two weeks and I’m thinking about doing blind episode commentaries for YouTube; if I’m going to be watching the episodes anyway, then maybe I can get even more out of my time than just entertainment—things like an audience! I’m a little tentative about the idea since I have a kind of on-again off-again lisp that I can’t hear when I speak and only sometimes comes out when I talk, so I might not go through with this, but I do believe it’s probably worth it.

This isn’t only tangentially related to my game, by the way, but something I’ve very seriously considered. I have a list of over 300 websites, blogs, and YouTubers covering indie games, but until I have a playable demo, which requires a lot more art assets, I (justifiably) can’t get any exposure from them. The speed of assets is out of my control and in the hands of pixel artists, so it’s a legitimate question what I can do if I want to earn any kind of following before any of that stuff is done.

That’s not to say this is the correct route, but only that my line of thought about this is another entry in the series of questions I’ve been facing recently.

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of March 2, 2015

Let that serve as my introduction to what’s been a whirlwind week of art. :D And it applies not only to characters, but also to pixel art—so first up, because it takes less vertical scrolling, here’s a pixel art preview from Becca!

Ah, look at those lovelies! ♥

This is her mockup, not the actual in-game layout of one of the early areas—I need to convert my placeholders to this real tileset, with colliders and all—but it’s a good thing she made it since I see a couple ideas here that I wouldn’t have realized were possible just from looking at the tiles.

This tileset is for the first cave the player will enter (no matter how “out-of-order” they take the first continent, there aren’t any other caves to enter first), so the friendly and warm feel of the color palette sets the tone for the rest of the game. All the beach-related tiles will also show up later on the second continent, the Grand Isle of Lumina—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. ;P

The inspiration for the rock walls comes mainly from Final Fantasy VI, including the fact that they come in a different color not shown here that will be used for other caves, while the shallow water layer on the floor was inspired by a few areas of Chrono Trigger. That layer animates, as does the deep water on the lower left. The inhabitants are pretty adorable, so there are also some cutesy objects around their living quarters!

The next tileset will be the overworld and I’m gathering the remaining references for those today. =)

Next up: tons of new faces from Flora!

Portrait Collection 8

Today’s notes:

* When I have a big enough audience, I’d really love to play a game of “Guess Which Of These Characters You Don’t Fight” with this image. =P Top to bottom are Celty, Evelyn Castillo, Jelia, Jig Starlight, Kelly, Lash, Recca, and Spring.

* Compared to last week’s selection of Ardis, Astrid Crys Alucia, Besarre, and Leaf, these characters have fewer expressions each. This is partly because of their personalities or roles in the story, but also because sometimes I realize only after seeing the exact number of expressions that I asked for that I do need more than expected. Look for almost all of these characters to get 1 or 2 more faces in the coming weeks. Incidentally, the number of faces per character (and especially the current number) doesn’t say much about their story importance; nobody has more screen time than Celty or Recca.

* Random trivia time about Jelia! Her original name in my 2000-2001 documents was Jelly, but that obviously couldn’t stand since Jelly’s now the name of my mascot. Her original incarnation was significantly more colorful, if you can believe that, but even on paper it looked like a pretty disgusting level of non-coordination. =P

* Random trivia time about Jig! She and her brother Tango were always going to have musical names, but going through different music-related terms was quite an ordeal. A lot of the good names were taken by Mega Man—in fact, as I would realize only later, the name Tango was one of them.

My original idea was Twist and Tango, the T&T twins. For an inventor like Jig, Twist would have been an interesting name that carried a musical connotation while also implying things like twisting wrenches or turning gears. They would also both be named for dances, just as they are now. Only problem? My Little Pony ruined that for me with a Twist who’s more of a geeky character—the antithesis of Jig. Running through all the names of dances, Jig stood out as a pretty upbeat name that could also be taken as part of a jigsaw puzzle, a fact that Flora picked up on without my even mentioning it since puzzle pieces ended up in her design.

* Random trivia time about Lash! Along with Celty and one other as-of-yet-unrevealed (and undesigned!) character, Lash is one of my oldest surviving characters harkening way back to 1997. Many of my other characters back then were pretty dubious in quality, not to mention being ripoffs of whatever I was playing and watching at the time, but Lash has endured.

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of February 16, 2015

Sometimes things come full circle. Sometimes they even do it three times in one week!

The gameplay front:

ORK 2.3.0 released with a boatload of new things. For my purposes, the most important two are:

Status effect types – This finally brings organization to the chaotic mess of 400+ effects that I created for my fashion system and lets me do things like “Neutralize” magic that removes all “Stat Boost” type effects. That second part was an important component that I had wanted from the beginning, but I’ve been living without it for so long that I actually forgot it wasn’t possible yet. It’s a key part of Celty’s abilities and her character: because she reads people well and sees the truth about them, so to speak, she can easily undo any enchantments.

Shortcut slot menus – This will take much more effort on my part, but basically players will be able to create a selection of 8-12 moves per battle per character. This was another thing that I wanted from the beginning as yet another Pokémon inspiration: rather than having to search through every move every time, they’ll decide outside of battle which moves they care about and which they don’t. (And unlike Pokémon, characters don’t forget the moves just by taking them out of the menu, so they can be reassigned at any time.) Reducing the number of button presses this way should help out the flow of battles, which has still felt a little bit off to me until now. It also fits perfectly with my “Adventure your way!” slogan, where everything from exploration to outfits (equipment) to battle is customized by the player; you make your own dream because you’re a dreamblazer too. =)

The art front:

Another thing I’ve wanted to do since last June is have characters’ faces drawn for use in dialogue. That got put on the shelf in favor of finishing a big flurry of character designs since Flora was leaving freelance art behind, but it came back up since dialogue is right in the middle of what I’m doing now. And you know what else came back up? Flora herself. :D

So faces are soon to get underway as I’ve been gathering references, thinking out which characters will react in which ways, and so on. Since I have so many characters I’m trying to be careful about not going for 23935 faces to cover every possible scenario, but only the ones that I truly need: some characters never get Angry faces, others never get Scared faces, and so on. It’s trickier than it might sound; having over 30 characters and about 30 expressions that I can think of is a lot of combinations to sift through and this also needs to be balanced against the two main currencies of life: money and time.