I thought of many things I could write to start this post.
Would I talk about my energy level seeming different now than when I started at 29, then segue into a rousing round of rejecting all that noise, declaring mind over matter, and shouting “I”m back, baby!!!”—textually, of course? Would I start similarly to that, but go for a more humorous tone with a sidebar about coffee and not drinking it ever since I once mistook it for soda as a kid?
Would I play the sympathy card and write about stretching myself too thin, then try to justify myself by talking about how I hadn’t really taken a break for years, so in some weird way I “took a break” by nature? Would I take a more psychological bent and mention a discussion I had back in high school with a friend who insisted that I couldn’t force myself into a certain mood when I insisted that I could? (That was absolutely true for me, by the way, but I don’t know about him.)
Would I go for a high concept intro talking about the all-too-fast passage of time or about big projects and the expectations going into them?
In the end, Flora gave me a little push and helped me see what I should say:
I’m here. I screwed up. I overpromised because even now I constantly underestimate time commitments when I should know better. And then I missed a day and it turned into two and I felt like running away and, well, I did.
Is everybody like that? To some extent, yeah, probably. Is that an excuse? No. All I can do is apologize and also say that overpromising won’t happen again on my watch. “I’m aiming to have a post up tomorrow”—I’ll say something like that instead.
And with all that out of the way…
Let’s move on to happier things that I did actually tease last week. This is a new splash screen! I’m showing it here at a decreased resolution like usual, so it’s cleaner in the full art:
Will this be the title screen and move the previous image to being a game over screen or something else? Or will it be, perhaps, the other way around?! That’s a tough call, but what’s not a tough call is that I really wanted a promotional image like this with some key characters facing the camera. And I love this one and hope you do too!
A big difference between the new image and the other “title screen” is the addition of Jig and Tango and the disappearance of Cotelle and Minori. When I sat back and considered these two big factors:
1) who I’m expecting people to gravitate toward, and
2) who drives the story forward in Dreamblazers (and by Dreamblazers I mean Dreamblazers the first and possibly only game, not Dreamblazers the trilogy that I’d ideally like to create given time and resources (see, now I’m hedging and not overpromising :P))
I had to concede that Jig and Tango might be higher up the ladder. Of course, it’s not by much and ultimately both images will be in the game in some fashion, so people can decide which one is more fitting! At least it’s clear that Leaf and Celty are undoubtedly major players.
Let me call attention to the tablet in Jig’s hand, by the way. I insisted on including this because I wasn’t sure if I’ve made it apparent enough that the in-game universe’s highest levels of technology are actually well above our own. So why do characters walk around on foot and why they do fight with swords and throwing stars? Well, I’ve mentioned this before: they’re not human, but rather various humanoid species (though “humanoid” is an unknown word to them).
I’m gonna be honest here: it’s a pet peeve of mine when RPGs feature characters who are explicitly called humans and they’re getting stabbed, shot, frozen alive, poisoned, boiled alive, crushed by meteors, etc. and they don’t die to everything in one or two hits.
And no, even inventing a synonym for “human” doesn’t salvage it! :P You’ve gotta tell me these are beings composed at least partially of energy or magic or magical energy and, sure, then they can do all kinds of superhuman things and we’re cool.
Like my characters, for example.
Moving on! There’s actually a secret to this picture… I cropped the version above a bit, but there’s some more vertical space:
You see, I wanted a title image that would change over time, expanding just like the in-game universe, so even starting up the game can give you something new to digest before you hop back into playing! A character who wasn’t there originally might appear somewhere on this screen, like Summer:
And I coyly wonder who this is:
What else might appear? Well, if it’s used as the title screen, then of course a title—though I still need to find someone skilled at typography to handle that. Anything else I can tease? Nope. Perhaps you’ll find out in the future what this screen has to offer, but it won’t be on this blog.
By the way, that shot of Summer represents a slight design change for her that drops her center headpiece, which I sprang on Flora literally at the last second, so we’ll have to go back and tweak her dialogue portraits in due time. And Alex had also been drawing her sprite at this time, so I dug us all into double trouble here. :P (Got a few more important things to take care of than minor fixes to art assets right now, though…)
And speaking of Alex, here’s a preview of overworld sprites for Telia and Lash! These, of course, are shown at triple size:
I say “preview” because they actually have full and finished sprite sheets, as do Summer and another character I’m not showing here—hey, I can’t very well spill all the secrets up front. Every art asset in this post still has its mysteries. Anyway, like before, the characters are as expressive in their pixel art forms as they are in their traditional art forms for continuity and just because sprites emoting were always one of my favorite things in classic RPGs.
I’ll end this post here, but there’s always more to come in the future!