Tag Archives: Bravely Default

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of February 23, 2015

This week I can mostly let the artwork speak for itself… but only mostly!

Portrait Collection 4

Shown here are Ardis, Astrid, Besarre, and Leaf and there’s all sorts of stuff to mention related to this collage:

* These lovely face portraits were drawn by Flora at 512×512 as I asked, but I’m showing them as 256×256 here so that big enough monitors can see an entire row on screen at once. =) 256×256 is what I’m most likely to use in the actual game as well. (I haven’t had menu skins drawn yet, but since I’m not going above a 1920×1080 resolution, full 512x512s would be huge relative to the screen no matter how the menu borders turn out.)

* As seen in games like Fire Emblem 9 and 10, Bravely Default, and Tales of Graces, having the faces at an angle means that I can flip them horizontally to have characters talking back and forth on different sides of the screen. Of course, doing that would result in some clothes being on the wrong sides and such, but those games didn’t worry about it and they’re made by companies with much bigger budgets than me, so I’m cool with it. =P

* Starting tomorrow, I’ll tweet at least one face each week plus a line of dialogue that goes with it. And I’ll call it Talky Time Tuesday! :D Since this site is a more comprehensive collection of Dreamblazers-related material than Twitter, I’ll also add a new Dialogue page here that will embed all those tweets.

* A small Easter egg here is Leaf’s nail polish. Leaf’s a pretty mysterious girl; her magical-musical skirt plays tunes according to her will, but her nail polish made from a liquid rainbow changed colors randomly until she experimented with chemical catalysts to control it. Blue and green are her usual colors!

* While this is the full collection of expressions made so far, the number of expressions per character is subject to go up; for example, I might see a face for a later character and then realize that Leaf should have the same kind of face and doesn’t. Right now Besarre is the most likely to get one or two extra expressions.

* Random trivia time about Ardis! When I was my younger 2000-2001 self who first dreamed of creating my own game, Ardis was a name that I picked out and thought I was making up—just like I’d made up Celty as my even younger 1997 self who was toying around with Blades of Exile. As it turns out, Ardis is an Irish name for girls, which completely changed her character. Her description from my early files says that she was a half-elf with tanned skin who wore a halter, miniskirt, and sandals, so I’m guessing that I conceived her as more of a harem dancer type of character. Although it is just a guess, I did love Dragon Quest IV (localized back then as Dragon Warrior IV), so maybe I thought of Ardis as a girl more clothed than fellow dancer Mara but less clothed than her sister Nara:

Dragon Quest IV - Mara and Nara

Possibly my inspiration for the original Ardis?

We did try darker skin for her during the design process, but my knowing that her name was Irish led me to stick with lighter skin. And while Ardis is technically still a half-elf, she’s now also a half-sylph, fitting in with Irish lore. She was one of my least developed characters back then, basically a glorified set of stats who filled a party slot and faded out of existence at the end of the game (because for some reason all the great RPGs on the SNES had people fading out of existence at the end of the game), but the modern personality I’ve come up with for her has made her one of my top five favorites to write for now.

* Random trivia time about Besarre! Like Ardis, I thought I was making up a name in 2000-2001, but it wasn’t Besarre at the time; he was named Bestiary and wouldn’t you know that’s a real word. He was also underdeveloped just like Ardis and even more than her, but his importance jumped massively in 2012 when I was penciling out the rough progression of the plot and figuring out how to tie different story elements together.

* Random trivia time about Leaf! Yet another tale of 2000-2001: Leaf was the name of a talking orange cat who was one of the 17 main characters instead of a girl who happens to carry a kittyara with her. But fear not! The talking cat is still in the story with a different name, color, and gender—and she’s coming soon!

More faces will be posted here as progress continues. =) And the trivia will roll in with them!

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of December 8, 2014

Last week’s achievements

* Sent art feedback for final Winter design
* Started art feedback for final Jig design
* Sent title screen image requirements
* Designed initial layouts for Seaside Slime Cove, Den of Kobolds and the Unicorn

Current focus

Final art run (for now) and touching up various features.

Sample stuff

Winter character design

Here in time for Christmas, it’s Winter, the most cheerful and eccentric of the seasonal seraphic sisters! One of the major goals of the story is to meet all four.

Weekly goals

* Integrate animations with ORK
* Make the 2D camera follow the player
* Design layouts for Spring Lake Valley and Winny Spring (and clean up the existing ones as needed)
* Write bestiary flavor text for remaining enemies


Sudden art burst from nowhere! Jig’s (non-alternate outfit) design is pretty much finished except for her color scheme, which means I’ve spent and will continue spending hours of fill tool fun to figure this out. She’s a very colorful dresser like Jelia, who also took a good long while, so making a balance that doesn’t clash but also expresses her personality is difficult. More importantly, Jig is the final character remaining with Flora, so it’s kind of bittersweet, but… that’s it! Nothing more after this. (At least not for purposes of a playable prototype.)

Other surprises: family visit from nowhere! I knew they were traveling all over the state visiting other relatives, but didn’t know it was in the plans for them to come see me for a few days.

Lastly, on the subject of map-making: I feel way too uneasy when designing dungeon maps and I’m going to continue tweaking them. The overworld is a different case. I simply design surprising locations like an elevated crater lake, a desert on a tropical island (hey, Hawaii has one), and a place where rivers, lakes, and the ocean all border. More importantly, each overworld continent is meant to be a self-contained area that people can travel as they please with no right or wrong directions because all of them are progress (even if nothing else is available to do yet, they add 0-EP teleport locations), so designing it is pretty stress-free.

But when I narrow the focus, a single cave or forest has an end goal in mind and has to properly but subtly lead the player. Nothing has warped my opinion and triggered my perfectionism here quite like the Sequelitis Mega Man X vs. Mega Man Classic video: there is such a thing as a correct way to do this!

In most RPGs you could simply design many false roads with treasure at the end, but in a game where the only items are equipment and all equipment is viable from start to finish*, that becomes a tougher balancing act.

Simply making circular paths that ultimately lead in the same direction isn’t an option either since those can be annoying to players, who wonder if they’ve missed something and wind up treading the same ground three times (forward, back, and forward on the other fork).

We’ll get there, though! This is 1) a gameplay element and 2) an element I’m making myself (as opposed to music or pixel art, etc.), so I definitely pride myself on getting it right.

( * Equipment for me is comparable to skill systems in Final Fantasy IX or Bravely Default: not all equipment will be useful for all situations, but all equipment is useful in some situation, so you’re building a collection of swappable “skills” via clothing.)

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of December 1, 2014

Last week’s achievements

* Made functional ally-summoning enemies
* Tested out EarthBound-style HP drain and inadvertently figured out how to do Pokémon-style HP bars
* Tested out one-turn-delay priority attacks

Current focus

Touching up various features.

Weekly goals

* Send art feedback for final Winter design
* Integrate animations with ORK
* Make the 2D camera follow the player
* Design layouts for Seaside Slime Cove, Den of Kobolds and the Unicorn, Spring Lake Valley
* Write bestiary flavor text for remaining enemies


Since I’ve been on animation for a while, I jumped back into tweaking the battle system for the past week (aside from visiting family for Thanksgiving). Somewhere in the ether exists an incredible RPG, simply waiting to be created, with priority attacks that change turn order on a one-turn delay, but I feel that the entire game would have to be built around that mechanic with methodical and strategic battle pacing. It’s kind of like Flamberge, a recent Kickstarter strategy RPG where both sides take their turns simultaneously: a very interesting idea that demands an RPG’s full attention and commitment.

(I will say this: if delayed priority was going to make sense in any game, then it might have to be one with physics like mine where everyone has super speed; mechanically it feels sort of like the turn-based version of bullet time.)

And then there’s EarthBound HP drain. Though it’s a great mechanic for adding some real-time flavor to turn-based battles, it turns out that most of the reason why it works is because that series, like its inspiration Dragon Quest, has very easy decision-making. My decision-making is more akin to competitive Pokémon, so rolling HP either puts too much pressure on players if it’s fast or looks silly if it’s slow.

It also conflicts with my Last Stand battle mechanic, where a character at 0 HP loses EP until finally going down (basically like a certain showdown in Final Fantasy V, but active in every boss battle); because they’re similar concepts, Last Stand gets lost in the shuffle if HP also drains that way under normal conditions. I still love the idea of HP drain, but like with delayed priority, an RPG needs to be built around it. The good news is that now I know how to do justice to Pokémon HP bars!

That brings me to the bigger success of the week: enemies can summon allies now! They’ll mainly come in two varieties of summoning multiple fragile enemies or single strong ones, but a certain puzzle-esque “boss” also has her own spin on the idea. I didn’t keep many ideas from 1999-2001-era Me without major tweaking—not even my magnum opus boss battle—but that one’s staying mostly unchanged. =)

Anyway, of the first continents’ enemies, Kobold Chiefs are the best at summoning because they can give party-wide stat boosts to whatever they summon. Kobold Rogues used to outshine them since they could (and usually do) blind the player party, but now there’s real choice in deciding whether to go after Chiefs or Rogues first. And worse yet are the Chiefs who have tamed Greatwolves. Greatwolves only call more of their pack when they’re weak, so one might try to leave them alone, but their stats are almost as good as party members, they can be buffed by Chiefs too, and they can pin party members to take away their turns and feast on them for massive HP recovery like those cannibalistic hydras in the final dungeon of Chrono Trigger.

Ahhh… If it isn’t obvious, this is the stuff I love talking about in these updates. ♥ If I had any good business sense then maybe I’d find somebody and pay them to figure out all the animation stuff and create maps while I do what I like, but I do appreciate knowing what is and isn’t difficult in this process. So back to that I go!

One last note:

It’s a crazy thing to find yourself singing along to a piece of music when you’ve never heard it before, but I actually have heard it before. : D Going back to things from an earlier era that I’ve thrown away, the story of my RPG’s 2001 version opened with the heroine wondering whether people dream of adventure for a reason and launching into a solo musical number about loving her steady life but still wanting more.

I was 16 and so the lyrics are mostly embarrassing and I’m not posting them now—except for the ending. I haven’t thought of that song in years upon years, but the first time I heard 0:20 of that Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire theme, the two repeated choruses came rushing back to me:

And I think I will find—no, I’ll find out, I know
What awaits me if I just move on

There is loving and living and so much I’ll never know
Until I’m out exploring what’s beyond
And so very soon, I’m sure, I am going to find
What awaits me if I just move on

The bold part has almost the same cadence as the Pokémon piece except that it pauses before “no” instead of before “me”; the notes and scale of the first line in particular are exactly what I had in mind way back when. <3 It also fits even better with the “And so very soon, I’m sure” line other than having one fewer note. Sometimes I write lyrics for pre-existing game songs for fun, but this might be the one and only time where things happened in reverse. =P

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of November 24, 2014

Last week’s achievements

* Got functional collision detection!!!

Current focus

Touching up various features.

Weekly goals

* Integrate animations with ORK
* Make the camera follow the player
* Experiment with EarthBound-style HP drain
* Experiment with one-turn-delay priority attacks
* Make functional ally-summoning enemies
* Design layouts for Seaside Slime Cove, Den of Kobolds and the Unicorn, Spring Lake Valley
* Write bestiary flavor text for remaining enemies


I’m pretty sure I won’t accomplish all of those goals in one week, but that’s everything I have at my top priority level. (Lower things on the totem pole include figuring out how to make cutscenes, figuring out how to make branching dialogue, figuring out how to make enemies visible in dungeons and on the overworld, and finding a pixel artist (best saved until after holiday craziness is over).) Functional collision detection was a major breakthrough, as the past several updates testify, and I’m glad to be done with it. :D

In other news, it’s that time of year for a Pokémon release, which normally means I disappear into the ether for 1500 hours. Thankfully for my productivity, though, Hoenn is only my sixth favorite region and after 1500 hours of X/Y I only care about five or so Pokémon that I didn’t already have. =P

Which reminds me (and the above concludes the progress segment of today’s update):

On my Musings blog I’ll write mini-reviews of every game I’ve played this year, but here’s the short of it: this has been a very good year for me in gaming, but also a good year for reminding me why I’m crazy enough to make an RPG in the first place.

Let me first say this: I’m not doing it for money. =P I spend so little that if I partnered up with someone and bought a second house for all cash, I could collect rent for the rest of time and do nothing. And no doubt you’ve heard people say that’s their dream. “If I had [X] money then I’d never work again.”

But that’s not me. I’m making Dreamblazers partly because I can’t not and partly because nobody’s making the kinds of RPGs I want to play. Or in the case of 2014, even when they make something genius like Bravely Default and Pokémon, something else goes very wrong in the process.

Often when an indie game developer says nobody’s making games suited to them, I start running for the hills because they’re talking about a zany high concept game or random genre bending “just because we can” or something along those lines—things satirized by The Optimistic Indie.

“They said my game is imaginative, personal and meaningful, but unpolished. Well yeah. I’m trying to educate an audience, not attract one.” –April 25, 2014

“Making a roguelike where you are a fashion designer riding a motorcycle. It’s called voguebike. Seriously, where do I get my inspiration?!” – June 22, 2013

“Writing a game about a young woman’s decision to leave her husband for a soldier whose child is robbed of his talent. It’s a platformer.” –October 8, 2012

“I hope that one day I will make the ‘Citizen Kane‘ of games: Greyscale, old-fashioned, not really interactive, you collect lots of coins.” – April 14, 2012

Not what I’m talking about, though! There’s no grand overarching game element that I feel is missing from the industry. Not one. However, there are also no games that I feel do everything I want simultaneously. I’m talking about normal encounters with enemies who are threats but not insta-kills, a hybrid of open-world exploration and linear progression, an equipment system with real decision-making instead of rote upgrade, super frequent boss battles of multiple-weak-enemy and single-strong-enemy and one-one-one-duel variants, no consumable items, highly useful status effects, and other gameplay elements brought together in one place.

And now I can get back to tinkering with that instead of handling “basic” 2D movement, so that’s pretty exciting! :D

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of October 6, 2014 (Birthday Edition)

Let’s talk a bit. This one’s gonna be rambling, but honest. =)

The pixel artist I want just got married and is taking off a few weeks, which makes me feel oddly better about essentially doing nothing this past week because of Smash Bros. 4. Not to compare our circumstances, of course! …but this brings up something I’ve definitely wanted to mention here.

Right now I’ve backed 135 Kickstarter projects and I often see creators mentioning in their Risks and Challenges section that family comes first and that if anything happens to their spouses or kids, they’ll have to sideline all work on the game.

In one sense, this is a silly thing to list as a risk; anyone could get into a horrible accident, after all. The composer for Midora just lost a finger in mid-September and about the only good thing one can say there is that at least it was his pinky and not an index finger or especially a thumb. It could have been worse! Whether on Kickstarter or not, every project run by a human bears the implicit risk of the sudden death or incapacitation of its creator.

In another sense, listing the risk makes sense; not everyone has spouses or kids, so a solo individual like myself only needs to worry about one person. Sure, I could develop amnesia or get hit with SADS (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome) or a 9.4 earthquake could completely destroy California or something, but I can’t go through a divorce, a child can’t run away, and a death in the family wouldn’t leave me depressed for three months.

…but I wonder if there’s a third sense. Maybe in my case the “risk” is that I don’t have someone encouraging me and pushing me forward every day. I used to resent family obligations; truth be told, there’s probably still more of that within me than there should be. Isn’t there value in a supporting voice?

Three years ago I would have been upset by the idea of celebrating a birthday. Why bother? Unproductive. Frivolous. Wastes of time. Those were the kinds of things I thought about celebrations, family obligations, and more. Because I considered weddings, honeymoons, and vacations to be useless wastes of money, I couldn’t have sincerely said “Congratulations” to Becca, the pixel artist. Today I can, but it’s only because I assume that she understands the value, not because I myself understand.

In a few hours I turn 30. I’ve already been out for a birthday lunch and I still feel slightly guilty about it—more than I feel guilty about playing Smash Bros. and not making a game, which in turn is more than I felt guilty about playing Bravely Default and not making a game back in February. At least Bravely Default is an RPG, you see, and one that’s balanced in a shockingly similar way to what I’m aiming for. Smash Bros. is, though I’m stretching, at least a video game. What’s a birthday lunch?

But should I feel guilty at all?

Make no mistake: I’m the furthest thing from a “Type A” workaholic personality. I’ll put in 12 hours if I feel like it, but “if I feel like it” usually depends on whether I’m having fun. My days are more commonly six hours whenever I find the first natural stopping point or hit some roadblock that I need to sleep on.

At the same time, the idea of taking three straight weeks off—like for a wedding and honeymoon—would probably make me squeamish. And I mean that: frustration and anxiety would pile on until I’d feel sick. I can’t even fully enjoy taking a week off here and there for a major game release (major to me in the case of Bravely Default) without that nagging guilt feeling. I still haven’t touched my copy of Tales of Symphonia Chronicles or Tales of Xillia 2 because I have my own Dreamblazers to make.

And yet… I’m not in a traditional job, so there’s no technical obligation to put in a certain number of hours per day. All of my guilt is of my own making. My ambition clashing against my interests. “All work and no play” battling with “all play and no work.” What’s the appropriate balance? Can I take a week off here and there? Is that okay or is it unacceptable? To be honest, I’ve cut off nearly all social contact, so my life is about either playing video games, making a video game, or pondering. Is that fine? Could I do better? Would I actually be more productive if I disconnected completely on occasion?

I don’t have any ultimate answer to my questions. Like the Musings side of my blog implies, I’m much more interested in raising questions and thinking about them than finding solutions. Since I don’t have an ultimate answer, I probably won’t change anything that I’m doing. I only want to be honest and straightforward—and, for posterity’s sake, these are my true struggles at this time, right now, while I’m arriving at the border between 29 and 30 years old. I’m an indie game developer who recently hit a severe roadblock with making functional 2D movement, I’m burying myself in someone else’s game, and I feel guilty about it and I wonder if I should feel more guilty or less.

At 0, 10, 20, or 30 years old, life can be a mystery.

And I suspect 40, 50, 60, and 70 won’t be any different.