Tag Archives: Pokémon

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 November 3, 2014 (Overview Edition)

It would be a little silly to give a regular update two days after my last one, so instead I’ll recap everything I’ve done and look forward toward what’s still to come.

What’s Done

* Stat growth balance – I based my stat growth and experience point scaling loosely on Pokémon as a familiar starting point, but altered to my own ends. Stats are slightly higher across the board to compensate for the absence of an EV system. (And no worries: there’s no IV equivalent! A character on her first playthrough will always grow to be exactly as strong as herself on her second.)

* Core battle mechanics – Damage formulas, status effects, passive abilities, elemental resistances, and pretty much anything in the foundation of the battle system does what I want from it!

* Move balance – Another thing I loosely based on Pokémon. As a marginally competitive Pokémon player, a decision between Icy Wind, Ice Beam, and Blizzard is one of the clearest examples of good game design, so I adapted their principles and it’s turned out great. I don’t feel like I have any filler moves, especially in conjunction with…

* Enemy AI and balance – Of the 42 enemies I’ve tossed in so far, I’m happy with at least 35 of them in terms of how they act and how weak or strong they are. Since most of the enemies recur across many continents at different levels—yet again, Pokémon inspiration—the important ones are all really solid. Most importantly, they feel distinct: ogres are vastly more threatening than kobold rogues, but kobold rogues are quite a bit more annoying. I’ve played entirely too many RPGs—even RPGs that are among my favorites of all time!—where enemies are interchangeable pretty models, which is right near the top of my list of things to avoid.

* Equipment system and fashion subsystem – Inspired by Dragon Quest IX, but a lot more visible, the way you wear your clothes can give you hundreds of possible fashion bonuses. What you can wear also depends on your body type; a character like Evelyn who has wings can wear wing accessories but not a cape or cloak.

* Equipment and status menu layouts – Granted that they’re only boxes and alignment right now since I haven’t paid for any art assets here, but I’m pretty satisfied with how cleanly they’re laid out.

* Controllable animated sprites – I just wrote about this, but yes, now the player can actually move a character sprite around and it’ll animate properly. <3 Like in Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI, I’ll only do four directions of sprites, but diagonal movement is still possible. (FFVI had that on staircases in the Fanatics’ Tower and Zozo; I bring up the comparison because, for budget reasons, my sprites will look a lot more like that than huge CT sprites.)

* First continent layout – The first few (mini-)dungeons and one or two towns are still to come, but the main continent itself is all set up. I might increase or even double its size, but the layout’s not changing much if at all.

And, of course, I’ve written a myriad of flavor text and dialogue. But that’s not gameplay, so it doesn’t count. =P

Still Upcoming

* Battle timing – Although I’m making a turn-based RPG for several reasons beyond the scope of this post, action RPGs are technically my preferred genre, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to keep battles flowing. Multiple attacks per turn with a limited window for inputs like Valkyrie Profile? EarthBound style HP drain? Reduce the battle party size?

* The point of the fashion subsystem – Okay, so dressing great increases your Style stat, but what does that do? In DQIX it didn’t accomplish much pragmatically. Do I pull a Zelos from Tales of Symphonia and have NPCs throw goodies at you for looking fabulous? How about borrowing from Dragon’s Curse (AKA Wonder Boy III: Dragon’s Trap) and locking out some obtainable items until you look good enough to earn them? Should Style affect battles in a minor way like the Luck stat in Fire Emblem?

* Extra battle mechanics – Celty’s battle gameplay is… different from most of my other characters. Without giving away any spoilers past the first 10-15 minutes, she has a hero code and never uses overwhelming force against her enemies even if she significantly outlevels them, so her visible stats don’t reflect her real battle performance. I haven’t finalized figuring out how I’m going to accomplish that code-wise, but it’s vital—and not only from a story perspective! Everything I do goes to the good of gameplay somehow. Other than that, the one major aspect of battles that I didn’t get rolling yet is enemies who can summon allies or reinforcements, like greatwolves calling more of their pack or kobold chiefs calling underling warriors. I know it’s possible in ORK Framework since others say they’ve done it, so I only have to figure it out.

* Priority attacks – This, on the other hand, is impossible in ORK right now—at least as far as I can tell! Priority attacks are moves like Quick Attack in Pokémon or Mercurial Thrust in Dragon Quest that always attack first but are weak as well as moves like Dragon Tail that always attack last but have a notable effect. One option for me is to outright commission the development of that feature. Another is to try out a delayed priority effect; instead of an attack going first and dealing weak damage, it could deal weak damage and make the next turn’s attack go first. I can’t remember ever seeing that in an RPG, so I might give it a shot just to see how I like it. This sort of thing is a perfect example of limitations drawing out creativity. =)

* Animation integration – Just because I can animate sprites in a vacuum doesn’t mean I know yet how to integrate them with ORK. I think I do know! …but animation is the one and only thing so far that’s been more difficult than I anticipated, so I rule nothing out.

* Full-fledged environment movement – Player characters need to interact with the terrain and the camera needs to follow them, so for as much trouble as it was, simply getting a character moving is only a first step! …so to speak. =P

* Cutscenes – I haven’t even touched the idea of making cutscenes happen since they’re one of my lowest priorities, but they’re certainly coming up!

* Additional environments – Like I mentioned above, I’ll need a few dungeons and towns. (Don’t interpret that as tons of work; SNES classics often had one-room “dungeons” or “towns” like Guardia Forest and Gau’s father’s house to create scenery variety—and I’m certainly learning from that mold!)

And, of course, I’ll need art assets and music and so forth, but the bulk of those efforts will be on other people rather than me.

Final Words

I’m probably forgetting a few things that I’ve done and a few things that I still need to do, but overall this is a pretty good review of where I’ve been and where I’m going. Good to regain some perspective after a long challenge and a recent breakthrough. : D

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of August 25, 2014 (Pre-Non-Vacation Edition)

Pre-Non-Vacation Stuff

Contrary to what one might imagine based on my adventure-loving characters, I really don’t care for the hassles of traveling. x_x I believe it’s been at least two years since I last did any major traveling—and somehow, even though I know it’s a pain, I always forget just how much of a pain it is. D: Maybe it’s a mental safeguard or psychological repression. I don’t know!

Translation: I spent almost the entire past week generally freaking out about how I could make this trip productive. In hindsight, if I had given all that preparation time to my game and then my trip was 100% unproductive, it would still have been a net gain. As-is, well, I’ll do what I can. I could be underestimating effects like jet lag too because it’s been a while.

One “downside” of weekly updates is that I have to be upfront with stuff like this, but that’s alright. I have no desire to hide it. I’ll just have to sink in that much more effort to compensate. I had actually intended to play through Tales of Xillia 2 when I’m back, but I’ll see how much I can get done while away before deciding what to do. My game does come first!

(…well, except in November when it’s Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire time. That’ll be a real Vacation Edition. =P Probably for Super Smash Bros. too.)

Actual Productive Stuff

At any rate, I have five more character design rounds to evaluate now—hoping to knock out some of them on the plane and in the airport—and I’ve made some small progress in understanding how base Unity functionality works (on the layer underneath my favorite assets). Also, one of the features that ORK currently lacks is the ability to have multiple moves per turn, so another user and I are working out together what we’d want from such a feature, then we’ll probably pool money to make it happen. =) That took up a good several hours of planning. (…and I see now that I missed a reply, so there go another couple of hours right after this post!)

gamingislove (the maker of ORK) is also so fast at releasing new versions that I’ll have to go back and figure out how I can benefit from the additions of three new releases that went on while I’ve been plugging away at 2D. At the top of my list to investigate are stuff like ORK’s own plugin system, a Bestiary system, leveling up without experience points, a new equipment list style for menus, and a certain new battle AI step.

Implemented at my request, AI can now count the number of allies, enemies, or total characters on the battlefield and then determine what to do—so I can make my monsters even more devious than before! ^^ For example, I’ll update my Sylph Mage enemy, who I was already very happy with, so that when she’s alone she’ll never use mere stat boosts or inflict status effects.

Battles are the centerpiece of Dreamblazers and of basically everything I’ve ever believed about RPGs, so features like this are very exciting for me. : D

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of August 11, 2014

Last week’s achievements

* Learned how to create and use tile maps with 2D Toolkit in Unity, including colliders
* Learned how to not have Unity distort 2D sprites on me with anti-aliasing or lossy quality or various other things (and by “learned how to” I mean flailed about like a Magikarp for a while until Kirb, the developer of 2D indie Metroidvania Dead Gear, explained how to))

Current focus

The transition to 2D.

Sample stuff

Using placeholder tiles from OpenGameArt.org for now, this is the current draft of the continent of Miharu in Unity! The real version will, of course, have proper-looking rivers, bridges, some rounded coasts, probably triangular coasts, and most of all it’ll be a 16-bit aesthetic instead of 8-bit!

Showing it off at this scale is a bit small, so here‘s a full-resolution version of an earlier draft. If you squint, this continent kind of looks like a three-leaf clover; if you squint even harder, it looks kind of like a bird. I’ll probably play up one of those elements further!

Weekly goals

* Figure out how to use 2D Toolkit (and other Unity assets if needed) to get basic top-down map movement functional
* When character design rounds resume, those become top priority


Three steps down, more to go! Before top-down map movement can be functional, collision detection needs to be functional; before collision detection can be functional, top-down maps (AKA stuff to collide with) need to exist; before top-down maps can exist, sprites need to look pixel perfect.

With those three issues resolved, there are still at least three more factors: character animation, character movement, and camera movement. It’s slightly concerning that Kirb said it took him nearly a year to get his 2D aspects fully working, but for now I’m hopeful that it won’t be the same story with me since a 2D action platformer has more complex physics than a 2D RPG. Besides, there’s another self-professed Unity newbie who managed to get an extremely basic RPG pretty functional within three and a half months, so I’ve got to keep up here. =P