Monthly Archives: December 2014

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of December 29, 2014

The end of an amazing ride of a year is here and what can I say about it? I’m half-inclined to write a recap post or an overview of where I’m at, but I just did that last month. I also don’t have much to report on progress since it’s been a busy Christmas period on the family front. However, I do have this…

Character Profiles Second Draft

While it’s still not totally complete, creating it made me realize how little I’ve written on this site about so many aspects of Dreamblazers, like worldbuilding and even what a character’s stats mean. I’ll name a few take-home points based on this image:

*A character’s species has no effect on her stats and only affects equipment options for winged characters. Elves have historically been the dominant species, but heritages have become very mixed over time and half-elves are most common at the game’s point of time in its universe.

* Sylphs and the falician can have different types of wings within their own species. Both can produce offspring with elves, half-elves, and norians via magic, but the falician are much more desirable; half-sylphs like Ardis can’t shrink themselves enough to fit perfectly in a sylph village nor can they grow enough to imitate the height of even a falician.

*Berry is a bio-being and one might wonder why she’d be classified as that or how it would be different from any other character. To that I say: I’ll leave that unexplained for now as a teaser! One thing I’ll explain, since I said I would, is that her clothes are designed by Jig and Jelia. Jelia’s pretty active on the designer front, by the way: she also made Tango’s kilt!

* One might notice a general lack of armor in these character designs and there’s a very simple reason for that: the characters don’t need it. They all have super strength, are made of water, are made of plasma, are angels, or for some other reason don’t need armor, so whenever it’s around it’s mostly ceremonial. That’s also why Telia can have a diamond axe without being too powerful! One exception to this armor situation is Leaf, whose coreplate is indestructible, but looks aren’t everything: the adamanvine armlet on Celty’s arm is also indestructible and so are Hikaru’s bracelets. (“What’s a coreplate?” one might ask. “And what’s an ‘adamanvine’?” I’ll leave those as more teasers!)

* The gold flower symbol worn on Mina’s armband is the symbol of the Empire, but the red flower symbol shown on Mina, Lash, and Faray indicates a special status for them. Mina’s uniform is a standardized Imperial uniform for mage-class fighters; physical fighters have full-length pants instead because they don’t need as much exposure to the mana flow. (I continue rolling out all sorts of lore just as a sidebar!) Evelyn and Sakura are also members of the Empire, so they often wear the uniforms too, but since the uniform only needed to be designed once, they’re shown in their civilian clothes.

* Like in Magic: the Gathering, I’ve loosely grouped mana affinities by color, but I’ve also broken them up by shade. Pure magic is purple, Light magic is white, Life is light green, Genesis is deep green, Fire is red, Wind is light yellow, Lightning is deep yellow, Cold is light blue, Water is mid blue, and Wave is deep blue. Most characters can only use two colors, but might have access to multiple shades. As another thing that’s like Magic (or Pokémon for that matter), certain colors are more likely to pair up than others. Any shade is likely to pair up with another shade of its color (such as light yellow and deep yellow) and other common pairs include blue-white, blue-yellow, green-white, and red-yellow. Uncommon pairs include blue-red, green-red, and red-white. Just as a Fire/Ice Pokémon would seem unusual, Ardis’ ability to use Fire and Cold magic surprises others.

* There are two types of stats: primary stats and secondary stats The primaries are HP, Speed, Power, Magic Power, Defense, and Magic Defense. Like in Pokémon, a score of 80-90 is passable, 91-100 is good, 101-120 is very good, and 121+ is great. (And yes, I’ll have to make bar graphs and such to show all of this visually at some point.) The secondary stats are Skill, Evasion, Spirit, Energy, Luck, and Charm. Of these, Skill, Evasion, and Charm are on a similar curve as the primary stats, but slightly lower. For Spirit, Energy, and Luck, the numbers tend to be much lower on average; anything at 70 or above is excellent.

* But what do all these stats do anyway? HP is your basic life total, Speed controls turn order, Power and Magic Power determine the strength of your physical and magic attacks, and Defense and Magic Defense offset the strength of enemy attacks.

As for the other stats, I call them “Secondary” because I don’t want players to worry too much about them; they’re fairly complicated. For the sake of completion, though… Health regeneration is based on Spirit, move usage regeneration is based on Energy, and critical hit rate is based on Luck. Resistance to physical status effects is based on a combination of Spirit and Charm. Resistance to magic status effects comes from Energy and Charm. Hit rate is based on Skill, Charm, and Luck in that order of importance; dodge rate is based on Evasion, Luck, and Charm. Damage done by energy-based attacks depends on Spirit and Energy as well as some of the primary stats. Skill and Evasion give minor boosts to attack power and defense respectively (both physical and magical). And, finally, Spirit and Energy contribute to a pretty novel battle mechanic I have that only kicks in during certain boss battles… Another teaser.

Well… I suppose that’s enough for now!

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of December 22, 2014

Just a small update during Christmas week!

Character Profiles Initial Draft - 14 Characters

There are more characters to come in this group profile mega-picture as well as more information on each one, like height, species, and weapon type. I’ll also probably have a second picture that doesn’t have the stats or lines but includes relationships, since they’re grouped very specifically: for example, the right two columns in the current picture are members of the Avenging Angels, the middle three columns are a group of friends from the same area, the bottom middle three are local or national peacekeepers, the bottom row minus Hikaru is fairly naive, and the entire top row is filled with glory seekers. Also, in Dungeons & Dragons terms, I’d loosely group these as left being neutral good, middle being lawful good, and right being chaotic good.

Do note: these characters definitely aren’t to scale, we didn’t bother with weapons after the first two for time reasons, and (though it won’t become apparent until the final version of this picture) ears are occasionally off because I forgot to mention someone was an elf. Still, it’s nice lining every character up like this!

As I was putting this together, I found out the hard way how desynced a lot of my data is; sometimes I make a character stronger in Unity or in a spreadsheet but forget to update the other one, so I’ve had to get all of that squared away. The stats themselves are also subject to change as I make progress, of course, but at least for now these are the most up-to-date ones. It’s highly unlikely that any characters will become weaker, though, and only a select few have a hope of becoming stronger. Not that stats are everything anyway! Evelyn’s stats are some of the lowest here, but her combat tricks far surpass everybody else’s.

As for the remaining characters… simply wait and see!

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of December 15, 2014

Last week’s achievements

* Finished art feedback for Jig and Berry
* Sent some ideas for tweaks to Celty’s design
* Designed initial layouts for Spring Lake Valley and Winny Spring
* Wrote flavor text for enemies I hadn’t written it for previously

Current focus

Back to the animation grind!

Sample stuff

Jig and Berry

Here are Jig and Berry, the final character designs to be added before I finish a playable prototype! Jig, shown on the left, was going to be the very last one, but Berry emergently popped into existence during my coloring process when that red jacket looked amazing but didn’t seem right on Jig. But who is Berry and why does she look so similar to Jig? Find out on the next exciting episode of Dragonb—uh, I mean, Dreamblazers devlogs!

Weekly goals

* Integrate animations with ORK
* Make the 2D camera follow the player


Ah, all the art is finished… 2014 is ending and a new beginning is upon me—one without a steady flow of character designs coming in, but hopefully with a steady flow of pixel art. I actually don’t know what I’ll do with these devlogs in 2015; after I’ve got animations and the 2D camera down, my efforts will go to cutscenes and writing, but updating with “wrote 14 scenes and tweaked 3 old scenes” every week sounds dull at best. However, I do assume that making characters automatically move around exactly when I want them to will give me all kinds of trouble, so maybe it’s fine and I’ll be able to complain about roadblocks all the time again. =P

I also hope that writing isn’t a slog. As a creative person, I do love my characters (10 hours playing with the fill tool for Jig, 2000 words of feedback for Cotelle…). As a gamer, I realize that others will mash through cutscenes without caring just like I do. It’s a tough balance. Bestiary flavor text is/was my favorite, though: I draw a lot of inspiration from Pokémon, so I consider it important to ask what monsters do when you’re not fighting them. Answering that question brings a sense of cohesion to the game universe, but it always feels iffy to insert that into mandatory dialogue, so bestiaries are where it’s at.

Finally, my earlier Dragonball line wasn’t only a throwaway joke. =)

Since today concludes the character designs other than small tweaks, at some point in the next few weeks I’ll have an organized picture with characters grouped according to their relationships instead of shown in the order they were completed as they are now. They’ll also have mini-profiles with stuff like character classes and species, plus more characters will be showing their nicknames (“Hikaru Wilder, Cerulean Cleric”), not only the seraphic sisters, Imperial agents, and Kelly.

I might even have fun facts and trivia about some characters’ creation and what they’ve meant to me over the years! For example, today’s Berry was inspired by Dragonball Z way back in the late 90s and she’s been a part of my Dragon Quest IX and Etrian Odyssey III parties. That kind of stuff used to go on my wiki, but somehow my own wiki has locked me out of editing it right now, so until I get that resolved, I can put it here instead.

Why do this all of a sudden, though? Because once the title screen image is finished, I’ll be taking things more public (very slightly more public) and posting in the Showcase section of the ORK forum!

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