Dreamblazers Update: Week of November 2, 2015

Upcoming Title Image Do-Over

Hey, remember the full size version of the current banner on this blog? You know, this picture that was meant to be the title screen for Dreamblazers:

Dreamblazers Title Image

Well, I’ve been speaking with Flora recently and we’re going to make a totally new image at some point! While this one is still fantastic and does convey a nice sense of adventure (and will no doubt be in the game somewhere), we both kind of thought that it doesn’t draw the audience enough toward the characters or express them well enough.

And, besides that, I want a couple more characters in the new title shot. ;)

It’s not coming “soon,” but it is coming and we’re sorta thinking through that, so look forward to it!

Other Traditional Art

Fire Emblem - Introducing Florina

Aside from being ironic for all the wrong reasons (more on that later), this post from June might have been the first time I mentioned the possibility of using other full illustrations. The question is how many! That post also references Dragon Quest IV and Mother 3 as inspirations for the story structure with alternating characters as the heroes, but what I didn’t mention at the time is that Dreamblazers also uses something similar to their chapter system.

The game is divided into eight chapters, each of which acts to a certain extent like a self-contained story while also building on what came before it. (If you haven’t played a game in this vein before, then a good analogy would be something like each movie in a trilogy.) Each chapter has its own climax and then ends either on a resolution, a cliffhanger, or something else that either closes the door on the past or opens the door toward the future.

And so the question: how many additional illustrations should there be? Some options include…

  1. Total of 9: The prologue and the end of all chapters
  2. Total of 9 in a different way: The prologue and the climax of all chapters
  3. Unknown number, but single out the most important events that will be meaningful to future events
  4. Just go with whichever scenes feel “right” to illustrate

If I were a millionaire then I’d probably want 80+ illustrations because I’ve written the story in a very specific way to make virtually all characters and all scenes feel significant and carry weight. Sometimes people compare modern RPGs to movies, but as I wrote three and a half years ago, 16-bit RPGs—the era I’m mimicking—actually might resemble movies more closely in the sense that they basically have no filler and move things right along as if they had screentime constraints.

I tweeted the above regarding dungeon design, but it applied to the stories too. Dialogue didn’t ramble! On the one hand, characters didn’t have as much time to develop and establish their personalities, so a writer might need to go completely out of their way with something like this right off the bat (this is from the 2007 remake, not the 1994 original)…

Final Fantasy VI Advance - Celes Introduction

…but on the other hand there was also no “wasted” time. Every scene in an old-school game truly had to be in there; it wasn’t filler to offer a selling point about 80 hours of gameplay. And so in that vein, even for as many characters I have, pretty much all of them get their moments. No way I can afford to have absolutely all of them illustrated on my own, though, when important things like the entire soundtrack still need to be created. :P So it’s a matter of deciding priorities.

“Hey, Where’s My Pixel Art?!”

“I demand pixel art every week or else I’m not reading.”

Well… then I guess you’re not reading. ;) But you probably should since the next time pixel art is posted should feature a 3-for-1!

Grid System

Over on the ORK forum some of us have been talking about commissioning ORK’s creator to put a grid system into the framework and we’re getting close to the point of pulling the trigger. I’m not completely sure that the grid system as proposed will be possible to incorporate into Dreamblazers‘ traditional turn-based battle system, e.g. a system identical to stuff like Dragon Quest except that enemies and/or characters can also move around to physically dodge attacks instead of only rolling numbers through a random number generator to find out whether they dodge…

…but I thought I’d mention this anyway because I’m really hoping that it will. I have a lot of neat ideas that could easily fit into it. We’ll see. :D


Okay, finally ending this big post on kind of a down note, but you’re welcome to back out now. :P

At this rate maybe I should officially move these updates to Tuesday. I won’t, but just saying that I woke up super early yesterday to an emergency phone call/email about yet another entry in the lengthy string of money sinks, this time to the tune of a broken heating system exactly when the weather’s getting cold—which wiped out a week’s worth of work. It’s kind of turning into a comedy of errors, to the point that 1) I couldn’t make this stuff up and 2) if I listed out the details of all the things that have happened, you’d probably think I was making this stuff up.

I don’t want to scare anyone and I also don’t mean to sound all woe-is-me here, so in the spirit of maximum transparency I’ll say that I’m still hovering at about $15,500 in savings. Also, assuming that the house ever stops having problems popping up, I’ll take this time to give the reminder that I do theoretically collect rent from it. (I probably should have given that reminder back when I was talking about the possibility of selling the house off, by the way. :P)

So to some of you that might sound like a lot and you might think I’m panicking over nothing because you have $X in savings and your X is significantly less than 15,500. But maybe you’re renting or living with your parents… Or maybe you have a spouse and you have either two incomes or at least the potential out to go get two incomes as necessary… Or maybe you have a job with a bit more reliability than part time contract work.

For me, it’s not so much the current amount but the rate at which I’m burning through it. I’ll see what I can do with every contact available to me to plan my way out of this mess, but right now the only way to go is down.

In the meantime you might wonder if anything’s changing for you, the reader. The answer is… Not directly. Pixel art will continue at exactly the same rate. These updates will continue at exactly the same rate.

But indirectly it does affect you because right now I’m so distracted by finances that making real progress on Dreamblazers recently has been very difficult. I’m not even going to front here: I haven’t touched Unity at all in 10-12 days because I can’t keep my head clear enough. I’ve still kept up with my artists and with the ORK posters, as I said, but at exactly the time when I should be making the most progress on every front because the contract work has been on and off lately, I’m shaken and I’m definitely not making the progress that I should. That’s my brutal honesty.

This is one of those times where being a solo indie dev hurts most since everything bottlenecks with me. Hopefully I’ll get my groove back in short order since I do have a nice reassuring check coming in soon, but it’s just been mentally rough lately and you all do deserve to know what’s going on.

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