Tag Archives: Super Smash Bros

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of May 4, 2015

Pixel Artists

The call to arms is out for pixel artists along with the help wanted page earlier this week! So exciting times are ahead on that front as we’ll see who applies and what comes of it all. Actually, as I type this I already have a handful of applicants, all interesting… one in particular has a very, very nice FFVI-style character.

I’ll give it at least a couple days to fully consider my options, though!

Battling in Style

On the development side, lots of spreadsheet-based insanity over the past week after I discovered that my power scale had gotten out of whack. I didn’t mention this over the past few months because art was more visually interesting to post, but when I explained on the Dreamblazers main page that wearing certain outfit styles will boost stats, I only had that idea as recently as February or March. After all, back in November even I didn’t know the ultimate purpose of the fashion system.

After I implemented the outfit bonuses, though, I hadn’t put them through the ringer of playtesting battles until recently. I was happy with battle balance ten months ago since that was the first thing I did—and with formulas based on Pokémon but on a weakened scale, how could I possibly screw it up just with some minor bonuses? It’s not like Pokémon items such as the Life Orb or Soft Sand fundamentally change the game.

But, well, I screwed it up anyway. =P

The bonuses I gave were just too strong, especially three-style bonuses and barefoot fashions for hand-to-hand combatants (and I have several hand-to-hand combatants because martial arts are for girls).

Regarding barefoot fashions, this was basically the same dilemma that many RPGs face with monks who can use weapons but also don’t need them. If you make their bare hands too powerful then why bother with the option of weapons (Final Fantasy style), but if you make weapons too powerful then why bother with a unique ability to fight with their bare hands (Etrian Odyssey III style)?

Dreamblazers doesn’t have swappable weapons, so I used shoes for a similar effect and wound up with the first option: shoes just weren’t worth wearing. In the end, though, this dilemma was pretty easy to resolve once I saw it in action and did the math.

Regarding three-style bonuses, this was and still is a more complex dilemma about stacking. It’s significantly more difficult to get a girl into three styles than only two, so I wanted a three-style bonus to be noticeably stronger than a two-style bonus… but having a three-style bonus also usually means having three other two-style bonuses.

To illustrate, let’s say you’re a player and you believe there might be three-style bonuses for Dancer+Formal+GirlyGirl or for Cool+Speedy+Sporty. (I’m not going to say whether there are!) While assembling these outfits, you’d also naturally be assembling Dancer+Formal, Dancer+GirlyGirl, Formal+GirlyGirl, Cool+Speedy, Cool+Sporty, and Speedy+Sporty, which could have their own bonuses! So potentially you’re getting up to four total bonuses from a triple combo, not just the one.

I still haven’t quite hit the mark on balancing out this power, so that work continues for now. I want players to explore and to feel rewarded for exploring the outfit system because it’s certainly unlike anything I’ve seen in an RPG, but I do have to keep it from getting out of control.

Veteran Characters

I noticed that these past few weeks of devlogs have been mostly business, so I’ll end with the return of some trivia—in a sense! One thing I appreciated about the most recent Super Smash Bros. was the All-Star mode that grouped characters according to their years of creation to give a sense of history, so I’ll follow suit with my own characters.

Portrait Collection Dates

These are only the characters who have finished dialogue portraits, so each of these groupings of years will expand in the future to include some characters you can see on the Characters page and a few who aren’t visible anywhere yet! =)

(Flora, if you’re reading this: when I look at this I’m reminded to say thank you again, thank you still, and thank you always for teaming up with me and bringing my characters to life. Some of them have been waiting on me for a long, long time! )

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.

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of September 29, 2014

Last week’s achievements

* Sent character feedback for Tango (final) and Jig (round 2)
* Updated AI for various enemies to make them more aggressive and/or more likely to summon partners when alone
* Wrote bestiary flavor text for Archweaver, Dryad, Griffinaire, Kobold Rogue
* Wrote pixel art requirements for Seaside Slime Cove

Current focus

Wrapping up character art, starting pixel art, and the transition to 2D.

Sample stuff


Character design for Tango Moonlight! As a bard, he’s a good support mage and a “narrator” who’s present within the story.

Other stuff…

Flavor text for Kobold Rogue:

With their mastery over basic transcendent-speed techniques, kobold rogues can exceed light speed in small bursts. By taking advantage of the surrounding territory of their preferred environments, heavy forests and caves, a single rogue uses tricky movements to intimidate aggressors by appearing as multiple kobolds lurking in the shadows. However, like all other kobolds, their bark is worse than their bite. If forced into direct combat, they’ll back off quickly from experienced warriors.

Flavor text for Dryad:

“Which came first: the dryad or the tree?” This famous riddle hints at the popular assumption that every tree has a guardian dryad; hurricanes, earthquakes, and tidal waves may devastate the hardest of rocks, but a fallen tree has almost never been observed. Dryads themselves are rarely observed even inside forests, but usually the appearance of one of these female forest spirits signals a disturbance in the natural order. With her excellent magical talents, a dryad quickly corrects problems—and sometimes that problem is the traveler who sees her.

Weekly goals

* Send character design feedback for Winter
* Send pixel art requirements for Miharu overworld, Den of Kobolds, Deltarei Tri-Port, Spring Lake Valley (and more of Seaside Slime Cove if more detail is needed)
* Write bestiary flavor text for at least ten enemies
* Figure out how to use 2D Toolkit (and other Unity assets if needed) to get basic top-down map movement functional


With the impending release of Super Smash Bros. 4 on Thursday night (Pacific time advantage!), I thought it would be nice to get something rolling that will be productive even when I’m not: time to start paying for pixel art!

…but gathering references for that makes gathering character design references look like a breeze. =P For one thing, character art is always widely available because it’s used as promotional material, but tile sets or at least area maps have to be ripped by someone who cares about the game.

For another thing, now I see why RPGs are often loaded up with generic locations like “ice cave” and “port town.” I’m specifically aiming to avoid that because I want memorable areas, but that also means the things I want to create either haven’t been done or haven’t been done in numerous popular games that I can cite for references. For example, in my Spring Lake Valley, I want a forest area where the land rises up like a hill and then curves downward to form an elevated “bowl” that contains a lake. Here’s a crude diagram:

Spring Lake Valley Concept

I’ve never seen this in an RPG; usually the water level is below the ground level, not above. I don’t even see this in photographs of Earth (which is what I had to resort to for my Seaside Slime Cove)—the closest thing would be some of the lakes inside volcanoes, but that’s steep rocky terrain and I’m going for a curvy grassland.

One way or another, though, I’ll figure out how to convey info on what I need art-wise. Interesting locations or bust!

(…except for the Den of Kobolds. That’s just a heavy forest—it’ll be memorable, but not because of the environment. Consider that a teaser. =) )

Dreamblazers Devlog: Week of September 15, 2014

Last (two-ish) weeks’ achievements

* Sent character feedback for Star (three outfits), Mina (two outfits), Misty (final), and Minori (round 3)
* Got a bead on what new things I can do in the four version updates of ORK that have been released since the last time I wasn’t working on 2D

Current focus

Getting back in the zone, wrapping up art, and the transition to 2D.

Sample stuff

From the left:

* Star, a mysterious girl whose powers and clothes change when she comes into contact with different weapons!

* Mina, an undercover Imperial agent! Her size-changing range exceeds nearly any other sylph, making her an ideal spy.

* Another version of the standard Imperial uniform. Mina wears the variant used by light fighters like martial artists, archers, clerics, and mages, and other light fighters while this other model wears the variant used by heavier fighters like warriors, paladins, and champions. The male uniform lacks a skirt but is otherwise identical. Although Sakura and Evelyn were also designed in their civilian clothing, they’re members of the Imperial ranks too and will be seen in Mina’s version of the uniform.

* Misty Yu, an ageless water spirit. She has control over vapor, ice, clouds, and all other forms of water, so don’t expect to simply freeze her or evaporate her!

Weekly goals

* Send (final?) character design feedback for Tango (and Minori if she comes in)
* Rework all fashion effects that can be improved with the new ORK setup
* Update the status menu’s equipment display
* Update at least three enemies’ AI to take advantage of new features
* Write bestiary flavor text for at least five enemies
* Figure out how to use 2D Toolkit (and other Unity assets if needed) to get basic top-down map movement functional


A mixed blessing and curse of making my own hours is that I could easily put in 10-12-hour days when I was in the zone, like while making enemy AI or balancing attacks, and that I can easily put in 3-4-hour days when I’m not, like right now when I’m just trying to figure out what in the world I’m doing with 2D by going back to Unity fundamentals that I originally glossed over.

I remember the intense nights when I was first making the fashion system, a project of its own that took several weeks, including redoing the stats setup, tracking down my input errors, and increasing the original number of fashion effects by about 50%. Though tedious, I couldn’t stop plowing forward because I did know what I was doing and what the end result should look like.

On the other hand, going through a struggle to understand Unity, following it up with a week off to plan for a trip, and then following that up with the trip itself has completely thrown off my flow and now I’m procrastinating and sinking time into the Super Smash Bros. 3DS demo.

I need to get back into the zone and thankfully I might know how. In the updated ORK, I can add enemy bestiary entries and improve my status menus, enemy AI, and fashion system. These have been some of my favorite things to do in the past (flavor text in the case of the bestiary entries), so back to them all I go. =)

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