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1  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Design choices on: July 01, 2011, 03:50:46 PM
The worst loot design I've seen is probably Dragon Age 2. I've been whining about it on my blog lately, but to sum up - painfully nondescript items that you have to keep cycling all the time plus 2/3 of all armor in the game being unwearable by any character. That on top of the typical Bioware annoyances of having junk in barrels all over the place and insufficient reward for rogues who pick locks because that might be 'unbalanced'.

I much preferred Diablo loot. The silly names for items made it clear at a glance what they did, and there were enough options that you had to make choices and tradeoffs for what you thought was important to your playstyle, or keep hunting and hope that eventually the weapon with the perfect set of bonuses would  be randomly created. It scratched the obsessive shiny-collecting itch.

But really it doesn't take much looking to find a game that handled loot better than DA2!
2  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: The Art of Quests on: June 23, 2011, 05:16:52 PM
You have your kill quests, your fetch quests, your escort quests, your collection quests...What else can there be?

... Talking to people, coming to conclusions, and making decisions?

But then, I'm a VN player. :) I enjoy learning about the world and choosing who to side with. That makes things much more interesting than just killing ten foozles.
3  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Magical Diary - PC/Mac/Linux on: June 23, 2011, 05:12:43 PM
after a year of too much writing and not enough sleep:

Trailer Video Link

It's finally ready!

I should warn you: As you may figure out from watching the video, this is definitely an RPG but it's not exactly a normal one. Leveling up happens in the classroom, not in the dungeon. There are dungeons, but they can all be solved as puzzles without combat. (It is possible to have combat, but it's optional.) The focus of the game is much more on developing your character and your relationships with others.

We are talking about possibly having an all-dungeons expansion later where you can take the character you've built up throughout the year and go nuts on a multilevel dungeon quest, if there's demand for it.

Please try out the demo! :)
4  Media / General Games / Re: Shira Oka on: December 21, 2010, 09:30:27 PM
There are good artists all over the place. Its not like you are doing actual animation. Just character art and cg work.

I'm not; Shira Oka was, though. At least, I've heard there's actual animation within the game itself as well as the opening video. I don't actually own the whole game so I can't speak from experience. (And I couldn't comment much on it even if I did; since as a semi-competitor it would be inappropriate.)

Backgrounds do not have to be supremely detailed either.

Again, if you haven't actually tried hiring people for that kind of work you might be surprised at the difficulties you'll run into, even in the exact places you recommended looking for people to hire. :) Particularly with backgrounds (a lot of artists really hate them).

A depressingly large number of artists sign up for projects they can't complete, leaving the client out of pocket and with art they can't use because it's not enough to complete the game, so it ALL has to be replaced. More professional artists are sometimes only interested in working for larger clients, as well.

And on top of that, people's taste in art isn't all the same. I've seen some indie devs (not for VN) state what they paid for art and I've looked at what they got and can't believe they actually paid for that... much less paid a thousand dollars they didn't entirely have to spend. But in their artistic judgment it was apparently good.

I'm not debating the quality or lack thereof of any given title here, or saying that every choice made is the best one. And obviously, if your game doesn't look that great, some people are going to be reluctant to play it. I'm not angry at people for failing to love any game in particular.

I just feel a bit of sympathy when the subject comes up of whether indie games "should" do more.
5  Media / General Games / Re: Shira Oka on: December 21, 2010, 03:24:57 PM
And certainly there are other downloadable games with ridiculously high art budgets, like the more recent HiddenObject games. But those are usually made by studios, now, not individuals... individuals simply cannot manage those costs. It's all well and good to say that your game would sell better with a $100K art budget, but where are you going to get the $100K from?)

That point is so invalid. Many people do their own artwork and succeed.

That doesn't invalidate it, that's a completely different angle. The person I was responding to was complaining about indie authors not "taking the time to find great artists" which is not the same thing as "be an artist yourself". Obviously, if you're already an artist (or best friends with / married to one), you have a big advantage towards doing small game development, but it's not a resource everyone can tap.

Alternately you can forge ahead with mediocre/terrible art and hope to do okay anyway. My first successful game was 99% drawn by me - but it looks like ass and I know it, and I'd really rather pay someone who can draw for me. :)

It's a good idea. As far as the customer is concerned, you won't win points for going the extra mile to add substandard (from their viewpoint, anyway) content. Rather, it introduces more things that can be criticized.

Alas, you're probably right. But it's so much more FUN to design the ridiculously huge!

(Still, I feel somewhat annoyed as a gamer to end up in a game that has all of three backgrounds... even if they are pretty ones.)
6  Media / General Games / Re: Shira Oka on: December 21, 2010, 11:14:17 AM
You just mentioned  the main problem with a lot of the western indie scene. They want to charge 20-25 dollars for their stuff, but can't take the time to find a decent artist to do the artwork. Presentation counts for a lot, at least in my book.

I suspect you underestimate the cost and difficulty of getting the artwork to the level it _is_. :)

(Or maybe not, as I don't know your background. And certainly there are other downloadable games with ridiculously high art budgets, like the more recent HiddenObject games. But those are usually made by studios, now, not individuals... individuals simply cannot manage those costs. It's all well and good to say that your game would sell better with a $100K art budget, but where are you going to get the $100K from?)

I was not involved in the production of Shira Oka and I don't know its actual dev budget. But I know there were a large number of people working on it for multiple years, plus animation and voice acting and convention booths and whatnot. I suspect the actual figure would give me a heart attack.

Sadly complaints about artstyle are leading a lot of indies contemplating these games to scale back their projects to have as little art in them as possible, or to rely on ready-made kit art, like the RPG Maker games do. I'm guilty here too - my most recent VN Date Warp has vastly less art in it than Fatal Hearts did and uses a lot of premade elements. Which gets it much better artistic reviews. Sigh!
7  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Fantasy indie stuff on: December 28, 2009, 11:43:32 AM
I adore Emberwind and everyone should play it. :)

And yeah, it frustrates me too when people say "Why don't you put it on Steam?" as if we the developers could just make that choice...

If you the players would really like to see a game on Steam, you're better off nagging Valve about it than nagging the developer. I don't know of any developers who've intentionally *turned down* Steam. Most would probably jump at the chance if they could get Valve to talk to them!
8  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Cute Knight Kingdom (Speed Boost update) on: November 24, 2009, 02:32:04 PM
Demos and fullbuilds have been updated to include a "game speed" option. When this is set to fast, the walking speed is increased, and an option appears during jobs and classes to let you skip through the time cycle (if it's currently day, it'll jump to night and show you the result of that day, if it's night it'll jump to the next day.) This skip-ahead function can also be triggered by hitting the S key.

Hopefully this will help those of you who are impatient or who are trying to get the last few endings and getting tired!

Please let me know if you encounter any problems, or if your existing download link has expired and you need a fresh link to get the latest version.
9  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Cute Knight Kingdom on: November 16, 2009, 10:20:29 AM
sprite theater - you mean the cute animations for fail and success, yes? :) Because of the change to the jobs to make them more interactive, I thought it would be too distracting to have things like the animations or the descriptions of different things going wrong at work. Especially early in the game, when players are new to the whole thing and have low skills and therefore need to focus to succeed. But yeah, that does mean it's less interesting later on.

I have considered putting in a speed-up option and may do so for a future update. Not sure at the moment whether to work that into the GUI or just have it as a secret keyboard command. (There are already a number of secret keyboard commands! 'e' and 'c' will work during jobs, you can use space to talk when walking with the keyboard, '+' will cycle through buttons and enter will trigger them... I had a beta tester who really hates the mouse)
10  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Cute Knight Kingdom on: November 15, 2009, 11:42:10 AM
Yes, there is FINALLY a sequel to Cute Knight, and in the grand tradition of sequels it is Bigger and Prettier and takes things to a Whole New Dimension. (That's 2D, not 3D!)

Differences from the first game:
You can now walk around jRPG style and talk to characters (with helpful flags for new content) instead of being stuck on one screen.
No more prostitution or incest*. But there is same-sex romance. And different-sex romance. And different-species romance.
The concept of 'sin' in an RPG - where most people want to go around killing stuff - is explored in more detail.
All magical spells must now be learned from experience, so you have to go around and Collect Them All.
Potions are replaced by food and a cooking system to go with the crafting system, so there are a LOT of recipes to discover.
Multiple dungeons, each with a 'boss' encounter.
And, of course, improved graphics and sound, including a lot of hand-painted watercolors and hammered dulcimer.

Otherwise, the underlying game idea is the same. You're a girl with a mysterious past, running around from the ages of 18 to 21 taking classes and working at part-time jobs to raise your skills so that you can figure out what to do with the rest of your life. While occasionally fighting monsters, finding treasures, and solving other people's problems like a good little RPG Hero.

Screenshots and demo here: http://www.hanakogames.com/ckk.shtml

Windows-only for now; there may eventually be mac and linux versions but it's uncertain at the moment.

(* Not that there actually was in the first game, if you followed all the plotlines and understood what was really going on. But there were vague suggestions of it. And hey, if we can't get attention with vague suggestions, what is the world coming to?)
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