SERIES MASTER! PART 11- MATSUMORI WITH MARREND

Exploring Marrend's trilogy of games.

Welcome to the eleventh (HOLY SHIT) issue of Series Master!

This time we’re set to explore a trilogy in the making. Marrend’s series of games includes Matsumori Days, a prequel called Arbiters From Another World, and a sequel in the making called Konae Detective Agency. I have played Arbiters thus far, and it’s one of the few VX games I managed to have a decent bit of fun with so far. Anyways, in anticipation for Konae, here’s an interview to tide you all over:


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Sbester: Can you briefly explain the origins of the series?

Marrend: It was 2002. I might have had that "high" people get from making their first game in RPG Maker 2K. It was called The Grand Adventure, named after a book I wanted to write. Never got around to writing it, but that's neither here nor there. Anyway, my brother Dan picked up the Oriental Adventures supplement for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition. The main purpose of that was to make a campaign with it for his summer camp job. Or something like that. He got his hands on this huge list of oriental names, and basically said, "Okay, I'll use these Japanese names for Humans, the Chinese names for Dwarves, Korean names for Halflings, Mongol names for Half-Orcs, and Thai names for Vanara". (Reference: Vanara was some kind of monkey race the supplement added, if memory serves.) He also used that database for RPG Maker 2K games. He only made two, though. One was Legacy, which he managed to finish. The other was Summoner, which was unfinished, and probably deleted. Anyway, I thought what he was doing was pretty neat. I tried to make a game using the names "Goho", "Joruri", etc, but it never really came to fruition.

Fast forward to 2009. I was playing through Shin Megami Tensei - Persona 4. At some point in playing that game, I thought to myself, "You know, if I were making a game like this, I would do things differently." That's when things started to click together. The failed 2K projects. The virtual database of oriental names. The theme of alternate realities. Matsumori Days was born.


Screenshot from Matsumori Days.

However, for those who want to know the whole back-story:

Matsumori Days was the second game I made with RPG Maker XP. I made two others, one being Legacy Reborn. However, Legacy Reborn wasn't feeling quite right. I checked to see if there was something out there I could do, and found RPG Maker VX. I must suppose I was really late in getting XP, not to mention that I totally skipped over 2K3. Anyway, I ported Matsumori Days into VX as well as Legacy Reborn. I made a whole bunch of other games in VX. I had no feedback, so I was churning out a game, like, every two weeks. I can't speak for their quality, but don't expect to see any of these games on RMN. I'm pretty sure I deleted most of them anyway.

At some point, I thought I was good enough to have my work posted publicly. I wanted to visit an RPG Maker site that hosted games. I came across RMN. If ever there was an "epiphany" moment, it was checking out Avarice. Here was this awesome-looking game that looked like it was made in a matter of months, but it was made in two weeks. It hurt my confidence in game-making a bit, but not as much as the whammy I was going to get down the line. Anyway, I looked around more, and thought to myself, "Well, let's see what the reaction is to Legacy Reborn." It started off not-so-bad. Then, I asked for an LP of the game, and my confidence was absolutely crushed. Realizing that I had to re-vamp everything I ever made ever, I salvaged the remains of myself. There were no deliberations about what I would re-vamp first: Matsumori Days. If I couldn't get that game right, well, I'd be in trouble.

I took what I could from Liberty's LP of Legacy Reborn, and applied it to Matsumori Days. Matsumori Days already existed on RMN, and it might have even been flagged as "Complete". However, I re-flagged it as "In Progress" (Knowing me, I probably had a few times of "Hiatus" in there), and worked on it until it's current incarnation.


Concept art from Matsumori Days.

Sbester: Can you explain how your three Matsumori games tie into one another?

Marrend: This is a very interesting question, because there is a scene in Matsumori Days that, if one reads the gamepage, or the manual but who reads that?, of Arbiters From Another World, suggests that Mina is telling Masako the story that is Arbiters From Another World. Of course, Arbiters did, chronologically speaking, happen first, but the tie-in happens in Matsumori Days. As for how Konae Detective Agency segues into Matsumori Days, I'm thinking of doing something similar to how I connected Arbiters with Matsumori, but I reserve the right to change my mind. Konae is, after all, in the process of being made!


Poster for Arbiters From Another World.

Sbester: What is the best way to experience these games, in your opinion? I began with Arbiters, being that it was a chronological prequel. Are we best off starting with that one, or Matsumori Days?

Marrend: I'd like to think that one can start with Matsumori Days, then Arbiters From Another World, then Konae Detective Agency. Though, one of my aims for Konae is that one can just play it, and would have a decent understanding of things. However, playing the other two games first would probably allow certain events to have more impact.


Image from Arbiters From Another World.

Sbester: The titles of these games are really interesting, but don’t indicate that they are connected with each other. Can you talk about how you came up with them, and why you decided to stray from the normal numbering format? What are the advantages/disadvantages of this?

Marrend: I recently changed the gamepages to have links to each other on the main pages, so it should be slightly more obvious now.

Anyway, with Matsumori Days, this goes back to the huge list of oriental names that I was talking about before. According to that list, "matsu" was listed as a "name element" that meant "pinewood". Likewise, "mori" was listed under "forest". I put it together in as logical a manner as I thought to make "matsumori". I looked this up in Google Translate later on to find that "matsubayashi" would be the more correct term, but, I liked "matsumori" better. Not to mention that "Matsumori Days" fits certain moments in Crisis Core - Final Fantasy 7's "Wandering on a Sunny Afternoon", but that's neither here nor there. At any rate, this story should sound somewhat familiar for those who've looked at the personal background for Uchioniko.

With Arbiters From Another World, I think I was just looking for a term for these insanely powerful people, and I might have been playing a bit too much with the Protoss unit of the same name in Starcraft. I suppose one could rightfully call this game Summoner Reborn, because it's very heavily influenced by Summoner. However, since Summoner had very little to do with Matsumori Days, I had to do something. "Arbiters From Another World" was that something.

With Konae Detective Agency, there was no heavy thought there. It was just, hey, it's a detective agency run by Konae Shizu. So, the place should be called Konae Detective Agency. It might be a fairly central location, like how Matsumori High was pretty central to Matsumori Days. So, why not just call the game Konae Detective Agnecy?

As for why I didn't go for a traditional numbering system, the best reason I can come up with is that Matsumori Days, as a series, puts Matsumori High as the center of everything. Arbiters From Another World doesn't really do this, with the possible exception of the last sequence between Sataro and Mina. As for Konae, I suppose that game has the right to have a number more than Arbiters does. I mean, there's already a screenshot for Konae of the main entrance of Matsumori High. This was meant as a promise to players that they are going to go back there, and that they will meet Masako, in some way, shape, or form.

As for the effects of not using a traditional numbering system, I haven't noticed any outright advantages at the moment. As for disadvantages, the one thing I've noticed about Konae Detective Agency is that I'm only seeing four subscribers so far. I'm also seeing that Matsumori Days has seventeen and Arbiters From Another World has sixteen. This is somewhat worrisome, as people who have subscribed to the other games should, in theory, be interested in the third. Did I not drop Konae as the next game in the series enough? Then again, Konae hasn't been public too long, nor do I consider myself going out of my way to properly advertise this series, so I could it's probably a non-issue.


Image from Konae Detective Agency.

Sbester: You have quite a few games under your belt now. Any plans to turn any of them into series of their own? Uchioniko seems pretty ripe for some sequels down the road.

Marrend: I recall somebody PM-ing me about how I have room for a sequel. However, if you excuse the analogy, Uchioniko was planned more as an OVA than a series. Though, that's not to say that I do not use those characters elsewhere. In fact, they are a set of custom characters for Heartache 101 - Sour Into Sweet. If you don't believe me, This Picture was used when RMN spotlighted Heartache. In any event, I've been told they could use a bit of revising. There have even been reports of events being gotten out-of-sequence, so I guess I'll have to look into that at some point.

Weird Dreams isn't supposed to be a series either. However, the protagonist of that game also finds herself as a custom character for Heartache 101 - Sour Into Sweet. However, she's not finished yet, so I wouldn't actually recommend playing with her in that game as of yet.

There were plans for re-vamping Veil of Darkness into a visual novel. I'd rather not make that a series, if I can help it. However, that game is something that both myself, and my partner in crime, BurningTyger, should work on. I can only speak for myself, here, but it's not a terribly high-priority project.

The only other game that I consider "mine" is Legacy Reborn. Putting that back together into something more playable might not be as bad as I think it's going to be. However, as the "canceled" flag indicates, it's not on my list of things to do.


Sbester: What advice do you have to others who are trying to create their own series of games?

Marrend: The best advice I can give is: write everything, or as much as possible, down first. That way, even if you take a hiatus during development, you can pick up more or less where you left off. Heck, I've been known to put in "<bookmark>" in my dialog files to keep track of what the last sequence is physically in the game!


Sbester: Any plans for a fourth Matsumori game?

Marrend: I don't have any specific plans to make a fourth game. However, it's funny you should mention this. In the "pre-RMN" era, there was a game called The Fukanuma. It was a sci-fi setting. You played as a member of a group of mercenaries, and there was a mission computer where side missions could be accessed. To say the least, the game had heavy influence from Wing Commander - Privateer, or, if you're more familiar with it, Freelancer. Anyway, the plot-line missions involved uncovering a government conspiracy (of course!) and getting involved with Arbiters (of course!). I think the end of the game involved meeting the ghosts of the original cast of Matsumori Days, just because. However, there were things I just didn't like about the game, and summarily trashed it. I also wrote short stories for this series during the "pre-RMN" era. However, things have changed drastically since then, and they are no longer viable for actual use.


Sbester: Any final thoughts?

Marrend: Two things. First:

"It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."

Even if I first heard that from a cartoon show, namely Space Ghost Coast to Coast, this is a pretty good thing to keep in mind. I mean, one doesn't have to sugarcoat everything, but tact is a very important trait to have. Second:

"You never know what you can do unless you try."

I might have gotten this from a Chinese fortune cookie, but it's amazingly true. It's more useful to make an attempt, fail, and learn from that experience than to not try, complain about how insurmountably difficult things seem, and learn nothing.

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Sorry for the lateness of this one, I was having some login issues.

Posts

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Marrend
Bludgeon of Inspiration
10833
Darigaaz, that Hero Machine art takes me back. What's even better (worse?) is that I still have that program! Though, I've not used it since I posted those images.
Yeah, I used to play around with it myself back in the day lol. Good times.
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