POSTMORTEM!? HORRORS, SEQUELS AND KEEPING IT UP FT. MOCA

(~15 min read)

  • Prifurin
  • 03/30/2022 01:31 PM
  • 568 views
Hi! In this improvised interview/podcast we’re going to discuss a topic that has become more and more familiar to seasoned developers and players alike - remakes, sequels, spinoffs and other derivative gameworks - anything made with the intent of capturing the original setting, characters or even just general inspiration from a particular title. Precisely, today we will focus on our own games(including a “postmortem” review of Forget-me-Not and some news on the upcoming release) and also the Corpse Party series.


Enter moca – Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been gam mak? What games did you make/are currently making? What kind of games do you enjoy and take inspiration from?



moca: Heya, I’m moca! I've been an indie game dev and writer making games for about eight years now. Officially, I have two games under my belt: “MOMOKA (IGMC 2018)” and “acai cOrner”.


acai c0rner

As of right now, I’m currently developing a Corpse Party fan-game called “Corpse Party II Satsuki’s Heart”, a half- visual novel, half- JRPG horror game based on a canceled sequel to the original PC-98 “CORPSE-PARTY'' game. Alongside Prifurin and a couple others at the Teal Crown team, we’re also working on an RPG Maker horror game called “Marinette”, a game about a little girl and her dolls! Its demo was released a short while ago.

I’m a big fan of the horror genre! Be it survival horror, psychological horror, action horror - I love it all and take inspiration from across the entire genre. Thanks for featuring me in this article!



Prifurin: I’m Pri, hihi, I’ve been making games and drawing for a while, starting with Clarie’s Song(2019, made in PowerPoint, may I say), released few other titles, notably puzzle horror rpg Forget-me-Not and Moonday, a Yume Nikki fan-game, which is currently in development.

Personally I love surreal, obscure and all sorts of weird games, not necessarily horror, and some of the more action-based too - among my favorites are Yume Nikki, OneShot, OFF, LISA, Hollow Knight, Hyper Light Drifter, Momodora series, The Binding of Isaac, Irisu Syndrome! and much many more xD

Looking back…in December of 2020, I’ve made a game again - again for a game jam which lasted around a month mustering things together at the last minute. It wasn’t anything big or, to say anything really considerable as a game - just a small attempt at RPG horror genre for the Secret Santa game jam on itch.io - there you would get a “letter to santa” with request for some kind of game, my “giftee” said they liked horror games.


Forget-me-Not RMN page: https://rpgmaker.net/games/12051/

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

I couldn’t even afford basic chasing enemies… What really makes a game “horror”? Something scary, unsettling, right?

Guess I tried. So far from horror elements there are - gloomy atmosphere with classic “flashlight effect” alongside a muted palette, story taking place in an abandoned overgrown victorian house, questionable both by nature and speech flower-headed characters, (a little bit sudden, even twice) possibility of death and uhhh absolutely terrifying amount of bad puns as a reference to british humor?


Joseph Joestar???

Also, due to the lack of ambient music, there’s something worse than silence instead - a sort of humming sound(I think it was from an air conditioner) which after a while becomes rather physically disturbing(as someone noted, creepy, huh).

Now, seeing other people doing playthroughs and returning to the game myself I can point out that the event progression isn’t really controlled so well - there are things that players are likely ought to miss completely, for example Marigolds turning into beheaded versions of themselves after Melissa gives Red Rose the requested glass of water, or even such important part as finding a key in the dining room(placed at so-easy-to-miss ledge representing a fireplace shelf, without even a little sparkling thingy games of such kind tend to give players to avoid getting them lost).

Note to self: Likely if not totally, player will never find out those interconnected details that we as developers tend to naturally form in our head, so if you want to tell something, say it out loud and clear, if you want to leave an easter egg or a reference, make it somewhat easy to discover XD

Menu system, an aspect which took a solid chunk of time for me to code and yet feels hard to navigate, in one instance absolutely fails to cooperate with the gameplay - when looking for the music sheets, player is presented with choice to pick one of them, but only through sequential dialogue boxes, giving a Yes/No window after each one. This limits information for available choices, which is a bother, especially when the correct choice is the last one. (Again, I set it up this way because I was freaking out on the deadline, proves again that much more things goes into a game than we may think about initially, so nothing beats a good old planning ahead such basic things as a menu when preparing for a game jam, duh)


Ah yes, the toilet of gods

Don’t even get me started on visuals - if in the beginning I felt confident in my artistic ability, closer to the deadline inspiration completely vanished, so here we are with messy pixel sketches which went through a couple filters for “aesthetic” distortion. Funnily enough curtains were made from the bathtub sprite.


Font turned out lovely tho

In fact, there was a portion of Forget-me-Not which never made it into the playable version - maps of the mansion’s second floor - library, parlor and a partially functional teleport garden maze. Even an actual chaser monster designed by ZLD who generously offered their help during the jam. Just among many other things like extra puzzles for every remembered letter of Eirian’s(childhood friend and fiancee of the protagonist, Melissa) name, music, cutscenes - couldn’t be done within said timespan.


RIP Bellflower

One of the things that I changed my opinion on later is the map layout - some rooms are oriented in space differently related to each other. I guess I was trying to achieve a “cinematic” view using various angles but that’s rather inconsistent and confusing. I felt it even more after playing The Mirror Lied which has an excellent, perfectly harmonious house interior.

And from the stuff that I still love to this day it’s the 8-directional pixel-smooth movement and the custom font system - always a fresh sight for the sore eyes(or should I say, fingers) of your typical RPG Maker enjoyer.

“All Just A Dream”-style ending turned out really underwhelming - even if technically the whole thing can be called “complete”, it just falls flat on delivering any meaningful story. It would only be honest to admit that it was a rushed, poorly planned and developed demo with no core message, lacking both substance and aesthetics, ruined by narrow focus on superficial details prior to base mechanics and plot. But, even if it’s completely dead by now, it gave me an idea of something I want to make a full-fledged game about.

By the way, doesn’t moca have something to say too?

moca: I’m actually very glad to talk about remakes and such due to the circumstances of my first original game “MOMOKA (IGMC 2018)”. If you’re wondering what the “IGMC 2018” means, it stands for the “Indie Game Making Contest 2018”! It was a contest held by Degica, the publishers of the official RPG Maker series. The goal for this contest was to create a prototype game that could later then be made into a fully realized and complete game. With this in mind, I had created “MOMOKA (IGMC 2018)” in under three weeks with the intention to remake it in the future anyway haha.

However, the game got picked up by a popular Youtuber and was exposed to a wider audience than I initially intended. Without the context of the contest, “MOMOKA (IGMC 2018)” was… mixed received, let’s just say. A lot of people said the game deserved to be remade at least, so I think it was a success in that regard.


MOMOKA (IGMC 2018)

Looking back at the game itself, there actually isn’t a lot that I would change. Seeing how the purpose of the game was to give a taste of what the final product could be, I think it was a solid entry! There are probably a couple minor details I would change overall, but nothing I would change drastically. That being said though, the remake for “MOMOKA (IGMC 2018)” will be drastically different, so please look forward to “MOMOKA re;BIRTH”!

Prifurin: re;BIRTH? That’s a fitting name for a remake, for sure ahahah, let’s chat more about them!

I haven’t actually played any of the “classic” rpgmaker game remakes such as Witch’s House, Misao and Mad Father, so it wouldn’t be fair for me to say anything about it. Have you heard that Ib is getting a remake too? It's exciting to see developers revisiting their project after so many years at least!

Generally what I think about getting game a remake I guess, to be fair, it’s usually about graphics ahahah, just can’t take this bit out of the equation, get your graphics polished, add an ending or two and you’re ready to sell a one-day-crappy-but-immensely-loved game back to passionate fans. I think what made those games special back then of course wasn’t the visuals or any other assets, but the concept of a story being told through a game, which back in the 90s, 00s and even early 10s was such a new and high-in-demand thing. Those stories, unlike AAA games being homebrew, “hand-made” in a sense, very personal and indie by definition, which made them so appealing to the internet audience.

Today, maybe due to the indie game boom and market saturation it is less achievable for a title to bring such a huge impact as “the classics” like OFF, Ao Oni or Yume Nikki did. Although we saw this happen, really, for example in 2019 dev ghosthunter with absolutely wonderful Grimm’s Hollow(still one of my rpgmaker favorites) appeared out of nowhere and then mysteriously vanished with no further work or observed activity. It clearly stood out, at least to me but I believe to many other people as well, which proves you still can make a great and renowned indie game even though it’s inevitably bound to get lost in the sea of upcoming titles.

By the way, Yume Nikki:Dream Diary, a 3d remake of probably the most influential game of 2000s, even though I can’t account for any opinion not had played it either, got called out on missing the point in a lot of moments with this remaster, just wasn’t received positively judging from YN fanbase community reviews.

How do you feel about remakes yourself? Would you say they are even worth it at all?

moca: Remakes, I feel, are tricky to get right. They’re easy to mess up or come across as an easy cash grab, especially if the game being remade is beloved by fans. I think those are the remakes that get criticized more. I’m usually for remakes that are made from the ground up while keeping the same vibe as the original, but I think the ones I greatly dislike are the “HD Remaster” ones. If it's to port a game to another platform, that’s fine, but there are some remasters that take older games and replace them with HD textures and also upscale the resolution so that it can play at 244 gigashits but at that point, I just ask what’s the point?

These were games made on older hardware and were developed with those old limitations in mind, so making all these edits and upscaling for me just rips the soul out of the game. The fan Silent Hill 2 remaster on PC comes to mind when I think about remasters I don’t like. This is strictly talking about established games, however.

With indie games and the more obscure titles like the ones we RPG Maker devs make, remakes are definitely more than welcome and are more practical to remake at least.

Indie devs - especially newer ones, or ones using game engines they’ve never used before - dramatically improve their skill over the course of a game development cycle. By the end of finishing their game, they already feel like they could do a better job since they’ve improved so much since beginning the project. And since it’s a lesser known title, most people won’t care if there’s a remake shortly after and the dev can be happy to set things right. So long as the dev thinks there’s room for improvement, or that they felt they should have done things differently, a remake is always on the table.

Prifurin: Now, onto other related works such as sequels, prequels and spin-offs, I guess this is a little different? You wouldn’t naturally expect a remake to be drastically different from original, it’s rather about “quality” maybe, but the sequel brings to the table two goals at once – resemble some of the original’s feats and at the same time be its own thing with unique value. A lot of them sucked tho, expectations set with the first success are sometimes hard to exceed, but I still can’t wait until Hollow Knight: Silksong comes out, it just can’t be bad ahahah.

moca, you’re currently working on a Corpse Party fan-game remake, right? Actually why I’m asking lol I also was honored to participate and make some graphics for the project, but by all means please tell us about it.

moca: Corpse Party is actually extremely notorious with its remakes and re-releases which is why it’s the perfect game to talk about this kind of thing! I think most people are familiar with the Corpse Party game PewDiePie played in 2014; it’s the most recognizable and iconic version, but did you know that version is actually a remake of a remake… of another remake?

You see, the first ever Corpse Party game came out in 1996 on the very first iteration of RPG Maker, simply named “CORPSE-PARTY”. It wouldn’t be until a full ten years later in 2006 that Corpse Party would be revived for the Japanese mobile flip phone made in another version of the RPG Maker series specialized in making games for the mobile phone. This version was named “Corpse Party: New Chapter”. Four chapters of this game would only be released until in 2008, it was decided the game would be remade again for the PC. This version is called “Corpse Party: Bloodcovered”. Japanese game developers MAGES (formerly known as 5pb.) saw the rising success of the still-indie game Bloodcovered and decided to make it a commercial game, remaking it once again for the PSP in 2010 as “Corpse Party: Bloodcovered …Repeated Fear”, AKA, the version PewDiePie played and the one most that most people are familiar with. This would also mark the beginning of Corpse Party as a franchise, spawning multiple sequels, manga adaptations, anime adaptations, light novel adaptations, radio dramas, live-action movie adaptations, manga adaptations of the live-action movie adaptations…, etc.

But the game continued to be remade in later years. Keeping the same name, Repeated Fear was remade again for the 3DS in 2015, and released again for PS4, XBOX One, Nintendo Switch, and PC in 2020. And keep in mind, I haven’t even touched on the sequels.

In this case, we see how remakes for the indie game developer can actually be beneficial. It wasn’t until Corpse Party’s second remake that it became a franchise and went “mainstream” with its first localization being the “Bloodcovered …Repeated Fear” version of the game. So if there are any aspiring game developers out there - hey, do whatever you feel like doing! Remake your old games if you want, there’s no harm in doing that.


Evolution of Corpse Party

However, despite Corpse Party only receiving sequels after it was picked up by MAGES (four sequels, to be exact), there was actually a canceled sequel planned before the very first remake. It would be a sequel to the original 1996 game and be released in 1997.

There’s very little information on this game. The only reason why we know it even exists is because the series creator mentioned the canceled sequel off-handely in an interview, leading to fans digging up any information that could be found on some forums.

As mentioned before, my current project is “Corpse Party II Satsuki’s Heart” - an attempt to recreate the canceled sequel to the original Corpse Party game! By using the little information we have on the game and the concepts presented in the later sequels that could’ve been old remnants of Satsuki’s Heart, I hope to make a modern interpretation on what the canceled sequel could have been.


Courtesy of yours truly

I started this project back in April 2020 for the purpose of celebrating Corpse Party’s 24th anniversary. I actually only intended to work on the game for two months so that I can get back to my original projects quickly but uhh, that didn’t work out haha. The scope of the project kept getting bigger and bigger and now here we are, almost two years later and only a demo is planned to come out soon. Our team is really trying their best, so I hope we can deliver an amazing Corpse Party experience for fans and newcomers alike!


wtf is going on in here

Prifurin: Whoa, remake of a remake of a remake!? Sounds crazy, alright, it’s just like that Milk inside a bag of milk inside a bag of milk game X’D Thank you so much for telling us about Corpse Party history, it’s truly a lesson of remake success for the indie world!

Now, promised news about the Forget-me-Not remake, which was announced on its rmn page a while ago: it will be called “Melissa and the Flower King”! As stated earlier, I plan to start development this year(2022) even though the global state of things is alarming, which may or may not interfere with my activities, right after releasing Moonday.

So, what will change for the remake? First of all, it’s easier to say what won’t change - Melissa is still namely the protagonist of the story, and initially action still takes place at the abandoned manor of Powell family, formerly known for their flower business. But this time it expands to the new dimension - Eternal Garden, full of both beauty and eldritch horrors. Surrounded by his floral minions, the Flower King awaits deep in the blossoming thickets, ready to challenge the order of humanity for his own reasons.

Instead of presenting elements of fantasy as a hallucination like in the original setting, they will have real, even though mysterious, origins. Not only is Melissa going on a trip down the memory lane of her own, but also she will reveal events from long ago.

Gameplay wise, there still are going to be puzzle elements, but maybe with bits of ARPG flavor. For the game engine I’ll likely use the RPG Maker MV if the design perspective stays 2D top-down view, but as I’m also working with Godot at the moment it’s a possible choice too.

I’m not entirely sure if it would be possible yet, but I want this project to be a commercial game, being able to involve and cover something like a cool soundtrack and/or help with programming. But we’ll see, right now it’s one of the less predictable things, so an actual working demo will be the real goal at first.

And what about you, moca?

moca: Once I’ve wrapped up “Corpse Party II Satsuki’s Heart” I hope to continue working on my original projects “Katharsis” and “MOMOKA re;BIRTH”. “Katharsis” will actually be a prequel story to “MOMOKA re;BIRTH” and will help tide over any fans still waiting on the remake to the original MOMOKA game. Until then, I hope everyone can please look forward to our projects in the future!


Katharsis

Check us out here:
moca's twitter
my twitter


And that’s all we have for today, thank you for tuning in! Do you have a game you want to see being remade? Or maybe you already released a remake/sequel/prequel-whatever of your own? Please feel free to share with us in the comments!




Posts

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Frogge
I wanna marry ALL the boys!! And Donna is a meanc
18359
Great job with this guys!! I'm excited to play whatever either of you cook up!

(I might also be slightly biased to enjoying this article because silksong and binding of isaac got a shoutout, haha.)
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