I want to give TheGamedawg a big thank-you for listing Canyon of Fires in his Top 5 of 2019 list! It's an honor! TheGamedawg has always been a big supporter of my games and it was really a pleasure watching him play through the game earlier in the year. He, and his subscribers, were very complimentary and watching his LP helped make the game even better!
I was able to add back in the QTE magic system and lockpickable chests! I figured it out! Details below:
When I first released this game, I had a two systems that I really liked. One was an evented lockpicking system that was loosely based on one from Skyrim (or so I'm told. I'm the one person on earth who hasn't played it yet). The other system was a QTE system attached to my magic skills.
I always thought the lockpicking minigame was pretty clever and it made slightly more sense for there to be a bunch of locked chests around the world as opposed to unlocked chests with a bunch of gold or cool armor in them.
I was really proud of the QTE magic system because I thought it worked well with the story. QTE systems can be annoying and overly challenging, which I can appreciate. But I wanted to show that the children in the game were challenged by their magic power and that, while powerful, maybe it wasn't something to use in every battle if they didn't need to. By attaching the QTE system to only their magic skills (and not other weapon skills), I thought it made a nice balance that worked well with the story, characters, and theme; "Ludonarrative consonance," as they say.
But... those systems didn't work. I had script conflict issues and constant crashes. It was enraging and embarrassing, mostly because the script conflict was intermittent and did not show up in my testing (long story short: The script conflict would happen after consistent play, usually 30+ minutes. During testing, I was regularly resetting and rebooting or otherwise not playing 30 minutes straight) and I released a buggy mess.
So I dropped them. The chests became unlocked and the magic system was just: Click. Magic. Done.
It bugged me that I was beaten by this problem. But I moved on to other things.
Months passed and I was clicking around online when I saw a recent video of a QTE system in a battle by Clockwarkgate, made in VXAce, that was similar to what I had but just different enough that I could tell that it wasn't based on the script that conflicted in my game. How did this person do this? So I PM'ed him and it was all evented! And then he walked me through it a little and everything fell into place. Brilliant - no script conflicts! Why didn't I think of this?!
So as I went back to the drawing board, creating an evented QTE system in my battle based on Clockwarkgate's message to me. And then I realized why my treasure chests were broken! Everything was coming into place!
So now they are back! I have updated the game and have added back these two systems, finally achieving my original vision for the game. Now I can truly rest.
I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but there's a new update out.
If you've been following this game, you might have noticed that it's been having some crashing bugs. At first I thought it was a conflict between some anti-lag scripts and other stuff. So I fixed that. Then I thought it was the QTE magic system, which was funky even if it wasn't causing crashes.
I ultimately deleted the QTE magic system, even though I still think it was a clever idea in a ludonarrative kind of way. And I thought that was it!
But no. Turns out there was a real strange crashing problem that kicked up a bug in the RTP-standard code. I couldn't get it to reproduce consistently. I hadn't heard it was a problem for players. And I chalked it up to my potato compy, figured it was memory issue, and called it a day. But a youtuber was playing my game (links to be posted soon in the bar above) and it got embarrassing how many crashes there were. And then another player made a comment here about lack of polish and crashes - that stung. It seems that if there were more than 3 battles that happened on a large map, there'd be that same screwy RTP-script-related crash. Was it memory? Battle symphony? Yanfly Battle Engine? It was certainly battle-related... right?
Turns out it was fyxinput and loadso. What are those, you may ask? Heck if I know, but they are scripts that monkey around with button input. They were needed for the QTE system and also the lockpicking minigame. Even though the QTE system was gone, I left them in because I kinda liked the lockpicking game. I worked hard on it (although the original eventing was done by someone else). It was relatively unique. I thought it was one of the few aspects of the game that set mine apart from others.
You take out fyxinput and loadso, however, and there are suddenly 100% fewer crashes. Big maps. Small maps. Items. No items. Skills. No skills. It all works as it should. I'm apprehensive to celebrate too much, but I think this is it.
I went through and changed the treasure chests to the standard "find a chest, open it, profit" model. I would like to claim that I found all the chests I sprinkled in the game... But if I didn't, please let me know. Regardless, since the lockpicking minigame wouldn't start if you didn't have lockpicks, and I've taken lockpicks out of the game, any chest I missed will give you a message of, "You need a lockpick to open this." Which is frustrating to a player - but it sure as shit isn't a crash.
An added benefit of cutting those two scripts is that the game is now 100% joypad compatible! That's fun, right?
So, to all of you who struggled through the game and all its crashes, I salute you. You are true Heroes of the Web and Internet Budz.
To all of you who may be stumbling across this game months/years later and am going through these blog posts: Welcome! I hope the game you play is stable. Drop a note here if you have an issue.
I was soooo freaking proud of myself, getting the QTE magic system set up in the game. "Oooo," I thought, "this system will be so clever and show the symbolic struggle of the kids getting used to having magic abilities with the players' learning curve of the system. So thoughtful! Much symbolic!"
But I could never get it to work. It worked in small doses, but it ended up crashing in the full game. And it's getting in the way of people enjoying the game. What is the point, if people aren't having fun?
I thought for a while that this QTE system was the only thing that set my game apart. But now I realize that whatever strength the game may have lies not in its gameplay - which is admittedly kinda vanilla - but rather, its story.
A new update has been uploaded that now scraps that QTE system and instead raises the MP used for spells. It should be much more stable and shouldn't require constant crashes/reloads.
Of course, by now, everyone who was going to play it has already played it... so you've all suffered through my poor decisions... :( But to new players who stumble upon Canyon of Fires: Welcome! You shall have a much more stable experience!
A few people have gotten through parts of the game and have found a few bugs and have left me notes. If you see this and are still working through things, please re-download and move your save over. That should make it work okay.
After five years of work, excluding a break to make Risen, I'm happy to present At Last Alone: Canyon of Fires to the public. Like all art, I could tinker with it forever and still not be 100% happy with things, but it's to the point that I want to move on to other creative endeavors.
As you can imagine, a lot can happen in the course of five years. Some things have been incredibly amazing. Others have been terrible. These things have influenced the development of this game.
Overall, I hope players engage with the themes of family and parenthood presented here. These themes have taken a large role in my personal life and I wanted them to influence my art.
Please let me know what you think of the game! If you LP or post a review or something, please let me know and I'll link it here. If you find any major errors or bugs, please let me know and I'll try to fix them.
I have had a few bugs with the magic QTE system, but I think it's memory-related. Perhaps other players won't have a problem with it. The only solution I can find is to save, "x" out of the program, re-open, and load the save. That seems to reset the freeze/dead input error for the QTE system. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If anyone has a brilliant solution, I'll take it. Otherwise, that's the workaround.
I can't wait for people to play it! I'm currently getting the money together to Patreon Studio Blue so they'll do a LP of it...
I had a great time at the JAMAF convention in Everett this weekend. I was in a great spot, sandwiched right between Zack Davisson, probably the foremost English-language specialist in yokai and mononoke, and the yukata dress-up station.
People were a little shy to try the game, but I did have about 10 players throughout the day. That may sound small, but I would say there were only maybe 30 people who walked by. It was admittedly a small convention.
People were really positive about the game. Lots of complements on the characters, sprites, and the maps. There were a few reactions of, "Wow, you actually made something in RPGMaker that doesn't suck!" or "I have RPGMaker, but I've never made anything with it." I was surprised that one woman had actually heard of my game - I guess she comes to the site sometimes! She could've sword she saw it on Steam, though... so she might have my game mixed up with something else. But hey, she was really positive about the game and subscribed to my instagram (I think).
Main suggestions from feedback:
1) Change one battle animation to something shorter.
2) Add a way to pet the dog.
Both have been achieved! My game now has something that even Breath of the Wild doesn't have: A way to pet the dog.