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It’s been a while since I've touched you like this...

I've been playing a lot of SMBX over the past 2+ months. I burnt myself out on that. So today, I took out Epiquest 2 and started work.

After failing to update scripts, I added some new mechanics, new enemies, new skills, new items, new weapons and a new tutorial. I’m going to talk about the two more interesting ones.

SMBX “packed in” episode is quite perfect. It gently lowers you down into everything. It’s a deep game, but it doesn’t hit you all at once. There were brief comments, one per level explaining everything over the entire game, much like Portal. With Epiquest, I tried to explain the mechanics that most aren’t familiar with in RPGs.

I spent some time today doing the same, gently lowering the player into the mechanics of the game. Taking steps for everything, but without being a tutorial or hitting you with a wall of text. It turned out really nice!

One of the new mechanics that I implemented today was a disguise and summon system. The game already had it, but it was more of a concept and didn’t really work. With Epiquest 1, you would have skills based on what you had equipped. The summon and disguise system is slightly different, where when you have a summon or disguise, you have two skillsets. Its really very nice and diverse. The thief is now a stronger class, because she can wear disguises. There is now a new summoner class to summon things.

I had a lot of fun playing and fighting in battles devoid of story. There is a story, but I’d like to rewrite it, if not scrap it entirely and replace it with a vague plotline like… Save the X, destroy the Y. That’s actually the main thought I had when I went into Epiquest. Plus, seeing as how more people are beating Epiquest 1 and no one mentions hating the lack of story that seems to be an indication to me that people just want to play a game. Such as Zelda, Final Fantasy, SaGa & Dragon Warrior were just playing.

To sum it up, I think that if I go in the no story mode, that would make Epiquest 2 a dungeon crawler. Sure there will still be NPCs, and quests, just not all roped in together.

I think I can live with that.


Mapping Castles, Strongholds, mountains and a video to watch.

I've added to Epiquest 2, this time fleshing out the intense path to get to Dragonheart Castle via Dragonshort Heights. It is named for an elder king that slayed a dragon atop a mesa. It is in the dragon's nest that he built his castle to call home. Three generations later, the castle still stands strong.

Here is a runthrough of the alpha:

To the south east of the castle are the ruins of a stronghold that was destroyed with what dwells inside. The two villages next to this stronghold are destroyed too and a third is threatened to be destroyed, because they ran out of virgins to sacrifice. The stronghold looks EXCELLENT. Inside and outside. A giant quake ripped the stronghold apart and its destroyed on the inside and the outside.

I detailed the "badlands" of the overworld map that should make it more interesting for the player. Full of paths and stuff. Even though I finished the exterior and interior of the stronghold, I'd still like to build a dungeon below it. Speaking of dungeons, Dragonheart Castle needs a route to escape from its dungeon.

It shouldn't be too long from now that the game is completely mapped out and I can start a real play through with enemies, weapons, skills and equipment :-) Other than the dungeons, the last map will be the final location. The final location is done, it just needs details like staircases, bookshelves and things like that :-)

As for the story, its probably gonna be scrapped, just because some of it just seems very implausable and forced. So I'm going for more of a generic story, because Dragon Warrior was about rescuing a princess and Dragon Warrior 3 was about finding your father.


14 down... 8 to go. 63% done. Crunching Numbers

So my original plan for this was 1 civilization, 1 wilderness area. Like your typical old school game. Heck some have 2 civilizations for every 1 wilderness area with a map between. In a way, Epiquest 2 still has a 1 to 2 civ / wild ratio. The catch is most of the civilizations just so happen to be built on a dungeon.

I've gone through 14 of 22 wilderness areas just making them and their quests. Just running through them at top speed with no enemies and no dialog, I'm at 70 minutes of speed run time. Each area should take a minimum of 15 minutes if you don't go out of your way, due to enemies. Making the game 5.5 hours. Disappointing, but considering I could beat Epiquest 1 in 4.5, I should be happy.

Each of the 22 areas has its own unique theme, catacomb, jungle, swamp, tower. Complete with unique brain benders. Lighting fires to reveal secrets, being chased by boulders and falling through floors to reach new locales are among the newest.

Once I get the next 8 done, then its on to starting from the beginning and adding enemies, weapons and equipments. Then balancing everything.

When that is done, I'll implament the dialog for the 450+ NPCs. I've been writing the main story script and without it being overly wordy its 24 pages so far. Romeo & Juliet was 100.

After all of that is complete, I will get to release the game to the public. Then faint and die :-)


Mining, New Areas and New Gameplay Elements

With all of the game's systems and scripts complete and a good tier system for weapons, equipment and enemies, I've been making the game itself. 80% of the maps were done a month or 2 ago, but now this is the game that people will play instead of just having maps to visit :-)

In the past few days I made a hideout for a gang, and by hideout, it goes deep under a village and it has puzzles, switches and unique situations. Timed situations too. Some puzzles punnish you for failure.

The abandon mine was made and it will be the second time you get to play as 2 parties. You meet another party in dire need and you join forces in 2 parties of 4. The mine also introduces new elements like crumbling floors and plenty of push block puzzles (yes every game has them). There are switches the player must get to in order to open the boss door. If you go above and beyond pushing switches, you are rewarded with treasure chests that you need to work your way to.

There is now mining in Epiquest 2 (different than Epiquest 1) that becomes a mini game. Mining is also a good way to block off areas with cave ins. You can dig through the caveins to progress to secret areas. The ore you get depends on how good you the player play the mini game :-) Oh and your equipment plays a factor as well.

The final note that I have is on the second ordeal in the crypt. It introduces even more elements to gameplay (like reviving bones and breaking pots) along with blending already existing elements. Enemies hunt you when they see you, pulling switches opens gates. Finding hidden switches opens gates.

Of course there are other areas sandwitched between these three, because I tend to jump around a lot. I've been quite happy with these three areas and how the time playing the game is progressing. With no enemies, the den took 10+ minutes. The mine took 10+ minutes, and the crypt took 5+ minutes. I'm at a point where with enemies the game is around 4 hours for me.

By my logic of play time vs maker time, I'd need to have 150 players play and complete the game. Uggg...


Sneaking, Smarts and Playing as 2 Parties

I spent the day making the first "ordeal" which takes place beneath of Sandscoop Fortress. The fortress itself is fantastic and peaked like a pyramid. There are baracks outside and inside. There is a basement with a mess hall and a kitchen, then below that is the dungeon and below that is where the first ordeal takes place at around 2 hours into the game.

The only reason why I'm posting a whole blog about this is because your party is divided into two. You pick from your current party and who goes on what team. Then one party goes east, the other goes west. You can switch between the two parties and go to where you left the other party. From there, the teams work together while being seperate. Such as some switches will open up doors for the other team and sometimes both teams need to stand on switches similtaneously to open doors.

The run through of "the ordeal" takes me about 5-6 minutes. To make things more interesting, the two teams can cross paths before they meet up for a boss battle at the end. There are some switches that only a certain team can flip. The other team is punnished health wise if they try to flip it.

On top of that, I've implamented guards that will chase you if they see you and fight when they catch you. They have patrols so you can sneak behind them, but when they spot you, they will dash toward you. You can run, fight, lock doors to block them. Its a lot of fun and should add at least another 10 minutes of gameplay.

Its awesome. I implamented the same gameplay techniques for Epiquest V3 (and never released it).

There are 2 more ordeals in the game. One of which was already done, but I am going to have to add to it and make it as interesting as the one beneath Sandscoop Fortress.


The Sweet Spot of Battles

I think Epiquest 2 has found an even better gameplay blend in a few ways. The first is a better sense of spirit vs attack + defense. Spells with the last game felt overpowered later in the game. Epiquest has a balance so attacks + attack = skills + spirit. Magic users will generally do the same amount of damage as an attacker (unless an enemy has a weakness to a spell or weapon). Attack is countered with defense. The more defense, the less the defender is hurt (of course), so mages are weak to warriors. Now the flip side is true. Warriors are weak to mages. Mages are strong to mages, because magic is defended with spirit and generally, mages have high spirit.

In some battles, its literally better to have some party members guard (and regain health), while others deal with the foes. Especially when you are fighting foes that require specific skills.

The second way that I am really enjoying the gameplay is the fact that I used different actor graphics for all enemies. Slimes and plant actors are weak enemies. Orcs are orcs, bandits are bandits, skeletons are skeletons and so on. I don't skimp on the enemies in Epiquest 2, but there are wide open spaces that you can avoid them (although I'm sure some people will still plod through them). In the second region of the game, the enemies will gang up on you when you avoid them. Then you need to pick your fight. In the previous Epiquest, if you were surrounded by 4 enemies, they were all "shades." Now if you are surrounded by four enemies, the might be slime, plant, assassin and orc. You pick your fight when there is no way out. Me? I'd go for the slimes. Gold hunters might go for the orcs. Its almost like a level of difficulty.

Speaking of difficulty, the enemies that level up are back again, only this time more sane. Epiquest 1 (and 2) start every player character off at 200 HP / 100 MP / 5 ATK / 5 DEF / 5 SPI / 5 AGI. All characters are created equil, then as you level up, the stats increased based on their class. You can get weapons and equipment. Now the enemies work the same way. All enemies are created equil with HP differences. Then they level up based on their enemy class the same as the player characters do. This makes a player's barbarian = to an enemy barbarian. Fights go by very quick when human characters take on human enemies that are at the same level. With each new region, the enemies "equipment" goes up with yours based on what kind of enemy they are.

Epiquest 1 had certain things in battle to drive things forward, but I've fine tuned a lot of those things for Epiquest 2. If a battle takes a while, the hero character can use an enrage skill that allows them to use devastating attacks to help out with boss enemies. The bosses have their own super skills to speed up the battles. These super skills can be used on minor enemies too, but I'd say its rare to never that you ever get to use your super skills against them. Bow users have their game pushed forward with a skill called Generate Arrow that makes arrows for when the user is out of them. Sure it costs mana, but its worth it.

There's also more variety in enemies. Take for instance the mage enemy, each one has its own elemental discipline. The mages aren't known as fire mage, ice mage and so on, but rather they are just "mage." When you fight them, you'll get to discover which element they prefer.


Brewing, Blessing and Forging (and other notes on weapons & equipment).

So far, Epiquest 2 already has around 200 pieces of equipment. 160 of those pieces are your standard tier equitable (level 1 sword, level 2 sword, level 3 sword). There are 130 weapons in three tiers and more items than you could ever find. Now you can make it all yourself with the Brewing, Blessing and Forging.

Let’s start with brewing potions, it’s your typical buy an empty bottle and combine some jellies and herbs to make a potion. Blessing things is where you visit the local church and have the priest bless weapons and armor to give them holy powers. You can also make harmful holy water there too.

The forging is as it was in the last game. You find ore, you process the ore cheaply and easily, and then from there you make weapons and armor with it. It’s cheaper to make weapons and armor than it is to buy it. The only catch is finding the ore.

This calls for a mining system as well, which the last game had. There is magical forging as well, where you combine magical orbs with weapons and armor which will give you weapons which enable you to have better abilities. Take a Fire 2 Orb and add it with a staff to make a Fire Staff that will give you a skill to protect your party from fire skills. Combine an Ice 2 Orb with a wand to make an Ice wand that will give you a skill to ice all of your enemies. Basically, it will make you work for cooler spells.

The whole brewing, blessing, forging system should be considered a bonus for accumulated items. You find a lot of random stuff on the map in shinnies that draw your attention. You also get random loot from enemies. Some of it doesn’t do much, which is why you use it to make things with. Like bonus points that you buy things with, only you’re making it.

You can brew power potions to temporarily improve your attack power in battle, or you can mix five power potions together to make pills that will permanently raise a member’s attack power. There will be different things to brew, bless and forge at different shopkeepers in the game. Almost every shop keeper can help you create something.

Considering one of the main characters is an alchemist, I thought this would be a pertinent step. The brewing, blessing and forging system is the same from Epiquest 1, but now it’s greatly improved with more fun.

The weapons, equipment and items also have a better flow of upgrades from the last game. With the first Epiquest, the weapons and gear seemed almost unnecessary when compared to the stats of the player characters. Also by the end of the first game, your gold deposits were huge, and I was forced to come up with things for the player to waste gold on. Epiquest 2 will have you chasing for enough gold to buy the latest upgrade. The game is about choices and making you chose what you want vs your gold will keep things interesting.

Then on top of that are the equipment points. Just because you finally get your uber equipment, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to equip it all at once. You’d need to choose if you want your battle axe or full plate armor. Unless of course you uber up your character to equip both. The higher your level, the more you can equip.


More NPC Dialog... that won't choke a horse

-------- far less text this time. It won't choke a horse. Nor will I shoot myself having to read through it all in the game. This is just for the NPCs.



There is a parish southwest of this village.

At the Daylaw parish, you can take on one of the three ordeals.

Not everyone is qualified to take on the Wisdom Ordeal.

This region was once a beacon for evil energy.

The mine to the north was overtaken by dark forces many years ago.

The king had the bridge to the west of Orae destroyed to contain the reach of evil forces.


All the same equipment as Jayhic only four times the price? What? Stronger metals? Heavier weights? Bah! I'm going back to Saranoa where its safer!


There are several elementals in Ramwillow County. May I recommend that you stock up on spells?

Enemy mages have studied their own specific element. They are not labeled fire mage, or ice mage. Instead you will know their element by the spells they cast.

Do not think that fire mages are weak to water. Nor ice mages weak to fire. Mages are humanoid like you and me, so they will not be weak to certain spells.

The Wisdom Ordeal takes place in a catacomb. When I went through the ordeal, I was shocked to see reanimated skeletons and corpses walking the floors!

The monks at Daylaw Parish have sealed off the Wisdom Ordeal until someone can kill the unholy evil in the mine.

Level 2 magic hurts 20% more than level 1 magic!


If you just came from the Saranoa region, equip yourself with our weapons and armors. Saranoa was a cakewalk compared to this region.

Earth spirits can be physically attacked while the other elementals cannot.

The Sandscoop Fortress to the northwest may look like it is in shambles on the outside, but the inside is immaculate.

There are around fifty soldiers in Sandscoop Fortress.

You can go through the Courage Ordeal at Sandscoop Fortress. They won't go easy on you either. I know from personal experience.

To the north in Ramwillow County, there are huntresses that will stalk you before attacking. Don't let them sneak up on you!

You need to get buff to carry this new equipment!


I have an apprentice that has found her way to Jayhic town. She is skilled at late night burglaries. If you just came from that town, perhaps you have heard of her.

Crime is not a problem here. There is nothing worth stealing and everyone knows that.


To the north of the village is a bridge that leads to the next region.

The next area to the north is Ramwillow County. It would be a rustic place if it weren't for all of the spiritual elementals that roam the pathways.

Welcome to Orae! You will find the services on the south side of the river and the residences to the north.

We are a small farm village that sprawls as far as the eye can see. Most of the farms outside of the village are too small to notice.

I love to watch canoes row through the river in the city. It is so fun to wave hello to them as they go by.

Even with the bridge destroyed, I don't feel safe knowing the evil that stalks the mine.

I used to work the mine before the monsters came in. Many of my comrades were... They didn't make it out of there!

In order to undertake the Wisdom Ordeal, you must cleanse the mine of its evil.

Gushers around here try to dissolve you. It doesn't hurt though! It kind of tickles! Assuming you're wearing the right armor.

When bandits appear, they will ask you for a small fee. Give it to them! Trust me! You don't want to feel the tip of their axes!

Many men from our village left here to be soldiers for Sladaria.



There is another ordeal to undertake at the Eastbank Parish.

We need religion now more than ever to combat the evil tunneling up from the inner sanctum of evil!

You will need to complete the Wisdom Ordeal to enter Startask tunnel.

There are evil fanatics in the woods to east. That place needs a better cleansing than a thunderstorm.

I pray that the king makes it to heaven.

I came from Eastbank Parish. If you're going there, you will need a boat.

When I came here, I thought that this would be a treat to seat me right under our lord heavenly light. Now I know its just hot here.



Ghosts roam the woods to the east and they're only vulnerable to fire and holy magic.

Rain spirits lurk Roughgrief Woods and they're the ones that have caused all of the storms.

You can learn spells to damage all enemies with special staves, rods and wands. You need to make them yourself though.

Water enemies are weak to ice. There are plenty of water enemies in this region. Which is odd, considering the west half of West Sladaria is desert.


Orcs and rogues will try to disarm you in battle. Once you are disarmed, you will not regain your weapon until the fight is over.

I have seen ogres in Roughgrief Woods.

There is a six armed giant that stalks the woods. He is worshiped by fanatical followers.

There are big things out there in this region. Big things that need big weapons to kill.

The Courage Ordeal is operated by the Sladaria Legion. I have a feeling that they use it to train new recruits.


Rogues attack in packs. While they might be weak individually, as a gang, they can overwhelm your party.

Assassins sneak up on you and they're virtually invisible until they attack. Beware!


To the east is Roughgrief Woods. It is a terrible place. Fanatics, rogues and assassins roam freely.

Certain plants have been known to sap their prey's spirit when threatened.

To the south in the desert is Sandscoop Fortress.

Water please! Can you spare some water for this old man!

You may notice there aren't a lot of old people in the city. It gets so hot for them.

Decades ago, Enyak had to build its very tall walls to protect us against invaders from other kingdoms.

Enyak is really the only city left in west Sladaria. A ruthless king sought to conquer our kingdom and ended up destroying much of it.

There is someone here in the city that has a canoe. After living in this dry town, I'd like to see how it feels to travel on water.

Welcome friends to Enyak! You will find many fine shops and merchants here. Most of the shops are in the south of town, but there are other merchants by the oasis.

This is our oasis!

Plenty men from our city became soldiers. At least the fortress is so close, so they aren't so far from home.


Video runthrough test of Roughgrief Woods

Here it is. Not much action, just running through a medium sized area spanning 6 maps 40x40. Tell me what you think?

I've also been clocking the areas vs time to complete them all. The game should clock in at 6.5 hours for speed runners. I have a feeling that time is modest considering the last game took me 8 hours to run through and it only had 3 towns and 9 battle areas. Epiquest has 7 towns and 17 battle areas.


80 minutes in Q1

I have Qs in the game. The first Q is one region of the game with 2 towns and 3 battle areas. The second Q will be a long bigger. I just rushed through Q1 from start to finish and it took 80+ minutes. I guess I should be happy considering that I thought it would take 45-60 minutes and after 2 months of work, I'd like the game length to seem like it was worth it.

Now all that is left is to put in story dialog and I'll post Q1 to the public.

I've fixed and tweaked a lot of things:
- Raised weapon / equipment stretgth and prices at the 2nd town
- Added a lot more map enemies to Tip Rock Desert (it seemed strange I could run through)
- The Orcs chasing you is a surprisingly fun part of the game. I've set up some interesting situations.
- There is a dark magic merchant that will price gouge you
- The trinkets, charms and prizes have a lot of interesting effects now
- There are save crystals to remind people to save.
- There are exit crystals, because I don't want anyone to play more than they have to
- Your first mission isn't falling down a cave, so you have full freedom to do what you please
- I tried to make Q1 as wide open as possible with only one cave at the end of Tip Rock Desert
- Wide open like a pond, desert, and swamp when most of Epiquest's areas were in cramped caves
- Sleep cycles proove interesting to see, everyone has a bed and uses it
- I made it so your mages are forced to be diverse with their spells

I'd also like to:
- Add random treasures
- Add basements to some houses (not that I need anymore interiors)
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