::The Durance of Magic Project::
There was always a range of feelings associated with the old NES and SNES roleplaying games. The stories, the characters... they truly spoke to us in a language all their own. The Durance of Magic project is a humble attempt at echoing a reply. This game is designed to be both unique and cliche enough to provide original world and story for effective immersion as well as that refreshing cup of nostalgia and remembrance to evoke whatever feelings drew us to the old RPG genre in the first place... A hard task to accomplish, indeed. In our attempt to do this, we have focused heavily on the flow of story, the storyline itself, character design, dialogue, and the world.
Episode 1: Road to Ruin - (Complete!)
- Road to Ruin
- Bridgeton Bound
- Worlds Apart
- The Battle of Bridgeton
Episode 2: What We Leave Behind - ( In progress )
- Why'd it Have to Be Elves
- The Twin Kingdoms
- Stars Will Cross
- What We Leave Behind
Episode 3: The Durance of Magic - ( In progress )
- A Coin for the Boatman
- Due Process
- The Durance of Magic
- Dragon Slayer
--==(( Story Synopsis ))==--
In an age of strife, when the world was young, the races of the world struggle for survival. Monsters roam the lands, stepping over the borders of the wilderness and encroaching onto the war torn soils of civilization.
A shaky truce called between the kingdoms of men, Myloc and Dunkargo are two young veterans of the Great War cast aside and sent home to a land left to the mercies of the frontier. With their home found in ruins, the two ex soldiers turn to the Mercenary Guild for survival. Admitted fast for their skills and experience, their position as swords for hire soon send them deep into the chaos of a forgotten legend. A prophecy of doom that will shake the very world as they know it.
--==(( FEATURES ))==--
:: STORYLINE, CHARACTERS, AND ENDINGS ::
The choices a player makes will heavily effect the overall gameplay experience. Some characters, when first met, have a window of mortality. If such a character dies, is passed over, or is left behind they will not become a part of the story either at all or until later and in a different way than they would otherwise have. Likewise, some NPCs relevant to the storyline can fall prey to a choice or set of choices the player makes. Some characters may even be met under different circumstances depending on choice and may even become antagonists instead of protagonists and visa versa. The choices a player makes will especially effect the main character, letting the player decide how the main character either grows and learns from the mistakes of their past or how they can't seem to escape a viscous cycle and wind up succumbing to their shortcomings. This is true even up until the very last moments of the overall story.
:: MERCENARIES, JOBS, AND RENOWN ::
Once a player joins the Mercenary Guild they will be able to gather Mercenaries and have access to Guild Jobs. Some jobs are simple and only require the player to send off a selected amount of Mercenaries to complete the task automatically over time. Other jobs require the player to personally go somewhere and do something. Some jobs are simple and quest-like as in "go here, kill that". Others will unlock things or add to the overall storyline. The player will often be given the choice to do or not do something that would other wise "break contract". If a contract is broken for any reason, the job will simply end. There will be no job rewards and no Renown earned. Breaking too many contracts will have a negative effect.
Renown is the measure of success for the Mercenary Guild. As Renown grows, so too does access to new Guild Jobs.
:: ARENAS AND CHAMPIONS ::
Each town, and even some areas, has an underground arena. The player can fight in these arenas for gold and experience. Each arena consists of 3 consecutive fights with the final one being a fight against that arena's champion. The first time a player wins a specific arena they are granted a prize.
Champions are characters that join the player's party but are not technically playable. They are able to be geared up by the player but when they fight in the Grand Arena, they are on auto-battle. Both the town arenas and the Grand Arena are purely optional but will unique rewards.
:: RUMORS & LEADS ::
As the player travels around and talks to random people, some NPCs will mention hearing rumors of this or that. Once a player has heard the rumor, it will spawn the rumor's encounter wherever the NPC mentioned it might be found. Some are out on the overworld, others are in specific areas. How rumor encounters impact gameplay varies. Some just offer loot, others will add to the overall storyline.
Leads are similar to rumors but they tie into the HQ system. When a player finds a lead, they can go to their HQ and talk to their Scout or Treasure Hunter NPC if they have one. The Scout or Treasure Hunter can then go off and try to follow the lead to track things down. For leads handled by a Treasure Hunter NPC, this can be finding special items. For leads handled by a Scout NPC, this can be finding and unlocking access to hidden areas like new caves or mountain paths.
:: HEADQUARTERS (HQ) ::
When a player first joins the Mercenary Guild they are given a tent. The player can take this tent to a specific location on the coastline East of Bridgeton to set up their first HQ. The player can staff this HQ with various NPCs that are able to be sent on missions. Some such HQ NPCs include Quartermaster, Treasure Hunter, Scout, Raider, and more. The mission types vary, as do their rewards. There is a chance that lower quality HQ NPCs can be lost while out on a mission. Higher quality HQ NPCs, especially player characters not currently in party formation that can fill an HQ NPC's role, will not be lost.
The HQ system is present in Episode 1 but the utilization of HQ NPCs doesn't really start until Episode 2.
:: COMBAT ::
The combat system is traditional with a few new twists or additions. Players will not always be able to select the "Fight" command over and over while casting Cure3 until all the enemies are dead. After the first act of the game, the monsters and the formations they come in begin to take on a rather sinister presence. I wanted to do away with useless magic and skills; abilities that you never really NEEDED to use. Things like Muddle, Demi, Drain, Rasp, Confuse, etc. You know, the "grey magics" that you could bypass by pounding a few Meteos, Ultimas or Luminaires into the enemy's face. Status ailments abound as monsters seeks to poison, stun, bleed, blind, burn, freeze, slow, confuse, berserk, knock down, and cause amnesia; an ailment that causes a character to forget higher level abilities for the duration. There are also many ways to combat these ailments with abilities such as Haste, Regen, Magic Shield, Reflect, Esuna, and the like. The battle planning has been such that monsters are given abilities to complement one another against the player. Players would be wise to target the monsters that pose the highest threat in a group first. However, some monster behavior may change under certain circumstances. Beware leaving certain monsters to be killed last as they may feel cornered and go wild.
I also wanted to go beyond the typical list of magic spells and abilities. While trying to keep true to the spirit of the traditional battle system, there are 2 types of skill uses beyond the regular everyday skills.
Setups - A skill with a + icon that can be used immediately, still allowing that character to choose a combat action. Setup skills can only be cast once per character per turn. In testing they have proved useful in setting up a defense, preparing for an exploit attack, and using that last ditch effort to get the killing blow when things are bleak.
Exploits - A skill that exploits a status ailment for massive damage. Backstab an enemy while they're blinded. Kick an enemy when they are down. If they are wounded then execute them. Without a state to exploit, an exploit attack will simply deal it's normal combat damage. Most exploits do not deal extra damage on bosses.
Be aware: Enemies have access to the same combat mechanics you do.
:: STATS AND EQUIPMENT ::
The armor, weapons, and accessories greatly effect a character's combat performance. I wanted the player to have a useful amount of control in how a character was built. Through gear choice, a character can be well rounded in all stats or be stacked with Counter Attack, beefed up with tons of HP, or given crazy Hit and Critical Rating. Of course, it's best to consider the character's abilities when choosing what to go for. Likewise, if the player notices a weakness in battle then go for patching that hole. Are they missing too much? More Hit Rating. Do they take a lot of damage? More Armor, Evasion Rate, or Counter Attack. Some gear and item attachments can even draw attention to the equipped character. A Gilded Crossguard, when attached to a weapon, will stand out and make enemies more likely to attack the user.
Gear can be upgraded with modifications. Adding a Leather Grip to a weapon can increase the weapon's Hit Rating for example. Modifications can be added and removed at will. Gear items are also varied in their stats. If a player finds 3 Daggers then one Dagger may be 10 ATK, one may be 12 ATK, and the other may be 8 ATK. It is possible to find a better version of the same thing, so it can be helpful to pay attention to what a player finds.
(( DEVELOPER NOTES ))
There are some noticable choices I made on the art and graphics. Perhaps the most readily apparent is the RTP. I was initially going to use ripped and edited graphics while on RM2k3. When switching to MV I realized I could ease my copyright infringement anxieties a little by relying more on the RTP and generators. The project would also look a little sharper and more presentable. At least such was the hope. I thought about editing the RTP into something a little more unique but as this is a solo project, that would take a lot of time. Perhaps most importantly, though, I felt that the core driving force of this game was the story and gameplay itself. If I couldn't tell a good story, if I couldn't make the player care about the characters, then no amount of flashy graphics would save me. Nor should it, perhaps.
After a few years of bungling through attempts at 2D pixel art, I came across Hiddenone's animated battlers. I was amazed at the work that must have been put into them. I wanted to keep the traditional picture battlers so common in SNES era RPGs but there were other games like Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana where the monsters were animated. That was reason enough to validate my need for Hiddenone's amazing work. I eventually found even more animated battler artists with even more great art. I wound up using a plugin by Yanfly, another angel to my cause, to let me use the animated battlers for regular enemies and a picture battler for bosses.
I have seen some criticism of other indie projects for using these graphics. If the story does it's job and the characters are relatable, then maybe people will like the game anyway.
In looking at other independant game projects on RMN and abroad I noticed a common critical response to using a lot of RTP and community music. I want to say up front that I was honored to use music from the RTP, the RMN community, and from Aaron Kogh. Having people so selfless as to give over their time to the whole is a godsend. All of us who've worked on our own projects know how awesome it is to have such well compused music readily available. A soundtrack signed, sealed, and delivered. This is not "oh well I need something and this will have to do". These tracks make me feel the emotion I want to convey in each scene. I'm very grateful.
That being said, I understand the importance of music . It does pain me to think that a player with good intentions may have simply heard this soundtrack too often. I get how something can get played out. If I can complete all 3 episodes and if the final result is popular enough then maybe I can do a remaster with original music. For now, I hope you will forgive me for using this amazing gift.