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Announcement

..or has it become a Ghost?

It's been a little over a year now since the project was re-introduced to the community. There have been plenty of screenshots, a couple blogs, a few videos, and some mechanics information released.. but as for the game itself? Obviously not, and even after being "in production" since the RPG Maker '95 was first partially translated by TNomad back over a decade ago, there have only been a select few who have actually had a hands-on experience with the project. Yeah, there were two or three demos released to the public, but they were far from being note-worthy. My point is that I've been at this for far too long to see it not finished. However, that's much easier said than done..

I have A LOT more going on in my life now than what I did over a decade ago. Back then I was barely starting highschool with no kids, no real-world-responsibilities, a bit of a part-time job.. and a lot more motivation and awesome ideas to make this project into what I originally intended for it to be. I even had a lot more help, a lot more access to resources. However, I still had the same perfectionist, overly self-critical attitude that I still have to this very day. That hurt me a lot more back then than it does now, considering that back then it is what cost me a lot of good resources and help. If I had those same resources and help now the project would be progressing much smoother, much faster. Considering that my credibility is not exactly in the best condition for me to be asking help within the community, I'm a tad bit on my own unless I seek outside the box. Well, whatever the case may be, I'm still looking to release SOMETHING, and not just a resources release. If the project never sees completion, I'd be happy enough with a content-heavy demo considering how variable the gameplay mechanics are.

Well, as it stands right now, I don't know an exact time for when anything at all will be ready. I can tell you that the battle system is receiving yet another revision, partially to fine-tune things even further, and partially to revamp some ideas. One noteworthy issue that I had with the battle system was that there were some ideas that seemed TOO similar in execution to another individual's combat system, whom just so happens to be a good friend (I'd say :-P) that was once helping me very closely with design ideas and testing before I went dark for a few months. I think I'm finally on to "perfecting" the combat, and once that's out of the way then everything else will be full sail ahead. Most of the gameplay mechanics are being built around tweaking variables, and the story is being handled separately from that. So if there were ever a moderate change to something that needed to be made further down the line, changing a few variables here and there would easily take care of that without the need of going and completely revamping something.

Anyway I feel like I've drawn this blog out long enough and given the nay-sayers more than enough fuel for the flames. So on that note I just want to say that I appreciate everyone who's still supporting me on the project and looking forward to it. The biggest goal I'm trying to accomplish is that I don't want to disappoint you all. If just a demo alone far exceeds your expectations, then my job is done. This is my swan song to the community and to the community that gave birth to the idea of the project.

Progress Report

Ghosts of the Arcanum hasn't become a ghost..

..I've just been really tied down with work and other priorities as of lately. Not only that, I can't seem to crack the story scenario. Currently, the story is a continuation of a free-form chat room RPG that I was involved in on AOL back during 1996 to 2000. Considering that the RPG was completely free-form, there are a lot of characters, settings, plot devices, etc. that have to be revised in order for it all to make sense as an original, coherent story. The problem is that it's hard to not stray away from those characters, settings, plot devices, etc., because all of those things hold a sentimental value to me. However, for the sake of finally being able to release the project in playable form I will be rewriting to plot as a complete reinterpretation of everything mentioned.

As far as the game mechanics go, the core of the battle system has been finished for a while. However, because of a few recent patch releases by Cherry there will be a couple tweaks made to the system mechanics, as well as the battle HUD. As far as the game play outside of battle goes, exploration will be scaled down quite a bit. This is partially due to the story changing. Also, each "world" map would have been 500x500. ..yeah, too much Skyrim? Maybe. Anyway, my goal was, and still is to make exploration just as engaging as combat. So, I'll be tweaking that, also.

Anyway, I'm not trying to draw out this blog. I just wanted to keep you all whom are actually looking forward to this game's release up to date with what's going on. Don't worry, it's coming. This applies not only to those who are anxiously awaiting, but the vets who swear that this project will never see the light of day. So, the next time I do an update it will be one with actual hands-on material. I don't want to say soon, and I don't want to say later. Just know that it's on it's way.

Progress Report

And we just keep on buildin'..

Things have been prolonged a bit further by the battle system, but for awesome reasons. There were quite a number of things in the battle system that were modified, as well as added since December. At first thought it may seem like the system is being weighed down by features that only seem to be there just so one could say, "Hey, my combat system has SPECIAL FEATURES". However, everything that composes the battle system at this point actually balances out PERFECTLY. There is no one mechanic in the battle system that doesn't serve a purpose or seem tacked on, and most of my time has been dedicated to making sure that this all balances out for the player.



Enemy Status Window

The upper part of the screen displays enemy information during the targeting phase. This window displays the target's Boost Count, its current Enhancement, and which player character it is currently targeting and how much enmity that character has gained, indicated in green, yellow and red. (Lowest to highest.) In order for an Enhancement to be removed (other than using the Ethodispel Synergy), the target's Boost Count must be reduced to 0. This can be done in a variety of ways, particularly using an ability which removes the current Enhancement. As far as Aggro goes, the higher a player character's Aggro/Enmity, the more susceptible they are to being targeted, and the more damage they will receive.

Critical Reprieve

The timer to the right begins counting down whenever a party member drops to Critical or Down condition. If the timer reaches 0 before any of your party members are brought out of either condition then it will mean a game over. The timer will only reset if a battle is won. This system also balances out the Life Guard Temporal Ability. (Formerly Persevere.) Life Guard allows the player to continue to take damage in a Critical state without being brought to Down status.

Soul Fragments

The orbs that you see above Target A. Whenever an enemy's Boost Count is reduced, there is a chance one of these orbs may be released. Up to 5 of these orbs can be released, and if Confirm is held while choosing a target with Soul Fragments to Relent against, that player character will absorb those orbs as health. Each orb restores 20% of that character's health.

Enemy Critical Threshold

The red portion of the health gauge shown next to Target A. This is an indicator of an enemy's maximum health. In some combat situations you will encounter enemies that are capable of recovering large amounts of their health. It is during these situations that it is important to focus on reducing the Critical Threshold. This can be done by executing Chain Breakers, which reduce the CT by a percentage based on the current Chain Count. There are also other methods of reducing CT.

Player Character Stance

A player character's battle stance changes depending on the actions taken during battle. There are two primary stances that the player characters change between constantly throughout battle. The first stance, shown in the screenshot, is the Aggressive Stance. The Aggressive Stance is indicated by the player character having their weapon drawn. The Passive Stance is indicated by the player character not having their weapon drawn, and is usually the stance taken after casting a Synergy ability, or a passive action. Player characters in a Passive Stance are susceptible to being knocked into an Unbalanced Stance, which will cause Cool-down (which will be explained below) to stick on their following turn.

Ability Cool-down

The number to the right of the time gauge. This number increases in red or green, depending on the actions taken. Red indicates cool-down, which slows down how fast the time gauge recharges. It also indicates the additional damage a player character will take while damaged in a Passive Stance. Cool-down is gained by performing actions or receiving damage. For example, the Ethoheal Synergy initially has a cool-down of 3. If the number increases in green ("Warm-up"), which is mostly done by the use of Synergy abilities such as Ethospeed, the time gauge recharge speed is increased. Cool-down is reset on the following player character turn.

Enemy Positioning and Targeting

Enemy positioning is now relevant to player targeting. To sum this up real quick, if Target B is positioned behind Target A, Target B cannot be targeted until Target A is defeated. For example, if Target B is attacked while behind Target A, Target A will intercept the attack. However, if the player character has the Free Aim Temporal Ability active, then their targeting will not be restricted by enemy positioning.

Modifications

- The Recovery and Recharge enemy Enhancements were replaced with Seal and Negate. Seal prevents the player character from absorbing Soul Fragments, while Negate negates all Critical Threshold damage.

- The Recovery Temporal Ability has been removed for player characters, as well. This puts more emphasis on the Polarity Field Effects Regenerate and Degenerate.

- Enemies with the Speed Enhancement can now act during Overclock.

- Polarity Field Effects no longer take effect on all combatants on each combatant's turn. The effects only activate for the combatant currently taking their turn.

- Chain Breakers are no longer capable of one-hit KOs. The damage inflicted is a percentage based on the current Chain Count, reducing by the target's Defense Modifiers.

- The Relent Command no longer recovers health whenever AP is maxed out. If Soul Fragments are absorbed while health is Perfect, then 5% per orb will be added to AP.

- Chain Count increases Momentum, and in turn that increases the Excession Gauge.

- Splash Damage is no longer halved for other members in the target's party. The amount of damage these other members received is based on a percentage of the amount of damage the primary target receives. That percentage is determined by the attacker's Accuracy stat. For example, if a target receives 100 damage from an area-of-effect attack, and the attacker has an accuracy of 57, then the members of the target's group will receive 57 points in damage. Unlike other forms of damage, Splash Damage can only be reduced by the targets' Damage Resistance stat, and being in a defensive stance.

Progress Report

RPG Maker God TNomad, WHY HAVE YOU CURSED ME?!?! >_<

Okay, so.. the Acer won't bloody charge. This means that I have to move everything back to my PC w/ a busted sound card, while the Acer is off being repaired. So.. development slows down once again. The main problem I'll seem to face with working on the game on my PC is picking up on event hiccups, which is much easier on the Acer. As far as the sound goes, I've been working with the same SFX and BGMs since the project started on RM2k3, so I'm pretty familiar with what to use and when to use it. However, I'm focusing on a lot more ambient sounds due to game's setting, so that's where the problem lies with that. If anything, I only have to deal with this for about 2 or 3 weeks, so it's not that big of a deal. I actually wanted to get a demo out around Christmas, but from the looks of things that may be pushed back until next year. So, I'm thinking about releasing a battle system demo, so that people can get a good taste of what the game's combat has to offer. If time permits the work, I should be able to push that out by Christmas. Well.. 'guess that's about it. On a side note, here is some non-battle system info to check out:

- The game will have a semi-nonlinear, open-world structure. Each of the "overworld" areas will be massive in size, and are designed to be worth exploring and interacting with, as opposed to just moving through large, empty space.

- There will be a number of dialogue choices to make.

- The game begins with Jesopher having lost all of his memories. In order to regain his memories, the player must collect the blue orb Memory Fragments spread throughout the game. This is entirely optional, however.

- The enemy encounter system will be a combination of random encounters, hot spot-based encounters ("Chrono Trigger-style"), and the encounter system used in the Finding Forever Eden version. (See video here and here.)

- Although Jesopher, Sophietia and Tabris are the only party members you can play as throughout the entire game, there are others that will join the group as guests. However, instead of being A.I.-controlled party members, each guest will grant a passive ability to the battle party whenever they are present. (For example, one guest grants +1 to all Chain Counts. Combine this ability with the Aggressor Temporal ability and you can build the Chain Count up to 6 with just basic attacks alone.)

- Aside from being non-linear, the game follows a very dynamic structure, one example being events that may occur for one group of players that may not occur for another group.

Progress Report

New targeting system for battles..

I'm pretty excited about the potential of this system, so I thought it was worth blogging about it. The battle system rebuild has given me room to toss in a new targeting system. In a way its an enhanced version of a targeting system I used for the custom battle system in the RPG Maker '95 version of the project.

What this system does is give meaning to the positions of the enemies on the battle field. For example, if enemy A is infront of enemy B, and you attempt to attack enemy B, then enemy A will intercept your attack. That won't be just it, at least so far. Things like area-of-effect skills and other abilities that target entire enemy groups will be affected by the targeting system. The way that area-of-effect abilities currently work is that they don't automatically target all enemies, but instead the player still targets a single enemy, and the surrounding enemies receive splash damage. How this will come into play with the new targeting system, if the surrounding enemies are outside the area-of-effect radius of the attack, they won't receive any damage. This may also bring new abilities into play, such as those that target enemies in a straight line, and abilities that alter the field position of enemies. A new Temporal ability has already been created that will allow the player to target any enemy regardless of their position on the field.

So.. yeah, I don't think the basic concept of the system itself is anything new in the world of RPGs, but it's something I haven't seen done, if just to this extent, in any other RM game, particularly RM2k3 and the DBS. This is the last feature I'll be adding to the battle system, since I feel like anything additional would throw off the balance that's been established in the system, and anything more would also over-complicate things.

Aside from that, I'm trying to decide whether I should keep the Damage Condition/Chain Guard System, or drop it. To those of you that don't know, the Damage Condition System is a system that, only when Hard Mode is active, prevents the player from inflicting damage on the enemy until certain conditions are met, which at one point varied from Chain Count, to Momentum, and even the target's AP. I think recently reduced the conditions to just the Chain Count, henceforth the system being renamed Chain Guard. The thing is, there seems to already be a number of defense modifiers in place for the enemy, and I'm scared the player may be overwhelmed by the number of things they have to get around in order to damage the enemy even just a little.. eh.. Feedback would help out a lot.

Progress Report

Rebuilding the battle system.. Not remaking it.

I was originally planning on releasing a battle demo for the Boss Battle Design event, but there were a few hiccups found in the system. Not only that, there were a lot of graphics missing, along with important game play features that hadn't been fully implemented, yet. I wanted all aspects of the battle system to be accessible by the player, and they just weren't ready in time. However the core of the battle system is complete.

This being the case, I've decided to rebuild the battle system from the ground-up. The reason behind this decision is that everything that makes the battle system work has gone EVERYWHERE, now. When I first began working on the system, I just implemented features as I went along until everything actually came together and fell into place. Normally I limit myself by going into battle system development with an exact plan, a precise blueprint, and things usually don't balance out as well as they do on paper. Now that the actual system is complete, I can clean up and streamline things so that the margin for error isn't as huge as it is now.

So far the rebuild is moving along pretty quickly. This also means that it is possible for a playable demo, not just a battle demo, to come along soon, as well. Since some of the more advanced features come into play later on in the game, I can go ahead and complete the basics that make a demo beginner-friendly.

Side notes: YAY for a US release of Xenoblade; and Final Fantasy Type-0 is truth.

Progress Report

Progress Update - Battle System

It's been awhile since I've made an update, so here's some battle system news for you all. For the most part the battle system is complete. Everything that needs to be implemented has been implemented, or what hasn't been implemented will be implemented, and it is all set in stone. As it is now, the combat system is playable and functions as it should. I've completely turned my focus to finishing the combat system, but because of how it is designed once it is fully completed only minor tinkering with variables will be necessary for each and every battle. To go even further - if I wanted to go even further with this - I could designate each and every battle to just one battle template.. but that's unnecessarily time-consuming.

Anyway, for as long as I've been working on this project, this is the very first battle system I've created that I'm COMPLETELY satisfied with. While there are a few concepts that deviate from the norm, I'm designing so that any player could easily adapt to those concepts. For example, battles involved a lot of additional button inputs, however, there's an option that the player can turn on to do that for them. That would make combat more "traditionally" stat-driven. The only thing about all of this is I hope I don't make a game where combat outshines everything else. Well, here's a good bit of info on what's going on with the battle system right now..



Battle Flow

- Combat is designed so that each encounter may force the player to rethink their initial strategies, even for minor enemies.

- Enemies will have an intelligence value that effects their combat efficiency. For example, while two of the same enemies may share the same skill set that includes abilities such as healing, the enemy with a lower intelligence score may or may not use the healing ability when necessary.

- Certain enemy information will be displayed upon targeting it. The enemy's Boost Count, Enhancement Ability, and current aggro-target will be displayed. However, some enemies require that you use an analyze ability to reveal some of this information. (The Aggro display is there to help the player prepare allies before the enemy unleashes certain attacks.)

- Player characters cannot be "one-shotted" by the enemy, meaning you will always be left in Critical Condition (1 HP) before being KO'd.

- It is possible to instantly kill each and every enemy in the game. In order to do this the Chain Count must be raised significantly.

- Player actions build enmity, and also have a cool-down effect. The enmity determines how aggressive the enemy is towards a particular player character. For example, healing abilities typically draw a lot of enmity, so the enemy will usually target the designated healer. Cool-down determines how quickly the action time gauge recharges. For example, a powerful attack may cause the gauge to recharge at a MUCH slower rate than it would if a weaker attack was used.

- Adjustments to battle difficulty can be made via Hard Mode and Auto-Action options. If Hard Mode is turned on then level difference is factored into damage. If the enemy is of a higher level than the player then they will inflict much more damage. Also, additional enemy actions may become active, as well. If Auto-Action is turned on (still a W.I.P.) then all actions requiring additional button inputs will occur automatically based on the player character's Combat Knowledge value. Combat Knowledge can be raised or lowered depending on how efficiently that character performs in battle.

Player Temporal Abilities
Temporal Abilities are passive abilities that can be activated for a number of player character turns based on how many are in your current battle inventory, which is limited to 9. The abilities each player character has access to is based on their current Logic. Once the player character's Excession Gauge completely fills then they can share the effects of their currently active Temporal Ability with any other party members' who's Excession Gauges are filled completely. Here are a few of the Temporal Abilities you will utilize in the game:

Aggressor- Offense Logic ability. Adds 1 additional Chain to each attack.
Counter- Offense Logic ability. Counter attack after being attacked by the enemy.
Blitz- Damage output increases the lower HP becomes.
Long Range- Negates enemy Spike Enhancement damage.
Persevere- Defense Logic ability. MP-based chance of negating Critical Condition damage.
Spiked Guard- Defense Logic ability. Inflicts 10% HP damage upon the enemy before it initiates an attack targeting the player character.
Safeguard- Defense Logic ability. Negates enemy Ravager Enhancement damage.
Fervor- Support Logic ability. Prevents cool-down from Ability usage.
Field- Support Logic ability. Evenly distribute area-of-effect output of abilities.

Some Awesome Temporal Ability Combinations:
Persevere + Blitz + Bypass- Allows the player to inflict a massive amount of damage while staying alive and bypassing enemy damage resistance.
Aggressor + Vigor- Constantly use Chain Breakers without resetting Chain Count.
Counter + Spiked Guard + Bypass- When attacked by the enemy, inflict Spike Damage, then perform a counter attack which bypasses enemy damage resistance.

Enemy Enhancement Abilities
Like the player, the enemy has passive abilities as well that are activated temporarily during battle. Unlike Temporal Abilities, these abilities only diminish once the enemy's Boost Count is reduced to 0. This is done by using abilities that target specific enhancements. Some of the more significant Enhancement Abilities are:

Spike- Any actions, with the exception of Relent that target the enemy will automatically inflict 10% of the player character's maximum health in damage upon that player character.
Shield- Sends all Synergy Abilities cast at the enemy back at the player character.
Ravager- All damage can bypass Critical Condition.

Field Polarity Effects
Field Polarity Effects effect every combatant in a battle. Each Field Polarity has a positive and negative effect. The strength of the effect is either increased or decreased based on the current Momentum. This means at higher Momentum levels they are more effective. Here are a few of the Field Polarities you will encounter:

Regenerate/Degenerate- Recovers or lowers HP so long as it isn't 1.
Replinish/Diminish- Recovers or lowers MP so long as it isn't 0.
Amplify/Deamplify- Increases or reduces Synergy effects.
Infinite/Anti- Prevents Temporal Abilities and Enemy Enhancements from being removed or nullifies their effects.

Request

Looking for some help (spriting, bug testing, etc.).. Oh! BTW..

I SUCK AT MAPPING!

..or maybe I'm just being really overly critical of myself? Bleh. I'm trying to make maps more than just... maps, and considering the direction I'm taking exploration in it's more difficult than what you'd expect. I guess I'll figure it out whenever I get around to....

...BUG TESTING. Yeah, that means a demo is about to drop really, really soon. While I already have someone willing to do so (..well.. at least out of the kindness of her heart.. :-P), considering what I'm trying to accomplish here, three heads may be better than just two. So.. if any of you are interested then just get in contact with me. For right now I'm only looking for one tester..

Spriting. While I've gotten by so far by just throwing parts together and editing pixels here and there, it's beginning to run its course with me. The battle system involves a ton of animations, those animations having to be precise.. so.. yeah. I had a spriter, but.. er.. he went MIA out of the blue.. So, if anyone is willing to take up the spritework, then by all means.. take it up. Contact me. It's all very appreciated.

Aside from that, I've ran into a bit of a hump with the battle system. While the core of the system is pretty much complete, I'm having issues with diversifying each of the three player characters, particularly with their skill sets. Since the battle system follows a different formula than what's usually seen from the community, I can't apply the normal fighter-defender-mage template.. I guess I'll post something later on for some community input.

Announcement

So.. it seems it has come to this..

I'm just going to get straight to the point.. In just a mere matter of seconds I have been struck with (yet another) life-changing ordeal that has nearly killed my motivation to continue with this project. That motivation was, more or less, me proving to the community that after have being a part of it since the year 1999, when T-Nomad first began and finished his translation of the RPG Maker '95, that this project has been much more than pretty screenshots, battle system demos, and ultimately just plain vaporware. Yep, I've been around for awhile.. I've seen The Nexus, RPG Maker Downloads; I've experienced Dreamer, the original Phylomortis, Baldy's Big Day, the (amazing) Crestfallen games.. I've been here for the very first announcement of RPG Maker 2000's translation, and Don Miguel's SPIFFY entrance into the scene of RMing.. Yeah, I'm pretty damn old. I think the only other users still here that have been here just as long are Holbert and Video Wizard..?

Honestly, I feel like I have some really great ideas running in this project. I also feel like, while not being an UBER RPG MAKR CODER, I've pulled off a ton of unique gameplay mechanics in my 10+ years by not working beyond the boundaries of the RPG Makers, but working around them. Also, I've been EXTREMELY nit-picky about my work, as well as overly critical.. which has a lot to do with why the context shown in those amazing screens, and talked about in messenger conversations has never been released.. I've never been satisfied with my work. I've always felt I could do better, because I've always wanted my project to be more than just a good looking game with cool gimmicks.. Hell, the game was even FINISHED on the RPG Maker '95.. clocking in at a good 25 hours, 140 MB. The point is I feel if I put at least SOMETHING of the project in its current iteration out, it's gonna get a lot of OMG THIS IS FRICKIN AWESOME!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!11111 responses. ..and truth be told, if it doesn't, I'll probably hang it up from there.

Well.. what I'm having to deal with now will probably demand 500% of my attention, contrary to how much progress was being made with the project despite the little amount of attention I was able to give to it. This isn't to say that I'm calling it quits, or even that I'm putting the project on hiatus. This also doesn't mean that any of you who are genuinely looking forward to this should give up hope and move on. I'm actually working on the project as I'm typing this.. However, my life is about to get much more difficult, much more stressful, and the little free time I did have left is about to go REALLY deep into the negative, and once that meteor nears that point of impact.. well.. it's a wrap regardless.

In any case, I just wanted to give you all the heads up.

Progress Report

Demo before main menu; Dynamic Gameplay info, Goodies...

The Demo

I think I will be releasing a demo before I begin proper work on the custom main menu since designing and coding it may take up more time than currently expected. The opening scenario is mostly playable without having to access the main menu, so if you've played a few PSOne-era RPG demos then this shouldn't be a problem.

The Dynamic Gameplay

I'm designing the game in a way that each player will have a different experience, if only a slightly different experience during each session of play. This idea began as just a randomized chest/item drop system, and evolved into events, sidequests, etc. More so, I'm designing it all in a way that it doesn't feel like a cheap gimmick. A small example of how this all works can be seen in two new videos I just uploaded to the videos page. Keep in mind, however, that this dynamic system is more than just random numbers. Some aspects of this system are influenced by the player's interaction with the game world. Tons of replay value is something I'm also designing the game around, which is increased considerably by this system, as well.

The Goodies
There have been a few screenshots of two previous versions of the project added to the Extras page, along with a demo of the Finding Forever Eden v.9.0 version of the project. Finding Forever Eden v.4.0 which was an absolute cluster-screw of a fully playable demo will also be available soon.
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