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Progress Report


As the title of the blog suggests, there is a new version of Weird Dreams ready to be downloaded.

What's changed:
The number of enemies wandering on the maps that have been cut significantly. I have also made enemies less difficult in general. The experience curve isn't as crazy as it was. I expect players to go not terribly much higher than level 15, even if they choose to grind. Unless they are absolutely in love with the VX DBS. There is also a change to the title screen. Thanks go out to NOACCEPTANCE722 for the artwork!

What still needs to be done:
Even if I'm wrong about the difficulty being fixed for however many times I've claimed that the difficulty's been fixed, I don't think I have it in me to work on this any more.

Where to get it:
1) The downloads tab. It's the one simply marked "Weird Dreams".
2) Click the "Download" button on this page
3) Click the "Download now!" button.

In other news:
I've played all the contest entries except I'm Scared of Girls. Probably high-time to change that.


Revision time!

While it's certainly beyond the point of mattering (at least as far as event judgement is concerned), I'm thinking of making revisions to this game. The first and foremost of these revisions is a closer look-see at the game balance. I've a working theory about what I could do in my head, and I'll probably be doing some testing of this idea by tomorrow.

The art that NOACCEPTANCE772 generously provided is going to replace the title screen. As much as I will miss the one I made myself, I respect what NOACCEPTANCE has done. Proper credit will also be given in the game Manual that nobody reads.

I also never really liked the map where players meets Victor for the last time. It just doesn't feel like a cliff edge to me. Saying that, I have no clue what I can do given just the VX RTP.

Not sure what else I can revise, given my skills. If anyone has a helpful suggestion, this is the time to make it!


Speaking of dreams...

I wanted to post this blog after everything about the 2011 Summer Games event was said and done. However, since posting this shouldn't effect the judging at this point anyway, I figured, why not?

As the front page notes, portions of this game were inspired by dreams that I actually had when I was younger. The precise content of those dreams have faded with time, but allow me to share with you what I remember. Excuse the use of the hide tag, but there are potential spoilers to be had.

"Flying Dish Dream"

The Dream:
I was in the backyard of my house, and my dad handed me this dinner plate. I held it on my chest, and I was able to fly. I couldn't control how I flew at all, but I could fly.
Actually, in other dreams that involve me flying, I'm never able to control the direction in which I fly. Indeed, there was this one dream that I was flying in the exact opposite direction I wanted to go, but I woke up after realizing (in-dream) that I could, potentially, go into space.

How does this dream pertain to the game? Instead of allowing player to fly uncontrollably, I gave them more controlled "jump points". Perhaps, somewhere down the line, I can use this basic idea for something akin to a hook-shot maze.

"Winter Home"

The Dream:
This dream is probably the hardest dream to relay, but I will try.
I was in this house, all wood-furnished. I went down a staircase. On my right, there was... something. Forgive my lack of memory on this point. Whatever it was, it had an eye over it. I don't think I was into Tolkien at the time, so I've no idea were a singular eye could possibly come from. Anyway, on my left was the door to the outside. Of course, the season for the dream was winter. That it was snowing outside was "proof" enough for me.
I'm not sure if I can relay this idea with any amount of accuracy, but I knew that if I opened the door, stuck a portion of my hand out that door, whatever portion of my hand that was out of the door would be magically (for lack of a better term) dressed for winter. As the rest of my body left the house, the parts that left the threshold of the house would be similarly dressed.

How does this pertain to this game? The cottage that is essentially your base of operations was based off of this dream. The switching off between "normal" Francesca to "mystic" Francesca and visa-versa was supposed to relay the idea of this switch, but I can only do so much with the skills that I have.


The Dream:
This is actually a conglomeration of dreams that I've had over the years. Dreams than involve me having super powers, or very magic-like abilities. In those dreams, I need but to wave my arm, and awesome things would happen. Of course, I couldn't move said arm for the life of me for whatever reason (more control issues, I guess), but that's besides the point.

How does this pertain to this game? Both the "Mystic" and "Heroine" forms that Francesca takes have properties that can be associated with this dream.

"Starting From Scratch"

The Dream:
In this dream, I wake up, and ran into the front door. Yes, I literally ran into it. I woke up again, and repeated the process. Yes, I literally ran into the front door again. After a few failed attempts to "wake up" for a "third" time, my mother wanted to know what I was up to. Suffice it to say, I wasn't dreaming the second time around.

How does this pertain to this game? The end of the game sees Francesca more or less exactly where she started. With that sequence, I wanted to raise some questions:
1: Was Francesca dreaming?
2: Is she dreaming now?
3: Where does the boundary of dreams and reality lie?
Perhaps I fail to raise any, or all, of these questions. However, I'd like to think that I made an attempt.

Granted, as far as games go, this isn't even close to being as "weird" as it pertains to be. For that, I would highly suggest playing the real Weird Dreams. I'd have to chalk that up to a developer knowledge versus player knowledge issue. In the end, I suppose I'm just a guy who's more surreal than you are (Now you see why I wanted to stave off posting this.).


Stream of consciousness: Difficulty is difficult

Considering recent comments, this game's too hard for it's own good. Thus, allow me to take a step back, and consider how I "balanced" this in the first place.

For Matsumori Days, I basically averaged out all the character's stats, and put those values into a character slot. If I was building a critter that was supposed to be level 3, I looked at what the values were for the "average" level 3 character. STR and/or INT were based on how much damage the critter "wanted" to do. Which, itself, was based off whatever the maximum health of that level character was at (normally 10% of health, with bosses 25% of health). It mostly worked in Matsumori Days because the party size was fairly consistant at four. Four bodies to distribute damage to, as it were, evened things out.

For full disclosure, I essentailly used the exact same calculations for this game's creatures. Which is, probably, where this game's difficulty lies. There's only one character to soak the damage. Not to mention that there's no reliable on-feild mana restoration like there was in Matsumori Days.

The obvious choice seems to be to reduce the damage that creatures "want" to do. However, I haven't the slightest clue what numbers to aim for. Arbitrarily, I'm going to be using 5% of health for normal foes with 15% for boss foes to see how that pans out.

As for indicating where the maps transition, I'm looking at the "!Flame" set, but if there's a better/more approripriate suggestion, I would like to hear of it.


Well, here goes!

I thought it took longer for stuff to get accepted? Anyway, as of a few moments ago, I got a notice that the download that I intended to make my official entry into the RMN Summer Games has been accepted. I swear, I uploaded that no more than two minutes ago (as of the time I started this blog).

I think I'm more relived that this is done, and that I managed to complete this in the given time limit, rather than worried about the game's quality. The latter might bite back at me during the judgement phase. However, like I mentioned when I first signed up, I wasn't in this for the competition. I was in this to see if I could make a game given certain constraints (such as time and theme).


How do I make this more "fun"?

As a form of interactive entertainment-based media, I want players to have fun in experiencing the end-product. There's two factors I'm seeing that hold the game back from being a more enjoyable experience as a whole: dungeons and battles.

First off, dungeons. What makes dungeons fun? Puzzles? Convoluted mazes? Gorgeous vistas? Probably some combination of the three, but in consideration of my current skill-set, and how much time I've got left (16 days and counting!) I think I want to concentrate on the "puzzle" element.

So, what kind of puzzles do I want? The theme allows for some oblique thinking, but I don't want to be too crazy/convoluted with the puzzles, or their answers. In the end, I think that keeping the "jump point" as the central gameplay mechanic for the puzzle element is what I want do to. However, my ideas for how to implement puzzle elements with this mechanic is essentially limited to "Go here, flick the swtich, more dungeon opens."

What about battles? What makes combat fun? This is, perhaps, a more difficult question for me to answer. As a player, I love the "Control+A" method of combat (essentially "spam Attack"). As a developer, I want to see the tactical use of abilities on the part of players.

The game has no items or inventory, putting the player into "conserve" mode. Well, if there wasn't a rest-point that's easily accessible, anyway! That means the tactic of "spam Skill" is a perfectly viable tactic. Making the restoration points harder to access is not an option I'm particularly willing to consider, so the amount of stuff I want to do, or can do, with the combat is limited at best.

If I'm unwilling or unable to change the way combat works, I'm pretty much stuck with making interesting puzzles. 16 days left, hrm? I wonder if Legend of Zelda - Oracle of Ages, or it's sister Legend of Zelda - Oracle of Time have any ideas for me?


Inspiration, and its effects

Certain events have occurred that cause me to question and consider what, exactly, the "Bludgeon of Inspiration" is, and does. Be prepared for a story!

The thing that comes to the forefront of my mind is that when inspiration hits me, I work feverishly, or generally do things without too much thought going into what I'm doing. Hasty decisions are made, and the possibility of looking like a complete idiot is a very likely scenario.

This game's title screen is an excellent example of this. I was just chugging along, not really noticing, or possibly caring, what I was doing, then *BAM*, I posted the title screen. I started getting notices for it shortly thereafter, mostly people saying how bad it was. Thing is, I was so blinded by all the stuff I've done, and how fast I seemed to be doing everything in, that it did not occur to me that the title screen I made was "bad" in any way, shape, or form. I can admit that it's bad now, but I really don't have anything better, nor have any ideas for anything better. I suppose I could use ShortStar's take on the title screen, but I would prefer to use something I made (no offense to ShortStar intended). This talk of criticism leads me to my next point.

I tend to take criticism, both good and bad, quite personally. The games I make are an extension of myself, my psyche so to speak. So why should I not take criticism personally?

I think all designers think this way, to some degree. Saying that, I've taken this idea to exeptional exteremes. As a perfect example, I took Liberty's Let's Try of Legacy Reborn too personally for my own good. Consider: the game is canceled, and the download torn down. I don't think I'll ever have the heart to touch that game ever again. I managed to handle Creation's Pass/Fail of Matusmori Days better, but was an absolute emotional wreak with just the description for RPGSnapshot's video for it's play of Matsumori Days, much less actually seeing the video itself (Full disclosure: I still haven't seen it, nor have the heart to.). So maybe I've not changed all that much. Which leads to my next point.

I can be quite resistant to change. Particularly with mapping. I have no clue when I made my first map (Maybe it was with RPGM-95?), but my maps have this tendency to be empty in some way, shape, or form. My very first map ever was, of course, the typical "first map ever" - a huge, wide-open area with absolutely nothing going on. The maps did, eventually, get smaller and smarter, but there was always an "empty" quality to them.

Don't get me wrong, I've played the games that people seem to like ripping graphics from: Final Fantasy VI, Treasure of the Rurda, and Earthbound. It's not that I don't know what a good map looks like. I just don't like the idea behind the expenditure of effort that kind of mapping requires. Which brings me to my next point.

I tend skip over problems that I think are small, but are quite large problems in reality. Overly tough monsters? Just grind a bit more in the previous area. Terrible mapping? That's not my strength, so why care? Underdeveloped characters? Players must be skipping the dialog.

I realize that this kind of thinking is not particularly conducive to making an "average" game, much of anything beyond that. That I still think these things, while realizing that it's not good for game development, is irony onto itself. However, while I'm ignoring these admittedly large issues, at the same time, I can be pretty picky about other issues. As an example, with Matsumori Days, I "had" to write Masako a certain way, or she wouldn't "be" Masako. She would fail as a character. Then again, as nobody, or very few, seem to be "getting" who "Masako" is, I end up failing as a writer in that regard. I'm damned when I "do", and damned when I "don't". Now that's irony!

Thus is the story thus far of the RMN user called "Marrend", and his struggle to be an amateur game designer. Perhaps this story is harsh, and perhaps the so-called "Bludgeon of Inspiration" had some say in what the content of this story was. However, do not come away from this story, thinking that inspiration is inherently a bad thing. No, far from it. Indeed, inspiration is what makes creativity happen. Without it, there would be no wheel, much less anything more technologically advanced, like video games. Take this story, rather, as a cautionary tale: that doing things by sheer inspiration alone can lead to disastrous results.

What does this means for future game development? No clue. All I know is that I still have 19 days to fix this game's title screen to something more acceptable (Whatever "acceptable" is!), and fix the game balance one more time to something less tedious. I don't care about the mapping, or the use of RTP resources. There I go again, concentrating on certain issues, while ignoring other issues. One of these days, one of these days...


*Insert maniacal laughter here*

I haven't the slightest clue where the other teams are at, but I've just uploaded a complete version of this game, and it's ready for download!

This is not the "final official" version, as it still requires the RTP to run. However, I want to see what the general reaction to this madness is. Besides, if there's anything truly broken about the game, I'll have plenty of time to fix it in.

As far as the end boss is concerned, I'm seeing players either seeing it coming from a mile away, or be really, really surprised. That is, after they puke at the absolutely terrible job of mapping that the boss area has.


Gettin' there!

Section 2 is the completeness! Well, close enough, anyway! Considering that it's 5:30-ish PM local time as I write this, I've still got a good chuck left of today to work on the last part of the game.

My main beef is still the experience the various critters award versus how pathetically easy they all are. Thing is, I don't think I'm specifically going out of my way to be over-powered. Then again, I could probably afford to not care, as the levels I'm seeing my character be at is more or less what I want anyway. So, experience isn't the problem per say. I guess it's overall critter difficulty.

Anyway, the current plan is to get the last section mapped, but make a revision to the critter balance calcumations to make them more worth the exp they award.


Working too fast?

Sometimes, being hit by a muse, equipped with the Bludgeon of Inspiration (as it is want), is a curse. I've practically just began mapping for the second section of the game, and I'm seeing myself having up to the final sequence written up my "Game Script.rtf" file by the end of the day, if not early tomorrow. While nothing is truly written in stone (no pun intended), and is quite subject to change, I'm starting to worry that, maybe, I'm just working to fast for my own good.

I dunno. Perhaps these fears are unfounded. I guess, if I actually do "finish" with time to spare, I can touch the game up a tad before making the final, official, submission to the event.

*Edit: I also place "blame" on my musical inspiration as well.
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