• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS
Latest Release
0.2.0 - Jan 27, 2024

Synopsis
Join Amalia, a tracker from the simple orphan colony of Tulron, as she discovers the veiled world of Alcuria in search of her friends.

Links
website
discord
twitter
facebook

Legacy Synopsis
In Starless Umbra, you play as Andoru in a quest to attempt to return home to save your sister after bandits raid your village. This simple task complicates itself quickly, as a strange phenomenon leaves you not only away from your village, but with little direction in a completely new continent.

As you travel, you'll learn the people around you aren't what they seem, and ties begin forming between yourself and others as your past is revealed. Unfortunately, no one can answer the simple question: "how do I get back home to save my sister?"

Latest Blog

2023 Recap!



You can also watch on youtube if you don't want to read!

Hi! Once again over a year has passed since my last update. I figure now’s a great time to reflect and share what I’ve accomplished in 2023.

YEAR OVER ALREADY?

2023 had some setbacks. At the start of the year I was impacted by the tech layoffs and spent the first five months of 2023 finding a new job. I thought I’d get more development time in, but the pressures of securing reliable income constantly loomed over me. Game development for the foreseeable continues to be a side project.

I did what I could though. The new gig is good, and here we are in a new year. Let’s recap some SU dev.



NEW STORY CONTENT & MECHANICS

This past year I focused primarily on content for the second of the game’s five planned acts. Act 2 adds four new dungeons centered around a new hub town. All mainline cutscenes, dungeon maps, and mechanics are in. And yikes there are just so many small mechanics here and there that start to conflict, despite my best efforts to maintain some semblance of control over my scope. For example, having characters follow you with a basic pathfinding algorithm is great, till you have swimming, and levers to raise/lower water levels, and all sorts of interactions. These things get complicated (and buggy to be honest) quickly. But these systems are coming together and make multiplayer quite enjoyable.

On the character customization side, I’ve added a passive ability system. This is inspired by FF9’s ability system with a few tweaks. Passives have a set of triggers (I deal damage, I use a specific elemental attack, my party member is defeated, a battle begins, etc) and then an outcome as a result of those triggers occurs: usually a buff or stat boost at the moment. You have a set number of points to equip passives, but in another twist on the FF9 abilities formula, you can unlock more slots by exploring and interacting with the environment. This is a dumping ground for lots of worldbuilding and character development. The goal here is to add a bit of depth to character-building with fun ways to experiment and get creative, without cramming it in the player’s face.

COMBAT SYSTEMS

One recurring piece of feedback I received was that combat felt boring at times. SU had a distinct lack of resources. No SP? Few items? This was more out of hesitancy to implement new systems without giving it proper thought, but I’m finally moving forward with a few combat tweaks.

First, I’m experimenting with SP as a character stat. This is not a currency for abilities, but instead something more akin to hunger. It determines how much HP you recover after battle and slowly depletes after every enemy encounter. It’s replenished most easily by drinking water. But water of course requires a container to store it in, so you can’t simply purchase 99 bottles of water and be done with it. Instead — as another resource of sorts — the team will collect empty bottles. Bottles may be filled with various liquids, like potions, ingredients, and of course water.

In an effort to be more environmentally-friendly, the party saves their empty bottles after consuming water to refill later. That’s right, this is straight out of early Zelda, but the benefits this system provides solve many of the traditional problems I had with items in RPGs. You hoard them, never use them, and they just clutter your inventory. By providing meaningful choices to the player when shopping I hope to combat item hoarding. For example, I have 5 bottles, do I bring 5 waters? Maybe I bring 3 waters and 2 monster energy drinks that don’t replenish as much SP but boost my movement speed. As an added bonus, the system slots right into the game’s trading mechanics. (You trade empty bottles for filled bottles. Using a water bottle is just removing that consumable, then giving the player an empty bottle back.)

Players also have four additional secondary action slots in combat. Accessed by holding space bar (or a trigger on controller), these will be a variety of equippable combat tricks, items, and most interestingly, combos. Combos are special attacks players can create using any combination of learned skills. For instance, you might have an attack that deals frost damage and freezes an enemy briefly. Another character has an attack that launches a fireball. Because that frozen enemy is now ice element, the fireball does extra damage.

This is a lot of new mechanics for an otherwise simple battle system. I might tweak the rate at which I introduce them. I might also drop some of these if they aren’t fun or are needlessly complex. The goal here is to provide more long-term, dungeon-scale resource management to the game, and drip-feed new mechanics to make combat more interesting and engaging.



NEW ARTISTS

I’ve hired a few artists to help on the game, mostly because if I try to do this all myself who knows when I’ll finish. This is part “WOW MAKING A JRPG SOLO IS HARD” and part I actually have to be very deliberate with what little time I have for development. (I get ~1-2 hrs a night after my daughter goes to bed if I’m lucky). Spriting over a sketch to get character portraits that look barely passable take me a full week’s focused time. It’s just not sustainable and I believe in the vision of the game enough to get help.

puking rabbit has sprited monsters for all of act two. These are far more expressive and polished than I’ve been able to ever do.

Iamsako is sketching and spriting in-game portraits. Their attention to detail from sketch through to pixeling and anti-aliasing the portraits is inspiring.

1800animeschool, aka keifurisu returned to do my game’s title screen. You may remember (https://rpgmaker.net/games/407/images/20111/) (https://rpgmaker.net/games/407/images/16458/) from the rpg maker 2003 version of the game. I feel like the new title screen symbolizes a slow maturity and natural progression of ourselves as artists.



TOOLING

The way I was doing spritesheets was not at all scalable. I’ve leveraged Aseprite’s json exporter, written a parser, and then reimplemented character animations. Now a character sprite doesn’t need an entire texture page to itself. This is relatively minor from a player’s perspective but man I just want to show off what a good texture packing is capable of.



NINTENDON’T ASK ME HOW MUCH I PAID FOR A SWITCH DEVKIT

SU will target switch at launch. I pitched it to Nintendo. I’m an approved developer! From the start of development, I’ve taken a controller-first approach to input, and the couch co-op nature of the console makes it a perfect fit. The game is totally playable with a single joycon, so you can play with a friend without an additional controller.

SO WHAT’S DONE? WHAT’S NEXT?

Act 2 is basically playable from start to finish now. I’ve done three solid playthroughs and caught most of the hard crashes. Story-wise, this bit of content was particularly difficult for me to write. Certain scenes aren’t quite as impactful as I like, and the character-to-character dialogue didn’t write itself like Act 1 did.

There’s a lot of holes for side-content: an optional dungeon in an abandoned church, a hot springs side quest and so on. It’s always a balancing act between polishing existing content and charging ahead with the story and writing, but this is a massive amount of material. My last playthrough clocked in at a bit over 6 hours, so Act 2 roughly triples the amount of available content.

I’ve updated the public demo with a cleaned up Act 1. If you’d like to support me and get access to the newer stuff while supporting my dreams of finishing this thing before I retire, please consider subscribing to the Alcuria Games discord server or donating on kofi.

For 2024 I’ll continue to slowly and diligently chip away at game content. Features and polish will come but the core pieces are already here. The biggest challenge for me at this point is writing and implementing a cohesive, meaningful story: turning ideas and plotpoint wishlists into a concrete narrative. I’ll continue working on that and hopefully not get too sidetracked by shiny mechanics or minigames.

Stats
14,489 Words in script
1,013 Commits (snapshots of the codebase)
154 Maps
576kb Database (skills, cutscenes, player data, etc in plaintext)


I think about this line from SoulBlazer at least once a week.
  • Production
  • 2 of 5 episodes complete
  • Commercial
  • dragonheartman
  • GameMaker Studio 2
  • Action RPG
  • 02/20/2008 08:51 PM
  • 02/01/2024 04:45 AM
  • 01/01/2030
  • 905873
  • 351
  • 17937

Posts

author=Blindmind
author=ryan7251
0 of 10 episodes complete.....I got this feeling this is not ever going to be completed.
No offense lol, but that's a really awful attitude to have. Comments like aren't nescessary. We should be encouraging each-other in this community; especially people like DHM who have poured in nearly a decade of work.


author=Blindmind
author=ryan7251
0 of 10 episodes complete.....I got this feeling this is not ever going to be completed.
No offense lol, but that's a really awful attitude to have. Comments like aren't nescessary. We should be encouraging each-other in this community; especially people like DHM who have poured in nearly a decade of work.


Ok look i know this is a free game and it looks really fun and great but that just makes it more painful to see after a "decade of work" it has zero ZERO episodes done now maybe I'm missing something but does that not mean it's not even 10% done?
After a decade i would think the game would be close to being done or at least half way.
Anyway even if it is finished at this rate it maybe 30-50 years till it's done.
and by then i maybe died :(
author=ryan7251
author=Blindmind
author=ryan7251
0 of 10 episodes complete.....I got this feeling this is not ever going to be completed.
No offense lol, but that's a really awful attitude to have. Comments like aren't nescessary. We should be encouraging each-other in this community; especially people like DHM who have poured in nearly a decade of work.
Ok look i know this is a free game and it looks really fun and great but that just makes it more painful to see after a "decade of work" it has zero ZERO episodes done now maybe I'm missing something but does that not mean it's not even 10% done?
After a decade i would think the game would be close to being done or at least half way.
Anyway even if it is finished at this rate it maybe 30-50 years till it's done.
and by then i maybe died :(


sorry guy, this often happens with someone's magnum opus. this game has been gutted and redone several times, so a decade's worth of work doesn't necessarily translate to quantifiable linear progression. if you have seen his significantly older versions of this game, you'd be able to understand how impressive his updates are. the amount of technical feats this guy has accomplished in rm2k3 using events is staggering and eventually he came to terms with the fact that he has outgrown the engine to start his own. sometimes passion takes time
author=Natook
author=ryan7251
author=Blindmind
author=ryan7251
0 of 10 episodes complete.....I got this feeling this is not ever going to be completed.
No offense lol, but that's a really awful attitude to have. Comments like aren't nescessary. We should be encouraging each-other in this community; especially people like DHM who have poured in nearly a decade of work.
Ok look i know this is a free game and it looks really fun and great but that just makes it more painful to see after a "decade of work" it has zero ZERO episodes done now maybe I'm missing something but does that not mean it's not even 10% done?
After a decade i would think the game would be close to being done or at least half way.
Anyway even if it is finished at this rate it maybe 30-50 years till it's done.
and by then i maybe died :(
sorry guy, this often happens with someone's magnum opus. this game has been gutted and redone several times, so a decade's worth of work doesn't necessarily translate to quantifiable linear progression. if you have seen his significantly older versions of this game, you'd be able to understand how impressive his updates are. the amount of technical feats this guy has accomplished in rm2k3 using events is staggering and eventually he came to terms with the fact that he has outgrown the engine to start his own. sometimes passion takes time

Agreed. You can actually go back though and experience more of the game the way it was, it felt like we were swiftly moving toward the endgame. I'm sure someone has an old version posted somewhere. I have it. With DHM's blessing I'd gladly send it to you.
dragonheartman
Developer, Starless Umbra / Heroes of Umbra
2966
author=ryan7251
Ok look i know this is a free game and it looks really fun and great but that just makes it more painful to see after a "decade of work" it has zero ZERO episodes done now maybe I'm missing something but does that not mean it's not even 10% done?
After a decade i would think the game would be close to being done or at least half way.
Anyway even if it is finished at this rate it maybe 30-50 years till it's done.
and by then i maybe died :(
It's been about one year of work redoing the engine so far. I got about 80% done with the RPG Maker version but I wasn't really happy with it. There are things I want to do with the game that are well beyond the scope of what 2k3 is (reasonably) capable of. It's completely understandable to be upset. At times I feel frustrated I can't commit as much as I'd like on this--I started when I was 14 and I turned 28 last week; however, I cherish the fact that people are interested a bit in what I'm doing. You motivate me to work a little harder.

author=Stedar
Agreed. You can actually go back though and experience more of the game the way it was, it felt like we were swiftly moving toward the endgame. I'm sure someone has an old version posted somewhere. I have it. With DHM's blessing I'd gladly send it to you.
I've been meaning to post an archive of all major releases; you are welcome of course to share those too. <3
author=dragonheartman
I've been meaning to post an archive of all major releases; you are welcome of course to share those too. <3

Awesome. I have a couple of different versions, even ones from before you began dabbling with DynRPG, and unless it's lost to data corruption I may even have a version of Dragonheart CH2 lying around somewhere ;)

But here is the latest (9.8.12) version of Starless Umbra I have saved away on a hard drive from before the current revamp. It's not a virus, I promise. Enjoy guys!

Edit: Just realized I left my save files in there, lol whoops. Enjoy anyway!

Starless Umbra 9.8.12 Download
Tau
RMN sex symbol
3293
God I hope this is still being worked on haha. I have complete faith in DHM though!
Cheering BEEEEEEAAAAAMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!
`<´=============================================o
dragonheartman
Developer, Starless Umbra / Heroes of Umbra
2966
I'll post details soon, but just wanted to say some (relatively) exciting stuff happened. Once things settle I'll share the details.

In other news, SU turned "15" this month.
dragonheartman
Developer, Starless Umbra / Heroes of Umbra
2966
oops double post
15!? WOW! And there I was, thinking my game was old, it's just "11". They grow so much, and shrink again, if only I could "shrink" too xD a.k.a. lose age.
author=Stedar
author=dragonheartman
I've been meaning to post an archive of all major releases; you are welcome of course to share those too. <3
Awesome. I have a couple of different versions, even ones from before you began dabbling with DynRPG, and unless it's lost to data corruption I may even have a version of Dragonheart CH2 lying around somewhere ;)

But here is the latest (9.8.12) version of Starless Umbra I have saved away on a hard drive from before the current revamp. It's not a virus, I promise. Enjoy guys!

Edit: Just realized I left my save files in there, lol whoops. Enjoy anyway!

Starless Umbra 9.8.12 Download


I've created an account in this site because i found this game, and he's look AWESOME, i downloaded the version of this game 9.0.0b (look's awesome), but when i start the first fight, the game crash and show an error window. Everytime, a new number rises from the darkness --> "a violation in 00000064 occured at 00000064 with read." I try execute the game some hard times with a few alterations (as admin, compatibility mode, etc) ... just the same... any ideas about?
=====
(sorry for my english...)
and, i just marked that post because i cant download that version (9.8.12); sorry. The link dont work
I just wanted to say that I've been following this game since the April 2005 demo, would love to see the older versions available again, and continue to look forward to a final release.

As for ikran, I can't really help. My 9.0.0b version functions without freezing, though after playing it again for the first time on Windows 10 it looks like the DynRPG functions may not be triggering appropriately. Sorry I don't know more.
Hi Ikran ❤

The original non-dyn plugin Chapter 7.05 version of Starless Umbra, should be available under the downloads section.

DHM uploaded that one awhile back, it includes the updated minecart mini game and some other nice additions.

Let us know if you were able to get that to work on your computer.
author=Ikran_
author=Stedar
author=dragonheartman
I've been meaning to post an archive of all major releases; you are welcome of course to share those too. <3
Awesome. I have a couple of different versions, even ones from before you began dabbling with DynRPG, and unless it's lost to data corruption I may even have a version of Dragonheart CH2 lying around somewhere ;)

But here is the latest (9.8.12) version of Starless Umbra I have saved away on a hard drive from before the current revamp. It's not a virus, I promise. Enjoy guys!

Edit: Just realized I left my save files in there, lol whoops. Enjoy anyway!

Starless Umbra 9.8.12 Download
I've created an account in this site because i found this game, and he's look AWESOME, i downloaded the version of this game 9.0.0b (look's awesome), but when i start the first fight, the game crash and show an error window. Everytime, a new number rises from the darkness --> "a violation in 00000064 occured at 00000064 with read." I try execute the game some hard times with a few alterations (as admin, compatibility mode, etc) ... just the same... any ideas about?
=====
(sorry for my english...)


I have had that problem too, so i tried to exclude dll's to see if there were some errors. I found that without animated_monsters.dll it works. Don't know which animations will be missing, however this will not exclude game features!
dragonheartman
Developer, Starless Umbra / Heroes of Umbra
2966
author=Zeno
I have had that problem too, so i tried to exclude dll's to see if there were some errors. I found that without animated_monsters.dll it works. Don't know which animations will be missing, however this will not exclude game features!

It was really stupid of me to bundle up dll's in the executable. At some point I want to correct this since certain versions of windows handle this better than others.

author=LordBlueRouge
Hi Ikran ❤The original non-dyn plugin Chapter 7.05 version of Starless Umbra, should be available under the downloads section.

DHM uploaded that one awhile back, it includes the updated minecart mini game and some other nice additions.

Let us know if you were able to get that to work on your computer.

I also have even more versions lying around if anyone's interested. I have no idea why one would be though.
I also have even more versions lying around if anyone's interested. I have no idea why one would be though.

I'm interested! ❤

For years when I was playing Starless Umbra on a Pentium 3 back in 2007 on gamingw, I could never get the mine cart sequence to work. But a few years and one computer upgrade later, I could - Like, there are some dudes out there, who come into rpgmaker.net, looking for a particular version of a game, they've become amore'd with over the years, that unfortunately no longer exists - Like the GamingW demo of Phantom Legacy or a particular of Legion Saga R, that I think Tau was looking for at one point. These requests are very far and few in-between however and are usually not really worth holding onto.

But in your case, seeing the progress you've made from rpgmaker to Heroes of Umbra to other indie games, has been so gosh dang cool! I'd really like to hold onto whatever you have, just for references sake.

Like, one of questions people usually ask when approaching rpgmaker is, has there ever been any commercial successes with it or has anyone used their experience with the maker to grow and pursue things outside rpgmaker? This is one of the examples I'd really like to point people to, because it's been really cool to not only play Starless Umbra, but to see your growth as a developer. And if someone asks or wants to know what the very first version of Starless Umbra looked like, we'll have it! - Sorry dude, I'm rambling here, but it's been so cool to see your progress throughout the years. XD

If you have any other versions, I'd love to hold onto them.
dragonheartman
Developer, Starless Umbra / Heroes of Umbra
2966
author=LordBlueRouge
I also have even more versions lying around if anyone's interested. I have no idea why one would be though.
I'm interested! ❤

For years when I was playing Starless Umbra on a Pentium 3 back in 2007 on gamingw, I could never get the mine cart sequence to work. But a few years and one computer upgrade later, I could - Like, there are some dudes out there, who come into rpgmaker.net, looking for a particular version of a game, they've become amore'd with over the years, that unfortunately no longer exists - Like the GamingW demo of Phantom Legacy or a particular of Legion Saga R, that I think Tau was looking for at one point. These requests are very far and few in-between however and are usually not really worth holding onto.

But in your case, seeing the progress you've from made rpgmaker to Heroes of Umbra to other indie games, has been so gosh dang cool! I'd really like to hold onto whatever you have, just for references sake.

Like, one of questions people usually ask when approaching rpgmaker is, has there ever been any commercial successes with it or has anyone used their experience with the maker to grow and pursue things outside rpgmaker? This is one of the examples I'd really like to point people to, because it's been really cool to not only play Starless Umbra, but to see your growth as a developer. And if someone asks or wants to know what the very first version of Starless Umbra looked like, we'll have it! - Sorry dude, I'm rambling here, but it's been so cool to see your progress throughout the years. XD

If you have any other versions, I'd love to hold onto them.

Thank you, this is heartwarming to hear. I have them, along with a ton of other RM2k3 side-projects, on an ancient external hard drive. I've been meaning to get them on dropbox for awhile. I'll make some time this weekend.
I completely forgot about this game, I am surprised this game is still being developed.