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First cutscene + some battle system progress

Hi friends, hope you're doing well and staying safe. I've made some progress and I'm eager to share it with you.


Clydan gets upgraded to a professor!

I briefly mentioned the rm2k-inspired cutscene system I built to handle scripted events in the last blog. So far that has made cutscene implementation much faster, as I've made the commands more concise and powerful. I've gotten to the point where the commands needed for most cutscenes are in, so I've been able to implement drafts of the game's first two scenes.

This same cutscene system also drives skill animations in-combat as well. It's incredibly simple but effective.

You might also notice the addition of new character portraits. My wife designed these based off of the sprites I shared last month. They're still a WIP but I like them a lot.

Battle System

You hunt the bunnies by jumping on them

You'll immediately notice I killed dedicated battle maps and opted for real-time combat. This was inspired by Xenoblade Chronicles, FF7R, and other modern JRPGs. (Chrono Trigger also did this 25 years ago and it blew my mind!) Details are still being ironed out but the plan is to trim out a lot of the stereotypical battle system fluff and focus on core mechanics to make combat feel fresh, customizable, and engaging. I'm exploring limiting the skills you can bring into combat to 4 from your pool, minimal resources, and restoring HP between battles/removing consumable items entirely. I'll share more features as I implement them.


There's still tons to do! Existing UI still needs polishing/animating. I've got some tiles/characters to design and a few more system mechanics to experiment with. There's also a ton of polish/other flourishes missing from maps. The goal is to do what I can to push forward towards a completed prologue. I can polish along the way and share a demo once things move out of the prototype phase.

I'm trying to stream some of the creative process on the game's facebook page biweekly. I usually make maps to ambient music, so if that's your thing please check it out.

Thanks for reading! Take care.


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Dude, this looks great! Thanks for keeping us in the loop! Can't wait to play this bad boy!
Looking so fantastic! The transition to GameMaker is well justified. The fluidity of the sprites, battling, camera movements etc are more pristine than ever before.
Still following this after all these years, and happy to see it alive!

Are you still making a custom editor for the mapping?
Developer, Starless Umbra / Heroes of Umbra
Thanks for the kind words! It means a lot to me.

Still following this after all these years, and happy to see it alive!

Are you still making a custom editor for the mapping?
I ended up scrapping it, though it is open-source. It was incredibly efficient, and for something with a little more platforming I think it would be great, since it handled a "z" axis surprisingly well, but in the end I think it stripped away the craft of making a map. After picking it back up, making maps feels therapeutic. It also ended up being more cumbersome to make cutscenes than rm2k/3, which was really where I wanted the time optimizations.
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