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Progress Report

A decade later

It's been ten years since the release of Story of Integra. So that means I've been working on the Godslayer for a decade? Well not quite. It's been in production for 10 years. I've worked on it for maybe a 1/10 of that time. During the year 2022 I possibly opened rpg maker for less than 10 times. I also have other projects that I'm working on. Including the pnp rpg set in the same world as the rpgmaker-games. But Godslayer will eventually be completed! Even if it takes another 10 years. I hope Windows 15 can still run Rpg Maker XP.

But a progress report? I think it's about 90% done.

There's nothing huge to add anymore. Just a lot of small things to finish. The real struggle is to create the multiple endings to many quests and add their consequences to other quests and dialogue trees. When I was excited I might have added a little too many meaningful choices to the game. There's also some serious playtesting and proofreading to do. My friends have already spent hundreds of hours playtesting different builds of the game. And they need to spend hundreds more.

Sadly I've also decided to cut two huge parts out of the game. First one to go was the "Ruling your own settlement sidequest/minigame". You can still become a major of a town through an interesting sidequest. But that's as far as it now goes for now. The second part on the cutting board was the even bigger "Become a pirate or pirate hunter questline". This was supposed to have multiple quests, factions, ship battles, boarding, upgrading your ship and crew, and a huge different world map on the open seas. Now you gain a ship just through the mainquest and can use it to access some islands. To cut these parts from the game was tough but it had to be done. They were too much work and there were even some sections I couldn't even figure out how to actually code. After the game is released I might return to these quests and finish, and release them. But for now, they are out.

So how long until it'll be released then? Well at least a year, maybe two. It depends how motivated I get from time to time.
But hey, Duke Nukem Forever took 15 years! Ok, a very bad example...

The laziest game producer ever
Matias "Tosi-Taku" Ahonen

Progress Report

2,5 years later..!

Still working on it. What a lousy progress report...

I guess you want something a bit more specific.
Well, uh...
About 500 maps, 80 battlers, 350 unique characters, 50 songs, over 10 hours of gameplay time without battles or wandering around.

But in total I'd say we're maybe over the halfway point. (sigh)

I talked about releasing a demo in a previous blog. So we started to concentrate on the demo section of the game. Well the demo would've been so large (about 4-12 hours of gameplay) that we dumped the idea for now. The point of The Godslayer is that there's so much to do and a shorter demo wouldn't do it justice. Also there was no guarantee that you could export your save file from the demo to the full game. I don't think players would want to play the first 4 hours of the game all over again. So we're sorry, you're not getting a demo, at least not yet.

I also talked about that we're missing someone who can write scripts to the game.
Well that base is covered and we have a talented scripter who can make my insane ideas come true.

Maybe a few words about the characters.
I'm very pleased with the party ensemble. In my opinnion I've written very unique and intresting characters to follow Matik on his journey. The characters' personas have become so strong that they practically write their own lines. The partymembers' own quests have much more depth than in Story of Integra, and can really change the character depending on how you complete them. Some of the partymembers are romanceable, but might require a lot of right choices. (If Matik can ever get over Integra :)) There are 12 "permanent" player characters, but one might exclude another. Some characters might also disagree with your choices, and given enough reasons to abandon you... they may just do that. In its entirety you can control almost 20 characters, including some old friends from Story of Integra.

"Yes but when will it be completed?"
I honestly have no idea. It has already taken over twice as long as Story of Integra. Well it seems like it will be twice as huge as Story of Integra, and I'm much more critical about what I'm doing. I also wanted to give the player so many options how to deal with situations and quests. So sometimes I have to do the same quest twice or even three times because it changes so drastically with different choices. There are also many situations in the story where your choices define big parts of the rest of the game. All this requires a lot of work and to be honest... I do have weeks or even months when even the thought of launching RPGXP.exe makes me sick. But these were my decissions and I'm standing by them.
This is the game I want to make.

"Will it be completed? I don't think it will..."
IT WILL BE COMPLETED! Me and my team have spent way too much time and effort on it to quit now.

-Matias "Tosi-Taku" Ahonen

Progress Report

Happy 1st birthday Story of Integra and happy 96th independence day Finland! How's The Godslayer?

So I finally gathered my courage and decided to write a blog.

Today (12.06.) it's a full year from the release of Story of Integra. "Wow." Looking back to the creation of my first game... it was quite an experience. When I started the project I never intended it for public distribution. It was just supposed to be a little experiment with rpg maker and creating my own game for fun. Originally it was just a little stroll in Sevallon ending with a fight with the vampire Rufus. Then some of my friends got intrested in the game and encouraged me to do a bit more, "What happened afterwards?". I was quite sceptic about continuing the story. I had just played a few rpg maker games and it felt like "I can never compete with these". I knew absolutely nothing about scripting and had no idea of the program's potential. Still it felt like I had opened a pandora's box that couldn't be closed that easily. "I'll do just a little more."

Quite an understatement comparing to the finished result.

So I started reading tutorial after tutorial, trying new things and discovering more every day. I knew that Story of Integra would never be a technical marvel in rpg maker world, there was just too much scripting to be learned to achieve that. But I had confidence in my ability to create a compelling story and intresting side-quests, lots of them. I had an endless sack of ideas, but most of the time no idea how to make them happen in the game. That's why there was a lot of compromising and even discarding decent ideas. As the production got more serious my friends started helping me a lot more by giving ideas, criticizing and testing, testing a lot. Through the production most of them finished Story of Integra at least five times, clocking at least 20 hours almost each time. I was also very surprised how kindly and full of intrest the community in rpgmaker.net welcomed a new developer, it was great encouragement to finish the project. There were of course times when I thought that the project would never be done and I was ready throw in the towel. I've come to realize that too many rpg maker games that get started are never completed. But after working for a year and probably clocking over 1000 hours in the making, I knew Story of Integra would be published.

After tweaking for over a month I knew the game would never be released if I wanted to fix everything. Frankly, I was getting sick and tired of it. And on the independece day as we were having beers and suprisingly, tweaking the game, I decided it was time to release it (The beer might have had something to do with it). The game had been published and we raised the beer cans cheerfully. Of course on the following day one of my testers called me said he had found numerous bugs, even game breaking ones. After a lot of cursing I gulped a painkiller for the hangover and started the rpg maker. "What a great way to introduce myself and my game to the community." Even to this day the game has some major problems that I wanted to fix or change altogether. Onbe of the biggest being of course the typos. It's quite embarrassing to still find those and even hear them being pointed out in a Let's Play. There are also few accidental "cheats" that will quite literally take all the challenge out of the game (thanks to the user BlackLilith for finding one). I will make a one final patch for Story of Integra at some point, but now my mind is focused on the sequel.

What leads me to The Godslayer.

The Godslayer is a serious project, it was from the start. No more compromizing or leaving something out because I don't know how to do it. If it can be done on RPG Maker XP I will find a way to make it happen. Even if the stock resources (sprites, battlers, music tracs) are very good, they are not original and I can rarely find what I really want among them. They were a compromise in Story of Integra just to save time. "Why was Saralyn's battler holding a lance even though she used a two-handed sword?" To save time. "Why did Integra's sprite have a ponytail even though she clearly had short hair?" The same reason. Many of these things didn't bother most of the players, but they were a nuisance for me.

Not this time!

I'm a decent drawer so I can create the battlers I want myself, even if there are hundreds to be drawn. It just takes a lot of time. I have much to learn with spriting so I may have to hire someone for that. If you have read the blogs that the composer Aleksi has written, you know the music part is clearly being taken care of. He's a very talented, easy to work with (even though I can be a bit of a tyrant sometimes) and really seems to know what kind of tracks I'm looking for. The dialog will be much more focused this time and I have more proofreaders so that means less typos this time (I hope). The last thing missing is the scripting. This is something I just cannot seem to figure out and I don't really have that much time to spend on taking a class. So hiring a scripter might be the only way. I don't mind spending a few euros to make my dream project come true but I've started thinking about creating an IndieGoGo page or something similar for the game. If I decide to do something that drastic it'll happen when I have a decent demo out for you folks to try out and that will still take months.

So these are my thoughts at the moment. I've been quite cautious about posting that many screenshots of the game, as I'm not that happy with current graphics. But I'm sure I can squeeze at least some pictures out sooner or later. I have two testers trying out the game at the moment and they have about 7-8 hours of gameplay time clocked. The feedback storywise is good, the gameplay itself is still lightyears behind.I really cannot tell when the game will be completed, I'd estimate it will take another year. Try to be patient and stay intrested. It WILL be completed!

-Matias "Tosi-Taku" Ahonen

And as always: Apologies for the typos :)


Progress Report

Making of a soundtrack Part II: Inspiration - -> Creation (plus stuff about the game itself!)

Hello there, it's mr musical tarpit here again.

It's been awhile since the first blog so be sure to hold onto your elven ears and dwarven beards, because this one's a l o n g one.

Partly the silence was because I wanted something festive to announce for this second blog entry, so here it is: as far as the soundtrack goes, we have hit the mark of 30 (more or less) finished songs. After working for a bit more than 10 months I do feel the need to say that I'm at least a little surprised of how easily it has gone this far. Almost as surprised as I am impressed. It may not sound like too much but one must take into account that this is something that gets done for free on spare time for our own pleasure (and eventually for others' too I hope). So if there's something that song amount means it's steady progress - and that is a good duo of words right there.

Back when we started I didn't really know what to expect. Sure, like you may understand from the first blog, starting this musical journey into the unknown depths felt like the right thing to do but I had no idea how huge and long it would grow. Actually, this is the first time I've taken a shot at such a huge project. Everything before this has been something with a short deadline or no deadline at all and more importantly, not only on my own shoulders. The great maker obviously does visit me from his castle every now and then to issue his new orders and to leave his lordship's constructive feedback concerning the earlier accomplishments, but most of the time it's pretty lonely here in the cellar.

So after painstakingly composing over 30 songs most of which consist of multiple different parts and usually require at least five differently arranged instruments - how does it stay fresh?

"Well, since it's not a job as such, it really doesn't. The restrictions of my program of choice come on the way more and more frequently, the lack of deepness within the instrumentation is a recurring problem and generally speaking, how many different town or dungeon themes can there really be?"

Everytime I've begun thinking things like these, I've taken time off. There's no point trying to force through it. It's gonna take a long time before the game itself is in any kind of official test phase so the only way of achieving both, quality and quantity, is taking it slowly, bit by bit. Since the only actual light at the end of the tunnel is the finished game itself, I don't think there are too many ways to actually prevent the inspiration (and a general interest into using one's time staring at a computer screen) from drying up. So whenever it feels like it isn't going anywhere and especially if the music itself starts to sound like crap, I just let it be up until it calls me again or the great maker sends his alpha death squad to capture and tort... um, inspire his beloved composer.

Inspiration can sometimes be a tough lover. It comes when it wants, and does the same with leaving. Sometimes you can interpret what it says into an understandable form, sometimes it's just insane gibberish. Sometimes it's a fake inspiration, one that says "you've got a killer melody there, you better work on it hard!" just for its victim to later realize that the piece of music was actually a piece of crap, so to speak. However, it should be valued as gold. There aren't too many things more pleasant after a musically dry season than an inspired moment of clarity. When one thing goes right, it usually gives enough energy to plow through a few others as well.

So the next time you feel like you're losing your touch while working on something you're hell-bent on finishing, excuse yourself a break. Let your mind clear itself and give all that spent energy a chance to recover. It might take time but eventually the desire and inspiration will return, one way or another.

What have we got done then? There are some town and city themes, dungeon and forest stuff, different character themes, a main theme, various pieces for specific plot points, three variations of a world map theme, some shorter stuff like sound effects and of course the themes for victory and game over. Oh, and some different battle themes. Still so much to do...


Also, recently the great maker sent his deranged servants to drag me up from this wretched cellar of pungent death and mutant rats. After a long, painful and extremely frustrating ride I was taken to his lordship. Without a single expression he placed a keyboard on the table before me and said one word: "play" - and play I did!

Although it's clear that I can't stop making endless jokes about Matias "TosiTaku" Ahonen being an assholic dictator, in reality working with him has been great. We've known each other for a long time, so mutual differences don't really matter. We speak the same language... most of the time. This was the second "test session" where I got to know more about the progress of the game, express my opinion about it and try out how the music really works - and therefore I get to tell you guys how's it going. I don't wanna uncover too much and I am not going to spoil anything plotwise. However, I'm going to talk about the story.

Most of the necessary plot parts are done. It's playable but very far from done which is only natural since we are over a year from the set deadline. In comparison to Story of Integra it already feels a lot better. It's a more personal and definitely more epic piece of gaming. Since the story is a complex and non-linear one, there's a lot more dialogue than in Integra, but what's most important, it's also improved. Some of the characters in Integra were well-written but others were a little more difficult to relate to, and some of them just felt like standard side characters. This time there's a lot more emphasis on the whole bunch. The characters interact better with each other, and you're gonna get some pretty juicy moments as their mutual contradictions, hidden agendas and non-compatible personalities clash while the characters still try and focus on working together. All in all, it's a lot more interesting to follow.

This brings me to the humour part. Although he was an optional character, it seems that most players did enjoy Lyrion. I know I did, after he became available I never even considered leaving him out of my party. The completely off-beat jokes felt very fresh and some of the time it was just fun to travel around in search of different piano tunes. In general, the whole idea of a very well working comical sidekick did satisfy me very much, because usually they just suck. Do not try arguing this thing with meesa, Mr. Lucas.

I think everybody understands that the same joke would definitely not work again, and even if the jokes could be as funny, it just wouldn't feel the same. So even the great maker was at some point a little concerned whether if the sequel becomes too serious. Luckily, in its darker and more mature tones the comedy found itself a new home. The Godslayer feels equally funny as it feels fun to play since the humour is placed right. Some of the jokes might feel a little off-the-wall the first time playing, but mostly the funny parts focus on the characters, and their collective chemistry which is not a simple formula at all. In one sense it kind of reminds me of Army of Darkness (or Medievil Dead). The version of Ash in that movie is the ultimate anti-hero, an arrogant bastard who's too sloppy and proud to do his job properly, and the viewers are stuck with this incompetent main character. I may be a little underlining this, but there's a bit of that absurd and eerily funny feeling, yeah. But luckily no Three Stooges-jokes!

Still, in total, it's no comedy. The story is very dark and feels more mature than in Integra. Unlike most j-rpg's, the roleplaying element is not just racking up your stats and picking up better weapons and kicking a lot of ass until you reach Zordax, the evil goblin king who stole your spikey-hair-hero's girlfriend and kicked your dog. I never really got much out of that, so being more focused on the story, the player's choices and the consequences of decisions really make a difference on how the story unfolds - and what you will become. Don't get me wrong - it still is a j-rpg and it's called The Godslayer. Ergo, there's bound to be some insanely epic battles, but I think it'll be a well-balanced game, fit for friends and enthusiasts of different playing styles.

This text is getting quite off-hand but let me tell you one more thing. The Godslayer is more like a true sequel rather than just an another entry in a series of different stories that share a similar gameplay-style and structure, ie. Final Fantasy -series. Those who have learned and remember their Integra are respected in this game, and some familiar characters and places may even find some new meanings and deeper backgrounds. Still, it's not required that the player knows everything about Integra... but if all these big words of mine make you drool and you still haven't gotten through the first game - now, there's something you should do while we get this big s.o.b. out into the wild. Oh, right, and keep in mind that the second part of any series is usually the most memorable one!

-Your Composer, Aleksi

ps.,

Be sure to like the Facebook-page which has been and will be updated more often than this official profile...
http://www.facebook.com/EeriaTalesGodslayer

pps.,

If there's something specific you would like to ask or know for the next blog - just ask.

Miscellaneous

Making of a soundtrack, Part I: Introduction

I don't think it would be wrong to assume that anyone who's reading this has grown up listening to a lot of music. It really doesn't matter whether you're into metal, pop, classical or not into music at all. If you like games, there's a whole world of themes, melodies and songs you can recognize in a second. Like Super Mario Bros., Doom, The Secret of Monkey Island or Sonic the Hedgehog. Such classical names cannot be said out loud without getting a familiar ringing in your ear and your mind going "oh yeah!"

Many may think they're nostalgic, retro or something like that, but there's a whole genre of gamers who, everyone in their own way, stuck with these songs. The songs wouldn't really matter very much if there weren't memories connected within but still these songs have a way of growing onto you. You grow up but as your perspective of life changes, they don't just become a part of your youth - they become ageless. While they made the biggest impressions when the games they represent were new, nowadays, when you pick up a new game and get to know the musical themes, the impression probably won't be as huge. This occurs mostly when the new stuff triggers memories of the old and we start comparing them and find ourselves missing the old stuff.

Since the ages of NES, gaming has changed quite a bit (pun not intended). For the most part that's great, but it's a fact that most new games are more similar to Hollywood movies than to their ancestors. In "the golden age of gaming", my favourites were ball-bustingly challenging but uplifting and rewarding. I wasn't that great with the most insane NES-games - I found more fulfillment with games that built a balance between simple playability and huge stories. That meant falling in love with point-and-click-adventures and rpg's, especially LucasArts- (RIP) and Squaresoft-games. As rare as time for just sitting down for hours and falling into an escapistic gaming world is these days, when the opportunity comes, I still prefer many of their titles or games highly influenced by them over newer and more fancy creations.

It was ten years ago when I started up a midi-based project called Hirvituho ("Elk Devastation" or something) using a program called Guitar Pro. It may seem funny or tragic in a way but it taught me so much about the basis of making music - tempos, time signatures, chords, tuning etc. Back then I could barely play at all with a real instrument. Guitar Pro made me understand the bare basics, but it also gave me a channel to express myself. I didn't have a band at the time, so why not create music from a different point of view? As I progressed on learning to make music, I found new routes and ideas - a whole new world, in fact. The midi-soundscapes don't sound too pretty but after growing up hearing so much game music, it felt natural. I did not mind nor cared. Only I was more interested in creating something new and more "band-like", so Hirvituho was merely flirting with game music - or so I thought. It was only after compiling a so-called "best of" of all the finished Hirvituho-material in the fall of 2012 when I realized how much game music-influence there was. Not just the equally funny and annoying midi-bleeps but the structures, melodies and instrument choices. It sounded like the maker was waiting for someone to ask if he'd like to make a game soundtrack.

And then someone did.

I was familiar with Tositaku's first game, Story of Integra. I haven't actually finished it yet but have played enough to express my opinion. There are areas where it could be better or more original but still it has all of the most important characteristics of a classical rpg. It is very challenging but also rewards with an epic tale that has a huge amount of characters and things you can do other than just racking up experience points and upgrading gear. Integra feels like it has all the elements an old-school'ish masterpiece requires but it's not quite there yet. And that's why there exists the concept of "sequel". When the profound creator asked me if I could make the soundtrack, it was a no-brainer. This is something I have to do.

Even though the sequel to Integra is even more epic and ambitious than its predeseccor, it is most of all a labour of love. There's a nostalgic value in it but it's not just that. Having old-school sprite graphics and midi music should not be an obstacle for a memorable gaming experience and a story worth telling. No, they are elements that actually support the story. Seeing all those small and cute characters going through hell and high water while listening to an insane amount of bleeping and squeeking music makes it more worthwhile, so to speak. They require the use of imagination - to immerse into the world it offers within the palette of the gamer's own perspective and feelings. It is escapistic fantasy but not the power fantasy you would look for in a new game created with a huge budget. It is more equivalent of a book you can interact with - it won't progress only on its own, it needs your input. And that's what rpg's are all about to me.

I find this project very exciting and meaningful - but also as one that requires a lot of hard work. On the moment, as I'm writing this log entry down, we have about 20 more or less finished songs. That's merely a fraction of what it will take to have a finished game - but it will be worth it.

A-L
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