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Looking back

Most of us would probably save a blog like this towards the completed game's release date, but because I needed a bit of self-motivation, I dug around my Dropbox and to my joy, found the earliest known screens of LotL.

It's pretty screenshot-heavy.

Hints of political drama and earliest prototype screens of LoTL ( around June 2013 ):

The City of Lester was originally supposed to be the capital of Reglay, Tristian's Duchy. It will probably still make an appearance in the current game though.

The game was originally called Eridanus: The First War, but it sounded too generic, so the game went through several name changes ( check the comment sections of the main page, I really couldn't decide on a name >< ) and just went with naming the project after the game's titular heroine. The plot originally centered on Tristian as an embattled Duchess, trying to run her Duchy after the death of her father, but also trying to stem the unrest resulting from disdain her own people showed towards her.

Tristian was also originally going to search for her missing brother and had insisted on going alone. Although a Duchess, she was still a proud knight through and through and even in this early drafts, she was still Ianna's bodyguard.

...Whom she clearly still expresses concern for.

While there is a Bedivere in the current demo, he looks nothing compared to the above knight, and this lion-maned Bedivere was also supposed to serve as Tristian's love interest ( she was 100% straight in my earliest drafts but the whole concept of her falling for Ianna; who was her Queen, was still there ).

And yes, it was planned to be a TBS.

But it didn't give me the same level of depth as say, Fire Emblem, so I ended up scrapping the battle system entirely and going back to Yanfly's Battle Engine Melody. Another downside of using a TBS-battle engine and giving the game a Fire Emblem vibe was the fact that I probably needed a fairly large roster, to give that feeling of actually recruiting various characters who wanted to fight for their own personal reasons and fighting in your army ( though this isn't really true for FE in general; 80% of the cast tends to be either poorly written, a walking trope or an anime cut-out ).

Tristian still looks like an ice-queen. Although her game has undergone countless changes, her personality has more or less remained the same.

Of course, none of the above scenes, let alone the battle system, made it into the game. A lot of planned characters got cut as well when transitioning into the new rewrite. I'm still wondering how LoTL, in the beginning, went from a possible political drama rife with consquences, to an anime-plot JRPG of evil villians wanting to capture Ianna so they could use her blood for a resurrection of an evil-- yeah, you know how it goes, to its current incarnation ( which did a complete 180 and is back to being a political drama between two factions, kinda like FFT: War of the Lions ).

Nevertheless, I went back to the drawing board and continued with version 2.0:

Arrival of Disma and Co. and generic anime plot:

Though in retrospect I am wondering why I never kept the 'political drama' plot. Oh wait... I didn't write it down. Epic fail.

Anyone remember Disma and that creepy-looking armoured dude?

At least he/she? was honourable in his/her? own way.

Didn't stop his/her? cronies from hitting Tristian with some nasty dark magic and affecting her with an incurable disease... Which only gave her a year to live. Then Tristy needed to seek the help of some mystic to cure her ( this happened over a rather short time frame ). Said mystic informed Tristian she needed to return to her Duchy because of an apparent invasion by the 'evil empire' who invaded for no real apparent reason apart from being evil, with Dante at her side ( Ianna was kidnapped by Camus in the early drafts, which really hurt the developing relationship between her and her lady knight ). Of course, neither Trianna displayed any hints of real affection towards each other like in the current version of the game. Ianna was still meek and the dreaded damsel-in-distress and Tristian was still a stoic badass.

Yep. JRPG Plot #49594. I'm probably great at level design, but back in 2013-2014 my writing was pretty mediocre. I didn't even see the captured Ianna behind the magic crystal.

While the plot was awful, it did introduce some key characters such as Darcy and Trabant ( who would go on to become staples in LoTL's current plot )

LoTL Circa 2014:

She's still pretty much the same, though her role is much bigger now. In the old version, Darcy was just a wannabe rebel who styled herself as the 'Lightning Thief' ( she even broke into the manor of an old admiral to steal a valuable gold pidgeon >< ). The old demo also introduced party-splitting, but this idea was later scrapped. The last thing I wanted was a disconnected narrative like Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn ( whose plot still gets bashed today nine years after its release and for good reason ).

And this battle screen still looks great. Definitely more aesthetically pleasing than a grid-based battle system. And its fast-paced too ( another reason I ditched the TBS, it's slow and can be a chore to play through if it's not designed well ).

It's pointless having a pretty shell of a game that sounds great but is slow to play through.

Out of battle skills: Might reappear again. Like Darcy using her bombs to clear previously unreachable areas.

I really loved some of the areas from the old game though.

The whole idea of a bustling town was lifted straight from FF12 ( my favourite entry in the series ).

Probably my favourite screen in the game.

The gameplay in battle also varied between turn-based to PTB-based ala SMT. But there was a glitch that allowed a powerful character ( like Ira/Trabant ) to score even more 'turns' by just re-selecting them again and again and targetting weak points. There goes the strategy of targeting enemy weaknesses. In the end, I went back to turn-based.

Now you'd probably ask me why the hell I redid the graphics as well in addition to the plot. Simple. I didn't want the game to look like Enelysion 2.0. xD I also figured that a more serious storyline needed more realistically proportioned sprites and didn't want LoTL to look like a generic RPGMaker game ( the chibi sprites tend to be dead-giveaways ).

Wrapping Up:

I could go on and on about LoTL itself, but I really need to finish off this blog. Writing about ( and looking at ) my past work not only shows me how far I've come, but it really is testament to how many hours have gone into making Tristian but I still have a ways to go. I've been RM'ing since 2009. I read an article a while ago about the '10 Years of Silence' and it pointed out that no matter how much talent/passion/drive you have, it takes at least a decade before you produce a particularly brilliant piece of work. Even brilliant musicians like Mozart only started producing their best work after Year 10.

So if LoTL really is going to be my magnum opus, I have to stick with it until late 2018-2019. If you read Addit and NTC3's reviews you'll probably get the feeling they were reviewing two different games and I suppose, again, it is part of my willingness to improve and eventually deliver a great product come release day.


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I have a few things to say, so this is probably gonna be long. Or short. Doesn't matter. xD

First of all, I'd like to say I really like this blog entry, seeing how far you've come and seeing screenshots of the early development of LoTL. See, I like the medieval fantasy feel of this game, because that's usually the stuff I go for, so I'm bound to like similar games, although mine are more anime/manga-based (ones that actually make sense) as opposed to one that usually applies more to reality. (And usually the chibi sprites of an RPG Maker game are a dead giveaway but I can't sprite if my life depended on it, though I feel like my game has a good use of chibi sprites) One day I played the entire demo for myself after a long time, and I honestly came to realize how bad the characters and story were and how it could have worked out way better if I payed attention to the logic of the whole thing. (It was 1 hour anyways, but it was essentially the buildup of what would be a revenge story.) So I just decided to go for an entire remake of the introduction to make it more logical and fleshed out, and I feel like I could move on with that.

Also I had NO idea you were going for a TBS towards the beginning, I actually would have liked that idea. I especially agree with the 10-year thing, since I usually spend my free time either trying to learn coding (and fail at it) or try to come up with a clever idea for this game of mine. I haven't even applied any real RM progress on it, but I usually just write it down as a storyboard thing, plan the dialogue, then event and map, stuff like that. I like taking my time with things and at the same time I hate it because I take too long when I take my time if I'm stuck on a particular idea.

But anyways, great blog!
Yes, I do remember that review Max wrote for GR and I'm glad you learned from it. =) Even if it did cause some drama. I prefer settings much like you ( set in periods of medieval strife ), and struggling with the consequences of one's actions makes for interesting heroes and villians. Though 'villians' is a strong word, as none of the antagonists in LoTL are really evil. It's more of a grey-vs-grey morality than pure black and white. But I have a great co-writer helping me with the overall plot, so I'll never claim full credit.

I scrapped the TBS idea for reasons I mentioned in the blog, but also because LoTL is already a lengthy game, it is actually better that the battles play out as fast, turn-based fights. I mean, an average map in Fire Emblem takes anything between 5 - 45 minutes to clear. Now imagine that playtime on top of everything else, lol. And your ordinary FF-like battles can still be strategic even without the traditional TBS mechanics in play.

I'm glad you enjoyed the blog, I took 1.5 hours to type it out after all. xD
Yeah, it did cause a lot of drama, I still feel nervous about people taking a peek at my game and seeing that review. Although I feel like my excuse would be, "That was a year ago, I was a kid". I wasn't really all that well at taking criticism and it felt like an utter insult to all my progress. But who knows where I'd go if I didn't take that criticism in the end xD. Also, yeah, same for my own game. I usually say antagonists, but my friends are more used to villains since they're generally "evil", but I like to make it so that each and every one has a reason for being the way they are, and that it's more understandable and reasonable, like you said; a grey-vs-grey morality. Like, if you were in their It's awesome that way and makes the villains more likable. I'm usually more interested in the antagonists of anime/manga/games like Fullmetal Alchemist or some of the Final Fantasy games, or even Kingdom Hearts, though I'm into more dark-themed games.

Ohh, and I see about the whole TBS thing. That's pretty awesome, usually I'm more into story and characters so I'm not too good at it at the moment, (as in, not enough to be memorable) but I'm still trying hard to be creative haha! Also, don't worry about the time it took to type xD. I did that with my own game's blogs just to show my progress of games and such!
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