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Hey guys, finally submitting a page here so my game is more accessible. TLDR: project is largely on hiatus, but I do plan to finish the bombing mission.

A little about me:

I graduated from a Bachelor of Engineering majoring in Software Engineering (2011), and I'm currently working as a developer for a startup (web, Android, iOS).

When I started my degree I decided to experiment on a high level with the programming concepts I was learning in something I was familiar with; RPG Maker 2003. Over the years I've seen many people attempt a 2D remake of FF7 and fail, so I thought I'd try do it right.

About the remake:

My core goal is to make the FF7 that would've existed if it was developed in 2D instead of 3D. We were so close to living in this reality, so I find it an intriguing idea that I'm almost writing this love letter of a game from an alternate dimension. To that end I'm really fortunate that FF7 was designed, albeit unintentionally, in such a way that it's very easy to relate back to 2D.

The game itself is made in RPG Maker 2003 (rm2k3), however the only built-in feature I'm really using is the tiled movement for the field. All the other systems (menu, combat, message boxes/text, etc) were built from scratch using rm2k3's event scripting. As a game engine rm2k3 is extremely restrictive so I'm using quite a few hacks to make it more bearable (special thanks to Cherry, who is well known for his RPG Maker hacks).

The bulk of the time spent developing the remake has been reproducing the menu and battle system in excruciating detail, which was my starting point before I even touched the art assets. 95% of the game mechanics are well documented, thanks to qhimm.com, such that my remake also plays exactly like the original as well as looking like it (this is why I say remake instead of demake). Even though my remake only has a few scenes, the menu and battle system are functionally able to handle all the mechanics in the game (I even use the exact same enemy AI). What isn't well documented is the behaviour of the interfaces, which I've spent a lot of time studying to make sure mine are 99% accurate.

Another part of replicating FF7's feel was in getting the art style right. If you look at the pre-rendered backgrounds in FF7 they really do look like crap - you can tell the artists didn't know how downsampled the renders would be in the final product, so there's a lot of blurry things-that-you-aren't-quite-sure-what-they-are everywhere using way too many colours. I translated this feeling to my sprites by using really rough dithering that gives it that same shitty feeling that is very FF7. I also use the exact same colour palette, such that if you reverse image search screenshots of my remake, it will return results of the original game. To make sure Cloud's battle animations felt the same I recreated them frame by frame in 2D (not rotoscoped).

I'm probably the only person who's glad the PC version of FF7 used midis because I was able to dump them, add flags so they loop properly and use them in rm2k3. Similarly I was able to dump all the sound effects as well (sadly there's over 700 of them and they have no file names - that's been fun). My remake wouldn't feel nearly as authentic without these, so a special thanks really has to go to the folks at qhimm.com who have done fantastic job reverse engineering FF7.

Where I am now:

The real FF7 has over 700 scenes, and the process for replicating each one takes me at least a week (I don't use tiled graphics - each background is drawn by hand, pixel for pixel) - you just need simple math to work out how long it would take me, and this is ignoring the additional time needed for character and enemy sprites. My personal goals have already been satisfied though - I gained experience designing/implementing complex game mechanics, and I answered my question of if you can really make a 2D game feel like its 3D counterpart (hint: it's yes!). I still want to finish the bombing mission to make a complete package of "what it might've been like", but my progress on this is glacial - the work left on this is Barret's battle animations, a few enemy sprites and about 7 more scenes.

What I didn't account for when I started the project was my own personal development, and I've moved beyond it being time well spent working on this project. I'm a full blown software engineer now and I'm capable of much more than a remake in rm2k3. I used to have insane amounts of free time, but now am married and work full time so I'm very particular with what gets to occupy the remainder of my time. I want to start developing my own games that I have the rights/ability to release on Steam or Android/iOS, so my remake is on hiatus, although I do return for it from time to time when the motivation strikes.

Intro demo (Midgar opening is still WIP)


Battle demonstration

Latest Blog

Unencrypted Game Files

There seems to be a lot of people struggling with the old Molebox exe, rather than repackaging it I figure it's about time I released the game files so people can inspect the insanity I went through to make this in rm2k3.

The game uses a hacked RPG_RT.exe with Cherry's Pic Pointer Patch, so it will crash if you replace it with a different version. Also I was using a hacked rm2k3 that raised the max variable limit. It should be safe to inspect the events in a regular rm2k3 copy, but if you change the variables you may not be able to set them back.

Enjoy!
  • Hiatus
  • Vanit
  • RPG Tsukuru 2003
  • RPG
  • 12/06/2013 03:00 AM
  • 04/22/2020 02:54 AM
  • 07/27/2099
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i wonder how lighter and easier to achieve would this project be now that Maniacs Patch is out... it'd probably decrease the amount of lines by, at least, idk 200x. yeah 199 out of 200 lines being magically erased. but i don't know

anyway this is one of the absolute beasts of vanilla 2k3 coding and i adore it. it's just weird, how different the paths we take to achieve the same results are now than they were pre 1.12/Maniacs
author=JosephSeraph
i wonder how lighter and easier to achieve would this project be now that Maniacs Patch is out... it'd probably decrease the amount of lines by, at least, idk 200x. yeah 199 out of 200 lines being magically erased. but i don't know


I'm having a really hard time finding *anything* that neatly explains the capabilities of that patch. I did find something about writing expressions in plain text which is awesome and would've reduced a lot of 10-liners to 1 line, but wouldn't really affect the overall code size. What else is there?
Hmm... Yeah, there's just so many functions, not even I, who have been using the hell out of it for over a year, know nearly 10% of what it can do??? like, I keep finding new uses for all the stuff it provides every week. Though a lot of it is providing access to baseline DBS stuff which is irrelevant in this project. And a lot else of it is stuff you probably have figured some other way to do. But, for example, it has a very powerful Show String Picture function which you can use to render text as a picture, and it lets you control how the windowskin behaves. So I use that to make the Windows of every menu I design rather than relying on pictures, for example. I don't know what solution you came up with for this game's dialogue boxes but I personally can't imagine how I'd do custom dialogue/text on vanilla 2k3 D:

Then there's stuff like advanced variable pointers and operations, controlling variable arrays, the Get Picture Info command which retrieves information of positioning and size of a given picture ID, the change picture ID command which lets you change, swap or otherwise modify a picture (or an array of pictures)'s ID... Global saves, access to Save, Load and Get Save Info, there's even a crazy Call Command command which, for anything that the patch failed to turn into pointers (and there isn't that much) you can use to call a command with pointer refeences kind of like a script call in a newer maker.

That's not to mention the extended functionality added in 1.12 itself, most notably the powerful new Picture functionality which allows innate use of spritesheets, which can be auto-animated and either loop infinitely or be erased at the end of a loop, or can display an individual cell based on a variable pointer, and it also allows you to point at the last X digits of a picture based on another variable (say, for example, Idle_03 if you want to show the animated Idle pose of the hero you set up as ID 3, and i mean specifically animated because if it was static you could really just use a spritesheet and figure which cell through a variable)

IDK it's a lot and I'm in love with all its extended functionality. But it reaaaaaaaaally shows how difficult it was to make some things happen in previous iterations of 2k/2k3. I see a lot of games that would have their code reduced into something quite small, that have pages upon pages of laborious code to overcome some limitations that EVERY rpg maker still has up to this day (barring RGSS/JS extensions)

anyway IDK. Maybe if you play around with Maniacs it'll interest you. Maybe not. I don't mean to disrespect your work, though. This is amazing. Once again, it just makes me think. I want to see what more stuff people make in this day and age with 2k3 :)

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