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In The Heart Pumps Clay, players take control over Mara, a swamp witch, her golem, Bud, and the aptly named Crow as they climb the Tree of Life in order to obtain the Source of All Things. Gameplay consists of fixed battles set at choke points on the map. However, after every battle, Bud will lose some of his max health, so it's up to the player to balance Bud's waning strength with their urge to open the many deliciously tempting treasure chests along the way.

Battles are the traditional rpg affair, but the unique cast provides an interesting party dynamic that slowly evolves over the course of the journey. Mara's spells can be devastating, but she has to shift between elements, which also synergizes in different ways with Bud. Bud is a tank and a physical powerhouse, and Crow is a thieving little rat with wings. Consumable items can be stolen or crafted during battle, but they're removed after each battle, so if the player wants a safety net, they better plan ahead. If they fail a battle, though, no problem: hp and mp are restored and the player is returned to the map as if nothing happened.

-Mostly original assets, including character portraits, battle animations, and enemy graphics.
-An original soundtrack. Check it out here.
-A vibrant cast of characters in a concise, well-presented story.
-Well-balanced battles with an emphasis on strategy.
-Character progression comes through a variety of equipment found throughout the Tree of Life, including equippable spells for Mara.
-About 1-2 hours of gameplay.

Lead developer: Kasey Ozymy
Character Portraits: Jason Vanderslice
Most spell graphics: Cameron Bishop
MOG Animated Title
Ace Core Engine
Ace Message System
Ace Battle Engine
Battle Command List
Ace Equip Engine
Skill Restrictions
Steal Items
Ace Menu Engine
System Options
Parallax Lock

This is my entry into the 2014 Indie Game Maker Contest.

Latest Blog

Soundtrack Now Available!

Well, I meant to do this forever ago, but, well, I didn't. The soundtrack's here now, though!

Get the soundtrack to The Heart Pumps Clay here.

Also, here's the soundtrack to Born Under the Rain.

Everything should be free to download and you should be able to stream as much as you want, so enjoy!

And, hey, while I'm here, why don't you check out the progress of the current game I'm working on: Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass. It's going to be the best thing I've ever done, including that one time I saved* a cat that was stuck up a tree!

*By saved I mean I threw sticks and stuff at it until it came down on its own.**

**This never happened. One time I pet a cat, though, and it seemed to like it.
  • Completed
  • Housekeeping
  • RPG Maker VX Ace
  • RPG
  • 06/29/2014 08:11 AM
  • 07/10/2016 01:53 PM
  • 06/29/2014
  • 60088
  • 19
  • 743



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I found it clever once I figured out the trick to beating it. I guess I just wasn't too observant the first time. Thulak's "I heal everyone to max health" ability made me cry when I first saw it, but once you piss him off everything falls into place. Removing everyone's super-move after you take one person down also helps a bunch. Offense is the best defense it seems.

I also like how Bud manages to play the role of the tank no matter what you do -- if you take the minimalist approach, he soaks damage in battle, but if you explore everything, he sacrifices his own health to empower the party. It's nicely meta. (Crow's absurdly high magic attack was also a nice touch, I did a double-take when I looked at his status screen for the first time. Can he use it for anything or is it just for flavor?)

Overall I did notice that enemies hit really hard, though. Most late-game battles are spent getting constantly knocked out and juggling phoenix vials. (Oh, and speaking of that, there's some naming inconsistency; the tome calls itself "Mix Bottled Phoenix" and says it creates a "bottled phoenix" in the description. I presume you changed the name late in development? That's a pity, I think "bottled phoenix" is a funnier name.) That's fitting for a tank-centric battle system though.

Oh, one question: Why does Crow have a reflection when Mara doesn't?
Yeah, it was originally bottled phoenix, but "bottled phoenix" was too long of a name and overlapped the mp cost in battles. I also made a last minute change to the battle font (which was an accident as I got some missing font errors and did a search for the font on my computer--it ended up being different, which was kind of WEIRD). I definitely liked bottled phoenix better, and I really wanted to use it. Factoid: "Fairy Potion" used to be "Fairytooth Potion" and the description was something like, "You need a tiny chisel to remove the molars." When I started running into text issues, I almost cried. Some other changes: "Eternal Ice Cube" instead of "Eternal Ice," "Diabolical Fire Bomb" instead of "Wildfire Bomb," and "Razorthorn Seed" instead of "Thistle Seed." The coinpurse and pet skull also had Percival and Thulak Khan's names in them, e.g. "Percival's Coinpurse." If the new font allows me to change that, I might update that post-contest.

Crow's magic attack is just flavor.
And foreshadowing.

As for the reflection:
Since this is a fantastical set of rules, witches don't have reflections but warlocks do. They're separate entities altogether. From a writing standpoint, though, that's just an easy transition into that cut scene, and it allows for a little foreshadowing with Crow. That's one of the cool things about working with fantasy; you can make up the rules as you go along, ohohohohoho!
So attack items aren't affected by magic attack, their power is constant?
Yep. They just do 100 points of damage +/- 20 percent.
The all around prick
Hey, Housekeeping. I just finished the game, and I really liked it!

It took me longer than I should have because of that last fight. For the past week, I was so angry at that last fight that I wanted to break things, but as I slowly figured it out, I realized just how genius it was!

Most of what I wanted to say has been said by many others, but I'll go ahead and leave my two cents:

- The story and execution were spot on. You managed to develop a large cast of characters in such a short time. Just enough to be more than mere party members you manage. Great job on that!

- That being said, I felt the ending was a bit rushed. Crow's change from wanting to dominate the world to sitting with Mara felt a bit sudden. I understand what you were going for, but it's still a thing I found odd.

- The battle system was superb. It was a fresh new take on traditional RPG battles. It made even random fights interesting! Excellent job on that.

- This has been said many times, but I feel like the mechanic where Bud loses HP every fight was perfect. It really established an attachment to Bud and made you care about him just as much as Mara did.

- About the enemies guarding chests. I understand you wanted an element of gambling, but I feel like it may have been too much. If you had a different color chests for tomes, it would have been enough for me, at least. When every battle took away a bit of Bud's max HP, it really made you think about if it was worth going for or not. Since Tomes are much less common than Artifacts, I feel like it could warrant a different chest. But that's just my opinion.

- As I said before, the last fight was very frustrating. But it was cleverly designed and implemented, and I can think of no way it could be made better. So... Great job on that! I'll just chalk it up to my own lack of intelligence.

Anyway, that's my thoughts on it. This was a great game, and you should feel great about what you've done!

EDIT: Two points I forgot to mention:

- While your character portraits wasn't too well made from a technical standpoint, I did love your art STYLE. The characters were all diverse, colorful, and brilliantly designed. They really stuck out to me and left an impression. If you make more games and improve on your art, I know it will look fantastic!

- You composed the music yourself? I don't know who's name is who on the credits, but whoever composed the music did a great job. The battle theme was peaceful and tense at the same time. I don't know how it's possible, but you pulled it off. Congrats!

Hey, thanks for the feedback--it was a great thing to wake up to! The alternate colors for the chests is a good idea. I guess I didn't think of that because some of the equipment is arguably better than the tomes, but that's still a great way to take at least some of the guesswork out of treasure hunting.

To respond to some of your other points:
-Yeah, I composed the music, so I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I've gotten a few tepid responses to it lately, and I've been like, what the hell does it take to please you people?! That was one of the goals with the battle theme, by the way--I tried to use softer instrumentation and I used the same chord progression from the title theme while keeping it kinetic with the rhythm section. I've been writing fiction and composing music for a while now, so those are the things I tend to be most proud of in my work.

-Man, the battles have really been a mixed bag. I'm glad you recognize the thought behind them, but, yeah, the difficulty has been a major turnoff for a lot of players. Hopefully this won't come to bite me in the ass come judging time, but, thanks, I am proud of how they turned out. They're a bit like coffee: it takes a second to get a taste for them, but then you kind of get an appreciation for how they burn your tongue in just the right way--or you spit them out immediately.

-I get the Crow thing. I tried to do a flip ending with him, but I think what was missing was a scene with him where it shows that he needs Mara. I could have fit that in after the Scrum fight since I don't have a flashback there. I think I was probably too focused on the Bud/Mara character arc. Originally, Mara was going to be the one to make the flowers grow at the end, but I realized that Crow didn't have much of a character arc, and it seemed like it would be a good turn there at the end. Again, though, yeah: I think one extra scene of exposition for him would have been smart.

-I actually didn't draw the character portraits; that was my roommate, Jason. Basically, I had all the sprites drawn and I was up against the wall in the last couple of weeks because another friend who was supposed to be doing the character portraits wasn't going to have the time to make them emote, which was the major reason I needed them. I'll pass on the compliment to him, though! The battler graphics, by the way, were all me if you want to know the colorful eyesores I can create.
Hey House, just wanted to let you know that I finished the game yesterday and thought it was really well done.

The art style is simplistic, but has a cartoony feel to it that I love and it's also really colorful. The writing and story also caught me by surprise; there's a whimsical and idealistic feel to it despite the fact that you're essentially playing as villains. Virtually everyone having their own laugh was also a really nice touch.

The ending was also very touching, and clever to boot. Poor Bud though :(

The gameplay was what really captured my interest, though. The game design is just unbelievably creative and intelligent, and I was hooked from the very first battle; each one felt just like a puzzle and I loved how even the final boss had me on my toes. The fact that the game has you make every turn count is just great. I found the fact that you gain strength through artifacts/mementos as opposed to EXP very unique and added a great deal of challenge.

The music... well, let's just say the battle theme was enough to convince me to play, haha.

Overall, excellent job, man! I'm really impressed with it.
Thanks for stopping in, Zach! Always nice to hear someone enjoyed it! I still need to get on uploading the entire soundtrack to bandcamp or something.
Cool game and worth the download if you have not tried it yet.
Guardian of the Description Thread
So, I gave this a whirl. I'm seriously digging this music. Most especially "Dinner at the Giant's Treehouse"! Also, I absolutely love the way the characters interact with each other. Most of the time, it's freaking hilarious. However, things can turn dead serious on a dime, and not miss a beat.

Though, I must, sadly, admit that it took me a while to figure out what the heck was up with the "-5" pop-up after each fight. Though, once it did sink in, I just kept going, though, I certainly started to avoid battles!
Thanks, Marrend! Yeah, that track is one of my favorite dungeon themes I've composed so far. Both of the dungeon tracks in this game were originally going to be in another game I'm working on, but I moved them to this project because of the time constraints of the competition and because they fit so well, anyway.
Very nice and cute game!
I just wish it wasn't that battle-centered!
Heart pumps clay? Might wanna see a doctor about that. :)

Will give this one a play.

Edit: Like others have stated, that final boss fight is a real... something. I'll consult the hints/tips page and finish my play later, for sure.
Thanks, Malandy! You've been busy lately, haha.
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