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Kickstarter for New Game: Hymn to the Earless God

Hey, everyone! I've finally reached the point where I can share some details about my upcoming game. I don't know if I'm going to make a game page here since at this point I'm using Gamemaker, so it doesn't super feel in the spirit of RMN, but I definitely wanted to tell everyone about it, so here I am!

The game is called Hymn to the Earless God. It's about four different insectoid protagonists with four different stories who are all dealing with different struggles on a huge, unforgiving alien world.

It's basically got Chrono Trigger inspired enemy layouts/interactions, a Paladin's Quest/Lennus inspired world, and a bunch of other inspirations, like the Breath of Fire series, FFXish battles, SaGa Frontierish multiple main characters, etc, etc. You guys know I like to pull from that era, and I certainly did so here.

How about I just show you some stuff!

Here's the Kickstarter!

Here's the Steam Page if you want to wishlist this or try out the demo!

Here's the itch.io page!

Also, I just want to say that I got my start on rpgmaker.net, and I absolutely adore this place. Any success this game has is due in large part from the design lessons I learned here and the people who played and gave feedback on my early games. Keep making games, folks!


Jimmy, We Are Go for Launch!

Well, Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass is officially released. It's been a little over four years of development, but we made it. Let's get the business stuff out of the way real quick, because I'm probably going to get a little sentimental.

You can buy Jimmy on Steam here.

If you don't like or can't use Steam, I've set up an itch.io page here.

You should also be able to purchase the soundtrack on Steam if that's something you're interested in. I'll get an alternative link for the soundtrack later today--probably on itch.io. Let me know if you'd prefer another website. I'll update this post and the main page with that link once it's available.

Anyway, now that Jimmy's out, I wanted to talk for a bit about this website and why it's important to me. When I made A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky, it was truly a game made just by me. I didn't look at any tutorials, I didn't browse any forums, I didn't even PLAY other RPG Maker games--I just worked in solitude. And, you know what? It was terrible. It was baby's first game, and it fell into all of the common trappings of RPG Maker games: the maps were too big; the encounters were too frequent, generic, and boring; the design elements were all based on instinct instead of working together to form a cohesive whole; the puzzles were often overly difficult and sometimes didn't take RPG Maker's limits into consideration (hello, hit detection). In the end, it was just a showcase for my writing and music, and, even then, I felt that I could do better.

So, after it released and did better than it ever should have done, I started putting in the work. I played a wide range of RPG Maker games that taught me what the engine was really capable of. I made a few more games and flirted with actually good design. I built my confidence up in my weak areas and further honed the skills that I was proud of. And, several years later, I produced a game that I'm really, really happy with.

What I'm saying here is that the RPG Maker community, and, RMN in particular, was a fundamental part of my growth as a developer. Even though Jimmy's development process was, like A Very Long Rope's, mostly me hammering away every day in my room, it feels like it's a community effort. I know that I don't participate enough in the community, but I've been here for years now, popping up occasionally, but always watching and absorbing, creating unspoken rivalries with other developers, honing my craft, and gaining those precious bits of encouragement that kept my cynicism from imploding myself.

Thank you RMN for giving a platform for weirdo loners like me. Thank you for teaching us how to order our internal chaos into something playable. Thank you for being you. Now, go make more games, you beautiful misanthropes!

Progress Report

July Update

Hey, everyone! So, last month I announced the release date of Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass. For those of you that missed it, that day is August 7th. So, release is about a month away now. It’s kind of surreal. I’ve been working on Jimmy for four+ years, and even though the game is fully playable, it’s really strange to imagine that it’s going to be out there in the pretty near future. I hope you all enjoy it because it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done and I’m so proud of it.

Last month I mentioned that I would have a good estimate of the length, and I do--more or less. Right now, only one of my testers has finished the game, and they haven’t done the post-game stuff, but they completed the main storyline in 35 hours. My last playthrough was about 35 hours for everything--including the post-game stuff. So 30-35 hours seems like the low end of what you can expect, but I assume that most people will take around the 40-hour mark to complete everything. Too, a lot of the content is totally optional, so if you’re racing straight to the credits, the game’s going to be maybe more like 20-25 hours. But, you shouldn’t do that! The funnest thing about Jimmy is exploring!

I’ve also been getting some questions here and there about cost. I’m planning on charging $15 U.S. I thought this would show up on Steam, but I guess it does that after release (or I forgot to check a box somewhere).

Other than that, I’ve spent the last month squashing bugs, tweaking stats, and just making the experience better and more intuitive all around. I’m really excited about the upcoming release. Testing should be finished in the next couple of weeks, and then I’ll be sending out review copies and making sure everything is square with Steam (and itch.io--getting set up there is on my to-do list). Thanks for believing in this game, and I can’t wait to share it with you!


Official Release Date!

That's right, Jimmy's got an actual release date now! No more of that vague "Summer 2018" crap! Check it out on Steam if you haven't already.

Fun fact: my original release date that I put in on Steam as a placeholder was August 1st, so apparently I'm more or less on schedule.

Progress Report

June Update: Special RMN Edition

Like normal, I've posted this blog both here and on tumblr. However, I wanted to also shoot out some feelers here for playtesters. Is anyone interested in doing a playtest? This will probably be mid to late June, and I'll try to give at least close to a full month for playtesters. I'm going to be relying on a few personal friends as well, but I'd like to get a few RMN vets if they're interested. Playtesters will get their names in the credits, a Steam key for the finished game and the soundtrack (or I can send these directly), and they'll be playing on an unencrypted version, so they can poke around as much as they want and witness the complex and ultimately boring mysteries of Jimmy's development. I'm also totally willing to do some quid pro quo work on your own projects (playtesting, maybe a little bit of music, etc.) as long as I can do that stuff after development for this game finishes. If you want to playtest and I don't respond, please don't be offended; I only want to bring in people who I'm totally comfortable with, and I have a tendency to be a little standoffish, so that's not a lot of people. If you want to playtest, please let me know either here or via PM.

Anyway, here's the actual progress report that I posted on tumblr:

So, it’s officially summer, and that means I can work on Jimmy A LOT–and I have been! I guess I should get the first big news out of the way: the story is completely in the game now. That means the game is playable from start to finish, and all the scenes are in, all the NPCs have dialogue, and, yes, you can shake them all (with a few exceptions like if they’re, say, bashing a rusted-out car with a baseball bat). The ability to shake everyone was a major pain in the ass to implement, by the way, so I hope you all feel a modicum of gratitude when you’re cheekily prancing around causing chaos to all of the poor inhabitants of Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass.

That said, the game is still not balanced. I’ve put in most of the enemy stats and have started my first pass through the game. My plan right now is to play through the game in its entirety three times–this will ostensibly go faster each time, as I’ll have less glitches, typos, and unbalanced fights to contend with. My first pass is to go through the game the “optimal” way; remember, Jimmy has a lot of optional levels, some of which can be entered way earlier than is wise to. My second pass is going to be me trying to do dungeons out of order and scaling up the fights, and my final pass is going to be me skipping optional stuff altogether to make sure the game is still beatable. I don’t really know how long this is all going to take, but my hope is 2-3 weeks.

After that, I’d like to send the game over to a few different playtesters over the course of a month or so. This will hopefully give them enough time to fully playtest the game, and it’ll give me time to knock out some other stuff I’ve been putting off, like getting the soundtrack into a standalone package, requesting reviews, etc.

Here’s what you can look forward to this month: me figuring out an accurate game length and an actual exact release date (currently looking like mid to late July, but I’ll give an exact date once I finish my testplays).

ALSO: I’m really out of the loop with the game review scene. Where do ya’ll get your gaming news? What websites or Youtube personalities would be interested in RPG Maker games or, more broadly, this kind of retro RPG?

Progress Report

May Update

Well, it’s the end of the semester, which is a pretty hectic time for me in my day job, so progress is going to be a bit slow for the next week or so. But, the silver lining here is that summer is right around the corner, and once summer hits, I’m on break, which means it’s all Jimmy all the time–right through the finish line.

Last month I finished most of the remaining writing/scenes. At this point, I’m down to just three levels, and one of them is pretty sparse on dialogue. Unfortunately, I also still have to do the ending, which could take a while. Regardless, a month should be more than enough time to finish it all. After that, all that’s left is balancing and testing, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to also finish balancing by the end of the month.

I’m going to keep it short and sweet today, but next month I think I’ll be saying that Jimmy’s officially in the testing phase. I don’t want to jinx myself by giving a hard release date, but you can still expect to be playing this bad boy this summer.

Progress Report

April Update

A lot of my recent updates have been talking about breaking the story up into eight parts as a means of giving a rough estimate of where I’m at. Well, I’m currently on the eighth part. The thing is, this part is basically the single largest section of the game, as it includes several optional areas and scenes, the most mandatory levels of any section, a lot of miscellaneous stuff that I need to test and wrap up, and the ending, which will be pretty time-intensive. So, while I might not finish all of that this month, I do expect to finish at least MOST of it, and, by that point, Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass will be pretty close to finished.

So, then what? I still won’t be totally done, as right now things like enemy stats, xp, and currency are all dummied in (outside of what’s in the demo). I’m expecting to spend about a month balancing those values, and then I’ll be testplaying for a while. Still, unless some catastrophic unforeseen tragedy strikes, I’m still looking at releasing this summer.

It’s a little early to get nostalgic, but I’ve been working on this game for about four years now, and it’s surreal to actually see the finish line. I’m looking forward to seeing what I accomplish this month; time to get to work!

Progress Report

March Update

All right, so, confession time: I lost about two weeks of development playing Monster Hunter: World. I mean, don't get me wrong, I WANTED to work on Jimmy, but, well, Vaal Hazak wasn't going to hunt himself. My friends and I have relegated our hunting to Sundays, now, so I did get some good work done in the bookends of February, but I'm not quite as far along as I want to be.

I was hoping to have started the seventh (out of eight) sections of the game, but instead I'm about halfway through the sixth. The good news is that I planned for a lot of wiggle room, so I'm still set up to finish all the storyline stuff before the end of the semester, and then I should be able to work through balancing and testing through the first half of summer--which means a release date right smack in the middle of summer is pretty likely.

Anyway, not a lot to talk about this month, unfortunately. Anyone else get sucked into Monster Hunter? And, for those who didn't, for the love of God, don't pick it up if you value your productivity.

Progress Report

February Update

Hey, everyone! So, this past month has mainly been me chipping away at the scenes and dialogue as well as tying up loose ends with some other eventing. If Jimmy can be broken up into eight totally unequal parts, then I'm currently on the fifth part. So, I've hit a pretty good pace.

That said, those parts are, like I said, totally unequal. Part six is going to require a lot more work than most of the other parts, and part eight basically consists of where the world opens up, and since the game is really focused on exploration, there are quite a few new levels that open up then, and several contain a fair amount of scenes and dialogue. I also have to account for the ending, and I've got some art-heavy stuff in mind for that, so that's kind of an unknown. Still, I believe I'm on track for finishing all that up by summer, which means I'm on schedule to finish the whole enchilada before the end of summer. I've got a specific release date in mind, but I don't want to announce it until I'm in the testing phase.

Also, I said that I would take some tentative steps to getting on itch.io and gog.com, and, boy howdy, did I take some INCREDIBLY TENTATIVE STEPS. Itch recommends waiting until you have a finished project before releasing on their platform so that you can take the most advantage of being in the new release section. So, I'm currently going to hold off on setting up my page there until I hit the beta testing phase, as that will give me something else to do while I'm waiting on feedback. If this is a bad game plan, LET ME KNOW. This is all new to me, and I want to do this right.

As for gog.com, I sent in an application a couple days ago. I didn't see a large rpgmaker presence on their site, but Kan Gao of To The Moon fame is a spokesman for them, so they're at least receptive to rpgmaker games. All I can do is hope for the best!

Anyway, that's it for last month. This month, I've got more story stuff to go through. I'm hoping to at least be starting on the seventh part of the game (which is quite short) by the end of the month.

Progress Report

Happy New Year, Jimmy!

Hey, everyone! It’s 2018, and the cynics of the world will tell you that this is it, this is the year that humanity will finally cave in on itself, and while that may or may not be true, the good news is that you’ll be able to play Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass before that happens.

At this point, I’m waist-deep in writing dialogue and getting scenes together. This process is taking longer than I planned on some levels and way less time on others, but I think the average is slightly slower than expected. That’s okay, though, because I allocated more than enough time for this. I’ve just been finding bugs here and there while spot-playtesting, drawing graphics that I had forgotten about, and generally spending more time on the dialogue because I want it to be consistently thoughtful and layered.

This month I’m going to keep plowing through the dialogue. I’ve already written some scenes that I really, really like. For instance, you’re going to love Jimmy’s grandma.

I would also like to take some time to sign up on a few distribution platforms other than Steam. This is something I’ve been meaning to do, but I drag my feet on stuff like this. Expect me to wait until the last of the month to do this so that I can mention that I did in my next progress report, haha.

Oh, and Jimmy also got mentioned in a couple of “indie games to look out for” lists. You can see them here and here. Both lists mention that Jimmy doesn’t have an official release date, and while it’s true that I don’t have a specific day listed, I’m still aiming for summer, and I’m still confident I can deliver in that time frame. Anyway, here’s to a good year!
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