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Artbook Available!

I had some time recently and compiled a ~50 page artbook on my games, mostly covering concept art and extra illustrations. It's for sale for $5 on itch.io, so check that out if you'd like! Thanks for lookin'.


A Proper Postmortem

Maybe?! Heck if I know how to actually format a good post but let’s try. As game development went on for almost four years, this is probably gonna be long… and also give away basically the whole game oops! I'll try to spoilertag the... spoilers...

Sometime around July 2014, a month after the initial release of my first game, my room was being remodeled and I was stuck with nothing for free time but a garbage laptop I could do anything on, an old flip phone, my sketchbook, and my 3DS. So beyond playing an obscene amount of Animal Crossing and Tomodachi Life, I at some point went “hey, what if I made a second game starring the kids.” So I started trying to plan it out! And it went...

...absolutely nowhere that I intended it to go!!!

For instance, this is the very first page of sketches. This squirrel was supposed to be really important. It’s not. I don’t even KNOW what’s up with that duck.

A thing I like to think about before I set off making any of the story, assets, or scripts for my games tend to be themes and motifs. And I kept circling back to a very important, very personal “theme.” Particularly, I kept thinking that the RPG Maker fan crowd (at least on tumblr) tends to skew young and be in the teenage range and at ages 14-16, I could’ve had something in media to help me think "hey, maybe this ISN'T normal."

Of course, my entire thought process isn’t necessarily one of charity and selflessness. It was also a way of me expressing what I’d dealt with in ways I’ve only ever communicated with my friends who were also victims of the same circumstances, the closest I would let myself come to personal stories and retellings with a cover of plastic children and wild adventures. It was also in some ways a way of me verifying to myself that something ongoing was, in fact, bananas and should not have been happening, but that might be another story for another time.

As you can probably guess, Haze and Seal came into the picture since I needed to make two characters who would have this struggle. A lot of decisions came about because of my personal experience. They’re 15/16 because I was at the time of the incidents that primarily inspired me to make this game. They’re both nonbinary because I am. They love anime because I did (and do…?!) One of their friends is even directly modeled off how one of my friends looked in high school. To that degree, I guess someone, somewhere can call them self inserts. But they’re also not, since I didn’t want to just do a personal retelling with fictional characters. I’d just write a memoir or something at that point.

Haze’s design came first, and then Seal’s was sort of made as a foil to them. Haze’s “colors” are pink, black, grey, and red. Seal’s are teal and light purple… and also black. Haze had a rabbit motif (which got toned down as I went on), Seal had an owl motif (which is now just a single mention in their list of likes…), etc.

Though in the beginning, the story was entirely different. Initially, everything took place in the neon-ish areas with black sky and reflective, celestial water (that I, very eloquently, call “spacewater”). The idea was that Haze and Seal were beings from another dimension and that their “fighting” was causing a rip in the universe that the kids stumbled into and therefore got wrapped up in this mess. I had an entire script written and started making assets and when I went to sum up the game’s plot in a neat paragraph, I realized... I hated it!!!

So I chucked all I had done by that point writing-wise and started again. In fact, I rewrote a lot.

After the first it was mostly small tweaks and adjustments, but the biggest ones (and the ones that still present a challenge to me!) usually involved trying to make Seal feel like a believable character. I had shown an early draft to someone who said that Seal felt too much like trying to get back at someone, so I scrapped a ton of their lines and tried again. I still worry whether or not they come across too Strawman-y, but I’ve done the best I can and whatever criticism people have can apply to my next writing attempts. It’s very hard to separate yourself from subject matter you feel really personally attached to. I don’t want to write them in a way that you immediately hate them, or hate me for writing such a blatant “villain” character, but in a way that you can formulate your own thoughts. That said, though, I am violently allergic to people who call Seal a “tsundere,” even in jest. So I guess I want people to have their own thoughts as long as it’s not that specific one…! (;;;;)

You may be thinking “heck, this is a lot of paragraphs in and you haven’t even brought up gameplay thoughts” and yes... that’s very true. Shamefully, for a game where I thought “I should definitely, absolutely focus more on making it a Fun Game than a walking visual novel” I might’ve actually dropped the ball in that area. I’d like to think I was more adventurous than I had been with my first game. Some parts do kind of fall into the “walk to the next cutscene, find a key to unlock the next cutscene” pit, but I did put effort into figuring out what I could do with RMXP. In the final product, though they’re very simple, I’m most proud of the chalkboard puzzle and the paint sorting puzzle.

Even if, y’know… I somehow neglected to include the letter “k”

Speaking of, I’m not sure if this is a general RPG Maker thing, a “man I hate RMXP” thing, or a “meaka cannot gamemake” thing, but I had several event/puzzles just up and quit on me a few times. Like they would work fine for months and months, but one day I’d go to them and just nope, suddenly they’re not working, sorry. Copy+pasting the event to a new map wouldn’t work, so I’d have to manually redo the event. One of them was the chalkboard puzzle. The other was the sliding puzzle when Tony is by herself. Which I’m also aware slows the game down a ton, but I have legitimately no idea how to fix that... I tried and I could never get to to not lag like crazy.

Like I said, I started in July 2014. I’d shipped the game off to my beta testers in March 2018. A vast majority of that time was spent creating the visual assets since everything you see in the game is custom. All the sprites, all the tilesets, every little pixel of it. All me! Needless to say… it was very exhausting and very time consuming. I grossly underestimated how much time I thought it’d take. I never accounted for the very real possibility of burnout, which is incredibly silly considering I was making something entirely by myself that was also an occasionally difficult subject matter…! There were quite a few weeks where I touched nothing because I couldn’t bring myself to and even a few times where I just considered deleting everything and cancelling the project. I knew I’d be mad at myself if I quit, especially as I got later into production, so I just tried my best to make sure I didn’t turn it into a huge chore. Obviously, there were parts that were more tedious than others, but this game really is a very large labor of love that I put a lot of my heart into.

Part of that time is also a little bit of indecision. Did you know I went through 3 possible title screens? I sure did! I’ve also publicly posted about redoing both Haze and Seal’s bust sprites before. I almost redid all of the kids’, too, but I didn’t wanna get caught in the loop of remaking everything, so I opted to just leave them as they are. Most of them don’t bug me as much. M…most of them!

I’m hopping back on the Story train since obviously that was my main focus, but the decision to have Seal sort of “reveal” their true nature (or at least have a jealousy-related anger burst) to Octavio as an animated cutscene was one I’d decided pretty early. Which is also why, unsurprisingly, I was debating getting voice actors for a hot minute. But I wouldn’t have used it anywhere else in the game, so I opted not to. I also wanted to keep the file size low, but that wound up not happening so much, h-haha… For someone who uses the only engine without native support for videos, I sure do like making animated cutscenes, huh.

Anyway. This scene originally bridged Octavio’s section of the game to Pablo’s, which would’ve been (for some reason) in an abandoned hospital. But that didn’t pan out because it didn’t fit what I wanted the game to be and also by switching the order of the two, it builds up more tension(?) on the kind of character you expect Seal to be. I hope their very first “fuck off, maybe” took someone out there by surprise!

This also was the point when I decided I wanted to commission an original soundtrack, since nothing quite got across what I wanted at the time. Which is when I put out my silly ad post and somehow managed to get the amazing ProjectTrinity to compose for me…! I’m still amazed by the sheer quality of music he made for my little RPGMaker game.

Having the teen characters curse was also something I waffled on for a bit. Clearly, I dwell on the important things as a writer. I wanted it to contrast the cutesy, kidlike way the siblings talk and also the sort of squeaky-clean image the witches (particularly Seal) present to the kids by contrasting how they talk to each other, most importantly how Seal talks to Haze and their other friends. I did have the same issue with the Mother in my first game, but I opted to not have her curse at all either since she’s childish in her own way, too. But that’s not for THIS game’s postmortem, get outta here!!!

I also very much was set on a “battle” with words being the final event of the game. Though I had a hard time imagining what that would be initially, but eventually arrived at a sort of fake battle system that was introduced in the mine. The setting for this battle changed with time (everywhere from the park to the academy and in between) was considered…! The dirty secret is that while I did like the decision to make it take place in the voids between worlds, I also sort of did not want to draw the staircase in the witch academy. Originally, the kids would’ve also helped Haze “reach” Seal (who was putting actual obstacles in the way), but I guess in my own way, I wanted to give Haze the ability to confront Seal on their own, one-on-one. Or something like that…! I also didn’t want to add too much needless backtracking.

I’m… unsure what other point I really want to make, so I guess I’ll end this here unless anyone has anything in particular that interests them they’d want me to answer!

All in all, this game means a lot to me and took a chunk of my life to make and I really hope it’s able to reach at least one person who might need it, even if it’s only a little.

To all of you who gave it a try, thank you, truly, from the bottom of my heart.


Artbook Interest Poll

Personally, I've always really liked looking at artbooks & concept art for games and stuff, so I was curious if there would be any sort of interest in that for these projects!

Survey Link

Thank you for your time, and I hope to have something more substantial to update about at some point...! (Probably after the holidays, though. Don't Retail, folks. Don't do it.)


Surprise, It's Here!

After four years, ~1000 art assets, and many nights staring deep into RMXP, I'm so happy to finally to publicly release the game. To everyone who's been following since the very beginning, thank you so much. Thank you, too, to those who are just joining in, or anywhere in between!

Surely something that took this long deserves a better postmortem, and maybe one day I'll give it that. But this is just a blog post to say "oh my god, it's Actually Done?!"

I hope you all enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it, and perhaps even more so...! Thank you all. ♥

Progress Report

A Very Belated Progress Report

Though the good news is that by not updating this site in uhhhhhh 7 months, it looks like I've gotten a lot more done...! (That's not how that works, but Small Victories!)

Admittedly, I have been very busy with real life obligations (and also in between doing a few cutscene illustrations for a cool game you guys should check out if you get a chance!) so I haven't had ideally as much time to dedicate to my game as I could. But then, I guess I'd like to dedicate maybe half of my time but alas, student loans and what have you.

In my eternal indecision, I made another title screen. I might stick with this one for real, but I think I thought the same about the last one this time last year h-haha.

I've also been touching up (and in Seal's case, completely redrawing) the bust images because I clearly haven't learned to put in placeholders first and then add the shiny pretty art so I'm not constantly redoing things down the line. But it's also kind of nice to be able to track how my art evolves.

Needless to say, a good chunk of what I've been doing is of the cosmetic variety. There's been countless hours tossed at RMXP, too, it's all just stuff that is very hard to show visually. Two eventing situations that I thought were going to be a nightmare to get to work actually came together pretty smoothly. They require a bit of polish but are at least working! Also I needed to redo a 27-page event because it stopped working all of a sudden on me but at least I could use that opportunity to optimize it and make it less... convoluted? Sure, let's go with that.

Either way, I have more done than what I have left to do and that is an incredibly exciting prospect!!! I'm still reluctant to give a solid date because I know who I am and also I don't want to toss out some arbitrary day and feel the need to rush it or something. But either way, progress has reached... mmmmaybe 85%? That last 15 is gonna kill me for sure, but I'll make sure it gets done regardless.

As always, thank you all for your continued patience and I hope soon I will be able to provide you with a thing to play!

Progress Report

2015, I said.

We're now in 2017 and arguably the Worst Timeline. And yet here I am, still plucking away at this.

Which means it's update time, of course!

Admittedly, a lot of October through December was spent on other things. Mostly the shocking notion that my job at a craft store would get busy from Halloween until after Christmas. That's nuts, right? Wow. A lot of the time that I didn't have the energy to fight RMXP completely, I would just try to fix up maps and events, even if only on a cosmetic level.

An example of a touched-up map. The left was how it looked in an older version I had screenshotted, the right is it currently in the program. Less empty space and "you just laid out a square." Perhaps not perfect, but I'm trying to work with making maps both aesthetically pleasant and not a chore to go through mechanically! This has led to a couple of sections getting chopped out when I realized that, they might be pretty, but they don't add anything to the game, whether atmospherically or otherwise. Also I opted to do a rotating game over screen that switches between three different images at random. Thank you, indecision.

I'm also learning how actual animations work in RMXP rather than having 500000 character sprites for effects and the like. It's still a little bit different than what I'm used to. But I'm used to Flash so honestly, what am I expecting? Who knows!!! It's fun to play around with, if anything.

Though admittedly, a lot of my slow crawling is just the fact I'm making all these visual assets and I am indecisive and change my mind halfway through.

This looked completely different like a week ago, but I can't make up my mind apparently so now it looks like this instead of what it used to be! So I get caught in a loop of not wanting to do specific assets because I know the RMXP part might take a few battles and I could wind up hating how it looks a week later, so I would change it and then I don't even start the programming in the meantime. But I get through anyway!

I'm confident I'll be done before the end of 2017. I couldn't give an exact estimate, as there are factors that could pop up to impede it (who I am as a person, going on adventures to sell art and/or just be a freaking loser at cons, work for centuries, etc.). Also, I don't want to put undue pressure on my composer, who has been doing AMAZING work and is also busy with his own projects!

That seems like a lot of words for "I'm still working slowly, the usual." tl;dr:

(And of course, thank you all for bearing with me and continuing to support my adventures in game make)


2 Years & More!

As of this month, this game has entered its second year of production! (RMN's date is when I finished & added the first teaser demo, if you're wondering why those don't match up). I have also received about 5k collective downloads on Baby's First Game through both RMN and my mediafire account, which is way more than I could've ever imagined would be the case for a thing I made to fight off getting bored of my senior thesis in college.

What's been happening in that time:

Things that I drew maybe June 2014 are actually functioning (sort of) in RMXP.

There's a terrifying number of maps. 90% of them have terrible names.

Placeholder images have become real images, and in some cases, needed to be changed even further as I slowly got used to drawing my own characters 2 years down the line!

At some point I became brave enough to fight RMXP and its weirdness to get it to do things I would like it to! Scripting is still a struggle, but I've learned at the very least how to make events work in ways that maybe they shouldn't but they fit my purposes. I feel like I've also learned a lot about mapping and events that make it more enjoyable as an experience, especially in comparison to the nightmarish horror that is the huge, empty maps from my first tries with RPG Maker. I'm still learning and have a ways to go, but I'm going to continue to try my best to bring everyone a fun game that they can enjoy. Or not, that's up to you lovely people to decide!

Either way, thank you all for these two years of patience while I fight RMXP. I hope you continue to bless me with your support until there's a finished product to play! It's coming. Eventually. I hope!!!


Demo 2: This one is relevant!!!

Now including all bench-sitting you could ever want and need. And 100% less geese than the full game.

In actuality, this is just the beginning segment. It's relatively short, only 5-10 minutes in length maybe, but it just seemed like a good stopping point! There's much more done later. Some of which can be seen here:

Progress Report

Apparently, updating bimonthly is my thing.

Where have I been? Well, uh...

Let's just say I've been a little preoccupied with other games hahahaaaaa.

But either way, it's time for a good ol' update, I think!

  • Cool Milestone: as of tonight, I only have three more tilesets left to complete! That's very exciting because they are probably the most time-consuming asset to make outside of actual Flash animations. Granted, my lazy self did leave the hardest ones for last so that will be an adventure.
  • With that said, about 80% of the maps in the game are fully built and connected. I've been just using standard RTP for the basic build of ones with unfinished tilesets and then go back and add events proper once I finish them off.
  • Though fine-tuning in necessary in a few areas, the first segment is entirely playable.
  • I already want to redo nearly all of the bust images because the current ones bug me now h-haha. Though I'll probably sit on those and do those later, like I intend to do with the animations. Save that stuff for last and fight RMXP first!!!
  • I was at a mini war with myself on the subject of added voice acting for the animated cutscenes, but after consulting some peers and some deep self-searching, I decided those would be unnecessary, probably jarring (as I'm not a fan of Mad Father-esque "anime noises" and wouldn't use voices anywhere but cutscenes), and it'd take time to find VAs, so they will be voiceless!

That said, though I've come a long way, I still have more to go so I can't just pat myself on the back yet! Thank you all for your continued patience and interest in my project and I hope you continue to support me on this wild ride.

Progress Report

April Showers Bring Dev Updates?

I figure now is a good time as any for a progress report...!

  • I continue to be thrilled with each and every track my composer delivers. So much so that I've been fighting my maps to make them look just as wonderful as the music makes them sound like they should...
  • Of all of the game, a single tileset hasn't been started. Right now I'm mapping it out with RTP and will switch over to my own once I get to that one. Though I may be intentionally procrastinating because I'm a baby.
  • Small segments are playable in succession! In fact, except for some areas I need to fix up, the entire beginning section is pretty much done. Which is exciting. I'm considering releasing the first section as the new "demo" once I complete things since the one I currently have up for download is less of a demo and more of "look what I learned RMXP can do!!!"
  • At the moment, I've hit 164 maps. Some of which aren't maps so much as helpful dividers for my own sake, but still. For a good comparison, my first game had 80 maps.
  • Either way, though progress is a little on the slow side, things are happening and that's exciting!

I hope by next month I'll have much more exciting updates to bring. Thanks again for all your patience and kind support!
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