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Progress Report

Summer 2020 Progress

Wanted to share my most recent update from Kickstarter with RMN as well. Hope you’ve all had a safe & enjoyable summer thus far!



This update is long overdue - so I’d like to thank backers for their extraordinary patience! This month marks one year since we launched on Kickstarter!

Development Hurdles

Our team has suffered a couple of unforeseen setbacks during the past months. Rightly or wrongly, I was reluctant to post an update until it felt appropriate to share what’s happened.

Unfortunately, our lead pixel artist became quite ill for several months, leaving him unable to work or generate any new content. Although he was committed to staying involved with Beloved Rapture, his sickness left him unable to concentrate for long enough periods of time to complete the monthly assignments (new tiles, monster sprites, etc).

We tried to work around this by designating more of our monthly budget toward music/audio, and toward miscellaneous artwork. Like much of the world, COVID-related personal concerns diminished a lot of our free time - resulting in less mental energy for the project. I ran into a level of emotional/creative burnout that I hadn't felt in a long time.

The good news? He’s made close to a full recovery now, so we’re back on track in terms of preparing for the demo!



The Steam Demo

We're expecting that the demo will be finished by the end of August/Early Sep, and released on Steam shortly after that time.

  • It will last approximately 40-60 minutes - essentially, most of "Chapter 1" in the game.
  • Includes battles, bosses, & 1 Full dungeon

We intend to submit this demo to a publisher, so I wanted to be certain that it achieved a level of high detail that resembles a finished game.

With that being said, I'd like to showcase a few cut-scenes / gameplay tidbits here - any criticism is welcome while I begin to maximize polish.



Chapter 1 Opening Scene

Some of you may remember this scene from the original Kickstarter trailer (as well those of you who know me well enough to have played the old prototype demo XD). Well, we've added in the finalized music track!

I may tweak some of the dialogue to improve pacing, but I'm pretty happy with it.






Dungeon 1 Preview

Similarly, here's a quick glimpse of the game's first dungeon.

I tried to establish nice rhythm in terms of puzzles -> exploration -> battles, etc. The cave comes as a moderate initial challenge, while gently introducing simple jRPG mechanics.




There are still a couple of small bugs/the combat is relatively unfinished, but it's pretty close to the final version.

Dungeon & Battle Themes

Here's the full audio track for the cavern area. Andreas was inspired by both Mitsuda and David Wise for the 'soundscape' and style of these instruments. I referenced the audio style of DKC2 in particular in my track notes; as I wanted a song that could feel both melodic and atmosphere-setting.




The battle theme was finished months ago, but we've refined the instruments since that time. Find the updated track below.

Progress Report

Prologue / Demo & New Teaser

Hi all-!

I hope you've all been holding up well, and staying healthy during these long days.

One small silver lining to this past month's lockdown in the US: much more free time for development! I'd say we've hit a new stride, in fact.

Prior to Kickstarter, I worked on various cutscenes / dungeons that would span the entire game - in the hopes of showing off some visual diversity for the campaign (plus, testing out new resources).

This past month however, we've hunkered down and focused specifically on the game's prologue section, which spans the first 2 Hours of BR. I believe the Prologue can be a proper demo in its own right - which is my eventual aspiration for it. Ultimately, it'll include numerous exploration maps, battles, a village, a full dungeon, and plenty of whimsical exposition scenes.

Here's a quick montage;




I'd like to have this segment finished by May / Early June at the latest! It'll lay the groundwork for the rest of the game's progression, so it's a good place for our team to start evaluating the pacing, battle fundamentals, writing, visuals, music & other elements.

As everyone knows, the game was rebuilt from scratch with the original assets, so I want to gauge whether it feels at the level of a true indie this time around!

In addition to my team and circle of friends, I'd like to have at least 1-2 folks from RMN help out with the testing. I'll probably make an announcement when it's ready to send!

When it came to RPGMaker, a bad habit I struggled with over the years was designing my content out of order. I'd create a map from the beginning of the game, then start a cut-scene that occurs hours later, etc. XD In that vein, it'll be gratifying to make our recent work more continuous, playable from start-to-finish.

Miscellaneous

Small Retrospective + Old Screenshots

Hey all!

We're back to development full-throttle now that we've reached out Kickstarter goal! Feels pretty fantastic to be so reinvigorated with the game, after a bit of a lull period. :D

As we finish BR during the next 12 months, I thought it'd be cool to take a moment and reflect on the project's long history. For the sake of nostalgia, I'd like to keep some of the images from the classic freeware game saved here in this blog post. This is the only place they'll be available. I'll post them in chronological order, so everyone can see the evolution!

I know some people (all three of you) might be disappointed they'll never be able to play that version of the game, but I hope everyone can trust me when I say the revamp will be superior in every way possible.

I've learned a lot about script-writing and design over the years, and I'm glad to put those lessons to use with a bit of a "blank canvas", if you will. The wonderful team I've accumulated have added their talents, expanded the vision past anything I could hope to do on my own.


Comparison


Early RMN Era Images

The earliest major demo of BR that I released was back in 2008-2009.

At the time, I was still an extreme novice with Rm2k3, so most of the design choices were questionable at best (..and at worst, downright awful).

I had a lot of ambition, but zero idea how to actually create a game. Nonetheless, I learned quite a lot from how game was received - the reviews and comments were notoriously polarized.












Post-Hiatus Revival (2015-17)

Late in 2009, I suffered a pretty severe hard-drive failure, which lost nearly ten month's work of progress. Out of frustration, I effectively cancelled BR as I began my first year of college, putting it out of my mind.

It wasn't until nearly 7 years later that I was able to recover the files (little did I know a friend had the folder saved), and with the legalization of Rm2k3, I was spurred to start work on it again.

For better or worse, I only shared that version with about ten people, all of whom were from RMN.






Announcement

Our Final 24 Hours!

We've reached the final day of our campaign! Hurray!

It's been quite the wild ride, that much I can say. I started off extremely skeptical we'd even be funded, and now we've just surpassed our second stretch goal with the third (embellished portraits) now in sight!

It means the world to me - as everyone on RMN knows, this game is my baby; something I've developed on and off since high school/college. To finally be able to complete BR in its most polished form as an adult feels both overwhelming and cathartic.

Here's a teaser video for our second gameplay trailer.

Announcement

80% Funded! And our own Discord Channel

As of September 1, our Kickstarter campaign is less than 2,500 away from its total goal - with ten days to spare! We're all very excited about this wonderful news. XD I honestly never expected so much support from the community, it's made my heart melt a little ;__;

I want to thank RMN from the bottom of my heart - truly - for believing in what we're trying to pull off here. It's a risky endeavor to make a commercial RPGMaker game, let alone using an engine that's nearly two decades old.

In celebration, I decided to open up our Discord Channel (previously used only for the development team) to the general public. A lot of KS backers have asked for this, and I thought I'd extend it to RMN as well.

Join Discord here


Announcement

Kickstarter Has Launched!

At long last, our campaign is live! :D

View it here!

I've also finally wrapped up our first full trailer of the remaster, which you can watch below.




It's been a long and arduous road over the past 12-15 months of remastering Beloved Rapture as a commercial title - and of course the journey is far from over. It's been unbelievably humbling and rewarding. I've held off on over-posting here at RMN, as quite a lot of the game had to be rebuilt from the ground-up, and that took considerable time.

While I initially thought I could simply "swap out" the tiles from the old version, my team collectively made the decision that we should give it our very best effort, so over 80% of the content has been created from scratch. I wanted to take everything I've learned over the past ten years - not just RPGMaker familiarity, but my developing skill as a writer - and put it to its best use.

I've dipped my toes into the wider Indie world while attempting to market the game, and that in itself has been awesome to experience as well. More passion (and competition) than I ever could have imagined.

If you can, help me spread the word! It's been my dream for a long time to not only create a full commercial game with Rm2k3, but a prove that it was possible to design one with entirely original graphics and music. And we seem to finally be moving steadily along that path.

I've gone ahead and removed all of the old screenshots from the game, to avoid any confusion for new players.

A few people I want to thank as well!
  • Chuck Simpson (Tardis) for the game's logo, concept sketches, and various pixel commissions.
  • Willy B for his pixel art contribution.
  • Becca Bair for her contribution.
  • BadLuck of Stegosoft Games for being a good friend and mentor to me.
  • #MeridianDance IRC / Discord channel.
  • RPGMaker.net staff.
  • Kentona for just being awesome.
  • Jordan Chin for his interest in BR and willingness to collaborate on music.
  • Brandon Abley for his involvement.
  • Lily Croffi for supporting my vision since the very beginning, and for her wonderful character designs that endure in the project to this day.
  • Yioshka for her wonderful new art.
  • Joseph Seraph for moral support, and for contributing superb spell animations.
  • Vagrant Pixels for the astonishing portrait work.
  • Tau for mapping assistance.
  • Lian Wu for the Chibi artwork.
  • DragonHeartMan for his support over more than a decade.
  • Dethmetal, Little Wing Guy, Ciel, Giznaps, Dyhalto for past beta-testing.
  • LordBlueRouge for being an enduring friend to me, and for his boundless (and often inexplicable) enthusiasm for making Beloved Rapture the best it can be. Through his immaculate beta-testing and script re-writes, LBR persuaded me to go full-indie with BR, and for that I am forever grateful.



Announcement

Email List

Hi everyone!

After receiving a few messages asking for one, I've decided to launch a monthly email newsletter for those who want to stay updated on the progress for BR! These emails will help keep our followers updated on the upcoming Kickstarter campaign (including a launch date), without having to navigate through Twitter updates or RMN posts! I'll also be including developer journals, Work-in-progress Pixel Art, exclusive screenshots, video, and more.


Click Here to subscribe!

I hope to reach at least 400-800 subscribers by the end of January, so help me spread the word if you can! Also for good measure, here's a recent new screenshot. XD


Announcement

Pixel Portraits

Hi everyone!

Small update this time. I wanted to announce an exciting addition to our team - a new, secondary pixel artist - as well as a few stylistic changes I've made for BR's cutscenes.

One of the criticisms you often hear about RPGMaker games (especially those with a low resolution) is that the character's don't truly feel "alive" during the dialogue, even with the most eloquent or fine-tuned script. There are a couple reasons for this...but one remedy I've considered quite a lot was adding faces or full portraits to accompany the text. You see that often done with VX/VXA and beyond, but not necessarily 2k3.

Nonetheless, I've decided to commission full pixel-style portraits for every playable character. For the commercial version, I didn't want to pull any punches. ;)

At the risk of feeling distracting, I believe ultimately that this addition will work to the game's benefit. Not only will it allow the player to visualize the characters in greater detail, but accentuate the emotion in each scene as well. The cutscenes themselves are mostly finished, so I'll just have to swap in the portraits as they become available.



Anyone who played the demo might remember that the cutscenes are split into the "cinematic" sequences (those will use the portraits), and the more mundane moments, which utilize the standard RPGMaker text box. This will help them from feeling like overkill (..and save me from me having to pay for every NPC XD)

I was able to test it out earlier today - how's it looking in-game?

Announcement

Commercial Revamp

Hi everyone,

I had some downtime today, so I thought I'd make a (long-overdue) announcement here on RMN. I'm excited to announce this news, so this post is on the longer side.

I've told a few of my friends from the community about this transition already, but I hoped to keep it pretty discreet until progress was further along.

---

But yes, ye've decided to go the Ara Fell route, so to speak. BR will be reimagined into a full commercial project. In fact, I've been quietly working on the transition for about six months now. (And as you may have guessed, that is why there was never any public demo made available a few months back.)

This was something I had been considering since early 2016, shortly after the legalization of RM2k3. At first, I deeply resisted the idea, dreading how much work (and more importantly, $$$) it would require to "revamp" the game. Considering that BR was produced almost entirely with ripped graphics & audio, it seemed like an impossibly ambitious task to replace those high-quality resources. I also worried it might diminish my original vision.

But as I drew closer to finishing Act 1, I had second thoughts...

As some people know, BR is one of the oldest games on this website, with a tumultuous development history. I have worked on the game since high school, and I am now twenty-seven years old; so (for better or worse) it's a very personal and meaningful part of my life. It grew from a small, garbage REFMAP game I was making after school, to something I revised countless times over many years. I was heartbroken when I lost the files in a hard-drive failure in 2009, only to recover them again nearly 5-6 years later, when I restarted work on it. It has followed me from GW, to RMN, GameJolt, social media and beyond.

So it goes without saying that the project is very dear to me, in spite of its flaws. It was a labor of love - something I refused to give up on, no matter how unmotivated I might have been.

I was deeply inspired by the success of Ara Fell, To The Moon, and several other titles - some I had followed since the Gaming World days - which enjoyed newfound success in recent years. Many of them used the Steam platform, and the commercial viability of RPGMaker, to surpass the small audience of the normal RPGMaker websites.

It proved many things for me, but most of all that there was a still an enourmous hunger for retro-styled, high-quality JRPGs with a great story.

Many friends started to suggest I go down a similar route (especially LordBlueRouge, BadLuck, Little Wing Guy and Kaempfer, all of whom I can't ever thank enough for their support!) and expand Beloved Rapture beyond being merely a freeware project. After a lot of deliberating, and many mockups depicting what a commercial version might look like - I began to shift in my thinking. I realized that a "revamp" wouldn't diminish my vision, but maximize it.



I owed it to myself to make the most out of the game's potential, and I knew I had finally become competent enough to undertake that task. In 2016, I spent nearly nine months with LordBlueRouge and other writers, meticulously editing the old dialogue and cutscenes to be up to my adult standards. In 2017, I remade 60% of the game's maps, which was no small undertaking. And in January of this year, I made a financial commitment to beginning the process of commercialization, perhaps the most daunting task of all.

To give everyone an idea of what this process involves:
- Hiring pixel artists to remake every single tile-set, of which there are over 25.
- Licensing replacement music for every scene.
- Commissioning brand-new battle animations and sound effects.
- Downgrading from DynRPG to the "official" RPGMaker 2003.
- Hiring new character/illustration artists.

Additionally, the battle system was lingering from 2008 (a fact that EVERY tester happily pointed out) and needed a complete overhaul.

(..I'm sure a few people might roll their eyes at this news, and that's totally understandable! I have long-promised a public demo for RMN, and whoever might still be waiting for for it (all three of you lol), I do apologize. I will happily send over the freeware version for anyone who wants it, although I have long-since moved on from that build of the game.)

---

But with that being said, we're very excited about this news. I say *we* because I have hired a pretty competent team to assist me with development - primarily, a few great pixel artists.

Now that I've rambled a bit, I wanted to share a few of the progress shots below!

Endymion Games was the first to come on board, back in February. He helped out with some pretty neat temple-themed tiles, which we'll be using for one of the game's early dungeons. (All screenshots a WIP). He will also be designing battle animations later this year.





Our lead pixel artist is Fabian, who has done an excellent job reimagining the overall "aesthetic" of Beloved Rapture. His pixel art captures that SNES-era vibe that I was hoping for, without too much noise or excessive detail.
People who complained about BR's older cluttered maps will be happy to see that I've taken a more modest approach to the mapping.

(There's quite a bit more content he's completed, but because the tiles are a work-in-progress, we'll probably show them off at a later time).





Our new illustrator is Yioshka - replacing Lily Kat. She has been hard at work creating some pretty breathtaking promo art.



Another commission of hers below. John and Zach share a contemplative moment during the game's first dungeon.



As some people have already seen, we've also updated the title screen, with a new logo from Tardis:


Pixel art by Zedotagger and Caladium.

---

Even though I've used RMN less and less recently, it still has a special place in my heart as this game's original home. I hope the site will stay active for many years to come - because, in my opinion, it's still the best corner of the RPGMaker community.

When I'm ready to do so, all of the old screenshots here will be deleted, and the game-page will switch to "commercial."

Progress on this remaster started out pretty slowly, even at a snail's pace. But now that the project has found the right lead pixel-artist for the job, the speed has picked up dramatically. I'm able to revamp about 1-3 maps per day, if not more. Most of the cutscenes are already finalized from the freeware version, too.

Because of the way RPGMaker 2003 uses resources, we're also able to easily "swap in" new assets without having to remake the maps themselves. Of course, some areas are outdated and need updating - and that will certainly be done. But overall, this method will save us a mountain of work, and help provide a realistic release date.

If all goes according to schedule, we'll also be launching a Kickstarter campaign in August. I will be sure to update RMN when that time comes. Any help spreading the word will earn you my eternal gratitude. ❤

Lastly, if any pixel artists are looking for new commission jobs, shoot me a comment or a PM. I'm always in need of more help, as JRPGs require a mammoth-size level of assets.

---

It was a huge gamble to walk in this direction with the game. I could have released it this past April, and called it a day. But now I've invested several thousand dollars of my personal savings into the remaster.

But I'm quite optimistic. I truly believe in the game - perhaps more now than ever before. I believe in it not because of my own arrogance as designer, but because of the wonderful (and talented) friends I've made in the community, who have helped and supported me over the years. Without them, I would have probably given up many years ago. Without their harsh feedback, I would have never improved and refined my development style.

Whether or not the game succeeds financially is secondary - but I will be proud to finish this game as something visually and musically unique, something entirely my own.

Announcement

Act 1 Completed

After quite a long silence, I wanted to post a thorough update for everyone here. I'm very excited to announce that (if all goes as planned) the first download in more than five years will be released on RMN, before the end of March! But don't quote me on that.

"Act 1" of BR is pretty much completed, and it feels extremely gratifying. I'm still negotiating exactly how long to make the entire episodic story, but the upcoming download will be at least 5-8 hours and cover a lot of ground. The game will enter a beta testing phase over the next several weeks. (Thanks to Little Wing Guy, Dyhalto, Kaempfer, Craze, LordBlueRouge and many others for their help!)

There have been a lot of instances (up to 3 months at once, sometimes) where my personal life/day job swallowed every drop of my free time. Thus, BR was placed on a permanent back-burner - and no work was getting done. It's been a very tumultuous road to even find the mental willpower to continue with this ancient project - which now probably has one of the longest development times in the entire community. There were many days when it seemed as though continuing work on the game was completely fruitless.

Toward the earlier half of 2017, my schedule finally opened up, and I was filled with a deeply renewed interest. After that point, progress picked up dramatically - and the momentum returned even greater than before.

---
Future Development

Over the past 9 months, there have been many exciting milestones behind-the-scenes; including the hiring of two pixel artists, a project composer, and a new illustrator. I will announce more details (and media) related to my overall plans at a later time, but here are a few example of the (WIP) content being produced.

New Illusration (WIP) by artist Yioshka


A "proof of concept" rough example of original tiles for BR


Official logo by Tardis/Finbeard



Finalized title screen by Zedotagger and Caladium


Thanks again to everyone in the community who have been extremely supportive and patient with me. The game still is far from perfect, but we've reached a pretty exciting milestone in finishing Act 1. (That isn't to say it won't be updated, revamped, or fixed up in the future). It feels like a nice opportunity to take a breather, release the download for RMN, and continue gathering feedback.

I believe there are many great games yet to come from Rm2k3 (Dethmetal and DHM, I'm looking at you tbh) and frankly, I'm both shocked and elated that an interest in the engine still endures after over a decade.

I'll keep everyone updated when exactly the game will be uploaded. A lot of it will come down to the testers' schedules.
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