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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.

Progress Report

Happy Holidays! (Year-End Updates)

Just wanted to pop in and wish everyone here a great Holiday season~

(We need joy and peace more than ever after this questionable year, right? XD)



I hadn't left the "vibe" for BR's development in a good place after my last update, but I'm happy to say that design work has finally restarted! Thanks to several of my testers, especially LordBlueRouge, I was able to piece-together several different copies of the game, and production started up again. Thankfully, I've been able to budget at least 5-10 hours a week to keep the momentum going.

What will 2017 see for Beloved Rapture?

Hopefully, a completed game! This wouldn't be a huge achievement, considering I'm over 12 months late on my release date goal. XD But, we all know how things roll around here. I'll be really buckling down to finish this thing, and I probably won't post many major updates on RMN until I've finished.

When I say "completed", I mean to say Act 1 will be released, which is the initial 5-8 hours, the "Fellowship of the Ring" of the larger story, I guess you could say. Act 1 will be largely self-contained, and contain 3 full dungeons. But will it have a proper ending?

...Well, I won't spoil that. XD

Beyond Act 1?

That's a good question. What I will say is that my plans for developing RPGs won't end with BR. Although the title is still tentative, I have been entertaining the idea of a much shorter prequel project (in the legalized/commercial Rm2k3) - which will be a much briefer, "tighter" project in both gameplay and story. It'll be a departure for me; being much more dungeon-focused and with a smaller cast of characters.

Hopefully, this will allow me to focus my energy more concretely on character-building and tightening up the gameplay itself, with the game's "universe" having been generally established.

Will it be freeware or commercial?

Act 1 will be a free game for the Tsukuru version of RPGMaker.

Future projects are up in the air. Although obtaining original art assets that match the original BR's visual quality will be challenging, we don't think it's impossible. I've already hired a composer to produce some preliminary tracks as well, which I'll share at a later time!

If the pieces fall into place, I'd certainly like to take a cue from Ara Fell (etc) and explore the potential of a fully-realized product; something I could confidently see on Steam some day.

(Again, just to clarify, Act 1 will be free - I'm referring to future prospects).

---

Again, I can't thank everyone enough for the support over these many years.
(─‿‿─)

Best,
Blind

Progress Report

Technical Troubles :(

Hi everyone,

I regrettably wanted to report that progress has been halted yet again on BR. ;___; (It's almost comical at this this point, right?)

As I wrote in a status about a week ago - my primary usage laptop was severely damaged, and unfortunately nearly 5+ weeks of progress has been lost. The hard-drive seems to have failed. This was incredibly frustrating for me, as I was so very close to completing the final touches on the demo (and perfecting a newly-implemented dungeon). If not for this incident, Act 1 could have been released later this month. ~_~

I took the computer to a specialist, but the quoted price to "restore" the Hard-drive's files was nearly $900...a bit ridiculous considering the minuscule number of files. In the meantime, I may continue to shop around other options, but it wasn't too encouraging.

I won't be too dramatic, because I know I'm hardly the first person this has happened to...but it's still very disappointing. XD I've experienced a lot of personal/creative burnout over the past few months, to the point where I need a break from working on the project. I may also take some time away from RMN until I can find the motivation to start working again.

I don't want to see myself come to resent my own project (like I've seen with some other developers here..), so I think clearing my head a bit will be ultimately the right decision.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the past two years (and even far beyond that), through BR's almost nonsensically-long development history. (I thought I would get this out BEFORE Final Fantasy XV, and I was pretty damn close. XDD)

For anyone who's dealt with this before, have you found any innovative ways to access a Harddrive that simply won't mount properly?
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