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Dirge of Doningoth is an RM2K3 game that tells the story of Zhakrin, an exiled priest and his zombie roommate/only friend Paul, as they get blackmailed by the king into going on a quest they want absolutely nothing to do with. Friendships are forged, rivalries are created, and there’s a really weird puzzle I threw in for some reason, involving an inn.

I originally started working on this back in 2015. It fell apart, largely because I had no idea what I was doing, made everything way too complicated, and then had a little… uh, ‘accident’ with the hard drive it was stored on. It was also also called Beyond the Light as a working title, because I couldn’t be bothered to come up with anything good.

This game as it exists now is more or less a remake of that old project. I redid all the maps, added in new encounters, streamlined some of the dialogue and got rid of the horrible, bloated maze that was the swamp dungeon.

The graphics and audio are mostly just RTP, along with a few edits I made, here and there.

:::NOTE:::
There's a game-breaking bug that can happen if you attempt to re-enter the throne room after the cutscene, where your character will just turn invisible (thanks to Darken for pointing this out, by the way, I totally missed that).

If you run into that, here's a fix:
www.rpgmaker.net/users/Sidewinder/locker/Map0019.lmu

Copy and paste that into the folder with the game's executable. It'll ask you if you want to overwrite the pre-existing file, just say yes, it's fine.

Latest Blog

Progress Update: Skulls, Crystals, Fans and More...

At the time of this writing, sixty three people have downloaded my demo.

I know there are games on this site with upwards of twenty thousand downloads, but this is the first time in years that I’ve shared any of my writing with the internet, and the very first time I’ve ever released a game publicly.

Strange to think about, really.

Anyway, I thought it might be fun to write out a progress report. The game’s still being actively developed, but things are slow going and I’m going to try and explain why.

Way back when I first started this project, there were no Sylph Woods. The first dungeon was called the Haunted Swamps.



I was just making things up as I went along, so, aside from random ghost NPCs, it being haunted never actually tied in the design at all. There were over forty separate maps, random encounters, it took forever and wasn’t fun. There were parts I enjoyed, like a shell game that was obviously a scam and impossible to win, a giant tree you’d enter, and one of the random enemies was a Medusa who’d try and get you to smoke weed (to get you “stoned”, get it?) but in general it was just a slog and I have absolutely no regrets about axing it.

This was a few years ago, but, even back then I realized it was awful, and when I took my first stab at the Crystal Caves, I decided to try and make something inspired more by Banjo Kazooie, or Ocarina of Time instead.



It had a bit more going for it. It was a more aesthetically pleasing, you could swim in the water, tackle objectives in any order you wanted, and it was a lot shorter. But... it still had a lot of the same problems the Haunted Swamps did, so it won’t be coming back.

When I started redoing the game a few years later I decided that it wouldn’t kill me to actually plan things out ahead of time. Instead of making a massive labyrinth, I made the Sylph Woods be a central hub that changed over time. This worked out pretty well, I “borrowed” the central gimmick behind Click Clock Woods, threw in a bit of the Water Temple, and the dungeon basically just wrote itself.



Normal forest in the spring, no water in the summer, pumpkins and spooky ghosts in the fall, and snow in the winter. Easy peasy. It took me forever, but, I’m fairly happy with how it turned out.

The only problem is... I burnt out, and I burnt out hard. I don’t think I’m ‘bad’ at RPGmaker, but I am a dismal failure when it comes to efficiently managing my time. I was constantly testing the map to make sure everything was flowing right, always making minor tweaks to everything, and just generally taking forever to get anything done.

Once I finished the demo, it took me somewhere around six months to actually post it. I was sick to death of hearing that upbeat Sylph Woods song, I hated making the maps, and I hated writing the characters.

I knew I needed a break and I didn’t want to just upload my game then completely abandon it, so, I just sort of goofed off and did random stuff for awhile.



One of the ideas I had was making a vaguely wild west game about water thieves on a desert world...



... An X-Com style mech strategy game where you played as a team of bounty hunters, also on a desert world (you can’t see it, but the planet has about 100 frames of animation - it looks very pretty when it spins) ...



... A weird SNES style game about hunting down a group of goblins who were worshipping some kind of Lovecraftian Eldritch God in a swamp temple...



... And another SNES wannabe game vaguely inspired by Legion Saga 3, Skyrim and Final Fantasy 6.

I never really took any of them seriously, but they were fun little diversions and helped me get some of my creative energy back.

But now I’ve started in on the Crystal Caves again. The 2018 version:



... Things are a little different now.

The dungeon’s going to be a lot bigger than the Sylph Woods. I’m not thrilled about it, but I don’t really have an alternative. I can’t reuse the same gimmick twice, and I can’t think of any other way to change a central hub without it being either hilariously impractical or just another variant on the ‘control the water level’ that I kinda already did. So there are going to be three hubs this time around, each with its own unique theme.

I’ve got a rough outline of how I want everything to fit together, but, I’m struggling with puzzle design. In Ocarina of Time, the devs got lazy and just recycled the ‘collect all of the white rupees’ puzzle in the later dungeons, and I’m starting to see why. I’m not completely out of ideas yet, but it’s getting difficult to keep things original.

Another thing I’ve been trying to do is create more and more custom assets. I’ve gotten praise in the past for my use of RTP, but I’m trying to move beyond rehashing old graphics and make some original sprites.



In the past I’ve said that bad things tend to happen whenever I make something from scratch, and while I do stand by that, I’m still pleased with how this giant skull turned out.



The RTP never actually had any graphics for the inside of the tents, so I went and made some myself. Though this is only partially mine, since I did splice in some of the wood parts from the Ship Tileset. If anyone wants this, let me know, I can send them the tileset I’m using.

Besides messing around in RPGmaker, one of the other things I did in my little ‘goof off hiatus’ was to learn Blender. Or, try to. I’m still not very good, but I’ve been experimenting with turning 3D animations into sprites.



These crystals have seven frames of animation each, and slowly spin. They don’t look great in screenshots, but they draw the player’s eye to them in-game. Which is good, because you’re going to need to collect one hundred of them.



The fans are my second experiment. They clash somewhat with the RTP graphics, but I’m pretty horrible at perspective, and there’s no way I would have been able to make something that animates like this normally. It only has three frames, but it moves quickly, so I think it’ll be passable.

Well, there isn’t really much else to say, really.

I’m a little hesitant to set a definite release date (the last time I tried that, it didn’t go very well for me), but as of now, I’m approximately 25% done the Crystal Caves and making steady progress. There are only two big dungeons in the game, so once I’m done that, I’ll really just have the final area (only three maps) and the Sand Castle (should be pretty short, maybe five?) left to do, as well as about eight or so sidequests.

With any luck, Dirge of Doningoth will be done before the end of this year.
  • Production
  • Sidewinder
  • RPG Maker 2003
  • RPG
  • 08/29/2015 08:52 AM
  • 04/09/2018 09:52 PM
  • 08/06/2016
  • 10532
  • 21
  • 85

Posts

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First RPG, huh? I can kinda relate to that XD

Glad to see people using the RPG Maker 2003. I was kinda disappointed to see little activity with it, though it's understandable given how old it is and how much more complete VX Ace must be.

I await the release, though, I have a feeling I am going to enojoy this game!
Yeah, I picked up RM2K3 during a steam sale, I haven't regretted it.

It doesn't have any script support, but, it's still got a huge advantage over VX Ace in terms of both the mapping system, and the number of events that can be on the same map at once.

Anyway, I can't make any promises, but, I'm hopefully going to have a demo released within the next two months.
Subbed.I really hope you finish this!
author=Sidewinder
Yeah, I picked up RM2K3 during a steam sale, I haven't regretted it.

It doesn't have any script support, but, it's still got a huge advantage over VX Ace in terms of both the mapping system, and the number of events that can be on the same map at once.

Anyway, I can't make any promises, but, I'm hopefully going to have a demo released within the next two months.


Yeah, scriptings weren't there back in 2003 at least. Though from what I get that's the main appeal of VX Ace, since it allows you to do pretty much anything you want with the game. But to be fair scripting seems to be a really complicated matter, as in you really need to know a lot about it to make it work. I could be mistaken though.
For your first RPG Maker game, the mapping looks pretty good. Keep up the good work. I say RPG Maker 2003 is a great place to start. Just make sure you spend a lot of time tinkering the battle gameplay and make sure the speed is done right and whatnot. I always found it a bit harder to make a good battle system on 2003 than the others, but it's more than possible.
dunno why but i feel like listening to Affection - Cigarettes After Sex
got mail? ive got some suggestions
Frogge
"nothing can beat the power of gay"?
6460
Woah, this game looks GORGEOUS. How come I've never seen it before?

You've got my sub.
Cap_H
DIGITAL IDENTITY CRISIS
5698
Great demo, loved it.

Pluses:

+Really like the character Zhakrin, didn't realize it was going to be a comedy type game. But it really works when an innocent RTP game of this sort really puts effort into the world and the gameplay.
+Just love a lot of the edits and the use of RTP, especially the look of the battles. It's such a strange homage to RM2K in general that it works.
+Level design is top notch especially in the seasonal dungeon, but I also like how the stealth section part of the castle sort of hooks back into the town. Level loops are an automatic + to me.
+I actually didn't expect the seasonal dungeon to be that invested in. It really became this overblown zelda dungeon out of nowhere, it's a nice surprise.
+I really like it when the characters comment on the chest items they get, I know in the castle it's kind of a setpiece auto item get thing that's not going to apply to every chest. But it really surprised me along with the shopkeeper having things for too expensive, and the design triggers the cutscene regardless. But that moment of the player going through the impossible to buy items in the shop builds the gameplay into the narrative really well.

Minuses:

-Cassandra seems a bit meh, she feels there just to react to Zhakrin. As much as I think you kind of need that to, you know, reveal how out there Zhakrin is, she could still use some personality.
-Some NPCs are a little too random humor for their own good, and some houses in the town typically contain just one npc with pretty meh lines. Would have been nice to have more excuses to go into the houses like even just readable books and stuff. Otherwise the NPC dialogue is great esp when the party interacts.
-Battles were a bit tough at first, kind of feel designed for the designer side, but eh, becomes fine towards the second forest bit.

Bugs: This room forgets to the turn off transparency when you re-enter it after the king meeting cutscenes.
Just some weird tree corner stuff, I'm sure I missed some.


Overall just a solid case why comedy RPGs deserve even attention to details like diagonal walking spots, a door warning you before a boss fight, and other QOL conveniences. It's just a solid start overall.
author=Darken
Overall just a solid case why comedy RPGs deserve even attention to details like diagonal walking spots, a door warning you before a boss fight, and other QOL conveniences. It's just a solid start overall.

Thanks for playing through everything, and thanks for taking the time to write out this critique. I honestly didn't expect this demo to get any attention, so this is actually a pretty awesome surprise for me.

author=Darken
-Cassandra seems a bit meh, she feels there just to react to Zhakrin. As much as I think you kind of need that to, you know, reveal how out there Zhakrin is, she could still use some personality.

Looking back... yeah. I think you might be right, she's fairly underused and underdeveloped. I'm not sure what I'll do just yet, but, I've been thinking it over, and I've got a few ideas.

author=Darken
-Some NPCs are a little too random humor for their own good, and some houses in the town typically contain just one npc with pretty meh lines. Would have been nice to have more excuses to go into the houses like even just readable books and stuff. Otherwise the NPC dialogue is great esp when the party interacts.

I'm definitely going to take another pass at Oldmarket, for sure. I just sort of put off populating the town until near the very end, when I was pretty burned out, and I think it kinda shows.

author=Darken
Bugs: This room forgets to the turn off transparency when you re-enter it after the king meeting cutscenes.
Just some weird tree corner stuff, I'm sure I missed some.

I don't want to put up a fresh download every time someone spots a bug (because I just know there are a bunch more lurking around in places I never thought to look), but yeah that's pretty bad. I put up a patch in the description, thanks for letting me know.
looks fantastic dude
This is the best looking RPG Maker game i've ever seen. Using of RTP style graphics is masterpiece, and i hope that i could ever get on that level...
author=Mikisi
This is the best looking RPG Maker game i've ever seen.

You should check out Beloved Rapture, or Aedemphia. I'm not bad, but there's no way I could ever get that good.

author=Mikisi
Using of RTP style graphics is masterpiece, and i hope that i could ever get on that level...

If there's enough interest, I could do some custom tileset/mapping tutorials.

RTP mapping isn't really that hard, though. Just keep your maps small, make sure the colours are diverse and mix things up by adding in different elevations.
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