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About This Game

  • Milennin
  • 10/17/2016 12:16 AM
How it started:
People who frequent the forums have most likely stumbled across this advice aimed at people new to RPG Maker: don't start making the game of your dreams right off the bat. Start out small, and work your way up. Start with a game consisting of a single town, dungeon and final boss fight just to learn the basics of the program. Of course, I never did this, as I had my own ideas of what I wanted my first game to be - and surprisingly, it didn't even turn out to suck that badly. After my finishing my first RPG Maker game, I did start working on the game of my dreams, but despite the extra experience I'd built up, it still proved to be a humongous obstacle that I'm far from ever finishing. And so, last year, with the release of RPG Maker MV on the horizon, I thought "why the hell not? Let's try making something small and simple again." That's how I began working on this.

Starter inspiration:
Believe it or not, but one of my biggest sources of inspiration for this game was Sonic the Hedgehog (the 16-bit classics). I've always admired how it managed to tell its story purely through gameplay and brief cutscenes that didn't break the flow of the game. That was something I was wanting to try myself, especially since my other two games were already pretty event- and dialogue-heavy, it would be nice to do something different for a change.
In that sense, I think I succeeded with this game. Without needing a single box of dialogue or exposition, the game does tell its story through the gameplay. Another thing that I wanted to go for is that thanks to the fact it has no dialogue, it leaves everything open to the player to fill in. This is where the randomness aspects of the game come in. The chance of having your Cleric to wake up in a cell. What did she get arrested for? Or your Warlock beginning in the church. To what kind of god was he praying? Or your Berserker waking up as owner of the groceries store. What is his background story? These things were meant to stimulate the roleplaying aspect of those players who are into that kind of thing, without slowing down the game for the people who just want to get on with it and play the game.

Goals with combat:
As I view designing combat related things as one of my strongest points in RPG Maker, as well as the thing I probably enjoy doing the most (funny, since I thought it'd be the opposite when I made my first game, hence why it had no combat at all), I wanted the combat to be the main meat of the game. There were a few goals I aimed for with the combat system:

1. The number of classes, and making every combination of classes viable to beat the game with. I knew from the start that I wanted a decent number of different playable classes. In the end, I went with nine, which feels like a good number. Enough to keep things varied, but also not so many that it runs the risk of becoming too much to handle for what was supposed to be a small project.
I first began to try to balance each class by putting it up against the same single enemy, playing it over and over again until I was happy with how they dealt with it. In hindsight, I don't know if it was that good of a method, because it didn't take into account any of their possible synergy with other classes, but it turned out to work pretty effectively. Apart from some small tweaks, there wasn't that much need for changes after the initial balance run. Every time I play the game, or watch others play it, I never feel one class or class combination is way stronger than another. Yes, some combinations of classes certainly work better than others, and some classes are less reliant on support from others, but there's not any class in the game that doesn't feel like it's ever a non-viable pick.

2. Only four skills per class, but make every skill count. Well, technically, there are five skills per class, because the second skill always swaps out for a different one after use, but I really wanted to keep the skill window clean, without any unnecessary clutter filling it up. This limited set of skills per class meant there was only so much I could do for the monster encounters, because I don't want the player to create a party that happens to have a combination of classes that is unable to deal with a certain kind of situation. This is why I went for a couple of basic mechanics that nearly all of the monsters in the game follow, namely Enrage and Charge. No matter your combination of classes, you'll have at least one class in there that's able to deal with one of these mechanics. Or you have multiple classes that can, but all in their own different ways, allowing the player to make choices and plan turns ahead.
One final reason I had to keep enemy mechanics fairly simplistic was due to the fact I had no dialogue to work with to give the players tips or hints about certain things during the game. Everything has to be clear from the very start, and so I had to stick to easy-to-understand concepts.

3. Make it challenging, but never unfair. If there's one thing I dislike in RPG combat is when encounters can be won by simply using the Attack command over and over again. If the player doesn't at least use their skills a number of times in battle, then the encounter didn't do what I wanted it to do. As a result, monsters have been made highly resistant against regular Attacks. There are a few classes that get the ability to raise the power of their Attack, but the monsters have also been made threatening enough that ignoring their actions is going to result in a Game Over screen. This doesn't mean that Attack is worthless, but it's rarely the optimal option in a situation.
Despite the toughness of the monsters, I also made sure to not make it unfair. Whenever monsters are about to strike the party for high damage, they'll charge up for a turn, giving the player time to react to the situation. In very few situations should the player lose to an unlucky streak of actions.

Adding replayability:
Since my goal with this game was to keep it small and short, there needed to be something more to it than a single 30-minute playthrough. I've toyed with the idea of adding a time attack mode, or having a hiscore table, or having a whole set of achievements, but in the end, I pretty much settled for a bit of everything. At the end of the game, it'll factor in several different aspects of the game. Such as speed, survivability and a class achievement for each class. Getting the full 11-star ranking is the top goal of the game, and I'd like to see someone try to go for it. :)
Other than that, the general difficulty of the game should provide a sense of replayability, as I don't expect the average player to make it to one of the final bosses on their first run (but congrats to you if you did). I feel that some of the satisfaction should come from mastering the game and learning how to play each class and how they interact with the other classes in your party. I do hope that people who try the game will get that feeling.