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Difficult to see, the future of this project, it is...

First of all, I thought I put this one on Hiatus a while back, so that little change may not be as much of a death knell as it seems like.

That said, I've realized how huge of a mess I made with this game. It was one of the first ten projects I ever attempted with Rm2k, and I've kept it going, working little by little, since 2003.

Nine years (and counting) is a long time, and this game doesn't have all that much to show for it.

It was a major mistake for me to attempt changing every battle in the game right before the release something event I was entered in. My game was set up so that once the first section was completed, the remaining ones in the middle of the game could be tackled in any order.

That means I needed redundant copies of each battle for different character level ranges. Trying to get the new resistance based system working with that turned into a huge headache, with the difficulty for some of the encounters swinging wildly from one extreme to the other.

I have wanted to move the game to Rm2k3 for a while now, especially with some of the newer patches and tack-ons looking really good. The problem is that I ran into my old problem of not being able to do things in the maker the way they happen in my head.

I've started several different solutions to the problem, trying to get combat to work the way I want.

This was one of them:

I have two other approaches that didn't even work this well.

Also, I have a bad habit of letting outside influences color what I want to do in my own game.

When it began, the idea was a JRPG style Star Wars game. Skill progression came from training, in the case of Jedi characters, or collecting unique items/manuals ala Shadow Hearts Covenant. The gambler gained new moves by collecting Lucky Cards, the Assassin droid's stats improved through collecting spare parts for his weapons, and the Mandalorian bounty hunter had to keep a stock of Concussion Missiles and Stun Charges to make sure he was ready for anything.

The main plot had to do with rescuing a female character (not a princess, but might as well be), and defeating a grand evil that threatens the known universe (Star Wars boiler plate).

Another key feature was that I wanted the dark side to be seductive the way it is in the Dark Horse comics from the late 90's. I wanted a character to be able to fall without even knowing it, the way some of the characters in the SW universe have.

That was the battle plan for the game. JRPG style stats/skills/battles, a save the princess plot, a big bad out to destroy the Republic, and a seductive dark side. That's it.

During the initial stages of the Rm2k3 transition, I thought about creating a Dragon Age style opening. The main character could have all these different backgrounds that would effect things later in the game.

Then I figured, why not change the story so the character didn't HAVE to be a Jedi. There would be enough Jedi NPCs to join that I could still do most of what I had in mind, but I could view the story through different lenses, as say a Smuggler or Soldier or Combat Medic.

Then I thought back to Arcanum. I started working on a complicated stealth and encounter system, as well as allowing for a ton of background options that offered bonuses/penalties to stats and skills. At one point, I had up to thirty prospective party members, split between Light/Neutral/Dark alignments to accommodate the player's penchant for sainthood or devilry.

As a joke, I actually renamed the working directory "Starcanum"

Hell, my most recent psychosomatic aneurism, the addition of resistances that can only be dropped by certain weapons/skills, came right out of the later Mass Effects.

When I saw a video of FF13's demo (I think, still haven't played the thing) I whipped up a quick joke intro for the new version of the game featuring a female Jedi Knight and a Republic Soldier doing battle with a Basilisk War droid.

Sure, all of these things are interesting ideas, and might make for a bigger game - if not necessarily a better one.

I finally thought I was getting back on track with my Vignettes idea. Just put together some really good sections of a story, the parts that would be the most fun to play, and allow the player to transfer their characters from one scenario to the other without having to wade through the usual attending drudgery. Then a lot of things happened in my life and I just wasn't able to find the motivation to get that version off the ground.

Part of it is me just hating how bad I am at background art. Sprite work I can sort of put my head down and bull my way through, but backgrounds are another thing entirely. My brain doesn't segment things properly to put together a decent tile set!

In any case, I have one more tangent I'd like to explore. It would bring in a different gameplay style, shrink the cast of main characters from 40+ to around 10-15, and fix most all of the narrative problems my various rewrites/schizophrenic inclusions have caused in the past.

If it fails, then I'll just go back to brass tacks. I have the original version of the game backed up - I would just have to go back through fixing all the problems and dialog holes again, while trying to restrain myself from messing with the 200+ battles this time.

I realize it sounds like I'm saying I don't want to make an original/interesting game, that I just want to do a simple JRPG with a cliche Save the princess plot with a coat of Star Wars paint on top. That isn't really what I'm saying. When I started this, it was supposed to be a simple game. It was one of my first attempts, and I just kept tacking stuff onto it as I went.

I want to get back to the simple ideas. I want the game to be fun to play, to have enough plot to move you from place to place but not enough to bury you under an airdrop of textbooks, and to make you wonder if it is worth risking a few dark side points just to take the easy way through a difficult problem.

Clinging to my "original" (ha,ha,HA) story is also a way to fight back against the complex narrative I was trying to craft, especially since a friend of mine felt the need to point out that TOR beat me to the punch on three different plot lines I had in mind.


Even though I haven't been able to work on them lately, my projects are NOT abandoned...

The short version goes like this: Had an injury, got medicine to treat it and try to keep me comfortable. The medicine made be feel really foggy, and I wasn't happy with any of the "progress" that I made during that time so I have things to re-do before I can actually move forward again. I stopped taking the painkillers and shifted to aspirin, which unfortunately aggravated an existing stomach condition which has put me in really bad shape.

My main objective is to try and NOT have to go into the hospital again, so I'm not able to focus on my main projects the way I would like right now, and I apologize for missing the demo-release dates/milestones I announced.

Instead of throwing up blogs to promise that I will have x amount of work done on y day, the next time I make an update for one of my existing projects, it will be with a new download for it.


Progress Report

Fixing some major sidequest errors and rewriting the third boss...

I'd hoped to get the full version up tonight, but it just needs more work. My favorite boss from the old version is completely broken now. I'm currently starting the battle over from scratch so that he can take advantage of the new damage types and use a couple extra skills. The main problem is that thanks to the story, the party that fights him has a very diverse set of resistances, so under the new rules he isn't able to pose that much of a threat to all of them at the same time... unless he criticals in which case he can annoyingly wipe out any part member, even at full health, in one shot. He is also the only boss in the game that you fight with a four person party, so I may edit that as well to help even the odds a little more.

I lost a huge chunk of the day to working on a quest involving getting a Hutt's attention through either winning a swoop race, fouling up one of his schemes, or pulling a freelance hit off for him. There were so many branches and triggers, especially considering that if the player fails to make an arrangement before the races, and then loses, they get a whole extra set of options that actually moves the remainder of the quest off-world, that I'm still not sure if I've fully untangled this particular Gordian knot. The two attached dungeons are relatively short with only a handful of enemy types, so they were easy enough to adjust, but the fact that the quest can get kicked offworld now throws it back into territory that hasn't gotten updated yet.

I also underestimated just how many battles I had left to balance! After the area covered in the demo, the remaining quest locations for the middle of the game can be tackled in any order. By a rough calculation, I estimate I've only updated 33% of the enemy encounters so far.

!!Attention to anyone who takes the option to play beyond the demo's "end point"!!
There are a number of conversations that will glitch the menu, preventing you from saving your game or changing your equipment. Again, these issues will be addressed in the next release, which will remove the demo limitation.

To everyone who has downloaded/commented/given me feedback so far, thank you!


Demo Posted!

In honor of Release Something 11, I've uploaded a new demo.

The release actually contains the entire game, but only the demo portion has been tested and balanced for the new content. The option to continue is present, but not recommended since the damage type additions pretty much break the parts of the game that don't have them applied yet. Even so, I've given the player the option to go beyond the stable section of the game if they choose.

In the last couple of weeks I spent working on this old game of mine, which I thought was ready for release back in 2006, and then again in 2009, I've probably learned more about game design then in the previous couple of years.

I've also changed my mind about just abandoning this project in favor of a new version. This game will be finished.

There will be system changes, story changes, new characters, better (I hope) writing, graphic updates, and a shift from Rm2k to Rm2k3 (at least), but to reiterate... this game will be finished.

EDIT - Just realized, I didn't clear my save files out of the version I uploaded. Whoops.

Progress Report

It is official, I've lost my mind...

First of all, I'm really surprised that in the few days since my re-submitted gamepage was approved, it has already gotten more hits than my other project which has been up here for over a month.

Now for the insanity. After my most recent test play, I decided that the combat was a little lacking. Once you have a Force user or two, difficult fights boiled down to buffing the party, buffing your main damage dealer, and then just wailing away with weapon skills and physical attacks until the enemy was dead.

I decided to spice things up a bit by implementing something from the re-make/updated version. Attacks and weapon skills now have different attributes that effect the enemy in different ways.

Rapid - Deals minimal damage to armored enemies, but double damage to fast enemy types that are hard to hit with some other attacks. Some damage to shielded enemies.
Piercing - Deals extra damage to armored enemies, less to unarmored, and usually little to nothing against fast enemies. Deflected by shielded enemies.
Phased/Edged - Deals normal damage to shielded enemies, and minimal to armored and fast types.

I'm also in the process of reducing the insane damage output that occurs when using master level attacks with the main character's ultimate weapon. I underestimated the effect that the stat bonuses gained during creation could have. With the right skill build, I was able to solo the last third of the game with it. While it kind of fits with the character's growth as a Jedi, it isn't actually a lot of fun to play through it like that. Battle with X enemies. Buffed Mind stat + Force Wave or Saber Toss. Instant win. It also put my other characters at a distinct disadvantage due to an end-game portion where the team breaks up into three groups. With everyone else under leveled, it was a hell of a chore getting through the area.

Hopefully the combat system re-shuffle will make battles a little more engaging, and hopefully I'll be able to complete the overhaul by the deadline.

Also, some stats from my last play. My time spent in the non-combat portion of the game was 3 hours 56 minutes. I fought a total of 163 of the almost 200 possible enemy encounters including one of three optional bosses. I saved the game 193 times, though that was mostly due to me saving every time I hit a glitch/piece of missing content that I needed to address. I do love save anywhere though!
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