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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.