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Third Content Update: Hope you like NPCs

Well, that took a while.

I'm afraid by this point, a lot of subscribers have probably concluded that Guardian Frontier is on hiatus or abandoned. The truth is, I just feel awkward making public progress announcements which nobody has asked for unless I have new content to release. I never put Guardian Frontier aside, I'm just a terrible publicist.

The length of this release will vary a lot depending on how much time you spend walking around and talking to people. This update contains a lot of NPC content. Not only does it contain more NPCs and NPC dialogue than the previous updates combined, it's entirely possible that it will contain more NPC dialogue than the entire rest of the first chapter combined, once that's complete.

There's also a lot of Easter Egg content in this update. Probably, even players who try to make a point of exploring the whole game thoroughly aren't going to catch all of it. This isn't even a matter of my aiming for game design that rewards exploration, I just throw this stuff in because I honestly can't help myself.

The kind of eventing content that went into this update takes me a long time to put together though, and as obsessed as I might be with NPCs, making so much of one type of content at a time still saps a lot of my momentum. I was originally hoping to have this update out in January, but obviously that didn't pan out so well. I'd say I've learned my lesson, but honestly I knew from the start that my plans for this section were kind of crazy. But this is one of the earliest-planned segments of the game, and while a lot of the specifics have changed since it was first conceived, I'm glad to have gotten something out that stays more or less true to my original vision of it.

The next update after this one will have more of a focus on wilderness-based content, and shouldn't take as long for me to complete. There's a reason Guardians don't spend most of their time hanging around in cities.

If anyone wants more frequent updates on this game's development, feel free to let me know. I may be reluctant to advertise, but I'm always happy to answer questions.

Progress Report

Progress Report

Still at work on the third content update for Guardian Frontier. There have been some delays(mostly technical and resource-gathering related,) but the fact that this update is taking much longer than the previous ones isn't by chance. This update contains a lot more content than the first two, possibly not in play time, but definitely in terms of explorable areas and breadth of events. There are also a whole lot more NPCs than have appeared in previous parts of the game.

Scintillating NPC dialogue!

This might also be a good time for me to offer a reminder to players; just because the protagonist has had one companion in his party consistently since the first content update does not mean she's the sole focus of relationship options in the game, or the main character's "canonical" romantic partner. Future updates including this one are going to introduce other characters both as party members and subjects of relationship interactions (although some characters may fill only one of those roles at a time.)

Also, a notice about the content of the coming update: while there's nothing graphic in it, this update contains significant sexual references, potential implicit sexual content, elements of racial prejudice, and (possibly excessive use of) alcohol. While I don't intend for Guardian Frontier to be an "edgy" game, if RMN had any kind of content rating system, I'd probably rate it for players 17 and older, or at least for players who feel comfortable with material targeted at that age range.

Game Design

On Easter Eggs

When I set out to make this game, I didn't think to myself "I want to fill this game up with Easter eggs to reward players who scour every inch of the game." Plenty of inspectable objects, maybe, but I didn't plan to focus a lot of effort on things many players were likely never to see.

And yet, last night, when I found myself spending hours eventing interactions for a single NPC players might never talk to at the right time, including a special switch which you can only trigger if your supply of money is almost completely dry, I had to admit to myself that this game is starting to contain a lot of Easter eggs anyway.

This event gives different results depending on your relationship values. Has anyone seen it before?

Some of this is the result of my rearranging sequences of events and making the windows of opportunity to see certain things smaller than I originally intended, but deciding they're not that important. Others are the result of very deliberate work on things I know most players are going to miss, because I can't help the directions my enthusiasm takes. But, I figure that if I'm going to continue filling this game up with Easter eggs, I might as well let players know they're there to look for.


Second Content Update

The second content release of Guardian Frontier is now finished and ready to play. There are a couple retroactive bugfixes (the revival item was completely screwed up before, oops, hope nobody needed that too much,) but a lot of new gameplay, plot development, and now, money management.

Money management is going to remain a significant element of gameplay throughout Guardian Frontier, since there are no opportunities to grind for unlimited money, but I've tried to make sure it's not possible to totally screw yourself out of access to inns or healing items.

The next update is also a part of the game I've been looking forward to making for a long time, so I hope it's as much fun to play as it was to come up with

Progress Report

First content update

It's been about a month since the original intro upload for this game, and I'm glad to finally be able to replace it with the first content update. I'm calling this one the "first," although there was a playable intro before it, because it's the first one to feature any significant elements of gameplay, and it's a much more substantial feature than the intro was. Total play length should be 1 hour+, depending on your level of exploration and completeness.

Anyone who was subscribed to this game page will notice that the updates reflect two added downloads. I actually removed the first almost immediately after discovering a mapping error which slipped through my previous playtesting. Not visible to subscribed followers is the heart attack I nearly gave myself by accidentally chucking the entire game in my recycle bin while I was putting together the upload.

In terms of file size, this upload is actually less than half the size of the original intro, since I discovered I had a bunch of unused sound files in there which were taking up a lot of unnecessary space. Eventually, those sound files are probably all going back into the game, but I don't want to force anyone to deal with the larger files until the game itself is bigger.

Unlike the intro, this update features a fair number of choices, some of which feed into the game's relationship values system. There are alternate versions for several scenes and interactions, but none of them are going to permanently determine the course of later events in the game.


New title screen, get.

As will be obvious to anyone who's seen the previous version of this game's page, I've updated the heading with a new title image. I wanted the title of the game to be something which evoked the majesty of the wilderness, but unfortunately previously the best I could do on that count was the default title image of VX ACE, meaning Guardian Frontier literally had the most generic title screen possible for the engine. Thanks to Heru Purwanda, that's no longer the case.

Next step, making the entire rest of the game live up to the title image.

At the current rate, the first post-intro content release should be ready this month, and you'll have the chance to meet the other character in the title image properly. I hope you're looking forward to it as much as I am.

Game Design

Not quite a second Romancing Walker.

While I'm still at work on the first post-intro content release of Guardian Frontier (still a ways to go, the update is much longer than the intro, but I'm putting in hours a day, so I hope it shouldn't be too long,) today marks another milestone in the game's development: the implementation of the first game events which involve relationship values. In order to commemorate the occasion, I decided to write something about what I'm trying to do with relationships in this game.

I've thought for a long time that video games are a really good medium for writing romance. It's an interactive medium, which helps the audience become more personally invested via their participation. It allows elements of choice, meaning the player can navigate towards the characters or relationship styles they find most appealing. It's usually a long-form medium, expressing narratives which can't be taken in over the course of a single sitting, which allows for deep character development and rapports which establish real compatibility, not just grand gestures and expressions of limerence. But most games don't really try to build compelling romantic relationships, and those that do rarely take advantage of these medium-specific qualities. With Guardian Frontier, I wanted to introduce romantic elements which utilize all of these features.

Here are some of the points I want the game's relationship system to hit:

  • Relationship development between characters should both rely on and display compatibility. Rather than being driven simply by player choices of "who should I be nice to?" and demonstrated via vague signs of affection, I want to depict the hows and whys of characters' interests in each other, and reward understanding of the characters' feelings and motives.

  • Relationships should feel non-mechanistic. If you can farm affection with characters by piling gifts on them or repeating the same actions over and over, it doesn't feel like you're building a relationship.

  • Game relationships should be their own reward. The player shouldn't feel forced to develop relationships in some particular way based on outside incentives. If character relationships aren't interesting enough for the player to follow without material reward, they're not pulling their weight in the story.

  • Relationship values should have frequent points of feedback into the game. Alternate endings are a nice bonus, but if the player can determine whether two characters fall in love or barely tolerate each other, the difference between those options should be visible throughout the story, not just at the end.

These are all general features which I'd like to see in any game which features a relationship system, but there's another specific element of Guardian Frontier which I want to highlight. While in many respects the main character of this game is written with a distinct, preexisting personality, their romantic and sexual interests are up to the player's discretion. The protagonist does not have a canonical sexuality, and there will be choices available to support a variety of different interpretations. That said, other characters in this game do have canonical sexualities, and not everyone you can express an interest in will necessarily reciprocate. But I want to provide a variety of relationships which are fun for me to write, and my hope is that a blind playthrough of the game will consistently lead players to scenarios they find interesting.
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