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Cataphract OI

I feel like people have been sleeping on this one - even though it's more of a proof of concept than anything else, it's probably one of the more interesting tactical puzzles I've run into in an RPG Maker game. That's not easy with such a minimal design - I feel like a lot of more traditional RPG Maker games could take notes here when designing their own combat systems.

A few more specific comments under the spoiler:

1) I feel like the game could've benefited from way more enemy variety - I know it was an experiment, but outside of the final boss (which I haven't beaten yet), I've run into three common enemy types and one optional mini-boss... and that's it. Since most enemies only have 1-2 moves that they spam, this did lead to fights getting a little tedious near the end.

2) This game really needs to be better at communicating what things do. Even after spending a couple hours with the game, I still don't know how Death Sensitivity is supposed to work (I'm not sure if it even triggered, or how I'd know if it did?). More importantly, you don't get an explanation of what Lash/Internal/Cave-In do until you spend your single-use item to teach them to a character, so I never felt like I was making an informed decision.

3) Actually, speaking of Lash/Internal/Cave-In... I do have some questions about how they work (despite using them a bunch). First off, does their damage depend on who uses them, or does everyone get roughly the same damage when they Lash an enemy (for example). Also, am I imagining things or does Cave-In deal extra damage to enemies that are in the Fray?

4) The grim reaper enemies near felt like absolute bullshit. The rest of the game is built on managing risk and avoiding damage entirely, and then suddenly the game introduces an enemy that ignores the whole system. I get that the idea is to add an enemy that you have to prioritize, but doing it by having it auto-hit for full damage feels cheap.

5) Another similarly cheap-feeling fight was, ironically, made up entirely of the basic skeletons. The fight with five skeletons that you can run into after jumping down the pit is a crapshoot, since there's a reasonable chance that one of them will randomly engage Guruntum and then another one will one-shot them, with absolutely no counterplay since it happened between two of your characters' turns. I think that this is a sign that the damage is too high - it should probably take two hits to kill the Supplicant so that the player can actually react to the threat.

6) Waiting instead of moving between rooms felt useful in exactly one room, and otherwise seemed pointless. I think this is another "not adequately communicated to the player" thing, since it feels like it assumes that you have some sense of enemy "patrol patterns". I've done multiple runs, including one where I fully mapped out the dungeon, and I still don't know if there's any way to avoid fights other than going around them.

7) OK, I've been pretty negative so far... but the Fray is really damn clever. It's a surprisingly physical system in an otherwise traditional menu-based combat system, and it feels obvious that this game only scratched the surface of what you can do with it (my favorite moment was in the fight with the minotaur guy - the move where it charges into the middle of the party was so dang cool).

8) The decision to make the game an escort mission was a good one. Like, you'd think that baby-sitting the White Mage would be boring, but it really made the threat management system pop. Good job there.

9) The plot was minimal, but honestly pretty intriguing? I also love that you get the choice to either let the villain monologue or interrupt them, which felt like a nice touch since the player probably only has 30 minutes or so left when they get to the final boss.


If you ever revisit this (or if someone else picks up the idea and runs with it), I did make a mental list of stuff that I think would be cool to see (also spoilered):

1) Skeleton archers that can always attack your characters, but who miss if they're in the Fray.
2) Slow zombies that go after everyone else but hit super hard.
3) Bats that can't be Engaged but can't attack themselves.
4) Bomb enemies that explode after X turns and hurt everything currently in the Fray.

How much lore should you find in a university library ?

As someone who worked at their university's library... I'd skip the books and focus more on the people you'd find hanging out there (university libraries tend to be VERY busy places). You'll get more of a lived-in feel if you're running into frazzled students cramming for exams or pompous professors doing research.

Going that route also has the advantage that you don't have to lore dump to convey information to the player - just introduce an NPC as an expert on an appropriate topic, and let the player ask them questions about the lore after it comes up in the story and they have a reason to care.

Forest Life

I love what I've played so far! Everything feels quite chill. One question:

Is there a way of knowing before you cast your line that some of the fish will need better bait/a better rod? I've run into a couple fish that I couldn't pull closer to me, and I didn't notice anything different about them visually.

A Quick Run of Amort

author=Irog
author=LadyMapi
it took me a surprisingly long time to figure out how to play VX Ace games on Linux.
Hi LadyMapi,

Like you, I use Linux to play and make games. Your findings about how to run RPGMaker games easily in Linux can help us. You could write an article about them.


That's a good idea! Unfortunately, my "gaming" computer is currently having technical problems, so I'll have to wait until I get it working again before I write up an article. I don't want to forget any important steps!

What makes a good Crafting system?

I'm of the opinion that the best crafting system in videogames is the herb-mixing mini-system from Resident Evil. Which might seem like an odd claim, but consider:

  • It's incredibly minimal - you only have 3-4 ingredients and a handful of recipes you can create (the exact number varies from game-to-game).
  • The limited number of ingredients allows the recipes to be designed around easy-to-remember rules. If you're playing RE4 (for example), you only need to remember that Green herbs heal you, Yellow herbs increase your max HP, and Red herbs make stuff stronger and you can figure out all of the recipes from there. It makes the overall system really intuitive.
  • The limited number of ingredients also makes it really easy for the game to signpost their value as treasure. There's a world of difference between having to remember that Fairy Dust is a super-rare crafting material and just getting that a Yellow herb is a character upgrade.
  • If we look at the rest of the games' systems... Resident Evil is a survival horror series with limited inventory space, which makes crafting obviously useful. Combining two Green herbs together makes a super potion AND frees up space - score!
  • On top of that, there's an interesting tension between your inventory space and the rarity of the best herbs. Do you mash together the herbs you have now just to free up space for more ammo, or do you hold off so that you can make a better item later on?
  • Finally, the system is quick and easy to actually use because there's no separate crafting menu. You just pick the "combine" option in the menu, slap one herb on top of the other, and then you can go back to trying not to get eaten by zombies.


In general, the reason why a lot of crafting systems suck is that they're not really a part of the game as a whole. Like, if I'm sitting down to play your JRPG, I'm there to talk to fun NPCs and fight cool monsters, not fumble through a menu to see whether or not I can combine Fairy Dust with Jelly Jam to make a Rainbow Longbow.

NIRAVASI

This looks awesome. I'll have to give it a download (and maybe a recorded playthrough?) when I'm on a computer that can run it without having to do backflips. :p

Ariela

author=moge
You managed to finish the game with just level 7? Wow, that's impressive! To be honest, I didn't expect anyone to be able to complete the game with such a significant limitation, as it's quite challenging to do so.


When I died to the first boss a few times (since you NEED a particular move to take it out), I figured that the game was best approached less like a normal JRPG and more like a puzzle. After that, most of the boss fights involved one or two quick experimental runs where I'd figure out what I'm supposed to do, and then I'd blow through the boss in my next one.

If I have one design complaint about Ariela, it's that most of the bosses deal WAY too much damage when they hit you unless you figure out the right strategy for dealing with them — the one exception was the Necromancer, which was probably the best boss in the game in terms of strategy/gameplay, since you were allowed to mess up and make suboptimal moves without dying.

I look forwards to the new update — if I can suggest one small change, could you possibly have the game prompt you to save after the intro cutscene? I didn't save before fighting the first boss the first time I played, and it was a little frustrating to have to sit through the intro again (it's a fun intro! It's just that I don't really want to see it multiple times in a row :p).

A Quick Run of Amort

author=CashmereCat
Thank you for playing this game! it was a pleasure to make and so cool that you decided to play it <3


No, thank YOU guys for making it — you're the ones who put in the actual work here, I just fumbled around for 45 minutes. :p

I actually picked this game up LONG before I ended up playing it, simply because it took me a surprisingly long time to figure out how to play VX Ace games on Linux.

Red Room

Ooh, this looks neat!

Is there supposed to be a download link?

Catherine and the Spirit World

I'm looking forward to this! I love your little progress diagram.
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