I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
The Unofficial Squaresoft MUD is a free online game based on the worlds and combat systems of your favorite Squaresoft games. UOSSMUD includes job trees from FFT and FF5, advanced classes from multiple other Square games, and worlds based extremely accurately upon Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and Final Fantasies 5, 6, and 7. Travel through the original worlds and experience events that mirror those of the original games in an online, multiplayer format.

If a large, highly customized MUD, now over 10 years old and still being expanded, with a job system and worlds based on some of the most popular console RPGs seems interesting to you, feel free to log on and check it out. Visit uossmud.sandwich.net for information about logging on.
Born Under the Rain
Why does the jackal run from the rain?


Empty objects in dungeon exploration

So, let's imagine that you are making a game where the dungeons and other locations are full of interactive objects, and the player is searching for ways to get through. I find this is easy to make interesting in something like Legend of Zelda, Lufia 2, or Wild ARMs, where the player is making their way through a maze-like ruin filled with traps and puzzles, and the things they have to search are obviously just game elements. These traps and puzzles add a lot to the dungeon, and get the player to think about the space in interesting ways, but have little logical reason to exist in the game world. How many block puzzles have you seen in real life, after all? The gameplay often comes at the expense of realism in these games, at least to some degree (although some games are better than others at justifying the nonsense).

It gets a lot harder to make the exploration interesting in a game where the exploration works more like Divinity: Original Sin, Skyrim, Neverwinter Nights, Fallout, or even Phoenix Wright. You know, games where every cabinet and drawer can be searched, and every object can be interacted with in a variety of realistic ways. And where the locations are realistically designed buildings where every room has an obvious use, not insane pyramids with moving pillars that crush you. This kind of exploration system is most common in western RPGs. You can try to put the same kinds of Zelda-like puzzles in your games when they work like this... but they often become nearly impossible to solve, because every random cabinet and drawer is a red herring. This leads these kinds of games to have much simpler exploration, where the most "puzzle" you ever really tend to get is a lever that moves an elevator or a key that unlocks a door. And the player nearly always has to be told a clue about where to find that key, because if you leave them to search on their own, they have hundreds of potential places to search through in the dungeon.

It's that searching through dozens or hundreds of places for things you might need that drives me crazy. It often feels like a waste of time to me. But for certain genres of games, such as games where the plot is focused on solving a mystery, or games where the main appeal of the game is exploration of a fleshed-out world, I completely understand why they work like that. It's not a type of game that I can simply toss in the garbage and say "They should stop making games like this, just make the important objects sparkle and make everything else non-interactive."

My question is, in games that use this second kind of exploration system, where every object can be interacted with in a variety of semi-realistic ways, and every container can be searched, what are some good tricks you guys have found to make exploration still feel engaging and exciting? How do you keep the player *wanting* to go in each room and open each drawer, and not constantly feeling disappointed or annoyed?

And for some related questions that feed into the above question, how often is it okay to have rooms that contain nothing useful for the game - just one or two rooms per dungeon, or do you not mind when most rooms are like that? Do you think that adding lore and narration to each object to explain why it's there and what it's used for is better, or worse, than a message that just says "Nothing of interest" when you walk up to a strange looking machine in the factory ruins a press A to search it?

The randomized smutty fanfic challenge

This is an open challenge to all willing participants! No sign-up required! Just follow the guidelines and post your fanfic.

The guidelines:

Use an online dice roller to roll two random numbers, each between 1 and 50.
This one works well: https://www.calculator.net/dice-roller.html

Whatever numbers you get, pick one of the characters listed for each of those two numbers. So, for example, if you roll a 1 and a 2, you could pick Ganondorf and Rydia, or Midna and Rydia, or Ganondorf and Naruto, or Midna and Naruto.

If you pick a group of multiple people (such as Team Rocket), you can use one, some, or all of that group in your fanfic.

Write a smutty fanfic about the characters you rolled and post it here.

The caveats:

If you roll a 49, you can pick any fictional character in existance (not just ones from the list).

If you roll a 50, roll two more times and write a threesome.

If you keep getting 50s, you roll two more times for each 50 you roll, and end up with an orgy.

If you don't know any of the characters for one of your rolls, you can reroll.

You will probably get an awful combination of characters. That's part of the fun!

1) Midna, Ganondorf
2) Rydia, Naruto
3) Gilgamesh (Final Fantasy), Gilgamesh (Fate)
4) Amy Rose, Ruby Rose, Rosalina
5) Genis, Genos
6) Mega Man, Megumin
7) Lulu (Final Fantasy 10), Cthulhu
8) Yuffie, Link
9) Tingle, Twilight Sparkle
10) Bowsette, Astolfo
11) Spock, Vegeta
12) Madoka, Medusa
13) Freya (Valkyrie Profile), Freya (Final Fantasy 9)
14) Kid (Chrono Cross), Hat Kid, Skull Kid
15) The Power Rangers, The Powerpuff Girls, Austin Powers
16) Mother Brain (Metroid), Mother Brain (Chrono Trigger), The Brain (Pinky and The Brain)
17) Inspector Gadget, Data (Star Trek)
18) Team Rocket, Harley Quinn, Cardcaptor Sakura
19) Iron Man, Metal Mario
20) Darkness (Konosuba), Monty Python's Dark Knight, Dark Magician Girl
21) Chuck Norris, Solid Snake
22) Falco Lombardi, Rouge the Bat
23) Jack Bauer, Jack Sparrow
24) Asuna, Asuka
25) Kirby, Willy Wonka
26) Shadowcat, Shadow (Final Fantasy 6), Shadow the Hedgehog
27) Red XIII, Ben 10
28) Sylvanas Windrunner, Anakin Skywalker
29) George Costanza, Mike Wazowski, Hermoine Granger
30) Elf Yamada, Legolas
31) Zero (Mega Man X), Zero Two, Sub-Zero
32) Pikachu, Garfield
33) Samus Aran, Master Chief
34) Cirno, Xena
35) Rem (Re: Zero), Rom (Star Trek: DS9), Rom (Bloodborne), Rhyme (The World Ends With You)
36) Flik, Viktor, Etna, Flonne
37) Peter Parker, Peter Pan, Peter Griffin
38) Saber, Blade
39) Cait Sith, Krang
40) Neptune (Hyperdimension Neptunia), Rory Mercury, Sailor Moon, Mr. Saturn
41) Dr. House, Pizza the Hutt, Sherlock Holmes
42) Jon Snow, Mr. Freeze, Frieza
43) Hatsune Miku, Monkey D. Luffy
44) Ultros, Edward Scissorhands, General Grievous
45) Rick (Rick & Morty), Robotnik
46) The Mythbusters, The Ghostbusters
47) Sweetie Belle, Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Isabelle (Animal Crossing)
48) Yourself, The main character of the last game you played

[Poll] How do you pronounce Lucavi?

I want to assume that everyone who votes 3 is just trolling me, but someone on my MUD said they pronounced it that way for real.

Free pixel art forest and scifi tilesets for anyone's use

A user named Gabsond on Reddit just very generously released a bunch of pixel art tilesets for free use by anyone, commercial or non-commercial. Here's his thread. I thought I'd link them here! You can use these assets for any purpose you want without any limitations.

Here's the full zip file of stuff on Google Drive, which includes each tile in an individual file, and the photoshop files used to build the tilesets from layers.

Stealing in a game where enemies cannot be refought

Help me come up with ideas for a thief type character in a game where fights can only be fought once each, and some of them can be avoided! I don't want to overly punish players for not using the thief, or for avoiding battles, and I don't want to make them feel like they have to steal from every enemy in every battle. It's okay I guess if they are SLIGHTLY disadvantaged in the long run by avoiding fights, which is already the case because they're missing out on EXP and gold, but if possible I'd like to avoid making that worse.

Complicating this problem, I've limited the player's inventory so they can hold a maximum of three consumable items at a time. So stealing potions would be awkward, as it would often be impossible to carry any more. Maybe it would still be okay? Looking for other ideas, even if I do that one.

With the blue mage in this game, I encountered a similar issue, and solved the problem by making it so if you beat a dungeon that has blue magic without ever letting any enemy use the blue magic spell, you learn it automatically and get a bonus reward for being badass.

Add a giant cannon to it

Man, towns in RPGs suck. People don't know how to make them. It's a problem I have too, one I mostly avoid by just not making towns. Let's brainstorm better methods.

Here is a very common set of problems I've encountered with trying to make traditional towns:
- There's a set of buildings you absolutely need in every town. An inn, an item shop, 2-3 equipment shops, and possibly other things depending on your game. So you start by plopping these down.
- You probably have one important building the player has to visit for plot reasons, so you add that too. In many cases this one building ends up being the only unique feature of the town, other than the climate.
- You also, in order to make it seem more like a town instead of a minimall, need some other stuff that doesn't really add any gameplay, it's just there to look at. Most people do this just by adding random houses.
- By the time you're done that basic stuff, your town is as big as most RPG towns, and also you're exhausted, so you just toss in some poorly placed bushes and call it a day.


I have a method I personally use of making towns more interesting. I've been made fun of for this method, mostly by Craze, as he likes to simplify it to "sticking a cannon on it." It ain't inaccurate.

The method revolves around coming up with a setting or landmark that's unique and interesting. A key feature for the town. Some examples include: a monastery, a huge aqueduct, a battalion of catapults aimed at an encroaching orcish war party, a giant portal to another dimension, a dragon roost at the top of a cliff, a submarine port, the crumbling outer wall of a demolished fortress, a haunted circus, etc. Junon in FF7 had a giant cannon sticking out of the side of it for its key feature, and I think that's just fuckin' brilliant, which is where the name comes from. This key feature will be more than just the most interesting thing in your town - it will be its theme. Its presence will pervade the entire town. It is the reason the town matters.

This key feature will usually be part of the plot - it's either the reason the party is visiting the town, or the epicenter of the crisis that occurs after they arrive. But if you need a town for gameplay reasons, and nothing in your plot suggests a key feature for this town, then the next best thing is to pick something decorative that fits your game's atmosphere. Maybe it'll inspire a sidequest or something at least.

After coming up with the big thing, I usually put the most important shops and other building along the path from the town entrance to this key feature. Sometimes I do it the other way around if the landmark is small and easy to miss and I want to make sure the player passes by it repeatedly. And then most of the important events and key NPCs will be very close to the key feature, if not inside it.

I also try to make at least half of my towns non-traditional towns. Sometimes they're just one building, with some NPCs selling stuff. Other times I might make the shops and other things be outdoors, or in caves, or in makeshift shelters, or in the engineering bay of the half-build steamship, or somewhere else other than a traditional building. The key feature of the town hopefully lends your town a certain theme with regards to this sort of thing. Expand the key feature, spreading its tendrils through everything you place.

The existance of something cool in the town, something that actually matters, will help sell the idea that the town is there for more than just the player's shopping convenience. It can seem awkward when a "town" has four houses in it, but it's less awkward when the NPCs are in the town for a reason other than just living there. If they're in the town to make a pilgrimage to a 2500 meter tall crystal spire, or because the entire "town" is just a dock where their sandship is parked, then you wouldn't really expect thousands of residences.


I know other people have very different methodologies for making towns, and some of you guys end up making really, really good towns with those methods. I'm curious how you do it. And if you think my giant cannon method is helpful or stupid.

The Death Penalty

Hey, I did a thread about this topic back in 2012. A lot of this opening post is gonna be just copied and pasted from that thread. But it's been a long time, the site has different people than it did five years ago, and a lot of us have grown and think differently about games than we used to. I've decided that it'd be cool for the people who are on the site now to participate in more game design threads, so yo, let's talk about video games. Specifically, about dying in them.

Dying in a video game sucks.

Or does it? It depends on the game; on how many tries it takes you; on whether you know what to do differently next time; on whether the death was caused by something completely in your control or not; on what you lose when you die.

It's that last factor that I want to talk about. In this topic we're talking about what to do to the player when he or she dies.

Game over, you say. Duh.

First of all, that's only one of a large number of options. And second of all, there are several different factors that can make a game over more or less punishing. What I really want to delve into is why are punishments for failure necessary, why are they problematic, and how can you maximize the player's feeling of accomplishment while minimizing frustration?

Let's take a look at various punishment options.

Game over with periodic save points
Like I said, there are different factors that can affect a game over - the biggest one is how saving is handled. With saving allowed only at save points, which appear periodically through the game, the designer can designate a longer stretch of the game as a "single non-stop challenge" that you can't restart from the middle of. Very few games allow you to save in the middle of a battle and restart from that point, right? Because that would be super cheap, it heavily encourages abuse of enemy AI and stuff. In traditional RPGs where most normal battles are not really very dangerous, but dungeons are essentially wars of attrition where your goal is to get through all the battles without using up your resources, you can make the same argument for a dungeon that you do for a battle. So the player has to restart the challenge - which is the whole dungeon.

The big downside here is that the player can get sent back 30-45 minutes, which can be extremely discouraging. Losing the better part of an hour to a game over feels like bullshit in cases where the player only made one mistake near the end, but has to redo all of it. If the player didn't just make one mistake, but actually is having trouble with managing their pacing and with the challenge as a whole, they're likely to lose several times before finishing, which means that they'll be stuck in the same dungeon for hours and hours.

I've seen this used as a way of disguising the wild difficulty swings in games that have bad balance, since players can go through a very easy dungeon without realizing how easy it was until after they beat it. Don't do that. Just fix your damn difficulty.

Game over with save-anywhere
Basically, here, we swap the "game over sends you back too far" problem for the "you can start from the middle of a challenge and cheese it by brute force" problem. A lot of people prefer this to the above. In games where you are fully or mostly restored after each battle, I can't come up with a reason not to allow save-anywhere. The overwhelming majority of modern commerical games use this method in combination with frequent automatic quicksaves, so that the player doesn't have to remember to manually save after every battle. Adding a Retry command to the game over screen is usually a no-brainer if you're using this method, especially in a game where battles take place on a separate screen from dungeon exploration.

Game over with automatic saving at checkpoints
This is kind of a middle ground between the above two. At first glance it doesn't seem that different from periodic save points aside from the fact that it's automatic and thus you don't have to remember to save. But in practice, this system is often used when you only have a small number of enemies between checkpoints. It changes the individual challenges from being entire dungeons full of battles to being rooms or corridors full of battles.

Respawn at nearby point without losing XP
FF6 does this. So does Earthbound. So do a lot of MMORPGs. Essentially here, you get sent back to the last save point or to the nearest church/graveyard or some other sort of nearby respawn point, and have to redo the battles between that point and where you died, but you get to keep any XP you got. So it's a little easier the second time. And if you die again, you'll have even more XP, so it'll be a little easier again the third time. And so forth. I find this to be extremely nice, myself, because it helps out players who are having trouble without making the game any easier for good players, and more importantly because it makes the time you spent not feel like a waste. Sometimes there's also a small penalty - usually gold, as payment for hospital fees or for reincarnation services or for armor repairs, but it's typically a trivial amount.

Respawn with heavy penalty
I've seen this used mostly in online games, such as FF11, but also in single-player games where the world "persists" through your death. Dragon Quest takes away half your money and sends you back to the starting town when you die; many later games do the same thing but send you back to the most recent town you saved at instead. It's not the worst thing, but don't combine it with save-anywhere, or people will just reload to avoid the penalty.

Delete saved game on death
This is as brutal as it gets. The idea here is that the only type of save that a player gets is a quicksave; you can save at any time, but the save is deleted upon loading your game. And if you die, you start the game over. As RPGs go, this is most popular in short games (Gauntlet, Desktop Dungeon) and in roguelikes such as Nethack. I guess the idea here is the whole "can't restart from the middle of a challenge" mentality taken to its logical extreme: the entire game is effectively a single nonstop challenge. To me the cost outweighs the benefit here so heavily that this option isn't even on the table. If you can justify the use of this in games longer than an hour, I'd love to hear your point of view.

Dead characters are permanently lost
Fire Emblem is the classic series that's famous for permadeath, but if your entire party dies then it still gives you a game over. That's not the case in X-Com and Darkest Dungeon - when your party dies, the game auto-saves and sends you back to your base. When your characters die you're forced to continue the game with other characters, which often requires an extra hour or two of levelling the new characters up to the strength your old ones were at. In many ways this is only very slightly less punishing than deleting the player's save when they die. I'm personally not a fan, but it can sort of work if you have a game where the characters are very much expected to die a lot (as is true in both of those example games). One would expect a very low level cap in such games - the level cap in Darkest Dungeon is level 6 and in most X-Com games is even lower.

Limited number of lives/continues
This is super rare in RPGs. Like, to the point that I've never seen it in my life. Ultimately you have all the same problems as the above "delete saved games on death" method, but the player is less likely to encounter them. Some games do play with spins on this, giving each character on your team a limited number of lives before they permanently leave the party (SaGa series), or giving the player a limited number of continues to retry the current battle and if you run out you have to reload from the beginning of the dungeon (Wild ARMs 3). If done right, maybe this can make "cheap" deaths feel less cheap - because they don't feel like a complete death, they feel more like... losing some of your HP.

What are your favorites? Why? What are the biggest problems do you have with the others? Almost all of these have both good and bad points, so I guess it's largely a matter of which good points you value more and which bad points you find more irritating.

1799 instrumental songs by Antti Luode, free for commercial or noncommercial use

Just copying and pasting this shoutout to an indie musician who specializes in game soundtracks, because this is a lot of good music, and releasing it all for free is incredibly cool and generous.

The Soundclick page, linked below, has all the songs available to listen to.

I have released my 1393 instrumental songs free under creative commons 3.0 by (Free just credit me Antti Luode). You can use them FREELY in your games.

As used in games:

Starship theory (Steam), Park Bound (steam), Dominion Void by Forcebox Games, Space Bob vs The Replicons (In development), Dot Hopper, Bubbles Pang (Android), Timing Jump Jump and Colorfall (Anrdroid) and other web games.

And as used by youtubers such as Kyle Le with 29 million views and 100k subs:


My Soundclick:


Torrent with 1369 songs:


Pass it around!

You need a bittorrent client to download the songs in the torrent:


My blog where I release the songs and FLstudio project files for them:


The CC-BY license this is released under allows for commercial use, and also allows you to modify the songs as needed.

[RMXP] Any script for Full Screen letterboxing instead of stretching?

RPG Maker, when you go into full screen, stretches the screen unevenly. (It also anti-aliases the pixel graphics, which is annoying but not AS bad). I've been looking on-and-off for, uh.... years? ...for a script that will solve this.

There are scripts that fix this for RPG Maker VX Ace, but they rely on methods that were added to the built-in Graphics module in VX Ace. I need something that fixes it in RPG Maker XP. Graphics.resize_screen doesn't frikkin' exist in RGSS1, and it's one of those hidden scripts that Enterbrain won't release the code for.

So far my research has gotten me as far as the Pokemon Essentials set of scripts that rebuilds the entire RMXP script base from scratch. Someone made an add-on for Pokemon Essentials to solve this problem. However it doesn't work without Pokemon Essentials, and I would rather not spend 200 hours learning how it works to try to extract the relevant parts of it just to get a working fullscreen button, unless I have to.

So my question is, does anyone know of a script for RPG Maker XP that makes fullscreen work on widescreen monitors without stretching the window unevenly?

Post your Geocities websites from 1998

Welcome to A Land of Espers, a Final Fantasy 3 fan-site by LockeZ. Enjoy the broken images, the defunct webrings, and the midi files that don't play. I'm pretty sure I just downloaded a bunch of stuff off of other people's fantsites and put them on mine.

Although this was snapshotted by the Internet Archive in 1999, I actually made it in 1995 at the latest, since I distinctly remember being contacted by Geocities when they changed their terms of service to require webmasters to be at least twelve years old.

Do you have a Geocities site that has been archived by the Wayback Machine? Please share with me your darkest secrets.