Horror RPG

Well, if you are planning to make a traditional RPG with a horror theme, it might be worthwhile to look into the 1989 Famicom game Sweet Home, which some argue is actually the originator of the survival horror genre:

If you're thinking about a fantasy-themed horror game, you can also check out the TurboGrafx16 game "Jaseiken Necromancer", a dark fantasy with a very grim atmosphere and visuals:

Moving forward a bit in time for something a little different, there's "Nanashi no Game", or "The Nameless Game" released in 2008 for the DS. The game is about a haunted RPG, a seemingly innocuous Dragon Quest style game that will kill the player within seven days. It may sound a bit silly, but the game is actually surprisingly effective at creating atmosphere and tension, and it's a good example of how traditional RPG sprites can tell a downright chilling narrative.

Those are just a few examples I can think of off the top of my head; there are of course many others. I guess as far as advice goes, just think about how any horror story works; questions are good, answers are bad. Present a scenario that focuses around an unknown and that is very dangerous, and you'll have the recipe for a good horror story. You can then flesh it out with all of the basic human fears; fear of losing freedom, fear of the unknown, fear of torture, fear of despair, fear of rejection, fear of isolation, fear of failure and fear of death. Once you have your basic idea of what you want to focus on, you can concentrate on a setting and characters who will make that possible.

I just went to's "Creepypasta & Supernatural Horror Story Prompt Generator" for a random idea to serve as a framework:

One night, a government agent, a boy, and a programmer destroy an abandoned factory haunted by the spirit of a strange girl with the help of a janitor, a government agent, and a disturbing pendant.

That works!

I hope this rambling was of some help. Best of luck!

[Poll] How Much “Planning” Or “Prepping” Do You Do Before Starting Your Game(s)?

Pardon if I'm being offensive, but it seems like a lot of the people that plan every little detail of their game before starting have never finished projects :P

In a sense, pre-production is the most dangerous time, as that's the time when a project seems most likely to be cancelled. Thankfully, after a great deal of work, I have moved on to actual production work, and it is going smoothly so far. I've finished games before, but this current project is by far the hardest and most ambitious that I've done.

Monster Creation, Design and Inspirations

In the "Bestiaries" of the Middle Ages, each beast was thought to embody some valuable moral lesson. The pelican, for example, was believed to tear open its breast in order to bring its young to life, using its own blood, and was therefore a representation of Jesus.

I think RPG monsters should do much the same thing, except in their case they all represent different challenges to the players. In a well-designed game, each ability a player has access to should have a definite use against one of the game's obstacles, and and in an RPG those obstacles are frequently monsters. Each normal enemy is like a homework assignment, where the player uses what he learned earlier to solve the problem. To extend this metaphor, the bosses of the game are like exams, where a player should have to use EVERYTHING they have learned up to this point.

With that design philosophy in mind, I try to design enemies that will fit together to create a stable progression of challenge. First I try to think in terms of a Bestiary when drawing a monster, thinking about what kind of challenge it could pose. I find it's often easier to draw bosses first, and then scale the designs back a bit for the normal enemies. Ideally, it should be clear from the look of the monster what kind of threat it poses (physical, magical, etc.), and possibly its species and elemental affiliation as well.

Once I have my monster sprite, I come up with a strategy for how it would behave in a fight. The skills and techniques a monster uses should reflect what it is, and should mirror what the player should use against it in a fight. This can be as simple as using water against a fire enemy, or it can be far more complicated, requiring players to use a precise strategy to claim victory. For example, many of you are no doubt familiar with the 'mirror trick' in Final Fantasy games, when a boss reflects back all magical attacks and the solution is to cast mirror on yourself and reflect the magical attacks against the boss. Stuff like that requires the player to think and use their resources wisely, and it's really what makes the game fun to play.

Finally, I think about all the peripheral details of the monster. Where in the game should it appear? What level will the party be when they fight it? Does it work with other enemies, or is it fought alone? This stage varies greatly in the amount of time it takes; you want to make sure the enemy matches the tone of the area, will work well as a challenge at that point in the game, and be otherwise implemented in an intelligent fashion. This is where play testing becomes very useful, as unexpected details always come up during fights, regardless of how well they are planned.

So, that's my design approach. No doubt you guys have your own.

[Poll] How Much “Planning” Or “Prepping” Do You Do Before Starting Your Game(s)?

I plan out everything first; I've learned from experience that you really need to know where you're going with a project before you start. This 'pre-production' is however misleading; I may not be putting too much in the database, but I'm planning out stat progressions using spreadsheets, calculating the number of switches and variables for each location, planning out the story and dialogue, creating all of the graphics from scratch, composing music, assembling item, ability and equipment lists, designing encounters and boss fights, and properly implementing all of the scripts. Once this information is assembled, it can all be keyed into the database and the maps without much trouble.

The reason I say this is the best way to do it is because this level of planning all but eliminates unwanted surprises; there are few things worse than sinking 100+ hours into a project only to discover that a mechanic doesn't work and will require massive retooling. It's always better to plan out common events and scripts well in advance, and having full knowledge of the parameters of your project will give you a huge advantage when it comes to debugging and play testing.

Whatchu Workin' On? Tell us!

It looks great!

What's a good length for a demo?

Toby Fox's demo for Undertale is, in my opinion, a good example of everything that should be in a demo:

You can play it for yourself, and I think you'll agree; the demo introduces all of the game's various mechanics, with enough variety to keep the player engaged, it's the right length to really get the player invested, and it even manages to tell a complete and interesting story in a very short amount of time. On top of all of that, the ending definitely leaves the player wanting more.

[Poll] Rpg games with drawn or picture backgrounds.

I have thought about using picture-based backgrounds, as they have been used to great artistic effect in many games.

Having said that, as mawk pointed out, using picture backgrounds can potentially restrict or complicate tile based movement, which can be a greater problem if the game depends on precise player movement (such as solving puzzles or outrunning enemies). I'm not saying it can't be done well, but in my experience tile based maps are easier to manage in that respect.

So I just noticed something interesting about encounter rate in VX Ace.

Thanks guys! I'll give this a shot as my first original script project!

So I just noticed something interesting about encounter rate in VX Ace.

This is very interesting, thank you! Up until now, I've only modified/disabled the scripts, so I'd like to try Trihan's idea of an encounter proximity display as practice for future scripting.

Do you guys have any advice for a novice such as myself on how best to implement such an idea?

A series question: Why can I only draw cartoons?

Yes, what the others have said is true; I once felt the same was as you before I started getting artistic training for light, form, colour use, etc.

I recommend getting some anatomy and perspective books and start trying to replicate the human figure in the perspectives you want. I find that this is a much better way to learn than trying to emulate particular artwork (especially anime artwork, which has incorrect human proportions). You'll get frustrated at first, but as mawk said, your skill set will grow very quickly.