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Friday, 2 January 2015

What's the Plan this year?

I suppose now is a good time to compose a basic worklist for what I plan to do in 2014, assuming Griffith doesn't startle me out of the blue and tell me I can actually study that course I was interested in.


Originally I intended to begin using Unity this year but a thought came over me much alike it comes over your mum when she realizes you exist because I do... I want to tie up these older projects first, past me is a brilliant little bastard though for you see two were graciously done already this year.

Intelligence is so long now it's set to burst if I add another couple layers of content onto it and I feel it'd be better to rewrite it for its next iteration so it doesn't just end up being an act by act kill bad guy plot machine set to burst like a fat person at the buffet bar.

For a game birthed from a period of chaos in my life it also strikes me as a bit too formulaic for it to be an episodic linear progression of boss after boss especially considering you play as an aloof green dog, a psychotic red cat and a snarky sheila with enough intelligence quota to make most of our current geniuses look like feeble idiots.

So, plans for projects then? Well let's begin with the big cat in the room trying to be an elephant in the room, but what this cat fails to realize is that no one gave much of a shit about it when it first came around and they care even fucking less now.

Hellcat: Born Again is definitely going to be the most ambitious project. Thanks to being written back in a time where I hadn't stoneset the demigods and their motives and all that other shit a lot of it is going to be flat out retconned-- which I personally don't mind because
A. the plot was an edgy uneducated mess and
B. so was the fucking writing
In fact given the success of Perseverance and my appreciation for the engine that I built it on it's very possible it'll be not so much a remake as just making the whole fucking game again but actually finishing it this time instead of pulling a curtain over your eyes alike shareware Doom95.

Nola, Hellcat and most elements and other characters have gotten more deep or interesting and both characters have adopted much more endearing personalities since back in 2012 when Nola was just a slightly sassy brit and hellcat was a clueless chump.

Heldath, Galvana and the Necropolis have all gotten a significant expansion onto their lore as well, and you can see some semblance of this in Menagerie: Remastered. The Perseverance battle engine is what I will likely use for Hellcat: Born Again, and like with Perseverance all weapons will be designed in advance and then the tools will be copy pasted with each map unless I decide I could stand to stop being so eager to overwork myself and just get an event call script instead. We'll see.

Perseverance: Adherence (NNF) is going to be more of an expansion pack, containing the game I originally planned and not the half-complete rush to finish piece of shit that came out and still managed to be competent at what it did. There's no way currently to connect the dots from Pep's actions in Perseverance and his presence in Intelligence and that's because there's a lot more to the "Red Rapscallion"s plot that had to be cut out due to time constraints for the contest. Some changes are planned to the mechanics indeed and the cleaver demands overhaul the most, I'll also be reworking the Enemy HUD and the regular enemies.

I've also been heavily considering implementing some other additions to controls, currently the only invulnerability frames Pep has are when he gets hit, giving him a brief dash ability is planned for about 30 frames (half a second) of invulnerability, and giving him a stamina bar. My friend Mitch has provided me with scripts to help in this process. This command will likely not replace dash, however there's some Ambitious thoughts I've had for Perseverance and it's becoming more and more likely I'll just redo it and hellcat and maybe all three games in Unity. All three are action games and have left their RPG roots entirely behind, which begs the necessity of using RPGmaker at all, one thought occured to me when thinking of designing Perseverance, and it mainly came to the fact that assigning new keys is a nightmare in RPGmaker. I'd like to make weapon switching easy, and I've had some cool ideas for mechanics that in RPGmaker are clunky at best.

Using Unity is becoming more tempting as I close off the two big RPG projects.


Finally:
Exile is pretty solid as is, just needs its plot finished, and its plot that remains is so far up in the air, I've only storyboarded what you have seen so far but I have had some vague ideas of where it'll go and some suggestions from others I've intended to implement.

It's tempting to also use the Perseverance Engine for it, since as an engine it is so solid and I can fix fuckups easily by virtue of inventing them and it never has those problems all ABS's do of being about as well optomized for frame rate as your Dad is for discovering what you spent the last six months of your life doing.

Since most of the weapons in Exile so far are pretty simple, it's safe to assume this wouldn't be much of a stretch at all. I've even thought of a way to introduce environmental combat, such as throwing bins at enemies or smashing windows and doors down.

It's also very likely that at least one, if not all three of the planned finish ups in this year are going to be artistically coherent for the most part. The styles may still vary for each, as an example Hellcat is likely going to use the more enigmatic heavy outline style I began working with around middle to late year. Such will match the tone and style of the game fairly well. Perseverance is likely going to be done entirely in MSpaint, originally it was going to be all Sai work but that became far too ambitious especially given that Pep's faceset grew a bit too... humane. Exile will be much more like a cartoon, given the 90's feel it emits and the plethora of cartoon vibes it carries. Whether I'll use my MSpaint style or Sai style is up in the air, but I'm leaning on my MSpaint style just because a lot of panels are already done to that effect and most of them look really fucking good.

Other Plans: I'm looking forward to seeing where this year takes me, first order is to add the content patch for Menagerie and finish it for good, then it's likely I'll give a good try out to Unity. One thing I'm growing incredibly ill-disposed towards are tilesets. As I've become better with art I've more or less decided I want to make cinematic <genre>s. Even Menagerie is referred to as a cinematic RPG. That does not at all mean I want to take away gameplay, in-fact the main reason I'm considering Unity is for the benefit of a smoother and more fast-paced gameplay experience. i could certainly do Cinematic games in RPGmaker if I wanted, the draw to using Unity is in impressing on gameplay.

That all said, I'm sick to death of working with tilesets, and I'd like to just start drawing everything in a pre-rendered way like how Oddworld is rendered. One of the factors and past hobbies that led to game design was my infatuation with designing levels and buildings. And you can see when looking at Planet haven that I can make truly beautiful maps when i put my mind to it, and Rensooi Tower was definitely one of the most fun "dungeons" I designed in Menagerie.

To that end, you may be surprised to hear that i've already mapped out (albeit, pretty roughly) all of The Equation Unsolved, in fact most of it was mapped in my head the moment I drew its first concept.

Another huge advantage to working with unity is the matter of layers, in RPGmaker you have a parallax, a tilemap and then a picture overlay if you want. In unity you have as many layers as you want and that's great. The other great pointer about pre-rendered maps is that transitions can be very creative and picture cutscenes can go to a whole new level with infinite layers.

This will mean a lot of pre-planning alike Exile, and I'm fine with that.

Rough Timetable

Jan 12, release Menagerie: Remastered finish coat and finally consign it to completion.
Jan 15, begin concepting (AND CONCEPTING A LOT) for what I'll be doing with whatever project of the three i do next. draw maps, charts, characters, the like. Write down lore, gameplay mechanics, etc.
Feb 16, move house, get settled in to new place.
March 14, release a demo of the re-calibrated project. Celebrate second year CCC Anniversary.
June 12, release a stable/complete build of what I was doing, begin on next planning and concepting phase. If game I first work on is Hellcat, extend release to July 11th.
December 12, release second re-calibrated project. Ready myself so I can get into Uni the next year, or sum up if such is even required.

This is incredibly brief, and no plans here are stone set. Just laying this out so I have them to look back on.
I suppose now is a good time to compose a basic worklist for what I plan to do in 2014, assuming Griffith doesn't startle me and tell me i can actually study that course I was interested in.

Originally I intended to begin using Unity this year but a thought came over me, I want to tie in and wrap up these older projects first, and of those two were graciously done this year. Intelligence is so long now it's set to burst if I add another couple layers of content onto it and I feel it'd be better to rewrite it for it's next iteration so it doesn't just end up being an act by act kill bad guy plot machine. That's just a bit too formulaic for a game in which you play as an aloof green dog, a psychotic red cat and a snarky sheila with enough intelligence quota to make most of our current geniuses look like feeble idiots.

Hellcat: Born Again is definitely going to be the most ambitious project and due to being written back in a time where i hadn't stoneset the demigods and their motives a lot of it is going to be flat out retconned, which i personally don't mind because A. the plot was an edgy uneducated mess and so was the fucking writing, some of the vets here can attest to that fact.

In fact given the success of Perseverance and my appreciation for the engine that i built it on it's very likely it'll be not so much a remake as just making the whole game again, Nola, Hellcat and most things have gotten more deep or interesting personalities since then and Heldath, galvana and the necropolis has all gotten a significant expansion onto the lore. The Perseverance battle engine is what i will likely use for Hellcat: Born again, like with Perseverance all weapons will be designed in advance and then the tools will be copy pasted with each map.

Alternatively I could stop being so eager to overwork myself and just get an event call script instead. We'll see.

Perseverance: Adherence is going to be more of an expansion pack, containing the game i originally imagined and not the half-assed rush to finish piece of shit that came out and still managed to be competent at what it did. There's no way currently to connect the dots from perseverance and Intelligence and that's because there's a lot more to the "Red Rapscallion"s plot that had to be cut due to time constraints for the contest. Some changes are planned to the mechanics indeed and the cleaver demands overhaul the most, frank said it himself, the Cleaver has no applicability to the game at all when you get it and he's right, it will be thought on the coming months.

Finally:
Exile is pretty solid as is, just needs its plot finished, and its plot so far is up in the air, I've only story-boarded what you have seen so far but i have had ideas of where it'll go. It's tempting to also use the Perseverance Engine for it, since as an engine it is so solid and i can fix fuckups easily by virtue of inventing them. Since most of the weapons in Exile are pretty simple, it's safe to assume this wouldn't be much of a stretch at all. I've even thought of a way to introduce environmental combat, such as throwing bins at enemies or smashing windows.

It's also very likely that at least one, if not all three of the planned finish ups in this year are going to be artistically cohorent for the most part. The styles may vary between each, for Example Hellcat is likely going to use the more enigmatic heavy outline style i began working with around middle to late year. Such will match the tone and style of the game fairly well. Perseverance is likely going to be done entirely in MSpaint, originally it was going to be all Sai work but that became far too ambitious especially given that Pep's faceset grew a bit too... humane. Exile will be much more like a cartoon, given the 90's feel it emits and the plethora of cartoon vibes it carries. Whether I'll use my MSpaint style or Sai style is up in the air, but I'm leaning on my MSpaint style just because a lot of panels are already done to that effect.

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