We Need Men Too

Character of the night, colored but not shaded. Got caught up… this time with helping my cousin move -____-

paul

 

The invitation’s still open to pitch a character look 😉

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The Rogue Girl Finished

roguish girl normal roguish girl

 

So the fiery, red-headed rogue chick is done. I hope The Otaku Judge is satisfied with how she turned out. I think I am.

Unfortunately, in the game you won’t be able to see the fuller body shot, but really rather just down to the buckle below her boobs.

Red hair is always a little difficult to get down. There’s red like maroon, like scarlet, or the “natural” look – the kind of orange I used here. What kind of red head is your favorite?

Let’s see how fast I can pump em out!

dark haired girl

 

Split tonight’s time between yesterday’s “Towel Girl”s expressions and drawing today’s featured character. If I don’t alternate between drawing original characters and adding expressions, I wonder how many original characters I can get done in a week? I’ll keep posting as I finish them.

In the mean time, check out Towel Girl’s expressions:

towel girl angry

towel girl appalled

towel girl blush

 

Also, should she have freckles? I’m kinda feeling the freckles.

Anyways, to make things fun, why don’t you guys give me some suggestions on what to draw? Male, female, elf, human, hair color/style, fat, thin, dressed how? Just try to keep it as a realistic NPC for a game such as ours 😛

New Cast Member

elf guy normal

 

This guy is a stock elf. We haven’t really gotten a role for him, but I’m drawing as many characters as possible to pop into the game. He looks pretty cool, though, yeah?

Progress on Cover Art

coverart1

 

Finally, I caught up to the work that I lost when my application crashed. Tonight, knowing that I was putting a lot of data into the program, I saved with every layer completed. The cover art isn’t completely finished. The cave needs to be a bit dingier, and there will be a glowing stone in front of them, and of course our logo and title somewhere on it, but I’m pretty happy with the cave, actually.

What do you guys think?

On Contrivances, Coincidences, and Randomness

Some people feel that coincidences and random events are evidence are weak writing. Perhaps the author knows no other way to resolve plot lines. Perhaps overly-contrived or overly-convenient plot turns or resolutions are cheap or lazy. Or perhaps coincidences and randomness are also reflective of life.

For example: last week, I started working at a new job… except that during that week, I also caught a cold, scraped my car against a truck while changing lanes, then started my period within a span of two days!!!!! (Sorry guys) Talk about a wonderful series of events – and so coincidental too! You know… that so many awful things would happen to me right in a row.

One time, in ninth grade, I heard my cellphone ring tone in my head and that reminded me that I didn’t turn my phone on silent. So I set it to vibrate. And immediately after that, basically as soon as I put it in my pocket, I got a random call from someone who dialed a wrong number, but my teacher never noticed the buzzing. This was also, by the way, the class that was taught by a super-strict former nun who would not have hesitated to take my phone and make me an example.

Further example of coincidences? Okay, middle school… I liked my childhood friend Edward. My girl friend liked Scott, whom I sat next to in every single class. Like EVERY class throughout ALL of middle school. The summer into eighth, I went to Space Camp with a group of classmates and the only person in my sub-group that I knew was Scott. The guy was around me ALL the time. UNTIL I started liking him. And then we went to high school and he had literally the opposite schedule as me.

What I’m saying is, sometimes I feel like I’m on some really advanced version of the Sims and there’s someone manipulating my life events into extremely contrived circumstances.

See what I mean? So is it so strange that in Oliver Twist, some random orphan is adopted by a rich family, only to find out he’s a nephew to that family and thus an heir? Or that Bilbo just happens to find this all-powerful ring, it happens to get passed on to Frodo, who happens to be appointed ring-bearer, and then it gets thrown into Mount Doom thereby saving all of Middle Earth?

Maybe that’s what a great story is: unlikely (and some likely) events aligning themselves just enough to form a cohesive narrative that makes for an engaging read (or watch. Or play through. Or whatever).

In our story, Ren happens to be THE guy. Though he’s young and perhaps relatively inexperienced, he’s selected for an important mission. It is during this mission that he just happens to meet the first elf he’s ever known to speak Human Common (or whatever we decide to name their language). With the language gap closed, their conversation and the trust of someone important to him prove enough to break through potential prejudice and motivate the party to more deeply explore the circumstances surrounding the titular war.

Because without those coincidences, what would this be? It would be some guy, accomplishing what he planned to accomplish, while doing what he was supposed to do. And life often proves to be more interesting than that.

(Although, perhaps critics are talking about events that are not built or led-up to? They want some fore-shadowing? Signs of planning? But sorry, that’s not always so conveniently present in real life either.)

Anyways, what do you think? Do coincidences and random lucky events make a story seem lazy or contrived to you?

Stamina Meter

One of the infuriating, yet totally understandable, aspects of Harvest Moon was the stamina meter. Remember in the SNES/Gameboy, especially, when you’d be busy chopping wood, clearing your field, planting crops, smashing rocks, whatever, and it just ate and ate and ate away at your stamina? And then you’d have to eat or go to the hotspring or just call it a day all together? That drove me nuts. I was on a mission, dammit! Those fields needed clearing!

Now, though, in developing our game, stamina is a feature that we’re looking into. If it bothered me so much in Harvest Moon, why is it something that I’m pushing for now? There are a couple of reasons.

With the more-open world we’re striving toward (despite the need for load screens, etc), a player could be tempted to speed through a game without ever setting up camp and getting the chance to converse with your party, have your party create items, or build relationships with either of the two girls. It’s fine for second or third play-throughs, but that type of play sort of ruins the experience of the whole game if that quick-play version is the only one the player knows. The player can just keep running and moving and lose all the other elements of the game.

Unlike KOTOR, another game with a homebase, there’s no way to force a player into the homebase as there is with KOTOR (the base is the ship, the player needs to enter the ship every time one world is finished to move on to the next). The stamina meter will encourage the player to take a breather and enjoy these other aspects of the game.

But, of course, there still need to be ways to keep this feature from being an infuriatingly dull-point for the players who do just want to finish – or to assist players who traveled a little too far and are now stuck in an area with no campsite and enemies all around. So it’s likely that food, potions, and other items will assist in alleviating stamina to keep a player going through moments like those.

What do you think of a stamina meter? Have you played any games with a similar concept? Was it a help or hindrance in your enjoyment of the gameplay?

Setting Up Camp

One option I want to incorporate into The Lotus War is the ability to set-up camp. Sometimes, I find the time spent in the homebase to even be some of the most interesting moments of the game. It’s a good cool-down time to talk to the other characters and get a feel for the stories, or even enrich the one you’re playing out.

KOTOR, my obvious favorite, is a good example of this. Because your ship is the mode by which you traverse from one world (or level) to the next, it’s a necessary break you need to take to advance in the game. During this time, the player can talk to Bastila, Carth, that cat chick, that annoying girl, the hilarious kill-bot, and get them to make great and useful items for you (btw, the aforementioned kill-bot was not the little droid, though T3-M4 was an awesome asset. I would not have survived my first fight with Malak had it not been for him!)

Setting up camp really came up as an idea because I wanted to be able to trigger conversations and events with the party members – and waiting for towns or specific buildings could’ve made the events sparse. Now, because the player can choose to bypass campsites, the events may be missed – but there will still be more of them. I really hope to use it as a way to keep from having the same, repetitive conversation with the party on every occasion (because we can set up events unique to each campsite).

The system by which the player travels the map is like FF7’s – the MC’s avatar is the only one present on the map during all of the running. The party members, then, are not visible all the time and therefore cannot be talked to at a whim to further story lines. While that may be a downside in the mode we’ve chosen to represent the party/travel, the upside is an un-cluttered screen and a less ridiculous look (it does look pretty silly for the party to be running in single-file like a game of Meerca Chase (am I the only one who remembers Neopets?) or you know… Caterpillar or whatever it’s called.

Not only does the party-travel mode look silly, but it does have draw-backs in progression and conversation. For example, it will be more difficult to script new and different dialog, or progressive dialog. At best, we could randomize the conversation. At least, we’d have to program a short greeting to each of them but save the meatier conversation for certain points in the game.

Setting up camp not only allows for the progressive conversation we want, but also for the ability to have characters craft items for you/the party, which is another fun aspect in itself.

 

What do you think about games that retain a home base? (even if that base is mobile)

Character Highlight – Sulitha!

Sulitha-Happy

 

Been gone for a week due to a move! The new place is getting pretty organized, but there’s still some work left to be done.

In other interests, Sulitha is the character of the night! An NPC that I still consider part of the main cast, she is Arinnel’s aunt and mother to Sohn (I know, we are so creative with the names).

son happy

Yeah, this kid with the bunny.

She’s kind of a free spirit, having gone against the grain of her village and reaching out for advancement and progress, harmony rather than warfare.

She is a motivating factor behind much of the action, despite being unable to join in her self (due to having a kid and all… you know how they tie you down).

Well, hope everyone else is well! I need to catch up on some other blogs!

Reinventing the Elf?

kid elf

One aspect of world-building that I’ve mentioned before is the creation of in-world mythology, or creating the world as mythology. It brings another level of realism when you observe characters and their thoughts on how they came to be, their relationship to their culture, their culture’s place in the world you’re building. Not that this mythology will always make it overtly into the story, but I do believe that having this set in mind when writing helps you, the creator, flesh out the world.

When conceptualizing the different “racial” groups in the world of Genos, the elves and the humans, I actually did not want to use the word “elf.” I was thinking of just calling them the Guardians. To distinguish them from humans, due to the limits of RPG Maker sprite generation, they were always going to have the classic elf ears, but I did want to bring something new to the mythos of the elf.

In many ways, the current mythology of elves, fairies, sprites, etc provide a touch stone for the elves in The Lotus War. They are humanoid beings of long life spans with an affinity toward nature. In many ways, reinventing something as ingrained in our culture as elves is like reinventing the wheel: you may be able to make improvements, maybe make it out of a new material… but it’s still a wheel and an elf is still an elf. (Thanks a lot, Tolkein!)

But here are some of our own personal touches, tell me what you think:

-As you might’ve seen from yesterday’s post, while humans were formed from the ground, elves were produced by plants. Sentience was spurred by the Lotus, a crystal that dropped from the heavens.

mythos
In our mythology, that accounts for the longevity of elves in comparison to humans. Humans were formed from non-life – they have a greater tendency to return to that state. The elves, as beings produced from life have lengthy, almost indefinite natural life spans.

-Elves are not magical. With an inert link to the plant life, they can seem magical to humans – who are technologically apt.

-We strove to make humans and elves somewhat equal – like two different races as opposed to entirely different beings.
For example, while many elves have a wisdom that comes from age and experience, humans have advanced technological skill. While under favorable conditions they are capable of extreme longevity, they are more vulnerable to withering away due to a number of environmental factors, like extreme heat and dehydration. And due to having no immediate limit to life, they live not for an end, but by the moment (let’s see how well we pull that off).

Anyways, those are just the cliff notes. Through just these subtle features, we hope to bring our own flavor to a well-established character type. What do you think? Is there really a way to “reinvent the elf”?