Kickstarter Progress

kickstarter progress

With 18 days left on our Kickstarter, we have 55 backers and nearly 60% of our goal met! But I wanted to take this opportunity to thank some great peeps who’ve supported our project from the get-go:

The Otaku Judge – one of our first backers, most constant commenter, and great reviewer-of-anime – Thanks for turning Geek Out South-West’s attention over to us, thanks for your support, and thanks just all around. What a guy!

Geek Out South-West – thank you for the tremendous shout-out! Posted just today, we already got two additional pledges within less than an hour of your post. Hats off to you, sirs!

Ross Tunney – Another fantastic project creator you can find on Kickstarter – currently has a live campaign for his awesome, anime-inspired game, Data Hacker. Thanks for the shout-outs, Ross!

And I’d love to take this moment to thank not only anyone who has backed us, but anyone who has spread the word about Legend of Lotus – even if unable to financially back us. Please help us keep this campaign going! If any of your friends A) are rich B) love retro games or C) all of the above, send them our way for our eternal gratitude.

If anyone out there has ever wanted to take part in video game creation but lacks the time, the energy, the money, the skills or the… creativity, by backing even just $1, your name will be memorialized in our credits. By playing the demo and offering feedback, or becoming a $15 backer and downloading the game through its Beta stage, you can earn a special place in our credits as a consultant.

As long as we’re talking about Kickstarter, here are some great projects currently live:

Aegis Defenders – a visually stunning pixel art game

Steam Punk & Cthulu Soundtracks – a soundtrack production group to create awesome soundscapes for tabletop gaming


And finally, I’d like to give a preview of a new concept we’re planning to develop once Legend of Lotus is done:


We’re exploring 2D platformer construction using Unity – with a totally new art style. But not only will the art be completely different; the storytelling, game mechanisms/play, and goals will be completely different too.



Without words, this game will tell the simple but moving story exploring the depths of the bond between a dog and her boy. It will be a pixel art game with puzzle mechanisms, and a simple, clear story with one goal: to get home with your boy. The above .gif is a rough design of the dog’s sprite, animated by yours truly.

Our goal to finish Legend of Lotus is January, provided the Kickstarter goes through. Production on Bound is slated to begin shortly thereafter. Wish us luck!

A Summary of Game Progress – A tour of Genos

Justin here. Just a quick update on some game progress. Specifically, the world of Genos. Every classic RPG game world is unique, but with similar roots. The dynamic? The main character who ultimately becomes a hero, has humble beginnings. This kind of classic game dynamic works, and for The Lotus War, we didn’t want to change. Why? Because that’s the kind of story that we all can fall in love with. We connect to it, envy it. An ordinary guy, who goes on to do extraordinary things. Who overcomes odds, using talents and wits. What differentiates this kind of coming-of-age story in any incarnation are the details – and we’ve seasoned both the plot and the world with originality.

None of this would be possible without the player having a world in which to become a hero. I’ve labored some hours over all the maps in the game, constantly adding and changing things. A common complaint among RPG fans (especially towards RPG maker games) is that the maps are bland, without real detail, or seeming as though the designer didn’t put a lot of time or thought into them. I have been trying my utmost to design a world that I would want to play, and the world I want to play can’t be bland or lazy. In any game especially RPG/Adventure games, the world should encourage you to explore and you should have fun doing it. None of this should feel tedious, or drawn out. Our world, Genos, is vast. It has a little bit of everything…

From the humble beginnings of Ren’s home town…


To secret places with friends…


…Exploration with your party…


Steampunk styled cities…


Lush forests…


Snow-capped mountains…


…and ancient dungeons.


From desert wasteland to frozen tundra, The Lotus War has a little bit of everything to explore. It’s my hope you’ll have as much in discovering it as I have had in creating it.

A demo is forthcoming – so stay tuned! In this coming month, we plan to add several more updates to game progress, such as our opening credits and some game footage.

A Summary of Game Progress – Characters and Portraits

This blog exists because of our RPG Maker VX Ace Project, The Lotus War, but besides for posting some images of recent artwork, the game itself has kind of taken a backseat in the blog. Not because work has halted, but because so much has been covered in past posts. For example, older posts might’ve covered product reviews or character introductions – you might notice, though, that the products that we use in game creation are limited, and the main cast has pretty much been introduced. Similarly, custom scripts that we’ve utilized have been addressed in past posts, as well as some of the custom tilesets that will appear. But with a goal of having a demo available by next month (we’ll see how that goes), perhaps it’s time to recap some of our development progress. Today, I’ll start with something already familiar: the art. Expect, though, to see samples of cut scenes, the opening credits, and new views of our map coming soon.

Of course, we have the main cast fully assembled. You may remember from earlier posts that the artwork hasn’t always been up to snuff. Fortunately, with practice, I was able to create a team of which I’m proud:


Axel-NormalAuhn-Normal elf guy normalbron


We also have several of the secondary cast fleshed out:



And you might notice that the armor is a little more unified these days – although still varying from character to character. This was done to give it more of a military feel.

Some of the major bosses were also completed:

Galen-NormalshaneThe Bird-NormalThe Chief - Normal


Battlers have also been important, which we’ve been fortunate enough to obtain for customization through Holder:

ren-battler auhn-battler kai-battler galen-attack bron-battler taya-shot


This is all a big deal to me because it has truly come a long way. Some past examples were rough:

wpid-hero-template.png kai jealousimagewpid-taya.png



In the past, you might notice, the characters looked a bit flat.There was little dimension due to my lack of comfort with MangaStudio. My skill has vastly improved – and I also discovered new nifty tricks (the most revolutionary being “export in dimensions” rather than “export in pixels” – for Photoshop, it makes such a huge difference!). I’ve also grown in comfort using Photoshop, and discovered a nifty tool in GraphicsGale for pixel art. Not to mention my ability with the Wacom Bamboo Splash has increased dramatically.

In addition to that, I’ve created what will become the basis of at least part of the opening cinematic:

opening 1

Of course, given that the characters are my area and I’ve been updating the blog since month 3 or so, any frequent readers are well aware of the advancements in this area. For a game development blog, the greater interest might light in world creation, coding, scripting, and the like. Fortunately, J also has some great progress to report. Unfortunately, we’re spreading this recap out so that each aspect of our game has a moment to shine.

Check back soon for progress in our game music, our opening credits, our opening “cinematic,” and out in-game cut scenes. All of this will hopefully be leading up to a playable demo some time in August.

And please, feel free to leave feedback. Feedback is what we need to fulfill our ultimate goal: creating a great game.

Introducing a New Elf Party Member – Jeth or Jerr?

elf guy normal


Both are faces you’re familiar with from previous blog posts, But recently, we’ve felt the need to incorporate another elf into the party. This one will be another herbalist, like Arinnel – but while her forte will be in healing potions, his will lie in attack potions.

I was all set to go with the top one, whom we’re currently calling Jeth. He has a little smirk that gives him the appearance of swag, confidence and general cool guy-ness. However, to get him battle-ready, I’d probably want to alter his clothes a little bit (although Arinnel is decidedly unarmored). That’s when Jerr caught my eye.

While not quite armored, he does seem a bit more ready-to-go. This character, though, would be a quieter, more subdued young man. Stoic – aloof, even. He’d probably be of little words, though of strong opinion.

We’re not yet sure what we want from this specific character. We do know that he will be in love with Arinnel, and is very dedicated to duty. He will either fight with a bow or a staff.

What do you think? Jeth or Jerr? Another archer, or should I give one of Holder’s staff-fighters a sex change?

Character Outfits

Since times immemorial, iconic video game characters have had an outfit – one outfit – you identify them with. Mario and Luigi have blue overalls with oversized hats of red and green, respectively. Donkey Kong has a really phat fur coat and red tie. Link has a green tunic and slouchy, pointed cap.  But the video game, as a medium, has grown. Suddenly, not only can you design and select the gender for Revan in KOTOR (is it still too early for that spoiler?), but find a new robe with better Force conduction (or something) and boom. Your character looks completely different. Countless games allow you to modify the avatar you see onscreen.

Yet even in an age where customization exists, you still have your recognizable icons: Titus and his ridiculous belly-shirt, Yu Narukami in his black and white school boy get-up, Snake with his… eyepatch (although his outfits change).  Even cartoon characters that for generations did not have the same restrictions that video game tech of old have that: Race Bannon with his red, collared shirt; Sailor Moon, Goku, Kenshin, Mugen, Spike, Faye – despite fleeting occurrences when a new outfit plays into a particular point, having a look definitely helps with branding and identification. Also, it gives the fans a basis for cosplay (really, that was a concern of Hideo Kojima that prompted him to say a character’s costume needed to be “more erotic”). For big, branded adventures, being iconic certainly has advantages.

But here’s a problem I’ve been grappling with: our characters go through extreme weather. Ren/Taya/Axel’s hometown is a little desert town with the fortune of being near one of the region’s few oases. It is a dusty, dead, “wild west” kind of place. It’s hot. So Taya’s low-cut, sleeveless, skirted outfit makes sense – even the scarf, as many desert areas include cottony, breezy scarves and shawls so that a person may hide under its shade during the more brutal parts of a day. However, they travel north to Ever Winter – the human population’s wintery capital – for military training at the Academy… and then travel again to the spring-like mild temperature of the elves’ forest home. So should Ren & company keep their short sleeves for the entire trek? Maybe I should throw a jacket on ‘em – though that would, cover some of Taya’s… um… assets.


Sorry, Otaku Judge.

I think we should. Although Justin rightly points out that keeping them in one outfit follows the tradition of iconic RPGs since the conception of the genre.

What do you think?

Shading and Highlighting

elf kid


Shading and highlighting not only adds depth and fullness to an illustration, but it makes it feel overall more complete.

The first image, flat and lifeless, would be a really boring one to include into our game as a finished product. Even though the second one is admittedly not my best work, and the coloring simplistic with fewer details, it’s much less noticeable when the fabrics, hair and skin all seem toned.

Photoshop offers dodge and burn tools (and actually, I believe Manga Studio does, too), but I have found the product inferior to manually mixing colors with Manga Studio’s color blend. A rendering using the first image of this post, edited with Photoshop’s dodge and burn is below:


Admittedly, using the dodge and burn tools were much faster than color blending, but what it offers is less control. When, for example, it lightens or darkens the colors too much in contrast to the surrounding color, perhaps due to too strong of a stroke, the differences are off-puttingly stark. I would try reducing that by using blur (or is it smudge?) – but blur ends up making everything look overall less defined.

While it’s true that color blend would do the same thing if I were operating only on a single layer (pull the outline into the blend of colors), there’s still the issue of tone control. Dodge/burn will default the change to its pre-determined settings within the color on which it’s working. But if I want to add some warmth to the character’s skin tone, for instance as I did above, I can choose to blend in a color with a little more red.

I did, however, like the subtle touch that it brought to the hair.

Have you guys tried dodge/burn for shading and highlighting? How did you like the tools?

The Hobbit Films – A Review (or Rant)

Typically, you may notice, we try to shape this blog into really focusing on games, gaming, game creation, and our game, of course, in particular. While I have discussed other media, it’s often with the intent of bettering our storytelling. It’s hard to keep coming up with subjects to write about, though, so today I will answer a question from the ever-cool Otaku Judge: What do I think about The Hobbit movies, as a person whose read the books? My one-word answer to him in one of the below posts? Yuck. Let me expound, though.

A quick disclaimer: I did not see the first movie. I did not see it on principle. I did not see it on principle because I do not think this book should have been three movies. I was ready to accept two movies. But three? Really? For a book that’s half the size of any of the books from the LoTR trilogy? Three? I knew that it would’ve been inundated with bland filler material, and probably non-canon plots — and I was right.

Now, I understand that many of the elements they added are canonical Tolkein devices that they pulled from other tales of Middle Earth, such as the Brown Wizard. However, do they appear in The Hobbit, the work in question? Does a cooky old guy jump on a sleigh pulled by bunnies and lead ORCS (not goblins) on a wild… er… rabbit chase? No. No, he does not.

So I did not see the first movie, though Justin and my brothers (all of whom have read the book) did. And that was enough for me. I did, however, recently see the second movie. Here are my thoughts:

1) Let’s get this out of the way: I thought it was an adventurous movie. It had a lot of battles, it was fun though long, and has some truly likable characters. I really enjoy seeing Watson/Tim Canterbury play Bilbo (okay, okay, I know his name: Martin Freeman), I do like the characterizations of Fili and Kili, and Thorin has grown on me as the embodiment of what I imagined as a child. Benedict Cumberbatch, of course, does a superb job in his voice acting role as Smaug. And Orlando Bloom’s second role as Bard is a surprisingly good human (I’m just kidding – but has anyone else caught the resemblance?) By some accounts, I would think it’s a good movie had it not been so long while accomplishing so little.

2) They’re really reaching for tie-ins. For example, they changed the goblins pursuing the group into orcs, and have used that to introduce the Uruk-hai, who in Tolkein’s writing did not appear until the attack at Gondor in The Lord of the Rings. Gandalf is depicted as having an encounter with the Eye of Mordor/Sauron – which, again, did not occur in the book. And let’s not forget the whole Legolas/Tauriel/Kili thing. More on that in a moment, though. Suffice it to say, stretching out material for one movie into three has introduced several prolonged, superfluous story lines.

3) Okay, the love-triangle. W-T-F? There is no love-triangle in my edition of the adventure-fantasy novel. Maybe I should’ve gotten a smutty daytime television version instead? I like Tauriel, and the addition of her, and I believe there was room for her given that not every elf that appears in The Hobbit is named, or gender-defined, or even really commented on. So that’s fine. Given, also, that the King is Legolas’ father, I even accept his presence. However, I would have thought that Legolas really would’ve made a mere cameo, rather than some starring role as a romantic hero/other-man. And now, spoiler: in the novel, Kili dies. With that in mind, I just cannot anticipate how they will resolve this plot in a satisfying manner without further violating the source material. I understand that that thought may very well be the creator’s intention to keep engaged audiences who would’ve otherwise thought that they knew everything (such as myself), but honestly, it’s not engaging so much as it’s frustrating. Or infuriating. Or perhaps engaging, but not in such a way that I’m particularly motivated to see the next film. It’s engaging in that it gives me something to complain about. I’d be just as happy to wait until someone posts the whole synopsis on Wikipedia. Or on an angry WordPress rant.

From what I can theorize, either both Kili and Tauriel die, which would just be awful from a story-telling perspective given that the second movie spent SO long keeping the little sucker alive, or they both survive and Tauriel and Kili run off together or rule over Durin, displacing Dain as King Under the Mountain. In either case, if Kili dies for any reason other than in the service of Thorin or likewise if he survives while Fili and Thorin die, it detracts from Tolkein’s picture of loyalty unto family, with a special connection between maternal uncles/nephews. If he does die in the same manner, but Tauriel survives, it’s just a disappointing watch for all of the build-up.

4) What’s with Legolas’ dad, anyways? He moves like Voldo from Soul Caliber. I don’t really know why they remind me of each other, but it’s the way he kind of sways around. Or maybe he’s also sporting a purple thong and orange chaps.

5) I do like Bard’s larger story, the connection between him and the “man who missed his mark” but didn’t really. That part was good. In fact, I think it was superior over what was presented in the novel. There, I said it.

Overall, those are my current impressions. What about you guys? What did you think? Am I way off here or do you agree?

The Bird

The Bird-Normal


One of the magic-using bosses that you may encounter, he is called the Bird for obvious reasons. After hyping the dangers of magic so much, we wanted to introduce mutations to the magic-users. This guy’s are obvious, though not really detrimental. I wanted him to look like X-Men’s Beak, but Justin thought it was too ugly.

To be fair, that’s pretty ugly – but it would’ve highlighted the dangers more than seeming more like “Look! You get cool powers like wings and flight!”

What do you think?

Another Boss



Like The Fist, this guy is a mid-level boss based on a friend, the obvious exception being that our friend is not an elf (is that obvious? I didn’t need to mention that, did I…). We haven’t figured out a call-sign for him yet or a fighting style, but this is my latest work.

My other most recent project has been reworking this guy:







I like his new facial features much better.

Justin, in the mean time, has been getting some cool little graphics and such going on for our game. Slowly but surely we’re making progress.


How is everyone else?

Blonde Elf



How’s everyone doing? Still trying to chug these along. Anyone got some suggestions?