Project Update and Axel’s Facelift

Wow! Thanks to kind internet folks such as yourselves, our Kickstarter has just about met its 2nd stretch goal of $3000!

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We’ve also updated two of our nearest stretch goal tiers to contain some more exciting incentives:

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Help us meet these new goals while there’s time left! We’re down to the last 4 hours!

I have felt for a long time that as my competency with MangaStudio and the Wacom tablet have improved, some of the older characters have required a facelift of sorts. The biggest offender? Axel.

Check him out now!

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I cleaned up the line art, and this time knew to “Export in Dimensions” rather than in pixels – creating smoother colors truer to how they were originally blended. Expect similar updates to Adin and Arinnel too 🙂

And as always, thanks a ton for the support! I know many of our readers have donated – if you could reblog this, you will gain an extra day of eternal gratitude! 😉

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Kickstarter Progress

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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:

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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.

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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!

Opening Credits Finally Unveiled!

With original music by none other than the talented J (aka Arc Bird) and featuring our original characters created and hand-drawn by none other than myself, we are proud to show a rough draft of our opening credits.

Please offer any suggestions if there is a way that the credits can be improved. Bear in my that the final slide featuring our “Special Thanks” are reserved for three mystery contributors who will be determined at a later date.

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:

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We also have several of the secondary cast fleshed out:

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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:

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

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

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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:

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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.

Characters in the Cold

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So far, I have two jacket designs down for the colder climate areas! The only problem is that we might not be able to make the battlers match the difference – though the travel avatars will.

What do you think of changing character clothing depending on the climate?

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.

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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?

Working on a Wallpaper/Coverart

Every time Justin does an update to my laptop, he decides to change my “future city” wallpapers to Subaru WRXs. And every time, I decide to find a new future city wallpaper. This time, I decided to break the mold and see about creating my own wallpaper. Progress:

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At some point, I’ll be able to export it as a PNG at a higher resolution. But for the sake of sampling, this is where I currently am.

I got so excited about drawing this that for nights at a time, I was drawing until my hand hurt. Once the people were finished, took it a little easier, though that sky did take some time. Clouds, I’ve learned, are pretty difficult to draw right. I did get some I’m more or less happy with.

You may remember the cover art I was working on:

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But Justin has decided he likes the wallpaper better as cover art, so the above will probably be replaced, although I had already been working to replace the cave with a dungeon:

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But I do like the sentimentality of the new art.

What kind of cover art do you like?

Playing Around with a New Style

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I’ve been thinking of styling future games a bit more raw-feeling – a little less in a clear-cut, house anime style, and a bit more in my own.

A pencil artist at heart, I have never really tried drawing using the tones I intend to color with as outlines. I’m not completely sure about the finished product, but there’s a lot of time for changing styles for the next game. Of course I couldn’t change mid-project.

What do you think of the above sample?

Re-Drawn

We’ve been away for a while, but that doesn’t meant that work on the game has ceased (it does mean that we’ve joined a gym, though -___-). I’ve mentioned before that I thought that some of our early characters needed a re-working. The first to receive such treatment was our own MC Ren, if you recall.

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I mean, he’s just immensely better – though I tried to keep the spirit of him the same. But my experience with MangaStudio and my greater practice drawing certainly helped.

Taya was similarly redesigned.

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And we won’t even get into Arinnel.

The next candidates, though, were certainly Axel and Kai. Let’s take a look at them as you currently know them:

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Now, even between the two of them you can start to notice a difference of quality. I don’t think I had a standard pen nib size selected yet, so Axel’s lines are a lot thicker than Kai’s. I didn’t have the color blend too down as well when I drew Axel. I overall just wasn’t as practiced – though I gotta say, that’s a killer scarf that Kai is sporting.

A few other things is that I did really individualize each character’s clothing. But I thought more about it, and as soldiers in a military organization, there needs to be some continuity.

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I mean, Rinnek’s armor is somewhat similar to Ren’s, and Anders’ is a pretty standard style I intend to use as a template for future designs.

In addition to that, when I first built my idea of this game while talking to Justin, I had in mind that many of the humans would be from the desert, so would have darker complexions (see Taya and Rinnek). While Kai could be from the cold mountainy areas, so a pale complexion makes sense, Axel was supposed to be from the same desert town. He didn’t really fit that aesthetic, though. You see, Justin started creating sprites before I was drawing these characters, and, being blond himself and having grown up around a lot of blonds, he just started – without really thinking about it – inserting a bunch of blondies. Probably also because that would make Ren stand out all the more. So anyways, after some thought and conversation, we agreed to try and have more definite looks for each regional group.

I thus bring to you, the revised Kai and Axel:

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Granted, you can still see a bit of a line-size difference, but these are not official, resized and edited copies yet. In fact, the new Axel has not even been completed highlighted/shaded yet (only his skin thus far), but I think a more unified work among the soldiers is a step in the right direction.

Meanwhile, there will be armored humans, not part of the military, that may have different armor styles, including leather armor (which we’ve decided to reserve for elves or non-military humans).

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For example, mine and Justin’s little cameo avatars are part of a little human civilization on the outskirts of Genos, and have split from the main human government. Therefore, they, while still fighters, do not fight for the government and are therefore not issued solider’s armor.

What do you think of the New Axel and Kai? How do you like Axel’s rather complete re-design? How do you feel about trying to have more of a standard in armor?

 

My Oldest Crush

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Not my longest-dating crush, but if I had an old-man crush, it would totally be Sir Patrick Stewart – the knight behind Jean-Luc Picard AND Charles Xavier. Here it is before I change him up a bit so as not to “steal his likeness.” Below are a couple of other recent projects:

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