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!

kickstarter progress

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

new stretchgoals

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!

Axel-NormalAxel-Normal

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 ūüôā

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! ūüėČ

kickstarter banner

greenlight banner

87% and counting!

I’m really excited to say that with 10 days left on our campaign, Legend of Lotus has reached 87% of its funding goal!¬†Yay!!!

kickstarter progress

 

If you haven’t checked out our page yet, please do! We had a lot of fun making the promotional video, and we hope you have as much fun watching it. Even if you don’t pledge – or can only pledge a dollar or two – your support means the world, and spreading the word is just as big a help.

Another exciting development is that we are in talks with Donn and the lovely folks behind You Are Not the Hero in featuring their “non-hero” Petula for a brief cameo in Legend of Lotus. Donn approached us about this awesome idea – and J and I jumped on it immediately. For those unfamiliar, YANTH takes the classic tropes of old school RPGs and turns it on its head. You may remember Link, Cloud, and Squall taking a break out of defeating monsters to break into the homes and property of the people they purportedly want to protect, taking gold/rupees, and other useful belongings. When Petula encounters some “heroes” trying to pull a fast one on her, she vows to retrieve her stolen pendent, leading her¬†on a quest of her¬†own!

petula

Petula, as will be seen in LoL

As you can see, Justin and I have a lot of reason to be excited about Legend of Lotus’ newest developments – and we have YOU to thank for it! Thanks, all!

 

 

*UPDATE*

Even before publishing this entry – in just the time it took to write it, we’ve already been bumped up to 90%.¬†You guys – even if we had 100 $2 donations, we’d reach out goal – and this is the internet! This is the group that helped a guy make potato salad with like $40,000 dollars! Anything is possible!

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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:

1

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.

aki

 

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!

Attack of the Ogres

Enemies are needed just as much as heroes. Unfortunately, the resources for enemy battlers are rather limited – at least for the monsters. I’m therefore making my own battlers based on resources provided by RPG Maker:

$BigMonster2

To make this sprite blend more with our battlers, I changed the center to a 3/4 view, and added an outline as seen on our other battlers.

I then animated it, but manipulating its parts, slightly.

His low-health state:

ogre

His primary attack:

ogre2

Expect to see more soon, as well as possibly our demo coming up soon.

Drawing Till My Hand Cramps

I was out sick today with a bad cough. So rather than the usual sick-at-home routine (soup, TV, nap, repeat), I modified it (soup, drawing WHILE watching TV, nap, repeat). Today, I was working on a rather large project:

map

So far, this is the world of Genos. You may be able to pin some of the screen shots we’ve posted with various points on the map. For example, the snowy capital region is to the North. The Dead Thicket is¬†near the center, south of the crater/bay. Arinnel’s forest home is to the west near the hills. Ren’s home is in the dry region southeast of the mountains..

Soon, the map will be labeled, and will contain icons to indicate landmarks such as cities and town, a compass, and perhaps a few other tools.

It has not been decided, yet, if this will be the functional/selectable map that Ren will use to navigate Genos, or if this will be presented as an in-game piece of art, as it may be beneficial to have your game map be in a similar style as the world, but we’ll probably run a test and see what the best style is.

It has actually be a great way to re-gather and organize. We had a general map for the game before, but talking it out and looking at it in color has made us re-consider the placement of some of the regions to ensure that it doesn’t look wildly unrealistic (such as snowy mountains right in the middle of lush, green springy hills.

In the mean time, what do you think for game maps? Should they be similar in style to game play or an artistic rendition?

RPG Maker VX Ace – Map and Character Creation

J has taken the lead on designing the game through RPG Maker (and he has done a great job!). I want to make sure that I can hold my own, though. So here today, I will give a brief tutorial on map and sprite creation with RTP-only tools (Run time package basically means the tools, tilesets, codes, sprites and faces that come with RPG Maker on purchase), so that this looks like any game a person may make with a fresh RMVXAce purchase.

For my following posts regarding RMVXAce game creation, I’ll be focusing on a very simple game, with a simple map and simple focus: you will be a character in your bedroom, whose mother demands that your room be picked up. All kinds of fun events can be done with this premise, though, and the principles in creating a simple item-retrieval game can be used in larger games, as well.

Game creation really starts with a map. Start by right-clicking the area that says the name of your game. You’ll notice that the below picture already shows that I have 2 maps – but I wanted to start fresh to be able to chronicle my map and event creation from square one. I wanted to make sure that I clicked the overall game, because selecting “New Map” when clicking on an already-created map will display that new map as kind of a “sub-map” to the first. It’s useful when you have, say a map of a town with houses in it, and want to show that each house is a “sub-map” within that town. For our purposes, though, we’re going to create a brand new map.

map building

When you select “New Map,” it calls up the dialog box depicted above. From here, you can change the name of your new map to make it easier for you to navigate your creations. I might name this room, “Poop Face’s Room” or whatever¬†the name of the character will be.

You’ll also want to set the size of the map. Most often, you may make the map bigger than what you plan for the actual space to be, especially for rooms, so that when roaming to a corner of map, the camera can follow the player all the way. You will also select your Tileset. Custom tilesets are available all across the web, especially on RPG Maker forums, but we’ll do every RTP for now. You’ll notice that in the dialog box above, four tilesets are included RTP: Field, Exterior, Interior and Dungeon. The tilesets are basically what they describe in their title. Field focuses on “fields” or plain landscape – which I actually find best to make in-game Map. Exterior has tiles for areas a player might roam through, as well as things one might run across while exploring the outdoors: exterior walls for buildings, roofs, exterior windows, flowers, trees, water, bridges, statues, etc. Interior focuses, of course, on things you might find inside a house or room: interior walls and windows, furniture, flooring, trinkets, and the like. Dungeon… well, you’ve all seen RPG dungeons.

After selecting “New Map,” you¬†will typically default to Map Mode at this point – but you will notice two additional possible modes, being “Event” and “Region.” Today, we’ll focus on Map.

map 2

 

Map mode will look like the above, with your tileset to your left and a drawing area to your right. You may only draw within the space you selected in the starting dialog box. You will notice that my above map has empty space in the form of blue squares around it. Worry not. They will look like black space during gameplay.

Familiarize yourself with your toolbar; at the top, you will see a pencil, polygonal and elliptical tool, as well as a fill bucket. Each has its own use. The pencil too is great for stamping down select objects. The polygonal tool will allow you easy drawing of straight lines (like my walls above). The elliptical tool… so far I haven’t really needed to make anything circular, but I’m sure it’ll come in handy some time. The fill bucket is great, because once you have your walls drawn, you can simply fill in your flooring – or it can be used for much more. Next to those tools is your scale/zoon selection.

The RTP tilesets are quite handy. They’re pre-coded so that they look like continuous walls if next to another “wall” of the same kind, but look like corners if next to flooring or a wall of a different dimension (that helps add perspective to a 2D world). You’ll see that above, while the “ceiling” tile looked like it had a nice edge everywhere else, where I doubled it up, the ceiling tile directly blends into itself so that it doesn’t look like two tiles next to each other, but rather one large, smooth one.

My completed map:

completed map

“Wait, what?!” you might ask. “I know you said simple, but this is blank!” That, my dear reader, is because any objects I hope to eventually interact with by collecting it, fixing it, or in any other way altering the appearance of, I will add during event creation. Eventually, my room will look like this:

completed map with events

The reason I’ve chosen to add that bed, the money bags, the bottles, the fish dinner, the flipped chair, the broken windows, and the shelf as events only and not inherent parts of the map is because an event graphic will simply lay over the images of the map. If anything is a different size, then, it might poke out from behind the new event image that I want to show at a later time.

Now that you have a world, however large or small that it may be, you need someone to occupy it. That’s where character¬†generation comes in.

Look at your tool bar, to the right of modes, tool shapes, etc:

character generation

The little dude next to the eighth note couplet triggers the character generator upon click.

character generation 1

Play around with the different options until you get a look you want. You’ll notice several choices and then associated color schemes. Once you’re satisfied, click both “Output Face” and “Output Character” to save in a system file. It’ll ask you for a name; usually, that would be the name of the character, or a description for NPCs.

Now, if you’re building a game with hand-drawn portraits, this step would be a little different. Since I don’t want to be limited by the small selection of looks offered by the RTP, I actually usually will draw a character first and then generate a sprite, and then edit the sprite through Photoshop or GraphicsGale to match it to my character. Justin, on the other hand, will often generate a sprite to fill an immediate need, then send me the sprite so that I can draw a portrait based on that. I would say that the second option is easier and quicker (since if you match the portrait to the sprite, you don’t need to edit the sprite), but it gives you less freedom.

If you have a character that will interact with your player, you may also choose to create those at this time. Conversely, you may choose to create several of them at one time, then plug them into your scene as needed.

Now that you have your main character, you must set it as the player. For that, refer back to your toolbar, where it says “Database”databse

The screen shot says that the database is your best friend, and you can’t argue what the screen shot says.

When you click database, you’ll be met with… well… a database:

set player

Under the “Actors” tab, we can select the character sprite, the portrait, the starting equipment (which admittedly doesn’t seem too important for a game about cleaning your room). If you’re afraid you’ll forget details about a certain character, there’s a field for notes. You can enter the name, the character type, etc. etc. Meet Poop face, a hand ax-wielding soldier. Or school girl if looks are to be believed. Simply by entering her as the first character, she defaults to the player.

And from there, you can lay her in a spot on your map quite easily. Change your mode from Map to Event. Select a spot. Right-click and…

set start point

Er… not too sure what’s next…

This was basic but already quite a long post, but I feel we made progress. Great job, everybody! …Everybody? What’s that? I haven’t told you anything you couldn’t figure out on your own? Huh? You’d rather have just tooled around for a few hours? Hey! Leave my mom out of this! …Oh… you weren’t talking to me? You turned on¬†House re-runs several hours ago? Well… well… that’s disappointing.

Anyways, next time, I’ll do a little walk-through on simple events, like an auto-run conversation. This is where I’d make a “Your Mom” joke, but as I understand it, she’s a classy lady.

So to that I say, Stay Classy, San Diego.

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 – 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…

Screenshot1

To secret places with friends…

Screenshot2

…Exploration with your party…

Screenshot3

Steampunk styled cities…

Screenshot4

Lush forests…

Screenshot5

Snow-capped mountains…

wpid-snap1.png

…and ancient dungeons.

Screenshot6

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:

wpid-1149067_588924531160537_1382445057_n.pngTaya-BlushArinnel-Normal

Axel-NormalAuhn-Normal elf guy normalbron

 

We also have several of the secondary cast fleshed out:

Axel3-NormalAnders-NormalSteff-NormalKai2-Normal

 

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

 

taya-old-shotwpid-arinnel.pngwpid-portrait_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.

A Few Characters and Sprites

I wrote the other day about syncing up sprites and portraits. Today, I wanted to show a few completed ones:

bogs

bogs-walking

 

Hanlo-Normal

hanlo-walking

 

roguish girl normal

janna-walking

 

Here are some basic approximations of some NPCs¬†and their sprites. If you take a close look, you’ll notice some details that might cause a discrepancy, as discussed the other day… but nothing too glaring, right?