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Fictitiousness: Game Development Diary - Jan 29, 2013 - New Project, Go!

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A couple of weeks ago, right before Christmas came around, I ordered two copies of RPG Maker VX Ace. I can't even remember how I found it, I think it was a banner ad for a site I frequent, but as soon as I saw it I knew it would be a great tool for what a friend and I were always keen on doing. We're both students of game design, but neither of us  would classify ourselves as programmers; I'm a writer and he favours the visual side. Long story short, we both got a copy and were able to jump into designing without worrying about how on Earth it was going to get implemented.

Now, we're a few weeks along and things are going quite well. In my opinion, we're further along than we ever have been in the same time frame while working on a school project, and it's refreshing to be working on something that is really ours. There's no restraints or requirements or due dates and it's making it much easier to get excited about getting out of bed in the morning to do some work.

When I was first fiddling around with the software to see what it was capable of, I opened a new project, which defaulted to the name "Project1". I had a moment of, "eh, good enough," and started building a little town with the pre-packaged art resources. As I worked, I started writing a plot in my head around the concept of being incredibly lazy and the final game being released under the name "Project1". By the time I'd played around with the editor enough that I was ready to start something real, I was surprised at how much I liked what I'd come up with. Thus, Project1 was born. I won't get into the plot specifics, but I will post a short video containing the first few seconds of the game.

During the first few days of development, I honestly felt a little overwhelmed. I'd never been able to put my words and design ideas into something functional so simply, and got a little overambitious because of it. I spent hours and hours making environments that I knew were just going to get ripped out when my friend came through with the custom art, and after that initial period found that I'd only written a handful of dialogue lines.

Now, after over a month, I've got the town you start in almost completely done (there's still some random NPCs that need to be filled in to make the town seem more lively), some starting wilderness areas that are part of the first few side-quests, and the second town that leads into the first dungeon-esque area. The first town is small, and is situated between a mountain range (which leads to the second town) and the continent's coast. Something I'm really excited to have implemented already is a bounty board of sorts, that allows the player to view any side-quests that are available to be completed. During the game the player doesn't have to begin any of the posted quests, as it makes sense that something that needs doing probably needed to be done before our hero walked up to the interested party. Instead, quests are active within the world from the start, and are deactivated upon completion. The board merely serves as a reminder for the player, and can be ignored almost entirely if the player either knows the quests available or doesn't wish to partake.

We've also been talking about the game's art, and how to make it look a little more natural. The problem that we've faced so far is that when laying ground tiles, there is an obvious pattern. Each tile has texture to avoid having only a solid colour, but the problem with that is that you can see the tile's texture repeated in the surface. Another problem we had was the implementation of shadows. Shadows have to be drawn on manually with a tool that covers 1/4 of one tile with a slightly darker shade, and doesn't take to all surfaces. This is a problem because only having two shades (shadow and non-shadow) makes it extremely difficult to show the kind of depth we want. As well, the shadows can only be laid in squares, making it impossible to lay realistic shadows for round objects or shadows that cuts across on angles. Our solution to both of these problems is to paint our backgrounds in Photoshop, as well as any shadows we need for our structures, and then build our structures on top of the painted images with the editor. This allows us to have surfaces that look more natural, not like a tiled pattern, and have multiple shades of shadows to show depth, volume, and more importantly to me, mood.

I'll post again when we do something worth mentioning, as well as upload some preliminary art assets. Thanks for reading!

The video mentioned in the post can be viewed on the original post, here http://fictitiousness.com/2013/01/29/jan-29-2013-new-project-go/

Check back on fictitiousness.com for more updates concerning Project1, as well as our frequent fiction updates.

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