Anyway, work on SEM has been slow because of real life, and other things. Especially real life, but I won't touch on that. Notably other groups have been stealing my attention on top of a recent drawing binge for the sake of self improvement. It's actually been my dream to be able to draw my own game resources. Be it dialogue portraits, concept art, cutins, event scenes, and all that good stuff. That's pretty much the sole reason why I draw. But I'm never satisfied unfortunately. I never feel good enough to be able to say to myself "I don't need to recruit outside for this, I can do it.". So the long road continues.
Mind you, I love working with other talent. Seeing everyone's work come together in playable form is certainly a treat for all involved, but there's something just attractive about being able to perform in every necessary field yourself. My main inspirations for this mindset initially came from ZUN, of Touhou fame. Then later on, Konjak, who created Noitu Love 2, Legend of Princess, and currently The Iconoclasts. Another big inspiration to this mindset that's a little closer to my level is Neok. He created Alter Aila/Genesis/Variant, Wraith/Sainth, and other projects primarily as a one man army with a good degree of custom material. That's pretty inspiring.
And I want to do that. But maybe I'm just being a grouchy loner. Nevertheless it doesn't hurt to be able to dabble in a lot of different areas, even if you have someone else doing it primarily.
Creative ranting aside, I have gotten a little work done. The battle system is still undergoing changes to the Combo Chain mechanic, which I detailed last entry. I'm also working on a new sprite set for Veili. Admittedly, Veili is the character I pay the least attention to. And that's not right because she's just as important as anyone else. So to start, her battle sprites are currently being upgraded.
Here's some progress:
Beyond graphics, I've been rethinking my approach to field progression...AGAIN. Because as the time passed, I come to realize; why am I making this game? I'm making it because I want to incorporate ideas that I enjoy and find fun. ME primarily. And while I can be wrong at times, and there is room for improvement. I will not and should not sway to massive system changes under the criticism of the masses. I've seen a friend of mine fall victim to this, and in the end, his enthusiasm for the project was ruined because his vision was compromised.
Criticism is important of course. It's BECAUSE I got feedback and criticism that SEM's gameplay has improved to this point. But that's exactly the point. If there's a problem, IMPROVE it, don't shelve everything and set development back by another century with a sweeping change to an important area of the game. If it's not fun, make it fun. If it's flawed, fix the flaws. That's what should be done. ...And besides, I've been on this project for an unhealthy amount of time. Even now, the game isn't planned to be that long. But I've been stuck in development hell just standardizing everything and moving on.
All that said, it's been decided that I WILL be keeping symbol maps. BUT, I will be striving to make improvements to the details of the system to make it easier for the player to approach. One such improvement will be the displaying of stats when it comes to Trap Tiles. Before, you needed to memorize your stats and take a guess on whether or not to attempt a dodge or spend TP to nullify. This time, the aggregate total of your active party's stat will be displayed for easier decision making. Another improvement will be an icon legend, easily accessible while traversing the nodes, for the player to reference what does what.
It's the only logical step I can think of. Between spriting, edits to the combat system and tutorial explanations based on feedback, and work remaining to be done on the menu system to accommodate character #8, I find that making a massive change to the field gameplay is a huge mistake. And I won't abide it.
I want to tell the story of SEM in full some day. I won't give up until it's told. Until people can put their fingers on the keyboard and experience the struggles of Gunnar and his friends. This needs to happen no matter what I have to do to make it so.
That's not my promise to you.
It's my promise to myself.
And with that, I bid you all adieu. Till next time!