Monday, August 4, 2014

Jumping Ship

I thought long and hard about this. Over the course of about two weeks. Weighing the pros and the cons. I thought long and hard about what I want to do, and how I can best do it. And at the end of the day, I came to a single conclusion, after hours of seemingly endless back and forth with myself.

If I want SEM to truly have a future; it can't be on RM2k3.

That said, I've decided to make the jump to VX Ace. Using Promise as a base, I'll transfer my work on SEM to the engine. This wasn't a decision I made lightly. I really loved the work I did on the 2k3 version of SEM. The battle system in particular was my magnum opus. It was the one thing I could always be proud of. And the main reason why I refused to jump to VX Ace till now was the fact that I knew that I could never replicate the SEM battle system in the engine 1:1. I mean, sure it CAN be reproduced. But I don't have the knowledge to do it. And that always kept me away. I didn't want to throw away my work for something ultimately inferior.

But in the end, I came to the final thought that my wanting to preserve the integrity of SEM's gameplay mechanics was the exact thing that was keeping SEM from going better places. So I finally made the decision to move. I still feel bad about the fact that I won't be able to replicate it 100%, but at this point, it's better to just make a game. And make a game people can actually play. So I'm cautiously willing to let the whole mechanics issue slide in favor of Ace's overall greater features...and ability to work on recent OSes.

And as a strike against RM2k3, the sheer lag present in the engine turned me off from working in it any longer. Like I said previously, that can NOT be fixed. And I am not going to wait for it to be fixed. My motivation to work on SEM was dead for nearly half a year because of 2k3. It's time to move on.

Besides, who knows? Maybe I can learn to script(Ha ha), or otherwise get the things left behind in the 2k3 version done sometime down the line? But for now, it's time to just make the damn thing.

So all that said, where does that leave me now? Back to the starting point of converting resources into HD for Ace. Thankfully with SEP, a lot of resources were already converted. So that only leaves a few characters who weren't featured in the game to be transferred over. And then from there, it's tinkering with the battle system to address concerns expressed with SEP previously, as well as implement new additions to the system. And then the big one...those damn menus. Now I can't script, and my mechanics are too personal for any random menu script, so I will be eventing again. Thankfully working on SEP has shown me that eventing is still viable. I was worried about picture count, but it seems that Ace has a 100 picture count. So no worries there either.

Anywho, that's all from me. I'll leave the 2k3 version download up because why the hell not? In the meantime, I'll be working on the Ace version. Have a preliminary design of the main menu in parting.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Project Status

Hello everyone.

I just said that the project was in hiatus in the sidebar, but I wanted to take some time out to write a comprehensive answer.

I'm currently searching for a job irl, and though I believe I may have come to an end on that, I can't rest until I'm actually working. Last month in June, I also spent a ton of time I really didn't have to make a game for a contest. It was an offshoot of SEM known as Sacred Earth: Promise.

You can check it out here:

Sacred Earth: Promise

Download it and give it a shot if you feel up to it. It's basically a porting of SEM's concept into RMVX Ace. And while it was an interesting experiment, I don't think I want to continue SEM there.

However, I did do something in that version that I do want to port back to the original. Namely the way trap and bonus tiles are handled. In SEM these are handled on a case by case basis, and it becomes very tedious to work with. In SEP these tiles are more organized and run through a single code, determining what reward or trap the player will run into by randomization.

It lessened the workload for sure, and I definitely want to port this logic back into SEM. It would make Symbol Maps less of a hassle to work on by a good margin.

The other change I think I want to implement would be the multiple portrait conversation setup. In SEM, all events only show one portrait on screen that shuffles in and out. It's kind of dull, so while I do think that setup has merits. Especially in sprite based event scenes, I will try and implement the multiple version in BG based event scenes.

Going forward with these changes, SEM should be hitting it's stride again. Truthfully, I'm not even halfway in game progress yet. Working on Day 5, the story progress has only just started to pick up. I mentioned scope creep in my last entry, I need to stay conscious of that and just do the work I can do.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Musing and Progress

It's been a usual.

I haven't actually gotten a phenomenal amount of work done, but I'm getting back into the groove of things. With the technical side of things out of the way, I've just been left to work on story segments. ...And boy, there's a lot of them.

SEM, by this point, is essentially a glorified visual novel with RPG mechanics to break up the story segments. You'll be seeing a lot of character faces talking against backgrounds with each other about themselves and the world around them, and the plot points. More than the battles and symbol maps I wager.

I worry that the game might bore the contemporary RPG player, but I also realize that the point of a visual novel is So as it is, it's not entirely possible to keep said contemporary RPG players hooked if they're the impatient types that just want to kill stuff and run along maps. The latter, which simply does not exist in this game anymore.

I know that I'll kill myself if I try to reel in that type of player. So really, all I can do, and care to do by now, is to tell the story in the format I have set up. I've probably mentioned this a lot by now, but the lack of walk-able maps and obstacles, which were cut from the project ultimately, will likely forever haunt me.

I can definitely say that the scope creep snuck up on me with this project. But rather than fight to try and make the next big PS1 inspired hit with all the usual JRPG bells and whistles, it's more logical to make concessions in order to properly handle the current scope. I still don't intend for this game to be something ridiculous like 40+ hours or something. But the story's scale has certainly grown from the original SEB, which was so much simpler in intention and presentation.

...And yet also it was terribly executed. But that's beyond the point.

Enough of that though. I guess I should talk of my progress. It's nothing I really can convey visually I think. There's only so many screenshots you can look at of characters talking on backgrounds before you get the point. That's probably the drawback to it. But I hope I can make up for it with entertaining writing and characters.

That said, I suppose a few of those aforementioned screenshots wouldn't hurt anyway.

Okay, that's it from me. Once I finish up a few more scenes, it's off to make the next symbol map dungeon and the events within.

Till next time.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Progressing Onwards

Somehow, in the midst of being eaten by irl, I've been managing to get work done on SEM. Especially recently. Thankfully I've managed to clear away all of the bothersome menu work. But while doing so, I also made some minor changes as well.

Caith's presence has been added to all the growth systems and menus. So that's finally out of the way. Re-arranging things to make room for her was a pain, but I managed to push down my irritation and finally just do it. It took almost a year of procrastination and slowly chipping at the wall to get to this point though. I feel that maybe I shouldn't gotten here sooner, but alas. Motivation is a fickle thing.

Secondly, some changes have been made to the Advancement System. The menu where skills and abilities are learned. Specifically in terms of learning spells. Before, all characters had ten spells, but only five Ether Ranks. Which meant they'd end up with any combination of those ten spells by their choice.

Well now, I've changed it so that the player will need to learn every spell in every tier in order before they can proceed to the next Ether Rank. So now, Gunnar will need to learn Thunderbolt and Shade Imperial before his Ether Rank progresses to 1 from 0. That way, more advanced spells are kept away a bit longer and earlier spells will be available to use.

The main point of this change is that you will never end up potentially missing an element you may find yourself needing down the line.

And that's pretty much all. This update's been entirely about the boring coding side of things, so I don't really have anything to share there. But with all of this crap out of the way, I can finally get to work on the story again. The menus and walls of code are finally out of my way as far as I can tell!

...But additional spriting remains. But that can...probably be tackled over time.

But let me throw this in.

It's a more modern(but drawn a while ago) rendition of Patchoulli's SEM design.

And with that, I bid adieu~