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Wolthera van Hövell

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About Wolthera van Hövell

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  • Birthday 04/01/1990

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  1. Wolthera van Hövell

    Intro and some concept art.

    This blog is for the side bits regarding the development of Politics: The Game(project name). I deal with a lot of the development in my tutorial, but for those tiny sidebits, I use this blog. What tiny sidebits you ask? Well, amongst others, concept art. All I've got on the story right now is that the protagonist is taking this old lady's spot in the council. She's more or less your mentor/benefactor, and you'll be interacting a lot with her. Concept art like this is very important to me, as from this I can derive how the rest of the game will look. As I've been inspired by Russian folk-prints, I'll probably be using that aesthetic throughout the game. Which means I won't be able to use by gothic tileset for it, but hey, I can just make a new one right?
  2. Wolthera van Hövell

    Being halfway serious about designing games with Rpgmaker.

    I'm not just any ESL student, I'm a dyslexic ESL student I promise to go back over these tutorials after I've finished them/got more time to comb out the mistakes, if only for the reason that in the end, I want them to be close to perfect. I'm sorry it offends you that this tutorial doesn't use perfect grammar/spelling, but do keep in mind that being able to tell a story/deliver an experience and being able to write good texts are actually different things. If anyone feels like being useful, help me out by editing it, because as you may understand, me and the concept of language don't exactly get along naturally, let alone a foreign language.
  3. Wolthera van Hövell

    Being halfway serious about designing games with Rpgmaker.

    Tutorials: Also iterative design. :s I'll have to write up a bit of story first though, because for the presentation bit I'll need to give some story. It's an rpg after all. But I guess I could just write some notes while making the story and then construct a tutorial out of those notes later on. Might actually result in better editing. Yeah, politics the game will be a reality. As I can't make a project thread just yet(I need those damned screenshots), I guess I could make use of the blog-function of these boards to show of all the less relevant things like concept art and rambling about tiny things like developing the environment Huh, thanks. :3
  4. Wolthera van Hövell

    Being halfway serious about designing games with Rpgmaker.

    @Rivers: It's out in america, also there's a let's play of it on something awful, so you can watch someone else play it. Dunno if you care for let's plays though. --- Okay, originally I wanted to talk about communicating your game to others, but I realised there's probably something first to be said about the actual second part of the development. I might be rambling a bit in this one, but it's very important you follow my thought processes, as those are what I'm trying to teach you. Lesson 2: Defining the game rules. Once you've got your game concept, it's time to define the game better and figuring out it's rules. Rules are not only there to restrain the player, but also to guide them and to facilitate playing styles. It's therefore vital that they're considered properly and are tested thoroughly. Game design doesn't work well with a waterfall-style development system. That is to say, it's hard to make a game the same way you make a cake for example: Mix flour, vanilla sugar, eggs sugar and butter together into a batter => Put batter in a cake tin => Put in oven at 180 degrees celcius for about 40 minutes => remove caketin from oven, let it cool => Cut of a piece and enjoy. Instead, with gamedesign, you constantly test the design, and then go back to improve on it. Game Concept => Game Design(The rules, aesthetics etcetera) => Prototype(alpha) => Testing => Go back to step 2 with your findings and improve the design. This is called iterative design. In other words, it's not expected that the first set of rules you come up with is perfect, even though it's not bad either if you put a lot of effort into considering the rules so that there's less need for iterating. Practical: Prototyping. Before I get to writing rules, I'll first go over prototyping. Everyone knows the standard battle system of Rpgmaker, but often people go out of their way to aoivd having it in their games. Maybe they want something more visually pleasing, or maybe they want more options. But what often is assumed is that the default battle system just plain sucks. This is not the case, it's in fact, pretty decent. But why doesn't it feel fun in all those rtp games then? Well, play a few games and find out. Analysis of the default battle system: Player chooses to fight => Player chooses commands for each party member => Player confirms them => Battle plays out with each participant of the battle taking one turn => Game checks if any of the two factions have been wiped out, if they haven't return to the first step. Incase they have, it's either a win or lose situation. Advantages of this system: The player can carefully think out a strategy and immediately apply it. Disadvantages of this system: -Battles can take too long(the player can't do anything while the participants of the battle are acting out their orders, so they effectively have to wait.) -It's likely there's no strategy involved besides 'attack, attack, attack' -Monsters might be too difficult in an unfun way.(Like, towering defence and hp, making the battle endless) -Battles might be there too often.(Random encounter/level design problem) These are the most common problems I have found with the battle system in all my years of playing rtp games. One of the above can be just annoying, but multiple of the above make the game tedious and boring to play. So how do we solve these problems? We make adjustments and then we test, and test and test and test till we absolutely hate the game. Take the first problem: The player basically has to wait while the heroes and enemies try to tear eachother a new one. What if we make the feedback given during the proceedings of the battle more interesting? Take the standard slime-troop. If you test the battle, you'll find that you can easily defeat two slimes with one hero in two turns. You'll find that the hero is able to defeat one slime a turn. This is not a bad design. By defeating the slime in one attack hit, the player will learn that just using 'attack' is a good strategy for dealing with slimes. Because the slime is defeated in one hit, they get the feedback they're using the right strategy. Remember pokemon? 'PIKACHU uses THUNDERBOLT, the attack was SUPER EFFECTIVE' Again, very good feedback about what strategy to use, hell the player doesn't even need to compare damage outputs of different attacks on the same enemy. Even if you have no clue about the type rock-paper-scissors of pokemon, you'd be able to figure them out quite quickly by just experimenting. Unfortunatly, a fancy battle message like pokemon's can't be implemented for the sheer fact that you can't check whether a skill is being used in battle, unless you start implementing common events for all skills. So then how can we apply this idea into the default battle? By making sure that an enemy is defeated once you use the correct strategy. This can be done, amongst other things by making them very vurnable to one element, yet much less vurnable to all other elements. Or, if you want the strategy to involve making the enemy sleep, have the enemy cure all other statuses when they're inflicted on him. Another solution is to just have the characters give you hint over what is effective on these guys. Or have a final fantasy type enemy reading skill, where you can use it on the enemy and it tells you what it's weaknesses are. Second problem: No strategy involved besides attack, attack, attack. This one's easy, allow enemies to have other weaknesses besides the physical attack. Have an enemy that's very resistant to physical attacks, but weak to magic ones. Or indeed, the enemy that heals all others, making it the prime target during a battle. In fact, when designing a dungeon, keep in mind what the player can do at that point, and decide for yourself what skills you want them to use. Use this to create the monsters and the strategies to beat them. Also don't forget to hint to the player what you expect of them. Third problem: The monster are too difficult in an unfun way. Choose what your monster's strengths are. If you have a monster with high attack, allow the player to be able to defeat it quickly. If you have a monster with a high evade or defence, allow the player to debuff the enemy so that they can actually land hits. Fourth problem: There's too many battles. Turn down the encounter rate or the amount of enemies on the map. Increase the amount of experience points gotten from fights to compensate for less enemies. If you do insist on having many battles, make sure they can be fought within half a minute. You do not want to make people feel bothered with the random encounters. And so you have to play test all of this. Click the 'test-battle' command, and see if indeed, the intended strategy is much better then the others. Whether it's really much more effective to debuff that enemy. And if it doesn't, go back and change those numbers around. Practical 2: Writing the rules. Now we've got that done with, let's take a look at Politics: the game again. In the first part we set up the game concept: -The player is a politician. -He has to get a number of laws to pass to win the game. -He can make these laws pass by lobying with other politicians. -Appearance affects how others look at him. -there should be things like bribery, black mail and concealing on information possible. The first thing you do when writing the rules is looking for a win/lose condition, or determine the game is free-form and there isn't a win/lose condition possible. With Politics: The game, there's a win condition. Once the player passes a number of laws, they win the game. Let's make this a bit more concrete and say there's five laws to be passed and then the player win the game. Then we look for the lose or fail condition. At the moment we have none, so we'll need to make one up. Normally, we'd just say: 'if the player fails to make the right choice' but to have them lose the game because of one choice is a bit harsh. Let's say that the player has a health bar. This represents the player's good reputation. Depending on how heavy the mistake they made is, they lose more 'reputation'. If the reputation bar is completely empty, the player is considered a moron and kicked out of the city council. Expanding on this health-bar idea we can look at it further and say 'there's no upper-limit to your reputation' because it would be silly if there was.(There's no real-life upper-limits to one's reputation, are there?) We can also say that depending on one's charm or good taste it's harder to get a bad reputation, because people like you better and are more likely to forgive your mistakes. So one's charm and one's good taste will also become stats. These would be like natural defence and equipment based defence. This would mean that the better the equipment that you wear is, the more people will like you. But we know that this isn't the case in real-life. A fellow politician will look at you funny if you're wearing rags, and a street urchin will distrust you if you wear formal atire. So instead of good taste, we'll have the 'formality' stat, where it depends on the tastes of the subject in question how much reputation you lose when making a mistake. Then there's also the regardment of subquests. Maybe, if you have a good reputation, more people will turn to you for help, or if you have a really bad one, criminals will start looking for your help. Of course, this'll mean that there's only an option for the player to be the 'scummy scumbag'-politician and the 'hero mcgoodheart'-politician. If we'd add an influence stat, we could have the politician who is disliked but very powerful, or the politician who is very liked, very powerful and behind the scenes does all sorts of deals with criminals. If the player makes a mistake and his foul operations are found out, his reputation crashes. Maybe even down to a game over. So we've found our win/lose condition, and immidiatly, we've found various stats and their application in the game. Next, we're going to look at the game progression. In a normal rpg the game progression is as follows: Introduction=> Town => Plot => Easy Dungeon => Regular Boss =>Bigger Town => More Plot => Difficult Dungeon=> Final boss => Plot-closure. => Ending. In our politics game, the progression is not much different. Introduction=> Make 5 laws pass => Ending. Because there's five laws to pass, we can set the game up in five different 'chapters'. Introduction => Pass Law 1 => Pass Law 2 => Pass Law 3 => Pass Law 4 => Pass Law 5 => Ending In each chapter, the player needs to get the majority of the city council to agree with the law, the player can do this by succesfully lobying. Introduction => Lobbying with politicians => Pass Law 1 => Lobbying with politicians => Pass Law 2 => Lobbying with politicians => Pass Law 3 => Lobbying with politicians => Pass Law 4 => Lobbying with politicians => Pass Law 5 => Ending Now we've got to look at the difficulty of the game as it progresses. One way of making a game more difficult in a fun way is to make it more complex as the player progresses. So for the first law, the player will only have to bother with one politician, for the second, he'll need to convince at the least two of them. At the same time, the player is also given more freedom in choosing who to pick, or what to do during chapters. So the first time, for tutorial purposes, the player is pretty much hand-held throughout the whole process of convincing this one politician. The second time the player can do that by themselves, but is told that this and this politician would really appreciate if you dressed a bit more formally. Also, we'll need to define a time and place for our plot to happen, the player should, for example, be told what the new law is, and the reason why they should get it passed(motivation). Now for a full game progression example: Introduction. (Who is the hero, what is this place) Chapter 1. Plot: The hero figures out why law 1 has to be passed, and learns that 1 politician needs to be convinced to have a majority for the law to pass. New game mechanic:Hero convinces 1 politician, he's guided through the process. Voting time comes up the law is passed. chapter 2. Plot: hero figures out why law 2 needs to be passed. New game mechanic:Learns that there's four politicians he can try to convince, and two of them need to be convinced. New game mechanic: The hero can go out into town and learn about the politicians And find arguments to convince them. as well as buy new clothes to impress the politicians. The hero tries to convince each politician. Voting time comes up. If the hero convinced at the least two politicians, the law gets passed. If not, he'll lose. Chapter 3. Plot: hero figures out why law 3 needs to be passed. Learns that there's five politicians he can try to convince, and three of them need to be convinced. New Game mechanic: The hero can go into town to do subquests now. The hero has to go into tonw to learn about the politicians, how to dress to get them to like him. And find arguments to convince them. The hero tries to convince each politician. Voting time comes up. If the hero convinced at the least three politicians, the law gets passed. If not, he'll lose. Chapter 4. Plot: hero figures out why law 4 needs to be passed. New game mechanic: He's approached by criminals who ask him to stop it from being passed. Learns that there's seven politicians he can try to convince, and five of them need to be convinced for the law to pass. Hero can go into town for sub-quests Hero needs to go into town to learn about politicians, dress proper, and learn arguments against or for the laws. Player convinces(or lack to convince) politicians. New game mechanic: The player now has to convince journalists as well that he's awesome and not doing anything illegal. Voting time comes up. The law is passed or not. If the player fucked up with the journalists, they'll reveal his evil plans, and the player loses reputation(might not actually be a game over) Chapter 5. Plot: The player finds out why law needs to be passed. Someone tries to convince him not to let it pass. Learns that of the thirteen politicians, there's three who want the law to pass, four who don't want the law to pass and the rest who go either way. Hero can go into town for subquests Hero needs to go into town to learn about politicians, dress proper, and learn arguements against or for the laws. The player will have to save one politician from death. This one will choose whatever side you take. Player convinces(or lack to convince) politicians. The player now has to convince journalists as well that he's awesome and not doing anything illegal. If the player was uncovered for illegal activities last time, he'll be trying to get his reputation back up now. Voting time comes up. If the player didn't try to convince anyone and didn't save the politician, it's game over as there's 12 politicians, and the vote will automatically be evenly devided.There will be a story reason as well as to why this fucks up everything. If the player did get the proceedings to go as normal, there will be a seperate ending depending on whether the law passed or not. And that's our game progression. Each chapter added something new to keep the player interested and made the game more difficult. In the mean time we've defined a new losing condition(not passing a law), defined that the player needs to know arguments to convince a politician and defined he needs to take it up against journalists as well. Also, by making this game progression, we've defined how most of the story will progress as well. In fact, I'll only need to fill in motivations and names. Which might actually be the most difficult part of telling a story. We can also discover from this that the player might need to be able to access a notebook of sorts, in which their goals and arguments are detailed, as well as what they've discovered about the other politicians. What I've done up till now is far from a complete game design document, but it's a head start. The game design document will also have to contain how each lobbying session will go, what kind of sub-quests there are and what items I can buy. But from this I could start to design how each loby session should go. From there I can make an early alpha, and then I can start testing it thoroughly, adding more and more detail as I go along. Conclusion: When starting out with new game mechanics, start out figuring out the win and lose condition. Try also to make a game progression of your own game, no matter how default rtp it is. Then try to see if you can introduce new elements as the player progresses, to make the game more difficult and complex. Use prototyping to figure out if it's difficult enough and most importantly, whether it feels fun. Don't forget to make your friends play too Next up: The dreaded 'present your game to world' tutorial? Or would you guys rather have I babble on about storytelling and character design a bit?
  5. Working on tileset and tutorial

  6. Wolthera van Hövell

    Being halfway serious about designing games with Rpgmaker.

    Yes, cliché is indeed a overused word. I really need to think out what else I want to write for this tutorial, because I want to cover things like making a good project development topic, and iterative design. But I'd also like to look at values and morals and how we define a good person versus to how we define an attractive person and how this interelates with how such a person will be viewed by the audience. But I think I'm better off doing that as a seperate series. Yeah, I've completely forgot the editing, I'll look at it later. When it's not half past one at night @rivers: Have you ever taken a look at xenoblade? It's also very exploration based and had some great ideas regarding enemies as well as a similar teleportation system.
  7. Wolthera van Hövell

    Being halfway serious about designing games with Rpgmaker.

    Oh I see. Well, maybe this more one step up. Try not to think, 'I like this' but try to think 'why do I like this?' and then 'how can I improve upon it'. @VegaKotes Radient Historia was awesome. Also an example of a game where the mechanics complement the story they were trying to tell, and which can be easily recreated without scripting in rpgmaker. Secondly, the reason why clichés are considered bad is actually much more complex and mostly the result of not understanding what you want to tell your audience. It's less having something that has been done before, and more having something that's done before, isn't actually justified to be there in the story, and is usually put in there because the author thought it had to be there without any other reason. As long as you put enough thought into it, saving the world from a demon that had been sealed away in a crystal for a thousand years can be as unique as a snowflake. @Rivers: I'm not seeing you as my enemy, don't worry. I want to be able to make this the best tutorial possible, so ofcourse I'm going to give my reasons for doing things the way I did to see if you can give better feedback. I'm sorry if I sounded too defensive. Hm... I'll try and see if I can make more examples of less intrusive original gameplay without losing structure.
  8. Wolthera van Hövell

    Being halfway serious about designing games with Rpgmaker.

    Perhaps the title is too condensending, I'll give you that, but I disagree with me being condenscending toward hobbyists. Realising that you have to create a good experience is the bare basic of creating entertainment. If you do not realise this, you're like an architect who doesn't realise people need to be able to use the buildings he creates. I find you actually are biased toward the concept of reading stories on the internet, I've read plenty of short stories on the internet. I've also read and enjoyed plenty of comics made by people who are poor at drawing. Hell, spritecomics are this concept incarnate. Also, you say these are niche things, but so is rpgmaker. I never said 'I want to make an interactive story' isn't a good reason to make a game. Sounds pretty much like most games if you ask me. What I more wanted to express is that people should try to think outside of the box and use the medium to their advantage to let their audience experience their stories better. Besides, I'm pretty confident that the majority of people are able to awnswer that question anyhow. I never intended to tell them 'well if you don't, you suck' just that they need to find it, and it will make designing much more easier then, hence going back to the drawing board to find it. The game example I made can actually be done in RM2k. And I don't even mean it requires the level of custom battle system events. It can really be made with just a cursory knowledge of variables and conditional branches. Also, I don't see why I should treat hobbyists differently from proffesionals. Are you implying that hobyists are inheritely not serious about the craft itself? I'm going to edit the opening to be a bit more brief. Edit: Alright, I've edited it, maybe you could check if it's a bit more useful now? Also, I've decided, I'm going to see if I can make politics: the game a reality. I will use it as an example throughout the tutorial series.
  9. Wolthera van Hövell

    Being halfway serious about designing games with Rpgmaker.

    One should definitely be the focus of the story. It's like, if there's only one thing someone would conclude from your story, what would it be? And, it's possible to have multiple themes, but generally you should be careful that your story doesn't loose cohesion. The themes should be somewhat interelated to eachother, and more importantly complement eachother. Chrono Cross for the playstation is an example of an rpg where the different themes were too different. On one hand it wanted to be a sequel to Chrono Trigger, and deal with the effect of messing with time, on the other hand it wanted to be a enviromentalistic story. These two things started to clash badly, with at one point I believe you doing the opposite of being enviromentalistic and killing of the local nature spirits because you needed to do that for time travel stuff. On top of that, the enviromentalistic message came out of fucking nowhere for people who were expecting a Chrono Trigger sequal. Now if they took the angle of 'don't mess with time travel' together with 'don't mess with nature' to create the super-theme of 'don't mess with things you know shit about' they could've had a cohesive whole. Some more on the subject: http://www.novel-writing-help.com/themes-in-a-novel.html You really think I was rambling in that first bit? Perhaps I was right to think people are a bit more practically oriented, because what is in that first bit is kinda important. Anyway, I'll continue to make practical examples of applying my rambling then
  10. Wolthera van Hövell

    Omega Lunar Map Editor

    Well, no, the problem shows up when you use large sprites. See, if the sprite is larger then 64 pixels high, it overlaps the bottom bit of the counter, and then overlaps into the upper bit. If you set the upper bit to overlap sprites, the upperbit will overlap over the large sprite. Like this: So idealy you'd have a tile that would overlap when the sprite is on the same coordinates as the tile, and won't overlap if the sprite is below the coordinates of the tile. This next to a tile that will overlap regardless. Rpgmaker xp did have a solution for this which was multiple overlay priorities, where there were five overlay layers, ith at the least, priority 1 allowing for the descibed solution. But they removed that in vx and vxace because they wanted to make mapping easier? Thing is, I suspect it's both mapping as well as the sprite, but I know too little about map-formats to say for sure.
  11. Wolthera van Hövell

    The Quest - Complete Game

    It's pretty nice, but I have to say the game gets tedious really quickly. The enemies seem to have high evasion which is difficult at first, but it soon just becomes boring to watch your hero miss for the nth time and at the sliughtly higher levels the enemies stop being a threat. At one point I started just running away because that was quicker and less boring then fighting. Which is not a good sign for your core gameplay mechanic. On top of that, nowhere it's told to you how to use the class system and or that you need to invest into skills. Work on your difficulty curve, dude.
  12. Wolthera van Hövell

    uncle despains super pixel tut :)

    No, I meant the part where you go like. 'When setting up a palette, having a colour go straight to black is bad. Try shifting the hue.' So far so good. But then you say 'hue shifting is good because that's how real-life lighting works.' Which isn't correct. Real life colour does actually go straight to black. Reflected light makes it so we think that isn't so. The reason why we do hue shifting is because we are trying to get an association going on, which would be visual design. I mean, you get that right in the later part of the tutorial, but that sentence about it being like this in real-life just bothered the hell out of me.
  13. Wolthera van Hövell

    uncle despains super pixel tut :)

    These are good tutorials, but it's obvious you like animation as that's the one that's the best of all the tutorials. This is going so sound so awkward coming from me with my ten posts and a reputation of nothing, but I thought the colouring tutorial was rather lacking. You say the following: That's not quite correct, in real life, object do have 'straight ramp' colouring going on. However, the reason we don't see it that way is because of the light on the object that is reflected from other objects. In 3d rendering we call this radiosity. However, because pixelart is 2d based, as a pixelartist you usually pick colours that look nice design-wise. Like using orange-brown as the shading of yellow, which creates a warm effect and is therefore appealing. Which is where the real thing comes up: The colours that you pick for the sprites, actually have to do with visual design, which is a whole different beast altogether. I mean, what you have is not bad, but it's not strictly correct. And I just realised you might have done that on purpose? Sorry if I come across as an ass, but it really bothered me when reading you stuff.
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