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Dead Dreams

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Developed, Written, Evented, and So On by Gun Sage

 
***DISCLAIMER:  This game is considered NC-17, Mature, or whatever.  I will not include foul language or anything of that sort in the description, but the final product is DEFINITELY NOT recommended for children.  Just a heads up.

 

For anyone wanting more specifics on things you may find in the game, there's foul language, mild sexual content, torture, animal cruelty, sexual assault, and all kinds of non-PC content.  You have been warned.***
 
 
STORY
 

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In the distant future, the world has become a depressing place, though not due to war or conflict.  If anything, it's all very boring and perfect.  The problem is mankind has become very soft and not used to conflict.  As a result, most people deal with conflict through escapism and avoidance, usually with drugs, but also with monitored cryogenic sleep.  This sort of escape doesn't come cheap, however, and has to be continuously monitored by sleep study scientists and mind jumpers alike.
 
The entire populace has a severe addiction to sleep medicine and treatments, which are highly cost prohibitive  Ergo, usually only the wealthier members of society choose controlled cryogenic sleep where they can be continuously monitored by scientists to ensure they are having the best possible dream experience.  You play as Josiah Black, a former sleep study scientist who has been forced into mind jumping as a way to continue funding his growing research as well as keep his lab open and staff employed.
 
As director of the facility, it's his job to ensure that those who pay get the best possible experience.  And those who don't?  That's when the mind jump begins.  Josiah has earned a reputation for jumping into the dreams of the uber rich to pull them out safely so that he can demand immediate payment.  Failing that, he will ban them from his lab, leaving them to their addiction.  However, Josiah's most interesting and toughest patient yet is about to be wheeled through the front door.
 
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You have one month to prepare yourself, the lab, and your staff for an utterly dangerous and suicidal mission inside this person's mind.  Will you be ready in time?  Will your lab be shut down?  Will your staff leave entirely before that even happens?


  
GAMEPLAY
 

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The first chapter will mostly consist of showing your the ropes and takes place over the course of one day in the life of Josiah.  Days are broken into 6 segments (4 hours each) where you can decide if you want to rest, train, jump into a patient's mind, talk to staff members, and so on.  Different events take up different blocks of time and when enough are taken up, one segment passes.  Similar to games like Valkyrie Profile or Persona 3/4, you have to carefully balance what you're doing for the overall mission, side missions, affinity, morale, leveling up, and so on in order to ensure continued progress and the best possible ending.
 
It's also possible to upgrade and expand the lab, which will be necessary as the game goes on, but will incur cost.  There are two types of currency:  Tears and Credits.  Tears are acquired by defeating enemies inside dreams and training programs.  They can be used to level up Josiah as well as purchase skills, stat increases, as so on.  Every day the lab is open you must pay the staff, maintenance fees, property fees, and various other upkeep fees.
 
If any of these are failed to be paid, the game is over.  The good news is you receive research funding, but it's relatively minimal.  You make most of your money by keeping patients happy and working with "problem patients" to either pay up or get out.  In many cases, keeping people happy can earn you more money than simple coercion.  In fact, it's possible to skip most of the fights in the game outright and level up by other means.
 
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Anytime you die in a dream (after chapter 1), you are forcefully ejected from it, but the desynchronization process takes its toll and causes actual physical damage.  If enough of this physical damage occurs and is untreated, you will die.  Therefore, another tactic is to utilize training programs more often than not and use segments to rest before executing dangerous missions.  Regarding morale and affinity, they all go down each segment to indicate wear on individuals.
 
Since you are the director, you get to dictate not only yourself, but the staff.  If you notice certain staff members aren't looking so hot, order them to take a rest.  Pairing up staff members with like-minded staff members AND patients they can get along with raises affinity.  Staff members do not die from physical damage, but can be placed into a coma and could be out for several days or even weeks, which will drastically increase your chances of completely failing the main mission.
 
They can also accidentally hurt patients, themselves, and others by having poor morale and making simple mistakes.  While morale does increase by allowing them breaks, it's also important to talk to them and learn more about them, which isn't easy at first because Josiah is highly anti-social and more of a dictator type of boss rather than a touchy feely kind of boss.  It's possible to establish relationships within the game as well, but not absolutely necessary.


 
UPDATES
 

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8/25/2015

 

- Hana's dream is nearing completion with 2/3 floors finished.

- Hana's backstory has been written down and is ready for the game.

- Miles' backstory has been written down and is ready for the game.

- Implemented "monster zones."

 

8/20/2015

- Uploaded several pics.
- Uploaded movie to show off a bit of Hana's dream.
- Refined entire post to prepare for Showroom.
- Further tweaked morale for Hana's consult and initial staff meeting.
- Hana's initial consult is more or less done (might add in more branches later).
- Began working on Hana's first dream sequence.

8/10/2015

- Still need to tweak some math behind the time system (should be 11:30 AM when approaching the bed, but 12 noon when starting the staff meeting).
- Need to change "cyber terrorism" to "cyberdecking."
- Need to add a backend for affinity experience, meaning you slowly level up the affinity rather than just having an immediate jump.
- Need to add a few things here and there to spice up the scenery.
- Need to add in additional mapping for the annexes and their sub-areas.
- Other than that, the lab is done and ready for testing.  :D
- Uploaded demo movie to show off lab features.

8/2/2015
 
- Did a little more tweaking of Joachim's Forest 1 and 2.
- Did the basic math work for the credit system.
- Finished up the first conference room and lobby.
- Allocated spaces for all employees' and patients' affinities.
- Put up a demo movie for Joachim's Forest 2 and a little bit of the lab.
 
7/29/2015
 
- Joachim's Forest Level 1 and 2 (entirety of intro level) is complete and ready for testing.
- Minor tweaking has been done so that you can level up to at least level 4 without having to really hunt down enemy encounters, though I plan to add more encounters anyway just to spice up the maps a little more.
- A "try again" option has been successfully tested on the boss fights and I'll be rolling the same method out to all the other encounters as well.  I'm also going to start writing up documentation so that I can quickly reference what different things are and do as I'll be using a LOT of switches, variables, and what have you.
 
7/25/2015
 
- Joachim's Forest Level 1 v1 is good to go!  Looking for beta testers now, though I think I've ironed out most of the issues.
- Uploaded movie to show off version 1.


 
DEMO MOVIES
 

This is Joachim's Forest Level 1, the very first level you go to.


 
This is the second part of Joachim's Forest and a slight intro to the lab.  So far it's just the initial conference room, but I've also been working on the lobby, credit system, etc.


This is a video that shows off some basic features of the lab and how it will operate.

 
This video shows us entering Hana's dream and a brief preview of the dream itself.

 

This video shows us more of Hana's dream.  I basically stop the video right before it gets to the more twisted content I have in store.



PLAYABLE DEMO

Not yet! I want to work a few more kinks out and make it more presentable for potential beta testers. I know, I could just release it as is and see what I get, but I would like to have the presentation geared toward beta testing first.

CREDITS

RPG Maker VX Ace engine, default RTP, music, and sounds are all copyright KADOKAWA, Degica.
Futuristic Tiles DLC is copyright Degica.
Game Character Hub is copyright Sebastien Bini, Degica.

All other endeavors (writing, animations, character design, etc.) unless otherwise specified at a later time are all copyright me.

FEEDBACK
 
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I wants it!  Seriously, positive, negative, or otherwise.  This isn't my first game idea, but it is one that I've spent a good time thinking about and a lot of time, especially lately, working on.  I have a tendency to concentrate on a lot of backend stuff, so don't worry if you don't hear from me for days because more than likely I'm wrestling with complex formulas and equations to make magic happen.

Edited by gunsage

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Currently I'm more interested in making progress now, then going back and making it look pretty.  I now that sounds a little backwards, but I'm also the kind of person to get caught up on too many small details and things I would like to implement to the point that I never make any real progress.  I'm making it in RPG Maker VX Ace and so far using only the default RTP with some customer stuff made in Game Character Hub.  I also have various DLC I've downloaded on steam for RMVXA, but I haven't implemented any of it yet.

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Wow! This sounds like a very cool idea. The way that the game progresses does sound a lot like Persona 3. I would like to hear a bit more about the multiple endings - approximately how many are there, and what factors will affect which ending the player gets?

 

There are some questions that I have about the scenario. Are these sleep labs all over the place, or do people have to travel from afar to get to them? How did they have the money and resources to develop this technology if much of the world has been destroyed by war? Did world leaders collectively decide to ditch rebuilding efforts to fund sleep labs instead? This does seem like an odd place for governments to be spending their money when the world is barely habitable. Are the people trying to re-build the world angry that the rest of the population chooses escapism over making any real progress? I think it would be interesting if Josiah could encounter one of those people, and maybe even side with them and force his patients to wake up both literally and figuratively. It all depends on what you think is viable, though.

 

Good luck with this project. I look forward to seeing what you do with it. :)

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You could make it like a roguelike. If you die physically after a failed dream state or cannot pay your debts, you will be forced to start the game all over again from the very beginning.

.

Dreams could be randomized each game, keeping it fresh every time you lose. Staff could also be randomized and change each game, forcing you to adapt to each of their strengths and weaknesses in a new way each time you die and start a new game.

 

Just an idea, good luck with wherever you decide to take this.

Edited by Brosephus180

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As far as the mechanics and gameplay, it will be a standard turn-based RPG, but there will be puzzle elements, etc.  I'm thinking 3 main endings will be a good idea, with one being a designated bad ending where everything goes to crap, but it IS effectively an ending.  The second best ending will be one where you do technically make it through, but not everything is resolved and there are many unanswered questions.  And then the best ending where everything is resolved, explained, and is a true "happy" ending...though don't expect it to be too happy (the game is relatively dark).

 

I personally love roguelikes and in a way attempting to reach the best ending will be the most ridiculously hard thing I can throw at someone (have to align personalities, balance duties and morale, etc. more or less perfectly).  I want to make it where not understanding the game well makes it still possible to end up with the middle ending, provided you make a few mistakes but learn from them quickly.  However, utterly mismanaging your staff, finances, skill system, and taking advantage of conversations will usually result in a game over one way or the other, either instantly or eventually.

 

I draw a lot of inspiration from the X-COM games as well as older Sierra adventure titles, but I don't like to go full tilt and expect you to be an expert upon arrival.

 

Edit:  I'm sorry if there's anything unanswered.  I've literally been working on this today for several hours and I'm feeling kinda fried.  I have updated with a video, however.

Edited by gunsage

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Update!  Yesssss, I finished the opening forest level.  I also uploaded a finished version of it to youtube.  Let me know what you think.  I'll be starting on the snowy forest next.  You might wonder where this is going...don't worry, it's about to get a lot darker.  :ph34r:

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I watched the full movie demo, and I must say I'm interested. Even though your using RTP, i'm quite amused with the amount of eventing effort put in, I mean that kid is a pain in the butt, but is also skillfully evented.

 

Nice work :D

Look forward to seeing that snowy dungeon~

 

PS: I like the encounter system. It's pretty neat <3

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What I plan on doing (might've mentioned this, not sure) is since most of the game takes place in dreams anyway, have it where most of the special attacks you learn are Nightmare on Elm Street inspired (I'm envisioning for an absorb attack have something like a giant protruding rib cage a la Resident Evil 2 final boss that scoops up the enemy and relinquishes all kinds of blood).  Whiona, the more I've been thinking about it, the more I think you're on the money.  It might be better if I have a less dystopic future to work with, that way the idea of the government investing more time in sleep study/controlled cryo sleep is more plausible.

 

The snowy forest will represent a "new chapter" in the life of Joachim, featuring him as a young adult and one of his...unfortunate perversions...which you'll confront him about later in a very big way.  Suffice to say, Josiah is a bit of a badass outside the dream world and Joachim will get what's coming to him. :D

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I came up with an additional idea while I was working on the snow forest.  So you're going to learn more abilities as the game goes on, but I also like what Zeboyd did with Breath of Death 7 and Cthulhu Saves the World where he allows you to branch and decide how abilities will enhance.  So I was thinking you could also spend Tears on upgrading and mutating abilities.  Upgrading is more obvious...

 

Inner Healing -> Inner Healing+ (heals more HP) -> Inner Healing++ (heals lots of HP) -> Etc.

 

But mutation is a little more interesting...

 

Inner Healing -> Energy Barrier (heals some HP, adds very minor HP regen and def up buff for a few turns) -> Sanctuary Barrier (heals some HP, adds very minor HP regen and def up buff for a few turns, also enables counter barrier for a few turns)

 

I'm thinking of setting up various branches in an Excel spreadsheet, but have it where you can't back up, so you have to carefully think about how you want to develop every ability you acquire or purchase outright.

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Over the past few days, I've finished up the snowy forest, but I'm not quite ready to showcase it for 2 reasons.  Firstly, I don't want to spoil anything.  Anyone who decides to beta test will know what I'm talking about as it gets a little dark fairly early.  Second, the map itself is done, but I want to add more events, finish up the boss fight, etc.  I refined the XP system so that it's possible to level up once before you get to the first boss, then the boss itself will cause you to level up again regardless.  I've added a new skill that allows for recurring strikes via teleport.

 

I've also added in the idea of collecting "relics" from dreams, which are residual anomalies within the subconscious that will net you easy Tears...except that there are a LOT of traps, so maybe not THAT easy. :P I've also started charting out how I want the skill trees to work.  Basically you'll be able to modify any skill you acquire 2 times.  You can mutate it or level it up.  So you can level up twice, mutate twice, level up then mutate, or mutate then level up.  I'm also thinking of unlocking further skills and perks depending on the final result of the skill, but that's just an idea for now.

 

Leveling up/mutating early may not always be the best option as doing so also increases the cost necessary for using the skill.  Granted, you DO recover after every combat, but MP does NOT recover throughout battle unless special abilities are used way late in the game.  I'm also adding in a "try again" option for the intro, but outside the intro you will be forcefully ejected from the dream.  Furthermore, I'm going to have to develop a backend system that gauges your overall health (not HP) and have it affect your overall performance so that you MUST rest over time or you will die for real.

 

I'll let you guys know when I've made more significant progress.  I'm working on it every day, but I don't think it's necessary to update every single day. :P

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I really like this sound of this so far, and the idea your going for makes me curious as to what will happen~

Also, the "game gets dark" makes me also wonder what's going on.

 

Hope to keep seeing updates from this - would love a demo in future :D

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I have the entire forest (spring and winter) done!  There's going to be some final event work and tweaking, but for all intents and purposes, it is finished and ready to test.  Now I need to start working on the basic floorplan for the lab and how the expansion system is going to work.  As far as why it's dark...well, it has to do with abuse.  Let's just say Joachim isn't a very nice person.  :ph34r:

 

Edit:  Based on Whiona's suggestion, I have slightly modified the backstory.  Let me know what you think!

Edited by gunsage

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I added a movie for the second part of the forest and a little of the lab.  I also updated the updates section. :P Let me know if there's anything else you'd like to see!  I already know what I want to do for the next mind jump.

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It really looks like an interestng project, and I'd really like to see more. I, however, have some concerns on a pair of details:

 

- why should Josiah put at rest the souls of the mutilated animals? I mean, and unless mistaken, it is a virtual world and if I understand correctly everything in it except the customer should be virtual aswell, no? What's the big deal with these "victims" then? It seems to me it is like complaining about the suffering of a tamagotchi...

 

- I have a hard time understanding that customers who don't pay their fees should be retrieved from their dream by having to go into their virtual world: why not simply unplug the machine? Seems like a plot hole to me...

 

Anyway, here are some ideas which you may find interesting:

 

- perhaps these mutilated animals could be the sign of some sort of psychosis the customer suffers from for spending too much time into his dream, hence the need to retrieve him before his state worsens beyond any possible recovery: like this, the mind jumper would be some sort of therapist also, which would allow you to add some psychological level to your concept –for example, there would be some customers who spend so much time into their dreams that they end up "forgetting" reality, for whom their dream ends up being the reality. Plenty of concepts to exploit on this point with god complex and other personal issues which make real life unbearable, hence the "need" of the customer to forget the real world...

 

- the mental issue could also be the reason why retrieving customers can't be done by unplugging them suddenly, because this would make their "dream is reality" psychosis even worse, maybe even pushing them to suicide after being retrieved forcibly –hence, and after the loss of many rich/important citizens a law would force mind jumpers to go get them inside their dreams, like if they create some bridge between the dream of the customer and reality to lower the risk of worsening the psychosis...

 

- did you envisage the role of mind jumper hackers? People who would intrude into the dreams of people to get some confidential informations from the customers in order to blackmail them for example, or simply retrieving bank accounts info: this would be a good way to provide some sort of side quests: hunt the hacker basically.

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Patients have undergone many sleep and euphoric drug treatments and are in cryo sleep in most cases.  As a result, if they're "unplugged," they could go into a coma or die outright.  On the other hand, if the patient is desiring leaving from their dream, it becomes much easier.  In Joachim's case, he was evading the issue and forcefully resisting being woken up, meaning drastic action had to be taken.  The next dream will be for a new patient that is having a nightmare and is in a state of panic, regardless of what kinds of drugs are pumped in.

 

As a result, Josiah will have to make the jump to find out what's going on, attempt to calm her down, then eject her safely along with him so they can have a consultation.  The bottom line is even though Joachim was an animal torturing little scumbag, he was still a paying client...up until recently...and they didn't exactly want to kill him.  The relics are meant as anomalies.  Really, I don't care about returning virtual animals "to the Earth" either, so I'll go back and rephrase that later.

 

Really, it's a segue (I think I spelled that right) to ensure that the player is actively exploring nooks and crannies for free Tears, which can be used to increase stats, train him, learn new techniques, and upgrade techniques.  You don't get a whole lot of Tears from combat alone, so it's a good idea to explore from time to time.  I haven't even fully thought out side missions yet, but I know I want them because you're able to increase affinity for not only employees, but also patients.

 

Increasing affinity for employees means they will back you up more, have more interesting dialogue choices (and possible romance), and in general be more useful, however they also get an instant raise.  Increasing affinity for patients means being able to unlock more complex areas within their psyche (almost like in Ar Tonelico but more dungeony) and increases the amount they pay you per day.

 

Doing certain side missions will net you immediate credits and possibly Tears.  Also, just like in Ar Tonelico (I swear I'm not trying to rip them off), you discover more and more bizarre things as you delve deeper into the patients' dreams, so it can get a lot darker.  Thank you so much for the feedback!

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Hey, it's been a few days, so it's time for an update.  I have all 10 staff members set up and ready to go, not only with custom charsets and faces, but also all the backend affinity/HP stuff.  The lab is nearly done in that all annexes are available to purchase, the front end financial stuff is accessible by talking to the receptionist, the basic mathematics have been figured out and calculated, the segment/segment part system for timekeeping is set up (mostly), the 2 main living quarters are ready, Josiah's room is nearly complete, and the first 2 patient rooms are ready.

 

I still need to build the rec room, a consult room, the restrooms, some more chapter 1 eventing stuff before you enter the next dream, and potentially start on developing the annexes further to include a kitchen, more patient rooms, a training room, and so on.  For right now, I'm concentrating on getting the characters and character design good, finishing up the main area of the lab, and preparing for the next mind jump.

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Alright, so here's what we've got.

 

Lab...

...Hallway...

......Living Quarters Alpha

......Living Quarters Beta

......Conference Room Alpha

......Patient Room Alpha

......Patient Room Beta

......Josiah's Bedroom

......Consultation Room Alpha

......Kitchen

......Foyer

 

In the foyer, you can access your receptionist (who's being harassed by a staff member that you have to collect) who will explain your current credits and what your funds will be at the end of the day, provided there are no further in/decreases in funding. This is helpful because it's possible to game over by running out of money. Sure, you start with 15000, but it's still easy to run out if you get ahead of yourself in spending.

 

In the kitchen, you'll be able to access food that will cause temporary effects when in a dream (this hasn't been implemented yet). Consultation rooms are typically designated for initial consults with clients as well as talking about things discovered in dreams, etc. It can also be used for consults with employees. Or in the case of chapter 1, you confront 2 employees in the middle of a...naughty...encounter.

 

Josiah's bedroom allows you to rest, though you won't be able to initially in chapter 1. I have crafted the time system and it's shown off here at the very least by prominently displaying the time, despite not being able to rest just yet. Patient rooms are relatively straightforward: patients go there to undergo dream therapy and you can access various layers of their respective dreams to tackle various side and primary missions.

 

Each patient room is equipped with 3 areas that employees can sit and monitor/assist in the dream therapy process as well as a second cryo chamber you can access in order to mind jump. Conference rooms are used to discuss issues with the entire staff every day at noon. Upon reflection, I may just opt to have one conference room.

 

The living quarters are where the staff sleeps and you can also monitor their overall status on the databoards outside their quarters. I still need to create restrooms that link to the lobby and the kitchen eventing, but I might wait on the kitchen since I want the amount of openness to be relatively narrow until the player starts getting the swing of how day to day operations work in the game, more than likely toward the end of chapter 1 or by chapter 2 at the very latest.

 

Next I'll be working on the initial staff meeting with the team, first consult with Hana, then begin Hana's initial dream sequence, which will take place in a haunted house. :D

 

Edit: You also have the ability to purchase all 5 additional annexes already, but as the cheapest one is 10000 credits to purchase and an additional 500 a day to maintain...it's not recommended this early in the game.

Edited by gunsage

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Small updates here and there...

 

Created a crapload of backend stuff.  Morale (which is stored in backend character SP) cannot exceed a character's health (backend HP).  Each time a segment passes, Josiah will lose 1 HP on the backend if he is not resting.  Everyone else has a probability of losing HP, but it goes up or down depending on a variety of factors.  A random number between 1 and 13 is drawn.  If the character is idle, meaning they're not actively participating in a mind jump or monitoring for sleep study, then that number goes down by 1.  If their morale is maxed out (equal to HP), then the number goes down by 1.  If the final number exceeds their affinity level, then they lose 1 HP.

 

There will probably be other calculations I throw in later, but this is all it is for right now.  If they're idle and their HP hits 3 or lower, they pass out and are dragged off to bed where they are automatically thrown into a resting state and will accumulate HP for each segment that passes.  You can also order someone to rest, but this is a nice safeguard.  Although it won't ENSURE they don't die (for example if something causes more than just 1 HP damage on the backend), it's still nice to have.  In the event someone dies, it shows a small event where it acknowledges their death and everyone grieves, which drops everyone's morale by a random number from 1 to 10, meaning some staff members' SP will completely bottom out and it will be impossible to talk to them.

 

The good news is the more annexes you open up, the more rooms and room types that are unlocked, such as an infirmary, psychiatric office, HR, and so on, which will assist with employee morale and health.  I'm thinking I might also include some sort of mediation where if a character is virtually impossible to talk to because their morale is almost always bottomed out, this is a way of forcing a conversation in hopes of restoring SP so they can be talked to later in a normal setting.

 

I also have all of the time calculations ready to go including forcing you to NOT be able to sleep through a staff meeting.  Up on my agenda are things such as finding a way to ensure the player doesn't screw around with the time calculations (for example, knowing a segment is about to end so they have someone go to sleep, then immediately wake them up on the next segment), having characters auto-awaken (after hitting 10 HP there's really no reason to continue resting), setting up the initial consult with the next patient (you will be able to select 3 people to assist with the consultation who will then go on to assist with the mind jump, each with definitive strengths and weaknesses in conversation, mind jumping, and so on), setting up a common event for staff meetings that will have several different types of random topics as well as some topics that repeat, and a few other small things here and there.

 

If it's not already obvious, I'm a stickler for subtle, backend stuff.  I always like to see what cool stuff the developer set up for the backend to make the game pop out that much more as you play it. :D

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Yep, more small updates. I've developed a system for adding in 3 staff members of your choosing for an initial consult with a patient. The conversation will flow slightly differently depending on who you have at your side, though the main topics will remain the same. This will allow you to get on-the-job morale/affinity as well as learn different things about the patient before doing the initial mind jump.

 

This actually took a while to hash out because I have a selection screen of sorts where you can select and deselect staff members as you see fit. Furthermore, you can't select Tyler for Hana's consult. As Tyler is ex-military, he objects strongly to jumping into the mind of another ex-military, for fear that something within could trigger PTSD.

 

If you force him to join anyway during the staff meeting, then you can't remove him. If you show empathy and allow him to refuse, then you can't select him. I'm going to set up a system that will lock people in place so you can still see them, but can't move them on the board in these situations. Finally, the main text is complete with Hana's initial consult and a few other backend things were resolved.

 

For tomorrow, I will be wrapping up final touches on these aspects as well as starting the jumping sequence and mapping layouts for Hana's first dream sequence. :D

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Wow, I see so much effort has been put into events, they're really well done!

I liked the simple, yet interesting idea for the plot.

The randoms encounters system is clever, all the events has 'life' in it - good job!

You have really nice skills in making events and a patience of course, to make it all good. =]

 

This game really sounds interesting - keep it up and good luck! =]

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