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My untitled RPG project... a.k.a. Career Fantasy
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Whoa, I realized I haven't posted in this topic in five years! That "next year" sure has taken a while.

A few things have changed during that time. One thing that hasn't changed? Believe it or not, I'm still working on this game! Grad school and starting a full-time job took up much of my time and mental energy for a while, and for the past year or so I've spent a lot of time updating my older game projects. However, I've finished the "Update Old Stuff" project , so I'm making sure this project stays at the top of my game-making queue. While my "day job" keeps me plenty busy, working from home has given me a lot more free time to make games - cutting out 90 minutes in the car every day makes a big difference, after all. And with Florida's COVID-19 numbers being the world's worst right now, I'll be working from home for quite a while longer.

An awesome person has been making awesome enemy sprites, which has been a big help. Much thanks.

A few weeks ago, I bit the bullet and converted the game from GM 8.0 to GM Studio 1.4. While I still prefer some aspects of GM 8 over newer Game Maker versions, sticking to GM 8 made the game increasingly difficult to develop. The conversion process proved to be a major headache, since my old textbox script depended on functions that don't work in GM Studio. Fortunately, I was able to replicate this functionality with a new textbox script. It's taken quite a bit of testing to make sure I didn't cause any regression bugs, but I think everything is working fine now.

So here's what's next:

  • Double-check everything is working as expected (in-battle healing/items might need tweaking)
  • Make menus/UI prettier
  • Make gameplay smoother
  • Create/add more sprites
  • Add characters and dialogue


I'm planning to have a playable demo out by the end of the year - something where you can explore some of the world, fill out your party, fight a boss, and tackle a dungeon.
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I know it's hard to believe, but this thing isn't dead! Really. No need to do the autopsy - our patient has a pulse.

I got a little sidetracked by my platformer project for a few months, but now that Version 1.0 of my platformer is done, I'm out of excuses to keep procrastinating on this thing!

Right now I'm working on tweaking menus and other UI elements - certain interfaces are still rather clunky. I'm also working on making an actual world that you can explore, instead of this just sitting as a series of boring engine test rooms. Certain areas are still a bit empty, but now you can walk from your dorm to the town - and face off with Frijoles the Pirate.
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Stuff's happening.

  • Bug fixes - my flyswatter's been getting a workout
  • Still working on making areas feel more like a real game and less like an engine test - adding more tiles, backgrounds, and NPCs
  • Got the battle UI looking prettier (now there's a cute little background behind player/enemy names, for example)
  • Made items stackable


Now, if you buy four Ice Cream Sandwiches at the store, the game counts it as one inventory slot ("Ice Cream Sandwiches x4") instead of four. I realized that item management could get clunky in a hurry if I didn't implement item stacking. It had been a while since I'd tinkered with the item code, but implementing this wasn't nearly as tough as I was afraid it would be.
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The past month has probably been my most productive ever for Career Fantasy development - I've worked on this game almost every day this month, which is quite an oddity for me.

I've added a bunch of things since my last post:

  • Type advantages/weaknesses: Certain attacks do more or less damage depending on the attack's element and any elemental advantages/weaknesses that the target might have (for example, a water-based attack would do more damage than usual against a hypothetical fire monster, but it might not hurt an ice enemy much)
  • Status effects: Both players and enemies can suffer Poisoned, Paralyzed, or Asleep statuses, which do exactly what you'd guess they do (fortunately for victims of unpleasant statuses, these conditions all wear off after a few turns)
  • Critical hits: They're now a thing - these occur randomly, but a high Luck stat makes them happen more frequently
  • Evasion: There's now a chance to evade attacks, depending on the target's Speed and Luck stats
  • Tweaked battle calculations: All player stats now have a purpose in battle (except for Style)


The type advantages system is a bit similar to the Pokemon games. Each attack can only have one element, but each character (both friends and enemies) can have any number of strengths and weaknesses to elements. Some characters are naturally strong to or vulnerable against certain attacks, but equipment can also boost your resistance against certain elements. (A smaller number of equippables can actually give you a weakness to a certain element, so be careful.)
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The past month wasn't quite as big for development, but progress is still happening, slowly but surely.

Lately I've been focusing on adding moves to the game. This is a vital but time-consuming endeavor, considering that there are going to be around 20 classes in the game (as well as some enemy-exclusive moves).

Creating moves is fun but also tedious. I've spent the better part of the last decade brainstorming ideas for moves, and now I finally have to figure out what to add or leave out as I build a coherent moveset for each character. It's tricky because I want each moveset to make sense for that character's class, yet also be fun and balanced from a gameplay perspective.

Some characters can do similar things in slightly different ways. For example, there's a bunch of different moves that boost a character's physical attack during battle, but I try to differentiate these - some might also boost another stat or cure a status effect or whatnot. I don't want to have two moves with different names that otherwise do the exact same thing - that would be boring and redundant.

I've finished programming 96 different moves, including the majority of regular attacks, healing moves, and buffs planned for the game. I still have a few more moves to add, mostly attacks that target multiple enemies (or buffs that target multiple allies). It shouldn't take too long to add those, though. I'll also want to create more sounds and special effects for moves, although that can wait until later.

Soon I'll be able to test how battles will play out with different parties at different levels in different areas of the game. That actually sounds kind of fun - even though I built the game, I don't know what that experience will actually feel like! If other people actually play this game, I'm sure they'll come up with some interesting strategies of their own.
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This thing's still chugging along! I took a couple of weeks off from this project earlier in the month to work on a silly little side project. Don't worry - said silly little side project is silly and little, and it won't derail this much more significant project!

First of all, I made sure that all items currently available in the game are actually equippable. (I have to tell the game that the "JaxBoards T-Shirt" is a shirt and not a hat, for example.) This is a somewhat tedious endeavor... though obviously important.

I made the item/equipment system a lot more polished. Item stacking works now - if you have three "JaxBoards T-Shirt" items in your inventory, the game will show "JaxBoards T-Shirt x 3" instead of showing the same item three times. The items menu automatically eliminates gaps in the list, and you can only scroll down to the last valid item in the list. I've seen different games handle this in different ways, but I think my way is reasonably elegant. I don't currently offer a way to dump or sell excess items in your inventory. However, since your inventory holds up to 200 unique items (a number I can increase as needed), you'll never find yourself unable to pick up an item because you're out of space. These endless-sized pockets sure come in handy!

I also added a message that politely informs you when you can't equip a certain kind of item (for example, the game will nope at you if you try to equip a hat as shoes!). Similarly, some tops are designed to be one-piece outfits - it would be awkward to try to put a prom dress or nursing scrubs over a long skirt or a pair of jeans! If you select an invalid top-bottom combination, your bottom is unequipped and returned to your inventory. I know it sounds silly, but this is one of the things I fretted over when I first came up with this game - I wasn't sure how I'd make one-piece items work!

There's still a ways to go with this, but I spent a lot of time testing the game's balancing. I implemented a debug script for auto-leveling characters. How would a Level 20 Biology major behave in battle with the moves they would learn in the actual game? I also wrote a script for synthesizing random player parties. Some of the possible characters might not actually be playable the final game, but it's still fun to see what kinds of combinations it comes up with. I also wrote a script for auto-leveling enemies to a certain level, though I haven't done much with it yet. (It's possible that I'll let all enemies be a predetermined level, and stronger enemies will appear later in the game as recolored "Underground Monkeys". I'm not sure yet, though.)

Now you can hit the 'S' key to take a screenshot of gameplay! Woo-hoo.

Finally, I fixed a bunch of existing issues, ranging from nasty bugs (like one that could crash the game in battle!) to small irritations like text looking fuzzy (seems a for loop was causing it to get drawn a lot more times than it needed to be).

Here's a random WIP screenshot of the battle layout, since the Club Saturn crew was curious about how this was looking.

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October tends to be the busiest time of year for me in "real life" - as usual, I took a little trip, survived "crunch time" at work, and finally made time to watch some baseball! Fortunately, I'm still making progress on this, and I think I'll have more time to work on this for the rest of the year.

I got multiple-target attacks working - this was one of the biggest remaining pieces of infrastructure. This was actually a bit tricky to splice onto the existing engine. Currently only the player's party can use multi-target moves, though it wouldn't take much effort to grant this same privilege to enemies! In this game, all moves are either single-target or all-targets - there won't be any way to choose between, say, a strong single-target "Fire-1" attack and a weaker multi-target "Fire-1 (All)" attack.

Also, I made a few UI improvements - now the game can properly display really long lists of special attacks and items.

At this point, I can focus on adding the fun things - making the rooms prettier, creating new areas to explore, and adding more characters! (Also, I need to create separate animations for in-battle attacking - this shouldn't be tough though.)

Here's a demo if you'd like to see how things are progressing! Graphics are subject to change, but core functionality is pretty much done. As such, this demo is designed for testing things rather than ensuring a smooth, coherent gameplay experience. This also means you might be able to press a few special keys to make interesting things happen in game...
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Yes, it's still going! I haven't been spending all of my waking hours working and watching the World Cup.

Most of the past month has been spent making animations and sound effects for in-battle attacks. This is fun but also tedious. Then again, a lot of things about making an RPG with your very own engine are tedious. Fortunately, the majority of animations and battle SFX are complete. This also required tweaking in-battle timing and audio fadeouts.

I've done a few non-cosmetic things, too. Originally, attempting to escape from battle would never fail (unless you were fighting a boss - the game won't let you escape from a boss). Now I've made it so fleeing from battle may fail, causing your current character to lose their turn. Your odds of escaping successfully will be higher if your party's speed is higher than your opponents'.

Also, I squashed a quartet of nasty little bugs:

  • The pause menu's moves list wouldn't display more than eight moves for a character
  • You'd lose your MP if you canceled out of an attack while selecting an enemy to target
  • Attacks could actually increase the attacked enemy's HP if the enemy's defense/resistance was high enough
  • Read/Scan could softlock the game if used before another player's turn
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I'm always happy to see an update on this.

Bibby
Attacks could actually increase the attacked enemy's HP if the enemy's defense/resistance was high enough
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