RMMV August: A Pandemic Epic

Halfwit-Hero

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Greetings, folks!

A long-time fan of RPG Maker here; having dipped my toe into development with a series of half-hearted projects using RTP assets. My love affair with the system started with an attempt to adapt a middle-school Warhammer fanfic to the RPG format, before I ventured into more ambitious territory with an early attempt at a horror RPG that revolved around a ghost-hunting society (think a story-heavy Phasmophobia), and Metal Gear Solid and Sons of Liberty parodies that were made with a literal audience of two (myself and my best friend) in mind.

With all these projects in my proverbial portfolio, you might think I'm nicely familiar with the format. However, these ventures were all undertaken in 2000 - 2001, with a fan-translated RPG Maker 2K, when I was 14-15 years old. I am returning to the program (specifically RPG Maker MV) this year, more than 20 years after my last exposure to it, and with much more ambitious, commercial aspirations in mind.

AUGUST BANNER.jpg
AUGUST: A PANDEMIC EPIC is an original story that revolves around a pair of British siblings living through the trials and tribulations of the Covid 19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns in 2020.

The plot takes vague inspiration from my own family's experiences of lockdown, in particular how my children made use of their imaginations to cope with losing access to their friends and loved ones during the heart of the crisis.

Beginning in February 2020, just prior to the first Government-mandated lockdown in March, the story revolves around eight-year-old Robyn and her younger brother Charlie, aged five. As Boris Johnson instructs the nation to stay home and schools are closed indefinitely, Robyn returns home and finds herself having to entertain her younger brother while her parents struggle with the responsibilities of being key-workers.

The siblings discover that, despite their differences, they share one key trait - an enormous amount of imagination. So while they are not busy with home-schooling, clapping for the NHS or the daily half-hour walk around the neighbourhood, they conjure up a fantasy world, superimposing it over their time-worn old Victorian terraced home. The living and dining rooms become sprawling grasslands, the conspicuous blue bedspread in Charlie's bedroom becomes a vast ocean, and Robyn's loft bedroom becomes an ancient kingdom in the clouds.

These fictional realms are populated by a variety of weird and wonderful characters; pulled directly from the children's toyboxes. Chief among these characters is August, a stuffed toy elephant who has been Charlie's constant companion since his birth. August is an earnest, stoic and stalwart hero, determined to rescue his sweetheart, who has been captured by the forces of darkness. Accompanying August on his quest is a collection of friends and acquaintances - some original, but many who bear a striking resemblance to pop-culture icons from Charlie and Robyn's favourite books, films, TV shows and videogames.

However, while flights of fancy give the children and their parents some much needed momentary relief from the hardships of life, imagination can only do so much to shield them from the harsh realities of surviving a pandemic. When a series of unthinkable tragedies occur, the children escape further into their imaginations, only to find the spectre of their trauma and distress following them into their fantasy.


Street Clap.jpeg

The game itself is in its earliest stages of development. My plan is to use wholly original assets where possible, which I anticipate will extend the development time for the game, but will aid infinitely in giving my project the desired story-book aesthetic.

Woodland Campsite Painted.png

To find out more about the project, and to read the development logs, simply visit my Tumblr page. I'd love to hear the thoughts, opinions and suggestions of veteran RPG Maker developers.
 

TheLastYuriSamurai

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Greetings, folks!

A long-time fan of RPG Maker here; having dipped my toe into development with a series of half-hearted projects using RTP assets. My love affair with the system started with an attempt to adapt a middle-school Warhammer fanfic to the RPG format, before I ventured into more ambitious territory with an early attempt at a horror RPG that revolved around a ghost-hunting society (think a story-heavy Phasmophobia), and Metal Gear Solid and Sons of Liberty parodies that were made with a literal audience of two (myself and my best friend) in mind.

With all these projects in my proverbial portfolio, you might think I'm nicely familiar with the format. However, these ventures were all undertaken in 2000 - 2001, with a fan-translated RPG Maker 2K, when I was 14-15 years old. I am returning to the program (specifically RPG Maker MV) this year, more than 20 years after my last exposure to it, and with much more ambitious, commercial aspirations in mind.

View attachment 237009
AUGUST: A PANDEMIC EPIC is an original story that revolves around a pair of British siblings living through the trials and tribulations of the Covid 19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns in 2020.

The plot takes vague inspiration from my own family's experiences of lockdown, in particular how my children made use of their imaginations to cope with losing access to their friends and loved ones during the heart of the crisis.

Beginning in February 2020, just prior to the first Government-mandated lockdown in March, the story revolves around eight-year-old Robyn and her younger brother Charlie, aged five. As Boris Johnson instructs the nation to stay home and schools are closed indefinitely, Robyn returns home and finds herself having to entertain her younger brother while her parents struggle with the responsibilities of being key-workers.

The siblings discover that, despite their differences, they share one key trait - an enormous amount of imagination. So while they are not busy with home-schooling, clapping for the NHS or the daily half-hour walk around the neighbourhood, they conjure up a fantasy world, superimposing it over their time-worn old Victorian terraced home. The living and dining rooms become sprawling grasslands, the conspicuous blue bedspread in Charlie's bedroom becomes a vast ocean, and Robyn's loft bedroom becomes an ancient kingdom in the clouds.

These fictional realms are populated by a variety of weird and wonderful characters; pulled directly from the children's toyboxes. Chief among these characters is August, a stuffed toy elephant who has been Charlie's constant companion since his birth. August is an earnest, stoic and stalwart hero, determined to rescue his sweetheart, who has been captured by the forces of darkness. Accompanying August on his quest is a collection of friends and acquaintances - some original, but many who bear a striking resemblance to pop-culture icons from Charlie and Robyn's favourite books, films, TV shows and videogames.

However, while flights of fancy give the children and their parents some much needed momentary relief from the hardships of life, imagination can only do so much to shield them from the harsh realities of surviving a pandemic. When a series of unthinkable tragedies occur, the children escape further into their imaginations, only to find the spectre of their trauma and distress following them into their fantasy.


View attachment 237011

The game itself is in its earliest stages of development. My plan is to use wholly original assets where possible, which I anticipate will extend the development time for the game, but will aid infinitely in giving my project the desired story-book aesthetic.

View attachment 237014

To find out more about the project, and to read the development logs, simply visit my Tumblr page. I'd love to hear the thoughts, opinions and suggestions of veteran RPG Maker developers.
This genuinely looks incredible!
 

Halfwit-Hero

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A couple of development updates here: although it's been a slow few weeks since I've been away camping...

Firstly, I have had a go at implementing a soundscape to my campsite scene. I'd love to say there is an artistic inspiration behind my decision to use real-world soundscapes for scenes in the game. A less straight-talking individual than myself might spin this wholly as a means to absorb the player into the imaginary world conjured up by our young protagonists.

However, I'm more of a pragmatist, and the simple truth of the matter is that I don't have a musical bone in my body! I've included my first campfire soundscape in the recording taken for a Woodland Campsite collision test.



I've also decided to act on the question of refining my character artstyle to match the storybook aesthetic of the scenes. Here's a quick before and after screencap of our hero August in his original pixel-art form, and functioning as a larger 96px x 96px sprite. My next task will be to complete work on the new sprite, and to redefine collision.

Before and After Sprite Artstyle Change.jpg

Work is also underway in fleshing out the supporting cast, who are all inspired by character toys that might be found in the typical seven-year-old's toybox. Here's a preliminary sketch of some of the cast, a pirate plush doll, a Disney Princess who has been forced to swap her ballgown for leggings and chainmail, an off-brand Marvel superhero, and a totally-not-Lego wizard.

tumblr_0b6f2c63bfe9c4ae388482f8c157c72b_1b2cdc43_2048.jpg

Also included is a concept for a male pirate action figure, whose place in the game has been summarily redacted after I realised how much more fun it would be to have a foul-mouthed, binge-drinking, swashbuckling plushie in the cast.
 

Halfwit-Hero

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A fresh update here. Following my decision to change the art-style for characters, I decided to take a stab at rendering my idea for the opening of the game.



After trying various different methods to get the preface into the game using in-engine means, I ultimately resorted to creating a video in HitFilm Express and then converting that into an RPG Maker MV-compatible webm file. I've heard many a horror story online about the effectiveness of adding video to projects, but this seems to have worked without a hitch!
 

Halfwit-Hero

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Howdy folks! It's been a while since I posted an update on August, and I've had quite a lot of professional and personal distractions to keep me away from MV recently (preparing to switch jobs being chief among these diversions!).

I've been reacquainting myself with the complexities of eventing and autorunning while using parallax mapping, making custom animations in-engine, and utilising plugins to customise the game's interface.

I'm fine tuning the prologue - I haven't yet got as far as setting up the first combat encounter, but I HAVE managed to set the scene for it!

 

Halfwit-Hero

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Celebrate.gifGuard.gifSkill Standby.gifSleep.gifStandby.gifStatus Ailment.gifThrust-Punch.gif

Recently, I've mainly been working on preparing character art for August's first combat encounter - a power fantasy in which our titular hero steamrollers a sinister antagonist that is totally NOT the Groke from the Moominverse.

Here is a selection of sprites set to be used in MV's base version of SV combat. I have upscaled these from the traditional actor size typically used for pixel-art sprites, but even at this size they're still pretty small in-engine, meaning I can create a real sense of intimidating scale opposite larger foes.
 

Halfwit-Hero

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I've been dark on the forum for way too long, but August has continued to percolate away as I slowly produce more original art assets and work on the design document. Managing to craft two concurrent, satisfying narratives in the real world and the Bramall kids' imaginations proved to be a difficult challenge, but I'm hopeful that now I have the backbone of a narrative for the real world sections I can allow this to influence the Fantasia side of the story more effectively. I have big plans for Halloween 2020!

For now, here's a brief demo of Robyn Bramall's springtime actor sprite exploring her little brother Charlie's bedroom. Veteran RPG Maker MV folks will likely recognise the implementation of grid-free movement and collision-based mapping. Nothing too fancy going on here.
 

Halfwit-Hero

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A quick screenshot here from the conclusion of the August's prologue sequence, which takes place on the evening of 18th March 2020, as the UK prepares to close schools nationwide as part of wider pandemic lockdown measures.Charlie and Robyn post-prologue.jpg
 

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