RMMV Elsbeth's Small World [No Travel Game Jam Entry]

Ailius

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Content Warning: Implied Adult Activities


This latest adventure ended in disaster for Elsbeth's party. The bard had attempted to seduce the orc tribe's leader and was killed for it. The rogue stole all the parties' loot in the early morning and skipped town. And the cleric decided the bard *just had* to have a proper funeral and left as well. Now, Elsbeth is alone, stuck in a back-water village she never even learned the name of, with only a single coin in her pocket. What's worse, rumors circulate of a plague of mysterious creatures which roam the nights, annihilating all who have not sought shelter.

So, Elsbeth decides to do the only thing she can...She'll track down that damn thief and punish him! Will she succeed? Or will she lose the plot in the opening act?

Spoiler alert: She will. Poor Elsbeth is ambushed by a hedge witch the moment she tries to leave town and cursed to steadily shrink in size. Now she must fend off common pests as she makes her way to the town's wizard.


The game is available here:
https://www.mediafire.com/file/lc4z7zi3mqxvfna/SmallWorld1.01.7z/file








Boss is the Raccoon to the east. The clue is due north, almost next to the exit.

The raccoon spawns in the far southeast corner. The clue is under the bar.

The rat spawns behind the middle armor rack. He is often hiding behind the armor and is hard to spot. The clue is the northernmost armor rack.

The rat is in a side-passage to the west, underneath the 'stairs'...the layout of this map is a blown-up version of the north and east walls of the building you start the game in.

If you can run past the rat, there is a nail behind him that can be picked up and used as a weapon.


Also, there is a 'bonus clue' in case you miss one, and if you're really struggling with the bosses, if you smoosh 100 pests before making it to the wizard, you can get the endings anyway.
 
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Ailius

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Alas, given how the plot is about tracking down a thief who skipped town, and the contest requires the game stay within one town, the plot, I'm afraid, is not long for this world.
 

Ailius

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Bumping the thread. I've completed the game and added a link in the original post.
 

GoodSelf

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I like how the player shrinks down in size - I wonder what kind of game play elements and choices that will add? Can't wait to try this out for the game jam! Well done!
 

hinola

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# Synopsis and story telling

Overall :
The story is simple, well told and coherent.
The characters have, in my opinion, normal reaction to events, sometimes in a funny way (the other party)
Everything serve the story, there is (almost) nothing else
I like the fact that you can try to change the end by not just doing what the pixies ask you to do.

The different dialogues :
The first story made me smile. When you talk to the mayor, and when you talk to the other party.
As a tabletop rpg player, I found it funny and relatable.
It feels natural, you are the inexperienced party to whom improbable annoyances happen.
You start lvl 12, which is random, and I like that.
because here, in that context, you are supposed to be lvl 12. No more, no less.

The mayor didn't mention the pixies, maybe we could have an explanation before the rest of the game, to know who they are.
Or a newspaper, like for the crown racers in the tavern.
We learn a lot through the game about the pixies, about their society, way of life, and male stupidity.
But they arrive in the story in an abrupt way, in my opinion.
Maybe just a line line "Well, now I got other business to treat. the wizard told me something about pixies and queens, as if I had enough time for that."
And you also talk about the wizard.

In the end of the game, the last dialogue feel again natural.
No useless bad words, no childish actions, just two women who settle this like women.
I like the way Elsbeth talks about her friend.
Even if we don't know much about their previous adventures, we feel there is something bonding them.
Just with a few lines.

Just a suggestion, personal :
I had a choice in the end, to go "each on our corner" or not with the witch, I would have liked to have choices when I talk to the wizard, too.
And not threaten him. Just argue, like with the Witch.
Maybe why not, if you argue well with both she will accept to take the place of queen as "her duty"

About the background and world :
The town have some possible interactions, people react to your actions
You can visit all houses, but not all places, as some are private.
There isn't a big population, but who need more?
The whole is coherent.
The well made me smile too.
I wished it was a wishing well. Later, I got a gameover.

Sumed up :
Things I liked
- The nice funny initial situation
- I like how every dialogues seems simple and natural
- There is a good balance between fun and seriousness
- The possibility to not follow the pixies plan
Things I liked less
- We don't know anything about pixies early game, they enter the story too fast.
- I would have liked more dialogues with choices in the end (I find the threat not adequate).
Remarks
- The content is limited to the story, there is nothing superfluous.


# Graphics, interface and use of visual space

There is a few things displayed on screen :
The window on the top right to show the quests
There is not much displayed, and that's enough.
It's easy to understand, and we can have a quick look at the death count.
It also give sometime indications.
Too bad, there is a timer in the last shot-them-up scene which is hidden by that window.

On battle, we have two gauge to give us informations about the battle.
I think they are far from the global design and colors of the game.
Usually, everything is more blue. It denotes with the rest.
Not a big deal tho.

Graphics :
The game use the MV RTP, I won't say much about them.
I like them, I don't promote custom, but they are RTP, so I have nothing to say about them.

The fact that you become smaller and smaller is illustrated by bigger and bigger environment.
Soooo ... it's tiles magnified 10 times.
All blurry.
I actually can't propose a better solution for that, I will not hold it against you.
The problem is, sometimes some places aren't accessible, because collisions aren't clear anymore.
You can pass behing some elements, and lose yourself.
I was attacked by ennemies behind an armor stand, and I couldn't see other ennemies. Three times battle strated without my understanding what is going on.

On the last level, we pass from a clear map scaled to the player to a map with a blurry background
Tt could have stayed like it was.

Sumed up :
Things I liked
- Reminder of objectives
Things I liked less
- Objective window position in front of the timer (could have been nice just in the middle top of the screen)
- The decreased readability on the zoomed map (but I know it's technically not easy)
- The gauge denoting with the rest

# Mechanics and gameplay

Gameplay, overall :
I was a bit puzzled on the first level, after the second building because of the repetitive gameplay.
2 buildings chasing bugs, doing fights (I will come to them later) and I entered a new building which announced the same thing again.
This was was loooong and the boss fight took me 3 minutes.
And when you only attack / guard depending on the gaguges, it's long.
It's a good thing the game change the gameplay after the first half, and gives you a new story time to take a break.
The last building was long (It has so many ennemies in the end, I started a battler every 3 steps and I fled each one of them.
One more would have been to much.
I like how you step on bugs in the beginning and then they are your size after

Battles :
I only did attack/ guard.
I suppose you tried to make the battle more interresting with the gauges, but in the end, after 10/15 battles, I just escaped them all.
As you don't up levels, you don't need these fights.
And the gauge system finally doesn't add much, especially in a 3 minutes boss fight with 2 commands.
Good thing, you have the possibility to kill littles bugs, so the fight are REALLY not usefull and can be avoided.

Bosses and clues :
I don't know, as I took them all where the game change depending the clues you get.
Is it impossible to read the pixie's book ?
The fact that it's said directly that it's for a better ending may be too much.
Perhaps just saying "that could be usefull to know that later"
or "these information can help me in the future" would more "rp friendly" ?

Sumed up :
Things I liked
- You can avoid the battles
- The gameplay change mid-game
- The originality of the shrinks mechanics
Things I liked less
- The battle are repetitive.
- The third building is long. One more building would have been too much.
Bugs
- I died on the last shot-them-up fight because my Z/space key inflicted damage on me the first time I tried.

# Mapping, level desing

The mapping is really simple. I can't say much about it.
There is no apparent mistake, I did not notice any bug.
I like the effect when entering a building.

The level design in the first buildings consist on big rooms, or long corridor. With less space to dodge ennemies.

Sumed up :
Things I liked
- The effect when you enter building
- Simple, but sufficient
Things I liked less
- The corridor of the third building
Remarks
- Mapping and level design stay on the level needed, no more, no less.

# My experience

I liked that game. Realy.
mainly because of the story and the way it's told.
The start repelled me, the second part brought me back.
The game doesn't suffer from any bug (or I didn't find any) but is confined sometimes to the minimum.
Maybe the buildings (the part I liked less) could have been repetitive, or more scripted

The second problem is, the pixies. Or the way they are introduced.
I had no reason or envy or desire to help them.
I think you want the good ending to be the ability to run away from them.

Just an idea I got according to these two points :
Why not meet a pixie, struggling with a spider, their great nemesis, in one of the buildings.
Everything is made to make the choice of helping the pixies bad.
What if this other pixie character balance this, create bonds with us, and, if we save her/him intervenes to put the douches back to their place.
And maybe lower the cost of the help, because spending a life making babies, meh... it's a high cost to save them
(And why not create an end where you can invert the story, make that pixi grow and take him/her as part of your party, it would still be coherent to the story, it would close the party story from "the party which lost bad members" to "the party which gained a good member" )
An ally, fighting with you or just helping on map would break the monotony of the early game.


Well, that's it. I like to finish with an idea I had :3
I think it illustrate better my words.

I don't give any score or number, just a list of thing I would improve.
Numbers means little.

Good luck with your projects !
 
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Ailius

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I will admit I never liked how the lord's manor (technically it's the 4th building, not the 3rd) turned out.

I wanted to make it a point to scale up the buildings exactly as they were in the full sized town. The farm is 2x, the inn is 4x, the shop is 8x, and the manor is 16x bigger than it's counterpart. The first three are parallaxes directly cut and pasted out of the town map. (I'm probably the first person to ever make a parallax of something made out of the default tileset.)

But when I got to the 16x parallax...way too big a file size...way too many performance issues. I had to use that "you're inside the walls" excuse, split the building into two maps, then split it again into four maps because there were still performance issues.

And while I didn't need to shrink Elsbeth exponentially, I did need to end up at 1/32nd size to make her roughly bee-sized, to cut down on the explanations of pixie culture by giving it a real-world comparison, make the final boss of a frog be a suitable threat, make the aerodynamics of flight seem realistic...lots of things. Even then, the height of an average woman is 64 inches, giving her a final height of 2 inches, which is still pushing the upper limits of "bee-sized".

So at the end of the day I was going to need a 16x scale building. Alternatively I could've just redesigned the entire town, even though by this point I had already done the other three parallaxes. But, I also learned from my recent experience with the 8x shop, even a small building becomes unwieldy when you multiply it. Finally, I didn't want to spent too much time on a game jam project as I had put one on hold for this one.


So, yes, I basically dropped the pest extermination quest, allowed the player to dash through the building as quick as possible, and hung a lantern before and after the building in the dialog with complaints of how damn big the map was.
 

hiddenone

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I gave this game a go, and have slightly mixed feelings about it. It has some great ideas for gameplay, but the story itself had rough patches.
First thing I did was buy some Bat Soup, so you know what happened... While it's amusing, it was a bit annoying to have a game over so quickly without warning. It would have been nicer if there was more of a hint about that, such as the Market Vendor was either super sketchy about it, or even recommends not eating it but will sell it to the player if they insist enough. That way you could still have that ending without killing the player in such a sudden and unfair way.

I really enjoyed the battle system, it's simple but there is more to it than just chance. It was east to tell if it would be worth it to try and get a critical hit, or if I should just Guard that turn. I did run into a few strings of bad luck where I had no choice but to Guard for turns on end, but being able to run away when things were going wrong made it so I wasn't too worried. Boss battles felt a bit too long since I kept hitting for 5-ish damage, but since there weren't too many boss battles that wasn't terrible.

As much as I like the battle system, I do think there are improvements you could make. Honestly, it doesn't even need to use the default battle system. You could event it all instead and achieve the same results (all while getting rid of the unused Items part of the battle menu). If you wanted you could tie Attack, Guard, and Escape to buttons so that instead of picking from a list the player can just tap the key they want instead. If you plan on using a similar system in future games (which I hope you do, otherwise I'm gonna make my own version :p), please think about streamlining it and don't feel like you have to use the default battle system as a base.

Now for the story. There were some funny parts, but it felt like there was too much about the world that I didn't know so things were a surprise. Like hinola mentioned before, the pixies were suddenly a big part of the story but I hadn't even known about them before then. I hadn't explored the right side of the town, so I didn't even know that there was a colony of pixies nearby. Them needing a new queen and wanting to get Elsbeth to become it seemed so strange, especially when I found out about the truth behind it all. I just don't understand why they didn't offer rewards to attract someone who may want the job and instead tried to force random people into agreeing. The end of the game felt 'meh' to me, because I didn't have any investment in the pixies' plight. hinola's suggestion about introducing a pixie friend earlier could really help make the final choice more difficult for the player since then they'd have more invested in pixies.

While playing, I only ran into a few bugs, but one of them is a major problem. During the last fly part where you can shoot, the first time I did it each attack ended up draining my HP so I got a game over... I don't know what's going on with that eventing, but you really need to fix that. Another bug is one that hinola mentioned, the timer is covered by the Quest Journal during the flying parts.
covered timer.png
I ran into a problem that is something you probably didn't consider, but is a pretty big issue for players: enemy spawns are apparently tied to time, not to how many are on the screen. Which means if you do what I did and leave the game running during a cutscene to go deal with some real life issues, this happens:
the swarm.png
There's no sane way to get past that many enemies, which meant I had to load my last save. It's not a major issue, but you may want to consider adding a limit to just how many enemies can appear on a single map.

Overall, you did a good job with the game mechanics and ideas. The story could use work and the gameplay could always be improved, but it's clear that you put a lot of effort into this game and that does show. Good luck with your future projects! :rwink:
 

KV_Kingdom

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Review

I saw this game on Touchfuzzy's stream and wanted to play it for myself. I'm glad I did, because the 20 minute playthrough only scratched the surface of this delightful experience!

The Good
+ The music is unique and enjoyable. Where did you get it, or is it custom made?
+ The story is amusing, and gets better as the game progresses.
+ The ability to walk in the door and see the interior of the building, rather than changing to a different map, is an interesting mechanic.
+ I love the weapon descriptions. They're hilarious!
+ The suicide/alternate ending options are hilarious, too.
+ The battle system is unique. Battle systems like these can be confusing, so props for including a well-made tutorial to go with it!
+ Objectives are explained with a reasonable amount of text. Not too much, not too little. Nice!
+ The popup tips are helpful and a nice touch.
+ Providing the smaller enemies helps speed the pace of the game up and was a welcome feature.
+ Being able to escape from battles without fail is appreciated.
+ I love how the progression through the game is represented:
* Elsbeth's max HP gets lower
* The maps become progressively larger to further highlight how small Elsbeth has become
* Enemies that normally would be easily squashed become battles, and then become larger, both on the map and in the actual battles.
+ The flying section was a delightfully unexpected addition.
+ Enemy flight paths are unpredictable but not unfair.
+ There are a lot of possible endings.

The Bad
- The battle system is a bit unintuitive, even with the tutorial. I frequently took damage even though my bar was clearly higher than my opponent's. It's not clear if it's purely random, or if there's some other aspect (reflex, relative strength, etc.) involved.
- Why does the bar rise faster some times and not other times?
- I agree with Touchfuzzy's assertion that the battle system also needs more ways to be manipulated. It's good that there is a choice between attack and guard, but it gets boring after a while.
- The battles are balanced overall, but the unpredictablity & lack of control of the system make it feel like battles are a matter of luck more than skill or determination.
- The fourth room has very long hallways where all you do is run. I understand that Elsbeth is very small at this point, but it's kinda boring.
- It's not clear...
* Where the exit is in the second room.
* Where the boss in the third room is.
* Where the boss in the fourth room is.
- The magic missile in the flying section doesn't fire off reliably, and you can't move when you fire. I suspect it's for the same reason that it's hard to make a good ARPG with RPG Maker, but it's annoying (even so, kudos for including it).

Suggested improvement
- Add a health bar for enemies so you know how much progress you're making.

Typos
- "My, associate, knew of some smuggling caves..." The commas are unnecessary. If you were trying to imply emphasis, asterisks would work better (and I think you used them at another point).
- "I'll, think about it." Another unnecessary comma; An elipsis (...) would have worked for this.
- "You've back!" should be "You're back!"
- "Ofcourse" is actually 2 words: of course
- "atleast" - also 2 words: at least

Overall, I really enjoyed this game! It's very robust for a game jam game, with a variety of gameplay elements and multiple endings. If you want to build this game into a full release, I would recommend using a different engine, since the engine's limitations drag on some of the game's key aspects. It's otherwise the best game I've played in this jam.
 

Ailius

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I used YouFulca's music. Here are links to:

His thread on RPGmaker forums
His website

I used his music in both my games. Frankly I'm concerned my games aren't as good as his music.

I should add "credits in the main menu" to the list of improvements.
 

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