Good News, Bad News, and Something Spooky...

Jesse - PVGames

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So, there is good news and bad news.

Bad news first. After some setbacks, I simply can't find the willpower to continue on with the Medieval: Infernus resource pack at the present time. I've been working on the Medieval line of resources for about 3 years straight now, with about a dozen full resource pack released in that time and a pack of freebies, since MV was released. I feel that the Medieval line of resources was a substantial upgrade in terms of quality (and quantity, not to mention price value) over the High Fantasy resource packs that I first produced for VX/Ace several years prior to that.

I am very proud of the work I accomplished, and am proud of making a system work (relatively anyway) that allowed for game-makers to create their own characters, complete with complex animations that went far above what RPG Maker allows by default. I am also proud of the design choices for the decals that allowed for very natural-looking landscapes and maps, even if it meant more people needed to adopt a parallax-mapping approach (don't blame me, blame the arbitrarily strict editor!)

Although I greatly streamlined much of my workflow process when I made the switch from High Fantasy (and Wild Steam, and Sci-Fi, and Mythos...) to Medieval, a great deal of the work was still very much manual, particularly in regards to the character creator pieces. Every single clothing item that can be equipped to a template to build a character was made using a Hollywood-style "green screen" effect for the character as a stand-in, which required manual editing to remove. For the most part this wasn't a big issue, since GIMP and Photoshop both allow you to select an area based on a color. The time-consuming part is that there were always bits of green that bled over into the very edges of the clothing that would always require manual editing to remove. Needless to say, it is a time-consuming process.

I've developed some methods of speeding it up, and have done tons of research and experimenting to try and make the process less painful. But after three years of it, I am finding it a bit too mind-numbing to continue on with that particular method of resource-creation. Combined with the character creator software's developer disappearing awhile back with some outstanding bug issues with the software, it all has left me rather drained.

So I am going to stop making character pieces. For now, anyway. This means that Medieval: Infernus is going to be put on hold.

So...

What is the good news, you might ask?

I am definitely not retiring from making resources. On the contrary, I am going to go forward with another overhaul in terms of resource quality and implementing new methods and skills I've developed over the past few years to further refine the workflow of my resource creation. My goal from the beginning was to always move towards making the process as automated as possible in order to save time and my sanity. Some things will always require a personal, human touch, but I wanted to reduce the "grind" aspect to nothing if possible. I definitely developed some new work-flow operations that make my life a LOT easier, I just haven't discovered anything yet to make the whole "green screen" work load any lighter and I don't think I will.

With Medieval: Infernus on the shelf, I wanted to start something new using the new methods I developed recently. I am quite pleased with the results so far, and it is leading to...



Mythos: Reawakening



What you see below is all preliminary work and subject to change. Tile-wise, shadows are now created as part of the tile instead of something I draw in afterwards. Same with all characters. This creates a consistent level of shadows for both tiles and character sprites, all with a consistent light source. Further, all characters and tiles are created with said consistent light source, so the characters should feel more a "part of" the world, though I am still going to make all character sprites have a higher contrast overall than the background tiles so that they stand out a bit more. My approach to walls is going to be a lot better than what I had been doing in the Medieval resource packs.

I not only want them to LOOK better, I want them to be easy to use, including the 45 degree angle walls.


(Above: Strange occurrences bring the Detective into town to investigate... Mythos already features a great many outdoor buildings, vehicles, and other environmental tiles.)

I've implemented a whole new animation system that allows me to mix all sorts of various animations together to create a full library of animations for a character. That library isn't huge at the moment, as I only created the basics for what I need so far and cannibalized some of the animations I have developed over time for the Medieval resource packs.

What does this mean exactly in terms of what you will be getting?

Your characters will all have over 500 frames of animation. All characters will have some basics in common such as walking animations, running, interacting (a sort of generic "fiddling" motion that can universally be used to open chests, pick up items, etc), resting, idling, etc. I ensured that every character will have one or two unique behavioral animations as well (cleaning a mug for a bartender for example, sweeping, kneeling, crouching, etc). The biggest expansion comes from the combat animations. The Medieval resource packs all had side-view animations. The new animations not only have the side-view combat animations, but these animations are now in all 8 directions, which gives you much greater freedom in how you set up your combat system, and even allows you to make ABS games or tactical combat games.


(Above: Bizarre creatures [or people?] chase our heroine through the halls of an abandoned asylum. Almost all character animations now come in all 8 directions, even all of the combat ones. There are currently many hundreds of interior objects ready for the new Mythos resource pack.)

In addition to the character sprites, I am going to continue to make paperdolls, busts, and faces for all characters. I created a more better lighting system so all characters should be consistent now. Further, this new lighting system I think improves the quality of the look of these resources by adding more dimensional depth. Since these characters do not need to all conform to the same cutout shape that was required for the character creator pieces of the Medieval resources, I can make much more dynamic expressions and poses for you to utilize.

Each character will have 8 poses/expressions as usual, but unlike the Medieval resource packs, these can and mostly will be unique to the character. I will re-use some of the poses/expressions to save time with some characters, especially generic ones like shopkeepers and such, but overall there will be a HUGE boost in variety.


(Above: Two of the paperdolls for the characters and the battler for the monster. Characters will have much more dynamic and interesting poses and expressions for their paperdolls, busts, and facesets).


Specifics about the Mythos: Reawakening resource pack:

I am aiming for a minimum of two dozen characters (complete with all of the resources listed above) but would love to shoot higher, maybe three or four dozen. Right now I have just the two that you see in the pictures above, as I am still in the process of hammering out the new workflow and I want to develop more animation snippets for a broader range of characters.

Right now each character utilizes one weapon (pistol for the detective above, thompson SMG for the lady), but I will see about making extra animations with additional weapons to give more variety. It shouldn't be overly difficult to do so.

At the moment there are just shy of 2,000 environment objects, including walls, floors, vehicles, complete buildings, rubble, books, furniture, animated pieces like ceiling fans, doors, a creepy rocking chair, and tons more. That isn't to say that is 2,000 unique individual items, as many items have multiple facings, some having up to 8. There is enough variety presently to create cities, smaller towns, farm areas, asylums (because no horror game is complete without one of those), hospitals, shops, house interiors, offices, and more. There is not a lot in the way of trees at the moment, nor is there water yet. I will most likely add more of these, though any of the trees or water items from the Medieval resource packs would also work if this pack is lacking in those departments.

The overall vibe of the pack should be something like Silent Hill and H.P. Lovecraft. I want to give a bit of a broader range than just Lovecraftian horrors by including some other sorts of creepy monsters that still fit within the genre of the pack. The general era of the environmental tiles and characters is between the 1930's and 1950's.

I do not have a set number of monsters at the moment, and right now I only have the one monster completed shown in the images above. There will be some Eldritch god horrors like Cthulu and Nyarlathotep, as well as lesser creatures like the Mi-Go and Nightgaunts, and who knows what else. I hope for a minimum of 12 or 16 monsters, preferably more, like 24.

Overall, this pack will be a large one. Not sure just how big it will be in the end, but it will be a full and comprehensive pack that will allow you to make a full horror game.

With the changes in the lighting system and methods of developing the resources, the characters will not fully match the characters from the Medieval resource packs, but can still be used together and share the same size. The tiles from the Medieval resource packs can also be used easily with these new tiles (especially the decals!)

I aim to also create a completely revamped read-me with more in-depth instructions, but better yet, I want to include a short example game that gives example maps, character set-ups, and so forth.


What about Medieval: Infernus?

Right now, Medieval: Infernus is on hold. I don't want those resource to be held indefinitely, though, so I have a couple of options in the future. The first option is to force myself through the mind-numbing process of finishing the character creator pieces, which will take a long time and is not something I am looking forward to.

The second option is to cannibalize the resources and incorporate them into Mythos Reawakening. Pretty much all of the monsters will fit in just fine in their new setting, and the vast majority of the tiles (save for a handful of the purely fantasy fare) will also work well. The only resources that would go to waste are the unfinished character creator pieces. All other finished pieces that don't get folded into Mythos Reawakening will be released for free.

I am not sure which option I will ultimately go with. Right now I would lean towards the second option, but that is because I am burned out at the moment with the older process. So, I will give it some time and revisit the resources in a month or so and see if I regain my gumption to stubbornly forge ahead or just salvage what can be salvaged and scuttle the rest.


How can you help?

What I would love are some suggestions for are types of characters you would like to see in the Mythos Reawakening resource pack. This could be archetypes of characters like "the detective", "the fortune-teller", "the soldier", or "the disturbed child" or whatever else you can think of; or it could be something more specific that you personally would want to use in your game, like "a female character that wears a brown skirt, has red hair, and uses a machine gun."

Suggestions for creatures that would fit into this atmosphere would also be great!

There are no guarantees I will be able to make/fit the suggestion into the pack, but it never hurts to suggest it!

Also, any suggestions for things to cover in an example game or the revised read-me would also be hugely helpful. Let me know what sorts of examples you would like to see!

Just no suggestions of killer clowns or scary circus stuff... I already got plans for that :)
 
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Poryg

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I don't understand what's the problem with green screen to be honest. Both GIMP and Photoshop allow you to use layers, meaning you just need to put the green screen at the bottom layer. When you're finished, just delete the green layer and you're good to go, zero time spent :D

Nevertheless, I like seeing that progress and definitely am looking forward for some more heroes. And I'm really pleased about the 8dir battler sheets, that's just awesome! :D (even though we have dragonbones and spine, it's rather finicky to work with these due to the fact that these sprites are 2D).

As for the suggestions, I guess I can have a couple of them :D
We have blood, but we don't have dirt. Or maybe we do, but I don't know about it :D A few stains here and there could make things more interesting.
Then I wonder if we could have a piper or two, since pipers can be really mysterious.
If not a piper, maybe some other hypnotist?
Speaking of mysterious, you can never find more rumors outside of a pub. In a place where people drink, dice rollers try to steal your pocket money with fake cards or dice, and a cute barmaid helps you forget all evil in the world. But then you feel someone is watching you... You can't see him though, only a black cape that hides his entire face in darkness is visible.
Then night befalls the city... And virgins are slowly dying to sacrifices of evil rites. Terror... That's the only thing visible in their eyes. And even though we have certain facesets of people, I don't remember seeing emotions like fear, terror, hopelessness and grief.
But then you encounter a female character that wears a brown skirt, has red hair, and uses a machine gun... And in the end know it's just a bad dream :D
 

OnslaughtSupply

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Please, please, please release infernus just without the character creation pieces. Man those screen shots of the new mythos are killer. I've been waiting for this one like a kid waits on Christmas.

I think you could do like a male and female counterparts. Like male detective and female detective.
Bride and groom
Some kind of Indiana Jones wanna be would be awesome.
Men in black wannabe
Reporter
Scientists
Librarian
 

Jesse - PVGames

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@Poryg - The green screen thing isn't quite that simple. I mean conceptually, what you described is pretty much how it goes. However, there is always some green that is a bit different than the main bright green of the figure that bleeds into the very edges of the clothing (or hair, or whatever else) where the green character was adjacent; and that, for some inexplicable reason, is often also surrounded by pink. Not really sure why, I think it is just because of the renderer. An example of what I mean:



This is after the main bright green color is removed from the image. It leaves behind a bunch of excess green areas that bled into the clothing, and there are pink areas as well. The green and pink become MUCH more prominent after I brighten the colors of the image (otherwise they look way too dark, just look at how dark the High Fantasy stuff was color-wise). For a larger image such as this, I could increase the threshold of the color selection and get those green pixels, but that is not possible when dealing with the sprite sheets, which are much smaller images and therefor removing those pixels make a huge impact which basically destroy the image. I also can't remove the green from the alpha channel because then it removes the green mixed in with all other colors across the whole image, often leaving everything looking pink and semi-transparent.

For a long time, I just kept my head down and plowed through the process of fixing these issues manually (either by deleting them, or masking them over with a color from the clothing, typically), which didn't take a LOT of time overall, but when you have to do it hundreds of times over the course of years, you just get to a point where you don't want to deal with it anymore.

On top of that, though, there is also the issue that a fair number of people did not know how to stack the layers to make their characters. The character generator helped a lot with this, but it has gone unsupported for too long and there are several bugs with it.

This new process I am using definitely helps me personally keep moving forward. Besides, after 3 years I think it is time to upgrade the quality of the content further :)

Also, there are items already to make a bar in the new Mythos resource pack, forgot to mention that :)
And what do you mean by piper? I am not familiar with that.


@OnslaughtSupply - I did mention that everything from Infernus that is completed would be released in some manner :) Either I will force myself to do the character creator pieces and finish the pack that way (in the future), or take the finished stuff and fold it into this new Mythos pack. To be fair, there are only some tiles and 5 or 6 monsters completed for Infernus at the moment, all of which can easily find a good home in Mythos Reawakening. If that doesn't pan out, everything that is finished in Infernus will simply be released as freebies. I do not plan on sitting on those resources to keep them from seeing the light of day. I want people to use and enjoy them.
 

GolfHacker

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I’m not sure I understand your process. If the green screen character stand-in is on one layer, and the clothing item on another layer, I’m not sure how you end up with green on the edges of the clothing layer that you have to manually remove. Turning off the green layer should remove all the green automatically, right?
 

Jesse - PVGames

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The green character and clothing item are on the same layer.

The process goes as such:

In 3D software, I take a human character that I animated with all the various animations that you see in the packs. I make this human character bright green with no skin texture so that he is essentially a "green screen" model in which I fit clothing to.

I then attach the clothing to the green man model. If I just make the model invisible, then you will see the inside parts of the clothing that you otherwise shouldn't be able to see (like seeing down the neck hole, or seeing up sleeves, etc) - instead of making a paper doll cutout, you end up with what basically looks like the Invisible Man wearing a tunic.

I then render out all of the animations for that particular piece of clothing. This creates a flat 2D image of the figure - a single layer. Repeat this process many times for every shirt, pair of pants, dress, hair style, shoes, weapon, shield, belt, cape, etc, and then again to get the items for faces, busts, and paper dolls.

I then edit out the green man to leave behind just the clothing item which will fit on top of any of the templates I made. This is where the green (and pink for some quirky reason) bleed into the clothing and needs to be removed. I have attempted countless times to make the green man invisible while still retaining the "cut out", figuring some shader or another might do the trick, but no solutions have worked, nor has anyone been able to come up with something in years of me asking about it in the appropriate forums for the software lol.
 

Poryg

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I see, so you're making the paper dolls using a 3D software! I thought we were talking about 2d stuff, so it made no sense to me, because layers in PS and GIMP are independent of each other. Now everything makes sense.

Piper is a person that plays on a pipe, a popular example of a piper is a snake tamer. He has a pipe and plays on it. A certain rat eliminator used a magic pipe to exterminate an entire village's population. And no, he did not beat people to death with it :D The pipe was just mesmerizing, so he lured all people into sure death.
 

GolfHacker

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I get it now. Too bad there's no way in the 3D software to make the doll transparent and hide the inside/back part of the clothing item. You'd think a 3D program would provide a basic culling toggle for that.
 

ekhartpl

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I am so hyped for Mythos, as that's the direction I'm making my game in! And ABS graphics too!

I was waiting for Medieval: Infernus (as so far each pack had something I could use in my game anyway), but I'm totally waiting for Mythos pack. Hell, I'm already throwing money at the screen!

//edit

As for suggestions, something I was really missing in the original Mythos pack is cars. There were only five of them IIRC (with three being pretty much the same car with different colours). I don't need 50 cars, but about 3-5 different makes, possibly in 2-3 colour varieties would mean a lot. Stuff like buick model d-45 for oldish feel, chrysler model 65, ford model a, pontiac 6-27? Maybe a motorbike or two?
Also, main thing, regardless of how many cars, can we have more frames in them? 8 is a minimum to make some turning animation, but honestly, a 16 frame animation for cars turning (something that should not be too difficult when rendering them, just rotating by 22.5*?) would make this an instant purchase!
 
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mlogan

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I cannot wait for these. I don't know what I will do with them, but I love them!
 

Phantasie

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Hey Jesse

Mythos looks great. Not my style, and wont work with my game, but it still looks amazing!

Couple questions (if these were answered in the post, apologies)

1) Will you continue or consider releasing tile sets for the Medieval world? IMO, your tilesets and pre-made assets (buildings, set pieces) are more important than the characters anyway. And they look amazing!
2) Would you consider releasing Medieval style packs with less of an emphasis on characters? TBH the number of combinations of human characters we have now with the character editor make new human characters almost redundant. Enemies are a different story :)

--Phantasie
 

mlogan

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If they are not already planned, I would love to see a couple of non-disturbed children. :p

What about:

- A butcher, with blood on his apron and a cleaver. Could be used as sane person or deranged enemy.
- A Bonnie & Clyde type couple
- Farmer
- Sailor
- Soldier
- Cheerleader/boy in varsity sweater

Just some random things I thought of, feel free to reject any or all.
 

Jesse - PVGames

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@ekhartpl - As of right now I have 8 unique vehicles, each with 8 directional facings; a few old-model cars, a couple of old-model trucks, and an old-model delivery style truck. In terms of animation, I am not sure what you are asking is entirely feasible - think of the vehicle in isolation. When it makes a turn, what is moving on the vehicle? Just the front wheels are turning a bit to one side or the other. Having a "wheels facing left", "wheels facing right" and "wheels facing forward" is simple enough (though won't be noticeable in a few of the facings), but any other movement would be based on the distance the vehicle travels which would be handled completely by moving the event itself (and changing its directional facing appropriately). So in that regard, with a little tinkering, you could probably make them turn already since they already have 8 directional facings each (if I misunderstood you, I am sorry!)

@Phantasie - I definitely will create more Medieval/Fantasy resources in the future, no doubt about it. They will be made with this updated workflow, however. This means the packs will have a certain number of premade characters (like the heroes and town folk from their respective packs), along with the tiles and such. I have some great new Medieval building resources to work with that will allow me to create a ton of different kinds of new Medieval buildings, so I will definitely be putting them to use.

Even if the Mythos pack, in theme, doesn't work for your game, I am certain there are plenty of resources contained within that could still be used - maybe not the characters, but most of the monsters will be pretty universal, and a fair amount of the tiles could be used in either setting.

@mlogan - These are some great suggestions! I will certainly add more children to this pack than in previous packs (disturbed or otherwise!)

*********************************************
In addition to having suggestions given regarding the types of characters you would like to see in this pack, I would also love to hear suggestions for types of weapons that would thematically work in the new Mythos Reawakening pack. So far I have only implemented two: a revolver and a thompson SMG. I will be adding more, of course, but any suggestions are more than welcome!
 

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@Jesse - PVGames Good news that you will continue with Medieval. Also good news about the enemies from Mythos. I agree they can be used.

Will your characters still follow the same template for how animations are exported - the order etc? IE how you have a mastersheet with all animations, the ordering of the animations, etc (I hope so, as Ive setup my engine to parse those based on the preset order :p )
 

HasdrubalBarca

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Nice. I was hoping the mythos pack would continue your old workflow with the character pieces but I understand your situation. The old system was pretty versatile but at the same time it had it's limit with how generic it could be and unique characters definitely helps. The 8 directional combat poses sounds pretty sweet.

A few questions if I may. Have you thought about adding more frames to certain poses? Like some of the unique poses and maybe the new combat poses? I think right now there's the tools out to utilize more frames outside of walking/dashing. Just curious.

Will the mythos set be a one time thing or are you planning on expanding the theme a la the Medieval set with various packs expanding on the theme?

As for new character, if the setting is set in the 1930s, how about a WW1 war veteran? Or maybe just a war veteran in general wearing an older army uniform. Or maybe a generic hero character that could use all weapons you plan to include? Maybe this character has different outfits to represent different "armor" pieces

Weapons could include a sledgehammer, bat, maybe some sort of pole weapon like a pipe, maybe a BAR rifle, or an enfield rifle.
 

Jesse - PVGames

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@Phantasie - These characters do not follow the same template as they have a quite a bit more variety in terms of directional facings for their animations (all combat animations in 8 directions, for example), so the template has to be different. But this time around I have kept very close track of frame numbers and their corresponding animation cycle. For example, frames 0-63 are for walking, 64-127 are for running, 128-151 are for idling, etc. I will include a written list of animation order and frames which should make it easy to know what is what.

@HasdrubalBarca - Regarding your questions:

Will there be more frames for certain poses? - Overall, no. I try to tread a fine-line between pushing the boundaries of what RPG Maker can handle and what will work with RPG Maker without many if any scripts or plug-ins. 3-frame looping animations will pretty much always be useable in RPG Maker without the need of plug-ins, so most of the animations tend to be those. Certain animations though simply do require more frames to look even remotely palatable, such as walking and running; 3 frames just don't do those important animations justice. So basically wherever I can do it, I will use 3 frames of animation, which for the most part work. Adding beyond that, while it might make the animation look a bit smoother or cooler, also drastically increases the difficulty to use it for a lot of people. My intent moving forward is to make these resources more accessible/easier to use right out of the "box" for most users, while still offering more resources for advanced users. It's a fine line to walk.

Will the Mythos set be a one time thing? - To a degree. Mythos will be a very inclusive pack with a ton of resources. It will be larger than any of the Medieval resource packs in terms of tiles, that's for sure. It will have everything needed for towns and cities, hospitals, schools, houses, shops, churches, industrial centers, offices, etc. That being said, there is at least one add-on I will tackle, which is a creepy circus. I don't have any other plans beyond that though at the moment, and I still have a few Medieval packs I would like to do in the future as well.

Great suggestions for characters. The setting isn't strictly 1930's, but a range between the 30's and 50's, so WWII stuff is included (hence the Thompson SMG modified with a drum, aka the Tommy Gun). I do want to include more WWII era weapons, like the BAR, maybe some British weapons as well, like a Sten.
 

ekhartpl

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Maybe a double barrel shotgun?
 

OnslaughtSupply

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Can we have at least 2 weapons per character, like melee and ranged (firearms)? Can we also get an item battle motion that doesn't look like they are eating bird seed from the palm of they're hand? Something more akin to a drinking or eating motion.

Greaser like straight out of Grease the movie.

Flame throwing hazmat guy like stranger things.

Boxer

1911-Colt .45

Lever action rifle

Double barrel shotgun

Sten

Broomhandle Mauser

Switchblade

Baseball bat

Machete

Billy club

Board with a nail in it

Scoped hunting rifle

And maybe a katana because why not?
 

mardin

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Most disappointing news I've heard gamemaking wise in years.

I've now finally done some parallax mapping and I'm making good progress, but I only use your character creator for my games (atm).

I get that the new 8 directional combat option is great, especially for ABS and other engines, but I doubt that you will make the characters that I want to have in my game. Plus if your main protagonist is limited to 1-2 weapons...meh (and one outfit. If I want my protagonist with a suit to disguise himself as an asylum inmate, how do I do that with your new resources?)

And NPC's? Let's take this Asylum scene above for example: If I want to populate the Asylum with some mad human inmates, I would need at least 4-6 different inmates to not make them look like clones. With your old character creator, that would be me choosing the skin, a straightjacket, and different hairstyles = tons of npc's. What will my options be in the new pack?

Well, guess I have to adapt to the situation...
 

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@mardin I'm in the same boat. It's extremely disappointing to see these pre-made characters make a return.

Knowing that I will never get the remaining resources I need in the HF\Medieval style is disheartening, and has forced me to slowly remake every single map and character using completely different assets. Sure, I could've tried to adapt so much that nothing remained of my original vision, but I've already compromised so much. I really don't want to use pre-made characters at all (with the exception of monsters) in any of my games. I struggled to make a short black and white horror game using the old Mythos stuff because it contained only pre-made characters. I was really hoping that the new Mythos pack would contain character parts I could create unique sprites with; wanted to make steampunk characters by mixing these character pieces with the medieval ones.

Ah well... it can't be helped. I'll slowly get over this and carry on making my game using other resources.
 
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I'm having such a hard time thinking of an interesting battle system. and not being a coder, certain things I wanna do seem a lot harder lol.
Created a character outline with some code. I have no use for this. I'm....bored.....
Having lots of fun using different PS brushes to add a lil' texture to the floors and walls in my maps.

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