Looking for games to LP!

Discussion in 'Maker Casual' started by Studio Blue, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    Hello everyone! In this RPG Maker Let's Play, we enter the world of Loveless by Cain Reval.

    This game honestly gave us mixed feelings, because, on one hand, it starts off pretty well. The idea of combining Authurian Legend meets Final Fantasy is very interesting to both of us, and the main character of Gallahad seems to be relatively interesting: He's not a hero. He's a court magician (actually called court jester, but the intent is the same), and that's different and new. Others around him are stronger, but he has a lot of heart, giving him that "Young Authur" feeling. It works. At least, on paper it does.

    The problem with this game is four-fold, and all of it is in the execution.

    First, the game relies on superlatives. Everything is black or white, a 1 or a 10. You'll see it in the video, but from the thousand year war, to the attitude of the other knights, to the sudden and completely out-of-no-where attack on Sky Haven... everything is just cranked up to the highest level possible. There's no build-up, and therefore no tension, and therefore no drama.

    Second, the attitudes of the other characters is appalling. These are the most unchivalrous knights we've ever seen. Galluf is not only unlikable, but he's also unredeemable. Gradheart is an arrogant prick, King Authur is a lifeless character, and Ignatius is a Gray-Stu. It just doesn't work. Even some of the peasant in "Startup Town" just doesn't work. Only Gallahad works, and that's more because of his profession and less of his personality.

    Third, things in the game just sort of happens with no explanation. The Voidlings aren't even mentioned in the Thousand Year War Story, and suddenly they are the main threat? How does something that prolific get swept under the rug for so long? What relation to the Voidlings have to anything? They literally feel like they are there to have an external threat. Having Sky Haven get attacked so suddenly is pure convenience, and having Gallahad leap from Level 1 to Level 14 in the first few minutes is severely off-putting. And the "Unlocked Potential" power just turns Gallahad from an "I'm going to try my best" character to "I am a chosen one all along" trope, and that made us sad.

    Lastly, the balancing needs work for the ground up. The time for the QTE is way too short, and once Gallahad is on his own, the monsters get way to overpowered.

    But that's not to say it's all bad, not at all. The presentation (visuals, audio, etc) are top-notch. We even learned that Syncing to 60 FPS Monitor can actually be applicable to our system... that was an amazing discovery. We've gotten used to playing beautiful games, and this is no exception.

    So what do you all think? How can the developer make this the best it can be? Let us know!

     
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  2. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    Hello everyone! In this RPG Maker Let's Play, we look at the Mode 7 world of "A Knight's Requiem" by JaiR, the William Castle of RPG Maker Development.

    We'll say this right now: We've never finished one of JaiR's games, and we don't break that streak with this one due to a game-breaking bug. Sorry, everyone!

    Visually and aurally, this game is both fun and unique, and impressive for the most part. The Mode 7 creates some odd "walking places," but nothing so immersion breaking that it doesn't work. The music, some of it which was composed by the developer himself, is superb, and the presentation is what we'd expect by the creator of Tales of Mobius.

    Unfortunately, the game's story seems more like a collection of ideas come together into a paper flipbook than something actually cohesive... Teal puts it best when she says "It's just a weak story." This is due to the following reasons: (1) King Jurrow goes on a murder spree with almost no explanation what the motivation is, despite it being compelling enough to make Khoul cut off his best friend's head, (2) Khoul's exile-not-exile is nothing more than a launch-point for the story instead of a part of it, (3) everything from Khoul and Cynthia meeting to entering the Cave of Desolation is that thing we call "writer's convenience," and (4) there is zero character development despite there being two amazing opportunities (when Cynthia is recovering and when the heroes are on the raft). The story just needs work.

    There are balancing issues as well: (1) The basic attacks need to do considerably more damage, (2) bats don't need to be draining so early in the game, and if they must, the healing ratio needs to be cut in half, (3) healing items don't appear to do what they say they do (that didn't seem like 30% when we used the healing herbs, but that may have been us), and (4) the Techs cost way too much.

    Lastly, there are some bad map design issues: (1) There aren't any clearly defined exits, (2) there are too many "push the boulder" puzzles, (3) the trigger radius for enemies into the ChronoEngine is too big, and (4) the game-breaking bug where we can't return to the previous screen.

    And, boy... oh boy... them Gatling Gun Arrows!

    Overall, this game needs a lot of work to be as good as the others by this developer, but it is possible. What do you think? How can the developer make it the best it can be? Let us know!

     
  3. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    Just a random comment. It seems to me that what links the last 2 LPs that you've done is the way that the developers appear to have not asked some basic questions about the motivation(s) of their characters. Everyone seems one-dimensional, often irrational in the sense that there is no obvious reason why they act the way they do. Perhaps if they had asked more 'why?' questions before writing their stories it would have helped. For example (a character unrelated to the specific games above):

    Why does this guy have these skills and this gear (what in their backstory could have led to this)? If the answer is "because he's a knight, dumbo!" then what made him become a knight and not something else? What ambition/ideal/fear/family pressure led to this choice? Do these factors still hold? What happened to his ideal? Or what fed his lust for power? Or what did fighting all these knightly duels do to his fear of letting his father down? How has his experience of being a knight shaped and changed him from what he was when he started out?

    Why is this guy in this place at this time doing these things? If the answer is "he's just there by chance" then back to the drawing board. Is he there by chance because he's travelling from A to B in order to do X? Why would he want to do X? Or maybe he doesn't want to - so why could he be coerced into it? Is he there because he wants to commune with nature and reflect on the loss of the love of his life? Why did he lose the love of his life? Why did he choose solitary musing under the stars, rather than going down the pub and getting rip roaring drunk to drown his sorrows?

    Why does he react the way he does to whatever is happening? For the sake of argument, let's say he finds somebody injured on the road. Why does he stop? Is it to see if there's something lootable on the body and is miffed that the body is still alive? Why doesn't he just say something like "wimps shouldn't be let lose from their mother's apron strings." and walk by? Is it because he thinks that's what a knight should do? If so, where did his sense of duty come from? Is it from a sense of compassion? In that case, how has he managed to hold on to that through all the years of brutal fighting he's experienced?

    I could go on (and on, and on, and...) but I hope I've made my point that why questions should give the developer a sense of a more rounded character - if the guy is a power-mad, hard-hearted oaf then there is the material to let the player learn some of that. If, on the other hand, he has always held himself to the highest ideals of knightly chivalry, you've got decent reasons for how he's managed to hold it all together despite what life has thrown at him.

    Long story short - for these 2 games, in my opinion, why questions are your friends if you want to have believable characters doing plausible things.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
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  4. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    All of those are extremely good points, and we completely agree with where you are coming from. Asking "why" opens up doors to motivation and agency, which are cornerstones to good storytelling.
     
  5. BreakerZero

    BreakerZero Veteran Veteran

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    @Kes I couldn't agree more. At least in my project I made sure to vidcap a segment that I built "in engine" that discusses what the integrity core at the root of the events means for all existence, not to mention the ill prospects of what it means "for even one half to fall into in the wrong hands" (emphasis mine, quoted straight from the source). Also, every crew member has something to say about what their limits are, how they approach situations in accounting for those limitations, and basically whatever else they require to do their work under conditions that would otherwise hold them back... physically or otherwise. And I even go as far as to mention that all ten of 'em have a common prospect at the core of their expectations as one would initially suspect without knowing the history of their accomplishments even before what happens to bring 'em all together with such common reasoning as they ultimately end up with.
     
  6. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @BreakerZero Fine, but this is not the place to discuss/describe your own project. Please do not hijack a thread.
     
  7. BreakerZero

    BreakerZero Veteran Veteran

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    Wasn't my intention to hijack or anything, just to provide an example.
     
  8. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    Hey everyone! In this RPG Maker Let's Play, we go into the retro-world of "Shooty and the Catfish" by Visitors from Dreams... and do we have an amazing time.

    First off, understand that both of us grew up loving video games in the 90s, so games like Final Fantasy Legends and Pokemon, those old-school crawlers, have a special place in our hearts. However, those games are difficult to make. Because of the limitations of the game cartridges, maps and worlds couldn't be massive sweeping affairs just for the heck of it. Developers had to optimize and tightened everything into as stream-lined a product as possible. They also had to condense story-telling to its most important points, and have combat go quickly. In all three points, Shooty and the Catfish replicate the feel of the 90s.

    There are windy dungeons, but the developer offsets that with well-spaced and free healing stations and on-screen enemy encounters that do not respawn. Backtracking is minimal, and we felt like we were learning the layout of the dungeon well (Steel gets lost maybe once... maybe). There is a minimalist plot, but that's countered with tight storytelling that gets the characters and the point across in each screen. And finally, the combat is quick and balanced so very well (Dat Pipe Bomb Tho). For once, we didn't mind just spamming the "fight" command.

    Also, the humor, while adult, is hilarious. The puns. Oh God, the puns!

    There are some critical points: (1) The monetary cost of bullets and the "MP" cost of food for the first Diss is too much. After "mathing" for a bit, Steel recommends 3 Gold per bullet and 3 Fish per Diss. Otherwise, increase the money count in the early parts of the game. (2) Zaat the Catfish (which we will forever call him) needs to start with a weak Diss (like "Yo Momma!") that costs only 1 fish, to offset Shooty starting with a gun. (3) Don't put the "Gun" Shooty uses in the Key Items. It confused poor Steel. (4) Start the game with Shooty getting out of bed or off the crapper or something, and give us one or two lines to help build his character. Don't just start us with him moving. (5) Give more banter between just Shooty and Zaat the Catfish. It will build up their characters and show that they are best friends. And lastly... (6) Have Shooty coerce Elmer into a "Friendly Duel" instead of just attacking him, as that made Shooty look like a bad guy, and made me not want to play him. Also, by doing that, it absolves of the silly "I'm not dead?!" bit at the end of the Elmer fight.

    However, those six points are it, and none of them are major. This is one of the tightest created games we've ever critiqued, and it was a real pleasure. Good job, Visitors from Dreams. Best of the best with this one!

     
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  9. VisitorsFromDreams

    VisitorsFromDreams Veteran Veteran

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    I left this comment on youtube but I will leave them here too since I know your a bit more active here.

    What I didnt mention is that outside of the music this game series is a solo developer project.

    Yup, your only the second person to pick up on the Hootie and the Blowfish reference.
    I think when I was working on the concept for an animated series it just sounded catchy and it sort of stuck, and I guess now in the game space theres not really many games with titles that are anything like it so I hope it stands out a bit from the crowd.

    I completely agree with the UI issue not showing whats equipped, in order to fit everything into the tiny game boy aspect ratio I had to make a lot of sacrifces to fit what I could into the limited screen real estate. Hopefully for episode 2 I can find a way around some of these issues. I deliberately left gear management relatively low key to help prevent it from being too big an issue but theres always more that can be done, just need to work out a way to fit it in.

    Was surprised to see you cut out the tutorial fight.

    A more interesting intro is definitely something I had planned for Episode 2, something that will set up Shooty as well as the world building a bit more.

    Contexualising the skill tutorials like I did with the mechanics with the opening CRT, kicking myself for not thinking of it first. Likewise with the talking more between Shooty and Zaat.

    In terms of challenge, that was never my goal, im mainly trying to use RPGM to make a goofy story to make people laugh. Thats why I like to keep my game projects relatively short in bitesize chunks as well, I think comedy is hard to maintain over long periods and keep things simple and quick mechanically.

    The battlebacks change to refelect if you are fighting inside or outside, and if your fighting a boss.

    In terms of the weapons, knives and caestus are equippable weapons for Shooty and Zaat that increase damage (I dont think theres any of those in this episode from memory, focusing on armor instead), because firearms are skills the actual "weapons" themselves go into key items to contextualise that a bit. This is something I definitely should have made more clear within the game itself, totally agree.

    Ill definitely factor the pricing of bullets and the amount of fishfood required Diss skills for episode 2.

    It was interesting to see you backtracking multiple times to go back to that first room to check out the locked rooms, I designed the elevator to be used to loop back to the beginning as a short cut, similar to what you find in Demon Souls and Dark Souls. All the dungeons I have designed for the episodes 2 - 5 use similar looping level design. I have seen a few lets plays of this episode now and its interesting seeing people play through it in different orders. Its a shame you found the elevator key so late but thats the danger of non-linear dungeon design.

    The music was all composed by a friend of mine. He composed around 15 tracks for the series.

    You can actually finish the game using nothing but the standard attacks if you have the patience, some people might like playing that way as a sort of challenge run.

    Elmer is an optional boss, hes from a friends game. Theres one in each episode. I wanted something that you can dump all of your left over items. The context of the battle is a valid point and is something I will definitely take on board in future episodes.

    Missed the final dilague with Slim Grim and the credits but thats cool. I was surprised you guys enjoyed it so much considering how different the game is to what you normally cover, but maybe thats why you enjoyed it, either way im glad you had a good time!

    In terms of release Episode 1 has been out for a while now and im deep into Episode 2s development. Each episode is being released as its own self contained game which is a bit of a weird release strategy but I thought it would suit the game better then having it all released at once. I will definitely send you guys Episode 2 once its released, the dungeon design and mechanics are quite different to episode 1 so I hope you find it feels fresh when it hits!

    Thanks again for checking out my dinky little game. :)

    Also, just for you.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019 at 9:53 AM
  10. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    That, very sadly, was a video editing glitch. We're not entirely sure what happened, but we can promise that it wasn't intentional.

    Annnnd there's actually nothing more to say here. You've hit the high points based on what we've said, and we loved your game. We can't wait to see what you come up with next! :) <3
     
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