Rozen - My First Game

Discussion in '2014 Indie Game Maker Contest' started by twistedshadows, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. twistedshadows

    twistedshadows Villager Member

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    I just completed my first ever game for the RPG Maker Contest yesterday. It was a ton of fun, a little stressful at the end, but overall a great experience. It must have been, because somehow logged over 300 hours while working on this (I was a bit over-zealous in the graphics department; I had a bit too much fun with creating maps)!

    I created the story, the dialogue, and all of the graphics for the game. Jesse, who will comment down below about his experience, made the game engine when it became clear that I was running out of time (he is much more experienced at game creation, so he was able to put it together pretty quickly). Everything was so crazy at the end that we almost didn't make the cutoff time for the contest, but we did and it is complete, even if I didn't get to add everything I was hoping for (such as multiple ending scenarios).

    The game is a story driven rpg about a young boy named Vance, who must join forces with his friends Leander and Kezia to save his town when people begin disappearing. There are some different paths in the game, though again I didn't get to add different endings to reflect these choices as I would have preferred.

    I would really appreciate some feedback on the game, especially since it was my first adventure with RPG Maker and I hope to make more someday (maybe for the next contest!).

    The game can be downloaded here:

    http://contest.rpgmakerweb.com/game/view/id/770#.U7OIMrEz2So

    I also uploaded a no-RTP version of the game that is much smaller, which can be downloaded here:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxwGn4QONV-bbHZscmpOTEhfM2c/edit?usp=sharing

    And here are some screenshots of the game:

    Rozen2.png
    Rozen3.png
    Rozen4.png
    Rozen5.png
    Rozen6.png
    Rozen7.png

    Thanks for looking!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2014
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  2. Werebunny

    Werebunny Villager Member

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    So I'm Jesse, and I used to be very active in the very early days over a decade ago (... wow, it's been a long time...). Here's my story on this... Programming is my day job, so I haven't done as much hobby programming and the RPG Maker series was a bit of my past that I think of foundly. But I saw Ace on Steam, and had to get it, as well as push Sarah to get it. When I saw the contest and brought it up to her, she was quite ecstatic to make a game for it. I wanted it to be all about her creation, so initially I had decided to keep my hands off. I helped her understand how to use the progam, do things she wanted to do with it, design choices, and those tricky times were she couldn't get something to work right... but largely I took just the mentor role.

    Until the last week, specifically the last 5 days, when we knew it wasn't going to be done in time unless I stepped in. I was personally mulling over a 2.5d game idea to work on last minute, because I'm a procrastinator... but I dropped that in favor of helping her finish her first game.

    Now, I'll have you know, that I didn't make many rpg games with RPG Maker. I always loved to make weird game creations that toyed with the boundaries of the engine (action games, megaman clones, 2.5d maze game...), so I'm not particularly experienced making rpg engines in rpg maker (hilariously enough). However, I did have previous ideas I had always wanted to implement when I did make one. Aspects that did make it into this, aspects like the mage only using spells, the summon system... some things, however, like the combo system I came up with on the fly once I saw what Ace was doing for the default system. I have to say, I really like what I came up and did within 4 days (with some sleepless nights) even though it's a bit rushed (especially towards the later end). I think a lot of the ideas put into it has a lot of potential outside of this game as well.

    But I have to say, that last minute crunch, was... just... too much. We're talking down to the last minutes. Almost let a game breaking glitch in with some last minute fiddling, waiting while everything was compressed was heartpounding... and then, we pop on the site to upload it and find out we had to provide a link! We were not prepared for that! In the last 5 minutes! Mind you, both of us sleep deprived, I had to think quickly and luckily google drive popped into my head. I don't honestly know how, but thankfully it was instantly. Waiting for the upload while the seconds are ticking by... so painful. But we made it somehow! Seconds to spare although a few entries behind us made it as well.

    I must say I really enjoyed it though, fills a whole in my heart missing from my youthful days. And quite frankly, I'm really impressed with what Sarah has created for her first game. It is far, far better than a ton of my other machinations, and she made it within a month! I hope you guys enjoy it.
     
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  3. Fernyfer775

    Fernyfer775 Veteran Veteran

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    I really like the mapping. Very good use of space. I could learn a thing or 3 about your maps.

    PS - RTP (edits and whatnot) FOR LIFE!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2014
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  4. Berri

    Berri Veteran Veteran

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    Okay, so! Gave this game a short try...

    The title screen was nice. There was beautiful music playing and interesting graphic choices. Then the game started and everything became silent. There was no opening dialogue or narration to tell me what I was doing. I was just wandering around, which was really confusing. I got attacked by a monster almost immediately and died within the first two turns. So I restarted the game to try again.Caught and died again. Clearly I wasn't going to get anywhere fighting, so the next two times I tried escaping. Couldn't escape. Died in the first turn.

    So what I'm trying to say is that I'm trying your game, but I can't get anywhere. I don't know what the story is, if there is any, and I have no reason to feel invested in these impossible fights. If there is a trick to getting through this first swamp and to your story then please let me know, because I would like to try. 
     
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  5. Werebunny

    Werebunny Villager Member

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    Did you use the no-rtp version? I guess we might have screwed the starting position for that one up. That's embarrising >_>

    We'll get a fix for that version out, I'm 100% sure the full contest version doesn't do that.
     
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  6. Berri

    Berri Veteran Veteran

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    Yes, I did. I'll go ahead and download the other version. Thanks for the heads' up!
     
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  7. twistedshadows

    twistedshadows Villager Member

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    Thank you so much for trying it! I'm glad you liked the mapping, I had a lot of fun with it!
     
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  8. twistedshadows

    twistedshadows Villager Member

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    Thank you for giving it a try and letting us know this happened! I fixed the no-RTP file, so it should be good to go now.

    I had set the player starting position in a dungeon to take some screenshots and I apparently didn't replace the starting position before we decided to extract a no-RTP version. Thank you so much for letting us know, it should be fixed now like I said.
     
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  9. EternalShadow

    EternalShadow Veteran Veteran

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    Whenever anything like that happens, I just assume the starting position was messed up! It happened to me before, I compressed Zendir 2 and sent it to someone for extensive testing who blasted me back about the unplayability and nonsensicleness of the game XD XD

    So OP; don't worry! This happens to the best of us all XDDD
     
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  10. Berri

    Berri Veteran Veteran

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    Oh, it's fine! The number of times I did that with Alyssa is embarrassing.

    I'm glad to hear the submission version didn't have that problem. Once I finish attaching sleeves to my shirt I'll start playing the new upload. c:
     
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  11. Jamgun

    Jamgun Warper Member

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    Looking forward to playing!
     
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  12. Werebunny

    Werebunny Villager Member

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    The funny thing is I had thought to check it real quick, but then went, "Naw, nothing has changed..." Apparently something did change... I've done this before myself even, or at least I vaguely remember feeling the same way. It was definitely a good thing that the contest version didn't do it.
     
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  13. twistedshadows

    twistedshadows Villager Member

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    We have fixed a few issues in the no-RTP version, and made a few important characters in the beginning walk in place to help stand them out. We'll be out for the weekend, thanks for all the feedback so far!
     
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  14. Matseb2611

    Matseb2611 Innovate, don't emulate Veteran

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    Hiya. Decided to give your game a try. Here are my impressions:

    The mapping definitely stands out. You've done a fantastic work on all those maps. Despite the game being 95% RTP, a lot of it looks good and most other people who use just RTP for their maps should definitely take a page out of your book. Perhaps the only location I wasn't too fond of was the first cave as it seemed a bit bland to me, but every other place, including all of the interiors, was well done. And you've really put a lot of attention to detail, like adding that crazy dancer in the town square.

    The idea of going after missing people is interesting. The game starts off a bit too slow I must say. It took me some time to find additional party members. I was in fact about to give up when I accidentally came across the 3rd member. A bit more direction would definitely be nicer.

    I wasn't a big fan of the battles. Although you have some great ideas there of each character having unique skillsets, and also the idea of summoning pets who fight alongside you is great as well, but most times the battles ended up a bit repetitive to me. That first boss certainly had too much health and I had to keep spamming the same skills over and over. Also it'd be nice to change the HUD a bit. The default battle HUD that RPG maker has is terrible. It'd be nice to at least see the faces of your team members. It would also add a bit of a flavour to all those pets that you can summon, because right now all we get is their name added at the end, but we don't even see what they look like. Also the number of random encounters is too frequent as well. Since the dungeon maps are very maze-like, it can take a while to get through them, and so you end up getting into too many random encounters, and all the regular enemies seem a bit high on health too. I fought them all with new weapons that I bought from the store, but if the player instead spent the money on armour rather than weapons, they'd take ages on those battles.

    I had to stop about 50 min in because of too many random battles. I might pick up where I left off at some point later though. It's a great effort overall, especially for your first game.

    Oh and I came across 1 bug. When using smoke bomb to escape I got a game over, because one of my party members was KOed, so the game kind of thought that I lost rather than escaped.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2014
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  15. twistedshadows

    twistedshadows Villager Member

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    @Matseb2611

    Thank you so much for giving it a try and giving us the feedback! We were on vacation, so my reply is a bit late, sorry. I really appreciate that you liked my mapping. In future, I would try to create my own tiles I think, but since it was my first attempt I did mostly use RTP just to get the feel of things.

    And thanks for the tip on giving more hints. I wasn't sure how hard it would be to find the party members and was wondering if I should add more hints, but the people I had playtest it (only 2 so it wasn't a big pool) found them right away, so I left it as it was. In future, I would definitely map out my story a bit further in advance and figure out a better way to guide the player without making it feel too much like they were being led. I do think that is something I needed to put more time into.

    The info about the battle system is more Jesse's specialty, so he might reply about that when he gets off of work, but it is also helpful to me because I want to try to make my own battle system in the future and it's definitely nice to know what people like in that sort of thing. I agree about the HUD, I think we would have changed it completely if we had had time, but we kind of ran out there at the end.

    And sorry about that bug! Thank you for letting us know about it!
     
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  16. Matseb2611

    Matseb2611 Innovate, don't emulate Veteran

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    Heya. Glad my feedback was helpful.

    Yeah, RTP for your first game is fine. Most people use RTP for their first game, because it allows them to concentrate more on learning the engine rather than worrying about custom graphics. In regard to hints, you could do it via many ways. I think having a Quest Journal (via a script) is one such way that many games use to give some sort of direction to the player. The reason it took me a while to find the party members was because the town is pretty big and there are a lot of people to talk to. So I had to explore every mini-map, including the inside of all the buildings.

    In regard to battle HUD, there are plenty of scripts that change that, some of which are very user-friendly (like Yanfly's Battle Engine). I think scripts is one of those things that takes a while to get a hang of, but as you make more games, you become more familiar with what sort of scripts there are in the community and how you could use them in your game.

    No worries. Normally the smoke bomb works fine. I managed to successfully use it a couple of times before that, but in that particular instance when one of the party members was KOed, using it caused me to get a Game Over.
     
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  17. Werebunny

    Werebunny Villager Member

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    As for battle, I'll just ramble about the infuences and reasoning and what not... spoilers ahead I guess. We did not have any time to do anything other than the default system, and what is there as is took literally until the last hours since I started it so late.

    Something about the length of the game... the game goes 2-3 hours, not the recomended 1. I told Sarah to not modify her creative vision and limit/cut out anything for it. I think you might have come in expecting a shorter game, which is fair given the contest, but just note it's not quite that short.

    Battles are intended to specifically not be spammable. If you try and spam, you'll have a harder time. This will come into play for the first boss... as for encounters, I put it about as rare as it could go without hurting progression. It's set that you'll encounter 1-2 per map (or at least I tried that, the first dungeon should do that but others might not work as well). If I set it higher, then you could progress through without even a single battle. I'm specifically referring to the first dungeon here, later dungeons aren't as well crafted with encounter rates but I tried to hit the same measure. If you walk from the start of the dungeon, explore minimally, and get right to the end, you'll fight just enough counters that you should hit expected levels for the boss. Mind you, bosses are beatable quite underleveled and underequipped should you employ good strategy. The encounter rate should be very low for a random encounter kind of game, and it requires no grinding should you not run away. I think the 4th dungeon is broken on this point, and 2 has a tad few too many encounters, but 1 and 3 are pretty good (and 5 is different case altogether).

    Sarah was actually hoping for nonrandom encounters... but, time.

    Second big point I want to bring up, the balance is specifically intended to punish you for spamming attacks. We don't give any tutorials for the battle system, so it can be hard to figure everything out. You shouldn't make it very far, and you won't be nearly as successful for it. The first character is the easiest: Vance should be apply his party boosts, and making good use of the combo system (thrust is pretty strong while being cheap). Leander is trickier than first appears, because he's the only one with a default fight command. Your instinct is going to be to spam it, when you should be applying his enemy debuffs which are very effective for boosting both Leander's and Kezia's damage, because it amplifies elemental damage (which is already a big boost). You should also pretty much always be applying a coat to his arrows. Now here's the ruse, you have three poison attacks in the game, Leander's poison coat (and a later one...), and the Black Cat summon... and bosses are not immune. Kezia has very strong attacks, healing, summoning crucial allies, and restore mp abilities, and the trick is managing all of those.

    What I'm saying here, is you should be making more use of stacking for bosses. With Vance's inspire, Leander's elemental coat plus enemy elemental debuff, and Kezia's elemental summons and targeted elemental attacks, you should be able to make relative short work out of bosses (elemental damage will get over 50% stronger! And Kezia's attacks are extremely powerful at that number). And swap out an elemental pet for your poison pet, or arrow coat, and you'll gain even more of an advantage.

    Using optimal strategy, I can take out the first boss while underleveled by 2, with default starting equipment (no accessories), in less than 8-10 turns, with very little spamming. The system rewards strategy, big time, and you will stuggle trying to spam. But I'm not cruel, I gave a lot of leeway, accessories were never figured into my balance testing, nor were equipment upgrades past the basics for each level, nor Vance's item usage (mp potions can be quite helpful!). Also, you should without grinding get enough gold to equip each character with 7-8 out of 12 pieces (full equip), without accounting for selling old stuff. In fact, you could just skip buying altogether and still be able to handle the game if you stick to the assumed level and finding all the equips.

    Getting to say all that, I understand all your issues. Many of them would be fixed with a nonrandom encounter system (and nondefault battle system), some of it would be fixed with a bit more explanation into the battle system and perhaps a bit less of an initial ramp, and remaining with a bit of more polish and crafting of the system.

    As for the smoke bomb... I just used the default escape special effect from the standard database commands... and it does in fact look to be bugged with party members and dead states. Huh.
     
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  18. Matseb2611

    Matseb2611 Innovate, don't emulate Veteran

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    Heya. Yeah, I am not really a fan of attack-spam battle systems either. In this regard you did well. My gripe was with the fact that because the battles drag on, I just end up using the same skills over and over. Like with the main character I only had like 2-3 skills in the first dungeon, and so I ended up repeatedly using one of the starting attacks first to get 1 TP, and then spend that TP on the Thrust skill, over and over.

    With the archer guy, I do appreciate the buffs and debuffs, but firstly it's never really that clear which of the elements each enemy is weak to, and secondly having to do that for EVERY random encounter (and there are many) is just too slow of a pace for my liking. I think pop-ups would be a nice addition to this game, because they usually help to tell the player of any elemental weaknesses and other useful info. The messages that appear at the top left are very easy to miss during the battle.

    Also, one piece of advice I can give (feel free to ignore it if you wish) is that the players don't know your game as well as you do. You might find you can beat one of your bosses in a handful of turns because you know all of its weaknesses and strategies, but the players don't know that, so 95% of the time they'll have a harder time getting through it than you do. Now I am not saying make the game easier. In fact the difficulty of battles was fine. It's the length that I think could be improved. Once the player discovers that they're using the same strategy on a repeat too much, they start to get bored and wondering when the boss will go down. With more skills available to characters later on, longer battles become more fun, because there are more strategies that could be used, but with only a few skills early game, bosses that go on for more than a few turns feel unnecessarily long.

    The same also goes for the level design and the random encounters. You said that it's possible to get through via the most direct route and still be levelled enough for the boss, but as a player, the most direct route through a dungeon is not always obvious to me. As far as I'm concerned, I see a bunch of branching paths. My first instinct (as most players will feel) is to check every single one of them in a hope to find treasures and other bonuses, because to enjoy the game we want to explore everything and not to speed run it. A game should reward exploration, and if it punishes you by making encounters too frequent, the players start to lose interest and instead try to just get through the game as fast as possible, and when that becomes a drag as well, then they quit. But even if I wanted to speed run it, I still don't always know which path is the most direct, because I don't know the map layout. I often ended up stumbling onto dead ends or circular paths. And because of taking wrong turns and backtracking, we take more steps through a map and hence get into more encounters.

    Just my two cents.
     
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  19. Werebunny

    Werebunny Villager Member

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    Well it's true, I don't want to lead on like I only tested optimal strategies, I did go for suboptimal testing as well. The tricky part is, if I made it any shorter you'd just steamroll bosses using the optimal one like it was a regular enemy. It goes about 13-15 rounds, which to me seems about right, but everybody has their own tastes. I really do want to emphases that I added a lot of helpers to offset my ingrained knowledge of the system (especially with accessories). I made it a difficult game, then I threw in a bunch of goodies and boosts to offset that. I think on that note it worked pretty well.

    As for another details, I had planned to give Leander a scan ability. Didn't pan out due to time issues, and I couldn't do a good one with the default system without a lot of manual work. We checked encounter rates with exploration in mind, but perhaps not as ineffecient as we should. The big problem here is the default encounter system is just a bit too wild, and can't be controlled as well (such as minimum steps instead of just average).

    Thanks for all the feedback.
     
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  20. Juliab

    Juliab Villager Member

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    I found a bug. In the orchard above town, where there're 3 treasure boxes and the guy who says " It a nice, quite place to contemplate". You get in, but you can't get out.

    Thought I should mention it.
     
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