Sacred Earth: Promise [GAME DOWNLOAD AVAILABLE]

Discussion in '2014 Indie Game Maker Contest' started by MirageV, Jun 29, 2014.

  1. MirageV

    MirageV Veteran Veteran

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    ...So yeah. I lurk this place a ton, but this is actually the first time I'm posting. Breaking out of my hermit shell because of this contest I suppose. Feels weird. But anyway, here ya go. This is what I/we've been up to and all that.

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    [SIZE=12pt]A woman stands alone. A promise is forgotten. But today, that will change…[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]A mischievous mercenary from wintry Garenia and her long-suffering sister set aside their differences to compete in a tournament of arms. But when an old friend appears in the company of mysterious relic hunters, the past and its problems can no longer be denied. Sacred Earth: Promise is a one-hour vignette set within a fantasy world of floating continents and ancient ruins, with a dynamic battle system and a compelling cast of characters.[/SIZE]

    Features

    [SIZE=12pt]·         [/SIZE][SIZE=12pt]Three playable characters with their own animated sprites, battle voices, and special attacks.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]·         [/SIZE][SIZE=12pt]Utilize multiple-hit Chain attacks to build up your EX Gauge and expend it to unleash powerful Burst attacks or heal and attack in a single turn with EX Recover.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]·         [/SIZE][SIZE=12pt]Constantly regenerate EP for spectacular fast-paced combat. Choose whether to inflict more damage with Abilities or build more EX with Chains, and cast support spells without spending a turn. But be careful not to Chain past 0 EP or you’ll take damage yourself![/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]·         [/SIZE][SIZE=12pt]An original Symbol Map system for dungeon navigation. Manage your Travel Points to evade traps and avoid battles, and enjoy party interactions in the field.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]·         [/SIZE][SIZE=12pt]An engaging conversation system with moving portraits that displays conversations between up to four characters at once.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]·         [/SIZE][SIZE=12pt]A personally-designed quick-reference status screen, world map menu, and title screen.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]·         [/SIZE][SIZE=12pt]A complete short story and dialogue written specifically for this competition, with a large cast of lively side characters and numerous optional conversations between events.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]·         [/SIZE][SIZE=12pt]Try to solve the mystery hinted at after the credits to learn a main character’s most important secret![/SIZE]

     

     

    Screenshots
     


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    Download
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    (Click the game title to download)​
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2014
    #1
    Silvestre, Bukarett, Arin and 2 others like this.
  2. Skyfrid

    Skyfrid Veteran Veteran

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    Wow! This looks great! So far my favorite entry. :)  
     
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  3. Arin

    Arin Tonight...we dine...in-oh a piece of candy! Veteran

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    I love every little bit about this entry. Except for the story which is a bit cliche'd because of the whole forget-the-past schpiel, but it's disappointing to hear also that it's only one hour long. It looks like a lot of time and energy was spent into making this product and look forward to a future release.
     
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  4. Ratty524

    Ratty524 Veteran Veteran

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    Oh hi Skie Fortress. That's a nice gam you got thar.
     
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  5. MirageV

    MirageV Veteran Veteran

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    Thank you, we appreciate it.

    And thank you as well. As for the story, you'll just have to find out for yourself, won't you? :> 

    The download has been added. Sorry for the wait!

    6/29/2014: Updated the download for bug fixes and the like!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2014
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  6. MirageV

    MirageV Veteran Veteran

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    Finalized download added. I do believe we've managed to squish all annoying bugs, so that's it. Give it a shot and let us know how it goes!
     
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  7. estriole

    estriole Veteran Veteran

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    best graphic so far. also unique menu and battle system. i also like the map explore system (using points)

    will download it immediately to see how the story goes :D .
     
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  8. MirageV

    MirageV Veteran Veteran

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    So the main download link seems to have hit some sort of download limit and started requiring premium accounts. Weird, but okay! I updated the download link in that case. My apologies for any inconvenience!

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/0t46m7q9tt5ce1p/Sacred%20Earth%20-%20Promise.exe

    Well I won't entertain any delusions of being the best, but thank you for your enthusiasm nonetheless! Hope you have fun!
     
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  9. Traverse

    Traverse Veteran Veteran

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    Wow, there sure have been changes since SE:B. The Patchoulli one in particular hit like a dump truck. There were a whole load of familiar-but-not-quite characters thrown in all at once at the start so maybe it would've eased the transition if I'd tried the SE:M demo beforehand, dunno.... The upscaled sprites kinda also clash with the high res backgrounds and portraits, but what can you expect from a sudden shift from 2k3 to VXAce, I guess. The battle voices seemed to get drowned out by the background music this time around, but maybe that's just my setup.

    Like SE:B, the plot felt like one of those ice cream trucks you catch a glimpse of as it whooshes down the road - a hint of a sumptious treat right in front of your face that disappears before you even get a meagre taste. Which means good job.

    I don't know if I'm the only one who experienced this, but there were a whole load of times when the Chain timer lagged out really, really badly on me. I could see the button icon zooming in in freeze frame and it wouldn't accept any button input for a few seconds (usually until the icon was finished zooming in). In all honesty, I actually didn't read the tutorial and only realized I was losing HP every turn from overloading on my Chains until near the end of the dungeon. And even then, I didn't know for sure it was the Chains until I read this (first few Ice Labyrinth battles kept getting my party poisoned, so I assumed it was massive poison damage). And even then, the only time I didn't use a full chain was on the very first battle because I didn't realize I COULD Chain attacks by pressing the action key.

    Yeah. Even the Forneus fell to the same basic strategy as every other enemy; stack buffs and debuffs unless or until the active battler has 25 or less EP, do a full Chain, rack up enough EX to to do an EX Heal, rinse and repeat. The overload damage never really mattered that much because the EX Heal and heal buffs always pretty much kept the party >50% HP before the enemy turn and stacking on all those buffs makes it nearly impossible to die. And the buffs just keep getting reapplied ontop of the enemy taking a full chain from all party members every single turn. I don't think there was any single enemy that lasted more than 5-6 rounds (10-15 full chains from the party) like that. And I can say that having fought every single encouter there was to fight in the Ice Labyrinth.

    Not sure if that was the intended way the battle system was supposed to work. Seemed like it, because of how EX Heal resets all the skill cooldowns. But on the other hand, I actually needed to hold off finishing some of the enemies, because I wanted to see what the ultimate EX bursts looked like. Normally, using one of the 50 EX skills would've been impossible because said strategy never lets the EX bar get that high. It also made every fight just a matter of guessing which auras or buffs to apply first and then applying them to the character with that element weakness.

    I think I also encountered a glitch when Priel died one battle (got hit with a water attack, hadn't guessed the right element) and someone else finished off the enemy before she revived. Priel never died again until the Forneus battle when she got taken out early and then revived on the turn right after, possibly because the revive counter never got reset. I didn't have many other deaths (I think any other deaths at all, actually) so I can't be positive about that bug.

    There are probably other bugs that I didn't notice, but obviously I can't say a thing about those.

    All in all, it was a nice entrée. Still waiting on the main course.
     
    #9
  10. MirageV

    MirageV Veteran Veteran

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    Wow, thanks for playing! You played SEB, huh? That's kind of embarrassing! But, let's see here...

    - The tutorial would have told you everything you needed to know, so yeah, the HP loss on over-chaining would have been there. I understand people are impatient though, so I won't hold that against you.

    - Yeah, the chain system does lag at times. It seems to depend on how many elements are on screen at once, I assume. It's pretty silly, considering how non-intensive the overall graphical set up is, but what can you do? It's definitely something to look at, if I ever plan to do anything further with the engine.

    - Yeah, EX Recover is a bit strong. Personally, I would have made it a bit stricter, but my partner and I ultimately figured that it would have been better to err on the side of easy rather than hard, in terms of the event anyhow. I can revel in my challenges with SEM, so no worries on that front.

    - Wow, nice catch. That is a glitch. Not a terribly important one, but now that I do think about it, I didn't reset the death counters after battle ended. My mistake there!

    Working on this has motivated me to continue work on SEM though, not that my time lines up with it, but hopefully I can get back to it soon. 
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2014
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  11. dinkledaberry

    dinkledaberry Veteran Veteran

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    This game is pretty legit! I love the combat. I died in the first real battle but once I figured out what I was doing it really took off. I saw a couple visual glitches where my main characters would freeze when getting hit and stay that way until their turn. It didn't happen all the time so I figured that wasn't intentional. And like you mentioned there is the lag in the chains at times. But it's still really good! The dungeon exploring is unique too and I like that. 
     
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  12. Indrah

    Indrah Megane Berserker Veteran

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    Here's my very quick and sketchy take on the game (link for info on why it's so short and all that jazz)




    The only thing this game seemed to bring for me was complete confusion. Who are these people? Why is the setting so unexplained when it has so many “odd” factors? Who are all these unnamed characters that it seems we’re supposed to recognise? Why are we in an arena? Why does the city float? Why do we live in a normal modern house, and why are there computers? Why are there elves and dragons and catpeople? WHAT IS ALL THIS?!


    It goes completely unexplained, and not in a natural “this is what the world is” sort of way, but in a “I’m totally lost” sort of way. The only thing I could understand was “Arena fights, need partner, have a sister”. I’m unsure if this is some sort of spin-off game and I’m supposed to recognise the characters, but that’s definitely not the case so I’m left totally confused.


    The combat was…nice looking, I guess. I’ll be honest and say that soft superchibi look isn’t really my thing, but I can’t fault the game for that. I do complain at the fact that the two sisters have the same head on. Not even a blond recolor for the sister?? Combat seemed…a bit dumb. I didn’t get to see much, but I only tapped the Z button as much as I could and won. It did more total damage than spells. Granted it could be an early game difficulty thing. When the game crashed on me I could not be assed to replay it all, since I could not save (to my knowledge).


    In short…I could not get into this game at all. Maybe it works as a spinoff if you know the setting, but as a newcomer I felt very left out and in the dark, and there wasn’t much to pull me in.
     
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  13. MirageV

    MirageV Veteran Veteran

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    That's a fair assessment.

    It's a spinoff of another game, so the characters, world, and lore aren't given much introduction, if any at all. In regards to the battle mechanics, I'd say you missed the point entirely, but I suppose I share some of the blame for not presenting it well enough either. Or maybe it was the fact that you have 80+ games to run through, so time isn't something to be spared for it.(I do commend you for taking on the task though)

    In any case, thank you for playing! Especially since it wasn't your cup of tea. I'm sure I'll find some use in this information for future endeavors.
     
    #13
  14. Indrah

    Indrah Megane Berserker Veteran

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    Ah, so it WAS an spinoff. I was so confused ;-;

    Next time I recommend that if knowledge of the previous game(s) is necessary you slip a note within the game (maybe right after you click new game) that this IS a spinoff game and mention that, otherwise new players facea lot of confusion.
     
    #14
  15. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    I highly enjoyed playing this game, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, visceral little adventure.

    First of all I'd like to say thanks for this really fun little game.  I decided to give it a try after watching Indrah's review and I'm glad I did - thoroughly enjoyed playing through SE:p and was really pretty impressed overall.  I've only played through a few other contest games so far, but of those I have played, this was my favorite.  I was really left wanting more.

    I will, say, however, it felt more like a demo than a true game.  By the rules of the contest, this is definitely a valid, full game - has a complete story arc, fully-implemented mechanics, etc.  But in its feel, it was really more of a demo for your series, with only a single dungeon (that has a single theme), a few unvisitable areas, and (from a strictly gameplay sense) no ability to develop your characters.  If you want your short game to show itself off even better, instead of just being a really intriguing 'demo', you should focus your efforts more precisely: think about which parts of it you want to fully build out, and which parts could be dropped.  For example, you could have dropped the "look around for a partner" bit and developed your characters with more conventional narrative.  For that matter, even though I loved the ensemble cast, you could have made a more effective standalone hour-long game by cutting the character list in half and giving each one more screen time.

    Thoughts on Presentation

    Most of the graphics were really nice.  I liked the way the special dungeon and "around town" maps were laid out; clean and effective.  I'm inclined to like the anime style and I thought the character portraits were beautiful.  Character sprites were maybe not so beautiful.  I did like the chibi-style monster sprites, but the supposedly scary ones needed to be more intimidating.  I kept referring to the Forneus as 'cute Gyarados'.  Voice clips were nice but in battle they need to be quicker.

    The maps and backgrounds looked very sleek and high-res; the backgrounds almost look like they were designed in a "house designer" program.  I liked the aesthetic a lot, I really did.  But it conflicts with the dirty, ad-hoc kind of feel that you set for Garenia through the dialogue, so I was left slightly confused.

    Control was too touchy.  I often touched up/down lightly and the selection moved more than once, causing me to click something without meaning to.  If you've evented the button commands, then add a longer Wait between cursor movement.

    Thoughts on Narrative and Characters

    I understand what Indrah was saying, but I personally really appreciate that you didn't go out of your way to immediately try to describe who the characters were or what they were doing.  I got a sense for their personalities, motivations, and relationships just by finding side-scenes and reading their dialogue.  It's an accomplishment that you could do this for such a large ensemble cast using about twenty total minutes of dialogue, so great job with that.

    The characters were a bit cliche and I don't mind that a single bit because they were heartfelt, they were vivid, and they were diverse.  Maybe it's my high tolerance for hamminess, but I thought the "find your own strength" motif worked well, and I felt emotionally invested in the characters, especially Priel and Perrine.  You added in about the right amount of backstory (I would have liked a bit more as the scenario developed), and it helped me understand why each character is doing what they're doing.

    I think there were a few odd word choices (such as Perrine using 'abide' when talking about her personality), but usually the diction and writing "voice" were very good.

    Thoughts on the Battle System

    It was, at once, ugly and beautiful, obscure and enlightening, broken and genius.

    The core design of the system is very well thought-out.  The useful "focus" skill, the constantly-in-flux EP meter, and the constantly-building EX meter all come together to ensure that each turn of a battle will be playing out a little differently, and that's the single most important thing in maintaining a player's interest in a battle system.

    One thing that I loved was how de/buffs didn't take a turn to cast.  Being able to use these otherwise-marginal skills in combination with attacks/spells/defense, as long as you have enough EP to do so, opens up so many more viable strategies to the player, and also helps you, as a designer, avoid the tricky art of balancing the value of buffs versus active skills.  Adding a cooldown to these types of skills was also a smart move.

    The EX Recover skill broke the system somewhat.  I think the idea for the skill is good, but I was able to use it every two or three turns, which meant I rarely needed to make tough decisions about EP usage.  Simply put, it makes battles too easy, and crowds out other cool EX skills.  If I had my way, it would be reworked as a "super focus" of sorts - recovering more HP and EP (and maybe also preventing more damage) than a standard focus, but using your turn (as well as the EX points) to do so.

    Besides that, balance felt just about right to me.  Enemies could dump loads of damage onto you, but rarely one-shot the girls, so you have a chance to heal and protect your injured fighters.  In a game with no revival items, having the KO state last only a few turns felt fair.  And battles never plodded on, since you could take down most monsters in a couple turns and even bosses within half a dozen.

    At least, they never plodded on unless I wanted them to.  See, because LF and EP carried over across battles, I'd often kill all the monsters except one, then use buffs, Focus, and EX Recover until my party was at full LF and EP before finishing off the last enemy.  This wasn't particularly fun, but it was useful.  What you might want to do is incorporate a mechanic to discourage or prevent players from "abusing" the system this way.  A friend of mine at the RPG Maker Pavilion is using the best idea I've ever heard of to prevent this kind of thing: using a few variables to track whether the players and enemies are sustaining very little damage, and whether the player is using "abusable" skills like heals.  If the variables get high enough, most non-boss enemies will sense that they can't win, and will flee from the battle.

    I aired my complaints about the battle sprites earlier, but what I did like was that they were very animated. It was an immensely satisfying feeling to figure out a good strategy, and then start attack chains and watch the girls unload on a monster as I tapped the spacebar to say "keep attacking"!  As much as the system is mostly well-designed, so too is the feel, and that's something that's often overlooked when designing RPG combat.  Great job on that.  I did experience the same lag that Traverse did, though.  It was usually on the scale of about half a second between attack commands - enough to be very annoying, but thankfully not crippling.

    The one drawback of your battle system was that parts of it were quite confusing.  I understood everything you explained in the tutorial, I think.  But some things went completely unexplained.  Why were some weapon hits in a chain using different elements than the fifth and final attack?  Was Perrine getting in multiple hits per button press in her chain, or did it just look that way?  Why are the monsters attacking once sometimes and twice sometimes, and was that skill he just used on me physical or magical?  What does Luck do for me in battle?  These answers all seemed to be hidden behind some kind of obscure rules that, try as I might, I couldn't figure out.

    Overall, though, I had a lot of fun with the battle system - strategic, visceral, and fun.

    Thoughts on the Map Node System

    This was a clever system that took a lot of the burden out of dungeoning and I feel it made good use of the extra "Travel Points" resource.  There was a range of interesting things to find besides battles, such as traps and bonuses.

    While I appreciated the existence of traps, I thought their implementation was a missed opportunity.  It would be so cool if some of them let you, for example, play a minigame to control your own destiny, rather than choose evade and hope the RNG shows mercy.

    A few other ideas for nodes you could add - completely optional (in the sense that avoiding them doesn't cost TP) battles against extra-strong monsters for some kind of permanent bonus to stats (or rare items, if you add items into your game), nodes that transport you to another node, or minor events that are simple character-building scenes (EDIT: on a second run-through, that's exactly what these minor events were.  Nice.  But I still think those other gameplay extras would be nice in dungeons.).

    The look and feel of this system was very good, aside from the aforementioned button-sensitivity issues.  Overall, it was a winner, and I think a longer game could float on it just fine.

    I think if you're going to make a full game with this system, you should take care to vary the gameplay between "dungeons" (like the Icefall Labyrinth) and "scripted events" with battles (like the Garenia arena).  Either of these would get stale if you had to do it too frequently, but I think if they're interspersed between each other, along with a bit of exploration and the kind of character development scenes you've already got, it will be a great experience.

    Overall Thoughts

    I'm looking back and saying "whoa, I wrote a LOT!", but that's because I felt really invested in the game.  It was fun, lighthearted, full of both strategy and energy... and also managed to slip a few heartfelt moments into the mix as well.  There are a lot of little problems, the biggest ones probably being button hypersensitivity and combat confusion, but there are times where the action and emotion run high enough to make these little pockmarks simply disappear.

    So while it felt like a demo, that demo left me desiring more Sacred Earth gameplay.  I looked up your dev blog, and I see a lot of information, but nowhere to download or buy any other games in this series.  Are they all still in development, or what's the deal? :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2014
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  16. MirageV

    MirageV Veteran Veteran

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    Wow, this is great feedback. Thank you so much for playing it and taking the time to write this. I'm really touched.

    Yes, the ensemble cast could have been chopped in half to give the remainder more screen time. That was our mistake. We were so focused on coming up with as many amusing side conversations as possible that we kind of lost control of ourselves. I suppose we traded overall coherence for amusement, haha. And I'm very glad that you seem to have gotten the message that the game was trying to convey. And they you took notice of those certain heartfelt moments. We tried to slip those in, in addition to the fun, lighthearted humor the game adopts. So thank you again for your observations. It means a lot to me to have someone understand!

    As for the gameplay, you are absolutely correct. EX Recover was made far too powerful. It was a decision made in the last minute to not have it take up any turns in the end. I originally had it do so, but it was deemed too hard I suppose. But I digress. The deed was done. You seem to understand the flow of combat well. EP refills over short periods, and you spend that EP on various skills. Chains increase EX count the most, which fuels EX Skills. All resources and tools go hand in hand to determine how combat plays out. This is essentially the feel for combat that I tried to port over from SE:M. And I'm glad it mostly worked out.

    In regards to the map node system. Yes, it was stripped down from SE:M because there were no tiles to reward players with advancement resources. And the trap and bonus tiles were missing additional effects. Having trap tiles initiate a button sequence is an interesting idea however. I didn't do it in 2k3 because it would have been a hassle, but now it's more than possible. I might entertain the idea when I work on the main project. Thanks for the idea!

    And to answer your question as to the development of this game overall. SE:M's 2k3 version has been canceled, and I'm currently in the process of rebuilding the game in VXA, using SE:p as a working base. So it's going to take a bit of time to fully transfer over all of the assets and get the game back up and running again. But I feel that once I do finish all of that, progress going forward from here will be more rewarding than it was in the previous version. 

    So once again, thank you for playing. Your feedback has been invaluable and I'll certainly be keeping it in mind for SE:M Ace.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2014
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