Skinwalker

Discussion in 'Completed Games' started by SnowOwl, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. SnowOwl

    SnowOwl Veteran Veteran

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    [​IMG]

    Four friends from the same university go out camping together. But while gathering firewood, strange sounds can be heard from the forest.
    After that, things get gradually worse.
    This is the classic camping-trip-gone-wrong movie from the eighties made into a RPG Maker game.

    It features a minimalistic soundtrack, with mainly the ambiance of the forest and all the creatures in it accompanying you in the increasingly dark forest.

    I recommend turning off all lights, pulling down the blinds and putting on headphones for maximum enjoyment.
    Playtime is roughly 20 minutes.
    Story is based upon the Skinwalker creature and the stories surrounding it.

    Screenshots

    [​IMG]

    The camp, during the day.

    [​IMG]

    Getting darker...

    [​IMG]

    Inside a cabin, safe and sound?

    [​IMG]

    Looking out the window.
    Download

    Here
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2013
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  2. anothergoblin

    anothergoblin Driven by nightmares and caffeine Veteran

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    Gotta say, I love the visuals. Are all graphics custom-made? I'm gonna have a closer look later on, but so far, this looks great.
     
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  3. TengHu

    TengHu TengHu Veteran

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    This is some creepy stuff.

    *download*
     
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  4. dw817

    dw817 ◈ Senior Games Programmer ◈ Veteran

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    OK, let's do this thing:

    First off, nice job on the camp and forest. Very dark and eerie.

    The game starts out with a bit of a story and there is a fellow to the left of the player that the player can walk right over. I guess he's part of the background, but not a Sprite. Little confusing there.

    This RPG does not move in a tight grid like 32x32. Not sure what the measurements are, that's a little confusing cause you can talk to a sprite facing one direction from 3-different positions as long as you are merely close to them.

    There are no visually dissimilar sprites to show where the wood and water are. Also suggest you have a notice that says how much more wood you need as I went back a few times and while they said now we need water, which led me to believe I had enough wood, checking the fireplace itself said I needed more wood.

    The warp you have to the top-right of the camp is a little confusing. If you go there and just walk left to right you warp back. Suggest the player warps a little higher than that so they truly must walk BACK to go back to where they came from.

    I'm not really sure where that darned wood is since the first few sticks I found were merely at dead ends in the map with no visual reference. Finally found it all.

    I see the water is being retrieved from a lake, but it is so dark you can't tell it is water except by going up to it and pressing [ENTER] to examine.

    I like the creepy skinny text, that's a good touch to the game.

    You have a point where it says, "I shouldn't go too far from the camp."

    While it prevents the player from doing so the first time, you could have the player do it a 2nd time and get immediately killed in a scary script to punish them for not taking this good advice.

    As small as the game is, suggest EVERY sprite have some degree of conversation. After water and wood were gathered, I noticed the girl has no dialogue when you are facing to the left.

    I like the way the mist scrolls at twice the speed of the player's background to give you a good feeling of depth.

    It is REALLY hard to see where you are traveling when going to investigate the strange sound. Not even a flashlight, just can barely see the player's sprite.

    Everyone always brings a flashlight, you could make a sphere of light that doesn't reveal much but does show that the player had enough sense to bring a flashlight rather than wandering out in the pitch dark without.

    As small as the game is, suggest ANYTHING of interest have a message attached. When the player is investigating the strange sound, there are dying fire embers in the pit. Suggest this be revealed to the player instead of no message at all.

    Build the suspense with messages, especially if the player really checks out everything before investigating.

    When the message appears, "I should check out that sound." it is not clear if the other campers are in the tent or if they have wandered off themselves. Perhaps add something that reveals, "The tent is empty. Where did they go ?"

    It's a little comical to see the player run from danger and navigate the pitch blackness perfectly whereas when I'm trying to find my way through it I'm bumping into every little obstacle. :)

    The WHOLE camp brought only one flashlight ? Minju, where it is used when the party goes to investigate looks good, and that's a good lit sphere of illumination.

    When it says, "Not this way ?" Why not ? As small as this game is, the player should be allowed to investigate every little thing and add scary dialogue besides.

    When the party finally reach the top of the map to comment how dark it is, there is an odd jumping of the flashlight visual, it does not follow the party.

    Perhaps have some dialogue when the player tries to get ahead of the slower moving companions, like "Wait for us." etc.

    If they were really wandering for a long time as the script suggests, the flashlight would be having problems about now.

    I like how the script shows the player was thinking about shouting but decided to keep quiet unless the situation got worse - that's how fear works.

    You have a lot of written dialogue. Suggest there is a part of the game where you try to find the car, or even show where the car (visually) is in the beginning of the game.

    Then the car is obviously missing from where it was parked when the party try to escape.

    Umm ... You can't lock the door to a tent, you can zipper the flap. :)

    Whoa ! WTH ? You didn't mention anything in the script about them finding a cabin, just "He followed us here !" All of a sudden they are in a cabin with no mention in the story of it. Truly an unexpected jump in the story.

    Because you are not using a standard 32x32 pixel format for the tiles, you can get right up against the right-side of a wall and not be able to move up to it. A whole person could pass between you and the gap there.

    Kind of odd you can walk right through other sprites as if they part of background. Suggest you place them where they do not block the way and make them solid like most RPGs.

    Good job on dialog all throughout the cabin investigating every little thing. A player inadvertently will look for any clues they can find.

    I like the script where you show a close-up of the window outside.

    To add to the creepiness, you could have the flashlight flicker and go out at key points in the cabin, and return back to normal light when they leave these areas.

    You have dialog, "We played some cards here before going out camping." Is this the party's personal cabin then ?

    If this is the case, there would be flashlights or candles - if it is an unknown cabin I can understand there not being emergency supplies.

    One part of the dialog says, "You saw something looking like me." If this is from the earlier window scene, there is no way this camper could know about it as no dialog was revealed in that respect.

    Pressing [ESC] reveals only an option to quit. Perhaps at least list what the player is carrying, water, firewood (and number of), fuel for the fireplace, etc.

    I like the, "I don't feel so good." scene you did, very creepy.

    Because you can move in less space than 32 pixels, you can examine two items at one time (both scripts appear) that are to the left and right and directly ahead of the player. That might be a problem in future games.

    Did you do the, "Yub dub dub." voice yourself ? :)

    You have great text descriptions, but there are many parts you could add imagery, like the black liquid seeping in front of the player. A picture of the albino with long fingers on the roof.

    Definitely needs more imagery, that's important in a horror movie.

    You could definitely have the text parts spoken by voice actors, your friends.

    You mention the car gets started, but there is no audio to indicate an idling or even in-motion engine.

    The glass shattered - could have appropriate sound of glass breaking here.

    When someone shrieks, you could have the audio for them. Audio shrieks and gasps and groans and other sounds are definitely part of a horror film.

    Car skidded to a stop, there was no appropriate screeching sound.

    Good job on the gunshots, I definitely jumped when I heard it the 2nd time.

    You have a lot of grisly descriptions near the end, suggest you add lots of horrible sound effects to emphasize these. Remember, "The Grudge" and how they used that creepy clicking sound ? When you heard it, you knew something bad was happening.

    For the ending, you could have some degree of creepy music. If nothing else, you can use MIDI from a horror film that is not well known to players.

    If you like, I could suggest something.

    Noticed after it said THE END, the whole game ended abruptly shutting down the executable. You could add a credits list or something, especially if you or some of your friends did the creepy sound effects.

    Completed game - sorta scary, needed more imagery and audio and human verbal dialog to match the mood, fear, and emotion of the scene would definitely add to it.

    Overall, nice job ! It's not easy to make horror RPGs and pull it off well.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2013
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    Pink Peach and ncamissar like this.
  5. SnowOwl

    SnowOwl Veteran Veteran

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    Hoo-boy, thanks for writing up all that.

    I'll address a few of the points, first.

    I'm working on removing the wood and water gathering. They felt kinda unnecessary. So problem fixed, there.

    Good idea, might use that.

    Haven't heard anyone else have trouble with the screen being too dark, I'll look into it.

    I would think they brought spare batteries. They did say they brought some important stuff.

    They do talk about what the plan is, while they are walking through the forest. They agree to go to "go back to the cabin". Before they enter the cabin they also mention the cabin a few times during the cutscene before.

    Agreed, I am working on it.

    Thank you!

    Many of the other points is stuff I'm working on, but a few are honestly too much work for too little payoff, like adding items in your inventory (I kinda like minimal menus too)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2013
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  6. dw817

    dw817 ◈ Senior Games Programmer ◈ Veteran

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    You're very welcome ! Now that I've gotta bit of free time in the evening to play some of these great RPGs, I thought I would review a few of them as well, especially if they are small and functional.

    Well, maybe not remove that, add where you can see the wood and water, and add scary dialogue for each piece found, maybe the player sees a tree that looks pushed over by something heavy.

    Maybe another piece of wood could show that there is a puddle of black liquid nearby that doesn't look like oil.

    Maybe another piece of wood could show a strange doll made out of branches. Use your imagination.

    As for the water, it could be cloudy, perhaps it splashes like there is something alive in it.

    Just maybe give a dim circle of illumination when they don't have a flashlight. They do this for instance I noticed in TV shows where it shows the main character traveling in a house without power, they still have a dim light follow them around for the camera.

    Part of the challenge could be to find more batteries in the Cabin maybe ? "You have found 1 of 4 batteries."

    And cause the batteries are small, they wouldn't show up like the wood or the water - they would be hidden in a cabinet, but you could still have animation for a cabinet door opening and staying open to remind the player they looked there.

    Oww ... I must've missed that. I was getting caught up in the stories of the campers and then they just seemingly appeared in the cabin. I'll try that again to see what I found puzzling there.

    UBetcha !

    Maybe have a window that pops up then that says, "You have found 1 of 3 pieces of wood for the fire." so the player knows how many more they need to find. And the player still doesn't have a visual inventory.

    The player could also be required to find a container for the water. Stretch out your games I say and they will be that much more interesting and alluring to play.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2013
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  7. SnowOwl

    SnowOwl Veteran Veteran

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    Made some changes to the game.
     
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  8. dw817

    dw817 ◈ Senior Games Programmer ◈ Veteran

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    As with updating any project, please include a document, either here or in the package itself, detailing the changes you have made, and display the version # in the runtime in case the documentation for it gets misplaced.

    Downloading your newest version now and will explore.

    Exploring ...

    Skinwalker 2nd Review

    Nice that you are introducing the cast & crew this time around. Suggest you either make screen lighter or have a glow-circle around each character as you detail them.

    Back at the camp, still can't seem to get a word out of the sprite to my left, and I can still walk thru him.

    He's bobbing his head up and down - is he sleeping ? Ok, let's go gathering some pine nuts.

    Hmm ... I didn't want automation of finding the items, just suggested they be brighter colored and easier to recognize as actual sprites needed to collect and continue the game and not just part of the background.

    HIS head hurts ? I'm the one that did all the foraging earlier. :)

    There is enough wood for a fire and ... who starts the fire ? And - BLAM ! Script-lock. No-one or switch starts the fire so the game is frozen here. Don't know if you need a SAVE file as I think it'll lock here every time. Can provide one if you need it.

    And regarding this bug - that's okay. Sometimes you have to tackle more errors before you can beat the little ones. I'll wait until this gets fixed as the game is locked in this position and I can't continue any further.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2013
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  9. Skimoman

    Skimoman Last Airbender Veteran

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    I really like the sprites, they don't look like any default format!
     
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  10. SnowOwl

    SnowOwl Veteran Veteran

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    Your description is a bit messy. A screenshot or a better description (or both) would be nice.
     
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  11. dw817

    dw817 ◈ Senior Games Programmer ◈ Veteran

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    I'll send you the saved game. Maybe I'm not good at playing this - but how do you start the fire from here ?

    Owait ! There is no way to save a game in here ... Hmm ... Screen shot it is.

    Michael: My head hurts.

    Celeste: We sure had a blast yesterday, didn't we ?

    Pit of wood (not yet lit): There is enough wood for a fire.

    Tent: No need to go into the tent right now.

    Sleeping Dude: (no response)

    Try to leave: I got everything we need. I should go back to camp.

    Problem: How do you light the fire ?

    Screenshot [attached]

    Skinwalker v1_1 (Mar 19 2013).jpg

    Skinwalker v1_1 (Mar 19 2013).jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2013
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  12. SnowOwl

    SnowOwl Veteran Veteran

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    @dw817

    Can't really tell from your pic, but if you haven't, put water in bucket. Then talk to Celeste.

    I thought you finished this before. That part is the same as earlier after you got the water and the wood.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2013
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  13. dw817

    dw817 ◈ Senior Games Programmer ◈ Veteran

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    I finally found the problem and WOW ! Other people are going to have a hard time finding it too. From the position I am in here you must travel to the RIGHT of the tent, walk forward where you really can't see anything visually there and press ENTER to continue the script. That was the switch I couldn't find.

    I know some of this might seem obvious to you but I get frustrated when I can't see stuff or there are invisible switches or invisible walls in games. I thought those were gone with the NES days. You might add dialogue from her so with the, "We sure had a blast yesterday, didn't we ?" and if you talk to her again a 2nd time you get:

    "By the way, the cooking pot is to the right of the tent."

    I am looking now (hard) and seeing a dark circle there. It's still pretty inconspicuous with the background. [attached]

    And I have a fairly big monitor too, 20-inches across.

    I'd like to suggest the ability to save game too anywhere and to have the ability to skip the character introductions from the beginning through a question, "Is this your first time to play ?" This will aid and speed up the debugging process.

    Thanks for your patience !

    skinwalkers v1_1 (cooking pot).jpg

    skinwalkers v1_1 (cooking pot).jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2013
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  14. SnowOwl

    SnowOwl Veteran Veteran

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    I dunno how you manage to get such bad picture quality on your vx ace, but I can assure you that is not how it is supposed to look. increase your resolution or something. That sheep is grainy as all hell.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2013
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  15. MyLordRobinson

    MyLordRobinson Emperor of Carnelia Veteran

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    DW, before you become a co-developer to Owl's game, how much experience do you have using the program?

    There is a difference between giving a review, which was great, and butchering a game then adding your own personal critique.

    For instance, you've been a part of this community for nearly a month- what credentials do you have to suggest this guy do anything as far as mechanics are concerned?

    Not flaming- just curious.
     
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  16. dw817

    dw817 ◈ Senior Games Programmer ◈ Veteran

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    Years ago I wrote a RPG-Maker, from the ground up, it was a 10-year project for me completed in 2003, so I have a bit of a background in game and RPG mechanics. I am not familiar with the program he used although I have played games in it.

    I am only stating this from a game player's viewpoint that it is difficult to see the item in question I highlighted with the red arrow.

    If the game is supposed to be deliberately difficult, that is fine, but I don't believe this. I think it's supposed to be a spooky reflective game that tells an interesting story and may have one or two mechanical pitfalls in it that detract from this and may cause frustration with a new player - all of which these mishaps can be easily corrected when found.

    Monkey-proofing is the term, and I do tend to investigate all permutations and possibilities in games, often to the interest of authors.

    If anything I have been sincere, polite, tactful, helpful, and gracious, from the word go. I don't remember butchering anything so perhaps you need to refresh my memory on this, Solomon ? [​IMG]
     
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  17. dw817

    dw817 ◈ Senior Games Programmer ◈ Veteran

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    Apologies, perhaps that is not a good copy. Here is it saved as a PNG (no compression) original size pixels. Mind you, this is from what I am seeing on my screen in Testplay, not your editor, which may show a brighter screen. I am using the default window size it is provided with and screen-capture from Corel Paintshop Pro X4.

    [​IMG]

    That is a pixel-per-pixel 24-bit decompressed copy. No change to brightness, contract, or sharpness. This is exactly what I see and what was screen-captured.

    If you are seeing something different, could you please send me a screen copy of the same area from your computer so I can compare ? It is not uncommon for people to do this to see differences in graphic hardware or operating systems for future compatibility.
     
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  18. SnowOwl

    SnowOwl Veteran Veteran

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    I can see the container just fine. I dunno what the problem is. It could contrast more against the background, sure. But I can't be bothered to make another release for such a minor detail.
     
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  19. dw817

    dw817 ◈ Senior Games Programmer ◈ Veteran

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    Don't worry about it. That's just fine. There was a time I was writing some code in Blitz-Max and for some strange reason the routine I wrote to display Truetype fonts in there appeared awfully blurry in Windows 7, (a friend I was chatting with sent me their screenshot) but in Windows XP (as I sent my screenshot to him) it appeared just fine.

    So then I changed the method of displaying the font by creating a new buffer, clearing the region it would occupy first, then display it, and that fixed it. No difference visually in Windows XP but fixed Windows 7 so the font wasn't blurry at all. Thumbs up from my remote debugger.

    Today I'm still not sure why it works. Sometimes it can be something as complex as this, and perhaps the payoff for that amount of work is even less. I think I can be a little too technical and detailed at times, and I apologize for that.

    I've already played and won your game - and likely that's enough for you ...
     
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  20. SnowOwl

    SnowOwl Veteran Veteran

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    I would have liked it if you enjoyed it, too.

    Oh well, can't please everyone.
     
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