TRADE The Garden Path (LF a Mapper and a Spriter!)


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Apr 5, 2015
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Hey everyone! I am Dirge, and I'm the project lead of The Garden Path. This is a fairly ambitious project that's been a few years in the making - the plot was originally meant to be a comic book, and then a novel, and then a VX Ace project, but due to a whole bunch of real life happening, my team and I had to shelve the project. Now we're back, and doing it for real.

If you're interested, drop a post or throw me a PM! :D

Here's some (a lot...) of information:

Our Roadmap and You: Currently we're in the preparatory stages of the project, collecting assets, putting systems in place, etc. Our plan is to build the prologue of the game in its entirety, complete our opening cinematic (with voice acting), and then launch onto *******. As such, our core team (currently myself and my partner, and the positions open here) will be getting paid from that point forward, a cut of the monthly income from *******. Exact cut and workload will be discussed individually.

This project is a labour of love on my and my partner's part. That said, we want it to be as good as we can make it - the income from ******* will be dedicated solely to improving the game. At the end of the day, this thing is getting made even if we don't get any patrons at all, it's just a question of how much funding we can pour into it.

Right now, the majority of our systems are all in place (with only one core technical roadblock, which is being worked on), and it's time to start mapping.

Engine: MV

Synopsis: The Garden Path, formerly titled Isabella, is a Western Fantasy RPG with some fairly heavy steampunk influence. Featuring a custom on-the-fly class system based around your chosen weaponry (rather than the other way around), our weapon combinations and progression system yields a whopping 6 (!!!) possible classes, with over 88 individual skill progressions. Crafting, A.I., deckbuilding mini-game, exploration, hidden bosses, crazy loot, 60-fps animated battlers, a completely custom soundtrack recorded by professional musicians in a professional studio, voice acted cutscenes, you name it and we've got it. Check out our (rather long) features list:

Features with an Asterisk are already implemented.
  • *Press I for Isabella: Isabella has a love of learning. Throughout your journey, you will have plenty of opportunities to help Isabella increase her knowledge. Players can press I to talk to Isabella at any point out of battle, and the more you’ve helped her learn, the more useful things she’ll have to say. Keep an ear out for rumours, as well - just occasionally, Isabella might have a useful tip on where to find useful items…

  • *Stylish-ish Graphics: Our battle graphics are hand-drawn, with characters animated at 60 fps.

  • *Not Just Eye Candy: The HUD is pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves, but that’s not all it is - it also has your safety at heart! When you’re in an area with potential enemies, your HUD will let you know by animating - the cogs and pistons and whatnot will start rotating and, uh, piston-ing.

  • *I’ve Had This Sword All My Life - Oh Look A Better One *toss*: Nope. Not here. We’ll be honest - the idea that the protagonist has had a sword all their career, and you replace it for something with better stats in the first 20 minutes of gameplay, is something that really bugged us. Hal likes his sword. It’s practically his best friend. It comforts him in the darkest hours of the night. You won’t need to replace your starting gear. You can, of course, and let’s be real, you will, but you’ll still have a use for it. It’ll be perfectly viable to use all the way through endgame, too - every single item will. And yes, there’s still plenty of loot to be had, don’t worry your greedy little hands.

  • *Augments Galore: You won’t really find a weapon that’s objectively “better” than another one (except certain extremely rare ones…). That jacket you found isn’t necessarily going to stop a bullet any more effectively than the one you’ve got on. Instead, every single item in the game has an array of generic augmentation slots - for example, a sword might have two Offense slots and a Defense slot, where another one might have one Offense slot and two Utility slots. That first sword will do more damage and buff your defense a bit (depending on what augments you put in there of course), and the second one will do a bit less damage, won’t add defense, but will give you some useful abilities (such as increasing incoming healing, making your character attack earlier in the turn order, increasing your crit chance, poisoning your enemy, and much more).

  • *We’ve Got Class (But No Classes): An RPG without classes?! Blasphemy! Even Skyrim made you spend skill points! Well, yes. We’ve taken a different approach. A character’s focus will entirely depend on the way you build your items, and which items they happen to be wearing. The possibilities are - well, not endless, but it’d be a lot of effort to count. (We counted: currently there are a whopping 69 character classes, and a total of 88 individual weapon skill progressions in the game!) Make a character able to unleash immense magical devastation. Build a damage-soaking tank wielding a sword and shield. Rip your enemies apart with a pair of single-handed shotguns. Take them down without exposing yourself with a sniper rifle. Fling grenades then beat them over the head with a wrench until they give up their loot. Mix and match - build a swordsman who uses magic to enhance his attacks. Split the difference entirely and build a character who wields a sword in one hand, a pistol in the other, and flings spells as needed. Or go full-on stealthy with an assassin-type character who deals massive damage when enemies are distracted and wounded.

    Now picture this: You’ve got four characters you can customize into whatever tactic your heart desires. On the fly. Yep, that’s right - you can swap tactics by changing equipment (and therefore classes) mid-battle if you want to.

  • *That Seems Like A Lot: It is. We’re not going to lie to you - that’s a TON of options to choose from even before you get into how you augment your characters’ items. But here’s the thing: The more your characters use their weapons, the more skillful they’ll get. In addition to levelling your actual character, each character gains levels in weapon types as they use them, increasing their effectiveness with those weapons and unlocking new skills, too. So despite there being a downright silly amount of options, you’ll still want to pick a couple and get the most out of them.

    But, in case you decide you want to try something else, you don’t need to go back and beat low-level enemies with new weapons. (Anyone remember vanilla World of Warcraft, having to grind up weapon proficiency? And we all know how fun that was…) There’s a better way.

  • Climb The Tower: As you progress, you’ll unlock access to the Tower of Solace - an immense superdungeon that evolves as you progress through it. It contains enemies from all over the world - not just Insavance. Each floor is repeatable, and every time you defeat the floor’s boss, that floor will change - it will have more powerful enemies, new treasure, new secrets, and more. And after the first time, you’ll be able to skip the floor boss if you want to proceed to a higher floor without changing the one you’re on. Defeat the floor boss enough and it will eventually cycle back around to its first permutation, so even if you missed something the first time, you can come back and collect it later if you desire.

    The Tower offers a place where you can work on your weapon levels while also acquiring otherwise-unobtainable loot, learning more about the world’s lore, and perfecting your team’s tactics. Plus, within the tower, your weapons gain experience faster than they do elsewhere.

    The Tower’s strange energies prevent outright death - if you are defeated in the tower, you will instead simply find yourself in the Tower’s lobby instead. And if you should conquer the Tower and uncover its secrets, you will learn one of the world’s greatest secrets, and be well rewarded.

  • How Did It Do That?!: The enemies you’ll be facing range from brainless zombies to brilliant tactical commanders. They behave that way, too. The enemies you come up against will react to your actions, and their behaviour will adapt to your tactical choices in combat. Smarter enemies will attempt to anticipate what you’re going to do next, and counter it, or even change their entire encounter based on what sort of assault you throw at them.

  • *Crafty Little Bugger: The Garden Path features a detailed crafting system. Throughout the game you’ll find blueprints for all sorts of items that you can craft. Materials can be purchased, found and looted, of course, but you can also acquire them by breaking down other items. In fact, some items can be broken down in multiple ways to yield different results.

  • *Hunt ‘Em Down: There are a whole lot of enemies in The Garden Path that, for various reasons, want to gnaw on your head or stick you with sharp objects. They all get classified into creature types, though - like Beast or Human - and you can use augments that will enhance the damage you do to creatures of that specific type. Got a quest to go slay a particularly large and unpleasant Voidcat? Slot a bunch of augments that give bonuses against Beasts! Maybe a sweet lady in a remote village mentioned they’re getting raided by bandits regularly, so you track down their camp and are going to go raid THEIR home and see how they like it! Sounds like augments with bonus damage to Humans will come in handy.

    There’s a handy-dandy status page for your characters that will show you exactly how much bonus damage you’ll do to any given creature type with your main and offhand attacks. So you don’t need to worry about keeping track!

  • Burn ‘Em Up Instead: Maybe you don’t want to commit your augment slots to bonus damage against only some enemies. Maybe you’d rather set them all on fire instead. That’s okay, we’re not judging. You can also apply augments that will add elemental damage to your attacks, which will affect creature types differently. You’ll get less raw bonus damage, but that bonus damage will be applied to all enemies instead of a certain type. (Here’s a tip: Try both kinds of augments at once and watch that particular enemy type absolutely melt…)

  • It’s A Big World: In The Garden Path, you’ll meet many, many people, face a huge array of enemies, and learn that there’s a whole lot more to the world than you realize. There’s an Encyclopedia built into the game, where you will be able to read up on the people you meet, the enemies you face, and the world around you. As you explore - and especially if you help Isabella learn - you’ll learn everything from interesting historical lore to rumors of hidden treasure, stories of powerful magic and items that you might be able to pursue, powerful enemies to conquer, and much more.

  • Now With 100% More Cowbell: The Garden Path boasts a completely unique soundtrack, recorded, mixed and mastered in a professional studio. But that’s just the tip of the noisy iceberg - there are tons of unlockable songs you can find as loot, quest rewards and more. Patron’s Rest Tavern has a jukebox that you can use to listen to these songs, and there’s even a craftable Pocket Juke you can carry around with you!

  • In Case That’s Not Enough: We’re huge fans of having optional minigames within RPGs, especially card-based ones. So we’re including one! Throughout The Garden Path, you will be able to collect all kinds of cards, build your deck, and challenge people, and reap the rewards.

Positions/Roles Needed:
  • Mapper: I can do a lot, but I'll freely admit that I'm a craptastic mapper. I'm looking for someone who can create awesome maps for the game. Considering the project's scope, this is gonna be a fairly big workload overall.
  • Spriter: Fairly obvious, this one. A game needs people. The chibi style of the RTP sprites doesn't jive with the gritty setting and story, so we're looking for someone to populate the world with people!

My Role(s)/Position(s): If I wore all my hats for this project at the same time I wouldn't be able to get through a doorway. I'm a sound engineer by day, I own a recording studio business. I'm coordinating everything, of course, but I'm also doing the database work, eventing, a lot of the design, tons of pixel art, scripting where I can (and commissioning people where I can't), action sequences, composing/recording/mixing/mastering, sound design, voice acting, story-writing, UI design, pretty much if you can think of it and it isn't mapping/spriting, I'm doing it. My partner is doing UI design too, composing, throwing ideas, and he's the brain behind a huge chunk of the story.


Skill Trade: If you'd rather swap skill services instead of the whole "paid down the road" model, that's cool too. I can offer lots of audio-related work like mixing, voicing, pixel stuff such as icons/weapon sprites, proofreading/editing...

Characters, Setting and World Development: Get ready for a huge chunk of text in here...

The Story

At the height of the War of the Vines, with Humanity under invasion by a superior force from across the ocean - John Patrick Vitam, the President of the Modus Government, was to announce the birth of his firstborn. Instead, the joyous day turned into one of despair, as he was forced to announce his wife and daughter’s deaths of birth complications.

Seventeen years later, the country of Insavance is still reeling from their bare survival against the Dryad invasion. To make matters worse, a rebellion has arisen, and the country is balanced on the edge of a civil war.

In a tiny nothing-town called Salvum, Hal Kirkland - once a mercenary and then one of President Vitam’s personal guards, now a wanted man with a bounty on his head - is living out his days keeping the monsters at bay in return for just enough coin to keep his whiskey glass full. Until an old friend and colleague, Walter Conroy - one of the President’s top agents - interrupts his drinking to make him an offer.

The President’s daughter did not die at birth. She has been alive and well all this time - and the rebels have kidnapped her. Walter offers Hal a chance: help him rescue her, and the bounty on his head will be lifted.

The Players

Hal Kirkland is a retired mercenary. Well, not so much “retired” as “last seen fleeing the capitol with a bounty on his head”. Now, he lives a bare existence keeping the twisted monsters - results of the Dryads’ battle-magics - at bay. When he’s not killing, he’s deep in his cups. When Walter Conroy informs him not only is the President’s daughter Isabella alive, but that she’s been kidnapped, Hal rouses himself to action - not because of who Isabella’s father is, but because of who her mother was.

Walter Conroy, one of the Modus Government’s most well-known agents, is a childhood friend of Hal’s. He alone knew where to find Hal after John placed a killing sum on his head. A jaded, somewhat sour man, Walter’s sense of duty and loyalty - both to his country and his friends - is matched only by his bloodlust in battle.

Leona Lannigan graduated from the Relicum Academy of Engineering with top honors, and that’s only because they didn’t want to invent an even higher accolade for her. This young woman is stern, brooks no nonsense, and has an unmatched gift with machinery. She was recruited to the rebellion - colloquially referred to as the Skypirates - on the promise of limitless resources and no constraints, and the freedom to pursue her own projects when she wasn’t working.

The woman known as Scarlet is, if not the reason for the bounty on Hal’s head, then the catalyst of it. A fierce warrior and fellow member of the President’s bodyguards, Scarlet’s relationship with Hal and Walter is … complicated. After Hal was forced to flee the capitol, Scarlet left the Modus Legion and set out to make her own way as a hired killer. Already an accomplished sniper, her skills made her a name feared throughout the length and breadth of Insavance until the birth of her daughter. She hung up her rifle and vanished into obscurity, becoming a full-time mother.

Isabella Vitam, daughter of John Patrick and Elayna Vitam, is widely believed to be dead. In fact, the only one who knew that she still lived is John Patrick himself, having sequestered her in a tower in his palace to keep her from becoming a target of his enemies. Yet somehow, the Skypirates found out, and kidnapped her.

The History

Insavance, the homeland of humanity, was once prosperous and verdant. In the year 1257, human explorers discovered a whole new continent - and with it, a whole new people. These creatures sported bark instead of skin, and looked more like humanoid trees than anything else. The closest human tongues can come to pronouncing their name for the land is Dryadalis; thus humanity dubbed them Dryads.

There began an era of trade and learning. The two peoples established embassies in each others’ capitals, and sought to learn from each other. The Dryad society was heavily based on their extremely powerful nature magic, something Humanity had never before seen. The entire concept of magic was foreign to them, and they were eager to learn about it.

But it became clear that Humanity has no talent for magic, and where the Dryads could work miracles with the wave of a hand, Humanity could not, and never would.

The Dryads’ very lives are tied to nature itself - more specifically the Lifetree, a mind-bogglingly immense tree at the center of their capitol. 47 years ago, in 1270, the President - John Patrick Vitam, then a hot-headed young man who had newly inherited his position - decided that if Humanity was to harness the power of magic, they too must draw if from this tree. He sent a task force to carve their way into the Lifetree and retrieve a piece of its innermost core.

Without this piece of itself, the Lifetree began ever so slowly dying - and so did the Dryads. Yet despite entreaties to return it, John Patrick Vitam refused, so intent was he on drawing the power still humming within it.

Thus began the War of the Vines, where the Dryads brought the wrath of nature itself down on Insavance. Humanity fought back savagely, their superior technology pitted against the Dryads’ magic. Yet without magic of their own, humanity slowly but surely lost ground. Inch by bloody inch, they conquered fully half of Insavance over the next 33 years. Humanity was going to lose this war of attrition.

In 1303, that changed. Suddenly, John Patrick’s Modus Government began supplying its armies with elixirs they dubbed Spelldrinks - potions that gave normal men magical abilities for a brief period. This, combined with their technological superiority, gave Humanity the edge it needed to drive the Dryads back. The blend of technology and magic routed the Dryads completely, and in the space of not quite two years, Insavance belonged to Humanity again.

But it did not end there. As the dust settled on the most brutal conflict Humanity had ever known, a rebellion rose against the man who had brought it upon them. Their people and land devastated by the War of the Vines, Humanity teetered on the brink of all-out civil war.

And then the rebels kidnapped the President’s daughter.

Screenshots: None yet, but you can get a look at some of the enemy art here.

Josue Castillo

Apr 19, 2017
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If you're still looking for a good mapper, PM me to show you my work!

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