The Heart Pumps Clay

Discussion in '2014 Indie Game Maker Contest' started by Housekeeping, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. Housekeeping

    Housekeeping Veteran Veteran

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    [​IMG]

    In The Heart Pumps Clay, players take control over Mara, a swamp witch, her golem, Bud, and the aptly named Crow as they climb the Tree of Life in order to obtain the Source of All Things. Gameplay consists of fixed battles set at choke points on the map. However, after every battle, Bud will lose some of his max health, so it's up to the player to balance Bud's waning strength with their urge to open the many deliciously tempting treasure chests along the way.

    Battles are the traditional rpg affair, but the unique cast provides an interesting party dynamic that slowly evolves over the course of the journey. Mara's spells can be devastating, but she has to shift between elements, which also synergizes in different ways with Bud. Bud is a tank and a physical powerhouse, and Crow is a thieving little rat with wings. Consumable items can be stolen or crafted during battle, but they're removed after each battle, so if the player wants a safety net, they better plan ahead. If they fail a battle, though, no problem: hp and mp are restored and the player is returned to the map as if nothing happened.



    Features:
    -Mostly original assets, including character portraits, battle animations, and enemy graphics.
    -An original soundtrack.
    -A vibrant cast of characters in a concise, well-presented story.
    -Well-balanced battles with an emphasis on strategy.
    -Character progression comes through a variety of equipment found throughout the Tree of Life, including equippable spells for Mara.
    -About 1-2 hours of gameplay.

    Credits:

    Lead developer: Kasey Ozymy
    Character Portraits: Jason Vanderslice
    Most spell graphics: Cameron Bishop
    Scripts:
    MOG Animated Title
    Yanfly:Ace Core Engine
    Ace Message System
    Ace Battle Engine
    Battle Command List
    Ace Equip Engine
    Skill Restrictions
    Steal Items
    Ace Menu Engine
    System Options
    Parallax Lock
    Screenshots:

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    Here's my contest entry page: http://contest.rpgmakerweb.com/game/view/id/404#.U7DTxLGmV0o

    And here's my rpgmaker.net page: http://rpgmaker.net/games/6541/

    I hope you guys enjoy this one; I've really put my all into it this month.  Good luck to all the other contestants!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2014
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  2. Housekeeping

    Housekeeping Veteran Veteran

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    Hey, thought I would shamelessly bump this.  For people who are having difficulty with some of the battles, I've made a hints/tips section on the rpgmaker.net page for this game.  You can check it out here:

    http://rpgmaker.net/games/6541/Tips/

    You might also want to read Unity's review of my game while you're there if you want to see another person's perspective before giving this one a shot. 
     
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  3. Saltwater Croc

    Saltwater Croc Voice Actor/Frelance Composer Veteran

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    Wow, seems like a neat game... I'll have to check this out!
     
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  4. xeroborn

    xeroborn Veteran Veteran

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    I played about ~45 min of this game. Overall, I would give it 3/5.

    There's something good going on here, but a sluggish battle system holds it back.

    The Good:

    - I liked the art style and the music quite a bit. The battle animations were well-done for the most part also.

    - Battle system is very interesting and each battle almost feels like a puzzle to solve. There are lots of cool ideas here, only keeping potions for the duration of a battle is a fantastic idea.

    - Lots of personality.

    - The writing is pretty good but...

    What I didn't like so much:

    - I think the pacing of the story could be improved. Dropping the player into this world with no context for the characters, location, or anything really was confusing to me.

    - There are lots of good ideas in the battle system but there were a few things holding it back. The battles take too long for me. Letting the main character change elemental affinity and cast a spell in the same turn would help a lot. It was a bit frustrating to have a group of 6 enemies and cast an aoe spell on them, and have half of those enemies be immune.

    - I would switch the potion crafting to the bird. I think that would help a lot actually. There were more then a few turns where the bird was not doing a lot to help me. The mage does a large % of the group's dps, and you already have to spend a turn switching elements. Spending another turn to make potions just made the battles go on and on. Letting the bird do that would feel better, I think.

    - There seemed to be a fine line between winning a battle and losing. I mean there wasn't much room for error. I didn't die once for the first 30 min or so, and then I got to a new area and the difficulty seemed to spike. It took 4 or 5 tries to beat one battle, and then the next one was the group of 6 enemies, half of which were immune to my aoe spell. That was when I stopped playing.

    - The animations could be cleaned up, there seemed to be a lot of empty frames (or something else I don't know about). The battles didn't feel real snappy.

    I don't generally like having the section on what I didn't like be longer then what I did like, but I think this game is really close to being a keeper. As it is, the battle system is really interesting. It requires thought and planning. I think with a little more work on polish, speeding it up a bit, and perhaps a little more backstory early on and this game would more fully realize its potential.
     
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  5. Cinnamon

    Cinnamon Veteran Veteran

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    Love the way this looks! Will give it a try today! :D By the way does the Tree of Life entrance intentionally look like a vajayjay?
     
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  6. Housekeeping

    Housekeeping Veteran Veteran

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    Well, that's clever when I think about it, but, hmm, ummm, hmmm...yes.

    @xeroborn: Thanks for the review.  Backstory is handled through flashbacks for the most part; I started in media res, mainly because I find that front-loaded backstories can get overwhelming, and the order in which the backstory is segmented is important for the narrative.  Crow already can produce potions through stealing, and you shouldn't need more potions than that other than in some boss battles.  I actually had most battles wrap up in a few turns, but, like you said, that's once you solved them, and I wanted them to function as puzzles, really.  That's a tough balance to strike.  I still don't know if I would change it for this game, but, in the future, I'm thinking about streamlining battles more.  Again, thanks for your thoughts!

    @IronCroc: Let me know if you like it (or hate it)!
     
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  7. kartersaint

    kartersaint Ornate Brain Veteran

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    Want to try the game of a reviewer. 
     
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  8. Housekeeping

    Housekeeping Veteran Veteran

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    Cool--hope you like it!
     
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  9. kartersaint

    kartersaint Ornate Brain Veteran

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    The constant battle system gets me exhausted. lol. 

    So I played it. 

    The storyline... recalls me the fascinating 90's Japanese RPG games especially three people of a party. Ambitiousness protagonist, typical never-talking Golem or bodyguard of her/his (and somehow that type of thing must face miserable fate at the end!), eloquent assistant which is mostly tiny and somewhat annoying. This cliche got me through this. Even whole storyline. But I won't continue it, for others.

    Most of Japanese games in that period provide good melancholy to people. Only for RPG? nope, so many shoot-em-up games or beat-em-up games also like that (I mean storyline). I don't like recent period because it became too casual. Of course, there're still good games but not much as an experimental attempt of 90's Japanese. Is it just my reminiscence functions this idea or old period was really good? I don't know. It's enough about my lamentation. *put it back*

    The game looks adorable, and beautiful. However, in fact, the game is extremely descendable and somehow contained the tragedy. It's really a meaningful game.

    I like the game like this. Not only this, but the game I lately played named "Unraveled". These kind of games visualised beauty, concealed the sorrowfulness or touching things behind the game. And now those games are not famous as casual games these days and easily forgotten.

    Your game is deserved, I really enjoyed it. The custom musics you put were nostalgic. Very well done. I won't tell about extremely numerous battles, because I'm not certain at RPG Battle. But over all, I repeat it again, I really enjoyed the game.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2014
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  10. Housekeeping

    Housekeeping Veteran Veteran

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    I'm so glad you enjoyed it!  I know the battles are hit or miss with people; I wanted to make a game that had interesting battles that contributed toward the narrative--maybe not in a battle-by-battle basis, but as a gradual progression.  So, yeah, most of the gameplay occurs in the battles, and if that's an aspect of RPGs that you prefer glossing over, then my game could be a rude awakening.

    You're right, though, about this game being reminiscent of 90s RPGs--that's definitely where my roots are.  I think that RPGs in the late SNES era through the Playstation era were experimenting more with the importance of story in games, and those were the games that I enjoyed the most in my life.  I feel like JRPGs started focusing more on production quality and let their stories sort of tow the line, and the western RPG model of "build a world instead of a straightforward narrative" has become more appealing as a result.  I think that way of writing is fine, but I really want to make games that convey a story, and that's not to say that there aren't games now that aren't towing the line, but I think they're a rarity.  It's been a long time since I've played a game where I really connected with a character, and I think that's one of an RPG's strengths. 

    I love the music from that era, too--emphasis on melody and hummable hooks.  There's a lot more to composition than that, and I like adding depth with interesting rhythms and more complex harmonies, but getting a tune stuck in someone's head is always top priority for me (unless it's just not appropriate, like in a horror game).

    Anyway, thanks again for giving my game a shot, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!
     
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  11. Empiron

    Empiron Shield Thrower Veteran

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    Hello! I can see you put a lot of work into this game,

     

    I have played Heart Pumps Clay, I managed about an hour and 20 minutes playtime before I had to give up. There's a homunculus with puppet things that are impossible to kill. I tried all the different elements to fight it but it was just too strong. No amount of revives could salvage the pounding that my anus took.

     

    Anyways i'm going to list the Pros and Cons!

     

    Pros-

     

    - The Artwork is really unique! The mapping, battlers, animations, battlebacks

    - The character art was well made, I especially like Mara's and the Thief's

    - The animations (especially love the fight animations for your characters) were really nice!

    - The music is simple but endearing (That fight music is stuck in my head now dwadsadasDAd)

    - I love the humorous dialogue

    - Ripping the armour off that thief was great fun! 

    - The chest items were nice and it gave a good choice on customising your heroes

    - Crafting items within the battle and stealing items using the crow was a nice unique touch to the gameplay

    - Healing after every fight :D

    - I liked the atmosphere

     

     

    Cons- 

     

    - Some of the fights were insanely difficult, especially there is one puppetmaster whos puppets hit double all the time. It must have taken like 15 attempts to finally beat it, it wasn't even a boss match! And there's the blindfolded one who i couldn't continue further with. ( I know too well how hard it is to balance monsters! Trying to find the line between being challenging and being too easy)

    - There are too many monsters that can only be hit by magic, so all my golem and crow can do is either hit 'null' all day or sit in a corner and cry

    - Why no HP Bars D: I have no idea whether the enemy is close to death or not! Just smash it endlessly til it dies

    - I couldn't really follow the story, I mean we are searching for some all powerful artefact or something? It kept getting mentioned but I would have liked to see why we wanted it,

    - The characters didn't interact with each other very much, most of the time on the game was spent in combat so I couldn't really get engage with them

    - It got very repetitive after a while, it was pretty much fight fight, loot chest, fight, boss with dialogue, fight fight loot chest, boss with dialogue, fight fight

     

    Well that's all I can think of at the moment! I'll update this if I can remember anything else

     

    Overall I personally would give it 3/5
     
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  12. Setheim

    Setheim Veteran Veteran

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    Okay, my turn. 

    I kinda loved / hated this game. My first reaction to the art was that I hated it, lots of games in this contest (and in the RPGmaker community in general) have some very crappy art and this seemed like it followed the same route. THAT SAID I must recognize the amazing effort that it certainly took to put it all together, from every animation, to every enemy, to almost complete maps of custom art is... well, amazing. As a graphic artist that I am, I tremble in thinking how much time it was put into this game's art and I'd love to see what future games bring once you get better at it. 

    Now, the story is... well... cartoonish. Probably done on purpose but it certainly doesn't fill my need for a storyline in a game, the jokes some were good but most really didn't do much for me, I think it had a lot of potential but it was wasted, probably because there simply was no time, or also likely because it didn't even matter to you. 

    Mechanics, well... I like exploration in my games, even just a bit, I don't mind if the game is mostly battles (or if the battles take the spotlight) but give me something else, an excuse for them. As for the battles themselves, they were... at first fun. Then annoying, then once you found a strategy; really easy. And the last one really dissapointing. It took me like 15 tries to figure out a strategy to defeat those guys, but it took me only two or three to realize whatever strategy was the correct was probably the ONLY ONE and I think it was, probably different if you don't get anything from the chests but I bet that one is just One. It made me feel cheated, it didn't require skill, just a pre-made answer, which in turn, didn't feel satisfying when I finally beat it. 

    Still as combat systems go, this is my second favorite in the whole contest (first one being the one used in the Null Regrets game). 

    So, in conclusion... i'd say your game is

    Decent (3/6) : Fun to play, but it doesn't feel like an actual complete game, more like a mini-game of sorts. Amazing art-work (if only for the detail given to it) that promises to get better in the future. 

    Now, if you have time I'd love to request a game review... I know the weak points of my game already but I love your reviews so I'd love to hear what you have to say. 

    http://contest.rpgmakerweb.com/game/view/id/156#.U9LfZfl5PEj

    Best regards.
    E.
     
    #12
  13. Housekeeping

    Housekeeping Veteran Veteran

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    It's cool to hate the art work; art's by no means my strong suit, but, yeah, I did spend a lot of time on that.  I do care about the story--very much so, actually--but I get that the humor didn't work for you.  I'm trying to use visuals and gameplay in my storytelling more, so the dialogue might have taken too much of a backseat; I'm still happy with the results, though, more or less.  Anyway, thanks for reviewing my game; I'll make sure to get to yours tomorrow!
     
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  14. Awl_ii

    Awl_ii Villager Member

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    I've played it! Here are my thoughts. 
     
    [PLAYTIME: 2:28:40, almost 100% while using no guide. I say almost 100% because I was unable to defeat the final boss, even with guide instructions.]
     

    |||PROS|||

    -(Mostly) original art, original music 

    I liked the art, and the music was nice. Did you compose it? (I notice there isn't a credited name for the music on the submission page, not sure if that's an oversight or intentional. A bit off-topic, but if you did compose it, what program did you use? It sounds nice!)

    As for the original art/RTP hybrid, I felt some parts meshed seamlessly while others were more obvious. This may because I'm jaded by the RTP though, and any use of it in an otherwise original game is going to stick out like a thumb to me. In the future, you might as well go all the way with original art, considering the effort you've already put in!

    -Battle system is logical and fun

    I never felt confused during combat. This is also the only RPG game I played that actually made me use the steal mechanic. Speaking of the steal mechanic, it's used quite creatively! Figuring out when to use it made me feel smart. Stealing puppet wires, thieves having a treasure-load of goodies to snag, these are things I wouldn't have thought of before but were pleasant surprises during my playthrough!

    -Battle-specific item management

    I suppose it was necessary due to the design of the game, but I was fond of HP and MP going back to max after a battle. Having the healing items only available (and readily summonable) in battle also accentuated the strategic angle of this game immensely. Also, treasure is quite valuable in this game and generally worth the battles that preceded them.

    -No "Game Over" screen

    This is VERY much appreciated, given the difficult battles. You have good design sense! 

    And for that matter, I should also praise escapable boss battles. That takes out the sting of losing without the frustration of, well, losing, because when the battle is looking irreparably dim I can effectively restart when I deem appropriate.  

    -Interesting characters

    For the most part, the characters were endearing or at least pleasantly quirky. I wasn't big on Mara, but that'll be discussed briefly in the Cons section.

    -Well-written

    No grammatical errors that I know of, and mood is consistent throughout! 

    -Nice cutscenes

    I quite enjoyed the production value of this game, and the penultimate cutscene of the bosses fraternizing with each other was cute and made me curious what a game starring these guys would be like!

    |||CONS|||

    -Too hard
     
    The overall difficulty was hard, yet fair and challenging. The last battle was too much though. Since you can't level up in this game, "overpower and overcome" is not an option and eventually the repetition will kill interest.  

    -Heavy reliance on elemental enemies

    Or rather, overuse of elemental enemies, specifically the blobs. There was actually a fair amount of enemy variety, and I feel more physical damage types would balance out the disproportional difference.

     
    -Mara

    The protagonist Mara is the weakest out of all the characters. Though, I don't think the game would benefit from her outright exclusion, as she provides a nice contrast to her peers and the world around her. 
     
    That being said, I think a game headlined by just Bud and Crow in this universe could be heartwarming!
     
    -Full-screen mode disabled

    I feel like the game could be more immersive with the option to put it into full-screen. Seems minor I know, but full-screen mode would benefit player concentration exponentially! 

     
    Using your own rating scale, I give The Heart Pumps Clay a 4/5. This is one of the better games I played in the contest, great work! I'd like to see this universe expanded!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
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  15. kartersaint

    kartersaint Ornate Brain Veteran

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    He purely composed it himself. You can follow this on https://soundcloud.com/a-very-long-rope/grow-at-the-speed-of-light. Remember, Housekeeping is a writer/musician. Just found this information from his introduction. 
     
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  16. Awl_ii

    Awl_ii Villager Member

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  17. GIRakaCHEEZER

    GIRakaCHEEZER Dreams of Sheep Veteran

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    Okay here were my thoughts as I played the game:

    There's a bit of art style dissonance right from the get go.  Some of these assets look like they were drawn in mspaint, whereas others look ripped from premade assets or whatnot.  The simple art wouldn't be so bad on its own but it clashes with the assets too much.  Music is good so far though.

    Do the characters really need little "?" or "..." or "!" bubbles to appear over their head each time they talk?  It just seems to break the flow of the conversation/text-events IMO.  Maybe it just happens in the opening cutscene.  Nope, happens in most of them.

    There are magic attacks in my attack menu, but I can't use some of them, and the game doesn't explain why.  Why?  (I later learned through experimentation how to element shift but I don't feel it was very well explained).

    Battle animations are nice, but battles themselves are a bit lengthy, especially for the beginning of the game.

    A complaint I have with the battle system is that some enemies can only be hurt by Mara's magic attacks, so for her to have to use an "elemental shift" before she can actually use a magic attack really breaks the pace of the battle there.  Bud and Crow are pretty useless at times (at least Crow can steal things though).  Like even when Bud is shifted to the fire element, he still can't hurt the grass slime.  Seems kind of unintuitive to me.

    Crow's ability to disable enemies is really useful for boss fights.  Almost *too* useful (except for the last boss(es) ).  Maybe it could use a cool-down time?

    I wasn't immediately aware that the scene in the swamp was a flashback.  Might want to make that more obvious.

    Wow these flashback images right before (what I presume to be) the final boss fight look like they were really hastily drawn.

    Oh well at least when I die I can just retry the battle again.  This is nice.

    Okay I'm pretty sure this final fight is nigh impossible, so time to look at your guide.

    Looking at this guide, stealing the purse and skull make the bosses change their strategy??  How was I supposed to know that?

    I got like maybe "half" of the items so neither of these strategies really apply to me, and I feel the battle is really tough anyways (and I don't feel like going back through the dungeon again just to get everything), so I guess I'll have to stop here.

    Overall it was pretty good, but the battle system feels like it could use some tweaking to make using magic attacks less tedious, and that difficulty spike right at the end really kills the game (I recommend getting some alpha testers to playtest the game next time).  I'll still give you a vote though, since the battles were fun most of the time.

     

    EDIT:  One thing I have to give you credit for is making your download only 21 mb.  Most people are giving out 100+ mb downloads, and I really doubt they are using all of the assets they are packing with their games.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
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  18. Housekeeping

    Housekeeping Veteran Veteran

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    Wow, a lot of feedback today!  Thanks, everyone!

    Awl:

    -Yep, I composed the music.  I used Reason--I think I have the version right before the current one, but I can't imagine they would ditch the sound bank.

    -Keeping the difficulty lower is definitely a concern for the future. 

    -I was originally going to go 100 percent original art, but I ran into difficulty when making grass and water, so I figured it would be smarter to just make that an optional thing after I'd finished everything else, and I ended up finishing pretty close to the deadline, so that ended up on the chopping block.  It's definitely been a common point of criticism, though, so I'll be sure not to do that in the future.

    -I think you'd probably like Mara a lot better after seeing the ending, but, yeah, I know that last fight is a doozy.  Hopefully at some point someone will do a let's play of this so you can catch the ending!

    -I know the old "grind to win" mechanic's been abandoned in this game, but that was to make the battles function more like puzzles.  I think the next game I make will have a difficulty option so I can satisfy everyone.

    -You should be able to alt+enter to fullscreen, but RPG Maker puts a black border around it.  Maybe there's a way to allow you to do that from an in-game menu; I'll make sure to keep that in mind in the future.

    I'm glad you liked it, though!  The difficulty's really a bugger to get right.  I kind of painted myself in the corner; since I was trying to keep everything like a puzzle, I wanted the last boss to really provide a challenge, and that probably ended up backfiring on me, haha.  Thanks so much for your feedback!
    GIRaka:

    -I really hate in-game tutorials, so I tried to design the battles around teaching skills in each section, e.g. the first section's all about elemental swapping, the second is mainly about squawking, and the third is mainly about stealing.  The idea was that you would need to swap elements so you'd read the elemental shift descriptions from curiosity rather than from a text box telling you to do it.  The first battles can be a bit much, though, since you have so many skills right at the beginning, so, yeah, I probably should have given a quick tutorial to cover that at least.

    -I probably should have given Bud an elemental attack property when shifted.  My roommate's girlfriend thought he should be able to do that as well, and, since she's clueless about RPGs, I should have taken that as valuable advice that I wasn't being intuitive.

    -Giving squawk a cooldown is a good idea.  I tried to make its high MP cost a limiting factor, and cranking up his MP is a reward for getting the treasures (or you could boost attack as an alternative).  I haven't really explored using cooldowns in an RPG, and it's something that I'd like to play with in the future for sure.

    -Percival's little picture story was meant to be drawn crudely, like a child had drawn it, in order to undercut his message about the power of friendship since he's full of sheep; the pretentious piano music under it was more of his perception of his tale.  How quickly they fall apart in the final fight should have underscored that, but if that wasn't conveyed well, it wasn't conveyed well.

    -You wouldn't know that stealing the coinpurse or the skull would change their behaviors necessarily, but, in the cut scene I just talked about, you can see Scrum stealing Percival's coinpurse and Thulak Khan showing off his skull, so I was hoping that these would act as triggers to the player, and stealing is pretty important elsewhere in the game.  When Scrum's exposed, Percival just makes himself invincible since he's selfish and Thualk Khan abandons Christianity and attacks rather than heals (this is reinforced in the post-battle dialogue if you ever get a chance to see it).  I tried to make that battle function in a storytelling way like that, so I guess the player wouldn't know that their behaviors would change, but I was hoping to make them curious about those items and know that something interesting would happen if you took them.

    -I was trying to make the battles pretty fine-tuned, but the difficulty's been one of the complaints I've been getting, so, for my next game, I'm definitely going to design around long-term progression rather than fixed, high-tuned fights.

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed it at least more than you hated it.  You're right about the file size: when you export a game from VX Ace, it forces you to include all of the rtp, which is about 200mb because of all of the audio files, mainly.  You can export without the rtp, but the players have to have the rtp installed--most people don't.  It takes a little bit of effort to modify your game so that it only includes what you used from the rtp--not a LOT of effort, but I think a lot of first timers don't realize how to do this.  My "contest games" folder  is looking pretty beefy after downloading over a hundred of these bastards.

    Oh, and I'm not sure if you know this, but I actually played and reviewed Tess in my review thread.  You can find the review in the second half of the master list in my second post in that thread.  In short, though, it was one of the better games I played in this contest.  My main complaints centered around the story/characters, but I liked the little puzzle elements mixed into the run and gun formula.
     
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  19. Awl_ii

    Awl_ii Villager Member

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    GIRaka:

    -I really hate in-game tutorials, so I tried to design the battles around teaching skills in each section, e.g. the first section's all about elemental swapping, the second is mainly about squawking, and the third is mainly about stealing.  The idea was that you would need to swap elements so you'd read the elemental shift descriptions from curiosity rather than from a text box telling you to do it.  The first battles can be a bit much, though, since you have so many skills right at the beginning, so, yeah, I probably should have given a quick tutorial to cover that at least.

    -I probably should have given Bud an elemental attack property when shifted.  My roommate's girlfriend thought he should be able to do that as well, and, since she's clueless about RPGs, I should have taken that as valuable advice that I wasn't being intuitive.

    -Giving squawk a cooldown is a good idea.  I tried to make its high MP cost a limiting factor, and cranking up his MP is a reward for getting the treasures (or you could boost attack as an alternative).  I haven't really explored using cooldowns in an RPG, and it's something that I'd like to play with in the future for sure.

    -Percival's little picture story was meant to be drawn crudely, like a child had drawn it, in order to undercut his message about the power of friendship since he's full of sheep; the pretentious piano music under it was more of his perception of his tale.  How quickly they fall apart in the final fight should have underscored that, but if that wasn't conveyed well, it wasn't conveyed well.

    -You wouldn't know that stealing the coinpurse or the skull would change their behaviors necessarily, but, in the cut scene I just talked about, you can see Scrum stealing Percival's coinpurse and Thulak Khan showing off his skull, so I was hoping that these would act as triggers to the player, and stealing is pretty important elsewhere in the game.  When Scrum's exposed, Percival just makes himself invincible since he's selfish and Thualk Khan abandons Christianity and attacks rather than heals (this is reinforced in the post-battle dialogue if you ever get a chance to see it).  I tried to make that battle function in a storytelling way like that, so I guess the player wouldn't know that their behaviors would change, but I was hoping to make them curious about those items and know that something interesting would happen if you took them.

    -I was trying to make the battles pretty fine-tuned, but the difficulty's been one of the complaints I've been getting, so, for my next game, I'm definitely going to design around long-term progression rather than fixed, high-tuned fights.

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed it at least more than you hated it.  You're right about the file size: when you export a game from VX Ace, it forces you to include all of the rtp, which is about 200mb because of all of the audio files, mainly.  You can export without the rtp, but the players have to have the rtp installed--most people don't.  It takes a little bit of effort to modify your game so that it only includes what you used from the rtp--not a LOT of effort, but I think a lot of first timers don't realize how to do this.  My "contest games" folder  is looking pretty beefy after downloading over a hundred of these bastards.

    Oh, and I'm not sure if you know this, but I actually played and reviewed Tess in my review thread.  You can find the review in the second half of the master list in my second post in that thread.  In short, though, it was one of the better games I played in this contest.  My main complaints centered around the story/characters, but I liked the little puzzle elements mixed into the run and gun formula.
    Reason 6! WOOT! :^D

    And yeah, sorry I couldn't get around to the ending, but I definitely tried! It felt like a sharp difficulty spike in an already hard game. I've beaten final bosses in mainstream games that were far easier than those unlikely antagonists! [if it's any consolation, I actually did google for the ending in the dim hope I'd find a streamer who happened to beat it.] You said you were inspired by 90's games, and it shows. Maybe just not in the best way, at least not for "average" players. Though, masogamers would surely embrace this game with open arms!

    I definitely felt the battles were puzzles (and thank Odin's beard they weren't random,) and I thought the puzzle-battles were part of the game's charm. More treasures would definitely help though. You have a good system for juggling inventory, so with more powerful items an additional layer of strategy could easily be implemented much like the "elemental shift" assessment in-battle. Hide the most valuable items behind tough but reasonable enemies and you're golden! 

    As far as difficulty goes, I'd keep the challenge, but reserve it for very late in the game. Like 3/4 late at the earliest. This is a very lighthearted game, so its difficultly from the get-go is pretty jarring. 

    As far as the final boss goes, I did not pick up that adorable cutscene was actually a massive and intricately-thought-out final boss hint. I know that feeling though. My advice is to "grandma" your game---when you're playtesting, pretend you know nothing outside of everything explicitly made clear inside the game. Remove the abstract mind completely, it should lessen the Guide-Dang-It moments considerably!

    For full-screen, I think RPG Maker has an option somewhere to enable it. Though I did not know about the alt-F4, thanks for the tip!

    And you're welcome! :^D It was quite good for a month's effort. I look forward to what you have to say about my entry!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
    #19
  20. Housekeeping

    Housekeeping Veteran Veteran

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    Not alt+f4--alt+enter!  Alt+f4 would close the game, haha!  And, yeah, I'll make sure to play your game tonight!
     
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