Cinnamon

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I'm not sure what point you're making? Games with lots of story are in decline because of Youtube videos? I'd still much rather play a game than watch some video compilation. Final Fantasy X would never have had the strong emotional impact it had on me if I just watched the CGI clips on the internet.
 

kartersaint

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I'm not sure what point you're making? Games with lots of story are in decline because of Youtube videos? I'd still much rather play a game than watch some video compilation. Final Fantasy X would never have had the strong emotional impact it had on me if I just watched the CGI clips on the internet.
So that's why I put "biased" in front of my opinion. I'm the person who rather focusing the story than game play mechanism. I used to play the game as really hardcore way when I was young, but... now it isn't. 

Of course, there's still a person like you is existed. Playing the game and fulfilling the emotion with whole footsteps rather than just watching. But I just wanted to demonstrate there's a view which opposes that. And Youtube provides good things to it.
 
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Cinnamon

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Oh, I honestly didn't understand the point you were making. I wasn't disagreeing per se. : ) I don't really game much lately either. I don't have enough time. :/
 

kartersaint

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Although I made this point, but I'm still side with JRPG's nostalgic constitution. But the reality is cruel. The things we liked are not any more be loved by new trend. Sad... 
 

Merlandese

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Okay, so I played this a little while ago, but I haven't been able to properly formulate what I wanted to write about it.

I'll start with my plain stance: I really like this game! My favorite aspect is that it felt loved. That's a hard measure to substantiate, but I think most players can tell the difference between a game the creator was in love with and a game the creator simply made. And if you didn't love it, well... it felt that way!

The music is really nice. I'd like to see it up for sale on Bandcamp, honestly. I know you have a SoundCloud, but last time I checked these tracks weren't up there. Polish those puppies up and sell them on Bandcamp and I'll definitely buy a copy from you. :)

The art is good. I think it's fitting for the most part, but not top notch. Still, I found it endearing.

The writing is great, and I love the characters. Even Bud starts with his own character as an emotionless mute. The battle system works wonderfully in a lot of ways, but one of the ways I found it worked best was in giving everyone on the team that character! Every time Bud lost some HP, I felt bad. Whenever Crow Squawked, I rooted him on. Mara, being a total awesome witch, only really every annoyed me when I had to attack with her. XD The way they functioned irreplaceable-y in their battle roles did as much for growing them into the narrative as the dialogue. 

The whole battle system is well balanced, and I think you did a great job on it. Moreover, it exemplifies an idea in JRPGs that I was discussing the other day: most JRPGs are "dungeon"-centric, not battle-centric. This game is both, in a way, since every battle can be its own thing regardless of item optimization. But it also incorporates how you traverse the "dungeon" into the grand scheme of battle. I know that the next time I get into this specific conversation I'll use The Heart Pumps Clay as one of my examples.

The Attack and Guard commands were a problem for me. They had strategic use, but being that everything else had a bit more charm and unique-ness to them, you never wanted a character to just attack. I think you could trick me into feeling those skills were more valid if you changed what they were called. Defying the convention in just those few names might add flavor, but it's not necessary since I still used them. Mara, for example, could have Attack replaced with... ummm... Witchslap! That really makes you want to Witchslap Percival (although you shouldn't, since it won't work....)!

My big complaint with battles is a repeat you've probably heard quite a bit, which is that elemental shifting shouldn't take up a turn. I like that for enemies, but not for Mara. Making the shifts immediate would be a big balance-breaker, though, so if you were to change anything about that, I would suggest somehow making a move or set of moves that allowed Mara to shift on the same turn at the cost of 10MP (maybe 15, but probably 10). It'd make shifting feel less like a time restriction that drags the battle on knowing that if you blow some MP you've bought yourself the time slot. Another issue would be making that option available without cluttering her Witchcraft command even further. Maybe a new command with all of the Shifts would work out.

I also wish the mandatory battles were lessened. I don't know why, but when I entered a new screen and saw a mandatory battle, I felt less inclined to go after chests. Maybe it was my personal fear of losing Bud!

This was a great entry and I was glad to play it! The little touches were so nice, like how battles form an outline of Bud as you enter them, or how Thulak Khan shifts back awkwardly when he laughs. I'd love to see more polish applied to it. Having even color-swapped pictures/animations of Bud as different elemental golems would be cool. And the RTP assets fit in a bit awkwardly, but great job as a whole! Easily among my favorite entries.
 

Housekeeping

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Thanks, Merlandese!  I was going to give you a reply last night, but I zonked out.  I'm glad you felt that The Heart Pumps Clay was loved because it very much was.  I have a job that gives me summers off, so that entire month I really lost myself in the work.  I'd really love to be able to do that full time--seriously, the fourteen hour days and social isolation probably should have fazed me worse than they did.

-I've been playing guitar for quite a while now, so how much you liked the music means a lot to me.  I honestly haven't thought of monetizing my game music--maybe I should, though.

-Mind shooting me a link to the thread with the dungeon-centric/battle-centric discussion (if it was a thread and not just some conversation with a friend, of course)?  I always like to read stuff about what an RPG can be.

-You've got a couple of interesting ideas for the mechanics, especially the immediate elemental shift at the cost of MP.  I'll definitely consider that for the next update. 

Anyway, thanks for playing and thanks for sharing your thoughts!
 

Nuclear Mosquito

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Hey guys, here is my honest review of The Heart Pumps Clay.

To the developer, Housekeeping, I apologise for the late review. I wanted to give you a nice and full review, so hopefully that makes up for the fact that it took so much time. I’d also like to thank him for creating something that really helped me to relax and escape from some serious stress that I’m currently experiencing.

Just a quick disclaimer before I start:

I’ve only played the game for 1 hour, that is unfortunately all I had time I had to play it, but I believe that it gives me enough to work with. I’m also very new to games made in the RPG Maker Engine, so I apologise if I missed something very obvious.

So let’s get into the review:

First off I want to go about a few specifics about the battle system.

From a UI perspective I found it difficult to explore the battle menus in the start of the game, as I was never really certain who I was highlighting and how the flow of the menu works. This of course dissipated as I got used to the game, but it can be improved. Another UI aspect that gave me problems was the speed at which the battle text appeared. The text disappeared so quickly that I had no chance of reading it. I know that some people read faster than others, but maybe providing a setting for that speed would be nice.

One of my largest problems with the game and battle system was that the battles were very drawn out. I don’t mind tough and challenging battles that test your skill and endurance, but that wasn’t the case in the part of the game I played. The battles also felt rather dull due to a bit of an imbalance in abilities and a lack of variety in the abilities that I saw in the game.

Because the battles are a very big part of the game it really deducted from the game’s experience. The battles were the weakest aspect of the game to me.

Another thing that really deducted from the game’s experience was the lack of any kind of tutorial. I only knew about the menu due to past experiences with RPG Maker Games and I would’ve liked an introduction to the character abilities. I was able to figure everything out on my own, thanks to past experiences, but it resulted in me not getting that into the game until after the 20 min mark. (That should’ve already happened at the 5 min mark)

Now on to the positive things I have to say.

The inclusion of the system menu was a very nice touch to the game. It enabled me to tailor the game a bit more to my needs. It still lacked some functions, but the inclusion of it is already a very big plus to me.

The writing and story was also very nice to experience. Sorry if I’m insulting Housekeeping here, but I mean it as a compliment: ”I waded through the rather bland battles, just to get to the next bit of story that the game had to offer me.” The story really backed up the characters and used comedy sparingly and wisely. (To some good effect)

Another thing that was a very nice bit of detail was how the characters’ abilities really reinforced their personality and fit in with their character.

Lastly I want to mention a few things that are insignificant (given the context of development), but might be concerns for the developer (Basically I’m nit-picking):

·         There were some errors in the maps where tiles weren’t used the right way

·         The certainty of some actions in battles was nice, but it made battles very predictable and boring.

·         The art style felt a bit raw to me, but that can be excused due to the time constraint of the game's development.

·         The game also felt very linear.

·         All in all I would suggest that the developer should look at the design decisions he made and see if they really reinforce the theme of the game he was aiming for.

To summarise:

The Heart Pumps Clay is a nice game to play due to good writing backing it, but the battle system really works to its disadvantage.

Writing (4/5) – Very good
Mechanics (1/5) – Very bland and boring
Art & Music (2/5) – Not bad, but there is a lot of room for improvement

Overall (2.5/5) – Good story, but mediocre mechanics.

Note: I just read that you intended the combat system to be more like a puzzle, so I understand the design of it a bit more, but they were still too long for me. (I think I spent at least 30 turns just to defeat the knight)
 

Housekeeping

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Woah, 30 turns for Percival?!  He can be beaten in four (maybe three--can't quite remember).  Anyway, thanks for playing the game.  I have a modified version of Merlandese's suggestion that I'm going to implement in the next version that should speed up battles a bit--I just need to test it to make sure that it's balanced and I'll include it in the next update (probably after the contest results are announced).  Sorry you didn't like the mechanics; I think that the mechanics actually do fit into the theme quite well, which might have been clearer by the end.  If they weren't fun, though, then that's definitely a problem I'm going to have to address.
 

Nuclear Mosquito

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Woah, 30 turns for Percival?!  He can be beaten in four (maybe three--can't quite remember).  Anyway, thanks for playing the game.  I have a modified version of Merlandese's suggestion that I'm going to implement in the next version that should speed up battles a bit--I just need to test it to make sure that it's balanced and I'll include it in the next update (probably after the contest results are announced).  Sorry you didn't like the mechanics; I think that the mechanics actually do fit into the theme quite well, which might have been clearer by the end.  If they weren't fun, though, then that's definitely a problem I'm going to have to address.
Just going with what I said in the review: A tutorial would've probably trained me to get used to the mechanics and use them in the correct way. Then I might use them in the game properly and enjoy them more. I'm not trying to say this in a negative sense, I'm just mentioning my personal experience.
 

GIRakaCHEEZER

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Woah, 30 turns for Percival?!  He can be beaten in four (maybe three--can't quite remember).
It took me at least 10 turns to beat Percival, maybe 15+. Probably because he switches his elemental so much, and it's not clear whether he's switching *to* the element, or if he's just switching which one he's weak too, and the color flash is so brief that sometimes you miss it and/or forget what he even switched to.
 

Merlandese

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It took me at least 10 turns to beat Percival, maybe 15+. Probably because he switches his elemental so much, and it's not clear whether he's switching *to* the element, or if he's just switching which one he's weak too, and the color flash is so brief that sometimes you miss it and/or forget what he even switched to.
Mm, yeah, that was a sticking point for me too, now that I remember. And for all of the reasons GIRakaCHEEZER said. Having one small part of his picture change color when he shifts might be nice. If you write down the details it sounds like he gives out more than enough data for everyone to know which moves to use, but in practice that doesn't seem to be the case.
 

Housekeeping

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Yeah, that makes sense.  It wouldn't be too hard to do a palette swap for each element he switches to.
 

Housekeeping

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Hey, I took the feedback I've been getting to heart and updated the file again here:

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

I think I've addressed most of the major gameplay criticisms at this point (other than additional tutorials, which I'm really on the fence about).  The changes I've made:

-Mara now has access to a new skill category called "Mana Burn" that allows her to cast her elemental magic without shifting elements.  The drawback is they take double the MP (or triple in the case of ice daggers).  This speeds up a lot of the battles since you don't have to shift elements nearly as often.

-Percival's battler graphic changes colors when he shifts elements, which will make the gimmick of that fight clearer to the player.

-I removed one mandatory encounter that felt redundant.  I considered removing more, but they were all battles that either implicitly taught something to the player or were the culmination of previous "lessons," so the bulk remain.

That's it!  Hopefully that addresses the main gameplay criticisms and makes The Heart Pumps Clay more streamlined and fun!
 

Merlandese

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Awesome! Just tested it out and the Mana Burn works really well! It has a good name choice, too. You know that above all else it'll burn your MP. XD

It's also nice because when you get items that add better elemental moves, they won't be placed in Mana Burn (I'm assuming), which will necessitate the E. Shifts for certain advanced techniques. Well done. :)

Still hope you put the OST up somewhere, even if you make a Bandcamp that's donations only. It may never make a lot of money, but it's nice to make it available for the people that want to have it.
 

Housekeeping

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Actually, the new skills are placed in Mana Burn as well.  Since they take 50 mp, though, it's hard to justify using them, especially if you have the Lich Skull equipped, which takes your base mp down to 75.  On a test play, I felt legitimately conflicted about shifting or using mana burn in some battles, which (I think) is a good thing.

I'll look into making a Bandcamp account; if anything, it'll be good practice for my next project, which is looking like it's going to have a meatier soundtrack if I ever get around to finishing it.
 

Indrah

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

*Warning: long, LONG video of the whole game*





+Interesting, well suited to short game premise.
+Appealing custom sound.
+The art can be hit and miss, but the battlers are definitely appealing.
+The humor is great, writing overall is good.
+No levels, just equipment. Growth based on them.
+Interesting use of the Steal command in battles.
+The combat animations were really cute (even if a bit rough graphically)
-I know Bud’s mechanic of losing Hp as you have fights is on purpose, but I personally hate it.
-Mara does 90% of the fighting by herself, and it becomes a fight of turns, which can get really annoying since ALL actions, even switching elements, consume turns. Bud ended up being brutally useless to me, and the crow was ok, but didn’t do much damage at all.
-The talk portraits are pretty bad…
-There is a very real frustrating and unfair factor to a few fights, especially the last boss which is near impossible unless you have a very specific build.

To the developer: my only real problems with the game are the last boss and the lack of character versatility. Other than that, I enjoyed the game very much! Overall the balancing was my main problem, if that gets fixed then this game is definitely worth it.
 
 

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