Unknown Designation - Story driven, Sci-Fi RPG

Discussion in '2014 Indie Game Maker Contest' started by xeroborn, Jul 1, 2014.

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  1. xeroborn

    xeroborn Veteran Veteran

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    [​IMG]

    edit 7/29: updated the links section with a new link to version 2.

    Introduction

    Hello, everybody.

    I made an RPG for the 2014 IGMC titled 'Unknown Designation'.

    I had two goals when I decided to make a game for this contest. One was to tell a story (my background is in writing short stories and novellas). The other was to make menu-based combat as interesting as I could, and try to fix some of the more tedious elements of playing a JRPG style game. All in under an hour of gameplay.

    Story Logline:

    'Unknown Destination' tells the story of Reika, a human created by a space bound colony of AI's, and is about her struggle to break free from her lonely existence.

    Gameplay Features:

    - When you level up in my game, you don't gain new skills. Instead, the skills are tied to weapon and armor sets. Each set has different skills bound to it, that use different resource management systems, and provide different passive bonuses. The sets function as unique classes. There are 3 of these sets in the game that can be switched out at any time you are not in combat (well, after you find them, you can switch any time).

    - The Weapon/Armor sets work as follows:

              - Lightning Catalyst/Electrical Armor: This is the one you start with. It is a direct damage mage type. Your skills use TP, which starts at 100 each battle, and regens 40 TP at the start of each turn. Eventually, you will run out of TP and have to weave auto-attacks into your rotation. I wanted to make auto-attacks a little more beneficial so each one will reduce your target's Max HP by a percentage, and has a chance to stun. There are also utility spells like buffs/debuffs and heals. This set is consistent, sustained damage. Passive bonuses are increased magic damage, and adding stun/Max HP debuff to Auto-attacks.

              - Pulse Rifle/Pulse Rifle Fatigues: This set uses mainly damage over time abilities that stack with each other. You also have a finisher move that does increasing damage based on your target's missing HP. This set uses MP as the resource, and is focused on back-loaded damage (ie, you place your set-up spells (the DoT abilities) and then when they tick down for 2-3 turns, you use the finisher move to kill your target.)  Passive bonuses are increased mana regen, and increased attack speed.

              - Energy Sword/Energy Plating: This set is based around scoring critical hits. You have skills that increase your chance to crit, and reduce your target's crit defense. The skills in this set cost a percentage of your hit points to use. You also have one skill that does increasing damage based on your missing HP, as you generally are hovering at lower health then the other 2 classes. This set is more front-loaded damage as those crits hit like a truck. Passive bonuses are health regen, and increased chance to crit.

    - No random battles. All enemies are represented in the field by sprites.

    - With one exception, there are no repeated enemy encounters in the game.

    - Female Protagonist

    Links to my submission page, and an alternative download link:

    Here is a link to my submission page:

    http://contest.rpgmakerweb.com/game/view/id/403

    And an alternative link to download the game:

    http://www.mediafire.com/download/8579cq5khklh780/contest.exe

    UPDATE: 7/29 new version available - https://www.dropbox.com/s/uc94u5eitgtjywa/Unknown%20Designation%20v2.1.exe
    Screenshots:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Credits:

    Acknowledgments

    Additional Scripts

    1. Yanfly – Yanfly Engine Ace,  Ace Core Engine v1.09, Ace
    Battle Engine v1.22, Battle Command List v1.09b, TP Manager
    v1.04, Battle Engine Add-On: Enemy HP Bars v1.10, Passive
    States v1.02, Skill Cost Manager v1.03, Skill Restrictions
    v1.03, Ace Menu Engine v1.07, Visual Battlers v1.01,
    Buff & State Manager v1.07
    2. Yami - Yanfly Engine Ace - Visual Battlers v1.01
    3. Kread-Ex - Yanfly Engine Ace - Visual Battlers v1.01
    4. Archeia_Nessiah - Yanfly Engine Ace - Visual Battlers
    v1.01
    5. Galv - Galv's Message Busts Version 1.1

    Additional Art Resources

    1. RPG MAKER Katakura Hibiki Fantasy Hero Character Pack
    [Copyright] © 2014 Katakura Hibiki
    Distributed and published by DEGICA Co., LTD
    2. RPG MAKER Frontier Works Futuristic Hero and BGM Pack
    [Copyright]© 2014 Frontier Works
    Distributed and published by DEGICA Co., LTD
    3. RPG MAKER Futuristic Tiles Resource Pack
    [Copyright]© 2012 ENTERBRAIN, INC; artist Celianna
    4. RPG MAKER Modern Tileset Resource Pack
    [Copyright]© 2012 ENTERBRAIN, INC; artist Lunarea
    5. MONSTER LEGACY 01 and MYTHOS HORROR RESOURCE PACK
    [Copyright]© 2014 ENTERBRAIN, INC; artist: PVGames

    Additional Music and Sound Effects

    1. RPG MAKER Undead Fantasy Resource Pack
    [Copyright]© 2013 Kain Vinosec
    2. RPG MAKER Cinematic Soundtrack Music Pack
    [Copyright]© 2013 Joel Steudler
    3. Inspirational Vol. 1
    [Copyright]© 2013 JDB Artist
    4. RPG MAKER Modern Day Music Mega-Pack Resource Pack
    [Copyright]© 2013 Joel Steudler
    (Additional Tracks by Lunarea)
    5. RPG MAKER Zonderland Music Pack
    [Copyright]© 2013 Intelligentsia
    6. RPG MAKER Futuristic Atmospheres
    [Copyright]© 2013 Joel Steudler
    7. Inspirational Vol. 2
    [Copyright]© 2013 JDB Artist

    Story and Design by Xeroborn
    Thank you for reading this far. I hope you will take a few minutes and check out my game. I'm actually pretty curious what other's opinions are. I will check this thread, and my submission page if you have comments/questions, and I will do my best to answer them.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2014
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  2. Cadh20000

    Cadh20000 Veteran Veteran

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    "Unknown Destination" or "Unknown Designation"?

    The thread title and the title screen screenshot says one thing but the body of the post says the other.

    Sounds interesting though!
     
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  3. xeroborn

    xeroborn Veteran Veteran

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    Ah hah yeah, thanks. Fixed that. The game is called 'Unknown Designation'.
     
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  4. Mesonyx

    Mesonyx That Guy Who Made That One Thing Member

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    Heya!

    Just dropped a review of your game right hurr

    Nice work!
     
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  5. Paladin-Cleric of Awesome

    Paladin-Cleric of Awesome Writer Veteran

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    Here's my review of your game!

    Unknown Designation

    Comments: Ok, so Ii like Sci-fi, I just find games based around it difficult to enjoy. But, I liked the premise of this game and decided to give it a go.

    Rating: 3/5

    Story;

    The premise of this story was very interesting. Two AI's fight against the world they have always know to find the freedom they both crave, because they feel there is something more than the Hive mentality they come from. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's what I took from it. It is an interesting look at life, and how difficult it truly is to belong.

    The story itself could stand to be longer, and to delve more into the story and the motivations surrounding the characters. It felt, sometimes, that the story was a little rushed and forced. With better pacing and a longer time in which to play I think this could be a great little story.

    Graphics & Music;

    1. I'm not a fan of the use of the High Ffantasy monsters, though I can see why they were used, they just looked out of place and wrong.

    2. Mapping was good, but could use a little polish.

    3. Mmusic was good, it really fit the mood.

    Gameplay;

    1. I liked all the different weapons and skills and how each used something else to work ie. TP, MP and HP.

    2. Battle seemed good, and I enjoyed that I didn't have to battle if I didn't want to, and that the final battle wasn't terribly out of my league.

    Final Comments;

    Had this game been longer, with ore character development and better story spacing and more story information, I feel it would be a very good game. Overall I enjoyed it and would recommed others to play it. Good job!
     
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  6. xeroborn

    xeroborn Veteran Veteran

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    Thank you for playing my game! Always interesting to see what others think.

    Ive posted elsewhere but may as well mention here that ive kept working on the game and made some fairly big changes. Remade a few of the maps and added a few new ones to expand the story. Changed all the battlers to animated versions and replaced all rtp battlers with dlc ones. Youre right about the fantasy battlers. They arent my preferred choice but it was important to me to have enemy variety so that is why i used them. I also replaced the chibi characters with full size sprites that are animated. I also want to make the game a bit harder overall. Ill post the new version when its done.
     
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  7. Housekeeping

    Housekeeping Veteran Veteran

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    This one had some interesting moments.  Overall, it was pretty clear to me that your background was in writing, and I think that hurt and help in places.  Here are my thoughts:

    -I'm sure you've heard the axiom "show, don't tell."  Your writing has a tendency to tell; you give lots of background information regarding the world, for example, that might better be implied through dialogue.  You've also included a lot of narration from the protagonist, which is fine in writing, but in RPGs, it's a little weird.  The "show, don't tell" rule kind of gets extended.  So, you wouldn't narrate the protagonist slipping--you'd just show it.  Likewise, the suit growing over her leg is a cool description, but, because of this medium, it doesn't really fit--you'd have to show that happening, either through sprite animation or pictures (probably better for the amount of detail you could get), for it to be really effective.  You could also show this through the gameplay--maybe her walking speed gets cut in half and her sprite changes to show a limp in that initial area. 

    -One moment in particular that I remember liking was when Hamilton got a friendly little jab from the protagonist while he was stirring tomato sauce, and then he put a little bit of pepper into it.  That mirror of imagery and dialogue was smart for a story, but, again, you'd have to convey that through actual images in order for it to hit in this medium.  So, I can tell that you have some writing chops, but you need to be able to shift those ideas into the medium you're using.

    -Gameplay was a bit of a mixed bag for me.  The different skill setups seem cool, and the characters definitely have unique skills, which I appreciate.  I ended up going with the pulse rifle setup, and the focus on damage over time, introduction of cooldowns, and ability to manage resource pools without items were cool ideas.  However, the battles all pretty much had the same strategy (the ones I fought, that is--I was able to run past most fights).  I never really felt in danger of losing a battle, and everyone went down with a quick chain of damage over time abilities followed by a few drains/culls/snipes.  So, you've got some cool ideas, but their implementation is a bit wonky.  One of the things you've got going for you is the different-but-equal (I assume) gear setups, so maybe swapping modes in combat could function as an added layer of strategy, and then you could set up battles that require swapping more than once and continue to build from there.  For me, I find it easier to create the players' skill sets first and then construct the battles around them.

    -Music and presentation were mixed for me, too.  The sci-fi cybery songs worked well, but some of the softer piano music was too by-the-books that they undercut emotional scenes.  Areas were also so short that I wondered why they needed their own music in a lot of cases (there's a little guitar-heavy number that's coming to mind).  I found the graphics to be functional enough, but that's not really my expertise.  The transition from the snow level to your space ship was a bit jarring, though; there's no logical connection between me entering a hole in the wall and immediately showing up in a space ship. 

    -Monsters tended to shift in styles a lot.  Again, art isn't something that really gets to me if it isn't done perfectly, but aesthetically-minded people will get upset over stylistic conflicts.

    -The story didn't really work for me.  Like I said, there were aspects of it that showed that you're a clever writer, but there were certain things that weren't fully conveyed.  The little memory scenes with Hamilton, for example, brought up a lot of questions for me.  Was this happening during their first life?  Was the protagonist's depression clinical or was there a reason behind it, and, if so, what was it?  Just her own insecurities of her intelligence?  These moments established them as a couple, but it seemed a little fraudulent.  How long had Hamilton known the protagonist before he built an entire house for her?  That's a weird gesture of affection.  I think there just needed to be more established in these moments.  Part of this, again, could have been conveyed through gameplay--you're in a computer system, so why not have the protagonist actually walk through the memories instead of just remembering them?

    -Too, you've got a cool ground situation--these two have possibly been alive for a long, long time living who knows how many lives together.  There's something poetic about them being able to meet hundreds of times in hundreds of ways on all these different planets, but this is something that wasn't explored.  Just an idea.

    -I also didn't really get the last boss.  The male A.I. seems to be the ominous presence through the game, but the female A.I. is the last boss, so it felt like there was a lot of exposition at the climax to explain that instead of a climax that had built from what came before it.  The sort of neo-Adam-and-Eve ending is probably the right one, given that I think that this is really a love story that just happens to be set in a rogue A.I. plot.  A question of whether or not the ending was real could be explored as well, as there's a bit of shakiness over reality that's explored throughout this, so that might tie your themes together, but it's also well-tread territory, so I don't know if that's the right move or not. 

    -What made the characters finally say "to hell with it?"  Again, I think they have been alive for a very, very long time, so this is necessary information for me--maybe I'm just not remembering it.

    Overall, I can see some good ideas in this, but the protagonists really need a bit more focus and development in order to remain engaging, the climax needs a bit more of an arc prior to it, and you need to take better advantage of the medium, which means shifting out of your writing habits to a degree.  You've got some unique ideas, though, so I think you'll be able to produce some interesting stuff once you sharpen up.
     
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  8. xeroborn

    xeroborn Veteran Veteran

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    Thanks for the review. Lots of interesting points.

    I would have liked to show more... but I had to work with the art resources that I had.
     
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  9. Housekeeping

    Housekeeping Veteran Veteran

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    I understand--I approached my first game with that same perspective.  I still avoided narration and focused on showing things in scene, but my mapping was downright atrocious, and I would have to show things like punches through a stepping animation followed by a sound effect or rewrite scenes that would have required something I couldn't do.  As I spend longer working in this medium, though, I'm realizing that your audience doesn't care about your own limitations, so you have to work to improve them (or find others to work with that can cover your weaknesses for you).
     
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  10. xeroborn

    xeroborn Veteran Veteran

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    I get what youre saying. But there are games, reasonably popular and well-regarded ones, that use writing to do 90% of a story's heavy lifting. Im thinking specifically about crpgs like baldurs gate, kotor 2, planescape torment, and mask of the betrayer. Im not saying my writing was anywhere close to those but that was my inspiration. A game like that wont appeal to everyone but i think there are still people who would enjoy it.

    Those games i listed are classics that have aged better then many of the games from their era. Why? Why do people still go back to them 10 or 15 years later? Its because of the writing. The gameplay is bad, the graphics suck, but the writing creates magic.

    Is your average halo or call of duty player going to enjoy that? No. But like i said i think there are people out there who would.
     
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  11. Housekeeping

    Housekeeping Veteran Veteran

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    I get you--my background is in written fiction, and I favor story over everything else when I'm making a game.  I just think that there are advantages to this medium that make it more engaging to most audiences, and visuals are a part of that.  If you still want to make games for crowds that are already avid readers, then, yeah, you can get away with narration, but I think that visuals are going to make those scenes more impactful regardless.
     
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  12. xeroborn

    xeroborn Veteran Veteran

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    Hey, everybody. I've been making a lot of changes to my game over the last month. I basically went through each area and made significant upgrades. Everything from reworking the story, remaking maps, changing to holders battlers/yami symphony, adjusting the way the combat system works and the progression of the player through the system, and making adjustments to the music.

    here is the new link.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/uc94u5eitgtjywa/Unknown%20Designation%20v2.1.exe

    I played/reviewed a bunch of games at the start of the month and then kind of got sucked into working on my own. If you want to trade feedback leave a link to your game and I will play it. My car is in the shop so I won't have anything else to do for the next 2-3 days. 

    To show some of the new things I've added here are some new screens:

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    -Mike
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2014
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  13. GIRakaCHEEZER

    GIRakaCHEEZER Dreams of Sheep Veteran

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    Okay here were my thoughts as I played what I think is the latest version:


    The intro is short enough to inform me but keep me curious. This is nice (I've been playing a lot of games with long winded intros recently).


    I also like how the plot seems to be dispersed through the game as I play along, instead of being delivered in massive chunks.


    The difference in art styles for the portraits is a bit jarring.


    Is it just me, or did hamilton's sprites change from when we first met him (like when he gave us the bear)?


    "My mind a moment to come back to reality." I think you're missing a word here.


    Combat was ok. Not too difficult and not too easy or boring. Story was comprehensible, but I felt like at times it wasn't easy to follow with how much it jumped around. I like how it was sprinkled here and there among the gameplay though, so good job on that. Just work on the writing a bit more.
     
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  14. xeroborn

    xeroborn Veteran Veteran

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    It was really helpful to watch you play. I will def. make some changes based on what I saw/what you and the people in the chat said.

    Thanks man.
     
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  15. Indrah

    Indrah Megane Berserker Veteran

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




    Sorry, but this was mostly a joke to me. It was melodramatic and nonsensical, extremely talky without being actually well written and engaging. It read more like a fanfic (and not a particularly good one).


    The combat system was tacked on and I never felt any interest in it, fights were easy to evade and overall not engaging. They felt extremely tacked on.


    The visuals are pretty bad. The mixing of the enemy sprites with the rpt was terrible, maps, outside the normal rtp wilderness (which managed to be ok) were either lackluster or badly done.


    There is just nothing for me in this game outside reading it aloud “for the lols”. I could not for a minute take it seriously or be engaged. Sorry. Maybe this sort of thing works for a fanfic, but definitely not for a game.
     
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