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Posts relating to Progress Reports:

4 years ago

I am talking about MARDEK!

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Categories: Art MARDEKPlansProgress ReportsThe Site
First of all, MERRY CHRISTMAS, since it is apparently that day today! It used to be such a special, important day for me where the whole world felt different, acted different... but these days it's just any other day, and I've been doing work and such.

I've actually been drawing a lot recently! Over the last couple of years, I've really been trying hard to refine my drawing skills in order to have better art for my games. If you've been watching me for a while, you may remember that in April of last year, I drew a bunch of portraits of the primary MARDEK cast. You can see the results in this post here: ∞ Fig Hunter ∞

I've been studying faces a lot since then though, and I wanted to see how much I'd actually learned... So I decided to redraw those MARDEK characters! Here are the results:

I hope that you can see that there's quite a bit of improvement there!! I understand the features of the face much better than I did a couple of years ago, and while I'm certainly not a master yet, every portrait is a stepping stone towards that point!

If you're curious, I made a thing directly comparing the in-game portraits, some drawings I did shortly after the release of MARDEK 3, the ones from 2012, and the newest ones. You can see it here:


While drawing those, I got thinking about MARDEK again... It's odd how a lot of people probably know or care more about MARDEK than I do these days! I mean, there's that concept that TVTropes calls ∞ Old Shame ∞, which is basically when a creative person cringes when looking back on the stepping stones that have led them to their current position. As someone who tries to make a lot of things, I'm on a constant quest to better myself, to learn new things, to improve; you can see from these portraits above that change and improvement can be fairly severe, to the point where the old stuff just looks like rubbish.

For ages, MARDEK had felt like that to me... I knew it was full of flaws, so I basically avoided it. The art was bad, because I didn't understand anatomy, colour theory, flow, etc, etc! The music was bad, because I didn't understand music theory, or chords, or anything about harmony really! The programming was bad because it didn't even use Object Oriented design! The writing was bad because I didn't know about Literary or Narrative Techniques! And so on and so forth. Once I DID learn about these things, it became so obvious that they were missing in my old work.

However, while researching these portraits, I found myself not cringing as much as I would have imagined. I used the Fig Hunter Wiki a lot to read my own dialogue (thank you to whoever took the time to add all the content to the wiki!!!), and I listened to my own music on Bandcamp... And while I can indeed see flaws in basically all that I found, at the same time I suppose I can understand why a lot of people did like MARDEK, and what kept me working on it for years. Yes, it's unpolished, but it's so very MINE and there are a lot of things about it that are very precious to me.

It got me interested in working on MARDEK 4!!!

However. Before anyone gets their hopes up, I want to talk about how feasible that would actually be...

Firstly, it'd be ridiculously unreasonable to drop everything to work on that! Instead, I NEED to get Alora Fane: Creation (formerly DreamQuest) out soon! I need to! Then, if it's relatively well-received, it can be something that generates a trickle of money and new people consistently, because it'll be heavily based around user-generated content...
I'm just struggling trying to write a satisfying plot for it at the moment... My mind is so different from when I started MARDEK. Now, I feel compelled to write a *meaningful* story, one that focuses strongly on my own values or which communicates a certain message, but it's difficult to decide on details. I also feel like now that my muse is gone (Firequill, that is), it's harder to stay positive and write amusing dialogue and... well, it's taking time to sort out my thoughts anyway, though I feel like my plot ideas so far aren't as engaging as MARDEK.

How would I even make MARDEK 4? I've spent the last few years making Flash games, but it feels like the market for those is perhaps dying, being replaced by apps. I'm currently learning how to use Unity, and intend to make games using that in future (I'm still using Flash for AFC though, of course). It might be possible to make MARDEK 4 in that... but it'd probably be unwise to make it my FIRST Unity game, otherwise I'll have a really shoddy base to work with.

Of course, it would also be tricky to sell, because it's the fourth chapter in a long series that was first released several years ago. New players won't have a clue what's going on (I intend to add an "in the previous three chapters" thing, but that'll hardly be the same), and expecting them to play the Flash versions seems a bit much. I'm not really sure what to do about that at all.

At the very least, I think I might start playing around with making art assets and planning story ideas (or rather, refining the old story plans that already exist into something that better fits with my current, older mind), so I'll post those if I do them. It's wise to focus on AFC though, so that's my primary concern.

Oh, another thing! I think that I am going to stop using Fig Hunter to talk about my personal feelings!!

I have several websites now, you see, and I intend to use them all for different purposes. They are as follows:

FIG HUNTER: I'll use this for writing about games. All news posts here would be about game progress, then.

ALORA FANE: I'll use this for games specifically set in the Alora Fane world. What sets this apart from Fig Hunter is the fact that those games would share a world, while Fig Hunter games wouldn't. So I could release things like Clarence RPG or MARDEK 4 as 'Fig Hunter Games', but AFC and Miasmon as Alora Fane games. They'd probably update gradually, while Fig Hunter games would be released only when they were done as standalone things.
This site isn't open yet; I'll open it when I release AFC.

SOUL SAVVY: A personality site where I write about personality type stuff. As such, I won't bother talking about that stuff here, either.
You can find it here: ∞ LINK ∞

(INTROVERT SOCIAL NETWORK): This is my newest site, which I made only a few days ago. Some of you may remember that I tried making an introvert 'dating' site of sorts a while back, called 'Willow' (or 'Elysium Glade' according to the page headers, which was fairly silly and inconsistent). I abandoned it before long for various reasons... but recently I've been feeling the need for a similar place again.
However, rather than reviving that place, I tried creating something from scratch that was more like what I needed.
Essentially it's a cross between a dating site and a social network, for people who don't much care for Facebook, who are more interested in finding deeper, more meaningful connections with other people. Introverts, specifically. It can be really tough for introverted people such as myself to find these meaningful bonds because we shy away from social gatherings and even social networks (being on Facebook if you have no Life is uncomfortable, at least for me). It allows you to write about yourself in detail on your profile, like a dating site (though in MORE detail than those), and to view the profiles of other people in that way, but it's more about finding friends than partners. You can also comment about your thoughts on your own profile (like people do on Facebook in the form of 'status updates'?), though it's encouraged that you talk more about how you're feeling or what's been on your mind, rather than bragging about activities that you've done, or things that you've found.
It's not ready to be joined yet, but when it is ready, I'm going to use that place to talk about my thoughts instead of here. So if you're interested in reading them, you can do so there (I'll announce it when it's ready), but otherwise you can just follow my games sites and not have to worry about listen to me whine about something you can't relate to.

So yes. HAPPY MERRY JOLLY CHRISTMAS and, uh... all that stuff!
4 years ago

Weekly Update!!!!

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Yes, this is a WEEKLY UPDATE, which I write every week without fail.

I've been playing Pokemon X recently! I finished it about a week ago, but it's rekindled my desire to work on Miasmon again.

Miasmon's actually been half-finished for a while now... Or rather, the current version of it has. I've been working on it for literally years now, which is annoying, and it's gone through two entirely different versions. There's the first, pixelated, top-down one with characters like Zaffre and Cerise and Francis Marmalade and so on, but I abandoned that one because it was getting impractical. The other, newer version started as 'Programon'; it includes side-scrolling travel between places, a customisable player avatar, and a world that expands through frequent updates rather than being released all at once as some kind of Finished Game. That's the one I'm working on now.

I've been struggling to decide on a STYLE for it for a long time now, which is the main reason I'd been putting it off. I think I've decided now though, and I've been drawing some monsters in the style that I'm going to use. Behold!!

You may remember some of those designs from a while back, while others are new! I'm particularly fond of Coconoct and its evolutionary relatives myself.

To add the graphics to the game, I'm likely going to just trace over these and do them as vectors in Flash. So what you're seeing here is how the final graphics will look. Yes.

I've been really indecisive about what to actually do in regards to mechanics, though. One of the things that I like most about Pokemon is the TYPES that each Pokemon can have. It excites me when I see unusual type combinations, and I really like the idea of moves having types and gyms being based on those types, too. It's such a simple and elegant system. I don't want to copy it directly though, so I've been experimenting with variations.

I do want to have types of SOME sort... In the original, pixelated version of Miasmon, I had maybe sixteen types, and each monster had one or two of them, like Pokemon do. Moves had elements, though - fire, water, air, earth, light, dark, fig, aether, or physical - and each type had a set of weaknesses and resistances to these elements. The undead type was weak against fire and light but resistant to dark and fig, for example.

Since Miasmon will be set in the Alora Fane world, though, I want to use the six sentiments that I've come up with. You know, courage, fear, bliss, destruction, creation and sorrow. I'm fond of those, and it fits with the idea that monsters are emotions made manifest.

Each monster will have a sentiment, but it seems limited that way, so I've also added 'body types', which are more like Bestial or Avian or whatever. Similar to the types that I had in the original pixelated version. As such, each monster has THREE types in total; a sentiment, and one or two body types. Coconoct up there is Fear/Plantoid/Undead, for example.

This makes weaknesses and resistances tricky. I've already got a cyclic set of relationships sorted out for the sentiments... It looks like this:

Each sentiment is strong against the one clockwisely adjacent to it, and weak against the one anticlockwise. So Courage beats Fear but is beaten by Sorrow, and so on.

There are twelve body types, and I've tried to set them up in a cycle too... I have two rather different possibilities so far:

The Undead type is called Nightmare there, as that was its old name.
The way this one would work is that each type would be SUPER EFFECTIVE against the TWO next to it in a clockwise direction. It'd do reduced damage to the one directly anticlockwise, and it'd do zero damage to the one two spaces anticlockwise.
So, for example, Warrior would do double damage to Bestial and Avian, half damage to Draconic, and no damage at all to Golem.

Some of the matchups were odd, though, and I didn't like how types would do normal damage to most other types... so I tried to redo it:

In this one, each type is strong against the THREE clockwise of it, weak against the two anticlockwise, and utterly ineffective against the one three spaces anticlockwise.
For example, Warrior here deals double damage to Undead, Draconic, and Bestial types, half to Golem and Arcane, and none to Amorphous.

And how does this work with sentiments? I'm not entirely sure yet. What seems like the most likely way of going about it would be to divide all moves into physical and magical attacks, like most games do, and physical attacks would use the body types while magic would use the sentiments. So you might have a skill like Scratch, which is Bestial, as well as another called Rage, which is a fiery Courage spell. Or something.

You may be curious about what these types actually mean, or what they'd be used for, so I'll explain:

WARRIOR would be knights and such. Weapons and armour. Primary warrior types would mostly be humanoid, though monsters with Warrior as a secondary type might be armoured or they might have weapons or weapon-like appendages or whatever.
UNDEAD is used for, well, undead, but also dark/ghost/evil sorts of things, possibly.
DRACONIC is used for dragons, but also for dinosaurs and lizards. A snake and a lizardman might be draconic even if they aren't dragons as such. Reptiles, basically!
BESTIAL is mostly used for 'beasts'; mammals, mostly.
AVIAN is birds and bird-like things. Unlike Pokemon's Flying type, it'd explicitly hint at feathery designs with beaks and talons and such.
PLANTOID is similar to Grass from Pokemon.
PISCINE is used for monsters shaped like fish or dolphins or whales or mermaids or other sea creatures.
INSECTOID is insects, of course.
SPRITE is basically like the new Fairy type in Pokemon, though I came up with it long before I knew that Pokemon was going to add such a type!
AMORPHOUS basically just means 'without a fixed physical form'. It could be used for things like slimes, ghosts, monsters made of liquid or gas or plasma, etc.
ARCANE is similar to Psychic, though it's also like 'wizard' or 'magic' or something like that. While sentiments are used for magic, this 'body type' hints at mage-like or supernatural creature designs.
GOLEM is used for monsters that have bodies made of inorganic materials. It's similar to Rock and Steel from Pokemon, though it can apply to a wider range of creatures.

So there you go! Now you know.

I'm currently working on this game, then, trying to sort out things and make decisions and such, as well as designing monsters. I thought it'd be wise to use this motivation while I have it.

I'm still also working on 'DreamQuest', which I'm likely going to call 'Alora Fane: Creation' instead, for various reasons. Did I mention that already? I can't remember. What I want to do before I can release it is to make a full 'official plot' for it, both to show what it's capable of and to make it appealing to people who aren't interested in making their own adventures... I think I talked about this last time. I've got most of the plot sorted out, but I'm lacking the inspiration to fill in several holes, so taking a break will probably be good.

I've also been spending a lot of time working on some personality website thing!! I bet everyone's totally interested in that. It's because apparently more than half of the money that my website generates is coming from the temperaments mini-site thing, which I feel is outdated. My new site talks about all the personality stuff I've learned over the years, and it's fun for me to write and probably profitable in the long run! I won't link to it yet though because it's not done.

I'm also still at university. Gasp. I've yet to settle in socially or find a group of friends, and maybe that won't happen at all, which will be disappointing... My problem isn't that I can't approach people, but that I've yet to find the kinds of people I'd like to approach. The Game Art course doesn't exactly seem to attract shy, sensitive, emotional people. I've probably talked about all this before too.

So yes. That's what I'm doing. I'll get back to drawing monsters now, I think!
4 years ago

Current Projects and Plans

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Since I'm at university now, a lot of my time will probably be spent on that... but I also have a lot of free time as well, which I intend to spend on different projects. I thought I might as well tell you what they are, though keep in mind that these are only my current plans and not a promise for what's definitely to come.

1 - A Personality Site
I know that few people here are interested in this, but I'm deeply fascinated by personality type stuff and do enjoy writing about it at length. The ∞ temperaments section ∞ of this website apparently earns half - or more - of the total revenue for this site, interestingly, but I don't consider the four temperaments idea to have much use these days, what with all the much better models and such.

So, I've started work on a site which details all of the personality systems that I know of so far. It's far from finished at the moment, but I might finish and open it up relatively soon, since I do enjoy writing about these things and it's not as if there's tons of work to do. It'll allow me to channel my passion into something productive and profitable.

2 - My Main Site
I've yet to decide what to do about Alora Fane and Fig Hunter... I talked about it in the last post; I don't know whether to do the whole 'split site' thing or whether it'd just become a source of ridicule and conflict. I also don't much care for the existing attitude of this site, though, so I don't really know what I can do because I'm certain the undesirable members will flock to whatever new one I have immediately, setting the scene for all those to come and preemptively scaring away sensitive sorts of people. Possibly.

I feel like I need to get this sorted out soon, though, because I can't really do much until I have a 'base' to work from.

3 - DreamQuest
This game is basically finished at the moment, though it needs some refining. I'm unsure how to go about releasing it. I know all the *possibilties* and am not looking for suggestions, but each of them leads down very different paths, and I have to be wary about what those paths will eventually lead to.

The game is intended to update over time, and it's more of a tool than a stand-alone game, so I'm not sure whether a sponsorship-type deal would work. It might be better to include Mochi adverts (or some similar service), but they produce only tiny amounts of income (like $5 per million plays or something stupid like that). Perhaps a better thing is to simply try and get people to come to my own site and play the game there, where they can upload quests and stuff; hopefully the site's own adverts would generate decent income. But I don't know. I don't want to just throw it out into the wild with a really foolish money-making plan. If it weren't for the fact that I need money to survive, I'd have released it already, ages ago.

4 - Miasmon
I've actually got two entirely different versions of Miasmon in development right now! There's one which I've been working on for a couple of years (or rather, I started it that long ago but abandoned it maybe a year ago), which is a top-down RPG sort of thing with pixelated monster graphics and such. It's fully working and I am pleased with many aspects of it... but there were also a ton of things I DIDN'T like about it, like the plot and setting and characters and ugh. It was really hard to work on because I was so uncertain about it.

However, I still play it from time to time, and it is entertaining in its own way. It might be nice to try and get into it again... though I know that it'd have to be a huge game, like Pokemon length, for it to work properly, and I don't know if I can get it ALL done before releasing it. Releasing it in chapters has been my plan from the start, but there's always the difficulty of making sure everything works between chapters, which requires a lot of forward planning. Possibly more than I have! I did it with MARDEK, but I also had to remake the first two chapters because of a lack of proper planning... It's so hard to balance the game for circumstances that won't occur until much, much later.

The OTHER version of Miasmon is designed as yet another gradually updating game, with side-scrolling exploration and so on and so forth. It was originally called Programon, and I've talked about it before. I'm not sure what to do with that one yet. There are so many things about it that I'm really uncertain about.

I could just try to merge the two ideas, but... eh. I don't know. I'll try to come up with something.

5 - Wyrmholes
This is a game involving a character called Fianait, who looks like this!!

It's set in the Alora Fane world, and it'd probably be a standard RPG like MARDEK was. I went through various different ideas before arriving at that concept, but it seems the best way to go about it for several reasons.

I intend to try to make it for Android phones. I've already started experimenting with Android development, but I've got a LOT to learn before I can make anything that actually plays well. So this one won't see the light of day for a long time, if at all. Still, it's something that I'd like to try at some point.

6 - MARDEK 4
I do know that people would want this, and I'd like to work on it too, but I don't know if it'd be sufficiently profitable for the amount of effort it'd require. I'd need to work on it for probably at least a year non-stop, and then my only realistic hope is to go down the sponsorship route again and earn less than $10,000 for all my efforts. That's hardly a respectable yearly salary, is it?

It's something I'd like to get around to once I've got some comfortable, reliable 'revenue streams' set up. Most of the other projects are designed to be those; to be things I can set in motion relatively quickly, which will then generate money on their own while I spend my time on other things (like this site and the temperaments site do already).

So yes. That's what I've got planned for now. I'll try to post about updates whenever there are any!