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Posts relating to Game Design:

5 years ago


◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
I think that I might start using this thing for just game development reports from now on! I shall now write about what I'm currently up to.

I've started lots of games over the last year or two or three or whatever, which isn't really the best idea, but maybe I'll finish one one day!! Maybe!! There's hope!!!

Currently, the ones that I consider 'in progress' are:

CLARENCE RPG, which is taking a back seat at the moment. I'm trying to write the entire script, but it's taking time because I want to actually make it funny, and it's not always easy to be funny if you're not in the right state of mind. It's not exactly near completion!

I don't really have any new images of this since the last time I showed it, since I've just been doing writing!

MIASMON, which used to be a top-down game, then I started work on the side-scrolling Beast Signer spiritual successor called Programon, THEN I combined the two so now 'Miasmon' refers to what will be an ongoing side-scrolling monster-catching RPG thing, with updates every week or something. Ideally.

I've done a lot of work on it, but I'm currently buggering around with other stuff and rethinking the plot and setting...

YOU SEE, I'm currently building this world called 'Alora Fane'... which in many ways is based on the game with that name which I was working on a while back, but which I, in typical form, never actually finished.

Essentially, Alora Fane as a world is a conglomeration of many ideas I've had and liked, but which never made it into full, finished games.
It's bothered me for a while how I set each new game I make in a different world... I mean, they're *sort of* related in that they're based in the 'Astrostles Galaxy', but that's a really wide scope so there's not exactly a lot of crossover. Arkus is unlikely to meet Mardek, for example, and then there's Clarence which probably is in its own silly universe.

The general idea behind Alora Fane is that it's a world in a 'pocket dimension' created by a race of magical aliens called the 'Aolmna'.
They're a hive mind, and so they've never known conflict; what one individual feels, they all feel, so they only know cooperation and never war.
They see other races wiping themselves out through senseless combat, and they FEEL SADDENED by this... so they try to solve the problem in their own special way.
They gather up genetic information of various warmongering races, and use that DNA to create 'children' of those races... who they plonk in artificial worlds that they call 'fanes'. They call those races the 'Barbari'.
These worlds are divided into several 'petals' - one for each race held in that fane, with the environment being the ideal for that race's specific needs and desires - surrounding a central multicultural city called the 'Nexus'. Each race is expected to stay in its own petal until it reaches adulthood... during which time each individual is taught spiritually in the ways of what the Aolmna call 'unisis'. It's basically just empathy, stressing that anything done to another is effectively the same as doing it to yourself, so BE GOOD and DON'T HARM. The 'gods' - the Aolmna - aren't distant myths like Earth gods are; they actually directly interact with their Barbari 'children' and teach them what needs to be taught.

Alora Fane is one of many fanes... and it was originally home to six Barbari races: Bold, Meek, Mhandisi, Sindrels, Varnyn and Elarna. I've mentioned all of these before!
The Elarna developed technology that could capture and train monsters (the gauntlets), and were by far the hardest race for the Aolmna to 'educate' due to their destructive tendencies. Eventually, they did some terrible thing that completely shattered their entire petal, wiped them out, and sent the entire fane tumbling away from the gods and away from the universe.
Hundreds of years have passed since then, and many of the Barbari have reverted to their barbaric tendencies. Some races remember the unisis concept and the Aolmna, but it's now seen as an old religion, which many don't believe.

This is a concept that appeals to me, because for one thing, it's a world essentially based around empathy! It also has a variety of races rather than just being white humans all the time... and I'm able to implement many ideas I've previously been working on; the ruined wasteland that was once the petal of the Elarna is Fracture, for example.

So I'm basing games in that world at the moment. Not ALL of my games will be based there - Clarence and MARDEK won't, for example - but I might adapt some other old game concepts to fit in this new world.

Miasmon is set there, of course, and you'll be able to play as any of those five Barbari races as you explore the ruins of Fracture.

Another notable thing about Alora Fane is the ELEMENTS that it uses! My games like MARDEK used fairly standard things like fire, water, air, earth, light and dark, as well as the more idiosyncratic aether and fig elements.
Alora Fane's elements are based on EMOTIONS, however.

Monsters form from the miasma, you see... this is something that's been established since MARDEK, and it's true for Alora Fane too. Essentially they're caused by strong feelings agitating the omnipresent miasma; if someone fears wolves a lot, then a snarling wolf monster might appear from thin air before them, for example. 'Species' form when thoughts occur a lot and form natural vortices or 'patterns' that the miasma more easily manifests as. Different feelings affect the miasma in different 'elemental' ways.

Magic, then, rather than simply being "magic because it's magic", without explanation, is similar; mages essentially amplify their own emotions to the degree that the miasma takes on their form; they might feel a deep surge of sorrow, for example, which might make the miasma form into a brief eruption of pure 'sorrow' energy. Emotionally sensitive people make the best spellcasters in this world, because their emotions are stronger and more easily triggered.

The six elements - or 'sentiments' - are Courage, Fear, Bliss, Destruction, Creation, and Sorrow, with each one of those being strong against the next one in the list (Courage beats Fear, Sorrow beats Courage, etc). So a person might be 'Courage elemental' rather than 'Fire elemental'!

I'm rather pleased with this system, since it's relatively novel and allows me to focus things around EMOTIONS, which is meaningful to me anyway.

Oh, and each of Alora Fane's races is associated with one of those sentiments. The Bold are Courage (they're a race of gutsy fighters), the Meek are Bliss (they're a race of gentle priests), the Mhandisi are Creation (they're gadgeteers who live in a steampunk city), the Varnyn are Fear (they're lupine lawless thieves who lurk in the shadows), the Sindrels are Sorrow (they're toga-wearing moody reptilian artists who live in ivory towers amongst crystal cliffs) and the extinct Elarna were Destruction (which is WHY they're extinct).

DREAMQUEST - I haven't decided on the name of this game yet, but it's the one that I'm currently devoting the most attention to.

It's mainly a map editor of sorts, similar in concept to the 'FHO' thing I've been planning for years. It's set in Alora Fane - or rather, it includes the five Barbari races and the six sentiments and such - but you're able to make your own 'quest' things which you could share with others.

It would have many limitations! It would NOT be suited for essentially 'making your own games', or for making grand, epic, hours-spanning adventures full of complex twists and turns. It'd be simpler than that, and more suited towards making short, possibly amusing quests instead. It's more like a 'level editor' than a 'game maker'.
I'm hoping that it'll be a lot of fun to play around with, though.

Here are ten screenshots of it!!1

As you can see, there are things that aren't done yet - the battles take place in a brown void, for example - but there's also a lot that IS done, and I've only been working on it for about a month (which also includes time spent doing other stuff like TRYING TO SORT MY LIFE OUT and so on).
Mostly what's missing are art assets, like music and many graphics, which I'm working on slowly but steadily.
Here's the Main Theme, for example!1 ∞ Fig Hunter ∞

So yes, as you can see, I'M NOT DEAD, and while I've STILL not released anything in ages, I'm getting a lot closer to that point and seem to have a better idea of the direction I want to go in now. Things look hopeful!
5 years ago

Programon = Miasmon

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Categories: Game DesignIdeasMiasmon Programon
I'm thinking of making Programon and Miasmon into one combined thing!

I worked on Miasmon, as it is now, for a long time... but it's getting harder and harder to even so much as look at it, and I feel like in many ways, I've designed my way into a corner which is very difficult to get out of. Bland characters, too many monsters, an awkward split between chapters and all the problems that would bring... However, there are some aspects of it I'm rather proud of, like the music, setting, and some monster designs.

Programon, on the other hand, has been coming along well enough, but I'm not sure about the setting. I've been seeing it as a 'reboot' of Beast Signer, where the game takes place in a virtual world and the monsters are born of bugs in the code. Each of the small, weekly-added Worlds you'd visit would be a separate server or something.
But it just doesn't interest me for some reason... and it seems too similar to Digimon, probably; some Digimon games had an identical plot and setting, where you ventured into a virtual world and battled with monsters made of data.

Combining the two would be easy! I've been coding the engine of Programon, but I've not done much setting-related stuff yet, so there's nothing to erase there. I could make the setting Fracture, and each world would be one of the many tiny islands orbiting the naked core.
I could reuse music and monster designs from Miasmon, and I could add Plot Missions that would tell the story that that game was originally going to tell.

The idea of capturing monsters formed by thoughts from an omnipresent miasma in special gauntlets reverse-engineered from the technology of dead ancients is perhaps slightly more interesting than a Digimon clone! Slightly.

There are a bunch of other reasons why this is a good idea, but, well, I think I've made my decision, and it seems like the best course of action.
It's a shame to think of never finishing the top-down version of Miasmon, but I suppose I could upload the unfinished version to the 'Miasmon Online' site in the future or something, so people can at least see what it was like!

So yes! That's news! I bet everyone hates it though!!1
5 years ago

Update: Beast Signer?

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
I've not updated here in a while, I know. I've been very out of touch with Fig Hunter for a while now, and I've felt better as a result of it. I know that this site is very useful to a lot of people, but, well, I've said enough times before why ∞ I don't like it ∞, so there's no need to go over it again. I've been turning my attentions elsewhere, trying to find somewhere where I belong, and I've been doing that rather than working on games, I'm sorry to say.

I have several games 'in progress' at the moment... Miasmon, Timid Cervid, Chamaeleon, Clarence RPG, and probably more that I can't think of right now. I WANT to finish them all! I'd also like to get to MARDEK 4 eventually. But I know that each one has a long road before I can get to the point where it's Finished, and then I'll have to worry about *marketing* it, and ugh, it's all very off-putting. Especially since I plan to go to university in September, so I feel like I need to get SOMETHING done before then.

I've decided that I'll return to several old ideas that I've had the *concept* for for a while, but I've always avoided actually starting serious work on them because I felt I should finish something else first.
The ideas were for things like Fig Hunter Online, or Beast Signer (Online), or other similar things that I've talked about using different names.

The general idea behind them is that they'd be games that start with very little content, but update regularly - maybe once a week - rather than having to wait until they're fully Finished before you can play them. Your saved data would be tied to your account on the website, so you'd be able to play them from anywhere. It's a similar concept that many games like that AdventureQuest thing seem to use. I've understood the technology behind it for years, but always worried that my skills were never good enough to pull it off.

The game that I want to make using this idea would be Beast Signer... sort of. It might get a different name; I may reuse the 'Programon' name for that recent thing that I talked about.
So it'd be a monster-catching game.

Interestingly, though, it'd also be a side-scrolling platformer! Or the field bits would be, anyway. When travelling around from Town A to Town B, rather than just holding down an arrow key and wandering along a top-down route avoiding long grass, you'd have to run and jump around on blocks and stuff. Monsters and trainers would walk around like platformer enemies do, and touching them would take you to a battle scene like in a typical RPG. The wandering monsters wouldn't be randomised, and they'd have set species, so rather than just hoping for the Random Number God to favour you with a rare monster when wandering around in long grass, you'd find the rare ones by perhaps finding hidden passages, or simply exploring at length, or things like that. It seems much more rewarding that way to me.
I like this idea, because as much as I adore the top-down view, whenever I find myself wanting to have quick, simple fun with a game, I find myself playing a platformer, simply because there's a joy from the movement itself that I can't get from top-down wandering.
I imagine that the side-scrolling bits would be fairly generic; I'm not exactly going for innovation. It certainly wouldn't be challenging either; there might not be any way to die in the platformer bits. Or maybe there would be. I'm not sure.
It'd be more about the fun of free movement than about precision jumping, though. There wouldn't necessarily be *obstacles* or anything, just like walking between two towns in Pokemon doesn't involve puzzle-solving or tricky manoeuvres or anything.

The battling itself would probably be 2 vs 2, like Pokemon double battles. Probably. Maybe. Perhaps. I've worked out many details, but they're tedious technical things that people might actually be interested in, but which I'm not really interested in writing about. o_O
I might use the silly Programon elemental types I came up with recently though; these things: ∞ Fig Hunter ∞

I THINK that I might make it so that monsters go through various stages of evolution... The stages would be the same as the Miasmon ones; Essent, Transient, Prime and Paragon.
Similar to the other Beast Signer (and Digimon things, which is where this came from), each monster might have its own 'growth tree', where it could evolve into divergent forms based on certain criteria (power form, magic form, etc). Each family would be different; there'd be no set Template that they'd all follow, and they wouldn't be based on elements or anything either. Some monsters might have entirely linear trees, some may never reach Paragon stage, some essents might be able to become half a dozen different prime forms, depending on how you treated them. It'd depend on the monster!
Some monsters might even share forms with entirely different families, like Embark (fiery dog Essent from Miasmon) having 'Wolflare' (fiery wolf) as its main prime form, but Gruul (Essent) might have Wolflare amongst its prime forms too (though it'd probably take special circumstances to get there, and you'd usually get Gruul's 'normal' grey werewolf-like prime form instead). That's all very much a maybe, but I liked how that kind of thing was possible with Digimon (in certain games, anyway).

The way you'd acquire new monsters would use ideas from Miasmon and Alora Fane.
Rather than catching wild ones, you'd have to clone level 1 Essents and start from scratch with each one. To be able to clone a monster, you'd need its 'card'. You could buy these cards from a shop (this would allow me to use microtransactions for them in future), OR you could get one by defeating every instance of a certain monster species in the World (which I'll describe in a minute) that you find it in. You might be able to find these cards in treasure chests or get them as rewards and stuff like that, too.
Interestingly - perhaps annoyingly - you'd also need the right card before any monster could evolve.
Evolution wouldn't happen automatically. Instead, once the monster reached the right level, it'd, I don't know, start glowing or something, and there'd be a message on its status screen saying it was ready for evolution. From the menu, you could select some EVOLVE option, which would take you to the monster's growth tree, showing the potential forms it met the criteria to evolve into. You could choose one! Or you could train it more to unlock other forms before evolving (maybe it couldn't get any experience at this point, though?). You'd need the card for the evolution though; common forms' cards would be easy to find or cheap to buy, so it wouldn't be too much of an issue, but this would solve the problem of people training things that had no evolved forms added to the game yet, and getting frustrated when they didn't evolve, or something. Adding new monsters would work a lot easier with this cards system.

Oh, and the setting would probably be similar to Beast Signer Alpha's, in that it'd involve going into a virtual world and battling with monsters that are essentially bugs in the code, but there probably wouldn't be a single plot with characters and stuff. You'd probably start the game at the Hub; there'd be no remnant colony bit.
You'd make a custom character, choosing between the two sexes, and one of five races: pale, tanned and black humans, wolf-headed anthros, and reptilian anthros. (Mainly they'd share one of two bodies, but their heads and skin colour would differ between the races.)
You'd be able to equip clothing (probably a top, pants, and a hat), which would affect your appearance in battle and in the field (of course).

Gameplay would involve travelling to various different self-contained WORLDS.
Each World would have its own areas, monsters, and story; they wouldn't be connected to other worlds or anything, and you could only get to worlds from the Hub. This would easily allow me to add new Worlds each week, without worrying about some overarching Plot thing, or adding things that could break other things.
They'd be sort of like the episodes of a TV series in that their plots would be set up and resolved within a short amount of time. They'd be short stories, more like single side quest kinds of things rather than GRAND EPICS that span many hours and involve saving the world.

The main things that delay the progress of my games are the need to *design* things, like details of the plot, or monsters, or things like that. So I have some potentially appealing ideas that could both help me with that, and which could involve players a whole lot more!

One of them is something I've talked about several times over the years, in regards to Beast Signer, Miasmon, and other things: a Design A Beast contest!
I'd have one each week, where artists could submit drawings of their original monster designs, and other players could vote on what they thought was the best one. The winner each week would be added to the game (I'd make the graphics for it using their concept drawing as a base for the design), and the in-game Bestiary would credit them for its creation.
It'd save me the pain of designing everything myself (though I would design SOME monsters), and would make it so that players could make a real impact on the project!

I know that not everyone is an artist, though, so it could be frustrating for people who want to contribute but can't draw.
So I have another idea!
Since the Worlds would be self-contained and would have their own short plots, that'd mean a lot of plots. I doubt I'd be able to come up with a new, interesting one on a weekly basis, so I could run Write An Episode contests!
These would allow people to write a short story which could then be made into a World. They'd not be able to build the areas themselves or anything, but they could describe them, and the characters that would be involved, and things like that, and I'd use their short story or script to build the World myself. I'd probably make adaptations here and there, and wouldn't be using scripts written by 13-year-olds verbatim or anything like that (so you can stop worrying about the game being really terrible!1), but I'd use their idea as a base (unless the writing was really good, anyway). And since there'd be voting and everything, I'd be using the most popular ideas, which would hopefully appeal to a lot of people.
To get an idea of the expected length of a story, think of things like an episode of a long-running series like Star Trek or Stargate SG-1 or Doctor Who or things like that. Long enough for stuff to happen, but NOT something like a full-length RPG such as Final Fantasy.

I may or may not make some 'official NPCs' who could be optionally implemented into players' stories so they didn't have to work with nothing. And of course I'd write some Worlds myself!

This whole game idea appeals to me because I could probably get it up and running in a month or two. It'd generate money through advertising, and eventually I could add microtransactions too (the game is designed in such a way that you could buy things like outfits or new, rare monster cards using real money if I ever decided to add that).
I don't have to wait to Finish a game, nor do I have to deal with sponsors or anything.

It's a plan I've had many times before, but now, I think, is the time to finally start it. It seems the most sensible route at this point for various reasons I could talk about at great length but won't.

I'll probably make a separate site for it, rather than just making it a part of Fig Hunter. But I've not decided yet. We'll see.

Sigh! If I'd gone this way with Miasmon, I bet I would have had it out within a month! The reason it took so long was the designing of monsters, and rewriting the plot over and over again. Without those two problems, a game like this would hopefully be swift indeed!