Game Development Preview: Dungeon Ambassador

I’m back from my blogging hiatus, though I can’t promise regular updates just yet.  School is keeping me very busy.  However, I have something that I’ve been wanting to share, so I thought I’d take the time to write a blog on it.

I recently began working on a game using RPG Maker VX Ace.  I realized that my prior project was too ambitious and unmarketable, so I decided to scale back and start a completely new project.  I’ve heard many people complaining that too many video games are built around violence, and to an extent I agree. Therefore, I decided to make a noncombat dungeon crawler, a game that I could still exercise a lot of imagination over without having to boil down every encounter to “kill x enemies.”  I have a lot of ideas splashing around in my head for this game, and I’ve already included a few in the little progress I’ve achieved thus far.

To make this preview, I played through my current build of the game, taking screenshots frequently to provide an adequate understanding of the game.  Unfortunately, I do not have any original art or assets made for the game yet, so I used in-engine assets for the current build.  Original art will be in the finished product, but I’ve decided to prioritize functionality over appearance for now.

Before I get started with the actual preview, if you’re feeling adventurous: 1 2 3

If you want to see the screenshots without reading the preview, go here.

It begins.

You begin the game waking up in a strange boarding house.

That certainly was kind

After a few lines of dialogue, she asks an important question.

At the moment, the difference is only cosmetic.

Male

Female

For now, let’s stick with female.

She asks another important question.

I decided to go with my standard name

Seems like she wants a change of scenery

After she leaves you are free to check around the room.

It’s impolite to use other people’s beds

That’s better

But, if you want to progress, you must head downstairs.

She has a few more things to say.

And you get to the first major decision in the game!

Merchant

Traveler

Outlaw

Awkward

Priest

Regardless of your choice, the town is accepting.

I’ll pause right here to talk about that choice.  Each option provides certain (mostly unimplemented) benefits to the player.  The Merchant currently gives the player 100 Gold to start with and (unimplemented) give him/her a discount at all shops.  The Traveler (unimplemented) can use certain items longer without them breaking.  The Outlaw (partially implemented) gets a free lockpick and can automatically unlock most locks.  The Priest (unimplemented) resists poisons and can heal more efficiently.  This decision will be important later, I’m sure.

I suck at names, part 1

She’s very particular about her beds

Ooh, is that a quest?  But before you can leave, she gives you something they found when they rescued you.

If you try to talk to her again, she’ll remind you of your quest.

Once you’re done talking to her, you’re free to examine your menu.

I know, not very impressive.  It’s just the default RPG Maker menu, except…

This game contains (mostly unimplemented) survival elements!  Script thanks to Apellonyx!  Moving on, if you check out your Items menu, you’ll find the Item Encyclopedia under Key Items!

Activate it to open the Item Encyclopedia!

Script thanks to White Demon!  Moving on from there, you are able to leave the Boarding House and see the beautiful, yet mostly empty town of Sunfield.

Go to your left to find the Town Hall.

See, I told you

Go to the door to proceed inside.

Talk to the mayor to proceed.

He recognizes your gender

If he’s anything like me, he’ll forget your name in five seconds

Dramatic pause

Spooky

Your first quest

Item get

If you talk to him again, he’ll remind you of your mission.

Leave and head right, past the boarding house.

I suck at names 2, the electric boogaloo

The shop is supposed to be highly populated, but, you guessed it, it’s not completely implemented yet!

He looks shifty

But at least the shop part works!

Torch functionality not yet implemented

Let’s buy some lockpicks.  They might come in handy.

Nothing suspicious about buying or selling lockpicks

Continuing right leads to the Outskirts.

I suck at names, part 3

Planting a story seed

The south path is not yet implemented.

But the north path is!

There’s a secret in the left corner.

Have some currently useless stuff

After building up courage, we enter the manor.

You can’t get across just yet.

In the room on the left you find some useful junk.

I’m not sure exactly how you can carry that

Problem solved?

Problem solved.

Ghosts are jerks

It’s not supposed to be lit yet, and it’s not supposed to be blue, but whatever

More puzzle solving.

The next room is mostly unimplemented, but the stairway will lead to the second floor, where later quests will take you.

But the next room (and last so far) is completely implemented!

Huh.

Ghosts, man

Total dicks

This should solve the problem

Wait, why didn’t they all disappear?

Fire trail

Two ghosts down, two to go

All ghosts in the room cleared

But you still can’t reach the chest… right?

Oh hey, the ghost in room 2 is gone

I knew those lockpicks would come in handy

Drat

Let’s try again.

Jackpot

Sorry, it only works once.

Attempting to unlock the chest with an outlaw gives slightly different results.

Since this is an easy chest, Outlaws have a 100% chance of unlocking it!

One last thing.  You can come to the Manor without talking to the mayor, but since you don’t have the Holy Flame, you can only get so far.

And that’s my game, or at least what I have so far!  I’ll post an update once I have the entire first floor done!

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Steam Shuffle

Hello everyone!  Two weeks ago I started a video game livestream series with my friend Lucas called Steam Shuffle.  Steam Shuffle is a weekly hour-long livestream where I play an hour of one of the games in my Steam library.  The ultimate goal is to play an hour of every single game in my library (which is currently over 400 games), and find the games in it that are exceptional.  I plan on picking a few of the games and doing a full playthrough of them if I can get enough positive feedback about them.  So far, we have played Age of Empires II: HD Edition and Age of Empires 3: Complete Collection.

We stream on http://www.twitch.tv/sorryjzargo, every Friday around 3:30 PM EST.  I upload all of the streams to my YouTube channel.  If you want to see a full playthrough of a game, leave a comment on a video, tweet me at @sorryjzargo, or send me an email at tsma225@l.uky.edu.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the videos.

30/30 Day 9: Fan Game Idea: Punching Aliens in the Face

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  If I miss a day, I will make it up, but hopefully I won’t miss any days and can call this a success.

gungan punch

            So I got the software RPG Maker VX Ace about a year ago when it was on sale.  For a long time I did not really do anything with it, but then I decided to start messing around with it to see if I could make something.  While I’ve never made a finished product, I have a project in the works that I am excited about.  It is a fan game called Punching Aliens in the Face (PAitF).

            So, as a fan game PAitF must be based on an existing property.  So what is this property?  Well, basically everything even slightly sci-fi.  PAitF is a game conglomeration of every franchise that I am familiar with, while at the same time having a semi-cohesive narrative (involving a multiverse that connects at a Citadel-like hub city) as well as several planned one-off missions.  Notable franchises featured are Metroid, Pokémon, Star Wars, Alien, Mass Effect, Halo and Gears of War.  However, several other franchises make appearances.

Mechanically, the game is currently pretty bland, sticking with the default RPG Maker combat and a typical adventure game format.  However, as I become more comfortable with the software, I plan on renovating the combat at least a little to make it more engaging.

The player will recruit a party of at least 6 fleshed out NPCs, and the player will be able to travel with 2 of them at a time.  I’ve currently only implemented one, a Lumioth healer from the Metroid franchise, but I plan on including a Pokémon Ranger and Merwif from Bravest Warriors.  Also, there will be a large number of “combat NPCs” that have no story interactions but are just there for combat support.  Players can travel with one at a time, and though they have not story input they all have fully realized leveling trees.  Examples include Imperial Stormtroopers, Metroids, goblins and HYDRA soldiers.  Also, the player will have access to a wide variety of abilities and powers, both inside and outside combat.

Levels will be infinitely replayable (with the exception of the intro mission for coding reasons), though subsequent playthroughs will have randomized rewards instead of the usual story rewards.  Also, levels will be able to be replayed at different difficult levels to suit your current team.

The story is still evolving, but it involves a Space Pirate (of the Metroid variety) invasion of the hub world, where the kidnap the player.  Through the intervention of an unknown entity he escapes from their ship and begins his journey to save the multiverse.  It’s rough, but it’s mostly there to facilitate a combined universe.

30/30 Day 5: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes First Impressions

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  If I miss a day, I will make it up, but hopefully I won’t miss any days and can call this a success.

Lego Marvel

Several years ago, when I was still gaming on the Nintendo Gamecube, I got a game called LEGO Star Wars.  As I was a massive Star Wars fan, I played the heck out of the game.  When LEGO Star Wars II came out, I immediately purchased it.  Then there was LEGO Star Wars The Complete Saga.  These games instilled in me a love of the LEGO games.

After playing LEGO Indiana Jones, however, I stopped playing the LEGO games.  Not because of any drop in quality in the LEGO games, but because none of the franchises interested me.  I was tempted to go back with LEGO Lord of the Rings, but the price was too steep at the time.  A few weeks ago, I decided to get back into the LEGO games, specifically LEGO Marvel Super Heroes because it was on sale.  Because of my backlog, I didn’t get around to playing it right away, but now that I’ve played a few hours of it, I’d like to share my first impressions.  If I finish the game I’ll write up a full review later.

The game opened up with a cutscene of New York under attack by supervillains.  Nick Fury called in Iron Man and the Hulk, and it immediately jumped into action.  One of the major differences between this game and the early LEGO games is that the characters actually speak.  While the pantomime was endearing when retelling a well-known story such as Star Wars, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes tells an original story, so voice acting was the right choice.  The voice actors are competent, but it’s blatantly obvious that they aren’t the actors that they’re pretending to be.  Another thing I noticed was that the action was much more fast-paced.  In fact, it was often difficult to hit the right target and LEGO studs would go flying everywhere when I’m just trying to beat up a bad guy.  Besides that, the game plays very well, and each character is unique in some way.  For example, Iron Man can fly and shoot missiles, the Hulk can lift heavy objects and turn into Bruce Banner to fit into smaller spaces, and Spider-Man, who was introduced later in the mission, can swing through the air on his webs, pull distant objects with his webs, and use his Spider-senses to detect secret items in the environment.  The level culminated in a battle with Sandman, where all three characters had to use their unique abilities to bring down the villain LEGO-style.  I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed the first level.

After that, I was transported to the level hub.  LEGO Star Wars had Dexter’s Diner and the Mos Eisley Cantina.  LEGO Marvel Super Heroes has the SHIELD Helicarrier.  While the Mos Eisley Cantina had better atmospheric music, the Helicarrier was much more impressive.  I spent almost an hour just exploring and smashing stuff with two new characters, Captain America and Mr. Fantastic.  Like Iron Man, the Hulk and Spider-Man, both of them have their own unique abilities.  Captain America is exceptional at both melee and ranged combat, with a punching combo that results in a shield throw.  He can also use his shield to turn levers.  Mr. Fantastic is, of course, super-stretch, and by holding down the character-change button he turns into a teapot.  His main use is fitting through vents and pipes to reach places other characters can’t.

I started the second level, but had to stop playing for some out-of-game reason.  I’m definitely going to return to the game.  It’s a little early to tell, but I think LEGO Marvel Super Heroes will be highly recommended when I can make a full review.

30/30 Day 3: World of Pokémon Part 3- I Know It’s My Destiny!

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  If I miss a day, I will make it up, but hopefully I won’t miss any days and can call this a success.

If you missed my first blog, you can find it here: http://sorryjzargo.com/2014/06/02/3030-day-1-world-of-pokemon-part-1-the-very-best/

And the previous blog: http://sorryjzargo.com/2014/06/02/3030-day-2-world-of-pokemon-part-2-gotta-catch-em-all/

610 Greninja

(picking up directly where my last blog left off)

            While I did play less Pokémon for a while, it was the Shiny Charm and an exceptional bit of luck that brought me back to the game.  I was casually grinding in the Friend Safari when I ran into a chance shiny.  I quickly caught it, and within five minutes I ran into another.  From then on I was hooked on catching as many shinies as possible.  I’d play for hours grinding in the same location hoping to find a single shiny.  I did manage to get every Generation 1 and 6 starter shiny except for Delphox, and quite a few others either through grinding or trading, but eventually I ran out of steam.

That’s when I discovered the competitive scene.  I knew the basics of IVs and EVs, but I never really took the time to do anything about them before.  When I found out that some of my friends were making competitive teams, I decided that I should too.  However, being somewhat stubborn, I decided to ignore the current metagame and just make a team of Pokémon that I liked.  So my team consisted of Greninja (Protean ftw!), Delphox, Chesnaught, Aegislash, and I rotated the other two.  I was decent at it, but I was never great.  Still, it was enjoyable.

Then I discovered Pokémon Tabletop Adventures.  Pokémon Tabletop Adventures is a Pokémon tabletop roleplaying game.  As a fan of tabletop RPGs, I had looked into Pokémon tabletop games but did not find anything satisfying.  Then a friend introduced me to PTA and offered to run a game.  I agreed and had a blast.  Then I decided to run a game of my own.  Pokémon is even more fun when you have control over the world.  While running my game, I also discovered Pokémon Tabletop United, which is the “sister system” of PTA, but it is more balanced.  So I switched to that.  Both systems give game masters complete freedom in fleshing out their own little corner of the Pokémon world and players the freedom to have actual fleshed-out characters.

Within the last few months, I began playing the incredible Pokémon fan game Pokémon Zeta and Omicron.  Specifically I played Omicron version.  If you don’t know what this is, but you like Pokémon, you should definitely check it out.  Zeta and Omicron are on par with any real Pokémon game, but are loaded with so much more content and a slightly more mature story.  The finished version was just released, though the creator (thesuzerain on Reddit) is still releasing updates to fix the bugs.  Seriously, check this game out.  thesuzerain has clearly put an incredible effort into this game, and it is one of the best Pokémon experiences available.

And this is the present.  I am still playing Pokémon Omicron and Pokémon Tabletop United, as well as occasional multiplayer games in X.  Pokémon has played a major role in my life, and it will undoubtedly continue doing so into the future.

All aboard the hype train for OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire!

30/30 Day 2: World of Pokémon Part 2- Gotta Catch ’em All

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  If I miss a day, I will make it up, but hopefully I won’t miss any days and can call this a success.

If you missed my first blog, you can find it here: http://sorryjzargo.com/2014/06/02/3030-day-1-world-of-pokemon-part-1-the-very-best/

608 Froakie

(picking up directly where my last blog left off)

…or so I thought.

Years passed and I entered high school.  As a typical teenager, I felt that I was too mature for Pokémon.  I mean, they’re kids’ games!  I took pride in being “too mature” for kids’ stuff, including anime, cartoons and Pokémon.  However, that began to shift when one of my friends showed me the cartoon Adventure Time (I’m certainly going to write more about AT in the future), and I realized that I was not too mature for cartoons.  Instead, I was too immature to enjoy them like an adult.  With the dawn of Adventure Time, it was only a matter of time before I returned to my childhood passion.

Fast-forward to my freshman year of college.  My first roommate was an anime devotee and a serious nerd in practically all aspects.  It was him that brought about my return to Pokémon.  I saw him playing Pokémon Black or White, and something in my mind clicked.  For the first time since I was a kid, Pokémon looked fun again.  At first I wasn’t willing to invest any money, though, so I downloaded a DS emulator and the ROM for Pokémon SoulSilver, hoping to relive my glory days of Pokémon.  However, my laptop was too slow and the ROM ran at half speed, so I reluctantly opted for buying a used DS and a copy of SoulSilver.  I chose SoulSilver even though Pokémon was currently into the 5th generation because it was a remake of a game I was familiar with.  And I played the heck out of SoulSilver.  I never managed to beat Red, but I completed a majority of the content in the game.  Then, I decided to move forward.

This coincided with the release of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2.  I decided to skip Black and White and bought a used copy of Black 2.  My only regret about this decision was choosing Snivy as my starter.  I powered through Black 2 with my underpowered starter and compensated with the event legendary Genesect, and managed to beat the Elite Four rather quickly.  Once I reached that point, my interest in the game waned briefly.  I didn’t know about the massive amount of postgame content in the game, so I didn’t have a lot left to do besides try to complete my National Pokédex.  I didn’t come anywhere close.

Then came the announcement for Pokémon X and Y.  Everything about the games seemed fresh and exciting, so I eagerly bought a 3DS in the summer between my freshman and sophomore years.  I filled the time with playing Animal Crossing, Pokémon Black 2, and working full-time at Walmart (even though I specifically applied for a part-time job, still bitter about that).  As the game grew closer, the hype grew even more intense, and I ended up pre-ordering it at the campus Game Stop and picking it up the day of release.  Little did I know, I would soon fulfill my destiny.

In all the prior Pokémon games, I had at least beaten the Elite Four, proving that I was the very best, like no one ever was.  However, that was just half of the song’s mantra.  Embarrassingly, I never managed to “catch ‘em all.”  So, with that in mind, completing the National Pokédex in Pokémon X became my top priority.

When I first started Pokémon X, I planned on choosing Fennekin as my Kalos starter because it was so cute.  However, I realized that I would have too much type overlap.  With the event Torchic and the Kanto starter that would inevitably be Charmander, I needed a different type.  So, I chose Froakie.  This was the best decision ever.  Froakie quickly grew on me and became my favorite Pokémon of all time, surpassing my previous favorite Charizard.  With Froakie and Mega Blaziken I stomped through the Elite Four and conquered the challenges the Kalos Region threw at me.  With the game completed, I had but one goal left, to catch ‘em all.

I began with the in-game legendaries.  Xerneas was easy; I snagged him in two Premier Balls.  Mewtwo was slightly more difficult, but with Thunder Wave and significant damage I managed to catch him with a Premier Ball as well.  My final challenge was Zygarde, who I hunted down through the depths of Terminus Cave.  With a bit of luck and some hard resets, I managed to capture Zygarde in a Premier Ball, completing my collection of major Kalos legendaries in Premier Balls.

With that out of the way, the real challenge began: the trading game.  By the time I completed the game and captured Zygarde I had accumulated roughly 200 Pokémon on my National Pokédex, an impressive number for just wild catches and evolutions.  However, I made it my objective to trade my Pokémon for everything I didn’t have.  This required breeding; lots and lots of breeding.  I bred starters out the wazoo and then traded them away.  Then the Pokébank released and all of my Kalos starters suddenly became obsolete in the trading game.  I had to reconsider my strategy.  Fortunately I managed to trade for a single Gen 2 starter, and through breeding and trading managed to acquire every single starter.  From there, I bred Turtwigs until I managed to collect every single non-legendary Pokémon available.

Even with this great accomplishment, I was faced with the seemingly insurmountable challenge of getting all of the legendaries.  I was about to give up for a time when I hit a stroke of incredible luck: I caught a shiny Chansey.  Seeing my opportunity, I traded it for a Rayquaza, then traded that for another legendary, then down the line acquired every legendary before trading it off for another.  In the end, I managed to get every single legendary in a day.  And DING!  I completed my National Pokédex!

I had done it!  Gotta catch ‘em all no more, I was the Pokémon master!  With this victory fresh, I thought that I would simply put down Pokémon X and wait for the next Pokémon game, but I was wrong…

30/30 Day 1: World of Pokémon Part 1- The Very Best

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  If I miss a day, I will make it up, but hopefully I won’t miss any days and can call this a success.

So, for the first day of my 30/30, I want to talk about a video game franchise that is very important to me.  As you can tell by the title, this franchise is Pokémon.  Pokémon has been part of my life since I was little, and played a major part in developing my imagination.

In 1997, I started watching a fascinating new show called Pokémon.  As a young kid, it had everything I could want: cool characters, silly moments, colorful creatures, and engaging action.  It quickly became my favorite show, so imagine my excitement when my uncle gave me his Gameboy along with a copy of Pokémon Red (and Tetris, though that didn’t excite me nearly as much).  I immediately launched the game and began on my journey to become the greatest Pokémon master.

Since I had Pokémon Red, I decided to go with Charmander as my starter, and have had no regrets.  As a young child, I had no knowledge of strategy, but I quickly discovered the various type advantages.  However, my strategy never evolved past spamming Flamethrower and Fly, but that was enough to (eventually) conquer the Elite Four.  I was the very best, and it was an empowering feeling.

Like every kid that played Pokémon and had friends, I heard several crazy rumors.  One friend told me that if I beat the Elite Four enough times, I could become a gym leader.  I fought the Elite Four many, many times but to no avail.  The only rumor that turned out to be true was the infamous Missingno glitch, which I exploited frequently.

Around this time, I received a Nintendo 64 for Christmas, and with that brought Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Snap (among other incredible games).  I played the hell out of these games, and even managed to coerce my parents into playing some of the Pokémon Stadium minigames with me.  However, these were mere distractions, and they even proved costly to me when my brother shut down the N64 as I was playing Pokémon Red through the Stadium connection, erasing my save profile and ruining my life.  However, I persevered and within a few days re-beat the Elite Four, once again choosing Charizard.

Then the first evolution of Pokémon occurred.  Nintendo released Pokémon Gold and Silver, but unfortunately I did not have the money to buy them on release.  So I waited, and eventually ended up with the superior Pokémon Crystal version.  The wait was worth it, and I breezed through the Johto region and then stomped through the Kanto region all over again.  I beat the Elite Four and most of the Kanto region when I experienced a tragic bug.  I don’t know how, but my starter (Feraligatr) was transformed into a Tauros and my various other Pokémon assumed different forms.  I even ended up with an extra Raikou because of this glitch, and my most useful Pokémon turned out to be an Eevee.  Unfortunately, I could not decide what to turn my Eevee into, so it remained an Eevee for the rest of my time with the game.

Along with Crystal, I also got Pokémon Stadium, though I mostly played it only for the mini-games because I wasn’t strategic enough to win most one-on-one battles.

Then came Pokémon Generation 3, and my enthusiasm had not diminished a single bit.  I devoured Pokémon Ruby.  With my trusty Blaziken by my side, I was invincible!  I even learned some valuable strategies this generation, including training more than one Pokémon (I had a fairly badass Medicham), but I was still fairly unskilled.

Then came Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, and I was back where I had started, exploring the Kanto region with my Charizard.  I loved it, but unfortunately I never discovered any of the postgame content.

It was around this time that I was at my maximum Pokémon high, and my parents recognized that despite being great games, they were consuming my life.  My parents staged an intervention, and through many tears I sold my Pokémon games, never to return to the franchise…