Thursday, October 15, 2020

Irons in the Fire

Hi there! It's been a bit huh? I hope you're hanging in there okay. 

I've done very little creative work this year, like a lot of folks. I'm trying to be gentle to myself about it. I contracted covid in June, and while the symptoms weren't too serious, I took a full six weeks to test negative and finally leave isolation. It was pretty traumatic and miserable!

I did contribute to the SMPS Game of the Decade list. This is our best and most expansive list project ever -- everyone was allowed to contribute up to 100 games, which means there are a LOT of oddball non-obvious picks. I think it's a lot more interesting than comparable lists from big games sites. Give it a read! We also did a long live podcast counting down the top 100 games on the list. You can listen to that here.

I don't usually talk much about in-progress creative work. I'm fickle and often drop projects that aren't working out for whatever reason, so I don't like feeling socially "locked in" to certain projects. I also just think it's self-indulgent -- I'd always rather hear about finished projects from a dev than see pretty gifs for something that might be finished, someday, maybe.

That said, I think I'm entitled to be a little self-indulgent.

RPGMaker explorey game

This project started off as a sort of indirect Facets sequel. The idea was that you'd play as a bunch of dead people going through dungeons in purgatory, including Alyssa, and there'd be sad Persona-y setpieces where they'd confront their regrets. I finally stopped work on it 'cause it was just really goddamn bleak.

However, I'd already started working on the first dungeon, which was going to be a forest/mountainy maze. I really loved what I was doing with the maps. I thought about making a game that was just one big forest/mountain/cave dungeon (all tiles handily baked into RPGMaker 2003), and what kind of story would suit that. 

After a while, I figured out the story I wanted to pursue. Then I experimented in RPGMaker and figured out some neat aesthetic ideas, and finally some nifty combat/character progression/navigation rules. Then, early this year, I made over a dozen huge detailed maps, about a third of the ones I'd need for the blown-up scope of the final game. It's really fun to run around the maps and explore. Most of my level design work is pretty abstract and gamey, so it's nice to work on a game that feels like a real place for once.

Facets was a taxing Yume Nikki/SaGa 1/survival horror-type game, a kind of game I love. This one's shaping up to look a little more like Skipmore or certain Falcom games: big pretty maps to explore full of grass and trees, backgrounded story, nice music, actual leveling and character progression, not too demanding. It's a kind of game I adore, and it's completely different from any of my past work. If I can land the story I have in mind, I think it has the potential to be really special. 

I stopped work entirely on it shortly into quarantine. And right when I was starting to get my groove back, I got covid. I'm working on other stuff now. I want to finish a few smaller projects before jumping back into my next big RPGMaker opus -- it's just too intimidating for where I'm at right now. I know it'll still be there for me when I'm ready.

Collab action explorey game

I'm really excited about this one x) My friend Toby Alden invited me to contribute a "New Game +" remix map to an action/explorey game they're working on. The base game is already basically finished (and excellent), now it's all up to collaborators like me to finish our contributions and help Toby's good work shine as bright as it possibly can.

I think this game's gonna be really good, and I'm excited to be a part of it! Toby has a fantastic backlog of work you can play here. Go enjoy it if you haven't already!

Mystery visual novel

Crediting this one entirely to reading Higurashi for the first time (after adoring the show ten years ago) and getting super-energized about visual novels and stories in general all over again. (Higurashi is really good. The first game is currently free on Steam and GOG, and it's a very exciting satisfying journey on its own. Give it a look!)

I shouldn't include this one 'cause I'm not too far into it, but I've got a pretty decent chunk of the first draft done and I'm REALLY excited about it. If the draft comes together the way I want, I'll start work with an artist friend or two and get a real game together. Please look forward to it!

Thanks for reading! Rest up and take care of yourselves friends. The next couple months are gonna be... a lot, probably.