Category: Weekly Updates
I've got a few things to say this time!
First of all, I've heard back from sponsors about Clarence's Big Chance and we've come to an agreement about money, so all that remains is to add the branding and links and stuff to the game. It should be out within a week, I'd hope! Finally!
I've been doing work on Alora Fane, which is good.
Anyone who thinks that doing pixel graphics is easy, or a way of avoiding having to put effort into the visuals, is rather mistaken! It can take me ages to decide how to draw a pixelated sprite or tile, and I need to tweak things endlessly to get them looking just right. I spent like two weeks deciding on how to make the graphics of areas - the tilesets - look, though now that I've decided, I should be able to go easily from here and create the rest much quicker.
(I was trying to decide on a *style*, you see; I want the different parts of the scenery to be *consistent*; I can't have highly detailed grass but simplistic, cliff faces, because that wouldn't look right.)
I'll include some images:
So that's going along nicely.
But I bet you're interested in what the title of this post could mean!
'New Deliverance?! Gasp! I liked Deliverance! New?! What?!? WHAT??! HUH?!?' is what you're all surely saying and such.
But yes, gasp, I have decided that it might be interesting and exciting to return to Deliverance! I never thought this day would come.
However, I want to make clear what this means. I won't ever return to the *currently uploaded* version of Deliverance; THAT abomination is coded so poorly that I'd rather eat glass than delve into its innards and attempt to append to it, and it's very much full of 'Old Shame' for me.
I don't like however how I left the story hanging, inconclusively.
I used much of what I developed in Deliverance, conceptually speaking anyway, in MARDEK; you'll notice many similarities if you look, such as a wolf character, reptoids, a town invaded by zombies; that kind of thing.
There are some other concepts though which I still enjoy the thought of, such as switching to play as another character (such as playing as Kerah), and the idea of technologically advanced humans becoming trapped on a more primitive world.
However, I feel the story is fairly puerile; I can do better than that now.
I've been spending much of the day planning what a 'remake' might be like, plot-wise. I've retained some major aspects, like the general start bit (you are on a ship that carried a frozen Emperor who you must seek a Cure for, and you get trapped on a planet after exploring the source of a strange signal), and I've kept the main characters - Kiernan (I'll elaborate on this in a minute), Kerah, Quillon, Peregrin, and so on - but there are also significant differences; for example, the 'signal' isn't something that the main character can mysteriously detect (an idea like that seems childish to me now), but instead is just detected by the ship's technology which was looking for this particular signal for reasons I've thoroughly planned but can't go into; the 'ruins' are different', etc...
Much of the plot wouldn't be the same. I originally meant Deliverance to have a vast plot, spanning many different worlds, but I never got to leaving the world of Proteus because of poor planning and pacing; there was too much buggering around with trivial local issues and doing pointless dungeons. This was because I was effectively making the story up as I went along; I knew the general ending and the overarching plot, but when I went to work on the game, I'd make a dungeon, then AFTER that, think 'right, so what can happen next?'
I don't do that anymore, and I've started by planning the whole game 'skeletally', you could say (I don't know the proper terms for these kinds of things). That is, I've got a beginning, middle and end all planned out, so I just need to add details into the equation to make it a proper playable story. It's best to start with the big things, then just refine it into ever smaller, more detailed chunks. I'm sure every storyteller knows this, but it took me years to learn myself.
There'd be big differences, like missing characters or events, if I feel that those characters or events are no longer important, that they're a waste of time and don't contribute anything to the *overall plot*. Everything should have some kind of symbolic meaning, everywhere should develop the big picture ever slightly.
The planet that the three crewmembers get stuck on would be rather different. It'd have a different name, for a start, but it wouldn't be inhabited by humans; instead, Peregrin and his fellow inhabitants would all be a unique (humanoid) race unique to that world, because there's so much more that I can explore with such an idea.
I'd probably do away with the reptoids and 'aruans' (I think they were called that in Deliverance due to being from the village of Aru, though they're not related to the Aruans in MARDEK, canonically), and replace them with variants of this alien race (since I've already covered reptoids and wolf things in MARDEK and I'd like a change).
I'd keep significant concepts and plot points, such as the main character being found by Peregrin (or a character that shares his name and general traits but isn't a human), and switching to play as Kerah later, who finds herself in a strange place and meets up with Tattoo (again, the name and traits would be shared, but not the appearance).
Events might be severely compressed or altered completely to make finishing the game feasible; take the first bit, for example, where you go into the Quake Cave, then the Lost Monastery, then the Crystal Marsh; I could perhaps compress that all into one dungeon by changing the events (since all it effectively is is a barrier with no real plot purpose).
So generally, I'd try to retain the 'essence' of the original game, while making an original game in the process. I'd be recycling some ideas, but not making a faithful reproduction. Consider it a 'reboot' rather than a 'remake', if you will.
I'd try to keep some mechanics the same, though I may change others based on what I've learned.
Alora Fane doesn't have levels or strength that gradually increases, but I *would* include these in this Deliverance thing so then after both projects are done, people could decide on which mechanics from both are best to be used in FHO...
I'd try to keep weapon and spell forging in, though they might work rather differently... Better, I'd hope. Neater, less sloppy.
However, here's something controversial. I would assume that one of Deliverance's most appealing features is its customisability; you create your own character, you can see your armour equipped in battle, and so on.
But I'd want to do away with a lot of that.
I'd like to lock the main character in as 'Kiernan', a human male with a distinct appearance and personality. I'd keep the ability to *rename* main characters (or at least him) in the same way you can rename characters in Final Fantasy games up until number 10, but I know that's not the same.
I'd also get rid of the armour changing in battle, or on your sprites... There are various valid reasons for this, and I want to explain them before everyone starts getting into a mouth-frothing, lung-busting raging frenzy.
It's much, much easier to write a plot for a planned character than it is to just use a 'generic adventurer person', or any character that has a variable gender.
Think of games like Final Fantasies VII to IX, if you've played those. Would their stories have worked if you'd been able to change the sex and appearance of Cloud, Squall, or Zidane? No, because *who they are is crucial to the plot*. The plot is, in many ways, *about* Cloud, Squall or Zidane, and their aspects such as sex and appearance are important to this. There are comments about Cloud's spiky hair in-game, about Zidane's tail, or Squall's scar.
Appearance is important in defining character, which is why I chose to stick with static appearances in MARDEK and I'm doing the same in Alora Fane. How many game characters do you remember because of their costumes? Auron would have been far less memorable if you could equip him with whatever, watch him run around in a thong or whatever. His red coat and arm-in-sleeve look define him as much as his personality and actions do.
So while it might be exciting to customise your character's appearance and see what you equip in battle, it comes at the expense of sacrificing many storytelling opportunities.
This kind of custom character works best in mostly Western RPGs, based on the true original 'role playing games' (rather than the JRPGs which are more like interactive novels with stats), where you play as a 'random adventurer'. My games are closer to JRPGs, and it's with good reasons that I'd prefer to stick with static appearances and stuff.
I know that might potentially destroy the whole point of remaking a game like Deliverance for some people... but I really hope I can pull it off.
Another thing I'd like to mention is how I'd want to do this Deliverance thing in an episodic format, like I did with MARDEK.
MARDEK was an experiment (I should note here that it might sound as if MARDEK is a thing of the past, abandoned, but it isn't; I'll return to it eventually). It was my first attempt at an episodic format, and it's grown bloated and out of control with each successive chapter due to poor planning. I originally wanted each chapter to be as long as the first, or maybe the second, such that I could make them each month or two and release them at regular intervals.
I made many mistakes though, and from them, I've learned what NOT to do, how to NOT approach making an episodic game.
If I made this one episodic, I'd probably make it more formulaic, too. For example, each chapter could have exactly three dungeons, each with its own boss, as well as an end-of-chapter boss. Each chapter would focus on a small region not accessible in other chapters, with its own problems and its own sort of 'mini plot' which involves solving the region's problems, furthering the big picture overarching plot in the process.
I'd then know exactly how much work each chapter would take, and I'd be able to make them much quicker and much neater than I did with MARDEK.
MARDEK 3 took forever, and that fact annoys me, makes me upset at myself. I've got great feedback for it and everything, but after I released it, I knew that I needed to change the way I designed games, and I've been trying to do that ever since. I've been planning much better than ever before, and hopefully avoiding mistakes that I've experienced in the past.
So that mentality would carry over to this next project.
I should state this clearly: I WILL FINISH ALORA FANE REGRESSION BEFORE I EVEN CONSIDER STARTING WORK ON THIS PROJECT.
I want to do one project at a time, instead of several at once as I've done in the past.
But I'd like to work on this next, if I can, because it'll be beneficial. I meant to work on FHO, maybe, but I feel that I haven't had enough practice with making RPGs in AS3, and I need to be really sure about how to make them before starting a project like that.
After both Alora Fane and this Deliverance thing are done, I can compare the two and see what works best (since each would have fairly different mechanics), using a combination of the two for FHO's engine.
It pays to start planning early, though! So while I'm less than half way through Alora Fane's development, if I can get this one planned fully before I have the time to start work on it, then I'll have a secure plan to work from instead of worrying what to do next or how to approach a certain thing.
So... phew! This is a very long post!
I'll stop now... but hopefully this is an interesting idea.
I should note however that this is just an idea that whimsically came to me today. While at the moment I can see many reasons why I should do it, and I'm rather excited about it, don't hold me to it; I might change my mind before starting on it and just go back to my original plans.
I hope not, but I just want to add this to say that this is an idea, not a promise.