Dev Blog: You Are The Reason Progress Update Laura Kate February 14, 2014 Developer Blog So, the You Are The Reason demo that I wanted to have into the world at the end of December 2013 is still not out there. Turns out I had no Idea about the realities of game development. Still, that was the whole purpose of this little experiment, for me to learn and get a better appreciation of the subtleties of developing a game. So, let’s get you all up to speed on the progress I have been making, the speed bumps I didn’t see coming and what the future holds for my little RPG. Making a game in your free time is easier said than done. So, making a game when you work a 40 hour a week day job, spend almost that much time every week writing, spend any blocks of multiple days off you can with your significant other half way up the country, try to make a game and sleep, one of those ends up taking a back seat. Sleep took a back seat for me to fit in a 40 hour writing week on top of my day job, fitting in game development was harder because I had already cut the sleep back as far as was really feasible. This meant that development has been a much more stop and start process than initially anticipated. Having seen this past week how much I can accomplish when I prioritise game development over writing for a while, I’m starting to see I need to once again re-balance things to keep this game on a reasonable time frame. I need to set aside a couple of days a week where writing takes a back seat to the game and really plow on with it like I have done this week. It’s really hard though and I don’t recommend doing game development on top of this many other things. RPG Maker has some unforseen drawbacks. These have delayed the game significantly. So, I never really thought about this enough when starting to work on the demo for You Are The Reason, but the fact that RPG Maker only outputs games in a format for PC gamers is troubling. The first time the difficulty arose was when I reached out to the games composer and offered to send him a build of the game to play to get a sense of what he was working on. He only uses a Mac, so that was out of the question. I slowly started to realise that this game would forever be locked to only PC and that I wanted to work in an environment where the game had options to migrate to other ecosystems. I had to do something. So, thanks to a lot of hard work from a close friend, we are attempting to port You Are The Reason from RPG Maker VX into Unity. I want to stick with the easy to manage tools RPG Maker offers me, but have the added functionality options that a clean port to Unity would offer. We’re currently focusing on porting only the demo, but we will also seek to do this if I go ahead with the full game. This however brought up an entirely new challenge. I was using a lot of default assets that came with RPG Maker. I had commissioned Brent Black (Brentalfloss) to write a new score for the demo and had some character art replaced with new images, but things like grass, water, rock and text boxes for example I stuck with what came with the game. That all had to go. If you create a game in RPG Maker you can sell it with default stuff included in the file, but what you cannot do is port an RPG Maker game into another engine and keep using the default assets. This required replacing a whole host of assets that I was previously happy to leave as defaults. Raising the money in my non existant budget to pay artists for new tiles, character art, sprites and music and writing up the relevant info on what I was after, that took a long time to get done. Bringing other creators on to the project. I have never been the creative lead on a multi person creative project before. I was part of the team that created Indie Haven, but that was mainly handling things that were right or wrong, much more mechanical arguments. Here I’ve had to create a world, story, characters and experiences and then convey those to people more talented at various artistic disciplines than me, conveying to them what I wanted in a way that yielded the right results. Explaining the vision for a song or voice that only exists in your head is really hard. Practice the hell out of this. Practice writing briefs about your characters voices, sum them up as succinctly as possible and do that as early as possible. Those descriptions can change, but practice the skill of explaining the world in your head to others who are outside of your small circle of internal knowledge. So, let’s talk a bit about some of the people I have on board working on my project at the moment. Devi Ever is working in tilesets that will work in RPG Maker and fill the space of the default tiles for me, without being the default tiles meaning I can use them in Unity. Brent Black, best known for his Youtube channel name Brentalfloss, has been working on the soundtrack for the Demo. We’re currently still working on a final battle theme for the demo, but you can hear some samples of his soundtrack for the demo below. On top of that I have Elaine Dore, artist behind the original Indie Haven mascot blob, working on character art for sprites to be based on and several Voice Actors confirmed to voice the script for the game. I am not yet ready to announce the full voice cast, but I have been pretty open on Twitter with my excitement that Jim Sterling will be voicing a fairly significant character in the game. His initial first dialogue take for the character that landed him the part can be seen below. You can also hear below the first line of VO from actor Peter Willoington, who will be playing a character fairly closely linked to Jim Sterling’s. I’m also working pretty closely with the lovely @Cubed2D on Twitter, who helped not only to create a custom battle script that made my central gameplay hook possible, but is also behind the port to Unity. The Script So, that’s the big delays out the way. Those are the aspects of making this game that, for better or worse, set me back behind my planned schedule. What I can however tell you is that, besides the porting process and getting in my lovely new assets, the demo for You Are The Reason is functionally complete. It can be played start to finish. Whilst digging into sorting out my VO cast I have been working hard on drafting and redrafting the script for the demo ready to send it out to the actors involved. If you don’t mind spoilers for the demo my full script can be seen below. This is the last part of my article, so feel free to skip to the end of the article if you want to avoid spoilers. It’s not necessarily the most professionally laid out, but it’s doing the job and has yielded good results from those using it to create their contributions. You Are The Reason Demo Script All names currently subject to change Opens with a black screen, no visuals to be seen. The main protagonist, Vena, appears on screen as a face, accompanied by text and an opening monologue to set the tone. This opening monologue is set contextually as the ending of the game, with Vena looking wistfully back and wanting to return to the beginning and retell her story. Vena: When I first knew I was different, I dreamt of changing the world. I dreamt of crowds cheering as I passed, children aspiring to be me. I thought being different would be something I could be proud of, that it would only be the monsters and villains I would have to hide my face from. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Taking down huge monsters was dangerous, but the people I wanted to protect always posed the biggest threat to my safety. But let’s head back to the beginning of my tale. I’ll tell you how I came to learn that you are the reason that heroes need masks. Move scenes to interior of Vena’s home. Unassuming location, nice and friendly house interior. Even though she lives in the same town as her mother and sister food preperation surfaces and stacked bookshelves suggest she has moved out of her family home for a sense of independence more than anything. Her father is notably absent from the town in the demo, with his story in the full game fleshing out why Vena left the family home. Vena: I need to leave town, find somewhere that nobody can see me. Vena leaves the house and is immediately run up to by her sister. It is clear her sister has been waiting for Vena to emerge so that she can talk to her before she sneaks off (a regular part of their relationship). Lyra: (Very excited) Vena!!! Vena: Hey Lyra, How are you doing today? Lyra: I’m okay. (Suddenly becomes fairly firm for a 4 year old) Look, can we go out and play today? You always disappear and I don’t have anyone else who wants to play with me. Vena: (Apologetically) I’m sorry Lyra, I’ve got plans this morning. I promise I’ll play with you when you get back, okay? Lyra: I guess, but you promise we can play later right? Vena: I promise. Lyra: Pinky Promise? Vena: (Deadly serious) Pinky Promise Lyra: Okay, I’ll be waiting okay. From here Vena becomes free to explore the town. There are homes that can be entered to have conversations with the four village elders, one of whom is Vena’s mother. The player can also speak to NPC characters around the village. Each character at present only has one dialogue path when speaking to them at this time, all of which are self contained. These are structured in such a way that speaking to them a second time uses some of the existing dialogue to summarise without redoing the whole conversation. Below are the self contained blocks of Vena – Character dialogue. Cat: Meeeeow Vena: Awwww, who’s a cute little thing? Cat: Mew Vena: I agree, fish IS rather delicious, isn’t it? Cat: Meow? Vena: I’m not sure. Well. It’s been fun talking to you, see you around. Cat: Prrrrrrrrr Lyra: Come back soon so we can play okay? Vena: Sure, Pinky Promise. Norman (Elderly Male): Vena, is that you? Vena: Yes Norman, it’s me. How are you doing today? Norman: Not so bad considering, yourself? Vena: Pretty good, got any plans today? Norman: Ah nothing much, pottering about… probably aught to tend to the vegetable garden…. Vena: Okay, well I’m off out for bit. Hope you have a good day. Tom (Young Male): Hey Vena, did you see my quilt? I finally finished it last night, there’s a panel for everyone on it. Vena: Oh yeah? That’s great. I’m just heading out but you’d better show me the second I get back okay? Tom: Okay, sure!!! Harry (Teen Male): Hey Dude, you doing alright? Vena: (A little irritated by Dude) Yeah I’m okay I suppose, how are you? Harry: Not bad, just off to go lift some weights and stuff, wanna join? Vena: No, I really don’t. Harry: Figures, you’re pretty anti that stuff these days. You used to love weight sessions. Vena: Well, you know, people change. Harry: Yeah, aren’t just just the bleeding epitome of that (Laughs) Richard (Young Adult, Early Twenties. – Couldn’t resist the urge for the three space filling town NPCs to be Tom, Dick and Harry 😛 ): Hi Vena, slept in again I see? Vena: Hey Rich, yeah I guess I did. Always been a bit of a night owl. Richard: That’s cool, Always nice enjoying that part of the night where the whole world has seemingly faded away. Vena: Agreed, as much as I love everyone here it’s my favourite time of day. It’s just nice to get some me time, you know? Richard: Very true, guess that’s why you love your long walks so much. Vena: Yeah, something like that.(Nervous Laughter) Althea (Mother): Morning Vena, have a good nights rest? Vena: Only just getting up now, so I guess so. Althea: I’m pretty sure she’s already asked you, but you really aught to give Lyra some time today, she’s desperate for some time with her big sis. Vena: (Exasperated, with a bit of a sigh) Yes mum, I’m going to get to it later. Heading out for a jog first, otherwise I’ll put it off and never get it done. Althea: Okay, just make sure you’re back in time to spend some quality hours with Lyra. Vena: Okay mum, will do. Festo – The role is that of an aggressive yet somewhat effeminate member of the council who run the protagonist’s home town and ultimately set off in pursuit of her when they discover she can use magic. The character, named Festo, is very much of the belief that any cost is acceptable when pursuing someone seen as inherently evil, in this case Vena and her ability to use magic. He will push his own morality when needed, who cares if he hurts a few people in pursuit of saving many more from a perceived threat. The idea for the character vocally is that he is somewhat similar to Ghirahim from Skyward Sword. Somewhat camp in nature, but totally able to snap into direct anger and range when he’s unable to achieve his aims. Festso: Good Day Vena, What brings you my way this fine morning? Vena: Nothing much, just wanted to see how you were. Festo: Excuse me? Can’t you see I’m busy? I’ve got a stack of requests to deal with as long as your proverbial sleep cycle. Now, unless you want to help with my gargantuan stack of paperwork I’ll expect you to leave me to my work. Vena: Sheesh, was just trying to be polite, sorry I bothered. Festo: Pleasantries are all well and good, but I’ve got a village that takes a surprising amount of paperwork to keep running. Vena: Sorry, I’ll get out of your way. Ivan – The character is a member of the council that rules the protagonist Vena’s home village and ultimately chase her away and pursue her when they discover she can use magic. He’s a military leader in his early twenties, the type who fought in battle fuelled by anger then ended up in a position of strategy and control that really didn’t suit him. He’s a very aggressive tackle things head on kind of character, one who thinks the solution to every problem is brute force. He’s a bit naive in matters of politics and sees morality as a black and white matter. He has seen people slaughtered by the hundreds by magic users and as such fears Vena instantly as a threat to those around him. Ivan (Injured Warrior): Welcome Vena, how can I help you today? Vena: Hey Ivan, nothing special you can do for me today. Just wanted to see what you were upto. Ivan: That’s cool, just going over our defensive strategies. Vena: Isn’t that a bit of a waste of time? I mean, who’s going to attack us? Ivan: You’d be surprised, I didn’t get these scars from nowhere. Last time a magic wielder surfaced they nearly blew our town clean off the map just because we were in their way as the crow flies. If we want to be safe, we have to make sure we are continually prepared. Vena: Makes sense I guess, just wish we didn’t have to be so defensive just because some people have the power to cast spells. Some magic users might even help protect the village some day. Ivan: Haha that’s a good one, helpful magic users. Give a human magic and the sheer act drives them mad with power. The human psyche wasn’t designed to handle that kind of skill without misusing it for their own goals. Vena: Maybe they’re not all like that though? Ivan: There’s never been a safe example yet, I’m not willing to ever take that chance after what I’ve seen. Franklin – The character is one of the village council members who, once they have learnt of the protagonist Vena’s ability to use magic, chases her out of the village and heads off in pursuit of her across the world. He’s a bookish type, a member of the council focused on legal matters and keeping the village in order. He’s very rules and order focused, everything in it’s place and a place for everything. Very proper with his speech and possibly a little needlessly condescending in his tone of voice. Vena: Hey Frank, you doing well today? Franklin (Scholar): Oh hello Vena, didn’t see you there. I’m fairly well, what brings you to my world of words? Same as always? Vena: Yep, got any new research notes in on magic users? Franklin: You’ll know the moment I find something, I know you have a certain affinity for this sort of material. I’ll never quite understand your fascination with it myself. Vena: Oh, you know. Better the enemy you know than the one you don’t I guess. I just want to know as much as I can. Franklin: That’s an admirable view, but until new magic users start surfacing again I doubt any new research will come to light. Since the dissection notes came back on the last one things have been pretty quiet. Vena: Okay, thanks anyway. Franklin: Any time you want to research anything else please do let me know. I have most subjects on file here somewhere. Following the in town interactions (which can mostly be skipped past) Vena heads out of town and toward a large mountain on the edge of the accessible map. She finds herself in a rocky area void of any real detail or markings, free of any notable pathways that might suggest this is a popular route to travel across the mountain. It’s a place Vena feels she is safe from prying eyes. Vena: (Looks around in all directions) Looks like Nobody followed me, I should be safe here. First, Fire!!!!! (As she shouts fire she completes a series of arm movements and creates a flame that lasts for a number of seconds before dissipating) Right, next up… Lightning (Similar routine, a crash of lightning strikes the ground in the direction she is facing) So far so good… ICE!!!! (With a large crash a mount of ice crystals forms, then shatters into nothing ness once more) Okay, last up… Lyra??? As Vena turns to cast her final spell she finds herself eye to eye with Lyra, who has followed her at a distance and watched at least a portion of Vena’s practice routine. Lyra: Vena!!! What were you doing? Vena: It’s not what it looks like… Lyra: You did magic didn’t you? That’s what magic is… Vena: No, I swear it wasn’t. I was just practising a dance for everyone with a song that goes with it and you must have seen the light flash off my clothing and thought that…. Lyra: (Interupts) I’m telling mum Lyra turns and runs back toward the village. Vena: Wait!!! Come back here!!!!!!! (Very Panicked) Vena runs back for the village, hoping to catch Lyra before she has a chance to talk to anyone. She gets caught in a fight/ fights on her way back with non human enemies, possibly just slimes or similar, which delays her from beating her younger sister back home. These battles should serve to encourage using the magic she was shown to use outside of battle previously, as well as bringing the users attention to her options for non violent attacks which are super important for the upcoming council battle. Upon arriving home she finds her mother, Festo, Franklin and Ivan awaiting her. Althea: Vena, is it true??? Please tell me it isn’t. Were you really using magic??? Vena: Why would you think that? I was just out walking and… Althea: (Interrupts) Don’t bullshit me Vena, Lyra saw you “making fire and ice appear out of nothing”. How are you going to explain what she saw? Vena: She’s four, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Althea: She’s not an idiot, she couldn’t have described magic without seeing it for herself. We’ve never told her anything specific, she knows she saw something that didn’t make sense to her. She knows what she saw… So, how long were you planning to keeping this your little secret? Vena: I don’t… I…. Althea: How long have you been able to do this? How long has my own daughter been some kind of dark sorceress? Vena: It’s not like that, I’m going to use my powers to help people some day. Althea: So you admit it? You’ve been going outside the village to practice those dark and evil arts, my own daughter… You’re just this endless ball of hidden secrets aren’t you? The four council members then proceed to surround Vena from all sides, making escape all but impossible. Four skilled fighters are not going to allow her to just walk past them. Escape will require finding a way to incapacitate them and nullify their ability to stop her leaving. Ivan: You know we can’t let you stay here, harbouring a magic user puts the whole village at risk. You put everyone around you at risk just by continuing to exist. Festo: I’m sorry, but we can’t go on knowing you can use magic and not do out duty to king and country. Franklin: It’s not ideal, but we can’t let you just walk away from this. Vena: I don’t want to hurt you, I won’t do it… Althea: I’m sorry, but we can’t let you leave and pose a threat to anybody else… No matter the cost, you are not leaving here while we are standing. Vena: There has to be some other way… At this point a battle with the council is triggered. If the player kills any of the council they fail the game for going against Vena’s moral stance on hurting them. Running at the start is impossible. However, if all of the council are put to sleep at once Vena will mention that this is a perfect time to escape, opening the option for her to flee the battle. If Vena kills a Council member… Vena: Oh god, I killed them… What on earth have I done? I’m a monster…(Game Over) If puts all to sleep and flees script continues on this branch… Vena: Oh god, I can’t stay here any more. I have to find somewhere else… Anywhere… Harry: (Shouts) I always knew you were trouble. First you mess with everyone’s lives and force your own father out of town because you’re a freak, now you’ve attacked the council. You’re not getting away with this you know. As soon as they wake we’re going to sent them after you. You can’t hide from this. Every fucking person on this earth is going to know that you, Vena, are dangerous psychopathic fucking magic user. Vena runs out of sight and off-screen Harry: You can run, but you can’t hide from this. Everyone is going to know your name, you face, everything there is to know about who you are… Demo end. Conclusion So, yeah. Making a game is harder than I initially thought. What a huge surprise. I’m going to continue pushing on with getting the game ready and will hopefully have a trailer, demo and press release together before you know it. If you want to know any more on the game and how it is progressing remember to follow me on Twitter at @LauraKBuzz and email any questions you may have to Laurak@IndieHaven.com.