Hey, everyone. It's been almost a year since I posted here. For the bulk of that time, very little got done on this project. RL took up most of my focus, and I lacked the attention or energy to do any work on this.
That said, I have an announcement to make:
The game is still a long ways from done, but you can download the demo here
You'll need to extract the .rar file to play, but it should just run after that (open the game folder and click on "Game." to make it go). Also, some credits for the demo build: the loading screen art is my mangling of Frogue's amazing art of Michael, and the music is by the super talented and wonderful RC.
The demo covers the prologue of the game. It roughly replaces pregame/sandbox as an introduction to some of the characters and the setting. As mentioned somewhere earlier in this thread, I've chosen Michael Robinson as the perspective character for the game. As such, the prologue covers a snippet of pre-SOTF time in Whittree, Oklahoma.
All Whittree characters I've been approved to use are featured in the prologue, to greater or lesser degrees. The prologue lays out the rough style I intend to use for the whole game: largely decision-based, with some level of branching paths leading in many cases to different results.
When it comes to overall game design, I'm trying to scale my ambitions to a reasonable level. As such, the game will allow you to play through and interact with the TV2 game, but it's not going to give you total freedom at all times. I hope to offer multiple choices for almost every interaction, but their results may end up the same in some circumstances. Characters will be killable, but it won't be all characters and it won't be every time you meet them. I hope to achieve a satisfying level of complexity without driving myself insane. Think Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book instead of, say, Morrowind.
In the interests of open communication, the prologue is basically the sum total of the completed work thus far. It took quite a while—I spent most of my free time over a week writing the script and implementing it in the engine. This means the overall game completion will not be speedy
. If it's done in six months, it will be a miracle by any measure. It may take years. It may never be completed. RL has a way of getting in the way of things, and this isn't the center of my life. I do want to keep expectations low.
That said, I have narrowed down the arena to a manageable number of areas to be featured, and I have the first phase of the game summarized and planned. I expect the game to include a prologue, seven phases on the resort, and then maybe an epilogue (or ten :P).
A few thoughts:
If you've expressed interest in helping in some fashion, I'd still love to work with you! When I was swamped, I lost track of a lot of things. I've contacted a handful of people since, but I don't think I've gotten to everyone. If I missed you, I swear it's not personal and if you still have any interest in participating I'd love to have you on board in some capacity.
If you are a TV2 handler whose character is featured and something really bugs you about the way I've treated them thus far, this is your one and only chance to get in feedback and help me right things (or to withdraw usage permission, though I'd much rather work with you to make sure everything's satisfactory). I'm making choices, cuts, etc. to fit the overall story and the game medium, but I do want to try to leave folks satisfied. Please drop me a line within a week if you want to address concerns.
If you are a TV2 handler who did not offer your character for usage, but now you would like to, there is absolutely 100% still room. The prologue itself has two open desks still (hidden through crafty camera angles at one point) and adding another row is trivially easy. And that's not even touching the Davison characters, who haven't turned up yet! Because I only have the first phase sketched out, and because even that has not progressed to scripting, it's really easy to fit characters in. Let's say there's a soft one week deadline for this, too; characters can still possibly be added afterwards, but are likely to be shunted into pretty minimal roles or get their stories and arcs tweaked more than they otherwise might. I make no guarantees your character will show up at all if you ask after a week from now.
A character's rough level of screen time/importance is quite likely to roughly mirror what they had in the actual TV2 game. There are absolutely some exceptions, but don't expect too hugely much variation, I guess is what I'm saying. There are a number of reasons for this. It's harder to stay true to a character's concept and feel while fabricating events for them forty deaths after where they kicked it in the actual game. Also, any major branch carries potential ramifications for the entire game from that point forwards
, which means if there are multiple potential fates for each character in each phase that echo through each other event, that leaves me with something like a hundred variations for absolutely everything that happens in the game, which again goes back to the "this is not my life and I'm not going insane over it" side of things. I'm mostly trying to keep expectations reasonable with all these caveats.
One feature is not currently and may never be implemented: portraits during dialogue, which I addressed a bit in past comments. I'm sort of torn on it. Basically, the issue is as such: there are a lot
of characters featured in the game. We've got over fifty students, plus up to two dozen supporting cast members (currently about ten, with a lot of potential for more to crop up near the end of the project/in epilogues). I might look into using Facemaker to create portraits, since I think having portraits does look better and makes certain dialogue exchanges easier to follow. I need to figure out what the usage permissions for Facemaker are, though. There's also a portrait maker in a different RPG Maker engine, and I do have access to that. I haven't played with it much, but it could also work.
If someone wanted to create art, I'd be super grateful, but there are some catches I feel obligated to mention. Basically, I feel like the game's aesthetic will be best served by being consistent, so I'd really want all portraits done in the same style/by the same person. This, again, runs into the issue that there are like 60-70 characters with speaking roles in this game, which I imagine is a ridiculous amount of work, even if we're talking fairly small square portraits. I'd also want to make sure everything looks decent, so at the very least solid scans would be necessary. Finally, there's zero guarantee this game gets completed to any degree further than where it's at right now, so there could be no payoff for the aforementioned massive effort. If you're interested anyways, PM me and we can talk, but I'm all sorts of iffy here just because of the amount of work and my own track record of being inconsistent.
I think that's the rough overview of where everything is. I'd also love any feedback, comments, things you liked, things you didn't, etc. I hope I'll be able to finish this and make it something cool!
There was at least one other really important thing I wanted to discuss, but I can't remember, so stay tuned. P.S. Seth, check your PMs! I promised RC I'd send you something related to this.