My plan is to first finish the menus (though the production artwork for the characters, like the main menu graphics for Arashi, Ket, and Shion, along with their second artwork set for the status menu, may wait until I’m in full art mode). After that, I will lay out the groundwork for the entire opening area of the game. I won’t necessarily stock the map with items at this point, but at least get the paths in place and plan ahead for nooks and crannies, and puzzles to solve to illustrate the interactive gameplay elements (influenced by The Legend of Zelda series). Once that point is set, then it’s on to stocking the zone with enemies and the NPCs. It’s going to be a tight fit to make it to the June 14th deadline, but I’ll do what I can.
I had planned to work uninterrupted this weekend on production, but I have been arranged to meet with a couple who are professionals in the industry in the morning, which should be a fun time (though not really sure about this Hugo’s restaurant my friend picked out, hehe, I’ll have to review it in tomorrow night’s blog ;p). It’s always been tough for me to shift gears, especially when I’m “in the zone” so to speak, but it’s all part of the process. Let’s see how that goes.
After playing Dragon Quest IX, I started thinking ahead to a smaller, more standard turn-based RPG, since I can’t help but notice how many people still clamor for this subgenre. When I first started Shadowdawn Genesis, I honestly felt it was a niche that needed to be served, being an action/adventure RPG, since there are practically no games released lately except Ys. But the core term “action RPG” seems to be relegated to hack-and-slash games such as the Diablo and Torchlight series that are more about looting and heavy combat or mission-based games like Shining Force and Monster Hunter, so I have been working hard to shift the genre naming convention back to its roots as simply a real-time engine for a traditional RPG ruleset like one of the other inspirations for this project, Ultima VII. But action/adventure works fine, I suppose, I mean it doesn’t lie what the game is about. Anyways, that’s all beside the point, what I meant to say is that there are all varieties of action-oriented RPG engines now, not necessarily what I envision with a “true” action RPG like Secret of Mana or Ys, but there are far fewer good turn-based engines. So I am 99% sure my next game will be turn-based, or at least using a system akin to the famous Active Time Battle. Plus, there are still plenty of ideas from the original Shadowdawn project to try out, which was in fact a turn-based game. Unless by some miracle Shadowdawn Genesis makes enough money to fund a studio from the get-go, I’ll have to bide my time until that point by releasing smaller, smarter games.
– Nearly finished the entire status submenu. NPC techniques that are in play are displayed correctly (and abilities which the player instructs the NPC never to use are hidden to avoid confusion) and sorted by the NPC’s current role in the party formation. Of course, like Arashi’s techniques, the player can jump to the main skill menu to see the full list and progression-chart directly from this menu. All that’s really left is designing the header graphics for each NPC’s Unique Skill to display in the appropriate section of the menu.
– Completed some more polishing animations to the status menu, such as fading out the character portrait when the menu slides off as it is closed.
– Finished the (hopefully) final mix of the main theme of the game. I took extra care to pay attention to my previous flaws as a composer, especially how unbalanced the bass and harmony lines typically are in my music. I don’t believe this track has ever sounded better.
– Started adding animations to the button prompts at the bottom of the screen to indicate that the button has been pressed (especially for those who have the sound off or are unable to hear the sounds). Since this is the first submenu, this is the best time to add an animation like this as I already have to sweep through the other submenus and can implement this as I go along. I’m a little worried that the added conditional statement and math to each button graphic is going to end up slowing down the game, but most of this occurs in the menus, so it should be ok. There are however three HUD-based button prompts, so we’ll see.