Posted in Gaming, Nefol, RPG Maker

RPG Maker: Nefol Dev Blog – The Rai Caves

So, with Chapter 3 scripted, it’s finally time to venture into some new story and environments. This also means we need to create a bunch of new assets and art for various situations.

The first of these assets are sprites with closed eyes. We need these for a few situations, but mostly because there’s a scene coming up where the characters will be sleeping. This week, though, I only needed to finish the sprite for Jin, so that’s who I worked on.

Work in progress!

And then I made sure the new edited sprite was lined up properly on the same sprite sheet as the original sprite like this.

With all that done, I was able to move forward in coding some of the new scripted parts!

Lighting the Caves

This story eventually takes the party to a place known as the Rai Ancestral Caves. This is an important place to the clan to store supplies, and because a network of hot springs run through them. This makes a welcome resting point in a cold, harsh climate.

I knew I wanted to work with lighting and atmosphere in the Rai caves, mostly some glows and maybe some steam/fog. So I went on the hunt for a plugin that would help me create these effects, and I found Khas’ Advanced Lighting and Fog. It was a small learning curve, but by the end of the afternoon, I had a grasp on making crystals glow, torches flicker and water have a somewhat magical look.

Work in progress of the Rai Caves.

Next weekend, I’ll work on the steam effects. I also need to figure out how we’re going to depict bedding (like animal skins and sleeping rolls) for the party. But I’ll tackle that when I get to it!

Another exciting thing — Syn and I have been talking about a logical place to make a story break for this introduction part of the game. It looks like after Chapter 3 seems to be the best spot. This means we’ll be able to release the actual first part of the game itself soon! So, if you want to play it, rather than watch it on video (the actual game looks so much better in person), you’ll have that chance!

Just have to get through this section!

Posted in Gaming, Nefol, RPG Maker

Nefol RPG Part 1 Video

Today we are officially releasing the video play through for Nefol Part 1! If you haven’t yet seen the Introduction, you can find it here!

This covers the story of how main characters Jin and Zento met. It touches a bit on the cultures of the clans of the north and their view on magic, which is highly taboo in their land.

This is also the only part of the story aside from the Intro that has ever been released publicly! Chapter 2 is almost complete, so hopefully sometime in May we’ll be getting into posting story that’s never been released before!

Enjoy!

Posted in Gaming, Nefol, RPG Maker

RPG Maker: Nefol Dev Blog – Fight It Out!

This past weekend, I spent a good bit of time tweaking the flow of the Digger battle and finally finishing that scenario! In the middle of all this, I changed the graphics for the battle Digger creature, found and built new animations for the battle to spruce it up some, and finally got all the pieces to come together for the scene.

Yet Another Digger

First off, I decided I still wasn’t happy with the Digger creature we had. It was mostly a random monster I pulled from Google somewhere as a stand-in, and not something I was sanctioned to use. That’s when I started looking more closely at the artwork provided by Ækashics.

This is not only amazing-looking enemy art, but it’s free to use in RPG Maker games, free to edit, and more or less fits the style we want to go for. Plus, if we can pull from a library from the same artist, we can hopefully keep a consistent look across the battles we do include.

So, I took and altered one of her large insect creatures to remake our Digger again.

I also discovered a way to resize the monster sprites in battle, so in the final project, the Digger is a bit smaller than he shows in these pictures!

New Animations

I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon Bubble Blog — I think I was looking for a Protect animation for the battle sequence. I’m not a pro on making animations in RPG Maker, but I did learn a lot about it this weekend.

I discovered that the one thing RPG Maker hasn’t changed much over the years is the battle animation system. This is good. This means that animation sheets made for previous versions of the game can still work for RPG Maker MV.

So when I saw some of the amazing animation sheets on that blog, I knew I needed to put them to use, rather than just settle for the default animations that came with the Maker.

I mean, just look at how awesome this fire animation is!

Anyhow, next up, I’m hoping to finish out the end of Chapter 2 this weekend. Syn and I then need to actually WRITE Chapter 3! How exciting — we’re working towards new content!

I’ll also work on getting a video of Chapter 1 out there soon. I’m still messing with video settings and things like that, hoping to get a higher quality output. I made a demo video to show Syn the battle sequence last weekend and wasn’t happy with the quality of the video output at all. I’m sure this is probably rookie user error, though, and I can figure it out.

Until then, Protect Clansman!

Posted in Gaming, Nefol, RPG Maker

RPG Maker: Nefol Dev Blog – Digger Emerged!

Last weekend, I set about doing what I mentioned in the last post — struggling with how to introduce and script the Digger battle. I spent a lot of time chasing down rabbit trails, but I learned a lot about the different plug-ins and how to make them do what I want to do.

First thing’s first, I remade the Digger sprite.

It’s still not as big and intimidating as I’d hoped once on screen, but I did realize I needed something with a side view like this. So, in the end, it worked. Or… at least, the blue frog seems intimidated!

I also wanted to have a whirlpool type effect in the spot where the digger would first appear. Syn envisioned this creature to be somewhat like an underground antlion, which uses pits in the ground as a way to trap food.

Getting this effect wasn’t easy, but I did eventually rework a battle animation to do what I was basically hoping to do.

And, finally, was time to tackle the scripted battle. This took me hours… but I ended up with a lot of knowledge about how Yanfly’s battle systems work. There’s a scene where I wanted Jin to jump out in front of the party (to defend them), so I effectively needed something that would allow me to move Jin’s sprite position permanently on the battle screen. Finding something that would actually let me do that was a lot of time, failure and research.

I discovered that Yanfly’s Battle Engine Core has the beginnings of what’s called Action Sequences. This, along with the  Action Sequence Pack 1, Pack 2 and Pack 3, allows you to create all kinds of effects for attacks and other battle actions. Think of something like the animation tied to a Dragoon’s Jump attack — things like that.

However, as cool as it is, it could not permanently allow me to change Jin’s position on the battle field. After hours of working with it, I could get him to walk forward, but his position would only last the duration of the battle action before he’d return to his home position.

Setting the Row

I almost gave up on this several times, but in doing more research, I found someone on the forums asking the same question as I was. Interestingly enough, the answer ended up being in an unexpected place — Yanfly’s Row Formation plugin.

Like in old-skool JRPGs, you can set up rows —  like back row for casters and front row for melee. This plugin makes rows very dynamic, and would be an awesome bit of strategy to add to any RPG Maker game. But all I needed it for was to make one character stand out in front of the rest of the party.

This plugin did what I needed it to — it’s quite powerful in that you can even call to the plugin script while in the battle and change a character’s row dynamically. So basically, when I needed Jin to hop out in front of the party to intercept the monster’s attack, I put in a script call for him to change to the front row.

Like so:

And there you have it. Hours of trial and error just to get a simple change of placement for characters on the battle screen. Well, at least I got it working, which means I can probably finish up Chapter 2 this weekend! I’ve figured out the hardest part, I hope!

Oh, and see the nice new status bar with all the character faces on the battle screen? That’s a part of Yanfly’s Battle Status Window plugin. I swear, this guy knows how to do it all.

Posted in Gaming, Nefol, RPG Maker

RPG Maker: Nefol Dev Blog – Chapter 2 Begins

Last week, I got a solid chunk of Chapter 2 coded in the game, mostly because it’s all dialogue more than anything else. I did stop right before the one battle encounter because my challenge for this week is going to be figuring out how to script a fight that has a lot of character interaction.

All in all, I’m getting faster and better at making things work with minimum incidents. So, it’s become more a thing of getting the script in the game than anything else.

I also spent time working on modifying sprites for the monster battle in this chapter. This thing was along the lines of what Syn had scripted…

Yeah, I’m not really much of a pixel artist. 😀

I wanted a big and imposing monster to show up on the map with the other characters since there needs to be some interaction before the fight begins. I saw that RPG Maker allows for what’s called “Big Monster” sprites, so I set out to make one of those.

And well… not as big and imposing as I’d hoped for once it’s in game. (Please ignore the blue frog — if you want to know what it is, ask me in the comments XD)

I’m probably going to work on an alternative. I’m not very happy with this. But, I can use it as a placeholder for now, I guess.

In the meantime, Syn has been working on the Rai camp some more. She spent time making face sheets for the important NPCs and fleshed out some of the dialogue.

We’re trying to figure out how to juggle the shared database since I’m adding switches and she’s adding variables to it separately. I think that’s going to end up a manual job in the end. But that’s more technical than I want to get in this post.

And yeah, Zento better watch what he says. Yuu has no patience with him!

Posted in Gaming, Nefol, RPG Maker

Nefol RPG Introduction

Last weekend, I was able to put the finishing touches on the Nefol Introduction and the end of Chapter 1. Last night, I sat down and made the first play through recording of the Nefol Introduction.

The intro is a bit of a gag for those who are familiar with our other works at Sygnus.org and the story of FFIV. But we hope you can enjoy it in its little humble home-made ways.

Keep in mind that playing the game itself will have much better visuals than the video of it, but we’re not quite ready to start deploying the game itself. We haven’t decided if we will do it episodically, or in a big chunk, and what the limitations of either way might be.

So, until we work a few more things out, I’ll be making and releasing videos to tell the story instead. I know some folks would rather spend time watching a video, which they can do anywhere, any time, and not fiddle with downloading a game and messing with that.

So let me play the game for you! 

Posted in Gaming, Nefol, RPG Maker

RPG Maker: Nefol Dev Blog – I Don’t Like You

I’ve got a lot to talk about this week, because the two of us got quite a bit done! First, let me talk about what Syn’s working on: The Rai Camp. This is going to be home base for the heroes, and is Zento’s (and the player’s) first look at who the Rai Clan are.

I Don’t Like You

Syn spent a long time trying to figure out a good chipset to use to make the snowy camp. This is a little more difficult than it seems because RPG Maker does have art for snow scenes, but not as much as for green land or deserts.

She also created a bunch of NPCs for the town, and started to code in some of the conversation. When I went to explore her camp, I ran into this guy.

I’m hoping this is just placeholder text…

Syn… this is placholder stuff, right? 😀

Coding the Hunt

Meanwhile, I began working on the hunt scene. Just like everything we do in this game, it turned out more complicated than I expected.

First, I needed a deer-like creature. I found what I needed as a base from Whtdragon’s Animal Pack. This is a really wonderful collection!

It had deer of all colors, but they were all bucks. I decided I wanted one buck and a bunch of does. So I had to edit the sprite to remove the antlers.

It turned out alright, I think, and worked for what I needed it.

The second thing I needed to overcome was a scene where Yuu shoots an arrow at the buck. This sounds like it should be easy, but the game maker doesn’t have built-in projectiles for something like this.

Instead, I had to make the arrow itself an event, and code that to move across the screen. Before I could do that, I needed an arrow sprite! I found one from an older version of RPG Maker, so I edited to fit our system.

With that and a bit of coding experiment, I was able to get the scene to play out as I wanted!

Following this, I coded in a silly chase scene where the hunters run after the buck. Sadly, It would have taken a lot of work to show them riding Rhawn, so while a Rhawn/horse does appear, they aren’t riding it like they did in the original script.

Finally, I got to the point where they meet with Zento for the first time, and arguments abound.

My challenge for this week is to figure out how to get Zento and the other characters to fight against each other, probably in a scripted battle.

Oh, and I actually exported a distribution of this game for the first time this weekend so that Syn could test it along with me. I learned a few things doing that, too, but it went overall well with few tweaks needed!

Posted in Gaming, Nefol, RPG Maker

RPG Maker: Nefol Dev Blog – Telling the Old Story

Last weekend, we made a lot of headway on the main story for Nefol. While sprites and events have sometimes held us back from moving forward, this time, I sat down and got a good chunk of story completed, including what I tend to think of as the “Intro Movie.”

You can see the previous movie that I created with random images back in 2015 using  RPGMaker VX here:

Cringe.

I used some of the feedback we got from that movie in the new one – text sometimes went too fast & some of the unneeded frames were cut.

Anyhow, I didn’t want to go that route again. I instead made a bunch of more tribal-styled artwork for this movie, which looks like this:

Much improved!

I actually put this art together a few months back, and only now was far enough to put it all into the movie script and let it run.

Following that, I went on to create the night scene with ElderRai and young JinRai. Syn created sprites for me on the fly, and I made a few expressions that were needed for this section.

I also worked on building the small map for this scene.

This ended up looking something like this:

I’m finally getting to the point where I’m forging into what we called “Chapter 1.” This is unknown ground for me when it comes to scripting and figuring out how to make the story unfold. But it’s still a fun creative exercise, and I’m looking forward to seeing how far we can push the events in RPGMaker to tell our tale!

Posted in Nefol, RPG Maker

RPG Maker: Nefol Dev Blog –Emotional Facesets and Side Character Sprites

In RPG Maker, the picture file used as a portrait, often displayed when that character is talking, is called a faceset. Facesets are made up of several images in a 2×4 grid. Each portrait image must be placed within the grid in precise squares, or you will see graphical overlapping and weirdness when using the file in game.

Here’s an example of a faceset from RPG Maker VX.

One way to make your game more interactive is to create a faceset for single character’s various expressions. This allows you to display different emotions to fit the character’s dialogue. It is, after all, kinda odd for the character portrait to be smiling when they’re angry or sad!

The RPG Maker MV character generator makes it easy to take a base portrait and change features such as the eyes, mouth and eyebrows to create expressions. Long, long ago, in an RPG Maker of old, I had to hand-paint the sprite emotions, which took forever! So this is wonderful!

The only limitation is that each time you export a new face, it places that face in its own file. So instead of having a 2×4 grid with 8 faces on it, you have 8 different files with one face each.

Now, this works just fine. It doesn’t break anything. But when you have several characters with 20+ facial expressions like Nefol does, that’s a lot of excess files that could be more compact. So, I set out to do something about this.

Thankfully, the files export from MV in PNG format. This made it a snap to import them to Photoshop and start cobbling the images together into one grid.

When all is said and done, you end up with a file that looks like this Zento set below:

Kid Sprite Kerfuffle

Syn and I also set out to create some sprites for NPCs and side characters this weekend. This included a number of kid sprites who had very specific characteristics.

Now, I’d noted that RPG Maker MV had a kid section of the generator, but I’d not yet looked into it. When we did, I was shocked to find it completely bare bones. There was only something like one hairstyle, one clothing style, a few eyes, and that sort of thing. This was not at all going to work with what we needed.

Come to find out, the kid part of the generator was only added to MV late last year. Also, the parts that should be in the generator came out as the fourth part of the $30 season pass.

Now, I’m a fan of all the great features that MV has provided so far. I think the base game is pricey, though, and that something as standard as kid parts for the generator should not cost an additional $30 as DLC. This should be part of the base package. I’m not the only one that feels that way… but it’s a debate for another time.

Needless to say, we dealt with the kid sprite issue, and carried on.

Syn’s Sprites

We also needed sprites for Jin’s two hunting companions, Yuu and Zhi. So, I requested Syn make those for me, and this is what she sent for Zhi. Isn’t he adorable??

Yuu came out very good, too, but Zhi makes me smile. Those Rai clan folks can be pretty crazy sometimes, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

Posted in Gaming, Nefol, RPG Maker

RPG Maker: Nefol Dev Blog – Creating the Man Braid

So, today I’m going to talk about man braids. In particular, Zento’s man braid.

Zento has always had one single long braid down his back. That’s just been a defining feature of his character’s design. The only issue here is that the character generator in RPG Maker MV does not provide that sort of hairstyle.

It has an option for a long, thin ponytail for males, and a double braid for females. I was using the ponytail option for Zento’s demo sprite like so:

I did a lot of searching for a user-created single braid download, but had no luck. However, I already had installed custom character generator content that converted female hair styles for male usage. So, I had a double braid template that I could use and modify.

That’s what I ended up doing. I decided that I wanted to make it a piece for the character generator so I could use it again on characters in the future. This required several different generator pieces to be graphically edited from two braids to one.

When I was done, however, the final result was exactly what I was looking for in a Zento character!

That looks much more like Zento!

I also started making other NPC characters like this one below. Bet you don’t know who this is (and it’s probably not who you think…).

I’m also moving the team from the first set of the introduction into a new room. I haven’t finished decorating this room yet, and all the characters aren’t there, but here’s a first look at the very beta version.

Next week, I hope to start working on setting up interacting dialogue, which means I will need to create facial expressions for the conversation. Using the character generator, this shouldn’t be too hard, I hope!