Shelby Quest Released!

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Yes, the little game I’ve been working on is finally done. And due to the magic of itch.io, it’s possible to play it on any modern browser. That means that even a decent phone will run it, regardless of whether you’re using Android, iOS or whatever else. (I opted not to make it an app for either in the end, due to some big stumbling blocks I found along the way that would really cost me to get past.)

So yeah. Go ahead and play it! Discover all the ways it’s broken and probably not all that great, seeing as I never really planned for it to have a storyline at all. If you’re playing on a phone or tablet, also be warned that it may have some lag and that the controls are kinda-sorta terrible. If I was advanced enough to begin to fix that, I would, but a bunch of programmers way better than myself have been working on those problems for over a year and I don’t see it ending. So, we’ll have to just live with that.

Overall, I’m fairly proud of this. It’s much more than I ever thought it could be, in a lot of ways. Sure, I definitely have my disappointments, as outlined above, but I also got some unexpected triumphs. Each character just naturally fit into the place that I chose for them, and the enemies, equipment and skills followed suit. At first I wrestled with the question of how to deal with difficulty when the player can just wander around wherever, but some friends over at Habitica gave me a clever solution.

Plus, other than the tiny short-short game I once made about Eibmoz (and am not honestly sure where it is anymore), this is the first time I’ve managed to actually finish and release a game of any complexity. You could also count CaveBlade or Miracle Springs, but those were just little growths from a tutorial and you can honestly complete either one in about 10 minutes. Plus, I never really cared if anyone played those or not, whereas I really hope a few people enjoy Shelby Quest. Even though I’m not expecting that to be more than like five people.

Anyway, let’s quit messing around. I ask of you, please be one of those people and play Shelby Quest!

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Running With It

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Shelby Quest Screenshot

A lot has happened with this little RPG Maker MV project, which I have dubbed Shelby Quest for obvious reasons. At this point, after playing through for about 3 hours making sure it wasn’t too blatantly awful, I consider it to be ready for more of a proper testing phase. That really tells you how powerful RPG Maker MV is, considering I’ve been at this for something like 3 weeks. Then again, Steam shows about 105 hours that I had the engine open, so…

Anyway, I’m really excited that this whole thing became so much bigger, and that despite that, it’s mostly done. I’m not too thrilled with some of the controls on mobile, but it looks like the community just doesn’t have solutions for that yet, so I’m going to call it good enough. All in all, I feel like I’ve gone to great lengths to accommodate the problems this engine has, especially when it comes to the mobile app versions.

That said, I actually have no idea if the game will actually work for iOS. I’ve been testing it on Android, and some of the features I had added would throw errors when I played on that format. Hopefully iOS doesn’t have a whole different set of errors, or I’m frankly kind of screwed in that department. I don’t really want to do much more work on the game itself, unless someone finds bugs or other issues. I just want to focus on giving it a sort of mini-release. (Obviously there are limits because the characters are copyrighted, but I still want to explore how that phase works.)

That Awkward Moment

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Shelby Quest Screenshot 001

So instead of working on The Demon’s Guardian like I was supposed to, I ended up continuing on my little practice project from RPG Maker MV. It was more or less a joke at first, just featuring random characters from things that I like. The idea was that the player would make a custom character using a plugin, and then that character would search for these other characters before facing the final boss. I was going to use solely the maps provided by RPG Maker MV.

I hit a roadblock when I realized that some plugins completely break down when porting over to Android (I haven’t even gotten to iOS yet, actually). So I couldn’t have a custom character. Then it occurred to me that it might be nice to make Shelby the main character. With her knowing (and loving) this, I can’t very well not complete the game she stars in, can I? That inspired me to give it a little smidgen of story besides the little bits that go with the characters.

So now each character has at least five skills, two sets of equipment, a town and a dungeon dedicated to them. And it turns out that with RPG Maker MV‘s bigger tiles, the default maps actually look huge. I’ve accidentally spent two solid weeks making a world that could probably take several hours to get through–assuming you’re not distracted by the ridiculous amount of treasure I’ve thrown around. None of the enemies or items have any stats attached to them yet, either.

Which leaves me asking myself the question: what fresh hell have I stumbled into now?

How to Make RPG Maker MV Games Work on Android

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Last week I spent my one and only day off trying to figure out what RPG Maker MV could possibly mean when it claims that its games work on mobile platforms, particularly Android. Despite working from morning to night, Googling each and every problem that came my way and trying at least 6 different methods (two of which were considered “official”), I made exactly zero progress that day.

Amazingly, my next search brought me to a program that, long story short, worked perfectly. While it’s mainly a commercial program, Website 2 APK Builder does have a free option that got me up and running just fine. Since I struggled so much, here’s how I did it for anyone who’s wondering:

  1. From RPG Maker MV, click File -> Deployment and export as Android/iOS.
  2. Download and install the free version of Website 2 APK Builder.
  3. Open it up. If it asks you for a key, just continue with free version.
  4. At the top-left, make sure “Local HTML Website” is checked. Give it a name.
  5. Near the bottom-left, click Choose Folder next to Directory of Local Website. Find the “www” folder created in Step 1.
  6. Change any other settings you want. Some might require the pro version, but for just testing like this, only the things I mentioned are necessary.
  7. Click Generate APK in the bottom-right and watch it go! It’s surprisingly fast, depending on how big your game is.

After this, you can install it on your system using the same methods mentioned in the manual, or however else you want. The point is, you now have a working APK file that any Android device can install. Unlike other methods I’ve seen, this shouldn’t result in any errors while you’re working or when you try to open the app. And again, you can get at least a basic one running completely free.

Quarter in Review: Winter 2017

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Okay, that title sounds really formal and corporate, but I want to at least try this kind of format out for the year. Why not? Let’s at least see how it went so far. 

Early in January, I realized my attempts at using Unity were not working. Game development quickly turned over to RPG Maker, and I designed and got working on a prototype for Dungeon University. 

It wasn’t easy. Quite often, just cleaning the house or even resting took priority. Bugs tended to stop me in my tracks. In the end, the prototype isn’t really a small playable game like I’d hoped, but it does show that I can get the main pieces working together. I also discovered aspects of the game that I didn’t see before, like the wonders of a small scale.

Meanwhile, Shelby has found herself a distraction from wedding planning: she now sells LipSense products. I don’t honestly know a lot about it, but it looks like she’s about to start making some real money now that she’s all set up. I’m really proud of her for all this.

And, of course, there’s that outline for The Demon’s Guardian that I mentioned. That’s just a big step toward the next few months, which I’ll have to cover in another post since this one is basically long enough already.

Overall, it’s actually been really productive. In the short term, I kept getting frustrated about not doing more, but I guess it turned out pretty well after all.

Okay, friends. What have you been up to so far this year? 

Breaking News! 

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Today, RPG Maker MV went on sale. A few minutes ago, I learned that I will be getting a little overtime at work. Coincidence? I think not. So, MV is now in my Steam library. 

Where does this leave the prototype/demo I was working on? Well, it basically has all the features I wanted. I could add some enemies and program in the conversations, but that’s just busywork.

The point of a prototype is to make sure the overall design works and is worth pursuing. Well, it works, and my gut says this game will be fun. Why put a lot more effort into a version that I was only going to show to a few people anyway? It’s time to call this one quits and get learning for the real deal.

Starting tomorrow, this proto-demo is officially finished, which means it’s time to work more on The Demon’s Guardian instead. (For the game dev side, I’ll mainly be practicing first.) So, stay tuned for that! 

Out of Order 

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Pair Bursts are now officially up and working, though some may need adjusting in the future. It took a weekend of coming back to it over and over to get it right, but I did it. 

Now, though, I’ve discovered a problem. It is possible to switch your party members’ positions during battle, but it turns out that it makes everything, well, wonky. I have a couple of suspicions about the cause, so it’ll either be a very easy fix or the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far.

If I do have to gut the character switching, though, it won’t be all bad. Frankly, the system I had to use is ugly and weird to use. I didn’t necessarily want to change it, though, because this is a prototype, and it technically works.

Well, on we go.