Ruby don’t scare me!

How is it already halfway through November? Where did the year go?! I can’t answer those questions for either of us, but I can at least tell you what I’ve been up to in the game dev department.

Over the past few weeks, I decided to slowly take on a task that I had been putting off since the start of this current version of Jubilee Royale. Which means December 2015-ish. Yikes! What had me so freaked out, you may wonder? Grab onto your nearest loved one and/or pet for dear life before you read the next paragraph. It was…

Custom menus! AAAAHHHH!

Yeah, so, it doesn’t sound too spooky. But unlike anything else I had done before in Jubilee Royale, to truly get the game’s menu screens to look distinct from other RPG Maker games, I knew that slapping on a random script from the web wouldn’t do it this time. As always, I wanted to create more work for myself when it wasn’t entirely necessary so that JR would look the best it could – it’s my baby, after all. That meant using the wonderful Luna Engine to customize the menus myself, which in turn meant editing the game’s scripts. Scripting? Me? Now that seemed scary. I knew how to code webpages, sure, but programming was a whole other beast.

Nevertheless, I knew I would have to do it sooner or later if I wanted to be able to record video of the game (which I really hope to do eventually!) seeing as I’d likely have to open the menus during any sort of gameplay demonstration. It was about time I dove into the basics of Ruby – and armed with Codecademy, that I did! I worked the Ruby lessons in between…well, my university lessons. It’s certainly been a big month of learning for me! And while I’d hardly call myself an expert now – or even intermediate, really – I now understand enough about Ruby that I was able to dive into Luna Engine and produce this:

jubilee royale main menu

Hooray! It took many hours and plenty of fumbling around, but I finally programmed my very first custom menu – and it doesn’t even crash the game anymore when you open the Quests menu! (That was around 30 minutes of troubleshooting in itself.) I’m pleased as punch with the outcome, and you know what? I actually had fun doing it, too! I’m excited to get started on the other menus so that Jubilee Royale will stand out even more from the other RMVXA games out there in the universe.

If you’ve been following the game and looked closely at that screenshot, you may have noticed something pretty different about our leading ladies, too! Since my art has improved a lot since I last drew Cybil and Vera in January/February 2016, I decided to go back and revamp the lovehatebirds. As a refresher, here’s how they used to look – but please don’t stare too hard at my old art…

And here are their brand new, sparkling portraits. I think there’s a big difference in Cybil’s hair in particular. 🙂

You may notice that not quite so much of their bodies is showing this time. While my initial rationale in drawing them as half-body rather than bust portraits was to show off as much of the work I put into their designs as possible, in actuality, the game’s message window cut them off around the waist anyway. I figured I may as well save myself the time and effort and just do busts this time around. I hope it’s not too much of a disappointment to anyone, but ultimately it just doesn’t make a big difference in-game – and it saves me hours of work if I don’t have to draw hands the rest of their bodies.

Incidentally, I also gave the message window a new coat of paint so that it looks consistent with the main menu.

jubilee royale cybil in garden

Hey, what about Lost Without You?

That’s still a thing, too! I’ve reached the first major branch in the storyline, as well as the first of many, many ways our dear, sweet Rika can die. 😉 She’s got a good chunk of new expressions…

…and her companion, Arden, finally has a face, too! (In case you didn’t know, their original design is courtesy of Starsheeps.) Here’s what they look like, along with a brief profile I wrote for them:

arden neutralAn old friend of Rika’s from school whom she hasn’t seen in years; they’ve become a cartographer. Though very book smart, their street smarts – and people skills – leave a lot to be desired. They’re the sort who would rather stay at home with a good book than go to a party or go on adventures. However, they’ve been hired to explore and map the Axeman’s Woods, forcing them to step outside their comfort zone – and rely on Rika to keep them safe once their original bodyguard gets eaten by a monster!

While Arden may be hard to get to know, they’re a great listener when they’ve made a connection with somebody. They encourage others to follow their dreams, especially Rika, and they were the first person to take her seriously when she told them she wanted to be a knight. Sadly, they tend to mistakenly assume that other people don’t want them around…

Aaaaaaand it has a logo, too, because of course I had to make one just for a short browser text adventure.

lwy logo

Sorry to bombard you with so many images this time around! I hope the length of this post on the page isn’t too much of an issue in the end. As always, thank you so much for supporting my projects. I say it too often, but it really does mean the world to me that people are showing interest in my stuff – getting creative is what gets me up in the morning, after all. ❤ (BTW, can you believe that Four Eyes is getting translated into Portuguese?! Too cool! Thank you for offering to spread my game around the world, Irisura!)

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A Forest Takes Shape

Hey, all! Hope you’ve been doing well since my last post. I survived my first month of grad school, which has certainly been a ton of work, but also a great experience. Sometimes we have interesting class discussions about issues like open access, and other times we practice building call numbers for books – which sounds like it would be boring, yet I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I guess that just means librarianship was a good pick for me!

Anyway, onto what I’ve been doing game-wise when I’m not drowning in readings. I’ve mostly been mapping for Jubilee Royale lately, which is probably because I can freely indulge my newfound podcast addiction if I’m doing a task that doesn’t involve words. (I’m no longer the one (1) person on the planet who hasn’t heard Serial, and The Adventure Zone has me oh-my-god-since-when-was-it-3-AM levels of hooked.) I finally got to design an area that I’ve been itching to get to for ages: the ancient forest in southern Flaucinia, where a supposed deity is said to reside…

jubilee royale cybil in forest1jubilee royale cybil in forest2jubilee royale cybil in forest3

I think it turned out quite pretty! It’s incredibly satisfying to see this area that I’ve envisioned for so long (and even horribly mapped once before, at age 14 or so) finally explorable in-game. I love the music I’ve found for the area, too – big thanks to Aaron Krogh – and I can’t wait for you all to experience the full effect!

As for an abandoned tower in said forest – well, it’s maybe not quite so attractive…but the secrets hiding within are probably worth seeking out anyway!

jubilee royale cybil in tower

I’m at the point where I don’t want to give every map away before the demo’s release, so a few more locations I’ve been working on are going to stay secret for now! There will be plenty of areas, whether lush and beautiful or a real piece of work, to discover when you experience Cybil’s adventure. 🙂

On the Lost Without You front, the work has still mainly been on the stylesheet, which is more-or-less done at this point. I’m really pleased with how my coding work turned out! CSS has always been my favourite coding language to work with, so I was eager to design a cute interface for the game.

lost without you interface

I want to say that’s about it, but I feel like I may be forgetting something, somehow…ah, well. Thanks as always for following and supporting the development of my games! ❤ I hope to have some more of those detailed character profiles for you to read next time, especially for the JR cast, so you can get a sense of what the characters will be like. Until then, have a good one! (I probably won’t, because 1. I have five assignments due within the next seven days and 2. the Adventure Zone: Balance finale is almost certain to make me cry like a small baby child. Thoughts and prayers are deeply appreciated.)

Mega-Update: Summer 2017 Summary!

Hey, all!!! It’s been a long time since my last blog post here (I, uh…sure say that a lot, don’t I?) but this time I don’t feel entirely guilty about it. I took a long break from game development this summer, but that’s not to say that I wasn’t productive – in fact, I think it turned out to be quite the opposite! This update is going to get rather long, so let’s get some headers going on.

My Summer of Art

Thanks to my joining Toyhou.se and getting involved in the Deviantart community again, I ended up drawing a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I think I drew more non-game-asset pictures this summer alone than I have for the past couple of years in total. I feel like I’ve improved a lot as a result, and with that, I feel more confident about producing art for my future game projects! If you’d like to check out the art I’ve been making lately, you can go have a look at my Deviantart account. (Psst: I’m currently open for commissions over there, and I periodically open art trades as well!)

Thanks to my art improvement, I do plan to redo the Jubilee Royale character portraits at some point, as they’re rather outdated in terms of my style at this point (mainly the hair and shading…). I intend to redo them as busts rather than half-body drawings this time, though, so I don’t die. It was kind of a terrible idea to try doing half-bodies for everybody in the first place. Why, past Whiona??

Introducing Opal

An exciting new thing I’ve walked away with this summer is a beautiful mascot (and pseudo-persona of sorts?) for Opal Starlight! Her name is Opal, naturally, and she was designed by my dear friend and fellow gamedev/artist, Cheyenne Victory. Here are a few pictures of her – the first two are by Chey, and the last is by me! It’s probably the picture I drew this summer of which I’m most proud.

Here’s a brief profile for her!

Opal is a princess born from the remains of a dead star. She has magic powers which allow her to travel through space unharmed at high speeds. Her favourite thing to do is tell stories; she can create shapes in the air made of golden stardust, which she uses to illustrate what’s happening in the story. She travels from planet to planet, sharing the tales she’s made up to put a smile on people’s faces.

Chey designed her based on my personal aesthetics, and then I went all the way and made her a self-indulgent character based on my passions and interests, so there ya go. Maybe she’s a little silly and embarrassing, but I love her lots, and I’m happy to have her representing my creative endeavours.

Extended Character Profiles

On my Toyhou.se account, I’ve been writing extended character profiles for the main characters of my games. These include detailed descriptions of their personalities, basic information such as their heights and nationalities, and fun trivia! So far, the following characters have completed lengthy profiles:

Dromir and Deliane’s profiles are soon to come, followed by Toa and Irene. Each of my characters also have fanart galleries on there, and you can check out the gazillion other characters I have for future projects and/or giggles. It’s been a ton of fun for me to write, so do take a look if you’re interested! I even decided to use a cool design someone on the forums gifted to me for a key goddess in Jubilee Royale, so the site has been a great help from a gamedev perspective. (Thank you again to SSTwins for the beautiful Sephia design – I can’t wait to finally draw her sometime soon!)

Lost Without You

The final thing I have to announce from the summer is that I’ve started working on a Twine game as a side project. It’s going to be a rather short and basic choose-your-own-adventure browser game, but I hope you all enjoy it regardless! I originally started working on it for SuNoFes, but despite the incredibly generous amount of time that particular game jam offers, my time was mainly spent on work, art, and Persona 5 instead. Whoops. I’ve decided to keep chipping away at it as a side thing for when I get bored of working on Jubilee Royale, so who knows when it’ll be done. Sometime, I guess?

rika watermarkedThis is the main character, Rika Tsukade. She’s a noble family’s daughter who would much rather be a knight and practices swordplay in secret. One night, she sneaks off to fight monsters by herself in the woods, but manages to get horrifically lost. She runs into an old friend from school there, Arden Sigrah, who’s become a cartographer and is trying to map the forest – but their guard has sadly been eaten. With Rika as defender and Arden as navigator, will the two make it out of the forest alive, or will they succumb to a horrible fate? That’s up to the player! (Rika and Arden were originally designed by Starsheeps – thanks again!)

It’s been fun to put my HTML/CSS knowledge to use for once in a game, and I like how the dialogue boxes turned out! Doing the art in a more chibi-esque style has also been lots of fun. It’s probably a better idea to have a side project in a different engine, because working on Four Eyes didn’t feel all that different from JR at times…

Twine_2017-08-23_23-43-44

Look forward to seeing more of that in the future!

My Fall of Game Development?

Whew! That was a whole bunch of stuff. Thanks for sticking with me for so long!

Looking forward, I’m ready to get back into working on Jubilee Royale after my art break this summer. I have officially started my master’s program now – which is both exciting and terrifying – but I’ll try to be as productive as I can with whatever free time I get! I’ve already jumped back in with a major forest dungeon now in the works. I’m parallax mapping it, which means I hate my life the entire time I’m working on it, but I’ll inevitably take a billion screenshots to share the results when I’m all done. I have to begrudgingly admit that they are worth the effort for detailed areas.

Also, while I mainly stopped working on my games over the summer (save for a bit of LWY progress), the incredible feedback on Four Eyes hasn’t slowed. Thank you all once again for your comments, messages, Let’s Plays, fanart, donations, and even a freakin’ Toa cosplay. Seriously, that happened! I’m still in gleeful disbelief that somebody dressed up as my purple alien boy. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the wonderful feeling that swells up inside of me every time somebody leaves their kind words or shows me some kind of fan work. That sounds cheesy, but I guess I’m just a cheesy gal.

Until next time, take care of your lovely selves, and please pray for my grad school survival. (Kidding…sort of.)

I Swear I’m Alive

So, I recognize that I’ve been rather quiet over the past month or so on all platforms. Normally I’d apologize for that kind of thing, but…well, this time I think it was justified, so I’ll resist the urge. I’ve been finishing up my undergraduate degree and wrote a ton of both creative and academic pieces. I also got into a master’s program, had one of my pieces published in a student literary magazine, and put together a portfolio! That was all pretty awesome and boosted my confidence a lot. It’s been a very good month for me personally, even if I’ve also been super busy. 🙂

Things are calming down now, though – I only have two exams left – so I’m back to work with game development! Vera’s sprite isn’t quite done yet, unfortunately, but it has at least been started. I also revamped and finished the town of Ivanport, which has a blue and red colour scheme that can be seen both indoors and outdoors. The old version had quite eye-hurting tiles, but I think that the new ones look much nicer. I had a ton of fun designing it! Here are some examples:

On the Four Eyes end of things, I’ve received some beautiful new fanart and even fanfiction by PowerBurger! Here’s a sampling of the amazing art people have shown me:

By Kerotamaftw (featuring characters from Nami’s her tears were my light in the second image!)

toa_autym_dreynthis_by_kurozora_konoi-daroedy

By Konoi

tumblr_olv9uxYU9Z1rdigkno1_1280

By Hirschlein

C83S5faXcAE88SN

By Cheyenne Victory

I’ve started a Deviantart collection and a Tumblr tag to collect the fan creations that people have made. Thank you so much for your wonderful tributes to Four Eyes – and even Jubilee Royale, too!! I love each and every one of them, and I save them all on my computer to look at when I need motivation. ❤ Be sure to check them out and follow those super-talented artists! There’s also been some lovely fanart that’s only on Twitter, such as Mimironi’s drawing and Yoyo’s pixels! Thank you!!

I nearly apologized for the brevity of this update and then remembered I wasn’t going to do that this time. (The Canadian instincts are strong…) Next time I hope to have more to show you guys, since school won’t be getting in the way as much!

Cybil’s New Looks

Woah, it’s a Jubilee Royale blog post! I haven’t written one of these in a while. It feels good to be back on my main project. 🙂

A few of the last JR screenshots I’ve posted here, as well as on Twitter and Tumblr, have featured a WIP sprite of Cybil, made with the custom sprite base I created for Four Eyes. I’ve finally gone and finished that up, and I’m quite happy with how it looks!

$cybil

My favourite thing about it is that her cowlick bounces when you walk. I was too lazy to make a GIF to show this, though, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

To ease my way back into JR development, I’ve made a few new expressions for Cybil’s portrait and little events around the castle. It was fun to use these objects to insert optional lore and explore different sides of Cybil’s personality! She may act like a conceited brat, but she can be a bit sensitive at times.

If you do want to, you actually can play a little tune on the piano. Cybil needs to get to the throne room, though, so her parents might have something to say about it if she dilly-dallies! (There won’t be any actual consequences, don’t worry – just a slight dialogue change.)

As for something less Cybil-centric, a while ago I also mapped a little seaside Flaucinian town. Here’s a peek at that! And yes, the houses will eventually have doors. I’m getting to it.

RPGVXAce_2017-03-12_15-37-47

My general plan from now on is to slowly move through the game from the beginning, revamping things here and there based on lessons I’ve learned through working on Four Eyes. I’m not going to do all the sprites, art, maps, events, etc. at once in chunks, because when I did that for 4E, I got really bored and frustrated. I hope that by completing a variety of tasks to make the game playable bit by bit, I won’t get as burned out with JR!

Hopefully Vera and Shaelon will have some sprite makeovers I can show you guys next time. Until then, take care!