Category Archives: Uncategorized

Lunar III – Or How a Game That Does Not Exist Made Me a Game Developer

I’ve had this article written for a while, but I was holding off on posting it since I thought it was going to be posted on another site. Since I haven’t heard back from them in a while and the time they said it was going to be posted has come and gone I figured I would go ahead and post it here. If they still want to use it after they’re welcome to, but I don’t see any reason I shouldn’t put it out there for others to read in the meantime.

The year was 2000, a friend of mine and I were chatting online. We were talking about a series of games that had just found a new audience a few years ago. The Lunar series, a game I myself had been exposed to back in ’94 on the Sega CD. There was nothing like it. Sure, there were a number of other great RPGs out there, but nothing was the same as Lunar. Nothing was able to blend humor and a deep and sometimes tragic story and make it flow so perfectly. Humor wasn’t just for comic relief, it really gave depth to the characters and situations.

(If you have not played this amazing series by now though, what are you waiting for? Go play it now, then come back and finish reading this. If you’d rather finish reading the spoiler-less portion of the article before playing Lunar, it continues past the next two paragraphs.)

For me there were few villains like Ghaleon, yes he was a megalomaniac and he had the intention of destroying the world, but he had every reason to want to. The Goddess had asked his best friend, one of the few people he cared about to lay down his life to save her people. Since the Goddess had taken Dyne from him, he wanted to take the world from her. You get a glimpse of the real him when you see the fairies inside of his tower and the sanctuary he created for them. He doesn’t hold them culpable for the fault of Althena’s children, humanity. So he is kind to them and protects them from the death he has planned for the rest of the world.

Of course in the course of the game you find out that Dyne is not dead, he simply lost his Dragonmaster abilities in order to defeat the Black Dragon. When Ghaleon finds out that his friend was still alive it was too late though, he was too far gone. He makes up for it in the second game in the series though. He guides Hiro, and saves him on numerous occasions. He helps Hiro and his friends become the heroes they had to be in order to defeat Zophar.


There had been talks and rumors of a third Lunar game since before Lunar Silver Star Story Complete was re-released on the Playstation. Nothing had been seen of it though. My friend and I started talking about what we would want to see in the game. It started with just throwing back and forth ideas, but eventually it moved from just
conversation to actually developing and fleshing it out. We had the story, we had the characters, we had the entire structure for a game laid out before us. One of us jokingly said we should send it to Working Designs, I don’t remember if it was him or me.

Then it was not so much of a joke. This was really a game, I mean sure, who were we? I had just graduated High School not long ago, and he was in his last year. We certainly didn’t have the experience of all of these developers, but what if they actually took it and made a game out of it? What if sending this to them brought out Lunar 3? So I actually looked up an e-mail address and put together the information and sent it off to them. I’ll tell you the not so shocking news, we never heard anything back from them. We didn’t really expect to, but we had designed a game regardless.

It was the spark that started something though. At that moment I knew I wanted to make games, I wanted to be a part of making something that could make someone feel as strongly as I did about Lunar. I had always loved games of course, to me they had always been an escape just as much as a novel. Except that with a game I could be a more active part of it, I was a part of the story and had a real effect on it. Now I felt that I could give that to someone else, make something that hopefully they could enjoy as much as I had.

Many years later, life has slowed me down a bit, but I am working toward my dream to be a game developer again now. I want to make games, games that people will love, and maybe someday I’ll get an e-mail from someone telling me about a game. About how they had sat around and dreamed it up. I probably won’t make their game, but I’ll reply to them. I’ll tell
them what I think of it, what could be better, and that they should keep it up.

Review of The Magi Chronicles – Part One

In an earlier blog post I did an interview with a developer, Drassray. I’m now reviewing the game he’s currently working on, The Magi Chronicles. I’ve actually completely run through the demo before, but I’m going to be doing something a little different with this. I’m running through the game in Twitch Streams and doing a review of it as I go.

At this point I’ve done two twitch streams and played the game for about two hours and twenty minutes. Before I get into the meat of this, The Magi Chronicles is an RPG, and is created in RPG Maker VX Ace. For some people that’s an automatic negative mark against it, but not me. I’m a huge fan of the genre of RPGs, and I’ve been playing games developed in RPG Maker since there was a translation of RPG Maker 2000 for the PC. It’s an amazing tool, and it lets us see games and stories from people who might not otherwise be able to make games as easily. It’s also been a stepping stone for a number of developers, but I digress. This is about the game and not about using RPG Maker as a tool, I’ll likely do a blog post on that itself later.

In the game you start off as Daryl, a young man who lives with his father and attends a magic school in his village. Daryl’s the top student despite being particularly lazy himself. Now right off you might be saying that’s not all that original, but at least for me it’s not about how original an idea is, but how a developer can take that idea and make it their own. The relationship between Daryl and his father is presented very well right away and there are some amusing conversation options with him and other people around the town when you’re on your way to Magic School. I won’t give away too much of the game itself, but there’s plenty of character development and humor to come after that.

At this point I’ve been introduced to two other characters in the game, Corran and Naomi. Corran is a more serious character himself and a friend of Daryl’s father. As well as the reason why Daryl ends up leaving his hometown. He’s more than just a plot-device though, as you get an introspective into his character fairly quickly, his opinions and even see them changed through the game. Naomi is one of those few times where I’ve seen a cat-girl done well in a game. Often times they end up more fluff and just there for laughs. Naomi definitely adds more humor to the game, but even at this point being just introduced to her you can see some depth from talking with her. That’s a nice feature that they added into this game, being able to talk with some of the characters and have multiple conversation options which give you a deeper look into the relationships between the characters.

On a more general note as the gameplay goes, the battle system is really well developed. The fights are not too hard and you can easily move through them, but they’re not so easy that you get bored and just tap attack through them. There’s some small strategy to it, and the amazing soundtrack to this game helps you stay interested. The songs blend well into the battle, the maps, and keep up well with the pace and emotions of the story.

Now with that said, I’ll go over the one negative I find in the game right now. Now admittedly this is a demo and I’ve already spoken with the developer and he plans to balance this soon. As of now it’s difficult to obtain money early on, which makes buying items or equipment difficult. Since you can really only buy one or the other unless you grind against enemies for money. There is a synthesis system in the game, where you can create your own items. Which is a system I really like and enjoy from a number of the other games I’ve seen it in, but as of right now you can’t really find enough items for synthesizing.

I’m really looking forward to seeing more of this great game, it’s definitely worth watching and waiting to see what they do with it from here. I’m actually still far from the end of the demo that’s available now, so there’s a lot to enjoy if you want to check it out yourself. I recommend it.

For anyone interested in looking at Drassray’s game themselves, here’s a few links to where you can find the game and more information on its development:

RPG Maker Web Forums


Original Soundtrack

My First Experience with leading a Game Dev Team

So part of the curriculum at the school where I received my Associates Degree in Simulation and Game Development was to develop a game, you started with a group in the semester before your last and finished with them in the Summer Semester, ideally working on the same game and finalizing it. During the Spring Semester I was elected as the leader of the group and we developed a game that I was very excited about working on. I had the initial idea and I knew going into it that it was something we could accomplish in the time we had as long as we all really worked on it, and I knew I would because this was what I loved.

I should probably preface this a little, I’m in my 30’s, so while I hate to use this cliche, I spent a lot of time in the “real world” working before I went back into college. So when I started there I had a lot better work ethic than a number of my classmates. A number of the people who were there when I started were not by the end. So I of course assumed that because they had been there for two years they would be as driven to make a game and have something to show as I was. They’d want something that they could be proud of, that they could point at and say, “Hey, I did this. Look at this, isn’t it amazing?!” Unfortunately it did not quite turn out that way.

Now, I take the blame for this, because I was the Project Lead. So a game not being as great as it could have been is my fault. I should have made sure that things were better organized, I should have kept on everyone to make sure they worked on this like it really was a job. I made the mistake of thinking that I did not have to be a strict taskmaster and did not realize it until it was too late. During the first period when we worked on the game I selected people as the leads of the different sections that I trusted. The woman who was the lead of art, was also my assistant project leader. I knew she was as passionate and driven to see this succeed as I was.

Admittedly I was not as sure about my other two choices, but I trusted them more than I did anyone else anyway. The woman I chose to lead the level design group could do an amazing job with design, even if she was not as confident in her own abilities as she should have been. Honestly the programming lead I chose only because I could not be both the Project Lead and the Programming Lead, I chose him because I could communicate well with him and let him know what needed to be done and I thought he’d make sure it did. I was still responsible for a large portion of the coding work on the game, because it’s what I enjoy doing. That’s probably another fault on my part, I threw myself into my coding work and made sure it worked rather than hovering over everyone to see that things got done.

Problems appeared immediately, we had all been in the same curriculum for two years, but a number of the people seemed to not understand how to use the engine we were working in, Unity, despite having used it for a number of the courses up to this point. So rather than just being able to tell them how to do something, I had to actually show them how to do it, or in some cases actually do the design and object creation myself in addition to coding. The artists were a big problem, through no fault of the person I put in charge of them, but because at least a couple of them never did any work outside of class. This wasn’t a project that we could finish by only working during the short time we were in class for. So the assets we needed for the game were never ready when we needed them.

Backtracking a little bit, one large issue we had was that when we initially decided on the idea most people voted for the game to be in 3D. While I can understand they thought games “looked bad” if they were two-dimensional, I could not seem to explain to them how much easier it would be if done in 2D. It would certainly have helped the artists a lot. Items would not have needed to be 3D modeled and animated in the way that they were, and would not have taken up so much time. Unfortunately that became a large issue which held us back, because of a number of the reasons above.

Because of the fact that a lot of people did not understand the engine, when designers finished on setting up the levels, I had to actually receive them and then setup the assets correctly. This was an issue because I needed to receive them by a certain time before the due date in order to get the levels all connected and fix any errors that came up. In neither case, in the Spring or the Summer, did this happen as it should have. I usually received them the day before they were due or even the day they were due. So I’d have to spend my entire day trying to put the game together and working out any bugs that needed to be fixed. Needless to say this meant running into a lot of issues and having to leave things out of the game that I would have liked to have added.

Moving ahead though, when we moved to the Summer section we lost the person who I had chosen to lead the Level Design group, because she chose to focus on her other degree. This meant one of the people who had absolutely no idea what he was doing had to become the leader of the design team. Things did not go well. The level designers did not set up separate objects for the levels, they did not organize the assets or objects so things were constantly overwritten and having to be redone. Which unfortunately I didn’t have time to fix at the end, so there are a number of objects which are not colored correctly in the “final” version of the game. I’m somewhat ashamed to show it off honestly, but it’s what I have. It’s the only “complete” game I have to show what I’ve done coding work on.

A lot of the people who were driven and wanted to have something to show for themselves feel the same way, I say a lot, but honestly there were a small number of those people who I felt really wanted to see this happen. Most people did not really seem to care, they just wanted to get it done, get their grade, and go. I said this to them on a few occasions, but it did little to change their work ethic. We had some people who wanted to do it, but honestly they were not enough to make up for the people who did not. The people who didn’t care, and thus my first game that those of us who did care are ashamed to be associated with is the result. I’m thankful to the people who really worked on it, and I’m really sorry for the people who put a lot of time into something and it did not end up in the game. I had to cut a lot of things at the end, because I simply did not have the time. I spent six hours on one bug, and then another six hours on a different one. I had to cut out an entire level because of the first one, and only finally fixed the second one after said six hours of working on it. Even another Unity developer I spoke to had no idea what to do to fix it.

I know a lot more about what to do now as a result of this, and if I went into it again I feel things would go a lot better, because now I know that I can’t trust everyone to do their work without being hovered over. Without being told exactly what needs to be done to get things done by a deadline. I can’t just give a broad set of guidelines and say this has to be done by this time. I have to walk some people through every single little step and tell them how to do it. Honestly, the way I’ve taken care of this now is that the team I’m working with now has no people on it that are the way this group was. All of the people I am working with -want- to make a game, they -want- to do something in this industry. This is what they love.

On GamerGate – Asking Questions

So to preface this, I’m a gamer. I love games and have all my life. I knew a long time ago that I wanted to go into game development, but I’ve only over the past few years started making large strides toward getting into it. Because I keep up with games and the community though I’ve had a front seat for much of GamerGate. I’ve been bothered because this controversy is hurting people I care about and an industry that I love. I don’t know what to do to fix it though, to change things. I’ve seen a lot of my friends scared and upset by things that they’ve read, about how women in gaming are lesser and other friends telling me that they cannot speak out. I posted another blog post about that earlier so I won’t delve too deeply into that. The point is though I’d like to see this resolved so they’ll still love this industry and feel safe in it.

The truth is women have been targeted and treated poorly and like lesser “gamers” before GamerGate and likely will after. What I want to do is open up conversations and try to understand what’s really going on here and try to bring about a peaceful solution. Because regardless of whether it’s people who support GamerGate or do not, we’re all gamers and we all love games and the industry we’re a part of. That’s a passion that we share, at least I hope it is.

To that point I decided to start asking questions. The big standing point for the GamerGate movement has been that they want to see ethics in gaming journalism, so I asked on Twitter, “Serious question, given that you have issues with ethics in journalism, why not organize your own outlet for gaming news?” I’d like to again preface by saying that so far anytime I’ve asked questions on Twitter of the GamerGate hashtag I’ve only received polite and cordial responses, no personal attacks or insults, that’s not to say that other people have not been attacked, I’ve seen the results, I’m just giving my personal experience up to this point.

The first response I received was a short one, unfortunately that person did not give me permission to share it so I cannot. The second response though led to a very polite conversation and the person was very helpful, they even agreed to allow me to post that response verbatim here. Ideally I would have liked to include it as one whole PDF-based image so it could be seen that I did not cut anything from it, but my PDF printer isn’t working so I had to do six separate images, here they are:

First part of conversation
Second part of conversation
Third part of conversation
Fourth part of conversation
Fifth part of conversation
Final part of conversation

There are a number of photos included, if anyone would like me to post them separate from the conversation I will be glad to.

First Game Dev Interview – Interview with Drassray

This is my first interview with a game developer, I had a chance to sit and speak with Drassray about the RPG he’s currently working on.   The interview follows and within the next few days I’ll be posting a review of the game at its current development stage.

You don’t make a living making games.   So what do you do for a living?

I work for a company called “Trinity Technologies.” I’m fairly new to the company and I work as a Technician. The company is a provider of Aloha Point of Sales systems. We build the servers and install the network components and help maintain those systems for the future.


When did you get started playing games?   What was the first game you remember playing and what did you love about it?

The year was 1989, I was only three at the time, and my parents got my older brother and I a Nintento Entertainment System (NES). I don’t honestly remember the occasion but that was my really first experience blaying video games. My first game was Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt on the same cartridge. All I remember, since I was so young, was how cool is was to control a little character, Mario in this case, and make him jump and get to the end of levels, or at least I tried. My brother was six at the time and was much better than me at it.


That’s awesome, got my Nintendo when I was four, which was in 1986. Mario and Duck Hunt were my first games on it but the game I really remember on it was Final Fantasy.

We got that game a little later. My first RPG though was Dragon Warior. I played that game for hours on end. That’s when I discovered I loved the RPG genre.


How did you get started with making games?

I was always a gamer. When we got a PC with Windows 95 when I was around ten years old, I got into games like StarCraft. I would play with the level editor a lot. I didn’t really know what I was doing but I had fun. By then, I was playing games like Zelda and Final Fantasy and really enjoying those games as well. But, I would think to myself, why don’t they make a level editor for those games? Well in 2001 and during a search for SNES games online I discovered RPG Maker for PC. Back then it was RPG Maker 2000. I downloaded the demo and played with it some but never really committed to making anything significant. But that’s what sparked my interest.


Oh yeah, I remember RPG Maker 2000, that’s how I got my start with RPG Maker, too.   What was the first RPG Maker game you played?

Well, to be fair, I didn’t really play any until the last few years because even though I knew the engine existed, I didn’t think about playing games made by it. But one of the first I remember playing was the free Crystalis game. I remember thinking how polished it was and was incredibly inspired by it. That was almost 3 years ago.


For those who don’t know, what game are you working on right now?

It’s called The Magi Chronicles, it is a fantasy RPG.


Why are you working on this game?

I call it my first game, but to be honest, it’s not entirely my first game. I had a project that I started when I first bought RPG Maker VX ACE, called Legend of the Dragon Temple. Shortly after I started it, I scrapped it because I started working on The Magi Chronciles. I knew I had something so I went to my friend, Corban (saberwolfcdw) and showed him what I had. We started bouncing ideas off eachother, he helped me balance enemies and characters. And here we are today!


How did you come up with the concept for your game?

Writing. Which is ironic because I suck at writing. I don’t remember exactly when, but one day I was just really frustrated with LoTDT and was really discouraged by everything about it. I sat down and came to the conclusion that I need a good story. So I started writing Daryls’s back story and the lore of Rhaethol.


What inspired you?

It’s really apparent to those that play RPGS that a lot of my inspiration comes from other games, such as The Legend of Zelda. A lot of our puzzles and some of the lore share similar themes. I also look at other RPG Maker games now for mapping ideas a lot of the time as well.


Do you take any inspiration from anything outside of gaming?

Anime… That’s probably the other big one. I love most Japanese anime art styles and plots/tropes. I watch way too many to think of anything other than maybe Twelve Kingdoms that I found some inspiration in.


When did you start working on this game?

It was in April of 2012 that I really started putting lots of work in it.


What are the biggest challenges you’ve run into while working on this game?

Limitations of the engine. Corban would get a really good idea with the battle system and ask me if something was possible. Most of the time we would have to turn to scripts. And sometimes there’s not really a feasible script for something we would want to do but most of the time we found one. Neither of us code. It hasn’t been an issue recently though, I think we are at a point where we are happy with what we have!


Given that you’ve run into issues like that, have you thought of working with any other engines for any future projects you might work on, or would you stick with RPG Maker?

Right now, RPG Maker is really the only thing I know how to use, but I’m open to trying new things. I’ve looked at other engines, but one thing is for sure, if we want to make a really good action rpg we’ll probably look at new engines.


What have you learned from working on this game?

I’ve learned… That it is HARD to make a game. Good lord, why do I put myself through all of this? Haha. But seriously, it’s a lot harder that I first imagined but I’m so happy that I’ve made it this far and It’s really taught me a lot of patience.


What would you say to someone who is dismissive of RPG Maker as an engine and believes that any game made in it is not worthwhile?

I’d first let them know that there are good RPG Maker Games, I’d give them some examples and tell them to try them for themselves. I can’t change everyone’s opinion but if they dismiss a game purely because it’s made in a specific engine then they are arrogant to not even give that game a try. I know games get pumped out a lot by people from RPG Maker, so it can be overwhelmed by ones that are just not that good. On the other hand, if there is evidence that a certain RM game is good, then it should at least be worth a try if you like the genre. It’s not for everyone, so it does depend on the person saying that.


What’s your favorite game?

That’s too specific. I have many “favorite games.” The two games that have been the most influential in my life? I’d have to say The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and FFVII. Those games literally changed my life. But there are many many others that I love almost as equally.


Anything else you’d like to add?

An encouragement to those who may be making their first game: Stick with it! I’m not done with The Magi Chronicles, BUT I will be! Nothing is more fulfilling than having other people play your game. Take feedback with a grain of salt but absorb it, let it guide you. Most people just want to help you make your game better! Nothing wrong with that. Lastly, have fun of course!


For anyone interested in looking at Drassray’s game themselves, here’s a few links to where you can find the game and more information on its development:

RPG Maker Web Forums


Original Soundtrack

Gender (In)Equality in Gaming

Usually I try not to post about stuff like this, mostly because I dislike talking about anything that veers close to politics.   It’s not because I’m not opinionated or do not feel strongly about it, but it’s mostly because I realize trying to convince certain people is about as worthwhile as slamming your head against a brick wall for about an hour.

That said, I talked to a friend of mine earlier and she was very upset by the current state of things.    If for no other reason than that she and people like her will hopefully read this and realize that not everyone feels that way, and might take some solace from it, I thought I should write this.

Now I’m not talking about the way women are portrayed in games, that’s a whole other issue, although it is connected in its own way.   I’m more focused at this point on the wholly misguided belief that games as a whole are an institution solely for the male gender.  The idea that women don’t play real games, or that they don’t make real games.

What sort of civilization do we live in anyway that such an idea can not only exist, but be so prevalent?  I suppose it’s not too surprising, after all there are people who still carry hate in their hearts for other races.   There might be laws that protect the equal rights of races, equal rights of sexes, but they do not govern hearts.

I can’t understand it personally, I mean I can look at it from a purely psychological standpoint and attempt to pick out the personality of someone who would think like that.   Who would believe that women cannot play or make games?    Likely they are single and have not had much luck in relationships.   Either they were incapable of speaking to women, or were capable of it but did not respect them even then.   Either way they likely never actually got to know  a woman, to see that they can love and enjoy a game as much as they can.

Carrying on with my little psychological profile here, obviously since they can’t seem to actually have a healthy relationship with a woman, they must see them as very different and incapable of understanding things the way they do.   They don’t want women involved in their “niche”.    The thing is though, gaming never has been a niche exclusively for men, nor has game development.   Women have been playing and developing games since before I was born and I likely have a good few years on most of the people in the groups with these so misguided opinions.

Of course I suppose the worst part isn’t that they think these things, the worst part is how vocal they are in trying to force their opinions on others.    How they lash out trying to protect something that doesn’t belong to them in the first place.    They threaten women with violence making use of the impunity afforded them by the anonymity of the internet.   Yes, I’m calling them immature and cowardly.    What kind of person could say the sorts of things they do though and still be able to look themselves in the mirror the next morning?   Does it make them feel powerful to threaten someone and make them afraid, hurt them?

All it is is hate-mongering, and they are not powerful, they’re just afraid themselves.    You can’t keep women from gaming, you can’t keep them from developing games, they’ve been gaming all this time, and they’ve been developing games all this time, too.   It’s not a recent development, if my mind isn’t failing me the first female game developer released a game in the late 1970s.

I would never want to exclude anyone from gaming.   I love games and have loved them since I was young.   I think it’s an amazing thing to be able to share it with someone.     You can really tell when someone is passionate about games, when they really get into them and developing them.   I love talking about them, and a number of my friends in development are female as well.  One of the members of my current development team is female and she’s more passionate about game development and driven to actually do something than a number of guys I’ve known.   That’s why I’m glad to work with her, not because she’s a woman, but because she’s passionate and driven.

Like I said when I started this, I don’t honestly expect my voice to create some massive change, but if I can make my friend feel better and maybe some other people out there, then I’ll feel I’ve accomplished something worthwhile at least.

CT: Demon’s Revenge Kickstarter, they are trying again!

I wrote a pretty long post about this game and their Kickstarter as my first blog post, so I will not be writing quite as much in this one.   I was overjoyed when I read that they were trying again.    They decreased what they were looking for down from $12000 to $4500, which means there will be less of the game released, but at least they’ll be able to make some of it with that.   Hopefully they can make even more than that though.

It really is an amazing game though, you should check out their Kickstarter page and help them out if you can: