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PoC V2

We’ve been hard at work all week piecing together the PoC V2. In it, we’ve focused on the tower exploration component of the game.

Introduced in the PoC V2:

  • New tower layout and assets: We’ve been working overtime to bring the tower to a new level. Now, there are multiple floors, as was always intended. And the assets of the tower have been improved, giving it a fresh look.
  • New mechanics: We’ve introduced a few new mechanics into the game. It was always intended that the board game and letters would be but one component of the full game. Now that we have most of that ironed, we turned focus to the other half of gameplay. We don’t have all of the pieces implemented, as we don’t want to spoil surprises, but what we do have is fun and engaging.
  • Editing on the writing: We went over the script and tried to clean it as best we could. Yes, there are probably still a lot of errors there, but it’s still a “rough draft” script at this point.
  • New item: The Icarus Glove is a teleportation glove. Just aim at a magic flame, fire, and wait for the magic to pull you to the flame!
  • New item: The Shockwave Cannon is a cannon built by Sena to push things too heavy to move out of her way! It also sucks up small items and launches them with great force!
  • New item: The brass scepter, which we don’t have a name for at the moment, allows Sena to move any brass object it touches as though it weighs nothing!
  • New art: The old art style was us trying to make things as close as we could to how we wanted it without having the equipment in a cautious manner. Mess decided, “Screw that noise,” and pushed the art even further, getting it to a hair’s breadth from where we want it. Mess would like to note that without the Cintiq that we need, wrists are going to be destroyed with the “Riot Grrrl” style.

Be sure to grab the new PoC here and support us here!

The Importance of Women

In games, women are often nothing more than garnish. From the scantily clad “heroines” to the damsels in distress, women often get cast as backdrops even in their own stories. And that’s counting when women actually appear at all.

On the one hand, the AAA studios pander to demographics, histronics, and market metrics to drive the grizzled male protagonist. On the other, in the indie world, the trend is toward more artistic games, but the male lead is still predominant. This needs to change for two reasons.

The first is that half of the population is female and our stories should reflect this. There are a lot of stories about women in the world. That’s the basis of our game, in fact. Because we decided to take the damsel in distress and asked what she was doing while the hero came to rescue her.

How did she live? How did she stay alive? What did she do for fun? Did she just wait for someone to come to rescue her?

These questions formed the basis of our narrative. And we found it weird that it seemed that no one else was asking. But that’s the shape of things at the moment, I suppose.

The second is simply that too much of one thing is really boring. While a gritty space marine stomping on alien necks might be fun every now and again, if you have to eat tacos every day for the rest of your life, you’re going to get bored of them. Then start to resent them. Then start to hate them.

But to bring it back to our game, a lot of the narrative choices come down to me. I’m a pacifist, so I didn’t want our protagonist to bust out of her prison and take names. But at the same time, so often when I see games centered on women, it takes the stereotypical route of either the tomboy or the dainty princess.

I haven’t really seen many games that treat the protagonist as just a person while interests and a life outside of their story. If the protagonist is a male, he’s an ubermensch. He likes beer and nachos and football and westerns, essentially. If the protagonist is female, she either likes all the same things that the guys like, or she like the baking and homemaking and social interactions. Or she’s into the girl power scene.

I can’t say specifically that anything is wrong with any of that. But it is a bit repetitive when that all you see. So we started with the idea of this princess in a medieval fantasy world. What does she like? History, art, literature, engineering, governance, magic, music, conversation, the right thing. What does she have to deal with? Well, as a woman in a medieval society near the throne, sexism. As a young person, ageism. As a member of the ruling family, regardless of her personal opinions on issues, her station.

From there, we tries to build a story that makes me happy as the writer and should entertain the audience. I do need some female perspective, though.

PoC version 2 Setback

Yeah, so, I was supposed to have a new version of the PoC done on Thursday night / Friday morning.

Unity had other plans for me. I ended up with a really weird import bug, that wiped about half the scripts clean in the project when I imported the new tower design and graphics.

I’m busy working on fixing it, but it has delayed unveiling a bit. Even worse, it undid all the customization and smoothing that I had done previously. (And, it means I ended up working straight through my wedding anniversary.)

Either way, I should get the new PoC out soonish, but expect it to not run as smoothly as planned. The balances between player speeds and such are kinda weird at the moment.

PoC V2 Update!

So, we were all prepared to unleash the PoC V2 on the world yesterday and use the new mechanics to generate some traffic for the last two weeks of our Kickstarter. Unfortunately, when we imported the new tower and mechanics into the PoC V1, it deleted half of it for some reason. Now Mess is working like crazy to get it all patched up and ready to go.

Character Profile #3

He’s a lot of things. Member of the Council of Eight Siege Masters of the Elfish Cults. Engineering genius. Rival to Elfish Sorcerers everywhere. Bombboy extraordinaire. He is Yasaret Vynsat.

At seventy-one, he’s among the youngest of the Siege Masters, having proven himself with the insane but incredibly useful invention of the Aitosek, an “enchanted” cannon that could be loaded with the press of a button. Since being named Siege Master, his mind has built scores of newer and more impressive weapons. It was through the dislike of the Elfish Sorcerers, though, that he met with Nix.

While he doesn’t share Nix’s view on a lot of things, Nix did appreciate his appeals for help from a wizard. Yaz, on the other hand, was happy to find someone that enjoyed the results of his work as much as he did. The unlikely pair, while not wholly liking on another, did respect each other.

Yaz is an Elf, though he doesn’t care about it all that much. Yaz is happiest when watching his siege machines tearing apart a castle and and the flames rise. It’s not about the kill for him; it’s all about the spectacle of the thing.

Being a fairly typical Elfish male of his station, he does wear makeup, though his is usually made from the oil and grease around him. He’s a bit larger than the average male, being mistaken on several occasions for a female because of it. But he’s not really bothered by the societal customs of his people; he just wants to build a machine that could burn the world down.

Yaz’s relationship with Sena is a bit complicated. On the one hand, he sees in her a student and someone that can help bring his “art” to the humans. On the other, he’s a bit disappointed that in order to get her, his “friend” Nix died. But he adapts to everything quickly, and take his role as one of Sena’s teachers in escaping the tower seriously.

Well, as seriously as an elf covered in scars, missing half an ear, and screaming at the top of his lungs while jumping about like a madman can, anyway.

Character Profile #2

His name is Nixander Glacepisolet, and he is a wizard. At a spry 180 years old, Nix has seen much of the world change in his time. From the incorporation of his ancestral homeland, the Esterlunds, into Autland to his witnessing his father staining his soul to become a Lich, Nix has faced much in his life.

While his disposition is understandable for someone that has endured that much, it still isn’t acceptable. Nix is a self-aggrandizing narcissist, too small for the large titles he ascribes to. While a competent wizard, he’s by no means a great one. Nor would he ever become one, considering that he is far more interested in the prestige of the station than the study and labor required to reach it.

More often than not, Nix will personally attack the character of his detractors, in a misguided belief that people will take him more seriously if they people decrying him are “buffoons.” And his attacks don’t just stop at his detractors. All too often, his answer to any group that he sees as lower than himself is dismissive arrogance.

The people that Nix respects are few and far between. His student, the 55 year old Adabock Gerk, is merely a tool for him to manipulate for more information and items regarding dragons. The woman he’s lusted after for the past twenty years, Tarn Sprig, in not a person to him, but an object of his lust, as she’s been since she was a teen. Even his treatment of his betters, like Grand Wizard Octavian, Master Forger of Veridont, is less one of respect and more one of attempting to gain validation from a “peer.”

Character Profile #1: Sena

Her name is Her Royal Highness Sena Reala Isalur, Princess of Outer Reicot, and she is our protagonist. Sena, called Sister Swan by her brothers, is the fourth child of five, and the youngest sister among her siblings. Most in her father’s court know her for her sharp wit and disdain for them.

At seventeen, she spends most of her time away from home, in the Academy for her education. There, she has friends and, after years of work, has taught most everyone to view her as Sena, not Princess Sena. Her favorite subjects are Magical Studies and Architecture, though her family presses her into many etiquette and behavioral classes.

Sena is brilliantly intelligent and bristles at the “backwards” notions of her role in the kingdom. Her father, King Garifond IV has all but given up on finding a suitor for her, most leaving in a blind rage from their meeting. This strains thing with him a bit, as he wants her to be her own person, but he also doesn’t know how she would be happy without a husband.

Her mother, Queen Reala, is usually frustrated with her, admonishing her for “acting out of her station.” While Reala shares many of Sena’s views on the way things should be done, her mother also sees that the best way to get there it to work the system rather than ignore it. In the Queen’s words, “idealism is fine for discussion, but pragmatism is what changes the world.”

Sena’s older brother is His Royal Highness Garifond Richard Isalur V, Crown Prince of the Great Kingdoms of Autland and Isuldur, or, as she calls him, Dickie. Dickie’s views on his youngest sister is that of a supporting brother. He understands her drive to change the way the world sees things, and often uses her as an unofficial adviser when he needs another perspective.

Their oldest sister, the second child, Jaina, is married and living with her Prince in a distant kingdom. She was always distant from her sister, knowing that she would hardly see her to form bonds. Sena felt this from the day she was eight, and has always carried an unresolved resentment at it.

The true middle child, Mara, born three years before Sena, has always been antagonistic toward the youngest Isalur girl. Knowing that Sena shares their father’s good nature and their mother’s worldview, Mara has always set out to prove that she is the better Princess. Mara, unlike Sena, views her role in society as perfectly acceptable, if not preferable to the alternatives.

Sena’s younger brother, three years her junior, is the gentle Prince Krum Jonas Isalur, or Jock to Sena. Jock’s view on Sena is informed by her constant urging him to do whatever he wants to do, as he isn’t going to be king anyway. This leads him to taking us patronage of the arts, and his nickname among the bohemians of the capital, Papa Jo.

But closer to Sena than any member of her family is her best friend, Lady Nadine Weiss. Having been close to one another since they arrived at the Academy six years prior, Naddie and Sena have a nearly unbreakable bond. So close are the girls that rumors have spread all over noble society, though both are incredibly tight lipped about it.

Damnit Nix!

Some photos to get across that our villain is THAT guy…

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Development #1

So what have we been up to? Well, a lot.

We’re kinda at a standstill on developing the full game if we don’t hit our funding goal. That we somewhat lack the equipment and programs we need in order to do a lot of what we want. But that doesn’t mean that we’re just sitting around and hoping for a Kickstarter genie to magic us into production.

No, we’re working on experimental mechanics world design in the meantime. Mess is hard at work on a new PoC V2 to show off the new tower design as well as some additional mechanics that will be in the full game. I’m split between world building, promotion, and tuning the story so that when we get our funding we can just charge right into full development.

So what does that mean for the project? Right now, not much. We’re soon going to have a new PoC to promote which should get some more eyes into our campaign and get us closer to full development.

Writing and Direction

What does it take to make a good character driven story? There are a lot of answers. Strong characters, real interactions, a narrative grounding in its own reality. The list goes on.

How are we focusing that in The Ridiculous Tales of Sena in the Tower? Well, first and foremost, we’re trying to build strong characters. Sena, for example, is an intelligent young woman with a sarcastic streak but a good sense of right and wrong.

That brings up something of a puzzle to the writing end of things. To begin, we have the story that we want to tell. But in order to tell it, we have to create these characters. Then we have to figure out how the characters would interact. Then we have to build from that the interactions that take the story where we want it to.

This is a bit of a problem when there appears to be two different views on characters. The first view is that the characters are fictional, so they can behave in any manner we want. And that’s true, to an extent. But forcing the characters to behave in a certain way detracts from their appeal as characters. Instead of the characters living through the story, the story is told with dolls that just do whatever the story needs.

The second view is that you just let the characters take the story where they will. Again, this is true, but there is an inherent problem with it. If the story that we’re trying to tell is the epic good versus evil fight, but the characters are all cowardly and self serving, then we can’t tell the story that we want to tell. We can only tell the story of these cowards.

In essence, writing becomes a jigsaw puzzle when you’re trying to walk down these two lines. In order for event A to happen, interaction A between characters A and B need to happen. But without modified circumstance, characters A and B will only have interaction B.

It certainly makes writing far more fun than usual, but it does lead to problems with direction. How do the modified circumstances come about for interaction A to happen. Does event A need interaction A between characters A and B? What about interaction B between characters A and C? Wouldn’t that set up event A to happen as well?

Now, we have about fifty principal characters in planning at moment. That’s just characters that will affect the primary story string. Not that a single one of those characters will by necessity be in every iteration of the story, but we have to plan for contingencies.

Added to this is the idea that we have multiple outcomes as a part of the story. Maybe a Hero rescues Sena. Maybe Sena gets herself out of the tower. Maybe the dragon guarding her geos on a rampage. That all effects the number of puzzle pieces that we need to factor in.

Life is fun with writing.