DJ Comic: July Holidays Part 2

DJComic_008

If you haven’t played Dynasty Heroes yet, you should give it a try.  If you like Romance of the Three Kingdoms, you’ll probably get more of the jokes than I did.  Even with Rich turning every conversation into some kind of Asian history lecture, I still don’t remember all this stuff.

As a kid I loved iced oatmeal raisin cookies, and I still do!  But sometimes they are so hard to find!  I can find oatmeal raisin cookies pretty easy, but the iced ones always seem to elude me somehow.  And unfortunately the last time I actually managed to find them, they were hard as rocks!  I was so disappointed!

Didn’t actually get to watch any fireworks on the 4th, but I was with the hubby so it was still a good holiday!

Ͼ-Mimi

Dynasty Heroes Developer Commentary Part 3 Is Up!

Like the title suggests, part 3 of our developer commentary is up.  Check it out…

~RCS

Game Dev: Character Development for Parody

Now that Dynasty Heroes has been released I figured I’d do another of these Game Development posts.  This time we’ll be talking about some of the things I touched on in my Developer Commentary videos on YouTube.  One of the things that we worked on a lot for this project was the character development.  As with any parody, we were working with established characters, in this case from Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo Yanyi).

Dealing with any parody of RTK, though, is a pro/con situation because there are already so many different takes on the original.  Look at our main character, Xuande, and all of his different characterizations, alone:

Picture based on the original story:

Xuande, painted during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Xuande, painted during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

For reference, this is what we went with for Xuande:

Xuande-1

So…how did we get from the Tang dynasty painting to Dynasty Heroes’ version of Xuande?

Well, the first thing we had to do was simplify the names.  You see, in China everyone has a thousand and one frickin’ names!  Our main character’s real name is 劉備.  But unless you actually read Traditional Chinese characters, that means nothing to you.  So you translate it to English, called Romanization; and you’ve got a dozen different ways to Romanize the name.  Liu Pei, Lou Pei, Liu Bei, etc.  We always go with the Hanyu Pinyin style, by the way.  So that would be Liu Bei, and since Asian cultures put the family name first, that equates to Bei of the Liu family.

But Liu Bei also several other names; his courtesy name is Liu Xuande, or just Xuande.  His posthumous name was Zhaolie.  As king he was known by his title, Hanzhong-wang (King of Hanzhong), his posthumous title was Shuhan Zhaolie Huangdi (Zhaolie, the Emperor of Shu-Han), or even by the title of Xianzhu (First Sovereign).

So as you can see, it can get kind of difficult in remembering even who you’re writing.  So our first step was to simplify the names.  We decided everyone would be known by their Courtesy Names.  This simplified the names to a single name, instead of two names for each character, and gave a bit more room for uniqueness.  You figure that even Mimi can’t always remember the difference between Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan, but Yuanrang and Miaocai are a lot easier to tell apart.

With all the names figured out we then had to determine what influences we would parody and how we would turn the character into our own.  We’ve been talking about Xuande, so let’s continue to look at his progress.  There are several versions we could draw from…

LiuBeis

Originally the story began as a straight, legitimate story, but after the script was started we decided to switch everything to a parody.  As a result we decided that somebody in the parody had to not be in on the joke; that was Xuande.  He was written to specifically be the straight man of the joke.  So we decided that making him physically look out of place would be funny, so we decided to dress him anachronistically by putting him in Heian era Japanese clothing.  This parodies two things:

1. The fact that a lot of Americans don’t realize that Japan and China have different cultures.

2. The fact that the straight man is so out of place in the story of the joke, so he’s incredibly out of place in his clothing.  He lives around 200, China; his clothes come from around 900, Japan.

Another point we took was that KOEI has been basing their renditions of Xuande (Liu Bei) on the younger years of his life, lately, making him more youthful and androgynous.  So we made him a bishy pretty-boy.  We also wanted him to have kind of an annoyed look.  And, ultimately, we wind up with this…

Xuande

~RCS

BTW, Developer Commentary Video Part 2 is up, as well.

NIC3NTERTAINMENT Pesents: Dynasty Heroes!

All right folks, not only is it official that the wife and I are now running our own game development company called NIC3NTERTAINMENT, but we are finally able to put up the first of our two projects to be released: Dynasty Heroes!

TitleScreen3

As mentioned before, it is free, so give it a download and play it.  You can find it, along with the cast and crew behind it, by clicking on the page tab at the top of the page labeled Dynasty Heroes.  Or if you can’t wait, clicking on that picture will take you to the free mediafire download.

We also have a ‘Let’s Play’ on our YouTube channel that discusses some of the hidden references and in-jokes of the game, along with some developer commentary recorded by yours truly.

So give the game a quick once-through, or a two- or three-through since there are multiple endings, head over to the DickJutsu Youtube Channel to watch some commentary, and make sure to share our work, and comment on it in the Dynasty Heroes page.  It’s a quick play, being about an hour in length.

~RCS

Hey, you can’t beat a free game, right?

Game Dev: Title Screens

Since we’re all patiently waiting for me to finish the touch-up work on Dynasty Heroes and Monster, I figured I would let you all in on one of the processes of Game Development that I like to call:

Temporary Art Assets!

 

These are files that you use in place of finished art in the game.  Then you just name the finished art, when it’s completed, the same thing and upload it into your development program or library folder (depending on what program or coding you’re using), and ta-da, it magically replaces the temporary assets.

To give you a step-by-step, uhh, -ish example of how this works, I’ll walk you through how I did the Dynasty Heroes Title Screen.  First we started off with a picture of the title screen that we wanted to pay homage to, the background for the character select screen of the old arcade game Dynasty Wars.

TestBack

Pretty nifty, right?  So we size that to our needs and throw a pretty generic title on it, then call it DH-Title.png (for Dynasty Heroes Title Screen, get it?).  We wind up with this in our game when it goes out to testers:

TestBack2

Pretty simple, right?  The title is green, because that’s the main character’s associated color.  The reason the title in Chinese is on the right is in homage to Koei’s Dynasty Warriors series, which always had the pictographic characters for the Japanese title (Shin Sangoku Musou) on the right side of its titles.  By the way, the Chinese characters are Chao Dai Ying Xiong.  So we’ve got a pretty nifty looking title screen, albeit a little rough-looking, for all of about 30 minutes of work, maybe less.

But it’s still a copyrighted image, so we can’t actually use what we’ve made.  But we have a good idea of what we want.  In the original picture we have, from left to right, the equivalents of our characters Yide, Xuande, Yunchang, Zilong, and a character that won’t appear in our game, Kongming; but Kongming was, historically, an advisor to Xuande so Bogui takes his place in our game.

And none of that last line made any sense to you, because you haven’t played it yet and don’t know who anybody is.  Uhh, moving on…

We then hire an artist to make us some real art, that artist happened to the same one who made all of our battle art, Rich Graysonn.  And in case we have to release without Rich’s art, since we were on a deadline originally, we made a new set with the art we had gotten from our portrait artist, Sketoart (Farid).  And by we, I totally mean I threw them all in GiMP and made, well, this…

BlueSky

Is it just me, or does Yide (the guy in the red cap) look like he’s shyly hiding behind Xuande (the guy in the front)?

We then made up a new title panel and put that over top of the picture to arrive at this terrifying destination (along with some spacing reassignments):

DHTitleScreen

Now instead of Yide hiding, it’s Bogui (the older guy in orange) hiding.

And there we have it, we have a temporary art asset that, worst case scenario, we can use if the game has to ‘ship’ (a figurative term, since there are no physical copies of the game).  But remember, that our deadline issue is solved (bleh), so we had more than enough time to get all of our art assets from our artist friend(s).  Rich made us this:

RTKstart_screen

Not quite a perfect homage, but it gets the point across and still has a similar motif to it.  With a base we have our artist a few more fine touches to it and we get this dandy picture…

 

TitleScreen2

So now we have a cool picture with an awesome fire effect.  But we still need it to say what we’re playing.  So we throw together a title panel, that really doesn’t do the professional artist’s work justice I admit, and we wind up with our final version of the title screen!

TitleScreen3

We then rename that picture as DH-Title.png and put it in the folder with all of our game’s art assets, effectively replacing the second picture, which had already replaced the original picture that we couldn’t use for copyright reasons.  And ta-da, we have a title screen.

We did the same thing for all of the character portraits.  The villain, Zhongying, was actually the first portrait to be finished.  So we just made a dozen copies of his portrait and renamed each copy as one of the other characters’ names.  Then when each of the other characters, in turn, had their portraits finished by Farid we just resized them and replaced the original portrait of Zhongying with the new picture.

This meant that we didn’t have to wait for the art to be finished before we could continue the development.  And that’s what Temporary Art Assets in game development are really for.

Hopefully my next post will be announcing the game’s release, right?  Either way, I’ll try to make a few more posts about the development process.  And as we work on our next project, Possession, I’ll try to somewhat regular updates and insights on how we make it.

~RCS

June Was National Game Development Month!

Did you know that June was National Game Development Month?  Yeah, neither did I really; at least not until May 30th when I became aware of the 2014 Indie Game Maker Contest.  A coordination between RPG Maker’s producers, Degica, and the Humble Bundle folks, it was a contest to see who could create the best game in 30 days, or less.

Well, the wife and I decided to get in on the action.  That’s why you didn’t see a whole lot of me this month, I’ve been busy getting our contest entries ready.  Everyone was allowed to be part of two submissions, that way someone could be part of a group and still submit a solo project, or whatever circumstances one was in.  As such I designed and headed up one project, and the wife designed and headed up the other.

My project was a Romance of the Three Kingdoms parody game, called Dynasty Heroes, which satirizes everything RTK-related from Novel itself to KOEI’s games of the same name and Dynasty Warriors, all the way back to the old RTK games of the ’80s: Destiny of an Emperor, Knights of Valour, Dynasty Wars, Sango Fighter, etc.

Mimi’s project was called Monster.  It follows the story of a fourteen-year-old girl, Mora, who has the power to talk to spiritual creatures, such as a minotaur and a djinn (genie).  She discovers a neighboring army is invading her homeland and strikes forth to save everyone, even though they all hate her because they’re afraid of her power.

From July 1st to July 7th the judges will be playing each submitted game and rating them on a 3-point scale of Presentation (how does it look and sound?), Gameplay (how does it feel?), and Fun Factor (how much does it make you go “Whee!!”?).  There’s two categories: RPG (Role-Playing Game) and non-RPG (anything else).  Each category has 3 prizes: 1st Prize wins $2,500 and a bunch of neat stuff, 2nd Prize wins $1,000 and some nifty stuff, and 3rd place wins $500 and a few nifty things.  But the Grand Prize for the whole contest is a $10,000 pot and a bunch of neat stuff.

On top of that there’s People’s Choice which gives another $2,000, regardless of other prizes won, most Buzzing (which game has the most legitimate comments) and most Shared (which game has the biggest social media presence), as well as favorite choices by the celebrity judges.  Both of our games wound up falling into the RPG category.

And here’s where it gets to the tragic part.  We were way ahead of schedule for most of the month.  But between my work schedule for the actual job and a series of bugs we encountered near the end of our development (and a misunderstanding about how the UTC timezone works) we wound up missing the deadline for submission by about 3 hours (I even took a day off work to try and get it ‘out the door’ on time, but we still didn’t make it).  We weren’t willing to put an unfinished game out there.  Now, we’re out of the running for the contest that we made the games for.

So, since the games were going to be free and each one is only about an hour’s worth of play, they’re not really worth putting on Amaranth, Aldorlea, or Steam, etc. because I can’t see charging any more than a dollar or two for an hour’s worth of gameplay.  But, contest or not, we do have two finished short-play games to release.  We worked hard on them, the freelance artists, composers, and actors we hired (and abused) for materials worked hard them; so we’re going to make sure they get released.

FOR FREE!

That’s right folks, in a matter of days for the low, low price of $0 and 00 cents, you can own your own DRM-free copy of Dynasty Heroes and Monster!

Unfortunately it’s going to take me a few days to work out a few last kinks to get them distributable.  So in a few days, expect to see another post about this with some links (and each game will have it’s own page on the site, too).

Thanks, and our sincerest apologies to all our prospective fans, and helpers, who have been patiently waiting to see these games come out…and because of my miserable programming skills, have to wait a little while longer.

~RCS

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