Psychopomps Are Missing Progress Report for December 2021

Hello, and welcome to my second progress report for Psychopomps Are Missing, the RPG Maker MV game I'm currently developing. The first one of these progress report articles was released back in September, and at the time I wasn't sure how often I'd publish a new one. I've since decided I like a quarterly frequency. If you want updates more frequently than that, I recommend subscribing to the $5 tier at my Patreon, as the diary entries at that tier include updates if I've worked on the game that day (along with information about other projects I've got in the works).

As my measures for determining when the game is complete are no different than what I laid out initially in that first article, I recommend checking it out if you want to know how I am determining the completeness of Psychopomps Are Missing. Also, to avoid repeating the same thing over and over again, I'll mostly focus on what has changed since the previous article, so at least giving it a glance will help with context. And now, without further ado, let's get into it!

So, What's the Current State of the Game?

As is to be expected, the game is still very early on in development. Like in the previous article, I'll start by discussing the state of the core mechanics, then I'll go over each region. I have made some progress in figuring out the characters' personalities more and a few character relationship points, but I haven't implemented anything new yet. As such, there's little to write about them at this time. I haven't done anything more with the introduction, which still needs heavy revision. However, I still want to get more done before I work on that, as I want to develop the worldbuilding further. Eventually these things will warrant their own sections, but that time is still quite a ways away in the future!

State of the Core Mechanics

For clarity, I'm going to use a list. These elements are in no particular order.

  • I've finished the revision work I was doing last time, so now all 42 classes are in a state that I'd describe as near-finished. This means that I'm overall satisfied with concepts and mechanics, as well as class requirements. At least, as satisfied as I can be given the limitations of working in RPG Maker MV—my heart yearns for a Guild Wars 1-like class system, but that isn't happening with this project! There will likely need to be further balance tweaks, but at this point, I'm fairly confident that the overall concepts and requirements are where they will be when I'm done.
    • Of special note, last time I had about 50% of the 210 class skills finished. This is now 100%. Some may need further balance tweaks or adjustments for either balance or cohesion purposes, with this latter one being a matter of how the classes fit together regarding what skills you end up with in final classes.
  • Core battle mechanics continue to be a place for tweaks, which makes judging completeness here somewhat difficult to do. I'll continue to make adjustments (and fix bugs!) as I go.
    • I'm currently wanting to further evaluate my damage formulas, as I'm dissatisfied with them. In particular, the damage formula, having been originally derived from Pok√©mon's formula, places an extremely large amount of emphasis on damage types and effectiveness. I feel that this is currently overshadowing the importance of stats, and I want to do something to address this, though I don't yet know what.
  • I wrote last time that, "adding locations to the Crossroads of Reality/Pocket Dimension Portal is in place, but needs a bug fix (there's a notification that pops up when you unlock a new area that resets itself on zone transition)." I believe this bug still exists. It's a somewhat tricky one to solve, but also fairly low priority.
  • I wrote last time that, "Abyss Gates have had no mechanical work on them. I am placing the image I'm using for them in various environments around the world, but they don't do anything yet. Note that the Abyss Gates are currently planned to be functional when you rescue 30/100 missing psychopomps." This is still accurate.
  • It is still true that, "Equipment concepts are currently in a satisfactory place, but may receive tweaks as I go."
    • However, I've done a fairly extensive rework of weight mechanics. I do not recall if this was in place at the time of the previous article, but I did not like the previous mechanics, and added a weight stat. This comes from your equipment's defenses, but can also be assigned individually to gear. The effectiveness of armor depends upon a character's class, so some classes won't get much benefit from heavier gear, but it will still slow them down (making them act later in combat). Heavier gear also makes the dodge action worse, but it improves your effectiveness at blocking. Of course, the inverse is also true, where being lighter improves your dodge, but at the cost of making your blocking worse.
      • As part of this change to weight, I've also introduced Maximum Stamina as a concept.
    • I've added code that allows me to assign enemies a class and gear. Gear an enemy is equipped with can drop upon death. I'm still tweaking the drop rate formula; it's based on the gear's monetary value, with cheaper gear being more likely to drop, but it's been too generous. This additional functionality has opened up a lot of possibilities. Notably, enemies can be given a list of gear to randomly choose from, making it easier to design variety within enemies. Additionally, I've recently added code that should enable enemies to be able to use skills assigned to gear, further increasing variety. Also, it's far easier to stat out enemies with a class and equipment (that doubles as loot!) than to come up with stats from scratch.
  • One of the types of personal equipment that one of the characters, Ioannes, can use is thematically based off of Magic: The Gathering cards. These Magical Cards were originally intended to grant spells inspired by Magic cards (the games are very different in function, but to give an example, a Clear Shot card gives a spell that deals damage based on your attack stat). For some reason, I got the idea into my head that it'd be cool to have a full set of these cards that you could get from booster packs. As a result, there are now over 180 of these cards in the game, with many of them being able to be used as armor, a few as accessories, and even one as a ring.
    • Note that there is no actual card game you can play with these cards, though I do intend to add NPCs you can trade cards with.
    • While I have used actual Magic cards as inspiration, I chose cards that have more generic names.
    • I've started off with booster pack contents using the old Magic amounts of 11 commons, 3 uncommons, and 1 rare. However, as this gives you fifteen pieces of equipment, I will likely adjust these numbers down.
      • The set has 60 commons, 60 uncommons, and 60 rares. Packs cannot contain duplicates.
    • I'm intending for Ioannes to teach one of the other characters how to use Magical Cards as equipment through character story progression, as I did make a lot of gear here, and would like it to be useful to more than just one character!
  • I've added the concept of Character Stats. These twelve stats affect other, main stats. They have very flavorful names, which I think helps them convey personality. I'm planning on changing the reward for rescuing missing psychopomps from a boost to a random core stat (Max HP, max MP, Attack, Defense, Magic Attack, Magic Defense, Agility, and Luck) to getting a character stat point to put into the stat of your choice. I'm tentatively thinking you'll be limited to putting 40 points into a single one of these stats. As there will be 100 missing psychopomps to rescue, you'll get a total of 100 character stat points total. I'm also planning on enabling you to refund and reallocate these points for a fee.
    • Characters have a starting spread of points, with no single stat having more than 10 in it.
    • Each character stat affects one of three main stats. They all also give a slight boost to maximum HP.
    • This mechanic is heavily inspired by Dark Souls, particularly Dark Souls II, for anyone wondering! I've been replaying Dark Souls 1 & 3 lately for various reasons, and it turns out that playing games with designs I like gives me the itch to make use of them!
    • Equipment and states can also affect character stats, which opens up a lot of exciting design space for me! This is particularly true because the names of these stats have a lot more flavor to them than the main stats do.
    • The twelve character stats, and the main stats they affect, are as follows (note that order loosely matters, in that affected main stats listed first are generally more strongly affected, particularly for main stats that are affected by multiple character stats; for example, Vigor raises Maximum HP much more than Brawn does):
      • Brawn: Attack, Maximum HP, and Weapon Precision
      • Brains: Magic Attack, Maximum MP, and Spell Precision
      • Compassion: Heal Power, Crit Avoid, and Maximum MP
      • Faith: Healed, Luck, and Reflect
      • Reflexes: Evasion, Magical Evasion, and Agility
      • Endurance: Maximum Stamina, Maximum HP, and Maximum MP
      • Vigor: Maximum HP, Healed, and Maximum Stamina
      • Fortitude: Defense, Maximum HP, and Guard Cost (decreased)
      • Composedness: Magic Defense, Maximum MP, and Maximum HP
        • If you (like I was) are unfamiliar with this word, it is the noun version of being composed.
      • Focus: Maximum MP, Accuracy, and Reflect
      • Alacrity: Agility, Counter, and gives a chance of being able to perform an additional action each round of combat.
      • Perception: Luck, Magic Evasion, and Hit% Boost
That seems to cover most of the core mechanics and changes to them, particularly the changes part. I'm frankly not quite sure how I want to update this section as I make these articles, so it may end up mostly focusing on what has changed. As I've indicated previously, core mechanics are the sort of thing that are settled until they aren't, usually for either balance reasons (which is where the "feel" of combat comes into play, like with my current issues regarding the damage formula) or because of inspiration on something I can do. This makes completion hard to predict exactly. Also, because they tend to be more integrated, it's hard to pull core mechanics apart and examine them, since they're embedded in the entirety of the game. I imagine core mechanics will settle down over time. Also, I'll need to reach a finished state with them shortly after all of the content is finished so I can release the game—I don't want to polish it for forever!

State of the World

As a reminder, the world is composed of two hub zones (the Crossroads of Reality and Pocket Dimension) and ten world regions (The Abyss, the Wandering Wood, Ashdala, Avarei, Bowan, the Kingdom of Dolfy, Cybernight City, the United Streets, Ghymnipolis, and the mashup location). Let's go over each of these! Note that what makes for a completed hub zone is different from what makes for a completed world region.

The Crossroads of Reality

This is a fairly small zone that consists of the rescued psychopomps, a portal that can take you to any location linked to the Crossroads of Reality, and Yerovaepern, the only psychopomp to not go missing.

The state of this zone is mostly the same as it was last time. I do need to change a piece of functionality that all of the rescued psychopomps use to give you character stat points instead of random core stats (in accordance with changes mentioned above), but that should be a relatively easy change once I'm ready to make it.

I've also gotten an idea for one of the major things Yerovaepern can do, which is to let you assign and reset character stat points. I just need to make a user interface for doing this first...

The Pocket Dimension

This is a primary hub where you can heal up, change character classes, look up class information, buy common items, as well as other useful things. Relative to the last update, I still need to make individual character rooms, though this is a somewhat low priority at the moment compared to areas that are more immediately gameplay heavy.

I have added a few more shop NPCs to this region. Notably, I've added an ectoplasm collector; an NPC that sells personal items, enchantments, and some consumables that shows up after you've visited the Pocket Dimension a few times; and another NPC crafter that you can find out in the world.

One thing I'm trying to do with NPC stores that show up in the Pocket Dimension is make sure they all have useful consumables for sale, since that gives you a reason to keep visiting them. I don't want any of them to run out of things you want to buy, given how easy your access to them is!

The Abyss

I still haven't done anything with the Abyss yet, though I guess technically I might've picked out some area music, maybe? Though, this would be connected to the dungeon area I added to the Wandering Wood.

The Wandering Wood

I've cleaned up some of the environment in the woods portion of the Wandering Wood (which I'd mentioned needing to do last time). I've also worked extensively on the Wanderer's Rest village, putting in the facades of a number of buildings (as will become a running refrain, many of them still need interiors). I've also completed the dungeon area that you need to complete to unlock one of the locked classes. While the exact dialog for unlocking it isn't finished yet, you can unlock the class itself. The dungeon required making a bunch of NPCs and several types of enemies that will be useful elsewhere. I've also added a store to Wanderer's Rest, along with a bunch of items, both consumables and equipment.

I do still need to add enemies and items to the woods area, and I will want to add some more stuff in the Wanderer's Rest map (details and NPC locations, mostly). I'm not sure about quests, though—I feel like the quest to unlock the locked class is the main thing you'll get here, though I may develop other ideas as I work more on the game. In particular, the denizens of Wanderer's Rest have relatively close ties to the Abyss, so as I develop that latter region more, I may want to represent those ties in a more tangible way.

Ashdala

At this point, all of the large area maps are roughed in. I'm still making enemies for the later portion, though that is partially completed at this point. Many smaller areas (such as interiors) need to be created, and the large areas still need more details. I've also added more equipment, though I still need more.

There have been a number of important changes to the area. In no particular order, I've modified enemies and chest loot and further developed the lore. The bandit enemies that populate parts of Ashdala now use the enemy equipment system I previously mentioned I'd implemented. As such, they use the bandit equipment that was obtainable via bandit chests. This made the chest loot feel less meaningful, so I adjusted it to include a different set of equipment and a lot of trophy items typically dropped by other types of enemies (to help with the acquisition of these items, especially some of the more localized ones). The lore developments will result in a few adjustments to significant locations in Ashdala, as well as preemptively changing things that I hadn't yet added to the game. I like these lore changes for several reasons, one of which being that they help further distance Ashdala from Guild Wars 1's Ascalon, which I think is important—I want Ashdala to be nostalgia-adjacent, rather than an attempt at a copy.

Much of the region's story still needs to be further developed, though I have fleshed out some concepts more with practical things like enemies. The lore I've been developing for it will help me with developing it further. The region also still needs plenty more side quests, as I've not developed more than the three that were present when last I wrote one of these. Well, maybe there's another one or two, depending upon what you count as side quests?

All of this to say that I've made some solid progress on Ashdala, but there's still quite a ways to go yet.

Avarei

Avarei is notably more developed than last time. I've added a few maps, as I wanted to implement what was necessary to unlock one of the locked classes, meaning it is now available. This class is quite useful, since it teaches several potent healing skills! These maps do need a bit more refinement, of course, but it's nice to get some progress on them.

In addition, I've figured out the general lore of the area, the enemies, and what the region plot will be. Avarei itself will consist of five small towns and several ruins. Enemies are manifestations of the seven deadly sins (greed, gluttony, lust, pride, wrath, sloth, and envy), but in a twist, these sins can manifest in either indulgence or abstinence. I've identified seven positive things that the sins come off of, and then two directions those positive things can go wrong. For example, envy's positive root is contentedness. To one side is "undeserving" and to the other is the more traditional "coveting."

I won't elaborate on things more at this time, as I do want to have things for you to discover when you play the game. Just know that I've gotten a lot figured out so that I can actually make things here now!

Bowan

I've further developed Bowan's details since the previous article, though I haven't implemented anything for it yet (priority was given to setting things up for unlocking classes so I could test them during my big rework effort, which put the emphasis elsewhere). That said, I have now figured out more about the setting, the enemies of the region, and the villain. At this point, I could start working on Bowan given the details I've figured out, but other regions have been a bigger priority.

Essentially, Bowan is post magical-nuclear apocalypse, and mutants are a big problem, but the events at the start of the game have caused other issues to occur.

The Kingdom of Dolfy

I believe that the Kingdom of Dolfy is still more-or-less in the same stage of development as it was in the previous update article, so I won't repeat myself here.

Cybernight City

At this point, I have figured out the lore, enemies, and villains for Cybernight City. I haven't yet implemented anything (see Bowan), but I've figured out enough that I could begin to do so. Unlike last time, it is now dramatically less nebulous!

Ghymnipolis

Ghymnipolis is now significantly more developed from a lore standpoint, though I'll need to refine concepts for enemies more than I have. It is, however, conceptually very distinct from Cybernight City and the United Streets at this point, which I'm happy about. I could begin implementing maps at the very least, though I have yet to actually make anything (see Bowan).

The United Streets

There hasn't been any further major development for the United Streets since the last article, though I've had a few story ideas that I'll implement here when I get far enough. I guess you could technically argue that the Magical Cards I spent a bunch of time implementing (mentioned above in the Core Mechanics section) technically belong here, since this is their place of origin. However, as they're sort of available elsewhere (there is a game shop that ended up in Ashdala because I needed to give access to personal items that didn't make sense in the Ashdalan context, like the Magical Cards), that assignment is a bit nebulous.

The Mashup Location

There has been minimal further concepting for this region, though I've probably refined my ideas for how I'll implement its core mechanic. However, as one of the four unlockable classes is unlocked here, I have made the two maps needed to be able to reach the NPC for unlocking that class. So you can technically begin to visit here, which is cool! There isn't much created for it yet, though.

Wrapping Things Up

As you can hopefully see, there has been a lot of progress made when it comes to concepting the various regions, as I've developed ideas for nearly all of them now. You can also see that I've made significant progress on Ashdala and to core mechanics. There's still a long ways to go, but I've gotten a lot done, too, which I'm very happy about!

Thank you all for reading and for your interest in Psychopomps Are Missing!

Please consider supporting Sientir's creativity and writing by subscribing to him on his Patreon.

Comments

  1. Sounds like a lot done to me but then I don't know games and what all they need!

    ReplyDelete

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