Creating a retro-inspired RPG – A Developer Diary, Part 2

In the last entry in my developer diary, I walked you through the process of elimination that made me arrive at my current setup: the choice of genre (RPG), the choice of engine (RPG Maker MV, a review of which you can read here), and the choice of workflow. I decided to build the “timeline” of the game first, a sort of backbone for the logic of the game. This would then allow me to build “limbs” and expand each part of the game without losing sight of the overall flow and structure that I have envisioned, including key events.

Today, I will expand upon this topic because, after a couple of months’ hard work, I have finally finished the “backbone”. The structure, which will be divided in in-game days, is made up of 7 days and an endgame episode. Each “day” will basically be a “world”, having its own set of levels, challenges, puzzles and NPCs. At an average of 5 “levels” (areas) per “day”, that’ll bring the total to about 40 total levels.

It may seem like I’m biting more than I can chew as a second-time game developer (my first game, Kuatia, was a single-level, randomly generated endless runner), but the truth is that thanks to my approach, the “worlds” (days) are already built and logic-ed out. They are a bit empty, sure, and they look quite ugly, but they will serve as the logical foundation of what’s to come.

It will not be winning any level design awards, but it’ll help me build my game.

I always referred to this process, building the backbone, as the “boring part”. It’s just not fun because all you’re doing is building links from one empty, boring place to another. But much like plotting out land before a huge housing development project, it lays the foundation for where things should go. Now I get to the fun part.

I have already mapped out a list of about 30-40 items that I want to do to add polish to each level, including types of puzzles, environmental visual effects, dynamic lighting, soundscaping and more. And I know which parts of the story are set in which day (world), so it’s just a matter of assembling the things together. I’m really looking forward to adding the meat and potatoes to a few levels, adding all the polish I can, and sharing that build with a few people to gauge their reaction. I think it’ll be one little cool game.

The cover for the comic book is already looking pretty good. We’re about 8 pages into its production.

Let’s not forget about the bigger picture, though: the game is part of multimedia trilogy. The comic book, which will be a 28-page long collaboration with Mexican illustrator Belén Bretón, will serve as the prequel, the origins of the main villain, Camila. The short film, which has already been released and was featured in 10 film festivals around the world, serves as the centerpiece, telling the story of the main conflict between all characters. And the game, which serves as the sequel, tells the story of what happens after the last scene in the film, and the final hunt for Camila.

I’m very proud of how things are coming along, and I’m hoping to be able to distribute all three pieces (the comic book, the film and the game) in at least two languages: Spanish and English. I believe, aside from my personal satisfaction of having done things I like doing, that the anti-discrimination, pro-tolerance message contained in these humble works of fiction (though heavily inspired by my experiences as an immigrant), is necessary today, maybe more than ever before. 

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