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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsJim: The Apartment RPG - Fight Your Memories!
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Tanner Fruit Fly
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« on: March 07, 2016, 10:49:17 pm »


Welcome to the Devlog for
Jim: The Apartment RPG!

(working title)


This is Jim. He says hello!

Jim's been a constant in my life for a few years now, appearing in sketchbooks and a handful of table drawings. He's a curious little guy, always getting into something. It wasn't until recently that I decided it was time to give Jim the limelight he deserved; something better than being stuck between some sketchbook pages. I'm currently tying up the final editing stages of his first debut book, titled "This Is Jim." You'll be able to get your grubby nubs on it real soon, but that's not why I'm here on TIG, and that's not why you decided to click this link.

I've teamed up with some extremely talented individuals (people I'm privileged to call friends) and we're going to be working on an exciting new adventure for our friend Jim. This one won't be in a book though. It'll be a genuine, new-fangled video-game. That's right, the ones with the buttons and such. You guys oughtta know.

Anyhow, I bet you're wondering what this game's all about. No? Well too bad, you're already here and still reading, you might as well hear me ramble a bit longer.


Jim: The Apartment RPG takes place here, in - you guessed it, Jim's apartment.

The premise of the game is that you're an omniscient observer, watching Jim move around his apartment as he makes observations about the things around him, and goes about his day. However, as the player you're also able to guide Jim around his living space, and have him interact with key objects. What's so special about these key objects, you ask? Well, whenever Jim starts messing around with one of these items, his mind starts to wander. Interacting with these objects will cause Jim to cue up a memory that relates to that particular object (ie. If you tell Jim to interact with his guitar, he'll experience a music related memory). Each interactable object acts as a sort of memory pool, where a large number of different memories may be accessed. There's no way to determine which exact memory Jim will start thinking of when he interacts with these objects, so it's anyone's guess what you'll end up with. And let me tell you: Jim has had a pretty strange life.

So what? Jim can have thoughts, big deal.

I know, I know. Hold with me a bit longer. What makes this game interesting is what you're able to do once you've experienced these memories with Jim. Every memory you witness grants Jim a skill that he can employ in the game. What are skills for? Oh, I'm so happy you asked.



You see, Jim's thoughts can get violent from time to time, and you'll literally have to fight his mental demons and mischievous memories as you navigate through his past experiences in the only way one can have a proper fight:
turn-based JRPG style, baby.




As you experience more of Jim's memories and help him combat all the weird things stuck inside his head, you'll learn skills and special attacks that can be used in future encounters to help Jim overcome whatever dark secrets his mind is holding. Not all of Jim's memories force him to fight, but you'll be limited to the skills you've acquired up to that point to get Jim out of whatever pickle he's mentally wormed his way into. If you fail? No biggie, Jim'll snap out of his delusion and go on with his day, but you'll miss out on the opportunity to learn whatever skill that crazy encounter was protecting. The more successful you are in combat, the happier and more well-rounded Jim will be as you continue to play the game.

So what's the endgame?

The game will run on a day-to-day cycle where Jim will be able to experience X number of memories each day before he gets worn out and has to call it quits and zonk out for the night. After X number of days, Jim will reach an epiphany (ending) that is determined by whatever collection of memories you've experienced in that particular playthrough. No worries, the days are short, and you'll be finishing a game run relatively quickly. The idea is that you'll want to play the game a good number of times over and over to reach different conclusions and learn everything you can about our good friend Jim.


So why are you telling us all this here on TIG?

I have an insatiable love for video-games. I always have growing up, and being able to finally make one of my own has always been a dream of mine. I'm beyond lucky to have found a group of guys (who will be introducing themselves on this page to contribute content of their own real soon) that are just as passionate about my creation as I am, and are willing to blend their collective talents with my own to create something truly unique and heartfelt that celebrates what I think many of us love about video-games.


In all seriousness:
Tanner Simmons (Tanner Fruit Fly) - Art, Animation, Writing
Dillon Sommerville (Handwiches) - Programming, Additional Animation
Stephen Lichota (simplysteve) - SFX Design, Composer

I think there's a little something for everybody in this game, and I'm beyond excited to start sharing the development process with all of you. There's going to be a wealth of content coming your way in terms of our goals as developers with this game, and some of the intricate details we've been pining over.

If you're interested in following Jim as a character, be sure to check out the "This Is Jim" Facebook page for extra antics and other fun developments both in and outside of the game's production.

I hope you guys stick around in the future for what we're planning on putting out on the table for you. Until then, have a terrific day. Oh, and Jim says goodbye too.
Coffee Coffee Coffee Coffee Coffee Coffee Coffee
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[Check out the "This Is Jim" book on Gumroad! Head over to my devlog for a discounted promo code Wink]
Handwiches
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« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2016, 11:09:17 pm »

Hi! My name is Dillon Sommerville. I'm the programmer for Jim: The Apartment RPG.

I'm a professional 3D Environment Artist during the day (my portfolio).

Everything I know about programming is self-taught, but I have an inclination towards game design and psychology, so every once in a while I'll be posting my thoughts on certain mechanics in Jim. My first write-up will probably be on choosing when characters should blink programmatically.
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Tanner Fruit Fly
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« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2016, 11:25:19 pm »

Guess I never got around to introducing myself, did I?

Yo, I'm Tanner. I'm new to the game development world, but I've been working professionally as an illustrator for a good little while now, and I'm nearing the end of my career studying illustration at art school in Detroit, Michigan. I have an affinity for storytelling and world-building, and would love to apply my illustration and writing wherever it will allow itself to go. For now, I'm focusing on this game with every ounce of dedication I can muster, but I'm also very interested in pursuing the realm of graphic novels and illustrated books as I expand my knowledge and understanding of the art industry. Other than that, my hobbies include playing guitar, eating copious amounts of chili, writing short stories, climbing up and down ladders, and petting dogs.

My professional site is undergoing a few tweaks right now, but you can follow my art scraps and other important postings on my tumblr, and check out my webcomic The Whatever Chronicles that updates twice a week here on Smackjeeves.

The first update you'll see from me will probably have something to do with how Jim was ideated as a character, and my thoughts on how I decided to communicate him as a storyteller. Might get into some animation work and art influences as well, we'll figure it out when we get there Wink
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[Check out the "This Is Jim" book on Gumroad! Head over to my devlog for a discounted promo code Wink]
RobertGameDev
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2016, 12:43:03 am »

Nice stuff. I would make it more obvious that the one taking damage is the fly in that combat. I was convinced it was Jim taking damage all the time! Looking good so far  Smiley
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Tuba
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2016, 03:49:21 am »

Very unusual, I dig the style Smiley
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Handwiches
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2016, 06:39:06 am »

Thanks Tuba!
And RobertGameDev, definitely agree. We'll probably make a more custom fight animation for this fight too, something slappy or with a fly-swatter, haha.
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Rarykos
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2016, 01:15:27 pm »

That's a very cool idea! Kinda reminds me of Isaac :D
How many paths and endings are you planning?
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Tanner Fruit Fly
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2016, 01:39:20 pm »

That's a very cool idea! Kinda reminds me of Isaac :D
How many paths and endings are you planning?

Thanks so much! There's definitely some Isaac influence in the game's art direction as well as the gameplay mechanics (I blame the hundreds of hours I've logged in that crazy game). I'll be getting more into this and other games that have influenced the Jim project soon.

As far as the number of endings are concerned, we don't have an exact number, but I'd estimate quite a few of them! They'll be in the same number range as Isaac's endings, and we hope to leave players with a bit larger of an understanding about the character with each ending they obtain. The plan is to have certain endings only be obtainable after completing a certain set of conditions or other endings prior as well.
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[Check out the "This Is Jim" book on Gumroad! Head over to my devlog for a discounted promo code Wink]
Superpowism
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2016, 05:48:59 pm »

Very interesting concept and the artwork is very charming.
I look forward to following this.
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Ohmnivore
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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2016, 07:11:51 pm »

Top-notch illustration! Very readable, and has a distinct style.

However I'm a bit worried about the gameplay as it is atm. I haven't seen the skills yet, but from the gameplay segment I've seen without the skills it looks pretty bland. It may just be a personal distaste I have against turn-based-JRPG kinds of combat systems, but I find a lot of them tedious. Like, I even had to lay down the Rick and Morty game because it was starting to feel like a chore. Interestingly, I still enjoy playing Pokemon once in a while, so I suppose there are ways to make the combat more engaging.

I wish I had actual improvements to suggest, but gawddammit I can't come up with anything. I'll think about it.
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Tanner Fruit Fly
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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2016, 11:49:22 pm »

Very interesting concept and the artwork is very charming.
I look forward to following this.

Thanks so much! Really looking forward to your game as well!

Top-notch illustration! Very readable, and has a distinct style.

However I'm a bit worried about the gameplay as it is atm. I haven't seen the skills yet, but from the gameplay segment I've seen without the skills it looks pretty bland. It may just be a personal distaste I have against turn-based-JRPG kinds of combat systems, but I find a lot of them tedious. Like, I even had to lay down the Rick and Morty game because it was starting to feel like a chore. Interestingly, I still enjoy playing Pokemon once in a while, so I suppose there are ways to make the combat more engaging.

I wish I had actual improvements to suggest, but gawddammit I can't come up with anything. I'll think about it.

Thanks a bundle, I really appreciate that! Your work on Peasant Knight is looking great so far too, can't wait to see more updates for that Smiley

In terms of the gameplay, we have a particular mechanic that'll play a very strong pivotal role in the game both inside and outside of combat that has to do with the way Jim responds to what you're asking him to do as a player. I'll be talking about it at some point or another, but for now I'm keeping it pretty bare bones. I'm super aware of how stale RPG combat can get, so we're making moves in order to keep that from happening for Jim. Thanks so much for your concern though, can't wait to show you what we've got in mind!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Talking About Jim - Contextual Gameplay and "Consideration"

So I'm going to get into something that I think is important to explore for any game being developed that's worth its salt: contextual gameplay. While many games are created with the basis of exploring a mechanic and forming ideas around it, the Jim RPG does the opposite by having the initial idea inform the game's mechanics. There's nothing wrong with creating a game around a specific game mechanic, especially if that mechanic is inherently fun, but I feel the reverse process is the only way we could have approached a game like this, and really be able to communicate the kind of character we were wanting to display to the player.

As the creator of this character prior to the game being developed, I already had a lot of strong ideas and notions about him that I wanted to use as key fence-posts in the design of the game itself. Here's a page from the Jim book I'd mentioned briefly as an example:


Jim's character revolves heavily around the naive sense of wonder he has with the world around him, and communicating that not only through his actions but through the game's representation of the obstacles in front of him. Something as mundane as seeing a fruit fly buzzing around our kitchen is a full-fledged battle for Jim. As a player, we're going to share that moment with him, despite however ridiculous or irrelevant the memory he's experiencing might be. The drama we create in our own heads over the simplest everyday thoughts is something we shrug off as second nature, but it's very compelling to me as a storyteller. Bottling that essence in game was something I couldn't have done without.

The choice to make the game an RPG also took some heavy consideration. When the idea was first considered, I had no idea at all how it would work. The concept was already fairly abstract, even for a book. How was I going to take what I'd done and communicate it through a game? So, I started looking at games that I knew already did a terrific job at communicating their base concepts through gameplay. Around that time I was wrapping up playing games like Lisa: The Painful RPG and Undertale, arguably my two favorite games that came out last year (if you haven't played them, good lord, stop reading this now and pick them up). What makes these games so powerful is their ability to let the player consider. Both games are paced and packaged in such a way that the player is really able to get a full grip on the situation at hand. However, I wasn't 100% satisfied with that conclusion, so I dug a little deeper. I went farther back into my youth to understand what it was I was wanting to explore with this project. The answer was Earthbound.


For the uninitiated, Earthbound was an SNES game made in 1994 that told the story of a group of youngsters with inherent physic powers who had to stop an alien entity known as Giygas from destroying the planet. It was heavily rooted in American culture and aesthetic, despite being a game made in Japan, and had a massive emphasis on playful writing and the essence of youth. Despite the monolithic task Ness and his friends are struck with that could mean the destruction of the Earth as they know it if they were to fail, there's always this glaze of wonder and curiosity that the game strikes you with. There are details in this game that would often be unmentioned or be deemed as irrelevant in any other game of its kind. Most RPGs dealt with epic fantasy stories or extremely dire circumstances (that isn't to say Earthbound didn't have its fair share of those), but Earthbound focused more on the introverted aspects of these characters and the player. Enemies will often interrupt their own opportunities to attack by laughing hysterically or performing another action that forfeits their ability to strike at you, but gives the player a bigger insight into who or what they're actually fighting. Some of these enemies aren't even really enemies at all, but characters who inhabit this zany world (some of my favorites being the Unassuming Local Guy and the New Age Retro Hippie).


But what was Earthbound really doing right here? It didn't really hit me until this happened:


Ness' vulnerability as a character comes down to the fact that he's still a kid. He might be a courageous young boy with an inherent fighting spirit, but this feeling of being far away from home literally cripples him in combat. He'll skip entire fights while his teammates continue to battle because he's homesick. The only way to cure this affliction is to find one of the telephones throughout the game's different hub-towns and call your mom. There's something profound about that to me. Earthbound isn't really about saving the world, it's about the moment-to-moment oddities and adventures one can have (especially as a child) that allow us to feel things ingrained deep within us that may seem bizarre or unnecessary to bring to our attention, but really add up to what we consider to be worthwhile journeys for ourselves.

Sorry, getting slightly more off-topic than I originally wanted, but it's important to note that Earthbound became a reflection of feelings and interior thoughts for me as a player, and that was something that helped form what direction the Jim game was going to take after taking another look at a game that I hadn't played in years but always adored for some unspoken reason until that moment of clarity arose.

Anyhow, it became clear to me that Earthbound, Lisa, and Undertale (it's no mistake that these games have heavy similarities to Earthbound) gave me the ability to consider as a player by using the RPG framework to tell their stories and deliver their ideas. RPGs are known for their slower pacing and more thought-driven gameplay, especially in turn-based combat type games where players strategize their every move. Having the player read through dialogue and combat windows at their own pace allowed them to absorb what was happening on screen, and digest it properly. The Jim game is built on the turn-based RPG framework to illustrate that. We want you to be able to soak in each piece of dialogue. You generally aren't given the option to do this sort of thing in an action game, or a speed-based platformer, because these sorts of ideas aren't what these games are best as communicating. Every line of text in our game that appears is a canvas to that particular moment in time, and should serve to connect the player to what Jim is experiencing firsthand. It's only by highlighting these glimpses into his mind that we're able to connect with this character, and become "homesick" ourselves.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Phew, that got a little long-winded, so thanks to anyone who's still reading this!

tl;dr - Jim: The Apartment RPG focuses on reinforcing its narrative and conceptual elements through gameplay that gives the player the ability to consider, and take in everything that's being presented to them. By doing this, we hope to give the player the means to accept the absurdity of every moment, and give them the room to understand how they feel about each minute experience they come across.

I'll be expanding on these ideas later on when we present some of the games other key features that haven't already been shown.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

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[Check out the "This Is Jim" book on Gumroad! Head over to my devlog for a discounted promo code Wink]
maxl
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« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2016, 12:49:14 am »

This is such an interesting concept! And the artstyle makes it look both memorable and relatable. We all are having JRPG battles in our daily lives, it's about time its represented in a game! Keep up the good work!  Gentleman
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« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2016, 06:08:53 am »

This is such an interesting concept! And the artstyle makes it look both memorable and relatable. We all are having JRPG battles in our daily lives, it's about time its represented in a game! Keep up the good work!  Gentleman

Best interpretation of the game I could've hoped for! Thanks, maxl.   Coffee Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2016, 04:14:09 pm »

Hi! I'm a bit late to the party, but I'd like to introduce myself as well. My name is Stephen Lichota, and I'm the Sound Designer and Composer for Jim: The Apartment RPG.

I do a lot of different types of work in audio, but as of late, I have been involved in primarily video game audio. I find it combines what I enjoy about working in many different areas of music and sound into focus. Here is my portfolio of various work I've done during school (Berklee Alum '15) and otherwise.

I'll be posting about my thoughts on the music of the game and soong I'll be sharing my thought process when I was seraching for the overall audio direction of Jim.
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« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2016, 07:36:09 pm »

I will definitely be keeping up with this.
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Tanner Fruit Fly
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« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2016, 08:19:36 am »

This is such an interesting concept! And the artstyle makes it look both memorable and relatable. We all are having JRPG battles in our daily lives, it's about time its represented in a game! Keep up the good work!  Gentleman

I'm having constant JRPG battles in life, almost all of them are on a timer too haha Thanks for stopping by!

I will definitely be keeping up with this.

So glad you're on board with us, thanks!
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[Check out the "This Is Jim" book on Gumroad! Head over to my devlog for a discounted promo code Wink]
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« Reply #16 on: March 12, 2016, 12:18:05 pm »

This looks amazing so far. I can not wait to see how it turns out. I love the concept and the art style!
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« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2016, 10:07:27 am »

http://dsommerville.com/tutorials

Wrote up some stuff for Tanner on bringing animations into Unity.
Not the most glamorous of posts, but it's going to help us hit our demo deadline.  Smiley  Blink  Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2016, 11:27:18 am »

There's definitely some Isaac influence in the game's art direction as well as the gameplay mechanics (I blame the hundreds of hours I've logged in that crazy game).

I am guilty of this too. I really dig the game, both concept and art. It has a unique feel to it and I can already see myself getting hooked on exploring multiple paths/endings. Looking forward to seeing this fully develop, great work so far!
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Tanner Fruit Fly
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« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2016, 11:45:16 am »

This looks amazing so far. I can not wait to see how it turns out. I love the concept and the art style!

Thanks so much! It's been in the brain pot for a while haha

I am guilty of this too. I really dig the game, both concept and art. It has a unique feel to it and I can already see myself getting hooked on exploring multiple paths/endings. Looking forward to seeing this fully develop, great work so far!

That means so much, thanks! Your work on Hiraeth has been one of my favorite projects I've seen so far on TIG, can't wait to see where that goes Smiley

Also, just a small little thing:



Whipped up a skelly-man that you'll be encountering in the game. His grabby hands give me life.
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[Check out the "This Is Jim" book on Gumroad! Head over to my devlog for a discounted promo code Wink]
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